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Are some people lost "just a little bit" in the same way that others are saved "only as through fire"?


When the Bible uses salvation (Gk. soteria) in a spiritual sense, it describes the broad range of God's activity in the process of rescuing people from sin and restoring them to a right relationship with himself.

A believer has been saved from the guilt of sin (justification, Eph. 2:8), is being saved from the power of sin (sanctification, 1 Cor. 1:18), and will be saved from the judgment and presence of sin (glorification, Acts 15:11). Regeneration is the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit in which a spiritually dead person is made alive in Christ (Ezek. 11:19-20; Titus 3:5).

Usually people use the term saved to refer to regeneration and justification. If this is what they mean, it is not accurate to speak of it as happening or not happening in differing degrees. To be a Christian means you have traded in your "rubbish" of self-righteousness for the perfect righteousness of Christ (Phil. 3:8-9). You have ceased striving and now rest in the finished work of Christ—no longer depending on accomplishments, religious pedigree, or good works for God's approval, but only what Christ has accomplished for you (Eph. 2:8-9).

Thus you understand, with Paul, that "it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Gal. 2:20, ESV). You believe that when Jesus said, "It is finished," it really was. Because of this, "there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 8:1).

Conversely, if you have not been saved in this way, you are "condemned already, because you have not believed in the name of ...

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April 2004

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