“So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.” - Romans 1:15
In too many circles the gospel is viewed as simply the entry into a relationship with God. The biblical reality is that the gospel is the beginning, middle, and end of the salvation process. The bible describes these three aspects of the gospel with the terms justification, sanctification, and glorification. These are called the three tenses of salvation...
Justification is a term that describes our entry into a right relationship with God. A good way to understand this rich concept is to understand two other biblical words: mercy and grace. Mercy is an amazing biblical word that shows movement away or removal. God mercifully forgives the sins of the one who simply believes in Jesus as Savior (Psa. 103:1-12; 1 Tim. 1:13, 16). Grace is an equally amazing biblical word that shows movement toward or addition. From the standpoint of justification, the grace needed was the addition of Jesus’ righteousness on our account (Rom. 4:22-5:1). The addition of righteousness together with the removal of our sins results in eternal life with God, for our lives are “hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3b).
Sanctification describes our continuance in a right relationship with God. The basic idea of the word refers to being set aside for a particular purpose, in this case set aside for the purpose of being more like Jesus. Sanctification is a work of God’s grace (Phil. 2:13; 1 Thes. 5:23-24). God’s intention for our salvation is that the believer would demonstrate who God is in this present world (1 John 4:11-17).
Glorification is the final aspect of the gospel. It refers to the completion of the believer’s salvation. Like justification and sanctification, glorification is totally a work of God’s grace through the gospel. What God has begun, He will bring to its full completion (Phil. 1:6; Rom. 8:29-30).
The gospel permeates the believer’s Christian experience. We need it from the beginning of our salvation until our salvation is completed in the presence of our Savior, Jesus.