I have been having a friendly dialogue lately with a few individuals whose theology I subscribe to for the most part. I have more in common with them, theologically speaking, than I do with many others. Where we differ is quite important, though. It essentially has to do with the most central aspect of the Christian faith: how a person is "saved."
The statement that I take exception to is the following: Obedience is both a condition for salvation and an ongoing requirement of salvation.
And, in response, this is my main question: what is the difference between salvation, justification, sanctification, forgiveness, pardon, righteousness, eternal life, and so on? Are they one and the same? Are they different? These are all biblical terms, but does the bible use them synonymously, or separate them into differing "aspects" or "phases" of one experience?
I think that some people would draw a distinction between justification and sanctification, to be sure. But is salvation made up of justification and sanctification? In other words, is justification the first phase of salvation, and sanctification the second? Or are justification and salvation synonymous? Furthermore, is salvation and "eternal life" synonymous?
These are things that I need to figure out. And, of course, I am going to turn to the Bible to do so.
But two quick quotes to ponder that relate to this subject. The first comes from my pal, E. J. Waggoner:
In Christ we are "being justified," in other words, being made righteous. To justify means to make righteous. God supplies just what the sinner lacks. Let no reader forget the simple meaning of justification. Some people have the idea that there is a much higher condition for the Christian to occupy than to be justified. That is to say, that there is a higher condition for one to occupy than to be clothed within and without with the righteousness of God. That cannot be (Waggoner on Romans, p. 71).The second, from the pen of Ellen White: "The righteousness by which we are justified is imputed; the righteousness by which we are sanctified is imparted. The first is our title to heaven; the second is our fitness for heaven" (Messages to Young People, p. 35).
So how do these ideas mesh, along with the biblical witness?