“If the Son sets you free, you are truly free.” “So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law” (John 8:36 & Gal. 5:1 NLT). John Stott wrote well about this freedom we have in Christ:
“The fifth reason why I am a Christian is that I have found Jesus Christ to be the key to freedom. …And freedom is a great Christian word. Jesus Christ is portrayed in the New Testament as the world’s supreme liberator. …Freedom is a good modern word for ‘salvation.’ To be saved by Jesus Christ is to be set free….”
I well remember, as a very new Christian, being shown this verse and being introduced to what are called ‘the three tenses of salvation’. They go like this:
Firstly, I have been saved (or freed) in the past from the penalty of sin by a crucified Saviour.
Secondly, I am being saved (or freed) in the present from the power of sin by a living Saviour.
Thirdly, I shall be saved (or freed) in the future from the presence of sin by a coming Savior.
It is a simple structure, which encapsulates what the Bible means by ‘salvation’; and it enables us, whenever the word occurs, to ask ourselves which tense of salvation is in mind: past, present or future. The fact that we have been saved frees us from guilt and from God’s judgment. The fact that we are being saved frees us from bondage to our own self-centeredness. And the fact that we shall be saved frees us from all fear about the future.
In the rest of this chapter (5) Stott explains the different biblical nuances of what “freedom in Christ” means. It’s an edifying chapter – well worth reading!
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015