For now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed.
–Romans 13:11

In Romans 13:11, Paul said we are living in a time when the daylight is about to unveil. The night is almost gone, and the day is about to appear.

What day was Paul talking about? Scripture uses “the day” to refer to the time of Christ’s return. Hebrews 10:25 says, “[Encourage] one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” And 2 Peter 1:19 says, “We have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.” “The day” refers to the return of Christ.

In Romans 13:11, Paul said, “Salvation is nearer to us than when we believed.” Does that mean we are not yet saved? Does it mean we cannot know for sure whether we are truly saved until Christ comes back? No, that was not what Paul was saying.

There are three aspects to your salvation: you were saved, you are being saved, and one day you shall be saved. First, when you trusted in Christ as your Savior, you were saved. That refers to your justification. Justification is the one-time act of God when, at the moment we trust in Christ as our Savior, God declares us not guilty. Romans 5:1 says, “Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” That is the past tense of our salvation.

Second, there is a present salvation going on in your life right now. You are being saved. That refers to your sanctification. Sanctification is the process by which you become more and more like Jesus Christ. Romans 8:29 says, “Those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son.” Your sanctification began the moment you were saved and will continue until you see Christ again.

The third facet of your salvation is still future. One day you will be saved. That is your glorification. The final act of God in your salvation will be when He gives you a new body that is forever free from the power of sin and death. That is the last chapter of your salvation. When Paul said your salvation is nearer than it has ever been, he was talking about your glorification.

The fact is, we do not know when Christ is coming. We cannot know the time, but we do know the times. There are two Greek words that refer to time. One word is the word “chronos.” It refers to the hour, date, minute. We cannot know the “chronos” of when Christ is coming. The second word for time is “kairos.” That refers to the season or era. By looking at prophetic events, we can know we are living in the era of Christ’s return. It is closer today than it has ever been. That is why Paul said in Romans 13:11, “It is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep.”

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “It’s Later Than You Think” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2014.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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