When we discuss salvation, especially from a theological perspective, the phrase “Already/Not Yet” gets thrown around quite a bit. What does it mean? Basically, when a person is “saved” (i.e. justified) two things happen immediately. First, they are no longer held guilty for their sin. “Justified” is a legal term and it’s used in the sense of someone who is on trial; however, the charges against them are dropped. This is not to say that the person is not guilty, it’s just that they are not going to be charged.
The second aspect of justification is that, not only are we acquitted of all charges, we are credited with the righteousness of Christ. Our acquittal does not leave us morally neutral, instead we are looked on with favor by the Judge—and not just any favor, as adopted sons and daughters.
Our acquittal didn’t just happen. Au contraire! It came through the substitutionary atonement of Jesus. What that means is Jesus took our place (i.e. substitution), receiving the punishment we deserved to bring reconciliation (i.e. atonement).
This salvation process, and all the big words that go with it, becomes effective the very moment we place our faith in Christ (Romans 10:9–10)—when we accept Jesus we are “already” saved. However, in a discussion of how salvation works, much of it is future oriented, it has “not yet” taken place. This idea is abundantly clear as we look at Luke 17. Jesus told the Pharisee’s that, “the kingdom of God is in your midst” (21). While our passage, verses 22–37, speak of a future event, as Jesus is describing the kingdom of God, it is “already,” but “not yet.”
Our passage describes the “the day that the Son of Man is revealed” (30). Although many people will make many claims about this day, “look here, look there” (23), rest assured that when it comes to pass, “ain’t nobody gonna miss it” (24). Like in the days of Noah and Lot, judgment will happen suddenly and many people will be unprepared. And, like Lot’s wife, those who love the world and the things of the world will find themselves in a bad way.
People can “already” be saved, right now in the present. However, God’s Messiah, Jesus, has “not yet” come to judge the world. Our salvation is likened to an adoption in which a child is with his or her new parents—and in every way the child is theirs. Yet, our legal system often takes a while before a judge sits in his robe and the gavel falls declaring, “this child is theirs and no other’s.” When we are saved, we are immediately adopted into God’s family, and when the day of judgement comes, the gavel will fall and everything will be official. However, on that day, there will be many who have rejected Christ in this life, either through omission or commission, and their pending judgment will become official as well. “Where the body is, there also the vultures will be gathered.”
Question: In what ways have you witness the kingdom of God already? What promises are you most looking forward to that have not yet come to pass?
By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate