Our great God and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ saves His people from the punishment, power and presence of sin. Salvation is only given by God’s grace to those who repent and believe the Gospel (Mark 1:15). Salvation is made up of three elements - justification, sanctification and glorification. For believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, salvation is past (justification), present (sanctification) and pending (glorification). This is why the Bible reveals that Christians have been saved, are being saved, and will be saved.

Justification occurs at the moment of faith. Christians were saved (past tense) from the "penalty of sin" at the very moment God justified them.

Notice the past tense of the verb. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast" (Eph. 2:8-9). “He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit" (Titus 3:5).

Sanctification is the process whereby a Christian demonstrates victory Christ won over the “power of sin.” Through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, believers’ lives are transformed into the image of Christ as they put to death the evil deeds of the flesh (Rom. 8:13).

Notice the present tense of the verbs. “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure" (Philip. 2:12-13). “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:18).

Glorification ultimately removes the Christian from the "presence of sin."

Notice the future tense of the verbs. “Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him" (Heb. 9:28). “Salvation is nearer to us than when we believed" (Rom. 13:11).

The Roman Catholic Church teaches a different plan of salvation. Justification and sanctification are interchangeable and are part of a process from baptism through purgatory. Salvation in the Catholic Church is based on faith plus works to the extent that Catholics are condemned if they believe salvation is by faith alone. Canon 9 of the Council of Trent states, "If anyone says that the sinner is justified by faith alone, meaning that nothing else is required to cooperate in order to obtain the grace of justification...let him be anathema." The Catholic Church states that the grace of justification comes, not through faith but through the sacraments, beginning with baptism. The sacraments conform Catholics to the righteousness of God. Catholics are taught they can then merit the graces needed for the attainment of eternal life through the sacraments, good works and obeying the law. Catholics are taught they must establish and maintain their own righteousness to enter heaven rather than seek God's righteousness. From the Catechism of the Catholic Church we read:

1992. Justification is conferred in Baptism, the sacrament of faith. It conforms us to the righteousness of God, who makes us inwardly just by the power of his mercy.
2016. The children of our holy mother the Church rightly hope for the grace of final perseverance and the recompense of God their Father for the good works accomplished with his grace in communion with Jesus
2027. Moved by the Holy Spirit, we can merit for ourselves and for others all the graces needed to attain eternal life.
1128. This is the meaning of the Church's affirmation that the sacraments act ex opere operato (literally: 'by the very fact of the action's being performed').

We see how these Roman Catholic doctrines go directly against what is
revealed in Scripture.

It is written: "There is no one righteous, not even one (Rom. 3:10).

Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. (Rom. 9:31-32)

Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they
did not submit to God's righteousness. Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes (Rom. 10:1-4).

(Paul desired) to be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith (Phil. 3:9).

Throughout the Scriptures we see sinners are saved by faith alone.

Luke 7:50 And He said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."

John 3:15 whoever believes may in Him have eternal life.

John 3:18 "He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

John 3:36 "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not
obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."

John 5:24 "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.

John 6:40 "For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life; and I Myself will raise him up on the last day."

Acts 13:39 through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from
which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses.

Acts 13:48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.

Acts 16:31 And they said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved, you and your household."

Romans 3:26 He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Romans 3:28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.

Romans 3:30 indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the
uncircumcised through faith is one.

Romans 4:5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness,

Romans 5:1 Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God
through our Lord Jesus Christ

Romans 10:9-10 if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in
your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; [10] for
with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth
he confesses, resulting in salvation.

1 Cor. 1:21 God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message
preached to save those who believe.

Galatians 3:11 Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is
evident; for, "The righteous man shall live by faith."

Galatians 2:16 So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be
justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by
observing the law no one will be justified.

Galatians 3:8 The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith.

Galatians 3:24 So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we
might be justified by faith.

1 Tim. 1:16 And yet for this reason I found mercy, in order that in me as
the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience, as an
example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.

Hebrews 10:39 But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who
have faith to the preserving of the soul.

Hebrews 11:7 By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen,
in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he
condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is
according to faith.

1 John 5:13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of
the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life.

It is my prayer for those who are victims of religious deception to look to Christ and His Word as the supreme authority for truth. Believers are justified by faith alone. Once we are justified THEN we do the works God has prepared for us to walk in (Eph. 2:10)