The Two Phases of Salvation
By E.H. “Jack” Sequeira

1. Importance of the Study

The New Testament talks of two phases of salvation that are related but distinct. The following is a brief explanation of these two phases of salvation:

  1. What God did to mankind in Christ’s holy history – You in Christ.
  2. What God is presently doing in the believer – Christ in You.

These are not two gospels but two distinct aspects of salvation [Jn. 15:4,5; Rev. 3:20]. In both, Christ is our righteousness and both constitute an essential part of the Chrsitian message of salvation [Rom. 8:9,10]. The first deals with the objective facts of the gospel (imputed righteousness); the second with the subjective experience of salvation (imparted righteousness).

These two phases of salvation must be kept distinct to avoid confusion between the gospel (that which saves or justifies) and the fruits of the gospel (that which produces holy living or sanctifies). You in Christ is the gospel message and refers to what God has already done for us in Christ, i.e., salvation full and complete. Christ in you, on the other hand, has to do with the Christian life and is an ongoing process, i.e., what Christ is continually doing in us through His Spirit [Gal. 5:22, 23].

Truth and morality, knowledge and action are distinct but inseparably connected, like the root of a tree and its fruit. Salvation must express itself in behavior, and behavior must embody salvation. Genuine justification by faith always produces works [Ja. 2:14-26]. It is for this reason the New Testament teaches that we are justified by faith alone [Rom. 3:28; Gal. 2:16], but judged by works [Matt. 7:21; 25:34-40; Jn. 5:28-30; Rom. 2:5-8; 2 Cor. 5:10], the works being the evidence of justification by faith [Eph. 2:8-10; Ja. 2:20-22]. Only when these two phases of salvation are clearly understood, kept distinct, and yet linked together, does the gospel become the power of God unto salvation.

2. Distinction Between ‘You in Christ’ and ‘Christ in You’

The following are the main distinctions between the objective facts of the gospel, You in Christ, and its fruits, its subjective experience, Christ in You:

‘YOU IN CHRIST’ – Objective
(imputed righteousness)
  ‘CHRIST IN YOU’ – Subjective
(imparted righteousness)
We stand perfect in Christ
1 Cor. 6:11; Eph. 1:3-6; Col. 2:10

We are growing up in Christ
Phil. 3:12-14; Col. 1:27; 2:6

Includes all mankind
Rom. 5:18; 2 Cor. 5:19; Tit. 2:11

Applies only to believers
Jn. 3:16; Rom. 8:9,10; 1 Tim. 4:10

By grace alone
Rom. 3:21,28; 1 Cor.1:30,31; Phil. 3:9

By faith alone
Lk. 9:23; Gal. 2:20; Phil. 2:12,13

That which justifies and qualifies us for heaven
Acts 15:5-11; Eph. 2:8, 9; Tit. 3:5
That which sanctifies and witnesses our justification
Jn. 14:12; Eph. 2:10; Tit. 3:8; Ja. 2:17, 20-26

Note: The phrase in Christ (the central theme of Paul’s theology) is applied objectively as well as subjectively in the New Testament. But it must be remembered, that the subjective experience is always based on the objective facts of the gospel; that which was realized in the holy history of Christ [1 Cor. 3:11]. The fundamental truth of the in Christ motif is that God united our corporate humanity, that needed redeeming, to Christ’s divinity at the incarnation (thus qualifying Him to be the second Adam), and then re-wrote our history in His Son’s life, death, and resurrection. This gave mankind a new status in which we stand legally justified, i.e., reconciled to God and accepted in the Beloved [1 Cor. 1:30; Eph. 1:3-6]. By faith this truth of legal justification is made effective; hence, it is referred to as justification by faith (which is in complete opposition to justification by works, see Rom. 9:30-33). This results in the new birth experience (Christ in you), which in turn is manifested by holy living (i.e., sanctification); the reproduction of Christ’s righteous life in us, the fruits of justification by faith [Jn. 15:1-5].

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