There are 3 parts or phases to salvation:
Justification comes first, then
sanctification, then finally, glorification.
Now, justification is that PART of salvation which a free gift, "the gift of God."
But sanctification, surprisingly, is NOT a free gift.
It's a matter of WORKS !!
As Ephesians says, "we are made for good works, to walk in them."
These good works don't come AFTER salvation - they are PART of it.
How can I justify my claim that JUSTIFICATION is a free gift,
while SANCTIFICATION is works-works-works ??!!
Well, lets just use buying a house as a metaphor for justification,
with paying the mortgage as a parallel to sanctification.
When you buy a house you get the key to the house FOR FREE,
and the status of "home owner" even though you don't REALLY own it !!
Its a FREE GIFT from the banker.
But this gift, there are "strings attached."
You HAVE TO pay the mortgage each month !!
And that = WORK!!
You work to get paid the money which then goes toward paying off the mortgage !!
So two opposite things are going on:
(1)you receive the free gift of the status of homeowner,
(2)you pay off the mortgage each month, which = work !!
Then finally you stop paying!!
Why, because the mortgage is paid off in full.
You OWN the house for real !!
Salvation is the same thing:
there are 3 parts/phases:
(1)the free gift (with strings attached) of justification (=being declared righteous, even though you are NOT righteous).
Its just a STATUS, not a reality.
(2)But then you walk in good works, becoming righteous by doing "the works of God."
Finally you go thru the fire of suffering that goes with those "good works of God."
Like clay after the kiln is changed from moldable to an unchangable shape, rigid,
we become "saved," fully dedicated.
At that point these words apply, "once saved, always saved." Finally, (3)when we graduate to glory in heaven, we reach "glorification,"
which corresponds to paying off the mortgage in full.
But in heaven what will we all be DOING??
We"ll be WORKING around the clock for God.
Not just 8 hours a day - like we do now on Earth.
For, "There is no night there" in heaven.
And no need for sleep, once we get our resurrection bodies.
That means we'll be able to be worked 24 hours a day.
As "slaves of Christ," "slaves of righteousness."
Yes, that is why Christ died to save us - to make slaves of us for all eternity !!
What, did you think we can just lay around in heaven??!!
Of course not !! But it will be work we LOVE, of course.
So it won't seem like slavery !! - I can't leave that part out !!
PS: why do I speak of "strings" being "attached" to justification/salvation ??
Well salvation is a gift.
And Christ says,"to whom much is given, much is REQUIRED !!"
When we are given salvation (the status of being righteous),
that = being "given much."
So of course "much is REQUIRED" goes along with that.
Those words, "much is REQUIRED" = the "strings attached" that I spoke of above.