Summary: Defining and explaining the difference between justification, sanctification, and salvation. Recognizing that all three are possible because of Jesus’ death on the cross.


by Rodney Langley


We hear these terms a lot in our studies of the Bible. We kind of know what they are talking about, but what exactly do these terms mean and how do they affect me? Tonight, we’ll examine each of these terms and look at the scriptures to answer these questions.

I. Justification

A. Vine’s defines justification as “the act of pronouncing righteous”. It also “signifies the establishment of a person as just by acquittal from guilt”. ‘(Vine’s Dictionary pp.338-339)

B. Paul uses the word justification in the epistle to the Romans.

1. Romans 4:25

2. Romans 5:18

C. Paul is emphasizing the role of faith in justification. It all comes back to Jesus’ death on the cross. In that death he paid the penalty for our sins. It is only through faith and obedience that we can be justified. In other words, when God looks at us through the blood of Christ, the verdict will be NOT GUILTY.

D. Other verses that use the word justified:

Acts 13:38-39; I Corinthians 6:9-11; Galatians 3:23-25; James 2:24

II. Sanctification

A. Vine’s defines sanctification as “separation to God”. “Sanctification is that relationship with God into which men enter by faith in Christ”.

Another is “the separation of the believer from evil things and ways. This sanctification is God’s will for the believer, and His purpose in calling him by the gospel; it must be learned from God as he teaches it by His word, ad it must be pursued by the believer earnestly and undeviatingly.”

“Thus sainthood, or sanctification is not an attainment, it is the state into which God, in grace, calls sinful men, and in which they begin their course as Christians.”

Sanctification is a synonym of holiness.

(Vine’s Dictionary pp. 545-546)

B. Sanctification is the process by which we are set apart for a holy purpose, just like the instruments of worship for the temple in the Old Testament. We are made holy and therefore we become the temple of God when we become Christians. We have a higher calling and a higher purpose than those in the world.

C. Verses that discuss Sanctification:

2 Thess. 2:13-14; 1 Peter 1:1-2; Colossians 1:21-23; Hebrews 10:10; 1 Thess. 4:1-8

III. Salvation

A. Vine’s defines salvation as “deliverance or preservation”. “the spiritual and eternal deliverance granted immediately by God to those who accept His conditions of faith and repentance and upon confession of Him as Lord, (and upon baptism), for this purpose the gospel is the saving instrument.”

It also refers to “the present experience of God’s power to deliver from the bondage of sin”.

Another is “the future deliverance of Christians at the second coming of Christ for his saints.”

And a third is “deliverance from the wrath of God destined to be executed upon the ungodly at the end of this age”.

(Vine’s Dictionary p. 545)

B. Salvation simply means that we are saved from sin and eternal punishment. This too is because of Jesus’ death on the cross.

C. Verses that discuss Salvation:

Luke 1:69; Acts 4:12; Romans 10:9-10; Ephesians 1:13-14; 1 Thess. 5:8-11; Hebrews 2:1-4; 1 Peter 1:8-9


Each of these terms results from the same event: the death of Jesus on the cross for our sins. By his death, he gives all men, everywhere the opportunity to be justified, sanctified, and saved. Are you a Christian? Have you placed your faith and trust in Him? Have you obeyed His commands? Perhaps you are a Christian, and you have neglected the gift that has been given you. Whatever your need, we invite you to come forward as we sing the hymn of invitation.

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