Whenever people are saved in the Bible, it is always depicted as instantaneous.
That’s what makes true Christianity unique from the rest of the religions out there. Every false religion teaches some type of salvation through works, which is also known as a process of salvation, but we as believers know that salvation is not a process.
The reason this matters, is that if salvation were a process, then the one going through the process is involved in his salvation. His actions and works contribute to it, and, in Paul’s words in Ephesians 2:9, would give him the ability to boast. Instead, the Bible tells us that man’s salvation is a work of God where, in His great mercy, He makes dead people alive (Eph. 2:4-5). In the same way that Lazarus went from being dead to alive physically, believers go from being dead to alive spiritually.
It is imperative that we as believers understand this truth. That we can talk about it and defend it biblically. Even though many Christians can’t pinpoint an exact moment when we were instantly saved, we know that this is the only way the Bible describes salvation, and we never let our experience dictate our theology, but the other way around.
Let me give you five biblical characters as an example, where there was no salvation process, but rather they were saved in an instant.
And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. Luke 19:9
We all are familiar with the story of Zacchaeus. Probably because we can all sing the song. Two things are unmistakably clear about this story. Zacchaeus was absolutely transformed, and Jesus declared him to be instantly saved. Jesus is clear about what happened to Zacchaeus, He is also clear about the timing of when it happened. He was saved, and it happened today.
Zacchaeus had not yet returned the money. He had simply made a promise, but Jesus being able to see his heart, declared to the world that this man was going to Heaven when he died.
The Ethiopian Eunuch
And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Acts 8:37
The Lord transports Philip to this Ethiopian Eunuch. In the Lord’s sovereignty, this man is reading Isaiah 53 and has no idea who it is speaking about; he desperately wants to understand but has no idea. God flies in Philip to the rescue who brings the Gospel so that the lost Ethiopian Eunuch can be saved. The salvation is unmistakable because Philip is comfortable baptizing this man in a nearby river.
The Philippian Jailor
They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house. Acts 16:31
The Philippian jailer, after listening to Paul and Silas sing praises all night despite their bloody backs, knew that there was something different about them. Instead of escaping after the earthquake, they were concerned for his soul and stopped him from committing suicide. Desperate, he asked them what he needed to do to be saved. Paul states clearly that the only thing needed is to believe in Christ. He went to his house, preached the Gospel to the whole family, and they all believed in Jesus and were baptized.
The Apostle Paul
And immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” Acts 9:20
Paul was instantly transformed. On his way to kill Christians in Damascus, he was knocked off his horse, blinded, and met Jesus, Himself. The Lord asked Ananias to go and encourage him, remove his blindness, and the Bible tells us that Paul became a Christian and immediately began preaching. There is no time between his receiving sight and his preaching. The transformation is instant and complete.
The Thief on the Cross
And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” Luke 23:43
This one is my favorite. Both thieves are insulting Jesus, but something happens suddenly to one of them. It’s as if he had a change of heart! He instantly goes from mocking Jesus to believing in Him. He goes from excusing his behavior to repenting of it. He goes from hopeless to hopeful in a split second. And again, Jesus, being able to see his genuine faith, tells us without any doubt that he would be with Him in Paradise that very day. There was no baptism, no opportunity to show a transformed life, simply a confession of repentance and belief, and Jesus sees his instantaneous salvation and welcomes him into the kingdom.
These five characters clearly show us that salvation is not a process. Salvation is an instantaneous act of God that He does on the heart of man, where He takes out a heart of stone and gives him a heart of flesh (Eze. 36:26). This belief is an essential belief of the Gospel. It is what distinguishes Christianity from every other false system. The Bible says that today is the day of salvation (2 Cor. 6:2). It takes man completely out of it, eliminates any opportunity for man to be able to steal any glory from God, and frees us from any responsibility in the salvation of those around us.
The instantaneous nature of our salvation is an essential part of the Gospel, and believers must trust it, preach it, and defend it without fear.