A lady once asked me why there were so many words used in talking about salvation. I told her that salvation was like a diamond, with many facets. The different words used about salvation simply describe one of these various facets.
The following is adapted from a tract I’ve had for a long time. It briefly describes several, though not all, of these words. It was written by a man named C. D. Cole (1885-1968), a well known pastor and writer of an earlier generation. I’ve done some editing, as indicated by [ ].
Sin has wrought awful havoc with the human race. It has ruined every man and every part of man. The consequences of sin are manifold, and there is an aspect of salvation for every aspect of sin. If the sinner be viewed as in a state of [spiritual] death, then regeneration is the Bible word to denote the impartation of [spiritual] life. If the sinner is considered as a child of the devil, then adoption is the term which expressed the judicial act of God. If we think of the sinner from the standpoint of his body, being mortal and having in it the germs of death by which it will be turned into a dustheap, then glorification is that aspect of salvation in which the body will be fashioned like unto the glorious body of Christ. If the lost person be regarded as in a state of depravity or moral defilement, sanctification is the work making him holy and pure before God.
If we think of the sinner as in a state of spiritual darkness unable to understand the gospel, then [illumination] is the Bible term describing the act of God giving light [to the soul] by which the sinner can see or understand that Christ crucified is the wisdom and power of God in the plan of salvation. [If we think of the sinner as in a state of rebellion and defiance, then calling is the act of God by which the Holy Spirit effectually draws that sinner from the power and influence of Satan into the kingdom and authority of God’s Son.] If the sinner be thought of as in a position of condemnation – cursed by God’s law he has violated – then justification speaks of his perfect standing before the throne of God. [It is the other side of sanctification. The Bible says believers are God’s handiwork, Ephesians 2:10. Sanctification is simply the Holy Spirit making sure we look like it.] If salvation be approached from the standpoint of the eternal purpose of God, according to which He graciously saves sinners, then election and predestination are the Bible terms which denote the choice and destiny of God’s people.