Salvation & Sanctification
July 29, 2012 Bible Answers That Make Sense, Blogs by: Tim Jennings, M.D.

The following is a short exchange with one of our online listeners:

Nelson: I just listened to 2012 Q3 Lesson 4 and I’m a little confused about your last statement before the prayer. You mentioned that Peter wasn’t saved until he died to self (I’m paraphrasing). I’ve always thought that salvation comes from accepting (believing) Christ as your Savior (John 3:16) and that sanctification is the process of dying to self and becoming more like Christ. Can you explain to me a little more what salvation is?

Btw, I listen or watch your program weekly and have been greatly blessed by it. My husband and I started a bible study group with our Pastor and he wants to start preaching about the healing model. May God continue to bless your ministry. We thank God for you.

Dr. J: Salvation = healing, the root word comes from the Latin, sal, which originated in the Sanskrit as sar. From the Latin sal, we get the French salut and the English salute, to wish someone good health, as well as salutary, which means healthy, and salubrious, which means health-giving. Thus salvation itself means to heal. And God’s plan of salvation is the plan of healing.

The word “save” also means to deliver or heal. When a person goes into the ER after a snakebite and says, “Dr. save me!” what do they mean? “Dr. heal me!”

Peter walked with Jesus 3.5 years, but it wasn’t until the night before the crucifixion that he was “converted.” Conversion is a fundamental change in the primary operating motive of the heart, away from fear-based survival living, to other-centered self-sacrificing love. Peter, loved Jesus before crucifixion week, but he still loved himself more than Jesus, that is why when his life was threatened he was willing to deny Jesus to protect self. This is an unconverted state. Jesus knew this and said to Peter on Thursday night, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” (LK 22:31,32 KJV)

Salvation of the human species started the moment Adam sinned, when God intervened, through Christ, to save the human race and salvation of the race was accomplished at the Cross through Christ’s victory there. Salvation of the individual is a process that occurs when the individual dies to self and is renewed in heart, this is conversion and the subsequent healing after conversion. One may “accept” Jesus as their Savior, in a “legal” manner, through a prayer, a baptism, a declaration, but never actually open the heart in trust, never actually die to self and such an “acceptance” is not conversion as the heart is not renewed. It is only through the working of the Holy Spirit in the heart that true salvation occurs. Without healing of the character, without selfishness being replaced by love, a person simply is not saved, because they are not restored to God’s design for life. In other words, they are not healed.

Nelson: Thank you for your answer. How would you define sanctification?

Dr. J:  Once the heart has changed from distrust and selfishness, to trust and love (conversion) then sanctification is the process of healing and growth in which the new heart motive of selfless love, overwrites the old established beliefs, habits, conditioned responses of selfish living, until one’s character is fully transformed to be like Jesus.


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Tim Jennings, M.D. Timothy R. Jennings, M.D., is a board-certified psychiatrist, master psychopharmacologist, Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, Fellow of the Southern Psychiatric Association, and an international speaker. He served as president of the Southern and Tennessee Psychiatric Associations and is president and founder of Come and Reason Ministries. Dr. Jennings has authored many books, including The God-Shaped Brain, The God-Shaped Heart, and The Aging Brain.