In through the door of justification, out the door of glorification. What's in between?
We enter the door to the Kingdom over the threshold of "Justification." Justification is-
"...to justify is to declare righteous, to make one right with God. Justification is God’s declaring those who receive Christ to be righteous, based on Christ’s righteousness being imputed to the accounts of those who receive Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). Though justification as a principle is found throughout Scripture, the main passage describing justification in relation to believers is Romans 3:21-26: “But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.”
"We are justified, declared righteous, at the moment of our salvation. Justification does not make us righteous, but rather pronounces us righteous."
It is all about justice. The Lord declares us pardoned and free from the penalty of our sins, and therefore justified. Justice has been served- not because of anything we did, but because of Jesus taking on the penalty from God for all the world's sins.That's a lot of wrath, and Jesus took it.
At the moment of justification God sends the Holy Spirit to dwell inside us.
When we exit this life we are glorified. Glorification is "the future and final work of God upon Christians, where he transforms our mortal physical bodies to the eternal physical bodies in which we will dwell forever. 1 Cor. 15:42-44..." (source). God removes all sin from us and changes our sin-nature to a perfect nature. It is a change in body and soul. More here.
In between the moment of justification (pronounced righteous and free from the penalty for sin) and glorification (the removal of sin from our soul and the creation of a new eternal body) is sanctification.
Sanctification "means to be set apart for a holy use. God has set us apart for the purpose of sanctification not impurity (1 Thess. 4:7), and being such we are called to do good works (Eph. 2:10). Sanctification follows justification. In justification our sins are completely forgiven in Christ. Sanctification is the process by which the Holy Spirit makes us more like Christ in all that we do, think, and desire. True sanctification is impossible apart from the atoning work of Christ on the cross because only after our sins are forgiven can we begin to lead a holy life." (source)
"Sanctification also refers to the practical experience of this separation unto God, being the effect of obedience to the Word of God in one’s life, and is to be pursued by the believer earnestly (1 Peter 1:15; Hebrews 12:14)."
This is the one part of the process where we have input. The Holy Spirit is in charge of the process, but we don't lay down and let sanctification drip on us and absorb it by osmosis. The reason sanctification is messy and hard is because we participate in it.
Think of the book "Pilgrim's Progress" by John Bunyan. Christian walked, wandered, got back on track, slept, was vigorous, was inattentive, was purposeful...it took a while to get there, and his walk wasn't straight all the time. At times it was even circular.
We do not do anything about our own justification. That is a declaration from God based on the atoning work of Jesus on the cross. We can't do anything about glorification, because it is the Creator who makes us our new bodies. But sanctification... we engage with the Spirit in the process.
The bible says we are to pursue sanctification earnestly. In the practical, this means, do we pray ceaselessly? Do we walk closely with Jesus? Do we repent to Him of our sins? Do we study diligently? The more we put in, the more we are sanctified.
The Bema seat award ceremony will reveal to us the fruits of our participation in the sanctification process. (1 Cor. 3:11-15; 2 Cor. 5:9-10; Rev. 3:11-12.) From the time we walked through the door and were justified and to the end at the rapture when we're glorified, how much of what we did for Jesus as the Spirit sanctified us was motivated by love for Him, and how much of was motivated by love for our own selves? How much did we do and how much more could we have done if we had been more vigorous for Him? Will you have moved away from the door of justification and toward the other door? Or are you still hovering at the entry, not doing much and not allowing the Spirit to set you apart for good works? All will be revealed.
The more we participate in the sanctification process by praying, walking, submitting, and working, the more we will be rewarded.
So that's justification, sanctification and glorification. Search these things out to see if they are true! :)