How Salvation Works
Salvation is a process. It is not a onetime event. However, it is impossible to understand this truth, unless we first realize that we are a three-part being. We have a spirit, a soul, and a body (1 Thes. 5:23). The salvation process begins when we are born of the spirit ( John 3:5-6), becoming a new spiritual person, which has never existed before. (2 Cor. 5:17) Anyone can become born of the spirit by confessing Jesus as Lord of all and believing in their heart that God raised Him from the dead (Rom. 10:9). Upon this confession, our spirit is joined with Christ's Spirit, not only creating a new spiritual person but one who is completely righteous (in right standing) in God's eyes (Rom. 3:21-22, 8:10, 1 Co. 1:30). That new spiritual person is then immediately sealed by The Holy Spirit until the day of redemption of our soul and body (Eph. 1:13-14) and It remains completely holy (1 Jo. 3:9). However our soul and body are not instantly saved and are not instantly made righteous. That's why I say that salvation is a process. The soul needs to be sanctified (made holy) and our natural body needs to be exchanged for a spiritual body (1 Co. 15:44). This sanctification is an ongoing process requiring our mind to be continually conformed to the mind of Christ (Rom. 8:29, 12:2). We do that by continually putting away sinful thoughts which are brought to our attention by the conviction of the Holy Spirit as we mediate on God's word (Jas. 1:21). Thus, the "works" part of our salvation begins and continues until we go to be with our Lord (Phl. 2:12). The more we study and mediate on the word of God, through the anointing of the Holy Spirit, the faster we grow in the knowledge of God and the more righteous we become in our thoughts. Thoughts control actions. Paul mentions this process in his letter to the Ephesians (Eph. 4:1-15). This salvation of the mind, however, cannot be completed here on earth (Phl. 3:12). We don't live long enough for that to happen. The list of sins is too long and too deceptive to untangle, because anything that is not of faith is sin (Rom. 13:23). The completion of the salvation process will have to wait until we stand before the judgment seat of Christ, where we will have no time restrictions to be judged guilty of unconfessed sins. This judgment leads us to repentance (1 Jo. 1:9). Then we will be judged also on our good works and I believe the measured amount of heritance due us, coming from those good works (Rom. 14:10, 2 Cor. 5:10).
It is very important that all Christians have an understanding of what I have just said. For lack of this knowledge, many people become sidetracked and either try to become better Christians through their good works, or worse yet, earn a ticket to heaven through their good works. If you are doing that, stop it. That's not the kind of good works God wants. The kind of good works which are pleasing to God come from one's love of Christ and our obedience to the voice of His Holy Spirit. Good works other than those are done in vain and really are not works which will last.
Salvation is mentioned 43 times in the new testament. Look those scriptures up and see if you don't agree that salvation is a process?