The word of God speaks of “salvation” in three tenses – past (Eph. 2:8), present (Phil. 2:12) and future (Rom. 13:11) – or in other words, of justification, sanctification and glorification. Salvation has a foundation and a superstructure. The foundation is forgiveness of sins and justification.
Justification is more than the forgiveness of our sins. It also means that we have been declared righteous in God’s eyes, on the basis of Christ’s death, resurrection and ascension. This is not on the basis of our works (Eph. 2:8,9), for even our righteous deeds are like filthy rags in God’s sight (Isa. 64:6). We are clothed with the righteousness of Christ (Gal. 3:27). Repentance and faith are the conditions for being forgiven and justified (Acts 20:21).