For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.
Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJV
The Bible speaks of being saved in 3 tenses, past, present, and future. What does it mean that we were “saved in the past.” When the Bible speaks like this it is referring to the fact that there was a time in our past when we turned from our rebellion and through faith submitted to Jesus Christ. It was at this moment that we were reconciled to God. Salvation in the past tense refers that time when we were reconciled to God.
Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men–extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. ‘I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ “And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Luke 18:9-14 NKJV
In Luke 18 we see an illustration of this in one of Jesus’ parables. Here we see that the moment the tax collector humbled himself in repentance towards God and called out for mercy he was justified. That is, he was accepted by God. This later happens in reality in Luke 19 when Zacchaeus repented of his sins during dinner and Jesus immediately declared, “Today salvation has come to this house.”
For more on this topic, here is a short video: