What is the Order of Salvation? ordo salutis

The biggest difference between Christians on the order of salvation is the place of regeneration in the new birth. Some hold that regeneration takes place before effectual calling since the Bible teaches the doctrine of predestination of the elect (election). The elect, therefore, will be regenerated since God’s grace is irresistible. The Scriptures teach that man is dead, unable and unwilling to come to Christ on his own. God set his love, mercy, and grace on his elect in eternity past. God chose them first! (John 15:16).

Others believe man has some pre-grace or enabling grace that enables one to believe and then he is regenerated. Therefore, to most, regeneration does not take place until the conditions for salvation are met which are faith and repentance. God gives man some pre-grace or enables him to cooperate in salvation.

Which interpretation one takes rests on our definition of “foreknowledge” and “total depravity.” We must not deny either God’s sovereignty [election] or human responsibility [evangelism]. Both doctrines co-exist in Scripture [John 6:37; 2 Thess. 2:13-14], and both should be taught in balance.

Romans 8:28-30

Scripture defines several different aspects or steps of a person’s salvation, from the earliest hearing of the Gospel all the way to eternity in heaven. Each of these aspects overlap, since they are all parts of one’s salvation, but they also maintain their distinctiveness in Scripture and in the redemptive plan. God applies this redemption in time to those He has chosen from all eternity. Romans 8:28-30 shows salvation from God’s sovereign view.

1. Call of the Gospel:

The Father has determined that the normative way of salvation would come through His Word. The Bible places a heavy emphasis on the reading and preaching of His Word, as well as the carrying of this Gospel to all peoples. This general call of the Gospel, containing the supremacy of God, His wrath against sin, and the promise of salvation through His Son, exhorts fallen man to repent from their sins and believe in the redemption offered in Christ.

(Isa. 55.7, Matt. 28.19-20, Rom. 10.14,17, 2 Tim. 1.9-10, 3.15)

2. Regeneration:

The general call of the Gospel is made effective when the Holy Spirit makes the Word of God understood, appreciated and believed upon in the heart of an individual. Because of the fallen, sinful nature of man he is at enmity with God and refuses to acknowledge the truthfulness of the Gospel until the effectual call works in his dead heart.

God sends His Spirit into His elect to change this spiritual rebellion by regenerating, renewing and transforming the inward condition of the depraved into a love for the Lord. In effect, these hearts and natures have been born again, and their eyes and ears have been opened to see the glorious truths of God’s salvation.

(Ezek. 36.26-27, Matt. 16.17, 1 Cor. 2.12-14, 2 Cor. 3.3,6, 2 Thess.2.13-14, Titus 3.5)

3. Conversion:

The regenerate heart that hears the Gospel is faced with the guilt of his sinful condition and the certainty of a just judgment against him. Despairing in this state, he sees his only hope of escape through Christ and both trusts in the promise of salvation and repents from his sins.

Through faith, he recognizes himself as a sinner in need of grace, and pleads to God for His power and love to save him through the blood and righteousness of Christ. Through repentance, he loathes his sinfulness and turns to God as the only source of righteousness and goodness, endeavoring to live obediently for Him. Those who repent and believe are converted from being followers of Satan to being followers of God.

(Isa. 55.11, Hos. 14.2,4, Acts 17.30-31, 20.21, Rom. 1.17, Eph. 1.17-18, 2.8)

4. Justification:

The promise in the Gospel is that those who trust in the Lord will be saved. The forgiveness for the sins of God’s people, and the righteousness that allows a sinner to be in the presence of a holy God, comes from the perfect obedience and atoning sacrifice of Christ. As a substitute for the elect two things happen:

  1. Christ earns their salvation and standing before God by fulfilling God’s law and covenant on their behalf, and
  2. He bears the punishment for their sins. As Christ fulfilled this role, God promises that those who trust in Him will have the righteousness of Christ imputed (or given) to them, just as their sins will be imputed to Christ.

Thus as a holy Judge, God legally declares that His people are “just,” or “not guilty.” The sinner is justified before the Lord when, in faith, he rests not upon his own goodness and/or good works (of which he has none), but upon the magnificent work of God’s Son.

(Jer. 23.6, Rom. 3.24-26, 4.5-8, 5.17-19, Gal. 2.16)

5. Adoption:

God’s grace converts sinners from being servants of Satan to being servants of Christ, yet God promises more than just that. He manifests His fatherly love towards lost sinners by adopting them as His own children. Through adoption, He gives them all the rights, privileges and protection as belonging to His household and having His name. They become adopted adult sons and daughters of the Father, and brothers, sisters, and joint-heirs with Christ.

(Psalm 103.13, John 1.12, Rom. 8.15-17, Gal. 4.5-7, Eph. 1.5)

6. Sanctification:

The next step in this process of salvation is the purifying work of the Holy Spirit in a believer’s daily walk. Not only are the elect presented as blameless through the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, they are also developed spiritually in righteousness by the Word and the Spirit. As the Spirit indwells the believer, He works in them growth in grace and knowledge and produces in them spiritual fruit and good deeds.

Believers are especially sanctified when involved in a church where the Bible is taught and the sacraments are administered. Though none can become perfect in this life, and though this sanctification can be a very long and slow work, the elect are strengthened effectively so that they will pursue holiness.

(2 Cor. 7.1, Eph. 2.10, 5.26, 2 Thess. 2.13, Heb. 13.20-21)

7. Glorification:

As a believer dies, his soul goes into the presence of God while he waits for the resurrection and redemption of his physical body, and there is comforted and beholds the glory of God. The final realization of salvation will come as Christ returns, gathers His people, and glorifies them together with Him. When the New Jerusalem is established, which is commonly referred to as heaven, the Bible promises that the curse of sin will be no more and that the elect will dwell in heaven with the Lord eternally, with perfect peace, love and joy.

(Eccl. 12.7, John 5.28-29, Acts 24.15, Rom. 8.30, 1 Cor. 15, 2 Cor. 5.1,6,8, Phil. 1.23)

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