In our home my wife likes us to keep things picked up and in order. I have to admit I am certainly not as orderly as she is. I have my areas and I keep them in order based on what I think order is. What my idea of order however, differs greatly from what my wife’s idea of order is. (this is NOT a picture of my area!)
Even though my things in my areas of our home are a little bit less tidy then the areas of my wife, for the most part I still know where to find all the things that I have placed in these areas. I still have a bit of order to my things even though it is not on the level of order that she has. (and by the way, I love how clean and orderly my wife keeps our home!) 🙂
God in his providence is a God of order. 1 Cor. 14:33, 40
Just look at the beautiful complexity of this world for a moment! Even though mankind has thrown everything he touches into chaos God continues to hold this world in His balance, season after season, year after year. Looking at the order of this universe as well as the human body is also awe inspiring.
When it comes to the subject of a Christians salvation experience God also does things in a Sovereign orderly fashion.
The Order of Salvation –
“Order of Salvation” is equivalent to the Latin Ordo Salutis.
God being a God of order works on a soul in a specific order regarding the sinners salvation, thus Ordo Salutis.
It is my belief and understanding from scripture that from eternity past, working behind the scenes and high above our level of consciousness, God has decreed an “absolute” order in the Salvation process. Never does the act of God in the Christians experience of genuine salvation differ or change. God has never changed His mode of Salvation. People in the Old Testament days get saved the same way as people get saved today, by Grace through faith.
It is safe to say that at the moment of anyone’s conversion no one has ever grasped, understood, or had a complete knowledge of the mechanics God orchestrates as one is created into a new creation. And most people who profess to be Christians never bother to learn or appreciate this absolute order. Actually even if they wanted to most have been totally lead astray from the Truth of this Glorious work of our Triune God.
All of our Churchianity in this land especially here in America has a completely foreign idea as to how God from eternity past has orchestrated HIS salvation within mankind. But if we follow the history of the church fathers from the past we would see they certainly believed in a much different formula then the so called church of our day.
The Golden Chain of Salvation –
First, lets make sure we understand that our sanctification and walk with God after becoming saved is progressive and continues to progress though our lives as a Christian as we grow in the knowledge of the Truth. 2 Peter 3:18b.
The act of God in justification/salvation on the other hand is IMMEDIATE and instantaneous!
It should become evident in a genuine believers life in Christ that one will be able to actually see the fruits of righteousness. We cannot see however, what exactly is happening when one experiences a true and genuine salvation conversion. Yes there is genuine evidence in a Christians life that we can see after salvation but when God the Holy Spirit begins to convert a heart of stone into a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26) it is something that transcends our finite fallen minds and level of consciousness, yet multiple things are happening simultaneously all directed by Gods Gracious Sovereign decree.
Lets begin by looking at Romans 8: 29-30.
Historic Reformed Theology calls this passage the “Golden Chain of Salvation”
God foreknew, predestined, called, justified and glorified. The Reformers believed that they were all linked together in order and could not be broken.
To contrast, we certainly understand we are not yet glorified so we know that wouldn’t fall first or in the middle somewhere. You might notice that faith is not in the list nor repentance or regeneration. Theologians believe Paul was placing these acts of God, as RC Sproul says, in “logical priority” yet we must understand that we can further break these down and add a few more steps as we take a look at Scripture as a whole.
This order is VERY important and if not understood properly can rob God of His glory giving some of the glory to mankind so we want to properly understand the preciousness of our Salvation according to Scripture .
OK, I know God being Sovereign, all knowing (Omniscience) and all powerful (Omnipotent) will always be glorified in all He does and whenever He chooses to do so, for He says that even the rocks would cry out to Him, but to not understand the Truth of Scripture in regards to this subject will hinder our praise and thanksgiving to a Holy and Righteous God thus giving improper credit where credit is due.
So, again I believe it robs God of all the glory He deserves if we do not properly understand the glories of our salvation experience, therefore, let us take a closer and brief look at what the order is.
The ordo salutis or the order of Salvation is basically mans attempt to grasp or explain Gods steps that He takes to save us and as mentioned earlier its logical priority and order.
Scripture teaches in Eph. 1:4 that God chose us or elected us before the foundation of the world.
So, our Salvation begins with God in eternity past selecting ones for Salvation. It begins with God making a choice. Rom. 8:29 tells us that He foreknew us!
We will discuss in more detail in another post the word foreknow or foreknowledge but for now understand this is an important biblical word that is frequently used and misunderstood. It is an intimate word and means to set ones love upon.
You will remember that in Gen. 4:25 it says that Adam KNEW his wife. He set his love upon her and had an intimate love relationship with her.
Therefore, God in eternity past first set his love upon a people. He chose to love ME before I was ever born or before there was ever a world created for me to live on AND He wrote MY name down in the Lambs book of Life!
If we can’t get excited about that as Christians and become awestruck at such a glorious Truth then maybe we need to reexamine our lives in light of Gods Word because that is exactly what Eph. 1:14 says to the praise of His glory.
So the first step in Salvation is God…
- Foreknowing, choosing or electing
Second we have God’s ordination unto Salvation of those He chose in predestination. He ordained them unto life to be holy and blameless before Him. Salvation is all God from beginning to end. Phil. 1:6 What he begins He finishes. He brings it to pass, to fruition.
HE IS GOD, and if He starts a work in you He WILL accomplish it, thus He decrees your PRE – destination, with Him for all eternity to offer praise and continual glory to the Lamb. Eph. 1:11
Third; Those He predestined He also called. Rom. 10:14 This however is an effectual call from God the Holy Spirit to the heart and not just an outward call. This is the first step in time, outside that of eternity that God begins to change the heart of stone into a heart of flesh as we saw in Ezekiel 36:26
Fourth; Those He Called He also justified! But we have to first insert a few other steps in the process at this point to help us get a better grasp as to what really is happening.
Regeneration is next on our list. Rom. 4:17 This is the actual rebirth of the soul the actual tilling of the ground, so to speak, or softening of the heart so something good can even grow. Acts 16:14 In Reformed Theology we learn of “Total Depravity” or “Total Inability” as some like to say, that mankind is totally dead in his trespasses and sins. We are dead spiritually and dead people don’t make choices. Dead people don’t respond to any stimuli at all. Therefore God in the person of the Holy Spirit breaths into us the Breath of Life so that we can become a living soul.
Regeneration is a transformation of the mind and the will and always proceeds faith.
Faith is our fifth step.
Yup, that’s right!
There are other theological understandings of the order of Salvation and the most popular actually believes our human faith comes first and that we are able to choose salvation of our own accord by our free will.
However, they are forgetting that we are not just sick and in need of some medicine, we are 100% dead in our trespasses and sins and unable to move a finger until God gives us life. We have no capacity within ourselves to believe and God has to give us a supernatural faith to believe.
Here is another question for you…
Were you able to make a choice as to what family and which parents you would like to have as you were born? Do you have any recollection at all of your physical birth? I didn’t think so!
Jesus tried to help Nicodemus understand the same thing when he told him he must be born again and after Nicodemus asked how this could happen Jesus said, “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:8
It is only after God changes the heart of stone into a heart of flesh in a regenerating rebirth of that heart, it is only then, that we become willingly obedient to Gods call unto salvation. The faith that we exercise in belief is a Supernatural faith given to us by God and not something we drum up from ourselves. Eph. 2:8 Our salvation is Gods doing. He makes the dead heart come alive so that we can call upon the name of the Lord confessing with our mouth and believing in the heart Rom. 10:9 and then we cry out for mercy like the tax collector Luke 18:13.
Repentance is number six. As we cry out for mercy, admitting our sin in faith God grants us repentance. And, let us never forget that repentance comes to us as a gift from God. It is only when He grants it to us that we truly do repent of our sins 2 Tim. 2:25
The regeneration or making alive, the supernatural faith to believe and the repentance granted from God to turn from our sin, results in justification. Justification is God declaring us righteous or transferring Christs righteousness on to us and our sin on to Christ.
One of my most favorite verses in all the Bible is Romans 8:1. If that verse was not in the bible none of us would have any hope whatsoever.
Once we become Justified as Paul says we are “In Christ” Eph 2:6. God has created us a new creation old things are passed away behold all things become new. 2 Cor. 5:17. Therefore, if one is genuinely saved, if God truly did do a work of regeneration in that persons heart then there will be a genuine growth spiritually. Everyone will be different in their spiritual growth but as Christians we will all grow and learn more about Scripture and Gods Truth as we walk through life. This is called Sanctification and is our next step.
There are some people who believe that even at this point of a persons salvation one can loose it. But I can assure you that scripture testifies to the fact that what God starts He WILL finish. Any person who God has elected from eternity past, anyone who He calls unto salvation or raises from the dead spiritually, anyone 100% genuinely saved, one who has been adopted into the family of God and becomes a child of the King will NEVER be cast out. He will never leave us or forsake us.
We are referring here to Perseverance of the saints or Gods preservation. If God chose you in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless I can assure you that scripture promises that He will keep us until the day of the Lord! It may be that someone could look like they could be saved, go to church, read their bible and seem to being doing right from an outward appearance and yet curse God and fall away from the faith one day. Well, if this is the case then that person most likely was never saved to begin with, for Christ promises in John 6:39 that He would not lose one of the ones the Father gave Him to keep.
Last but not least our final step in the Ordo Salutis is a culmination of everything that came before it. This was Gods purpose from the get go so we could be transformed into the image of His Son and spend eternity in Heaven with Him forever.
The Almighty God of all gods had one plan from eternity past and He began orchestrating that plan with no alterations or frustrations on the part of His creation or creatures. God never had to implement plan B because He never had one. When He wrote my name down in the Lambs book of Life He knew that one day He would glorify me along with His Son.
When Paul talks about our glorification his style of voice he is using gives indication that it is all a done deal. What he means is that as a Christian he knew that our glorification was decreed by God in eternity past. In Paul’s mind it already happened. Even though it may not be evident in this life right now, it was all ready decreed in the mind of God and is a guarantee to happen in the future.
Even though we cannot see this work of God in the heart of mankind in regards to Salvation I believe this is a Scriptural Truth we all should study if we are genuinely saved by the Grace of God.
The Protestant Reformed Ordo Salutis
Soli Deo Gloria