"To suppose that whatever God requireth of us that we have power of ourselves to do, is to make the cross and grace of Jesus Christ of none effect." -JOHN OWEN
Does Scripture picture God as a powerless lover or suitor, begging sinful man to "accept Him, marry Him or get engaged to Him?"; OR as the Sovereign Lord of all who is "commanding all men everywhere to repent" of their sins? IOW, is God simply reacting to man's "free will advances" or is He the One who is the Author and Finisher of our faith; the One who draws, elects, chooses; predestines, justifies, glorifies, and saves? (cp. Roms. 8:28-31)
My prayer is that you will find comfort, joy, reverence and thanksgiving in the blessed hope and surety of your salvation. What is the essence of the doctrines of grace? What is the heart and soul of biblical soteriology?
It can summed up in one phrase: "salvation is of the Lord."
The Ordo Salutis:
Latin, "the order of salvation."
The ordo salutis is the theological doctrine that deals with the logical sequencing of the benefits of Salvation worked by Christ which are applied to us by the Spirit. This first thing to remember is that we must never seperate the benefits (regeneration, justification, sanctification) from the Benefactor (Jesus Christ).
The entire process (election, redemption, regeneration, etc.) is the work of God in Christ and is by grace alone. Election is the superstructure of our ordo salutis, but not itself the application of redemption. Regeneration, the work of the Holy Spirit which brings us into a living union with Christ, has a causal priority over the other aspects of the process of salvation:
- God opens our eyes, we see.
- God circumcises/unplugs our ears, we hear.
- Jesus calls a dead and buried Lazarus out of the grave, he comes.
- In the same way, the Holy Spirit applies regeneration, (opening our spiritual eyes and renewing our affections), infallibly resulting in faith.
Historically in the Church there has been disagreement about the order of salvation, especially between those in the Reformed and Arminian camps. The following two perspectives of God's order in carrying out His redemptive work reveals the stark contrast between these two main historic views. Keep in mind that both viewpoints are based on the redemptive work which Christ accomplished for His people in history:
In the Reformed camp, the ordo salutis is 1) election, 2) predestination, 3) gospel call 4) inward call 5) regeneration, 6) conversion (faith & repentance), 7) justification, 8) sanctification, and 9) glorification. (Rom 8:29-30)Notice the crucial difference in the orders of regeneration and faith.
In the Arminian camp, the ordo salutis is 1) outward call 2) faith/election, 3) repentance, 4) regeneration, 5) justification, 6) perseverance, 7) glorification.
While the Reformed position believes spiritual life is a prerequisite for the existence of the other aspects of salvation, the Arminians believe that fallen, natural man retains the moral capacity to receive or reject the gospel of his own power. Even with the help of grace he still must find it within himself to believe or reject Christ. This has broad implications and raises questions like why does one man believe and not another? You might also notice that, according to Arminians, election is dependent on faith, not the other way around. This is no small matter ...understanding the biblical order, while keeping in mind its unitary process, is crucial and has a profound impact on how one views God, the gospel, and the Bible as a whole.
"Union with Christ begins with God's pretemporal decision to save his people in and through Jesus Christ. This union, further, is based on the redemptive work for his people which Christ did in history. Finally, this union is actually established with God's people after they have been born, continues throughout their lives, and has as its goal their eternal glorification in the life to come. We go on, then, to see union with Christ as having its roots in divine election, its basis in the redemptive work of Christ, and its actual establishment with God's people in time." -Anthony Hoekema