When Paul writes to the church at Ephesus and says “take the helmet of salvation”, he is not commanding them to be saved, for they are already saved (Eph. 2:8,9), but to understanding the biblical doctrine of salvation: to know it inside out, being rooted and grounded in the truth of it. One of the best ways to do this is by gaining an understanding of what theologians refer to as the “ordo salutis” or order of salvation.
Robert Reymond’s “brief synopsis” of the ordo salutis, purchased in its entirety by Christ’s redemptive activity, commences with God the Father’s irresistible summons to the spiritually dead elect sinner, normally issued in and by the proclamation of the gospel, to enter into fellowship with Jesus Christ. The Spirit of Christ, working by and with that summons, regenerates the spiritually dead elect sinner, enabling him thereby to repent of his sins and in faith to receive and to rest upon Christ alone for salvation, in which activity he is united to Jesus Christ. The moment he believes in Christ, God forgives him of all his sins and declares him righteous in his sight, definitively sanctifies him, adopts him into his family and seals him to the day of redemption with the indwelling Spirit of adoption. The sinner, now a Christian, begins to experience the lifelong process of progressive sanctification, throughout which time he also perseveres in holiness by the power of the Holy Spirit, with the end and goal of this entire series of acts and processes being his glorification, into which state he is finally brought in the Eschaton at the return of Christ. At that point he will be fully conformed to the image of the Son of God, his summum bonum, and Christ will then be in the highest sense possible ‘the Firstborn among many brethren.’”
[Robert L. Reymond, A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith (Nashville: T. Nelson, 1998), 712.]
“The ordo salutis, Latin for ‘the order of salvation’ is the theological doctrine that deals with the logical sequencing of the benefits of redemption as we are united to Christ which are applied to us by the Holy Spirit.”
Dr. James White speaks to the issue of a consistent hermeneutic derived from sound exegesis of the Biblical text and takes us on a journey looking closely at the constructions in 1 John 2:29, 1 John 4:7, and 1 John 5:1, then responding to comments made by Leighton Flowers which attempt to avoid the weight of what 1 John 5:1 teaches about faith and regeneration.
I am sure at some point you have seen crash dummies in a car as it hits a wall, and from several different angles, cameras record the event to note precisely how the collision impacted both the vehicle and the dummies inside. The videos are slowed down dramatically and observations are made which reveal a great deal. As any new car is introduced into the car market, car companies (as well as outside agency safety inspectors) conduct these kind of tests as standard procedure to ascertain the level of safety for passengers.
With this idea in view, I want us to take a fresh look at salvation from several angles. We will note that although many of the things happen in an instant, if we could slow the camera down (so to speak) we will see that one thing occurred before the other, just as the car had to hit the wall before the dent in the car could be observed. In referring to a sequence with regards to time we also speak of logical and causal order, for the simple reason that although (in time) two things seemed to occur instantly, logically speaking, one thing had to happen before the other – one thing was the cause of the other thing.
Someone might ask what is the point of such a study. I would reply that the conclusions we come to on these issues have a profound impact on how one views God, the gospel, and the Bible as a whole.
The Bible compares spiritual growth with natural growth, revealing that when we are converted, we are much like spiritual babies who need to grow in our knowledge of God and His word. As we progress in spiritual maturity, things become less fuzzy as we gain a more precise understanding of what the word of God teaches. Of course, some things will always remain deeply mysterious, while others come more into focus.
One concept that has brought great clarity for me in recent years is the study of the sequence of events regarding salvation in Scripture. Theologians use a more precise term, namely Ordo salutis – a Latin term which means the order of salvation.
The Ordo Salutis
1. Election – God’s choice of a people to be saved took place before the world was made. To the saints at Ephesus Paul wrote, 1:4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world. Continue reading →