Column: The Doctrine of Salvation: The Ordo Salutis

Published 2:03 pm Monday, May 13, 2024

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By Hank Walker | Pastor at Peach City Fellowship

As we transition from the attributes of God, we will be turning our attention to SOTERIOLOGY—the doctrine of SALVATION.

In salvation, the Scriptures present God as a God of order. Just as God is personally immutable (unchangeable), His work of salvation is immutable. Consequently, the redemption of people from the power of sin and death follows an identical, biblically-defined path for everyone. Historically, this path has been called the ORDO SALUTIS, or the “Order of Salvation.”

Over the centuries, theologians have presented slightly different iterations of this order, but most conform to the following pattern: (1) Election (including foreknowledge and predestination); (2) The Gospel Call (external proclamation and effectual calling); (3) Regeneration (new birth); (4) Conversion (faith & repentance); (5) Justification; (6) Adoption; (7) Sanctification (including perseverance); and, (8) Glorification. Each article will attempt to clearly define these steps and show their relationships to each other.

As with many theological concepts, however, language and experience are inadequate for the problems associated with describing divine truth. One such problem with the Ordo Salutis is that its steps are assigned according to biblical LOGIC—not by natural CHRONOLOGY. What do I mean by this? A good example can be seen in the relationships between regeneration, conversion, justification, and adoption. Each is presented clearly in Scripture. Moreover, Scripture presents them as having a clear, logical order. Yet, chronologically, each occurs in the breadth of less than a nanosecond. Chronology, and the limitations of time-ordered sequences, then, are incapable of capturing the order of supernatural processes that God has ordained to be the “parts” of salvation.

Finally, if we cannot use chronology to put these steps into order, why not just say that they all happen at once? Or, why not just call the whole kit-and-kaboodle “salvation,” and dispense with the rest? In light of all the mental work, such an approach might seem attractive, but Scripture does not afford us that luxury. Every part of salvation is detailed in the Bible in multiple places and in multiple ways. What we cannot do is ignore the revelation God has given us in order to make our task easier!

I will look forward to the next several months as we dig into what GOD has said regarding the salvation He so freely gives us in Christ Jesus.

Grace and peace, y’all. Soli Deo Gloria