Ordo Salutis and Other Big Sounding Words – Part 1

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I recently was asked to respond to some questions about certain biblical terms that many people will hear that attend church or engage in Christian conversations. Sometimes these seem like such big and overwhelming words, but they are important to understand, not to sound important, but to understand how God works in the lives of His people.

I thought it would be good to share these, as others might have some of the same questions. To some it might be review, or basic knowledge, but please don’t just excuse them because you understand them.

Ordo salutis, which is the Latin term for order of salvation.  When and how does salvation occur and what happens and in what order.  Some of these steps may occur simultaneously while others are progressive, such as sanctification.  Here is a link to a great infographic from Tim Challies that really shows a beautiful picture of how this looks; I often refer back to this in discussions that I have with people about salvation.

In short here is the order:

Election

Calling

Regeneration

Conversion

Justification

Adoption

Sanctification

Perseverance

Glorification

The definitions I’ve utilized are from “Behold Your God: Rethinking God Biblically” by Dr. John Snyder, unless marked by an * which come from the infographic and include my own personal comments.

*Election – Before creation, because of His sovereign good pleasure, God chooses some people to be saved.  (Ephesians 1:4-6)

*Calling – God summons people to himself through the human proclamation of the gospel so they respond in saving faith. (Romans 8:30, 2 Timothy 1:9)

Note: there is a difference between an effectual call and a general call.  The general call goes out to all who hear the gospel, but the effectual call has an effect on the elect (Matthew 22:14), also God has clearly revealed Himself to all of mankind, so man is without excuse for his lack of response, see Romans 1:19-20.

Regeneration – Regeneration is the work of God’s Spirit in which He changes the spiritual condition of a person, bringing him from death to life.  Regeneration is the beginning of all of the moral changes in the believer.  It results in a life of ongoing change (sanctification) and ends in the complete transformation of the believer into the image of Christ (glorification).  Another term for regeneration is being born again.  (John 3:3, Ezekiel 36:26-27, Titus 3:5-6)

*Conversion – We willingly respond to the gospel call, repenting of sin and placing faith in Christ for salvation.  (This of course, can only happen to those that effectually hear the call.  Examples: Acts 16:14, Acts 16:30-31, Matthew 18:3)

Justification – Justification is a legal action by which God declares the believer to be freed from his guilt and made right before God’s law.  Unlike regeneration, it does not change the soul of the believer.  Justification alters the believer’s legal position before God, changing it from guilty to innocent.  Justification is the outcome of atonement and the imputation of Jesus’ righteousness to the believer.  (Romans 3:19-26, Romans 8:30, Luke 18:14)

Adoption – Adoption describes the new relationship the believer has to God by using a family-related term.  God, by the new birth and justification, makes the believer His adopted child.  God becomes his father and Jesus his brother.  The believer enters into all the responsibilities and joys of being in God’s family.  (Romans 8:15, Ephesians 1:5)

I wanted to briefly highlight the word responsibilities, because this shows us the importance of the fact that we are not free to continue in sin that grace may abound.  We are now called to be holy and set-apart – see Ephesians 2:10, Romans 6:1.

Sanctification – Sanctification has two parts.  First, the believer is set apart to God by the purchasing work of Jesus and regeneration.  Thus, the believer belongs solely to God and no longer to the world.  Second, the believer is daily being set apart in heart and life by the work of the Spirit, making the believer holy in his practice.  (Acts 20:32, John 17:17-19, 1 Corinthians 1:2, 6:11)

This might sometimes by two steps forward, one step back, but as Dr. Snyder says, it’s a daily process.  This is a wonderful way to examine our lives, as to whether we are truly in the faith.  Do we have victory over sins that used to beset us?

Perseverance – Perseverance refers to the fact that the true believer will not fall away from his relationship to God, but rather by trusting God (faith), he will endure until the end.  (John 10:26-30, John 17:9-12, John 17:24-26, Ephesians 1:13-14)

The scripture speaks so boldly and plainly on this doctrine.  We can also understand that believer’s can fall into sin, but they will not remain there for an extended period of time, and will respond when confronted with their sin (Psalm 51).

I will address backsliding in the second article, but this gives us the truth that God’s elect can never truly fall away.  The modern church misunderstands backsliding as a state in which true converts just fall back into sin, but in reality they most likely have never been converted.

Glorification – Glorification refers to the completion of all aspects of the believer’s salvation.  It is the final step to his rescue that comes when in heaven he sees Christ face to face and is ultimately transformed spiritually and physically into an everlasting perfect person. (Romans 8:17, 8:30)

Philippians 3:20-21 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it maybe conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself. 

Praise God that we will finally be relieved from this body of death and sin will no longer be in our lives, this will of course only occur after death or the return of the Lord Jesus.

Next time we will look at some other terms used in Christendom.

Soli Deo Gloria!

 

Kevin

Born again?

Sunrise w man B&W

John 3:4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old?  Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”

What a strange thing to be born again, what does this mean?  Jesus tells us we “must” in order to see the kingdom of God but what is He talking about?  We certainly cannot enter the womb a second time so we surely understand this is not a physical rebirth.

Jesus goes onto say, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.  That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”  John 3:5-6

Is Jesus telling us without a water baptism one cannot see the kingdom of God?  Many believe this but we know that Jesus welcomed the thief on the cross into the kingdom and he certainly was not baptized nor was he capable of any sort of works.  What does he mean by being born of water?

John Calvin gives a simple answer:

By water, therefore, is meant nothing more than the inward purification and invigoration which is produced by the Holy Spirit. Besides, it is not unusual to employ the word and instead of that is, when the latter clause is intended to explain the former. And the view which I have taken is supported by what follows; for when Christ immediately proceeds to assign the reason why we must be born again, without mentioning the water, he shows that the newness of life which he requires is produced by the Spirit alone; whence it follows, that water must not be separated from the Spirit  Calvin Commentaries 

Jesus affirms the doctrine of human depravity (Romans 3:10-12, Genesis 6:5), as he explains that in the flesh we cannot see the kingdom.  Again, there must be a newness of life (2 Corinthians 5:17), a change that is recognizable to us and to the others around, a newness that produces a difference.

This newness of life is generated or I should say regenerated by God’s Spirit.  The natural man is dead in sins and trespasses, all of humankind is dead from the moment they are born and without God’s work we will die in our corruption, and we are under the power of Satan.  (Ephesians 2:1-2)

Unless the Spirit breathes life into the dead… we will remain dead.

The word Spirit is pneuma a current of air, that is, breath (blast) or a breeze; by analogy or figuratively a spirit, that is, (human) the rational soul, (by implication) vital principle, mental disposition, etc., or (superhuman) an angel, daemon, or (divine) God, Christ’s spirit, the Holy spirit: – ghost, life, spirit (-ual, -ually), mind.

If one is to truly comprehend the magnitude of this miracle it must be understood that God does the work in the heart of sinful man.   Mankind cannot save himself…  Many or I should say “most” will say, what do I need to be saved from, I’m not that bad.  I’m a “good” person.

Unless you’ve been morally perfect your entire life, you are not a good person.  You might be a good person by your standards, or even by the standards of comparison against others in the world, but if you hold your life up to the perfect standard of Christ you are incapable.

Have you ever told a lie?

Have you ever stolen anything?

Have you looked lustfully at another person?

Have you loved God with all your heart soul and mind?

This is the standard by which you will be judged and no man has met this perfect standard.  In order to receive the Spirit you must recognize your need for the Spirit.

James 2:10 For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.

If you’ve broken any of God’s law you are guilty of breaking it all.  This puts you in the same class as the worst villains in all of history.  Do you understand this; is it something you can really believe?

If you can recognize your sin you have an opportunity to be saved, to be born again.  Jesus tells us we must receive the Spirit, but how?  What causes His Spirit to come to us?

Repentance!

Acts 17:30-31 “Truly these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained.  He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”

Repent is the Greek word: metanoeō – to think differently or afterwards, that is, reconsider (morally to feel compunction): – repent.

This is a complete turning from who you were to receive a new life in Christ, recognizing the need for a Savior, calling out to Him, the only One that can save.  To recognize your sin has separated you from God and that separation has you dead spiritually.  There must be a newness of life and a change of direction.

If this is new to you I ask you to consider the words of Christ.  They are the words of life and without them you will not see the kingdom of God.  That’s clear.  Isn’t it?

Kevin

2013

Happy New Year!  Thank you for reading Uncommon Faith this past year.  God has taught me much through the writing of these blog posts and I’m hopeful you have enjoyed what I’ve had to say.  I’m grateful for this small platform to have an opportunity to share what God is doing in my life and what I hope He will do in the lives of others through the thoughts He has given me.

With that being said, I wanted to share something I desire to accomplish for the upcoming year.  Every day I wake up with new topics that I wish to discuss.  They always seem so rich and real in my life and I don’t have enough time to write about them all.  I’m grateful that God refocuses my mind to the things I believe He wants me to discuss.  Sometimes those are topical; sometimes they are a brief series or occasionally just random musings.

sure guide

Next week I’m going to begin a series on the book called A Sure Guide to Heaven by Joseph Alleine.  Consistent readers of this blog will notice I speak of Alleine and this book often.  My church family will know I speak of Alleine and this book often.  Why?  Because I believe it’s one of the most significant writings next to the Bible that exists today.  If you are ever going to read any Puritan writings I would recommend this along with John Bunyon’s The Pilgrim’s Progress.

Quoting from A Sure Guide to Heaven:

Countless editions of this book have been issued since it first saw the light in 1671.  Dr. Calamy wrote concerning it in 1702: ‘Multitudes will have cause for ever to be thankful for it.  No book in the English tongues (the Bible only excepted) can equal it for the number that hath been dispersed; there have been twenty thousand sold under the title of the “Call”, or “Alarm”, and fifty thousand of the same under the title of the “Sure Guide to Heaven”, thirty thousand of which were sold at one impression.’

Practically I want to write about this little book because many people will never pick it up despite urgings to do so, also I’ve personally seen two people come to saving faith this past year in response to Alleine’s writing.   I don’t say his writing saved them, but God used his words along with His Word to show these two their sin and the need for a remedy through Jesus Christ.  There are countless professions of just this same thing happening all over the world through this powerful book.

My desire is to post once a week about A Sure Guide to Heaven and then a more traditional post my other day.  For those newer to my blog, I typically post on Tuesday and Friday.  I can’t stress enough how beneficial this book can be to those in the church that are truly redeemed and those that are falsely converted.  Because of sin’s deceitfulness how can you test your faith?  What are the signs of true conversion and false conversion?  Alleine explores all these topics in such a wonderfully, powerful way.   The writing is a little difficult to read but is certainly worth the effort.

In an age of uncertainty when institutions regarded as “churches” preach a man focused theology there needs to be a call to look at the doctrines of regeneration and “true” biblical conversion.  These “churches” are in a wretched state and nothing short of God’s grace can save them and those that attend.  Without an understanding of the difficulty of salvation more will be lead to hell on that wide road that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13).  This flies in the face of the “easy to believe” methods of today.  I may be speaking to you today if your testimony includes any of the following.

“I accepted Christ…”

“I prayed the sinner’s prayer…”

“I walked the aisle and prayed at an altar call…”

“I made a decision and asked Jesus into my heart…”

Friends these are NOT biblical conversions, nowhere is this modeled in scripture.

I encourage you to read along with me as we explore what it really means to be “saved”.  You can find A Sure Guide to Heaven available online for free if you follow this link

A Sure Guide to Heaven

I would encourage you to print it out as I believe you will want to take lots of notes.  It is also available from many online book retailers for about $7.00 per copy.  You might want to have several copies on hand to give out to friends and those professing Christ.

As Paul calls us to examine ourselves (2 Corinthians 13:5)  and this is a wonderful place to start.  Nothing of value comes easy and I believe if you invest some time into something that is this important God will bless your efforts.

Perverse sinner, will you begin where you should end?  Is not the word before you?  What saith it? ‘Repent and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.’  ‘If you mortify the deeds of the body you shall live.’  ‘Believe and be saved’ (Acts 3:19: Romans 8:13; Acts 16:31).  What can be plainer?  Page 30 A Sure Guide to Heaven

Kevin