The Order of Salvation, Part 1: Introduction
One of the most beautiful things in sports is a sharp, crisp pass, whether it be in basketball or one of the lesser sports. Yet for some reason, a clean, tight pass that actually ends up where it's supposed to is also one of the hardest things to do well. Much of what you see is sloppy passing, leading to steals, interceptions, and an assortment of other generally not-helpful outcomes.
The same is true with theology. A doctrine which is clearly stated and properly supported is a joy to hear and to read. Sloppy theology, on the other hand, confuses or (worse) misleads.
This is especially true when it comes to the order of salvation. If there's any place where crisp, sharp distinctions and clearly stated beliefs are vital, it's with regard to how we are saved by God. No game, no belief, no outcome matters more. It's paramount that we be precise.
What I want to do in this mini-series of blogposts is outline the way in which the Bible describes how we're saved by God, and to hopefully do that in a clear and precise way. My focus will be on what has historically been called the ordo salutis, also known as the "order of salvation," which addresses the question, "What does God do to save sinners, and in what sequence do those 'steps' occur?" I hope to address each "step" in future posts.
I also want to say up front that investigating and understanding these things isn't just an intellectual exercise. It's not just for the "brainy types" or the pastor to know this stuff; it's the task of every Christian! Sinclair Ferguson writes in his excellent little book The Christian Life, "The conviction that Christian doctrine matters for Christian living is one of the most important growth points of the Christian life." In a very real sense, the whole of the Christian life involves "sinking yourself down" into these things, of coming to believe them at a deeper and deeper level. As that happens, we come to grips in a more complete way with our own sinfulness and the incredible riches of God's grace.
To whet your appetite, I want to give the sequence that I'm going to be following:
1) Election, 2) effectual calling, 3) regeneration, 4) faith, 5) repentance, 6) justification, 7) sanctification, and 8) glorification.