The Biblical Order of Salvation (Ordo Salutis) As Opposed to the Protestant False Gospel of Progressive Justification
Houston, we have an obvious problem. While Protestant scholars deny progressive Justification, yet another one of their formal doctrines clearly states otherwise. Under the auspices of “the order of salvation (Ordo Salutis),”all aspects of salvation are listed. Let me state this in a different way. It is the “order” of what? Right, “salvation.” It has an order; elements take place in an order. And included in that order is the “Christian” life or what is theologically referred to as progressive sanctification. Obviously, the Christian life is a part of salvation’s order. In other words, clearly, according to yet another Protestant doctrine, salvation is a process. While continually denying a progression of salvation (justification), they continually refer to it as a “process” with an order. A process necessarily demands a progression or the process never takes place.
Case in point: an article written by John Piper;
In the Reformed camp, the ordo salutis is 1) election/predestination (in Christ), 2) Atonement 3) gospel call 4) inward call 5) regeneration, 6) conversion (faith & repentance), 7) justification, 8) sanctification, and 9) glorification. (Rom 8:29-30).
That is all the “order” of what? Right, “salvation.” What is included in the order? Right, sanctification. Everyone agrees that sanctification encompasses Christian living. So, obviously, Christian living is part and parcel with a salvation process and the order thereof. Also, note that salvation has a beginning (inward call, regeneration, conversion), a middle process (justification, sanctification), and a completion of the process (glorification). What could I possibly be missing here? Again, ALL of these elements are part of ONE process…SALVATION. Hence, the title of book 3, chapter 14 of the Calvin Institutes:
The Beginning of Justification. In What Sense Progressive?
The Reformers could have fared much better by making salvation predetermined, but finished in the life of the believer; however, there is a huge problem with that. If salvation is a finished work, the need for formal religion is greatly diminished because eternal salvation is no longer at stake. In other words, the supply and demand that would support massive religious industrial complexes like Protestantism wouldn’t be there. From the beginning of civilization, progressive salvation has been a necessary component to support religion and caste systems in general. If salvation is a onetime finished work in the lives of those who believe, a motivation to partake in some religious process with salvation as the prize is nonexistent. People motivated by love are poor candidates for fear and financial blackmail.
What then is the biblical Ordo Salutis? It begins with man’s ability to reason and choose. So, first in the order is hearing the word of God. Second is being persuaded by what you hear and believing.
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Rom 10:17 KJV).
Also, consider passages like 1Peter 4:17 where references to not obeying the gospel are stated. The word is apeitheō (g0544. ἀπειθέω) which includes the idea of not allowing yourself to be persuaded. It is…suppressing the truth in unrighteousness (Rom 1:8) and willful ignorance (2Peter 3:5).
Thirdly, belief includes a desire to be born again of the Spirit. This is what makes us righteous; the new birth. Of course, only God can effect new birth in response to faith alone. We believe, God regenerates. Regeneration is the onetime quickening of the Spirit that puts the old man to death and resurrects him to eternal life. This is only possible with God, but is a promise to those who believe. In John chapter three, Christ explains to Nicodemus that the new birth is completely of God, beyond man’s technical understanding and reach, but follows that up by saying,
14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God (KJV).
- Hearing the word 2. Repentance (belief, faith, desire to be born again [“You MUST be born again”]) 3. The new birth. 1,2,3.
We see this order in Acts chapter 2:
37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
The “promise” is primarily the promise of Spirit baptism that raised Christ from the grave after His death.
Acts 2: 29 – “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption (ESV).
In the biblical order of salvation, you receive the Spirit and are saved once, and for all of eternity. The salvation process ends as soon as it begins because it is a finished work in the life of the believer; the old person is dead and gone, and resurrected to new life. A believer cannot be unborn, nor can the old person be exhumed and returned to the old life.