What Is The Ordo Salutis (Order Of Salvation) And Why Is It Significant?

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The concept of salvation is paramount in Christian theology. Christians particularly emphasize comprehending this process as a pivotal element in their beliefs.

The Ordo Salutis, often called the Order of Salvation, outlines the steps and processes involved in an individual’s journey to salvation. Theological concepts like this hold power, not just in spiritual growth but also in shaping our worldviews.

Many scholars throughout history have delved into the intricacies of the concept of salvation in various religious frameworks. Amid disparities, shared themes like God’s grace, faith’s role, and salvation’s transformative aspect bind these traditions. Grasping these views enriches our theological understanding and fosters unity among Christians.

What Is The Ordo Salutis Or The Order Of Salvation?

The term Ordo Salutis[1] in Christianity is Latin for “order of salvation.” It is a theological construct that seeks to delineate the sequential stages one goes through on the path to salvation. This concept is important because some of God’s actions in saving sinners occurred in what is called an “eternity past,” where time is nonexistent.

As we have been dead in our sins (Ephesians 2:1) and powerless to save ourselves from divine wrath, God’s intervention is therefore warranted. The Ordo Salutis endeavors to grasp the sequential progression of God’s actions in our salvation, recognizing our initial condition and His redemptive response. It is the belief that salvation is not a random event but a divinely orchestrated process that follows a logical order.

Why Is The Ordo Salutis Significant?

  • Assurance and confidence: A clear understanding of the Ordo Salutis can assure believers of their salvation. Knowing that salvation is a work of God from beginning to end can instill confidence in their identity as children of God.
  • Humility and gratitude: Recognizing the depth of God’s grace and His sovereign role in salvation fosters humility and gratitude in believers. It shifts the focus from personal achievements to God’s mercy.
  • Transformation: Embracing the process of sanctification encourages believers to actively pursue a life of holiness and growth in Jesus Christ. This notion leads to positive changes in character and behavior.
  • Resilience: The concept of perseverance reminds believers that their faith journey will involve challenges. But through the power of the Holy Spirit, they can overcome obstacles and remain steadfast in their commitment.
  • Eternal Perspective: Understanding glorification motivates believers to set their hearts on eternal realities rather than temporary worldly pursuits, shaping their priorities and choices.

Historical And Theological Perspectives On The Order Of Salvation

Throughout history, different theological traditions have interpreted and emphasized these steps in varying ways, contributing to a rich tapestry of thought on this critical aspect of faith.

In the early Christian era, the theological framework of the Ordo Salutis was more formally structured than it would later become. However, early church fathers did lay the groundwork for the concepts that would evolve into the stages of salvation. They acknowledged the role of divine predestination and the calling of God in a believer’s journey to salvation. Figures like Augustine emphasized God’s sovereign choice in this process.

Early church writers also discussed the need for spiritual rebirth and the role of faith in responding to God’s grace. These ideas would later be integrated into the concepts of regeneration and the necessity of faith. The understanding of the Order of Salvation became more systematic during the medieval and Reformation periods. It was also formalized during these times.

Martin Luther, a Reformation leader, stressed salvation through grace and faith. He deemed justification pivotal, forming the basis of believers’ connection with God.

The Reformed tradition, influenced by John Calvin, highlighted the sovereignty of God in every stage of salvation. Predestination and election were central themes, underscoring God’s initiative in choosing individuals for salvation.

The Arminian theology, on the other hand, named after Jacob Arminius, emphasized the human response to God’s grace. Here, the believer is responsible for whether or not God saves him. This perspective questioned the idea of unconditional predestination and emphasized human free will in accepting or rejecting God’s offer of salvation.

The Wesleyan tradition emphasized the possibility of entire sanctification in addition to justification. The concept of sanctification and the pursuit of holiness played a significant role in this perspective.

In recent times, there has been a move towards ecumenical dialogue. Recognition of shared theological principles among various Christian traditions also surfaced. The Catholic Church, for one, highlights the transformative power of salvation. The role of sacraments, good works, and participation in the life of the church are also given importance.

chalice cup with white cloth and order of salvation

What Are The Key Steps In The Order Of Salvation?

Predestination

The voyage commences with the notion of predestination, wherein God, in His all-knowing wisdom, selects specific individuals for salvation. This theological doctrine, frequently linked with Reformed theology, maintains that God’s selection isn’t contingent upon human merit but is entirely a result of His divine purpose.

Election And Calling

Following predestination, the concepts of election and calling come into play. Those who are predestined are called by God through His divine grace. This is where God’s call to salvation becomes effective in a person’s life. It involves a supernatural drawing and conviction by God’s spirit, leading us to repentance and faith.

Regeneration

Referred to as the “new birth,” this phase signifies the instant when the Holy Spirit bestows spiritual vitality upon the believer, reshaping their inner being and empowering them to answer God’s summons. This transformation is frequently likened to a spiritual rebirth, marked by a fresh and profound faith in the righteousness that Christ imputed to us.

Faith And Repentance

After experiencing regeneration, individuals are summoned to exercise faith in Jesus Christ and repentance for their transgressions. Faith constitutes the individual’s reaction to God’s invitation and stands at the heart of salvation, encompassing reliance on Christ’s completed sacrifice on the cross for the remission of sins.

Justification

Because of Christ’s merits, we are deemed righteous before God. This legal act occurs in the heavenly courtroom, where the believer’s sins are imputed to Jesus Christ and His righteousness is assigned to them.

Adoption

Upon justification, the believer becomes part of God’s family, experiencing a new relationship with Him as their Heavenly Father. In other words, those justified by faith are considered God’s children, heirs to His promises, and recipients of His love and care.

Sanctification

Sanctification is the ongoing process of becoming more Christ-like. This involves the believer’s growth in holiness and the transformation of one’s character through the work of the Holy Spirit. It is a cooperative effort between God and the believer.

Perseverance

This stage is also known as the preservation of the saints, emphasizing that God’s work in particular elements of salvation is secure. The Holy Spirit enables believers to endure trials, temptations, and challenges in their faith journey, ensuring they trust and follow the Lord Jesus Christ.

Glorification

The final stage of the Ordo Salutis occurs when the believer enters God’s presence in eternity, experiencing the fullness of salvation and the culmination of their transformation, where they are ultimately freed from the presence of sin and are united with Christ in eternity.

man praying to an altar with the cross of jesus and order of salvation

Conclusion

The Ordo Salutis is not merely an abstract theological framework; it is a roadmap for a Christian’s journey to salvation. As believers grasp the significance of each step in the salvation process, their lives are enriched with assurance, gratitude, transformation, and resilience.

Understanding the Ordo Salutis enriches one’s comprehension of their faith and equips us to embody our convictions in a manner that mirrors our path from predestination to glorification. Those who place their trust in God will have Christ’s righteousness attributed to them. These vital precepts about salvation provides clarity on the path to eternal life.

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