What does Ordo Salutis mean? What is the Order of Salvation?
Ordo Salutis is a Latin term that means "the order of salvation." It has historically been used to describe the process or actions involved in the salvation of a person. This process, or the way salvation takes place, is disputed among various groups, particularly between those who hold to the theological systems known as Arminianism and Calvinism/Reformed Theology.
In Arminianism, the order is described as beginning with evangelism followed by a person placing his or her faith in Christ, repenting, being regenerated and justified, followed by sanctification, perseverance, and glorification. In the Reformed tradition, the sovereignty of God is emphasized, with the Ordo Salutis being predestination/election, evangelism, conversion/regeneration/justification, sanctification, perseverance, and glorification.
The primary difference between these two understandings is that the Reformed tradition emphasizes that God has already predestined those who will come to faith in Christ. While all Christians are called to evangelize all people (Matthew 28:18-20), only those God has elected will choose salvation. Because salvation is based on God's foreknowledge and election, the Reformed tradition emphasizes that a person cannot lose his or her salvation. A person who believes is called to progressive sanctification until the end of this life and is ultimately glorified in the afterlife with Christ.
In the Arminian tradition, emphasis is placed on human choice. A person can be persuaded to believe in Christ through evangelism and is then called to follow Christ. The Arminian tradition also therefore emphasizes that a person can lose his or her salvation through choosing to reject Christ.
In both traditions, salvation takes place by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone apart from works (John 3:16; Acts 4:12; Ephesians 2:8-9). However, these differences are important for believers to study and understand based on the Bible's teachings. There are differences among Christians because Scripture is sometimes difficult to understand in some of these areas. However, it is clear that believers are called to share the gospel with everyone (Matthew 28:18-20) yet that not all will believe. In fact, Romans 8:29-30 emphasizes that only those God has sovereignly elected will come to faith in Christ: "For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified."
It has been said that when a person first comes to faith in Christ, he or she believes it was their choice to follow Him. As a Christian matures, he or she learns that no one would choose to believe in Jesus unless God first initiated a desire to believe. God ultimately is the One who motivates a person to believe and provide the way to believe. He is the One who provides the order of salvation and the power to believe.
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