We often hear salvation terms; justification, sanctification, glorification, etc. But what do these really mean? How do they relate, and what precedes what?
In this post, I want to lay out the Biblical events, terms, and related timeline concerning the miracle of our salvation.
This is known as the “order of salvation” or in Latin “ordo salutis.”
Our encounter begins before the foundation of the world, and both culminate and extends into eternity future when we are glorified and live as joint-heirs with Christ forever.
Romans 8:29-30 states “…whom He foreknew, He also predestinated…He also called…He also justified; and…He also glorified.”
This is the rough initial outline of our salvation timeline. We’ll add other verses to fill in the missing pieces.
To simplify the salvation sequence, I present four groupings as follows: Chosen, Saved, Sanctified, and Glorified.
- We are Chosen or Elected – by God the Father through His foreknowledge and predestination (Romans 8:29 “…whom He foreknew, He also predestinated…“) and these are the initial and sequential simultaneous events that inaugurate our salvation process, not only before we were born, but even before the foundation of the world, as declared in Ephesians 1:4 “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world…”
- Election – (aka chosen, elected, and appointed used over 160 times in the Bible) is the overriding covenant by God the Father of His loving, sovereign, and unconditional selection occurring “before the foundation of the world” that rules out any merit on our behalf (1 Peter 1:1-2 states we are “…chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to the obedience of Jesus Christ…”).
- This refers to our election in terms of God’s love.
- The Greek, “proginosko“ means “to appoint as the subject of future privileges out of love.”
- The related Hebrew word “Yada” was used to show the creation of a loving relationship such as Genesis 4:1 which states “Adam knew [yada] Eve his wife, and she conceived.”
- For a deeper look into “foreknowledge” see my post here.
- This refers to our election in terms of God’s sovereignty or decree.
- Salvation is Accomplished through a sequential and simultaneous continuum that incorporates an effectual call, regeneration, conversion, justification, reconciliation, and adoption.
- Effectual Call
- In addition to the “general call” which all men receive, the “effectual call,” which only the elect receive, will always result in salvation.
- Matthew 22:14 “Many are called (general call) but few are chosen (effectual call).”
- John 6:44 makes clear “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent Me draws him…” “Draw” literally means “drags” (see James 2:6 and Acts 16:19). This is known as the effectual call.
- John 6:65 shows this …no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.”
- Since we are dead in our trespasses,
- Ephesians 2:1 specifies that natural man is “dead in your transgressions and sin.”
- Only God the Father can initiate salvation by regenerating our lifeless souls.
- John 3:3 “…unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Regeneration, therefore, must precede faith, and Romans 8:8 states “those who are in the flesh are not able to please God.”
- Therefore, man, dead in the flesh, cannot please God through his faith until regenerated.
- Colossians 2:13 “And you being dead in your transgressions…He made you alive with Him, having graciously forgiven us all our transgressions.”
- Again, God is the active agent and initiator of our salvation, not our free will faith.
- The Bible reiterates that this is not the result of man’s free will, but rather the sovereign work of God the Father.
- John 1:12-13 “As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God…born, not of the will of man, but of God.”
- Conversion – Repentance, and Faith (belief)
- True conversion includes our response of repentance and faith, both of which are gifts from God.
- Acts 20:21 and other verses, specify that faith is to include repentance as “solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks about repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.”
- Ephesians 2:8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this…is the gift of God…”
- also, 2 Timothy 2:25 “…God may give them repentance leading to the full knowledge of the truth.”
- Believers are sealed with the Holy Spirit.
- Ephesians 1:13 “In Him, you also, after listening to the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation–having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise.”
- Since we are justified by faith, justification follows faith.
- Romans 3:28 states that “…man is justified by faith…”
- also, Romans 5:1 “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
- Justification is a declaration of our legal standing of imputed innocence.
- 2 Corinthians 5:21 states “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
- This is the change in the relationship between God and those saved from enmity to peace, the cessation of hostility in attitude and action.
- Romans 5:10 “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
- Colossians 1:21-22 “And although you were formerly alienated and enemies in mind and in evil deeds, but now He reconciled you in the body of His flesh through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach.”
- The result of our justification is our adoption as children of God, sufficient to be able to call God the Father – “Abba.”
- Romans 8:15 “…but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons by whom we cry out ‘Abba ! Father!'”
- Our Lives are Sanctified – which is our earthly journey of becoming Christ-like.
- Our Christian experience is a process of becoming more and more like Christ.
- 2 Corinthians 3:18 “But we…beholding…the glory of the Lord are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”
- Philippians 2:12-13 “…work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”
- 1 Peter 1:1-2 “…chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to the obedience of Jesus Christ…”
- Perseverance is the sustaining and permanent condition of our salvation.
- Believers cannot lose their salvation – nothing they do can merit salvation, similarly, nothing they do can cause the loss of salvation.
- John 6:39 “…all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.”
- Ultimately we are Glorified – this is our heavenly eternal existence.
- Glorification is our terminal position when we return to be with the Lord forever.
- Colossians 3:4 “When Christ, who is our life, is manifested, then you also will be manifested with Him in glory.
- 1 Peter 5:4 “And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.”
God’s salvation is truly a powerful and awe-inspiring legacy and we should be forever humbled and grateful.
It helps to understand, however, the depth and breadth of what is actually included in this infinite gift.
P.S. Where is free will?
- God the Father, to His good pleasure and glory, elected us through His foreknowledge and predestination. Not only is this choice unmerited by anything we do, but it also occurs before the foundation of the world. Assuredly, He is not ratifying our free-will decision of faith since faith is a gift and the fruit of salvation, not the cause of it, moreover it needs to be preceded by regeneration since we begin spiritually dead.
- God initiates the effectual call, we have nothing to do with that. The Father regenerates our dead souls. Our conversion, results from His gifts of Faith and Repentance, again, we do nothing there but respond by acceptance. Finally, the Father Justifies, Reconciles, and Adopts us – none of which are through our efforts, since they occur automatically as part of the salvation sequence.
- We are certainly involved with our Sanctification process, but even that is supported by the works of the Holy Spirit. We, hopefully, grow in knowledge and wisdom through studying His word and acts of obedience.
- Finally, He obviously Glorifies us. Again, we have no power there.
Where is man’s free will? It can act to accept the gifts of faith and repentance and to work out our salvation through sanctification, or it can deny Jesus altogether as Lord and Savior.