by Mike Ratliff
34 “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. Matthew 25:34 (NASB)
I am a Calvinist. In this age of not saying things in order to avoid causing offense I refuse to subject myself to that. I know who saved me. I know that without God’s sovereign grace working in me I would never have been saved. It would never have happened because I know what I was. Just a sinner. I was as the Word of God says, dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1). Since that time I have read many books, listened to many sermons, and have written much about the “process” of how a person goes from being spiritually dead to spiritually alive in Christ. The Reformers had it right. They developed what is referred to as the Ordo Solutis, which is Latin for “Order of Salvation.” Here it is.
- Election – God’s choice of people to save. This choice occurred before the foundation of the world.
- Predestination – The work of God to ordain to salvation those who have been elected to it.
- Calling – The preaching of the gospel message.
- Regeneration – The change in the person produced by God.
- Faith – The trust an individual has in the work of God on the cross.
- Repentance – Turning from sin.
- Justification – The imputation of righteousness to the individual thus making him righteous according to the law.
- Sanctification – God’s work in the individual to make him more like Christ.
- Perseverance – God’s work in the individual results in the person continually believing throughout his life.
- Glorification – Resurrection to glory with God.
Follow this link to a more detailed description of the Order of Salvation.
Why did I start with all that? I believe that Christians nowadays are tragically ignorant of the Word of God and Doctrines of our Faith. When I talk about these things in my own church I get some very hard stares from some people and some of them actually tell me they have never heard this before. Because of this, they interpret the Bible differently than our Reformed predecessors who knew their Bibles well and studied them in order to understand God’s good doctrines. Why did they do that? When God’s people know God’s truth they become united in it. True Christian unity is found there not in compromise.
Secondly, I wanted to get our focus on the source of our salvation. Some people actually believe they are in Christ because they did something. The Ordo Solutis, which is based solidly in God’s Truth, tells us that it is our God who saves His people from beginning to end. I confessed above that I know for a fact that I was dead in my trespasses and sins before God saved me. My salvation was more like a resurrection from the dead, which for all true Christians it really is. Sadly, many don’t see it that way. I marvel that God would actually save someone like me.
12 So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— 13 for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. Romans 8:12-17 (NASB)
What is the flesh? That is our unredeemed humanness. It is the complex of sinful passions that sin generates through its one remaining domain, our bodies. In v13 the Apostle Paul gives us his first instruction concerning what we must do in the struggle with sin. What he tells us here destroys several false teachings of how believers are made holy. What are they?
- that in a crisis-moment we are immediately made perfect
- that we must “let God” take over while we remain idle
- that some turning-point decision will propel us to a higher level of holiness.
Instead of this stuff he says the Spirit provides us with the energy and the power to continually and gradually be killing our sins, a process never completed in this life. The means the Spirit uses to accomplish this process is our faithful obedience to the simple commands of Scripture (Romans 13:14; Psalms 1:2; 119:11; Luke 22:40; John 17:17; 1 Corinthians 6:18; 9:25-27; 1 Peter 2:11).
In v14 Paul tells us something about all true Christians. Believers are not led through subjective, mental impressions or promptings to provide direction in making life’s decisions–something Scripture nowhere teaches. Instead, God’s Spirit objectively leads His children sometimes through His orchestration of circumstances (Acts 16:7) but primarily through 1) illumination, divinely clarifying Scripture to make it understandable to our sinful, finite minds (Luke 24:44,45; 1 Corinthians 2:14-16; Ephesians 1:17-19; Ephesians 3:16-19; Colossians 1:9); and 2) sanctification, divinely enabling us to obey Scripture (Galatians 5:16,17; 5:25). Who are we in Christ? We are “sons of God.” When a person experiences the Spirit’s leading in those ways, he gains assurance that God has adopted him into His family.
In v15 we read, “For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!”” Because of their life of sin, unregenerate people are slaves to their fear of death (Hebrews 2:14,15), and to their fear of final punishment (1 John 4:18). However, believers have a Spirit-produced awareness of the rich reality that God has made us His children, and, therefore, that we can come before Him without fear or hesitation as our beloved Father. It includes the confidence that we are truly sons of God. The term “Abba! Father!” refers to our intimate and tender relationship with God that connotes tenderness and dependence free of fear or anxiety.
In v16 we have the Holy Spirit testifying and confirming the validity of our adoption not by some inner, mystical voice, but by the fruit He produces in us (Galatians 5:22,23) and the power He provides for spiritual service (Acts 14:36).
In v17 we see that we are heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ. Every believer has been made an heir of God, our Father (Matthew 25:34; Galatians 3:29; Ephesians 1:11; Colossians 1:12, 3:24; Hebrews 6:12; 9:15; 1 Peter 1:4). We will inherit eternal salvation (Titus 3:7), God Himself (Lamentations 3:24; Ps 73:25; Revelation 21:3), glory (Revelation 5:2), and everything in the universe (Hebrews 1:2). Unlike the Jewish practice of primacy of the firstborn son, under Roman law the inheritance was divided equally between the children, where the law more carefully protected possessions that had been inherited. God has appointed His Son to be heir of all things (Hebrews 1:2). Every adopted child will receive by divine grace the full inheritance Christ receives by divine right (Matthew 25:21; John 17:22; 2 Corinthians 8:9). Paul then tells us that believers do suffer and that is part of what causes our ultimate glory. What sort of suffering is this? It can be mockery, ridicule, or physical persecution–because of our Lord (Matthew 5:10-12; John 15:18-21; 2 Corinthians 4:17; 2 Timothy 3:12).
I pray you understand why I put this post together like this. I am questioned quite often by non-Calvinists and believers who simply don’t know what Reformation Theology is. My first response to them is always, “God is Sovereign.” From that and their response to that statement I then know where to go from there. Most are in a doctrinally confused state because of the poor discipleship they have had. Some listen to all the wrong teachers or preachers and have very rude and crude arguments that are easily confronted Biblically. However, I always come back to what I shared in this post. Who is on the Throne? Who is Sovereign? Is His Word the Truth or not? I have been posting lately on the inerrancy and completeness of God’s Word. This is why.
Soli Deo Gloria!