Romans 8:29-30 “…whom He foreknew, He also predestined…He also called…He also justified; and…He also glorified.”
Every believer’s redemption is a collaboration of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!
Ephesians 1:3-13 shows how the Father chooses “Blessed be the God and Father…just as He chose us….” How the Son redeems, “In Him [Jesus] we have redemption through His blood….” And finally, how the Holy Spirit seals, “you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of Promise.”
In my post on divine sovereignty, I showed how God alone graciously chooses those who will be saved. In the post on election, we reviewed the historical conflicts and misunderstandings around election, free-will salvation, and the nature of mankind.
Now let’s analyze the arrangement of redemption, that which is known as the “order of salvation” or, in Latin, “ordo salutis,” and refers to the miracle of salvation as a sequence of events that, quite frankly, few are aware of, let alone understand.
Biblical Basis of a Redemptive Sequence
1 Corinthians 14:33 states, “For God is not a God of confusion….” This indicates that God’s actions are ordered. Concerning salvation, numerous verses state that believers are adopted into the family of God and that we are justified by Faith; we are sanctified, preserved, and even glorified. There is a godly purpose and plan.
But how and when does all this occur? What is the succession of our deliverance?
We may not comprehend the whole picture, but there is an arrangement that is both divine and identical for all believers. With all of the redemptive words thrown about, it would be nice to understand how this mystery unfolds.
The Bible does give us a redemptive sequence, albeit abridged, in Romans 8:29-30: “…whom He foreknew, He also predestined…He also called…He also justified; and…He also glorified.”
We’ll examine scripture to fit the remaining pieces together.
The Order of Salvation
As a point of reference, here is an outline of the Order of Salvation:
1) Our Appointment Before the Creation of the World
- Foreknowledge, Predestination, and Election – God the Father’s choice of some to be delivered.
2) Our Redemptive Activation
- Regeneration and the Effectual Call – our new birth.
- Repentance and Faith – our conversion.
- Justification – the legal declaration of our righteous standing.
- Reconciliation – the end of enmity with God.
- Adoption – inducted into the family of God.
3) Our Earthly Walk in Faith
- Sanctification – working out our salvation to become more Christ-like.
- Perseverance – the full assurance of salvation.
4) Our Eternal Destiny
- Glorification – a resurrected body as joint heirs with Christ.
Our Appointment Before the Creation of the World
According to Mounce and Mounce’s “Greek Interlinear,” the Greek verb “proginōskō” in Romans 8:29 means “knowledge that characterizes an intimate personal relationship.” This understanding is consistent with the two other times foreknowledge is used in the New Testament – 1 Peter 1:20, where an intimate personal relationship of Christ is discussed, and Romans 11:2, where intimacy with Israel is discussed. All of these passages confirm this harmony.
The Old Testament counterpart of foreknown is “yada,” which also demonstrates an intimate personal relationship. For example, Genesis 4:1 states, “Adam knew [yada] Eve, his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain.”
Foreknowledge is not simply God randomly looking into the future, it’s God, “whom He foreknew” with specificity, intimacy, and love.
If we discern foreknowledge as an intricate covenantal relationship founded on God’s independent choice and defined by His affection and favor, then to foreknow equates to forelove. Both foreknowledge and predestination are essentially analogous to God’s election. While foreknowledge portrays election from the viewpoint of His love, predestination communicates election from the perspective of His sovereignty.
This position of sovereignty is illustrated in Ephesians 1:11, which explains, “…having been predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will.”
Election, also known as chosen, elected, and appointed, is used over 160 times in the Bible and is the overriding covenant by God the Father of His loving, sovereign, and unconditional selection as explained in Ephesians 1:4, “He [the Father] chose us in Him [Christ].”
Ephesians 1:4 continues with the timing “before the foundation of the world,” which 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…”. Like Ephesians 1:3-13 above, this is yet another affirmation of the Trinity’s sweeping involvement in salvation.
Possibly the most concise verse confirming election in the Bible is Acts 13:48, which states, “…as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.”
Our Redemptive Activation
Because of the sin of Adam, man’s Spirit is dead. Ephesians 2:1 stipulates that natural man is “dead in your transgressions and sin,” and only God the Father can initiate salvation by regenerating our lifeless spirits. Additionally, John 3:3 confirms, “…unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” This is also stated in Colossians 2:13: “And you being dead in your transgressions…He made you alive with Him, having graciously forgiven all our transgressions.”
As discussed in the articles referenced above, this is the point where “free will” is insufficient to commence the salvation process. Death can only be responsive to divine intervention. Additionally, the Bible explicitly confirms that “free will” is inadequate as John 1:12-13 shares, “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.”
Divine power alone can bring about transformation with a reborn and rejuvenated heart.
In addition to a “general gospel call” that all men receive, there is a specific “effectual gospel call,” which only the elect receive and which will always result in salvation. This is illustrated in Matthew 22:14: “Many are called (general call), but few are chosen (effectual call).” Additionally, John 6:44 makes this clear, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent Me draws him…” “Draw” here is the same Greek word used in James 2:6 and Acts 16:19, where it is translated as “dragged.” Finally, John 6:65 shows a harmony of election and the effectual call, …no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.”
Romans 8:30 fleshes out the concept of the absolute outcome of the effectual call when it states, “And these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.”
And what exactly is this effectual call? Romans 10:17 explains, “…faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God,” Thus, highlighting the importance of obedience to the great commission of Matthew 28:19-20, “…go and make disciples of all nations…teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you…” which, in turn, perpetuates the cycle of redemption.
Conversion – Repentance and Faith
Now, we come to the miracle of conversion: Repentance and Faith. In a momential verse, Ephesians 2:8-9 announces, “For by grace you are saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
After receiving a new heart through the Holy Spirit’s work of regeneration, Repentance and Faith are needed for conversion. The terms “repentance and faith,” and either “repentance” or “faith,” are used by scripture interchangeably to incorporate the concept of both as necessity for salvation. For example, Mark 1:15 preaches, “…the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” In contrast, the following use of one term implies the inclusion of both: Acts 2:38 states, “Repent and be baptized…” while Acts 16:31 proclaims, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.” Again, each also implies both.
It is clear then that grace is the mercy of God, and Faith is a gift, but what about repentance? As discussed, Repentance and Faith are two sides of the same coin. In 2 Corinthians 7:10, Paul states, “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation….” Genuine Repentance, or the turning away from sin in genuine sorrow, is only possible and a response of the mind, heart, and will when provoked by a new heart that the Holy Spirit has regenerated.
The sequencing of Repentance before Faith is not by chance, as it is necessary to turn from sin before turning toward Christ. Thus, both Repentance and Faith are irresistibly compelled by a new heart that the Holy Spirit regenerates in response to an effectual call of the Gospel. This is precisely why Gospel messages that solely emphasize Faith prove insufficient for genuine conversion and lead to the emergence of false believers.
Justification, Reconciliation, and Adoption
Following conversion, a loving Father immediately and simultaneously grants the benefits of justification, reconciliation, and adoption.
Romans 3:28 states that “…man is justified by faith…” Since Faith is a condition of conversion, justification follows in our order of salvation.
Justification is a declaration of our legal standing of imputed innocence, again, not by our efforts or will but because we are now “in Christ.” 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.” Romans 3:24-26 provides further insight, “And are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation [substitute] by His blood, to be received by faith.”
Reconciliation 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 states, “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. Also, Colossians 1:21-22 explains, “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.”
Adoption, the household identification of our conversion, is our placement as children of God, sufficient to be able to call the Father – “Abba.” Romans 8:15: “…but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons by whom we cry out ‘Abba! Father!’” This is also noted in Ephesians 1:5: “He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will.”
Our Earthly Walk in Faith and Obedience
Thus begins our earthly journey of becoming more and more Christ-like. Our Christian experience is a process, as 2 Corinthians 3:18 declares, “But we…beholding…the glory of the Lord are being transformed into the same image.…” Philippians 2:12-13 also addresses this concept, “…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.” Finally, we note a “from-to” adaptation and yet another Tritarian involvement in 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…”
Here we enjoy the sustaining and permanent condition of our salvation. True believers cannot lose their salvation – just as nothing they do can merit salvation, so too, nothing they do can cause its loss. Jesus declares this in John 6:39: “…all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.” Many other verses also address this permanence, including Philippians 1:6: “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”
This profound understanding of the permanence of salvation and the promise of glorification should comfort believers and challenge them to live in a manner that reflects an eternal perspective. Believers are called in Phillippians 2:12 to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling,” indicating a life lived in reverence and awe of God’s monumental gift. This does not imply that our actions earn salvation; instead, our good works should stem from the gratitude and certainty of our secured future glory.
Our Eternal Destiny
This is our final and permanent destination and condition upon death or being raptured to be with Christ forever. Colossians 3:4 says, “When Christ, who is our life, is manifested, then you also will be manifested with Him in glory. And 1 Peter 5:4 adds, “And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.”
My post on the restoration discusses the concept of our bodies being redeemed and fitted for an eternity with the Lord. Ultimately, after the Millennium Kingdom, we will take our places in the eternal New Jerusalem in the combined New Heaven and New Earth to reign with Christ forever.
This is all in fulfillment of Christ’s promise in John 14:2-3, “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to Myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.”
The “Order of Salvation” refers to the sequence of divine events that lead to a believer’s deliverance and eternal destiny. It is a series of actions initiated by God, as depicted in Ephesians 1:3-13, whereby the Father chooses, the Son redeems, and the Holy Spirit seals.
Our selection is even secured before the creation of the world through God’s loving foreknowledge, His sovereign predestination, and His individualized election. The Spirit activates our redemption through the regeneration of a new heart and, in response to an effectual gospel call, consummates our conversion through our response of Repentance and Faith. At that point, we receive the benefits of justification, reconciliation, and adoption and commence working out our salvation through the sanctification process with the assurance of perseverance. Ultimately and finally, we await our heavenly presence characterized by our glorified bodies in union with God forever.
In reviewing and reflecting on the various stages and steps in the salvation process, it is clear that God is in control and causes everything. We do nothing to deserve or will our redemption, and only because of a new heart do we respond irresistibly in true Repentance and Faith.
Nothing can compare to the sheer sweetness of this, our ultimate gift.
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