Dead or Alive? The Ordo Salutis

A summary statement of the Ordo Salutis: Predestination/Election

[I’ve written quite a lot about the sovereignty of the LORD in election. Chapter 5, “The Election of Grace”, of the article “The Humanism of Evangelistic Apologetics”, is particularly useful here. I highly recommend it for additional and detailed study of this preeminent topic.]

There are several classic texts which state this spectacular truth very clearly, beginning with one of the most magnificent texts in all the Scripture:

Eph 1.3-6
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.

If this was the only text in the entire Bible it would be more than enough to prove that the LORD alone chooses sinners to come to Himself!

This notion that the lost sinner somehow “awakens himself” from spiritual death to hear the gospel call is a lie that proceeds from the depths of Hades.

Even to entertain such a thought is an affront tantamount to the OT Jews’ rejection of the preaching of Jeremiah (for example) or the ancient Pharisees’ rejection of the Lord Christ and, instead, plotting His murder.

Claiming, as the “churches” in the next chapter do, that the sinner believes and then is “born again”, demonstrates their collective arrogance as they deliberately ignore the testimony of these great texts:

Rom 11.5,7
In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God’s gracious choice [lit. election of grace]. ... What then? What Israel is seeking, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen obtained it, and the rest were hardened ...

Phi 1.29-30
For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me.

Col 2.12-13
having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. When you [lit. “being”] dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions,

Col 3.12
So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience ...

1 The 1.4
knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you ...

2 The 2.13-14
But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.

1 The 2.1-5
We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers; constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father, knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you; for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.

2 The 2.13-14
But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Tim 2.10
For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory.

2 Tim 2.25
with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth ...

Tit 1.1
Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness ...

The texts above show, without any doubt, that the LORD chooses His people (show clearly, that is, to anyone who actually reads and obeys the Bible instead of mindlessly chanting the usually-empty and useless claim that they “believe the Bible”). But there is another class of texts which provide examples of how this great truth is implemented in the lives of people.

One of the most fascinating references in the NT is from the Lord Christ Himself, speaking of something so spectacular and terrifying that it would be impossible for us to know without His Divine commentary:

Mat 11.20-27 [Luk 10.13-16,21-22]
Then He began to denounce the cities in which most of His miracles were done, because they did not repent. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. Nevertheless I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day. Nevertheless I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you.” … “All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.”

The sovereign Christ taught us that if the cities of Tyre, Sidon and Sodom (and by implication the co-destroyed cities of Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim, Deu 29.23) had been shown the same miracles that He performed in Chorazin and Bethsaida that those cities would have repented rather than being destroyed!

Do you see the stunning significance of this?

This is nothing less than the Divine declaration that the Lord Himself withheld the very miracles, signs, works of power, etc. that would have unconditionally led to the saving of the people of those cities, with the equally unconditional result that those cities were utterly destroyed in judgment! Why? The people of those cities were not chosen of grace and therefore received no mercy because it was not “willed” that they should see and believe the true God!

[I remember visiting a so-called conservative “church” many years ago. The “teacher” of the adult Sunday School class had taught a lesson in which he demonstrated that he was not only woefully ignorant of the doctrine of election, but antagonistic to it. I don’t fully remember the complete sequence of events, but the last part of the class was a time of “group discussions” on this topic. Within the group in which I was a part, I read from Mat 11 the text above (which contradicted what the “teacher” had just taught). When I finished, the other members of that group sat in stunned silence as they realized that this text refuted what the teacher just taught. My impression of that moment was that none had ever read the passage before, at least with any real understanding.]

This is exactly how the Lord Christ summarizes this: “… nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. The Lord Christ here declares unambiguously that the Triune God (in this immediate context, the Father and the Son) is the authority solely responsible for deciding who those are to whom He grants mercy and calls to Himself!

No wonder Jonah declared “Salvation is from the Lord.” (Jon 2.4)

If the doctrine of Election is not blazingly clear from this text alone, then truly you’re not really reading the Book; your mind is blinded and you will fare poorly in the coming judgment.

 

The Apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, expresses the same conclusion with these equally terrifying and humbling words:

Rom 9.14-18
What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.” So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.

If you examine the record in Exo 4, you’ll find the following stunning declaration of the LORD’s hardening of Pharaoh before Moses ever set foot back in Egypt:

Exo 4.21
The Lord said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders which I have put in your power; but I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go.”

This is the reason that the Apostle can confidently declare the LORD’s words “For this very purpose …”. The sovereign LORD has the authority to harden just as He has the authority to elect by grace. In fact, the latter can't be true without the truth of the former.

Nebuchadnezzar learned the lesson of the LORD’s sovereignty the “hard way”:

Dan 4.34-35
But at the end of that period, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever;

For His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
And His kingdom endures from generation to generation.
“All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
But He does according to His will in the host of heaven
And among the inhabitants of earth;
And no one can ward off His hand
Or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’”

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