Dead or Alive? The Ordo Salutis

Introduction

For some time now I’ve been researching conservative, evangelical churches for a potential move out of our northeast Texas home, the place we’ve lived for over 22 years (as of the initial posting of this article). My wife and I believe—strongly—that being “of one mind” in a “good church” is vital in many ways, so locating a church before any move to a new area is a priority.

Vital, yes. Priority, yes. Easy to find, no.

In fact, the overwhelming majority of the churches I’ve reviewed prove conclusively that the Scripture is something about which these churches are woefully ignorant.

A very effective and efficient way to get an overall perspective of an assembly is first to read that church’s Statement of Faith (if available!) then, second, by examining the details of the subsection that is usually titled Salvation. Perhaps more than any other section you’ll find in a typically-formatted Statement of Faith (like the sections, for example, of God, Jesus Christ, The Holy Spirit, The Church, The Ordinances, etc.), the section on Salvation shows whether that church really believes that the LORD—alone—saves sinners or whether the lost, dead sinner is actually responsible for initiating his/her salvation.

[My process was to review each church’s published Statement of Faith (among several other details on each website). At the time of this article I’ve reviewed more than 600 churches in 6 states. What I learned is the genesis of this article and the exposition of the massive, biblical ignorance of the beautiful and elegant doctrine of Salvation.

Their statements of doctrinal error are published on their websites for “all the world to see”.

Regrettably, they don't even appear to have any shame at the error they present.]

[EDIT Jul 2020: The count of churches I've reviewed is now 730.]

The main point is this: if a church gets the doctrine of Salvation wrong, nothing else would compensate—even if the remainder of their doctrine is “right down the line”. The risk is very, very real that they are carelessly leading lost sinners astray, not to mention the disregard they show to the purity of the gospel message and the power of the Lord Christ to save sinners by His Word in His way. 

Some of my readers may object: “Risk!? What risk?!?!”

While the following text remains in the Bible, “getting salvation wrong” is deadly:

Mat 7.21-23
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.

The simple fact is, according to the Lord Christ Himself, most of those who profess to know Him as LORD instead “miss the true gate” completely and eternally.

Mat 7.13-14
Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

The terrifying truth of the Bible is that the majority of those who think they’ve “got salvation right” have it wrong—eternally wrong!

The main purpose of this article is to examine from the Scripture the ancient and powerful topic of the Ordo Salutis (the Order of Salvation) as it is taught in the Scripture. My treatment of this great topic will be orthodox; nothing that I’ll say in this article will be new, or even the least bit controversial (except to those who “get it wrong” in the first place—but then, this article is written for them).

It will be the same position held by those who truly love and fear the Word and their Sovereign LORD.

The second purpose is closely related to the first: to show just how widespread this error is within many churches in the states of Texas, Arkansas and North Carolina to show just how biblically irresponsible they are in their statements regarding their distorted and useless version of Salvation.

[I also reviewed the websites of churches in Wyoming, South Carolina and Florida, but either they did not have a published Statement of Faith or the information they did publish was so scant as to make a meaningful review impossible. So much for their opinion of the value of theology—or lack, thereof.]

This series is presented in 4 chapters: 

  1. Learning from Lazarus.
  2. A biblical summary of the Ordo Salutis.
  3. The Ordo Salutis ignored by the “typical” conservative, evangelical church.
  4. Closing Thoughts

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