Romans 8:30, “And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”
The Ordo Salutis or “order of salvation” is a topic that has been debated throughout time in various theological circles that may seem meaningless to some, but actually weighs heavily on our view of God and our view of salvation. Weighing out what the biblical order of salvation is can have a tremendous impact on your spiritual life and within your relationship with God. Ultimately, the overarching point of contention for many is where does justification fit into the order of salvation. This controversy goes way beyond merely recent years, but actually dates back to Augustine and Pelagius (to which he was deemed a heretic).
Does faith precede regeneration? Can you respond in faith, if you are dead in your trespasses and sin? The argument boils down to a right understanding of original sin. If people are fallen, dead in their trespasses and sins, can they legitimately respond in faith if their hearts have not yet been regenerated? Or, is there some short lifeless breath left within us that allows us to respond before we are regenerated?
To keep things short, and we are not going to hash out all of the theological principles that we could pull from Romans 8, or this doctrine, but will swiftly breeze through justification by faith in the order of salvation. R.C. Sproul writes, “So in the order of salvation, faith comes before justification. Faith is not the fruit of justification; justification is the fruit of faith. But what comes before faith? In the order salutis, the event that precedes faith is regeneration.”
Regeneration (being born-again) is the result of the Holy Spirit supernaturally and divinely changing the disposition of our hearts. In our fallen condition, our hearts are made of stone and desire nothing more than to satisfy ourselves (Ezek. 11:19-20; Gen. 6:5) and we know from God’s Word that we are born dead in our trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1). Thus, regeneration must occur when the Holy Spirit, by the grace and mercy of our great God through our Savior Jesus Christ comes to us and moves us from being spiritually dead to being spiritually alive. Thus, being predestined by God leads us to being effectually called by God which brings about regeneration in our hearts which brings about justification as we receive faith as a gift from God. In our own spiritual deadness, we would by no means be inclined to seek the things of God. “No one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father” John 6:65.
Thus, regeneration precedes justification as justification is a result of faith which is a gift from God. This means, grace upon grace upon grace. This means that God, through Jesus, by the work of the Holy Spirit calls us from death to life, implanting within us the ability to exercise faith in Christ which in turn justifies us from all of our sin. Grace upon Grace upon Grace.
Soli Deo Gloria!