Key Elements in Personal Salvation
While the Good News of Jesus Christ is both personal and cosmic in nature, it is helpful to consider the various elements involved in what God does in an individual’s life. When it comes to the “order of salvation”, Stanley Grenz in Theology for the Community of God tells us that it wasn’t until the reformation that theologians sought to set forth the “correct” order of salvation. And while the major confessional groups like the Lutherans, the Reformed camp and the Roman Catholics each had there understanding, others found it theological inappropriate to try and order salvation, though evangelicals have always had a strong interest in the topic, because it concerns the nature of salvation.
Grenz takes a fascinating approach on this topic. He says, “Although dissimilar in many respects, the traditional perspectives on the order of salvation share a fundamental characteristic. Thereby the past becomes the perspective from which theologians describe the elements within the order of salvation.
The biblical text which above all others provides the foundation for the theological interest in describing the order of salvation suggests a different approach. Again we cite Paul’s words. ‘For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified’ (Romans 8:29-30).
Grenz goes on to say, “In these verses the apostle ordered the elements of salvation with a view toward God’s final goal. Foundational to the ordo salutis, therefore, is the eschatological consummation of salvation or glorification.
The eschatological orientation of salvation means that the only proper starting point for the ordo salutis is the divine intention, God’s salvific purpose. As we have noted, his intent is to glorify himself by bringing us to participation in the eternal community that he has planned for those who belong to him. Hence, the Spirit’s work, which is foundational to the process of salvation from start to finish, is the eschatological transformation that we will share with all other believers and with all creation. All other dimensions of the Spirit’s activity find their significance and certainty of our final glorification. In fact, so certain is Paul that this will transpire that he treats what is from the human perspective a future event as if it had already occurred: ‘those he justified [a past event], he also glorified [a future event spoken as if it were already in the past].’”
Here is my summary of the elements involved in personal salvation from Grenz’s perspective. Click chart to make it larger.