The Order of Salvation


By Dr. Ken Matto


For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Romans 10:13)


There is a great confusion in Christianity concerning the way a person becomes saved and this confusion has been going on for hundreds of years.  This continues to happen simply because Christians will not go to the Bible and see what God has to say about salvation.  It is all in there and no one has to create scenarios to appease people.  The bottom line is that salvation happens in an instant in the lives of the Elect but what took place to effect the salvation of the Elect has happened over many thousands of years.  The title of this article is “The Order of Salvation” in which the old timers refer to it in Latin as the “Ordo Salutis.”  It basically describes the steps that the Holy Spirit takes to effect a person’s salvation.  I am not going to get into the theological aspects of it because in this article I want to look at biblical salvation from spiritual death to life.  The intimate aspects of the “Ordo Salutis” can be studied at one’s leisure.


We have all heard things like the Roman Road to Salvation, God did all he could and now it is up to you, it is like signing a check which requires two signatures and God already signed it and now it is up to you to sign.  These type of beliefs sound religious but they are in no way biblical. Let me point out right at the beginning that nowhere in the Bible does God ever place man in charge of his own salvation.  There is not one verse which teaches that.  All of these pet beliefs come out of the system known as “Arminianism” which teaches that a person has enough light to understand and know their plight and has the intelligence to either accept or reject Christ.  A spiritually dead person cannot accept Christ and the Elect of God cannot reject Christ.  Yet man places the responsibility for his salvation upon himself.  For illustration I want to show you from a Chick tract what I mean:


1. Admit you are a sinner – Romans 3:10

2. Be willing to turn from sin (repent) Acts 17:30

3. Believe that Jesus Christ died for you, was buried and rose from the dead – Romans 10:9-10

4. Through prayer, invite Jesus into your life to become your personal Saviour – Romans 10:13


Then they go on and give you a Sinner’s Prayer which you are supposed to repeat and then immediately you are saved.  In those 4 instructions, do you read anything about God being the one who does the saving?  Do you see the works you must do to gain salvation their way?  Admit>turn>believe>invite, all four works are done by the person receiving the tract which means it is totally up to the person to effect their own salvation because if they don’t, then they cannot be saved.  This basically the false teaching of “Free Willism” which basically teaches that man has authority in salvation, even more than God, because if the person does not give their permission to God to save them, then God has become impotent and cannot work beyond the permission of the human.  Can anyone find me a Scripture verse which endorses the belief that man has more authority in salvation than God has?  I will give you a hint, there are none!  Let us now attend to the biblical order of salvation.


Man’s Condition in an Unsaved State

And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; (Ephesians 2:1)


Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) (Ephesians 2:5)


And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; (Colossians 2:13)


The word “dead” in all three verses is the Greek word “nekrous” which means “lifeless, useless, and dead.”  So we see that a person in an unsaved state is spiritually dead which means they have physical life but not spiritual life.  We have all been to funerals and the person in the casket never speaks.  Why? Because they are dead!  In John 12:1 the same word is used to describe Lazarus.  Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. (John 12:1)  Was Lazarus dead?  He sure was!  So we see the same word which described Lazarus as being physically dead is used to describe the unbeliever who is spiritually dead.  Here is one more biblical proof.  Do you believe that Christ died on the cross?  The Bible clearly teaches that he did whether you believe it or not.  And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you. (Matthew 28:7)  The same word that described Lazarus in the tomb is used here to describe the Lord Jesus Christ in the tomb.  So we have the same word used to describe both physical death and spiritual death.


So what did Jesus and Lazarus have in common besides physical death?  They both walked out of their tombs after they experienced a resurrection to life.


Resurrection to Life

The same situation which Lazarus and Jesus experienced must be experienced by the person in an unsaved state.  Since they are spiritually dead and the dead can do nothing, then they must experience the resurrection of their souls to everlasting life.  A great aspect of God’s salvation program is He gave us a resurrected soul. We have already read that before salvation we were dead in our sins resulting in the inability to do anything to achieve salvation on our own. So what did God do to those He planned to save? The Bible teaches in Romans 10:17 that faith comes by hearing the Word of God. Now everybody has physical ears which can hear sounds and many of those physical ears come under the hearing of the Word of God, yet those still in spiritual death will be unable to respond to God’s calling. So for God’s elect to be able to respond to His calling they must be qualified to hear the gospel in a manner beyond the physical realm. The way God accomplished this is by the resurrection of the dead soul. When a person receives their resurrected soul, they are then alive unto God.  Do you remember the resurrection of Lazarus in John 11? Lazarus was as dead as could be, in fact the Biblical narrative even tells us his body stunk from decay after being in the grave 4 days. Our dead souls were akin to that same condition, they were dead. So Christ comes to the tomb and yells out to Lazarus to come forth, and Lazarus was resurrected to life once again. When God calls out our name for salvation, He resurrects our soul so we may be able to hear his calling, hence the biblical term, "He who has ears to hear."


5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. Revelation 20:5-6


These two verses give us an excellent understanding of the first resurrection or the resurrection of the soul. Notice the result of those who partake in the first resurrection, the second death has no power over them. The second death being eternal damnation. When a person becomes born again, they are passed from death unto life.


Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. (John 5:24)


Notice how the Lord is saying that those who HEAR His word and believes and the only way a dead person can believe is to be made alive or resurrected like Lazarus. The word “heareth” in this verse is the Greek word “akouw” (ah-koo-oh) which means hearing with understanding.  How does a spiritually dead person understand spiritual things?  But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14)  The unsaved man cannot understand spiritual things according to 1 Corinthians 2:14 because he is spiritually dead.


As Lazarus was passive in his resurrection, so are the children of God passive in their resurrection also. It is all of God! Did Lazarus have anything to do with his resurrection except receiving it? No! How can a dead man raise himself? So you see, you are still in the flesh until the Lord returns or comes for us individually but now because of your resurrected soul, you serve God instead of sin. Sin no longer has dominion over us but now we serve a new master.


Now as we progress further we now come to the second gift of God.  We went from spiritually dead to spiritually alive by means of our resurrected souls.  Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:4)  The English words “was raised up” is one word in the Greek text and it is in the Aorist tense and in the indicative mood which is the mood of fact.  The Aorist tense tells us of a singular action with no emphasis on time or duration.  When the Aorist tense is in the Indicative mood, then time enters into the equation very heavily.  It is seen as a punctiliar verb as a past tense meaning an action at one point in time.  Now a question remains, have you been resurrected into your glorified body?  The answer is no, not yet!  Then the resurrection in view in Romans 6:4 is in line with the resurrection of our souls taught in Revelation 20:5-6.  The Aorist tense can also be viewed as a single action.  We were raised only once in our souls and that is why we are raised from death unto life as we read in John 5:24.  The spiritual resurrection takes place only once in the life of a true believer.


Now that we have received our resurrected souls and now are alive unto God, we receive the third gift from God and that is faith.



But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, (Galatians 5:22)


Here we read plainly the faith is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit.  Only those who have become saved will have been given faith to see beyond this world.  But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. (Romans 8:9)  The Bible is very clear that if you do not have the Holy Spirit, then you are not of Christ which means you are unsaved.  Everyone on earth has a certain amount of faith including the unbelievers.  The type of faith the unbelievers have is limited only to this world.  For example, I have faith my car will not break down, I have faith that the chair I am sitting on will not fall, I have faith the stock market will rise, etc.  Faith in the realm of salvation is given only to God’s Elect.  (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) (2 Corinthians 5:7)  The world walks by sight but the child of God walks by faith.


Then once we have faith we receive the fourth gift of God and that is Belief.



Now that you have the gift of the Holy Spirit indwelling you and you now have faith, you are now able to believe.  The word “Faith” in the Greek text is always a noun which is a person, place, or thing.  The word “believe” in the Greek text is always a verb which means it is a work but it is a work done after salvation not before.  But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: (2 Thessalonians 2:13)  Now that you have a bed of eternal faith to build on, you can now believe building on your faith.  The unbeliever is dead and has no living faith but when you became saved, you received the Holy Spirit and he gave you a living faith which you now can build your beliefs upon.  Before you were saved everlasting life was a myth, Jesus was a nice guy or even a fraud, the church is made up of myths, atheism, agnosticism, endorsing the sins of the world, etc.  Now after you are saved, you realize your beliefs were wrong and all of a sudden those things which you endorsed as an unbeliever now are evil in your sight.  Why?  Because you now have a true belief system rooted in the truth of God.


Everlasting Life

He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. (John 3:36)  Here in John 3:36 we see the great division.  Those that are saved and evidence that salvation by believing on the Son has everlasting life.  Those who do not have the Son and are tied to this world, are under the wrath of God.  There is no in between or neutral area.  Either a person is saved or they are not.


Summary of the Visible Section

Just to summarize the section on the visible salvation and what I mean by that is what we experience as true believers.  The next section will show what the LORD did behind the scenes to effect your salvation.  In this section we saw that a person is spiritually dead and totally unable to raise themselves but God in his mercy chose to raise many from spiritual death and bring to them salvation.  So we go from being spiritually dead and a state of impotence to a resurrected soul which now breeds spiritual life into us and then we are given faith by the indwelling Holy Spirit and then we have the ability to build on that faith by true belief and within the gift of the resurrected soul and the Holy Spirit is the fact that we have everlasting life.


Now within what you have read here and the Scriptures describing these things, where does man fit in having the ability to do any of those things from a state of spiritual death?  How does the spiritually dead person raise themselves from the dead and then put the Holy Spirit within themselves?  But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: (John 15:26)  The Holy Spirit is sent unto the believer by the Lord Jesus Christ but comes from the Father.  How does a spiritually dead person command the Father and the Son to dispatch the Holy Spirit to them?


Salvation Behind the Scenes

Now we have seen the visible aspects of salvation but now we are going to look at what God did to effect your salvation without you even knowing about it, in fact even before you were born.


Named Before the Foundation of the World

And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. (Revelation 13:8)


The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is. (Revelation 17:8)


Here we see two verses which plainly teach that God had named those he was going to save from the foundation of the world, that is, even before the world was created or before you and I were created.


Elected according to the foreknowledge of God

Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied. (1 Peter 1:2)


Once you were chosen by God and placed into the Lamb’s Book of Life according to the foreknowledge of God you were then elected to salvation.  The Greek word “eklektos” behind the English word “Elect” means “chosen.”  At this point you were elected unto salvation.



Then once we were elected by God for salvation, he then predestined us for two things: First, he predestined us to be saved at some point in our lives that he determined beforehand and secondly, we are predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son. 


In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: (Ephesians 1:11)


For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Romans 8:29)


Salvation Realized

Then upon the appointed time of you salvation, God the Father then gives you to God the Son.


All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. (John 6:37)


And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. (John 6:39)


In these two verses we see important doctrines.  In 6:37 we see that those whom the Father gives to the Son “shall come to him.”  Do we see anything about a decision?  It is known as “irresistible grace” because if you are named>elected>predestined then at some point in your life you will become saved and in 6:39 we read that the Lord Jesus Christ will not lose anyone which means “eternal security” as you cannot lose your salvation which is a promise from the Lord Jesus himself.



So we see plainly that this is the biblical way in which you became saved.  No decisions are ever involved and there is no such thing as God needing your permission to work in your life.  Instead of redefining biblical salvation to make it look like you did anything to effect it, bask in the joy that you were named before the foundation of the world.  Then think about the alternative if you were not named.  It makes you appreciate your salvation even more.