Summary: Fourth sermon in the series on salvation, examining the "order of salvation" and how God's grace works behind the scenes in our lives during the process.
We are talking about our salvation. Spending time thinking about how God saves us. In once sense, it doesn’t really matter - we are saved! Thank God. Why analyze it?
But on the other hand, it is helpful to our understanding of God and to our Christian life if we spend some time thinking about how we got saved and how God uses us in the salvation of others. I believe that studying our salvation can lead to richer worship of God. Therefore, it is valuable. Today we are looking at a passage that identifies various steps in our salvation.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 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. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
31 What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all-how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died-more than that, who was raised to life-is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:
"For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered."
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Today we are going to talk about God’s grace - the power of his grace in our salvation. But we are also talking about his love–I’m not sure how to separate the two of them. God’s love and grace are intertwined. This passage is about grace–God’s work in our lives, but it is also about the love of God working itself out in our lives.
We are going to do something somewhat artificial–dissect love. Analyze grace. We are going to look at salvation as a step by step process. I want to begin by saying that there is something artificial about this–the mysteries of love can’t really be dissected, but I think it is helpful to spend a little time doing it anyway.
All of these words and phrases are found in the Bible. But they are put together like a puzzle - and there isn’t one Bible passage that spells out this order of salvation. So we need to remember that this is theology, not the Bible.
Theologians talk about the
I. The Order of Salvation
This is a way of analyzing and explaining our life changing salvation. This is putting the grace of God which knows no bounds and his infinite love under a microscope.
It’s Valentine’s Day. So what we are about to do would be like analyzing the relationship I have with my wife. We can put our love under a microscope.
There was a day when I met Sue. It was an evening, a “floor date” where one floor of a boys dorm goes out with a floor from a girl’s dorm. We met on an ice rink playing broom ball. (She fell for me right away!). Step One.
We met, exchanged names. We became friends. Step two. That was a big step. For several years we hung out as friends. I think we always liked each other. One night we had a long conversation on the shore of a lake and I thought “wow. I like this girl.” That was the beginning of step three–something in me changed. I began to view Sue differently. 3a. 3 b came much later when she also had those kind of feelings for me. Step Four was huge–the day when we risked our friendship by becoming more than friends. It paid off big (at least for me). Then Step Five–getting engaged. Step Six–getting married. Step 7– what it is? Celebrating our 50th anniversary?
But you see there is a process of romantic love that culminates in a lifetime of marriage. You can artificially talk about it in steps and maybe it helps understand how this beautiful relationship develops.