This paper examines some of theologian John Wesley’s work while focusing on his and other “order of salvation” doctrines to gain keener theology insight and a deeper understanding of God’s gift of grace and salvation. John Wesley lived (Jun 17, 1703 – Mar 02, 1791). Wesley was 87 years old when he died. An Anglican cleric and theologian, along with his brother Charles and fellow cleric George Whitefield, each man is credited with Methodism’s foundation. His work and writings also played a leading role in the development of the Holiness movement and Pentecostalism. (Wikipedia 2016) The ordo Salutis is Latin for “order of salvation.” Scriptures do not support direct correlation with a particular plan for the order of salvation but do delve heavily throughout the bible on what is required of man and woman to receive salvation. Those theologically inspired believers who have taken it upon themselves to draft an ordo Salutis seem to believe God supports their undertaking. Additionally, the group credits God’s grace as the key to salvation. Simply put, grace is “unmerited favor.” Grace is impossible to earn, but an “undeserved gift from God.” If not for the grace of God, there would be no chance to redeem our souls. When we talk about grace, all roads lead to God because He is the only way to salvation.
“Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.” Wesley, (Jun 17, 1703 – Mar 02, 1791).
What I Think About Wesleyan Order of Salvation
Perhaps, the more we study theology, the more we realize why God warned believers of encountering unsound doctrine.” In other words, anybody can have a perspective about any subject, but Christians must proceed with caution whenever guidance appears to be manifested in addition to God’s Word. “Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” 2 Peter 1: 20-21
So, how are we to proceed when considering whether Ordo Salutis is sound? Upon careful examination of Wesleyan’s Ordo Salutis, Calvinists, Armenians, and Catholics’ “order of salvation steps,” it appears that each author desires salvation for all sinners. But, are “orders of salvation” born of sound or God-breathed doctrine? Honestly, I do not know.
However, I do know a lot about grace and the close relationship it has with salvation. Perhaps, we should talk about grace before discussing how to receive salvation. This approach seems befitting because, without grace, it is impossible to receive salvation since salvation cannot be earned. While there are collective variances for the definition of grace, one that is timeless is; “unmerited favor.” Unmerited means “undeserved.” A few favor definitions include but are not limited to; blessing, gift, benefit, or consideration. When the two words are combined, they mean “an undeserved gift from God.” If not for the grace of God, there would be no chance to redeem our souls. When we talk about grace, all roads lead to God because He is the only way to salvation.
Now we may elaborate on the “order of salvation.” Another term meaning order of salvation is Ordo-Salutis, which is Latin for “Order of Salvation.” Dr. Charles Gutensen’s shared his analogy on Wesleyan’s Ordo Salutis in which he revealed an often overlooked critical comparison between the world God created and the one that man spawned.
To enhance his argument Conceivably, although more than one perspective exists on “the order of salvation,” as it may be, out of the other three that we will review, all of them can be considered good theology tools for people in search of salvation or additional biblical clarification on the subject of salvation. John Wesley also believed that grace functions in our life in several different ways, and each way comes during a different time in life. The Wesleyan way of looking at stages of salvation encompasses a specific order of steps.
Order of Salvation Steps
- Prevenient Grace; releases us from the enslavement of sin but does not assure that the sinner will actually step out on faith and come to Jesus. Prevenient grace further asserts that the effectiveness of empowering grace rests with the man rather than by God.
- Conviction & Awareness of Sin; to be convicted is to experience an utter dreadfulness of sin. Our attitude toward sin becomes that of Joseph, who fled temptation, crying out, “How could I do this great evil and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9). David said, “we are convicted when we become mindful of how much our sin dishonors God. When David was convicted by the Holy Spirit, he cried out, “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight” (Psalm 51:4).
- Repentance: Turning from Sin; the word repentance comes from the Greek word metanoia and means “turning from sin.” However, the biblical definition of repentance is “to change one’s mind.” A change of lifestyle, actions, heart, and attitude is the only true evidence of repentance. “I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.” Acts 26:20
- Conversion ~ Justification ~ Regeneration ~ Adoption ~ Initial Sanctification: Regeneration is the implantation of a new life, at which time God upon the sinner a new beginning.
- Repentance; Change of Mind ~ False Narrative to True Narrative ~ Emotions ~ Repentance; Change of Heart ~ Willing what God Wills ~ Training Change of Body
- Character and Virtue; Fruit of the Spirit: “Our sinful flesh produces certain types of fruit that reflect our nature, and the Holy Spirit produces types of fruit that reflect His nature.” The fruit of the Holy Spirit is the result of the Holy Spirit’s presence in a Christian’s life. The Bible makes it clear that everyone receives the Holy Spirit the moment he or she believes in Jesus Christ (Romans 8:9;
- Renewal in the image of God; Entire Sanctification: Perfect Love, Soul Transformed: Cleansed, washed as white as snow, and living a life that is pleasing in God’s sight. Renewal of one’s mind, body, and spirit results in spiritual transformation and evidence of the love of God.
- Continue in Grace until Glorification; Continuing in grace requires one to walk in faith, believing every step of the way God will cover and protect as long as obedience is a priority in the believer’s life.
Justification and Sanctification
Justification ~ The word justified means “pronounced or treated as righteous.” For a Christian, justification is an act of God not only forgiving the believer’s sins but imputing to him the righteousness of Christ. In several places, the Bible states that justification only comes through faith (Romans 5:1 Wesleyan doctrine argues, “justification is provided only for the sinner.
If you are already righteous before God, because of what God has done in your heart you do not need justification.”
Sanctification ~ Sanctification is a state of separation unto God; all believers enter into this state when they are born of God. “They are not of the world, even as I am not of it,” and this is before His request: “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” John 17. “You are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30, ESV).
John Wesley differentiates between two types of holiness. Living holy and holiness received by God. Believes God is active in every stage of our life. “With the advent of urban culture and the rise of salvation theologies, came a growing concern about the cultivation of moral character.” Haartman (2007), God leads us to restore relationships with Him first and then with those around us. God works on our behalf by giving us second chances to become all He wants us to be. The Father sent His son as an example of what He wants us to be like. God raised Jesus from the grave and lifted him back up to prove that Jesus is His Son and belongs to him so the world could not hold him, even in a grave. In Christ, God was reconciling the world unto Himself. Jesus paid the debt for our broken relationship with the Father, each other, and within.
As it may be, love, grace, and salvation may be the nucleus of salvation because all three are necessary for the life of a Christian bound for glory. Love is also the greatest commandment of all. In the absence of Godly love, there is no way to receive salvation.” Without love, we can do nothing that pleases God, including the way we choose to follow steps of an order of salvation. Essentially, “in the absence of Godly love in our hearts none of this matters.” However, since there are Christians who have a love of God in their heart and those who are a work in progress, learning about the order of salvation can be valuable.
The “Ordo Salutis” Order of Salvation; all but begs sinners to repent and come to Christ, while at the same time it conveys a message of hope, possibility, and conviction. Perchance, when followed, a God-breathed “Ordo-Salutis” leads the lost to salvation. But how do we know that any Ordo-Salutis” is God-breathed, especially when there is more than one, and no two orders seem to agree that the same identical steps lead one to salvation?
The bible tells us that God’s Word is absolute. Conceivably, there is nothing new under the sun, yet there are those who God chose to further His ministry by spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ in any manner that does not refute or change the essence of His Word. A perfect example of that may be one or more of the various creations of “Ordo Salutis, Order of Salvation steps. “The best way to determine which, if any, “Ordo-Salutis” are God-breathed is by comparing the essence of the order to scripture that addresses grace and salvation. The only “foolproof” way of not adhering to false teachings, entertaining religious opinions posing as sound or authoritative supportive doctrine is to personally know what the bible says.
“Fruit of the holy spirit” (n.d.). Retrieved [September 12, 2016], taken from
Haartman, Keith (2007). Religious Ecstasy and Personality Transformation in John Wesley’s
Methodism: Theoretical and Methodological Considerations. Archive for the Psychology of Religion, 29(1), 3-35