The old stand by conundrum is the question: Which came first, the chicken or the egg? We think we're being profound. We think we're being clever because we "know" that you can't get a chicken without and egg, and you can't get an egg without a chicken, right? Shows how much our "knowledge" is worth.
God settles it rather handily. He created each creature according to its kind. He created, among others, the chicken kind. He speaks; the chicken exists (despite what Darwinian lunatics postulate). It's really rather simple. The chicken was created, and the egg came as a result.
What's the point? We've recently been studying the book of Romans and have come to that wonderful 8th chapter. One of my favorite chapters in the whole Bible. It contains those fabulous words in verses 29 and 30. You may know them, but before I get there, let me make the connection with that chicken.
In a similar attempt at being profound and discussing a mysterious conundrum, we ask about the Ordo Salutis, the "order of salvation." Which came first, regeneration or faith? That is, do we exercise faith which leads to our regeneration and salvation? Or, are we regenerated and saved which produces faith? A question men have argued about for centuries. I mean, we all "know" that you have to have faith to be saved, so faith must come first, right? Shows how much our "knowledge" is worth.
God settles it rather handily. Now those verses: "For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified." Romans 8:29-30
I'm a basic kind of guy. So I look at this text rather simply. I want to know who it is that is saved, who gets to heaven and is "glorified." So I look at the text and see that those who are glorified are those whom God justified. So who does God justify? Those whom He called. And whom did He call? Those whom He predestined. And whom did He predestine? Those whom He foreknew.
Now, just a quick note. Some want to say that "foreknew" means God looked down in history, saw those who would have faith, and based on that "foreknowledge" decided whom He would regenerate and call and predestine. Aside from making God a reactionary deity whose will is determined by the will of men, which is heresy; this also misses the meaning of the word "foreknew."
We've all heard the joking, wink wink, idea of what it means to "know someone Biblically." We're referring to the way Genesis speaks of Adam "knowing" his wife, and conceiving a child. Knowing in that sense means intimacy. And that's just the point. God has an intimate knowledge of His own children. He knows us. He knows our hearts because He created us, and made a covenant with us, even before the foundations of the world. He had already chosen us, chose to set His affection on us, before we were even a blip on the screen of the universe.
So then, back to the chicken and the egg. The Ordo Salutis is equally simple. God settles it rather handily. He regenerates dead, lost, sinful hearts, and salvation exists. He regenerates, and faith comes as a result.
I know some will choke on their coffee at that. But it makes perfect sense. Men are dead in their sin. Dead. Not just a little sick and in need of a boost. Dead. Without life. Unable to act from a spiritual standpoint. Only when God regenerates our heart, gives us a new heart, gives us life, can we then act in faith. Don't get me wrong, faith is necessary. But faith can only come from a heart that is awakened, and that comes from God alone.
God creates, life results. God recreates, new life results. God acts, men respond. God saves, men come in faith. He knows us, predestines us, calls us, justifies us and glorifies us. Notice in Paul's words to the Romans, those things are all past tense. We are predestined, called, justified and glorified. God even speaks of our final glorification as a past deed; a done deal. Because He has done it. And what God has done, no one can undo.
This is why Romans 8 is so encouraging, and why the words that follow bring such confidence, knowing nothing can separate us from Christ. It's because He has accomplished it, and no one can destroy it. Soli Deo Gloria!