The Assurance Anomaly

This post is the third in a series exploring the Grace Reaction, or the logical order of events in salvation. In this series we have compared this to a chemical reaction. In the Justification Transposition, I  proposed the following logical order of steps in salvation:

Dead → Grace → Faith → Justification → Reconciliation → Regeneration/Life

Science seeks to propose theories to explain the physical world using the data that we have at hand. Breaking Bad - Assurance Anomaly3In a similar fashion, theology seeks to describe God.

In both science and theology, you might think you have something figured out. But then you notice, or more likely someone notices and points out to you, an anomaly. Something that doesn’t fit in with the explanation or theory that you have provided.

This is not a bad thing. It helps us learn and grow. Did you know that it was a conflict in the theories proposed by Maxwell and Newton that allowed Einstein to find an anomaly in Newton’s laws that further led to the Theory of Relativity. It was also an anomaly that rocked the world when scientists reported they measured subatomic particles traveling faster than light (an impossibility according to Einstein). Further testing could not reproduce the effect and the original anomaly is considered the result of faulty hardware.

Reformers would consider the first part of 1 John 5:1 as an anomaly to the logical order of events that were proposed above.

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God

This passage, they contend, supports the idea that regeneration precedes faith. Continue reading

The Justification Transposition

Breaking Bad - Justification TranspositionIn the last post I shared some of my thoughts on the sequence of events in salvation. I compared these events to a chemical reaction in which a person that is condemned to death is transformed into a person that is reconciled and made alive.

Dead & Condemned → Alive & Reconciled

This process is started when grace is applied, giving us the Grace Reaction.

The last post also presented the chain reaction as it is understood in Reformed theology. That reaction looks like this:

Dead → Grace → Regeneration → Faith → Justification → Reconciliation

Examining the equation above we were left with the question: is it possible for someone to be born again (regenerated) prior to having their sins forgiven (justification)?

While the various aspects of salvation occur faster than the combustion of methane/oxygen (see video in last post), it can be helpful to slow things down and evaluate the steps based on their logical order.

Faith and Justification

There is little debate that faith logically precedes justification.  In Romans 4:1-5, Paul explains that Abraham was justified (credited as righteous) based on having faith. Continue reading

The Grace Reaction

Breaking Bad - Grace Reaction - EditA chemical reaction is a process that transforms the starting substances so that they have properties that are different than those prior to the reaction. These reactions can be graphically represented using a chemical equation.

As an example, methane and oxygen after the chemical reaction of combustion produces carbon dioxide and water. This is represented by the following equation:

CH4 + 2O2 → CO2 + 2H2O

The arrow in that equation represents numerous steps that occur before we end up with our two final products.

This is what that looks like:

Can you tell that school has started?

Interesting, but you might be wondering what this has to do with theology? Recently, I have been thinking through salvation, particularly on the sequence of events that allow a sinner condemned to death to experience reconciliation and new life. The more I thought on this, the more I started to see it as the Grace Reaction. Of course in theology this concept is more commonly known as the ordo salutis. Continue reading