3. Other Questions about the Cross

3. Other Questions about the Cross

The “Ordo Salutis” and other Questions

The question of “how” Jesus’ death brings forgiveness of sins is probably the major question when it comes to the cross, but it is by far the only question.  The following is a number of other questions, ponderings and thoughts about the cross of Jesus – each with some discussion starters, links or bible references to explore.  As a group you might like to choose a few and dig a little deeper...

1) “Ordo Salutis” / What is the Order of salvation?

The “Ordo Salutis” is latin for the Order of Salvation and refers to the steps or phrases that a person takes on the journey of salvation.  Theologians have debated what are the steps are recorded in scripture and experienced in Christian life, as well as what steps are performed solely by God or involve both God and us.  These steps are said to  occur sequentially (one after the other) although some elements can happen instantaneously (and seem like they are concurrent) while others take some time to complete.   The original idea for the Ordo Salutis came from Paul writing in the eight chapter of Romans:

Read Romans 8:29-30

Here, Paul lays out his understanding of the foundational stones of the order of salvation – foreknowledge, predestined, called, justified, glorified.  Other the centuries, there have been many schemes put forward for the Order of Salvation including:

  • Calvinist:  Predestination / Election / Calling / Regeneration / Faith / Repentance / Justification / Adoption / Sanctification / Perseverance / Glorification
  • Wesleyan: Foreknowledge/ External calling (resistible) / Repentance / Faith / Election (conditional) / Justification / Regeneration / Adoption / Sanctification / Conditional preservation / Glorification
  • Lutheran: Calling / Illumination / Repentance / Regeneration / Justification / Mystical Union / Sanctification / Conservation
  • Roman Catholic: Faith / Contrition / Regeneration (in the Sacrament of Baptism) / Penance (after the Sacrament of Reconciliation) / Sanctification / Purgation / Divinization

(See Wikipedia page for definitions on these steps)

Discussion Starter:

If you were going to write your understanding of what steps were needed in salvation, what would you have?  Don’t feel the need to use the terms above, you can use your own terms such as “a realisation of who Jesus really is”, “a personal confession of sins and inviting Jesus into your life”, “be shaped into the person God created you to be by the work of the Holy Spirit” etc


2) Where did Jesus go between his death and resurrection?

Discussion Starter:

Before looking at any of the information or links … what is your initial response to this question? Where do you think Jesus went between his death and resurrection?

Even though the Apostles Creed clearly states that Jesus “was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended into hell” … the Bible isn’t entirely clear on what Jesus did between his death and resurrection but there are some references. 

Split up the following passages around the group.  Read the following Scripture passages and report back to the group of what they say.

There is some debate of whether Jesus “went to hell” or not, after all, if Jesus took the punishment we deserved, then shouldn’t that punishment be separation from God?  Or when Jesus said on cross, “It is finished” – the ransom had been paid and therefore Jesus did not have to suffer anymore? 

Dr. Valerie J. De La Torre in his article “Theology Thursday: Where Did Jesus Go When He Died?” whatever the situation was it is clear that Jesus experience of death was real, just like it will be real for us.  But more so, Jesus resurrection gives us hope for our resurrection for eternity!

Discussion Starter:

After pondering these references, now where do you think Jesus went between his death and resurrection?


3) If God hates human sacrifice, how could Jesus’ sacrifice be the payment for our sins?

The Bible makes it quite clear that God hates human sacrifice. The pagan nations that surrounded the Israelites practiced human sacrifice as part of the worship of false gods. God declared that such “worship” was detestable to Him and that He hates it (Deuteronomy 12:3118:10).  So, if God hates human sacrifice, why did God sacrifice Christ on the cross and how could that sacrifice be the payment for our sins?

(Does anyone wish to share their answer at this point?)

I don’t think that there is a complete answer for this question, but the following is how some theologians have tried:

  • Jesus wasn’t merely human.  Jesus was both fully human and fully God (Read John 1:14) and therefore is an acceptable sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins.
  •   God didn’t sacrifice Jesus. Rather, Jesus offered Himself as a sacrifice (read John 10:18)


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