The ordo salutis (order of salvation) should be framed in terms of what we must do, not in terms of secret decrees of God and other such nonsense that Calvinism deals in.
Jesus gives us the ordo salutis in Mark 16:16 “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved.”
But since baptism has prerequisites, those get involved as well, namely repentance (Acts 2:38) and confession (Acts 8:37).
Thus the ordo salutis is:
4. Be baptized for the remission of sins.
5. Saved. “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved.”
Some Baptists will instantly object that repentance should precede belief rather than come before it. But this model is based on Acts 2:38 where the men who obviously believed Peter’s message cried out “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” It was then, after it was obvious that they believed what he was saying, that Peter told them to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins. So here we see that repentance comes between belief and baptism.
What’s got me thinking of the “ordo salutis” (a term not often heard outside Calvinist circles these days) is a video posted on Paul’s Passing Thoughts, on the Gnostic Watch post, where John Macarthur was answering a question and said something like “There’ll be no messing around with the ordo salutis here. We’re serious about the ordo salutis.” But the Calvinist ordo salutis to which he refers is an abomination. It busies itself with reading God’s mind and with declaring the lie that God’s true will is not the same as his revealed will.
In any case, a site making a brief comparison of the two is here http://experimentaltheology.blogspot.com/2010/02/ordo-salutis-sex-and-churches-of-christ.html in which gross sexual metaphor is used by the Calvinists to prove their ordo salutis to be better. By gross sexual metaphor I don’t mean they get as far down in the gutter as Mark Driscoll (that would be hard to do) but they apply sexual metaphor to something that it is not only weird and creepy but also profane and blasphemous to apply it to.
In my estimation there is certainly much more assurance with an ordo salutis that focuses on our part than one that focuses on God’s part, since that is just too esoteric. I also think the emphasis on baptism as the final step, the culmination, what one could even call the seal, adds a great deal of certainty and assurance that you really are saved.
I think of it kind of in these terms:
Paul’s teaching in Romans 4-6 amounts to saying that baptism is seal on justification. How was Abraham justified? By works? No, by faith! When was he justified? Before or after circumcision? Before! Why then was he circumcised? As a SEAL. Same story with baptism, right? So if you leave off baptism, you may have been justified for a moment, but you didn’t SEAL it, and it escaped, it seeped out and you lost it. Only those who have SEALED it know they still have it. Thus Romans 6, all about how we know we’re saved because we were buried with Christ in baptism. The Holy Spirit is also called a seal (Eph 1:13) and guess where Peter says we get the “gift of the Holy Spirit”: “Repent and be baptized for the remission of sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38) This is why “faith alone” Protestants are always doubting their salvation. Acts 2:38 is Anti-Gnostic antidote in a can! Macarthur is right that we can’t mess with the ordo salutis. Change it, and you no longer have the gospel, you just have Plato, and the ordo salutis is: Believe, Repent, Confess, be baptized => saved. [But Macarthur, of course, doesn’t believe that.]
Over at that gross sexual metaphor link, someone says in a comment concerning the true ordo salutis “At one level (historically), we have the five because you could count them on one hand, so kids could learn them quickly.” I don’t believe that anyone consciously created it that way. I think it worked out that way because God made it simple. The same person (obviously having been converted to Calvinism) laments “Too bad we didn’t use two hands, huh?” Face Palm. Sure, why don’t we use 100 hands while we’re at it, and put 500 points in our ordo salutis to make it impossible to teach to children, or anyone else. The Calvinist ordo salutis as presented there shows 12 points, but in reality, the Calvinist version is infinite, because it was purposefully crafted to be impossible to understand.