What is central to Paul’s soteriology? Is it individual redemption? Is it regeneration? Is the ordo salutis a good way to view salvation? Or is there a better way? Gaffin argues persuasively that the resurrection of Christ is the central event in the history of redemption and is the controlling factor in Paul’s individual and corporate soteriology. He does detailed exegetical study of key NT passages on the resurrection. The exegetical studies are marvelous. From these studies Gaffin shows that union with Christ becomes the basis for all parts of our salvation. Our redemption, justification, adoption, sanctification, and glorification all come from our union with Christ. So these are not a string of events in our lives, but rather they are all consequences of being united to the life giving Spirit, which is Jesus. Then he shows how his conclusions should affect reformed dogmatics.
Two things stuck out from his conclusions. First, a typically reformed view of salvation does not emphasize eschatology enough. With Jesus’ resurrection a new age, a new creation was ushered in. Those who are united to Christ live in this new age by faith. We are not just individual saved souls walking around waiting for the end of the world. We are part of the new creation and we should live as those who belong to this new age.
Second, in a brief, but pointed section, he argues that making regeneration the central part of our ordo salutis creates all sorts of problems because it is not a central part of Paul’s ordo salutis. He is not arguing against the idea of regeneration. Gaffin is just saying it is not in the text. So we need to speak more of union with Christ than of regeneration because that will help us speak in Biblical categories.