If we are talking about our salvation in terms of decree, as Paul is in Ephesians 1:4, then we must understand that were it not for Christ we would not be elect. Our salvation from beginning to end is for Him and through Him. However, if we are thinking about the Biblical logic of the gospel’s application in the life of a person in time and space, then there was a time when we were outside of Christ.
I indicated in the introduction to this series that there was an ordo docendi to the ordo salutis. My comment had the placement of union with Christ in mind. Where does it belong? Do we place it at the end of the list of benefits as John Murray did in his understandably famous Redemption Accomplished and Applied and there explain, as he did, that all the blessings of the ordo are to be viewed as belonging to us in Christ? Or to do we attempt to place it at the beginning and couch every benefit in its shadow? Or do we place it within the ordo at the most theologically sensible point? I have chosen the latter.
So, where might we place this doctrine in the ordo? Well, the answer to that is not an easy one. For example, what does Paul mean when he writes in Ephesians about God’s having chosen us “in him before the foundation of the world”? Does that mean that we were united to Christ in eternity? If so, then what do we then make of Ephesians chapter 2 wherein we are said to have been dead in our sins? If we were dead “in sin” how could we have been alive “in Christ”? What is more, in Romans 16:7, Paul says that his fellow workers Andronicus and Junia “were in Christ before me” indicating that there was a time when he was not in Christ. So, how do we understand these verses?