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Monday, April 3, 2017

Salvation And The Old Testament

  •  Introduction:
          -How people were saved during the time of the Old Testament is debated by many professing Christians. The question that will be answered in this article is, "Was justification during the Old Covenant by faith, or was it at least, in part, on the basis of human efforts?" This question is of utmost importance, since it directly pertains to how a person gets saved by God. In fact, the concept of salvation is the entire theme of the Holy Bible. Hopefully, this paper will be able to clear up some confusion regarding this matter.
  • The Shocking Truth Of The Matter:
         -Contrary to popular belief, the Jews were never saved by keeping the Law or by performing rituals such as animal sacrifices. In other words, the basis of salvation has always been by the grace of God through trust in Him, even prior to the specific event where Jesus Christ was crucified on the cross for our sins. "Because they believed not in God, and trusted not in his salvation..." (Psalm 78:22). "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price" (Isaiah 55:1). "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away" (Isaiah 64:6). Salvation has always been completely dependent on God; not man himself.  
         -It would be very inconsistent to uphold the view that justification during the Old Covenant was on the basis of keeping the Law and that the basis of salvation in the New Testament is by the grace of God apart from the merit of all works, since both Testaments proclaim the message of mankind's universal turpitude (i.e. 1 Kings 8:46; Ecclesiastes 7:20; Romans 3:23). If we had to earn our salvation by performing good deeds for other people, then nobody would be going to heaven because God demands perfect obedience to the Law (Deuteronomy 27:26; Romans 2:13; Galatians 3:10; James 2:10). Neither is the alleged transition of justification by works to grace through faith recorded in the Scriptures.
  • The Example Of Abraham:
         -In Genesis chapters 12 and 15, Abraham believed God according to the promises and new revelation pertaining to the message of the gospel (descendants as numerous as the stars). His FAITH was counted as righteousness (Genesis 15:6). But how could Abraham be justified by keeping the Law when he lived approximately 500 years before it was given to mankind?
  • Abraham And King David In Romans Chapter Four:
         -In his epistle to the Romans, the Apostle Paul uses Abraham and David as examples of people who were saved by faith in God apart from the merit of works (Romans 4:2-8). The Old Testament also tells us that the just shall live by faith (Habakkuk 2:4), which is a theme echoed in the New Testament Scriptures (Romans 1:16-17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38). We are all justified in the same manner: by the grace of God through faith in His work.  
  • Abraham And Galatians Chapter Three:
         -Galatians chapter three also occupies Abraham as an example of justification apart from the merit of works.
  • The Purpose Of The Mosaic Law Was Never To Save Anyone:
          -Although the Law functioned as the blueprint for the overall function of the Jewish society, its designated purpose was never to save anyone (i.e. Acts 13:38-39; Romans 3:20). It was to make us conscious of our sinful nature (Galatians 3:22-26; Romans 10:4). The Law is a direct reflection of God's divine character. If the Law was meant to serve as the means of salvation for mankind, then the entire Nation of Israel would have suffered eternal condemnation because it repeatedly fell into a state of rebellion against God!
  • What About The Animal Sacrifices Performed In The Old Testament?:
          -The Old Testament sacrificial system never really took away sin, for the priests who performed the sacrifices were in themselves finite beings who could only perform finite sacrifices for something (sin) that required an infinite payment (Hebrews 10:10-18). In other words, the animal sacrifices were only temporary "coverings" for sin. These multiple sacrifices prefigured the once-for-all sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ (Hebrews 10:1). He is the fulfillment of the Old Covenant (Matthew 5:17-18).
  • The Gospel And The Old Testament:
          -Right after the fall of Adam and Eve, we see the promise of a coming Savior (Genesis 3:15). In fact, the Old Testament describes this Person in many different ways. Examples would include "Ruler" (Micah 5:2), "Counselor" (Isaiah 9:6), "Suffering Servant" (Isaiah 53), and "THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS" (Jeremiah 23:6).
                -The Old Testament contains the basic message of the gospel: "And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed" (Galatians 3:8-9).
                -Old Testament saints knew about the coming of a promised Redeemer (i.e. Job 19:25). They were saved in the same way as we are today: by grace through faith in God.
  • Progressive Revelation:
          -This is the teaching that God did not reveal His entire salvation plan to mankind at one specific point in time. In other words, the clarity and information concerning the gospel increased as more scriptural revelation was being produced (i.e. Psalm 78:1-4; Matthew 13:17; 35; Romans 16:25-26; 1 Corinthians 2:7-8; Hebrews 1:1-2; 1 Peter 1:10-12; Ephesians 3:1-6). 
                -Examples of progressive revelation would include the Trinity, the deity of Jesus Christ, and the acceptance of the Gentiles into the gospel.
                -Both Testaments are equally inspired and important (i.e. Psalm 119:89; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; 1 Peter 1:23-25). The clarity of God's will increased as more Scripture was written. 
                -Progressive revelation does not mean that there are multiple paths to salvation. The only things that has changed throughout history is the amount of revelation that one is obligated to believe. 
               -The requirement for salvation has always been faith in God.
               -People in the Old Testament were mandated to believe in the revelation that God provided them (up to that point in time). Today, we have the entire picture of the gospel. Therefore, we must believe that Jesus Christ died for our sins, was buried, and resurrected on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-8).
               -Dispensationalists believe in the concept of progressive revelation. But a person does not have to hold that theological position in order to embrace the concept of progressive revelation.
               -Groups such as the Mormons (Book of Mormon, etc.), Jehovah's Witnesses (Watchtower Society Magazine Publications), Seventh-Day Adventists (Prophet Ellen G. White), and various Oneness Pentecostal churches (occasions of speaking in tongues) hold to a perverted concept of progressive revelation. They continually add their own "revelations" to the Bible.