Old Testament believers saved by faith?

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by Glory Bound, Dec 3, 2001.

  1. Glory Bound

    Glory Bound
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    Since Jesus is The Way, how does that work for the Old Testament believers who didn't know Jesus? I know the New Testament says that Abraham's faith was counted unto him for righteousness" - but I have to admit I don't fully understand how that works.

    Basically we're saved when we repent of our sins and follow Jesus as Lord of our lives. This is pretty specific. But the OT believers did not know all of this - nor had Jesus yet died on the cross.

    I've heard that Christ's atonement is timeless - so that it covers the OT believers. But I feel like something still is missing. There's only ONE way to the Father - right? :confused:

    Thanks folks,

    GB
     
  2. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry
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    OT believers were saved by responding in faith to the revelation from God that they had. Christ is the only way to the Father and his sacrifice was sufficient for the elect of the OT. However, it is anachronistic to speak of OT believers looking to Christ for salvation.
     
  3. DocCas

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    The OT believers were saved just as we are. They were saved by grace through faith completely apart from works.

    Abraham, before the Law:

    Romans 4: For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.

    David, under the Law:

    Romans 4:6 Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works,

    And that grace was imputed upon faith in Christ as the coming Messiah. Those who say the OT saints knew nothing of Christ know nothing of the Bible. The NT word "Christ" is from the Greek translation of the OT Hebrew for "Messiah." And the bible clearly says that all the OT Prophets preached the coming of Christ (Messiah), and that salvation rests fully and only in Him.

    Acts 10:43 To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.
     
  4. Chris Temple

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    OT and NT believers were/are saved by grace, through faith. We have faith in the revealed Christ; the OT Saints had faith in the coming Christ.

    John 5:45-46 (ESV)
    Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. [46] If you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me.

    John 8:56-58 (ESV)
    Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad." [57] So the Jews said to him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?" [58] Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am."
     
  5. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry
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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Thomas Cassidy:
    And that grace was imputed upon faith in Christ as the coming Messiah. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Perhaps you can do what no one yet has been able to do: Show a verse in the OT that identifies Christ as the object of OT believers faith. A verse such as "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ" or some similar statement should be sufficient to prove your point.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Those who say the OT saints knew nothing of Christ know nothing of the Bible. The NT word "Christ" is from the Greek translation of the OT Hebrew for "Messiah." And the bible clearly says that all the OT Prophets preached the coming of Christ (Messiah), and that salvation rests fully and only in Him.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    The implications of this charge did not go unnoticed. However, remember I did not say that they knew nothing of Christ. As to the main point of my argument, there are people a whole light brighter than you and I both who agree with me on this one. Simply put, you cannot make a biblical case for your position. It involves a number of implications which, while they may be valid, are not explicit.

    I am not arguing that Christ was not revealed in the OT. He most certainly was. What I am arguing is that Christ is never made the explicit object of faith for the OT believer. There is a difference.
     
  6. Mikayehu

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    Glory Bound, make sure you carefully look at what it was that Abraham was believing in. The statement in Genesis, where it is stated that faith was counted to Abraham for righteousness, is made when Abraham believed in the promise of God of a seed through whom all the nations of the world would be blessed (Abraham's faith was not in just any promise, but in a direct promise of the coming Messiah). I would submit that the object of saving faith, both in the OT and the NT, is the promised Messiah. The value of faith is determined by the object of that faith (not the intensity of the faith). Certainly, I can not presume how much the OT saints knew, or did not know, about the work of Christ, but as early as Genesis 3:15 it is seen that the seed of the woman would reverse the curse. The whole theme of the OT is then the unfolding of the person and work of Christ. Christ has always been the object of saving faith.

    Pastor Larry, what do you believe was the object of "saving faith" in the OT?
     
  7. DocCas

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    Mikayehu, amen and amen, well said. Thanks for saving me the time and effort to type it out! [​IMG]
     
  8. Psalm145 3

    Psalm145 3
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    Salvation has always been by faith in a blood sacrifice.

    Hebrews 9:22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.

    Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself is the New Covenant. Amen!
     
  9. Brian

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    Psalm 145 3

    Salvation has always been through Jesus. As has been pointed out since the time God punsihed Eve He also told her that the resoultion would come from her children. The blood sacrifices in the OT were but a dim foreshadowing of the ultimate sacrifice and shed Blood of Christ Jesus. There must be blood shed for the remission of sin OT animals in expectation of and NT the actual Blood of Christ.
     
  10. Pastor Larry

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Mikayehu:
    Glory Bound, make sure you carefully look at what it was that Abraham was believing in.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Wiht this I absolutely agree. However, I would submit that you missed it. The TEXT does not say what you say and the text must be our guide for what we believe. The text says that ABraham believed God and it was credited to him for righteousness. The "seed" in the context you refer to (Gen 15:6) is a seed that shall be more in number than the stars (v.5). That cannot refer to Christ because Christ was only one. To see Christ in that text is to read him in based on later revelation.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR> The statement in Genesis, where it is stated that faith was counted to Abraham for righteousness, is made when Abraham believed in the promise of God of a seed through whom all the nations of the world would be blessed (Abraham's faith was not in just any promise, but in a direct promise of the coming Messiah).<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Once again, in asserting this, you have asserted something not in the text. The "seed through whom all the nations of the earth would be blessed" is nowhere found in the story of the life of Abraham, at least not that I have seen. The seed of Abraham was a nation more than the stars, more than the sand on the shore.

    I will certainly acknowledge that the OT prophesies of Christ. I have yet to be shown that the OT makes Christ the content of saving faith. For instance in Gen 3:15, (a statement to the serpent incidentally), it would have been a perfect opportunity to say "if you believe in the seed of the woman, you will be saved." However, that statement, or anything remotely similar to it, is missing from the text. Indeed, no similar statement is found anywhere in the OT.

    Again, all I am suggesting is that we draw our theology from the text. We cannot read legitimately read the NT back onto the OT and pretend as if Abraham or any other OT believer knew what we know.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Certainly, I can not presume how much the OT saints knew, or did not know, about the work of Christ, ... The whole theme of the OT is then the unfolding of the person and work of Christ. Christ has always been the object of saving faith.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    You have done exactly what you have admitted you cannot presume to do. You have said that the content of saving faith is something that they may not have known.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Pastor Larry, what do you believe was the object of "saving faith" in the OT?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Using the helpful distinctions of Ryrie, the object of saving faith, technically speaking, is God. It is the content of saving faith that is here under discussion. The content of saving faith depends on the stage of progressive revelation. One would be hard pressed to make a case from the Scripture for Adam and Eve believing in Christ. You must remember that in progressive revelation we know much more than we did and hence we bring a lot of "baggage" to the hermeneutical table that the OT believer did not have.

    The Dallas doctrinal statement puts it this way:

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>We believe that according to the "eternal purpose" of God (Eph. 3:11) salvation in the divine reckoning is always "by grace through faith," and rests upon the basis of the shed blood of Christ. We believe that God has always been gracious, regardless of the ruling dispensation, but that man has not at all times been under an administration or stewardship of grace as is true in the present dispensation (1 Cor. 9:17; Eph. 3:2; 3:9, ASV; Col. 1:25; 1 Tim. 1:4, ASV).

    We believe that it has always been true that "without faith it is impossible to please" God (Heb. 11:6), and that the principle of faith was prevalent in the lives of all the Old Testament saints. However, we believe that it was historically impossible that they should have had as the conscious object of their faith the incarnate, crucified Son, the Lamb of God (John 1:29), and that it is evident that they did not comprehend as we do that the sacrifices depicted the person and work of Christ. We believe also that they did not understand the redemptive significance of the prophecies or types concerning the sufferings of Christ (1 Pet. 1:10­-12); therefore, we believe that their faith toward God was manifested in other ways as is shown by the long record in Hebrews 11:1­40. We believe further that their faith thus manifested was counted unto them for righteousness (cf. Rom. 4:3 with Gen. 15:6; Rom. 4:5­8; Heb. 11:7). [emphasis mine]<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    It is important in the discipline of theology to understand progressive revelation and its role in redemption.

    Perhaps a flawed analogy might one that I think of often: The older I get the more I realize how "easy" life use to be. At times I long for the days of seminary where my biggest challenge was a 40 page paper on some theological topic. Of course, at the time, a 40 page paper was a killer task. Now I know better, though I suppose life was not "easier" then than now; it was only different in terms of responsibilities. In the analogy, the OT was operating under the "seminary mindset" where they were responsible for certain things; The NT believer operates under the "life mindset" where he is responsible for different things. (So I guess if you want to be saved in the OT, just write a 40 page paper on some theological topic -- oh wait, that would be allegorical interpretation ... can't go there. [​IMG] )

    The fact is that the OT believer was responsible for what they knew. not what we know.

    For the OT believer, he brought a sacrifice to God believing that God would accept it as a payment for his sin. We are simply not told that he understood that sacrifice as a prefigurement of the Messiah to come.

    [ December 04, 2001: Message edited by: Pastor Larry ]
     
  11. Glory Bound

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    Pastor Larry:
    "For the OT believer, he brought a sacrifice to God believing that God would accept it as a payment for his sin. We are simply not told that he understood that sacrifice as a prefigurement of the Messiah to come."

    Based on this, and other statements in your post, then is it correct to say:

    1. The OT believer obeyed God and demonstrated his faith in God by performing the sacrifices (which point toward the ultimate sacrifice, Jesus (which the OT believers didn't really have a clear understanding of at that time)

    2. God counts this obedience as righteousness - the blood of Jesus atones for the sins of the OT believers.

    That is basically what I've been taught. But that leaves me with a question.

    Are we assuming a sort of double standard here? Salvation for OT believers is different than salvation for NT believers?

    Aren't we supposed to follow the example in Romans 10:9 "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved."

    Or does this only apply from the time Jesus died onward?
     
  12. Chris Temple

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    Martin Luther: All the promises of God lead back to the first promise concerning Christ of Genesis 3:15. The faith of the
    fathers in the Old Testament era, and our faith in the New Testament are one and the same faith in Christ Jesus… The faith of
    the fathers was directed at Christ… Time does not change the object of true faith, or the Holy Spirit. There has always been
    and always will be one mind, one impression, one faith concerning Christ among true believers whether they live in times past,
    now, or in times to come.[3]

    John Calvin: First, we hold that earthly prosperity and happiness did not constitute the goal set before the Jews to which they were to aspire... Secondly, the covenant by which they were bound to the Lord was supported, not by their own merits, but
    solely by the mercy of the God who called them. Thirdly, they had and knew Christ as Mediator, through whom they were
    joined to God and were to share in His promises.

    See the excellent discussion Faith in Christ in the OT
     
  13. Pastor Larry

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    Your two summations are basically correct. However, I would alter number 2 to say that God did not count the obedience per se as righteousness; he counted the faith behind that obedience as righteousness. The obedience was the inevitable evidence of faith. A fine distinction to be sure, but a distinction nonetheless I believe.

    As for the double standard, the answer is yes and no. Yes, there is a double standard … but then there always has been. The OT had to bring the sacrifices. The NT believer does not. No OT believer could just say, “I will believe but I don’t want to bring a sacrifice.” Things the OT were just different. The Jew had a special standing in the OT, something the NT Jew does not have in the church age. However, on the other hand, there is no double standard because salvation is still by faith in God, responding to the revelation that God has given up to that point in time.

    As for Rom 10:9, yes “we” are supposed to follow that. However, to say that to the OT believer would have drawn looks of confusion and dismay. They simply would not have known what that is talking about. “We” are not at the same stage of progressive revelation as the OT believer.
     
  14. Pastor Larry

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    Chris,

    Why quote Luther and Calvin? Why not just quote Scripture where Christ is explicitly identified as the content of saving faith in the OT??

    The answer is obvious. If you had Scripture to quote, you would quote it. Since there is none, you are left with quoting Luther and Calvin, both good men on some stuff but certainly not to the level of Scripture.

    The post you link involves the very thing that I am arguing against: It builds a case based on what we know from the NT, right after its opening lines expressly say that we shouldn't do that. Remember, I am not arguing that the OT believer did not know something of Christ. I am arguing that Christ is never made the content of faith in the OT and no one has yet shown a verse of Scripture to the contrary.

    I think the response to the presentation you link to has some very valid points that your side must deal with. I think he presents four very legitimate questions:

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>a) When was this full revelation of Christ first given? Who got it first? You seem to mention Adam and Eve. If it is Adam and Eve, what is the point of what is then revealed in terms of the history of Israel and so on?

    b) If the OT saints knew the full gospel truth about Jesus Christ and salvation, why don’t they say so? It just isn’t there. Exegetically it simply isn’t there. What you do find is all the stuff about the Law and about the promises to Abraham and about the promised land and the temple and Davidic kingship and so on. It just is not true to say that Christ is there in the same way as he is there in the NT revelation. Or to put it another way, I would suggest that no-one could have written the Apostle’s Creed or constructed a full-blown Christian theology using the OT alone. Which leads me on to...

    c) Why does Paul Blackham need to use the NT to arrive at his position if it is explicit, because it seems to me that’s what he is doing. One of the articles that I have is making the very strong point that you’re simply taking the NT approach to the OT. So my question is why do you need to use the NT to arrive at this position if it’s so explicit in the OT? Why don’t you just dump the NT?

    d) If the laws and ceremonies ceased because of the incarnation (and I’ve always said that the health laws and dietary laws in the OT which are sometimes read as health laws passed away and ceased to have any function not because of the invention of the refrigerator but because of the coming of Christ in the flesh) why were they there at all if the significance of the incarnation was known at the start? Why cloud the issue with all that stuff if the revelation is not progressive?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    [ December 04, 2001: Message edited by: Pastor Larry ]
     
  15. Glory Bound

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    Pastor Larry:
    "However, on the other hand, there is no double standard because salvation is still by faith in God, responding to the revelation that God has given up to that point in time."

    I think this is where I struggle. With all due respect to Chris, I don't think the OT believers knew enough about Christ to really understand his death for our sins. I know the OT is full of references to Christ, but that's a lot easier to understand in light of our knowledge of Christ from the NT.

    But - If the OT believers were saved by "responding to the revelation that God had given up to that time" - why was it necessary for Christ to die?

    I struggle with the concept that the Bible says that salvation is through Christ only, yet the OT believers were saved. :confused:

    Thanks for everyone's help - I really want to understand this issue.
     
  16. DocCas

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Pastor Larry:
    The implications of this charge did not go unnoticed. However, remember I did not say that they knew nothing of Christ. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>Larry, leave your paranoia at the door when you enter the Baptist Board. I was not refering to you or to your post. I was refering to the writings of Peter Ruckman who claims the OT saints were saved a different way from us. In fact he teaches the OT saints prior to the law were saved one way, under the law another way, during the ministry of Christ yet another way, during the Tribulation they will be saved yet another way, the yet another way durning the Millennium. He claims the OT saints "knew nothing of Christ."
     
  17. paul hadik

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    fight the good fight Pastor Larry!!

    I would use Abel as an example. As compared to Cain what was it that saved Abel. Hebrews is clear that it was his faith. But faith in what? It had to be that Abel recognized that he should be the one dead and not that innocent lamb. Abel recognized he was hopeless and was putting his faith in God alone to bring him back into fellowship. His faith in God resulted in his obedience, but it was the faith that saved.
    Also with Noah, we see God's grace being bestowed on him and his entire family. So again God is doing the saving. This might be tied up in the idea of "what is it we are to do" instead of understanding that God is the author of salvation but that can of worms is already on 43 other threads right now.

    paul
     
  18. Pastor Larry

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Glory Bound:
    But - If the OT believers were saved by "responding to the revelation that God had given up to that time" - why was it necessary for Christ to die?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Because Christ was the only one that could satisfy the passive and active demands of the law. Only his infinite sacrifice could have merit. God was viewing them through his eyes, knowing the coming sacrifice that was ordained before the world began (an interesting phrase for those of the "open view" of God. Why would he ordain a remedy for something he had no idea would happen?)

    This brings us to the issue of what the OT sacrifices actually did in regards to God. There are varying opinions which may be deeper than we want to go here. I am not sure I have a view that I am comfortable with as of yet.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>I struggle with the concept that the Bible says that salvation is through Christ only, yet the OT believers were saved.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    They were not saved apart from Christ; they were saved on the basis of Christ absolutely. But Christ was not a part of their conscious knowledge because of limited revelation. (See above comments about God looking at them.)

    Thomas, I once worked for a pastor that taught Ruckman's position. I questioned him on it. They both actually say that OT believers were saved by faith + works, something I couldn't stomach. Of course they also say that salvation in the millennium is by works alone. Such heterodoxy is unbelievable from a man who is respected and revered by many who would claim the name IFB.

    [ December 04, 2001: Message edited by: Pastor Larry ]
     

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