Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Salvation In The Old Testament

Biblegems #38
In light of John 14:6, which says: "Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" — how can the people of the Old Testament be given eternal life?

The key to this puzzle lies within Jesus’ own words, where He refers to Himself as “I am.” In John 8:58, Jesus declares, …before Abraham was born, I am. The Jews He addressed that day understood perfectly that by using that phrase He was claiming to be the very same God whom Moses encountered at the burning bush (Ex. 3:1-15). There, God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you’” (Ex. 3:14).

Jesus in the New Testament is the great I AM of the Old Testament. Jesus could say to Thomas in John 14:6, No one comes to the Father except through me, because Jesus and the Father are one. As He says in the very next verse, If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him. Those who put their faith in the I Am of the Old Testament put their faith in Jesus—before He was revealed in the flesh.

Jesus’ revelation of Himself as the I AM is sprinkled throughout the gospel of John, often with direct allusions to His presence among the people of Israel in the Old Testament:

I am the bread of life…” “I am the bread that came down from heaven” (the manna in the wilderness, Ex. 16:13-34—John 6:35, 41, 48, 51).

I am the light of the world” (the light of creation, Gen. 1:3-4—John 8:12).

“…I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world” (John 8:23).

“…if you do not believe that I am… you will indeed die in your sins” (John 8:24).

“When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am…” (raising the snake on a pole in the wilderness, Num. 21:7-9—John 8:28).

It was as true in the Old Testament as it is in the New Testament that “…it is by grace you have been saved, through faith” (Eph. 2:8). That faith was always a matter of putting one’s entire trust in the One True God, as He revealed Himself prior to the final and perfect revelation in human form. As it says in Hebrews 1:1-3:

In the past God spoke to our forefathers through
the prophets at many times and in various ways,
but in these last days he has spoken to us by his
Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and
through whom he made the universe. The Son is
the radiance of God’s glory and the exact repre-
sentation of his being, sustaining all things by his
powerful word.

1 comment:

  1. Hebrew children in the Old Testament were born into God's covenant, both male and female. Circumcision was the sign of this covenant for boys, but the sign was not what saved them. Faith saved them. Rejecting the sign, circumcision, for boys, either by the parents or later as an adult himself, was a sign of a lack of true faith, and therefore the child was "cut off" from God's promises as clearly stated in Genesis chapter 17:

    "Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. 12 He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised. Every male throughout your generations, whether born in your house or bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring, 13 both he who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money, shall surely be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant. 14 Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”

    What was the purpose of this covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? God tells us in the beginning of this chapter of Genesis:

    "And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you."

    This covenant wasn't just to establish a Jewish national identity or a promise of the inheritance of the land of Caanan, as some evangelicals want you to believe. In this covenant, God promises to be their God. Does God say here that he will be their God only if they make a "decision for God" when they are old enough to have the intelligence and maturity to decide for themselves? No! They are born into the covenant!

    If Jewish children grew up trusting in God and lived by faith, they then received eternal life when they died. If when they grew up, they rejected God, turned their back on God, and lived a life of willful sin, when they died, they suffered eternal damnation. Salvation was theirs to LOSE. There is no record anywhere in the Bible that Jewish children were required to make a one time "decision for God" upon reaching an "Age of Accountability" in order to be saved.

    Therefore Jewish infants who died, even before circumcision, were saved.

    The same is true today. Christian children are born into the covenant. They are saved by faith. It is not the act of baptism that saves, it is faith. The refusal to be baptized is a sign of a lack of true faith and may result in the child being "cut off" from God's promise of eternal life, to suffer eternal damnation, as happened with the unfaithful Hebrew in the OT.

    Christ said, "He that believes and is baptized will be saved, but he that does not believe will be damned."

    It is not the lack of baptism that damns, it is the lack of faith that damns.

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