Monday, September 20, 2010

Old Testament Salvation

Many people are confused about how people were saved in the Old Testament. Most of the confusion comes from dispensationalists, who teach that we are living in “the age of grace” or “the dispensation of grace,” and that the people living in the Old Testament were saved by their works or adherence to the law. Others teach that people in the Old Testament had to perform animal sacrifices in order to be saved. These teachings are simply not true. Everyone who has ever been saved has always been saved by grace through faith without works, just as we are today.

The doctrine of salvation by faith alone was taught by every Old Testament prophet:

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

In reading the Old Testament, we see many examples of people being saved just as we are today. For example, the book of Romans tells us that we are saved by simply believing on the Lord Jesus and calling upon him for salvation:

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.

Romans 10:10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Romans 10:14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

Notice these scriptures from the book of Genesis:

Genesis 4:26 And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the LORD.

Genesis 12:8 And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the LORD, and called upon the name of the LORD. (Abraham)

Genesis 15:6 And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness. (Abraham)

According to Genesis 12, Abraham called upon the name of the LORD. God makes it clear in Romans 4 that Abraham was justified by his faith, and not by his works.

Romans 4:1 What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?

Romans 4:2 For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.

Romans 4:3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.

Romans 4:4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.

Romans 4:5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

David was saved the same way centuries later, long after the law of Moses given:

Romans 4:5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

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

Romans 4:7 Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.

Romans 4:8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.

Righteousness was imputed unto Abraham and David by faith alone without works. Later in the chapter, God tells us that we are saved the same way that both Abraham and David were saved:

Romans 4:23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him;

Romans 4:24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;

Galatians 3 teaches the exact same doctrine concerning Abraham’s salvation:

Galatians 3:6 Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.

Galatians 3:7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.

Galatians 3:8 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 3:9 So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.

Galatians 3:10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.

Galatians 3:11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.

The Bible also clearly records that David called upon the name of the Lord in order to be saved:

Psalm 116:10 I believed, therefore have I spoken: I was greatly afflicted:

Psalm 116:13 I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD.

The Bible tells us again that we are saved the same way that David was:

2 Corinthians 4:13 We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak;

2 Corinthians 4:14 Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.

We are not living today in a special “age of grace” or “dispensation of grace.” The age of grace began in the book of Genesis! When Abel died and went to Heaven, he went to Heaven because of God’s grace. He did not deserve to go Heaven, just as we do not deserve to go to Heaven. Everyone who has ever gone to Heaven has gone by grace.

“But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” – Genesis 6:8

Do not be deceived by those who teach a works-based salvation. Man has never been saved by his own works and never will be saved by his own works.

Many will ask the question, “What name did they call upon to be saved in the Old Testament since they did not yet know the name of Jesus?”

First of all, what name did Abraham call upon?

Exo 6:3 And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them.

Abraham called upon the name of “God Almighty.” David called upon the name of “the LORD” or “Jehovah.” We call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. The common denominator is that we all call upon the name of the same person by faith in order to be saved. God Almighty = Jehovah = Jesus Christ who was God in the flesh.

Isaiah 45:22 Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.

Now that Jesus Christ has been revealed in the flesh, no one can be saved without acknowledging the fact that he is the only saviour, and without believing in his death, burial, and resurrection:

1John 2:23 Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.

John 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Joh 20:31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

1Jn 5:13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

Act 4:10 Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.

Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

We know much more than the Old Testament saints knew since we are living after Jesus Christ has already come, and since we have the entire completed Bible at our fingertips. However, the method of salvation has not changed. We are saved by calling upon the name of the Lord by faith, just as they were.


Helga said...

Thank you for this much-needed knowledge. But, I am still confused.

When he died, Jesus descended into what I believe was Abraham's bosom, to ransom the souls that had been there in wait, in "paradise?" Luke 16:23;

and he also said to the "good" thief:
Luke 23:43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise. Not Heaven!

Can you help clear this?

Thank you, so very much!

God bless you and your beautiful family!

Yours in Christ,


Harold Green said...

Pastor Anderson,

Thanks for the Bible study on GRACE in the Old Testament. We have started a home church and teach the same Salvation (common salvation) delivered once to the saints! We had 18 in our home this Sunday with 5 saved at preaching time and 2 saved later that week in another home by God's simple plan of Salvation. Praise Jesus! I would like to use this study of yours for our people. This will be a great blessing for our outreach ministry. Thank you again!

Pastor H. R. Green Jr.

Anonymous said...

I know you abhor the doctrine of dispensations, but it's Biblical. The "dispensation of grace" is an actual KJV term. Ephesians 3:2

I am sure you won't post this... but that's ok. At least you read it.

sanderson1611 said...

Funny that none of the other made-up 7 "dispensations" are EVER mentioned in the Bible.

The word "dispense" means to give out or to use up (e.g. pez dispenser, soap dispenser, etc.).

The "dispensation" of God's grace is identical to the "gift of grace" mentioned over and over again in Paul's epistles. It has nothing to do with "an epoch of time"!

The word "dispensation" never meant a period of time until Satanic John Nelson Darby invented "dispensationalism" in the 1800's and redefined the word. I promise you that John Nelson Darby, "the Father of Dispensationalism" is burning in Hell because his corrupt "Darby Translation" is a total perversion of God's word similar to the NIV. See the curses in Revelation 22:18,19.

Also, CI Scofield, who is responsible for making dispensationalism popular among Baptists was a member of secret societies who in the introduction of his Scofield Reference Bible says that the KJV is filled with errors, and that newer translations are better, but that he is only using the KJV for his reference Bible because it is "the most popular." Yet KJV-only churches follow their corrupt doctrines of so-called "dispensationalism" which would be unknown if it were not for these two men.

God's grace was available to Old Testament saints also. Otherwise, they would have all gone to Hell.

Michael said...


In the Old Testament the Jewish Tabernacle was the work of God - not man. It was God who drew up its plan, giving its exact dimensions, stipulating the materials to be used in its construction, describing its sacred furnishings and vessels for the service, and the vestments and ornaments for the priests who would minister therein. He gave it a suitable constitution, appointed its rulers, and defined the extent of their power. (See Book of Exodus, chapters 25 through 31, entire Book of Leviticus; Book of Numbers, chapters 1, 3 through 8, and 17 and 18.) 50, since the Tabernacle of the Old Law (which was but a shadow, a figure, of the Church to come) was the work of God, surely the Church of the New Testament (the substance, the reality) must likewise be the work of God.

Gary said...

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.