35 Question 2

There is only one way of salvation.  The Lord Jesus said of Himself in John 14:6 where he said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”  The Apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit tells us how we can be saved in Romans 10:9-10 which says, “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. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”  It is so clear from scripture that salvation is found only through faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.  But, what about those who came before the Lord Jesus was born to the Virgin Mary?  They knew nothing about this.  What about John the Baptist?  He was killed before the Lord Jesus was crucified, so how could he believe in His death, burial, and resurrection?  Obviously, the Old Testament people, and even people like John the Baptist, could not believe in the saving power of the sacrifice of the Lord.  So, how could they be saved?

Let’s start by reading Genesis 15:3-6, “And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir. And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”  The Lord promised Abram, later to be called Abraham, that even in his old age, that his seed, or family, would be more than the stars in the sky.  Abraham believed what the Lord told him, and God considered him to be righteous, because he trusted God to do what He said He would.  The Lord would later say to Abraham in Genesis 22:17, “That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies.”  Can you count all the stars in the sky?  Can you count all the grains of sand that exist?  This is the number of the family of Abraham.  The Lord counted Abraham’s trust, or faith in Him, as righteousness.  We have this same truth repeated three times in the New Testament in Romans 4:3, Galatians 3:6, and James 2:23.  All these verses tell us that “Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.”

From the outset, the basis of salvation has always been grace through faith in the words of the Lord.  King David said in Psalms 13:5, “But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.”  He also said in Psalms 22:4, “Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them.”  Did the sacrifices of the Old Testament offerings bring salvation?  Absolutely not.  The sacrifices were continual reminders of the sins of the people as we read in Hebrews 10:1-4, “For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins.  But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.”  The sacrifices were types of the Lord Jesus Himself who would shed His precious blood for the remission of our sins as we read in 1 Peter 1:18-19, “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”  While the Old Testament sacrifices could not bring salvation, the Lord looks on the heart.  When people moved according to God’s word and were obedient to Him, the Lord counted that for righteousness, even as He did for Abraham.  I’m sure there were many that were very careful to obey the particulars of the law, but had no faith in God.  The Lord Jesus dealt with people like that in His day as we read in Matthew 23:27, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.”

The commandments and sacrifices were not instituted so that the people could become the people of God, they were instituted because those people were already the people of God as we read in Exodus 20:2, “I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.”

Let’s read Romans 4:1-5, “What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”  The Ten Commandments or works of the law could never bring salvation.  That was never the intent.  Salvation only comes by grace through faith.  It is this basis of faith that has saved men from the beginning.  It is this basis that declares that all believers are sons of Abraham as we read in Romans 4:16,”Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all.”  Galatians 3:29 tells us, “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

Abraham was faithful to the truth that was revealed to him by the Lord.  The true followers of the Lord in the Old Testament were also faithful to the truth that was revealed to them and the Lord counted it to them for righteousness.