Yancey Arringto as New Testament believers, what if you lived during a time when Jesus hadn’t arrived, namely, the period of the Old Testament? Were you saved by your obedience to the Law? Did God just give everyone a “free pass” until Christ arrived? How did salvation work for those who were still waiting for the gospel of Jesus?
One of my favorite responses to this question is from Old Testament and Biblical Theology scholar Graeme Goldsworthy. In his must-read work Gospel and Kingdom he writes:
From man’s point of view we see the Scriptures unfold a step-by-step process until the gospel is reached as the goal. But from God’s point of view we know that the coming of Christ to live and to die for sinners was the pre-determined factor even before God made the world. We must not think of God trying first one plan and then another until he came up with the perfect way of salvation. The gospel was pre-ordained so that at the exact and perfect time God sent forth his Son into the world.
In the meantime, until that perfect ‘fulness of time’ should be reached, God graciously provided a progressive revelation of the Christ event. These prefigurements of the gospel had two purposes. First, this progressive revelation led man gently to the full light of truth. Secondly, it provided the means whereby the Old Testament believer embraced the gospel before it was fully revealed. The Old Testament believer who believed the promises of God concerning the shadow was thus enabled to grasp the reality. It was by Christ that the saints of Israel were saved, for such is the unity of the successive stages of revelation that, by embracing the shadow, the believer embraced the reality. Only in this way can we account for the ‘unity expressions’ of the New Testament which speak of Old Testament believers as hearing the gospel, seeing Christ, or hoping for a heavenly Kingdom. 1
Goldsworthy’s answer is one worth committing to memory. How were Old Testament saints saved? By Christ! But how could Christ save those who lived centuries before the Cross? Because God gave his people types, symbols, and experiences that progressively pointed to the arrival of Christ. They were intentionally given the shadow of things which one day would blossom into reality. And so, salvation came to Old Testament individuals who embraced the “shadow” of the One we, as New Testament believers, now see clearly in the light.
1.Gospel and Kingdom, 125-126
Dr. James Montgomery Boice spoke at two sessions of the “Essential Truths of the Christian Faith: 1997 National Ligonier Conference.” I have heard his messages many times over and each time I have done so they have always blessed and refreshed my soul immensely. I am delighted to recommend them to you.
(1) With an introduction from Dr. Sinclair Ferguson, here is Dr. Boice on the theme of Divine election. Dr. R. C. Sproul referred to this session as the clearest teaching on Election he had ever heard – found here.
(2) Dr. James Montgomery Boice on “Justification by Faith Alone.” Found here. Outstanding!
I highly recommend these two teaching sessions on the relationship between Divine Sovereignty and human responsibility. Outstanding material.
Dr. John MacArthur – An Introduction to the Sovereign Gospel:
Dr. John MacArthur – An Explanation of the Sovereign Gospel:
“No one who has ever truly understood their own heart, their own guilt, and the holiness of God, could ever trade the finished work of Christ for the never-perfecting charade of the Romanist mass, the medieval myth of purgatory and indulgences, and the legion of alter Christi who daily attempt to sew up the rent veil.” – James White
“The demands of following Christ will cost you everything. But you gain far more than you give up. You give up dirt for diamonds.” – Steve Lawson
“Ever heard of anyone executed for distributing copies of Grimm’s fairy tales? Imagine people trying to smuggle copies of Hans Christian Andersen’s works into China? The Bible, which has been called a mere collection of myths has suffered all of these fates: even today, copies of the Bible are banned and burned. There’s something about this ancient book that threatens and frightens those in power.” – Eric Metaxas
“Just as a jeweler in a store will always use a black velvet background to display the splendor of an exquisite diamond, so the intricate, dazzling beauty of the gospel is only fully seen when we understand what the Bible says about man’s radical condition outside of Christ. Its a bleak and dark picture to be sure. Yet only when we understand the immensity of the problem can we find the right solution – and see the futility of all other man made remedies. We need far more than a moral pep talk; more than some medical first aid for our gaping wounds; and even more than even an oxygen mask to help us breathe more easily. What we need is a miracle! What we need is a resurrection!” – John Samson
“The holier a man becomes, the more he mourns over the unholiness which remains in him.” – Charles H. Spurgeon
“How dare you say ‘Oh, so you are just a homemaker’ to the hero of my children.” – Sinclair Ferguson
“There are no disappointments to those whose wills are buried in the will of God.” – Frederick Faber
“There is mercy for a sinner, but there is no mercy for the man who will not own himself a sinner.” – C. H. Spurgeon
“It is not hard to deceive ministers, relatives and friends. But it is impossible to deceive Christ.” – J. C. Ryle
JESUS NEVER SAID:
“Verily, verily, I saith unto thee… oh, and Bartholomew, dippeth thy quill into red paint before thou writest now so that My words mightest standeth out on the page, so all may see they art more inspired than other parts of the Bible…”
“ALL Scripture is God breathed…” (2 Timothy 3:16), not just the red letter parts.
“…just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. ” Ephesians 1:4-6
Perhaps the biggest hurdle people stumble over concerning the Biblical doctrine of Divine Election, is the idea that it just doesn’t seem fair. It is the issue I struggled with for quite some time, as like many others, I had the idea that in order for God to be fair, He has to treat all people equally.
However, consider this: When a person gives that which he has no obligation to give, he is considered gracious in giving to other people; but he is certainly not considered unjust because he doesn’t give to an additional party.
For example, consider a man who has a million dollars that he wants to give away and he decides to give $100,000 to ten different organizations. An eleventh organization hearing about this act of charity would not have a just case against the man if they were to make the claim that he hasn’t been fair.
That’s obvious isn’t it? The man owes nothing to this 11th organization, just as he didn’t owe anything to the ten others he gave to. This 11th organization doesn’t have a just claim to that money. The man has every right to do what he wants with his own money and he can give it to whomever he will. That is exactly what takes place in Divine Election.
Romans 9 is a chapter given entirely over to this subject of Election. Paul is explaining why it is that not everyone comes to faith in Christ, even amongst the Jews.
“I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.” (Romans 9:1-5)
Paul had such a heart for his fellow countrymen that he would have given up his salvation (if that was possible, which, of course, it was not) if it meant that all the Jews would be saved.
He goes on to answer the question of why it is that many amongst God’s chosen people Israel have not embraced the Messiah. Did God not have the power to open up their eyes to the truth? Is God now an eternally miserable Deity who has to live with the fact that He failed to woo His people to Himself?
Let’s allow the word of God to speak to us as we read the Apostle Paul’s words in verses 6-13: Continue reading
Just as a jeweler in a store will always use a black velvet background to display the splendor of an exquisite diamond, so the intricate, dazzling beauty of the gospel is only fully seen when we understand what the Bible says about man’s radical condition outside of Christ. Its a bleak and dark picture to be sure. Yet only when we understand the immensity of the problem can we find the right solution – and see the futility of all other man made remedies. We need far more than a moral pep talk; more than some medical first aid for our gaping wounds; and even more than even an oxygen mask to help us breathe more easily. What we need is a miracle! What we need is a resurrection!
(See Ephesians 2:1-5)
Eschatology is the study of the End Times with a particular interest in the events leading up to and surrounding the Second Coming of Christ. These four short videos below were created by Professor David Murray from the Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary. They are very simple and to the point, lasting just a few minutes each. For those new to the issues, needing to gain a broad overview picture of the different views, they could prove be a helpful resource.
Amillennialism (or Now Millennialism):
Historic (or Classical) Premillennialism:
C. H. Spurgeon on Roman Catholicism:
“We must have no truce, no treaty with Rome. War! War to the knife with her! Peace there cannot be. She cannot have peace with us – we cannot have peace with her. She hates the true Church; and we can only say that the hatred is reciprocated. We would not lay a hand upon her priests; we would not touch a hair of their heads. Let them be free: but their doctrine we would destroy from the face of the earth as the doctrine of devils. So let it perish, O God, and let that evil thing become as the fat of lambs. Into smoke let it consume: yea, into smoke let it consume away.”
“If you edit the Bible, it is not the Bible you believe but rather yourself.” – Augustine
“God is triune; there are within the Godhead three persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit; and the work of salvation is one in which all three act together, the Father purposing redemption, the Son securing it and the Spirit applying it.” – J. I. Packer
“If Jesus had preached the same message that ministers preach today, He would never have been crucified.” – Leonard Ravenhill
“The secret of prayer is praying in secret.” – Leonard Ravenhill
“Human will does not by liberty obtain grace, but by grace obtains liberty.” – John Calvin
“Patience, then, believer, eternity will right the wrongs of time.” – C. H. Spurgeon
“The difference between an unconverted man and a converted man is not that one has sins and the other does not; but that the one takes part with his cherished sins against a dreaded God, and the other takes part with a reconciled God against his hated sins.” – William Arnot, Laws From Heaven for Life On Earth (London, 1884), page 311.
“The gospel of Jesus Christ must be defended in every generation. It is always the center of attack by the forces of evil.” – R. C. Sproul
“If you love anything better than God you are idolaters: if there is anything you would not give up for God it is your idol: if there is anything that you seek with greater fervor than you seek the glory of God, that is your idol, and conversion means a turning from every idol.” – C. H. Spurgeon
“The Holy Spirit bestows on every believer a gift, or multiple gifts, to deploy in the family of God. And every Christian is accountable to steward these talents in the mission of the church.” – Unknown
“I would do many things to please my friends, but to go to hell to please them is more than I would venture. It may be very well to do this and that for good fellowship, but it will never do to lose the friendship of God in order to keep on good terms with men.” – C. H. Spurgeon
“Faith is not a blind thing; for faith begins with knowledge. It is not a speculative thing; for faith believes facts of which it is sure. It is not an unpractical, dreamy thing; for faith trusts, and stakes its destiny upon the truth of revelation.” – C. H. Spurgeon, All of Grace
“He who is a stranger to wonder is a stranger to God, for God is wonderful everyway, and everywhere, and everyhow.” – C. H. Spurgeon
“Unity without the gospel is a worthless unity; it is the very unity of hell.” – J.C. Ryle
“Almost no one will give faithfully and generously without planning to give faithfully and generously.” – Kevin DeYoung
“…the believer is perfectly free from vindictive wrath, from the curse and penal sanction of the law, so his gospel obedience is not influenced by slavish fear of hell, but by the love of God.” – Ralph Erskine
“The reason I know I am alive is because I am breathing, not because I can recall the moment of my birth.” – John Piper
“…regeneration is something that is accomplished by God, and only by God. A dead man cannot raise himself from the dead.” – R. C. Sproul