In the previous post, I laid out the objective basis/ground of salvation: that Jesus accomplished redemption once for all on Calvary’s Cross, and that the value of his accomplishment APPLIED IN BOTH DIRECTIONS IN HISTORY. In other words, he died for people who would come after him, and he died for people who came before him. He was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world–his death was a “done deal” in the mind of God from the beginning of time, and God applied its effects from the dawn of humankind.
Now, let’s turn to Redemption Applied, specifically in those days before Christ.
1. Christ died for all (1 Jn 2:2), yet not all benefit in his death. Here’s the biblical standard: And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. (1 John 5:11, 12, NKJV). So you’ve got to “have the Son of God”, Jesus, to have eternal life/salvation.
But this hardly seems fair, because, after all, how could people before Jesus have believed in Jesus? Shouldn’t we give them a pass? What would Jesus do? Check out this passage: Luke 24:13-35. It’ll open in a new window. Go ahead, I’ll wait………. I can tell if you did it or not……….
Okay, here’s the short form: The newly resurrected Jesus meets up with some guys traveling the road to Emmaus. They don’t recognize him. They’re waving their arms and blustering about all the furor over Jesus’ death and resurrection. Jesus asks what’s up. They ask if he’s been living in a hole, and hasn’t he heard all the news about this guy named Jesus, which would have been so embarrassing if they’d known who he was. They’re in a tizzy and lost in confusion over these happenings.
Jesus rebukes them.
Think about that… He rebukes their tizziness. The rebukes their confusion. Let’s ask the WWJD question about people who lived before (and contemporaneously with) him. What would Jesus do?
He would rebuke them.
2. Because the Old Testament Scriptures clearly portrayed the coming Savior in both his death and resurrection, in both his humiliation and glorification. Clearly. Clearly. With enough clarity to make a person culpable for not getting it. That was Jesus’ clear position, I’m not making it up. Check it out for yourself: “Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! “Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:25-27, NKJV).
To Jesus, the gospel message was clearly set forth in the Old Testament.
But you say, of course, Jesus, being God, could read between the lines and find the gospel in the Old Testament. And Jesus would lovingly smack you upside the head, and say, “NEVER read between the lines. Read the lines!” For Jesus, the message was clear enough to the 2 men on the road to Emmaus for him to call them Foolish and Slow of Heart to Believe all that the prophets have written.
It was clear.
It was clear enough for the Rich man whose crumbs Lazarus ate, too… and for his brothers. “But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’” (Luke 16:31, NKJV).
We are saved by trusting in the Savior who came long ago. Old Testament people were saved by trusting in the Savior would would come long after them. Timing, in this case, is irrelevant.
3. Old Testament people foresaw Jesus with a lot more clarity than we given them credit for. Without reading anything backwards into the OT from the NT, the OT alone contained the entire gospel.
- That’s why Jesus could rebuke not only his traveling buddies on the road to Emmaus, but also the Pharisees, and Nicodemus, and anybody else who missed the point.
- That’s why OT saints like David could rejoice:
- “Blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity… (Psalms 32:2, NKJV, Cf. Rom 4:8)
- “Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (Psalms 103:3-5, NKJV).”
- He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities. (Psalms 103:10, NKJV).
- For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father pities his children, So the LORD pities those who fear Him. (Psalms 103:11-13, NKJV).
- (I’m tempted to quote the whole 103rd psalm, but I’ll curb my enthusiasm.
- That’s why the Lawgiver (Moses) could write, ““Therefore circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and be stiff-necked no longer” (Deuteronomy 10:16, NKJV). SALVATION WAS A HEART MATTER, NOT A LAWKEEPING MATTER.
The covenant of grace (Abraham) preceded the giving of the law by 430 years, says Paul. Grace takes precedence; the law never annulled grace. “And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect. (Galatians 3:17, NKJV).
- That’s why the prophets could describe the Suffering Servant w/such accuracy (Isa 53, Micah 5).
- That’s why the whole book of Hebrews makes the case for the gospel of grace from the Old Testament. So does Paul in Romans and Galatians. So do the gospel-writers.
- God wove the story of a coming Savior into every ritual, every holy day, every festival, every priestly garment, every sacrifice, every prophecy, every major story (like the Exodus, Parting the Red Sea, Clothing Adam and Eve with skins/sacrificial victims, The Substitutionary Sacrifice for Isaac, Jacob blessing Joseph’s Sons, Jonah in the belly of the great fish, The valley of dry bones… it’s endless).
The Old Testament drips with details on the coming Savior, and SPIRITUALLY MINDED MEN AND WOMEN GOT IT. That’s why old Simeon and old Anna rejoiced when they met the baby Jesus. Even pre-Jesus, they got it. Jesus presumed EVERYBODY should have gotten it. It wasn’t obscure. It wasn’t “tricksy.” It wasn’t hidden. The gospel of Jesus Christ lay in plain sight for all to see long before Mary started pushing. Not with the clarity with which we can see it today, but with enough clarity for anyone to believe. It has always been a perspicuous gospel, and that’s why Jesus nailed his new friends on the road to Emmaus.
- <<To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.>> In You, O LORD, I put my trust; Let me never be ashamed; Deliver me in Your righteousness. (Psalms 31:1, NKJV).
- And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness. (Genesis 15:6, NKJV).
- “O my God, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and see our desolations, and the city which is called by Your name; for we do not present our supplications before You because of our righteous deeds, but because of Your great mercies. (Daniel 9:18, NKJV).
- “Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; And you who have no money, Come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk Without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And let your soul delight itself in abundance. Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live; And I will make an everlasting covenant with you– The sure mercies of David. (Isaiah 55:1-3, NKJV).
- Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; Save me, and I shall be saved, For You are my praise. (Jeremiah 17:14, NKJV).
- Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; But we will remember the name of the LORD our God. (Psalms 20:7, NKJV).
- “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new [renewed] covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah– “not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD. “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. (Jeremiah 31:31-33, NKJV). [Note: translate new as “renewed” says Walter Kaiser in Toward an Old Testament Theology. There was nothing new here; just a return to the pre-law, pre-Exodus covenant of grace, which existed from the Garden of Eden days.]
- “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool. (Isaiah 1:18, NKJV).