The New Testament’s rejection of earning God’s favor by functions and its emphasis on salvation by grace by means of faith (e.g., Eph two:8–9 Gal two:16 Rom four:1–12) has led several men and women to presume that the Old Testament teaches that men and women could merit salvation [in the Old Testament] by obeying the Mosaic law. Having said that, this is not the case.
The trouble of sin in the Old Testament
Old Testament theology, with its complicated sacrificial technique, had a firm grasp of the trouble of sin, which was variously defined as getting ritually impure or transgressing God’s moral law. As members of a steady nation attempting to stroll with their God, actually not a day could pass in the regular course of Israel’s life when they have been not reminded that they have been imperfect and impure in the sight of a holy God. Nothing at all would build the thought that human goodness could earn God’s pleasure.
Having said that, considering that living according to God’s law and preserving the purity of sacrificial worship essential fantastic human work, Israelites also knew that salvation was not a purely passive status. The problem is not that human work was not aspect of salvation. It would have been foreign to the Israelite to assume that faith was not a basic requirement for salvation or that an individual’s personal functions resulted in God owing salvation to everyone.
A tree is identified by its fruit
Hence, in its framing, Old Testament salvation was the identical as New Testament salvation. In the New Testament, functions have been vital to salvation (Jas two:14–26) but they have been by no means the meritorious result in of salvation God owed salvation to no one particular on the basis of functions. This is not contrary to Paul’s assertion that no one particular was justified by functions. James and Paul could therefore be fused this way: “For by grace are you saved by means of faith, which with out functions is dead” (Eph two:eight Jas two:17). No element can be eliminated.
Jesus mentioned that a tree (and therefore a believer) was identified by its fruit (Matt 12:33). If an person does not have functions (“fruit”), there is no proof of salvation. The presence of functions is vital for calling somebody a believer. But functions do not place God in the position of owing salvation. Salvation comes by faith in Christ (its object), which produces functions. Each ought to be present. Old Testament salvation can be framed the identical way, although the object of faith differs.
Faith and obedience
With respect to the Old Testament Israelite, faith was vital to standing in proper connection to God. The Israelite had to think that Yahweh, the God of Israel, was the accurate God, superior to all other gods. This would generate fruit in the kind of loyal worship of only Yahweh and no other god. Old Testament Israelites also had to think that Yahweh had come to their forefathers—Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—and produced a covenant with them that produced them his exclusive men and women.
This covenant integrated precise promises to be believed by faith. Faith in the divine origin of the covenant and its promises involved obedience. The language of the Abrahamic covenant (Gen 12:1–3 15:1–6) was regularly repeated in connection with obedience to God (e.g., Gen 17:1–6 22:18 26:five). The patriarchs could not have disobeyed God’s commands by rejecting circumcision, refusing to go exactly where God commanded, and rejecting sacrifice, and nevertheless received God’s blessing. The youngsters of the patriarchs also had to think that the God who delivered them from Egypt was the identical God of their forefathers.
That identical God gave Israel the law to distinguish them as his special possession of humanity on Earth (e.g., Exod 20–23 Lev 10–11). An Israelite who believed he was a youngster of the God of Sinai created fruit by obeying the law. The law of Sinai was connected to the promises offered to Abraham (Lev 26). Faith in Yahweh and loyalty to Yahweh have been each aspect of salvation (proper connection to God) in the Old Testament. People could not be rightly-connected to God by signifies of only one particular.
In all this, Israelites could not do the functions of the law and then presume God owed them salvation. God was in connection with Israel mainly because he chose to be in that relationship—he chose this prior to obedience was any problem. God extended grace by calling Abraham Abraham believed, and then Abraham showed that belief by obedience (Rom four).
An extension of God’s grace
The idea “circumcision of the heart” is telling in regard to the balance of faith and functions. Circumcision was the sign of the covenant. Given that performing it essential human activity, it could be believed of as a fantastic operate. God preferred obedience—the submission of one’s will—on this matter. “Circumcision of the heart” speaks of a heart that believes, not a operate. It is a heart submitted to God, not merely the will. A circumcised heart was a believing heart, and it was vital for proper connection to God (Deut 10:16 30:six Jer four:four 31:33 32:39, 40 Ezek 11:19 36:26, 27).
In the Old Testament law and the sacrificial technique, failure was inevitable fellowship with God would inevitably be broken. In addition, humans have been impure by nature and unable to method the fantastic divine presence. The book of Leviticus indicates that men and women could purge (“atone for”) the impurity brought on by sin and transgression by means of sacrifice, which resulted in forgiveness (Lev four:20, 26, 31, 35 five:10, 13, 16, 18 six:7 Num 15:25–28).
Via his grace
But they did not earn forgiveness God supplied the complete signifies of forgiveness—the sacrificial system—through his grace. God was not forced to deliver a signifies of atonement or reveal what he would accept for atonement. The signifies of restoring fellowship with God was an extension of God’s grace.
This write-up is adapted from Dr. Heiser’s book The Bible Unfiltered.
Dr. Michael S. Heiser is the author of The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible and Angels: What the Bible Seriously Says about God’s Heavenly Host.
His newest book, The Planet Turned Upside Down: Acquiring the Gospel in Stranger Points, is now on pre-order.
He’s taught several Mobile Ed courses, like Troubles in Biblical Interpretation: Tricky Passages I.