Tag Archives: Old Testament

Salvation in the Old Testament

Today’s post is a lecture that I gave recently at a congregation in Oklahoma City.  I hope you find it interesting and encouraging!

Introduction

The word “saved” (or “salvation” or any of their various forms) is used in different ways in the Bible.  For example, the same word translated “saved” in the New Testament is also translated “healed,” “made whole,” “do well,” and “preserve.”  The basic idea is taking someone from a bad state and placing them in a better state.  Taking someone from sickness to health, from slavery to freedom, from sinner to saint, from earthly life to heavenly life—the Bible uses the Greek word sozo to describe each of these transitions.

The topic for this lesson is salvation in the Old Testament, but I wanted you to understand before we get there that the word “saved” in the Bible doesn’t always mean salvation from sin (though it is also used in that way).  In fact, most of the time that we see that word in the Old Testament, it doesn’t specifically describe salvation from sin.

The Main Meaning of “Salvation” in the Old Testament

God sent Isaiah to King Hezekiah, to tell him to “Set your house in order: for you shall die and not live” (Isaiah 38:1).  But Hezekiah went to God in tears, pleading for more time.  And after God granted him another 15 years, Hezekiah wrote the words “The LORD was ready to save me” (Isaiah 38:20).  This is salvation from sickness.  But this isn’t how it is normally used.

Hannah was horribly depressed.  She was one of two wives to her husband Elkanah.  His other wife had given him children, but Hannah was barren, and the other wife missed no opportunity to rub that in her face.  We all know the story about how the family went to Shiloh, and Hannah went off by herself to pray, mouthing the words, but making no sound.  She was praying for a son, and said that in return, she would dedicate him to God.  After her prayer was answered, and she fulfilled her vow to God, she prayed again, this time with the words, “My heart rejoices in the LORD, my horn is exalted in the LORD: my mouth is enlarged over my enemies, because I rejoice in Thy salvation” (1 Samuel 2:1).  This is salvation from the mocking of her husband’s other wide, salvation from her barrenness.  But this isn’t how it is normally used.

Read these passages, which are just a sampling, and see for yourself what the primary type of salvation was in the Old Testament.

When the Israelites were standing on the shores of the Red Sea, the Egyptians hot on their heels, scared that they were going to be killed, Moses said:

Moses said to the people, “Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will show to you today: for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you shall see them again no more forever!” (Exodus 14:13).

After Moses raise his rod, the Red Sea split, and the Israelites walked across on dry ground.  When the Egyptians tried to follow them, God brought the walls of water crashing down on them, drowning Pharaoh’s entire army.  The inspired record then says:

Thus the LORD saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore (Exodus 14:30).

Forty years later, the Israelites are at the side of another body of water, the Jordan River, and Moses is giving a series of sermons, delivering to this new generation the laws and commands of God, as well as the promises.  Hear what he says to them:

It shall be, when you are come night unto the battle, that the priest shall approach and speak unto the people, and shall say to them, “Hear, O Israel, you approach this day unto the battle against your enemies: let not your hearts faint, fear not, and do not tremble, neither be ye terrified because of them; for the LORD your God is He that goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you” (Deuteronomy 20:2-4).

This is the same thread that runs throughout the books of history.  Judges 6 and 7 uses the word several times to describe the salvation that God would bring to Israel by the hands of Gideon and his 300 men.  Salvation from the Philistines is mentioned several times in the books of Samuel.  Here’s just one of those passages:

By the mouth of my servant David I will save my people Israel out of the hand of the Philistines, and out of the hand of all their enemies (2 Samuel 3:18).

In the books of Kings and Chronicles, there are instances of the people going to God in prayer, crying “Save us!”  But these are all asking for physical salvation from their enemies.

Now therefore, O LORD our God, I beseech Thee, save Thou us out of his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that Thou art the LORD God, even Thou only (2 Kings 19:19).

What we need to recognize in all of these is that they weren’t asking for salvation from sin; they were asking for physical deliverance from their enemies.  But make no mistake about it, there was a spiritual component to this as well, as we will see.

Old Testament Salvation Based on their Attitudes and Actions

In the book of Judges, we see over and over the rollercoaster of the Israelites—they go from faithful to fallen, then God sends a nation to conquer them.  Eventually, they cry out to the Lord in repentance, and God sends a deliverer, a judge, to save them from their enemies.  In short, God didn’t save them when they continually rejected Him.  This is a constant theme throughout the entire Bible (Old Testament and New Testament).  If you doubt it, just read Hebrews 10:26-31.  Moses, soon before his death, told the Israelites that they needed to learn the lesson of faithfulness:

It shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes which I comman thee this day, that all these curses shall come upon thee and overtake thee. … And thou shalt grope at noonday as the blind gropeth in darkness, and thou shalt not prosper in thy ways: and thou shalt be only oppressed and spoiled evermore, and no man [literally, “no one”] shall save thee (Deuteronomy 28:15, 29).

Obedience was required if they wanted physical salvation.  But so was humility.  After David had been saved from Saul (The king of God’s people, the Israelites), he was inspired to write:

“The afflicted people [“humble people,” NKJV] thou wilt save, but Your eyes are upon the haughty, that You may bring them down” (2 Samuel 22:28).

Here is a contrast being made between two people who are in a covenant with God.  On one hand, you’ve got the mighty King Saul, the haughty, high-minded King Saul.  On the other hand, you’ve got the humble servant of God, David.  Being saved physically in the Old Testament was based on one’s attitude towards God.  And brethren, our salvation today is based on our attitude of humility as well—Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up (James 4:10).

He will save the humble person (Job 22:29).

The sixth Psalm shows the heart of a humble person before God, including these words:

Have mercy on me, O LORD, for I am weak: O LORD, heal me, for my bones are vexed.  My soul is also sore vexed: but Thou, O LORD, how long?  Return, O LORD, deliver my soul: of save me for Thy mercies’ sake (Psalm 6:2-4).

When David’s son Solomon went before the people after the completion of the magnificent temple in Jerusalem, he preached to them and offered a public prayer to God.  In it, he showed the connection between their physical deliverance and their spiritual condition.  Hear his words:

If they sin against Thee (for there is no man which sinneth not), and Thou be angry with them, and deliver them over before their enemies, and they carry them away captives unto a land far off or near.  Yet if they bethink themselves in the land whither they are carried captive, and turn and pray to thee in the land of their captivity, saying, “We have sinned, we have done amiss, and have dealt wickedly”; if they return to thee with all their heart and all their soul in the land of their captivity wither they have carried them captives, and pray toward their land which thou hast given to their fathers, and toward the city which thou hast chose, and toward the house which I have built for thy name; then hear thou from the heavens, even from thy dwelling place, their prayer and their supplications, and maintain their cause, and forgive thy people which have sinned against thee (2 Chronicles 6:36-39).

Without any doubt, the lost people of God, in order to expect salvation, had to repent of their sins against God.  It was a requirement for their salvation.  But I want you to notice something very specific from this passage, and that is:

Forgiveness (and therefore Salvation from Sin) Existed Under the Old Testament.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say that the people under the Old Testament weren’t forgiven, their sins were just “rolled forward” until the cross.  I wish someone would give me book, chapter, and verse for that, because I’ve never seen it.  Now, I will readily agree that the forgiveness, and thus salvation from sin, under the Old Testament was on the basis of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 9:15 makes that pretty clear), but that doesn’t mean forgiveness somehow didn’t exist under the Old Testament.

The Law of Moses is filled with all the various sacrifices which had to be offered in order for someone to receive forgiveness of their sins (see the book of Leviticus).  When you knew you had sinned in a certain area, it was off to the priest so you could offer a sacrifice.  You might wonder why God commanded these sacrifices to be offered, and there are some very good reasons for it: (1) to show that sin deserves death.  Have you ever considered that it was God’s amazing grace that allowed people to offer animal sacrifices to atone for their sins?  Since sin deserves death (Romans 1:28-32, 6:23), God could have required the death of the sinner—but in most cases He didn’t.  (2) To make people think about the cost of sin.  Animals weren’t cheap, and the animals that God required for sacrifices weren’t the cheap ones (unless the person was extremely poor and couldn’t afford one of the other animals).  Imagine you’re a farmer, and you’ve sinned.  Your sin just cost you one of your best cows.  Do you know how much a cow sells for today?  Do you think you could easily lose that much money each time you wanted forgiveness from God?  It would act as a deterrent of sorts, because someone might think twice before sinning when they realize what it is going to cost them.

But even more than sacrifice, what was really required for forgiveness of a child of God under the Old Testament was (1) confession of sin, (2) repentance, and (3) a humble spirit.  People could offer sacrifices all day long, but if their heart wasn’t right, it didn’t matter.  Psalm 51 is David begging God for forgiveness for what he did with Bathsheba and to her husband Uriah.  In verse 3 he confesses: “I acknowledge my transgression, and my sin is ever before me.”  In verse 13 (among other places) he shows his repentance: “I will teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.”  He shows his humble spirit in verses 16-17: “Thou desirest not sacrifice; else I would give it.  Thou delightest not in burnt offering.  The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.”

To add to the reality of salvation from sin under the Old Testament, let’s look at Ezekiel 3:17-21:

Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning for me.  When I say to the wicked, “Thou shalt surely die;” and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.  Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.

Again, When a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness, and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumbling-block before him, he shall die: because thou hast not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he hath done shall not be remembered; but his blood will I require at thine hand.  Nevertheless if thou warn the righteous man, that the righteous sin not, and he doth not sin, he shall surely live, because he is warned; also thou has delivered thy soul.

Not a bit of this statement from God is about salvation from something physical.  This is completely about being saved from their sin.  If they die in their iniquity, they are lost eternally; but if they repent, their soul is saved.  This was written to Ezekiel, who was preaching to people in Babylonian captivity—people who, for the most part, would never return to their home of Judah.  There was no physical salvation for the majority of the people Ezekiel preached to.  My friends, this is speaking of spiritual salvation, salvation from sin!

It all pointed to Jesus Christ

Later on in Ezekiel, the prophet spoke on behalf of God and foretold that God would:

save them out of all of their dwelling-places, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God.  And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one Shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them (Ezekiel 37:23b-24)

David had been dead and gone for hundreds of years when this was written, but the Jews knew that God had foretold a descendant of David would rule over His people.  This descendant was known as the Messiah in Hebrew, or in Greek, Christ.

The apostle Paul helps us to see that the physical salvation that the Israelites experienced in coming out of Egypt and through the Red Sea was a type, a picture of what salvation would be in the New Testament:

I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat; and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ (1 Corinthians 10:1-4).

Just as they were baptized, leaving slavery behind, being made free in crossing the Red Sea (a baptism into Moses), we are baptized, leaving slavery to sin behind, being made free in being baptized into Christ.

The physical salvations of the Old Testament point forward to the spiritual salvation in Jesus Christ!

Conclusion

If you take nothing else from this lesson, remember this one thing: Though salvation in the Old Testament was usually a reference to a physical deliverance from enemies, it was still based on the obedience and repentance of the people; and ultimately gives us a picture of salvation in the New Testament.

There are numerous examples in the Old Testament of God’s children losing their salvation, and we’ve already looked at passages that showed what was required for them to get it back: confession, repentance, and a humble spirit.

If you’re a child of God who has gone astray, take this lesson to heart and come back to God.

 

Sermon Wednesday – The Divisions of the Bible

Back after a few weeks’ hiatus, we are proud to continue our series on “Fundamentals of the Faith.”  And you might have noticed that we’ve moved this feature up a day.  Instead of “Sermon Thursday,” we’ll be having “Sermon Wednesday.”

Enjoy!  And, as always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to let us know!

Introduction:

Everyone understands the difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament…right?

  • The Old Testament is still binding today for all people.
  • The Old Testament is still binding today, but only for the Jews.
  • The Old Testament is still binding today, but only for Christians.
  • The Old Testament is still binding today except for the animal sacrifices.
  • The Old Testament is not binding on anyone today in any way.

OK, so there’s some confusion about the Old Testament; but everyone understands the New Testament, right?

  • The New Testament only applies to those who have become Christians.
  • The New Testament applies to all people.
  • The New Testament applies to everyone except Jews.
  • The New Testament begins in Matthew.
  • The New Testament doesn’t begin until Acts 2.
  • The New Testament didn’t really officially become effective until Jerusalem was destroyed.

Every one of these things are said by people about the two testaments in the Bible.  To say there is confusion about the Old Testament and New Testament is an understatement.

Today, we’ll look at the two divisions of the Bible, who they apply to, and why.

The two divisions explained.

We get the names “Old Testament” and “New Testament” from the Bible.

  • II Corinthians 3:14 – “…the reading of the Old Testament.”
  • This is also called the “first testament” (Hebrews 9:15, 18).
  • I Corinthians 11:25 – “this is the New Testament in my blood…”
  • See also II Corinthians 3:6, Hebrews 9:15.

What is a “testament”?

This is the same as a covenant, an agreement between two or more parties.  There are two types of covenants: suzerainty and parity (don’t worry, you don’t need to remember the names).

A parity covenant is an agreement between two or more parties of equal standing.  It’s like a business merger.  God is never involved in these kind of covenants, because no one is equal to Him.

A suzerainty covenant is where the more powerful party sets the rules.  This is like the covenants the Roman Empire had with the nations it conquered.  Every covenant involving God is this kind; He is the powerful party, and He sets the rules.

So, when you see the word “testament,” think of the word “covenant.”

The two covenants (or testaments) were both given by God at different times.

The first covenant (the Old Testament), which is also called “the Law of Moses” (Malachi 4:4), was established by God in the book of Exodus (see Exodus 20) and includes all the commands and restrictions given in Exodus through Deuteronomy.

Exodus through Deuteronomy? What about the other 35 books of the Old Testament?

Genesis is the story leading up to the giving of the Law of Moses, beginning with creation, and going through the life of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (whose family is the focus of the rest of the Old Testament).

Genesis contained teachings and commands that would be the foundation of the covenant that was given (such as circumcision, tithing, animal sacrifices, etc…).  But they were not the Covenant itself.

The books after Deuteronomy give the history of Jacob’s family (the Israelites) after the Law of Moses (the first covenant) was given.  Joshua through Esther give, basically, a chronological history of the Israelites until the 400’s BC.  Psalms though Song of Solomon are writings of some of the famous Israelites mentioned in the historical books (primarily David and Solomon).

Isaiah through Malachi (the “prophets”) contain some historical narratives, but their primary focuses are (1) attempts to bring the Israelites back to faithfulness, and (2) prophecies of things that had not yet taken place including many prophecies about Christ and the church.

The new covenant (New Testament), which is also called “the Law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2), was established by God in the book of Acts (see Acts 2), and includes all the commands and restrictions given in Acts through Revelation.

But what about the gospels? Where do they fit in?

Like Genesis, the gospel accounts tell the story leading up to a covenant.  They contain teachings and commands that would be foundational to the new covenant (such as “love one another,” faith, repentance, confession, baptism, and others).

The book of Acts is a brief history of the New Covenant people (the church) from its establishment on Pentecost until around AD 62.

The books of Romans through Jude (the “epistles” or “letters”) are like the books of prophecy in the Old Testament—written with two main focuses (1) to bring Christians to a higher level of faithfulness, and to a lesser extent (2) prophecies about events which had not yet taken place (some of the epistles—like Philemon—don’t include any prophecies).

Revelation is like the epistles, except that it focuses heavily on prophecy about things which had not yet taken place when it was written, but it still encourages Christians to a higher level of faithfulness.

There are two covenants in the Bible, both given by God.

The question before us now is…

Who do the covenants apply to?

Covenants made with specific people do not apply to those outside of that group.

The covenants made between the Roman Empire and the nations it conquered do not apply AT ALL to other nations.  China, which was never conquered by Rome, was never in one of those covenants.  You may say “that’s a big bag of duh right there,” but it is important we point this out.

Covenants only apply to the people who are involved in it.

But just as clear, we must point out that covenants apply to everyone involved in it.

If Rome conquered a nation, then every single person in that nation was now involved—no exceptions.

Covenants made for or at a specific time do not apply outside of that timeframe.

A covenant is an agreement that says “from now on, this is how things are going to be.”  It only becomes enforceable when it begins—not before.  And if the covenant has a cut-off date, it is no longer effective or enforceable after that date.

It’s like a football contract: the player cannot demand that the team pay him for the years he wasn’t under contract, nor can he demand that they keep paying him after the contract has expired.

You may think that this is so obvious that I shouldn’t even bring it up, but it needs to be said because of some of the confusion about the Old Testament and New Testament.

With these things in mind, let’s look at who the old and new covenants applied to.

The Old Testament was given to a specific people.  God had established a covenant with Abraham, then Isaac, and then Jacob to give their descendants the land of Canaan (Exodus 6:4-5).  In Exodus 20:2, God announces that He is speaking directly to the group of people that He had just led out of the bondage of Egypt.

  • What group had He led out of Egypt? The Israelites.
  • Who was God speaking to? The Israelites.
  • Was He speaking to anyone else? No.

Immediately after stating who He was addressing, God gave the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3-17).

God gave the Ten Commandments to the Israelites, all the Israelites, and no one but the Israelites.

God never commanded that Gentiles (non-Jews) follow the Ten Commandments or the rest of the Law of Moses—it was only ever for the Jews.

This Law of Moses was not intended to last forever—it was given for a specific period of time.

God, through Jeremiah, foretold that God would establish a “new covenant” with His people (Jeremiah 31:31-34).  God specifically states in that passage that it is not the same covenant as the one He made with them when He brought them out of Egypt.

When a new covenant is made, then any old ones are no longer valid.

A football player cannot play under two separate contracts with the same team at the same time.  Only one contract is valid.  So, when this “new covenant” was made, the old one was no longer valid.

Jesus said that the “new testament” (covenant) was in His blood—which was shed for many for the remission of sins (Matthew 26:28).  Christ’s blood was shed on the cross (John 19:33-34).

Jesus connected His death and remission of sins, saying it must first be preached in Jerusalem (Luke 24:46-47).  Remission of sins was first offered in Jerusalem on Pentecost (Acts 2:38).

The New Testament (covenant) began on Pentecost—making the Old Testament no longer valid beginning at that point.

The only group that the Old Testament was ever binding on was the Jews, and that Testament was no longer in effect, starting on the Day of Pentecost after the death of Jesus Christ.  The Law of Christ—the New Testament—became effective beginning in Jerusalem on the same day.

It was first a covenant with the Jews only, but beginning in Acts 10 it was expanded to include the Gentiles as well.  See Romans 1:16 – I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to all who believe: to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile.

There are only two groups of people in the world, so far as Jews were concerned—Jews and non-Jews (Gentiles).  The New Testament applies to both groups, therefore it is a universal covenant.  It applies to every person—none are excluded.

Those who reject it are still subject to the punishments contained in it for disobedience, for breaking the laws.

Because there is only one Covenant in force today—and it is a universal covenant –THAT is the covenant we need to be most concerned about studying.

We still read and study the Old Testament, because it helps us understand God, how He works, His actions towards His people in the past, and for great encouragement from examples of faithful followers then.  But we need to remember that the entire purpose of the Old Testament was to bring us to Christ (Galatians 3:24-27).

The New Testament is what we live under today, which is why we should focus most of all on its pages.

Conclusion:

The New Testament says that all have sinned, and thus all deserve death (Romans 6:23, 3:23).

The New Testament says that in order to become part of God’s family and receive the blessings of the New Covenant, you have to believe in Christ, repent of your sins, and be baptized to have those sins washed away.

After doing that, the New Testament commands that we continually strive for a life of greater faithfulness to Him, repenting when we’ve messed up (Acts 8:22), and keeping our focus on heaven so that we don’t lose what we’ve worked for (II John 8).

Make the decision to obey the New Testament of Jesus Christ today!

-Bradley Cobb

Bible Q&A – The Thief on the Cross–Does it Matter?

Question: Last week, you posted a question and showed that the thief on the cross lived and died under the Old Testament. My question is why does that even matter? Why post an entire article on something so trivial?–Anonymous.

First, thank you for taking the time to read our article. Second, thank you for taking the time to drop us a note asking this question. There’s two answers to your question: the short answer and the slightly longer answer.

The short answer:

Someone asked us the question, so we took the time to answer it.

The slightly longer answer:

The Bible states that we are to “rightly divide” or “handle properly” the word of truth (II Timothy 2:15). There are many good, sincere people who have mishandled the story of the thief on the cross–and some people will lose their souls over it!  This is not a trivial thing.

Let me explain.

There are several religious groups–prominent, well-known religious groups–that try to tell people that they can be saved just like the thief on the cross was: By simply acknowledging Jesus as the Christ.

When it’s pointed out that Jesus said “he that believes and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16), they frequently run to the thief on the cross, and say “He wasn’t baptized, therefore baptism isn’t required for salvation.” It doesn’t matter how many times baptism is shown in Scriptures to be connected with salvation and sin-removal (see I Peter 3:21, Acts 2:38, 22:16, and several others), they still point to the thief on the cross as their proof.

The problem with their stance–with their sincerely-held belief–is that the thief on the cross isn’t an example of someone being saved during the New Testament. The thief lived and died under the Old Testament. It’d be just as logical to appeal to the examples of Noah, Abraham, Moses, Job, and David for the answer to “what must I do to be saved” as it is to appeal to the example of the thief on the cross. All of them lived and died before the New Testament ever came into existence.

The thief on the cross lived and died during a time when forgiveness was based on obedience to the Law of Moses and the system of animal sacrifices. If we appeal to his being saved on the cross, then logically–to be consistent–we also have to argue that we can be forgiven today by means of animal sacrifices.

One other thing to consider regarding the thief on the cross is that his salvation, as promised by Jesus, was not the same as becoming a child of God. In other words, the thief was already a child of God. He was an Israelite, born into the family of God by means of his ethnic heritage–by means of being a Jew. He was like the Prodigal Son–someone who was already part of the family of the Father, but who had gone astray and needed to be brought back.

Yet whenever the thief on the cross is brought up as an example of how to be saved, people use it as an example of how to become part of the family of God. The thief didn’t become a child of God while on the cross. He simply came back home to God.

God Himself (speaking through Peter) answered the question “What must we do?” with the following words: “Repent and be baptized, every one of you for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:37-38).

When someone–regardless of how well-meaning and sincere they may be–teaches that all you have to do to become a child of God is to do what the thief on the cross did, they’re teaching a false salvation.

The thief on the cross is an example of how an erring child of God can come back in repentance. He is not an example of how someone becomes a child of God.

Bible Q&A – Did the Thief on the Cross Live Under Two Covenants?

Question: Since both thieves on the crosses were still alive after Jesus died (their legs had to be broken to quicken their death while Jesus was already dead–John 19:31-33) did they live under both the Old and New Covenant? –An Inmate in Oklahoma

Just so the readers can have a bit more background to the question, the one asking has been taking a Bible correspondence course, and one of the questions was “Did the thief on the cross live under the Old Testament, the New Testament, or neither?” The student searched, and wasn’t sure because both of the thieves were still alive after the death of Christ—albeit a very short time.

First, let me thank you for asking such a great question. It shows that you’re putting a lot of effort, thought, and consideration into your Bible study, which is great!

The thieves both lived and died under the Old Testament, and we’ll look at a few ways to show that this is the case.

First, the gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The New Testament is based completely on this gospel. Peter preached it that way (Acts 2:22-24). Paul proclaimed it that way (I Corinthians 15:1-3). When the thieves were on the cross, Jesus had indeed died, but He had not yet been buried or resurrected. The gospel (the “good news”) had not yet happened when the thieves died. So, they did not live under the New Testament, because the gospel hadn’t happened yet.

Second, entrance into the New Testament was based on baptism in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19-20). There was no baptism into the name of Christ until the Day of Pentecost, 50 days after the resurrection of Christ (Acts 2:1, 38). Jesus had told the apostles not to preach until they received “power” (the miraculous working of the Holy Spirit) in Jerusalem (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4-5, 8). Therefore, it was impossible for anyone to be a part of the New Testament until Pentecost.

Third, the New Testament is the Will (as in “last will and testament”) of Jesus Christ. A will is not in force until after the person is dead (Hebrews 9:16-17). But just as obvious is this: the official reading of the will takes place days after actual death—sometimes weeks or months afterwards. Until the official reading of the will, there’s no way for people to follow it. The will of Christ was not officially read, and its contents made clear and binding, until the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2). Until that time, all people were still living and answerable to the Old Testament.

Fourth, When Jesus told the repentant thief on the cross, “today you will be with me in Paradise,” Jesus was still alive (Luke 23:43). Thus, there is no doubt whatsoever that the thief’s salvation was acquired prior to the death of Christ—therefore we can say with 100% sureness and accuracy that his salvation was guaranteed based on his actions under the Old Testament.

Fifth, God is no respecter of persons. The thieves had lived their entire lives under the Old Testament, and now they find themselves nailed to crosses—unable to do much more than struggle to breathe and talk. It is obvious that one of the thieves was repentant, and Christ promised him he would be saved. But if the New Testament instantly started and was therefore binding on all Jews the moment Christ gave up the ghost, then the thieves (including the repentant one) were both lost with no possible way of being saved. As we saw above, baptism into the name of Jesus Christ is a requirement for salvation under the New Testament (see also Mark 16:16, I Peter 3:21). Neither one of the thieves could be baptized into the name of Christ, because they were nailed to crosses when Jesus died. God will not make it impossible for someone to be saved. That would make Him a respecter of persons (Acts 10:34).

For this same reason, we can know that the New Testament was not binding on anyone else until Pentecost. Because if it was, then God made it impossible for anyone to be saved from the death of Christ (or the resurrection, if you want to use that as the starting point) until Pentecost, fifty days later. That would make God a respecter of persons, which He is not. There has always, for all people, at all times, been the possibility of salvation through obedience to whatever law of God they lived under. The thieves on the crosses are no exception to this rule.

Thank you for your dedication to studying and understanding God’s word.

—Bradley Cobb

 

Sermon Thursday – Idols

We are excited to present to you this sermon, written by Paul Cobb (age 13).  Other than formatting, nothing has been changed from his hand-written sermon.  He is presently working on some articles that we will be sharing with you in the coming weeks!

Today, we’re going to talk about idols.

Definition of Idols:  Idols are things that you put ahead of God.  In I Kings, Elijah and the prophets of Baal were doing a contest of which god could send fire, and Elijah’s God did, which is another way to prove that God is real.  Read I Kings 18:17-40.

The people were worshiping these idols. They were bowing down to them. They were sometimes carved pieces of wood, or stones, and the people worshiped these rocks and logs.  They put these rocks and logs ahead of God.

Idols today:  Idols today are like TV or the theaters, money, MP3 players, video games.  Stuff like that are sometimes idols to us.  It’s nice to have them, but if you put them ahead of God—well, they’re idols.

In the world today, money is a very bad idol if it’s used for the wrong purposes.  In the New Testament, Jesus saw that there were people making money and being selfish and greedy.  Read John 2:13-17.  They were worshiping their money instead of God.

Idols aren’t good: People in Bible times—people like the prophets of Baal—worshiped idols like Baal, and that’s not good!  Any time you put something ahead of God, it’s an idol, and that’s not good.

Conclusion:

Why do people worship idols?  Because they think these things (money, TV, toys, stuff) are more important.  But it isn’t!

We want people to worship God and be saved.  Elijah wanted the people to worship God and be saved.

If you’re here tonight, and you need help to quit worshiping idols, come and repent of your sins!  Get rid of those idols and live your life better!  There is no better time than right now, so come as we stand and sing.