What is the thought on Old Testament salvation?

This was something I have pondered. If people can only get salvation through Christ, according to most Christian branches, what is the fate of all of the people, prophets, kings etc. who lived during the 1800 years or so after God revealing himself to Abraham yet before Christ as they would have never had the chance to know of Christ?

Those before the incarnation were saved by faith in a Messiah who was to come. Those after the incarnation were saved by faith in a Messiah who had come. Both groups are saved by faith in the Messiah.

As Augustine wrote:

For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; since there is none other name under heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved; and in Him has God defined unto all men their faith, in that He has raised Him from the dead. Now without this faith, that is to say, without a belief in the one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; without faith, I say, in His resurrection by which God has given assurance to all men and which no man could of course truly believe were it not for His incarnation and death; without faith, therefore, in the incarnation and death and resurrection of Christ, the Christian verity unhesitatingly declares that the ancient saints could not possibly have been cleansed from sin so as to have become holy, and justified by the grace of God. And this is true both of the saints who are mentioned in Holy Scripture, and of those also who are not indeed mentioned therein, but must yet be supposed to have existed,— either before the deluge, or in the interval between that event and the giving of the law, or in the period of the law itself,— not merely among the children of Israel, as the prophets, but even outside that nation, as for instance Job. For it was by the self-same faith in the one Mediator that the hearts of these, too, were cleansed, and there also was shed abroad in them the love of God by the Holy Ghost, who blows where He lists, not following men’s merits, but even producing these very merits Himself. For the grace of God will in no wise exist unless it be wholly free

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On the Grace of Christ, and On Original Sin, Book 2, Chapter 28
newadvent.org/fathers/15062.htm

Bede wrote:

If the salvation of the world is in no other but in Christ alone, then the fathers of the Old Testament were saved by the incarnation and passion of the same Redeemer, by which we also believe and hope to be saved. For although the sacramental signs differed by reason of the times, nevertheless there was agreement in one and the same faith, because through the prophets they learned as something to come the same dispensation of Christ which we learned through the apostles as something which has been done. For there is no redemption of human captivity [to sinfulness] except in the blood of him who gave himself as a redemption for all.

Homilies on the Acts of the Apostles, Francis Martin ed. Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament V Acts (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006), p. 49.)

People before Christ waited in Abrahams Bosom. When Christ was crucified and resurrected he went and saved people from Abrahams Bosom.

Correct. Jesus set the “prisoners” free.

SyCarl also has a good explanation. They were saved by faith - see the book of Hebrews - we are saved by faith in the Messiah, Jesus.

You could read re Abraham’s Bossom in Luke 16:19-31.

Great question. Most people never think of this.

God bless you
Fran

When Christ died, and the earthquake hit, the Gospel of Matthew records that the tombs broke open, and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life.

Matthew 27; 45-51 NIV

The Death of Jesus

45From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. 46About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli,c lemasabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).d

47When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.”

48Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 49The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”

50And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.

51At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection ande went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

Note that it was only the “holy people who had died” who were visibly raised to life. There’s no mention of the un-holy.

Since most of these people would have died well before Christ began his short three year ministry, then His sacrificial death worked backwards in time as well as forwards. After all, He was God the Son, or God, and therefore not bound by time.

Christ also stated that to God, all men are alive, past, present and future.

Luke 20:38 NIV

He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive."

What really matters is where you’re alive - earth, heaven, purgatory or hell.

This is precisely one of the arguments for “inclusivism”–i.e., the view that people who don’t explicitly believe in Christ may be saved.

The Catholic Church teaches this position. So I’m not sure what your “most Christian branches” are, if they exclude the single largest form of Christianity in the world. Mainline Protestants also hold this or a more liberal view. Orthodox tend to be agnostic about the whole question of people outside of Orthodoxy, in my experience. Your “most Christian branches” today boil down to conservative Protestants, essentially. And even among them, many would make some allowance for people who have not heard the Gospel.

Those who don’t will argue that the OT believers believed in God’s promises which implied Christ, and that others did not/do not have those promises. Some would say that people who weren’t Jews might be saved before the coming of Christ as long as they weren’t idolaters, but that after Christ this isn’t possible. To which I would ask, “aren’t those who haven’t heard effectively ‘before Christ’”?

Edwin

This article from EWTN explains it well: ewtn.com/library/ANSWERS/VISHELL.htm

I hope this helps! May God bless you all abundantly and forever! :slight_smile:

The concept of salvation does not mean the same thing according to Judaism as it does according to Christianity. The Law does not “save” in the eternal sense but it does save in the sense that it teaches us how to live a moral life of meaning and substance. Eternal salvation is not based on being a “good Jew” and is not even a goal per se in Judaism. Rather, it is a by-product (perhaps) of living a life based on the guidelines of the Law. IOW, Jews would ask Christians the question concerning where this notion of salvation came from since we do not believe mankind was born in original sin in the first place, and thus is not in need of salvation. Atonement for our sins, which is not the same as Christian salvation, has already been provided by means of prayer and changing our behavior toward others. The purpose of the Messiah is not to save us but to make the presence of G-d known throughout the nations (no conversion to Judaism is necessary), to enable all of mankind to live together in peace, and to intensify the studying and practice of the Law in the Jewish homeland of Israel. G-d will take care of the afterlife.

Great post.

Christians also believe that Jesus did not come to specifically set up a “church” but to show us a different and correct way of living our life here on earth. Then a church becomes necessary to do this.

We do not only believe in being saved in the eternal sense but also in the sense that we are saved FROM our sins and are saved from the evil one and are saved to do good and to be free. Free from what is a whole different post but I think you know what I’m talking about.

We also are not saved by being “good” but by believing in the Lord Jesus, which helps us to be “good”. But therein lies our difference with you.

But how can you say you don’t believe in original sin? What does the first story of Genesis mean to you? Man was made to live in union with God, man fell, and that union was broken. This is original sin. Do you not believe this? It’s apparent that both evil and good exist in the universe. How would you interpret that scripture?

What you say re the purpose of the Messiah is true and no conversion to Judaism is necessary as confirmed by Paul in the New Testament. No circumcision necessary, etc.

So if Man fell, and there IS an afterlife, we DO need a savior since man is not perfect and is in need of “saving” in that eternal sense that you mention since God is a just God and cannot accept sinful man.

I must say that I DO have difficulty in understanding how Jewish people do not accept Jesus as Messiah. He fulfilled so many prophecies that it seems incredible to me not to believe that He is.

Interesting, though, that we are both waiting for Him to return: You for the first time and we for the second time!

I respect your reverence for God in not spelling out His name and hope you accept that we do.

God bless you
Fran

You might be interested in the attached post.

catholicnewsagency.com/resources/apologetics/salvation/original-sin/

The term “original sin” does not appear in the Jewish Scriptures, nor does it appear in the Christian Scriptures. It would appear to date back to Augustine as a term, if a quick glance at other web sites is anything to go by.

But man’s sinfulness is quite obvious. On the local news tonight, there is a high probability a missing 15 year girl has been murdered. A young man threatened a woman with a gun for photographing his erratic driving. A police minister was up before a parliamentary committee due to some serious blunders on her part. A show now on about border patrol in Canada shows some of the tricks drug smugglers use to get stuff to Canada from the US (and vice versa no doubt).

This built-in sinfulness comes from somewhere. And as Catholic theologians pondered this state of human affairs, they came up with the term, to try to explain this curse which follows the human race all down the centuries.

Since we claim Christ was God the Son, His sacrifice was sufficient to do away with the breaking of the Law, but only for those who are prepared to accept it. If a person refuses to accept Christ’s atoning sacrifice, then they have to be able to show they’re perfect if they want to get into heaven. I don’t know about you, but I fall a long way short of perfection.

And nobody - **nobody **- gets into heaven unless they’re literally perfect. Which is why the Catholic theologians also justify Purgatory, which is also not found in the Jewish or Christian Scriptures by name. It’s a place of purification.

But its certainly implied, at least in the Christian Scriptures.

Thank you for your post and the link. Purgatory also happens to be a Jewish concept, a place or state of purification before entering heaven. That is why Jews pray for their loved ones who have died for about a year (actually, by custom, the period of mourning is 11 months since it is assumed that no loved one is so evil that they would require a full year of prayer.) Where we differ, apart from accepting the Christian dogma of the Divinity and Messiahship of Jesus and the Trinity, is that although our sins can never be fully atoned for–hence the need for Purgatory–atonement is THE means which G-d has given us to make us righteous once again. This consists not only of prayer but a change in behavior toward those whom we have wronged. Thus, there is no need for a Savior according to Judaism since each and every individual has the G-d-given responsibility and privilege of changing their own life for the better. It is the incremental change and effort which pleases G-d, whereas perfection is neither possible nor necessary.

Thank you for the interesting information, Fran, concerning the Christian meaning of salvation. There are several Jewish websites, for example Jewish Virtual Library, that can explain much better than I in this short space why Jews do not accept Jesus as the Messiah and why they do not believe in original sin, including interpretations of the significance of the Garden of Eden and the disobedience of Adam and Eve in the Book of Genesis.

And thank you for the compliment. G-d bless.

I sometimes wish Christian theology stressed atonement a bit more for two reasons:

That we have an obligation to set things right with our fellow man ,and that our sins of daily life can be rectified and that we don’t have to live in a ossified state for fear of sinning.

=jas84173;13209261]This was something I have pondered. If people can only get salvation through Christ, according to most Christian branches, what is the fate of all of the people, prophets, kings etc. who lived during the 1800 years or so after God revealing himself to Abraham yet before Christ as they would have never had the chance to know of Christ?

Here friend is what your missing:

Old Testament tomes [without GRACE]

NEW Covenant times UNDER Grace and therefore God, being Fair and Just must be more demanding in Hid application of His Justice.

Romans 6: 12-15
Let no sin therefore reign in your mortal body, so as to obey the lusts thereof. [13] Neither yield ye your members as instruments of iniquity unto sin; but present yourselves to God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of justice unto God. **For sin shall not have dominion over you; for you are not under the law, but under grace. **[15] What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.

God Bless you,

Patrick [PJM]

Ditto for the Catholic church.

All this talk the past 30 years or so of God’s love for us is making me a bit dizzy.

He is also a JUST God and demands reparation.

Which Jesus took care of through His sacrifice. But this is not spoken of enough in the catholic church - and apparently in the Lutheran church.

We need to make things right with our fellow man - make life easier for ourselves by following the 8 beatitudes.

I do read on these posts of persons who worry constantly that they have sinned. You need to be aware of sin and the closer you get to God the more you become aware; however, you cannot live in an OSSIFIED STATE for fear of sinning. Love your wording.

A friend of mine phoned me this morning to say she’s reading a book that explains why hell may not exist (:eek:) and she believes she is sinning because she likes the idea. (which she knows can’t be true).

God Bless
Fran

We obviously agree and disagree on certain points.

Clearly we Christians believe Jesus Christ is the Messiah, and that without His sacrifice there is insufficient remission of sins. If Judaism doesn’t believe in sacrificial atonement, then why did the ancient Jews bother with all the animal sacrifices in the Temple?

What stopped it wasn’t a change of thought in Jewish theology - it was the destruction of the Temple by the Romans (for the second time). If my limited understanding of Judaism is correct, much of the Rabbinic tradition stemmed from the twofold destruction of the Temple, and the fact Israel virtually ceased to exist, for about 70 years due to the Babylonian exile, and then for nearly 2000 years after the Roman catastrophe.

Then we have the extremes like Adolf Hitler, whom Jews in particular would have reason to detest. What is sufficient atonement for him? I don’t think there is. I don’t have much trouble believing he’s in Hell, along with most of the other tyrants who have bought so much misery to the human race.

That “incremental change and effort … pleases G-d” is not a problem. Part and parcel of Christianity is that we’re supposed to grow in holiness. This same fact undercuts the Protestant lack of faith in Purgatory. Why bother pursuing holiness if they’re just going to walk into heaven anyway, no questions asked?

“… whereas perfection is neither possible nor necessary.” Hmm … I think we might have to ask God about that one. I think He expects perfection and He won’t let us in until every blot and blemish is done away with. It would be like having a lavish wedding, and then some clown in a T-shirt, board shorts and thongs (Australian version - a sort of footwear - we don’t know how to tie our shoelaces) turns up and expects to be admitted.

Finally from what I’ve read here and there, usually a third hand or tenth hand quote from some alleged saint, the average time in Purgatory is supposed to be about 40 earth years, although how they come to that figure in a timeless state is not something I am conversant with.

I have my own personal reasons for thinking they might be right though, due to a personal experience where an old pastor predicted “I think you’ll be doing a cleaning job for a short time. You won’t like it much, but I think the Lord will just want you to hear about a ghost.”

Sound strange? I thought it was too, and ignored it, until in 2006 I did a cleaning job for about 4 months, didn’t like it much, and heard about a “ghost”. From what I gather it was the “ghost” of a former manager who committed suicide in the basement of his old store in Ipswich sometime in the 1960’s.

I personally believe he was doing his purgatory bound up in that old store. If the mass I eventually got said for him via an Australian priest I heard about on this forum circa 2010 had any effect, then presumably he was in purgatory in ghostly form for 40 to 50 years, which isn’t far from the alleged average of 40 years.

All very weird, but I’m afraid it was a part of my personal experience, beginning with an odd prediction by a wise, rather prophetic pastor circa 1990 or 1991, which first started to happen in 2006 when I did the cleaning.

We’ll all find out in due course I suppose, even if we have to die first to discover how right or wrong we were.

Sorry, had to erase some your post.

Paragraph one - good. Agree. Of course we christians think the sacrificial system ended because Jesus was the last, final and perfect sacrifice required by God. Besides the fact that the temple was destroyed, and thus no sacrifices were possible, up to this day, which He predicted (which some back then understood to be the end of the world when He would return).

Paragraph two - okay. Just for clarification for anyone reading this, Rome didn’t destroy the temple two times. I know this is not what you meant. The First Temple, Solomon’s Temple, was destroyed by the Babylonians in about 580 B.C.

Paagraph three - I’m in accord with you. I truly doubt Hitler repented at the last moment and is in God’s presence.

Paragraph four - I have a problem with or I don’t understand what you mean. You say:

**“Part and parcel of Christianity is that we’re supposed to grow in holiness. This same fact undercuts the Protestant lack of faith in Purgatory. Why bother pursuing holiness if they’re just going to walk into heaven anyway, no questions asked?”
**

I mean, is this to be understood that you believe people are good only because they would otherwise have to spend time in purgatory?

You’re talking about sanctification, which is believed by both protestants and catholics. Our walk with God, His grace to make us become better - all at our own speed and ability. Catholics see it as being received together with jusitification but that’s not important to my questin…

What I’d like to understand better is your statement that protestants don’t believe in purgatory so why bother pursuing holiness if they’re just going to walk into heaven anyway. I mean, even the grace movement doesn’t teach that you could sin. And what about all those holiness churches that go so far as to tell women they can’t wear make-up or pants?

I believe I’m correct in saying that protestants don’t believe in purgatory because it would mean that Jesus’ sacrifice is NOT SUFFICIENT and that something further is needed, in this case purgatory.

Also, your analogy about the lavish wedding must come, of course, from Mathew 22:1-14, The Marriage Feast.

God bless you
Fran

Paragraph two - okay. Just for clarification for anyone reading this, Rome didn’t destroy the temple two times. I know this is not what you meant. The First Temple, Solomon’s Temple, was destroyed by the Babylonians in about 580 B.C.

Paragraph four - I have a problem with or I don’t understand what you mean. You say:

“Part and parcel of Christianity is that we’re supposed to grow in holiness. This same fact undercuts the Protestant lack of faith in Purgatory. Why bother pursuing holiness if they’re just going to walk into heaven anyway, no questions asked?”

Maybe I wasn’t clear, but I meant the first destruction of the temple was by the Babylonians, and the Jews went into exile for 70 years. The second time, after the Roman destruction, the state of Israel ceased to exist for nearly 2000 years.

The Rabbis kept Judaism alive by a renewed emphasis on the Torah, or if you like, a Rabbinic tradition. But the temple sacrifices ceased due to the destruction of the temple, not a change in Jewish Theology.

On the business of Protestants not believing in Purgatory, what are we to make of someone who dies with a deathbed confession, realising at the last minute they’re in dire straits, but who hasn’t made one iota of effort during their life to “clean up”?

That’s an extreme case, but without Purgatory, anybody who dies having confessed Christ just walks into heaven, whether they’re an innocent child or a serial murderer.

I don’t believe that for a minute. The warning by Paul about one who “escapes as through the flames” ought to stop the disbelief in Purgatory.

Yes, of course there was no change in Jewish theology. Those who wanted to change (and follow Jesus) became christian, the rest remained the same as always –

I certainly am not going to debate purgatory with you since I am catholic myself; although I do believe it brings up some theological problems (for me at least); however, your quote “as escaping through fire”, 1 Corinthians 3:15 has always created a problem for me as a proof text because of Jude 1:23 - 1 Peter 3:20 - 1 Peter 4:18 and christian theology in general but I guess we shouldn’t get into that.

It was the holiness question that interested me, but okay.

Regarding the following:

"On the business of Protestants not believing in Purgatory, what are we to make of someone who dies with a deathbed confession, realising at the last minute they’re in dire straits, but who hasn’t made one iota of effort during their life to “clean up”?"

If a deathbed confession is sincere, it is valid. We can’t trick God. Your view is justice as man knows it and understands it. God’s justice is different; even if it is really difficult for us to understand. Whether I’ve served God 50 years or the last minute of life, my eternal fate will be the same. Do you really think it all depends on OUR effort? Isn’t it based on Jesus dying on the cross to “clean up”, as you say, our sin and our sins?

Yes. Maybe purgatory is based on OUR idea of justice giving us comfort in believing those with more sins will somehow be punished more than ourselves… which I don’t believe is correct.

What do you make, then, of Mathew 2:20?

I have a lifelong friend who used to think as you do but has since come to believe in God’s mercy and grace, referring to the highlighted statement above.

God bless you
Fran

Christ’s death on the cross offers forgiveness of our sins - that’s not the same thing as cleaning up all those bad habits we made no effort to change during our life time.

I suppose I’m more aware of judgement than most because, as I’ve flogged to death on this site, I make the claim my own father turned up in my bedroom the night he died, way back in January 1979.

The final scene was him screaming his head off, and it was quite clear something was coming for him. Then he just vanished.

But suppose he’d made a deathbed confession as per the above.

I knew the man. He had a foul temper for a start, a sarcastic critical tongue, and was not averse to going behind our backs to do something nasty. I think I had a vision of my old pastor, who got to know a bit about him when he went to visit a former neighbour dying of cancer, remarking to one or more of his sons, “All this because of one cruel, stupid, bad-tempered vindictive man!” If they happen to be reading this, which they probably aren’t, they can correct me, but that is how he described him on third party evidence.

The former neighbour lived two doors away, so he knew what he was like.

What you’re saying is that not only is he going to be forgiven, but God would just wave a magic wand, and not only forgive him, but change his entire personality, so he no longer had a sarcastic tongue, a bad temper, or a manipulative personality.

In other words he would have become an agreeable heavenly puppet on a divine string, having made no effort whatsoever to clean up his act.

I don’t think so.

In the parable of the prodigal son, the Father might have been willing to forgive him. But the very next day, after the big party in heaven and all the angels had gotten over their hangovers, the Father would have expected him to go out in the field and join the morose elder brother doing the hard daily grind.

He expects some effort on our part. And we’re mistaken if we think we’re just going to waltz into heaven, not only with our sins forgiven, but all our failings corrected by some sort of deux ex machina.

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