Thursday, February 8, 2018


Some wrongly believe that the Old Testament preaches salvation by conformity to the Law of Moses – works. However, even in the OT, salvation had to be by grace alone, since the Israelites were never able to merit salvation. The Psalmists understood this:

·       Enter not into judgment with your servant, for no one living is righteous before you. (Psalm 143:2)

·       If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? (Psalm 130:3)

Consequently, it had to be through the mercy of God by faith. We even see hints of faith expressing itself through obedience from the beginning. Abel trusted God and therefore was obedient to His commands. However, Cain was not (Genesis 4), demonstrating that he didn’t trust in God. Abraham had believed and trusted in the Lord, and that made all the difference:

·       And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness. (Genesis 15:6)

Similarly, at King Solomon’s consecration the Temple, God affirmed that Israel’s hope had to be in His mercy alone:

·       “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn [repent] from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:13-14)

Repentance and faith are inseparable – two sides of the same coin. Both involve a turning to their Savior from their old life – one turn. God promised Israel that if they turned to Him, He would be merciful to them:

·       Leviticus 26:40-42 “But if they confess [changing their mind about sin – repentance] their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers in their treachery that they committed against me, and also in walking contrary to me, so that I walked contrary to them and brought them into the land of their enemies—if then their uncircumcised heart is humbled and they make amends for their iniquity [a demonstration of faith/repentance], then I will remember my covenant with Jacob, and I will remember my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land.

This highlights the fact that the Biblical faith had always been opposed to other religions, where the faithful had to earn their way up to their deities, through obedience, knowledge, or by gaining spiritual insight. However, the Biblical faith reveals that becoming worthy of God through human efforts was impossible (Romans 3:19-20; 11:35; Galatians 2:16). Instead, Israel had to humble themselves by confessing their sins, and God would reach down to them:

·       “Go, and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, ‘Return, faithless Israel, declares the LORD. I will not look on you in anger, for I am merciful, declares the LORD; I will not be angry forever.  Only acknowledge your guilt, that you rebelled against the LORD your God and scattered your favors among foreigners under every green tree, and that you have not obeyed my voice, declares the LORD.” (Jeremiah 3:12-13)

  • “I will go away and return to My place until they acknowledge their guilt and seek My face; In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.” (Hosea 5:15, NASB)

·       Return, Israel, to the Lord your God. Your sins have been your downfall! Take words [of confession] with you and return to the Lord. Say to him: “Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously.” (Hosea 14:1-2)

All of this demonstrates that salvation is a matter of the mercy of God. Well, where does Jesus fit into this picture? God could only extend His promise of mercy to Israel in view that, eventually, the debt would be paid in full through the atoning Messiah:

·       Surely he [the Messiah] has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:4-6)

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