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Yoda

Salvation of Old Testament Saints

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The Bible makes it clear that salvation comes only through Jesus Christ. Aside from the question of "what happens to people who never hear the Gospel," it also leads to the question of those from the Old Testament period who died before the Lord came to Earth. However, The Bible says that at least Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are in heaven. So how did people in the Old Testament receive salvation? From "researching" this question, the most common answer is that they received salvation in the same manner as New Testament Christians - by faith in Jesus Christ. Except in their case, it was a faith in the coming, future Messiah. However, usually this isn't explained very deeply, and I've yet to find that many scholarly sources on this subject.

11 I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.

What then shall we say was gained by1 Abraham, tour forefather according to the flesh? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but unot before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? v“Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” 4 Now wto the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due.

“Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith.

I'm interested in hearing other thoughts.

Furthermore, what happened to Old Testament saints when they died? My understanding is that they went to "Abraham's bosom" until the Jesus' death, then they went into God's Kingdom. This is largely based on the belief that sin had not been atoned for until then, and John 3:13 which says " No man hath ascended up to heaven but he that came down from heaven, ... the Son of Man" which indicates that no people had ascended into heaven at that time.

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I cannot for the life of me think where it is, but somewhere in the Bible (I think Psalms) it gives the reference of "Sheol" this realm is described as two separate districts. One of the dead, and one of the righteous. I believe that this is what spurred the modern day idea of purgatory.

(Please be patient with me, I'm horrible at remembering verses but I can promise you that these things are in the Bible.)

Few men were sent to this Sheol dimension. (The OT Saints) They were to wait there in the Paradise dimension while everyone else went to Hades. These men were saved because their faith was deemed worthy by God and believed in the "Coming" Messiah. When Jesus died he went down to Sheol and gave these men the News, (I bet the 12 second dance party right there was epic.) Jesus Saved these men when and allowed them to come to Heaven.

I can expand if needed.

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Hm... now this begs the question on what Jesus was really up to in the days that He was dead. When He preached to disobedient spirits in prison did He also speak to the righteous? It is possible that Jesus preached to those in Abraham's bosom presented in Luke 16? If Salvation is through Christ alone, perhaps He gave some in prison the chance to receive Salvation through Him before He ascended to Heaven. I think Luke 16 is the best example I can give of this, but despite that I believe we can have full confidence that the righteous will dwell in Heaven.

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I believe to a significant extent in the timelessness of the atonement, so I doubt that salvation was different substantially before Christ. I've never seen a need for any form of "pre-heaven" before the cross. My only real questions are about the role of the Holy Spirit before Christ.

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Are there any other thoughts? I'm a bit disappointed in the lack of replies to this thread.

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I talked with my old pastor about this once. His view was much like T.K. was describing. Sin can't enter Heaven, that's why Jesus came. So since sin wasn't yet atoned by Christ, there was a place much like modern day purgatory; in that it was an in between point for the righteous like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, ect. When he died, Jesus gave the OT saints the chance to accept him as savior since they had faith in his coming during their lives. After the resurrection, salvation was made readily available by faith so there was no longer a need for a purgatory type place. People who accept Christ go to Heaven, people who don't go to Hell, and the need for a go between or "spiritual holding cell" is no more. We have the advantage that the OT believers didn't in that through Christ's death & resurrection we can come directly to God and his salvation.

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Yoda, I'm going to try to make a post later today. Right now I'm too busy, but poke me via private messaging if I haven't made a post by this time tomorrow.

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Post-Vatican II theology has been marked by its religious pluralism. Once you cease thinking about the Second Person of the Trinity solely as a man, but rather as the Divine Logos which underlies reality, the problem disappears.

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Actually, scratch my original post. I misread the thread and I honestly don't have much to say that I haven't already. Either you accept the sort of thing the others described (about those who followed OT law were preached to by Jesus after His death) which is reflected in 1 Peter 3:18-20.

“For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water”

Or you can accept a more wide idea and follow the anonymous Christian theory, which I'm sure you've heard of before Yoda. The idea that people can be saved by Christ if they follow the truth of God revealed in nature and the law written on men's hearts. This means that as long as the OT people followed God, they would be covered by the sin of Christ by accepting God, just not having the ability to accept Jesus in His full glory because they had no way of knowing Jesus in His full glory.

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Or you can accept a more wide idea and follow the anonymous Christian theory, which I'm sure you've heard of before Yoda. The idea that people can be saved by Christ if they follow the truth of God revealed in nature and the law written on men's hearts. This means that as long as the OT people followed God, they would be covered by the sin of Christ by accepting God, just not having the ability to accept Jesus in His full glory because they had no way of knowing Jesus in His full glory.
The Good Samaritan is a great parable for this theological point of view.

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I heard one person describe it as salvation on credit. In other words, Old Testament saints looked by faith to the future Messiah, who hadn't yet lived a perfect life and propitated sin, and received the blessings of salvation like a clean conscience, the Holy Spirit (in some measure, thought not with the fulness of Pentecost), imputed righteousness, etc. and God was able to do this justly with a view to what he was going to do in the future. This is very important because Paul's doctrine of justification is based on this:

"For what does the Scripture say? 'Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness.'" Romans 4:3 (ESV)

If this is true, then there is no need for the "spiritual holding cell" that Haley describes. That said the knowledge of the Old Testament saints was limited compared to the fullness of revelation we have now. But we aren't saved by getting an "A" on a doctrinal test, but by repenting of sin and trusting Christ's person and work. They had enough knowledge to know that they needed a mediator to stand between them and God, and the Old Testament Scriptures sufficiently revealed this mediator who would crush the serpent's head.

As for the Holy Spirit's work in the Old Testament, a good Baptist treatment is "God's Indwelling Presence" by Jim Hamilton.

My view is basically that all of the benefits the Holy Spirit brings were experienced in the Old Testament, but that we have a much greater fullness of them now. The doctrine of the priesthood of all believers, for example, is affirmed in the Old Testament in Exodus 19:6 and then applied to the New Covenant community in 1 Peter 2:9. All Old Testament believers were therefore able to serve God, just as they are now, but in light of Pentecost we must affirm that the degree of service is different.

Also, there is another interpretation of 1 Peter 3:9, viz. that Christ was in NOAH, a herald of righteousness (2 Pe. 2:5), through the Holy Spirit, who is the spirit of Christ (1 Pe. 1:11, used specifically in conection with the Old Testament prophecies), preaching in and through him.

Annnd don't quote me on this, but I believe confessional Lutherans, who make a pretty big deal of Christ's victory over evil powers, actually think that Christ preached his victory over hell to the spirits in prison.

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