8th November 2022
Read (Hebrews 10v1-4)
Message (Scott Woodburn)
I've heard more times than I care to recall that Old Testament believers were saved by their works. Apparently they received the law at Mount Sinai and therefore they were counted as righteous by their ongoing observance of the law. But this is simply not true and is at odds with Biblical testimony and the book of Hebrews.
In this chapter the Apostle is clear that the law was but a shadow of the good things to come (v1). Let's be clear that the law is not evil - perish the thought! The law is good, the law is from God and the law is of much use to the Christian. A Christian who says they have no love for the law is no Christian at all. The law shows us our sin and the holiness of God. The law shows us what pleases God and the law acts as a restraint for sin. We call this the threefold use of the law.
With that stated please notice that we do not believe that the law can save us or make us perfect (v1). The Old Covenant sacrifices were offered every single year and at no stage made perfect the individual who was drawing near to God. If these sacrifices were able to save and deal with sin then they would have been offered once and only once (v2).
Instead they were offered year on year on year and acted as a constant reminder of sin to the worshipper (v3). You see the blood of bulls and goats and the Old Testament sacrifices could not take away sin - that was simply impossible (v4).
So how then was a faithful worshipper during the days of the Old Testament actually saved? Their law observance would never be perfect enough and the blood of their sacrifices could not take away sin - so how was anyone made righteous in the sight of God?
The Old Testament believer was saved in exactly the same way as you and I - by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone. In the time of the Old Covenant the sacrificial system was put in place as an act of grace. The discerning worshipper would offer sacrifices consistently in full understanding that they needed something greater than bull's blood. They needed a sacrifice that was final.
Just as you and I look back to Calvary, the faithful in the Old Testament looked forward. We have a much greater revelation than they did. We remind ourselves that our brothers and sisters before Christ could only see Him in the types and the shadows but God was still gracious and moved powerfully by the Holy Spirit. God the Holy Spirit would take the law and break the hard hearts of sinners with their inability and sin. Then He would take them by the hand and lead them in repentance and faith to Christ Jesus.
They may not have known His name and in the years before Calvary they had little to no knowledge of our Lord's future humiliation but regardless, individuals during the Old Covenant era came under convition of sin by Word & Spirit and they ran to God in repentance and faith. They were justified, sanctified and glorified. They were saved not by their own works but by the future works of Christ.
The Gospel isn't just for Gentiles born after the time of Jesus, instead it is the grand story of redemption from the days immediately after the fall. Paul would put it this way "For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility." (Ephesians 2v14-16)
In Christ, Jew and Gentile have been made one, they have been washed clean by the precious blood of Jesus. Regardless if you were born prior to Christ's coming or after Him, you must fall before Him. The blood of bulls and goats cannot save nor can our works - thanks be to God for Jesus.
Q99 What rule hath God given for our direction in prayer? The whole Word of God is of use to direct us in prayer, but the special rule of direction is that form of prayer which Christ taught his disciples, commonly called, The Lord’s Prayer.