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Salvation was by grace through faith in Old Testament

Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. Acts 8:35

In the last article, I made the suggestion that we should look at (study) the preaching of Christ, if we want to correct the problems of the man centered religion in many of our churches today. In Matthew 4:17 it says, “Jesus began to preach and to say, repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” In Mark 1:15 it says, “Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God.” In Mark 4:11, Jesus uses the words, kingdom of God; he drops the words “the gospel.” In Mark 2:2 it says, “And He (Jesus) preached the word to them.”

Jesus usually presented the gospel (good news) in the context of a much bigger picture. He also taught that a follower of Christ will experience, persecution, tribulation and suffering. When God awakened Saul to the gospel, He made this statement; “For I will show him (Saul), how many things he must suffer for my name’s sake,” Acts 9:16. In John 16:33, Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” In II Timothy 3:12 it says, “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.”

Jesus also taught that we should “enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it,” Matthew 7:14.

In Luke 14:25-33, the entire passage is about counting the cost of being a follower of Christ. In verse 27 Jesus says, “And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be my disciple.” Jesus taught a completely different gospel than what is taught in most churches today. He never taught the carnal-christian doctrine, easy believism, or the health, wealth, and happiness message of today.

But what about the apostles, how did they present the message of Christ? In Acts 2:14-47, Peter gives his gospel message by beginning in the Old Testament and presenting the kingdom of God. Stephen gave a very long message recorded in Acts 7:1-53, and clearly proclaims the kingdom of God as he presents Christ. If Jesus and many of the apostles preached Christ from the Old Testament Scriptures, why do so many ministers teach that the Old Testament doesn’t apply, or isn’t relevant today? I believe it is because some are ignorant of the true meaning behind many of the Old Testament books!

The salvation of man was the same in the Old Testament as it is today. They were saved by grace through faith in Christ; the same as New Testament believers. They looked forward to the cross and we look back to the cross.

The gospel was taught, preached and proclaimed in the Old Testament just as it is in the New Testament. Here is one example for you to consider. The gospel was proclaimed to Abraham by the pre-incarnate Christ in the message, “And in you shall all the families of the earth be blessed,” Genesis 12:3. How do we know this? The book of Galatians makes this clear in chapter 3 and verse 8. Also in Acts 8:27-39, Philip preached Jesus to the Ethiopian eunuch out of Isaiah 53:7-8.

As we bring this article to an end, here are a few things for us to consider.

1. Salvation was by grace through faith in the Old Testament, the same as today. They looked forward to the coming Messiah; we look back to the cross.

2. Compliance to the law of God in the Old Testament could be summed up in these words; “Do or die.” In the New Testament: “Die and do.”

3. The gospel message was given throughout the Old Testament and in the New Testament as well; from Genesis to Revelation.

4. Jesus and the apostles usually proclaimed the gospel in the context (setting) of the kingdom of God.

5. The primary purpose of the proclamation of the gospel, was so God would receive honor and glory unto Himself through the holy and righteous life of the repentant sinner. When his heart and will is changed, he reflects the character of God to those around him. “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever”, Reference,The Westminster Shorter Catechism from the Trinity Hymnal.

6. The God -centered gospel is taught throughout the Scriptures, but is often overlooked. In Ephesians 1:3-14,it mentions different aspects of our salvation; and this is usually what pastors focus on. Somehow they overlook the primary reason that God extended His grace to man; “it was to the praise of the glory of His grace.” This phrase is basically repeated in verse 12, and also in verse 14, “to the praise of His glory.” Isn’t it time we went back to the God glorifying gospel of the Scriptures?

7. Is your church following the example Christ set for His disciples?

Comments or questions, contact me at: thoughtsonword@gmail.com.

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Lyndon Stimeling, of Richfield, has been writing about faith and family for many years. He has self-published three books, “Common Thoughts on The Word” in 2016 and “Eye of a Needle” in 2017 and “Common Thoughts on The Word II” in 2019. He has also had articles published in The Coming Home Journal and local newspapers and has written a children’s book.

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