LOOKING TO PRAISE AND WORSHIP JESUS THE CHRIST, THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD. 18 No man has ever seen God at any time; the only unique Son, or the only begotten God, Who is in the bosom [in the intimate presence] of the Father, He has declared Him [He has revealed Him and brought Him out where He can be seen; He has interpreted Him and He has made Him known].

Saturday, September 22, 2007

OT Saints and the Holy Spirit


When I came to faith as a born again believer, I didn’t have a particular hermeneutic to which I adhered – at least not any of which I was aware. If you said “hermeneutic” to me then, I probably would have responded “gesundheit.”

That doesn’t necessarily mean that those who are unaware of hermeneutics don’t necessarily have one, but many folks read Scripture without adhering to one hermeneutic in particular because they’re taught so many variants among them. I myself couldn’t have pointed to any singular hermeneutic in my early days of belief. In fact, with respect to prophetic texts and Israel, I wouldn’t have had a clue what I believed then - at least not with any basis to which I could point in Scripture.

I had been raised going to church regularly until my youth, and after that point off and on until I left high school. I certainly didn’t read Scripture then, and I didn’t really step back into a church until God made me aware of my own lack and need for a Savior about eight years ago.

Around that time, I studied alongside my then 12-year-old son in preparation for his bar mitzvah under the tutelage of a messianic Jew. So I read some Scriptures with him from a messianic Jewish perspective, which of course holds a distinctive place for Israel separate from the church – not unlike dispensationalism.

The nation of Israel in modern times being a reality since my birth, it wasn’t difficult to see in the Jews a separate people unto themselves and unto God – except that national Israel is far from being a godly people and Scripture itself contains verses regarding all those of faith being Abraham’s descendants – both Jew and Gentile.

The church I attended from about 1999 on was Calvary Chapel – a non-denominational organization with a strong music program. It is man-centered, although I wasn’t aware of it at the time, having never heard anything other than a man-centered gospel until about 18 months ago - and not attending a Reformed church until nine months ago.

Reformed theology grabbed me quite out of the blue, and it was a great relief to me as I had been struggling to maintain righteousness on my own for quite some time. Feeling like a failure and hypocrite as a Christian, I was slowly drifting from God. I thought – wrongly – that it all depended on me, my faith, and my actions (works).

After embracing the doctrines of grace, I am continually surprised and delighted by what should be obvious truths in light of God’s absolute sovereignty and immutability. Here are two of those truths:

1. Daniel’s comment to the August 22, 2007 post here at Bluecollar titled “I Found This Comment on Another Blog…,” in which Daniel wrote:

How did the old testament saints have their sins atoned? By the blood of bulls and goats, or the blood of Christ?

Daniel rightly pointed out that OT saints were saved in exactly the same way we all are: by grace through faith in Christ - one by looking forward and the other by looking back.

Even though their understanding of the incarnation was veiled, the channel through which God saved OT saints was faith in their Redeemer.

“Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.”
- John 8:56

“For I know that my Redeemer lives.”
- Job 19:25a

For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says, 'Sacrifice and offering you have not desired, but a body you have prepared for me,'
- Hebrews 10:4,5

“Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.”
- 1 Peter 1:10-11

2. And I learned just last night in a Bible study that the Holy Spirit was present in all OT believers. Being totally depraved, they would not have been able to be believers without the work of the Holy Spirit.

How it’s all continuing to come together as parts of the same puzzle! Not separate plans. Not separate peoples. Not separate faiths.

For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body--Jews or Greeks, slaves or free--and all were made to drink of one Spirit.”
- 1 Corinthians 12:13

“There is one body and one Spirit--just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call -- one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
-Ephesians 4:4-6

My previous understanding was that the Holy Spirit wasn’t given to OT saints, unless for special times. But they had to have the Holy Spirit to begin with or they would never have come to faith.

That said, the universal outpouring of gifts on believers for different purposes of ministry was not seen until NT days, fulfilling the prophecy of Joel, as explained by Peter in Acts:

“But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:
And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, … And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.'”
- Acts 2:17, 21

As was earlier desired by Moses:

“Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!"” – Numbers 11:29b

The Holy Spirit was present in OT saints who would, without Him, have been unable to believe.

So we are all saved in exactly the same way –
by grace through faith in Christ and Christ alone
by the work of the Holy Spirit
to the glory of God the Father.


I’m not sure if I had a hermeneutic when I first came to faith, but I’m quite sure I’m on my way to one now.

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8 Comments:

Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

"So we are all saved in exactly the same way –
by grace through faith in Christ and Christ alone
by the work of the Holy Spirit
to the glory of God the Father."

I certainly agree with that.

Extreme Dispensationalists who deny this are on dangerous ground.

September 22, 2007 3:06 PM

 
Blogger jazzycat said...

Matthew,
You are dipping your foot into sanctifying reformed waters. Come on in Bro. We won't tase you. :)

September 22, 2007 5:53 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

We won't tase you. :)

Jazzy,

You're so funny!

Matthew,

Do you know to what Jazzy is referring? It's all the talk now in the States. Happened just around the corner from me as well - at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

September 22, 2007 6:40 PM

 
Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

No, not sure what the reference is here.

But there is nothing nherently Reformed about maintaining the unity of salvation by grace in all dispensations.

All of the major Dispensational writers such as Scofield and Chafer maintained this.

Critics who attack Dispensationalism for teaching multiple means of justification show their ignorance.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

September 23, 2007 4:06 AM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

It was quite an eye-opener for me when I finally understood that the Apostles weren't saved at Pentecost, but were saved by grace through faith under the old covenant system. They were certainly "born from above" at Pentecost, but they were saved already at the time.

In John 14:15-18, Christ speaks of the Holy Spirit as someone whom He will send to them so that He may abide in them forever. Christ remarks that the Holy Spirit is already with them (they were OT saints at the time), but would eventually be "in them". They would not be left orphans when Christ returned to the Father, but they would come into the possession of this promise - that the Holy Spirit who was presently known by them and with them, would come to them in a way he hadn't yet come - he would be in them. "...but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you."

Likewise, while we are certainly justified the same way in the OT and NT, we are by no means sanctified in the same way.

It is not correct to say that the OT saints were  >indwelt;<  by the Holy Spirit such that we fail to make the distinction that Christ made clearly there in John. Being born from above (born again into the Spirit) was a new covenant thing - a promise given to the OT saints, and finally realized at Pentecost.

OT saints were quickened by the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit was present with them, but the Holy Spirit did not indwell them in the OT the way He indwells New Covenant believers. Christ made the distinction clear when he described it to the Apostles (whom we recognize as OT saints).

I wanted to make that distinction clear. Justification is identical in both testaments, but being born again is a NT experience only.

September 23, 2007 7:21 AM

 
Blogger Susan said...

They were certainly "born from above" at Pentecost, but they were saved already at the time.

But isn't being born again the same as being saved?

Being born from above (born again into the Spirit) was a new covenant thing -

I thought being born again = regeneration = spiritual birth, which is what all OT saints would need to even have faith, no?

OT saints were quickened by the Holy Spirit

Isn't this the same thing as being born again? Being made alive spiritually?

Apostles (whom we recognize as OT saints)

I thought they were NT saints, since we don't read of them until the NT.

September 23, 2007 8:48 AM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Matthew,

Not to worry about the "we won't tase you" joke. It's a way-blown-out-of-proportion story about a college student who disrupted the peace and wasn't complying with the police as tried to remove him from the university event where he was screaming and shouting beyond normal protocol for such an event. While the young man was resisting arrest, the police used a taser gun on him to control him.

In this day of cell phone cameras and the like, the whole thing was caught on so many video camcorders and phones that radio and TV media are playing non-stop the kid screaming "Don't tase me bro'!" and then his screams of pain. Protests about police brutality are gaining headlines as well - along with any other taser story the media can dig up.

September 23, 2007 8:55 AM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Susan,

When I write NT I don't typically mean found in those 27 books that follow Malachi - rather I am referring to which economy (old promises or new) were the individuals saved under.

The Apostles did not enter into the new Covenant until after it was inaugurated at Pentecost. That is when they received the Holy Spirit - the "promised" Holy Spirit? (c.f. Acts 1:4-6). The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is the fulfillment of the new Covenant promises. The OT saints did not receive the benefits of these promises.

From Pentecost onward, those who are justified have entered into the new covenant, and not the old - so that the moment they are justified they are likewise baptized into Christ by the Holy Spirit - that is, the moment they are justified they are born from above. The two come coupled together now such that the distinction is not something we are given to think about, since we never *see* it, this side of Pentecost.

Being born again is -not- synonymous with being justified by faith, but since the two happen simultaneously now, many people regard the two as being synonymous.

But a distinction is necessary if we are to understand what being born again is - it is being baptized into Christ and thereafter indwelt by the Holy Spirit. It happens the moment we are justified by faith, but it isn't our salvation - it is a consequence of it that only happens this side of Pentecost.

I wrote a very thorough reply, but it was too long, and I saw in it the capacity for many spin off conversations that I wouldn't have the time to pursue with the vigor they would deserve.

So that is it in a nutshell. Let me know if it is enough.

September 25, 2007 2:56 PM

 

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