Salvation According to the Old Testament:
By Faith in Christ or by Faith and Works Apart from Christ?
Responding to One Muslims Claims
Mohd Elfie Nieshaem Juferi (MENJ) recently emailed us a recommendation of this article, presumably because he somehow felt that it is such a strong Bible contradiction that we wouldnt be able to address it, at least not sufficiently. His aim is to show that Pauls doctrine of justification by faith in Christ alone apart from works is contradicted by the Old Testament teaching, as well as other New Testament books, which teach that salvation is possible without believing in Christ or without the requirement of blood atonement.
Every Christian believe that they should do good works, that they should follow the law of the Prophets. However they do not believe that a man can be justified by the good works.
"For all who rely on doing the works of the law are under a curse, because it is written, "Cursed is everyone who does not keep on doing everything written in the book of the law." Now it is clear no one is justified before God by the law, because the righteous one will live by faith (On Jesus). But the law is not based on faith, but the one who does the works of the law will live by them. 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us."1
The above-mentioned teachings and belief of the Christians are based on Pauls teachings and the New Testament, which are against the teachings of Old Testament.
Paul wasnt alone in his position since the Old Testament expresses the same theme, namely that a person cannot be justified or saved by observing the Law:
"And the LORD said to Moses, Behold, the days approach when you must die. Call Joshua and present yourselves in the tent of meeting, that I may commission him. And Moses and Joshua went and presented themselves in the tent of meeting. And the LORD appeared in the tent in a pillar of cloud. And the pillar of cloud stood over the entrance of the tent. And the LORD said to Moses, Behold, you are about to lie down with your fathers. Then this people will rise and whore after the foreign gods among them in the land that they are entering, and they will forsake me and break my covenant that I have made with them. Then my anger will be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them and hide my face from them, and they will be devoured. And many evils and troubles will come upon them, so that they will say in that day, "Have not these evils come upon us because our God is not among us?" And I will surely hide my face in that day because of all the evil that they have done, because they have turned to other gods. Now therefore write this song and teach it to the people of Israel. Put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me AGAINST the people of Israel. For when I have brought them into the land flowing with milk and honey, which I swore to give to their fathers, and they have eaten and are full and grown fat, they will turn to other gods and serve them, and despise me and break my covenant. And when many evils and troubles have come upon them, this song shall CONFRONT them as a witness (for it will live unforgotten in the mouths of their offspring). For I know what they are inclined to do even today, before I have brought them into the land that I swore to give. So Moses wrote this song the same day and taught it to the people of Israel. And the LORD commissioned Joshua the son of Nun and said, Be strong and courageous, for you shall bring the people of Israel into the land that I swore to give them. I will be with you. When Moses had finished writing the words of this law in a book to the very end, Moses commanded the Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, Take this Book of the Law and put it by the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there for a witness AGAINST you. For I know how rebellious and stubborn you are. Behold, even today while I am yet alive with you, you have been rebellious against the LORD. How much more after my death! Assemble to me all the elders of your tribes and your officers, that I may speak these words in their ears and call heaven and earth to witness AGAINST them. For I know that after my death you will surely act corruptly and turn aside from the way that I have commanded you. And in the days to come evil will befall you, because you will do what is evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking him to anger through the work of your hands." Deuteronomy 31:14-29
"But Joshua said to the people, You are not able to serve the LORD, for he is a holy God. He is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins. If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, then he will turn and do you harm and consume you, after having done you good. And the people said to Joshua, No, but we will serve the LORD. Then Joshua said to the people, You are witnesses AGAINST yourselves that you have chosen the LORD, to serve him. And they said, We are witnesses. He said, Then put away the foreign gods that are among you, and incline your heart to the LORD, the God of Israel. And the people said to Joshua, The LORD our God we will serve, and his voice we will obey. So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and put in place statutes and rules for them at Shechem. And Joshua wrote these words in the Book of the Law of God. And he took a large stone and set it up there under the terebinth that was by the sanctuary of the LORD. And Joshua said to all the people, Behold, this stone shall be a witness AGAINST us, for it has heard all the words of the LORD that he spoke to us. Therefore it shall be a witness AGAINST you, lest you deal falsely with your God. So Joshua sent the people away, every man to his inheritance." Joshua 24:19-28
The foregoing shows that God knew and announced beforehand that his people would not be able to follow his commands, but would turn away from his Law thereby incurring his just wrath. In fact, God plainly told Israel that he didnt save them because of their righteousness, since they had none!
"Do not say in your heart, after the LORD your God has thrust them out before you, It is because of my righteousness that the LORD has brought me in to possess this land,' whereas it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is driving them out before you. Not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart are you going in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations the LORD your God is driving them out from before you, and that he may confirm the word that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. Know, therefore, that the LORD your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stubborn people. Remember and do not forget how you provoked the LORD your God to wrath in the wilderness. From the day you came out of the land of Egypt until you came to this place, you have been rebellious against the LORD. Even at Horeb you provoked the LORD to wrath, and the LORD was so angry with you that he was ready to destroy you. When I went up the mountain to receive the tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant that the LORD made with you, I remained on the mountain forty days and forty nights. I neither ate bread nor drank water. And the LORD gave me the two tablets of stone written with the finger of God, and on them were all the words that the LORD had spoken with you on the mountain out of the midst of the fire on the day of the assembly. And at the end of forty days and forty nights the LORD gave me the two tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant. Then the LORD said to me, Arise, go down quickly from here, for your people whom you have brought from Egypt have acted corruptly. They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them; they have made themselves a metal image. Furthermore, the LORD said to me, I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stubborn people. Let me alone, that I may destroy them and blot out their name from under heaven. And I will make of you a nation mightier and greater than they. So I turned and came down from the mountain, and the mountain was burning with fire. And the two tablets of the covenant were in my two hands. And I looked, and behold, you had sinned against the LORD your God. You had made yourselves a golden calf. You had turned aside quickly from the way that the LORD had commanded you. So I took hold of the two tablets and threw them out of my two hands and broke them before your eyes. Then I lay prostrate before the LORD as before, forty days and forty nights. I neither ate bread nor drank water, because of all the sin that you had committed, in doing what was evil in the sight of the LORD to provoke him to anger. For I was afraid of the anger and hot displeasure that the LORD bore against you, so that he was ready to destroy you. But the LORD listened to me that time also. And the LORD was so angry with Aaron that he was ready to destroy him. And I prayed for Aaron also at the same time. Then I took the sinful thing, the calf that you had made, and burned it with fire and crushed it, grinding it very small, until it was as fine as dust. And I threw the dust of it into the brook that ran down from the mountain. At Taberah also, and at Massah and at Kibroth-hattaavah you provoked the LORD to wrath. And when the LORD sent you from Kadesh-barnea, saying, Go up and take possession of the land that I have given you, then you rebelled against the commandment of the LORD your God and did not believe him or obey his voice. You have been rebellious against the LORD from the day that I knew you. So I lay prostrate before the LORD for these forty days and forty nights, because the LORD had said he would destroy you. And I prayed to the LORD, O Lord GOD, destroy not your people and your heritage, whom you have redeemed through your greatness, whom you have brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand. Remember your servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Do not regard the stubbornness of this people, or their wickedness or their sin, lest the land from which you brought us say, "Because the LORD was not able to bring them into the land that he promised them, and because he hated them, he has brought them out to put them to death in the wilderness." For they are your people and your heritage, whom you brought out by your great power and by your outstretched arm." Deuteronomy 9:4-29
This in itself demonstrates that Gods purpose in giving the Law was to reveal that man is utterly incapable of meriting their righteous standing before an infinitely holy God through obedience to his divine instructions. The Law served the purpose of revealing to man his desperate need of a Savior who would deliver believers from Gods wrath:
"Who has believed what they heard from us? And to whom has THE ARM OF THE LORD been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes 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. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors." Isaiah 53:1-12
"The LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice. He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede; then HIS OWN ARM brought him salvation, and his righteousness upheld him. He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on his head; he put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and wrapped himself in zeal as a cloak. According to their deeds, so will he repay, wrath to his adversaries, repayment to his enemies; to the coastlands he will render repayment. So they shall fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun; for he will come like a rushing stream, which the wind of the LORD drives. And a Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who turn from transgression, declares the LORD. And as for me, this is my covenant with them, says the LORD: My Spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your offspring, or out of the mouth of your children's offspring, says the LORD, from this time forth and forevermore." Isaiah 59:15-21
These passages specifically state that God will redeem his people from their wickedness by sending them a Savior, a Servant who will justify them by taking their sins upon himself and whom the texts identify as the very Arm of Yahweh! This presupposes that the Redeemer whom God sends is more than a mere human being since the work of redemption is a Divine work requiring Gods own Arm, or Power, to accomplish it since no one else was up to the task!(1)
The Old Testament also sets the ground for the doctrine of justification by faith in Gods promises:
"And behold, the word of the LORD came to him: This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir. And he brought him outside and said, Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them. Then he said to him, So shall your offspring be. And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness." Genesis 15:4-6
God reckoned, or declared, Abraham to be righteous solely on the grounds of his faith, in believing in Gods promise to do what he says, and not because of any righteous works he had done even though Abraham had done plenty such as leaving his homeland behind to follow God.
"Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, I will confess my transgressions to the LORD, and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found; surely in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach him. You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah" Psalm 32:1-7
David testifies by inspiration that God forgives and does not hold a persons sins against him/her on the grounds of ones confession and repentance. God completely pardons a person not on the basis of what s/he does but as a result of an individuals acknowledgement and turning away from sins. This is similar to what the Lord Jesus and his followers taught:
"He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: "God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get." But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, "God, be merciful to me, a sinner!" I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted." Luke 18:9-14
"And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will." Acts 15:7-11
More importantly, these are the very OT texts which Paul used to prove that his doctrine of justification is thoroughly biblical, one which was already announced beforehand in the prophetic Scriptures:
"But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it" Romans 3:21
"What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness. Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin. Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised." Romans 4:1-11
"just as Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness? Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, In you shall all the nations be blessed. So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith." Galatians 3:6-9
MENJ continues to distort the teaching of Gods true Word:
In Old Testament, justification and forgiveness from God is possible without any faith in Christ and without any salvation through a blood atonement:
"If my people, who belong to me, humble themselves, pray, seek to please me, and repudiate their sinful practices, then I will respond from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land."2
This is also noted in the following:
"Seek the Lord while he makes himself available;
call to him while he is nearby!
The wicked need to abandon their lifestyle and sinful people their plans.
They should return to the Lord, and he will show mercy to them,
and to thier[sic] God, for he will freely forgive them."3
MENJ erroneously thinks that Christians believe that blood sacrifices, specifically Christs atoning death, are all that is needed since there is no need for repentance and holiness. He is deliberately distorting what Christians believe since he started off his article by noting that every Christian believes in good works. Here, he cites specific passages emphasizing holiness and repudiation of sin which gives the impression that Christians do not believe that these things are necessary, or that this somehow conflicts with the doctrine of justification by faith.
The Christian position, which is the Biblical one, is that such sacrifices are only efficacious, or made effective, for those who offered them in sincere faith and repentance. Furthermore, God only credits Christs death to those who truly acknowledge and turn away from their sins, who are then empowered by the Holy Spirit to live holy lives. To put it another way, a person whom God has saved on the basis of Christs atoning death produces fruits in accord with salvation, since these deeds become the evidence that a person has been justified by grace through faith alone:
"to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified BY FAITH IN ME. Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance." Acts 26:18-20
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faithand this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:8-10
"For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say No to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hopethe glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good." Titus 2:11-14
To put it in a nutshell, a person who is saved by grace through faith in the work of the Lord Jesus is saved to do good works, to do the things which please God, and to shun those practices that incur his displeasure.
Moreover, MENJ quotes these specific OT texts out of their immediate and greater contexts since they serve to refute his claims. For example, his first citation is taken from 2 Chronicles 7:14 where the immediate context deals with Solomon having just finished building Gods Temple, a place in which sacrifices would be made for the forgiveness of sins!
"Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the leaders of the fathers' houses of the people of Israel, in Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of the city of David, which is Zion. And all the men of Israel assembled before the king at the feast that is in the seventh month. And all the elders of Israel came, and the Levites took up the ark. And they brought up the ark, the tent of meeting, and all the holy vessels that were in the tent; the Levitical priests brought them up. And King Solomon and all the congregation of Israel, who had assembled before him, were before the ark, SACRIFICING so many sheep and oxen that they could not be counted or numbered. Then the priests brought the ark of the covenant of the LORD to its place, in the inner sanctuary of the house, in the Most Holy Place, underneath the wings of the cherubim. The cherubim spread out their wings over the place of the ark, so that the cherubim made a covering above the ark and its poles. And the poles were so long that the ends of the poles were seen from the Holy Place before the inner sanctuary, but they could not be seen from outside. And they are there to this day. There was nothing in the ark except the two tablets that Moses put there at Horeb, where the LORD made a covenant with the people of Israel, when they came out of Egypt. And when the priests came out of the Holy Place (for all the priests who were present had consecrated themselves, without regard to their divisions, and all the Levitical singers, Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun, their sons and kinsmen, arrayed in fine linen, with cymbals, harps, and lyres, stood east of the altar with 120 priests who were trumpeters; and it was the duty of the trumpeters and singers to make themselves heard in unison in praise and thanksgiving to the LORD), and when the song was raised, with trumpets and cymbals and other musical instruments, in praise to the LORD, For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever, the house, the house of the LORD, was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the house of God." 2 Chronicles 5:2-14
"As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed THE BURNT OFFERING and THE SACRIFICES, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. And the priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD filled the LORD's house. When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the LORD on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. Then the king and all the people OFFERED SACRIFICE before the LORD. King Solomon offered as a sacrifice 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep. So the king and all the people dedicated the house of God. The priests stood at their posts; the Levites also, with the instruments for music to the LORD that King David had made for giving thanks to the LORD--for his steadfast love endures forever--whenever David offered praises by their ministry; opposite them the priests sounded trumpets, and all Israel stood. And Solomon consecrated the middle of the court that was before the house of the LORD, for there he offered THE BURNT OFFERING and the fat of THE PEACE OFFERINGS, because the bronze altar Solomon had made could not hold the burnt offering and the grain offering and the fat." 2 Chronicles 7:1-7
"Thus Solomon finished the house of the LORD and the king's house. All that Solomon had planned to do in the house of the LORD and in his own house he successfully accomplished. Then the LORD appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him: I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself AS A HOUSE OF SACRIFICE. 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 from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that my name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will be there for all time. And as for you, if you will walk before me as David your father walked, doing according to all that I have commanded you and keeping my statutes and my rules, then I will establish your royal throne, as I covenanted with David your father, saying, "You shall not lack a man to rule Israel."" 2 Chronicles 7:11-17
It is truly amazing that MENJ could be ignorant of this when all he had to do was simply read just a few passages before verse 14 to see that God specifically called his Temple a house of sacrifice!
More importantly, Solomon was simply carrying out the command of God through Moses that blood sacrifices were necessary for the forgiveness of sins:
"If any one of the house of Israel or of the strangers who sojourn among them eats any blood, I will set my face against that person who eats blood and will cut him off from among his people. For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life. Therefore I have said to the people of Israel, No person among you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger who sojourns among you eat blood. Any one also of the people of Israel, or of the strangers who sojourn among them, who takes in hunting any beast or bird that may be eaten shall pour out its blood and cover it with earth. For the life of every creature is its blood: its blood is its life. Therefore I have said to the people of Israel, You shall not eat the blood of any creature, for the life of every creature is its blood. Whoever eats it shall be cut off." Leviticus 17:10-14; cf. 16:1-34
In fact, the work of forgiveness is a work of atonement, a work based on Gods willingness to atone for the sins of his people, specifically of those who sincerely turn away from wickedness and turn to their Creator in holiness:
"Rejoice, O nations, with his people, for he will avenge the blood of his servants; he will take vengeance on his enemies and make ATONEMENT for his land and people." Deuteronomy 32:43
"Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion, and to you shall vows be performed. O you who hears prayer, to you shall all flesh come. When iniquities prevail against me, you ATONE for our transgressions. Blessed is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts! We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, the holiness of your temple! By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness, O God of our salvation, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas;" Psalm 65:1-5
"They remembered that God was their rock, the Most High God their redeemer. But they flattered him with their mouths; they lied to him with their tongues. Their heart was not steadfast toward him; they were not faithful to his covenant. Yet he, being compassionate, ATONED for their iniquity and did not destroy them; he restrained his anger often and did not stir up all his wrath. He remembered that they were but flesh, a wind that passes and comes not again." Psalm 78:35-39
"Do not remember against us our former iniquities; let your compassion come speedily to meet us, for we are brought very low. Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and ATONE for our sins, for your name's sake!" Psalm 79:8-9
The Hebrew words translated atonement/atoned/atone come from the same word used in Leviticus 17:11, which says that it is the blood that makes atonement, namely kaphar (*). This basically means that it is God who atones for the sins of his people, and does so through blood sacrifice, specifically the blood of Jesus Christ his beloved Son:
"God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus." Romans 3:25-26
"In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace" Ephesians 1:7
"For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people." Hebrews 2:17
"But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin." 1 John 1:7
"My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defenseJesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world." 1 John 2:1-2
"This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins." 1 John 4:10
Interestingly, the book of Job speaks of the need for a mediator who could provide atonement on behalf of man so that s/he could stand justified before God:
"His flesh wastes away to nothing, and his bones, once hidden, now stick out. His soul draws near to the pit, and his life to the messengers of death. Yet if there is an angel on his side as a mediator, one out of a thousand, to tell a man what is right for him, to be gracious to him and say, 'Spare him from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom for him' - then his flesh is renewed like a child's; it is restored as in the days of his youth. He prays to God and finds favor with him, he sees God's face and shouts for joy; he is restored by God to his righteous state." Job 33:21-26 NIV
The word for ransom comes from the Hebrew kopher, which is related to kaphar (*). The idea here is that mediation must be based on atonement, that atonement is the means through which a person can be ransomed. The New Testament states that Jesus is God's Mediator sent to ransom sinners through his atoning death:
"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Mark 10:45
"For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men - the testimony given in its proper time." 1 Timothy 2:5-6
"How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance-now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant." Hebrews 9:14-15
Thus, belief and repentance without vicarious sacrifice cannot save; and yet blood atonement without genuine faith and conversion is rendered ineffective. A person needs all of these components in order to be pleasing to and accepted by the Lord.
Finally, MENJs position proves too much and backfires against his beliefs as a Muslim. After all, if he is correct that salvation, according to the Old Testament, doesnt depend on believing in Christ then it is also true that a person doesnt need to believe in Muhammad to be saved. (In fact, a person cannot believe in him since to do so would result in the loss of salvation and favor with God). All a person must do is simply obey what God commands in the Old Testament.
MENJ is obviously trying to have his cake and eat it too.
It should also be noted that the New Testament also proves that the beliefs mentioned in the Old Testament were quite enough for justification.
"What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but does not have works? Can this kind of faith save him? you empty fellow, that faith without works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? You see that his faith was working together with his works and his faith was perfected by works. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, Now Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness, and he was called Gods friend. 2:24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. And similarly, was not Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by another way? For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead."4
MENJ erroneously assumes that James is teaching that works justify a person when such is not the case at all. James is talking about a vindication of ones faith, using the word justified in the sense of providing clear evidence that a person has true belief in God:
"But someone will say, You have faith and I have works. SHOW ME your faith apart from your works, and I will SHOW YOU my faith BY MY WORKS." James 2:18
He is using the word in the same way Christ used it here:
"The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners! Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds." Matthew 11:19
"Yet wisdom is justified by all her children." Luke 7:35
Divine Wisdom isnt made righteous, since she already exists in a righteous state seeing that she originates from God, but is proven to be just or stands vindicated by what she does through the actions of those who possess her. In a similar manner, a believer isnt made righteous by works, but a persons works provide the proof that one truly has genuine, saving faith. In other words, James is saying that works are necessary to show or prove that a person has genuine belief in God.
This is what we stated earlier, that a person is saved unto good works, since such deeds are the necessary outcome of one who has been saved by grace through faith in the finished work of the risen and immortal Lord Jesus Christ.
The foregoing shows that MENJ has done nothing more than to misrepresent the Christian view. He erroneously thinks that the Holy Scriptures teach that good works are necessary for forgiveness of sins, thereby nullifying the crucifixion of Jesus. The problem is not with what either the Old or New Testaments teach regarding this subject, but with MENJs misreading of the Holy Bible that leads him to think that there is. Neither Testament teaches that good works save a person; rather both Testaments proclaim that individuals are saved by Gods grace through faith and that this salvation is dependant on Gods provision of atonement, that God provides blood sacrifice to cover the debt of sins. This sacrifice culminates in the atoning death of the Lord Jesus, the once-for-all final sacrifice of God for sinners who believe and repent:
"The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" John 1:29
"He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself." Hebrews 7:27
"But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him." Hebrews 9:11-12, 23-28
"And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified." Hebrews 10:10-14
Once a person is saved through the blood of Christ, the Lamb of God, s/he is given Gods Holy Spirit who empowers believers to live a righteous life obedient to Gods commands. Thus, although good works do not save they are the result of salvation, the necessary fruit demonstrating that a person has been saved by grace through faith alone.
Therefore, there is no paradox, no contradiction, with Christians insisting that believing in the blood of the Lord Jesus saves mankind.
For more on the doctrine of justification by faith alone we highly recommend the following book by Dr. James R. White, titled The God Who Justifies: The Doctrine of Justification as well as John Pipers book, Counted Righteous in Christ: Should We Abandon the Imputation of Christ's Righteousness? These are must reading for any serious student of the Holy Bible, specifically Christians who love the Lord Jesus and Gods true Word, the Holy Bible.
For web articles on this subject we recommend this resource.
(1) Isaiah 53, where the inspired prophet identifies Gods righteous Servant as the Arm of Yahweh, provides an example of how God prepared his people for the coming of his Messiah, specifically Jesus Christ. In fact, the NT is replete with references where the Lord Jesus and his followers appealed to OT prophecies which they believed foretold his coming:
"Then he said to them, These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled. Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem." Luke 24:44-47
"For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures," 1 Corinthians 15:3-4
"Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look." 1 Peter 1:10-12
Christ even stated that the people of the past were eagerly awaiting his appearance:
"But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. Truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it." Matthew 13:16-17
"Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad. So the Jews said to him, You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham? Jesus said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am. So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple." John 8:56-59
This means that the OT prophets and saints were not ignorant of Jesus advent since they were given the Holy Spirit to foresee his coming. What this basically means is that they were saved by their faith in Gods promise that he would bring forth the Messiah who would redeem them from their sins.
MENJ is therefore completely wrong to assert that the OT teaches that a person could be saved apart from faith in Christ when one of the main purposes of the Hebrew Scriptures was to announce the coming of the Messiah Redeemer:
"You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life." John 5:39-40
MENJ should have no problem with this since his Quran claims that Allah announced the coming of a messenger and of Muhammad in the previous scriptures:
And when God took compact with the Prophets: 'That I have given you of Book and Wisdom; then there shall come to you a Messenger confirming what is with you -- you shall believe in him and you shall help him; do you agree?' He said. 'And do you take My load on you on that condition?' They said, 'We do agree.' God said, 'Bear witness so, and I shall be with you among the witnesses.' S. 3:81 Arberry
those who follow the Messenger, 'the Prophet of the common folk, whom they find written down with them in the Torah and the Gospel, bidding them to honour, and forbidding them dishonour, making lawful for them the good things and making unlawful for them the corrupt things, and relieving them of their loads, and the fetters that were upon them. Those who believe in him and succour him and help him, and follow the light that has been sent down with him -- they are the prosperers.' S. 7:157 Arberry
And when Jesus son of Mary said, 'Children of Israel, I am indeed the Messenger of God to you, confirming the Torah that is before me, and giving good tidings of a Messenger who shall come after me, whose name shall be Ahmad.' Then, when he brought them the clear signs, they said, 'This is a manifest sorcery.' S. 61:6 Arberry
Hence, the Quran accepts the principle that God can announce beforehand the advent of a specific prophet/messenger and that the people receiving this proclamation were required to believe it in order to be saved. The only difference here is that whereas Jesus is predicted in the OT books, these inspired Scriptures, on the other hand, do not predict the coming of Muhammad. In fact, both the Old and New Testaments expose him as a false prophet.
Continue with Part 2: Salvation According to Islam.
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