For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.
Hebrews 10:4 KJV
In the study The Methodology Of Salvation it was discussed and the biblical evidence given showing that salvation is by grace through faith and as such cannot be wholly or in part by works.
Romans 11:6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.
Romans 4:16 Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace;…
Romans 4:4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.
Galatians 5:4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
In this article, the differences in salvation at different times in history; or as some prefer, dispensations, is our theme. Salvation by grace through faith and not of works is a universal precept of God’s word and is in force at all times in all places. So what are the differences between the Old Testament, New Testament, and Tribulation salvation?
The three dispensations or periods of history used in this study are divided as the period of time from Adam to the crucifixion of our Lord, from the crucifixion to the Rapture, and from there to the return of our Lord. The three modes of salvation that this study affirms are:
- Adam to Cross - Faithful unto death; reserved unto salvation
- Cross to Rapture - Full salvation, liberty in Christ, absent from the body present with the Lord
- Tribulation - Faithful unto death; salvation
To begin the scriptural underpinnings for these conclusions we begin with the Old Testament saints, from Adam to the cross. They could not receive full, complete, unconditional salvation due to the fact that the payment for sin had not been made; Christ had not died for the sins of the world as of yet.
John 7:38-39 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. 39(But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)
Hebrews 11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises,...
Hebrews 11:39-40 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: 40God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.
Christ had not died, salvation could not yet be given. The Old Testament saints could have their sins forgiven, but they were not paid for. In fact, as such they could have their sins laid back upon them if they fell out of grace. In Matthew, we are given a similitude, word picture, of this very situation. The servant's debt was forgiven but they were laid back on him when he failed to remain in the good graces of his master.
Matthew 18:21-35 ...23Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. 24....one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents.... 26The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 27Then the lord of that servant...forgave him the debt. ...32Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt,... 34And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due....
There was no being sealed with the Holy Spirit, no absent from the body present with the Lord; no liberty in Christ, but those that died in faith were reserved unto salvation and rested in Abraham’s bosom until the price for their sins was paid.
Luke 16:22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom:...
The Old Testament saints had to be faithful unto death and were reserved awaiting Christ's crucifixion and salvation. Upon that payment, God led captivity captive.
Ephesians 4:8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
Of course, their sins were forgiven on the basis of faith through grace; faith in whatever God told them at the time. He told Noah there was a flood coming and Noah “moved with fear” built the boat. Noah preached to the people, they rejected it. He told Abraham to sacrifice his son, the Israelites to keep the law; not for there own self-righteousness, but through faith in him who gave it to them.
Romans 9:31-32 But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. 32Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone;
But, what were the promises they could not receive until the payment for sins was completed?
2 Corinthians 6:16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Ezekiel 36:26-27 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.
New Testament salvation is post payment for sins as opposed to pre, Old Testament. New Testament saints, upon there faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ, receive the promises; they receive and are sealed with the Spirit of God, saved completely and unconditionally forever. It is our liberty in Christ, once saved always saved. Our liberty in Christ is another one of those misunderstood, rarely taught doctrines of the Bible which will have to wait for another study. Between the cross and the rapture salvation in full is given to "whosoever believeth."
2 Corinthians 1:21-22 Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; 22Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.
Ephesians 1:13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
Ephesians 4:30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
After the rapture, the Tribulation period begins. During this time there is no believe on the name of the Lord and thou shalt be saved. At this point, it returns to faithful unto death, and this faithfulness means having to give your life having faith in God's word in not worshiping or taking the mark of the beast.
Revelation 13:16-17 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: 17And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
Revelation 14:9-11 And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, 10The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: 11And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.
During this time one will have to trust God’s word until death, worship the beast and take his mark—you are damned.
Revelation 6:9 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:
Revelation 15:2 And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.
That is briefly the three dispensations of salvation;
- Old Testament—Faith unto death, reserved unto salvation
- New Testament—Faith in Christ, full salvation, liberty
- Tribulation—Faith unto death, salvation