Salvation Through The Ages

Salvation has always been by faith but it has been expressed differently based on who God was dealing with. He was dealing with individuals until the establishment of the nation of Israel. Once Israel was a nation and God revealed His Law, salvation became a national concern.

Now, after the finished work of Christ, there is no difference between Jew and Gentile. But when the Kingdom is established with Messiah at the helm, nations are brought back into the picture. Matthew 25:31-33 talks about Christ reigning and the nations being split into goat and sheep nations.

Faith means hearing God’s Word. Under the Law individuals living in Israel were to listen to their government, which was a theocracy. There was little to no difference between God’s rule and the nation’s rule. Israel’s Law was God’s Word for them.

Individuals needed to follow the Law or use the sacrifices and priests to make amends. That was how they expressed faith. If all the individuals in Israel were to listen God would bless them with land and stuff. This will fully be realized in the Kingdom when God controls them through His Spirit.

As I said, however, salvation is always talked about on a national level under the Law. When John and Jesus came talking about individual salvation, being born again as Jesus said in John 3, that would have been completely new to them. Even more new was the idea that Gentiles could be saved the same way.

Israel has been set aside now as a nation. The end of Acts 28 shows the finality. The Kingdom is now delayed. Israel has lost their exclusivity and now individuals from all nations can receive salvation.

3 thoughts on “Salvation Through The Ages”

  1. “Matthew 25:31-33 talks about Christ reigning and the nations being split into goat and sheep nations.”

    Other than the reference to “nations” in v. 32, where do you find support for this idea? Note that Jesus says, “As you did to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (v. 40). Sounds like individual actions to me.

    I’m confused about what you mean by national salvation. You’re not saying that under the Law, eternal life was given to people on the basis of their identification with righteous Israel, are you (as opposed to the faith of the individual)? The OT may refer to national justice, but it always takes the form of temporal–not eternal–rewards. To extend national justice into eternity seems to me to have no basis in the OT.

    Like you, I’m trying to work these things out. It doesn’t help that I don’t have very clear beliefs in the area of Dispensationalism/Covenant Theology. I think my main idea right now is that individual justice is eternal, whereas national justice is temporal (i.e. at the final judgment, individuals are not held responsible for their nation’s behavior but for their own, regardless of when and where they lived).

  2. Well, I’m drawing a distinction I guess, between the idea that much of the discussion of salvation in the OT was for the nation, not the individual. Individuals are still saved by their individual response of faith, which was shown by following Israel’s law, sacrifices, etc. But if you take OT verses on salvation you will be confused if you try to apply them to anyone today. You would have to submit to all the law including sacrifices, priests, even government of Israel. In the Kingdom it says the Gentile nations will come to Jerusalem and acknowledge Israel’s superiority. People then say how America or britain or Iran treats israel now will influence their stand as a nation with israel then, the goat and sheep deal. It opens up lots of cans! My basic point is showing the distinctions in the salvation message of the law as oppsed to the salvation message now.

  3. Okay, I think we are in agreement then on most of this. I still disagree with your assessment of the “sheep and goats” since eternal life and punishment are in view here (Matthew 25:46). I don’t think our nation’s behavior toward Israel will help much in the Millennium (I assume you’re referring to that), considering that the whole earth will follow the Beast (Revelation 13:3)–even the United States, assuming it’s still around when he shows up.

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