Were the OT Saints Saved Like We are Today?
" The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here. "
It seems obvious from this statement by the Lord that the Gentiles referred to will be with us in Glory. They were SAVED.
How were they saved? Doesn't the Lord tell us very explicitly how they were saved?
"Because THEY repented at the preaching of Jonah."
What was the preaching of Jonah? And who was Jonah, anyway? And exactly what does it mean, that "they repented"? (Rather important, is it not?)
"And Jonah began to enter into the city a day's journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown." --- Jonah 3:4
That's it! That is the totality of the essence of Jonah's entire message (compare, similarly, the message that Cornelius and his household got from Peter, in
Acts 10). No Gospel; no doctrine; no hope given; no instructions as to how they might avoid the catastrophe; and in fact, nothing whatsoever about Eternity (which wasn't even the issue). You might say, "well, just because it isn't included in the record doesn't mean that that's all Jonah told them." If you say that, you need to read the sequel to see that what I said is indeed the case:
"So the people of Nineveh believed God, "
little word, "so," answers your question above. It tells us that
the reason they believed was based on the preceding words, alone.
How did they know that the Words of this Jonah were from GOD? Maybe the same way we know that the 66 Books we call the Bible are the Word of God? "The HOLY Scriptures?" --- Rom 1:2. Like John 10:27-28? Like "never man spake like THIS Man?"
"and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. . . . etc, etc." --- Jonah 3:5-8.
Are these things that God told them to do? Are they even things that God wanted them to do? Are they things that ever did, or ever will, result in the salvation of anyone? Are they what the Lord was referring to, for them?
The answer is simple: none of the above.
And they knew it! Because - - -
"Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?" --- Jonah 3:9
you're thinking (which is still legal in our country, in spite of all
the efforts of churches, schools, media, and government to try to ban
it), you should be coming to the perception that fear of God (which
churches are also trying to ban --- "There is no fear of God before their eyes" ) is the essence of their repenting, not theological reasonings.
I submit that the origin of the salvation of the Ninevites was that they FEARED God. "But to this man (in contrast, here, to the "religious" or "moral" man) will I look: even to him that is poor, and of a contrite heart, and TREMBLETH at My Word." --- Isa. 66:2. "The FEAR of the Lord is the beginning of salvation." "There is no FEAR of God before their eyes." "Knowing the FEAR of the Lord, we are persuading men." "My flesh crawleth for FEAR of Thee." "Great is His
mercy toward . . . toward who? . . . they that FEAR Him." "In every nation, he that FEARETH God, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him. " The result of Annanias' and Sapphira's demise was that the WHOLE CHURCH FEARED.
And THAT is wherein the saints of the OT were "saved like we are, today. And THAT is the precursor of Salvation in every Dispensation. And THAT is the minute point in which I cannot go along with hyper-calvinism. I believe that in Isa. 66:2 the fear comes FIRST, and THEN the salvation. I believe that in Acts 17:12, the "therefore" tells us that the FEAR (desire to learn the Truth) came FIRST, and THEN the salvation. The man in Psa. 14:1, BEFORE he became "the fool" CHOSE to reject the FEAR of God, so that he might "have his pleasure in unrighteousness, instead." The damnation of every damned person is based on the fact that he LOVED the darkness (suppressed the FEAR of God) so that he could follow his evil deeds --- John 3:19.
And "great is God's mercy toward that person;" He looks to that person, one day He will call that person, and He will Justify that person, that person will be born from above and come to discern the Truth of God according to the Scriptures, and one day that person will be raptured into the presence of the Lord, and shall evermore be with the Lord, and be finally parted from all his sin.
So, this is how salvation is the SAME in every dispensation. But it is certainly also DIFFERENT, today than it was then; as the Scripture plainly states:
"And THE TIMES OF THIS IGNORANCE God overlooked; but NOW commandeth all men every where to repent" --- Acts 17:30. ("Repent" is the Grk. metanoia, which is the same thought as metamorphe, from which we get "metamorphosis," as the caterpillar does. It is an action by God
alone, NOT by the caterpillar; the caterpillar is "in the passive
voice." The difference is that metanoia refers to the mind, whereas metamorphe refers to the body. In this passage, God is commanding the "minds" of men to be changed from their former state of ignorance. Their part is to fear God and HEAR His Scriptures: He does the rest).
In the OT times ignorance of the essential Bible doctrines we have been given today were tolerated by God. This is no longer true, today: there are certain Bible doctrines that man is required to know, in order to be saved. As we have seen, the Ninevites were saved in complete ignorance, and remained thus even afterward. Even the Israelites, those to whom God committed the Scriptures, who were saved, knew little to nothing of God's salvation.
But Salvation today requires some BIBLE DOCTRINAL knowledge. Eg:
1. "The Gospel by which ye are saved: that (1) Christ died for our sins (according to the Scriptures); and (2) that He rose again the third day (according to the Scriptures). --- 1 Cor. 15:2-4
To be saved, a person must know that Christ died for his sins. To be saved, a person must know that Christ rose from the dead.
2. "If ye believe not that EGO EIMI (I AM the God of Exodus 3:14), ye shall die in your sins." --- John 8:24
To be saved, a person must know that Christ is God.
Neither saved OT Gentiles nor saved OT Jews knew these things.
Christ died to save you.