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Answering Questions

Part 3: Answering the Difficult Questions

from Studies in the Atonement by Dr. Robert A. Morey

aving completed our presentation of the arguments that demonstrate that Old Testament Salvation is essentially the same as New Testament salvation, we now turn to answering some common arguments against our position.

Objection 1: The Holy Spirit did not savingly indwell people in the Old Testament.Back to top.

Until Pentecost, it is argued, the Holy Spirit only came “upon” believers. John said that the Holy Spirit had not be given before Pentecost in John 7:39. If this is true, how could salvation in the Old Testament be the same as in the New?

1. It is not true that the Holy Spirit is said to only come “upon” Old Testament believers.

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If you turn to Gen. 41:38 you find that the Holy Spirit was “in” Joseph. If you compare Num. 27:18 with Deut. 34:9 you will find that the Holy Spirit came “upon” Joshua because the Holy Spirit was “in” him beforehand. Daniel was a man in whom the Holy Spirit indwelt (Dan. 4:8, 9, 18; 15:11, 14; 6:3). The Apostle Peter states plainly in I Pet. 1: 11 that the Spirit of Christ was “in” the Old Testament prophets. The Apostle Paul in II Cor. 4:13 clearly quotes Psa. 116: 10 as proving that David along with New Testament believers possessed the Holy Spirit. John the Baptist had the filling of the Holy Spirit from a child (Lk. 1: 15). Jesus taught that Old Testament believers experienced regeneration by the Holy Spirit for not only does he invite Nicodemus to receive the new birth (John 3:3, 5) but he also tells him that it is Old Testament teaching John 3: 10). In John 14:17 Jesus said that the Holy Spirit already indwelt this disciples. The King James Version reads “shall be in you” but the better Greek reading shows “is in you.” J.C. Ryle comments, “He is actually in you now, and shall always be in you, and never leave you.” In John 20:22, Jesus communicated the Holy Spirit to His disciples. In addition to the above plain statements of Scripture, Rom. 8:9‑11 and I Cor. 2:10‑16 make the indwelling of the Holy Spirit essential to salvation. No one could be saved without the indwelling of the Spirit.

2. It is not true that Pentecost was the first occasion of the indwelling of the Spirit or that salvation for the disciples began at Pentecost. We must understand the meaning of Pentecost as follows:

A. The words of Jesus -- (Lk. 24:46‑49; Acts 1:8)

Jesus taught that Pentecost would mean power for the preaching of the Gospel. Not once is salvation or the indwelling of the Holy Spirit mentioned in connection with Pentecost. The disciples were already saved (Lk. 10:20; John. 15:13, 4, 5; 17:14, etc.)

B. The account given in Acts -‑ (Acts 2:1‑4)

There is not one word about salvation or the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The key phrase of Pentecost is found in verse 4: “filled with the Holy Spirit.” The phrase means they were filled with the power of the Holy Spirit and does not mean the indwelling or sealing of the Holy Spirit for salvation. Examine the following passages:

1. The same group of disciples were again “filled with the Holy Spirit” in Acts 4:31.

2. Stephen was a man “filled with the Holy Spirit” and that meant he was filled with spiritual power (Acts 6:5 of 6:8, 7:55, 56).

3. Peter was “filled with the Holy Spirit” for his preaching (Acts 4:8). Throughout Acts there are numerous examples.

4. Paul commands us as Christians “to be filled with the (Holy) Spirit” (Eph. 5:18).

5. A Biblical theological approach would see a gradual unfolding of the concept of being Spirit‑filled in order to speak God’s word. Notice the connection between “filling” and “speaking” in Num. 11: 25; Lk. 1: 15; Matt. 3:16; Acts 51:8; 4:8 and Eph. 5:18, 19.

3. John did not in fact say that “the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified” because the word “given” is not in the Greek. Thus John was not referring to the normal saving operations of the Spirit in bringing sinners to salvation. But rather, he was referring to the unique and special outpouring of the Spirit of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit was poured out abundantly by Christ as His reward from the Father for His obedience in life and death (Acts 2:32, 33). It is better to read John 7:39,

“The Holy Spirit had not yet been poured out.”

Objection 2: The Old Testament saints were under the Old Covenant while we are under the New Covenant. It only stands to reason that they could not have partaken of New Covenant blessings before the New Covenant was instituted.Back to top.

1. The New Covenant was revealed in the Old Testament, thus it is not uniquely a New Testament Truth (see Jer. 31:31‑34; Ezk. 11:19‑21; 36:26, 27).

2. The Old Testament believer, by virtue of the eternity of the cross, received New Covenant blessings from God because to God these blessings were secured for them in Christ.

A. Did not the believer in the Old Testament experience regeneration (see John 3:3, 10; Deut. 10: 16 cf. Col. 2:11; Deut. 30:6; Jer. 4:4; Ezk. 18:31, etc.)?

B. Did not God write His Law on their hearts (see Psa. 3 7:3 1; 40:8; Isa. 57:7)?

C. Did they not receive forgiveness of their sins (see Psa. 32: 1, 2, 103:1‑14, 10‑12, 130A Isa. 1:18, 38:17; Micah 7:19, 8:18; etc.)?

Scofield taught that the sins of Old Testament believers were not really forgiven but that they were only “covered” until Christ died (see Scofield’s N. 1 P. 110 and N. I p. 649).

But if “covered” does not mean unconditional and full forgiveness, then we are not yet forgiven because James 5:20 says,

you may be sure that whoever brings a sinner back from his wrong path will save his soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.

D. Did not God preserve His saints in Old Testament times (Psa. 37:23‑28)?

E.  Were not the Old Testament saints “in Christ” as we are told that the Spirit of Christ was “in them” and that they received life from Christ (I Pet. 1: 11; 1 Cor. 10:4)?

Was it not by virtue of their union with Christ that they were saved? They were “in Christ” thousands of years before He came just as truly as we were “in Him” thousands of years after He died, even from all eternity.

In summary, Old Testament saints possessed New Covenant blessings by virtue of their union with their Covenant Head, the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no Biblical warrant for the teaching that Old Testament saints were saved by works and that they did not possess the same essential salvation as we do today. They were saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

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