David Murray (professor of Old Testament and practical theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan) notes an important point that is often overlooked when preaching from the Old Testament.
I’d also like to encourage preachers and teachers to be clear and consistent on the question: “How were Old Testament believers saved?” The most common options seem to be:
1. They were saved by obeying the law.
2. They were saved by offering sacrifices.
3. They were saved by a general faith in God.
4. They were saved by faith in the Messiah.
Unless we consistently answer #4, we end up portraying heaven as not only populated by lovers of Christ, but also by legalists, ritualists, and mere theists who never knew Christ until they got there. Turning back again in order to go forwards, may I recommend Calvin’s Institutes Book 2 (chapters 9-11) to help remove some of the blur that often surrounds this question.
This is a crucial point that was not made clear to me during my own church upbringing that brought many confusing questions in my own mind. Failing to address this point can cause the idea that OT Jews had “another way” to the Father other than through the Messiah – something Jesus explicitly eliminates as a possibility as recorded in John 14:6. Paul also addressed this as a false concept in Galatians 2:15-21. It is not trivial to note that these are Jews who eliminate the possibility that Jews past or present have a separate pathway to God other than through the narrow gate of Christ.
The Jews of today and of yesterday enter through the same door available to Gentiles: the Anointed One (Greek: Christ / Hebrew: Messiah) of God.