The following sermon transcript does not match the video version of the sermon—it matches only the audio version. Here's a brief explanation why.
John MacArthur routinely preaches a sermon more than once on the same date, during different worship services at Grace Community Church. Normally, for a given sermon title, our website features the audio and video that were recorded during the same worship service. Very occasionally, though, we will post the audio from one service and the video from another. Such was the case for the sermon titled "Losing Your Life to Save it," the transcript of which follows below. The transcript is of the audio version.
For this morning, I am very happy to say to you that we’re going to begin our series on finding Christ in the Old Testament. That’s going to happen right now. However, you’re going to have to be patient with me because I’m hitting the reset button on my entire life. So I have for months been reading and absorbing and all of this, even when I went back in my days of seminary, I took a minor in college, I took a minor in Greek, that’s the language of the-- original language of the New Testament. I made a much greater emphasis in seminary on Greek and I’ve loved working in the New Testament. Now it’s a shift for me into the Old. I’m not unfamiliar with it, but I have absorbed so much in the last number of months. Somebody reminded me this morning that it was nine weeks ago that I said I was going to do that and it’s taken me nine weeks to get to this point and that’s because I can do anything I want, basically. I just show up and nobody tells me what to do. So there were other things on my heart like the ministry that we talked about with regard to Romans 8 and the Holy Spirit. But now, we are at a point to begin to find the Lord Jesus in the Old Testament. And I want to lay some groundwork for that and help you understand why it is important and how it fits into the plan of the Word of God.
There is no question in my mind but that the great dominating theme of all preaching needs to be Jesus Christ. My ministry hero, the Apostle Paul, said, “I’m determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” He said, “We preach Christ crucified.” And that was not only his pattern but the pattern of the Apostles. They preached Christ, they preached the suffering of Christ and the glories to follow, as Peter put it. And that should be the theme of every preacher. Six or seven years after Paul said to the Corinthians that he was determined to know nothing except Christ and Him crucified, six or seven years later, he writes the letter to the Philippians and in that letter he says he actually rejoices when Christ is preached, even if it’s preached by people who resent him, who are trying to harm him, who are trying to wound him, who are trying to discredit him, trying to condemn him at the same time, he said, “Christ is being preached and in that I rejoice and will rejoice.”
There is no greater theme in preaching or teaching. There is no greater person. There is no one who ascends to the level of Jesus Christ. There is no subject that can match Him. And He is the theme of all Scripture, both Old and New Testament.
If we are to preach Christ and are to know Christ in all the fullness of the glory of His majesty, then we have to pursue all that is revealed about Him. Paul, in that same letter to the Philippians, in chapter 3 verse 10, gave a passion kind of a wish from the bottom of his heart when he said, “That I may know Him…that I may know Him.” In order to preach Him fully, you must know Him fully. When he wrote to the Colossians he said, “In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” He said, “All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Him. He is all in all. He is everything.” He also said to the Ephesians that He is the preeminent one. He is the one who rules over the whole created universe. He is the premiere person and He has been given, who is the premiere one, as head over the church. Our desire should be like His, the goal of our lives, to come to know Him in all His glory, all His majesty, all His beauty, all His fullness. Pursuing Christ is what Christians do. It is what preachers must do so that believers can follow.
The Apostle Paul pursued the Lord Jesus Christ. To know Him and to know Him was to love Him. And to know Him and love Him was to obey Him and proclaim Him. In fact, if there was anybody who approximated the command of the Great Commandment, “To love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength,” it must have been the Apostle Paul. He loved the Lord with all his heart, soul, mind and strength, as much as was possible. His Lord was the object of His affection. His Lord was the object of His attention. His Lord was the subject of his instruction and his proclamation.
Paul also knew, because he said that, that knowing Christ was the key to his sanctification. Second Corinthians 3:18, “That when he gazed on the glory of the Lord, he was changed from one level of glory to the next, being conformed to the image of Christ by the work of the Holy Spirit.”
So Paul had a passion to know Christ, to know Him was to love Him, to love Him was to become like Him. Paul’s passion for knowing the Lord was a passion that should characterize every preacher and every teacher. We ought to be caught up with the person of Jesus Christ, relentlessly so. But I’m afraid, as you sort of survey the landscape, there are many preachers who speak only lightly of Jesus Christ. They believe in Him. They acknowledge Him for who He is and His work for what it is. But it is a kind of a superficial understanding of Christ that they seem to be content with. And that lack of pursuing the full rich treasures that are contained in the true and complete knowledge of Jesus Christ will inevitably show up in sanctification. The heart that does not hunger to know Him will be the heart that struggles to obey Him. Paul wanted to know Him and with knowing Him came loving Him, and with loving Him came obeying Him and proclaiming Him.
It seems to me that many are content to talk about things that are important things that we need to know. But they are secondary matters. They call people to better spiritual devotion. They call people to more faithfulness to the Lord, to greater obedience, to greater holiness, but without the vision that is essential to that sanctification which is the vision of Christ in all His fullness and all His glory. Messages on better Christian living are important. Messages on having more faith are strategic. Messages on being less anxious and more joyful, more thankful, we must hear those messages. We do need more discipline.
But all those injunctions and all those good intentions and instructions are weak when they are disconnected from the critical motive behind their pursuit which is the knowledge of the glories of Christ that generates love for Him which then becomes the driving force in obedience. Preachers would do well to follow the Apostle Paul and preach Christ, and preach Christ, and preach Christ. Limited understanding of the glories of Christ can only lead to limited sanctification. Limited understanding of Christ leads to limited love and no clever stimulants, no clever messages, no clever illustrations, no clever motivations can overcome a limited knowledge of Christ, a limited vision of His majestic glory. To know Christ only slightly is to be sanctified only slightly.
So we have been privileged and blessed over many years now to have seen the glory of Christ revealed in the New Testament. We have gone through the whole New Testament and in so doing, we have seen the glory of Christ in three categories. We have seen His glory historically…historically. The gospels give us the history of His life; Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. And we have labored over the details of those four gospels again and again and again that we might know Christ historically, the incarnate Christ.
And then as we studied the book of Acts, through the epistles we have come to know Him theologically. We know the meaning of His life and His death and His resurrection and His ascension. We understand the theological significance of that life.
And then we have studied numerous times the book of Revelation so we know Him eschatologically, we know Him in His future glory. So we know Him in His incarnation. We know the theology of Christ and we know the future eschatological truth about Him. We know Christ historically. We know Him theologically. And we know Him eschatologically from the New Testament.
But there’s one more essential category in which we must fully know Him to have a complete knowledge. We must know Him prophetically…we must know Him prophetically. And for that, we must go to the Old Testament. As we go to the Old Testament, we’re going to see Christ there in fresh ways--fresh revelations of His majestic glory. We will, as the Lord gives us opportunity if we all survive very long, know Christ historically, theologically, eschatologically and even prophetically, we’ll have the full picture. And for that full picture, we must go to the Old Testament. The Bible is one book with two sections…one book with one great theme, the Lord Jesus Christ.
It isn’t that Jesus is in every verse, or every paragraph, or every chapter, or even every book. You can’t force Him there. We’re not going to put a Christological grid over everything. But He is the theme of the whole of Scripture, Old and New. And in the Old Testament, we will know Him prophetically and there will be riches and revelations of His beauty and glory that we wouldn’t know unless we saw them through the inspired writings of the Old Testament. This knowledge of Christ in all these categories is the passion of my own heart and should be the passion of yours. To know Him fully in order to love Him utterly and obey Him completely and proclaim Him faithfully.
Now somebody might say, “Well isn’t this backward? Aren’t you doing this in reverse?” Well the answer is no and I’ll give you a simple illustration. My grandkids like to play a game called “Where’s Waldo,” do you know that game, Where’s Waldo? Waldo’s this goofy-looking skinny guy, funny clothes in a kind of a peppermint cap and you have to find Waldo in this mass of people and things in a picture. You have to find him there.
If you don’t know what he looks like, you will never find him. If you have a sort of passing idea of what he looks like, you may find him but it’s not likely. But if you know exactly what he looks like and you have studied him carefully enough, if you look long enough, you will find him. So we’re going to use the “Where’s Waldo” principle on the Old Testament, since we know exactly what Jesus Christ looks like, we are able to find Him in the Old Testament and that’s what we’re going to do.
Many professing Christians read the Old Testament texts and can’t see Christ, can’t find Him, don’t see Him. Many preachers, strangely, see Christians all over the Old Testament and they aren’t there. You will hear many preachers who will take an Old Testament text and from an Old Testament narrative text teach on Christian living. There are spiritual principles in the Old Testament in didactic passages—in the Psalms and Proverbs and the wisdom literature, and the instruction of God in Revelation through the prophets and through Moses and the other writers, of course. But there are no Christians in the Old Testament. And to take an Old Testament passage and spiritualize it and use it as a pretext to extract out or really push in principles of Christian living, misses the point.
I’m only making a contrast. There are many preachers who see Christians in the Old Testament when they’re not there, and sadly, don’t see Christ when He is there. So we’re not going to look at the Old Testament looking for Christians and how they ought to live. We’re going to rather establish the principle…this is a very important principle, the principle of authorial intent—no writer in the Old Testament was trying, was intending by his writing to give principles for us today directly correspondent to Christian living. Spiritual principles? Yes. Principles of worship and obedience and holiness and all of that. But to take narrative passages and eliminate the authorial intent, the intent of the author, and use them as a pretext for weak words on Christian living is not legitimate. We’re going to look at the Old Testament, see what the author meant precisely and exactly to the people to whom he wrote and we’re going to see Christ and you’re going to see Him in very fresh ways.
You will miss the portraits of Christ in the Old Testament, the glimpses of His glory there, if you don’t know Him well enough to recognize Him when He appears. I’m going to help you with that. Not all of you have been through the whole picture that is revealed in the New Testament, or even most of it, but we’re going to work together to make the revelations of Christ in the Old Testament very clear.
Now let me tell you something else. We do not intend to find out only how much the Old Testament saints knew about Christ. The Old Testament saints knew something about Messiah, something about Christ. But we’re not looking for how much the Old Testament saints knew about Christ. We’re looking to find how much we can increase our knowledge of Him by studying the Old Testament. Obviously what they knew was limited. Peter says in 1 Peter 1:10 that the prophets wrote concerning the coming of Christ and looked at what they wrote to figure out who they were talking about and when it was going to happen. They had limited knowledge. At the end of Hebrews 11, you have all those heroes of faith and it says, “But they never saw the fulfillment of the promise.” So there is a richer, fuller understanding of what the Old Testament says about Christ that can only be known by those who know the New Testament because the picture is complete.
So, we’re going into the Old Testament not to find out about how much they knew, but to find how much we can increase our knowledge of Him by looking at that revelation. In 2 Corinthians 3:14, the Apostle Paul said there’s a veil over the people who studied the Old Testament which veil is removed in Christ. Understand that? Which veil is removed in Christ.
Now this is the most wondrous vision of Christ. I’m always interested in these people who come along and say they go to heaven and see Jesus or have an appearance and vision of Jesus as if in some way that’s the supreme spiritual experience. Listen to 1 Peter 1, you can turn to it if you want, I’ll be there for a minute. As I said, you need to be a little bit patient in this process cause we’re going to cover some very foundational things in the next few weeks before we actually get to the Old Testament. But in 1 Peter, if you were…I’m sorry, did I say 1 Peter? I meant 2 Peter. If you were to say to Peter, “Peter, you have a complete knowledge of Christ. You have a wonderful knowledge of Christ. You were with Him three years 24/7 day after day after day you watched His life, you heard His words, you saw His miracles.” He saw Christ, the Son of God in human flesh.
And then Peter even had something more wonderful happen, in a sense, he and James and John went to the Mount of Transfiguration, the Lord pulls aside the veil of His flesh and the Shekinah comes blazing through and they see that Jesus is not only Son of Man, but He’s the Son of God. They have a vision of his eternal glory and Moses and Elijah appear there and they fall over like dead people. And it’s a staggering revelation. Peter, you have this great vision of Christ. You saw Him in His humanity. You saw Him in His deity.
Peter says, “That’s right,” 2 Peter 1:16. When we talk about Him, we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. This isn’t second-hand information. When we proclaimed to you concerning the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. “For when…and here’s he referring to that transfiguration…when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the majestic glory—name for God—this is My beloved Son with whom I am well pleased, and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.”
You might say well that’s the supreme vision. If we could just have a vision like that…wouldn’t that be the real highpoint of seeing who He is, saw Him in His humanity, saw Him in His deity?
No, verse 19, Peter says, “We have a more sure word of prophecy,” is the way it is in the original. “We have a more sure word.” More sure than what? More sure than being an eyewitness of His humanity. More sure than being an eyewitness of His deity. More sure than being an eyewitness of His humiliation. More sure than being an eyewitness of His exaltation, more sure of prophecy being more sure. Meaning…what does he mean by that? Verse 20 explains it, “Prophecy of Scripture and no prophecy of Scripture is from any one’s origination, or interpretation, for no prophecy of Scripture was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”
What is more sure than three years with the Lord Jesus and being on the Mount of Transfiguration? Scripture. If you want the full vision of Christ, you must understand the Scripture. The Bible is the pure light that reveals Christ. You see His glory most clearly on the pages of Holy Scripture. Scripture is where you get the superior vision and sight of Christ. And it really was only when the disciples put together what they knew about Christ with the Old Testament that they understood. When those disciples of our Lord Jesus fully understood that He was the one revealed in the Old Testament, they had reached their spiritual maturity.
On the other hand, the Pharisees and scribes, for example, were Jews who studied the Old Testament constantly. They studied it rigorously. They studied it intensely. They studied it down to the minutia. They counted letters. They interpreted words. They interpreted letters. They saw between the letters, they drew conclusions from the white spaces. They were fastidious students of Scripture and they never understood it…never. In fact, in Matthew 22:29, Jesus gives the most stinging rebuke of their approach to the Bible when He says, “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scripture.” You couldn’t say anything worse to a group of Bible students, Old Testament students, than to say you don’t understand it.
Why didn’t they understand it? Because they rejected Christ. And if you reject Christ, it makes no sense. Now we’re like the disciples, we not only acknowledge Christ, we have seen Him historically, we have seen Him theologically thanks to the writing of the Apostles in the epistles, and we even have an eschatological view of Him and now we’re going to embark on a spiritual journey into the Old Testament to see Christ everywhere we can find Him. The first actual text we’re going to deal with is Isaiah 53 and we’ll do that in a few weeks, around the time of Shepherds Conference, after we cover some initial groundwork.
Now, before we look at Isaiah 53 and then go from there, I want you to understand that this approach is not my own invention. Not at all. There have been wonderful books written through the centuries on Christ in the Old Testament. You can look it up on line some time and you’ll find all kinds of things that are written about it. Not all equally helpful. But Christians have always acknowledged that Christ fills the Old Testament. And there’s a reason for that and that is because of the testimony of the New Testament, the testimony of the New Testament.
The right way to go, and isn’t it wonderful in the providence of God that He allowed us to start where we should have started in the New Testament so we fully understand Christ and now He’s given us time to go back and find Him in the Old to complete our understanding. I’m really thankful for that. I’m thankful for the health and strength to keep going as long as the Lord would have us do that and make the picture of Christ complete.
But the New Testament itself declares that Christ is the theme of the Old Testament. That’s what the New Testament says. And so I’m going to give you four points in this little bit of a foundational series of talks that I want to give you, not really sermons, more of a teaching time but I’m going to give you four points and I’ll string them out. This morning I’ll give you part of one and then next week I’ll give you the next part of that one and another one. So we’ll have two in two weeks and then we can maybe get the rest the next week, we’ll see.
But there are four perspectives that you need to have as you look from the perspective of the New Testament, here we are looking from the perspective of the New Testament back to the Old Testament, number one, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself declared that the Old Testament revealed Him. Okay? If you need justification for this, then there it is. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself declared that the Old Testament revealed Him. And I’m going to show you two passages this morning and then another major one next week to support that point. Let’s go, first of all, to the gospel of John and chapter 5...the gospel of John in chapter 5. And, of course, Jesus here is dealing with the Jews, the leaders who are angry at Him because He violates the Sabbath with His healing.
And then He goes to claiming that He is equal to God and the conflict escalates and elevates and they’re infuriated with Him. And then He talks about you can’t honor the Father without honoring the Son. And if you honor the Son, you’re honoring the Father and again makes Himself equal with God. And they’re outraged; they will not accept that He is the Messiah. And the conversation comes down to verse 39. In verses 37 and 38 he says, “You…You think you hear God, but you don’t. You’re reading the Scripture and in it God testifies of Me but you don’t believe in Me. You reject Me. The Father has testified of Me, but you have neither heard His voice—verse 37—seen His form, you don’t His Word abiding in you.” What a terrible indictment that is because that’s all they ever thought about. You don’t believe Him whom He sent. If you don’t believe in Me, you can’t understand Scripture. If you did understand Scripture, to turn that around, you would know that it was about Me and you would embrace Me. So it works both ways. You reject Me so you can’t understand. You won’t understand so you can’t accept Me.
You’re searching the Scripture, let’s pick it up in verse 39, “You’re searching the Scripture and what are you doing in searching it? You’re searching for eternal life.” It wasn’t just an exercise in history. They weren’t just looking to see the history of Israel. They knew it was a spiritual book. They knew it was a living book. They were looking for eternal life, like Nicodemus, “What do I do to have eternal life?” Or the rich young ruler, “What do I do to have eternal life?” That was the question on the minds of the leaders and the students of Scripture. How do you get eternal life out of this book?
Well, that search is a good indication that they knew they didn’t have—what?—eternal life. They’re still looking for it, searching for it, but they will not accept what it says. If they accepted what it actually says, they would embrace Christ. But they don’t. So they’re searching but they never find it. They’re unwilling…he says, you’re unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life, the life is there, the Old Testament presents Me, you read the Old Testament, you don’t see Me, you reject Me and you then cut yourself off from the very thing you seek.
Now go down to verse 45. There is so much prophecy regarding Jesus Christ in the Scripture, so much that those leaders of Israel should have known this is their Messiah. Verse 45, “Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father.” Stop there for a minute.
When you end up at the Great White Throne Judgment, when you stand before God and He condemns you to eternal hell, I will not be your prosecuting witness…I will not be…I will not be the one whose testimony against you condemns you. Look at verse 45, the one who accuses you is Moses. Moses will be your accuser when you stand before the judgment of God, the very one in whom you set your hope is the one who will be the prosecuting witness who will call for your eternal judgment. Moses!
They went to hell because they didn’t believe the Old Testament. They didn’t believe the message of the Old Testament with regard to eternal life. They didn’t believe the true interpretation of the Old Testament. They studied it all their lives. Jesus, the one they knew and rejected, He will not be the prosecuting witness to send them to hell, Moses will. There is plenty of Revelation in the Old Testament to make every reader of the Old Testament accountable to God for salvation and condemnation.
Verse 46, “If you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. But if you don’t believe His writings, how you going to believe My words?” It’s a package deal. Reject Christ, you’ll never be able to understand the Old Testament. Understand the Old Testament rightly, and you will know Christ is the one of whom it speaks. What this tells you is that the revelation of the Messiah, Savior and salvation in the Pentateuch of Moses as well as the rest of the Old Testament is clear enough to make sinners responsible.
Now with that as a foundational text, I want you to turn to Luke 16…Luke 16. This is the second one we’re going to deal with, just briefly. Luke 16 has the story about the rich man and Lazarus. Jesus creates this story. There’s a very, very rich man, he’s introduced in verse 19. He’s dressed habitually in very fancy clothes, purple, fine linen, lives in splendor every day and juxtaposed against that kind of life is this sad man named Lazarus, a poor man who is out at the gate of this man’s great estate and he’s covered with sores and all he wants to do is get some crumbs that fall off the garbage bucket when they carry it out of the house. And he’s so bad that dogs who are not domesticated animals in ancient times, but ugly wild things come and lick his sores. The poor man dies and he ends up in the presence of Abraham. He ends up in the story that Jesus makes in heaven, presence of God and Abraham. And then the rich man dies and he ends up in hell. And in this story that Jesus invents to make His point, the rich man looks up and sees the condition of this poor man, condition of comfort and blessing, and he sees Abraham and he says, in the story, “Abraham, can you come and give me some relief cause I’m in agony in this flame in hell?” And Abraham says, “O, child, remember during your life you received your good things and Lazarus bad things, now he’s comforted and you’re in agony.” And there’s a great chasm and it can’t be crossed. And then the rich man thinks to himself. “Well, my brothers, I don’t want my brothers to come here.”
So in the story that Jesus invents, he says, “I beg you, Father Abraham, send Lazarus back to my father’s house, I have five brothers, in order that he may warn them that they will not also come to this place of torment.”
Abraham said this, here’s the key, “They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them.” Again, Moses and the Prophets is simply a euphemism for the Old Testament. Sometimes it’s Moses, sometimes it’s Moses and the Prophets. Sometimes it’s Moses and the Prophets and the writings, or Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms because Psalms were the first in the list of the writings. Three sections of the Old Testament. But cryptically you can speak of it as the writing of Moses or the Moses and the Prophets, or Moses, the Prophets, and the holy writings, they have the Old Testament. Let them listen to that.
“Oh no, Father Abraham. If someone goes to them from the dead, they’ll repent.” But he said to them, “If they don’t listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.” And by the way, someone did and they weren’t persuaded. One of those someones was Lazarus, not the same. And the other, of course, Jesus Himself.
They have enough in the Old Testament, Moses and the Prophets, to know the truth that saves from hell. Really? The Old Testament has that?
Yeah, the Old Testament doesn’t espouse a works/righteousness system which they had imposed upon the Old Testament. What could they know from the Old Testament? They would know from the Old Testament that God is absolutely holy, that God cannot look upon evil, cannot tolerate sin. They would know that God is the Creator and the Judge, and the Law Giver, that God is the one who cursed the human race, God is the one who designed as a punishment for sin death. In the fifth chapter of Genesis, the first genealogy in all the Bible, there’s a common theme through that genealogy and it’s this, “And he died, and he died, and he died, and he died, and he died, and he died,” and that is to point to the fact that the curse brought about death on absolutely everyone. There’s one exception and that was Enoch who walked with God, for he was not and God took him—everybody else died because the soul that sins, it shall die.
That’s Ezekiel 18. They would know that man has fallen, man is sinful, man is headed for judgment and death. And they would know how severe it is from Genesis 6 and 7, God drowned the whole world except for eight souls. They would know that God is holy, holy, holy from Isaiah 6. That I am holy so be you holy from Leviticus, over and over and over again. They would know from the Old Testament that men must repent. They would know that Jonah went to Nineveh and what did God ask Nineveh to do? Tell the city to do what? To repent. They would see repentance. In 2 Chronicles 7:14, “If My people called by My name shall humble themselves and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways.” They would hear repentance in Psalm 81, they would hear of repentance in Joel 2. They would hear of it in Ezekiel 18:21 to 23. They would know they needed to repent of their sinful condition. They needed to come to God in penitence. They would then also know that God would provide saving grace. Exodus 22:27, “I am gracious.” Exodus 33:19, “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious.”
God is gracious and His lovingkindness extends to generations. Or 2 Chronicles 30 verse 9, “The Lord your God is gracious.” Psalm 86:15 and 16, they would know there’s available grace for penitent sinners. That’s the true understanding. They would know also, fourthly, that God is a forgiving God. “Who is a pardoning God like You?” says Micah 7:18 and 19. From Psalm 103, “Pardons all our iniquities and removes our sin as far as the east is from the west.” They would know there is forgiveness with God and God is a God of grace to the penitent sinner and He’s the only one to go to because He’s the one that’s been offended, He’s the judge. From the Old Testament they would know that God is willing to give a new heart, take away a stony heart, Jeremiah 31. Ezekiel 36, “Place a heart of flesh, put His Spirit within them.” That’[s regeneration.
They would know that salvation then comes to a penitent sinner who goes to a gracious God, willing to forgive and asks in faith, the just shall live, Habakkuk 2:4, by his faith…by his faith. In fact, the story of the heroes of the Old Testament is all about faith, isn’t it? And they’re all kind of captured in the microcosm of the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, what you call the faith chapter, by faith, by faith, by faith, by faith, by faith these heroes all the way through Old Testament history where received by God and saved by God because of faith, not works. They would know from the Old Testament that salvation, justification being declared right with God is possible because God grants an alien righteousness.
In other words, it can’t be earned. It must be a gift. Psalm 103, “The loving kindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting.” It is the loving kindness of the Lord by which He grants His righteousness to children’s children.
For example, Abraham is the great model of faith. Abraham believed God, Genesis 15:6, and it was accounted to him as righteousness. That’s imputation. That’s the righteousness of God imputed to Abraham because he believed. All that’s in the Old Testament.
They would also have known that this forgiveness, reconciliation, justification, granting of righteousness by faith is made possible through a substitute, receiving punishment. How would they know that? Well they would know it very early in the history of the Old Testament because when Adam and Eve had fallen in sin, and were uncovered and naked, God came and what did God do? They tried to cover themselves with…what?...leaves, something of their own making. God comes and kills an animal and blood is shed for the first time since creation and it took the shedding of an innocent animal to cover the sins of Adam and Eve.
And now we’re on course for the developing sacrificial system. The next time it shows up, Cain and Abel. Abel offers a sacrifice, an animal on the altar symbolizing the need for the death of a substitute. Exodus 12, the Passover Lamb and every Passover after that and every single day the morning sacrifice, the evening sacrifice when it was instituted in the Mosaic economy, they all understand that there is going to be death because of sin, but God will provide a sacrifice. They see it in Genesis 22 when we find Abraham ready to stick a knife in the heart of his son, his son of the promise, Isaac. And all of a sudden there is a sacrifice provided and Isaac is spared and the animal is substituted and God is satisfied.
But none of those animals, no bulls, goats, or any other animals could finally be the satisfaction. They simply pointed to the fact that a satisfying sacrifice had to come. John the Baptist got it when he saw Jesus, he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world.” They should have read Isaiah 53, “He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities.” They would have seen the substitute if they had really understood it. They would have understood that they need to abandon all efforts of works to embrace Christ.
So, it’s no wonder that Abraham in the story, back in Luke 16, said they have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them. That’s enough.
“Oh no, Father, but if somebody comes from the dead, they’ll repent.” “If they didn’t listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.” Faith, saving faith, comes by hearing Scripture, Revelation concerning Christ.
Somebody might say, “Well now you’re going to go into the Old Testament, are we going to miss the gospel? Isn’t this a little bit…aren’t we going to kind of go backwards here?” Oh no. You’re going to see the gospel in ways you never seen it before. Prophetically knowing the full fulfillment of it already.
So, first point, our Lord Jesus Christ Himself declared that He is revealed in the Old Testament that the way of salvation is revealed in the Old Testament sufficiently…sufficiently that every man can be held accountable and prosecuted on the testimony of the Old Testament alone. Now those are two passages that support that point. There’s one more even important one and we’ll look at that one next time. Let’s bow in prayer.
We are so grateful, Lord, again for the clarity of the revelation concerning Your blessed Son. We’re grateful; O Holy Spirit to You for authoring the scriptures that the scriptures don’t come from any private origin, but holy men were moved by You, O blessed Holy Spirit, to write the very Word of God. We thank You, Lord, that this Word is a complete Word and gives us a complete revelation of Christ. We want to see Him in all His beauty and all His glory throughout all divine revelation. So as we embark upon this study, fill our hearts with anticipation, joy in believing—to borrow from Paul—and use this to clarify and increase and enrich our vision of Christ and therefore our love for Christ and therefore our obedience to Christ. And by Your work, O blessed Holy Spirit, would You conform us into His image as we see fresh revelations of His glory?
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