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Chapter 9 - Salvation in Israel
Most Christians want to have assurance that they are going to heaven when they die and not to eternal punishment in hell. This state is often called ‘being saved’. In considering how one becomes ‘saved’, it is possible to become confused because of the two ways this can be achieved.
Abraham is described as ‘having righteousness imputed to him’ because of his faith. In chapter eleven of Hebrews a list of Old Testament characters is given, each cited for his faith. However, at the end of the list we are told that they did not receive the promise.
And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect. - Hebrews 11:39-40
These saints of the Old Testament would have to wait until they were raised from the dead to receive their eternal life (the promise).
And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever. - Daniel 12:1-3
Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. - Revelation 20:6
The Jews of the time of Jesus were familiar with the objective of gaining eternal life. Although many (such as the Sadducees) did not believe in a resurrection.
And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. - Matthew 19:16-17
The law was given to Israel for several reasons. Some, like the Pharisees, mistakenly thought the law was the means for them to earn eternal life. Their thinking they had kept the commandments was refuted by Jesus.
For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. - Matthew 5:20-22
A purpose of the law was to establish an understanding of what God desired. It was the motive of faith (trusting in the promises of God) that should lead a Jew to seek to keep the law. It was this faith that was to be the basis of gaining eternal life upon his resurrection from the dead.
Another purpose of the law was to show us that it could not be kept. This realization would create the knowledge that God’s help was needed.
For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. - Romans 7:14-15
The advent of the kingdom that John the Baptist and Jesus announced would bring in an alteration to the hope for eternal life. Baptism and repentance would bring the forgiveness of sins not so much to secure eternal life but to prepare the heart for faith in Jesus that would secure eternal life before death.
Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. - Galatians 3:24
The kingdom of God offered by Jesus would bring in a change in how Israel could obtain eternal life (salvation). Jesus told Nicodemus that to enter the kingdom, one had to be born of the Spirit.
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. - John 3:3
Jesus taught that this faith would secure immediately secure eternal life.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. - John 5:24
Jesus declared that it was through his blood that the new covenant (testament), promised by the prophet Jeremiah, would be established with Israel as the basis for the kingdom.
Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you. - Luke 22:20
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