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Question #63

How was a Jew saved between Abraham and Moses?

How was a Jew or Hebrew saved during the time period between Abraham and Moses? As I understand that period was about 450 years. Was a Jew saved during that time period just by being born a Jew?

The Answer:

Biblical history is generally divided into three sections – Patriarchal (creation to Moses), Mosaic (Moses to Christ), and Christian (Christ and the establishment of the church to Christ’s second coming). In each of these periods God dealt with man differently. In the Patriarchal Age God spoke to the patriarchs; in the Mosaic Age he gave the Mosaic Law to Israel and continued to deal with the Gentile patriarchs outside of the Mosaic Law; in the Christian Age he speaks to us through his Son and the Spirit-given record of his Son in Scripture. Heb. 1:1-2.

Scripture records some of God’s communication with the Patriarchs, but not all. Hebrews 11 establishes the fact that God spoke to men during the Patriarchal Age when it informs us that the Patriarchs obeyed based upon faith. Since faith comes by hearing the word of God (Romans 10:17), their faith had to be based upon some communication from God. For example, God must have commanded the type of sacrifice that Abel offered by faith. Cain’s failure to do so was disobedience to that command. Heb. 11:4.

In Romans 2 Paul discusses that state of the Gentiles who lived outside the Mosaic Law. “For there is no respect of persons with God. 12 For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; 13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. 14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: 15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) 16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.” Romans 2:11-16.

No person will be saved based upon birth or because one is a Jew. In fact, the term “Jew” comes from Judean, or belonging to Judah. The underlying Hebrew word is first used in 2 Kings 16:6 as a national term, meaning citizens of Judah. It came into general use in the period of Jeremiah just before the exile (late 6th century B.C.; see, e.g., Jeremiah 32:12). Thus, no one was “born a Jew” in the period between Abraham and Moses. This is not so say, however, that the descendants of Abraham were not born into God’s covenant with Abraham based upon God’s promises to Abraham. After God created his covenant and have his law to Israel, one also became a member of that convenant by physical birth.

However, neither membership among the descendants of Abraham nor membership under the Mosaic covenant guaranteed salvation. From Adam to Abraham to Moses, compliance with God’s applicable will was necessary to salvation. That salvation, as all salvation, depended upon and awaited the shedding of the blood of Christ. “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.” Heb. 10:4. Upon the death of Christ, the price of redemption had been paid for all who had died in obedient faithfulness to God during the Patriarchal and Mosaic Ages or who die in faithful obedience to God’s will during the Christian Age. As it is sometime said, “The blood of Calvary flowed back as well as forward.” Paul described it as forgiveness of “sins that are past.” “23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; 26 To declare, I say,, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” Romans 3:23-26.

God's Plan of Salvation

You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)

You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)

You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)

You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)

Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)