Dispensational Distortions – Old Testament Salvation

07Jan12

Tell Me the Old, Old Story

I was in my chocolate brown Datsun B210 listening to one of my favorite radio preachers and popular Pastor from Southern California. Much to my delight the discussion was the Tribulation and the Millennium. This would be the topic all week and this was Monday so I had all week to bask in the glory of my favorite subject being taught by my favorite local teacher.

Each day at 2pm that week I would make sure to be somewhere near a radio.

On the Tuesday of that week and very interesting topic was the center of the discussion; the soon to be rebuilt Temple in the city of Jerusalem. The primary issue centered around the need for “Dome on the Rock” Muslim shrine and mosque to be destroyed or removed in order for the Jewish Temple to be rebuilt in a specific spot.

I learned that day that sometime just before the Tribulation or soon after its commencement the Jew Temple would be rebuilt and the daily sacrifices would reinstituted with Levitical priest in full regalia. Don’t get me wrong I certainly knew most of this information and actually was constantly looking in the newspaper to see if any events that would hint to the Temple’s rebuilding could be found.

What new information I had never heard, or at least never truly grasped was the importance of the Temple being rebuilt. It was explained on the radio program that since the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD – and it shouldn’t have been – it needed to be rebuilt so that it could be destroyed again like Jesus said, so it could be rebuilt again for the Millennium!

Get all that?

Well, if that wasn’t enough to cause my head to spin what I heard next really through me for a loop. I was told the during the Tribulation that the Holy Spirit will have been removed at the Rapture and that in order for those who “saved” during the Tribulation to maintain fellowship with God the sacrificial system would be introduced and that God would find those sacrifices as “effectual” for salvation!

“What happens during the Tribulation,” the host explained, “is that things return to the Old Testament way of doing things. So, just like the Old Testament Saints, the Tribulational Saints will be saved by doing sacrifices in the Temple!”

 

OLD TESTAMENT SALVATION

The next result of the literal hermeneutic is closely tied to the previous. The unnatural and unwarranted separation of natural Israel and the Church leads to some distinctions in the timing of resurrection for the Old Testament Saints and in how the Old Testament Saint was “saved.” I will admit from the outset that this distinction is hotly debated amongst even Classical Dispensationalist and fervently rejected by modern and Progressive Dispensationalist.

The purpose of its inclusion here is to two-fold. The first is to point to some very troubling aspects of those who formulated the system and catapulted the system to its popular heights. The second is to show the slippery slope results of the dogma when carried out consistently based on its presuppositions.

The radical distinction between the Church and Israel based on the “Wooden Literal” hermeneutic creates a situation in which the Old Testament saint is relegated to a second class citizen in heaven, partakes in a different resurrection and even receives and maintains his salvation in a distinctly different way.

Pay close attention to the quotes below and note how radically different the OT Saint is treated by leading Dispensationalist as compared to how the NT Saint is treated. First, though, I do want to try my best to be fair and provide a firm and undeniable denial of the accusation presented here by a leading Dispensationalist.

“Dispensationalist vehemently deny that salvation in the Old Testament and salvation in the New Testament are in any way different…they are both of grace…” Charles Ryrie

With Ryrie’s denial and firm defense of Biblical salvation model in hand, let us consider some quotes from other leading and foundational Dispensationalist and how they would view both the issue of salvation and the separation of the Church and Israel in the Resurrection..

“The Church will be raised at the time of the rapture, and the Old Testament Saints, including Israel, at the beginning of the millennial reign of Christ.” – Jon Walvoord

“Some people are startled by the thought that the Old Testament saints will not be resurrected until the end of the Tribulation. But keep in mind that the rapture is a promise to the Church, and the Church only.” – David Reagan

“The technical term for the Church is those who are “in Christ.” 1 Thessalonians speaks of those who have died “in Christ” being resurrected at the time of His coming IN THE AIR. The context has ONLY the Church in mind.” – Gary Nystrom

Note that these leading Dispensational spokesmen all claim that only the Church will be resurrected during a pre-tribulation Rapture and that Old Testament Saints will have to wait until the seven years have ended to find their resurrection. Their spiritual bodies which will find abode in heaven (presently) will not be able to take part in the Supper of the Lamb as that is exclusively for those who are “in Christ” and is a physical activity (eating) that will not be a part of the heavenly experience for the Old Testament Saint.

Note the quote from Gary Nystrom above. In it we have a very major clue as to the reason behind this different resurrection is that the Old Testament Saint is found “in Christ” but rather must logically be found (or saved) by some other means. I have no desire to impart into his quote anything other than what it says, but something must be derived from the idea that the Old Testament Saint is not found “in Christ.”

But in response let us consider for a moment Jesus’ own words as he makes the spiritual demand for all people concerning how they must be saved. Jesus here also addresses the issue of a separate resurrection and who should be included in the general resurrection. Please pay very close attention as to who the audience is within the immediate context.

John 6:52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.

In speaking to the Jews Jesus makes a clear demand that they be in Christ (eat His flesh, drink His blood or they would not inherit eternal life. This is to be expected of the Jews of all time. Jesus here also states that everyone is raised at the same time. He who eats of the body of Christ will be raised (Jew or Gentile) on the Last Day. There is no day after the Last Day for anyone else to be resurrected, including the Jews.

There is not enough time here, but even a cursory look through the book of Hebrews demonstrates that even those from the time of Abraham were “in Christ” looking forward to that day. Note even this very clear short passage from the book of Hebrews.

Heb 11:  13All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. 14People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

In the midst of talking about the Old Testament saints the author of Hebrews declared that their faith was not in the animal sacrifices they were performing, but rather in the promise found in Jesus Christ. They saw Him from afar and had faith that God would provide the Messiah and their faith rested on that promise and “in” the One who would come. If there is any confusion as to the point the author of Hebrews is trying to make in this passage he concludes this section in the following manner:

Heb 11:  39These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. 40God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.

Note how even though they did not experience the actual coming and work of the Messiah while they were yet alive, the author declares that because of the work of Christ and their faith the Old Testament Saints were “together WITH US mad perfect!” Their salvation or perfection is the same as ours (the Church).

This then leads us to discover just how some leading and historical Dispensationalist view salvation for those Old Testament Saints. Given Mr. Ryrie’s statement of denial above and assurance that salvation is of grace for both the Old Testament and New Testament Saint let us consider the following quotes that quite obviously appear to depart from the firm statement of Mr. Ryrie:

“…grace begins with the death and resurrection of Christ…The point of testing is no longer legal obedience as the condition of salvation” CI Scofield

Scofield’s statement really cannot be any clearer here as he states that even the concept of grace is a New Testament idea, and that salvation for the Old Testament Saint was a result of their legal obedience, which would mean obedience to the Old testament law and not an obedience to what the law represented as the book of Hebrews explains.

“It can be said at once that His (Jesus) dying was not God’s own plan. It was conceived somewhere else and yielded to by God…the plan is given in the Old Testament code…the tabernacle or temple, under prescribed regulations…” LS Chafer

Mr. Chafer goes even further that Scofield here and more than implies that salvation was actually never intended to be by grace, through Christ, but rather was always meant to be through sacrifices, regulations and ordinances found in the law of the Old Testament. Chafer puts God in a difficult and unBiblical position when he argues that the concept of salvation by the finished work of Christ on the cross and through His resurrection was not the initial or predetermined plan, but was actually “yielded to” by God!

This may be quite troubling but it is at least consistent. It is the modern Dispensationalist that wants to maintain a separation of Israel and the Church while arguing that they received salvation in the same manner that are showing an inconsistency.

“This is sometimes called the Age of the Church, or the Church period. The characteristic of this age is that salvation is no longer by legal obedience, but by the personal acceptance of the finished work of Jesus Christ, who by his meritorious ministry has procured for us a righteousness of God’.”  David Evans

Evans agrees with those above stating that salvation was at one time was actually obtained by legal obedience and not be grace.

“A distinction must be observed here between just men of the Old Testament and those justified according to the New Testament. According to the Old Testament men were just because they were true and faithful in keeping the Mosaic Law. … Men were therefore just because of their own works for God whereas New Testament justification is God’s work for man in answer to faith”
LS Chafer

This can only be seen as Chafer simply digging his hole even deeper attempting to argue that through the working out of the law, somehow man could become good enough to obtain salvation through the works of the law. The book of Hebrews again must be dealt with as the author constantly argues the inability of the law to save at anytime, Old or New Testament periods included! This also denies Jesus’ own words mentioned above.

But if it is as Ryrie argues above that the Church and Israel are saved in the same manner then we must consider the following very important issues. In fact, to espouse the view Ryrie is presenting one must deny the basic tenet of Dispensationalism; that is, the distinction between the Church and Israel.

Since one must infer by agreeing with Ryrie (and all modern Dispensationalist) that the Church and Israel are saved in the same manner then they would be “in Christ.” But note that Ryrie does not actually say they are of Christ, but rather of faith. This is markedly different than the Reformed understanding that salvation in both the Old and New Testament is of Christ as Jesus Himself said that no man can come to the father except through Him.

This then leads to many more important questions that shake the foundation of Dispensationalism and forces one who believes the Biblical teaching that all are saved in the same way by the same finished work of Christ to reject out of hand the dispensational system.

If they are saved in the same way how can they then be distinct? By that I mean to ask if person from the Old and New Testament are saved in the same manner how can one continue to demand that they are still somehow distinct and different.

If they are saved in the same way why would they not share the same resurrection? And if they share the same resurrection then they are not distinct and share in the same blessings in heaven at the same time with no postulation of second class citizenship or delayed glorification. In fact, as shown in the passage above from John Jesus makes it clear that everyone – Jew or Gentile – must be found “in Christ” and will share the same resurrection as no other event can follow the “Last Day!” So, if the Old Testament and New Testament Saint share in the same salvation and same resurrection then one can no longer cling to a distinction between the two.

If the above is true as I believe we have discovered in this chapter by use of the Scriptures then one must ponder why would the Church need to be removed with the secret Pre-Trib Rapture in order to fulfill promises to Israel if their relationship with God are both through Christ and no false distinction can be proved?

This same distinction that demands a future and postponed kingdom, a seven year future tribulation and the removal of the Church through the pre-tribulation secret rapture collapses upon itself when shown that the basic premise of the Israel/Church distinction cannot be propped up against the word of God.

Hebrews 11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar…[and] together with us [the Church] would they be made perfect

“…except BY ME!”  Jesus

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4 Responses to “Dispensational Distortions – Old Testament Salvation”

  1. I am enjoying reading your posts. It would be very helpful if you could include the sources of your quotations along with who wrote them.

    Clayton

    • 2 low5point

      The quotes do have the author (primarily Chafer, Pentecost, Ryrie and Walvoord). The books they come from include primarily “Dispensationalism” by LS Chafer, “The Millennial Kingdom” by Walvoord and “Dispensationalism Today” by Ryrie. Others are quoted from Gary DeMar’s “Last Days Madness.” Lindsey, Jeffrey and Van Impe quotes come from sources such as videos, TBN broadcast and their assorted web sites and books (ie. Late Great Planet earth). A list of quotes can also be found by googling “Dispensational Dementia” and following the links located there. I cannot vouch for everything on that site, but I have never been unable to establish the credibility of their quotes listed.

  2. Thank you, that is what I was looking for.

  3. This is a very informative and interesting article, thank you.


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