As we will see, grace was the means of salvation in the times of the Old Testament as it is now. Also, obedience has never been the means of salvation, although it has always been an identifying mark of the those who, in faith, have accepted salvation. The gospel then is the same gospel today. It is the "everlasting gospel." Let's notice how Jesus explained it.
"And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come." (Matt. 24:14)
What did Jesus mean by "this
gospel"? The relative pronoun, "this," means He had just been talking about
it. We need only to read the previous verses where He is explaining how
to be saved. "And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall
wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a
witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come." (Matt. 24:12-14).
What gospel? Salvation for those who endure. Endure what? According to the passage, to be saved we must persevere against:
iniquity (sin as defined by the law, Rom. 7:7), and
‡ - loss of love (the faith relationship, Gal. 5:6).
The gospel, as Jesus explained it, is the good news about being saved in the kingdom of heaven when the end of the world comes. Today, as in the times of the Old Testament, obedience to God's requirements is a characteristic of the saved ones.
We agree that grace is the
means of salvation today. Was it also the means before the cross? The Lord's
message through Isaiah is in harmony with how Paul explained grace (Eph.
". . . let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me; and he shall make peace with me. He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root. . . ." (Isa. 26:21; 27:4-6). Through Isaiah, the Lord explained that we must wrestle like Jacob, but that also, like Jacob, our peace is a gift because we take hold of the Lord's strength. In other words, although Jacob persevered (endured to the end, as Jesus put it), he was saved by the gift of strength from the Lord. See Gen. 32:24-28. Endurance to the end means we need grace to the end, too.
The case of Abraham may be more obvious: ". . . Abraham believed God, and it was imputed [credited, NIV] unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God." (James 2:23). Both Jacob and Abraham, as Old Testament characters, received their righteousness for salvation through the gift of grace as we do.
Praise God for His unchanging fidelity. (Mal. 3:6)
Continue studying verse 6