Those who did not know Jesus, but only God, how are they going to get into heaven if they don't know Jesus? Bud R.
Matthew 27:51 - 53
NKJV - 51 Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split. 52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised.
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As noted by Paul in Romans 4, those who lived before the time of Christ were justified (declared or counted as righteous by God) on the basis of their faith in God's promises, both with regard to their lives, and concerning the future coming of the Messiah whom God would send (and whom God had promised as early as Genesis 3:15), even though they did not live to see the Messiah Himself. Furthermore (as also noted by Paul), since Abraham's justification by faith occurred before he underwent the Jewish ritual of circumcision, the same principle allows anyone (Jew or Gentile) who believed God's promises as Abraham did to be similarly justified by faith.
The simple way it was explained to me: Those elect before Christ were looking towards the cross, just as we look back on it.
I believe that the Old Testament saints were taken to a place called Paradise. The sinners were taken to death. If you will recall, Jesus gave the best description of these places with the story of Lazarus and the certain rich man. Luke 16:19-31. During this time, before the death of Jesus, witches could call up the dead and because Satan had the keys to death and Paradise, they would be brought forth. One famous case in point was King Saul asked for the soul of Samuel the prophet to be brought up. Samuel rebuked him and told him that in that next day, he would see him. King Saul died in battle that next day. I Samuel 28 Also, Satan fought for the body of Moses. Jude 1:9-10. This happened before Jesus died, and went to death to retrieve the stolen keys of death and Hell. Jesus announced in Revelation 1:18, He had the keys to death and Hell. He is VICTORIOUS! AMEN! This is how Jesus was able to open the graves and lead the saints of the Old Testament to heaven. He fought for, and won the keys, released them, they arose and were witnesses in Jerusalem then assented with Jesus into heaven. I also believe most overcoming Old Testament saints knew the angel of the LORD. Jesus in angelic form, so they did in a sense know Jesus.. just not as Jesus of the New Covenant (Testament) Gideon saw an angel, then said "I have seen face of God and lived." Judges 6:22. Be blessed, Lena
The fathers in the Hebrew text did believe in Yeshua. God ‘spoke’ to the fathers directly, through messengers or through prophets (Heb 1:1). This is how He made Himself known to them. He gave them promises and revealed Himself to them through the giving of the promises and through bringing them to pass. Through His Word He proved Himself as the convening keeping God, Holy, just, compassionate, willing to forgive iniquity, transgression and sin, but in no way would clear the guilty (Ex 34:1-8). This giving of His word, they believed in, had their faith in, and by this they were approved (Heb 1:1-6). You may remember Jacob’s dream, of a ladder, reaching up to heaven. Angels ascended and descended on it and at the top, was Adonai, YHWH (Gen 28:10-17). His Word, was the ladder (John 1:51). This is how blessing was received. God spoke to them, and if they had faith and believed, they were saved. You see, God communicated who He was, is, and will be through the giving of His word, and if they believed in ‘who He is’, or phrased more hebraically, if they believed in ‘His name’ they received the blessing. This is a deep study topic but suffice to say when you read in the Hebrew Scriptures about ‘His name’ it is not a title. It is an all encompassing way to discuss who He is, His actions, His nature, His works. Through His word, they had faith in His name as the covenant keeping, merciful and Holy God. Read the Psalms, the prophets and Moses, reference after reference to forgiveness and acting ‘according to His name’, ‘for His namesake’, etc. And they knew ‘who he was, through Him speaking to them’. Yeshua is the ‘name of God made flesh’ (Isa 30:27,30-33), cross reference these with Ex 34:1-8 where God personally tells Moses ‘His name’ ie., who He is, with the gospel message whereby who God is, is revealed in the most powerful and clear demonstration. Apostle after apostle replaces ‘For His name’, ‘for His namesake’ with ‘for Jesus sake’, ‘in the name of Jesus’ etc. Jesus is the ladder (Jhn 1:51) because He is the Word of God (John 1:1-18, Rev 19:11-13) and He was given to us in a most unique way (Jhn 1:14), and he gave himself for us, that his body would be broken for us, that God might be Just and the Justifier of them who believe on his word (Rom 3:23-26). There is much to say as well about the sacrificial system, Passover and the feasts, all of which point to Jesus as they were all given by His word to the Israelites, pointing to The Word. But this is the sum: God gave His word and they believed on His name through faith in His word. So too do we. Yeshua lives, and he reigns, and he is the ladder between God and men, the only way, the truth and the life, and no man comes to the Father, except through him. No one ever has, no one does today, and no one will ever come to the Father expect through Him, forever.
According to Scripture, we all need salvation because we have all sinned (Rom 3:23) and we are saved by grace through faith (Eph 2:8). Both, OT and NT believers are saved through faith (Heb 11:4, 8, 13, 17, 23, 28, 32). The OT believers looked in faith forward to the Cross, we look back in faith at Christ sacrifice. How about the OT believers, do they went straight to Heaven? The Bible doesn’t teach that about either OT or NT believers - only Enoch (Heb 11:5) and Elijah (2 Kings 2:11) who were taken alive to Heaven - Moses was resurrected (Jude 1:9) and appeared on the Mount of Transfiguration with Elijah (Matt 17:3). Everyone else is sleeping in the grave awaiting the resurrection (Daniel 12:2; Job 7:21; Ps 13:3; Deut 31:16, 1 Kings 11:43, 14:20, 16:6; 22:50; John 11:11). In the text you cited, Matt 27:51-53, a mini resurrection took place – who was resurrected? The Bible does not say. If everyone ascends directly to Heaven upon death, there would no need for a resurrection. David, a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22) is also sleeping in his tomb (Acts 2:29), he hasn’t ascended to Heaven yet. Jesus Himself said that, both the saved and the lost, will be raised and the end of time (John 5:28, 29). The Bible teaches two types of resurrections: the 1st of the saved and the 2nd of the lost (Rev 1:7; 20:5, 6; 22:12; 1 Thess 4:16-17).
Jesus himself answered this in the gospels. In Matt 22:42-45, Jesus affirms that those who truly ran after God even though they were under the Old Covenant knew his promised Messiah would come and already existed. In this Gospel, Jesus asks of the Pharisees “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?” They replied, “He is the son of David.” Jesus responded, “Then why does David, speaking under the inspiration of the Spirit, call the Messiah ‘my Lord’? For David said, ‘The LORD [YHWH] said to my Lord [Jesus, the Christ], 'Sit in the place of honor at my right hand until I humble your enemies beneath your feet.’ Since David called the Messiah ‘my Lord,’ how can the Messiah be his son?” Jesus was quoting Psalm 110 where David is aware of the coming of God in the flesh and calls *this Lord* a High Priest forever in the order of Melchizedek, a name fulfilled by Jesus in the new testament (Hebrews 5:6, 10, 6:20) and even gives a bit of prophecy about Jesus' 2nd coming (see similarities of Ps 110:5-7 with Revelation 19:11-21). Again in speaking to the Pharisees, Jesus addressed that the Patriarchs knew him. The latter part of John 8 documents Jesus rebuking the teachers of the law because of their religious pride. They said they were children of Abraham (v33) and challenged Jesus by asking "Who do you think you are?" (v53) Jesus said, "Your father Abraham rejoiced as he looked forward to my coming. He saw it and was glad.” (v 56) He then states, "Before Abraham was, I AM" (v58). In Luke 2:25, we are introduced to Simeon who is called devout and righteous and eagerly anticipating the Messiah. The Holy Spirit has revealed to him that he will see The LORD's Messiah and leads him to the temple on day 8 of Jesus' life. He took the baby Savior in his arms and says one of the most beautiful things (in my opinion) in Scripture: "Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised. I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!”. Those under the Old Covenant were aware of the prophecy throughout Scripture starting as early as Genesis 3 that God would come to the world to save it. They may not have had the benefit of hindsight as we do, but they knew it. If they were bound to God in heart, soul and strength, then they had the Holy Spirit upon them, and all insight, wisdom and revelation is an act from God through His Holy Spirit. The Spirit caused them to know, love, obey and anticipate Jesus. They have trusted in God in this and they are therefore saved by His grace.
The fact is, God does not make statements in the Bible about people "believing in Jesus" ahead of time, and being saved that way. "But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith." (Gal 3:11 KJV) When Abraham's faith was counted for righteousness, what had been told to him was as follows: "And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. 6 And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness." (Gen 15:5-6 KJV) We do not know that Abraham knew a Messiah was coming. But he did believe what God had told him. Even under the law--remember?--the children of Israel could not enter the land because they did not believe what God had told them. However, what He had told them was not all about the coming Messiah. He had told them to go into the land to take it. Even Adam and Eve: God told them not to eat of the tree of the fruit of the knowledge of good an evil. Satan tempted Eve by making her doubt that she would die. She did not believe what God had SAID. We know little of exactly what people knew about the Messiah before He came. They did NOT understand he was going to die. Remember how flabbergasted the disciples were that he had been crucified? They did NOT understand the Gentiles were part of the kingdom...remember how surprised Peter was that God was sending him to Cornelius' house? We must be very careful to not go beyond what Scripture says in this matter. But I tell you what IS sure, for us. We had better BELIEVE what God has SAID in his NEW COVENANT that is in force now. The only way to be forgiven, is to believe on his Son, Jesus Christ, who died for our sins and rose again. AND, having believed and been saved, we are to BELIEVE and OBEY what God has said for us to do in the New Covenant. It is amazing to me that God commanded women to cover their head when they pray or prophesy, in 1 Corinthians 11, and gives something like 15 reasons why He wants it done. Yet we--like the Pharisees--do a fancy theological dance, and end up excusing ourselves from obedience. We do not believe God's word fully. Let's not waste time trying to figure out exactly how the Old Testament saints were accounted righteous--let's get busy leading lives of holiness that are "worthy of the vocation wherewith we are called" (Eph 4:1).
Doctrinal differences will always make this a difficult question to answer to everyone’s satisfaction. What does the scripture say? Those that were obedient to God’s Covenant ruling at the time of their passing will enter heaven on that basis and where there is no law there is no penalty. However, that is not the whole answer as the Apostles Peter and Paul both inform us that Christ descended into hell and preached to those that were lost in previous dispensations. What is more His word bore fruit. For Christ [the Messiah Himself] died for sins once for all, the Righteous for the unrighteous (the Just for the unjust, the Innocent for the guilty), that He might bring us to God. In His human body He was put to death, but He was made alive in the spirit, In which He went and preached to the spirits in prison, [The souls of those] who long before in the days of Noah had been disobedient, when God’s patience waited during the building of the ark in which a few [people], actually eight in number, were saved through water 1 Peter 3:18-20 (AMPC). But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) (Ephesians 4:7-10 KJV).
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