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On Inclusivism — #3b (“Is Faith in Christ Necessary for Salvation?”)

On Inclusivism — #3b (“Is Faith in Christ Necessary for Salvation?”)

by Mike Duran · 20 comments

Both the Exclusivist and the Inclusivist are forced to grapple with the question: What happens to those who do not hear about Jesus, are unable to comprehend His claims, and have a chance to confess Him as Lord? In my last post, I focused on infants and the unborn and asked why Exclusivists, like John Piper, make exceptions for little babies but not pagans?

In this post, I want to focus on another group of people that pose problems for the Exclusivist: the saints, prophets, and patriarchs of the Old Testament.

If explicit faith in Christ and public profession of Christ are necessary to salvation, what happened to Old Testament believers who did not have such explicit knowledge?

Again, our options are limited:

  1. These Old Testament believers did not have an explicit knowledge of Jesus and His work, and perished.
  2. These Old Testament believers had some equivalent, though not explicit, knowledge of Christ, and were judged thereby.
  3. These Old Testament believers were all given an explicit knowledge of Christ and His finished work, professed Him, and were saved.

Once again, the Exclusivist acknowledges that Old Testament believers, like babies, are a unique category, and adjust accordingly. My question is why such concessions are not made for pagans and unreached people groups.

On one hand, there are those like one commenter on THIS lengthy Facebook thread who, regarding Israelites in the Old Testament, admitted that

“Most were not saved, even in the Jewish nation “

If one ascribes to an explicit understanding of the post-crucified, post-resurrected Christ, this makes sense. Very few would be saved in the Jewish nation, much less the pagan world. Then there are those who make concessions. Like the concept of Abraham’s Bosom, a place believed by the Jews to be a holding tank where the righteous dead await judgment, which some Christians apply to Old Testament believers. Some, like commenter Becky, grant that while the Old Testament saints still needed more than just general revelation, pull up short admitting that revelation need not be explicit about Christ’s redemptive mission. Writes Becky:

All these [O.T. believers] had specific revelation. God Himself told Abraham he would father a son who would be a blessing to all the nations. How specific was He in saying out who Jesus would be and what He would do? I don’t know. But I know that however much He told him, Abraham believed God. He demonstrated that belief every time God told him to do something or to believe something.

David was filled with the Holy Spirit, so clearly he wasn’t relying on general revelation. God spoke to the prophets and showed them visions. Again, how much He revealed to them of Jesus, we don’t know. Some, obviously, or there wouldn’t be Messianic passages in their prophecies and Peter wouldn’t have been able to say to Cornelius that the prophets bear witness to Jesus.

To me, what’s most telling is Becky’s concession that “how much [God] revealed to them of Jesus, we don’t know.” She says that twice: “I / we don’t know.” This aligns, as I see it, with an Inclusivist position; explicit knowledge of the post-crucified, post-resurrected Christ may not have been a requirement for salvation. Point is, there’s no hard and fast rules.

In fact, Scripture seems to suggest a large contingent of Old Testament believers will be in heaven. Hebrews 11 is often called “The Hall of Faith.” It begins:

11 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the men of old gained approval.

Verse 2 is huge. “For by [faith] the men of old gained approval.” Faith gained them approval. Who were these “men of old?”

  • Abel (vs. 4)
  • Enoch (vs. 5)
  • Noah (vs. 7)
  • Abraham (vs. 8)
  • Sarah (vs. 11)
  • Jacob (vs. 21)
  • Joseph (vs. 22)
  • Moses (vs. 23)
  • Rahab (vs. 31)

But that was just the beginning!

32 And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets

So there is obviously a long line of people here. A group that the writer will go on to describe as “so great a cloud of witnesses” (12:1). And all these people gained “approval” (vs. 2) through their faith. But faith in what? What was Rahab’s faith in? Who did Enoch place faith in? How did Samson’s faith gain him approval? Did they have faith in the crucified and risen Christ? Faith in an explicit understanding of the Gospel?

13 All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance

The chapter ends punctuating that point:

39 And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised

So they died in faith, looking for a country they had only glimpsed, but not walked in. They died having not received the promises in full. Their faith, though rudimentary and incomplete, was enough to gain them approval.

Again, what the Old Testament believers force us to do is to reconsider other categories of people and their proximity to the finished Gospel. We (by that I mean mainly North American Christians) have the luxury of viewing this subject retrospectively; the basic message of the Gospel is practically common knowledge to most of us. But is it fair to superimpose our knowledge of the Gospel upon everyone, both past and present?

I like how Mark Pickering sums it up in his essay What About Those Who’ve Never Heard the Gospel?

If [Old Testament believers'] lack of knowledge before Christ’s first coming was not an absolute barrier to salvation, is there any reason why sheer lack of knowledge after this time should be an absolute barrier? Those who have really never heard the gospel today are in a similar position to those who lived before Christ. Is it not possible for them to respond to the knowledge of God they do have in the way those heroes did?

Hebrews 11 reminds us that the Old Testament believers were saved in the same manner that everyone is — by faith.

So is faith in Christ necessary for salvation? Absolutely. However, how Christ chooses to reveal Himself to individuals, the degree of specificity of that revelation, and what kind of faith He receives is not definitive. If the Old Testament believers are any evidence, people can die “without receiving the promises,” and yet still gain approval. Their knowledge of God, Christ, or the Bible need not be explicit, in order to be salvific.

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Gary Whittenberger May 5, 2014 at 8:26 AM

If God exists, because he would be perfectly moral, he would never require belief in Christ as necessary for salvation. Why? Because the evidence supporting all the associated claims about Jesus is weak and God would not require belief based on such weak evidence. If some Bible verses SEEM to support the idea that Christ is necessary for salvation, it is because they were written by fallible men. Reason shows that these men had to be mistaken. Don’t get carried away by them. If he exists, God may be exclusionary in some way, but it is not in the way implied in the essay.

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Mike Duran May 6, 2014 at 11:05 AM

Gary, I don’t think you and I agree on this one. Requiring NO belief in Christ is not necessarily moral. Especially if that belief is necessary to engage God. It would be like NOT requiring someone to grab the life preserver in order to be saved. At best, that’s indifferent. At worst, that’s downright evil.

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Travis Perry May 5, 2014 at 8:47 AM

Mike, I’ve said this before in a more wordy way, but to be succinct, from my reading of Scripture, God has said certain things and certain things He has not said. He has said enough to imply Inclusivism could be true, but not enough to prove it.

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Jessica E. Thomas May 7, 2014 at 8:33 AM

Yep.

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Rebecca LuElla Miller May 5, 2014 at 2:35 PM

Mike, I understand your logic. You are a is similar to b and x is true about a, then x is also true about b. The problem, as I see it, is that these categories are more like lemons and onions and rocks. They aren’t really similar apart from a loose description of their shape.

First, as stated in the Kevin DeYoung article you linked to, infants haven’t received general revelation which puts them in a different category. Secondly, all the Old Testament people mentioned in Hebrews 11 had special revelation. That makes them fundamentally different from anyone today who has general revelation without special revelation.

The fact that they existed before Christ and we, after, also makes them fundamentally different. As such, Old Testament believers believed in God’s promise. That was what their faith entailed. What promise? The coming of God’s Messiah.

God MAY have spelled out that this promise would be His Son who would come as a suffering servant and come again as a reigning King. Clearly Jesus was able to open up the Scriptures to reveal Himself after His resurrection. So the truth of who He is, is in the text. We only assume that the Old Testament believers didn’t completely understand what Scripture said. But why should that be the case? It’s just as likely that the Holy Spirit who inspired the writing explained in detail what Christ would do.

Actually, I think God has not just implied, but stated the exclusivity of faith. I’ll quote John 3:17 and 18 again:

For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

I don’t think that’s ambiguous or unclear or subject to reinterpretation (to mean people will be judged by the light they already have). It’s a divide: those believing in the name of the only begotten Son of God on one hand and those not believing on the other.

The thing that I think is at issue is this:

is it fair to superimpose our knowledge of the Gospel upon everyone, both past and present? (Bold in your original; italicized, my emphasis.)

Of course it’s fair, if God so designed it to be this way. Who are we to judge His fairness?

Here’s a critical truth about God. Nahum 1:2b: “And He reserves wrath for His enemies.”

Clearly, anyone God punishes is not “collateral damage” or incidental or accidental. Whoever He punishes is His enemy. The passage goes on to say

The LORD is slow to anger and great in power,
And the LORD will by no means leave the guilty unpunished.

In other words, if there’s none righteous, no not one, if all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, aren’t all guilty, as John 3:18 says? All are judged because none is righteous.

So God reserves His wrath for His enemies, but He’s slow to anger. As far as I’m concerned, it’s clear that since Christ has come into the world to rescue those who call on His name, not judge the already judged, the only way someone can be “not God’s enemy” is by accepting His rescue plan.

I see no Scripture to the contrary.

If someone is in a pit and a another person comes along and throws him a rope, the first guy isn’t going to be saved by taking hold of a root he sees. In the same way, a person in need of reconciliation with God needs to place his faith in the One mediator, the Son who shows us the Father.

There’s a great missionary story called The Peace Child by Don Richardson which recounts a people group who valued betrayal. Consequently when they heard the story of Jesus, they thought Judas was the hero. Richardson didn’t know how to break through until one day he learned about how one tribe made peace with another—the chiefs exchanged first born sons. The opposing tribe would never attack as long as their child lived with the other tribe. This son, they called the peace child.

Richardson’s point in the book is that God has prepared each culture to understand and embrace what He has done to bring them forgiveness. But the fact that this people group believed in a peace child didn’t mean they had reconciliation with God until they accepted His Peace Child. The light they had, prepared the way, but it wasn’t what saved them. Belief in Jesus is what saved them.

Becky

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Mike Duran May 6, 2014 at 11:24 AM

Becky, the point isn’t that these groups — infants, OT saints, pagans — are the same, but that they represent different categories. We can’t ask the question “Is faith in Christ necessary for salvation?” without acknowledging that the answer applies differently to different groups.

You said, “the Old Testament people mentioned in Hebrews 11 had special revelation.” Indeed. But as I’ve shown, that special revelation still fell short of explicit knowledge of Christ. So either you must admit that explicit knowledge of Christ is not necessary in all circumstances or conjecture, which you have, that that revelation possibly DOES contain explicit knowledge of the future crucified, future resurrected Christ. But this IS conjecture and possibly just a convenient conclusion to make your thesis jell. But Scripture is clear that the mystery of Christ was not known in full to all the OT saints. Unless you’re suggesting that Rahab and Samson and Gideon had a deeper revelation of the future risen Christ that was never recorded.

Your illustration of the man in the pit breaks down. Why? because you already agreed that some are incapable of identifying the “rope” tossed to them (infants and, possibly, pagans) and thus NOT guilty for their inability to grasp it. Also, unless God provides explicit knowledge of the Gospel to the unreached (throws them a rope), they will die in their pit. But how can they be held responsible if no rope was thrown to them?

Also, it was Don Richardson’t other book, “Eternity in Their Hearts,” which caused me to first consider Inclusivist claims.

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Rebecca LuElla Miller May 6, 2014 at 12:33 PM

Mike, the point is the Old Testament saints believed the promise of the Messiah. Isn’t that what Hebrews is saying? They didn’t get to see Messiah come in the flesh, but they believed that He would because God promised that He would. So, no, they didn’t have “explicit knowledge” in the sense that they knew His mother would be named Mary or that He would pick twelve disciples and so on. But they believed God would send His Messiah. In fact, as Hebrews describes it, they had assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

As I see it, that’s the whole point of the passage in chapter 11. These were not people looking at the stars and thinking, someone must have made these, so they were credited as believing in God. But that’s what you’re saying about the unreached peoples. You think they can find God, and therefore Christ, by not knowing about God’s promise or Christ’s fulfillment of that promise. I don’t think there’s anything in Scripture to confirm this idea, Mike.

Becky

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sally May 6, 2014 at 1:34 PM

hmm. Well thanks for showing me how we could discuss this without posting long blog posts in the comments section. heh heh Nicely done. You said everything I was trying to say, only more clearly and with a lot fewer words!

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Mike Duran May 6, 2014 at 1:58 PM

Becky said: “So, no, they didn’t have “explicit knowledge” in the sense that they knew His mother would be named Mary or that He would pick twelve disciples and so on.”

They also didn’t have explicit knowledge that He would come as a humble servant, not a conquering king, and be crucified by Roman soldiers, bearing the sin of the world. They didn’t explicitly know He would be raised on the third day and bestow the power of God’s Spirit upon His people. They also didn’t explicitly know that believing in Christ with their heart and confessing Him with their mouth would lead to salvation. But, apparently, they were saved. So are we agreed that those without explicit knowledge of the Gospel can be saved?

Again, we are talking about two different categories of people: Those with a certain degree (by no means complete) of special revelation, and those with only general revelation. Unless you are saying that those with general revelation cannot be saved, I wonder if we are really in agreement that God can save people without explicit knowledge of the Gospel.

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Rebecca LuElla Miller May 6, 2014 at 1:19 PM

Couple more points, Mike.

If the pit illustration breaks down (all analogies do at some point) or doesn’t work, ignore it. I only intended to give a visual representation of what the scriptures I quoted were saying. It’s the scriptures and the Scripture, I think, that need to be addressed. If inclusivism is to be believed, then it ought not stand in contradiction to Scripture, but so far I have seen no way that inclusivism could be true if what Jesus said in John 3:17-18 is also true.

As to Richardson’s other book, it’s been a long time since I read it. I remember Peace Child, however, because the message was so clear—God prepares each and every culture for His truth. What Richardson came to believe later or wrote in his other book doesn’t negate this fact.

Becky

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Mike Duran May 6, 2014 at 2:06 PM

Becky said, “I have seen no way that inclusivism could be true if what Jesus said in John 3:17-18 is also true.”

Well, Jesus also said that He had “other sheep” in “other folds” (Jn. 10:16). He said, “Whoever is not against us is for us” (Mk. 9:40). John said that He was “The true light that gives light to EVERYONE” (Jn. 1:9). And then there’s all the Scriptures I’ve noted thus far. Obviously, it’s important that we judge this issue in light of the entire Scripture, not just one verse or chapter.

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Rebecca LuElla Miller May 6, 2014 at 9:05 PM

Mike, I think you’re right—it is important that we judge this issue in the light of the entire Scripture. The thing is, I don’t see inclusivism in the verses Sally listed or in the verses about the New Testament people she mentioned who were waiting for the Messiah.

I don’t see inclusivism in John 3:17-18 or John 14:6-11 or Rom. 10:9-10, Rom. 3:9-18, Eph. 3:6-12, Col. 2, Eph. 2:8-9. Honestly I could go on and on. But here’s the passage I think speaks most specifically to the issue:

When I say to the wicked, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to warn the wicked from his wicked way that he may die, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. Yet if you have warned the wicked and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered yourself. Again, when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I place an obstacle before him, he will die, since you have not warned him, he shall die in his sin, and his righteous deeds which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand. However, if you have warned the righteous man that the righteous should not sin and he does not sin, he shall surely live because he took warning; and you have delivered yourself. (Ez. 3:18-21)

The only verses I’ve seen quoted to support inclusivism have been Romans 2, which really says the opposite, and the passages about Cornelius, which actually lead to a clear understanding that God fulfilled His promise and drew near to Cornelius who had drawn near to God.

The John 10 passage is not in context, nor are the others. To interpret 10:16 as support of inclusivism is to negate v. 1: “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber.” Jesus follows this by saying He is the door.

I’ll be honest, Mike, I don’t see how inclusivism isn’t calling into question God’s character. This theological perspective pretty much says, you can seek, but God won’t answer, you can draw near to Him, but He won’t draw near to you.

Inclusivism also makes God look weak. He can send His Son and establish that none are saved except through Him, but He can’t get the word out to those who want to accept Him.

There’s more I could say, but I think we’re probably at a place where we’ll start going in circles if we keep discussing.

In the end, I appreciate you laying out your thinking and letting us interact with you on the subject.

Becky

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Mike Duran May 7, 2014 at 5:03 AM

Becky, at this point I’m afraid we’ll just be covering the same ground. I feel like I’ve supported the position with plenty of Scripture. We differ on whether those verses provide ample evidence for an alternate translation.

Re: Inclusivism “calling into question God’s character” and making “God look weak.” I think the same can be true of Exclusivism. The possibility that God could eternally damn countless millions of souls of infants and pagans simply because they didn’t get a chance to hear the explicit Gospel and respond, is ghastly. Also, we’ve agreed on the fact that God can “get the word out to those who want to accept Him.” But, like the Old Testament believers, that “word” can vary in degree of specificity and need not be complete to nudge open the door of heaven.

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sally May 5, 2014 at 8:58 PM

Mike this continues to be an interesting discussion. Thanks for putting down your thoughts here.

When I said most of them weren’t saved, even in the Jewish nation, I didn’t mean they weren’t saved because they didn’t know about the Christ. I meant they weren’t saved because they were a rebellious and stiff-necked people. The church, then, was much as it still is: full of unsaved people

You say:
So there is obviously a long line of people here. A group that the writer will go on to describe as “so great a cloud of witnesses” (12:1). And all these people gained “approval” (vs. 2) through their faith. But faith in what? What was Rahab’s faith in? Who did Enoch place faith in? How did Samson’s faith gain him approval? Did they have faith in the crucified and risen Christ? Faith in an explicit understanding of the Gospel?

Well one thing I’m sure we can agree on is that they didn’t have faith in Vishnu or Mohammad or Buddha.

They had faith in Yhwh and they had faith in the coming Messiah (or Christ, to give the Greek term). Every Jewish girl wanted to bear the Messiah.

Jesus said that they believed in him. He said Moses wrote of him. From John Chapter 5:

45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”

How did Moses write of Jesus if he didn’t know about Jesus? He wrote about the coming Christ.

You ask what they had faith in? Here are a few things many OT saints believed about the Christ. Scroll down to see if they were believing in Jesus the Christ:

1 Messiah would be born of a woman. Genesis 3:15
2 Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. Micah 5:2
3 Messiah would be born of a virgin. Isaiah 7:14
4 Messiah would come from the line of Abraham. Genesis 12:3 & 22:18
5 Messiah would be a descendant of Isaac. Genesis 17:19 & 21:12
6 Messiah would be a descendant of Jacob. Numbers 24:17
7 Messiah would come from the tribe of Judah. Genesis 49:10
8 Messiah would be heir to King David’s throne. 2 Sam. 7:12-13 Is. 9:7
9 Messiah’s throne will be anointed and eternal. Ps. 45:6-7 Dan. 2:44
10 Messiah would be called Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14
11 Messiah would spend a season in Egypt. Hosea 11:1
12 A massacre of children at Messiah’s birthplace. Jeremiah 31:15
13 A messenger would prepare the way for Messiah Isaiah 40:3-5
14 Messiah would be rejected by his own people. Ps. 69:8 Is. 53:3
15 Messiah would be a prophet. Deuteronomy 18:15
16 Messiah would be preceded by Elijah. Malachi 4:5-6
17 Messiah would be declared the Son of God. Psalm 2:7
18 Messiah would be called a Nazarene. Isaiah 11:1
19 Messiah would bring light to Galilee. Isaiah 9:1-2
20 Messiah would speak in parables. Psalm 78:2-4 Isaiah 6:9-10
21 Messiah would be sent to heal the brokenhearted. Isaiah 61:1-2
22 Messiah would be a priest after the order of Melchizedek. Psalm 110:4
23 Messiah would be called King. Psalm 2:6 Zechariah 9:9
24 Messiah would be praised by little children. Psalm 8:2
25 Messiah would be betrayed. Psalm 41:9 Zechariah 11:12-13
26 Messiah’s price would be used to buy a potter’s field. Zechariah 11:12-13
27 Messiah would be falsely accused. Psalm 35:11
28 Messiah would be silent before his accusers. Isaiah 53:7
29 Messiah would be spat upon and struck. Isaiah 50:6
30 Messiah would be hated without cause. Psalm 35:19 Psalm 69:4
31 Messiah would be crucified with criminals. Isaiah 53:12
32 Messiah would be given vinegar to drink. Psalm 69:21
33 Messiah’s hands and feet would be pierced. Psalm 22:16 Zech. 12:10
34 Messiah would be mocked and ridiculed. Psalm 22:7-8
35 Soldiers would gamble for Messiah’s garments. Psalm 22:18
36 Messiah’s bones would not be broken. Exodus 12:46 Psalm 34:20
37 Messiah would be forsaken by God. Psalm 22:1
38 Messiah would pray for his enemies. Psalm 109:4
39 Soldiers would pierce Messiah’s side. Zechariah 12:10
40 Messiah would be buried with the rich. Isaiah 53:9
41 Messiah would resurrect from the dead. Psalm 16:10 Psalm 49:15
42 Messiah would ascend to heaven. Psalm 24:7-10
43 Messiah would be seated at God’s right hand. Psalm 68:18 & 110:1
44 Messiah would be a sacrifice for sin. Isaiah 53:5-12

They knew Messiah was coming. They were no more saved by the blood of the animal sacrifices than we are saved by taking the Lord’s Supper. Their animal sacrifices were pictures that looked forward to the coming Messiah. Our Lord’s Supper is a picture that looks back to the crucified Messiah and looks forward to the coming-again Messiah.

Did they believe in Jesus the Christ? Yes. Jesus was the Messiah they were waiting for and the one they put their faith in.

1 Jesus was born of a woman. Matthew 1:20 Galatians 4:4
2 Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Matthew 2:1 Luke 2:4-6
3 Jesus was born of a virgin. Matthew 1:22-23 Luke 1:26-31
4 Jesus came from the line of Abraham. Matthew 1:1 Romans 9:5
5 Jesus was a descendant of Isaac. Luke 3:34
6 Jesus was a descendant of Jacob. Matthew 1:2
7 Jesus would come from the tribe of Judah. Luke 3:33 Hebrews 7:14
8 Jesus was heir to King David’s throne. Luke 1:32-33 Romans 1:3
9 Jesus’s throne will be anointed and eternal. Luke 1:33 Hebrews 1:8-12
10 Jesus was called Immanuel. Matthew 1:23
11 Jesus would spend a season in Egypt. Matthew 2:14-15
12 children massacred at Jesus’s birthplace. Matthew 2:16-18
13 A messenger would prepare the way for Jesus Luke 3:3-6
14 Jesus was rejected by his own people. John 1:11 John 7:5
15 Jesus was a prophet. Acts 3:20-22
16 Jesus was preceded by Elijah. Matthew 11:13-14
17 Jesus was declared the Son of God. Matthew 3:16-17
18 Jesus was called a Nazarene. Matthew 2:23
19 Jesus would bring light to Galilee. Matthew 4:13-16
20 Jesus would speak in parables. Matthew 13:10-15,34-35
21 Jesus was sent to heal the brokenhearted. Luke 4:18-19
22 Jesus was a priest after the order of Melchizedek. Hebrews 5:5-6
23 Jesus was called King. Matthew 27:37 Mark 11:7-11
24 Jesus was praised by little children. Matthew 21:16
25 Jesus was betrayed. Luke 22:47-48 Matthew 26:14-16
26 Jesus’s price money was used to buy a potter’s field. Matthew 27:9-10
27 Jesus was falsely accused. Mark 14:57-58
28 Jesus was silent before his accusers. Mark 15:4-5
29 Jesus was spat upon and struck. Matthew 26:67
30 Jesus was hated without cause. John 15:24-25
31 Jesus was crucified with criminals. Matthew 27:38 Mark 15:27-28
32 Jesus was given vinegar to drink. Matthew 27:34 John 19:28-30
33 Jesus’s hands and feet was pierced. John 20:25-27
34 Jesus was mocked and ridiculed. Luke 23:35
35 Soldiers would gamble for Jesus’s garments. Lk. 23:34 Mt. 27:35-36
36 Jesus’s bones would not be broken. John 19:33-36
37 Jesus was forsaken by God. Matthew 27:46
38 Jesus would pray for his enemies. Luke 23:34
39 Soldiers would pierce Jesus’s side. John 19:34
40 Jesus was buried with the rich. Matthew 27:57-60
41 Jesus would resurrect from the dead. Matthew 28:2-7 Acts 2:22-32
42 Jesus would ascend to heaven. Mark 16:19 Luke 24:51
43 Jesus was seated at God’s right hand. Mark 16:19 Matthew 22:44
44 Jesus was a sacrifice for sin. Romans 5:6-8

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Jill May 6, 2014 at 7:51 AM

Wow, thanks for making those lists.

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Mike Duran May 6, 2014 at 11:36 AM

Sally, thanks for the blog post, er, comment. ;-)

I think there’s a false conclusion you’re drawing here that because “they had faith in Yhwh and they had faith in the coming Messiah” this meant that had explicit knowledge of the Gospel. May I suggest that you are forced to assume this because to not do so would be to undermine your main point: That explicit knowledge of the Gospel and profession of Christ is necessary for salvation. I think Hebrews, and Scripture as a whole, is clear that not everyone who died in faith had such explicit knowledge of Christ. As I said to Becky, if Rahab and Samson and Gideon had a deeper revelation of the future risen Christ, it was never recorded. And is pure conjecture. I agree with your basic point here, though, that the O.T. believers possessed a rudimentary knowledge of God and the promise of the Messiah. It came to life with more clarity in NT times. Where we disagree, I believe, is that I think that rudimentary knowledge could be salvific. It need not have been a full understanding of the post-crucified, post-resurrected Christ in order for them to have faith.

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sally May 6, 2014 at 12:13 PM

Sorry about the blog post. It’s an important topic, though, and one that can’t be discussed without some, well, discussion. :)

They absolutely had faith in a coming Messiah. Elizabeth asked how the mother of her Lord came to be in her home. Simeon and Anna were clearly waiting for the Messiah. Even the Pharisees were waiting–they said the Messiah didn’t come form Galilee. Herod even knew about the Messiah and asked the Jews where he was to be born. They told him he’d be born in Bethlehem.

They absolutely had faith in this coming Messiah. Did they know he would die and be raised from the dead. Many did not.

But you should compare the OT saints with NT saints, I think. We have much in common. We all believe in Messiah. They didn’t believe in Baal and we don’t believe in Mohammed. So to look at OT saints and assume that their lack of understanding makes them more like Muslims than like NT saints doesn’t make sense to me.

Besides, I think many of them knew way more than we think they knew. Some of them lived 900 years. They were healthier than we are physically and mentally. Why would they be duller spiritually?

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Mike Duran May 7, 2014 at 5:12 AM

Faith in a coming Messiah was, indeed, the thread woven throughout Scripture. Amen. But you are conceding that that faith wasn’t and needn’t be explicit. This potentially compromises your position. For if a person could be saved (as far back as Abel and Enoch!) without an explicit understanding of the Gospel, then why not others? Especially if God is not a respecter of persons and loves all equally. All the Inclusivist does is to draw that line of demarcation a little further back.

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mark May 7, 2014 at 5:53 AM

Hi and thanks for the blog.
Isnt the Question here “They all died not having received the promise”
The promise of What ?
Jesus stated …” No man comes to the father except through Me ”

Jesus Spends 3 days in the grave before He ascends….and Paul writes…
Eph 4; 8 Therefore it says,
“When He ascended on high,
He led captive a host of captives,
And He gave gifts to men.”
9 (Now this expression, “He ascended,” what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.

Is it possible that His time their in the lower parts of the earth before He ascended,…. that He completed the revelation for those that had “died not having received the promise”?

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Mark Luker May 10, 2014 at 10:27 AM

good read…..well researched and written….very enlightening

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