What is salvation in the Old Testament?

Greetings!  I hope this finds you well.

I wanted to follow up on our previous discussions about OT salvation.  My understanding of your view (which I also hold) is that the eternal destiny of an individual under the law is determined at the moment of death as Exekiel 18 describes.  Thus, continuance in the faith is necessary under the OT law.

As you know, some hold the view that OT saints had eternal security and cite as support verses like John 5:24, 6:47, and 10:27-28.  The verses in John would seem to be OT in nature (i.e. before the cross) and thus relevant to the issue of whether OT salvation is determined at the moment of death.  One possible way to deal with these verses is to draw a distinction between the law and the kingdom (Luke 16:16).  I was wondering how you understand those verses in John and how they impact your view of OT salvation.

I would appreciate any insights that you care to share. 

This is a great topic and I am glad you’re including me in your research. I only wish that writing was not such a chore to me. It’s not easy for me to explain things in written form.

John 1:11-13 is the key to the book of John. It tells us that John is written from a New Covenant point of view looking at the life of Christ from the advantage of looking back at what the Lord taught. In doing so John adds his own inspired commentary on several verses such as John 7:39. I also believe that John 3:13-21 are John’s words (hence “the son of man which is in heaven”). It is from this advantage point that (whether the words are John’s or the Lord’s) we see the work of the cross in John 3:14,15.

The verses you pointed out are the exception rather than the rule. While the verses say: “hath everlasting life” and “is passed from death unto life” and “I give them eternal life” and cannot be plucked out…and are the words of Christ while on earth, they do precede the “new birth.” Instead of changing the doctrine of regeneration to precede the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, it is better to see these verses as truths spoken in light of the New Covenant and as Romans 4:17 says: “… God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which are not as though they were.”

I believe this is verified in the prayer of John 17. Those who “believe” in the verses you asked about, Jesus Christ prayed for in John 17:8-17. He “kept them” (verse 12 – that would be his hand in John 10:28) and now he prays the Father will keep them (verse 15 – the Father’s hand in John 10:29). Ultimately this prayer was answered by the pouring out of the Holy Spirit making them all one (John 17:21).

Hope this makes sense. I don’t think we should readjust the clear Biblical teaching of Old Testament salvation based of these verses, but see these verses as a result of the New Covenant salvation.