I’ve talked to many Christians who were taught and believed that God’s people Israel in the Old Testament were saved by works, rather than grace.
Of course, looking at the prologue to the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20 will show that’s simply not true. “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery” (Ex. 20:2).
God acts. God does the work. God does the saving.
Then he gives them his law. The order goes like this: God rescues his people. Then he tells them what their lives should look like under his kingly rule.
Add to that Hebrews 11 where we see that those saints who have come before were saved, not by their commitment to the law, but for their faith. That’s the whole point of that chapter.
That should be enough.
But another passage stuck out to me this morning I hadn’t noticed before. Deuteronomy 4:37: “Because he loved your ancestors and chose their descendants after them, he brought you out of Egypt by his Presence and his great strength.”
That sounds a lot like John 3:16, doesn’t it? That verse says, “God loved the world this way: he gave his only begotten Son that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”
- “Because he loved your ancestors and chose their descendants after them” → God loved the world
- “He brought you out of Egypt” → will not perish but have eternal life
- “By his Presence and his great strength” → he gave his only begotten Son that whoever believes in him
When you lay the two passage side-by-side, we see that God’s love is the initiating motivation for salvation. His very real presence and grace is the power of salvation. And finally, freedom and life with God–the rescue from bondage and death–is the result of God’s salvation.
Whether Old Testament or New, the salvation of God does not come because of the obedience or conformity to God’s law, in part or in whole.
It comes freely and only to his people by his grace, his power, and his very Presence.