Hello, this is Brother James Melton with Bible Baptist Church in Sharon, Tennessee. If you have your Bible, let's go to Romans 11. I want to take a little time to deal with a subject in this recording, a subject that for some reason has become of great importance to a great many preachers. I'm not sure why, but it's the subject of dispensational salvation. There are those who sit ready to label you a heretic, just about, if you don't agree with them on this matter of dispensational salvation. I disagree that it's that big of a deal. I don’t think it's that important. Those who teach what you might call dispensational salvation do not teach anything wrong with the salvation plan today. I don't know of anybody that differs—any fundamental Bible-believing Baptists that disagree with me on how one is to be saved today.
A lot of folks point out Brother Ruckman as being a strong advocate of dispensational salvation, saying that he teaches that people were saved different ways in different dispensations and that’s heresy and all of that. Well, I don't believe it is heresy necessarily, once we take a little time to look a little closer at what is involved. But just for sake of argument, if it is heresy, so what? Brother Ruckman agrees with what we believe about salvation today. Brother Ruckman is not teaching a false salvation plan for today. Why does it really matter to you and I today how somebody got saved over 2,000 years ago? As long as we’ve got it right for today, why can't we agree on that and focus largely on getting more people saved today? I mean, have we forgotten the Great Commission? I don't quite understand why we have to work overtime trying to figure out if somebody's a heretic or not based on what they believe about things that went on over 2,000 years ago. That's just a strange thing to me. But a lot of people have trouble with the whole issue.
And I also have run into this: a lot of preachers at least claim that they don't have a problem with Brother Ruckman personally, but some of the crowd that they run with and hang out with—they do have a problem with him. So if Preacher A happens to agree with Brother Ruckman, then Preacher B can't fellowship with Preacher A because Preachers C, D, E, F, and G won't be their friends anymore. I'm sorry, but brethren, I just don’t play that game. If you're that immature and that's the way you think, you probably just need to turn the recording off and—I don't know—go do whatever you need to do—change your diaper or something; but I grew out of that way of thinking before I was ever even saved, just about. I can't recall a time since I was saved even as a teenage young man, that I was so childish in my thinking. I don't understand it. I honestly do not understand it.
I don't mean to sound condescending. I don't mean to sound like, “Look at me, I'm the great one. I'm high and lofty, and you're so small.” I don't mean anything like that. I just mean to be honest; I don't understand why grown, mature Christian men have to play such silly games and be so immature. I would call it politics, Christian church politics, but it's even beneath that. It's just immaturity. It's just babes, like Paul told the Corinthians that they were babes. And that's probably one reason I've never dealt with this subject much, because I think it's so silly that I feel like I have left my office, and I have left my study. I feel like I've left my pulpit, I feel like I've left my printing press, and I have gone into the nursery, and I'm now sitting on the floor playing with the babies. That's how immature this thing is. Not only because people are fighting like babies about it, but because it's such a simple issue to resolve for spiritually-minded people that I don't know why we're still fighting about it. I honestly do not understand that.
But for what it's worth, let's get started and see what we can do. Romans 11. Romans 11:5-6. “Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.” Now watch this. “And if by grace, then is it no more of works.” Now wait a minute. Why say that? “If by grace,” and we do believe it's by grace today—I think we can agree on that. “And if by grace, then is it no more of works.” Well then, that implies there was a time when it was. If he's saying that it's grace now, and it's no more of works, then that's implying that it used to be of works. Right? “Well, that's not what he said”—well, it is what he said. “And if by grace, then it's no more of works.” That is what Paul said. No more of works. If he says no more, then that implies it used to be. If you come to me, and you say, “Do you have any money, James? Do you have any money?” And I say, “Well, no more,” well, that means I used to have some money and now it's gone. It's expired. Too much month at the end of the money, that kind of thing. No more. So he says, “if by grace then is it no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace.” So he’s saying it has to be one or the other. “But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work”—he says it again. “No more work.” That’s where we are today. We’re in a dispensation that is no more works. No more work. You know how much work you have to do? No more work to be saved. Why? Because Jesus did it all for you. He said, “It is finished.” You say, “Are you saying that their works saved them?” No, no, no. And Paul's not saying that their work saved them. Somebody's work did save them, but it wasn't their work, and they weren't saved when they did their works. How about that? You show me where the Bible says the Old Testament saints were saved like you and I are saved today. You and I are called sons of God—I'll get to that in a minute. Let's just go on.
Come to Hebrews 11. Hebrews 11 beginning at verse 1. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Verse 2, "For by it”—that is, faith—“the elders obtained a good report.” It does not say they obtained eternal life. It does not say they obtained salvation. It does not say they obtained a new birth. It says they obtained a good report. By what? By faith. There's faith in the Old Testament; I don't dispute that. Most of the people who teach dispensational salvation—they don't teach that there's no faith in the Old Testament and nobody had any faith. Of course they had faith. You think we haven't read Hebrews 11?
Listen, I have heard some—okay, I have heard some get on this dispensational stuff and just go too far with it. I understand what a hyper-dispensationalist is. I understand that. And there are others that might not be hyper-dispensational, but they really push it too far. They really split hairs when they shouldn't and probably create more problems than they solve with their teaching. I'm not defending their position at all. And those positions vary, and I'm not even going to go there and waste time with that.
I believe basically there are seven main dispensations in the Bible; and I believe that the gospel ministry of Jesus and the tribulation period are basically two transition periods that take man from one dispensation to the next. I believe the gospel ministry was necessary to get man out of law and under grace. Okay? And I believe that the tribulation will be necessary to bring Israel, God's chosen people, to a point of conversion to Jesus Christ. And then Israel will become the head of all nations, and Christ will rule from His throne in Jerusalem. But I do believe the tribulation has to come and help to bring that about. So we've got basically seven main dispensations and two transition periods that happen. And there's no point in talking about believing in dispensations if you believe that everything is always the same through all the dispensations. If that’s the case, just scratch the paper clean and say, “I don't believe in dispensations at all.” If you're going to say you believe in dispensations, then it makes sense that you would slow down and consider what that means.
If you've ever looked at a dispensational chart by Larkin or some of the others that you can get—I've got one posted on my church wall here only a few feet away from where I'm sitting right now—any of these charts will show you a breakdown of things that were different from one dispensation to the next. Now that doesn't mean that there was faith in this one but there was no faith in that one. No, faith is a basic principle that holds true all through the Bible, okay? We're going to see that.
Look at—we're in Hebrews 11. We read verse 2: “for by it the elders obtained a good report”. Now drop down to verse 13: "these all died in faith." All who? All the ones he'd been talking about here in this chapter. All down through that list there since he began at verse one, he's been talking about all the Old Testament saints. Noah and Abraham, and he goes on talking, Enoch and Sarah, these different ones. These all died in faith. You don't have to wait till you get to the New Testament to find faith. These all died in faith. Why? Because Romans tells us “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by” what? “The word of God.” Well, was there a “word of God” in the Old Testament? Sure. Well then, there was faith in the Old Testament. Plain and simple. The Bible does not say faith comes by Calvary, and Calvary by Jesus Christ. It doesn't say that. That is our present experience of faith in regards to salvation, but the Bible simply says—Romans simply says, “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” And the word of God has been around a long, long time. The word of God came to Adam in the Garden of Eden. The word of God came to Noah about building an ark. The word of God came to Abraham about getting out of Ur of the Chaldeans. The word of God has been coming to men for a long time. And when men exercise faith in that word, that constitutes work. And that's what God is happy with, because faith without works is what? Dead. You knew the answer to that. Well then, why didn't you think of that before you condemned somebody for being a heretic because they teach faith and works? I would like to see you show me some faith that doesn't have any works. There’s always works present when there's faith present because faith without works is dead. “Well, he teaches faith and works.” Of course he does! He's a Bible believer. It doesn't matter who "he" is. Doesn't matter what preacher it is, doesn't matter what Sunday school teacher it is. If he teaches faith and works, then he's teaching truth because that is Bible truth, James chapter 2. “Faith without works is dead.” Now, you say, “Well, we have faith without works.” No, we don't. No, we don't. We have faith in the works of Jesus Christ. There we go again. The two go together. You can’t separate the two. Now in the Old Testament, they did not have faith in Jesus Christ. They didn't know anything about Jesus Christ. So God gave them some works that would picture the works of Jesus Christ. If Noah built an ark in obedience to the word of God (“faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God”), then Noah built an ark that would be a type of Christ. I’ve got a couple whole messages on that very subject. If Abraham went up Mount Moriah to offer his son as a burnt offering because God told him to, then he was exercising faith in God's word. And when he did, that produced a work. Mountain climbing is work. And he went up there, going to sacrifice his own son. What was that? That was faith in what God said that produced a work. Not that the work would save him, but that the work would picture Calvary like all the other Old Testament works that God commanded men to do; they pointed to Calvary. They pointed to Calvary. Well, when Jesus came and paid for our sins, He didn't have to point anywhere. He was the end of it. That's why he said, "It is finished." “These all died in faith,” verse 13, “not having received the promises,” see, “but having seen them afar off.” Not really, not literally. Abraham didn't see Christ on the cross, not literally, but in type, oh yeah, he saw a very big picture. He saw one of the greatest pictures in all the Bible. Noah didn't see Christ on the cross. Didn't have any clue about it. But God saw it. That's what counts. God saw it. In type, that ark was a type of Christ. In type, Isaac on Mount Moriah being offered was a type of God the Father offering His Son. Over and over and over through the Old Testament, all the sacrifices, the Passover lamb down in Egypt, the blood on the door, all of that—no one who did those things knew that those were pictures of Jesus Christ. They didn't know that, but God knew it. And that's what counts. Well, it says that they’d seen them afar off, that is in type, and in faith, trusting that what they were doing was sufficient to keep them in good standing—in good report, it says—with God, “and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” Verse 39, look at that. Hebrews 11:39: "And these all, having obtained a good report through faith." Not eternal security, not a new birth, "a good report." Meaning what? They stood in good fellowship with God, and they died in a good report or in good standing with God. You say, “Well, I believe they died born again.” Well then, why didn't they go to heaven? They didn't go to heaven when they died. They went to paradise. They went to Abraham's bosom, which was in the underworld, not in the upperworld. “All these, having obtained a good report through faith”—they had faith just like we have faith—“received not the promise.”
All right, come to Romans 10. Romans 10. You know, someone says, “Well, you know, we're saved by looking back to the cross; they're saved by looking forward to the cross.” That statement is both true and false. They were saved by looking forward to the cross, how? In type. In type, as I just explained. We are saved by looking back to the cross as a historical occurrence. It did happen, and we believe that it did happen. We believe the record that God gave us of the crucifixion and the sacrifice that Christ made for us. So we are saved by looking back to the cross; they're saved by looking forward to the cross, though only in type. None of them looked forward to the cross and knew what they were looking at. Isaiah, when he wrote Isaiah 53, the great crucifixion chapter, he didn't have a clue what he was writing. He didn't know what it was about. Christ had not yet been born. It was 700 years premature, and he had no idea what that was about, just like unsaved Jews today don't know what that's about. They think it has to do with their people and their nation and their country. It has nothing to do with that, it has to do with God's Son dying for sinners. And yet they didn't know it and when He showed up, they said, “Crucify Him,” proving that they didn't understand it, didn't know what it was about. So they didn't look forward to the cross, not like we do, not knowing what they were looking at, but they did look forward to the cross in type, so the statement is both actually true and false.
All right, Romans 10:5, start at verse 5: “For Moses describeth a righteousness which is of the law, that the man which doeth those things shall live by them.” Look at that. “These all died in faith,” according to Hebrews 11. Now we’ve got a verse that says “that the man which doeth those things shall live by them.” What have we got? We've got works. We've got Old Testament faith; now we've got Old Testament works. Why? Because faith without works is dead. Verse 6: “But the righteousness which is of faith”—look at that “But.” Verse 6 starts out with “But.” Meaning what? A contrast. “But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach…"
Meaning what? You don't have to go climb a mountain; you don't have to go digging in the deep; you don't have to go working for your salvation. The work has been done. See? It's kind of like the time that Moses hit that rock and got the water out of the rock. And then Moses, in so many words, was told after that, “From now on, you speak to the rock.” Why? Because the work is done. “From now on, you speak to the rock.” God was giving us a type, and Moses messed up. Moses got mad one day and took that rod out there, and said, “Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?” And he whacked that thing again. And God said, "Boy, because you did that, you will not go into the Promised Land." (Revised Melton Version) Why? Because that rock was Christ, according to I Corinthians 10:4. That rock was Christ, and Moses did not understand. You say, “Well, he was looking forward to the cross.” Not in his own mind, he wasn’t! If he was, he wouldn't have ever hit the rock. He didn't have a clue what that thing was about. But he did know what God told him, and he got mad and lost his temper, and he forgot for the moment and he hit the rock instead. Now, I'm not suggesting that had he not hit the rock, if he'd spoke to the rock, that that would've been his salvation. No, it all pictures the spiritual typology woven all through the Bible. Every work of the Old Testament is a CROSSwork, tied in with Calvary and the work that Christ would put an end to. “I came not to destroy the law, but to” do what? “Fulfill.” Meaning what? It's a part of it. It's the capstone. It's the finishing touch on everything else.
I like what one brother said, a Jewish preacher that we support in Jewish ministry. He refers to himself not as a converted Jew. He refers to himself as a completed Jew. That's pretty good. A completed Jew. What is the Old Testament? It's a book that is—it's a series of books that are completed with the New Testament. Christ is the chief cornerstone. Rather than being the stone that the builders rejected, He wants to be the stone that the builders receive, becoming the chief cornerstone. The New Testament completes the Old Testament.
And yet we get into these fights about “Oh, it's different here, it's different there.” Listen, it's a continuing narrative from Genesis through Revelation that has some basic themes that are woven all throughout. We understand faith is true in Genesis; faith is true in Revelation. We got it. We got the blood. We read about the blood of the Lamb in Revelation that started clear back in Genesis. We understand that. If someone wants to teach the various angles and various applications of faith from one dispensation to the next, they're not necessarily teaching heresy. They're not overlooking the fact that faith is true all throughout, but the way that faith is proven and the work that goes with that faith to prove that faith differs from one dispensation to the next. That's all it is.
For example, forget about today. Forget about salvation by grace through faith in the blood of Christ today; let's go back just to the Old Testament. Did Abraham come down Mount Moriah with tablets of stone? Did he? Did Abraham come down with a written law? No, Moses did that. So the patriarchal dispensation differed from the Mosaic law dispensation, right? And what Abraham was told to do was different from what Moses was told to do, right? And yet what Abraham did pictured Christ, and what Moses did pictured Christ. And what Noah did, even another dispensation, pictured Christ.
The work differs. Therefore, the faith differs, because it’s faith pointed at a different work. But when the work is performed, it is faith that is invested in a type of Christ that God honors, and it keeps a man in good report or in good standing, or if not saved, at least safe, in Abraham’s bosom until Christ comes and leads captivity captive.
Well, Romans 10. How far did we get? He says, “But,” verse 6, “the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach.”
Now when he said there that thing about bringing Christ down from above or bringing Christ up again from the dead, he's saying that would involve works. That would involve having to do something. He said that's not necessary anymore, and that's brought out in verse 6 by saying “But.”“But,” meaning verse 5, “the righteousness which is of the law” is different than “the righteousness which is of faith” (verse 6); and that's illustrated in verses 7 and 8 by saying you don't have to go do anything anymore, it's already done for you. It's the word of faith which we preach. And it's very “nigh thee, in thy mouth and in thy heart.” And that's why he goes ahead and says verses 9 and 10 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, “thou shalt be saved.” Why? Because “with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Meaning what? You don't have to do stuff anymore; you don't have to have faith in that and have that serve as a type of the full redemption that's coming. You don't have to do that anymore; it has already been done.
But whether you're on this side of Calvary or on that side of Calvary, it all points to Calvary. I understand that. And so does Brother Ruckman, and so does anybody else who properly teaches dispensational salvation. It's not a matter of being saved different ways; it's a matter of understanding that God told different people at different times to do different things. And whatever works that they did in the Old Testament, we understand it was not for the purpose of saving anybody; we understand that “by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.” We understand that.
Come to Romans 3. Come over to Romans 3. We understand that. We understand the law was only a schoolmaster. But we're not going to sit here and look at 4,000 years of human history and say that it meant nothing. It didn't mean nothing; it meant something. It meant God was painting a beautiful masterpiece called Redemption. And Abraham was one brush; Noah was another one; Moses was another one; David was another one; Hezekiah was another one; Elijah was another one; Enoch was another one. God had all these different paintbrushes in all these different colors. He would take that palette in His hand; He'd take a brush in His hand, and if that brush is willing, God said, “I'll use you to paint my masterpiece.” And He began painting. And He did it for 4,000 years. And by the time of Christ at Calvary, God had a beautiful masterpiece all painted. And today, He's showing us His masterpiece. Unfortunately, a lot of the brethren are looking at it with their head turned sideways in a state of confusion, and they're saying, "Huh? What is that?" I'm sorry you missed it. It's a beautiful picture. I'm sorry you have to fight about faith and works and pretend that somebody's teaching heresy when the fact of the matter is you probably still belong in Vacation Bible School, and, by contrast, they're teaching post-graduate courses. That's where we are on the spiritual ladder.
Listen, I was saved at 15 years of age, and the church I was in did not really dig in and teach me the word of God. Soul winning and witnessing was heavily emphasized. Children's evangelism, bus ministry, that kind of thing was heavily emphasized, and I'm not knocking that; I'm saying you shouldn't have that and not have some good strong Bible studies as well. And by the time I was, oh, 18 or 19, I was all messed up, backslidden, and living like the devil; and I was about 22 years old when I finally got back in the church.
And you know, when I got back in, it wasn't anybody in that church that really got me all that interested in the things of God. It was when one person in that church happened to have some Clarence Larkin material, and the pastor of that church, although he didn't say a lot about it publicly and in the pulpit, he still privately recommended that I get Brother Ruckman's commentary on Revelation. And when I did, that's when everything took off. And I began to grow, and I began to learn. I began to have a sincere interest in the word of God. And as I did that, I began to grow in the Lord and get closer to God and have a better understanding of the things of God.
And yet I watched the same young people that I came up with in that youth department, one by one, begin to drop out of church. Two of the girls married Campbellites. Why? Because they weren't fed the word of God properly. They weren't trained up—the Bible says train up a child, including spiritual children in the house of God. They were not properly trained up, and little by little, it became obvious that the Romans Road was not enough to keep a Christian straight and steadfast and sound in the faith year after year after year. Something more is needed. And I got a hold of that, and I began to learn and grow while others began to drop out one by one.
And to this very day, a lot of the preachers that I hear from and I run into that are arguing about this very subject. You go take a look at their churches; you go take a look at what's emphasized in their churches; you go take a look at their missions board; you go take a look at their tract rack in their church. They're all touchy, they're sensitive. They don't want to put this or that in the tract rack. They don't want to put it in; they might have a secret little place where they keep some of these things, but for the church in general not to see and not to get a hold of. That is no way to build up God's people, and that's what we've got going on in our churches all throughout this country: a bunch of preachers scared to death that they're going to lose their paycheck or they're not going to be invited to the next fellowship or something like that, if they start standing for that Book and teaching that Book properly. So in order to get around teaching the Book, they start condemning those who are teaching it and pretending that we're hung up on things that are not primary and not that essential. No, I'm afraid you’ve got it backwards. You’ve got it backwards. There is nothing heretical about teaching proper dispensational salvation, if that's what you want to call it. I don't even like calling it that. To me, it's just sound doctrine, period. To me, it's just common sense.
Do I believe that Moses was declared righteous by God because he kept commandments? No, of course not! I believe Moses knew God face to face. Moses was close to God because Moses obeyed God; Moses exercised faith in God's word. In that sense, Moses was saved just like I am. It's just that God told me something different than He told Moses. God told Moses something different than He told Abraham. God told Abraham something different than He told Noah. But all of us exercise faith in what God said, just like you do. In that sense, you're saved just like I am. I'm saved just like you are; you're saved just like Moses, Abraham, and Noah, in the sense that we all exercise faith in God's word, because faith comes by hearing, hearing by the word of God. But that's where it ends, because what God said to different men at different times did vary.
Romans 3. “Now we know that whatsoever the law saith, it saith to them”—verse 19, I'm sorry, Romans 3:19—“it saith to them who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped”—not saved. The law didn't save them. “Every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore, by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”
You say, “Well, you people teach faith-and-works salvation; you believe that they had to have those works to be saved.” No, no, no. I don't know what others believe; I'll tell you what I believe. I believe that faith without works is dead. And if you've got a faith that doesn't produce any works, you're dead, and your faith is dead. But the works that were produced by faith in the Old Testament, if the individual was looking at those works like a Pharisee would and boasting in his works, then that didn't save him, no. But if he remained humble and walked humbly before his God in good faith, in good standing with God, although he didn't fully understand where all this was going and what it was all about, he did know that God said do it. Then he was safe or saved on credit, if you will, throughout that dispensation, or those dispensations, all the way up to Calvary. That’s because while keeping the law itself, doing his good works, he was still a sinner just like everybody else, just like you and I were, and his works couldn't save him any more than my works or your works could save us. “Therefore, by the deeds of the law, there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” Not salvation, but the knowledge of sin. “But now the righteousness of God”—there it is again—“without the law”—now wait a minute, why would you say the righteousness of God without the law being something that we have now unless the righteousness of God before was with the law? That's exactly what it was. God told Abraham, "Look to the stars." He didn't say “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” He said, "Look to the stars and count them. If you believe that, I'll give you my righteousness.” He gave it to him in Genesis 15. That was the law for Abraham. That was the rule of God for him. The law of Moses, that was the law that came down on Sinai.
But he says, “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested.” Back then, a man was made righteous by keeping the law in good faith, believing that that's what it took to stay in good fellowship and “good report” with God. And from there, God picked it up and stuck it to Calvary, and said, "That's where it belongs." Because apart from Calvary, the law is not going to help anybody. But with Calvary, the law finds its completion, or its capstone, or its fulfillment. Calvary is what finishes the law. “I came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill,” Jesus said. “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested”—okay? Why? Because it’s been done away with; the law is gone—“being witnessed by the law and the prophets”—that is, there are all kinds of types and foreshadows of the Day of Grace throughout the Old Testament—“even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference.” See? In that sense, there's no difference. Now, in the other sense, they had to have works; we have to trust Christ's works. That is a difference; anybody can see that. But there's no difference in the sense that all have sinned, and all have to exercise faith in the revealed word of God.
“For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;”—verse 26—“to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” Verse 27: “Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore, we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”
Meaning what? There was a time when a man was justified by faith with the deeds of the law. Because that was the work that he was expected to do in order to show that he had real faith. In other words, if Noah had said, “No, I am not going to build a boat on dry ground because the water's going to fall from heaven; we all know water comes up as a mist from the ground. I don't know what this thing is you're telling me. I'm not even sure if you're the true God, but I'm not going to make a fool of myself and my family by building a big boat on dry ground. I'm not going to do it”—then he would've shown that he didn't have faith, and when he didn't have faith, he wouldn't have works either. See? Faith, real faith, includes works; the absence of faith subtracts the works, and you have no works at all. You cannot separate the two, and that all comes back to the very basic principle of James 2: "Faith without works is dead." So in that sense—I guess I have to emphasize those three words: in that sense—in that sense, it's true to say that people were saved differently in different dispensations, but you've got to be careful, because the word “saved” means different things in different dispensations. It certainly means something different today than it meant in the Old Testament. I'll at least say it that way.
Well, I don't know if I've helped anybody or not, but to me, this is a silly subject that is easily resolved by simply looking at just basic New Testament doctrine and Old Testament doctrine concerning what faith is and how that faith is not real faith if it doesn't have works. In that sense, it's true to say that in the Old Testament, a man was saved by faith. But that faith had works with it, and those works were what God told him to do. And had he not done it, he would've shown that he didn't have real faith, and he didn't have the works, and he wasn't in good standing or good report with God. And there were a good many of them back there that did just that, but thank God there were some that were faithful, and they ended up in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11.
Well, I hope you understand. On one hand it is simple, because if we stick with basic definitions of what faith is, and how that you can't separate faith and works, that makes it simple. But on the other hand, it gets very complicated, because when you start throwing words around—faith, works, righteousness, saved—you have to stop and get clear on your definitions, or it really gets wild. It really gets confusing when you go from Old Testament to New Testament and vice versa.
So in summary, I do believe that people are saved different ways in different dispensations, if it's qualified with the understanding that faith is present in all dispensations. It’s only by the grace of God that God would give anyone a chance at salvation, including those in the Old Testament, but when they died in the Old Testament, they didn't go to heaven; they went to Abraham's bosom. None of them were called sons of God, and none of them were born again. All of those things make it different in different dispensations. Why can't anyone see that?
But the thing that is the same is there's faith in all of them, and there is an unfolding theme of blood-bought redemption through all of them. Although they didn't see it as we see it, it was still there in the mind of God. So in that sense, it's the same from Genesis to Revelation, and that's why you can find the Lamb of God from Genesis to Revelation. So they were saved the same way, and they were not saved the same way. Amen.
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