Question & Answer Forum

What is the difference in the standing of Church believers and Old Testament believers?

Old and New Testament believers are alike in one distinct way: they are saved on the principle of faith. Two major differences relate to our standing: (1) “in Christ” is exclusive to this Church dispensation and describes our standing which is unassailable and unchangeable; (2) “in whom also upon (not after) believing ye were sealed (mark of ownership) with that Holy Spirit of Promise” (Ephesians 1:13) shows our relationship to the Spirit. Romans 8:1-11 refers to the believer as “in the Spirit,” in contrast to the unbeliever “in the flesh”. This is not Old Testament language, but emphasizes a standing unalterable before God.

A. Hull

Is tithing the same as giving in the New Testament?

No. 1 Corinthians 16:2 teaches us that our giving to the Lord should be systematic and proportionate. “Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him.” The N.T. leaves each believer free to decide before the Lord what the proportion should be. “Not grudgingly, or of necessity” (2 Corinthians 9:7) describes such giving. “If there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not not according to that he hath not” (8:12). The Depression made it difficult for many parents to give a tenth. Now many believers may be able to give more than a tenth.

W. Gustafson

Were Old Testament believers born again?

All believers in any dispensation are born again. Without the new birth, no one can see the kingdom of God (John 3:3). The Lord teaches there must be a new life to enter the kingdom of God, whatever the dispensation (John 3:5). Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets will be seen in the kingdom of God (Luke 13:28). Abraham and Moses knew God in an intimate way. John 17:3 teaches that knowing God requires eternal life (being born again).

J. Abernathy

Please explain “legalism.” Is it the same as what “legalizing teachers” promoted in New Testament times?

“Legalism” as promoted by Judaizing teachers (Acts 15:1) taught that a person needed to keep the law in order to besaved. This is different from the commonly accepted (but not Biblically defined) concept of legalism today. Legalism is not a close, careful and complete obedience to the Word of God. That is faithfulness. Legalism goes beyond the Word of God and adds rules and requirements, not for salvation, but as either a test of reality or as a measure of spirituality. It may involve a sincere desire to please the Lord and take the form of “interpreting” what certain verses mean or “applying” Scriptures. Because it is of the flesh (Galatians 5:19,20), it usually demands adherence to its view and allows no time for personal faith to accept or for personal exercise to develop (Romans 14:3)

A.J. Higgins

How were Old Testament people saved. What did they understand about Christ and His sacrifice?

Statements like John 3:36, 14:6, Acts 4:12 and I Timothy 2:5 allow us to infer from Scripture that it is impossible to be saved apart from the work of Christ and personal faith in Him. That inference is justified by the clear teaching of Romans 3:25,26. The statement “the remission of sins that are past through the forbearance of God” is linked with the propitiatory death of our Lord Jesus. He was the foreordained Lamb. His death was a certainty in the purposes of God and enabled God, in His forbearance, to forgive sin in light of a coming Calvary (Psalm 32:1). It is wonderful to think of the Spirit of God gently dealing with a devout Hebrew who was searching for God and wondering what the significance of the many sacrifices was. I Peter 1:10,11 refers to those who searched diligently for the meaning and time of the fulfillment of prophecies relating to salvation. Imagine Daniel’s awe when it was revealed to him that Messiah would be “cut off!” Many of those Old Testament believers could join us in singing, “O wondrous hour when God to me, a vision gave of Calvary.”

E. Higgins

Is fasting out of character for us because it was part of the legal system that God instituted?

During the second forty days on the mount, Moses states, “I did neither eat bread nor drink water, because of all your sins” (Deuteronomy 9:18). “I fell down before the Lord… because He said He would destroy you” (verse 25). Because the people sinned, he fasted and interceded. Thus we have the practice, but no command.

Israel defeated by Benjamin (Judges 20:26), Jehoshaphat meeting a vast army (2 Chronicles 20:3) and Esther facing death (Esther 4:15) all fasted. Even the unsaved of Nineveh, on hearing Jonah preach, “believe God, and proclaimed a fast” (Jonah 3:5). The practice was not limited to the law nor to Israel.

Unless “afflict your souls” (Numbers 29:7, with Psalm 35:13 where “chastened [with fasting]” is the same word as “afflict”) commands fasting, no such command seems to be recorded. These passages link fasting with repentance and humility.

E. Doherty