Faith and the Old Testament Saints

Question from a Site Viewer
Does the Bible speak about how the Old Testament saints will be judged since they were here before Christ came?

Tim’s Answer
As Romans 3:25 states, the sins committed before the cross are identical to those committed after the cross; that is they all are propitiated in the blood of Jesus. Though God, in His forbearance, passed over the sins committed by Old Testament saints, He did so looking to the cross. At the cross, Christ died once for the sins of the whole world. Just as the sins we now commit are covered by that one death, so the sins previously committed are covered by that one death. As Galatians 4:4-5 states, Christ came to redeem those who were under the law. Hebrews 9:26 tells us that the one sacrifice, at the end of the ages, put away sin. As stated in the previous verses, there is no need for the sinless Messiah to have suffered many times to put away Old Testament sins. He only needed to die once.

Accordingly, because we believe that the sin issue has been judged at the cross, we turn to the basis by which the Old Testament saints were declared righteous in the sight of God. They probably did not know what we know about Jesus. Genesis 15:6, however, answers that question for us. It was by faith in God’s Word. Hebrews 11 explores this more deeply. Each of the Old Testament saints gained righteousness by faith in God. The psalmist states in Psalm 2, and in many other Psalms, that those who place their trust in God (and in Psalm 2 in God’s Son) are blessed. For instance, in Psalm 73, Asaph talks about how God guides him and in verse 24 states that He will receive him into glory. He goes on to state that God is his portion forever. In verse 28 he tells us that he has placed his trust in the Lord God.

Again, in Psalm 75, Asaph quotes God as saying that at the appointed time God will judge uprightly; He will put down one and exalt another, and as you go to the end of the Psalm, we find that it is the wicked God puts down and the righteous God exalts. As we have previously been informed, the righteous are those who trust in God. In Psalm 98:9, we are told that the LORD is coming to judge the earth with righteousness and the people with equity. God will judge the Old Testament saints with fairness, accepting those who trusted in Him as righteous and destroying the wicked. Daniel 12:1-3 tells us that the day is coming when many of those who sleep shall arise, some to everlasting life and some to everlasting contempt. God will judge Old Testament saints who lived before Jesus just like He will judge us who live after Jesus.

This leads to the next question. When will Old Testament saints be judged? It appears from Daniel that the time of judgment will be at the end of time. This seems to be what Christ is saying in Matthew 25:31-46. While some may take that passage to state that the judgment is based on what we do, not where we trust, I continue to argue that we do what we truly believe. This is the argument of James in James 2. Those who trust in God will follow God. Jesus tells us that by our fruits we will be known. A good tree produces good fruit (Matthew 7:17) and a follower of Jesus produces good works (Matthew 5:16).

I do not know if the judgment of the Old Testament saints will be at the same time of the judgment of the church, or not. I know of no passage in Scripture that definitively speaks to this issue.

I trust this answered your question.

May the Lord Jesus bless you in your pursuit after Him.

a fellow servant,

tim


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