Dave and Tom respond to questions from listeners and readers of The Berean Call. Here’s this week’s question:

Dear Dave and Tom, I understand that the Old Testament saints believed in the coming Messiah, even though they didn’t know His specific name. I understand they believed as we do, God and His promises. My question is, How then were they saved, since the new birth is the only way I know of?

Tom:

Well, Dave, we know that Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness, so he was saved by faith. But what about the new birth as we think of it today?

Dave:

Well, the new birth today happens to those who believe in Christ at the time they believe. And Peter tells us in 1 Peter Chapter 1, beginning at Verse 22, he says: We are born again by the Word of God that liveth and abideth forever and all flesh is as grass, and so forth. Then it goes on and comes back and says: And this is the word, which by the gospel is preached unto you. So that’s why we have to preach the gospel because a person is born again through believing the gospel. When they believe in Christ they are born of the Spirit of God. Now, that did not happen in the Old Testament because the Holy Spirit was not yet given. John 7:37-39, Jesus says: If any man thirst let him come unto me and drink and out of his innermost being will flow rivers of living water, and this spake he, John as this---well, the Holy Spirit has this explanation, and this spake he of the Spirit which they that believed on him should receive for the Holy Ghost was not yet given because Jesus was not yet glorified. So, but then when do these people from the Old Testament get born again? Well, that is the fullness of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, born of the Spirit, baptized by the Spirit into one body, the body of Christ, and so forth. They receive that at the resurrection, I guess, when their bodies are transformed then.

Tom:

And Dave, simply because the Holy Spirit wasn’t given then. I mean, that’s one of the major differences.

Dave:

The Holy Spirit came upon them but did not indwell them permanently.

Tom:

Right, because Jesus said, not only did He have to pay---and He did---pay the full penalty for our sins, but He said, Unless I go away, the Comforter can’t come.

Dave:

So Tom, I could probably generate some opposition out there, some letters, some protests, but I’ll do it anyway. So, I believe that those people in the Old Testament looked forward to Christ. I think they were in the church just like we are in the church today. Okay, that’s my opinion. What do I base that upon? Well, Jesus said, Abraham rejoiced to see My day and he saw it, was glad. And now if Abraham, who looked forward to Christ’s coming wasn’t saved, I mean wasn’t going to be part of the church, the body of Christ, who would be? And David, he gave us the prophecy of the crucifixion, and surely he had faith in Christ. And he would be saved on that basis even though he didn’t understand all the details, but he is looking forward to the coming of Christ just as we look back to the coming of Christ. Furthermore, at the rapture I believe they will be resurrected and raptured, because it says, Those who sleep in Jesus, 1 Thessalonians Chapter 4, beginning Verse 13, 14, and so forth, shall God bring with Him. Now, that means their bodies are sleeping, they are in faith, the souls and spirits are in heaven, having believed in Jesus. If that doesn’t include the Old Testament saints, then I wouldn’t know why not, and if it doesn’t, when do they get resurrected, and when do they get new bodies? It never tells us about that. The only other resurrection we read of, and it’s part of the resurrection, it says this is the first resurrection, so it has to be part of it, the completion of it is in Revelation 20, and it specifically says, Those are resurrected who were beheaded, or killed by Antichrist, okay. Well, then that kind of leaves out Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and Isaiah, who said, He is wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities---he didn’t die looking forward, faith in Christ, or Job who said, I know that my Redeemer liveth, and He’s going to stand on this earth, and though worms destroy my body and my flesh I will see God, and so forth. So, I don’t think there’s any other way I can get around it. So they were saved by looking forward to the Messiah. Now, they didn’t understand the death of the Messiah, but nevertheless, the Bible would indicate, I think they are part of the saints who come with Christ at the Second Coming when his feet touch the Mount of Olives, and they are obviously in resurrected glorified bodies.

Tom:

And we know, Dave, the new birth is critical because---I know I’ve probably said this on the program before, but you know, it’s the little phrase that maybe some of us learned in Sunday school: Born once, die twice, Born twice, die once. And, of course, what that means is, is that we have just had our physical birth and we’re not only going to die physically but we are going to have spiritual death which is separation from God forever. But if we’re born twice, first of all born physically, and then born of the Spirit, there is only one death for us, and it may not even be one because the Lord may come and snatch us up in the rapture.

Dave:

Amen.