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Does the Old Testament Teach Salvation by Works?

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### Does the Old Testament Teach Salvation by Works? By E. Ray Clendenen According to Genesis 15:6, Abram did not buy righteousness with his faith. Rather, God gave Abram righteousness; which means right standing or acceptability before God. The biblical message is clear and consistent in both testaments: the curse of condemnation and death that rests on everyone because of Adam's sin (Rm 5:121) cannot be removed and exchanged for righteousness through any amount of good deeds that one might do. The exchange can be effected only by God as a free act of His grace in response to a person's faith (Hab 2:4; Rm 1:16-17; 4:1-25; GI 3:6-9). What matters in this exchange is not the quality or degree of faith but rather God's grace; faith is not a means to earn acceptance with God. The apostle Paul considered Abraham a model of transforming faith even though the content of Abraham's faith was different from Paul's. Abraham simply trusted God and His promise to give him a son and then other descendants. Presumably Abraham would have supplemented God's promise here with that of Genesis 12:1-3, trusting that his offspring would be vast not only in number but also in significance, bringing blessing to the world. The content of Abraham’s faith was not inconsistent with that of Paul, only less specific. Also, Abraham believed what God would do and Paul believed what God had done. Finally the New Testament explains that faith itself cannot purchase or serve as the foundation for acceptance with God. Only the cross of Christ can purchase our salvation. But since the eternal and timeless God is sovereign over events, He could apply the work of Christ to Old Testament believers in response to their faith, even though they had no specific knowledge of Christ. \- Originally printed in the Apologetics Study Bible

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1 Sarah R = "Genesis 15:6 "Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness."This verse is quoted by Paul in Romans 4:3 and Galatians 3:6, and by James in James 2:23."
2 Sarah R = "Christian doctrine states that we are saved by faith, and this statement is not refuting that. Rather what the author is saying that it is not our action of having faith that saves us, but rather God's receiving of that faith and providing of grace through Jesus Christ. Ephesians 2:8, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.""
3 Sarah R = "I've heard this explained this way: while we look back on the cross and in faith are saved, the believers in the OT looked forward to the cross and were saved."