GRACE UNTO ALL WHO BELIEVE
And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped. And he said, If now I have found grace in thy sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray thee, go among us; for it is a stiffnecked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for thine inheritance.
(Ex 34:8-9, KJV.)
In order to fully appreciate what the Father provided through grace in His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, it might benefit us to examine our view of the gospel in context of the complete Word of God. Let us first consider that salvation, through grace, by faith, is not limited to New Testament believer. We tend to associate grace SOLELY to the time frame following the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In some way, we assert God, in the Old Testament, as relentless and unforgiving. Indeed, the gift of salvation through grace was REALISED in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. YET, the gift of salvation through grace ALSO affected salvation for EVERY soul who believed unto salvation in the Old Testament.
Let us consider the book of Hebrews. This epistle was written to encourage New Testament Jewish believers to endure in their faith, for they considered to retract their position in Christ Jesus by re-entering Judaism. This epistle to the Hebrews was written prior to the destruction of the Temple, 70 AD. Persecution was rising. Freedom of religious practice was granted to all world religions, including Judaism, EXCEPT to those who believed in the death and resurrection of the Jewish Messiah, Jesus Christ. These believers faced the possibility of dying for their faith. As Jewish converts, there was a way through which they could protect themselves from persecution. If they would re-join their fellow Jews and worship in their synagogues, they would find a cover for their “faith,” and thus avoid the coming persecution. The entire letter was written as a warning of the dire consequences if they would indeed deny their faith in Christ by this act, (Heb 6:1-12; Heb 10:26-39).
The author, in a phenomenal way, meticulously explains the fulfillment of the First Covenant IN Christ Jesus, their promised Messiah. He calls their attention to the consequences of this decision throughout the epistle, e.g. “For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it,” (Heb 2:1), or, “Therefore, let us fear lest, while a promise remains of entering His rest, anyone of you should seem to have come short of it,” (Heb 4:1), and, “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; that there be no immoral person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal,” (Heb 12:15-16), to mention but a few.
Through excellent exegesis, the author explains that Messiah, through the work of the cross, irrevocably fulfilled what was prophetically predicted through the First Covenant administration, (Heb 7:1-28; Heb 8:1-13; Heb 9:1-28: Heb 10:1-25). Moreover, he strongly warns them to learn from Israel’s mistakes. Although every Israelite who was redeemed applied the blood of the Passover on their doors by faith, and was miraculously saved from the power of the Egyptians (by NO effort of their own except faith and obedience), they did not CONTINUE in the salvation provided to them, for they did not persevere in faith and obedience, (Heb 3:1-19). The author writes of Israel, ‘For indeed we have had good news preached to us, JUST AS THEY ALSO; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard,’ (Heb 4:2). [Emphasis added by the author.]
Even though the grace (gift) of salvation was REALISED through the New Covenant in Christ Jesus who died and was resurrected, we can by no means allocate this grace (gift) to New Covenant Believers, parse. In Hebrews 11, the hall of fame, the author reminds these Jewish converts of ALL those who persevered in their faith, even to the point of death. It becomes evident in Hebrews 11 that the GRACE of salvation, received by faith, include Cain, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Rahab, and EVERY righteous man who endured in their faith, even BEFORE the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The grace (gift) of salvation affected the salvation of these ancient Believers just as much as it affects salvation for those who believe in the gospel of the New Covenant. Hebrews 11 indicates that these faith heroes PERSEVERED in their faith, even unto death. The grace (free gift) of salvation is a precious inheritance which should be guarded and taken for granted, not by anyone who believed unto salvation before the work of the cross, neither by anyone who believes unto salvation after the work of the cross, (Heb 12:14-17).