Was there one plan of salvation that applied to people living before Jesus went to the Cross and a different one for those looking back on the Cross? The technical term for this, we believe, is dispensation. That’s today’s topic for Spreading God’s Word.
The short answer to this question is no. There wasn’t one dispensation for Old Testament believers and a different dispensation for New Testament believers. There is only one Gospel and that is the Gospel of salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ. Whether we’re reading the Old Testament, New Testament, the Law, the Prophets, the Psalms, the four Gospels, Acts, the Epistles or Revelation, the Gospel message being proclaimed is one and the same.
We must remember that Christ was the lamb slain from before the foundation of the earth; therefore, the efficacy of Christ’s atonement reached all the way back to Abel and the other believers who lived on the Old Testament side of the Cross.
Obviously, certain Books, chapters and verses are emphasizing various aspects of the Gospel to a greater degree than others. The result of this is that in one paragraph we might find that the blood of Christ — the fact that there is no remission except through the shedding of blood — is particularly in view. We see this especially when reading Leviticus about the blood sacrifices, or in Hebrews where we have commentary on the blood sacrifices in Leviticus.
Other places stress the washing away of our sins — this is seen beautifully in the Gospel of John. Still elsewhere, God’s wrath against sin is particularly in view — Romans is a wonderful example. Man’s depravity shines through with great clarity in Ephesians 2 and Romans 3. But it’s important to realize that none of these passages, paragraphs or sentences stands alone.
We should never really say, “This is what Peter or Paul said” because they weren’t really the authors of those statements. God is the Author — and Peter and Paul, Isaiah and Moses were simply instruments in His hand to write the Bible. Certainly, these holy men of old wrote out of their own personality and experiences; however, what they wrote was exactly what God wanted them to write…down to the last word and letter.
Consequently, God wrote through Luke about salvation – and this was precisely the same salvation God wrote about through Moses and the apostle Paul. It was the identical salvation that Jesus Christ proclaimed.
Perhaps another way of saying this is that Old Testament believers looked forward to the Cross while New Testament believers look back on the Cross.
To God Be The Glory!