"Forward-Looking Faith"

Discussion in 'Covenant Theology' started by Daniel M., Jan 5, 2017.

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  1. Daniel M.

    Daniel M. Puritan Board Freshman

    I know the canned Reformed answer to "How were Old Testament saints judged?" is by their "forward-looking faith", but I'm having a hard time understanding what that means.

    Until Jesus spelled it out for the Jews, messianic prophecies were almost (and still are today) completely political things to them.

    Are we saying that, unless the Jews understood the insufficiency of their animal sacrifices and believed the messiah would be killed and raised for their sins, they would perish?

    If that's the case, it seems to me that a staggering majority of Israel would have nver seen salvation. What sinner, unless illuminated by God directly, would be able to understand these things?

    Can someone break down the composition and specifics of "forward-looking faith" to me?
  2. jwithnell

    jwithnell Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    You are seeing the weakness of quick and easy answers that become part of the jargon.

    A better way to approach faith in OT believers? Ask: how does the Bible describe their faith? It sees the saints acting in faith based upon what has been revealed to them.

    Romans 4 tells us that Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness. Hebrews 11 names person after person and demonstrates that they acted upon a conviction regarding things they had not seen -- faith defined.
  3. Daniel M.

    Daniel M. Puritan Board Freshman

    Okay, this makes sense and I'll explore it more.

    I also notice that there doesn't seem to be consensus in the Reformed community, however, regarding "Abraham's Bosom" and the descent of Christ into Hell (or not).

    I personally lean away from this idea. I don't see it as necessary, and also see it as contrary to Christ's own testimony to the criminal on the cross about where He would go thereafter.

    So the viewpoint I'm still exploring is that of faith based on sovereignly-determined circumstances. I have a difficult time understanding what faith during the time of the Mosaic Law would look like, but my suspicion is that it would inherently lead to a contrite spirit, an appeal to the mercy of God, and adherence to the law proceeding from that faith.
  4. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    The gospel was preached to them in the promise of a Seed, Galatians 3, and this was typified to them in many different ways, e.g., circumcision, Ephesians 2; Colossians 2; passover, 1 Corinthians 5; sacrifices, priesthood, and temple, Hebrews 9; the promised land, Hebrews 3-4, etc. The gospel preached to them did not profit those in whom it was not mixed with faith, Hebrews 4. Those who lived by faith had embraced the promises even though they did not physically live to see their fulfilment, Hebrews 11:13. God, as their God, covenantally engaged for their life and their good, prepared for them an heavenly city, verse 16. This included the hope of the resurrection, verses 19, 35; but in the purpose of God they would not be made perfect without "us," i.e., those who have believed the fulfilment of these promises in Jesus Christ, verse 40. This glorious expectation formed them into a cloud of witnesses who compass new testament believers as they run their race in the now/not-yet conditions of eschatological fulfilment, Hebrews 12. It is not that they are physically present, but they are eschatologically present in the shared hope of eternal blessedness. There was more of the "not-yet" for old testament believers, but there was sufficient substance in the promise to fill them with substantial hope in what for them was a present enjoyment of the blessings of God.

    This now/not-yet eschatology explains why heaven is described in terms like "Abraham's bosom," because the promise of glory was enclosed within the promises made to the patriarch. It does not refer to a separate place of existence, but to a different mode of expectation before life and immortality had been brought to life by the Lord Jesus Christ and manifested in the worldwide preaching of the gospel.
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2017
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