Chapter 11, Paragraph 6.
“The justification of believers under the Old Testament was, in all these respects, one and the same with the justification of believers under the New Testament.”
Abraham! Joseph! Moses! They and all the Old Testament saints who witnessed miracles, sacrificed animals, and lived in a culture, time, and place so foreign to my own, I admit I find them hard to relate to. Blame the old movies, musicals, and storybooks written about them, but their lives seemed so sweeping, so grandiose, so larger-than-life. (And in Technicolor!) What could modern-day Christians have in common with such ancient people whose faith was so strong movies were made about them millennia later?
A beautiful fact about justification is that when it comes to being declared righteous before God, all the elect are equal. The reason why Abraham is considered righteous, or Rahab, or Daniel, is not because there was something inherently amazing in them that made God take notice. They were justified by faith through the obedience and death of Jesus Christ. As any sinner who is drawn to Christ today is pardoned of sins and accepted as righteous, so too they were. Time does not divide the elect when it comes to justification.
How could the Old Testament saints be justified by faith in Christ when Jesus had not been born yet? Earlier in chapter seven of the Confession we read how the Covenant of Grace (the offer of life and salvation to sinner by Jesus Christ) was revealed first to Adam and Eve after the Fall, then by farther steps until “the full discovery thereof was compleated in the new Testament”. Through the animal sacrifices, promises, and various types, Jesus was revealed to be the Seed of the Woman who would crush the Serpent’s head. Those elect who lived before Christ were not justified due to all the offerings they sacrificed, but were justified by faith in the One who was to come. They received all the benefits of Christ’s redemption although it had not yet occurred. (Confession, Chapter 8, paragraph 6)
I may not lead a nation or have movies made about me. You might not, either. But if we are both in Christ, our righteousness is the same. We have God to thank for that.
Questions to Consider
- Is it hard to believe that you have anything in common with Old Testament saints?