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Table of Contents
There are some aspects of continuity and discontinuity of the theme of salvation between the New Testament and the Old Testament. Theologians have explored the theme using either the dogmatic or historical approach, whereby the two viewpoints are unlike in the interpretation of the theme. There are some clear differences between how salvation, as well as the ways it can be achieved and maintained, was explained in the OT and the NT. The nation of Jews received salvation through obedience of the law (Gerhard, Bromile, and Friedrich 89). In the OT, it was ensured that they will not lose it at any point. However, in the NT, salvation is not a result of the actions of an individual, but of their grace. Besides this clear discontinuity, some similarities in this theme of salvation exist.
In the Old Testament, there is a clear indication that God dealt with His people by grace. In Deuteronomy, there is a record of God saving Israelites with love and not because they deserved it. Additionally, according to the OT, God saved people as a fulfillment of promises to their fathers, which He did with grace. This theme develops in the OT in the concept that those who receive salvation belong to God as His chosen ones rather than the in concept of getting to heaven (Gerhard 55). God gave Abraham’s descendants the Mosaic Law, which was expected to guide His people, though on the basis of a covenantal relationship that already existed. However, the understanding of belonging to God was connected with the strict following of the law created by God. The dogmatic aspect of the analysis holds that there is a relationship between the covenant made through the law and grace. The Mosaic Law was meant to strengthen the already existing relationship of grace between God and His people.
Salvation in the NT develops through the aspect of spirituality, which God’s people obtained through grace. The law of God is put in the heart of His people, and through this, people are able to know God. Forgiveness of sins is the step that requires faith. The theme of salvation in the NT develops through several processes. The first one is grace whereby people are saved not due to their actions, but due to the unmerited love that God has for them. The second one is salvation through Jesus Christ. The relationship between a man and God finds its binding through the person of Jesus and His actions on earth. The third process of salvation in the NT is clearly seen through the work of the Holy Spirit. The work of the Holy Spirit is connected with that of Christ in this theme (Gerhard, Bromile, and Friedrich 89). Finally, the theme of salvation can be seen in the light of faith in the NT. It is clearly seen through the fact that salvation is entirely an experience that God’s people have since they have strong faith.
The Book of Acts has a different interpretation of salvation that is not in line with that of the OT. The work of the Holy Spirit is interpreted differently because this is a transitional book whereby God reveals Himself more to the apostles. The interpretation of salvation is entirely connected with grace of Jesus Christ. The books of Romans and Ephesians have the same reinterpretation of salvation, which is an act of grace that does not depend on the actions of the people of God. Additionally, the books of John and Mathew interpret salvation as a process that one has to endure. Anyone who can endure it to the end, just like Jesus Christ did, will be saved (Gerhard 65).
There are some elements that indicate continuity of the development of the theme of salvation from the OT to the NT. First of all, God in the OT is the same as in the NT; he does not seem to change. The Book of Deuteronomy indicates the love and grace of God towards His people, which resulted in their salvation, and this continues in the NT through the actions of Jesus Christ (Wolfhart 43). In both the OT and NT, the same God appears to His people through the scripture. It shows concern that God has for the salvation of His people both in the OT and NT.
God treats His people through an established covenant, which He set and expected them to stick to. In the OT, the covenant is the Mosaic Law, which He gave to strengthen the relationship that already existed. Obeying the Law brought salvation, and God treated His people on the basis of that Law. On the other hand, the covenant in the NT is the death of Jesus Christ. His people must have faith in this covenant to receive salvation.
The sacrificial system that brings salvation has inconsistencies between the OT and the NT. In the NT, salvation through sacrifice was achieved in the final great sacrifice that Jesus Christ made. On the other hand, the sacrificial system was a means of grace, and there is no chief sacrifice that symbolizes salvation. Additionally, there is a clear inconsistency in individual salvation between the NT and the OT. Individual salvation in the NT was through the gospel that was meant to reach everyone (Wolfhart 57). Every individual that received this gospel received salvation. There is an inconsistency of this fact in the OT, according to which, individual salvation is an experience that the members of a nation have.