Posts Tagged ‘plan of salvation’

Reason #5 – Spiritual Death In Ezekiel 18 Means A Contradiction Between Ezekiel and Christ

If Ezekiel 18 contains the “plan of salvation” for the OT saint, then there is a contradiction between the book of Ezekiel and the words of the Lord Jesus Christ.  When it comes to understanding the covenants of God, most honest Bible students will agree the “Old Testament” was still in effect during the time of the earthly ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John).  In fact, it was impossible for the New Testament to be activated until the Lord Jesus Christ died.

(Hebrews 9:16-17)  For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.   For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.

If the Old Testament was still in effect during the earthly ministry of Christ, we would expect the mechanics of salvation to be the same as the time of Ezekiel.  Note we did NOT say the “message” of salvation.  It is important to make the distinction.  We see an abrupt change in the message given to Israel when John the Baptist arrives on the scene:

(Matthew 3:1-2)  In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,  And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Even the brethren who claim man was saved by works in the Old Testament concede the point there is a new message when John starts preaching.  These brethren also claim Mark 10 and other passages demonstrate man was saved during the time of the earthly ministry of Christ by repentance, baptism, and following the commandments.[1] If we can agree the mechanics of salvation remained the same (again, please note I did not say “message”), we must also agree the mechanics of eternal security remain the same.  In other words, God saved people either by faith plus works or faith alone in BOTH the time of Ezekiel and the time of the earthly ministry of Christ.

By necessity, the brethren who believe in faith plus works also believe Ezekiel 18 proves people lost their salvation when they sinned and failed to bring the appropriate sacrifice resolving to keep the Law.  I recently heard a preacher use Ezekiel 18:24 to “prove” a man lost his salvation in the OT when he didn’t keep up works under the Mosaic Law.

(Ezekiel 18:24)  But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die.

But how does this compare with the doctrine taught by Jesus Christ?  Does Jesus Christ teach a man must “keep up” the commandments in order to remain eligible for eternal life?  Without even examining the faith plus works vs. faith alone issue, examine the aspect of security in the following verses:

  • (John 6:47)  Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.
  • (John 3:18)  He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
  • (John 5:24)  Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
    • If a person passes from death to life, does the failure to “keep the commandments” pass him back from life to death?
  • (John 10:27-29)  My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:  And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.   My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.
    • If “any man” cannot pluck the sheep out of Christ’s hand, and “no man” is able to “pluck” them out of the Father’s hand, how could a man’s failure to obey the Law remove him from the hand of both the Son and the Father?

The Lord Jesus Christ makes it clear that those who are saved are eternally secure.  This presents a major problem for those who believe Ezekiel’s message “proves” man lived under a conditional salvation in the Old Testament based on human performance.  God dealt with Israel under the same covenant both in Ezekiel 18 and during the earthly ministry of Christ.  There cannot be a contradiction in the Word of God so the problem must be with understanding.  Either man was eternally secure in Ezekiel 18 and the faith plus works interpretation is wrong, or man was not eternally secure and there is a contradiction between the words of Christ and the words of Ezekiel.

In case some are wondering, it is important to clarify before becoming mischaracterized.  Please also note I DID NOT STATE:

1) The message of salvation was the same for those prior to the dispensation of grace as those living in the dispensation of grace.

2) The mechanics of eternal security was the same for the Old Testament saint as it is today.

3) The ministry of the Holy Spirit was the same in the Old Testament as it is today.

God operates with man on the basis of 2 or 3 covenants (Covenant Theology)

[1] See the article Old Testament Salvation and The Rich Young Ruler for my commentary on that passage


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