Salvation: Something We Were Not Told!
In classes I attended as a young Christian, I was taught that salvation was the result of what Christ did for humanity at the Cross of Calvary. Yet in other classes I was instructed that the Greek word “save” (sozo) was one of those verbs in the Koine Greek that denoted past, present, and future tense in one word.
Latter in my Christian pilgrimage I discovered the Scriptures taught two distinct covenants, and I was able to make sense out of all of these apparently contradictory theological explanations. It is my desire in this position paper to share this understanding with the reader and bring clarity to these apparent contradictions without developing “make believe” theology to bring harmony to the Scriptures on this subject.
Salvation Scripture Key To This Discussion
The scripture we need to examine consists of the following passages along with some of my preliminary observations and remarks made from a fulfilled eschatological understanding.
1. “But we believe that we shall be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus…” (Acts 15:11).
The setting of this verse is Peter speaking to the apostles and elders in Jerusalem. The date for the book of Acts is about 57-62 A.D. which places the statement well after the Crucifixion on Calvary in 33.5 A.D. (not getting into calendar adjustments). Many Christians are perplexed by the tone of this verse as it clearly states that Peter, the apostles, and the elders were expecting that they would be saved somewhere in the future to when Peter spoke. It is my task to show that this was accurate and that salvation was not complete until the Parousia of Christ which took place in 70 AD.
2. “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18).
I believe modern research that sets the book of 1 Corinthians during the year 55 AD. If this be true, then its contents are about 22 years after the Crucifixion, but Paul writes to those in Corinth and states that their salvation (and his also) are still future! “…but to us who are being saved…” I see all of this to be accurate as salvation was not complete until the Parousia of Christ which took place in 70 AD.
3. “…For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed” (Romans 13:11).
The book of Romans is dated at 57 AD. This would place these writings 24 years after the Crucifixion, yet Paul writing to those in Rome states their and his salvation to be “…nearer now than when…” they first believed. This is a true and accurate statement as salvation would be completed some 13 years after this statement was made at the Parousia of Christ in 70 AD.
4. “Now when these things begin to take place, look up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28).
The words above are the words of Jesus in what has become known as the Olivet Discourse. The “these things” in His statement refers back to those items listed in the discourse that are found in Luke 21:5 through 21:27. Notice, among the long list of items mentioned by Jesus in this passage, that He ties the redemption (salvation) of His disciples to, “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies…” (Luke 21:20) an event that is historically dated as having taken place in 70 AD.
5. “…Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come…” (Revelation 12:10).
Modern scholarship dates the book of Revelation at 68 AD just prior to the Destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. The content of Revelation includes prophecy that speaks to this close-at-hand event. Because these events culminate with the Parousia of Christ, salvation is spoken of in the prophecy as having come – present tense. There is perfect harmony throughout all of the scripture described!
It is essential, I think, that I give insight into why I contend that it is important that the Parousia event took place as it did in 70 AD. The primary scripture for this explanation is found in the book of Hebrews.
” so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him” (Hebrews 9:28).
A good date for the book of Hebrews is 67 AD, prior to the Destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the Old Covenant age. Key communication in this verse is that Jesus “will appear a second time…” which was still future, and “…to save those who are eagerly waiting…” Notice that part of this second appearing was for the purpose of saving those who were waiting for Him. This is an extremely powerful verse that is applicable to the topic of salvation. Many do not realize that it has its roots in the Old Covenant typology contained in the Mosaic Tabernacle and the physical priesthood of that era.
During the Old Covenant, once each year the high priest (a man from the priesthood) went into the Mosaic Tabernacle (and later the Temple) into the Holy Place (one of the rooms of the tabernacle) and from there into a second room through a veil into the compartment known as the Holy of Holies (which was a type of heaven). He took with him an animal blood sacrifice for himself and all of the people to cleanse himself and the people of sin (Exodus 30:1-10).
The fleshly sacrifice for sin depicted above was a type that would be fulfilled by the death of Jesus Christ on the Cross of Calvary. The high priest of the Old Covenant prefigured our great High Priest, Jesus Christ (Hebrews 5:1-6).
An important (essential) element of the Old Covenant high priest was his exit from the Holy of Holies after offering the animal blood sacrifice. This part of the event signified to the people that the offering of the high priest had been acceptable to God. Without a return of the high priest from the Holy of Holies there was no forgiveness. The noted biblical scholar F.F. Bruce writes:
The Israelites who watched their high priest enter the sanctuary for them waited expectantly for his reappearance; that was a welcome sign that he and the sacrifice which he presented had been accepted by God. His reappearance from the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement was a specially welcome sight.
F.F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews, New London Commentaries, Marshall, Morgan & Scott,
1974, pp. 223-24.
The point here being that Christ, after His resurrection, ascended into heaven (the true Holy of Holies) with His blood as a final sacrifice for the sin of all mankind. Jesus, as Hebrews 9 tells us, had to purify the copies of things in the heavens with the better sacrifice (His own blood). Hebrews goes on to say, “so, Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” If Jesus, our High Priest has not yet returned we are still left waiting, lost in unforgiveness! If Christ has not returned (Parousia, presence) do you realize the Scriptures are telling us that there is not a single person living or dead today that is saved! This is why the writer of this article sees the Parousia (the returning presence of Christ to His church) to be understood as occurring in the 70 AD time frame.
Those Who Eagerly Waited for Christ
From the Hebrews 9 passage above, the phrase “those who are eagerly awaiting him” raises a question as to who these are that were waiting for Jesus for their salvation?
In the Scriptures, the Hebrew word “Sheol” was the place or state where the Old Covenant dead were while they waited for Christ to be crucified on the cross and His Parousia that would coincide with their resurrection. The Bible indicates that God’s people of the Old Covenant believed they would someday be rescued from Sheol, as is the case in the following.
“But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will receive me” (Psalms 49:15).
“And all these (referring to the Old Covenant saints, see Hebrews 11:32), though well attested by their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had forseen something better for us, that apart from us (those believers who were alive at the time of the Parousia) they should not be made perfect” (Hebrews 11:39, 40). This passage speaks of the Old Covenant saints having to wait in Sheol until the general resurrection took place at Christ’s Parousia circa 70 AD. From that time on believers are resurrected from sin-death at the moment of their belief in Jesus Christ.
In closing I would suggest the following statement to reflect what I have discovered about salvation from this study.
Salvation is through the cross and is culminated at the Parousia of Christ in 70 AD.