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How are people saved, made right with God, in the New Testament?
How were people saved, made right with God, in the Old Testament?
The Pharisees of Jesus day believed and taught that if they kept the law then they would
have eternal life. After all, that is what the Old Testament teaches.
Galatians 3:12.
Leviticus 18:5.
It is not surprising that many people believe that they can be justified, made right with God,
saved, by keeping Gods law.
And they are completely 100% correct. They are right. If they keep the law, God will judge
them as righteous and they will be welcomed in to heaven.
Who has kept the law?
1 Peter 3:18.
These false teachers, seemed to have a great love for Moses and the Law, Paul takes them
even further back to prove his doctrine of justification by faith. He takes them all the way
back to Abraham, the father of the nation.
Galatians 3:6-9.
Just as Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,
Genesis 15:5-6.
First God makes a promise to Abraham. An impossible promise humanly speaking. Yet
Abraham took God at his word. Abraham believed God, ie, Abraham put his faith, his
dependence, in the promise of God. Abraham was right before God by his faith. God
reckoned his faith, his believing, his trusting, his dependence in him, as righteousness.
It was not that Abraham had done anything to earn or deserve being justified (made right
with God), or because the had been circumcised, or because he had kept the law. He doesnt
get circumcised for another 12 years and the law had not yet been given.
No. Abraham was declared justified before God simply because he believed God.
v7 so, you see, those who believe are the descendants of Abraham.
And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, declared the
gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, All the Gentiles shall be blessed in you.
For this reason, those who believe are blessed with Abraham who believed.
Genesis 12:1-3.
In verse 8 Paul says what this blessing will be, it is the greatest of all blessings.
The blessing, Abrahams blessing, is Justification BY FAITH.

And who is that blessing for? It is for the true descendants of Abraham. Be they Jew or
Gentile. It is to those who believe, those who place their faith in the promise of God, those
who are dependent on the grace of God alone though faith in Christ alone.
These Jewish false teachers had been telling the Galatian believers that to be a descendant of
Abraham, to benefit from the promise and blessing of Abraham they had to become Jews
through circumcision and ceremonial law keeping.
No No No says Paul. The Galatians believers are already the sons of Abraham by faith and
not by circumcision.
Galatians 3:28.
John Stott,
Both verses 7 & 9 affirm that the true children of Abraham (who inherit the blessing
promised to his seed) are not his posterity by physical descent, the Jews, but his spiritual
progeny, men and women who share his faith, namely Christian believers.
Paul has made it clear that even Abraham, the father of the Jewish nation, was saved not by
works that he performed but by faith in the promise of God.
Galatians 3:10-12.
For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, Cursed is
everyone who does not observe and obey all the things written in the book of the law.
Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law; for The one who is
righteous will live by faith.
But the law does not rest on faith; on the contrary, Whoever does the works of the law
will live by them.
Deuteronomy 27:26.
Cursed is the opposite of Blessed. What was the blessing from Abraham? Justification.
Sinners able to be made right with God. Here is why it is not possible to be made right with
God by works of the law. Because none of us have kept them. To fail in one is to be guilty
of all.
James 2:10.
To be guilty is to be under the curse not the blessing.
But God doesnt expect us to be perfect. As long as we try our best he will accept us.
Is that what God says in the Bible? No it isnt.
Matthew 5:48. Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
To be justified by works of the law we have to keep them perfectly. And we cannot.
Romans 3:20.
The law shows us our sin. It shows us our failures. The very law itself shows us that we
cannot be saved by keeping the law because its verdict is guilty.
What is the answer? Paul gives the answer again from the Old Testament.
Habakkuk 2:4. The one who is righteous by faith will live.
Clearly, even in the Old Testament, people, Jew and Gentiles, were saved, justified, made
right with God, not by their works, but by faith/dependence in God and his promises.

Leviticus 18:5.
When you see his context it is not that we can be saved by keeping the law but in fact the
exact opposite.
Over and over in Scripture we are clearly taught that as human beings we are lost, we are
hopeless, we are condemned, we are under a curse. We cannot get ourselves out of that
situation. And, we deserve it!
What is the answer? How do we get out of this mess that we have created?
Romans 7:24-25.
Here is the answer to our greatest dilemma. Christ the curse bearer.
Deuteronomy 21:23.
Galatians 3:13-14.
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us--for it is
written, Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree-- in order that in Christ Jesus the
blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promise
of the Spirit through faith.
Think these verse through with our gospel definition in mind.
Salvation by Grace alone, through Faith alone, in Christ alone.
Christ (alone, no one else)
redeemed us (rescued us) (what did he rescue us from?)
from the curse of the law (from the condemnation that we deserved)
(and how did he do that?) by becoming a curse for us
By taking our curse onto himself, our sin, our punishment.
Isaiah 53:6.
1 Peter 2:24.
Jesus redeemed us, Jesus rescued us, by taking our place. And instead of God pouring out
his wrath, that we deserved, on us, he pours it all out on Jesus.
--for it is written, (Deuteronomy 21:23) Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree-In Old Testament Israel, when someone received the death penalty they were normally
stoned to death. Then their body was hung up on a tree for everyone to see. Their hanging
on the tree was proof that they were already cursed by the law.
Here is Jesus, cursed by the law, not for any sin that he had committed but for your sin and
And what was the purpose of Jesus becoming a curse for us? What was the purpose of his
hanging on a tree?
Paul takes it right back to Abraham.

v 14 in order that (where?) in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham (what was the
blessing of Abraham? Justification, being made right with God.) might come to the
Gentiles, (you and me.) so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit (how?)
through faith.
The promise of the Spirit is almost synonymous with being justified. You dont get one
without the other. And you get them both not by works but by faith.
Ephesians 1:11-14.
Why does Jesus do what he does? - Grace.
How do we appropriate/receive what he has done? - Faith.
Is there anyone else who can do this for us? No! Christ alone.
Salvation by Grace alone, through Faith alone, in Christ alone, brings the blessing of
Abraham, justification, right standing with God, and the precious gift of the Holy Spirit.
John MacArthur defines justifying faith for us in four ways.
All of this blessing is through faith.
Justifying faith involves self-renunciation, putting away all confidence in ones
own merit and works.. the sinner must acknowledge his sinfulness and his total
inability to save himself. When he sees Gods justice pursuing him and Gods
judgment ahead of him, he realizes his helplessness in himself and realizes he has
nowhere to turn but to Gods mercy and grace.
Justifying faith also involves reliance on and submission to the Lord. When a
sinner sees that he has no way to escape and no power in his own resources, he
knows he must rely on Gods provision and power.
Justifying faith involves appropriation, as the sinner gratefully receives the free gift
of pardon Christ offers and submits to His authority.
Justifying faith does not have to be strong faith; it only has to be true faith. And
true faith not only brings salvation to the believer but glory to the One who saves.
John MacArthur Jnr.
Do you want to be saved?
Do you want to go to heaven?
Do you want to bring Glory to the One who saves?
Then there is only one way.

Grace alone, through Faith alone, in Christ alone.

L Gaulton.