Before the New Covenant had been ratified by the death of Jesus, its terms were made applicable to those who had faith. If we do not take this view of God’s dealings with the Ancients, we practically assert that God has two arrangements for the forgiveness of sins, one through faith in Christ, applicable since Calvary, and another through faith generally considered, without reference to Christ’s death and the Covenant ratified by it. If God could accept the Patriarchs on account of their faith alone, and could justify them without consideration of the New Covenant blood shed for the remission of sins, He could equally well accept others in the same manner. This would be tantamount to saying that Christ died unnecessarily. On the contrary, there is only the one way of salvation mentioned in the Scriptures.
“We read, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted 16 him for righteousness.”
“Now, it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.” (Rom. 4: 3, 21-2.5; 3 : 22-26.)
The non-imputation of sin where it exists and the imputation of righteousness where it does not exist, can be accomplished only in view of an arrangement satisfactory to divine justice. The sacrifices offered by the Patriarchs were acknowledgments of need on their part, but those sacrifices could not take away sin, any more than could those of the Law Covenant. The only satisfactory arrangement is that in the New Covenant ratified by the blood of Jesus; and we must conclude that the forgiveness of sins and the imputation of righteousness extended to those who had faith in God and believed what He told them, before the death of Christ, were on New Covenant terms, in anticipation of the actual inauguration of the arrangement. That is to say, God took the risk, if there were one, of counting Abraham’s faith to Him for righteousness, in view of the sacrifice that had been arranged for from the foundation of the world. — Book of Life, which belongs to the Lamb that was slain (Rev. 13. 8).
“The righteousness which is of faith”
was made known to the Jews. (Deut. 30: 11-14; Rom. 10: 8-12.) This was something they could have done, whereas the Law Covenant was beyond their ability to do. Some of them had faith, and got a good report through it. (Heb. 11: 30.) By these dealings of God with His faithful ones of old, it can be
discerned that God was pleased to accept on New Covenant terms those who had faith in Him, before
the ratification and formal publication of the New-Covenant, not ignoring it or without consideration of
it on His part, but in anticipation of it.