There is no doubt that there are lots of heresies taught that are not of the Bible, but the one I would like to look at today is dispensational salvation. This is the teaching that in every dispensation, there were different ways you could be saved. Those who teach dispensational salvation teach that people in the Old Testament were saved by works because Jesus hadn't died on the cross yet. Some also teach that people in the Tribulation will be saved by works. However, time and time again in the Word of God, we see clearly people have been and always will be saved by the wonderful grace of Jesus Christ and that is going to be the only way anyone will ever step foot into Heaven. In Acts 10:43 the Bible says, "To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins." It's amazing that I must bold in and italicize the word "all". According to Acts 10:43, people in the Old Testament as well as the New Testament were saved by the Lord Jesus Christ's sacrifice on the cross. Some do not know the meaning of the word "all" and so we will spend time looking at "all" of what the Old Testament and New Testament has to say.
Old Testament Salvation
Genesis is the very first book of the Bible and the very first book where we find that people began to call upon the name of the Lord. Romans 10:13 says, "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." Calling upon God's name is simply trusting that God's work was good enough/will be good enough for us. People did this in Genesis. Genesis 4:26 says, "And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the LORD." Amazing! People were calling upon the name of the Lord. That means people were trusting in God to save them. Salvation was the same in Genesis as it is today and yet, hyper-dispensationalists would like to twist Scripture and say that Adam and Eve were saved by works because they had to eat of the tree of life to be saved. First off, that was given to them; they only needed to eat the fruit. Secondly, that isn't works salvation; if I told you that you could have a twenty dollar bill of mine only if you took it from my hands, would that be putting a condition on you having the money? No, that's common sense. When God offers salvation, one simply needs to receive it to be saved. God's not going to force them to take it. The truth of the matter is that they were saved when God made coats of skin for them. That is a picture of Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God who would take away our sins. Genesis also speaks elsewhere where people called upon the name of the Lord to be saved. Genesis 12:8 speaks of the time Abraham got saved, "And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the LORD, and called upon the name of the LORD." Once again, we find a situation where an Old Testament salvation was made when Abraham "called upon the name of the LORD." Maybe it is that hyper-dispensationalists have a hard time with what it means to call upon the name of the Lord. Calling upon the name of the Lord is just the same thing as me calling a mechanic to fix my car. I do this because I trust he will do a good job on it and will not make it any worse. This is the same thing when calling upon the name of the Lord. I trust that He will save my soul from the penalty of sin which is death in hell. I would agree that it would have been less believable in the Old Testament that Christ would come to die on the cross, but it was still the same exact faith we have that the sacrifice ALREADY DID take place as what people had to have in what WOULD SOON take place for them. We look back to Christ's sacrifice, they had to look forward to it. You say, "They didn't know about Christ." Once again, Acts 10:43 refutes that idea. Every Old Testament prophet spoke of Jesus Christ. Romans 10:17-18 says, "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world." Everyone on earth in the Old Testament heard the Word of God. You might say, "Calling upon God's name was different." How so? How was it different from the way we call upon the name of the Lord? Galatians 3:8 speaks of Abraham's salvation once again, "And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed." Abraham heard the gospel of Christ and believed it and got saved. He got saved the same way we get saved today. Clearly, Genesis, as the very first book of the Bible, is filled with people who believed the gospel and got saved.
Another good example of grace salvation taught in the Old Testament is found in Numbers 21 which is where Moses tells people to look at the snake and live. Numbers 21:5-9 says, "And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread. And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died. Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people. And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived." The messsage of the cross is clearly taught here in the Old Testament. The message was, "look and live". This is the simplicity of salvation itself. Isaiah 45:22 says, "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else." This is the message of Numbers 21 - "look and live". There are several things we can note from this passage of Scripture. Instead of God taking away the serpents, God provided a remedy in the form of a serpent. It is the same way with us - instead of God taking away the penalty of sin, God has provided a remedy through the redemption of Jesus Christ. If we look to Him, we will live. Notice here that it was a brass serpent. The "serpent" spoke of the curse that sin brought. The "brass" represents the judgment of God falling on the One who would set us free from the curse and be made sin for us. There was also a pole that represented the cross of Calvary. Just as the serpent was lifted up on the pole, Christ was lifted up high on the cross. John 12:32-33 says, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die." God told Moses to make a fiery serpent of brass, put it up on a pole, and send an invitation to all those who were bitten and about to die to look at the pole and live. It's obvious that Moses preached the GOSPEL OF GRACE. Hyper-dispensationalists fail to see God's grace being shown in this passage of Scripture. That being said, I would like to list seven things that the Israelites WEREN'T told to do:
1. They were NOT told to make a serum to cure the venom they had inside of them. Religion after religion would like to offer a serum to cure the sin we have inside of us by methods such as baptism, prayer, good works, church membership, keeping the law, etc. While these things are good and of itself, it is not going to cure us. Only the blood of Christ and the Work He did has the power and cure to heal us and save us. Jesus Christ is the Great Physician; not my works, not my baptism, not my reformation, etc. In this case, the children of Israel were only told to look at the brass serpent and live. That is SALVATION BY GRACE.
2. They were NOT told to help others while they weren't feeling well. This is another method of salvation by works. Religions would tell us to do works of charity for others and go the extra mile so that we can counteract the deadly virus of sin. While doing these things are a command to the believer, they are not merits to salvation. This is Mother Theresa garbage theology. She would point others to good works as a cure and not faith alone.
3. They were NOT told to fight the serpents. Some preachers would tell us that we need to get a rid of the devil in our life. What good would that do if they were already bitten and about to die? It wouldn't do any good at all. They weren't told to do that at all, only to look at the serpent and live.
4. They were NOT told to make an offering to the snake. Moses or God did not ask for any payment in return for their healing. This was a gift of God just as salvation is a gift of God. Many preachers today contaminate the true gospel by teaching a salvation that has been turned into an exchange, reward, or purchase. Salvation is neither of these, it is a GIFT of GOD paid for IN FULL (not in part) by the Lord Jesus Christ. The Israelites healing was GIVEN AS A GIFT of God.
5. They were NOT told to pray to the serpent. Religions often tell us that we need to pray to God, plead with God, or beg to God in bitter tears for the mercy and grace of God so that He might save us. His grace and mercy, however, are OFFERED to all those that believe on His name. We don't need to beg God for something that He has already given. Likewise, they didn't need to beg God for something that was already offered.
6. They were NOT told to look to Moses. Some people here were looking to Moses and urging Moses to cry to God on their behalf. God's respond was that He had taken there eyes off of Moses and commanded them to look at the serpent. Many people today are looking to Moses, the lawgiver, as their hope of salvation. They are trusting in their imperfect obedience as a tool for salvation - but the simple fact is, this tool is so dull it won't do anything for us going to Heaven.
7. They were NOT told to look at their wounds. Religion teaches that if we look and examine the wickedness of ourselves and promote some religion by making ourselves look better we can be saved. Too many people are occupied in doing this. Religion won't save! Only Christ can save! The Israelites were only told to look at the fiery serpent and then they would live!
People were given the same invitation in the Old Testament as people were in the New Testament and as people are today. We are told simply to believe on Christ and we will be saved. People in the Old Testament were told to simply believe on the Lord and they would be saved. Religion and works never saved a single soul. So, how do people come up with the strange doctrine like this? It is just the same way any false doctrine is made up... by perverting the Scripture and taking verses out of context. For example, Ezekiel 18 is often used to teach that people were saved by turning from all there sins and keeping all of God's law. As much as the saved person is commanded to do so, it was WRITTEN TO A SAVED NATION. Israel was and is today God's chosen nation. You say, "Don't you believe some people in Israel need the Lord?" YES, they need the Lord just as much as we do today. This is why Romans 10 was written - so that people of Israel would be saved! However, God spoke to the nation as a whole in Ezekiel 18 and the living the Bible referred to in this chapter referred to PHYSICAL LIFE. If they didn't get right, God would kill them. But, time after time, God still gave mercy. This is exactly WHY Paul told us to RIGHTLY divide the Word of Truth. It's too bad that some people just go to the extreme and literally cut off verses as if they weren't revelant. There are several verses in the OLD TESTAMENT ALONE that prove their works were as worthless as ours is today and they still had to deal with original sin (they couldn't possibly be perfect)...
Jeremiah 2:22: "For though thou wash thee with nitre, and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity is marked before me, saith the Lord GOD."
Isaiah 64:6: "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away."
Psalm 51:5: "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me."
Job 14:4: "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one."
Isaiah 53:6: "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all."
These are plain verses that speak of people in the OLD TESTAMENT who had a struggle with sin. They couldn't clean themselves, THEY TO needed the BLOOD OF THE ONE SPOTLESS LAMB to take away their sins.
In Acts 15, we see a debate between some that believed they had to keep the law of God in order to be saved. Here is the story...
"And certain men which came down from Judaea [to Antioch] taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. ... And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them. But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. ... And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. ... And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which NEITHER OUR FATHERS NOR WE were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they. ... Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church ... And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia: Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment." -Acts 15:1-2, 4-5, 7, 9-11, 22-24
It's clear from this New Testament passage that not even the Old Testament saints were able to keep the law for salvation. Acts 15:10-11 says, "Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, EVEN AS THEY." This irrefutable verses that plainly say that people in the Old Testament were saved the same way as we are today - BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH. You say, "They couldn't have - they didn't know what faith was." Didn't know what faith was? Here are some verses from the Old Testament ALONE that say otherwise:
Job 13:15: "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him..."
Nahum 1:7: "The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him."
Proverbs 30:5: "Every word of God is pure: He is a shield unto them that put their trust in Him."
2 Samuel 22:31: "As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all them that trust in him."
Psalm 34:22: "The LORD redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate."
Psalm 37:40: "And the LORD shall...save them, because they trust in Him."
Clearly, faith in the Lord was found in the Old Testament. Hebrews 11 has a whole list of people who lived by FAITH and who had FAITH in God that were in the Old Testament.
Scripture upon Scripture dictates salvation was by grace through faith in the Old Testament just as it is today.
In order to understand salvation in the tribulation, one must first understand that people CAN be and WILL be saved during the tribulation. The only people we are promised who WILL NOT have a chance at salvation are those who have heard the gospel before the tribulation but rejected Christ. 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12 says, "And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." So, people can and will be saved in the Great Tribulation.
The question remains - how are people going to be saved during the Tribulation? Revelation 7:14 gives us the answer, "And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." The answer is simple - they were saved by the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.
How in the world do people come up with a doctrine like this and say they will be saved differently in the tribulation? My best guess is that they believe those who have heard the gospel in the past and rejected it will be able to be saved but they have to work really hard just to be saved. The problem is that people who have heard the gospel won't get a chance to be saved anymore. Hyper-dispensationalists often use Matthew 24:13 to say that people in the tribulation have to persevere in the faith to be saved, "But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved." However, that is failure to rightly divide the Word of Truth. Not every "saved" in the Bible means "spiritually saved". If I saved someone from dying, does that mean they will go to Heaven? No, it means I physically saved them. If a believer in the Tribulation doesn't endure, he is going to die and he is not going to remain until the end. Is this a requirement for salvation? No.
Dispensational Salvation is a false doctrine and there are many false prophets who teach this doctrine. Salvation is the same in every dispensation. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. God forgave sins in the Old Testament just as He does today and just as He will in the Tribulation. God does not change! Why do people think that we are the special ones that are saved by grace? Usually it is hyper-dispensationalists that believe this and are also antinomian believing the law of God was for only the Jew and it doesn't have anything to do with us. They are "Paulines" who believe that Paul's writings are the only writings that apply to us. Why in the world do we have the full Word of God today if only Paul's writings are applicable to us? Paul himself said that the Old Testament was written aforetime for OUR LEARNING. To teach that salvation is different in each dispensation is to wrongly divide the word of truth and contaminate the everlasting gospel the Bible teaches - the GOSPEL OF GRACE.