Jewish Anticipation of the Cross Part 1 -- By: Philip W. Grossman

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 106:422 (Apr 1949)
Article: Jewish Anticipation of the Cross Part 1
Author: Philip W. Grossman

Jewish Anticipation of the Cross
Part 1

Philip W. Grossman

The subject of salvation in the Old Testament has been treated in a very limited manner in theological literature. One reason is that the Old Testament itself is, for the most part, silent concerning the way in which an individual soul could be saved. In this article, to be sure, it is not the writer’s purpose to consider the whole problem of Old Testament salvation, but to confine the discussion to the question of whether or not the Israelite anticipated the work of the cross. Did he understand God’s plan of salvation which was to be completed at Calvary? When Christ said, “It is finished,” having obtained eternal redemption for all who believe, was something done that the Jew had known about, to which he had looked forward and in which he trusted, just as the Christian today looks back to the cross and trusts in the finished work of the Saviour who died there for the sins of the whole world? There are two leading views current today on this question; one answers in the affirmative and the other in the negative. It is the writer’s objective in the following pages to indicate some of the more vital reasons why the affirmative view is untenable and why it is that, with little exception or qualification, the Old Testament Jew could not have anticipated the work of the cross.

The Affirmative Position

Men who preach the gospel of grace as we have it in the New Testament are often led, or misled, to conclude that the Jew looked forward to the cross as Christians look back to it, and for the reason that the Bible plainly sets forth

Christ as the only Saviour, and apart from His work upon the cross there is no salvation. We must accept the truth that if there had been no Calvary there would be no salvation in any age. But, it may be asked, is knowledge of Calvary itself necessary? Is the grace of God in the gospel of Christ ministered to any persons in any way other than through personal faith in the crucified One? If we do not answer no, we must believe, as Lucius E. Smith points out in his article “Is Salvation possible without a knowledge of the Gospel?”, that all who die in infancy are damned.1 But if such as die in infancy are the objects of redeeming grace, then grace works in some manner independently of faith in the gospel. We may say, therefore, that while the work of the cross is always the ground on which God saves anyone in any dispensation personal understanding and faith in that work may not always be a necessary condition of that individual’s salvation.

A second factor contributing to the prevalence of the affirmative position is the int...

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