Repentance And Salvation Part 2: The Doctrine of Repentance In the Old Testament -- By: Robert N. Wilkin

Journal: Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
Volume: JOTGES 02:1 (Spring 1989)
Article: Repentance And Salvation Part 2: The Doctrine of Repentance In the Old Testament
Author: Robert N. Wilkin


Repentance And Salvation
Part 2: The Doctrine of Repentance In the Old Testament

Robert N. Wilkin

Executive Director
Grace Evangelical Society

I. Introduction

In Ezek 18 :21–22 the Lord God of Israel spoke the following words:

If a wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed, keeps all My statutes, and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him; because of the righteousness which he has done, he shall live.

Is that the Gospel? Did the OT teach that one had to turn from his sins to obtain salvation?

The Hebrew words which deal with salvation are general and not specific. That is, one must look to the context to determine what type of salvation is in view. This is also true of the English terms for salvation. For example, the exclamation “I’ve been saved!” could mean a number of things depending on the context in which it was spoken or written. A person rescued from an icy river would mean, “I have been delivered from a watery grave.” Lee Iacocca, the Chief Executive Officer of the Chrysler Corporation, upon receiving a $1.5 billion loan guarantee from the U.S. government would mean, “Chrysler has been saved from bankruptcy.” A death row inmate granted a Presidential pardon would mean, “My life has been spared.” Only in a context where one’s eternal destiny was in view would the meaning be “I have been saved from eternal condemnation. This may seem to be an obvious point which has little to do with the subject at hand. Actually, it has everything to do with our subject and it is far from obvious to many who write and preach about the OT doctrine of salvation.

There are fifteen different Hebrew words for salvation used in the OT. The vast majority of OT references to salvation refer to various types of temporal deliverances: from one’s enemies, from physical

death, and from various troubles.1

For example, five of the most common and most important OT words for salvation are yāshaʿ, pādâ, gāʿal, mālat, and nātzal. Of the 812 uses of these terms in the OT, only 58 (7.1%) refer to eternal salvation.2 Those refer to the future salvation of the nation of Israel by the Lord—a NT theme as ...

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