|Volume 25 Number 3 March 2023
Louis Rushmore, Editor
Someone mused, “Will God give me a sign?” That brings to my mind an illustration I heard several years ago. It goes something like this.
A serious flood surrounded a man’s home, and the water kept rising. At first, would-be rescuers came by the man’s home in a high-water rescue vehicle, but the man refused to go with them, saying, “I’m waiting for a sign from God.” Later, after the water got even higher, would-be rescuers came by in a boat, but again, the man refused to go with them. “I’m waiting for a sign from God,” he said. Then, the water rose so high that the man climbed onto the roof to avoid the floodwaters. Would-be rescuers came by in a helicopter, but once more, the man refused to go with them, saying, “I’m waiting for a sign from God.” Finally, the man drowned! Subsequently, in a conversation with God, he bemoaned that God hadn’t sent him a sign. God answered, “I sent you a high-water rescue vehicle, a boat and a helicopter, but you refused all three.”
The scribes and Pharisees asked Jesus for “a sign” (Matthew 12:38). “But He answered and said to them, ‘An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah’” (Matthew 12:39 NKJV). Our Lord, then, proceeded to speak about the ultimate sign – His resurrection from the dead (v. 40). In verses 41-42, Jesus declared that sufficient signs had already been provided during the course of His ministry – which the Jewish leaders chose to ignore.
The “signs” forthcoming from Jesus have already been performed and have been preserved for us in the Gospel records. “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:30-31). Beyond consideration of that passage and coupled with the cessation of Bible miracles, no miraculous signs will come to anyone today. Miracles had as their primary purpose the deliverance of divine revelation (i.e., the New Testament) and validation of the human vessels (2 Corinthians 4:7) through whom new revelation came in the first century (Mark 16:20). Once the New Testament epistles had been provided, miracles were no longer needed (1 Corinthians 13:8-12). Healing people, speaking in languages not learned, walking on water, raising the dead, multiplying fish and bread miraculously, etc. were side effects or physical manifestations to confirm the Word preached was divine in origin.
On the other hand, God’s providence is still active. Miracles were designed to be seen and to prove something, but providence is unseen and is not intended to prove anything. We are unable to confirm providence in our lives without divine revelation, which is unavailable. We can try to ascertain open and closed doors of opportunity and act thereupon.
Did the Old Law Save Souls?
“Did the Old Law [the Old Testament] save souls?” A simple “yes” or “no” will not adequately answer this inquiry. No, the Old Testament (which included Patriarchy and Judaism) did not directly save souls from their sins. How do we know this? “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4 NKJV). The preceding three verses explain.
For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year.
The animal sacrifices offered under Patriarchy and especially under Judaism were unable to remove the guilt of one’s sins, but those sacrifices prefigured a future, perfect sacrifice that would remove their sins. Of course, that perfect sacrifice was the Son of the Living God, the Messiah, the Savior, our Redeemer – Jesus Christ. Only through His sacrifice were and are sins removed, thus saving souls. “In whom [Jesus Christ] we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:14). “…Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood” (Revelation 1:5). The Calvary cross shed blood of Jesus Christ saved backwards through Judaism and Patriarchy to obedient souls (Romans 3:25) as well as flows forward to save contemporary souls from their sins, too.
Not the blood of bulls and goats, but only Christ’s blood saved and continues to save souls from their sins. Today, to be saved by the blood of Christ, one must believe that He is the Son of God (John 8:24) and be immersed in water for the forgiveness of his sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38). The blood of Jesus Christ also continues to keep the saved in the state of saved as Christians repent and pray regarding their known sins (Acts 8:22) and continue to “walk in the light” with our Lord (1 John 1:7).