Hebrews 10:11-14 - Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices which can never take away sins. But when this Priest [Jesus] had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God. Since that time He waits for His enemies to be made His footstool, because by one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. Ephesians 2:8-9 - For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast. Titus 3:5-7 - He saved us, not because of righteous things which we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us by the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, being justified by His grace we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. Romans 4:3,6 - For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works. John 8:42-44 - Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own, but He sent Me. Why is My language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for he is a liar and the father of lies." Acts 17:30-31 - In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now He commands all people everywhere to repent. For He has set a day when He will judge the world with justice by the Man [Jesus] He has appointed.
Have you ever thought about how the believers in Old Testament times were saved? If Jesus Christ hadn't yet come to die for the sins of the world, could they trust in Him as Savior? If we had asked them, "Have you accepted Jesus as your personal Savior?" they would probably have responded with a blank stare--especially the believers who came before the great Messianic prophecies were given! Does this mean that there are two ways of salvation--one way for Old Testament believers and another way for New Testament believers? Doesn't the Bible teach one way of salvation, regardless of time and culture? How does the Bible answer these questions? Believe it or not, most of these questions can be answered using the acronym "B.M.O.C." Many of you will recognize B.M.O.C. as a familiar old university acronym for "Big Man On Campus." But what does "Big Man on Campus" have to do with growing Christians? Absolutely nothing! However, B.M.O.C. can also represent "Basis," "Means," "Object," and "Content." Still confused? Well, this acronym can help us to remember the four important aspects of God's way of salvation for mankind throughout history: The Basis of salvation, the Means of salvation, the Object of faith, and the Content of faith. The Basis of God's salvation for mankind has always been the same--the finished work of Christ. The Means by which people receive salvation has always been the same--by grace through faith. The Object of saving faith has always been the same--the one and only true God. But the Content of faith has grown over time as God has progressively revealed His truth. The Bible does not teach two ways of salvation--there's only one way of salvation for all time for anymember of the fallen human race. But the body of truth which must be accepted and believed in order to be saved has been amplified as God has revealed more truth over the course of human history. Now let's look at each of the initials of our acronym in more detail. The Basis of Salvation The Basis of salvation has always been the finished work of Christ. Hebrews 10:12 & 14 clearly states that Christ's death on the cross was for "all time" and for "all those who are sanctified." And Hebrews 10:11 tells us that all the Old Testament sacrifices never took away a single sin--not even the 142,000 sacrifices which Solomon offered in one day (1 Kings 8:63)! All of those sacrifices were only a portrayal, an anticipation of the one Great Sacrifice to come. John the Baptist realized and emphasized this fact when he pointed to Jesus and said, "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). Notice that John the Baptist, an Old Testament believer, did not announce a "new" way of salvation. John proclaimed that Jesuswould be the sacrifice that would atone for the sins of the world. When the Lord Jesus said, "It is finished" and "sat down at the right hand of God," the basis for the purification of sins for all time was completed (John 19:30; Hebrews 10:12 and Hebrews 1:3). Everyone who is "written from the foundation of the world in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain" is only there because the Lamb has been slain (Revelation 13:8). The only basis of salvation for any person from any culture at any time in any situation is the finished work of Christ. It is sometimes said that Old Testament believers were saved "on credit," in view of the future work of Christ on the cross. Well, that's an OK way to put it, as long as we remember that God is not limited by time--neither past, nor present, nor future. With God all is "present"! God is "outside" of the time dimension, because time is part of this space-matter-time universe which He created. So the basis of God's salvation for all the redeemed is, and was, and will always be, the sacrificial work of Christ on the cross for the sins of the world, which was accomplished in "time" and history. The Means of Salvation The Means of salvation has always been by grace through faith. No one is saved apart from God's grace and no one is saved apart from the way of faith. Ephesians 2:8 says "it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God." Titus 3:7 tells us "that having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs." It is important to notice that "by grace through faith" does not mean a mixture of God's grace and man's good works. Ephesians 2:9 says "not of works" and Titus 3:5 says "not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy he saved us." If God's grace is combined with human works, it is no longer grace. By definition, grace is God's unmerited favor towards mankind. "Unmerited" means that there is absolutely nothing at all anyone can do to merit or earn salvation--not even the act of faith itself. If faith is viewed as a good act which "triggers" God's grace, then God's grace is not grace. There is no such thing as 99% grace--salvation is 100% by grace! Faith is rather a person's response to God's grace. Apart from the response of faith there is no salvation. God's means of human salvation is by grace through faith. Both grace and faith are intrinsic to salvation. Salvation is by God's grace alone, coupled with the response of faith from the human heart. By grace through faith has always been God's means of salvation. In fact, this is exactly the point that Paul makes in Romans 4. (Read the whole chapter!) Paul brings two outstanding Old Testament characters into his legal argument as Exhibits A and B. Both Abraham and David were saved by grace through faith. There were no human good works of any kind in the salvation "formula" for these Old Testament believers. Paul belabors the fact that Abraham's salvation came by believing God--before the "good works" of the covenant sign of circumcision and the Mosaic Law were given. David's salvation came after both were given, but it was certainly not based on the "good works" or Law-keeping of King David! David speaks of the joy of those whose unrighteous, lawless works are forgiven--by the grace of God! Obviously both Abraham and David came before the saving work of Christ. The historical time period didn't make any difference as far as God's means of salvation was concerned. God's means of salvation has always been by grace through faith. The Object of Faith The Object of faith for human salvation has always been the one true God. And the one true God is the God of the Bible--not a "supreme being" created in the mind of man! As we reach out to evangelize people from other cultures, we must be very careful in this area. Sometimes the name of the "supreme being" from one of the world's religions (such as "Allah") has been used to represent the God of the Bible. The reason for doing this is to bridge the communication gap, so the motive may be pure. However, the result is that "unbiblical baggage" is often brought across the gap we are trying to bridge. Remember what the Lord Jesus said to the religious Jews in John 8. They claimed that they were following the one true God--the God of Abraham. The Lord Jesus said that if they were indeed following God as their Father, then they would automatically recognize and receive Him as the Son of God. The fact that they did not receive Him proved that they did not believe in the one true God. In fact, the Lord said that they were following Satan (v44)! It is significant that the Lord was not speaking here to Muslims or Hindus, but to orthodox Jews. If any religious group had a claim to the God of the Bible, it was the Jews! But the understanding of God held by these works-oriented Jews was just as off-track as any other world religion. This Scripture has a lot to teach us about equating Allah, etc., with the one true God of the Bible. Is there enough evidence of the one true God of the Bible apart from the Bible? Yes! Romans 1:19-20 indicates that God has given enough evidence of Himself in creation, so that no one has an excuse not to respond in faith to the one true God. But this response of faith to the true God should not be equated with the "religious activities" of "sincere" Buddhists or advocates of other such world religions. When there is a response of faith to the God of the Bible, there will be an automatic acceptance of the truth that God has revealed in the Bible. This acceptance may not be immediate, but if the individual is truly following the one true God of the Bible, then it is only a matter of time before the blind spots begin to be removed by the Holy Spirit. Remember, the Holy Spirit is the one true God of the Bible! Noah responded in faith to the one true God (Genesis 6). Naaman, the Assyrian soldier, responded in faith to the one true God (2 Kings 5). The people of Nineveh responded to the one true God at the preaching of Jonah (Jonah 4 and Matthew 12:41). Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar responded in faith to the one true God (Daniel 4). The Jewish leader Nicodemus exercised faith in the one true God when he believed the words of Jesus (John 3). All these believers from different times and nations had more in common than names beginning with the letter "N"! They all exercised faith in the one true God and were saved. The object of faith which is necessary for salvation is, and always has been, the one true God of the Bible. The Content of Faith The Content of faith necessary for salvation has not always been the same. While the B, the M and the O of B.M.O.C. have always been the same, the C has not always been the same. Why? Is it because God has changed His mind or way of salvation? No! It's because God has progressively revealed more truth over the course of human history. The content of faith for Nicodemus, for example, was different than the content of faith for Noah, because during the time between Noah and Nicodemus the content of faith had grown. Noah knew nothing about receiving Jesus as the Messiah! Between Noah's time and Nicodemus' time the content of faith had enlarged greatly. So while there has never been more than one way of salvation for mankind, there has been progressive revelation of truth from God to mankind over time. As a result, over the course of human history theway a person expresses his response of faith to the one true God will be different. For example, today we don't bring sacrificial lambs and goats to an altar to express our faith in the one true God, because the further and full revelation of truth about the Son of God as Savior has come. God has now clearly revealed Himself as a Trinity, and the content our faith for salvation must include acknowledging that Jesus, the second Person of the Trinity, is God and Savior (see Romans 10:9-10). Expressions of faith apart from this content of faith are not responses of saving faith to the God of the Bible. Thus Unitarians and Jehovah's Witnesses and others who have heard the gospel of Jesus Christ, but reject His deity, are not saved. In Acts 17, the apostle Paul made it clear to the Athenian philosophers that the content of saving faith included belief in the resurrected Jesus as Lord. Our message to the pagan philosophers of today should be the same: "God commands all men everywhere to repent" (Acts 17:30), and "There is no other name given under heaven whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). God's ultimate revelation of truth has shown that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and no person comes to the true God apart from Christ (John 14:6). God's way of salvation for man has never changed, but the content of faith for salvation has been enlarged with God's ultimate and final revelation of himself in Christ. B.M.O.C. may be an outdated collegiate acronym. However, its "rebirth" as Basis, Means, Object and Content will never be out of date, because God's plan of salvation for mankind.