How Many Times Does It Change?
I read a really excellent book last fall called "Dispensationalism" by Charles C. Ryrie. I was really, at that time, looking for something from him that would help clarify, in my mind, some trouble I was having with a point of view that I called "dispensational confusion." Basically it was this: when I look at a passage in which Jesus tells someone during His earthly ministry that they have eternal life
- They might not have understood His Deity and
- They had no idea that the cross and resurrection was coming and that it would remove sins
Well, unfortunately, I found no clear guidance on this particular dilemma of mine in the pages of Ryrie's book. It was a great book and there was much that was very helpful; don't get me wrong!Check out this quote:
In examining salvation under the Mosaic Law, the principal question is simply, How much of what God was going to do in the future did the OT believer comprehend? According to both Old and New Testament revelation, it is impossible to say that he saw the same promise, the same Savior as we do today. Therefore, the dispensationalist's distinction between the content of his faith and the content of ours is valid. The basis of salvation is always the death of Christ; the means is always faith; the object is always God (though man's understanding of God before and after the Incarnation is obviously different); but the content of faith depends on the particular revelation God was pleased to give at a certain time.After reading that I kept scratching my head wondering how often the content of saving faith changes then? I mean, the apostle Peter believed most of the revelation he was given, but as has been pointed out, he sometimes rejected that the cross would happen. Would we stipulate that he was a "believer"? Of course. Other people that ran into Jesus and had what seem to be saving encounters with Him during His earthly ministry, was their content of saving faith different from those who heard about Jesus after His death and ressurection? I am really wondering about this even more now because of yet another idea that has been brought out over at my personal blog inferring that the message Peter and Stephen are recorded as having preached is not the same as the message that folks are to believe nowadays to be saved, because Paul had not received the low-down on the doctrine of Christ's substitutionary atonement until mid-acts.
(Charles Ryrie, Dispensationalism, page 140)
I suppose my over-arching quesion in all of these discussions would be this:
So how often since Christ came to earth and began His ministry would we say that the content of saving faith has changed? What say you?