Here we move into circlecitadel’s argument, which is in italics; my responses are not. Again, to emphasise, that his arguments are helpful suggestions for how we might approach this, and not meant in any way as dogmatic statements 🙂
CC: Now it is clear that profession of Faith and baptism are necessary for salvation, (Hebrews 11:6 & John 3:5); and, that profession of Faith is twofold: For one must hold that Christ is mediator, and that God is Triune.
However if we are to ask whether the OT figures attained salvation, we shall say that some did, others unknown–But insofar as one OT figure attained salvation, it would seem that it is not necessary to profess the Faith and be baptized, for they perished before the time of Christ. Is this, then, not a contradiction of our principles that Faith and baptism are necessary? And if we should say that God will judge them on “their part for their times,” in what manner does this exclude our principles? For I find that they do not.
Jess: I don’t think it is a contradiction, is it? Before Christ revealed these things in His New Revelation, men could go only by the guidance God had given them through the Prophets. Men and women who abided by God’s Laws were certainly saved by the sacrifice of Jesus, as we all are, but since it was impossible that they could be baptised or profess His Holy Name, that cannot be imputed to them as sin. Our condition would be like to theirs – if we had not heard His News.
Circlecitadel’s answer is more complex:
CC: Not only is God a just God, but He is a merciful God. All are liable, for all times, to hold that God is Triune and that Christ is mediator, and to be baptized. In this way God is a just God, for he does not show favoritism to one particular time; but, God is a merciful God, so I do not think we should be surprised to find various kinds of “substitutes” in the most obscure places in the remotest regions, for God is in all places.
Now because Baptism was not sanctioned until Christ’s ministry, we are apt to think one could not have been baptized until after His ministry. Indeed they were not baptized exactly the same way as us. However I find that we may hold that OT figures may have been baptized by way of desire or indeed by water, for Christ said: “Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them” (John 14: 21). And did not some of the OT figures keep God’s commands to them? And as they kept God’s commands, did they not indirectly keep Christ’s commands, for Christ is God? “Some have received the invisible sanctification without visible sacraments, and to their profit; but though it is possible to have the visible sanctification, consisting in a visible sacrament, without the invisible sanctification, it will be to no profit.” (St. Augustine, Super Levit. lxxxiv) And again, “For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ” (1 Cor 10:1-6).
Jess: I just wonder here whether we are straining too much? No one who was unaware of the need for baptism or to confess Christ could be judged for not doing so. Baptism and a confession of Christ are what we were told were needed in the New Revelation, so we are bound by that. Of course, God is not bound by anything, so we cannot ever say anyone is not saved, we can only say what we know we are required to do if we would be saved – if that makes sense? Obviously, anyone who has not been reached with the Good News won’t be judged as though they had heard it.