Have you ever studied the books of Romans and Galatians? They teach that God's way of salvation is the same in both the Old and New Testaments. I know there is some confusion in many people's mind regarding this concept, but a bit of careful studying will clear this up. Salvation is of grace (God's unmerited favour) through faith (not by our own good works), though there are some passages that seem to teach otherwise; however, if you put them all together, the contrast is made plain.
Basically, God gave the Law and stated that these were His perfect requirements that were needed to earn salvation through our own righteousness (ie. if we were trying to earn our way to Heaven, we must fulfill the Law 100%, or else we've "missed the mark") - and then He goes on to show that no one in the history of the world has ever done this or will ever be able to do this - no one but Jesus Christ, the sinless Son of God. The requirements of the Law could only be fulfilled through faith in the Gospel of Christ (by receiving the only Saviour and His gift of salvation), and His perfect righteousness must be credited to our account. If we are to be saved, we must have the faith of Abraham: Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. (See Romans 4:2-3 and Genesis 15:6)
This explains passages such as:
Deuteronomy 27:26 Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them. And all the people shall say, Amen.
Ezekiel 20:11 And I gave them My statutes, and shewed them My judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live in them.
Leviticus 18:5 Ye shall therefore keep My statutes, and My judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the LORD.
Romans 10:5 For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.
James 2:10-11 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For He that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.
Also, keeping the Law perfectly from this point on (if that were possible), doesn't cover the many times we've already broken it. James 2:10 is pretty clear.
In Matthew 19:16-22, the rich young ruler came to Jesus and asked Him what good thing (works) shall I do that I may have eternal life? He wanted to earn salvation. Christ said basically, "Okay, if you want to earn eternal life keep all the commandments." The ruler said which ones? Christ then quotes five of the Ten Commandments and the second of the two greatest commandments (Exodus 20; Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 22:36-40, which summarize the Ten Commandments.) These ones (the last six) deal with our relationship to man, the first four deal with our relationship to God. The ones Jesus did not quote were already broken by the young man: he did not love the Lord his God with all his heart, etc, because he was covetous, and the New Testament equates covetousness with idolatry (Colossians 3:5), placing something above God as greater worth in your life. "Worship" come from "worth-ship", what worth (value) do we give our possessions, what worth do we give God? In Matthew 19:20-22, the young man asked what was missing, and Jesus said, "Go, and sell all your possessions and come follow me." The ruler was sorrowful because his money was too important to him. Note: Jesus isn't telling all believers (or seekers) to sell their possessions, He was just showing this man where he already fell short ("missed the mark"); He was proving to this zealous man that even he had not kept all the commandments like he thought he did. He might have kept them outwardly, but in his spirit (his inward man) he did not. This passage does not teach a works-based salvation, it illustrates the exact opposite.
Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; The word for sinned here (and most places in the NT) is the Greek word meaning "to miss the mark". Like this rich young ruler, we have all "missed the mark" of God's perfect righteousness; we have all fallen short of the glory of God, all fallen short of the hope of Heaven. Our only hope of salvation is through personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and receiving His free (ie. something we could never earn or pay for) gift of eternal life. Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
To clarify that salvation is solely of faith, I will now list several verses that clearly teach this, so you don't need to take my word or some other religious person's word for it, but what God Himself said.
Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Romans 11:6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.
Habakkuk 2:4 (in the Old Testament) and Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; and Hebrews 10:38 (in the New Testament) all say: The just shall live by faith.
(Notice the contrast between these verses and Ezekiel 20:11, which I pointed out earlier. It's either eternal life by perfect obedience to the Law or eternal life solely by faith.)
In Galatians 3:10-13, the Bible says that we are cursed because we can not keep the whole Law, but thank the Lord that He became cursed for us while He hung on the cross, He bore our curse. He never broke the Law, or sinned against God the Father in any way, yet He died a cursed death, became sin for us on the cross (bore all our sins), took our punishment, so that we need never bear it if we accept Him by faith as our Saviour. 2 Corinthians 5:21; Isaiah 53:6; 1 Peter 2:21-25; 1 Corinthians 5:7; 1 Timothy 2:4-6; John 1:29; 1 John 2:1-2; and other passages teach that He died for us. Galatians 3:16-26, show that the law was our schoolmaster (guide, if you will), to show us our need for a Saviour, to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified (declared not guilty) by faith in Christ (the Messiah).
Romans chapters 1-5 teach these same truths in more depth. I ask you to please read these chapters prayerfully, and then read chapter 10. Paul quotes or refers to many passages out of the Old Testament to prove and to build on his points. I will list them in the following studies so you have them as a reference as you read Romans. I will also give several New Testament references that might help clarify some of his statements. I would suggest reading Romans 1-5 first, and then re-read it, looking up the references and prayerfully meditating on them. Give the Holy Spirit opportunity to teach you.
The purpose of these studies is to give you a clearer understanding of God's way of salvation, and to give you some food for thought out of the book of Romans. Each study in this series is not intended to stand alone but is built on the ones before it. My prayer is that by working through these studies you will have a more thorough grasp on the early chapters of the book of Romans, and will, as a result, be able to teach these truths clearly to others you come in contact with.
Hebrews 5:12-6:1a For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection;
Written April 2001
Eagle's Wings Ministries
The Christian Counter