It is a serious mistake to think that there are different ways men are saved in the Bible.
The most common form of the mistake is in the false idea that Israel was saved by works, but the church is saved by grace. In other words, there are two ways of salvation in the Bible.
There is always ever only one way men are saved: by God, by grace, by faith.
Man can only be saved by God’s grace no matter what dispensation they lived under, whether male or female, Jew or Gentile, young or old.
This mistake is easy to make when people first hear about rightly dividing the dispensation of grace from the dispensation of the law, or prophecy from mystery.
Truly, there are different gospels in the Bible.
Truly, Israel and the Church, the mystery body, are not the same.
Truly, works were required under the law, but are not required under grace.
Truly, the mystery of Christ and salvation was hidden from ages and generations past until revealed to the apostle Paul.
But there was never a time when salvation from sin could be given to anyone apart from God’s grace, to men who did not have faith, and without Christ’s death, blood, burial, and resurrection being accomplished (even if it was yet future).
– God is the only one who can save.
– The only way he can save is by his grace.
– His grace is always merited by Christ and his work by the cross.
– Salvation is always available to all, but only given to those that believe.
What God has told men to believe and do has changed, but the way God saves sinners has not.
This understanding of salvation is manifested in Paul’s epistles, and is witnessed by (but hidden from) the law and the prophets (Rom 3:21).
Getting this right will guard you against many errors, including the one that says men can be saved by works at one time and by grace at another time. This is simply not true.
Works Could Not Ever Save Anyone
All the righteous works of human history put together could not save a single man from a single sin.
Even under the law, when works were required of covenant Israel, the law was never intended to bring salvation, but condemnation.
“Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” – Romans 3:20
It is wrong to think that Israel was saved by works, but the church is saved by grace. Israel was required to do works because their covenant demanded it, but the law was supposed to send Israel begging God for his mercy and grace. Men of faith did just that (Hab 2:4; PSa 51:1).
“Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips.” – Hosea 14:2
The law requirements made men guilty, not righteous (Rom 3:19). Salvation is only ever by God’s grace.
Dispensational Bible study rightly divides the revelations and dispensations of God. It does not divide the one way of salvation which is through the gracious work of Christ to all men.
How God saves is the same. There is only one means: the cross of Jesus Christ.
The message God gives for men to believe is what differs. A gospel is a message; it is an offer, not the means.
In this dispensation of grace the gospel is also the means.
No one before the revelation of the mystery of Christ understood how God could save all men. Now we know, by God’s grace alone in Christ alone by faith alone, he can.
Even when God had not yet revealed how that was possible, the only means of salvation is by God’s grace.