Jesus Christ came into the world to make it possible for you and I to have salvation in Him, and it was made possible through His sacrificial death on the cross. Our salvation is only possible by grace alone, through faith alone, and in Christ alone. If this is the case, then how is it possible for anyone before Christ to be saved? Was it even possible for them to receive salvation? Let us look at what the Bible has to say.
Sometimes you may incorrectly assume that salvation in the Old Testament is only possible by keeping the Law and through the sacrificial system. That cannot be so for two reasons. Firstly, Galatians 3:11 says “Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” Notice that this passage clearly says that “the law cannot justify anyone”, but the “righteous shall live by faith”.
Secondly, Hebrews 10:4 says that no one can be saved through the sacrificial system. Instead, it’s purpose was to show the seriousness of sin. Hebrews 10:4 says “For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.”
So, to understand Old and New Testament salvation, it is essential to know that for all time, there is only one way of salvation, and that is through “faith”. There is the one gospel message through whom all people can be saved. Romans 4 explains this has always been the case by citing Abraham and David. Please take some time to read this entire chapter.
Romans 4:1-5 says “What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness,”
Again, of David the Apostle Paul says in Romans 4:6-8 “just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”
The Apostle Paul cites these two examples and through them establish the fact that the father of the nation of Israel was justified by “faith” instead of “works”. The nature of Abrahams faith is the same as it is for the New Testament believers despite it being before Christ. By faith, Abraham looked forward to Christ. John 8:56 “Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” We as Christians now by faith look back to what Christ achieved on the cross.
Through the very same passage, it is shown that Abraham was justified “before” the Law was given. His justification was apart from works, and only by faith. Likewise, in the example of David, it was after the Law was given, but again he was justified by faith, apart from works. So salvation is the same before the law was given and after the law was given. It is the same before Christ and after Christ. Amen!
So, it is essential to understand that salvation is not a New Testament concept only; instead, it is the same message through the entire Bible, both Old and New Testaments. In-fact from Genesis onwards when humanity fell into sin, God promised that a Messiah would come to rescue His people from sin. Genesis 3:15 says “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
In Deuteronomy 18:15 God says “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen—” This was the Messiah that was to come. Again we read in Isaiah 53 about the one who was pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities. The punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds, we are healed. Oh, what a glorious God. Amen!
Again, in the book of Job – Job looks forward toward his redeemer by faith. Job 19:25 says “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth.”
Habakkuk 2:4 says “Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith.”
In Hebrews 11, we see the testimonies of the saints in the Old Testament and putting their faith in the promise to come. The message is that the “just” shall live by faith.
In conclusion, those in the Old Testament were saved through faith just as we are. They were saved by faith in the Christ who was to come. Likewise, we are saved by the Christ who has already come. Amen.