How did people go to heaven before Jesus’ death and resurrection?

3d human with a red question markHere’s an interesting question that has provoked much thought and discussion for me in recent years:

If salvation is only attained through faith in Jesus Christ, how were people in the Old Testament saved, ie before Jesus’ death and resurrection?

Were they able to through obeying the OT laws? If not how else would they be saved? Hmmm

Your thoughts and insight would be greatly appreciated.

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7 responses to “How did people go to heaven before Jesus’ death and resurrection?

  1. They were saved by the atoning blood of Jesus Christ.

  2. Just to “stir the pot” a little, what about Enoch and Elijah, who didn’t die but went straight to heaven!!

  3. According to Romans 4:3 Abraham’s faith was reckoned to him as righteousness. Old Testament saints were saved by faith, not works. The sacrifices of animals in the O.T. was merely a foreshadowing of the work of Christ on the cross. These sacrifices pointed to Christ’s work. They were like ‘reserve tickets’ for the final atonement, the completed work of Christ on the cross.

    Christ, himself stated that “no one comes to the Father but by me”. John 14:6-7

    A good article concerning salvation in the Old Testament can be read here. http://bible.org/article/old-testament-salvation

  4. Thanks for that Don. So basically the OT people, like Abraham, were still saved by trusting in God with their lives, as they could see that fulfilling the law on their own efforts was impossible. The law pointed to what was required by God in the atoning death of a substitute to bear our sins. Even before the Mosaic law this seemed to be known as Abel “brought the firstborn of his flock” as a sacrifice to God (Gen4:4).

    However the part that has challenged me is that faith is only valid according to what it is placed in. We can have great faith, but if the object of that faith is futile, then our faith is in vain.

    Don I liked the ‘old testament salvation’ link you gave. In particular the following paragraph:

    “Christians, and Jewish people, the scattered tribes of Israel, should not view the plan of salvation in two distinct and separate ways. The Old Testament, just as clearly as the New Testament, presents the way of redemption and salvation. Israel was to look forward, in faith, to the coming, sacrificial Messiah, and the Christians look back, in faith, to the finished redemptive work of the Messiah. The single fact is clear; the Messiah of God, God Himself, came to earth to exchange His life for each one of us. We need only place our faith in Him to secure God’s forgiveness for our sin.”

  5. I have been reflecting on Rom 3:21-26 over the last week. One could argue the most critical and theologically rich verses in the Bible! There is so much in those verses! I might write a blog on them later… although come to think of it you could write many on just those verses!

    However verses 23-26 read as follows: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation (great word – will look at what that means more at some point) by His blood to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in His divine forbearance He had passed over former sins. It was to show His righteousness at the present time, so that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

    Warren Wiersbe makes the following observation:

    “Verse 25 teaches that in the ages before the full revelation of the Gospel of Christ, God appeared to be unjust in ‘passing over’ the sins of mankind and forgiving such people as Noah, Abraham, and Enoch. True, He did send wrath in some cases; but generations of sinners seemed to escape the judgment of God. How was God able to do this? Because He knew that at the cross, He would give a full display of His wrath against sin, and yet through Christ’s death provide a redemption for sins that had merely been covered by the blood of bulls and goats (Heb 9-10)”

    What a beautiful illustration of God’s sovereign hand at work throughout the ages! We have so much to be grateful to Him for!

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