John 14:6 (NLT) Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.
Acts 4:8-12 (NLT)8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers and elders of our people,9 are we being questioned today because we’ve done a good deed for a crippled man? Do you want to know how he was healed?10 Let me clearly state to all of you and to all the people of Israel that he was healed by the powerful name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, the man you crucified but whom God raised from the dead.11 For Jesus is the one referred to in the Scriptures, where it says, ‘The stone that you builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.’12 There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.”
Jesus said that no one could come to God except through Him. After Jesus’ crucifixion and ascension back to heaven Peter emphasized the fact that salvation comes only through Jesus. Based on these statements it’s absolutely clear that Jesus is the only way that a person can become saved. Let me add here that salvation is a gift and the giver always sets the rules.
Ephesians 2:8-9 (NLT)8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.
Having said this we know that there are some references in the Old Testament, before Jesus took on human form and came to the earth, of people who appear to have been saved, or are in the presence of God.
2 Corinthians 5:8 (NLT) Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord.
Genesis 5:23-24 (NLT)23 Enoch lived 365 years,24 walking in close fellowship with God. Then one day he disappeared, because God took him.
2 Kings 2:11 (NLT) As they were walking along and talking, suddenly a chariot of fire appeared, drawn by horses of fire. It drove between the two men, separating them, and Elijah was carried by a whirlwind into heaven.
We can also assume from what was written about their lives that others who we know died were righteous in God’s sight and were saved. They include but certainly are not limited by; Adam, Eve, Abel, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, David,Rahab, Ruth, all the prophets, John the Baptist, and those named and unnamed in the Hebrews “Hall of Faith”.
My question is how were all the people saved because Jesus the sacrifice of Jesus had not happened? In a post that I will publish in a few days I point out that Nowhere in the bible is there any statement that an unsaved person gets a lost soul who has died can have a second chance. So a decision for salvation must take place before a person dies. That was as true before Jesus’ crucifixion as after it.
The People Who Died Before Christ Was Crucified Were Saved The Same Way That We Are, By Faith
We get a glimpse of how salvation was possible before Jesus’ time on earth from what Paul said about Abraham.
Romans 4:1-3, 9-2 (NLT)1 Abraham was, humanly speaking, the founder of our Jewish nation. What did he discover about being made right with God?2 If his good deeds had made him acceptable to God, he would have had something to boast about. But that was not God’s way.3 For the Scriptures tell us, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” 9 Now, is this blessing only for the Jews, or is it also for uncircumcised Gentiles? Well, we have been saying that Abraham was counted as righteous by God because of his faith.10 But how did this happen? Was he counted as righteous only after he was circumcised, or was it before he was circumcised? Clearly, God accepted Abraham before he was circumcised!11 Circumcision was a sign that Abraham already had faith and that God had already accepted him and declared him to be righteous—even before he was circumcised. So Abraham is the spiritual father of those who have faith but have not been circumcised. They are counted as righteous because of their faith.12 And Abraham is also the spiritual father of those who have been circumcised, but only if they have the same kind of faith Abraham had before he was circumcised.
Here’s what I have learned through the review of others who have addressed this subject.
The basis of salvation has always been the death of Christ. Without that event no one would ever be saved. Christ’s death paid the penalty of all sins, past, present, and future including those sins that people committed before His crucifixion.
The people of the Old Testament time looked forward to the coming Messiah. They trusted God according to the knowledge that they had. In other words, even though they didn't know about Jesus, they still trusted in God and were also justified by faith.
The requirement for salvation has always been faith. The object of one's faith for salvation has always been God.
Genesis 15:6 (NLT)6 And Abram believed the LORD, and the LORD counted him as righteous because of his faith.
Psalm 2:12 (NLT)12 Submit to God’s royal son, or he will become angry, and you will be destroyed in the midst of all your activities— for his anger flares up in an instant. But what joy for all who take refuge in him!
he Old Testament sacrificial system did not take away sin, but it did point to a day when Jesus would shed His blood for the human race.
Hebrews 10:8-10 (NLT)8 First, Christ said, “You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings or burnt offerings or other offerings for sin, nor were you pleased with them” (though they are required by the law of Moses).9 Then he said, “Look, I have come to do your will.” He cancels the first covenant in order to put the second into effect.10 For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time.
What changed over time is the content of a believer's faith. God's requirement of what must be believed is based on the amount of revelation He has given mankind up to that time. This is called progressive revelation. Adam believed the promise God gave in Genesis.
Genesis 3:15, 20-21 (NLT)15 And I will cause hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.” 20 Then the man—Adam—named his wife Eve, because she would be the mother of all who live.21 And the LORD God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and his wife.
I already showed that Abraham believed God according to the promises he gave him. Although there was no scripture, as for as we know prior to Moses, mankind was responsible for what God had revealed.
What about the people alive in Christ’s day who died before the cross and resurrection?
Near the end of His ministry;
Matthew 16:21-23 (NLT)21 From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised from the dead.22 But Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things. “Heaven forbid, Lord,” he said. “This will never happen to you!”23 Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”
Peter and the other disciples did not know the full truth, yet they were saved because they believed that God would take care of their sin problem. They didn't exactly know how He would accomplish that, any more than Adam, Abraham, Moses, or David knew how, but they believed God.
Today, we have more revelation than the people living before the resurrection of Christ; we know the full picture.
Hebrews 1:1-2 (NLT)1 Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets.2 And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe.
Our salvation is still based on the death of Christ, our faith is still the requirement for salvation, and the object of our faith is still God. Today, for us, the content of our faith is that Jesus Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose the third day.
1 Corinthians 15:3-4 (NLT)3 I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said.4 He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said.
That’s true for us today after Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, and it was true before those events.
If you haven’t made the decision that will insure that you will you will spend eternity with God you can do it today. Here’s the formula;
Romans 10:9-10 (NLT)9 If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.
Here’s how you do that;
Pray this prayer in all sincerity (only you and God know if you’re really sincere);
“Dear God, I am a sinner and need forgiveness. I believe that Jesus Christ shed His precious blood and died for my sin. I am willing to turn from sin. I now invite Christ to come into my heart and life as my personal Savior.”
If you have just prayed this prayer, in all sincerity, call, text, email, Tweet, change your Facebook status and tell somebody, leave me a comment here or send me an email with this Link. Then find a bible believing church and start to fellowship with other believers. Welcome to the family of God.
This blog is for you! If you have any questions or topics you would like me to address please use the comments section or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.