How Were People Saved in the Old Testament?

November 9, 2012 — 4 Comments

First and foremost, the Bible teaches that salvation is always…

- Offered by the grace of God
– Based on the atoning death of Jesus Christ
– Received by the exercise of faith
– Applied by the work of the Holy Spirit

Until the time of Christ, the object of faith was God (cf. Gen 15:6 “And Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness”). Once Jesus Christ had been crucified and raised from the dead, Paul declared:

“Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”—Acts 17:30-31

This transition is consistent with the theological truth revealed in the book of Romans:

“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 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 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.”—Romans 3:21-26

God has progressively revealed his gracious rescue plan to the nations over several millennia. But the focal point of this plan has always been the person and work of Jesus Christ.

*In case you missed it, you might be interested in the related post – “What about those who have never heard about Jesus?”

Jonathan Morrow

Posts Twitter Facebook

Jonathan Morrow (D.Min) is the founder of Think Christianly. He is the author of Welcome to College: A Christ-follower's Guide for the Journey, Questioning the Bible: 11 Major Challenges to the Bible's Authority, Think Christianly: Looking at the Intersection of Faith and Culture, and Is God Just a Human Invention? And Seventeen Other Questions Raised by the New Atheists (with Sean McDowell), and contributed the chapter "Introducing Spiritual Formation" to Foundations of Spiritual Formation: A Community Approach to Becoming Like Christ. Jonathan contributed several articles to the Apologetics Study Bible for Students and has written for Leadership Journal Online (of Christianity Today). He graduated with an M.Div. and an M.A. in philosophy of religion and ethics from Talbot School of Theology at Biola University and served as the equipping pastor for 6 years at Fellowship Bible Church in Murfreesboro, TN. Jonathan is currently the Director of Creative Strategies and Immersion at Impact 360 Institute where he trains high school and college students in Christian worldview, apologetics, and leadership and serves as adjunct faculty with Union University. His books have been featured on shows like Family Life Today, Stand to Reason, Breakpoint, WAY-FM (Mornings with Brant), Frank Pastore, The Janet Mefferd Show, and Apologetics 315. He and his wife have been married for 13 years and have three children.

4 responses to How Were People Saved in the Old Testament?

  1. I must have missed something. How exactly did people in old testament times get saved without Christ. This would include people thousands of miles from the land of Israel.
    Thanks

  2. Good day! I could have sworn I’ve been to this blog before but after reading through some of the post I realized it’s new to me. Anyhow, I’m definitely happy I found it and I’ll be book-marking and checking back often!

  3. Hebrew children in the Old Testament were born into God’s covenant, both male and female. Circumcision was the sign of this covenant for boys, but the sign was not what saved them. Faith saved them. Rejecting the sign, circumcision, for boys, either by the parents or later as an adult himself, was a sign of a lack of true faith, and therefore the child was “cut off” from God’s promises as clearly stated in Genesis chapter 17:

    “Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. 12 He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised. Every male throughout your generations, whether born in your house or bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring, 13 both he who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money, shall surely be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant. 14 Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”

    What was the purpose of this covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? God tells us in the beginning of this chapter of Genesis:

    “And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.”

    This covenant wasn’t just to establish a Jewish national identity or a promise of the inheritance of the land of Caanan, as some evangelicals want you to believe. In this covenant, God promises to be their God. Does God say here that he will be their God only if they make a “decision for God” when they are old enough to have the intelligence and maturity to decide for themselves? No! They are born into the covenant!

    If Jewish children grew up trusting in God and lived by faith, they then received eternal life when they died. If when they grew up, they rejected God, turned their back on God, and lived a life of willful sin, when they died, they suffered eternal damnation. Salvation was theirs to LOSE. There is no record anywhere in the Bible that Jewish children were required to make a one time “decision for God” upon reaching an “Age of Accountability” in order to be saved.

    Therefore Jewish infants who died, even before circumcision, were saved.

    The same is true today. Christian children are born into the covenant. They are saved by faith. It is not the act of baptism that saves, it is faith. The refusal to be baptized is a sign of a lack of true faith and may result in the child being “cut off” from God’s promise of eternal life, to suffer eternal damnation, as happened with the unfaithful Hebrew in the OT.

    Christ said, “He that believes and is baptized will be saved, but he that does not believe will be damned.”

    It is not the lack of baptism that damns, it is the lack of faith that damns.

    Gary
    Luther, Baptists, and Evangelicals
    An orthodox Lutheran blog

Leave a Reply

*

Text formatting is available via select HTML.

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>