How Were Old Testament Folks Saved?

How were people in the Old Testament saved? Was God’s plan different for them? Did they have to work for their salvation? Did Moses, Abraham, David, Noah and those that we look back to have to somehow earn their way to heaven? When we read through all of the laws, rituals, festivals, and sacrifices upon sacrifices it can get confusing as to what exactly those people were to do before Christ died, was buried, and rose again. As hard as it can be to understand sometimes, we can’t let our minds get off-track from the message of the whole Bible that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life and no one comes to the Father but through Him. Peter said in Acts 4:12, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” Faith in Christ is what saves. It has always been what saves. Although, the men and women of the Old Testament did not know Jesus or experience the gospel carried out they did have pictures and promises of Messiah to hold to and trust in. It wasn’t their dedication and determination that made them saints but it was the wonderful combination of God’s grace and their faith. This is as it was for those in the New Testament and as it continues to be for us today.

Paul says in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.” In salvation the grace of God draws us, wakes us up, and brings us to faith. We are saved through trusting Jesus for who He is and what He has done. Paul shows that God gives this grace not as a result of works. Therefore, we can’t say that the reason men and women were listed in Hebrews 11 was because of the laws they kept, the sacrifices they made, and the festivals they celebrated. As the chapter clearly proclaims, it was their faith. Paul explains how this worked in Abraham’s life in Rom. 4:2-3, “For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about; but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? ‘And Abraham believe God’, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” The reason any of these “greats” of the Old Testament were considered righteous is because of their belief in God. They trusted in a righteousness beyond their own which would later be displayed through Jesus.

God never had another way. It was always Jesus. His words pointed to that. Jesus said to the Pharisees in John 5:39, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me.” God’s law also pointed to Jesus. Paul says in Gal. 2:24, “…the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ that we may be justified by faith.” The ones who were saved had the grace to see their need and they trusted God to provide through the Messiah, Jesus. The gospel has always been the gospel. Let us rejoice in what God has provided through His Son for all people in all times and look to see that this is the message that is shared!


Saved By Grace, Pastor Rudy