Sometimes people have a different understanding of the God of the Old Testament than they do the God of the New Testament. And they may even question how people got “saved” before Jesus came to this world.
They may believe that people were saved in the Old Testament (or before the incarnation) by obeying the Mosaic Law or offering animal sacrifices. Some even say that God has saved people in different ways at different times.
While this is a complex issue, the theological solution I’m going to give is fairly simplistic: God saves people the same way in the Old Testament as He does in the New Testament!
Although God made different covenants or contracts with different people or people groups, these were all specific legal stipulations (promises) relating to the same master plan, sort of like subcontracts.
Sounds complicated, I know, so let me paraphrase. Life is messy. God cleans up our mess!
Romans 5 gives a pretty good explanation of why life is so messy and how God has cleaned up our mess: “Therefore, just as through one man [Adam] sin entered into the world, and death through the sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned…For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many…For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:12,15,17).
So, God’s plan has always been the same plan since the beginning of time: YOUR REDEMPTION! “For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave him glory so that your faith and hope are in God.” (1 Peter 1:20-21). “For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross” (Colossians 1:19-20). “
In Christ, God cleans up the mess we made of our lives on this Earth, the mess you have made of your life on this Earth!
And, God’s plan has always been the same throughout history, throughout the Bible: To save the lost; to restore the rebellious and disobedient; to heal the hurt; to rescue the fallen; to clean up our mess;! And to have fellowship with His creation for eternity!
God cleans up our messy lives today when we look back to the finished work of Christ on the cross and believe that it applies to our lives.
The reverse is true for people living on the other side of the cross. God cleaned up their messy lives when they looked forward to the cross of Christ and believed that it applied it to their lives. “All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth…because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect” (Hebrews 11:13, 40).
And it is our shared faith with those faithful ones from the past that makes our salvation (and theirs) complete!
So, if the blood of Christ flows thousands of years into the future to save you and me, then surely it can flow thousands of years into the past to save people in ancient times who believed.
Life is messy. My life is messy. The blood of Christ cleans up my life and continues to clean up the many messes I make along the way.
For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10, NASB).