Linkedin Share

How Were the Old Testament Saints Saved?

Linkedin Share

The God Who Doesn’t Change

How did God save Abraham, David, and the other saints of old? If we say “by obeying God,” we must find a way to account for the time, such as in Genesis, when there was no Law (i.e. the 10 Commandments) but we know there was sin in the world (Romans 5:13).

If we believe that they were made right with God by the offering of their sacrifices or circumcision, then how do we handle Acts 15 or the entire book of Galatians that take up similar issues? Or, why does God specifically tell the Israelites that He despises and does not want their offerings (1 Samuel 15:22; Isaiah 1:11; Amos 5:21; see also Psalm 40).

Malachi 3:6 says that God does not change, as does Hebrews 13:8. We would be in serious error and finding much trouble with the entirety of the Scriptures if we believed that before the coming of Christ, men were saved by works — law-keeping, obeying God, offering right sacrifices, etc.

Paul and the Old Testament

Trending:
Leah Remini Offers Prayer for Kirstie Alley's 2 Children After Her Death, Serves as Warning Against "Toxic" Church of Scientology

In the book of Romans, the Apostle Paul writes his magnum opus. He takes up the issue of how men are made right in God’s sight. How can sinful man be declared righteous (justified) in God’s sight? If we are all guilty through and through and deserving of God’s wrath, then we only earn judgment, as has everyone else from Adam onward (see Romans 3:10-23 and 5:12-21).

In Romans 4, Paul cites the person of Abraham as our example of how God saved men apart from works of the Law, before the 10 Commandments, before circumcision, before Israel existed!

If Abraham “was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God, ” (Romans 4:1-2, ESV). The Apostle asks this question for us all to make note of: For what does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness,'” (Romans 4:3, ESV). What does the Word say? Paul cites Genesis 15:6!

God counted Abraham — a pagan from the land of Ur (see Genesis 12:1; Joshua 24:2) — righteous in His sight not by works or by merit, but by faith in the word of God’s promise. By faith, God counts the sinner righteous. We receive what Martin Luther called an alien righteousness — a credit foreign to us, outside of us (2 Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 3:9-10).

The Coming Work of Christ

Read the rest of Romans 4:5-8, ESV, here:

And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:

“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered;
blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”

How does God save sinners? By crediting or not counting their sin against them and by crediting to the sinner righteousness. And because of the progressive revelation of God’s history of redemption, we know that to be “Jesus Christ the Righteous” (1 John 2:1-2).

Related:
Pardoning Your Bitterest Enemy

Jesus Christ lived righteously for all those whom the Father gave Him (John 6:37ff) because He is the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8).

In the Old Testament, God saved sinners by their faith in the coming of Christ. In the New Testament, God saves sinners by their faith in the accomplishment of Christ. The Old Testament saints looked forward to Christ, we look backward to Christ.

God’s plan of redemption hasn’t changed, but the details and unfolding of His purposes have become more clear in Christ. God has never saved a sinner, in the Old Testament or New, by their works or obedience.

Instead, like the Exodus: God saves a people by His grace and then comes the Law to obey. God saves us to good works, not by them (see Ephesians 2:8-10).

Submit a Correction →



Linkedin Share
Cale is the pastor of Union Baptist Church in Orrick, MO. He is married to his wife Kelly and they have two children (third on the way!). Cale will be graduating with a Masters degree from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary this Fall and Spring 2023.
Cale is the pastor of Union Baptist Church in Orrick, MO. He is married to his wife Kelly and they have two children (third on the way!). Cale will be graduating with a Masters degree from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary this Fall and Spring 2023.




Tags:
, , , , ,