Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What about people before Jesus?

Studying Genesis 15 and it reminded me of a question students often ask: "How did the people who lived before Jesus get saved? How did they go to heaven?"

The logic is: If we are saved by believing (faith in) Jesus Christ (his birth, life, death, and resurrection), how did people who lived before Jesus believe in him and what he did? It's like saying to a track runner, "I want you to win this race, but you can't start until everyone else is finished." Doesn't seem fair.

But we know heroes of the faith like Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jacob are in heaven...somehow they got there. But how?

The answer isn't as complicated as one might think.

God's way of saving people has never changed. It is the same for those who lived before Christ and those who lived after Christ.

Let's look at Genesis 15:6 to get our proof.

"Abram (Abraham) believed the LORD and He credited it to him as righteousness."

Faith is the answer. It was Abram's faith that saved him. Abram found favor (grace) in the eyes of the LORD and was given the gift of faith (Ephesians 2.8)

Okay, so faith saves in the Old Testament, just like in the new. But faith in what? Faith has to have an object, something it points to, falls on, and rests in.

I would say that my faith rests in the person and work of Jesus Christ. That by grace through faith, his work of righteousness has been imputed (attributed) to me and therefore I have been declared righteous despite my sin. I look back to what Christ did. To the One who has come.

Abram looked forward, ahead to the promise of the One to come-and that is what saved him. Hebrews 11 says that Abram was living by faith when he died. That he did not recieve the things promised, but only saw them and welcomed them from a distance.

Read what Romans 4 says about Abrams belief (faith):

No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith was "counted to him as righteousness."But the words "it was counted to him" were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.

Faith has always saved. Before and after Jesus.

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