How Were Old Testament Believers Saved?



Was there one plan of salvation that applied to people living before Jesus went to the Cross and a different one for those looking back on the Cross?  The technical term for this, we believe, is dispensation.  That’s today’s topic for Spreading God’s Word.


The short answer to this question is no. There wasn’t one dispensation for Old Testament believers and a different dispensation for New Testament believers.  There is only one Gospel and that is the Gospel of salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ.  Whether we’re reading the Old Testament, New Testament, the Law, the Prophets, the Psalms, the four Gospels, Acts, the Epistles or Revelation, the Gospel message being proclaimed is one and the same.   

We must remember that Christ was the lamb slain from before the foundation of the earth; therefore, the efficacy of Christ’s atonement reached all the way back to Abel and the other believers who lived on the Old Testament side of the Cross.


Obviously, certain Books, chapters and verses are emphasizing various aspects of the Gospel to a greater degree than others.  The result of this is that in one paragraph we might find that the blood of Christ — the fact that there is no remission except through the shedding of blood — is particularly in view.  We see this especially when reading Leviticus about the blood sacrifices, or in Hebrews where we have commentary on the blood sacrifices in Leviticus.  


Other places stress the washing away of our sins — this is seen beautifully in the Gospel of John.  Still elsewhere, God’s wrath against sin is particularly in view — Romans is a wonderful example.  Man’s depravity shines through with great clarity in Ephesians 2 and Romans 3.  But it’s important to realize that none of these passages, paragraphs or sentences stands alone.  


We should never really say, “This is what Peter or Paul said” because they weren’t really the authors of those statements.  God is the Author — and Peter and Paul, Isaiah and Moses were simply instruments in His hand to write the Bible.  Certainly, these holy men of old wrote out of their own personality and experiences; however, what they wrote was exactly what God wanted them to write…down to the last word and letter. 


Consequently, God wrote through Luke about salvation – and this was precisely the same salvation God wrote about through Moses and the apostle Paul. It was the identical salvation that Jesus Christ proclaimed.   


Perhaps another way of saying this is that Old Testament believers looked forward to the Cross while New Testament believers look back on the Cross. 


To God Be The Glory!

9 Responses to How Were Old Testament Believers Saved?

  1. Coops says:

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. denmark98 says:

    Have you thought about what you wrote? I don’t disagree at all but it has too much jargon, come down with it a bit.

    Old testament people were saved through the same way that new testament people are through Faith in a 3 person God. Faith in the old testament was through the fulfillment of the law while Jesus has fulfilled the law for us through his sacrifice. In the Old Testament the priest would go make sacrifices for the atonoment of the people and now Jesus stands in our place through our faith before the almighty father as atonement for our sin. So the law still exsists but you are free from the law becuase of the Son of God.

    Faith is key, ask for faith, pray for faith, strive for faith…

  3. jeffandcindy says:

    Thanks for your comment Patrick — I appreciate it.

    You said that “Faith in the OT was thru the fulfillment of the law”. Genesis 6:8 tells us that “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” Noah was saved by God’s grace just like us. You mentioned Abraham (an excellent example). Romans 4:3 tells us that “Abraham believed, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.”

    He was saved by faith, exactly as you and I are saved. The OT believers who placed their trust in God were saved by the work of Christ on the cross, whereas we look back on the finished work of Christ on the cross and trust in God and are saved. There’s only one plan of salvation that has been true throughout the ages.

    Thanks again for taking the time to write — and I apologize for the jargon (you probably already guessed I’m an engineer by trade).

  4. Matthew says:

    The problem with mainstream Christianity is they fail to recognize what the Law is for, they believe the lie that says it was “nailed to the cross.” It was never God’s intention for salvation to come from the Law, salvation was always from Yahshua (Jesus). The Law is basically a “speed limit” for a safe and productive journey, the Bridge to cross over the gorge of death was always through Yahshua. The Law teaches us to eat healthy, how to farm properly to reap maximum harvest, to keep His Sabbath and celebrate His Feasts for remembrance and prophetic purposes, to love our neighbor, to treat the poor properly, the need to spot false doctrine and deal with it (i.e.: the laws for leprosy), and many more.

    Nearly every law is prophetic in nature and usually uses metaphors to explain the spiritual importance. The Jews were supposed to immerse themselves in God, nearly everything in some way or the other showed them His Salvation, for example the cities of refuge, ask any Christian today and they won’t understand it but it was to be a prophetic representation of salvation coming from the death of the High Priest. The Avenger (Yahweh, our Father) has the right to kill the person who does not want salvation by seeking refuge. We can say they deliberately crucified the Messiah. Those that seek refuge, us in other words, must wait for the death of the High Priest in the city of refuge in order to be forgiven. You can say we did not willingly crucify the Messiah. His Son had to die, had be separated from Him, because of our sin. Some choose to accept His sacrifice and others not. Note in that passage some go to the city of refuge but never wait for the death of the High Priest, the Avenger still has the right to kill the person.

    The Law is all about the High Priest, all Christians need to do it dig a little deeper and not be fearful of it. Over and over again David speaks of it, and he adored it, it gave him wisdom, understanding, etc. Christians claim Psalm. 119:105 “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” as a favorite but forget to realise the David was referring to the Law, all one has to do is read the rest of the psalm. This does not negate the rest of the Word, it has equal importance.

    Abraham crossed over the bridge because of faith, so did David, so did Noah, and the rest too. All our Father wants is a relationship with us, like a father to his child.

    I enjoyed the article.

    Love in the Name of Yahshua,


  5. Let the scripture speak……

    Revelation 13:8 – And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
    This is the passage that the above article is talking about in paragraph 3.

    This passage is NOT talking about the lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
    It IS talking about the names not written in the book of life from the foundation of
    the world.

    Revelation 17:8 – The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.

    This is the cross reference for Revelation 13:8.
    Notice the names not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world.
    It is amazing how the Bible interprets itself.

  6. AL T says:

    Jeff Hi
    We have not heard from you in over a month, I like the messages you put out, GOD bless you brother.

  7. Jeff & Cindy says:

    Al T,

    Thank you for your encouraging note. I’ve been busy at work and unable to devote the time I need for the blog. I’m certainly not the quickest thinker in the world, and the postings do take time 🙂

    But…I hope to get back to it in the not-too-distant future.

  8. Al T. says:

    Hi , I have a question about Faith ,to be exact (your Faith).When the Lord tell people that your faith have saved you , What dose that mean, as we know that Faith is not of us it is given to us by GOD, it is his, and not from with in us.
    The other thing is when the LORD say the one’s who endure to the end shall be saved.
    What dose that mean ?
    Please JEFF if you have any comments on these 2 points.

  9. Jeff & Cindy says:

    Al T,

    1. Your first point about faith:

    Luke 8:43-48 “And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any, Came behind him, and touched the border of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched. And Jesus said, Who touched me? When all denied, Peter and they that were with him said, Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me. And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before him, she declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched him, and how she was healed immediately. And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.”

    Actually the more accurate rendition of this is: “thy faith having saved thee.” You see God is locking it in; and there are three or four other references in Scripture to show that God is underscoring “thy faith” or “He perceived that he had faith to be healed.” Naturally, if we isolate these verses from the rest of the Bible, then this means we had something already going in our life that made it possible for God to save us. And doesn’t that agree with statements as “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved” [Acts 16:31]. All right, so does all this mean that — like the impotent man who was lame in his feet or this woman that had the issue of blood — if only I could start believing on the Lord Jesus Christ and begin to trust Him, then I could become saved?

    Therefore, it certainly is entirely logical for man to say, “Well all right, I will believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.” I have to have faith, and then God will heal me or then I will become saved. That is the kind of thing that we can expect from mankind. We operate by faith. This is the way we live out our lives. It is by faith.

    And so man thinks, “O Lord, I am going to start trusting you, and then the Lord will look at me and He will perceive, like Paul looked at this impotent man, that I have enough faith to be healed.” But that faith, however, was not our faith — it was given to us by God. God had to first give it to us and He worked through that faith to save us.

    The focal point is on the faith of Christ – in His living a sinless life and paying the full price for all the sins of those He came to save. Can you see that if we had manifested faith in Christ on our own – of our own volition – then it would be a work of ours? Our own faith is a work that we do. Consider I John 3:23:
    And this is his commandment, that we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.

    To believe on the Lord Jesus Christ is a command of God. This command to believe is one of many contained in God’s law book (the Bible). It’s part of the law. Therefore, if we say we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ on our own in an effort to become saved, then what we’re really saying (whether we realize it or not) is that we’re keeping the law.

    But keeping the law cannot save us! So, where does this leave us? It means that the faith that saves us is entirely the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ. God must give it to us in order for us to exercise true faith. This is what Ephesians 2:8 emphasizes: For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.

    Therefore, when we begin to trust the Lord Jesus Christ, it is the evidence that God has begun to save us. It is not something that we do in order to obtain salvation.
    In the second half of this verse, Paul reminds Peter that they themselves have believed Christ in that they might be justified by the faith of Christ, not the observance of the law, because the act of obeying God’s command cannot save anyone.

    Let us never think that we merit anything that would count toward our salvation. As the closing phrase of Galatians 2:16 states, “for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” Whenever we try to do a work to merit our salvation, we’re only digging the hole deeper into hell.

    2. Your second point about enduring.
    The easiest thing for me to do is to point you to a web page on my outreach website that addresses perseverance. I won’t take up the room in this post, but there’s a lengthy explanation on the website. Here’s its address:

    Thank you for your comments. Jeff

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