Modern Christianity is all about celebrating Jesus.
But what about before Jesus was born - how were people saved then?
"What about people who lived and died before Christ?"
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.
- Acts 4:12
Luke wrote the above verse naturally speaking of Jesus. Yet this makes one wonder about Old Testament times. Those older writings do not contain the name "Jesus" (though Joshua in some respects is the Hebrew equivalent). If Acts 4:12 is true, how were pre-Christ people saved?
Those who were saved before Christ were saved in the same way believers are today - through faith. Our faith today looks back on a past event - God's provision on our behalf, which the world now knows to be Jesus' death on the cross some 2,000 years ago. Adam's faith looked forward to a future event, Jesus' death on the cross, which God progressively revealed more and more about to mankind until Jesus finally came.
Going all the way back to Adam and Eve, they heard the fewest details of he in whom God wanted people to have faith. Note in Genesis 3:15 God promises to Adam and Eve, right after they sinned, that Eve's seed, or descendant, would someday crush the serpent, or Satan. As the centuries went by, God revealed more details about that special 'coming descendant' through his prophets (refer to the "Divinity" section, chapters 3, 4A, 4B and 4C for specifics).
Though lacking all the details we have today, it was the Old Testament person's faith in the surety of God's coming savior that was their key to salvation. One of the ways they demonstrated their faith in the coming savior was through the sacrificial system. What an excellent picture of what Christ would do.
Confident faith that God's-savior-is-coming was as quintessential to the Old Testament believer's faith as is confident faith that He-has-already-come is to ours.
To the Old Testament believer, Jesus' name and everything he would accomplish was still somewhat of a mystery, but now that he has come the mystery is finally revealed as Paul many times extolled: Eph 3:9-11
…and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.
What is the Gospel?
The nature of God's word