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How were people saved before Christ came?

Submitted: 12/12/2005
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Question: My question, is what about the people before Christ. I believe you have to be baptizied in Jesus' name and filled with the Holy Ghost to be saved. But what about people who were on earth and died before Chrst? How could they be saved and know about Jesus? Thanks.

Answer: Salvation has always been based on God's grace and man's faith. In different times during man's history, God has required different ways of expressing our faith. For example, during the period of the law, people were required to offer animal sacrifices in order to receive forgiveness of sins (see Leviticus 5:17-19). But David revealed in Psalm 51 that it was not merely the sacrifice itself that brought forgiveness but the heart of the one offering the sacrifice. He wrote, 'You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart -- these, O God, You will not despise....Then You shall be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering' (vv.16-19).

God no longer requires that we express our faith by offering up a burnt offering. Now we must repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus. Now we must receive the Spirit and walk in the light as He is in the light (Acts 2:38; 1 John 1:7). This was instituted by Jesus Christ through His chosen apostles.

To whom much is given, much is required. We have been given much more than the people of the Old Testament period; therefore the required sacrifice is much greater. Before Jesus came man offered mere animals as sacrifices, which were intended to remind people of the consequences of sin and the promise of a coming Messiah. Today we offer our own bodies as a living sacrifice. Both are based on faith, but one is more personal than the other.