Salvation before crucifixion!

(Ashish Money) #1

I am having a dialogue with a Muslim woman and she is posing many questions. One of the questions that she asked is how were people saved before the crucifixion?

I did some research on this, but I came with more questions.

  1. If people were saved just by faith in the OT times. Than why could they not be saved in the same pattern in the NT until now? and if sacrifice was required then why only God choose a specific time and point in History?

  2. How do I explain her that Christ sacrifice covers all the sins from the beginning of the creation until the second coming.

I will be glad to hear from you all!!!

(SeanO) #2

@Ashishraj Those are great questions. If it were me, I would not focus on the fact that Christ has covered all sins already, but rather that all people who have faith in God are covered by Christ and in Christ. All of the saints throughout history from Abel to Zechariah to Paul to the last Christian left on earth are reconciled through Jesus.

But how can that be if Jesus had not yet come when Abraham was alive? Here are a few thoughts that I hope you find helpful.


I think sometimes we approach questions that are enjoyable and profitable to prayerfully ponder, but where we need to begin with obedience even without perfect understanding. There is a time where we must let God be God and come to Him as He is - I actually think, with my very limited experience, that perhaps this approach would be very logical to a Muslim? For Westerners this a huge struggle - to recognize that God’s ways are above our ways and while we certainly should pursue understanding, knowing God and understanding Him are two very different things. And we can know without fully understanding - like a child their parent.

“I do not seek to understand in order that I may believe, but rather, I believe in order that I may understand” - Anselm of Canterbury

Psalms 131:1-3 -My heart is not proud, Lord,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.
2 But I have calmed and quieted myself,
I am like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child I am content.
3 Israel, put your hope in the Lord
both now and forevermore.

The Means and the Object

The OT saints put their faith in God (and Jesus is God). Therefore their faith was in the right Person. The object of their faith was correct.

However, they did not yet understand the means of salvation - how it would be accomplished. But because the object of their faith was correct, their faith was counted as righteousness.

  • God is the object of faith
  • the cross of Christ is the means of salvation

The OT Saints Hoped in God’s Salvation

All of the prophets looked forward to what God’s Spirit foretold about Messiah. They did not fully comprehend it, but they trusted in God and in His salvation. Their faith in God translates to faith in Christ because Christ is God’s means for salvation.

Hebrews 11:1-2 - Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.

John 8:56 - Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.

Luke 2:25 - At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel.

I Peter 1:10-12 - Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, 11 trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.

To Know God is to Know Jesus / To Know Jesus is to Know God - Jesus is God

Part of this mystery is wrapped up in the fact that Jesus is God. To know one is to know the other.

We are saved not simply by believing in the death and resurrection of Jesus, but by knowing Jesus Himself. That means that anyone who truly knows God has already met Jesus and would gladly trust completely in Him. In fact, if you truly trust in the living God you have already trusted in Jesus! You have placed your faith in the Creator! Someone who knows God knows Christ.

John 8:19 - Then they asked him, “Where is your father?” “You do not know me or my Father,” Jesus replied. “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.”

John 17:3 - Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.

The OT a Shadow and a Tutor to Lead us to Christ

God had to prepare the human race to be capable as a whole of understanding the Person and work of Jesus. The Old Testament laws and sacrifices were a shadow and tutor to lead us all to Jesus. God works on the timescale of history and Christ is at the center.

Regarding sacrifices, I recommend reading the whole of Hebrews 10.

Acts 17:26-27 - From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.

Hebrews 10:1 - The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves.

Colossians 2:16-17 - Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.

Galatians 3:24 - Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

(Ashish Money) #3

Thanks Sean for the detailed thought.

(SeanO) #4

@Ashishraj Sure thing - hope it was helpful :slight_smile: Definitely an intriguing question.

(Ashish Money) #5

Hi SeanO, your thoughts were really helpful, I am waiting for her reply on the answers posed, this lady is not a seeker of truth, she is just pointing that Christianity is wrong. She is changing topics and bypassing my questions. I am patiently waiting for her to finish her allegations and then present the truths in the Bible. Please continue praying for me. I will get back to you for more help!!! :slightly_smiling_face:

(Kathleen) #6

Do let us know if/when she gets back with you. :slight_smile: Praying, brother!

(SeanO) #7

@Ashishraj May the Lord guide your conversation and open her eyes to His grace and glory.

(Wonder Rexford Krampa ) #8


(Dennis Gladden) #9

Hi @Ashishraj. @SeanO has already given you some excellent answers. May I add another thought?

Your Muslim acquaintance is looking at the crucifixion as a point-in-time, from-this-point-forward event, but scriptures present the cross as a once, for all time work of God. Consider these texts from Hebrews:

But now, at the end of the ages, he has appeared once for all to remove sin by his sacrifice. Hebrews 9:26

This is why the Messiah is the mediator of a new covenant; so that those who are called may receive the eternal inheritance promised them, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the offenses committed under the first covenant. Hebrews 9:15

For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. Hebrews 10:14

This Muslim woman seems to think the crucifixion cannot affect those who lived before it. The writer of Hebrews has a very different perspective. The crucifixion of Jesus comes at the end of the ages but is not limited to what follows. Jesus redeemed those who sinned under the first covenant. Jesus perfefcts for all time those who are being sanctified throughout time.

The work of Jesus is timeless. This is because salvation is not an afterthought, but a grace of God from the foundation of the world.

(SeanO) #10

@dennis.gladden Are you suggesting that Jesus’ sacrifice was effective even prior to it occurring in history? I have heard that point of view before, but I am not sure that the verses you quoted from Hebrews actually support it. The only verse I see that could is 10:14, but in that context ‘for all time’ does not mean that Jesus’ sacrifice has been efficacious from eternity past per my understanding. Rather, it is saying that Jesus’ sacrifice is final - it never has to be repeated like sacrifices under the Old Covenant.

(Dennis Gladden) #11

@SeanO Thank you for your question, which gives me an opportunity to clarify my comments. I can see how it seems I suggested that the crucifixion was effective before it occurred. Actually, I had not heard that view before your response and I do not adhere to it.

What I am trying to convey is that salvation appears to be seamless, planned by God before the foundation of the world, whereas we tend to cut it into fragments, thinking in terms of before and after the cross. I have heard people say it seems God had a Plan B.

The cross is not Plan B, but God’s first and final solution for sin. The promises of the Old Covenant prepared for the coming of Jesus. The New Covenant fulfills them. Nothing more needs to be done to deal with sin. As Jesus proclaimed on the night of His betrayal, “I have finished the work which You have given Me to do” (John 17:4) and later from the cross, “It is finished.”

So, as you replied, the verses I quoted in Hebrews support the idea of the finality of Jesus’ sacrifice in dealing with sin.

Back to @Ashishraj’s question about salvation before crucifixion, I think Paul expresses the timeless method of salvation in Ephesians 2:8, “by grace you have been saved through faith.” From the beginning, this has been God’s method. Whoever has been saved, and whenever, it has been by grace. And the scriptures, both Old Testament and New, declare that “the just shall live by faith” (Habakkuk 2:4, Romans 1:17).

Those before Christ lived by faith, looking forward to the Messiah, and we now also live by faith, looking back at the Messiah who has come. The robe of righteousness that is ours by grace, through faith, is as seamless as the tunic Jesus wore to the cross (John 19:23).

(SeanO) #12

@dennis.gladden Thank you for clarifying and well said. I think the phrase ‘looking forward to the Messiah’ is critical to understanding the connection between the faith of the OT saints and Jesus.

(Susan Baker) #13

“all people who have faith in God are covered by Christ”

Yes. So isn’t it essential to clarify what God we are referring to? I find that most people have a generic sense of God (New Age) or use other “sacred” writings to change God’s nature, plan and purpose (Islam).

Even in Judaism, God’s nature is not believed to be triune despite clear statements of His triune nature (Genesis “us”, “the spirit” and Isaiah, etc.)

But isn’t it essential to clarify that the God Who created us and graces us with salvation through our faith in Him, is the God of the Bible as revealed in Genesis through Revelation?

Thank you for your consideration!

(SeanO) #14

@Susan_Baker I think it depends on who we are talking to - I love the story of the woman at the well because it is a wonderful combination of grace and truth. Jesus clarifies with the Samaritan woman that salvation is of the Jews - she must worship the living God - not just any idea of a god:

John 4:22 - You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.

So I think you are very correct - just worshiping any idea of a god is not meaningful - we must worship the true God. When and how to say that depends on the context and the person with whom we are speaking.

Do you agree with that assessment?

(Susan Baker) #15

Thank you, Sean. Yes, I agree that when and how we describe the one, true God of the Bible can be challenged by the person in the context of our reply. Our circumstances change; God doesn’t. Humans are confused by this and one can understand why.

(Ashish Money) #16

Thanks KMac… She has asked another question, I will post it in the Daily Evangelism

(Ashish Money) #17

Thanks Dennis, thats precisely very true… Thanks for sharing the powerful verses

(Ashish Money) #18

Thanks you Susan for the question… it really does matters that the true God is to be worshiped.