How were people saved before Christ?

Theological question posited on Reddit forum: “How were people saved before Christ? If Adam & Eve were the first human beings alive, and have known God. Then why are there indigenous people spread all over the world worshiping other gods? I do not understand. How did that come to be? How did they come account to worshiping other gods? How are they judged before Christ came down to save us? How are people (not from Israel) judged when they die before Christ? when worshiping other gods based on culture. I am confused. I feel for them for having not knowing. Somebody help me understand.”

Christian response,

  1. From Eden forward, mankind has intuitively known that God, a Creator, exists (Romans 1:18-32) and for this reason mankind groped for God and fashioned Him into images represent by birds, four-footed animals, celestial bodies, men, women, trees, rocks. It was not until the true and LIVING God introduced Himself to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and later to Moses as “I AM” (Exodus 3:14) that mankind found the One true God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth and all life, Elohim. Today, those ignorant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Canon of Scripture continue to grope for God seeking Him in animals and trees and even in Darwinian Evolution through demonic abiogenesis and descent with modification. Jesus commanded the Church to take the Gospel to the ends of the Earth (Matthew 28:19) but there remains those in remote areas who have not yet heard.
  2. From Adam forward, mankind has always found righteousness (a right standing) with God the Father by “faith” (see Hebrews 11). Before the Covenant of Law and the Sinai Commandments, all of mankind operated under the Law of Conscience (Romans 2:15); that is, the moral law as written upon our heart by our Creator. Faith was and is the “key” to finding righteousness with God the Father from Adam to Abraham, Moses to Jesus (Covenant of Law), from Jesus (Covenant of Grace) to the end of Messiah’s Millennial Reign…faith is KEY.

The difference being, from Adam to Abraham, Moses to Jesus’ Crucifixion (those in the Old Testament), though mankind found righteousness (a right standing) with God the Father by faith, alone, there was no atonement for sin available and the Scripture tells us that sin having not been atoned for cannot enter the Kingdom of God (Revelation 21:27). Even in the Covenant of Law and the blood sacrifices performed with animals, the blood of animals did NOT provide lasting regenerative atonement for sin (see Hebrews 10); therefore, those who died having expressed faith in God before the Crucifixion of Messiah Jesus, their disembodied spirit/soul was relegated to a region Messiah Jesus and King David refer to as Sheol/Paradise (Luke 16; Psalm 16:10, also “Hades” in Greek). These Old Testament saints awaited Messiah’s atonement for sin in the region of Sheol-Paradise and the Scriptures tell us that when Messiah died upon the Cross and His body laid in the tomb, Messiah, in Spirit, entered Sheol-Paradise (1 Peter 3:18-20; Ephesians 4:8-10) and preached liberty to the Old Testament saints captive there and took them into the Kingdom of God. Messiah’s atonement for sin is the ONLY acceptable sacrifice for our sin and God the Father will NOT permit unrepentant sin to enter His Kingdom subsequent to the death of the body in Time (Revelation 21:27); therefore it was necessary for these Old Testament saints to wait for Messiah’s atonement before entering the Kingdom.

Today, in the Covenant of Grace established in Messiah’s blood (Matthew 26:28), everyone who dies having believed in Jesus Christ as God and Savior and Mediator for their sin, at the time of their death they are escorted instantaneously into the presence of our Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8).

3. Salvation is not exclusively for Israel; in fact, because of Israel’s disobedience and rejection of Messiah Jesus, Israel is under God’s judgment and only a remnant of Israel will be saved in the last days (Isaiah 10:22; Romans 9:27). The Gospel of Jesus Christ was taken from the children of Israel who rejected it and the Gospel was given to the Gentiles to proselytize the World with the “Good News” of Jesus as Lord for the mediation of sin.

Today, everyone, Jew or Gentile, who is willing to humble them self before God the Father and repent of their sin and sincerely believe in their heart, confess with their mouth, Jesus Christ as the God who died to pay their sin-debt (Romans 10:9-10), that person so believing and confessing is saved by grace through faith in Jesus and they are secure in the Father through the indwelling Holy Spirit, forever (Ephesians 1:13-14; John 20:28-30).

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