Salvation BEFORE the Crucifixion of Jesus

The Question

It would seem that people like King David and Moses had no Savior
because they died before Jesus was crucified.
The question is --

Did the Old Testament saints go to heaven?

The basis for salvation

You receive salvation by the grace of God, through having faith in Jesus as your Savior.

  • This was true in the days of the Old Testament saints -- before the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
  • It is true today.
  • It will remain true in the future. God does not change!
  For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. Eph 2.8-9

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Heb 13.8
Old Testament saints

We will use the term "Old Testament saints" to refer to all those people who were saved by faith in God PRIOR to Christ's atoning death.

The following are just a few examples of Old Testament saints who received salvation by faith...
  • Abraham had faith (believed) in the Lord, and the Lord accounted it to him for righteousness. Therefore, Abraham was saved.
  And he (Abraham) believed in the Lord, and He (God) accounted it to him for righteousness. Gen 15.6
  • David was saved by faith in God.
  (David wrote...) Bow down Your ear, O Lord, hear me; For I am poor and needy. Preserve my life, for I am holy; You are my God; Save Your servant who trusts in You! Ps 86.1-2
  • Isaiah was saved by faith in God.
  (Isaiah wrote...) I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation... Isa 61.10a
  • Countless other Old Testament saints were saved through the simple act of having faith in God. The panel alongside lists just a few examples.
  By faith, Abel... By faith, Enoch... By faith, Noah... By faith, Abraham... By faith, Sarah... By faith, Isaac... By faith, Jacob... By faith, Joseph... By faith, Moses... By faith, Rahab...

And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets extracts from Heb 11.4-32

Faith, but no Savior

But how could the Old Testament saints have been saved when Jesus had not yet died for their sins? The verses alongside answer this question...

  • The OT saints KNEW that God would, in His perfect time, provide them with a Messiah -- a King -- to bring salvation from their sins.
  • They knew because God told them so! Zech 9.9, Job 19.25-26, Gen 3.15, Gen 22.8, Isa 53.5, et al
  • The entire animal-sacrifice system (Exodus & Leviticus) vividly showed the OT saints that God would provide a Redeemer to shed blood in atonement for their sins.
  Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. Zech 9.9

For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth. And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God. Job 19.25-26
  • Heb 11.13 tells us that the OT saints were ASSURED of God's promises to provide a Savior.
  • Moreover, the OT saints EMBRACED (had faith in) God's promises to provide them a Savior.
  • In other words, OT saints had faith in Messiah Jesus even before He was born (incarnated).
  • When the OT saints died, God put their spirits "in lay-away" so to speak, awaiting final payment of sin's penalty by the promised Messiah! (More about this in a moment.)

These (OT saints) all died in faith, not having received the promises (of a Savior-Messiah), but having seen them afar off...

  • Were Assured of them, and
  • Embraced them

Heb 11.13a

Read Me!
Unless you read what Jesus teaches in the following panels, this essay may become confusing.

Jesus Teaches You About:
"The Rich Man, the Beggar, and Abraham"

(Jesus said...) There was a certain rich man... And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus...

  • The beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom (Paradise).
  • The rich man also died and was torments in Hades.
  • The rich man lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

The next column records part of a conversation that ensued between the rich man and Abraham

  • Rich man: "Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame."
  • Abraham: "Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things. But now Lazarus is comforted and you are tormented. Besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us." Lk 16.19-26

Comments on the Bible Passage Quoted Above

In Bible Bell's OPINION the passage quoted above (Lk 16.19-26) is NOT a parable, because it uses the real names of real people...

  • Jesus never identified the names of people in His parables, because those parables were "made-up" stories used to teach spiritual truths.

The above Bible passage teaches us several facts...

  • When Abraham and the other Old Testament saints died, their spirits did NOT go to heaven.
  • This was because Jesus had not yet died for their sins.
  • As is evident from Lk 16.19-26, the spirits of ALL who died (believers and unbelievers alike) were sent to Hades. (continued next column)

Hades is NOT the same as hell (the lake of fire or "gehenna).

  • Rather Hades is a "holding zone" where both the saved and unsaved were sent PRIOR to Christ's atoning death and resurrection.
  • At the time of Lk 16.19-26, Hades was separated into two compartments. Those two compartments were separated by an uncrossable gulf (Lk 16.26).
  • One compartment was a place of torment, occupied by unbelievers. This is where the rich man's spirit was sent.
  • The other compartment was Paradise, a place of comfort referred to as "Abraham's bosom." This is where the spirits of Lazarus and other believers were sent PRIOR to the resurrection of Lord Jesus.

Preliminary Summary

  • So far we have learned that the Old Testament saints were saved by faith in God.
  • They embraced God's promise that He would provide a Messiah to atone for their sins.
  • When they died, their spirits went to Paradise, a special compartment of Hades. They were in a place of comfort, but it was not heaven. Why? Because their sins had not yet been atoned for, that's why.
  • With that bit of background, we are ready to see the next stage of God's plan of redemption -- the actual coming of the Messiah, Lord Jesus.

After Jesus's crucifixion, and BEFORE His resurrection, His body was in the tomb for three days.

  • And then Jesus rose from the dead. (We serve a living Savior. Halleluyah!)
  • Jesus was not idle while His body lay in the grave.
  • Neither had Jesus forgotten His beloved Old Testament saints who were in Hades. Read on!
  For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures. 1 Cor 15.3-4

The Long Wait is Ended!

The verses to the left indicate that, during the three-day period that Jesus's body lay in the tomb, His spirit descended into Hades -- the lower parts of the earth...

  • The reason Jesus went there was to preach the gospel of His atoning death to the Old Testament saints who had died and were waiting there.
  • At last their long wait was over. What rejoicing there must have been!
  • When Abraham, Moses, David, Job, and all the other Old Testament saints received the gospel, they simultaneously received Jesus's atonement for their sins.
  • When Jesus ascended to heaven, He took with Him the spirits of His beloved Old Testament saints.
  Now this, "He (Jesus) ascended'' what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? Eph 4.9

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison... 1 Pet 3.18-19

For this reason the gospel was preached also to those who are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit. 1 Pet 4.6

When He (Jesus) ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.'' Eph 4.8b
  • Paradise is now in Heaven with God, where the spirits of ALL departed believers now live. (You can read more about this by using the LINK provided in the next panel below.)
  We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. 2 Cor 5.8

Love beforehand

Before ever God made the world, He knew the Old Testament saints (and you!) would need a Savior...

  • In love Jesus freely chose to die an atoning death for their sins (and yours).
  • God loved YOU before ever time began. Have you returned that love and received Him as your own personal Savior? If not, why do you wait?
  • Click Here to read more about God's eternal plans for saving the OT saints (and YOU).
  • Click Here to read more about Paradise and Heaven. Amen!
  (Jesus is...) The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Rev 13.8b

He (God) chose us in Him (Jesus Christ) before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love... Eph 1.4






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