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Answers Weekly

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May 14, 2011

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Q: How were people saved before Jesus came in the flesh?

A: Personal salvation by grace through faith in the atoning work of Christ on the Cross may not have been as clear at the time of Noah as it is to us today. The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world came to the nation of Israel approximately four hundred years after the Old Testament canon was closed. How then could there be a clear object of faith if the object had not yet appeared?

The Apostle Paul dealt with an issue in Romans 4 that helps us answer this important question. He used the Old Testament to show salvation has always been by God’s grace and can only be received through faith. While addressing those who thought they could save themselves by adhering to the Law of Moses, Paul made a brilliant argument regarding circumcision.

To demonstrate his point that salvation comes through faith instead of works, Paul referred to Abraham, the forefather of the Jewish people. He cited Genesis 15:6, which reveals that Abram (Abraham) “believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.” Circumcision was not introduced to Abraham and his descendants until Genesis 17—more than 10 years later.

Continue reading to see how the Old Testament sets forth a gospel theme that people were saved from sin by grace through saving faith in the Lord and His promises.

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