Erik Raymond Illustrates Old Testament Salvation


How Were People Saved in the OT?

It’s been said before that kids ask the best questions. They often come at the issue from a different perspective. The challenge then is not in the getting of questions it is in the answering.

Our little 10-year-old daughter asked me a question the other day about how the atonement works for people who lived before Christ’s death. She wondered if they were either given a break, out of luck, or something else.

I showed her how in Romans 4 the Apostle Paul dealt with this very question. He showed how both Abraham and David were justified (declared righteous) on the basis of faith. They were not forgiven by law-keeping (doing) but by trusting (faith). This shows the continuity with the New Testament teaching of justification by faith alone. A guy like Abraham, who came before Moses and David, who came after Moses, were both justified by faith in God.

God could promise forgiveness to these and other saints on the basis of his certainty that Jesus would earn it for us all. By Jesus’ doing and dying for us, God is able to justify all who truly come to faith in God according to his revealed word.

To illustrate this I spoke of a visit to an ice cream shop. When we come in with 6 kids there is quite a line. Some go ahead and I stay in the back. As they are ordering their various flavors the workers will usually have handed them the completely ice cream to them before I even get through the line. “How can the workers do that?” I asked. “It is because they are confident that the man with the money is coming through the line.” Jesus is ultimately the one with the money, he is the one who comes through the line to pay for everything his family needs. Every single person who is forgiven, including Abraham and David, are forgiven because of what Jesus has paid for them.

Children are such a precious gift to us. I love how they make us think and work through our answers thoughtfully. Maybe this will help you as you work with kids to teach them the gospel; or maybe it’ll just remind you of the beauty of Christ’s work—either way, it is good to think about these things over ice cream!

About the Author: Erik Raymond has been writing at “Ordinary Pastor” since 2006. He lives in Omaha, Nebraska with his wife and kids while pastoring at Emmaus Bible Church. Follow regular updates on Twitter at This excellent article was adapted from his website on August 8, 2012.

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