Question: Besides Genesis 15:6 concerning Abraham, can you give me other verses that state that the Old Testament saints were declared righteous by their faith in God? |

TBC Staff

Question: Besides Genesis:15:6 concerning Abraham, can you give me other verses that state that the Old Testament saints were declared righteous by their faith in God? 

Response: We are told, “For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image...can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year...make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because...the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sin. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins” (Heb:10:1-4).

Clearly, if the sacrifices demanded by the Law cannot take away sins or provide salvation, then salvation must be by faith in something else. Paul continues, “But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of evident:...The just shall live by faith” (Gal:3:11). We can’t say that this passage refers only to the New Testament, because Paul is quoting Habakkuk:2:4, part of the Old Testament. Consequently, salvation by faith apart from the Law must be an Old Testament principle. Paul stated that the Law was “our schoolmaster [guardian/tutor] to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith” (Gal:3:24). Paul also makes the point that keeping the Law did not save either Old or New Testament Jews because “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Rom:3:20).

Even the Old Testament sacrificial system prefigured salvation by faith alone. Speaking of the priestly garments, Ezekiel wrote that “they shall have linen bonnets upon their heads...linen breeches upon their loins; they shall not gird themselves with any thing that causeth sweat” (Ezk 44:18).

Man was to “earn” his living by “the sweat of thy face...” (Gen:3:19). But nothing that involves “work” will “earn” you salvation. The Lord’s commands concerning construction of an altar further reinforced this theme: “An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings, and thy peace offerings... in all places where I record my name I will ...bless thee. And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it” (Ex 20:24-25; See also Leviticus:14:32 for similar thoughts).

Paul demonstrates that the Old Testament way of salvation was the same as in New Testament times, pointing to Abraham, who was saved by faith: “Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness” (Rom:4:3). For scriptural proof, Paul references Genesis:15:6, pointing to Abraham, who could not have found salvation by keeping the Law, which was still more than 400 years in the future for him. He then singles out David, who was also saved by faith (Rom:4:6-8), quoting Psalm:32:1-2. Paul goes further in establishing that in the Old Testament, salvation was by faith only, writing in Romans:4:23-24, “Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him....” Simply put, righteousness is “imputed” (“credited” or “given”) to those with faith in God, e.g., Abraham, David, and now us who are saved by faith.