Question: I’ve been told that the Old Testament saints were saved by faith in God. Besides the statement in Genesis:15:6 about Abraham being saved by believing what God had told him, are there any other Old Testament verses that show that men and women under the old covenant were justified by their faith in God apart from the Law?
Response: Genesis:15:6 is perhaps the key verse that shows how Old Testament saints were saved: “And he [Abraham] believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness..” Paul references that verse in Romans 4. Verse 13 sums it up, saying “For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.”
Sometimes the references may be slightly veiled, but nevertheless they are there. For example, Job, by faith, declared in 19:15, “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth...” How did he know? By faith!
Galatians:3:11 tells us, “no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.” We can’t limit this passage to being only applicable to the New Testament, because Paul is quoting Habakkuk:2:4: “Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.” Salvation by faith, not from the Law, was an Old Testament principle.
This issue is apparently never far from Paul’s mind, for in Romans:4:6-8, Paul is quoting Psalm:32:1,2,5: “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile....I acknowledge my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.” Paul explains further in verses 23-24, “Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead.” It is apparent that salvation has always been by grace through faith.