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How were people saved before Jesus Christ died on the Cross? The answer is easy, once you realize that nothing happens by chance—the solution was already in place even before the world began.
The Bible record presents two dominant themes: promise and fulfillment. Over and again we see God promising and then, true to His word, fulfilling. Even at the very beginning, when the fall of man first brought sin and death into the world, God graciously promised that one day Christ would step into history, as a “lamb . . . foreordained before the foundation of the world” (1 Peter 1:19–20), to shed His blood to save a fallen humanity.
The story of mankind’s redemption is “monergistic”; that is, it begins with God alone as the “Prime Mover.” Genesis 3:15 gives the first prophetic promise, an account of the coming struggle between “the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent,” whose outcome is never in question. Couched within the conflict is the divine declaration of promise and fulfillment. God pledges to send “The Coming One,” a Savior, who would crush the head of Satan to redeem a fallen race. Then He fulfills His promise when Christ appears in the flesh.
The Old Testament is filled with types and shadows, prophetic indicators announcing through the ancient nation of Israel a Redeemer who would come to deliver His people. Unmistakably, a gospel theme runs like a silver thread throughout the Bible, joining promise to fulfillment.
The expected arrival of this divine Person loomed large in the minds of many in ancient Israel who searched the Scriptures for confirmation. John the Baptist’s announcement, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29), resonated within the hearts of the multitudes as they flocked to hear Him.
One of the most amazing testimonies to the timelessness of the gospel promise comes from the lips of Jesus Himself. He comforts and encourages a despondent group of disciples on the road to Emmaus with these amazing words, “Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory?” (Luke 24:26).
Whether we look backward or forward in time, God has always saved in the same manner, by His grace through a person’s faith in the “seed of the woman,” Jesus the promised Messiah, coming in His appointed time to crush the head of Satan and bring redemption to a fallen humanity.