Were People Saved Before Jesus?
Grappling with the concept of time can be difficult. Since we are caught up in time and, by our nature, think in a temporal and chronological fashion, we often bring this linear approach in trying to make sense of theological or supernatural issues. Such missteps regarding the nature of time can create issues for believers. Take for instance the question of salvation. Not long ago, a believer asked a question about why Christ needed to come to earth to save people. Since it seems at least some people were saved before Christ appeared (as the Bible affirms), doesn’t that make Christ either unnecessary or superfluous?
When you tease out what is implied in the question, it is apparent that the person asking is treating Jesus as only a man who happened to be born at one point in history. As is true for all men, while it may be possible to have an impact during one’s life, and possible to influence people even after one’s death, it is not possible to have any impact before one is even born. So, if God found Abraham righteous, or allowed others into heaven before Christ’s death on the cross, just how did He do it?
The answer, I submit, can be discovered in the first chapter of John’s gospel. There was indeed a “beginning”to this universe, a point at which time, as we know it, began to tick away. But Jesus was at the beginning. Struggling to make clear a rather difficult concept, John repeats the thought several different ways: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.”
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In a sense, Jesus is the being through whom the universe began, was populated and was filled with life and light. John goes on: “All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” A tortured construction, but one that leaves little room for ambiguity. “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
In other words, there is never a “before” time as it relates to Jesus. Not only was he present “with” God, but the “Word” was God. He is of the same “stuff” as God. He is an eternal being. Most significantly for us here, he is the “portal” through which this universe came into being…
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