People have always been saved by their faith in God rather than by merit earned through good works ( Hebrews 11:6 ).
The Bible is clear that Abraham, father of the Jewish people, was saved by faith. The Scriptures say, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness” ( Romans 4:3 ). Although Abraham didn’t know the exact way that God would one day provide a Savior, he made a profound statement about God’s ability to provide a substitute as he prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac on Mount Moriah ( Genesis 22:8 ).
The principle of salvation by faith continued under the Mosaic law. Because no one could perfectly satisfy the law’s demands, the law brought awareness of human sin and helplessness ( Romans 3:9-23; 7:7-14 ; Galatians 3:19-25 ). Its provisions for animal sacrifice were a further revelation of the seriousness and ugliness of sin. But the provision for sacrifice also pointed forward to Calvary and God’s provision of grace. David, who lived under the law 1,000 years before Christ, clearly knew the power of God’s grace, experiencing forgiveness and salvation through faith ( Psalm 32:1-5 ; Romans 4:6-8 ).
Faith in God always involved confidence that God would somehow provide for the forgiveness of sins. Faith always anticipated the coming of Christ and His sacrifice on our behalf. Old Testament believers offered sacrifices as an expression of their faith. By themselves, sacrificial offerings could never take away sin. When they were offered in faith, however, God accepted them because they pointed to Jesus Christ, the one sacrifice worthy to atone for all the sins of the world ( Hebrews 10:1-17 ).