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ihavequestions26's avatar

What happened to people before Jesus died for our sins? (Christians answer only please)

Asked by ihavequestions26 (30 points ) November 4th, 2010

Before Jesus came, the followers that became Christians once he came were Jews, right? Was it that they had to sacrifice animals and stuff and then they went to heaven? Or did they just go to hell, and then when Jesus died, he went to get the ones who were waiting for him…and then Jesus was resurrected etc…?

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jaytkay's avatar

I attended a Christian Reformed college for a year and they taught that those people went to Hell.

I couldn’t believe it and I asked again and again if they believed it and yes, they were serious.

squirbel's avatar

Christianity didn’t come until long after his death, long meaning centuries.

People who lived before Christ will still be seen in heaven; their requirements were to follow the commandments and to live as upstanding individuals. When they sinned, a sacrifice was necessary because they had to cleanse themselves of that sin, and someone had to die for it.

When Christ came, he was the ultimate Lamb. He knew he was to be sacrificed. Much of what he was and did was symbolic – as he preached and taught he explained that sacrifices would be done away with upon his death; that he was the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

After his death, he appeared once more to his disciples, and told them he would leave a Comforter, who would be with the people until his return. The Comforter is the Holy Spirit.

So in the end, all people, whether Christian or not, have the ability to go to heaven. They only have to believe in God, who has 3 forms; The I Am, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.

Personally, while I find truth in this, I also believe God is not a god of one people. I believe every civilization knows of Him, albeit in different ways. One can find, through study of all religions, His face and actions.

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Dog's avatar

[Mod Says] The user is seeking responses from a Christian perspective. Please respect the asking party and only respond if you are Christian as requested in the question.

Many thanks!

MrItty's avatar

The Christian poet Dante Alighieri believed that the “good” people before Christ went to a special level of Hell that wasn’t bad or evil or tortuous at all. In fact, the only thing that differentiated this level of Hell from Heaven was the lack of God Himself. In every other way, it was peaceful bliss. The only “crime” of the denizens of this level was being born too early. Dante also believed this is where un-baptized babies went.

MrItty's avatar

According to Catholic dogma, those souls went to a state of Limbo, until Christ’s sacrifice. When Christ died, he descended into hell and preached to the “souls in prison” there, and apparently at that time, those souls who had died before Christ were taken into heaven as well.

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09256a.htm

Aqua's avatar

1. “Before Jesus came, the followers that became Christians once he came were Jews, right?”:
If you are asking if all of the converts to Christianity around the time of Christ were Jews, the answer is no.

2. “What happened to people before Jesus died for our sins?”:
The Atonement of Jesus Christ is infinite and eternal, meaning He suffered for everyone who lived before Him and everyone who will ever live after Him. Christianity has existed before the foundations of the world. Prophets have always known that Christ would come and atone for the sins of mankind, and this knowledge has been declared to people from the time of Adam, although it has been rejected repeatedly throughout history. This is one of the main purposes of a prophet – to testify of and declare the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

A similar question could be asked about those who have lived after Jesus but have lived at a time or in a circumstance where they never had the opportunity to hear about the gospel. Everyone will have a chance to hear and chose to accept the gospel or not, either in this life or in the spirit world before the final judgement. They will not all go to Hell.

3. Was it that they had to sacrifice animals and stuff and then they went to heaven?
As far as sacrificing animals, that was part of the Law of Moses, which was fulfilled by Christ. There were prophets before Moses who taught the fulness of the gospel. Salvation, even at the time of the law of Moses, did not come by the law alone.

4. “Or did they just go to hell, and then when Jesus died, he went to get the ones who were waiting for him…and then Jesus was resurrected etc…”:
Almost. Hell comes from the Greek work Hades, which refers to the abode of the dead, not just the abode of the wicked. It actually consists of two parts, paradise and Gehenna, a place for the righteous and a place for the wicked. Hell in the traditional sense will not last forever. Between His death and resurrection, Christ went and made it possible for the gospel to be declared to those in Hades who had not received it.

lillycoyote's avatar

I’m not a Christian; I’m an apostate, but I can try to outline what the position of the particular Protestant, the particular Lutheran denomination that I was raised in is and how that position compares to at least one other Lutheran denomination. Those two denominations represent only a fraction of Christians in the world, but it is the the position that I know the best.

The tone of my answer may reflect some of my own biases, but aside from that, I think it is pretty straight forward presentation of the doctrine.

I was was raised ECLA, that’s the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. Their beliefs are actually pretty enlightened, in my opinion, relative to other Protestant denominations and relative to other Lutheran denominations.

This is a link to the ECLA’s official position regarding Salvation which is essentially what you’re asking about. Their position is basically that God is not at all as petty a mean-spirited, rule-driven, authoritarian hardass as other Christians seem to think He, she or it is.

(Note: 1. I’m going to use “He” from now on just so I don’t have to keep saying he, she or it and 2. Oops! There was a little bias coming through above, wasn’t there?).

From the ECLA’a statement of belief on salvation, the one I posted above, the following is a quote from Lutheran theologian Carl Braaten, who has helped shape the position of the ELCA:

Braaten says, “The Christian hope for salvation, whether for the believing few or the unbelieving many, is grounded in the person and meaning of Christ alone, not in the potential of the world’s religions to save, nor in the moral seriousness of humanists and people of good will, not even in the good works of pious Christians and church people…. There is a universalist thrust in the New Testament, particularly in Paul’s theology. How else can we read passages such as ‘for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ’ (1 Cor 15:22)?” (See also Colossians 1:15–20, Ephesians 1:9–10, 1 Corinthians 15:28.)

Again, from the ECLA statement of belief on salvation, and I think this is the clearest statement on their belief:

If Jesus is the Lord and Savior, he is the universal Lord and Savior, not merely my personal Lord and Savior. Because Jesus is the unique and universal Savior, there is a large hope for salvation, not only for me and others with the proper credentials of believing and belonging to the church, but for all people whenever or wherever they might have lived and no matter how religious or irreligious they may have proved to be themselves. It is clearly God’s announced will that all people shall be saved and come to the knowledge of truth

And their statement ends with:

Will, then, all people be saved in the end? We must say with Braaten, “We do not… know the answer. (That) is stored up in the mystery of God’s own future. All (God) has let us know in advance is that he will judge the world according to the measure of his grace and love made known in Jesus Christ, which is ultimately greater than the fierceness of his wrath or the hideousness of our sin.

It think the quotes above, from the ECLA, about salvation states their position pretty clearly. They don’t believe that they can really know what the fate of nonbelievers and the nonreligious might be, but they believe, or at least hope that the God that they believe in, is a God of love and grace, not a petty, rule-directed, cosmic bureaucrat; and that He “will judge the world according to the measure of his grace and love made known in Jesus Christ, which is ultimately greater than the fierceness of his wrath or the hideousness of our sin.”

However, not everyone agrees with this position, most certainly not all Lutherans.

Enter the LCMS (Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod), the hard asses, the bad cop to the ECLA’s good cop, sort of.

A critique of the ECLA’s postition on salvation, Does the ELCA Teach Another Gospel?
from LCMS pastor, the Rev. Cary G. Larson , :

BTW, to summarize, he thinks that ECLA Lutherans are paving themselves a road to hell.

For many years, learned people, clergy and lay, have warned that the ELCA is in dangerous theological waters. It has been increasingly clear in recent months that not only is the ELCA in dangerous waters but is also a sinking ship as it relates to the true expression of Christ’s church.

Perhaps nothing is clearer than in the ELCA understanding of salvation. For many leaders of the ELCA have deviated from the biblical understand of salvation and practice what is know as Universalism, that is, a theological doctrine that all human beings will eventually be saved. Many have come to know this as the “Big God” theology where all roads lead to God with or without Jesus Christ. Popular secular icons such as Oprah Winfrey have even proclaimed this theology.

The reality is that the ELCA is not the church the average Lutheran person in the pew thinks it is. For many, the church is what they see every Sunday and what they participate in during the week in church related activities. However, in giving dollars to the ELCA by way of benevolences is actually promoting a non-Lutheran and even a non-Christian understanding of salvation and the role of Christ’s church in this world

The LCMS position on salvation is very much the same position of many fundemantalists. A belief in Jesus Christ, that Christ died on the cross, rose from the dead and ascended into heaven on the third day and that it is faith and grace alone, only that, that can guarantee salvation. At least as far as I know, that is the position of the LCMS. The complexities of the theology of faith, grace, justification, etc. I will admit, have always kind of eluded me. One of the many reasons that my road to asposty began around the age of 8.

And for the record, Larson says “the reality is that the ELCA is not the church the average Lutheran person in the pew thinks it is.” That is absolutely wrong, in my experience. ECLA Lutherans are where they are, in those particular pews because they know exactly what the Church’s doctrine is and they prefer it to the doctrine and dogmatism of the LCMS; they believe in a God that is a better, bigger, more loving God than the LCMS Lutherans seem able to fit in their tiny little minds; and in their tiny, mean, little hearts.

O.K., maybe the last little bit wasn’t necessary but I still have some LCMS relatives, distant ones, and I don’t care for their small-mindedness and their brand of fundementalism.

Anyway, did all that clear anything up? That’s just the beliefs of ECLA and LCMS Lutherans on this particular part. ECLA Lutherans are not necessarily representative of all Christians in terms of doctrine, they are actually relatively non-dogmatic. But no Christian denomination if necessarily representative of all Christians. As I mentioned on another similar thread, anyone seeking a consenses, anyone seeking one definitive answer to any one particular point of Christian doctrine is just plain shit out of luck, because there isn’t one, and there never will be one, there will never be one answer to any one question.

mattbrowne's avatar

Liberal Christians think that there are different ways to find God and wisdom and going to heaven. Jesus offers one way, or perhaps metaphorically speaking we could say, Jesus helps smooth the ride.

Paradox's avatar

A similar question was asked a few weeks ago. Because my response was lengthy and I do not want to paste it here just click here and scroll to the bottom. The short answer here is that a place called Shoel was divided into two different sections each for the wicked and righteous however it was still a place of punishment since everyone is sinners regardless and just one sin is worthy of eternal punishment. Jesus apparantely descended into Shoel after his death to offer everyone there a chance at being saved. In this way no one was left out.

fluthertapthecollectivedotcom's avatar

I believe that God wants us to follow the path that he has chosen, and all actions will be accounted for in heaven. Only he will make the final judgment. Humans are God’s creation and he desires to see them succeed not fail. Personally, I believe that before and after Jesus is irrelevant in this judgment calculation. Jesus’ teachings changed humans’ ability to access ideas about being a good person, but people still had choices to make before him.

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