How were the Old Testament Saints Saved?

By Dr. Ken Matto

 (Deu 33:1-3 KJV) And this is the blessing, wherewith Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel before his death. {2} And he said, The LORD came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints: from his right hand went a fiery law for them. {3} Yea, he loved the people; all his saints are in thy hand: and they sat down at thy feet; every one shall receive of thy words.

One of the seemingly big discussion topics among Christians is that Christ went to the cross about 33 AD and afterward when He returned to Heaven, He sent the promise of the Holy Spirit upon all the Elect of God. Now it is easily gathered from the New Testament the way the New Testament Saint was saved but the big question is, how was the Old Testament Saint saved? Was the Old Testament Saint saved through the animal sacrifices? It seems many Christians believe that the animal sacrifices played a part in the salvation of the Old Testament Saints. When we look at the three verses from Deuteronomy we see the word “Saints” being used. This is the first usage of the word “Saints” in the entire Bible. The word “Saints” in Hebrew carries with it the meaning of “holy.” In verse 2 it is the popular word “qodhesh” which is used throughout the Old Testament for “holy and holiness.” In verse 3 it is the adjective “qadhosh” which is translated “holy.” Now the first two questions that we must ask is, did the animal sacrifices take away sin? Could they make a person holy?

The Animal Sacrifices
In the Old Testament, under the Law, the Lord instituted different sacrifices for different occasions. In the Hebrew Scriptures we find the sin offering, peace offering, trespass offering, cereal offering which was the oblation, etc. Each Israelite was responsible to offer a sacrifice for whatever violation of the law they did. Now it is interesting to note here that the word “sacrifice” in the Hebrew carries with it the meaning and idea of “draw near or approach.” So the basic idea of sacrifice was to be able to draw near or approach God.

When God gave the instructions for the sacrificial system to Moses on Sinai, it was to be instituted under the specific instructions that God gave. In other words, they could not substitute their own way of doing things, it was to be done “ to the letter of the law.” In Leviticus 1, we read about the Burnt Offering. In Leviticus 2, we read about the Meal Offering. In Leviticus 3, we read about the Peace Offering. In Leviticus 4, we read about the Sin Offering. In Leviticus 5, we read about the Restitution Offering. Now when we look at these offerings, we must ask the question, do these offerings make anyone holy? In addition to the specific offerings, there were also Feasts that was established under the Law, such as the Feast of Tabernacles, Unleavened Bread, etc.

Now the overriding question is that if a person kept the feasts, the sacrifices, the sabbath, and anything else required under the law, would that make them holy? When we speak of holy people, is the Bible speaking of a person who dresses holy, or who does holy things like those who worked in the Tabernacle and the Temple? Does working with holy things or observing holy things, make a person holy? Whenever we look at holy people in the Bible, what group are we looking at? The only group of people in the Bible that are considered holy are those who are the redeemed of God. Now did the required animal sacrifices redeem the nation of Israel? The answer to that question is found in the New Testament.

(Heb 9:8-9 KJV) The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: {9} Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience;

These verses answer the question as to whether a person working with holy things can be made holy. The Priests who offered the offerings and those who gave the offerings were by no means made holy because these things were a shadow of things to come. Shadows cannot save a person. Notice in verse 8 what the Scripture is teaching. Those who believe the Holy Spirit was not active during that time should really study this verse as it teaches that the Holy Spirit was signifying that the way to true salvation was not yet manifested at that time. The Scripture is not saying that the way was absent but it teaches that the way was there even though it was not the Lord’s timing to reveal it. Who is the Holiest of all and how do we find the way to Him? Well, the Tabernacle and Temple were all symbolic of coming to God the Father through the Lord Jesus Christ. No one can come to the Father except they come through the Lord Jesus Christ. (John 14:6 KJV) Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

(Heb 10:1-4 KJV) For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. {2} For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. {3} But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. {4} For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.

As we see in these verses that the Law had only a shadow of things to come. The sacrifices which were offered under that system were not of a permanent nature but only of a temporary nature. They were also only representations of what was to come. This is very important to keep in mind when trying to understand the nature of those sacrifices. The sacrificial system was not designed to remove sins from the person bringing the offering. It was a temporary foreshadow of the permanent atonement which would come through the Lord Jesus Christ on Calvary on behalf of His Elect. We read in verse 4 that it is not possible for the blood of animals to make atonement and remove sins from anyone. Only the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ had the ability to remove sins forever, once and for all, from the people that God would choose for salvation.

(Heb 10:6 KJV) In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure.

In this verse we are told that God did not delight in those burnt offerings because they did not remove sin from God’s Elect. God the Father takes pleasure in the atonement of His Son, because with that atonement, came the removal of sins from millions of people.

(Isa 42:1 KJV) Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.

(Mat 12:17-18 KJV) That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, {18} Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall show judgment to the Gentiles.

(Mat 17:5 KJV) While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.

The Great Day Of Atonement
(Lev 16:30-31 KJV) For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the LORD. {31} It shall be a sabbath of rest unto you, and ye shall afflict your souls, by a statute for ever.

In Leviticus 16, we read about the Great Day of Atonement. It was a time when two goats were chosen, one was to carry the sins of Israel into the Desert and the other was to be sacrificed as a burnt offering for the sins of Israel. After this ceremony, the people were to follow up with a day of fasting. This is the only time in the Mosaic Law that fasting was commanded. Now it looks like the Great Day of Atonement was the way that Israel was given forgiveness for their sins. However, as we keep in mind what we read previously, that the blood of bulls and goats cannot take away sin. A goat cannot atone for the sin of any human being. If they could, then anyone can buy a goat and after a life of sin, kill the goat and get to Heaven. However, that cannot be, so this means that God has another reason for devising this ceremony. The reason is that this day too is looking forward to the Great Day of Atonement. The one in Leviticus was only a temporary foreshadow of the Great Day of the Atonement which the Lord Jesus accomplished on Calvary for His Elect.

Why the Law if it could not save a soul?
In order for God to show the human race how wicked they were, He gave us the Law to show us that we could not keep it. Cruel? Absolutely not! God did this out of compassion because if there was no law to compare our actions to, then there could be no standard by which to compare our lives to. God allowed the Law to come into existence to show that we needed a Savior. No human being alive could ever please God with enough good works because every good work we do is still tainted by sin.

(Gal 3:24-25 KJV) Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. {25} But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.

The Apostle Paul gives an excellent summary of why God gave the Law. It was given to the world to drive the Elect to Christ whereby they would receive Grace but the unbeliever who is not justified through Grace will still be culpable to the demands of God’s righteous Law. We read that after a person becomes saved, they are no longer under the Law. This does not mean we live a lawless life but what it means is that since Christ fulfilled the requirements of the law through His atonement on Calvary, the Christian is no longer accountable for their sins. They have been washed clean for all eternity. This is the essence of salvation. It is this great truth that many Christians have a hard time with simply because they do not really know what happened at Calvary and the real significance of their salvation in Christ.

Quick summary up to this point
1. The Blood of Bulls and Goats cannot remove sins.
2. The Sacrificial System was only a foreshadow of the sacrifice of Christ.
3. The Law was written to drive the Elect to Christ.
4. The Great Day of Atonement was only a foreshadow of Christ’s day on Calvary.
5. The term “Saint” is used in the Hebrew Scriptures, not just the New Testament.
God has one salvation plan
(Rom 8:9 KJV) But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

In the New Testament it is very easy to see that a person becomes saved and on the moment they become saved the Holy Spirit indwells them for all eternity. (Eph 4:30 KJV) And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is not a separate event but is accomplished at the moment of salvation. (Eph 4:30 KJV) And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

Throughout the entire Bible, we see there is only one salvation plan. We already have seen that the animal sacrifices were not actual atonements but they were only foreshadows leading up to the sacrifice of Christ. Now if there is only one salvation program in the Bible, then it must also apply to those who were born before the cross. To better understand the continuity of Scripture, it is never a wise practice of breaking up the Bible into two separate sections. The Old Testament and the New Testament are intimately entwined in each other. In essence, one cannot be removed from the other and then to expect a proper understanding of Scripture. The Bible is one cohesive book. There is much salvation Scripture in the Old Testament. These verses sound very New Testament in Nature, yet were written hundreds of years before the Cross.

(Isa 43:25 KJV) I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.

(Jer 31:34 KJV) And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

(Heb 8:12 KJV) For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.

(Heb 10:16-17 KJV) This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; {17} And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.

If you will notice in both Old Testament Scriptures, we see a great tenet of Grace in that God will not remember our sins anymore. This is also repeated in the New Testament. So here is a great example of Grace in the Old Testament. When God spoke of blotting out the sins for His own sake, He was speaking to the Elect within ancient Israel. Those who became saved in the Old Testament were saved through the blood of Christ and we will see that in a few seconds. I want to offer some more Scriptures which teach Grace from the Old Testament.

(Gen 6:8 KJV) But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.

(Exo 33:17 KJV) And the LORD said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name.

(Ezra 9:8 KJV) And now for a little space grace hath been showed from the LORD our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a nail in his holy place, that our God may lighten our eyes, and give us a little reviving in our bondage.

(Psa 84:11 KJV) For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.

(Prov 3:34 KJV) Surely he scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace unto the lowly.

(Zec 4:7 KJV) Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it.

(Zec 12:10 KJV) And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.

We have seen in these seven verses that Grace is not a foreign idea in the Old Testament. After all, God has only one salvation plan and that is Grace. Remember what we read in Hebrews 9:8?

(Heb 9:8 KJV) The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing:

While the Tabernacle and Temple systems were in place, it was not God’s timing to fully manifest Grace at that time. Always keep in mind that God reveals things fully in His own time. (Gal 4:4 KJV) But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,. God had a timetable in the sending forth of the Lord Jesus Christ and that timetable would also be used when it was time to manifest fully, Grace as God’s salvation plan. So now if the Lord Jesus Christ was crucified approximately 477 years after the book of Malachi was written, then how were the Saints in the Old Testament Saved?

Old Testament Salvation
For many years I was taught that the Old Testament Saints were looking forward to the cross and the New Testament Saints looked back at the cross. Well I have come to the point of abandoning that thought. As New Testament Christians we surely look back to the cross but in reality, did the Old Testament Saints really look forward to the cross? No they did not because they did not understand such a concept.

(1 Pet 1:10-12 KJV) Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: {11} Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. {12} Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.

Here we read in these verses that the Old Testament prophets prophesied Grace, they had taught it but did not understand it, simply because it was not the time to be revealed yet. Remember Hebrews 9:8, because that is an important verse. We see the revelation of these things was to happen after the resurrection of Christ. Once Christ was resurrected and God’s salvation plan was now finished, then came the time of the revealing of the salvation program of God which was Grace. All well and good, but how were the Old Testament Saints saved? Let us see the simplicity whereby God gives us the answer to this.

It Is Written
Some of the most neglected verse in the Bible are the very ones that hold the answer to our question of how were the Old Testament Saints Saved? In John 19:30, the Lord Jesus Christ in His agony on the cross said, “It is Finished.” This meant that the salvation program of God was now completed for His Elect. Okay, we see the completion but when did it begin? Did it start when Christ came on the scene? So then the question remains, how did the blood become applied in the Old Testament, when Christ died about 477 years after the last stroke of Malachi? Let us see!

(Rev 13:8 KJV) And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

(Rev 17:8 KJV) The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.

These two verses we will clump together since they both proclaim the very same message. There is going to come a time on Earth when Christianity is going to be so neutralized, that many will basically wonder if anyone is saved. Here we see that those whom God had planned to save were written in the Lamb’s Book of Life from before the foundation of the world or before the world existed. So here we have major insight into when God named those He was planning to save. We are also seeing the beginning of His salvation plan. The Lord Jesus Christ was already crucified for the Elect, in principle, before the foundation of the world.

(Heb 4:3 KJV) For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.

Here is another verse which gives major insight and corroboration that the Lord Jesus Christ was, in principle, crucified for the Elect before the founding of the world. The reason that many ignore these verses is because they believe in a free will gospel which saves people by the hand of man and not God. That crowd does not know how to handle these plain verses so they ignore them or they explain it away by saying, “God looked down the corridors of time and knew who was going to accept His Son.” Nonsense! Like my friend Dennis Collins says, “If God knew who was going to accept Christ, then why did He have to Elect them?” Touché

(Mat 25:34 KJV) Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

Here we read another revealing verse that all the Saints of God are standing before the throne and the Lord is telling them to enter the Kingdom that was prepared for them when? Before the foundation of the world!

(John 14:1-2 KJV) Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. {2} In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

Now we have this verse in John which looks like Jesus is saying that He is going to prepare a place for the disciples now. It almost looks like it is a contradiction to the fact the Kingdom was already completed before the foundation of the world. That is, because when many look at this verse, they immediately interpret it as Jesus going back to Heaven to prepare a place for them. The phrase, “I go to prepare a place for you” should be understood in the context of the approaching crucifixion. This is how Christ is preparing a place for us. He is going to be crucified so He can complete God’s salvation program guaranteeing those who are His Elect will have their place in heaven which has already been reserved. (1 Peter 1:4)

Now this is the beginning of the Upper Room Discourse where Jesus is speaking to His Disciples. The Last Supper had ended and Jesus was now beginning to teach them. Now Judas had already left to betray him (John 13:26-29) Jesus then began to teach that he will go and prepare a place for His Disciples. Judas had to be out of the room since he already had a place prepared for him. (Mat 25:41 KJV) Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: Therefore, Judas could not be part of the promise that Christ was making to His other Disciples because Judas was not among those who were going to be saved, so Christ could not say He was going to be crucified for Judas as one of the saved disciples. Remember we spoke of the timing of God? Judas had to be out of the room before Christ gave that beautiful discourse. If Judas was still in that room when Christ made that statement, then Judas would have had to become saved if Christ was promising him that He was going to die for him! We are getting into some deep theology here aren’t we?

(Eph 1:4 KJV) According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

Here we see another verse which openly teaches the timing of the choosing of the believers that God planned to save. If you notice, there is not a hint in this verse that it only applies to those who became saved after the cross. The foundation of the world indicates plainly that all the believers from the creation of the world to the end of the world were chosen before the world was created. This means those believers in the Old Testament were also named before the foundation of the world, because the creation of the world came before the Old Testament.

(Heb 9:25-26 KJV) Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; {26} For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

Here we see Jesus being compared to the High Priest who served in the Temple and Tabernacle service. However, these verse give us a different insight. They are showing the difference between the two. They point out the superiority of Jesus the High Priest in that if He was like the human High Priest, then He would have had to suffer from the foundations of the world. This is a very interesting insight. When the believers were named before the foundation of the world, then if the Priesthood of Jesus was similar to the earthly Priesthood, then He would have had to suffer separation from His Heavenly Father on a regular basis similar to that of the yearly entrance of the earthly High Priest into the Holy of Holies. Since Christ was superior in His office, and His sacrifice was going to be the final one for the sins of His Elect, He was only going to be sacrificed once and that was in God’s timing. Christ’s sacrifice was the completion of God’s salvation plan which began in eternity. This is why the believer’s were first named which was the beginning of God’s salvation plan and when Christ was crucified, it signified the end of the salvation plan.

Now I want to state something which may sound heretical but it is not. We have all heard that Christ was the final sacrifice for sin. That statement and ones like it are an open ended statement. Christ was not the final sacrifice for sin but Christ was the final sacrifice for the sins of the Elect alone! The unbeliever will be the final sacrifice when they are judged and cast into Hell at the Great White Throne Judgment. The unbelievers have no Savior and that is why they must pay for their own sins. Since Christ already died and sealed His Elect, the only group left is the unbelievers who must pay for their own sins. When death and Hell are cast into the Lake of Fire with the unbelievers, then that will have been the final sacrifice for sin because then sin will be no more. That is very powerful because it sets a major distinction between the Elect of God and the non-elect. Now the following verses will become clearer when we apply that distinction. The unbeliever will continue to sin after receiving the knowledge of Christ but because they are non-elect, they have no substitutionary sacrifice for their sins, this is why it says there is no more sacrifice for sins. They must stand for their own sins without a mediator.

(Heb 10:26-27 KJV) For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, {27} But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.

(1 Pet 1:18-20 KJV) Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; {19} But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: {20} Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,

Here we read some potent verses which teach us that the sacrifice was foreordained before the world existed. I don’t think there could be a question in anyone’s mind after reading the Scriptures we have that God knew Adam and Eve would sin. Some people, in their free-willism, try to get us to believe that God didn’t know Adam and Eve would sin and tested them and waited for the outcome. When we read these verses of God’s salvation program being instituted before the foundation of the world, it is total evidence that God was well aware of Adam and Eve’s coming fall. This is why His salvation program was already in operation. These verses teach us that Christ and His sacrifice for His Elect was from before the foundation of the world but it was manifested in the last times according to God’s timing.

Brief Summary
We have conclusively looked at some Scriptures which openly teach that God’s salvation program began before the foundation of the world, which means it pre-dated the times of the Old Testament. There is no hint anywhere in Scripture that anyone in the Old Testament was saved in any different manner than those on the New Testament side of the cross. We read that the Holy Spirit was operational in the Tabernacle and Temple service but it was not the timing for Grace to be revealed, although Grace was fully operational during that time.


Temporary Spirit
There are many who like to use the idea that the Holy Spirit did not indwell people in the Old Testament but rather He temporarily abode on certain people. Whenever we accept a doctrine or teaching like that we must see if it has a basis. Based on what we read concerning God’s timing it behooves us to repeat the verse which deals with this subject:

(Heb 9:8 KJV) The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing:

We have seen that Grace was fully operational in the Old Testament and if it was, then the method of salvation was no different for them as it was for us. This means those who were saved before the cross were indwelled with the Holy Spirit as we are or else they were not saved. I want to name some Saints in the Old Testament who were absolutely saved and there is nothing written in conjunction with the theory that the Holy Spirit only abode on them and not indwelled them.

If the Holy Spirit did not indwell Abraham, then from what point did faith have to work from? If the Holy Spirit does not indwell a person, this means they are still spiritually dead and no spiritually dead person can have any faith toward God because they are spiritually dead. (Rom 4:3 KJV) For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. No unbeliever can ever be righteous without salvation. The phrase “and by faith Abraham…” is used twice in Hebrews. Could a man be spiritually dead and sacrifice his only son of promise on God’s commands?
(Exo 33:17 KJV) And the LORD said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name.

When we look at the life of Moses, can one honestly say the Holy Spirit came and went instead of indwelling him? Moses found Grace in God’s sight plus He knew him by name. Do we see a parallel in the following verse?

(John 10:14 KJV) I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.

(Acts 13:22 KJV) And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.

How many unbelievers does God say are after His own heart?

(Gen 41:38 KJV) And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is?

Here was Joseph and the Bible tells us that the Spirit of God was “in” him.

(Exo 31:2-3 KJV) See, I have called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah: {3} And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship,


In many places in the Old Testament we will find phrases like “the spirit came upon” or “the spirit rested upon,” or a phrase similar to these two. It seems they convey an idea that the Holy Spirit had come upon them but in these instances did not indwell them. We are going to look at quite a number of Scriptures and as we look at them we are going to see that when the Holy Spirit came upon someone, even a believer like Moses, it was for a different purpose than salvation. When the Holy Spirit came upon or rested on someone, there was always some type of task in view which required the intervention of the Lord to accomplish. (John 15:5 KJV) I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

In the above verse we read that no Christian can bring forth fruit, or help save anyone, without the Lord Jesus Christ doing the saving. As humans we are totally helpless in this arena. Now we can carry that principle of spiritual inability over to the other realms of life. Let us ask some question which pertain to some of the people in the Bible involved in spiritual activity. Let us look at some in the Old Testament first:

Moses - Without Christ could he have created the 10 plagues and divided the Red Sea?
Elijah - Could he make fire come done from heaven without Christ?
Joshua - Could he have made the sun stand still all day without Christ?
Gideon - Could he have created a dry fleece in the midst of heavy dew without Christ?
Elisha - Could he have raised the dead man upon touching him after he was dead without Christ doing the resurrection?

Let us look at two examples in the New Testament:

Peter - Could he have raised the crippled man at the temple gate without Christ?
Paul - Could he have raised Eutychus from the dead without Christ?

We have looked at seven examples of physical miracles which is totally beyond the realm of any human being on Earth. We must also factor in that the Holy Spirit was totally active in creation.

(Gen 1:2 KJV) And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

By these revealing verses, we see that the Holy Spirit was not only active in spiritual regeneration AKA salvation, but He was also active in physical creation. This is very important to keep in mind when dealing with this subject. Physical creation is totally different than salvific re-creation. Looking at these examples gives us insight into the fact that the Holy Spirit had a two-fold ministry, which was both spiritual and physical. I just want to say at this juncture that I am not advocating the signs and wonders movement with this study. Let us begin to look at some of the passages of Scripture.

1 Samuel 10:6
(1 Sam 10:6 KJV) And the spirit of the LORD will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man.

Here we read the account of the anointing of Saul. Knowing the life that Saul led and the fact that he was unsaved brings us to the correct conclusion that the action of the Holy Spirit in this verse is not one of salvation but of empowerment in the life of Saul. If you notice what the Scripture is saying that after the Holy Spirit will come upon Saul, he will be turned into another man. What God has in view here is the fact that Saul was being fashioned into the leader of Israel as their king. Salvation is not in view because almost immediately after Saul was anointed King, he was already sinning against God and the way was being paved for David to become King of Israel.

Numbers 11:16-17 & 25
(Num 11:16-17 KJV) And the LORD said unto Moses, Gather unto me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom thou knowest to be the elders of the people, and officers over them; and bring them unto the tabernacle of the congregation, that they may stand there with thee. {17} And I will come down and talk with thee there: and I will take of the spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear it not thyself alone.

(Num 11:25 KJV) And the LORD came down in a cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the spirit that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders: and it came to pass, that, when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, and did not cease.

Here we read in these verses that Moses was to appoint seventy elders to help rule Israel. When we look at these verse we read again that these seventy elders of Israel were being prepared to rule the nation of Israel with Moses. Salvation is not in view here either as we see that the Holy Spirit was getting ready to empower seventy elders for the task of ruling. When God gave these seventy elders to Moses to help him rule, it came on the tail end of another episode of rebellion against God concerning the Manna. We read that the seventy received of the same Spirit that Moses had. Remember that Moses was humbled and prepared for forty years as a shepherd before he was given this task to lead the people out of Israel. However, Moses was saved and we can safely conclude this because he appeared on the Mount of Transfiguration with the Lord Jesus Christ which meant he was in Heaven at the time. The Spirit that these seventy elders were given was for the purpose of ruling.

(Mat 17:1-3 KJV) And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, {2} And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. {3} And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.

(Num 11:26-29 KJV) But there remained two of the men in the camp, the name of the one was Eldad, and the name of the other Medad: and the spirit rested upon them; and they were of them that were written, but went not out unto the tabernacle: and they prophesied in the camp. {27} And there ran a young man, and told Moses, and said, Eldad and Medad do prophesy in the camp. {28} And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Moses, one of his young men, answered and said, My lord Moses, forbid them. {29} And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the LORD'S people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his spirit upon them!

Eldad and Medad were two of the seventy which were chosen by Moses to help rule Israel. The fact that they were prophesying in the camp meant that God was showing the people that these two men were also part of the seventy which were approved by God to help rule in the camp. We do not know why they remained in the camp among the people, maybe it was due to the fact that they were humbled at their appointment or maybe there was a ceremonial defilement of some type. This is the only place in Scripture they are mentioned. It could also be a prophetic type of the believer that when the going forth of the Gospel commences at Pentecost, there will be many believers who will not be in the church in an official capacity, teaching and preaching, but will be out among the people.

Numbers 14:24
(Num 14:24 KJV) But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it.

Here we read about Caleb, who I believe was saved, had another spirit with him. The difference between Caleb and the unbelieving Israelites was that Caleb believed God and trusted Him fully. Caleb had the spirit of belief while the many held the spirit of unbelief. (Rom 11:20 KJV) Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: We saw that when he was one of the spies and they disbelieved him. Here too, the fact of salvation is not in view but the fact that Caleb followed the Lord and was rewarded by going into the Promised Land.

Numbers 24:2
(Num 24:2 KJV) And Balaam lifted up his eyes, and he saw Israel abiding in his tents according to their tribes; and the spirit of God came upon him.

Balaam was a false prophet and was hired by the king of Moab to curse the children of Israel but God had different plans for him. So Balaam would not curse Israel, the Spirit of God came upon him and told him what he was to say. Balaam was not a saved man. Here we see the Spirit coming on him to empower him to do a specific job. Balaam was killed by the very people he was paid to curse. (Josh 13:22 KJV) Balaam also the son of Beor, the soothsayer, did the children of Israel slay with the sword among them that were slain by them.

Numbers 27:18
(Num 27:18 KJV) And the LORD said unto Moses, Take thee Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit, and lay thine hand upon him;

Here we read about the commissioning of Joshua but we learn an interesting fact about Joshua. The Lord is saying that the Spirit of God is in him. This is another evidence that the Holy Spirit did indeed dwell inside believers in the Old Testament. Joshua was now being prepared and called into leadership.

Judges 3:9-10
(Judg 3:9-10 KJV) And when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, the LORD raised up a deliverer to the children of Israel, who delivered them, even Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother. {10} And the spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he judged Israel, and went out to war: and the LORD delivered Chushanrishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand; and his hand prevailed against Chushanrishathaim.

Here we see the Spirit of the Lord coming upon Othniel, who was Caleb’s younger brother. We also see that as soon as the Spirit came upon him, he was now judging Israel and went out to war. You just don’t get chosen to lead your country on Tuesday and then Wednesday you are ready to be a military leader, unless the Lord brings wisdom into a person’s life. Here we see an empowerment to judge Israel and be their military leader.

Judges 6:34
(Judg 6:34 KJV) But the spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet; and Abiezer was gathered after him.

Remember how timid Gideon was? Yet the angel of the Lord called him a “mighty man of valor.” Now a person can be saved and be a terrible leader, but here we see the Spirit of the Lord coming on Gideon and after that we see him becoming a mighty leader in Israel. So in Gideon we can see that he was a saved man because the Lord knew him by name, remember John 10:3, but he also needed to made into a man of confidence to be able to do the job that God had planned for him to do, which was to route the Midianites out of Israel. So he had the Spirit of God in him for salvation and the Spirit of God came upon him for strength.

Judges 11:29-30
(Judg 11:29-30 KJV) Then the spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah, and he passed over Gilead, and Manasseh, and passed over Mizpeh of Gilead, and from Mizpeh of Gilead he passed over unto the children of Ammon. {30} And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the LORD, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands,

Here we read about Jephthah who was an outcast from Israel and then when they needed him, asked him to defend Israel. The Spirit of the Lord was upon him and he then went and defeated the Ammonites. Jephthah is mentioned in Faith’s Hall of Fame in Hebrews 11 so he must have become saved at some time in his life because you cannot have faith without becoming saved first. Faith is a product of salvation and not the other way around as is commonly taught.

Judges 14:5-6
(Judg 14:5-6 KJV) Then went Samson down, and his father and his mother, to Timnath, and came to the vineyards of Timnath: and, behold, a young lion roared against him. {6} And the spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and he rent him as he would have rent a kid, and he had nothing in his hand: but he told not his father or his mother what he had done.

Here we read of Samson in that the he encountered a lion and the Spirit of the Lord came upon him and gave him power to be able to tear a lion in half. Samson is also mentioned in Faith’s Hall of Fame but here we see the Spirit of God coming on Samson for a specific purpose other than salvation. As a Christian, the Holy Spirit indwells me but that does not mean I have the strength to tear a lion in half. Sometimes I don’t have strength to open a bottle of pickles.

1 Samuel 10:11
(1 Sam 10:10-11 KJV) And when they came thither to the hill, behold, a company of prophets met him; and the spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied among them. {11} And it came to pass, when all that knew him beforetime saw that, behold, he prophesied among the prophets, then the people said one to another, What is this that is come unto the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?

Here we read that Saul was prophesying with the prophets of God but only after the Spirit of God came upon him. We know that Saul was not a saved man so the Spirit of God was empowering him to do something temporary.

1 Samuel 11:6-7
(1 Sam 11:6-7 KJV) And the spirit of God came upon Saul when he heard those tidings, and his anger was kindled greatly. {7} And he took a yoke of oxen, and hewed them in pieces, and sent them throughout all the coasts of Israel by the hands of messengers, saying, Whosoever cometh not forth after Saul and after Samuel, so shall it be done unto his oxen. And the fear of the LORD fell on the people, and they came out with one consent.

Here we read that the Spirit came upon Saul as he sent out the hewn yoke as a warning to all those who did not come after them to war against the Ammonites. If you notice, Saul joins his name with Samuel because Saul knew that his popularity as king was waning. Nevertheless, the Spirit of God came upon him to war against the Ammonites and Saul’s act of sending the yoke evoked the fear of God in the people of Israel.

1 Samuel 16:13-14
(1 Sam 16:13-14 KJV) Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah. {14} But the spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him.

Here we see that David, after he was anointed King, had the Spirit of God come upon him and according to this Scripture, the Spirit of God never departed from him. Now this is not speaking of salvation because in verse 14, we see that as David received the Spirit of the Lord, simultaneously the Spirit departed from Saul and then an evil spirit troubled him from that day. The Spirit of the Lord never again came upon Saul to empower him to do anything mighty for Israel. He was now plagued by demons and his wisdom was now darkened by them.

2 Samuel 23:1-2
(2 Sam 23:1-2 KJV) Now these be the last words of David. David the son of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel, said, {2} The spirit of the LORD spake by me, and his word was in my tongue.

Here we read that the Holy Spirit gave David many words to speak and write. His word was in his mouth which means that David was saved and spoke the words of God to the people. We see this in the Psalms and no way could anyone write like that and not be saved or indwelled by the Holy Spirit.

(Psa 34:1 KJV) I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.

(Psa 40:3 KJV) And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.

1 Chronicles 12:18
(1 Chr 12:18 KJV) Then the spirit came upon Amasai, who was chief of the captains, and he said, Thine are we, David, and on thy side, thou son of Jesse: peace, peace be unto thee, and peace be to thine helpers; for thy God helpeth thee. Then David received them, and made them captains of the band.

Here we read about a man named Amasai who when the Spirit of God came on him, spoke peace and concord with David. I believe one reason why the Spirit of God came on different people, so the people of God were able to recognize their enemies and their friends. David did not know this person was a friend until they began to speak the words the Lord gave them.

(2 Chr 15:1-2 KJV) And the Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded: {2} And he went out to meet Asa, and said unto him, Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin; The LORD is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you.

(2 Chr 20:14-15 KJV) Then upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, came the Spirit of the LORD in the midst of the congregation; {15} And he said, Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the LORD unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God's.

(2 Chr 24:20 KJV) And the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, which stood above the people, and said unto them, Thus saith God, Why transgress ye the commandments of the LORD, that ye cannot prosper? because ye have forsaken the LORD, he hath also forsaken you.

(Ezek 11:5 KJV) And the Spirit of the LORD fell upon me, and said unto me, Speak; Thus saith the LORD; Thus have ye said, O house of Israel: for I know the things that come into your mind, every one of them.

In the five verses above we see the same scenario. The Spirit of the Lord came upon different people for the purpose of prophesying some event. It is telling us that the messages that were being spoken were from the Lord and not from the mind of those who did the speaking. God is definitely making that fact known that everything these people spoke was from the Lord.


We have a come a long way and we have seen that the Holy Spirit not only indwells a person upon salvation but He also comes upon a person to empower them to do a certain job or perform a function like Saul did in his early years in office as King. Eventually God removed all contact with His Spirit from Saul and a demon then became his guide. The Holy Spirit, as we have seen, was active in the physical creation of the world and universe, as well as being involved in the individual lives of people that were empowered to do certain things, such as the 70 elders which were given the spirit of leadership. We have also seen that no one can become saved outside of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and those who became saved during the Old Testament were saved in the same manner as those after the cross. That is because the works of the Lord Jesus were, in principle, finished from before the foundation of the world. Since the Bible reveals this truth, it is very simple for us to see that God has only one salvation plan running through the entire Bible, and every saved person has become saved in the same manner, through Christ, whether before the cross or after the cross, simply because they were named before the foundation of the world, before one person was created.