If everyone who ever lived, prior to Jesus, could get into heaven by simply believing God (Romans 4:

Romans 4:17

17 (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.

Galatians 3:6

6 Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.

James 2:23

23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.

The first thing to understand about these verses is that Abraham believed on the coming of the Messiah and gave sacrifices to show the promise of God of a Messiah (Genesis 3:15) which is where salvation dwells. This began with the advent of Adam and his sons Cain and Able.

Salvation during this period in history, time periods also being referred to dispensations, require the belief on the coming of the Messiah and giving blood sacrifices until the promise of the Messiah was fulfilled. The first recorded experience of this kind was Cain and Abel, brothers and sons of Adam and Eve. (Genesis 4:1–16).

With the blood of Jesus being shed, salvation now runs through Him as the Christ (Genesis 4:3-10; 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10; Romans 10:13; 9-10; 1 John 5:11-14; Ephesians 1:20-21; 6:12; Matthew 28:18, Colossians 1:18-9, John 3:16-18, 36; Acts 4:12,).

Every person during their lifetime had to believe something different in order to be saved depending on the dispensation they lived in history.

Abraham lived in the first dispensation along with Adam, Eve their sons and everyone who ever lived until Christ came. During this period you believed in the coming of the Messiah and gave blood sacrifices until He came. At the time of death everyone went into Paradise waiting on Jesus, including Abraham. The reason is because they believed on the coming of the Messiah but they died before He came, so Jesus went into Paradise for 3 days in order that those who believed on Him could accept Him AS the Messiah.

Luke 16:19–31 describes among other extremely important things, is that Abraham WAS in Paradise, waiting on the Messiah like everyone else of the faith.

Hebrews 11:13

13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

The promise was the coming of the Messiah, after Jesus went into Paradise

Luke 1:79

79 To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Once Jesus rose from the dead, everyone who was in Paradise came out and walked the earth until there ascension to Heaven with Jesus. Marking the first time men were allowed in Heaven.

Matthew 27:50-53

50 Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.

51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;

52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,

53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.

The next dispensation would cover those who lived during the time of Christ, which would mean they accepted Him AS the Messiah but continued to give sacrifices until His death.

The final dispensation is for everyone AFTER Christ resurrection who believe Jesus came as a man, died, rose, ascended and will return but give no sacrifices this addresses all three companies of people from every dispensation.

Once Jesus rose from the dead, there is no more Paradise, man now goes directly to Heaven. All the people who sat in Paradise were waiting on the promise of the Messiah, which Jesus fulfilled when He went to minister to those in Paradise, during the 3 days His body was in the tomb. During this period, there was a gulf that separated Paradise from Hell. Luke 16:26

“Therefore Hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure” (Isaiah 5:14)

This is interpreted as Hell expanding beyond the portion that was Paradise in order to accommodate all those who would be going to Hell as the number of men going to Hell, increases without measure. There is no more gulf, when Jesus took out the Saints, Hell filled up the expanse.

“The Lord knoweth how to deliver the Godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust unto the Day of Judgment to be punished” (2 Peter 2:9)

This means that God knows how to take those out of Paradise, while leaving those in Hell who are supposed to be there.

This first company of believers from the Old Testament is now in Heaven, whether they were rejoined with glorified bodies and went straight to Heaven, or they died again overtime, they are in Heaven now.

The New Testament Saints are all those who died after Christ ascension, which includes all those who died during Christ forty days on Earth, immediately after His initial ascension, but after His resurrection (John 20:17; Acts 1:3).

The group of people who died during the forty days Christ was on Earth, would have gone directly to Heaven because Jesus has already ministered to those in Paradise and that company was now in Heaven, Paradise is no more. This same Paradise that Jesus spoke of in (Luke 16:20-31), is what the Catholic Church subscribes to as purgatory today, though Paradise no longer exists in any form.

This same company from the forty days of Christ on Earth, prior to His final ascension (Acts 1:9), followed the same protocol after death, that all people, including us, in this time must follow, death and then Heaven instantly.

Those who are raptured are unique in their dispensation, because this group will never experience death like everyone else does. They are transformed alive. In some way, this transition must cause physical death and resurrection simultaneously, or within moments of one another. The reason for this assertion is that it is written,

“It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

Those experiencing the Rapture are unique, having this isolated exception to the way they transition from physical life to Heaven. These will be those who never entered Heaven in Spirit form without their bodies.

The final company, those from the tribulation, is thought to be reunited with their bodies at the time of the Great White Throne Judgment. This is the only time, according to scripture, that the opportunity is given for such reconciliation.

“And I saw the dead small and great stand before God, and the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hell delivered up the dead which were in them” (Rev 20:12-13).

The sea giving up the dead and death delivering up its dead, refers to the bodies of those dead, being regenerated and given back to those people so they can stand before God, just like the Rapture is played out for the Believers.

Hell delivering up its dead are the Sprits of men who were in Hell all this time have their bodies and Spirits reunited.

When John speaks about, “the souls of them beheaded for the witness of Christ” (Rev 20:4)

He is talking about the people that died during the tribulation and went to Heaven. What John did not say, is that he saw their “bodies”. He used the word “souls”. The Greek word for souls is “Psuche”/ Psoo-Khay, meaning an inanimate breeze, a breath, a sentient in principle only, vitali- ty, life, mind, spirit. The Hebrew word for soul is “Ruwach” meaning by resemblance, breath or unsubstantial, resemblance of a spirit, air, mind, or a breath. Another Hebrew word is “Nephesh”/ Neh-fesh, meaning a breathing creature, ghost, man, mind, will.

This means what John saw were the “Spirits” of those who were in Heaven and the Earth during the thousand year reign of Christ. As such, these people were distinguished from among the other believers as those coming out of the tribulation and did not have bodies. This group is not reconciled with their bodies until after the thousand year reign, and just before the final judgment of God at the Great White Throne. Any other assertion, would be guess work, not Biblical.

Therefore the answer to your question is No, Jesus is not Superfluous.

Why Christians Believe What They Believe 

© Tony - W.A.M