Commentary

 

What the Bible says about... Who Is Saved?      

By Rev. John Odhner

There is a common tendency with people to make negative judgments about other people. In high schools, this tendency shows itself in cliques. A few popular kids get into a group, and gradually begin to think that they are better than others because they are better liked. Kids who aren't "in" may become objects of pity, or contempt, or even of cruel jokes. In one way or another the clique passes subtle judgment on the others as being a lower class of human beings.

The same tendency to look down on others shows itself in various religions. Some religious groups become so self-centered that they believe no one of a different faith can go to heaven. When taken to an extreme, this kind of attitude is far more cruel than the snobbish teenage cliques.

The teachings of the Bible are quite a contrast to this. To begin with, God's Word tells us that we should not label people as "saved" or "sinner." Jesus said,

"Judge not, that you be not condemned. Why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?" (Matthew 7:1, 3)

The disciple James put it this way: "There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?" (James 4:1)

When the Lord was on earth, a judging attitude was prevalent among the leaders of the church. Many thought that when the Messiah came, He would save Jews, and not others. When Jesus did come, they condemned Him for associating with non-Jews and Jews alike.

Jesus discouraged this kind of attitude. Once He was speaking with some people who "trusted in themselves" that they were saved and others were not. He asked them to consider two prayers: "God, I thank you that I am not like other men," and "God, be merciful to me, a sinner!" Jesus praised the man who thought he was a sinner. (Luke 18:9-14)

It's better to think of yourself as a sinner than to think you are saved.

You may remember the parable of the good Samaritan, too, who stopped to help the wounded man by the roadside. Even though this Samaritan was of the "wrong" faith (from the Jewish point of view), Jesus said that the Samaritan should be loved as a neighbor, because he was a good man. In fact, He said that a person who wants eternal life should be like this Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37), even though the Samaritan was neither Christian nor Jewish. Jesus saw - and sees - what is in a person's heart, not just what church one belongs to.

The Bible states clearly that it is the way a person lives, not just what he believes, that determines whether he goes to heaven or not. Jesus said, "Not every one who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven." (Matthew 7:21)

Again, "He shall reward every one according to his works." (Matthew 16:27)

"Those who have done good," He says, will go "to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation." (John 5:29)

Since a person's life, not just his faith, determines his eternal lot, Jesus foretold that many Christians would not be saved, because they had lived an evil life.

"Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you: depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'" (Matthew 27:22-23, Luke 13:25-27)

One reason why a non-Christian can be saved, is that he can love his neighbor. Anyone who genuinely loves his neighbor also loves Christ, although he may not realize it. Jesus said, "Inasmuch as you have ministered to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me." (Matthew 25:40)

Faith in Jesus, without love to the neighbor is meaningless.

"Though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing." (1 Corinthians 13:2)

Genuine love, on the other hand, is a sign that a person knows the Lord in his heart, regardless of the religion he professes outwardly.

"Love believes all things." (1 Corinthians 13:7)

"He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God." (3 John 1:11)

"Let us love one another, for love is of God, and every one who loves is born of God and knows God. God is love, and anyone who abides in love abides in God, and God in him." (1 John 4:7-11)

Summary:

Some Christian churches teach this: Only Christians are saved.

What the Bible actually says (and what the New Christian Church teaches): Good people from all religions are saved.

Some references from teachings for the New Christian Church : Heaven and Hell 318-328, Divine Providence 326

Used with the permission of John Odhner, the author of this very useful site: http://whatthebiblesays.info/Introduction.html

The Bible

 

John 5:29

King James Version         

Study the Inner Meaning

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29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

   Study the Inner Meaning

Explanation of John 5      

By Rev. John Clowes M.A.

Explaining the Inner Meaning of John 5

Verses 5:1, 2. That the Lord, as to his humanity, initiated himself into the doctrine of the church, which was in connection with the knowledges of good and truth derived from the Word, thus with truths introductory to good.

Verse 5:3. Which truths are imparted to all those who are made sensible of their natural infirmities and disorders, whether arising from a defect, of intelligence, or from intelligence not yet formed into life, or from faith separate from charity, and thus produce vivification through acknowledgement and faith.

Verse 5:4. And this in consequence of divine influx, so that whoever receives the knowledges of good and truth with his supreme affection, or love, experiences purification from evil, and restoration of spiritual life.

Verses 5:5, 6, 7, 8. Yet some, by reason of the unsettled state of their wills, make slower progress in purification than others, until they are excited to exploration of their secret purposes and intentions, and have their affections and thoughts thereby elevated, so as to live according to the truth.

Verse 5:9. In which case they also are restored to the life of heaven, whilst the doctrine, in which they believe, is elevated to that life, so as to influence their lives, and thus introduce them into a state of eternal rest and peace.

Verses 5:10, 11. That they, who are of the perverted church, are offended on this occasion, and are instructed that all elevation of doctrine to conjunction with the life of heaven is an effect resulting from the divine love of the Lord, in his Divine Humanity.

Verses 5:12, 13. Hence they are led to seek knowledge concerning that Divine Humanity, but are not permitted, by reason of the evils and falsities in which they are principled, to attain such knowledge.

Verse 5:14. That they, who are purified from evils and falsities, are cautioned against the danger of profanation, which consists in turning back again to such evils and falsities.

Verse 5:15. Being therefore thus cautioned, they bear testimony to the Lord's Divine Humanity, as being the only source, of all spiritual and eternal life.

Verse 5:16. But are opposed in this testimony by those of the perverted church, who abide in representative worship, and do not discern how all representatives had reference to the union of the Divine and Human nature in the Lord.

Verse 5:17. Wherefore these latter are instructed, that the union of the two natures is effected reciprocally.

Verse 5:18. But this instruction only excites more of evil, being perversely interpreted as tending not only to destroy all representative worship, but also to confound divinity with humanity, and humanity with divinity.

Verse 5:19. Therefore they are further instructed, that divine truth can do nothing of itself, but from the divine good, and thus divine truth in the Lord's humanity always operates in conjunction and agreement with divine good in his divinity.

Verse 5:20. And this in consequence of the divine love, which manifests to its humanity all its purposes, until its humanity is fully glorified, or made divine, that so mankind may be led to adoration.

Verse 5:21. And also to the discovery, that by virtue of such glorification, the humanity receives from the divinity the power of imparting spiritual life, and thus of delivering man from the power of evil.

Verse 5:22. Also the power of arranging the several principles of the human mind, and thus of separating the evil from the good, which cannot be effected by the divine good alone without the divine truth.

Verse 5:23. To the intent that thus the Humanity of the Lord may always be seen in union with his divinity, and regarded as an equal object of worship and adoration, since otherwise the divinity itself cannot be worshipped and adored.

Verse 5:24. They therefore, who obey the divine truth, and approach the Lord in his Divine Humanity, are admitted into heaven, and never separating truth from good, are raised from a state of damnation to a state of salvation.
For since the assumption of the Human [principle] by the Divine, all who are in ignorance may learn the truths of faith, and may thus be gifted with spiritual life.

Verse 5:26. Inasmuch as the internal of the Lord being Jehovah, his Humanity has independent and underived life, alike with his divinity.

Verse 5:27. And has also the power of separating evil from good, and thus of arranging all goods and truths, as being itself the supreme truth.

Verses 5:28, 29. So that at his appearing even natural men shall be instructed in the divine truth, and if they obey it, shall attain spiritual life; but if they be disobedient, shall immerse themselves in spiritual death.

Verse 5:30. For the Humanity of the Lord operates solely from the divinity in itself, and is thus in divine truth from divine good, because in all things it exalts the divine good.

Verses 5:31, 32. Therefore divine truth claims no authority to itself separate from divine good, but only in union with that good.

Verses 5:33, 34. Neither does it claim authority from human testimony, but from its own divine power of communicating spiritual life.

Verse 5:35. Yet the testimony of man in favour of the divine truth is grounded both in good and truth, and has a tendency to impart to others those heavenly principles.

Verse 5:36. Nevertheless the glorification of the Lord's Humanity, the subjugation of the hells, and the consequent redemption of mankind, are the fullest proofs that the Lord is one with Jehovah.

Verse 5:37. Thus the divine good, which in itself is invisible, testifies that it is made visible in the Divine Humanity, which it assumed for that purpose.

Verse 5:38. But this is not believed by those, who are not enlightened and enlivened by the truth of that good.

Verse 5:39. Therefore all such are exhorted to explore the Holy Word which contains that truth, and which testifies throughout concerning the assumption and glorification of the Lord's Humanity.

Verse 5:40. Nevertheless they, who are of the perverted church, will not draw near to and abide in that Humanity, although there is no other source of good and of truth.

Verses 5:41, 42. Which Humanity testifies that it is purely Divine, and that they who reject it have no genuine affection of truth.

Verse 5:43. Therefore they do not approach the Eternal in his Divine Humanity, because they believe the truth to be unconnected with that its divine source.

Verse 5:44. And this in consequence of exalting human authority above the authority of divine truth.

Verses 5:45, 46, 47. So that even the truth of the Word, which they profess to believe, condemns them, since that truth testifies concerning the Lord's Divine Humanity, and therefore if its testimony be not admitted, the Lord's Divine Humanity cannot be acknowledged.

From Swedenborg's Works

Explanations or references:

Arcana Coelestia 2658, 3704, 8256, 9857

Apocalypse Revealed 525, 641

Divine Providence 128

Doctrine of Life 2, 105

True Christian Religion 440, 483, 643, 652


References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 186, 250, 659, 785, 815, 875, 899

Scriptural Confirmations 7, 70

Related New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:



Bible Word Meanings

resurrection
'Resurrection' symbolizes salvation and eternal life. 'The first resurrection' does not mean a first resurrection but the primary and essential implication of resurrection, thus salvation...

life
According to Swedenborg, the Lord is life itself, and we are recipients of life. This is true even of the most evil spirits, who loved...

Resources for parents and teachers

The items listed here are provided courtesy of our friends at the General Church of the New Jerusalem. You can search/browse their whole library at the New Church Vineyard website.


 Dramatize the Lord Healing a Man at Pool of Bethesda
Activity | Ages 7 - 10

 How Does The Lord Work In My Life?
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 Man Healed at Pool of Bethesda
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Memory Verse: Come unto Me
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Rise, Take Up Your Bed and Walk
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 The Healing at Bethesda
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 The Lord Heals the Man at the Pool of Bethesda
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 The Miracle at the Pool of Bethesda
When the Lord told the sick man, "Take up your bed and walk," He meant that the man should walk on a path that would lead him toward heaven. 
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 The Pool at Bethesda (3-5 years)
Project | Ages 4 - 6

 The Pool at Bethesda (6-8 years)
Project | Ages 7 - 10

 The Pool at Bethesda (9-11 years)
Project | Ages 11 - 14

 The Pool of Bethesda
A New Church Bible story explanation for teaching Sunday school. Includes lesson materials for Primary (3-8 years), Junior (9-11 years), Intermediate (12-14 years), Senior (15-17 years) and Adults.
Teaching Support | Ages over 3

 The Pool of Bethesda
Family lessons provide a worship talk and a variety of activities for children and teens..
Religion Lesson | Ages 4 - 17

 The Pool of Bethesda
Think of this man waiting and watching. Over and over again, he saw that the waters were stirred up, and he tried to get up from his bed and go down into the pool.
Worship Talk | Ages 4 - 6

 The Pool of Bethesda
Like the man who sat beside a pool for thirty eight years waiting for help we also make excuses in the struggle to let go of bad attitudes and habits.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 The Pool of Bethesda
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 The Way to Heaven
The Lord has prepared a special place in heaven for everyone, and His Word shows us the way that leads there.
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14


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