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

 

Luke 10:29-37

King James Version         

Study the Inner Meaning

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29 But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?

30 And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.

31 And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.

32 And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.

33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,

34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.

35 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.

36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?

37 And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.

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   Study the Inner Meaning

Explanation of Luke 10      

By Rev. John Clowes M.A.

Verses 1-2. That all, who are in good derived from truths, are ordained of the Lord to announce His advent, since the Church, which was about to be established by the Lord, consists of many members, but the teachers of truth from the Lord are comparatively few.

Verse 3. Thus they who are in innocence are to instruct those who are opposed to innocence.

Verse 4. And to confess all to be from the Lord alone, and nothing from themselves.

Verses 5-6. And to make enquiry concerning those who received the Lord and the things of His kingdom.

Verse 7. And shall abide in the principle of love to the Lord and of charity, but should not pass to any other.

Verses 8-9. And it they come amongst those who are in the doctrine of truth and good, they may consociate with them, remove all false and evil principles, and proclaim the Lord's advent.

Verses 10-11. But if they come among those who are in opposite doctrine, they must then testify, that the evils, which reject goods and truths, adhere to those who are in evil, but not to those who are in truths and goods.

Verses 12-16. And that thus it is better not to know the truth, than to know it, and still continue in evil of life, inasmuch as doctrine the most celestial cannot deliver from condemnation, unless the life be formed accordingly.

Verse 16. For all good and truth is in connection with the Divine Human principle of the Lord, and consequently, whoever receives good and truth into his will and understanding receives the Lord, but whoever rejects good and truth, rejects the Lord.

Verses 17-19. That all the truths of good have power over the hells, and are operative to the removal of interior falsities, and this by virtue of their conjunction with the Lord.

Verse 20. But that they who are principled in such truths and goods are not to derive joy from the consideration of the omnipotence of truth and good, but rather from the thought of their conjunction of life with the Lord.

Verse 21. And also from the thought that the Divine mercy is alike operative to conceal truth from those who, through evil of life, are in false intelligence, as to make it manifest to the simple and sincere.

Verse 22. That the all of Divinity is in the Lord's Divine Human principle, which cannot be fully comprehended by man or angel, but that what proceeds from the Lord's Divine Human principle may be comprehended.

Verses 23-24. Therefore faith and obedience grounded in the Lord's Divine Human principle are blessed, but that such faith and obedience could not have birth previous to the assumption of the Human principle by the Lord.

Verses 25-29. No one therefore can enter into heaven, unless he acknowledge the Lord, even as to His Human essence, to be the Gop of heaven, and unless he live also according to the precepts of the decalogue, by abstaining from the evils which are there forbidden, and by abstaining from them because they are sins.

Verses 29-38. That there are degrees of love towards the neighbour, and that every man is to be loved according to the quality of the good which is in him.

Verse 30. Thus they are to be loved who are in the affection of heavenly knowledges, and at the same time are infested by evil spirits, who would deprive them of those knowledges.

Verses 31-32. All such however are disregarded by those, who are not principled in love to the Lord, and in charity towards the neighbour.

Verse 33. Whereas they excite mercy and charity from an interior principle with all those, who are in the affection of truth

Verse 34. And who therefore prepare a remedy against false principles, by giving instruction in the good of love and the truth of faith, as far as the understanding is capable of giving it, and by application to those who are more instructed in the knowledges of good and truth.

Verse 35. Also by other offices of charity, so far as they have ability.

Verses 36-37. Whence it is evident, that every man is a neighbour according to the good in which he is principled, and that true charity consists in doing works of kindness and mercy to all such.

Verses 38-39. That the Lord is received by the Gentiles, who are in the affection of truth and of good.

Verses 41-42. But that they who are in the affection of truth are not yet purified from the anxieties of self-love, and are instructed that they ought to attend to and exalt the higher affection of good.

From Swedenborg's Works

Explanations or references:

Arcana Coelestia 4314, 6377, 6708, 9057, 9780

Apocalypse Revealed 32, 316

Doctrine of Life 2

True Christian Religion 378, 410

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 87


References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 375, 376, 444, 458, 584, 622, 706, ...

Charity 50

Related New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:



Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Psalms 147:3

Isaiah 1:6

Bible Word Meanings

said
As with many common verbs, the meaning of “to say” in the Bible is highly dependent on context. Who is speaking? Who is hearing? What...

neighbour
'The neighbor' is not only an individual person, but also people collectively, as a less or greater society, our country, the church, the Lord’s kingdom,...

jericho
Jericho' signifies instruction and also the good of life because no one can be instructed in the truths of doctrine but he who is in...

thieves
'Robbers' signify falsities and evils.

raiment
Soft raiment,' as in Matthew 11:9, represents the internal sense of the Word.

way
These days we tend to think of "roads" as smooth swaths of pavement, and judge them by how fast we can drive cars on them....

saw
The symbolic meaning of "seeing" is "understanding," which is obvious enough that it has become part of common language (think about it; you might see...

side
'Side' signifies good or spiritual love.

Samaritan
'The Samaritans,' in Luke 10, means the Gentiles in charity towards their neighbors. 'The Samaritans' signify the Gentiles or nations which would receive doctrine from...

oil
In Revelation 18:13, 'wine, oil, flour, and wheat' signify celestial principles of worship.

Wine
In Revelation 18:13, 'wine, oil, flour, and wheat' signify celestial principles of worship.

own
In many cases, the spiritual meaning of "own," both as a verb and as an adjective, is relatively literal. When people are described as the...

pence
A penny,' as in Revelation 6, signifies something so small that it is barely anything.

three
The Writings talk about many aspects of life using the philosophical terms "end," "cause" and "effect." The "end" is someone’s goal or purpose, the ultimate...

go
In the physical world, the places we inhabit and the distances between them are physical realities, and we have to get our physical bodies through...

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.


 A Golden Heart
Make a golden heart to illustrate the beautiful heart of a person who is kind to others. 
Project | Ages up to 10

 Being a True Friend and Neighbor
If we want to be good friends, we must listen and look for the times when our friends really need us. We mustn’t just use our friends for what we can get out of them, and then leave them alone when they are in trouble.
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Be Like the Good Samaritan
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Compassion
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Dramatize the Story of the Good Samaritan
Dramatize the parable of the Good Samaritan with this simple retelling of the story, 5 characters, and suggested props.
Activity | Ages up to 10

 For Discussion: Wine and Oil
Discuss ways that the "wine" in the parable of the Good Samaritan is like true ideas and the "oil" is like kindness. When might it be helpful to offer this kind of wine and oil to others?
Activity | Ages 7 - 17

 Go and Do Likewise
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 How Am I Saved?
The Lord wants to save all people but gives people the freedom to reject His love and choose the selfishness of hell instead, if they wish to.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 Imagine the Lord's Joy!
 Picture the Lord's joy each time we take a step toward heaven. 
Activity | Ages over 15

 In His Name
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Keeping in a State of Hope
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Mary and Martha
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 Overview of Hands of Love Levels A B C for ages 3-14
Overview of the Youth Journey Program Hands of Love Inherit the Kingdom, Levels A, B and C, for ages 3-14 for Sunday schools, camps, classrooms and families.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 3 - 14

 Picture the Samaritan Helping a Stranger
Project | Ages 4 - 10

 Play: The Good Samaritan
A script for dramatizing the parable.
Activity | Ages 7 - 14

 Qualities of Friendship
The Bible says we are to love the Lord and our neighbors, to value others lives more than our own life. Doing this depends on healthy relationships. Discover New Church teachings on healthy friendship.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 Quotes: Being a Good Neighbor
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 Samaritan Is Good Neighbor
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Sending Out the Seventy
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Serving The Needs Of Others
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 The Good Samaritan
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 The Good Samaritan
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 Good Samaritan
We might never be on that road from Jerusalem to Jericho, but we will meet people in need of help. What will you do when you see someone in need of help at school, at home or in the neighborhood? Will you pass by on the other side or be like the good Samaritan? Sample from the Jacob's Ladder Program, Level 3, for ages 8-9.
Religion Lesson | Ages 8 - 9

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

 The Good Samaritan
This lesson discusses a story from the Word and suggests projects and activities for young children.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 The Good Samaritan
A lesson for younger children with discussion ideas and a project.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 The Oil of Human Kindness
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 The Value of Work
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Who Is My Neighbor?
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Why Did God Create Me?
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 Why Two by Two?
Why did the Lord tell His disciples to go out in twos? What are some of the advantages to having friends support us in challenging situations?
Activity | Ages over 15


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