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 13:25-27

King James Version         

Study the Inner Meaning

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25 When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are:

26 Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets.

27 But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.

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   Study the Inner Meaning

Explanation of Luke 13      

By Rev. John Clowes M.A.

Verses 1-6. That the evil of sin cannot be discovered by any external signs, nor can it be removed but by sincere repentance, and therefore all ought to explore it in themselves, and to desist from it.

Verses 6-10. That to the Jewish nation appertained only the external of the Church, and whereas external worship without internal is not worship, and with the wicked is evil worship, therefore to them there did not appertain any natural good.

Verses 10-14. That the affection of truth in the Church, which was unable to elevate itself to the eternal truth, is rendered capable of elevation, through communication with the Lord's Divine Human principle.

Verse 14. But that they who are principled in external representative worship are offended at such elevation, as being contrary to the law relating to the sabbath.

Verses 15-16. Until they are instructed that the law relating to the sabbath does not prohibit good works, or works done under Divine influence, but evil works, or such as are done under the influence of selfish and worldly love.

Verse 17. Which instruction is rejected by those who are in evils and falsities, but is gladly received by all who are principled in truth and good.

Verses 18-19. For the Church in man begins from a little spiritual good by truth, because at that time he thinks to do good from himself, but as truth is conjoining to love, it increases, so that things intellectual are multiplied in scientifics.

Verses 20-21. Yet this increase cannot be effected but by spiritual combat, which is that of what is false with what is true, in which case what is false is separated, and thus truth is purified.

Verses 22-24. That many learn the doctrines of faith, who are not so obedient as they ought to be to a life of charity.

Verses 25-27. For unless a belief in the doctrines of faith be attended with repentance and the good of life, it is a mere external profession, which cannot open any communication with heaven.

Verses 28-29. So that they who have the knowledges of truth without the love of good perish through direful falsities, whilst they who are in the good of life, of every degree, are of the Lord's Church and kingdom, according to the degree of good in which they are, be it celestial, spiritual, or natural.

Verse 30. For all they who profess the doctrine of faith alone without charity place merit in their works, and thus are not accepted of the Lord like those who are in the good of faith, and who consequently ascribe all merit to the Lord.

Verses 31-32. That the subjugation of the hells, and the glorification of the Lord's Human principle are the most satisfactory proofs of the Lord's Divinity, in opposition to the fallacies of self-derived intelligence.

Verse 33. And that these proofs are in perpetual operation in the Church, in which nevertheless when it becomes corrupt, the Divine Truth is extinguished.

Verse 34. When yet the Lord, in His Divine mercy, is willing to conjoin truth to good in every one, and thus to conjoin every one to Himself.

Verse 35. But man, from his unwillingness to comply with the Divine purpose, deprives himself of all good and truth, since no one can have his understanding opened to the light of spiritual truth, unless his will be disposed to exalt the Divine Human principle of the Lord.

From Swedenborg's Works

Explanations or references:

Arcana Coelestia 2336, 3069, 3934, 4638, 4769, 6806, 7317, ...

Apocalypse Revealed 157, 176, 501, 531

A Brief Exposition of New Church Doctrine 114

Divine Love and Wisdom 17

Divine Providence 128

Doctrine of Life 2, 30

Heaven and Hell 471

True Christian Religion 567, 723

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 119


References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 208, 212, 231, 617, 652, 1187

Divine Wisdom 11

Related New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:



Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Psalms 6:9, 119:115

Bible Word Meanings

when
According to Swedenborg, time and space are physical realities which do not exist in the spiritual realm. Instead, people in the spiritual world experience differences...

us
Angels do give us guidance, but they are mere helpers; the Lord alone governs us, through angels and spirits. Since angels have their assisting role,...

risen up
It is common in the Bible for people to "rise up," and it would be easy to pass over the phrase as simply describing a...

risen
It is common in the Bible for people to "rise up," and it would be easy to pass over the phrase as simply describing a...

door
In a general sense, doors in the Bible represent the initial desires for good and concepts of truth that introduce people to new levels of...

knock
Behold I stand at the door and knock,' as in Revelation 3:20, signifies the perpetual presence and operation of the Lord with a person.

say
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...

open
To open,' as in Revelation 9, signifies communication and conjunction.

answer
To "answer" generally indicates a state of spiritual receptivity. Ultimately this means being receptive to the Lord, who is constantly trying to pour true ideas...

whence
According to Swedenborg, time and space are physical realities which do not exist in the spiritual realm. Instead, people in the spiritual world experience differences...

tell
'To tell' signifies perceiving, because in the spiritual world, or in heaven, they do not need to tell what they think because they communicate every...

workers
Laborers,' as in Matthew 9:37, 38, signify all people who teach from the Lord.

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.


 Basic Assumptions
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 Birds in the Word
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 9 - 12

 Our Part and the Lord's Part
What is our part in producing "good fruit" in our lives?
Activity | Ages over 15


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