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

 

Matthew 27:22-23

King James Version         

Study the Inner Meaning

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22 Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified.

23 And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified.

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   Study the Inner Meaning

Explanation of Matthew 27      

By Rev. John Clowes M.A.

Verse 1. That the perverse church opposed the Lord's Divine Humanity, and sought to destroy it.

Verse 2. So that Truth Divine was separated from the church, and revealed to those who were in the falsities of ignorance.

Verses 3-5. And they of the perverse church, through falsification of the truth, were deprived of truths, and thereby of all spiritual life.

Verses 6-10. And truths were communicated to those who were desirous to be instructed, that they might thereby attain regeneration.

Verse 11. Who are thus led to enquire concerning the Lord's Divine Humanity.

Verses 12, 13, 14. But are perplexed by the falsifications of truth amongst those who are of the perverse church.

Verses 15-21. And who, by reason of those falsifications, prefer their own self-derived intelligence to the Divine wisdom and life of good.

Verse 19. Whilst they who are in the falsities of ignorance are influenced from affection to submit their own intelligence to the guidance of truth and good.

Verses 22, 23. But they who are in the falsities of evil are urgent to destroy and profane the whole Word.

Verses 24, 25, 26. And thus, notwithstanding the remonstrances of those who are in innocence, proceed to the plenary rejection of Truth Divine, which is from the Lord, and is the Lord.

Verses 27-31. Treating the Word with all manner of contumely, and thereby through direful evils and falsities adulterating all its goods, and falsifying all its truths.

Verse 32. And thus doing all kinds of violence to the truth of good.

Verses 33-36. Until they became mere falsities of evil, and had dissipated every truth of the Word.

Verse 37. Testifying against themselves that they altogether rejected the Divine Truth.

Verse 38. And also all faith and charity.

Verses 35-44. Even to the utmost possible degree of contempt and profanation.

Verse 45. Until nothing was left in the universal church but evil and the false thence derived, together with the false and the evil thence derived, to the full.

Verse 46. And all communication was closed between heaven and the church.

Verses 47, 48, 49. And falsities prevailed in the extremes.

Verse 50. And the Lord as to His Divine Humanity was totally rejected.

Verse 51. When yet through temptation combats and victories He fully united His Human to the Divine, restored the church, and dissipated all falsities.

Verses 52, 53. Giving proof of His Divine power to effect the regeneration and resurrection of the faithful to life.

Verse 54. And convincing those who were in simple good, that His Humanity is Divine.

Verses 55, 56. And that every affection of good in the church is from Him, and His.

Verses 57, 58. And also every truth leading to good.

Verse 59. And conjoined with good.

Verses 60, 61. Whereby the intellectual principle together with the will principle of the natural man is vivified.

Verses 62-65. Notwithstanding all opposition from those who are in evils and falsities.

Verse 66. And who by their traditions have falsified the Divine Truth.

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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.


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