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 7:22-23, 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 7:22-23

King James Version         

Study the Inner Meaning

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22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

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   Study the Inner Meaning

Explanation of Matthew 7      

By Rev. John Clowes M.A.

Verse 1. That good and truth ought not to be thought ill of.

Verse 2. That man receives truth and good from the Lord, in proportion as he exercises them towards others.

Verse 3. That no one ought to look at the intellectual errors of another, but rather at the evils which pervert his own understanding.

Verse 4. That it is impossible to correct another's intellectual errors, until a man's own understanding be separated from evil.

Verse 5. That, therefore, every one ought first to remove evil from his own love and life, that he may be in a state to remove error from the understanding of another.

Verse 6. That it is dangerous to communicate the knowledges of good and truth to those who are in evil cravings and filthy loves, because they reject, and treat with contumely, all the goods and truths of heaven.

Verses 7, 8. That they who desire good, shall have it, and also they who desire truth: and that thus communication with heaven and the Lord will be opened.

Verses 9, 10, 11. That natural affection is kind to its offspring, and provides all things necessary for their instruction and comfort; how much more the Divine love in regard to its offspring?

Verse 12. That hence is derived the law of charity, which requires that all should be kind to others, as they would have others be kind to them, which law is taught in the Word throughout.

Verses 13, 14. That many are loves [or lovers] of self and of the world, and few are loves [or lovers] of God.

Verse 15. That therefore there is need of caution against those who make professions of truth, but inwardly are in the love of evil.

Verse 16. That they may be known by the goods of charity, which cannot possibly be derived, either internal or external, from the love of evil.

Verse 17. That the love of good produces goods of charity, but the love of evil things contrary to charity.

Verse 18. That the love of good cannot act contrary to charity, nor the love of evil according to charity.

Verse 19. That faith separate from the good of charity is damnable.

Verse 20. That therefore all are to be judged from the goods of charity.

Verse 21. That external worship is of no avail, only so far as it proceeds from internal worship, which is of love and charity.

Verses 22, 23. That there is iniquity in all external works, such as teaching others, rescuing them from false opinions, and even converting them, if they be done for the sake of self and the world, and not from pure love and charity.

Verses 24, 25. That he who is in truths. grounded in the good of love and charity, is preserved in spiritual temptations.

Verses 26, 27. But that he who is in truths alone, and not in the good of love and charity, yields in temptations.

Verses 28, 29. That doctrine derived from the Lord by the Word has in it a Divine power.

From Swedenborg's Works

Explanations or references:

Arcana Coelestia 34, 2009, 2027, 2371, 2534, 2724, 3820, ...

Apocalypse Revealed 8, 531, 553, 618, 839

A Brief Exposition of New Church Doctrine 114

Divine Providence 128, 230

Doctrine of Life 2, 30

Heaven and Hell 471

True Christian Religion 518, 567, 681

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 119


References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 212, 231, 250, 624, 1187

Divine Love 17

Divine Wisdom 11

Related New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:



Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Job 13:16

Psalms 6:9, 101:4, 119:115

Jeremiah 27:15

Hosea 8:2

Bible Word Meanings

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'To jubilate' or 'make a joyful noise' signifies worship from the delight of good.

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.


 Answers to Prayers
We need to learn about the Lord's way of answering prayers.
Article | Ages over 15

 Build a House on the Rock
Use blocks or small cardboard boxes to build a house on sand and sprinkle with water to see what happens. Then build the house on a rock.
Activity | Ages 4 - 10

 Build on the Rock
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 By Their Fruits
Project | Ages 4 - 10

 Choosing Heaven or Hell
A lesson and activities exploring how our choices lead us towards heaven or hell, day by day.
Religion Lesson | Ages over 15

 Correspondences of Mineral Kingdom
Illustrations of places in the Word that mention minerals.
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Doing Is Living
Article | Ages 15 - 17

 Dramatize Giving Good Things to Those Who Ask
Dramatize and discuss the examples given by the Lord of a parent giving good gifts to a child. The Lord gives these examples to reassure us that He also will give us what will help us most. 
Activity | Ages 7 - 14

 Entering the Narrow Way
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 First Remove the Plank
Activity | Ages over 15

 Foundations for My Life
Reflect on beliefs or attitudes that are like “foundations” for your life. These are the constants that help you weather the storms of life.
Activity | Ages over 13

 Fruit of the Vine
Talk about grapes and other fruit that grows on a vine. Consider making "a grape vine" of good deeds with "grape" beads to put on a green cord.
Activity | Ages 4 - 10

 Golden Rule
Project | Ages 4 - 10

 Golden Rule and Prayer Crossword Puzzle
Crossword puzzle about the Golden Rule and the Lord's Prayer.
Activity | Ages 7 - 14

 Hear and Do
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Hearing and Doing
It is important to do what the Lord teaches as well as listen to Him.
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

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

 House Built on the Rock and Sand
Project | Ages 4 - 10

 House Built on the Rock Demonstration
Project | Ages 7 - 10

 House Built on the Rock Diorama
Color the pieces of the diorama, then cut them out and assemble it. 
Project | Ages 7 - 14

 House Built on the Rock Rebus
Younger children will enjoy "reading" the pictures with help from an older child or adult. 
Activity | Ages 4 - 10

 House Built on the Rock (sheet music with hand motions)
Song | Ages up to 10

 How the Word Enlightens
The Lord wants to help everyone see spiritual things more clearly but the quality and extent of an individual’s enlightenment depends on his or her own spiritual development. Enlightenment is affected by the questions we ask the Lord and the reasons we are seeking answers.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 Illustrate the Parable of the House Built on the Rock
Illustrate the parable by picturing both the house built on the rock and the house built on the sand.
Project | Ages 4 - 10

 Judgment
When the Lord says “judge not,” the meaning is that we are not to judge falsely, or from a selfish motive, or based only on external appearances. And instead of looking for faults in others, we should concentrate on removing the evils and falsities within ourselves. 
Worship Talk | Ages over 15

 Memory Verse: I Will Build My Church
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Memory Verse: Looking for the Good in Others
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Memory Verse: Praying to the Lord
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Pathways to Heaven and Hell
Contrast the paths to heaven and to hell by picturing some of things that might be seen along these paths by someone who can see clearly in the spiritual world.
Project | Ages 7 - 14

 Prayers for Adults: Dealing with Other People with True Charity
Activity | Ages over 18

 Prayers for Adults: Praying to the Lord
Activity | Ages over 18

 Prayers for Children: Being Kind to Other People
Activity | Ages 7 - 14

 Prayers for Children: King of Kings
Activity | Ages 7 - 14

 Prayers for Children: Praying to the Lord
Activity | Ages 7 - 14

 Prayers for Teens: Friendship and Judgment
Activity | Ages 15 - 17

 Prayers for Teens: Keeping the Sabbath
Activity | Ages 15 - 17

 Prayers for Teens: Praying to the Lord
Activity | Ages 15 - 17

 Quotes: I Will Build My Church
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 Quotes: The Way to Heaven
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 Song: The House Built on a Rock (3-5, 6-8 years)
Project | Ages 4 - 14

 Stormy Weather
Identify and write about some of the false ideas that may distort our thinking and challenge our commitment to the Lord.
Activity | Ages over 15

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

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

 The House Built on the Rock (6-8 years)
Project | Ages 7 - 10

 The House on the Rock
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 The House on the Rock with Quote
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 The Lord's First Parable
The sermon on the mount ended with the parable of the house built on the rock and the house built on the sand.
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 The Sermon on Mount--The House Built on the Rock
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 The Sermon on the Mount
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 Sermon on the Mount (3-5 years)
Project | Ages 4 - 6

 Tolerance and Judgment
Loving the neighbor is intending and doing good to all, but wisely loving others takes a variety of forms depending on others' actions.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 Two Houses
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Wings of Truth
Lesson and activities exploring how truth can uplift, protect, and free us.
Religion Lesson | Ages over 15

 You Are the Man!
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14


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