Alternate Ways of Achieving Salvation: Imagine for a minute that you are a Bible newbie. You are reading through and hearing these ideas for the first time. Don’t bring what your church told you these ideas meant, but try to look at them with fresh eyes.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. Matthew 5:3
What if the poor in spirit do not believe accept that Jesus died, was buried and rose again? Will they then not inherit the kingdom of God? Or what about the reverse? If someone is not poor in spirit but believes, will they not inherit the kingdom, or is this simply one way that you could get there and you’ve got it covered another way so no worries? Remember, in this long sermon Christ was talking to the crowds; not the church, not simply the believers or disciples, but to the crowds.
Wherefore he saith, God resists the proud, but gives grace unto the humble. James 4:6
To what extent will God give grace to the humble and unsaved? Does this mean they will be in a less torturous ring of hell? Or does this mean that God will allow them into Heaven?
Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in. I needed clothes and you clothed me. I was sick and you looked after me. I was in prison and you came to visit me.
Matthew 25:34-36 Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me. Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me. Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life. Matthew 25:41-43; 45-46.
To me this passage is one that brings up this question in my mind all the time. I think the passage is quite clear. If you don’t help one of the least you go to eternal punishment. If you help the least you go to the kingdom of God. There’s really no gray in the verses. So what does that mean for my faith? If the only thing that matters is faith alone and you have faith, but refuse to help the poor and needy will God turn you out? And if you have no faith, but help the poor and dejected, will God welcome you in? Or do we really return back to the idea that no one is capable of this kind of compassion without the love of God being in them? Is salvation really about doctrine or about our fruit???
What does this mean to our politics? Many on the Right say that those who take advantage of the system are ruining it for everyone else, but what if by taking it away we are turning away even one of the least? Would you be willing to take that chance? And if you give your money to help in God’s name and someone misuses it; isn’t God big enough to take care of it? Whose money are we fighting over here?
You will recognize them by their fruit. Grapes are not gathered from thorns or figs from thistles, are they? In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree is not able to bear bad fruit, nor a bad tree to bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Matthew 7:16-19
This passage fuels my discussion on the above mentioned Matthew passage. Can only the saved do good/ bear good fruit? Or the reverse will you be saved if you do good/ bear good fruit? Christianity (protestant-kind) teaches that good works get you rewards, but don’t get you to Heaven, but it’s also implied that if you are saved then you are doing good things. So if that is true, what is there to be said for the righteous atheists? Are they saved and the good works manifest from their salvation? Or are they not really good works? Any other ideas?
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them. Matthew 5:10
To me, this indicates people like Gandhi. he was persecuted, but he was not a Christian. What about those who fight for righteous causes, but are not believers? Does the kingdom of Heaven belong to them or should there be a “but”? Ie. But only if they are saved. You know that’s the funny thing about these verses, not a lot of buts.
Whoever says ‘Fool’ will be sent to fiery hell. Matthew 5:22
I threw this one in for fun. But honestly, do we believe that anyone who says ‘fool’ will go to Hell?
What do you think about some of these passages? Do you think they contradict the idea that Christ alone/ faith alone saves put forth through Protestant churches? Do you think they apply only to people who have limited revelations? How do you reconcile them with that idea? Have you ever examined these passages this way before or thought of them as salvation verses beyond the Romans road and John 3:16? Is it getting any greyer?
Next post is on the idea of universal salvation/ reconciliation. I hope you stick around.