Monday, April 19, 2010

understanding Jesus as way to salvation

Many people are both comforted by the declaration that Jesus Christ is the Way to salvation (Christians) and disconcerted, disheartened and even angry with that declaration (non Christians). I have this very quick analogy to explain, comfort and clarify.

A lot of Christians are not going to like what I'm going to say, but that is alright because Jesus Christ came to save the world, to be its true hero, and by that I mean the entire world. So yes, Jesus Christ is the one and only way to be saved. However, one must look at scripture to understand that Jesus, through God, is perfectly capable of saving people who do not know him.

In other words, a person must have a relationship with Jesus to be saved, but no where in the scripture does it say that Jesus is incapable of saving someone that Jesus is in a one way relationship with. What I am saying is that Jesus, having the full authority of God, is perfectly capable of opening the door for someone to God, if that person is righteous and just. So before I explain further, here is my analogy.

Imagine heaven as the home of God, where God resides inside (although of course he sees everything everywhere at all times). Imagine that heaven, the house of God, has only one door. Imagine that Jesus is the gate keeper to that door, and only Jesus, working with the full authority of God the Father, will allow someone into heaven.

Imagine a righteous and just man has died, one who is of the faith that worships God, but that man may or may not have heard about Jesus and the Good News. However, God, and Jesus, are fully aware that this is a just and righteous man who worships God alone. So let us assume that the man arrives at the door and does not recognize Jesus, but he asks to see God.

Jesus looks into the man's heart and soul (and of course, God and Jesus already know all that this man has lived, thought, felt and done) and sees his righteousness and genuine love for God, the Father. If you were a son at the door to your father's house, and a dear friend of your father asked to come in, would you say no?

Do not be jealous and selfish of Jesus being the way to God. As the gatekeeper and the way, Jesus has perfect knowledge, judgment and authority to admit, or turn away, from heaven anyone. As Jesus often stated, he and God the Father are as one in their purpose and their salvatory power.

And those of you who may be of the faith of the one true God, do not be afraid of Jesus Christ being the way. He knows who you are even if you do not fully know who he is. Jesus will not turn away righteous and just men and women, boys and girls, who fear God, who love God, and who worship God.

Luke 12:32, 34
Do not be afraid, little flock, for it has pleased your Father to give you the kingdom...For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.

Luke 18:26-27, 29
And they who heard it said, "Who then can be saved?" He said to them, "Things that are impossible with men are possible with God." ... And he said to them, "Amen I say to you, there is no one who has left house, or parents, or brothers, or wife, or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive much more in the present time, and in the age to come life everlasting."

I used italics for Jesus' words "for the kingdom of God," for that is my point. Jesus is not saying that everyone must give up all they have in order to achieve heaven, for with this list he was referring to his direct followers. What Jesus is saying is that if one puts aside everything in life as secondary, no matter how dear, for the sake of the kingdom of God, he or she shall receive that and more.

Jesus constantly kept his words to be directed toward the kingdom of God, to worship of God, and to God as every man and woman's hope and faith. Notice that whenever Jesus performed a miraculous cure that the recipient praised God, from whom Jesus' power flowed, not Jesus himself and that was the acceptable response. In scripture Jesus orders the leper to the temple to perform the standard sacrifice to God after the leper's cure by Jesus. Jesus continually pointed his followers' attention to God and the goal of worshipping and serving God alone.

This is how you must understand that God and Jesus are perfectly capable, of course, of saving people who worship God and God alone, and who do not realize that they have a relationship with Jesus.

Jesus is like the foreman of God's construction yard, and he observes all the employees of God, even if that employee has never met Jesus nor received his instructions from Jesus directly. Jesus (and God) are perfectly capable of observing the diligent man or woman who serves God faithfully, without even knowing they are being observed by Jesus, nor have received training or instruction from Jesus directly.

Obviously, the more anyone of any faith truly understands and learns about Jesus directly, the more he is drawn to Jesus and thus to God. Jesus is God's ultimate gift to humankind, in order to most easily find their way to God. This is why Jesus is the way, for he illuminates God's truth. It is, however, an error to diminish God's All Knowing and Mercy in any way, however, to take Jesus' role and God's capabilities and limit them to some sort of "accept Jesus or else" litmus test. God is All Knowing and Merciful and he sees, knows, recognizes and rewards his faithful servants. If through circumstance a person does not realize that he has a relationship with and through Jesus Christ, this does not make God unable to see the righteousness, justice and sanctity in that person's heart, for God's seeing is not at all limited in any way.

"Things that are impossible with men are possible with God."

"But seek first the kingdom of God and his justice, and all these things shall be given you besides" (Matthew 6:33).

"Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into his harvest" (Matthew 9:38).

Having said all of this, I must strongly caution you against disowning Jesus, against denying or defaming him. What I have written about above is about people who are obedient to God but through circumstances beyond their control do not have a relationship that they are aware of with Jesus. Many Christians do not understand that Muslims DO have a relationship with Jesus, for he is an esteemed Messiah of the Jewish people, born of the Virgin, given authority by God, and ascended into heaven, as documented in the Qur'an.

People who have to worry are those who do not serve God and who directly defame Jesus.

"Therefore, everyone who acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I in turn will disown him before my Father in heaven," (Matthew 10:32-33).

However, the work of Jesus in promoting the kingdom of God reaches all:

"The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and buried in three measure of flour, until all of it was leavened" (Matthew 13:33).

Young people (hi!) and those who do not understand cooking and thus this parable. Yeast is added to flour in order to make it rise into what can be baked as a loaf of bread. Jesus is saying that the action of heaven (like yeast) reaches the entire amount of flour, even though there is more flour in quantity than yeast. The woman who buries the yeast (mixes it) spreads the active ingredient, the yeast, sufficiently so that it reacts with the entire flour. Likewise the kingdom of heaven reaches out to the entire world, through specific points, no matter how small, of active agency. The objective is to have rise the entire loaf of bread, hence, all peoples, accept the kingdom of heaven and be saved.

And they went and entered a Samaritan town to make ready for him, and they did not receive him... when his disciples.... saw this, they said, "Lord, wilt thou that we bid fire come down from heaven and consume them?" But he turned and rebuked them, saying, "You do not know of what manner of spirit you are; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them." And they went to another village (Luke 9:54-56).