Saturday, April 25, 2009

Salvation: A one-page description

I have also placed on my excerpts page a one-page summary describing what the New Testament (when read in the contexts of the Old Testament and 1st century Judaism) indicates Jesus saved us from.


jwf2004a said...

Can you tell me how you believe one goes to heaven? I've read some of your blogs and appreciate your research and context pertaining to the 1st century audience but am unable to determine what you believe. Can you give me your "bottom-line" on this subject? Thanks for your time. Wayne

David Rudel said...

Hi Wayne,
I believe the New Testament is clear on that topic, perhaps Matthew 13:47-49, 25:31-46, and John 5:29 being the most pointed remark.

After the grand resurrection, Jesus selects people for New Jerusalem (Revelation 20:11-21:8) [the kingdom people often refer to 'heaven.']

Now, Jesus is not bound by any particular decrees or laws regarding whom He will select, but based on the discussions in the gospels, Romans 2:6-8, 1st Corinthians 6:9-10, 2nd Corinthians 5:10, Acts 17:30-31, and Revelation 21:8, it appears that repentance, charity, forgiveness, the teaching of others to do God's will [Matthew 5:19], and being merciful to our fellow humans are the things He looks for.

Of course this makes perfect sense when one understands the purpose of New Jerusalem. If New Jerusalem is meant to be a kingdom where God's people follow God's desires, then a willingness on earth to do the same and teach others to do so would make sense.

It is worth pointing out that the above forms an important theme in the Gospel of John. The idea there is that those who honestly want to do God's will are exactly those who find wisdom in the commands that Jesus gives [John 7:17 and many other places]. It is this...the desire to God's will (Matthew 7:21)...that really determines whether someone is likely to follow Christ or not [which is really what John 3:20-21 says...unfortunately people who like to quote John 3:16 don't often give the whole context of that verse.]

It is also worthwhile to note that this interest in actually doing God's will is what is behind the "House on the rock versus House on the sand" parable. Jesus has just finished His sermon on the mount, a massive midrash on God's Law. He begins that midrash by emphasizing the importance of doing God's will [Matthew 5:17-20] and ends it (in both Luke and Matthew) by referring to those who put His midrash into practice and those who do not [Matthew 7:24-27, Luke 6:43-49].

It should be pointed out that it is perfectly possible to do God's will and show faith in God without any knowledge of the gospel at all. Rahab had no clue about the gospel, but was justified by her actions. Cornelius had no knowledge of Jesus prior to Peter's coming to him [and even if he had, it would not have been a gospel for him because the Jews at the time thought Christ's work was only for them...which is the whole point of the Cornelius story.] Yet, Cornelius pleased God in ignorance of Christ or the "gospel."