This subject was initiated by a friend. Just what criteria is used to exclude or include people in the “kingdom”? How can people who never heard the gospel, or perhaps who are Jewish or some other religion that is not in complete harmony with Christian belief, have any chance of inclusion?
‘If the righteous are scarcely saved, where will the sinner be?’ So perhaps the standard required is that of righteousness.
Is this then an absolute standard, or is it by some derived formulae that is religious in nature and has no real bearing on reality as perceivable by ‘normal’ people?
There are religious ‘trends’ that seem to say that it is religious by nature, if you consider some views which may express themselves as being a position of righteousness rather than real righteousness.
This may highlight one whole view of religious deficiency on the basis of it not being ‘real’, not being absolute, but rather being relative to factors which are purely derived from nothing more than some old evolved religion which is irrelevant to today’s world.
On the ‘absolute’ side of the argument, it may be seen that if people behave in an admirable way that exhibits all the expectations as being one who loves, looks after other people, and absolutely does no wrong, then they should surely fit the criteria.
We know from Christian doctrine that the crossover point for acceptance, is expressed as being a changeover from death to life. The teaching says that natural man is not acceptable to God, and he has to undergo a quantum shift in his whole being in order that he become a part of that very kingdom that is the target and prize before mentioned.
And that he does not simply enter into some sort of race or competition or learning process, but rather shifts his whole being from one state to the other, and this happens in this life, so that he immediately becomes a “partaker of the divine nature”. He has “crossed over from death to life”.
This shift is accompanied by spiritual manifestations, which are called “the fruit of the Spirit” and which is evidenced by all those good things spoken of, that one would expect to be associated with someone “qualified” to be worthy of the “kingdom”.
Is it the claim of Christianity then, that such manifestation cannot occur outside of the presence of a specific spirit, and that such a spirit can only come through adherence to Christ? The question then becomes, can such a manifestation of Christ, occur without Christ?
Since it is fairly apparent that Christ himself IS that Spirit, then the answer would have to be NO.
NEXT. Can the Spirit of Christ appear in people who do not know about him? Christian doctrine has it that it is by the spreading of the gospel [of Christ, or of the kingdom of God?] that men will come to know that such a Spirit even exists, or is available. Even some who were supposedly “believers” were ignorant of the Spirit, and it was only after they were acquainted with “Him” that they manifested the observable signs of being ‘true’ believers.
FURTHER. This “work” of a change in men is seen to be initiated by God, and under his control.
BY WHAT OTHER MEANS then, can a man be caused to give away his whole life to become as a slave to such a deity or cause or “religion” that initiates such peace, joy and inner righteousness? We see many people who give away their lives for other causes, but which result in death and destruction. Many others give away their lives in the cause of self and money, though they do not realise that this is what they are doing. It might be for pride or gain or ego.
Where do we place “Mother Teresa”? She was Christian, was she not? Where do we place Gandhi? or Buddha?
Can a man gain the Spirit of Christ outside of the Christian faith?? It is difficult to imagine how this could be unless God specifically placed the person in a position to receive Him. Certainly there are plain scriptural words such as “There is no other name given under heaven by which we must be saved”. Whoops! There goes Ghandi and Buddha. But these are Christian words.
Where, outside of Christianity then, is one to hear about or receive the things of Christ? Certainly not in the temple of other religions or belief systems. Even within Christian groups there are false teachings which offset the ability of the message to reach their hearts, but simply confine them to their minds and intellect by a self generated spirit .
If the ultimate in goodness can only be found in Christian circles, then how can it be found elsewhere? If even within those circles there is a problem of people who do not ‘measure up’, then why should it be expected that there will be those outside of the ‘system’ who do?
It could be claimed that there are many examples where those ‘in the system’ behave worse than those outside the system. The Pharisees misrepresented their religion, and there are those who also misrepresent Christ. This does not mean to say however, that Christ is not the only way to heaven. Again it comes back to the claims made by the religion itself, and for those outside to judge whether or not the claims of superior righteousness are factual in representation.
Jesus said “I am the way, the truth and the life”. Those who have decided that He is the only way to go, have to govern their own lives accordingly, and not worry about those who are not as decided. In the end, you are either believing him, or calling Him a liar. It is then according to your belief, whether or not this may have eternal consequences for you and yours.
Does God grant ‘saving’ favour to those outside the church, outside the gospel message? It is possible, there may be isolated situations where He does this, but it is not ‘normal’. If it took a man’s death to cause you to surrender your own life to him, then how can less than knowledge of such an action bring about a similar change in others? It is safer not to judge, but to simply continue to spread the message of reconciliation to God through the death of his Son for us, out of love.
[“If you believe in your heart …and confess with your mouth, you will be saved”] [this is not a doctrinal creed it is a statement of spiritual reality]