Initial Thoughts About the Subject of Salvation in the Gospels
What does Jesus actually say about salvation? What did He teach in the New Testament about what will get a person to heaven in the next life? It strikes me as odd that there is such a significant gap between what Jesus said in the Gospels and what many Christians contacting us at Newchurch.org have claimed are the basic principles of salvation taught in Christianity. In fact, the gap is so great that contacts frequently go to great lengths to deny direct teaching that the Lord gave in favor of arguments that have been spawned in the darker corners of Christendom centuries after His death.
By contrast, what Jesus says in the New Testament, is compellingly in-line with teachings found in the Writings of the New Church. As one would expect, there is perfect symmetry between the Jesus’ teachings of salvation and the presentation of salvation in the Writings of the Second Coming. I have found Jesus’ own words about salvation to be the best starting point in dialoguing with Christians about the tenants of faith of the New Church. The New Testament is their primary frame of reference when talking about faith. Furthermore, it is harder for Christians to avoid the realities of the false doctrines of their faith when confronted with true statements about religion that the Lord Himself made while on earth.
What are the false beliefs that our contacts most commonly bring up about salvation that differ significantly from the Lord’s own teaching in the Letter of the Gospels? The following is a list of the ones we see most:
- Salvation is by faith alone and not related to a person’s own efforts.
- Salvation comes only through God’s plan to sacrifice His innocent Son for the sake of the guilty.
- God holds people guilty for the sin of Adam
- God is angry
- Only baptized Christians can be saved – no exceptions !
- The Ten Commandments (and the law in general) do not apply to Christians and salvation because they ‘were nailed to the cross’ (Col. 2:14).
- A good life is generally as a product of salvation (many people struggle with this because they still long for evil after they ‘got saved’).
- There are often fears expressed by people who worry about what will happen to them if they were members of ‘the wrong religion’.
- Forgiveness issues.
- Judgment issues.
From a doctrinal perspective these issues come up repeatedly in the Writings. That said, I am still surprised to see how pervasive these issues are in the internet conversations we have with our Christian contacts. It is so strange to see people who call themselves ‘Christian’ flatly refuse to acknowledge clear, openly stated words of Christ.
There are also many good people contacting us who innately understand the Lord in a general way. They also have issues. Some come to us simply out of pain due to some trauma or death. Some are struggling with addictions. Some come to us with marriage issues. And some are facing spiritual problems that just won’t go away. Occasionally, get people who have pretty much pieced together a ‘new church’ form of belief and are overcome with joy when they find the church they have been searching for many years. These basically good people are easy to serve yielding the most joyful results.
Peter Devassay is a great example of this later class of people. He had been involved with Catholics and Pentecostals but always felt that there was something missing in their theology. He took up a contact with the folks in Colchester after discovering us on newchurch.org. Olaf Hauptman and Heulwen Ridgeway began to send books to him. Eventually, Peter travelled to Stockholm, as the nearest church he could find (he was in Poland at the time). Peter now is planting a church in Kerala India.