Is Jesus Christ the Only Way to Heaven?

Is Jesus Christ the only way to heaven?

Yes . . . but it’s not what you’re thinking!

Here’s the deal. According to the Bible, Jesus Christ is God. There’s nothing in the Bible about him being the second Person of a Trinity. That was a purely human invention. (See “‘Christian Beliefs’ that the Bible Doesn’t Teach.”)

Isaiah 44:6 says:

Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.

Guess who the New Testament says is the first and the last?

If you guessed Jesus Christ, you get a gold star!

Just take a look at Revelation 1:17–18; 2:8; and 22:12–13. The context makes it clear that the one who says in Revelation, “I am the first and the last” is none other than the risen and glorified Jesus Christ.

When Philip said to Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied,” Jesus replied:

Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. (John 14:9)

And in John 10:30, he said plainly, “I and the Father are one.”

The message of the Bible is clear: There is one God, and Jesus Christ is that God. So according to the Bible, all people who believe in God believe in Jesus Christ, even if they do not call God Jesus Christ. There is no other God to believe in. “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.”

In other words, according to the Bible, saying that Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven is the same thing as saying that God is the only way to heaven.

Is there any religious person, of any faith, who would really disagree that God is the only way to heaven? Obviously, God, the Creator of the universe, who has all power in heaven and earth, is the only way to heaven. If it weren’t for God, there wouldn’t be a heaven. And if God didn’t give us life and the ability to choose heaven over hell, not a single one of us could go to heaven.

So Christians who think that anywhere from 68% to 99.99% of the world’s population is going to hell because they’re not Christian, or because they’re not the right kind of Christian, are really denying that Jesus Christ is God.

Let’s look at a few of the Bible passages these Christians quote to support the mistaken and non-Biblical idea that only Christians go to heaven.

What’s in a name?

Acts 4:10–12 says:

Jesus Christ . . . is “the stone that was rejected by you, the builders; it has become the cornerstone.” There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.

One difference between Christianity and other religions is that Christians say that Jesus Christ is God, whereas people of other religions don’t think of Jesus Christ as God. This means that Christians use the name Jesus Christ to refer to God, but non-Christians don’t.

So does Acts 4:12 really mean that anyone who doesn’t use the name “Jesus Christ” for God cannot be saved? Is the Bible really that trivial? Does it really mean that if we say with our mouth, “Jesus Christ,” we’ll be saved, but if we say with our mouth “God” or “Allah” or “Lord” or “Jehovah” we won’t?

Excuse me for saying so, but that’s just plain silly. And it’s not what the Bible means.

Every religion has its own names for God. In fact, every religion, including Christianity, has many names for God.

It’s not the name itself that matters. It’s what the name represents that matters.

If you look up the Greek word for “name” that’s used in Acts 4:12 and elsewhere in the New Testament, you’ll see that it means not only “name,” but also “reputation, status, fame, or power.” This is a common meaning of “name” in many languages. When we talk about someone having a “big name” we’re not talking about someone whose name is very long. We’re talking about someone who has widespread fame and reputation because of what he or she says or does.

When the Bible speaks of believing in the name of Jesus, it does not mean using the particular name “Jesus Christ” rather than some other name for God. It means believing in the qualities or characteristics that the name Jesus Christ represents in the Bible.

This means that all people who believe in the things Jesus Christ expressed through his words and actions are believing in the name of Jesus Christ, regardless of whether or not they literally use the name “Jesus Christ.”

What does this mean, practically speaking? Here are a few examples:

  • When people believe in loving God above all, and loving their neighbor as themselves, as Jesus taught, they are believing in the name of Jesus.
  • When people believe in loving their enemies, they are believing in the name of Jesus.
  • When people believe in laying down their lives for their friends, they are believing in the name of Jesus.
  • When people believe in helping those who are hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, they are believing in the name of Jesus.

When people believe in any of the things Jesus taught, and especially when they live according to those beliefs, they are believing in the things that the name Jesus Christ means.

Jesus himself said:

Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of my Father in heaven. (Matthew 7:20)

Those who live according to the teachings of Jesus Christ will go to heaven no matter what religion they come from. Those who merely say the name “Jesus Christ” when they pray, but don’t do the will of God (which is what Jesus Christ taught) will not go to heaven.

What does it mean to believe?

John 3:16–18, one of the most commonly quoted passages in the Bible, says:

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish, but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

We already covered what it means to “believe in the name of the only Son of God.” It means to believe in the principles, qualities, and characteristics that Jesus Christ taught both in words and by the example of his life.

What about where it says, “those who do not believe are condemned already”? Doesn’t that mean that everyone who doesn’t believe in Jesus Christ is condemned?

Once again: Yes . . . but it’s not what you’re thinking!

What does it mean to believe? What is faith in Jesus Christ?

Many Christians seem to think that “belief” and “faith” are things we do in our head. But in reality, belief and faith are the things we live by. Here’s how the Apostle James put it:

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. (James 2:14–16)

He goes on to say that even demons believe that God is one, but they are horrified by that belief. Real belief, real faith, is shown by how we live.

If I say, “I believe in honesty,” but in fact I lie and cheat whenever it seems advantageous to me, do I really believe in honesty? Obviously not.

And if I say I believe in Jesus Christ, but I hate my enemies, don’t help people who are in need, and generally live a greedy and self-centered life, do I really believe in Jesus Christ? No, obviously I do not. If I did, I would do what Jesus Christ commands me to do.

Belief and faith are not some head trip. They are the things we live by. The people who do not believe in Jesus Christ are the ones who show their unbelief in their lives by engaging in lying, stealing, cheating, anger, bitterness, greed, and selfishness of all kinds.

But people who live a life of honesty, service, self-sacrifice, and love for God and for their neighbor truly believe in Jesus Christ, even if they do not say “Jesus Christ” when they pray. Here’s how Jesus himself put it:

“What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’

“He answered, ‘I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went.

“The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir’; but he did not go.

“Which of the two did the will of his father?”

They said, “The first.” (Matthew 21:28–31)

It is not what we say, but what we do that shows our true belief in God. Or as Jesus put it once again:

Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do. (John 14:12)

Jesus the way to the Father

Let’s take up one more Bible passage for now. In John 14:6 Jesus says:

I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Looks like an open and shut case, doesn’t it? The only way to the Father—who is God—and therefore the only way to heaven, is through Jesus Christ.

The thing is, that’s true! As I said at the beginning, Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven.

However, this means something very different than what most Christians think it means.

Most Christians think Jesus meant that only those who believe that Jesus Christ is God—meaning only Christians—can get to God, and therefore to heaven.

But if that’s what he meant, then why, in the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats in Matthew 25:31–46, does Jesus say that all the nations will be judged according to whether or not they took care of people who were in need? Why did he say that those who did not take care of their fellow human beings will go away into eternal punishment, but those who did will go into eternal life?

And why does the Apostle Paul tell us in Romans 2:5–11 how non-Christians can be saved? Here’s what he said:

But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. For he will repay according to each one’s deeds: to those who by patiently doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; while for those who are self-seeking and who obey not the truth but wickedness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be anguish and distress for everyone who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality.

Jews and “Greeks” (meaning polytheists, or pagans) are not Christians. Yet Paul says that Jews and Greeks who engage in good deeds will receive eternal life, while those who do evil will experience anguish and distress. And here’s the capper: Paul goes on to say in Romans 2:16 that all of this will happen “when God, through Jesus Christ, will judge the secret thoughts of all.”

Do you see what Paul is saying here? He is not saying that God, through Jesus Christ, will accept only those who believe that Jesus Christ is God. He is saying that God, through Jesus Christ, will judge the secret thoughts of all people, whether Jews, Greeks, or Christians, and will give eternal life to all who seek eternal life by patiently doing good.

Yes, Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven. But what this means is that Jesus Christ saves all people who live lives of love and kindness toward their fellow human beings according to their own beliefs and their own religion.

If, as Christians believe, Jesus Christ is God, then isn’t Jesus Christ the God of all people, and not only of Christians? I understand that for Jews, Muslims, and people of various other religions, the idea that Jesus Christ is God is an anathema. But do our differing religions and beliefs change who God is?

Jesus Christ either is God or isn’t God. And if, as the Bible says, Jesus Christ is God—the first and the last, who has all power in heaven and in earth—then as Paul says, the salvation of all people, of every religion, takes place through Jesus Christ.

Yes, Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven. That’s because Jesus Christ is God. And the Lord God Jesus Christ has the power to save all people, everywhere, of every religion: Jew, Greek, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Bahai, Shinto, Native American, New Age, Rastafarian, and all others who believe in God—or at least in some of the good and true qualities and realities that come from God—and live it out in their lives.

For further reading:

About

Lee Woofenden is an ordained minister, writer, editor, translator, and teacher. He enjoys taking spiritual insights from the Bible and the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg and putting them into plain English as guides for everyday life.

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Posted in All About God, The Bible Re-Viewed
36 comments on “Is Jesus Christ the Only Way to Heaven?
  1. Doug Webber says:

    The way I say it is Jesus is the Divine truth in human form. Others, who follow the Divine truth in their life, and are unaware of who Jesus was in physical form, are essentially following him in their heart whether they realize it or not. For all are saved by the Divine truth, it is truth that fights against sin.

    Even in the NT, it says that Jesus preached to those who were caught in the underworld in the afterlife, and taught them who he was before taking them up with him into heaven: “being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison” (1 Peter 3:18-19)

    What was true then is true now: even in the afterlife, there is the opportunity to learn. And those who have lived well can learn more easily than those who think they know but do not do.

  2. Lightrays says:

    Reblogged this on God is not a bully and commented:
    The best answer I’ve read yet about who gets saved and who dosen’t

  3. Mesele Mark says:

    I believe in Trinity, it’s not invention of men but it is biblical truth. It is not also denaying the devinal power of Jesus Christ, if you want I’ll give biblical evidences!

    • Lee says:

      Hi Mesele,

      Thanks for your comment.

      For more on the Trinity, please read this article:
      Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

      The problem is not with the idea of a Trinity, but with the idea that the Trinity is made of “Persons.”

      We can discuss it more at the end of that article if you’d like.

  4. Hiroyuki-Kei says:

    Thanks for your article.
    I’m not offending you, but the moment you said “jesus christ is the only way to go to heaven”, you lost me. Yes, it’s for christians not for everyone.
    I’ve read several articles of you and i gained a lot of knowledge from those. What i understand that,
    God is love, believe and faith and whatever you think God is, he’s not a human being just like us. He is an invisible aura, the ultimate force that we cant define in words. So, no matter what you think of GOD is, god lives in every living and non-living things. In short, god is in you, in me, in trees, in animals, in objects, in illustrations and in everywhere. Saying a particular to A God, is not appropiate.
    I believe that jesus was just a medium of god, may be an angle because you said earlier that god sometimes send angles to show the right path to follow.
    Now, you said Bible is true,..HOW? Hindus says Geetah or whatever it is, is true.
    Believe me or not, it was’nt written by God, it was written by humans.
    You’re getting kinda biased towards christians.
    OK, i’ll be straight, im not christians hater, i respect all other religions as well as jesus. If christians found their beloved god in jesus, then it’s fair but by saying Jesus is God or the only way to go to heaven..it’s for perticular religion’s belief not others think the way they do.
    If you truly want to go to heaven, then love your haters, love everyone, love yourself, always be helpful towards people.
    Thank You, Lee.

    • Lee says:

      HI Hiroyuki-Kei,

      Thanks for your thoughts.

      Just to be clear, even though I believe that Jesus is God, I still think that people of all religions go to heaven if they believe in God as their religion teaches about God, and live a life of love and service to their fellow human beings. I disagree with Christians who say that you have to believe that Jesus is God, or that Jesus died for your sins, in order to be saved. That is what I was saying in this article.

      About the Bible, and whether it is written by humans or by God, you might be interested in this article:
      How God Speaks in the Bible to Us Boneheads

      Short version: God wrote the Bible through particular human beings and their cultures, so that it is written in terms of those cultures and their ideas. But inwardly it contains universal truth from God about God, spirit, and our path toward heaven.

      I do agree with you that God lives in all things. However, I also believe that God is above all created things, and has a being distinct from them. God is in nature, continually holding it in existence, which is a process of creating it second by second. However, God is not nature, but is distinct from nature.

      But big picture: If you live a good life according to the beliefs and teachings of your religion, you will go to heaven!

    • Lee says:

      Hi Hiroyuki-Kei,

      Thanks for your most recent comment, However, I have unapproved it because it goes against our comments policy.

      I am happy to answer your sincere questions based on my beliefs. However, if your purpose here is to tell me that my beliefs are mistaken, I have no interest in that kind of debate. It would be a waste of your time and mine. I am very comfortable with my beliefs–just as you seem to be with yours. Also, my understanding of Christianity is very different from your description and characterization of it.

      Just as I am respectful of your beliefs even though I don’t agree with some of them, I ask for the same respect from you if you wish to comment here.

      Thank you.

  5. Meaghan says:

    I have been so lost lately when other suggested my friends and family who do not identify as Christian will not go to heaven. Your articles have been so helpful to me. One thing I would like you to clarify, if possible. I have always thought that the parable of the sheep refers to helping all people in need, but sadly I have been seeing interpretations lately that imply the language of “brothers” suggests only Jesus’ disciples apply here. That seems unlikely that Jesus would suggest we only help those who believe or who are “good.” Have you seen those interpretations, and do you have thoughts on that?

    • Lee says:

      Hi Meaghan,

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. I’m glad the articles here are helping you to understand God, spirit, and heaven in a deeper and broader way than is often presented by some Christians and Christian sects.

      I have found that when Christians who belong to particular churches read the Bible, they interpret everything in it to support their church’s particular beliefs:

      • If they believe that faith alone saves, they’ll see that everywhere in the Bible.
      • If they believe that only Christians go to heaven, they’ll see that everywhere in the Bible.
      • If they believe that we should love and serve only those who agree with our particular beliefs, they’ll see that everywhere in the Bible.

      In the parable of the sheep and the goats, I see no reason from the story itself why “brothers” there should be interpreted to mean only believing Christians. After all, at the beginning of the parable he doesn’t say that all Christians will be gathered before him, but that “all the nations will be gathered before him” (Matthew 25:32). Since the parable is about all the nations, it makes no sense to think that “brothers” in the parable means only Christians.

      Also, if you read everything Jesus said and did in the Gospels, you will find that he taught, preached to, and healed not only his fellow Jews, but Samaritans and Romans as well. Though at first he and his disciples focused on spreading their message to their fellow Jews, they soon broadened their ministry of preaching, teaching, and healing to include all people, regardless of religion or race.

      The example of Jesus and his disciples shows us that Jesus’ teachings, including the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats, apply to all people, not only to believing Christians.

  6. David Gray says:

    Hi Lee,

    A few years ago I was chatting with Jewish coworker and he asked me, “Why do I have to believe in Jesus? Why can’t I just believe in God if Jesus is God.” And at the time I did not have an answer, which caused me to examine my own theology a bit. I had also been challenged in the past in the context of John 3:16 of what it means to “believe in” Jesus. I think that your explanation is reasonable. I think people can be saved through Jesus even if they don’t know him. There are some people in other faiths that are so good that I am not comfortable relegating them to hell (or annihilation which I lean towards now). Of course this conclusion bothers me somewhat for several reasons:
    1. Paul did not seem to have the attitude that whatever religion you believed was fine — he went into the synagogues and debated the Scriptures with the Jews. The Jews already believed in God, so why make this effort if they could just go about doing their own thing?
    2. Romans 10 *seems* to indicate that one must hear the gospel to be saved.
    I was also wondering what you might think of the great commission in light of your view. Would the great commission mostly be about getting out the truth about God as represented by Jesus opposed to saving people from hell?

    David

    • Lee says:

      Hi David,

      I just noticed that I never responded to this comment of yours, which is now a few months old. So here is a quick, belated response:

      1. Paul actually did say how non-Christians can be saved, in Romans 2:5–11, as quoted in the above article. And he said it before his much more famous statement in Romans 3:28 about being saved by faith. Paul was far more open-minded than his Evangelical Christian followers are today.

      2. About the Great Commission, please see my article, If Non-Christians can Go to Heaven, Why should Christians Evangelize?

      • David Gray says:

        Hi Lee,

        Thanks for the response. I think I came across that verse in another one of your articles. Yeah, it basically says that those who do good will be rewarded with eternal life and those who do bad will be punished, sort of like Matt 25.. In the evangelical community, where we try to reconcile these verses with the concept of being saved by faith, we are taught that the “good people” are the ones that are “saved” and the “bad people’ are the ones that are “not saved.” I am now realizing that basically we are submitting these verses to the “saved by faith alone” concept. Whereas evangelicals try to figure out if they are saved, I would think that people who subscribe to a more works view of salvation would be trying to figure out if they are “good enough?” I know elsewhere we have talked about different levels of reward in heaven and different levels of punishment in heaven. If we are going to be judged purely by the quality of our lives, I would have to wonder where the cut off is between heaven and hell. How good does one have to be to get to heaven? And how bad to you have to be to end up in hell? Honestly, I feel as though the bible is not really clear about some of the most critical questions that humanity has, that’s why we are all on these web sites debating 🙂

        Hope you are well!

        David

        • Lee says:

          Hi David,

          Thanks for your reply.

          To be quite honest, the materials I read by evangelicals seem much more intent on arguing that the Bible says what they think it’s supposed to say based on their own doctrines than on reading the Bible and paying attention to what it actually says.

          To my mind, central to being saved is not thinking primarily about ourselves and our own salvation, whether by faith or by works. Worrying about whether we’re saved by faith, or whether we’ve done enough good works to make the heavenly cut, is in itself an indication that we are not loving God above all and loving the neighbor as ourselves, as Jesus commanded us to do. If we focus our lives on loving God and the neighbor, and let God worry about whether we’re saved or not, then we can go about the business of believing in Jesus and living by his commandments.

          I simply don’t see the Bible going into paroxysms about whether we’ve done enough good works to be saved, and how to tell whether we have or haven’t. The Bible simply tells us to repent from our sins, believe in Jesus, and love and serve our fellow human beings. That is very simple and straightforward. Anyone can do it, with God’s help. And it is all the Bible requires of us.

          I think the Bible is very clear.

          However, those who have adopted false doctrines not taught in the Bible, such as salvation by faith alone, make it complicated because they are imposing their own doctrines on the Bible rather than paying attention to what the Bible actually teaches.

  7. Donna Newby says:

    Correction to your statement from the Bible:
    Taken from Isaiah 44:6
    “6“This is what the Lord says—
    Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty:
    I am the first and I am the last;
    apart from me there is no God.”

    You said: “god”, that means something completely different.

    There are many gods, but only one God.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Donna,

      The original Hebrew does not have capital letters, so whether or not “God” is capitalized is at the discretion of the translators. I took the quote from the New Revised Standard Version, which doesn’t capitalize it.

  8. Christine says:

    I am so glad I came across your site! I recently found out about Swedenborg’s books that lead me here. This is exactly what I believe in my heart but did not know how to explain it..So many christians do not know the true meaning of the scriptures and what Jesus really meant. I had an awareness of this within me, now I know how to express it! Thank you!

    • Lee says:

      Hi Christine,

      Welcome to the site! I’m glad you’re finding the articles here helpful and in harmony with what you believe in your heart. It’s good to be able to put clear concepts to what we feel must be true. I’ve heard this from many people discovering Swedenborg’s teachings for the first time. He speaks clearly what the human heart instinctively knows. If you have any questions as you read and learn more, please don’t hesitate to ask.

  9. Yoo-kyung says:

    Hi Lee! This article really resonated with me – it really eased a lot of my doubts that I’ve been having lately. However, to many Christian denominations, your words may sound quite blasphemous and really liberal. Even I, at some points, found myself becoming slightly nervous and thinking, “Oh this line of thinking sounds dangerous…” How do you validate your research here against the claims of relativism and humanism that many Christians claim are corrupting the faith today?
    Lastly, if we only need to do good works and be kind and compassionate to our fellow brothers and sisters to be saved, then… Why should we be Christians? Why should we read the Word and believe in Jesus? Why should we lead disciplined lives of studying the Bible, attending church, singing hymns and worship songs, etc.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Yoo-kyung,

      I’m glad this article struck a chord with you. And thanks for all of the good questions. I can’t do justice to them all in the comments, but I invite you to spend some time reading the articles here, and see if they begin to satisfy you.

      Meanwhile, here are a few quick responses, with some links for further reading.

      Personally, I’ve long since stopped worrying about what “many Christian denominations” say about the teachings expressed on this website. I’ve read and studied the Bible all my life, and I am quite comfortable and confident that these teachings are in accord with both the letter and the spirit of the Bible.

      Furthermore, the basic teachings of those Christian denominations that criticize and attack these teachings are themselves not in the Bible, but were invented by human beings hundreds, or in some cases over a thousand years after the Bible was written. Such teachings as a Trinity of Persons in God, salvation by faith alone, and the idea that Jesus paid the penalty for our sins are not only not in the Bible, but some of them are specifically rejected by the Bible. See: “Christian Beliefs” that the Bible Doesn’t Teach, and the articles linked from it.

      The millions of Christians who believe these non-Biblical teachings seem to need them, and for the most part I don’t argue with them. But their beliefs are ultimately mistaken and contrary to the plain teachings of the Bible. I’ve satisfied myself of this through many years of searching the Scriptures, including all of the passages that those Christians quote at me, and finding that what they say is taught in the Bible simply isn’t there, or is directly contradicted by plain statements in the Bible.

      About why we should be Christians if good works, kindness, and compassion will save us, please read this article: If Non-Christians can Go to Heaven, Why should Christians Evangelize?

      Belief is important. It shapes our lives. But what the Bible means by “belief” is not some intellectual assent to particular doctrines taught by the church. Rather, it is an active willingness to live by the teachings Jesus gives us in the Bible. Our true beliefs are shown, not by what we say we believe, but by how we live. The “faith” that the Bible talks about is not some doctrinal belief, but the willingness to make our beliefs real by living them out. As Jesus said, “You will know them by their fruits” (see Matthew 7:15-20). For more on what faith is and is not, see this article: Faith Alone Is Not Faith

      If you have further questions as you read the articles here, please don’t hesitate to ask.

  10. Chris says:

    Wouldn’t this theology undermine the price Jesus paid for us on the cross? Why would Jesus sacrifice his life for us and be resurrected if we only had to do good works?

  11. I think you are terribly mistaken about your concept of the father and the son. Claiming Jesus is also the father shows a lack of understanding. That Jesus said he’s one with the father doesn’t mean he is also the father. Jesus himself prayed to this father, he asked him that we may be one, that is his disciples and believers may be one in him. I suppose that if we go by your logic, then if I’m one with God then maybe I’m God and I should be worshipped. Paul wrote in 1Cor 6:17 he that is joined to the lord is one spirit. I guess I’m an invisible spirit that should be worshipped. Why does the Bible say a man and woman shall become one? See, the Bible interprets itself, it doesn’t need your intellect to unveil it. The father is one with the son in the same way a married couple are spoken of as one. The father is distinct and also is the son and holy spirit, however, they are of the same nature and character and are in a perpetual, inseparable union. John affirms that there are 3 that bear witness in heaven, the Father, word and spirit. The word was made flesh and became Jesus.

    • Lee says:

      Hi churchundstate,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment.

      I do understand that the statements Jesus makes about his being one with the Father can be read as saying that he is one with the Father in the same way that we are one with God, or that a married couple is one with each other. And if you find it helpful to think of them in that way, then of course you are free to do so.

      However, as I read the Bible, the oneness between the Father and Son is of a different level and closeness than that of us and God. We are one with God as created beings to the Creator, and our oneness with God can never be perfect and complete, since we are also fallen beings and therefore we always create at least some separation between ourselves and God, even while having a certain level of oneness with God.

      Jesus, on the other hand, is neither a created being nor a fallen being. And Jesus therefore can be and is fully one with the Father in a way that we created, finite, and fallen humans never can be. The oneness that Jesus has with the Father is an entirely different level of oneness, as shown in Jesus’ words to Philip:

      Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.”

      Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. (John 14:8-10)

      It would be blasphemy for any one of us created humans to say that anyone who has seen us has seen God, the Father. Jesus has a type of oneness with the Father that none of us ever does. And I believe that the oneness of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is not a partial oneness, as the human-invented doctrine of the Trinity of Persons asserts, but a full oneness, so that together they form one God, in one divine Person.

      Once again, you are free to disagree. But there is not a single place in the entire Bible that says that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are “Persons” of God. That was a human invention, promulgated by human councils.

      About 1 John 5:7-8, which reads in the King James Version:

      7 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.

      8 And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.

      Bible scholars broadly agree that the words:

      in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.

      8 And there are three that bear witness in earth,

      were a later addition, and were not part of the letter as John originally wrote it, so that it should read:

      For there are three that bear record, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.

      The added words are known as the Comma Johanneum, which you can read more about at this Wikipedia link.

      Though the Comma Johanneum is almost certainly a much later addition to the text, even if, as some believe, it does belong in the text, it still does not say that the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost are separate persons of God.

      Of course the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinct, and are not the same as one another. But that doesn’t mean they make three “persons” any more than we humans are three persons because we have a soul, a body, and actions that flow out from us. The soul is not the body, and the body is not the actions. Each is distinct from the other. But we are still one person, with these thee essential components of soul, body, and actions without which we would not be human.

      In the very same way (after all, we humans were created in the image and likeness of God), God also has three essential components, which the Bible identifies using the human metaphors of “father,” “son,” and “sacred breath” (which is what “holy spirit” means in the original Greek).

      For more on this, see these articles:

      Once again, you are free to believe what you wish. But the Bible itself never says that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are distinct or separate persons. It everywhere says that they are one. And it is clear from the statements in the Bible that they are one in a way that we humans are not one with God.

  12. Hi Lee, I noticed in my NLT bible that Romans 2:9 uses “also for the Gentile,” though a footnote at the bottom admits that in Greek it actually says “also for the Greek.” Do you know what the basis for this change is? It seems a little strange!

    • Lee says:

      “Greek” was another word for “non-Jew,” or “Gentile.” The idea was that Greeks were not monotheistic Jews, but polytheistic pagans.

  13. ivy1017 says:

    Hey Lee, thank you so much for this highly insightful article (this entire website, really)!

    I’m not sure if strictly related, though, but may I ask about what you feel about determinism? To me now, it seems only logical that everything happens because of certain reasons, which in turn come to exist because of prior events/causes as well. Hence, the future seems fixed. Even if something relatively inexplicable happens (like the side a coin lands on after flipped), there is still one ultimate end result, and the question of “why did X happen instead of Y” still remains.

    As such, everyone’s life and path seems determined.

    Whether someone attempts to reach out to God, whether they make the choice to embrace spiritual pursuits and so on seem, to me, are so determined by prior events, experiences – basically external events (which are in turn engendered by previous causes). What is the spark, the inexplicable human effort, that makes us who we are and makes us different spiritually?

    I would hate to believe the idea that because everything is inevitable and because some people, in life, become spiritually impure and some people go to hell, it follows that some people are simply destined to never be with God, to go to hell, and so on.

    • Lee says:

      Hi ivy1017,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment and kind words. I’m glad you’re enjoying the website!

      In response to your question, although from a mechanistic perspective things may seem to be deterministic, in the past century even science has become less deterministic in its view of the material universe than the old Newtonian model suggested, what with relativity, quantum mechanics, and so on.

      On the religious side of things, determinism is represented especially by the Calvinist conception of predestination, in which God predestines some people to heaven and leaves others to receive eternal damnation, so that our fate is already sealed by God’s will before we are even born.

      It would not be putting it too strongly to say that from a Swedenborgian perspective, Calvinism is the very bottom of the barrel when it comes to terribly false doctrines. Regardless of all the fancy verbiage that has been woven around it by Calvinists over the years, it amounts to a denial of human freedom, which strips us of our very humanity. And it makes God out to be a terrible tyrant who creates some people for eternal bliss and others for eternal torment.

      So short version: I reject determinism, especially when it comes to matters of human spiritual life.

      I believe that God created us with freedom of will in spiritual matters so that as self-responsible adults we can choose whether we wish to live a life of good that leads toward heaven, or a life of evil that leads toward hell.

      Of course, we don’t have absolute freedom. There are many things we cannot do given the constraints of our parentage, culture, and innate character. However, within those constraints we have an area of freedom in which we can choose good over evil, or the reverse. And whichever choice we make during our lifetime here on earth within the area of freedom that we have, that will determine our eternal direction.

      Though I don’t yet have any articles here dealing specifically with freedom vs. determinism, I do take up some of these issues in the article, “The Bible, Emanuel Swedenborg, and Reincarnation,” and in the comments section there.

  14. Hannah says:

    What about atheists? They don’t believe in any god, but many are great people. I hope they are included in salvation as well.

  15. Andrew says:

    Wow! This is fantastic Lee! I’ve always found it hard to reconcile my beliefs in the accuracy of the Bible with the logical inconsistencies it seemed to portray pertaining to other circumstances in the world with other people who lead different lives or genuinely do not have the opportunity, access, culture, or even mental capacity available to them to intellectually choose Jesus. How can they be cast aside and separated from God at death? It seems cruel and inconsistent, even passive-aggressive given the other qualities Jesus possesses. It also puts to rest the argument that God must not exist because it is a system in which all someone like Hitler has to do in order to be saved and forgiven is “believe” in the salvation gift that Jesus provided physically and believe in his existence, which is not true in the literal sense at all. This is beautiful work Lee…it bridges the gaps of my theological struggles over the years and truly brings a real meaning for the first time to the concept that this is indeed “the good news!”

    • Lee says:

      Hi Andrew,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your good and kind comment. I’m glad this article hit home for you! The news is indeed good if we can see it clearly, and from a spiritually-minded perspective. I hope you’ll stick around and read some of the other articles we offer here.

      Meanwhile, godspeed on your spiritual journey!

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Lee & Annette Woofenden

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