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 “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”)

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
80 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.

      • Steve says:

        Yes, yet that one-ness with God is what the reconciliation of Christ on the cross has now made available. Then we live it out by walking in the Spirit.

        • Lee says:

          Hi Steve,

          Agreed.

          And in Romans 2:1–16 Paul makes it very clear that this reconciliation is now available to all people, of every religion: not just Christians, but Jews, “Greeks” (pagan polytheists), and Gentiles (non-Jews or non-Christians) generally.

          See also Matthew 25:31-46, where Jesus tells us in words as plain as day how the people of all nations (not just the Christian nations) will be judged for eternal life or eternal punishment based on whether they have, or have not, done deeds of love and service for their fellow human beings in need.

          The reconciliation and salvation that Jesus Christ brought about not just through the Cross, but through his entire life, teaching, and victory over the Devil, has now made it possible for all people, of every religion, to be saved if they live according to the teachings of Jesus Christ, whether or not they intellectually think of Jesus Christ as God. Jesus Christ is God. As the above article explains more fully, all people who love God and live by his commandments are, in fact, loving the Lord God Jesus Christ, living by his commandments, and being reborn and saved by his power.

  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!

  16. Michael says:

    Will I have my same name in heaven or will I be given a name or will I choose a new name or keep the one I have???????

    • Lee says:

      Hi Michael,

      Good question!

      Our name in heaven perfectly reflects who we are as a person. If your earthly name does that, then you might actually have the same name in heaven—though of course, it would be the equivalent name in the language of heaven, which is not the same as any of our languages here on earth. But if your earthly name really doesn’t suit your character, you will have a very different name in heaven that expresses and reflects the person you are.

  17. Victor Olutoye says:

    I would like you to answer these questions Mr Lee:

    1. Who was Jesus talking to when He prayed?
    2. Your doctrine is that good works from anybody from any religion leads to Heaven?
    3. Are you aware that it is only the ‘Religion of Christ Jesus’ that has no provision for doing evil (retaliation, violence, etc) ?
    4. What about religion whose founder(s) says, there is one God but clearly encourages violence against not adherents?
    5. Since Jesus prayed to the Father and He spoke of the Holy Spirit, doesnt that proof he Trinity as different personalities that agree?
    6: Wouldn’t it be deception if Jesus Christ was praying to Himself?
    7: Are “my Lord said to the LORD” the same person?
    8: What happens to the categorical statement “No man Commeth to the Father but my me”?

    • Lee says:

      Hi Victor,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your questions. In response:

      1. For an answer to this question, please read: “If Jesus Christ is the One God, Why Did He Talk and Pray to the Father?
      2. If the good works are done in obedience to God’s commandments and to benefit the neighbor, then yes. Both Jesus (in Matthew 25:31–46) and Paul (in Romans 2:5–16) say very clearly that people of all nations and all religions will be judged according to whether or not they have done good deeds for their fellow human beings. This is not my doctrine. This is the Bible’s doctrine, and it is basic Christian doctrine.
      3. That is not true, as you would know if you studied the various religions of the world. For example, Jainism, with its principle of ahimsa, is far more thoroughgoing than Christianity in forbidding violence of any kind. And practically speaking, Christians have fought and continue to fight many wars, just as people of most of the other major religions have done and continue to do. Further, Jesus himself engaged in armed violence in the incident of the cleansing of the temple in John 2:13–17. It is simply not true that Christianity has no provision for violence. See: “Can Christians be Hardass?
      4. Yes, what about so-called Christians whose Founder, Jesus Christ, generally discouraged violence, but who are engaging in wars and violence all over the world as we speak? And what about the “Christian” churches that support those wars and that violence?
      5. See the article linked in answer to your question 1.
      6. Ditto.
      7. In the original meaning of Psalm 110, whose opening line Jesus quotes in Matthew 22:41–46, “the Lord” was referring to YHVH, the God of the Hebrews, and “my lord” was referring to the ruling human king, David. However, because of its metaphorical language, it also came to be interpreted to refer to the Messiah, which Jews believe to be a future human king, but Christians believe to be “God with us,” Jesus Christ.
      8. Apparently you didn’t even read the above article before commenting on it. Please do so. That passage is taken up and explained there.
  18. Steve says:

    Hi Woofenden’s. We all need to pay attention to sound doctrine, especially those who are ordained and are writing and teaching as well. Sir and Madam, only those led by the Holy Spirit are God’s kids (Romans 8:14), to receive and then be led by the Holy Spirit, first man needs to be made Holy and righteous, so we can receive that which is most Holy, that being the Holy Spirit.
    That is why Christ died on the cross, so we can be made right with God (see 2Cor. 5:21). Then we can receive the Holy Spirit, and then the being led by process can begin.

    As well, to be led by the Holy Spirit, we need not put confidence in ourselves that is (the flesh) so much, or our own skills or resources or our ability to reason and analyse. As the flesh is limited. Too heresies and false teaching comes from the flesh (Gal. 5:20). As opposed to being in the spirit and led by the Holy Spirit, where man is led into truth.

    Please doctrine is so important, we cannot know and be led God if we are not alive to Him. Its like trying to watch satellite tv on an old style television which doesn’t even have the ability to tune in to satellite… Yet only in Christ Jesus we are made alive to God. Ephesians 2:1 so we can tune into God.
    Have been living with folks of various religions. Yet its only those who are in Christ (Born of God) who are alive to God. It is only those who are made right with God through Jesus Christ who can be led by the Holy Spirit. It is only those who are able to walk in the spirit who are able to do works which are pleasing to God.
    Romans 8:8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. NKJV
    Steve.

    The kingdom of God, is not in word but power…

    • Lee says:

      Hi Steve,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment.

      Yes, sound doctrine is important. It is not the most important thing. That would be love for God and the neighbor, just as Jesus taught. But sound doctrine is indeed important as a guide to right living.

      That’s why it is so unfortunate that the vast bulk of Christianity has abandoned the sound doctrine taught by Jesus Christ and the rest of the Bible, and substituted for it human traditions and teachings. For more on this, please see these articles, for a start:

      1. “Christian Beliefs” that the Bible Doesn’t Teach
      2. Does Doctrine Matter? Why is it Important to Believe the Right Thing?
      3. Today’s Christianity: Vastly Void of Truth

      Yes, only those who have the Holy Spirit within them are God’s children. But the Holy Spirit is not a narrow, limited thing as traditional Christians seem to think. The Holy Spirit is God’s universal spirit of truth and power going out to all the universe. Anyone who has any truth in them at all, and lives by it, has the Holy Spirit within them. There is no other source of truth or of the power to live by it. The Holy Spirit does not have limited power, so that it operates only among Christians. The Holy Spirit is all-powerful, and reaches out to all the earth.

      And yes, we must be made holy in order to receive the Holy Spirit. But that does not happen by some parlor trick whereby Christ makes people look holy by covering over their sinfulness with his holiness, and thereby fooling God the Father into thinking that people are holy when they’re actually evil sinners. No, that is not how God works. Rather, Jesus Christ, who is God, transforms people from the inside out, so that they are no longer sinners but righteous people. This is what Jesus meant when he said that we must be born again. And it is what Paul meant when he spoke of our being new creations in Christ. God is not fooled. God looks at the heart. If we are still sinners, we are not holy. It is only when we repent from our sins before God and start loving and serving our neighbor as Jesus commanded us to do that we become holy, and receive the Holy Spirit into our hearts, minds, and lives.

      I could go on, but instead I will urge you to read the articles I have linked for you, and to read the Bible more carefully, and notice that it simply does not teach the false doctrines that you have been taught to believe.

      • Steve says:

        I am a Kiwi, by birth. I am a child of God by birth. I am made righteous through Christ by birth, or the new birth you can say. We can only do God pleasing works by first being made right with God, or Holy. That is being being reconciled to God and no longer a child of disobedience, am then free made to do works. Romans 8v10 is a wonderful scripture. If Christ is in us, our spirit is made alive to God through the gift of righteousness given through the indwelling Christ. Which is all received by faith alone.

        Then after being born again, we can now walk in that Holiness which is a gift, not worked for but received by faith. Then by the spirit as it says in Romans 8v 12 we put to death the deeds of the body, or stop committing sin. Anyone who sins is a slave to sin.
        Sir I have a question. Are you and your wife Born Again? Two do you speak in tongues. As tongues is a wonderful gift that enables fellowship with God…
        Closing, people believe that Jesus came to take away sin, which is true. Yet what he has given us is so much more. His indwelling enables us to stop sinning. Christ indwelling enables us to live the higher life. Adam ushered in sin. Jesus the last Adam un-did the wrong the first Adam did. See that’s why as bible says we are born again of the incorruptible..
        Then we can live incorruptible or sin free lives….
        Sir have you been delivered from sin?
        As Christ said to woman just from adultery go and sin no more..
        Steve

        • Lee says:

          Hi Steve,

          I agree with much of what you say.

          However, there are at least two clear non-biblical errors.

          First, the Bible flatly rejects justification by faith alone in the only place it actually speaks of faith alone:

          You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. (James 2:24)

          Luther was wrong to invent the doctrine of justification by faith alone, and he was wrong to try to remove James and three other books of the New Testament from the Bible because they contradicted his newly invented doctrine. Millions of Protestants have been misled by his hubris and his error ever since. See:
          Faith Alone Does Not Save . . . No Matter How Many Times Protestants Say It Does

          Second, we are not first saved and then gain the ability to do good works from the Spirit. We are saved as we gain the ability to do good works from the Spirit. That is the process of being born again. It is not instantaneous. It happens through “working out our salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12).

  19. William says:

    2nd Corinthians 5:21

    • Lee says:

      Hi William,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comments.

      Unfortunately, 2 Corinthians 5:21 is almost always mistranslated because the translators have not paid enough attention to the dependence of the New Testament on the Old Testament, especially via the Septuagint (commonly written as the LXX), which was a pre-Christian Greek translation of the Old Testament in common use among first century Jews, including the early Jews who converted to Christianity.

      Unfortunately, the King James Version and nearly every translation that followed it fell prey to this error. The KJV translates 2 Corinthians 5:21 as:

      God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

      This makes no grammatical sense. People (including the divine person of Jesus Christ) do not “become sin.” Sin is something we do, not something we are. Grammatically, it is a noun, not an adjective. Paul was not such a bad writer that he would have composed such a ungrammatical, nonsensical sentence. Rather, he was saying:

      He made the One who knew no sin to become a sin offering on our behalf, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. (Tree of Life Version, italics added)

      You see, in the Hebrew of the Old Testament חַטָּאָת (chatta’ath), the common word for “sin,” is also used to mean “a sin offering.” The LXX similarly translates it as ἁμαρτία (hamartia), the Greek word for “sin,” wherever it is used to mean a sin offering in the book of Leviticus and elsewhere in the Old Testament.

      Paul was steeped in the LXX. His Greek quotations from the Old Testament scriptures regularly follow the language of the LXX. And in 2 Corinthians 5:21 he is using the Greek word ἁμαρτία in that sense. This makes perfect sense out of a passage that is otherwise ungrammatical nonsense. And it fits in with Paul’s whole teaching that Jesus Christ was the sacrifice for our sin.

      In short, Jesus Christ did not “become sin.” That makes no sense whatsoever. Paul knew the difference between a noun and an adjective. He was a better writer than that. Paul’s real meaning in 2 Corinthians 5:21 is that God made Jesus Christ a sin offering on our behalf.

  20. William says:

    The Epistle to the Hebrews have sufficient answers to many questions.

  21. William says:

    The good Shepherd lays down his life for his sheep, the word for is used of sacrifice with the death envisaged is on behalf of someone else.

    • Lee says:

      Hi William,

      Yes, of course Jesus Christ died on our behalf. But that does not mean he “paid the penalty” for our sins, as is commonly believed among Protestants. The Bible simply never says this. And it is a complete misunderstanding of the meaning of sacrifice in the Old Testament.

      For the ancient Israelites, sacrifices were not “payments” or “penalties” for sin—despite the shockingly bad translations of Leviticus in some of the more modern versions of the Bible.

      Rather, sacrifices were a way for the Israelites to ritually enact their repentance from sin, and thereby return to the good graces of God. I could go on, but I have in mind to write an article about the real meaning of the Jewish sacrifices, and of Jesus’ sacrifice, that will explain all of this in much more depth.

      Meanwhile, here is the short version: Jesus died in order to take upon himself the deathblow that the Devil intended for us, thus saving us from the Devil’s power. And in defeating the Devil through his whole life, his death, and his resurrection, Jesus made it possible for us to defeat the Devil, evil, and sin in our own lives through the power of the Holy Spirit working within us. We do this, as he and his disciples all preached, through repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

      Until I am able to write the article about the meaning of the sacrifices, here are some articles I recommend to you for the real meaning of Jesus’ life, teachings, death, and resurrection:

      There are plenty more where these came from, but that’s enough for now.

      • William says:

        seems like he paid the penalty if as you say in your in your short version…”Jesus died in order to take upon himself the deathblow the Devil intended for us”….It seems he did something for us on the cross. However we choose to look at it, a price was paid and we were bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your body.

        • Lee says:

          Hi William,

          Being bought for a price is not the same thing as paying the penalty for our sins. Search the scriptures. Nowhere will you find it said there that Christ paid the penalty for our sins. That is simply not a biblical teaching.

  22. William says:

    When a person doesn’t live up to the standard of good and misses the mark, should one just make sure they have done more good to outweigh the bad or is forgiveness needed? if forgiveness is needed, what provides for that forgiveness?

    • Lee says:

      Hi William,

      It gives me sorrow to see that you, like so many millions of other Christians, have been misled by faulty human “logic” that has nothing to do with anything said or taught in the Bible.

      The Bible nowhere says anything about our needing to do a certain quantity of good deeds to outweigh the bad deeds we have done. Rather, it simply says that we must repent from our sins and live a good life instead. Here is one example from the Old Testament:

      But if the wicked turn away from all their sins that they have committed and keep all my statutes and do what is lawful and right, they shall surely live; they shall not die. None of the transgressions that they have committed shall be remembered against them; for the righteousness that they have done they shall live. Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, says the Lord God, and not rather that they should turn from their ways and live? (Ezekiel 18:21–23, italics added)

      According to the teaching of the Bible, we do not have to do a certain quantity of good deeds to outweigh our bad deeds. Rather, we need to repent from our bad deeds (our sin), stop engaging in them, and start doing good instead. Then none of the transgressions we have committed will be remembered against us.

      Jesus and his disciples taught the same thing when the preached repentance for the forgiveness of sins to the people. So yes, we need forgiveness. And the Lord God Jesus Christ is merciful, loving, and ready and waiting to forgive us as soon as we repent from our sins and begin to live from love for God and the neighbor instead.

      Do we have to be perfect? No. That is the ideal that Jesus sets before us, but God is not a nitpicker. If each day we repent from our sins and replace our wrong thoughts, words, and actions with good thoughts, words, and actions, the Lord God Jesus Christ will look at our heart, see that our intention is good even if we sometimes slip along the way, and will forgive us and bring us to himself in heaven.

  23. Steve says:

    is it not better to cease from sin….That’s only possible by walking in the spirit..

    • Lee says:

      Hi Steve,

      Walking in the Spirit is what makes it possible for us to cease from sin. As we walk in the Spirit, we repent from our sins and begin living a righteous and holy life instead, not from ourselves, but from the Spirit of God dwelling in us.

  24. William says:

    Is there any connection with forgiveness of sins and the cross of Christ?…What is symbolized by the cup that Jesus prayed may pass from him?

    • Lee says:

      Hi William,

      These are big questions. I can’t do them full justice in a comment. But I’ll do my best to give you the most important points from the Bible in response.

      Of course, the cup that Jesus prayed might pass from him refers to his upcoming crucifixion, which the New Testament presents as a sacrifice in the model of the Old Testament sacrifices.

      However, if you are thinking that the connection between the forgiveness of sins and the cross of Christ is that God the Father forgives us because he saw Jesus die on the cross, and that death satisfied God’s requirement of death for our sins, then you are very much mistaken. This sort of thing is taught nowhere in the Bible. It was invented by human beings many centuries after the Bible was written.

      Most of the time, the Bible connects forgiveness with repentance from sins. For just a few examples in the New Testament, see Mark 1:4–5; Luke 3:1–3; 24:45–47; Acts 5:30–31.

      The main connection that the Bible makes between the crucifixion and forgiveness is not in connection with the crucifixion itself, but with the Holy Supper where Jesus says to his disciples:

      Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:27–28)

      And of course, what Jesus actually gave them was not a cup filled with his blood, but a cup filled with wine. Clearly, it is not the blood itself, but the symbolic meaning of it that he was referring to when he called the wine “my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

      This had nothing to do with God seeing Christ’s spilled blood and forgiving us on that account, as traditional, non-biblical Christian doctrine holds. Such an idea shows a complete lack of understanding of the meaning and significance of the Old Testament sacrifices.

      What was really happening in the Old Testament sacrifices was a symbolic (and also literal) feast with God to seal and celebrate the relationship between God and human beings—and in the case of sin, guilt, or trespass offerings, to bring the people back into harmony with God’s will through publicly recognizing and repenting from their sins, and celebrating their return to faithfulness through the sacred feast of the sacrifice.

      It is little known and understood among traditional Christians that for most of the sacrifices, only part of the animal was burnt on the altar. The rest became food for the priests and for the people bringing the offering. For the people, sacrifices were a literal feast in which they ate fine food (only the best was permitted for sacrifices) in the presence of God and God’s priests, at God’s holy Temple. God symbolically participated in the feast when the smoke of God’s portion, burned on the altar, went up to God as “a sweet savor to the Lord.”

      When Jesus spoke of “my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins,” there was no meaning or even hint of placating the Father through his death. Rather, in the context of a sacred meal with his disciples, he was bringing out the meaning of feasting with the Lord (himself), and receiving forgiveness of sins through receiving the Lord’s lifeblood into themselves.

      The Lord’s lifeblood is not literal blood. Otherwise he would have slit his wrists and poured his literal blood into the cup so that his disciples could drink his literal blood. He didn’t do that. Rather, it was “the blood of the new covenant.” And the Covenant, in the Old Testament, was the Law that defined the relationship between God and human beings:

      Then he took the book of the covenant, and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.” Moses took the blood and dashed it on the people, and said, “See the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.” (Exodus 24:7–8)

      Here the blood of the covenant is connected directly with words of the Lord given to the people on Mt. Sinai, which included the Ten Commandments and many other laws that the people of Israel were to obey. The blood of the covenant sealed the people’s expressed willingness to abide by that covenant, meaning their commitment to live according the word (the laws and teachings) of the Lord. In living by that covenant, the people would repent from their sins, and thereby be forgiven for their sins by the Lord. Forgiveness always follows repentance from sin.

      In “shedding his blood” of the new covenant, the Lord Jesus Christ was invoking that meaning of the blood of the old covenant given through Moses. Now, people will receive forgiveness of sins through living by the words (the teachings) of Jesus Christ given to us in the Gospels. That is the meaning of the Lord’s blood of the new covenant that is poured out for us for the forgiveness of sins. It is the sacred meal that seals our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ through our willingness to repent from our sins and live according to his teachings and his example. In this way, we receive forgiveness of sins.

      It has nothing to do with God forgiving us because he saw the blood of Christ on the Cross. That is an utterly false and non-biblical teaching. Nowhere does the Bible say any such thing. It is a pure human invention—and a wicked one at that. It slanders the good name of God by presenting God as a bloodthirsty tyrant.

      Rather, in dying on the cross, Christ completed his battle against, and victory over, death, hell, the Devil, and the power of evil that had enslaved humanity. He sealed that victory through his resurrection, showing that he was master even over death, both physical and spiritual. When we turn to the Lord and accept his Word (his “blood”) and his Love (his “flesh,” or substance—God is love 1 John 4:8, 16) into our lives, we receive with them the power to overcome sin, the Devil, evil, and hell in our own lives, through the power of his Holy Spirit working in us.

      This is the real connection between the Cross and forgiveness. Through the full victory over the power of the Devil that enslaves us, which Christ completed by his death on the Cross and his resurrection from death, he took to himself the power to overcome the grip of the Devil on the lives of all people that accept his truth (the Word of God), his love, and his power into themselves, to repent from their sins and to live from the Lord’s will rather than from their own fallen and sinful human will.

      This is the teaching of the Bible for anyone whose eyes are open to see it.

  25. Will says:

    I have very much enjoyed your articles. I have almost read them all. I came across a verse that has made me confused. “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9). Does this verse imply we have have to confess “Jesus is God” and believe that God did raise Jesus from the dead in order to go to heaven? I would love to hear your comments and opinions on the matter, for I am very confused. Thank you

    • Lee says:

      Hi Will,

      Glad you’re enjoying the articles here! Thanks for your comment and question.

      When reading the Bible to gain sound teachings (“doctrine”) from it, it’s important not to add to or subtract from what the Bible says. This applies to individual verses as much as to whole chapters and to the Bible a a whole.

      Romans 10:9 says, once again:

      because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

      It doesn’t say, “If you don’t believe and say this you will be damned.” It says, “If you do believe and say this, you will be saved.” The verse is about opening up a path to salvation, not about closing off all other paths.

      The whole passage is about how salvation is available to everyone. It’s really about how easy it is to be saved. To make it into something about how difficult it is to be saved and how only those who do what this verse says in the exact right way will be saved is not only not what the verse says, but it’s contrary to the whole spirit of the passage in which it appears.

      Notice also that it says we are to believe in our heart. That’s not the same thing as believing in our head. Lots of people profess to believe things, and even think that they believe them, but then they don’t act as if they believe them. That’s because they believe them theoretically in their head, but in fact, in their heart they believe something entirely different. What we believe in our heart is what we live by. As Jesus taught us, the heart is where our deeds come from, good or evil.

      In other words, Romans 10:9 isn’t about being saved by believing and saying the correct thing. It’s about being saved by taking the Lord’s resurrection, and his teachings, to heart. Confessing with our mouth is not some mechanical thing we can do to turn the crank and be automagically saved. It is the expression of believing in our heart. And of course, as Jesus himself taught, not to mention Peter, Paul, James, and all the rest, true belief is what we express in action. That’s especially so when we believe in our heart. Believing in our heart means being transformed into a new person from the inside out: heart, head, mouth, and hands. Those who are transformed in this way by the Lord’s presence in their heart and life will be saved.

      Saying some formula with our mouth when it doesn’t express what’s in our heart not only doesn’t save us, but is hypocrisy—and can even make us worse off than if we simply said what we really believe in our heart. Altar calls and sinner’s prayers accomplish nothing at all if they aren’t the expression of a person who is being changed and transformed inside and out.

      As for people who aren’t Christian and therefore don’t believe in their head that Jesus is Lord, so that they don’t confess it with their mouth, they, too, have a path to salvation, which Paul had already explained earlier in Romans 2:1–16.

      I hope this helps!

      • Will says:

        Not only are your arcticles beautiful, but your comments are as well. I am surprised to see you not only respond to my comment, but quickly. The meaning behind my original question is…
        I have met people who don’t believe in God or Jesus, but they display the love of Jesus more than I can comprehend. I work with an atheist, and truthfully I would rather spend my time talking with him than the other pepole I work with who are Christians. I’m not trying to say the other people I work with are bad or are better than the atheist, but the atheist seems to understand love in a different way that I am attracted to. The idea of this young, smart, intelligent, compassionate, caring man living in eternal hell just because he didn’t say some words or believe a certain way made my heart heavy. I like to believe anyone can be saved. I’m slowly… very slowly, moving away from legalism. I usually feel like God doesn’t love me, because I never live up to my full potential or what God thinks my full potential is. I have grown up in church learning the “Christian way” and it has caused me so much bondage and misinterpretations of what God is trying to tell me. You have shed a lot of light for me. Thank you Lee

        • Lee says:

          Hi Will,

          Thank you for your kind words. I do enjoy responding to readers’ comments, especially if I can help clear up some confusion and pain for people.

          The “Christian way” taught by many “Christian” churches is “Christian” in name only. It is the opposite of what Jesus Christ teaches. It has done and continues to do a great deal of damage to many millions of people, not to mention giving Christianity a bad name. I believe that much of the atheism in today’s world is due to so-called “Christian” churches teaching false, human, non-biblical doctrines in place of what Christ himself actually taught in the Gospels.

          All of that falsity and all of the damage it causes is why I continue to write and post articles here about what the Bible actually says, compared to what these so-called “Christian” churches say it says.

          About your atheist friend, just in case you haven’t already seen it, here’s an article for you:
          Do Atheists Go to Heaven?

          Atheism is now on the rise. I believe that’s primarily because these old “Christian” churches need to die out before the real truth about God and Christianity can finally come to the surface broadly in the world. The move toward atheism is, unfortunately, a necessary part of the destruction of a corrupted and false “Christianity.” On that, see:

          Unfortunately, the old, corrupt so-called “Christianity” is still what most people think of when they think of Christianity. That’s the Christianity that atheists are rejecting. It’s the same Christianity that I reject.

          But for many of these atheists, the damage already done by false religion is so extensive that they will not be able to return to any belief in God while they are still living on this earth. In the afterlife, when they realize that God is not the insane tyrant that traditional Christianity paints God as, they will once again be able to believe in God. They’ll realize that all of the good values they strive to live by come from God, and are the real nature of God.

          Meanwhile, atheists often live out the teachings of Jesus Christ better than so-called “Christians” do. That’s because atheists are generally unencumbered by the false teachings still masquerading as Christianity. Not that there aren’t also bad atheists. There certainly are. We’re all human beings here. But the bulk of atheists are not atheists because they reject any kind of morality or decency. They’re atheists because they reject the immoral and indecent teachings of a corrupted Christian Church that needs to be destroyed before genuine Christianity can take its place.

          When that happens, I believe good and thoughtful people who would otherwise be atheists will start returning to a belief in God, spirit, and the afterlife. But that may take many more generations to happen. The old, false “Christianity” has been around for a long time, and it’s not ready to give up just yet. A lot more people will have to vote with their feet and abandon it before it finally gives up the ghost.

          Meanwhile, I’m glad you’re breaking away from that false “Christian way,” and gaining new insight on what Christianity really is. If you have more questions along the way, please don’t hesitate to ask.

          Oh, and about God loving you, here are a couple of articles that might help:

          God is not a perfectionist nitpicker who can’t tolerate the slightest sin or error in us, as evangelicals often paint God to be. The Bible simply doesn’t say that. You don’t have to be perfect for God to love you. God loves all of us even though every single one of us is imperfect—and some of us are real jerks. God keeps right on loving every single one of us anyway:

          You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. (Matthew 5:43–45)

  26. Will says:

    I should correct myself. I have definitely not almost read all of your post. The more I read them, the more I discover you have more. I agree with you on your view of atheism. I’ll check out your post about God’s love; I know I could use more of it. Thanks again for your comments; they have been extremely helpful.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Will,

      There are currently 317 posts (and counting!) here on Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life. I figured there were probably at least a few you hadn’t gotten to yet. 😛 Not long ago I did some calculations and figured that there’s enough material here for over 20 books! Of course, quite a few of the posts are on current events or are book notices or other such things that wouldn’t normally be published in a book.

      Anyway, I’m glad the articles and my comments are helpful to you. God is good, even if we humans have scrawled glasses and a mustache on God’s face.

  27. mondaine says:

    God bless you for your articles,but i have a few questions to ask;
    1.Budhist bow to Budha and the bible talks against idolatory.
    2.Muslims don’t believe in jesus as son of God.
    3.most religions don’t believe in jesus and the holy spirit.
    how can these people make it to heaven.
    God told niccodemus except a man be born of water and spirit,he cannot enter heaven,are these religions born of water and spirit?
    Although i agree it’s not faith alone but the bible tells us it is not work alone,it is both faith and works…so if someone do the works without faith that religion has lost it’s path to heaven so as faith alone..but faith in jesus to be son of God comes first before works follow..you can’t skip the first stage(faith) and jump to the second(works)..i will only agree if other religions have faith in jesus being the Lord otherwise they will be like the pharisees who did not acknowledged Jesus to be the son of God or God himself..Will the same God have different rules for different religions?,muslims to marry 1,2,3 or 4 while christians marry only 1?,budhist to bow to Budha?,…

    • Lee says:

      Hi mondaine,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment and kind words, which I do appreciate.

      The article itself covers much of what you are asking about. I would add that “faith” in the Bible does not mean mere belief, but rather faithfulness to God. See:
      Faith Alone Is Not Faith

      So it is not just believing in Jesus, but being faithful to what he taught. And most of what he taught is about loving God above all and loving our neighbor as ourselves. People of all religions who do this are being faithful to Jesus Christ and his teachings even if they don’t have “faith” in Jesus as that is incorrectly understood by most Christians today.

      For Jesus’ own teaching about who goes to eternal life and who does not, see Matthew 25:31–46. There is not a word in it about faith. It’s all about how we treat our fellow human beings.

      For Paul’s teaching on how non-Christians are saved, see Romans 2:1–16. Paul says very clearly that people of other religions who live according to their conscience will be saved through Jesus Christ. And that is exactly what I am saying also in the above article and in other articles here on Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life.

      Keep in mind that the Old Testament was addressed specifically to the ancient Israelite / Jewish people, who were required to worship Jehovah their God, and not the gods of the nations around them. And the New Testament was addressed specifically to Christians, who are required to worship Jesus Christ as God. Christians who reject Jesus Christ have rejected their God, which is never a good thing.

      Meanwhile, God has appeared in different ways to people of other religions. And if they are faithful to the God that they have been taught by their religion, then they are being faithful to Jesus Christ, because he is the one God of heaven and earth.

      Yes, we must have both faith and works to be saved. But nowhere does the Bible say that faith is more important than works. Paul was talking about the “works of the Law,” i.e., being an observant Jew. And Paul himself puts love ahead of faith (1 Corinthians 13:13), just as Jesus himself does.

      Yes, we need faith. And people of other religions who believe in and follow God as they understand God do have faith, and their good works are guided by that faith. And Jesus Christ saves them based on that faith.

      The Pharisees rejected Jesus because they were more interested in their own power, reputation, and wealth than in the truth. That is why Jesus condemned them. A teacher of divine truth was standing right in front of them, and they rejected him.

      I am a Christian. I believe that true Christianity is the highest form of religion available on earth. Otherwise I wouldn’t be a Christian. But other people and cultures have their own religions. And if they follow their religion faithfully, believing in God and doing good deeds of love and service for their neighbor as their religion teaches them to do, then God will accept them into heaven just as Paul and Jesus himself taught in the Bible.

  28. finitesky says:

    John 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
    I don’t see any other religion apart from Christianity knowing/believing in the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit living in a person and acting as the witness, no one can enter heaven under the new Gospel of Christ. That is the truth. No other religions can enter heaven.

    • Lee says:

      Hi finitesky,

      Why, then, does Paul tell us in Romans 2:1–16 how non-Christians can be saved through Christ?

      And why does Jesus Christ himself tell us in Matthew 25:31–46 that he will judge for eternal life the people of all nations (not just Christian nations) if they engage in acts of love and kindness toward their fellow human beings?

      No, my friend, you are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. God is God over all the earth, not only over the Christians. The Holy Spirit’s power extends throughout the earth. It is not limited to those who claim the name of Christians, whether or not they actually live by the teachings of Jesus Christ.

  29. finitesky says:

    I am not trying to claim I am the truth. Jesus said that so I just refer Him.
    If you say I am wrong then interpret John 3:3 your way.
    Even I didn’t know why I suddenly wrote that the Holy Spirit will be my Witness until I checked back in the Bible,
    Romans 8:16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children

    So now I know it was God who guided me to write it, not me. Sorry about that.

    • Lee says:

      Hi finitesky,

      Most of this is already covered in the above article. Nowhere in John 3 does Jesus say that only Christians can be saved. And as explained in the article, believing in Jesus is not a mere matter of intellectual belief, but is a matter of living according to the teachings of Jesus Christ. All who do this, of whatever religion, are saved. And Jesus himself boiled down his teaching into the two Great Commandments: To love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves.

      Jesus also never says that only Christians can be born again. Being born again is also not a mere matter of intellectual belief in the “correct” doctrine about Jesus Christ. It is becoming a new person by repenting from our sins and living a new life of love and kindness to our fellow human beings, just as Jesus taught. I explain one method of how to do this in this article:
      What does Jesus Mean when He Says we Must be Born Again?

      The fact remains that both Jesus and Paul tell us very clearly how non-Christians can be saved by Christ. Any doctrine that claims that only Christians can be born again and saved is flatly contradicting the plain teachings of the Bible, and of the Lord Jesus Christ himself.

  30. Samson says:

    Hello, Lee.

    I have been reading a lot of your articles. They have all been helping me so far. And I am kind of hesitant to ask you questions because you seem to cover them all up in your articles. But this topic really has been bothering me now for many years, and I would love to get a personal response from you in regards to my concern, even though you might have already answered it in the article.

    As you already know, I grew up the baptist church. This means we should believe Jesus is God. However, I have not accepted this teaching quite bit yet. Because a huge part of my heart feels differently, especially when reading from the bible itself. So here goes:

    In response to your early details about Jesus is God, how would you explain verses like these:

    1. Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. JOHN 14:6

    Since Jesus is said to be God, why would He say no one can go to the “Father” except “through” him ( Jesus Christ?)

    Instead of confusing people ( and God is not the author of confusion — see: 1 Corinthians 14:33) why not simply say “ Whoever comes to me comes to the Father, as I am the Father and the Son at the same time?”

    Lets have a look at the verse you used to defend your argument that Jesus claimed to be God by saying:

    “ I and the Father are one.”

    As I read further down the line, I am starting to see that Jesus isn’t literally saying he is God, but rather is “one” with God — like a husband and a wife is “one”.

    “20 I am not asking on behalf of them alone, but also on behalf of those who will believe in Me through their message, 21that all of them may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I am in You. May they also be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22I have given them the glory You gave Me, so that they may be one as We are one.”

    There are a lot of problems and contradictions in this verse alone if we are going to go with the idea that Jesus is God.

    First, he said God gave him the “glory” ( insinuating that another person aside from himself gave him this glory in order for them to become “one”, and that he ( Jesus) would give us this same glory so that we ( the people) may become one, just like God and Jesus are one.

    The fact that we, the people, would become “one” doesn’t mean we would shrink from billions to a single person.

    2. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:17

    When John the Baptist baptized Jesus, the bible tells us that a voice from Heaven ( not Jesus’s own voice) spoke with pleasure for His son. If Jesus is God, who was this another person out of the cloud or heaven speaking and claiming Jesus His own son?

    3. Jesus replied “ Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” John 14:9

    As I read a little further down within this verse, I am starting to see Jesus clarifying to Philips that the Father ( the ultimate Creator/Spirit) was inside of Jesus’s body doing and performing His business, while at the very same time Jesus was also able to be within the Father, as they are truly “one” in “nature” as explained earlier, just like a husband and a and wife are “one” in a spiritual sense.

    21that all of them may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I am in You. May they also be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22I have given them the glory You gave Me, so that they may be one as We are one — 23I in them and You in Me—that they may be perfectly united, so that the world may know that You sent Me and have loved them just as You have loved Me.…

    There are plenty more verses showing Jesus showing outmost respect to his Father, but to save space here, and to avoid tiring you out, especially seeing that you have put in a lot of work putting together your thoughts, I will stop here and anticipate your response

    • Lee says:

      Hi Samson,

      I’m glad the articles here are helping you.

      About your overall question, some things in the Bible are very simple and straightforward. An example of this is that if you wish to be saved, you must repent from your sins (i.e., stop doing things that are evil and wrong), and live a good life of actively loving and serving the neighbor instead, based on a belief in and willingness to follow God. This teaching fills the Bible from beginning to end. And it is the most important and critical message of the Bible, since it’s what our salvation and eternal life depends upon. It is so clearly taught in the Bible that even Protestants laboring under the utterly false and unbiblical doctrine of justification by faith alone still generally get the message, and actually live according to Jesus’ teachings of repentance from sin and love for the neighbor. (And if they don’t, their so-called “faith” won’t save them.)

      Other things in the Bible are quite complex. The questions you raise about the Incarnation (God becoming human) and the relationship between the Son (Jesus on earth) and the Father are among the complex ones. We don’t necessarily need to understand these things in order to be saved. And the Bible is not a theological treatise. It does not waste time delving into abstruse explanations of philosophical and abstract theological points. It’s purpose is much more pragmatic.

      So as for the “confusion” in the Bible, the things that really matter to our salvation are very clear, whereas the theological background is veiled in parable, metaphor, and symbolic language. This metaphorical language is necessary because most people simply don’t have the level of philosophical and theological training and awareness to grapple with the cosmological issues of divine, spiritual, and material reality. Most people would quickly tune it out if the Bible spent much time at it. For example, many people get completely lost in Jesus’ philosophical discourses in the Gospel of John. They’re fantastically compact little theological treatises, but leave most Christians just scratching their heads, and most Christian theologians hopelessly lost in their own false doctrines and misinterpretations of the Bible. Much more of that sort of material in the Bible, and the Bible would lose people altogether. So it largely sticks to concrete stories and pithy, memorable metaphors.

      Another factor is that nearly 2,000 years of gradual but definite departure from biblical teachings has rendered most of “Christian” doctrine today more confusing than helpful in reading and understanding the Bible. I’ve covered this in a number of articles here. In order to properly understand the Bible, it is necessary to unlearn many centuries worth of increasingly false doctrine.

      Specifically relevant to your questions, in order to understand what the Bible is actually saying, and what’s behind it, it’s necessary to unlearn these false doctrines that “Christian” theologians have invented along the way:

      • God is a Trinity of Persons; the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are each eternally coexisting persons of God.
      • Jesus was the Incarnation of the second Person of the Trinity, who had existed from eternity.
      • As the Incarnation of the second Person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ was fully divine from birth.
      • The Bible is to be taken literally unless it is obviously speaking metaphorically. Literalism is the default.

      Of course, I cannot delve into each one of these in depth here. But here are several articles that do take up some of these points. Relevant to your specific questions here, I particularly recommend that you read the one on Jesus praying to the Father. I will draw especially on that one in my more specific responses in a separate comment below.

      I know that’s a lot of articles. And I’m actually doing my best to cut it down to the most relevant ones. There are a lot more where those came from! However, your questions are big ones. And a certain amount understanding the answers involves simply learning the concepts that are necessary in order to understand the answers. That is going to require some time and effort.

      Eventually, I would recommend that you really bite the bullet and read Emanuel Swedenborg’s great work of Christian theology, True Christianity. That’s where these questions are answered in great detail and with great depth. Several volumes of Swedenborg’s Secrets of Heaven (Arcana Coelestia) also deal largely with the process of the Incarnation and with Jesus’ inner state and inner struggles during his lifetime on earth. So you can go as deep into these questions as you are willing and able to go.

      The Incarnation is arguably the most complex event that has ever happened in the universe. It involves God “bending the heavens and coming down” (2 Samuel 22:10; Psalm 18:9). And that required bending just about every rule and principle known to humankind, as God bridged the gap from the divine through the spiritual to the material level of reality. We will probably never fully understand how God accomplished that. But despite the confusion induced upon the human mind by traditional “Christian” theology, a good basic understanding of it is available, as partially represented in the above-linked articles.

      Meanwhile, I’ll respond in a separate comment on at least some of the Bible passages and issues you raise, with an emphasis on those that aren’t already reasonably well covered in the above-linked articles. However, reading those articles will also help you to understand my responses here.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Samson,

      You write:

      1. Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. JOHN 14:6

      Since Jesus is said to be God, why would He say no one can go to the “Father” except “through” him ( Jesus Christ?)

      Instead of confusing people ( and God is not the author of confusion — see: 1 Corinthians 14:33) why not simply say “ Whoever comes to me comes to the Father, as I am the Father and the Son at the same time?”

      First, it’s necessary to understand that “Father,” “Son,” and “Holy Spirit” as used in the New Testament are human metaphors for greater divine realities. It is not like literal human fathers, sons, and breaths. Rather, those terms are meant to express metaphorically, using examples of concrete human concepts, something about the nature of God and of the relationships among the key “components” of God. What each of them represents is explained more fully in my article, “Who is God? Who is Jesus Christ? What about that Holy Spirit?”—which is among those linked in my previous comment. Here are the basics, quoted from the opening section of that article:

      The basics about God are easy to understand. We humans are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26–27). If we look at how we are made, and we realize that the Bible uses symbolic language, we can understand what God is like.

      • “The Father” mentioned in the Bible is like our soul.
      • “The Son” is like our body.
      • “The Holy Spirit” is like everything we say and do.

      Here’s another way of looking at it:

      • At our core is love. That’s because God is love (1 John 4:8, 16). When the Bible mentions “the Father,” it is talking about God’s love.
      • We express our love through intellect or wisdom. In the Bible, the light of God’s wisdom is called “the Son” (see John 1:1–14).
      • We express our love and understanding through the things we say and do. In the Bible, God’s words and actions are called “the Holy Spirit.”

      One human being is made of many different parts. In exactly the same way, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three different parts of one God.

      If you read the New Testament with this in mind, the confusion about the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit will begin to clear up in your mind.

      Second, it is necessary to understand that during his lifetime on earth, Jesus was the Son of God in a somewhat more literal way than the above explanation covers. Specifically, Jesus had a human mother (Mary) and a divine Father (God), as covered in the birth stories in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. This means that during his lifetime on earth, Jesus had both a finite human part of his person and character that came from Mary, and an infinite divine part of his person and character that came from God, and that was God in him (since God is indivisible). The part of him that was the “son of Mary” (the finite human part) was also the “Son of God,” since God did father him in the womb of Mary.

      What happened after that miraculous conception was a process of Jesus gradually setting aside everything of the finite humanity that came from his mother, and replacing it with a divine humanity that came from his Father. This is covered briefly in the article linked just above, and somewhat more fully in the article that in my previous comment to you I especially recommended that you read: “If Jesus Christ is the One God, Why Did He Talk and Pray to the Father?

      Providing all of the biblical basis for this would go far beyond what I can do in a comment. That’s where reading True Christianity would come in.

      Meanwhile, what this means is that during Jesus’ lifetime on earth, he was not fully God, and therefore could not call himself “God.” That would have been false and incorrect. And during his lifetime on earth, he did still have a relationship with God that was at least partly like a human son’s relationship to a human father. That’s because he was still partly the son of Mary as well. In other words, he was still partly a finite human being. This is explained more fully in the article I just linked for you about Jesus praying to the Father.

      It is only after the Resurrection that we get plain, unfiltered expressions of Jesus being God, because it was only after the Resurrection that Jesus was fully God, having left behind in the grave the last vestige of his finite humanity from Mary. This, for example is when Thomas addressed Jesus as “my Lord and my God” (John 20:28), and Jesus did not correct him, but rather chided him for requiring physical proof in order to believe this. And the book of Revelation contains many fully divine descriptions of Jesus. The closest the Gospels had come to this fully divine depiction of Jesus during his lifetime on earth was the event of the Transfiguration, which only his three closest disciples witnessed, and which they were utterly confused by.

      About no one coming to the Father except through the Son, if we understand the Father as God’s soul, or the Divine Love, and the Son as God’s body, or the Divine Wisdom, then we can understand that we cannot approach God’s soul directly, but must do so via God’s body, just as we cannot approach another person’s soul directly, but must do so through interacting with their body.

      More spiritually, we cannot come to God’s love unless we first learn God’s truth. It is the truth that leads us to God’s love. This is what Paul was really talking about when he said that we are justified through faith. It is through believing in and following Jesus’ teachings that we come to know God’s love, even though the love is actually prior to and more important than the faith that leads us to it.

      And more concretely, for Christians, we come to know God by coming to know Jesus Christ, both as Jesus is described to us in the New Testament and as we encounter Jesus in our own lives, either within our minds and hearts, as is more common, or through an actual visual and experiential encounter with Jesus, which some people do experience. (Swedenborg was one of these people, and it set him on his course from being a scientist to being a theologian.)

      Once again, these are huge topics. I hope these rather brief answers, plus the linked articles, help in giving you some of the concepts required to understand the Gospels “confusing” (but only based on traditional “Christian” misconceptions) statements about Jesus’ relationship to the Father.

      Since this is getting long, I’ll post it and continue in another comment.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Samson,

      You write:

      Lets have a look at the verse you used to defend your argument that Jesus claimed to be God by saying:

      “ I and the Father are one.”

      As I read further down the line, I am starting to see that Jesus isn’t literally saying he is God, but rather is “one” with God — like a husband and a wife is “one”.

      “20 I am not asking on behalf of them alone, but also on behalf of those who will believe in Me through their message, 21that all of them may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I am in You. May they also be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22I have given them the glory You gave Me, so that they may be one as We are one.”

      There are a lot of problems and contradictions in this verse alone if we are going to go with the idea that Jesus is God.

      First, he said God gave him the “glory” ( insinuating that another person aside from himself gave him this glory in order for them to become “one”, and that he ( Jesus) would give us this same glory so that we ( the people) may become one, just like God and Jesus are one.

      The fact that we, the people, would become “one” doesn’t mean we would shrink from billions to a single person.

      First, it’s important to read exactly what Jesus says in these statements, and not to put words into his mouth. He doesn’t say, “I and God are one.” He says, “I and the Father are one.”

      It is true that in the Old Testament, the Father is God. But in the New Testament, something new has happened: the Incarnation. Contrary to traditional “Christian” trinitarian theology, there is no mention anywhere in the Bible of a Son and a Holy Spirit existing from eternity. Though some statements in the Bible can be misinterpreted to make them sound that way, there is simply no Divine Son in the Old Testament, and no Divine Holy Spirit in the Old Testament either. Though the OT does talk about “the spirit of God,” that is not the same as the Holy Spirit of the New Testament.

      The New Testament is clear that the Son was born in time, in the womb of Mary, at a specific time in history. Before that, the Son did not exist. And though the issue of the origins of Holy Spirit gets a little complicated, John 7:39 does say, “The Holy Spirit was not yet, because Jesus was not yet glorified” (there is no “given” in the original Greek), indicating that the Holy Spirit proper did not actually exist until after Jesus was fully glorified, which wasn’t until after the Resurrection.

      In short, the Son:

      1. was not the same as the Father
      2. did not exist prior to Jesus’ conception in the womb of Mary
      3. was now part of God, just as the Father was part of God

      It is true that the Bible speaks of the Word being at the beginning with God, and becoming flesh (John 1:1–18), and Jesus mentions the glory that he had with the Father before the world existed (John 17:5). That’s because God did have a triune nature of love, wisdom, and action before the Trinity of the New Testament existed, and the Son and Holy Spirit are expressions of the Divine Wisdom (“the Word”) and the Divine Power (“the spirit of God”) that existed before the Incarnation. But the Son and the Holy Spirit proper didn’t exist until Jesus was born, and was then glorified in the course of his lifetime on earth. These were new expressions in time and space of the eternal God.

      I know this can be difficult to understand and conceptualize. That’s why I said earlier that the Incarnation bends just about every rule and principle known to humankind. The difficulty lies in the infinite and eternal God becoming manifest in the finite, time-bound, created world. Understanding this interface between eternity and time taxes the human mind to its greatest degree. We are immersed in space and time, and we have great difficulty thinking apart from space and time. However, here is one article that may help you to wrap your mind around it:
      If God Already Knows What We’re Going to Do, How Can We Have Free Will?

      A short version (mind-bending, I know) is that from the perspective of time, God changed by becoming human and taking on a Son and a Holy Spirit; but from the perspective of eternity, which is God’s perspective, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are eternally present in the being of God, since God sees and experiences all of time and space in a single present view. This may not make sense unless you read the article I just linked. And even then, it’s just plain hard for us to set aside our time-bound thinking and see things from the perspective of an eternally present God.

      The reality remains that within the arrow of time, the Son and the Holy Spirit presented in the New Testament did not exist until God incarnated as Jesus. The traditional trinitarian “Christian” doctrine of a Son “born from eternity” and a Holy Spirit “proceeding from eternity” are false and unbiblical as they are usually understood by traditional Christian theologians.

      To circle back to your statement, perhaps now you’ll understand why I say that it is important to read exactly what Jesus said, and not to put words into his mouth. Once again, he didn’t say, “I and God are one.” He said, “I and the Father are one.” And in that context “the Father” is not the same as “God,” because now God has been incarnated as the Son, who is “God with us.” So when Jesus said, “I and the Father are one,” another way of saying this is, “my divine soul and my divine human expression here with you are one.” Both are now parts of God, even though the divine humanity was not yet fully developed, and Jesus himself was still partly finite human.

      Second: If I haven’t entirely lost you by now, perhaps you’ll be able to see Jesus’ statements about God “giving him glory” in a new light. Without getting into another long disquisition, the glory of God is the splendor of the Divine Soul and the Divine Love shining into and through the Divine Humanity (“the Word made flesh”) that was Jesus’ divine side. That glory of the presence of “the Father,” or the Divine Soul of Divine Love, is what shone into and through Jesus during his lifetime on earth, and what still shines through Jesus, who is now fully glorified and fully one with the Father, as the Divine Wisdom or the human expression of the Father.

      I probably haven’t done this justice, but I’ll continue on anyway, in the hope that you’ll read True Christianity for yourself in time, and come to a fuller understanding of all of this.

      Third: It is true that based on the statements of Jesus that you quote the oneness of Jesus (“the Son”) with the Father could be seen as the same as the oneness that other human beings have with God. And many people who reject the full divinity of Jesus do hold to this view. It is a genius of the Bible that it can reach and enlighten even the minds of people who cannot fully understand or accept the magnitude of the unique event that happened in Palestine 2,000 years ago.

      However, looking at it from a more spiritual perspective, the unique oneness of Jesus with the Father also brings about a oneness of all of humanity (those who are willing) with the Father. And indeed, Swedenborg did picture the entirety of God’s kingdom, meaning of all people who have a consciously chosen relationship with God, as one vast human being in the sight of God. Not that we literally make a huge human body. But collectively, when we all work together for the love of one another and for the glory of God, we do make one vast, interconnected web of unique individuals each contributing to the whole very much like the individual cells, organs, and parts of the human body each contribute their own unique character and functions to form the human body as a whole.

      There is far more here than I can adequately cover even in these rather long comments. Once again, I hope this at least gives you a glimpse of what Jesus was talking about with his words about oneness with the Father and with all of humankind. It is God’s human presence with us, represented in the New Testament by Jesus Christ, that can draw us all together into one unified and interconnected human society. And I believe this is now happening as the world is becoming more and more interconnected into one worldwide collective human being.

      Along these lines, here is another rather philosophical article that may (or may not) be helpful:
      Containers for God

    • Lee says:

      Hi Samson,

      You write:

      2. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:17

      When John the Baptist baptized Jesus, the bible tells us that a voice from Heaven ( not Jesus’s own voice) spoke with pleasure for His son. If Jesus is God, who was this another person out of the cloud or heaven speaking and claiming Jesus His own son?

      I hope what I have explained above is helping you to understand this better. The “Father” and “Son” involved here are not exactly like human fathers and sons, but denote more of a relationship within the different “parts” of God. However, they are represented to human beings metaphorically with the imagery of a father and a son interacting with one another.

      Plus, as I said, during his lifetime on earth Jesus was somewhat more literally the Son of God because he was also the son of Mary, and was conceived with God as his Divine Father. However, as I also said, God is indivisible. So when God’s being was expressed as the Divine Soul of Jesus, Jesus did not become differentiated from his Father as we human beings become differentiated from our fathers, but rather remained one with the Father, until the oneness was complete at the time of the Resurrection and Ascension.

      However, at the time of Jesus’ baptism, when this event in Matthew 3:17 took place, Jesus was still also the Son of God in the sense that he was not yet fully one with God, but was on the path to full oneness with God.

      This may still seem somewhat obscure now, but if you continue to read more of the articles and explanations here, I hope it will become clearer to you as time goes on. Basically, the Eternal God was still in heaven even while being expressed in Jesus on earth, and there was a divine connection and oneness between them via Jesus’ soul, which was God the Father; but Jesus was still also the Son of God in a more literal sense since part of his being and character still came from his human mother Mary. That’s why the Father spoke from heaven as if to a distinct being, even though in his soul Jesus was one with the Father, which was his own soul, and Jesus was the “body” that was expressing that soul.

      Looking at your point 3, I’m not sure there’s anything there that I haven’t already addressed. But as always, feel free to continue the conversation and ask further questions as you wish. For now, I’ll bring this to a close and let you contemplate and digest what I’ve written so far, in hopes that it will be helpful to you.

  31. brandon says:

    The Bible is clear that Christianity is exclusive. Only those acquainted with the person of Jesus Christ through the gospel are saved. You trying to open it up to anyone who generally tries to do good tramples the son of God and treats His blood as unholy. What reason would there be for Christ commanding “repent AND BELIEVE” or commanding His disciples to preach the gospel if all people had to do was “do good”? What use is the gospel if it is not exclusive?

    • Lee says:

      Hi brandon,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comments.

      However, the Bible never says that Christianity is exclusive. In fact, in Romans 2:1–16 Paul tells us very clearly how conscientious non-Christians (Jews, “Greeks,” meaning pagan polytheists, and Gentiles) are saved through Jesus Christ. Those so-called Christian preachers who proclaim that only Christians are saved are ignoring and contradicting the plain teachings of the Bible.

      The Gospel to repent and believe is indeed preached to all people. And those who repent from their sins and believe will be saved, even if their religion teaches them to believe in God, but not to believe that Jesus Christ is God.

      Is there more than one God to believe in? Is God (the Father) one god, and Jesus Christ (the Son) a different god, so that we must believe in two gods, not just one, in order to be saved?

      No, my friend. The Lord God Jesus Christ is the one God, who has all power in heaven and earth (Matthew 28:18). The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are in him. The idea that they are each “persons” of God is a human invention that is no different than pagan polytheism. See:
      Is the Doctrine of the Trinity Polytheistic?

      As I say in the above article, there is only one God, and Jesus Christ is that God, whether or not people understand and believe this. Therefore anyone who believes in God is believing in Jesus Christ because there is no other God to believe in.

      Christ’s blood was not shed to save only a few people, but to save all people on earth who are willing to accept that salvation from God. Traditional Christians limit the power of Christ’s blood by making it sufficient to save only those relatively few people on earth who are Christian. But the Bible tells us that Christ’s blood is sufficient to save all people who repent from their sins, believe in God, and live according to the teachings of Jesus Christ—whose essence is that we are to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love our neighbor as ourselves.

      People of all religions, not just Christians, can do this. And Jesus Christ, our heavenly King, saves the people of all nations, not just the Christian nations, who love their neighbor as themselves, and serve their neighbor out of love, just as he himself taught in Matthew 25:31–46.

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Lee & Annette Woofenden

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