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Christianity - the only way to Heaven? Surprising examples in Jesus' own words..

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posted on Apr, 14 2012 @ 05:12 PM
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Okay, so first thing comes first. I write from the perspective of a Christian, until recently considerably lapsed, though Providence has brought me back to the roots of my belief system. Anyone who has seen me around on ATS may have noticed I went silent for these last six months - I was going through, and am still recovering from, a severe clinical depression. I have true sympathy for anyone affected by the condition, incidentally - it is awful.

So what is the thread about? Well, I can't help but notice that a lot of people are 'turned off' from Christianity by the sometimes repulsive attitude of those who claim that anyone who doesn't accept Christ in this lifetime will go straight to Hell. I'll call this the 'negative perspective' for the purpose of the thread.

It has always been a source of discomfort for me when this view has been expressed by otherwise fine and godly people - I always had the sense that God is a lot more merciful than we people give Him credit for. Now to clarify, while I had discomfort with that side of my religion when I became a Christian, I absolutely could see that God was at work in the events and experiences that I witnessed and had during my early contact with the church I belonged to.

Over the years since, I have heard so many ministers preaching from the 'negative perspective', that I've actually had near-sleepless nights wrestling with the apparent paradox of what my experience told me was definitely a loving God, who would (according to the testimony of 'negative perspective believers') appear to be so severe in His judgment of mankind.

So for a long time I simply ignored the conundrum as best as possible. However, something occurred to me tonight.

Firstly, an example that Jesus gave in the Bible:


LUKE 16

The Rich Man and Lazarus

19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’

25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’

29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’

30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”


Now why does this have anything to do with the premise of the thread? Well firstly, the beggar was not a Christian - he would have been a Jew. And simply put, he died before Christ had been revealed, and despite not knowing Christ, was carried by angels to Heaven. It is implied that he was a godly man, in that he was taken to be with Abraham, the father of the Jewish faith. 'Negative perspective Christianity' teaches that a modern Jew, devout in his observances of the faith, will go to Hell when he or she dies, if they have not accepted Christ as Lord. As an excellent preacher once said, we must be careful not to make God's decisions for Him. Leave plenty of room for His grace and mercy.

Here's another, even more striking example, spoken by Jesus once more:


LUKE 15

3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’

7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.


I believe that these passages offer compelling evidence of Biblical grounds for the God I have experienced as merciful and gracious, as opposed to a God who condemns without measuring the type of life a person has tried to live. They serve to demonstrate that people can be considered to have lived righteous lives in the eyes of God, even if they have not formally acknowledged Christ as Lord.

One more Biblical example, again the words of Jesus:


MARK 2

15 While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.



It would seem that in His own words, Jesus was demonstrating the purpose of His ministry as seeking out and saving those who were not 'naturally righteous', but who had fallen into sin of some sort or other and were therefore under the judgment of God. It is well recorded in Christian circles that Christ came to be the fulfilment of the Old Testament laws of Moses, and therefore to be considered by God the Father as a holy and acceptable sacrifice for the sins of mankind. Sinners need Jesus to be their lifeline into eternity, to help them grow out of their sins and become who they were supposed to be, in the image of God, who is perfection.

People who will ultimately be considered righteous may or may not come into contact with someone who explains the gospel. Christ said that He is the way, the truth and the life. It is wisdom to follow Him if the opportunity arises, and to seek to learn from Him, through the gifts of the Holy Spirit. He provides an assurance, where otherwise doubt can exist as regards the nature of your eternal inheritance.

There are other testimonies of the people who have had near-death experiences and found themselves either in, or approaching what appears to be a Hell of some sort. Many of these people report that they called out to God in their distress, and were in fact rescued from the experience, drawn Heavenwards instead. This calling out, this cry of the heart in faith towards a loving and merciful God, is sufficient to redeem them from what would otherwise seem to be destruction. I'm too tired to dig out examples tonight, but will add some tomorrow.

The key point to take from these testimonies is that these people had effectively died, and yet were redeemed from beyond death.




posted on Apr, 14 2012 @ 05:23 PM
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i completely agree with your thread. i've been thinking on the same things for awhile. the thief on the cross is an example that i found telling. a thief who had never been baptized and didn't know a thing about jesus or god, yet he was saved through his faith.

so many christians and jews set store in rituals that they believe are needed for salvation. if those things are what it takes for them to commune with god, then i'm all for it (assuming it isn't immoral), but don't say that it is a requirement for salvation.
edit on 14-4-2012 by Bob Sholtz because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 14 2012 @ 05:43 PM
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There is no heaven! Enjoy life for what it is cause when you die there is nothing. Let me ask you Christians this if everything happens according to gods "Devine" plan, why do you prey? He can't change his Devine plan.



posted on Apr, 14 2012 @ 06:05 PM
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As a pagan, I believe that the message of Jesus was multifaceted.
I see Christ as the God of peace and compassion. I just love him- think he had some mighty strong magic but don't care if he performed one miracle or not. Could care less if he didn't rise from the dead or whatever- can't stand Easter because I don't like the idea of celebrating his death- in fact, Easter makes me feel sick really.

Living in such a way that you recognize that compassion and love are best, is heaven on earth. It also causes a purity of consciousness that no doubt transcends death to an everlasting life and peace.

I could care less for the b -i-b-l-e. It is not a holy book for me. There's lots to learn from it though. I learned I'm not worshipping a war god. A god that kills babies. A god that would hang out with this Satan dude and torture his lover Job just to see what happens.

I wonder sometimes what saved means. Where the word came from. I know the English word but I suspect it means more like preserved. If you live in love and peace, and try to be kind and gentle in thought and action, and as humble as Christ, you are preserved from a lot of problems and inner turmoil- like a canned tomato, saved as in unspoiled, unclouded, uncontaminated.

Christ even had compassion for the demons. He could have simply driven them out or banished them from existence. He listened to them, as fellow sentient beings- and offered them a place to go. They ruined their new home, but it had nothing to do with Christ. He offered to let them live in the swine. He was even kind to demons, while maintaining that humans were more important than the supernatural entities only half tied to this world.



posted on Apr, 14 2012 @ 07:05 PM
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reply to post by hadriana
 

this first part of my post will seem hypocritical, but it isn't and i'll try to explain why:

i agree with part of what you said. the "hypocritical" part comes because you're wanting to take only what you like from christ (and the bible) while ignoring the rest.

christ said "you shall have no other gods before me" was the most important commandment to follow and he also spoke harshly against those who practice magic. i know the hopi indians will be in the afterlife because their stories match with what christ taught and events in genesis.

the hopi dances and rituals are equivalent to passover, communion, etc and the important thing is following "white brother and the great spirit" with whom they made a covenant. he gave them tablets, sound familiar?

no offense, but what you are saying does not seem to resonate with christ as a whole, though i'm not the one who passes judgement or knows your true heart.



posted on Apr, 14 2012 @ 07:22 PM
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As i see it, "heaven" is either filled with only christians or muslims,
and the idea of having to spend an eternity with either of those groups
gives me a headache.
Thanks but i´ll pass.
edit on 14-4-2012 by LionOfGOD because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 14 2012 @ 07:55 PM
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Originally posted by Bob Sholtz
no offense, but what you are saying does not seem to resonate with christ as a whole, though i'm not the one who passes judgement or knows your true heart.


Yep, you make my point for me. I am a Pagan, not a Christian, and I don't believe the Bible is holy or that it holds any RIGHT to form my belief system. I believe only what I want to, not what anyone else thinks is required of me. I am a pagan, I am not a Christian. And for that matter, if there were no other Gods, why would anyone care what order I put them in. lol

It won't make sense to a Christian, because there is a difference in the very construct that our beliefs are built on. Your's is a rock maybe. Call it Peter, the church, the Bible. Mine has high stilts of mysticism coming out of the subconscious of my watery mind. The Bible is nothing but ruined in an ocean like mine.



posted on Apr, 14 2012 @ 08:06 PM
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reply to post by FlyInTheOintment
 



And simply put, he died before Christ had been revealed, and despite not knowing Christ, was carried by angels to Heaven.


In that parable the poor man wasn't in heaven, he was in "Abraham's Bosom", not the Kingdom of Heaven. Abraham's Bosom was in the Earth. Christ didn't bring those with Him until the ascension. The rich man was in Hell, separated by a great chasm.

Before Jesus died He said "no man" was yet in the Kingdom of Heaven or had seen it. The blood of bulls and goats only covered their sins, it took His death to atone for them, or in other words, to "wash them" away so they could be in God's presence.



posted on Apr, 14 2012 @ 08:11 PM
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reply to post by hadriana
 

to be blunt, how do you deal with the contradiction of championing christ as he contradicts what you believe?


I believe only what I want to, not what anyone else thinks is required of me

what if that other someone is god? the only god.



posted on Apr, 14 2012 @ 08:20 PM
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reply to post by FlyInTheOintment
 


God may be alot more merciful than people give him credit for, but for your own sake you must fear the wrath of the lord! How many warnings do you need? How many people died in the great flood alone? The lord must have been pissed!
Also, so to as it was in Noahs day shall it be in the end times! Look at the world around you, do you think the lord is pleased?



posted on Apr, 14 2012 @ 08:25 PM
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Precisely what is the nature of this "heaven"? I asked this once and was informed it is "paradise for eternity", which I thought was remarkably vague.

I mean, there's a strip club in my town called "Paradise" - I'm guessing it's not the same thing? [Although if it is consider me a Christian from this moment on]
edit on 14-4-2012 by FOXMULDER147 because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 14 2012 @ 08:37 PM
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reply to post by FOXMULDER147
 

Heaven is important but it is not the end of the world.
Heaven is God's space but the destiny of transphysical man is a renewed earth.




posted on Apr, 14 2012 @ 09:51 PM
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reply to post by FlyInTheOintment
 


I completely understand what you are talking about. When I was young I was very active in the church....all the way through my early teens. Our pastors would sit down with us younger church goers and talk to us about the bible teachings and were very caring and patient. They also encouraged community charity, when one of our neighbors experienced a serious illness or loss in their family. The one I loved most changed the name of our church youth group, so that it was no longer denomination exclusive and brought everyone together teaching us life lessons such as trust, compassion, and being part of something bigger than ourselves.

Then in my late teens the diocese moved the pastors and sent one who literally could care less about people, anyone, let alone the youth group that had been such a positive influence. He only was there for a year, but the next pastor was even worse, he and his wife each drove continentals, she wore furs, and they really pounded the farmers for minimum 10% tithing, Somehow he drew them in almost as if by mind control, he eventually decided to create his own church and led his zombie flock with him, he convinced them that if they allowed their children to attend our very small public school they would be considered devil worshipers just as he labeled all those who weren't within his flock and insisted they attend school at his new church. 2 Years later the government discovered what he had done, that the school was not accredited in any way shape or form and the children who had moved out of our school to his school ended up coming back 2 years behind their peers.

The church in my eyes had increasingly become the polar opposite of everything I had learned and loved before, it was angry. mean, hateful and harmful.

Then.....and this is the piece de resistance....my older sister moved to Texas and married......wait for it...your just going to love this...

David Koresh's uncle!

Disenchanted to say the least I explored other belief systems, finding some with at least human elements that were similar to my kinder church of youth, but never able to.....give in to faith. I became very scientific and analytical, question everything...which doesn't go well with faith.

Then a few years ago disturbed by the amount of hatred I was seeing from people who called themselves "Christians" I started to dig a bit deeper, at first more in how they equated their belief system with the Christians of my youth, which just disturbed me even more.....I found articles regarding how their right to religious freedom was violated when they were arrested for "quietly praying" at a gay rally, and how outrageous it was that they were arrested for quietly and peacefully praying, digging deeper for the facts on this as it would be an outrage if true and I'm all for defending human rights....I found the court transcripts regarding their arrests, the court used their own video tape...the "Christians" video tape of their actions that day to convict them....They had gone in with their video camera and taped themselves screaming at the rally goers that they were all going to burn in hell, that they should be killed for what they were doing, they shoved signs into peoples faces and were highly abusive. There was just something seriously wrong with what was being equated with Christianity...hate, intolerance, pushing people away from salvation instead of reaching out to them????

So I started reading the bible myself, every single page I delved into it, I even calculated the timelines of the descendants of Adam to find out how many generations he was able to see grow. I also read the Apocryphal books along with the gnostic gospels as all of these texts were tied to various groups of early Christians prior to the creation of the New Testament and official church Canon.

I discovered the church of my youth in those pages, and realized that the warning to beware false prophets is a very real issue...and that I was better off depending on my own studies than I would be sitting in a pew every Sunday having someone I barely know tell me what I am supposed to believe.

BTW your selection from Mark is one of my favorites.



posted on Apr, 14 2012 @ 09:58 PM
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reply to post by troubleshooter
 



Heaven is important but it is not the end of the world.
Heaven is God's space but the destiny of transphysical man is a renewed earth.


Irrelevant. With a glorified inter-dimensional resurrected body we can be there at the speed of thought just like the angels.



posted on Apr, 15 2012 @ 12:45 AM
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Originally posted by Bob Sholtz
reply to post by hadriana
 

to be blunt, how do you deal with the contradiction of championing christ as he contradicts what you believe?


I believe only what I want to, not what anyone else thinks is required of me

what if that other someone is god? the only god.


Lol, you could what if all day. What if ..the only god. What if you're ignoring ones you shouldn't? Like maybe people should recognize that there IS a war god, so they could recognize it when their leaders start worshipping it. Or maybe there is a goddess of love and beauty with a superficial dangerous side, our society would never be fawning after her, would it?
Any what if this, can be met with a what if that. It is all a matter of belief. Some choose to believe what others have set forth and prescribed. Some eat the plants they have not been told are safe to eat.

I do not care if Jesus was God. I do not care if Jesus really lived. I do not care if he was married or not. I do not care that he performed miracles. I do care that if he were real, and he was a healer and teacher as it is written he was, that he would become some sort of sacrifice for me. I am not happy with that price. I am happy to pay it for myself if there is a price that comes with living. Christ teaches a wonderful way of living that leads one to have a good heart and an honest, humble mind.

I believe that's what it takes- a good heart and an ability to be honest about your shortcomings and a desire to do better when they pop up.

All that other stuff- the dogma and the self protective mechanisms within 'THE RELIGION" it all just reeks of viral self replicating code to me to profit a control system.



posted on Apr, 15 2012 @ 01:02 AM
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reply to post by hadriana
 

i have several friends who are pagan, and i keep noticing a lack of classical logic in their reasoning. your beliefs don't define reality.

let me rephrase, and please don't take my response as a jab against you because i feel like you didn't understand my point:

if (humor me please) the god of the bible appeared in front of you and proved to you that he indeed was god beyond a shadow of a doubt, would you reject him because you think some of his actions have been unfair at best, and disgusting at worst? or would you say "i accept that you're the one true god and your thoughts are greater than my thoughts"?

the answer to this question defines whether you seek truth no matter where it leads, or do whatever makes you happy.

you could pose the same question to me and insert the god and goddess (i'm guessing your an eclectic witch). i would accept the truth for what it was.

i agree with your take on current organized religion. i've had the privilege of doing missionary work in several countries (all amazing experiences) and i found that christians there living in relative poverty, yet serving with their whole hearts. that is how christians should be. humble servants, not pushy salesmen.



posted on Apr, 15 2012 @ 05:01 AM
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I love when people see through duality. We might have different views on god/One/Source but it is still the same thing with only different names. One day I will be like one with Jesus and Buddha and you. We will finally be home.



posted on Apr, 15 2012 @ 05:14 AM
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Originally posted by lestweforget
reply to post by FlyInTheOintment
 


God may be alot more merciful than people give him credit for, but for your own sake you must fear the wrath of the lord! How many warnings do you need? How many people died in the great flood alone? The lord must have been pissed!
Also, so to as it was in Noahs day shall it be in the end times! Look at the world around you, do you think the lord is pleased?


No he is not pleased and that is why he is sending all the seeds now and awakeening people all over. But are you looking around the world to understand what the present is supposed to teach you? It is time to grow up and stop the stupidety of ego parasitic power pyramids. It is time to let go of ego and evolve to the next stage and not accept any ego parasitic behaviour. There is a lesson to be learned now and humanity will learn it ones and for all and will learn it to a degree that they will never go back to the stupid behaviour again. We do not need bullies anymore of any kind.



posted on Apr, 15 2012 @ 10:13 AM
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Originally posted by Bob Sholtz
reply to post by hadriana
 

i have several friends who are pagan, and i keep noticing a lack of classical logic in their reasoning. your beliefs don't define reality.

let me rephrase, and please don't take my response as a jab against you because i feel like you didn't understand my point:

if (humor me please) the god of the bible appeared in front of you and proved to you that he indeed was god beyond a shadow of a doubt, would you reject him because you think some of his actions have been unfair at best, and disgusting at worst? or would you say "i accept that you're the one true god and your thoughts are greater than my thoughts"?

the answer to this question defines whether you seek truth no matter where it leads, or do whatever makes you happy.

you could pose the same question to me and insert the god and goddess (i'm guessing your an eclectic witch). i would accept the truth for what it was.


You are assuming that I have not already had a personal experience that involves the direct exposition of the nature divinity.
But no, I would not willingly give worship to any God that I found immoral, even if it was 'the only one.' I guess 'it' would just have to torture me.



posted on Apr, 15 2012 @ 10:55 AM
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reply to post by Bob Sholtz
 


if (humor me please) the god of the bible appeared in front of you and proved to you that he indeed was god beyond a shadow of a doubt, would you reject him because you think some of his actions have been unfair at best, and disgusting at worst? or would you say "i accept that you're the one true god and your thoughts are greater than my thoughts"?

Actually, I think this did happen to me, about 8 years ago. I had went with my daughter to the store, she needed some supplies, and my back was hurting, so I elected to remain in the car. I was laid back, meditating and listening to soft Rock music on the car stereo. Suddenly, a bright flash startled me, and I opened my eyes to see two beings in front of me. Both sat on thrones, and had crowns like a King would have, each carried a Sceptre. The beings looked like they were covered in gold, and had very stern appearances. Both informed me they were God. They began to demand my worship and acknowledgement, and my allegiance. I was amazed at this, and finally told them both to bugger off, in not so nice terminology. Then I saw a Woman, beautiful in appearance, graceful in countenance, and She said to me, "pay no attention to them!" At that very moment, the song, "I am Woman" by Helen Reddy came on the radio.




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