The subject of salvation is not easily understood, at least not to me. A question has been sticking with me the last few days. It is question that will be difficult to display in words. On this blog Danny asked me if I thought that Gandhi was going to heaven. My initial impulse was "no" he didn't believe in Jesus. Then I stepped back and questioned what I had just said. What do I mean "he didn't believe in Jesus?" And a thought came to me. What if my understanding, the orthodox understanding and reguard for scripture about Jesus, is inacurate? Should I say that because someone doesn't believe in my version of Jesus they are doomed. What if Gandhi was living for the exact same thing I am but without the same intellectual decision I have made about Jesus, without the same “knowledge” of Him. We are speaking in terms of what you can convey through language. This is where this question begins to get difficult. Now understand I am simply using Gandhi as a simple illustration for a much less specific body of people.
Now my biggest difficulty about this question is it is forcing me to be concerned with something I am not normally nor wish to be concerned about. What happens when we die? What deems a person worthy or unworthy to enter the everlasting Kingdom?
To understand this question lets put it into the two easiest ways to look at it. Either we must make an intellectual decision and be right about who Jesus is for us to live for Him or our salvation is dependant on the things that are His attributes (doing good). Now neither of these things sit well with me. Now let's examine something else what does making an intellectual decision about Jesus demand of us? Let's look at this in terms of essences. What exactly must I essentially know about Jesus to be right about Him? In other words what is essentially Jesus? What is the essence of Jesus? Now direct this examination toward yourself. What am essentially me? How much do you have to know about me to be right about who I am? To do this examination on someone else you must have intimate relationship with that person. You have to really know them. Now it's a popular theology that we are saved by a "personal relationship with Christ." I have accepted this theology in the past and still do but it seems to me now that something must come before the "personal relationship." Which would follow that something must come before the "intellectual decision." I have settled in this and it seems to make sense. I believe that your salvation lies in simply seeking Jesus, for the kind of "knowledge" that is obtained preceding the ability to “seek” or “pursue” is not one that can be contained in language, it is a much more abstract kind of knowledge that is not found in studying. This knowlege is not the kind that is contained in the brain, but the heart. It comes from the deepest parts of human emotion and relationship, it is love. It's not an intellectual decision based on fact but a faithful decision based on something that is shown (which is the knowlege contained in the heat). This faithful decision is a direction shift into a loving relationship.
In a loving relationship there is a bond. Both parties know each other, but it's different than just knowing about the other person. no matter how much I tell you about my gilrfriend you'll never know her in the same way I do. The "knowlege" I know about her simply cannot be said. I can try but it'll probably end with me squinting my face and cupping my hand in deep emotion. I simply cannot say it, and even if I did what you know about her will probably either mean nothing or it will have nothing to do with what's "essentially her,"meaning that if you took out all the knowlege you have about her she'd still be her. What I know about her, that can't be said, cannot be taken away, it is essentially her. If the things I know about her were subtracted from her she would siese to be her she'd be something else. people are more complex than to be able to say the most essential parts of their being and have them understood unless the person, that you are explaining to has alreafy attained knowledge of them. God is even more complex. Here are two examples: 1. I say "God is just," a proper understanding of that must be shown. So by me saying it it is meaningless until it's shown to you. 2. I might tell you that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, Died on a cross, etc. But thoes events in His life are not essential to who He is.
So knowlege of the heart precedes knowlege of the brain. So it is whatever precedes the loving relationship that holds our salvation. When I am shown God I must chose to embrace or not to embrace Him. Either continue on my path and accept something else possibly that is "shown" to me, or I shift directions and begin to pursue His path, the path to the knowlege of Him.
I must be shown God to ever know God. In knowing Him it will, eventually follow that we will be able to say, intellectually, who He is and be right and that we will know of Him that which cannot be said. Now we Christians are all on this journey. Can I say weather or not Gandhi embarked on it or not? No. I can say simply doing good things is not where your salvation lies and an intellectual decision is not either; rather, these things naturally grow from Pursuing, from seeking Jesus, from "embracing" what we were shown. Our good is nothing without Jesus without faith. Embarking on this journey takes faith, a leap of large proportions of faith ( as it does with pursuing most things). And God is not to be known through study. If He is as I said before "mystical" than He must be shown or made manifest, so intellect is meaningless until the manifestation of what you are trying to understand comes into play. Our task in evangelism is to simply nudge people onto the path, show the kingdom of God so that they may pursue it. When the desciples wentout "declareing th kingdom of God" they did so doing miracles as means to not just tell but "show" the kingdom. In Luke 17 Jesus says this "The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say 'here it is' or 'there it is,' because the Kingdom Of God is within you" (some translations say 'in your midst') He says here that you can't look for the kingdom and find it. It's here it's amung you, in your midst. This could saound like a paradox, it's within you but you can't find it by looking. It is in fact what we have been discussing. You can't say "here it is" or " there it is" because it has to be shown. Jesus explained this just after healing ten lepers, just after showing what it was all about.
"How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?" Romans 10:14. We, in this, are not excused from evangelism people must be told but though they may not be able to believe without information, the acceptance of the information given is not how we become “Christians” it’s not how we are saved. The information, the "telling" is meaningless unless it is shown the same way me telling you about my girlfriend is meaningless (from our example). We all are on a journey our directions may vary but only one leads to salvation!