But if ye had known what this meaneth, ‘I will have mercy and not sacrifice,’ ye would not have condemned the guiltless. Mt. 12:7
But go ye and learn what this meaneth: ‘I will have mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."” (Mt 9:13 KJ21)
For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” (Ho 6:6 KJ21)
Lately these verses have been on my heart. Recently, my daughter asked why only the Christians should go to heaven. In her mind, good people go to heaven, and evil ones don't, no matter what their religion. I explained to her that, in the end, God decides who is good. If man would be good in God's sight, God has shown us the way. Is that way Christianity? No, for before there ever was a Christian religion, God revealed that "The righteous shall live by his faith (Hab 2:4).
Sadly, many who call themselves Christian will not be found in Heaven. Jesus Himself said so. But could the converse be true? Could those who do not claim to be Christian, yet who "do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with the Lord thy God" (Micah 6:8) be saved, even if they have never even heard of Jesus? If they obey the Light that they know, I believe this is possible. None of the Old Testament saints had ever heard of Jesus, either, and many of them are named in the "Faith Hall of Fame" found in Hebrews 11.
Paul writes about having an eternal weight of glory in an earthen vessel. This way, there can be no confusion. The Glory belongs to God, of course. I believe in the end what God is looking for is broken people who confess their need for His Life and eagerly invite Him to provide that life in them. Is this not the meaning of the first beattitude? A broken man, who acknowleges his need for God, is he not the man who is poor in spirit?
Tuesday, November 6, 2012
For our abiding is in Heaven, from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,
My wife woke up with a dream this morning. She was alone, contemplating moving to Heaven, or Hawaii (what's the difference, anyway?). She knew that she needed a visa, and that the visa would be very difficult to get, very costly and a lot of hard work. She wanted to invite her sisters and brothers to come, but they were indifferent. Nora knew that it would be safer to make the journey with others, but her family was not willing to come, they were not understanding why they would want to leave their country for Another one.
This dream blessed my heart! For indeed, there is a Visa into Heaven, very costly, and no one could pay the price on their own. But God "So loved the world, that He gave His only Begotten Son, that whosoever might believe in Him might not perish, but have eternal Life" (Jn 3:16). Surely Heaven is a wonderful place - OK, even better than Hawaii! Why wouldn't anyone want to go there? The Proverbs tell us that for lack of a vision, the people perish. Indeed, the god of this world has blinded the eyes of the unbeliever, telling them that God is not good, and Heaven is not anyplace they would want to go to. So they don't see that there is value, being blind to the Love of God in Jesus Christ.
Doubtless we all know people who are like this. They are enamored with the here and now, and know nothing of Another country. Many times we witness to them, but to no avail, for we are answering questions that they are not asking. Any salesman knows that unless he can create value in the eyes of his customers, he will never make a sale. Surely, they are watching us, we who are in the church. They know the difference between phony religion and Life, not being impressed with the former at all. Our message, though, is not religion but Life (I John 1:1-4). As we abide in Him through disappointment, suffering and sorrow, His Life is formed in us, a life that is indestructible and eternal, and this life the world cannot deny. Having seen true value in the Kingdom of Heaven, they will want to know more. When they are ready, the Holy Spirit will be there to "guide them into all Truth"