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?