How Does Jesus Say We Are Saved?
Mike Clawson writes in his blog about an assignment given by a professor to freshman classes ..
“He says, “There are four different things Jesus tells people about what they must do to be saved:
1. To Nicodemus he says “You must be born again”. (John 3:3)
2. To the Rich Young Ruler he says “Sell everything you have and give it to the poor.” (Luke 18:22)
3. To Zacchaeus he says “Sell half of everything you have, and pay back those you’ve cheated as well.” (Luke 19:8-10)
4. To the paralyzed man he says “Because of the faith of your friends your sins are forgiven.” (Mark 2:5)
The professor then tells his students: “Write a paper explaining why Jesus gave four very different answers to the question ‘What must I do to be saved?’ And why does only one of them (sort of – depending on what you think “born again” means) match up with the typical evangelical answer?”
Great question! How would you answer?”
I would say he actually gives at least nine different answers (or ten, if you want to split John 3:3-18 in two). Off the top of my head, (here are the ones not mentioned above – I have added the verse detail – DA))
– Matthew 5:17-20; (If you reject even the least important command in the Law and teach others to do the same, you will be the least important person in the kingdom of heaven. But if you obey and teach others its commands, you will have an important place in the kingdom. You must obey God’s commands better than the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law obey them. If you don’t, I promise you that you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.)
– Matthew 18:1-3; (Jesus called a child over and had the child stand near him. Then he said: I promise you this. If you don’t change and become like a child, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.)
– Luke 10:25-28; (An expert in the Law of Moses stood up and asked Jesus a question to see what he would say. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to have eternal life?” Jesus answered, “What is written in the Scriptures? How do you understand them?” The man replied, “The Scriptures say, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind.’ They also say, ‘Love your neighbors as much as you love yourself.’ ” Jesus said, “You have given the right answer. If you do this, you will have eternal life.”)
– Luke 14:26-33; (You cannot be my disciple, unless you love me more than you love your father and mother, your wife and children, and your brothers and sisters. You cannot come with me unless you love me more than you love your own life. You cannot be my disciple unless you carry your own cross and come with me.)
– Luke 18:18-22; (An important man asked Jesus, “Good Teacher, what must I do to have eternal life?” Jesus said, “Why do you call me good? Only God is good. You know the commandments: ‘Be faithful in marriage. Do not murder. Do not steal. Do not tell lies about others. Respect your father and mother.’ “) (note this is followed by the direction given to the RYR above)
– John 6:45-59. (Jesus answered: I tell you for certain that you won’t live unless you eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man. But if you do eat my flesh and drink my blood, you will have eternal life, and I will raise you to life on the last day.)
(DA Note – Matthew 25 should also be considered with these – the sorting out of sheep & goats at a judgment time based on care for the poor & needy)
From M James
[Before I respond to this question I need to clear two things up:
First, I believe that to properly understand the Bible, you need to first understand the history and culture that was prevalent when it was written. Also, I would say you need to understand a little bit about how Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic was written and spoken. (For instance: I do not believe the “hell” mentioned in the Bible was written or meant to be a “literal hell”. In most cases it is referring to an absence of God.)
Secondly, I believe that there are parts of the Bible, specifically the New Testament, that are a later interpolation.]
I would respectfully disagree with the first poster and say that Jesus is not giving one way to salvation, being born again, and then elucidating on that ideal.
There is an underlying theme in the works and stories of Jesus, that he was sent to Earth to show people the correct way to live their life. I do no think that being “born again” literally means getting down on your knees and saying the phrase “I accept Jesus Christ as my personal saviour”, as the evangelicals will have you believe.
I think in every instance you mentioned, Jesus is asking the questioner to look at their own life, and the decisions they make and change themselves for the betterment of the people around them. Live your life in a way that glorifies God and his works. What were his works? Creating man, and creating this world.
By caring for his creation, instead of uttering some mystical catchphrase that gives you a magical passport to the pearly gates, that is truly the way to find favor with God.
As an aside, I think the end of Jesus’ story – the empty tomb – was also the most powerful of it. After showing the people how they could find favor with God, I believe he was also telling them not to idolize himself. That’s why the tomb was empty. So the people would focus on the lessons he taught, not hold his dead body up as some sort of empty husk to be worshipped. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.
I can understand why the church doesn’t agree with what I said above. It’s hard to pack pews and get donations when all you have to do to gain God’s favor is just be a good person and take care of his creation.
From David Allis
Good question. I was reflecting on this yesterday … particularly the contrast between the suggestion to Nicodemus re being born again, in contrast to the Rich Young Ruler.
Interestingly, the location of John ch3 indicates that Jesus is supposed to have told Nicodemus about being born again very early on in Jesus’ ministry. Yet, this concept of being born again isn’t mentioned in the synoptic gospels, in the sermons (or anywhere else) in Acts, and nowhere in Paul’s writings or the rest of the NT … John 3 is the only reference to it. Yet evangelicals make a HUGE deal of it. This is STRANGE.
Maybe a little light is shed on it by realising that the gospel called John was written very late cf other NT books … probably written around AD90 or later.
My conclusion … we have narrowed down on a formula which has little biblical basis, and is too narrow / simple / prescriptive about how individuals should respond to God.