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Church of God Message
WHICH HOLY BOOK IS THE WORD OF GOD
SALVATION ACCORDING TO THE THEISTIC RELIGIONS
One very important way to prove that the five major theistic religions differ from one another is to look at what they offer as salvation for human beings. Because we are trying to determine which holy book is the inspired word of God, it is important to compare the beliefs regarding salvation from the scriptures of the religion rather than merely the writings of scholars.
Let’s now examine what is salvation according to each religion.
Salvation According to Islam
Islam believes salvation means going to paradise [also called Gardens] and living forever and enjoying all the pleasures of the flesh: wine, women, food and song. And this salvation is available only to males. No such paradise is available for the female half of humanity. Those who are not granted access to paradise, burn in an everlasting hellfire. Though they feel the torture and agony of the hellfire, they are not totally consumed. Therefore, they continue to endure this torture forever.
Reward is Gardens – paradise (with delicious food, drink, virgin companions)
[2.111] And they say: None shall enter the garden (or paradise) except he who is a Jew or a Christian. These are their vain desires. Say: Bring your proof if you are truthful.
[89.27-30] O soul that art at rest! 28 Return to your Lord, well-pleased (with him), well-pleasing (Him), 29 So enter among My servants, 30 And enter into My garden.
[5.72] “Certainly they disbelieve who say: Surely Allah, He is the Messiah, son of Marium [Mary]; and the Messiah said: O Children of Israel! serve Allah, my Lord and your Lord. Surely whoever associates (others) with Allah, then Allah has forbidden to him the garden [paradise], and his abode is the fire [hell]; and there shall be no helpers for the unjust.”
[29.58-59] “And (as for) those who believe and do good, We will certainly give them abode in the high places in gardens beneath which rivers flow, abiding therein; how good the reward of the workers: 59 Those who are patient, and on their Lord do they rely.”
[37.40-49] “Save the servants of Allah, the purified ones. 41 For them is a known sustenance, 42 Fruits, and they shall be highly honored, 43 In gardens of pleasure, 44 On thrones, facing each other. 45 A bowl shall be made to go round them from water running out of springs, 46 White, delicious to those who drink. 47 There shall be no trouble in it, nor shall they be exhausted therewith. 48 And with them shall be those who restrain the eyes, having beautiful eyes; 49 As if they were eggs carefully protected.”
[38.49-54] This is a reminder; and most surely there is an excellent resort for those who guard (against evil), 50 The gardens of perpetuity, the doors are opened for them. 51 Reclining therein, calling therein for many fruits and drink. 52 And with them shall be those restraining their eyes, equals in age. 53 This is what you are promised for the day of reckoning. 54 Most surely this is Our sustenance; it shall never come to an end…”
[39.20] But (as for) those who are careful of (their duty to) their Lord, they shall have high places, above them higher places, built (for them), beneath which flow rivers; (this is) the promise of Allah: Allah will not fail in (His) promise.
[39.73-74] “And those who are careful of (their duty to) their Lord shall be conveyed to the garden in companies; until when they come to it, and its doors shall be opened, and the keepers of it shall say to them: Peace be on you, you shall be happy; therefore enter it to abide. 74 And they shall say: (All) praise is due to Allah, Who has made good to us His promise, and He has made us inherit the land; we may abide in the garden where we please; so goodly is the reward of the workers.”
[44.51-57] Surely those who guard (against evil) are in a secure place, 52 In gardens and springs; 53 They shall wear of fine and thick silk, (sitting) face to face; 54 Thus (shall it be), and We will wed them with Houris pure [meaning virgins], beautiful ones. 55 They shall call therein for every fruit in security; 56 They shall not taste therein death except the first death, and He will save them from the punishment of the hell, 57 A grace from your Lord; this is the great achievement.”
[52.17] Surely those who guard (against evil) shall be in gardens and bliss 18 Rejoicing because of what their Lord gave them, and their Lord saved them from the punishment of the burning fire. 19 Eat and drink pleasantly for what you did, 20 Reclining on thrones set in lines, and We will unite them to large-eyed beautiful ones. 21 And (as for) those who believe, and their offspring follow them in faith, We will unite with them their offspring and We will not diminish to them aught of their work; every man is responsible for what he shall have wrought. 22 And We will aid them with fruit and flesh such as they desire.”
[56.11-40] These are they who are drawn nigh (to Allah), 12 In the gardens of bliss. 13 A numerous company from among the first, 14 And a few from among the latter. 15 On thrones decorated, 16 Reclining on them, facing one another. 17 Round about them shall go youths [young virgins] never altering in age, 18 With goblets and ewers and a cup of pure drink; 19 They shall not be affected with headache thereby, nor shall they get exhausted, 20 And fruits such as they choose, 21 And the flesh of fowl such as they desire. 22 And pure, beautiful ones, 23 The like of the hidden pearls: 24 A reward for what they used to do. 25 They shall not hear therein vain or sinful discourse, 26 Except the word peace, peace. 27 And the companions of the right hand; how happy are the companions of the right hand! 28 Amid thornless lote-trees, 29 And banana-trees (with fruits), one above another. 30 And extended shade, 31 And water flowing constantly, 32 And abundant fruit, 33 Neither intercepted nor forbidden, 34 And exalted thrones. 35 Surely We have made them to grow into a (new) growth, 36 Then We have made them virgins, 37 Loving, equals in age, 38 For the sake of the companions of the right hand. 39 A numerous company from among the first, 40 And a numerous company from among the last.”
[76.11-22] “Therefore Allah will guard them from the evil of that day and cause them to meet with ease and happiness; 12 And reward them, because they were patient, with garden and silk, 13 Reclining therein on raised couches, they shall find therein neither (the severe heat of) the sun nor intense cold. 14 And close down upon them (shall be) its shadows, and its fruits shall be made near (to them), being easy to reach. 15 And there shall be made to go round about them vessels of silver and goblets which are of glass, 16 (Transparent as) glass, made of silver; they have measured them according to a measure. 17 And they shall be made to drink therein a cup the admixture of which shall be ginger, 18 (Of) a fountain therein which is named Salsabil. 19 And round about them shall go youths never altering in age; when you see them you will think them to be scattered pearls. 20 And when you see there, you shall see blessings and a great kingdom. 21 Upon them shall be garments of fine green silk and thick silk interwoven with gold, and they shall be adorned with bracelets of silver, and their Lord shall make them drink a pure drink. 22 Surely this is a reward for you, and your striving shall be recompensed.”
Punishment - Hell
[38.55-61] “This (shall be so); and most surely there is an evil resort for the inordinate ones; 56 Hell; they shall enter it, so evil is the resting-place. 57 This (shall be so); so let them taste it, boiling and intensely cold (drink). 58 And other (punishment) of the same kind-- of various sorts. 59 This is an army plunging in without consideration along with you; no welcome for them, surely they shall enter fire. 60 They shall say: Nay! you-- no welcome to you: you did proffer it to us, so evil is the resting-place. 61 They shall say: Our Lord! whoever prepared it first for us, add Thou to him a double chastisement in the fire.”
[39.70-72] And every soul shall be paid back fully what it has done, and He knows best what they do. 71 And those who disbelieve shall be driven to hell in companies; until, when they come to it, its doors shall be opened, and the keepers of it shall say to them: Did not there come to you apostles from among you reciting to you the communications of your Lord and warning you of the meeting of this day of yours? They shall say: Yea!
But the sentence of punishment was due against the unbelievers. 72 It shall be said: Enter the gates of hell to abide therein; so evil is the abode of the proud.”
Thus, we see Islam is quite descriptive of the paradise or gardens it promises its followers who qualify. It also promises the punishment of hell for those who do not do their duty or do not believe in Islam.
Salvation According to Hinduism
Hindus believe that human souls are immortal and get their chance of salvation when they come in human form. If they do not qualify for salvation in their human life, their soul at death then transmigrates into the body of another creature. It transmigrates into 8.4 million different creatures – such as animals, birds, insects and the tiniest of creatures – before getting another chance to be born as a human being to get another chance for salvation. This cycle of transmigration continues until the immortal soul qualifies for salvation. Salvation then is being merged into the Great Soul that is God from which it had originally separated.
The following scriptural references again are from the Bhagavat Gita, the holy book of the Hindus.
Chapter 2, p 4-5: - “Why grieve for those for whom no grief is due, and yet profess wisdom? The wise grieve neither for the dead nor the living. There was never a time when I was not, nor thou, nor these princes were not; there will never be a time when we shall cease to be. As the soul experiences in this body infancy, youth and old age, so finally it passes into another. The wise have no delusion about this.
“Those external relations which bring cold and heat, pain and happiness, they come and go; they are not permanent. Endure them bravely, O Prince [Krishna here refers to Arjuna as prince]. The hero whose soul is unmoved by circumstance, who accepts pleasure and pain with equanimity, only he is fit for immortality.
“That which is not, shall never be; that which is, shall never cease to be. To the wise, these truths are self-evident.
“The Spirit, which pervades all that we see, is imperishable. Nothing can destroy the Spirit. The material bodies which this Eternal, Indestructible, Immeasurable Spirit inhabits are all finite. Therefore fight, O Valiant Man! He who thinks that the Spirit kills, and he who thinks of It as killed, are both ignorant. The Spirit kills not, nor is It killed.
“It was not born; It will never die, nor once having been, can It cease to be. Unborn, Eternal, Ever-enduring, yet Most Ancient, the Spirit dies not when the body is dead. He who knows the Spirit as Indestructible, Immortal, Unborn, Always-the-Same, how should he kill or cause to be killed?
“As a man discards his threadbare robes and puts on new, so the Spirit throws off Its worn-out bodies and takes fresh ones.”
Chapter 4 p. 12: - Lord Shri Krishna…: I have been born again and again, from time to time; thou too, O Arjuna! My births are known to Me, but thou knowest not thine. I have no beginning. Though I am imperishable, as well as Lord of all that exists, yet by My own will and power do I manifest Myself. Whenever spirituality decays and materialism is rampant, then, O Arjuna, I reincarnate Myself!
“To protect the righteous, to destroy the wicked and to establish the kingdom of God, I am reborn from age to age. He who realizes the divine truth concerning My birth and life is not born again; and when he leaves his body, he becomes one with Me. Many have merged their existences in Mine, being freed from desire, fear and anger, filled always with Me and purified by the illuminating flame of self-abnegation. Howsoever men try to worship Me, so do I welcome them. By whatever path they travel, it leads to Me at last.”
Chapter 9: p 25: - “Those who are versed in the scriptures, who drink the mystic Soma-juice and are purified from sin, but who while worshipping Me with sacrifices pray that I will lead them to heaven; they reach the holy world where lives the Controller of the Powers of Nature, and they enjoy the feasts of Paradise. Yet although they enjoy the spacious glories of Paradise, nevertheless, when their merit is exhausted, they are born again into this world of mortals. They have followed the letter of the scriptures, yet because they have sought but to fulfill their own desires, they must depart and return again and again [meaning go through the cycle of birth death and rebirth].
“But if a man will meditate on Me and Me alone, and will worship Me always and everywhere, I will take upon Myself the fulfillment of his aspiration, and I will safeguard whatsoever he shall attain.
“Even those who worship the lesser Powers, if they do so with faith, they thereby worship Me, though not in the right way. I am the willing recipient of sacrifice, and I am its true Lord. But these do not know me in truth, and so they sink back. The votaries of the lesser Powers go to them; the devotees of spirits go to them; they who worship the Powers of Darkness, to such Powers shall they go; and so, too, those who worship Me shall come to Me.”
Chapter 8: p 22-23: - “Whosoever at the time of death thinks only of Me, and thinking thus leaves the body and goes forth, assuredly he will know Me. On whatever sphere of being the mind of a man may be intent at the time of death, thither he will go.
“Therefore, meditate always on Me, and fight; if thy mind and thy reason be fixed on Me, to Me shalt thou surely come. He whose mind does not wander, and who is engaged in constant meditation, attains the Supreme Spirit.
“Whoso meditates on the Omniscient, the Ancient…He who leaves the body with mind unmoved and filled with devotion, by the power of his meditation gathering between his eyebrows his whole vital energy, attains the Supreme.
“Now I will speak briefly of the imperishable goal, proclaimed by those versed in the scriptures, which the mystic attains when free from passion, and for which he is content to undergo the vow of continence. Closing the gates of the body, drawing the forces of his mind into the heart and by the power of meditation concentrating his vital energy in the brain; Repeating Om, the Symbol of Eternity, holding Me always in remembrance, he who thus leaves his body and goes forth reaches the Spirit Supreme.
“To him who thinks constantly of Me, and of nothing else, to such an ever-faithful devotee, O Arjuna, am I ever accessible. Coming thus unto Me, these great souls go no more to the misery and death of earthly life, for they have gained perfection. The worlds, with the whole realm of creation, come and go; but, O Arjuna, who so comes to Me, for him there is no death nor rebirth.”
Here is what Krishna says will happen to one who slips from the path of spirituality:
Chapter 6, p 19: - “My beloved child! There is no destruction for him, either in this world or in the next. No evil fate awaits him who treads the path of righteousness.
“Having reached the worlds where the righteous dwell, and having remained there for many years, he who has slipped from the path of spirituality will be born again in the family of the pure, benevolent and prosperous. Or, he may be born in the family of the wise sages, though a birth like this is, indeed, very difficult to obtain.
“Then the experience acquired in his former life will revive, and with its help he will strive for perfection more eagerly than before. Unconsciously he will return to the practices of his old life; so that he who tries to realize spiritual consciousness is certainly superior to one who only talks of it. Then after many lives, the student of spirituality, who earnestly strives, and whose sins are absolved, attains perfection and reaches the Supreme.”
In contrast, here is what Krishna says will happen to those who are given to passion and evil:
Chapter 14:44: - “Puffed up by power and inordinate conceit, swayed by lust and wrath, these wicked people hate Me Who am within them, as I am within all. Those who thus hate Me, who are cruel, the dregs of mankind, I condemn them to a continuous, miserable and godless rebirth. So reborn, they spend life after life, enveloped in delusion. And they never reach Me, O Prince, but degenerate into still lower forms of life.”
Hinduism thus leaves no doubt about what salvation is: being freed from the cycle of birth and death and merging his or her existence with the Creator God. Though the Bhagavat Gita, the Ramayana or the Mahabharata do not seem to contain the figure of 8.4 million creatures that exist into which humans can be reborn, the number comes from other Hindu literature; in this case the Padma Purana.
Salvation According to Sikhism
Salvation in Sikhism is the same as in Hinduism. Hinduism claims that you can take different paths to salvation whereas Sikhism maintains that the path to salvation is meditation, non-attachment and to sing the praises of the Eternal Creator God. This can be done with the help of the guru [or teacher like Nanak and the other gurus].
Here are some of the passages from the Guru Granth that describe salvation in Sikhism from the translation into English by Singh Sahib Sant Singh Khalsa MD:
P 11: “Those who meditate on You, Lord, those who meditate on You—those humble beings dwell in peace in this world. They are liberated, they are liberated—those who meditate on the Lord. For them, the noose of death is cut away. Those who meditate on the Fearless One, on the Fearless Lord—all their fears are dispelled. Those who serve, those who serve my Dear Lord, are absorbed into the Being of the Lord…Blessed are they, blessed are they, who meditate on their Dear Lord.”
P. 18: “As metal merges with metal, those who chant the Praises of the Lord are absorbed into the Praiseworthy Lord.”
P 19: “Some are very knowledgeable, but if they do not know the Guru, then what is the use of their lives? The blind have forgotten the Naam [the praise of the Name of the Lord]. The self-willed manmukhs [those who are engrossed in the world as contrasted with gurmukhs who are engrossed in learning from the Guru] are in utter darkness. Their comings and goings in reincarnation do not end; through death and rebirth, they are wasting away. By true actions, the True Lord is met, and the Guru’s Teachings are found. Then, they are not subject to birth and death; they do not come and go in reincarnation.
“Without the Word of the Shabad [songs of praise to God], people wander lost in reincarnation…O mind, swim across, by focusing your consciousness on the Shabad. Those who do not become Gurmukh do not understand the Naam; they die and continue coming and going in reincarnation. That body is said to be pure, in which the True Name abides. One whose body is imbued with the Fear of the True One, and whose tongue savors Truthfulness, is brought to ecstasy by the True Lord’s Glance of Grace. That person does not have to go through the fire of the womb again.”
P 23: “Practicing falsehood again and again, people come and go in reincarnation, and forfeit their honor.”
P. 370: “Servant Nanak chants the wisdom of God; one who listens and practices it, is carried across [the Ocean of the World] and saved. He is not born, and he does not die; he does not come or go. He remains blended [merged] with the Lord.”
P 378: “You have been blessed with this human body. This is your chance to meet the Lord of the Universe. Other efforts are of no use to you. Join the Saadh Sangat [the Company of the Holy] and meditate on the Naam [the Name of the Lord]. Make the effort, and cross over the terrifying world ocean. This human life is passing away in vain, in the love of Maya” [materialism].
P 1427: “He has given you your body, wealth, property, peace and beautiful mansions. Says Nanak, listen, mind: why don’t you remember the Lord in meditation? The Lord is the Giver of all peace and comfort. There is no other at all. Says Nanak, listen, mind: meditating in remembrance on Him, salvation is attained. Remembering Him in meditation, salvation is attained; meditate on Him, O my friend. Says Nanak, listen, mind: your life is passing away!...Believe it — you shall merge once again into the One, O Nanak, from whom you originated. The Dear Lord abides in each and every heart; the Saints proclaim this as true. Says Nanak, meditate…upon Him, and you shall cross over the terrifying world-ocean.”
P 111: “He created the 8.4 million species of beings. Those, upon whom He casts His Glance of Grace, come to meet the Guru. Shedding the residues of their sinful mistakes, His servants are forever pure; at the True Court, they are beautified by the Naam [praises of the Name of the Lord]. || 6 || When they are called to settle their accounts, who will answer then? There shall be no peace then, from counting out by twos and threes. The True Lord God Himself forgives, and having forgiven, He unites them with Himself.”
P. 1426: "He has given you a body, wealth, property, peace and beautiful mansions. Nanak says, listen mind: why don't you remember God and meditate on Him? The Lord is the provider of all peace and comfort. There is no other at all. Nanak says, listen mind: salvation is attained by meditating on Him" (Guru Granth, p. 1426).
"One who is not touched by pleasure, pain, greed, emotional attachment and egotistical pride; Nanak says, listen mind: he is the very image of God. One who is beyond praise and slander, and looks upon gold and iron alike; Nanak says, listen mind: know that such a person attains salvation. One who is not affected by pleasure or pain, and looks upon friend and enemy alike; Nanak says, listen mind: know that such a person attains salvation" (Guru Granth, p. 1427).
These scriptures describe salvation according to Sikhism. The ultimate goal is to end the cycle of birth and death and merge with the Creator God. Being born as a human being is an opportunity to do that. Those who pursue materialism are unable to do so. They must go through the cycle of birth and death as one of the 8.4 million species of creatures before they will get another chance to be reincarnated as a human being and earn salvation.
Salvation According to Judaism
Judaism, except for the Messianic Jews, has only the Old Testament of the Bible and does not believe in Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah and the New Testament. Hence the salvation that the Jews believe in is different from the salvation the Christians believe in.
Jews believe that they are God’s chosen people according to the Covenant God made with ancient Israel at the time of Moses after they came out of Egypt. Exodus 20:2 (NIV) states: "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery."
Deuteronomy 7:6 (NIV) states: "For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession."
The Covenant was made with the people as well as their descendants in Deuteronomy 29:10-15, "10 You stand this day all of you before the Lord your God; your captains of your tribes, your elders, and your officers, with all the men of Israel, 11 Your little ones, your wives, and the stranger that is in your camp, from the hewer of your wood unto the drawer of your water: 12 That you should enter into covenant with the Lord your God, and into his oath, which the Lord your God makes with you this day: 13 That he may establish you today for a people unto himself, and that he may be unto you a God, as he has said unto you, and as he has sworn unto your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. 14 Neither with you only do I make this covenant and this oath; 15 But with him that stands here with us this day before the Lord our God, and also with him that is not here with us this day:”
For the Jews salvation is collective for the nation of Israel rather than personal and individual. The salvation of the individual is connected with the salvation of Israel. Judaism believes based on many prophecies in the prophets that just as ancient Israel was saved out of Egypt, Israel will again be saved from its enemies to freely live in its land, restored to greatness as a nation with a new covenant between God and Israel, restoration of the Temple and sacrifices and its worship system, and all nations living peacefully under the God of Israel.
Jeremiah 31:7-14 (NKJV – New King James Version) describes the restoration of Israel to greatness:
“7 For thus says the Lord: "Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations; Proclaim, give praise, and say, 'O Lord, save Your people, the remnant of Israel!' 8 Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the ends of the earth, among them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and the one who labors with child, together; a great throng shall return there. 9 They shall come with weeping, and with supplications I will lead them. I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters, in a straight way in which they shall not stumble; for I am a Father to Israel, and Ephraim is My firstborn.
“10 "Hear the word of the Lord, O nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, 'He who scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him as a shepherd does his flock.' 11 For the Lord has redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of one stronger than he. 12 Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, streaming to the goodness of the Lord-- for wheat and new wine and oil, for the young of the flock and the herd; their souls shall be like a well-watered garden, and they shall sorrow no more at all. 13 "Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old, together; for I will turn their mourning to joy, will comfort them, and make them rejoice rather than sorrow. 14 I will satiate the soul of the priests with abundance, and My people shall be satisfied with My goodness, says the Lord."
In verses 31-34 God promises to make a New Covenant with the house of Israel and the House of Judah:
“31 "Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah- 32 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34 No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."
As prophesied by the prophets, Jews expect God to restore them collectively to greatness as a nation when the entire world will look to them for spiritual guidance.
Micah 4:1-4, “1 Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and peoples shall flow to it. 2 Many nations shall come and say, "Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths." For out of Zion the law shall go forth, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. 3 He shall judge between many peoples, and rebuke strong nations afar off; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. 4 But everyone shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken…”
Zechariah 8:20-23, “20 Thus says the Lord of hosts; It shall yet come to pass, that there shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities: 21 And the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the LORD, and to seek the Lord of hosts: I will go also. 22 Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the Lord. 23 Thus says the Lord of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.”
Moses mentioned this in Deuteronomy 30:1-10 (NKJV):
“1 "Now it shall come to pass, when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the Lord your God drives you, 2 and you return to the Lord your God and obey His voice, according to all that I command you today, you and your children, with all your heart and with all your soul, 3 that the Lord your God will bring you back from captivity, and have compassion on you, and gather you again from all the nations where the Lord your God has scattered you. 4 If any of you are driven out to the farthest parts under heaven, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you. 5 Then the Lord your God will bring you to the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it. He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers.
“6 And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live. 7 Also the Lord your God will put all these curses on your enemies and on those who hate you, who persecuted you. 8 And you will again obey the voice of the Lord and do all His commandments which I command you today. 9 The Lord your God will make you abound in all the work of your hand, in the fruit of your body, in the increase of your livestock, and in the produce of your land for good. For the Lord will again rejoice over you for good as He rejoiced over your fathers, 10 if you obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this Book of the Law, and if you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”
A belief in the afterlife through a resurrection has developed with the writings of the prophets and in the psalms.
Daniel the prophet mentions the resurrection in Daniel 12:2-3, “2 And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.”
Ezekiel 37:21-28 mentions David again being set up as King over Israel and the Temple being established:
“21 And say unto them, Thus says the Lord God; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen [non-Israelite nations], whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: 22 And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all: 23 Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwelling places, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God. 24 And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them. 25 And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children's children for ever: and my servant David shall be their prince forever.
“26 Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. 27 My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 28 And the heathen shall know that I the Lord do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore.”
The Sadducees in Jesus’ days discussed the resurrection with Him and He corrected their misconceptions about it. The discussion is mentioned in Matthew 22, Mark 12 and Luke 20.
Matthew 22:23-32, “23 The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection [whereas the other sect, the Pharisees believed in the resurrection], and asked him, 24 Saying, Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. 25 Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife unto his brother: 26 Likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh. 27 And last of all the woman died also. 28 Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her. 29 Jesus answered and said unto them, You do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven. 31 But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have you not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, 32 I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”
However, the ideas of the Jews [except the Messianic Jews who believe in Jesus Christ] about the afterlife and the resurrection are still hazy because their understanding is based on the writings of the prophets. Jesus’ disciples understanding of the afterlife based on the Old Testament was also hazy until Jesus clarified it for them. That is why Jesus mentioned in Matthew 13:17: “For verily [or truly] I say unto you, that many prophets and righteous men [Luke 10:24 adds ‘kings’] have desired to see those things which you see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which you hear, and have not heard them.”
With only the Old Testament scriptures as a guide, the disciples had only hazy ideas about eternal life and the resurrection, and the reestablishment of Israel as a great nation on earth. But the resurrection and the kingdom of God were indelibly ingrained in the minds of the apostles and Jesus’ other disciples when they saw Jesus Christ after His resurrection and explained the kingdom of God to them. Then they saw and understood what the prophets, righteous men and kings had desired to see but had not seen.
Thus, salvation for the Jews means God forgiving their sins, restoring their national blessings as a great nation with the Temple built in Jerusalem and the world coming to worship God in Jerusalem and seeking spiritual guidance from the Jews.
Salvation According to Mainstream Christianity
Christianity has over 2,000 major denominations and then further, more than 30,000 groups within them because they have differences of beliefs among themselves. But one thing is common to all of Christianity: the centrality of Jesus Christ to salvation.
Christians believe that “23 …all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). As a result, they believe they are all subject to the death penalty because Romans 6:23 says, “23 …the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Salvation for the Christian is forgiveness of his sins so that he can qualify for eternal life. All have sinned. But because Jesus Christ was the Creator and God of the Old Testament who created everything, His life was more valuable than all His creation put together. The God of the Old Testament emptied Himself of His divinity and came to earth as the human being Jesus Christ. He lived a sinless life and did not earn the death penalty. But He died so that He could pay the death penalty on behalf of all His creation. Because He paid the death penalty, all of humanity’s sins can be forgiven and they can now qualify to receive eternal life as a free gift as stated in Romans 6:23. Salvation for the Christian therefore is having his sins forgiven and receiving the free gift of eternal life. But that is where the differences between different Christian denominations begin.
The first major issue dividing Christians in their beliefs is how they can qualify to receive eternal life, and how many will qualify to receive it. Some believe only a few qualify whereas others believe many will qualify. Christians also believe there is some time limit before which people can accept the sacrifice of Jesus Christ as forgiveness of their sins. After that time limit there will be judgment. Those who qualify to receive eternal life will receive it. Others will not.
The second major issue dividing Christians is “what is the form of eternal life the Christian qualifies for?” Some believe the immortal Christian is a physical human being who never dies, whereas others believe that the immortal Christian receives another type of body, a spirit body.
Then the third major issue causing some division among Christians is “What happens when the Christian receives eternal life?” Most of Christianity agrees on this. They believe that those who qualify to receive eternal life go to heaven where God dwells. It is supposed to be a place of unspeakable joy and happiness. There is some disagreement on what we are supposed to do when we get to heaven. Some believe that we will spend eternity on the clouds plucking our harps and enjoying celestial music. Others believe that we will gaze on the face of God for eternity and find unsurpassable joy in doing so.
As proof that the reward of the saved is heaven, Christians cite the following scriptures:
John 14:2 “2 In my Father's house [which is in heaven] are many mansions [offices or positions of responsibility]: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”
2 Corinthians 5:8 “8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord [Jesus Christ, Who at present is seated in heaven at the right hand of God the Father].”
Philippians 1:21-23 (NIV) “21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far.”
Philippians 3:20-21 (NKJV) “20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.”
Revelation 21:4: “4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”
Revelation 22:1-5 (NKJV): “1 And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. 2 In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 3 And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. 4 They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. 5 There shall be no night there: they need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.”
According to mainstream Christianity this supposedly describes heaven.
As further support, they cite several other experiences of godly men in the Bible.
2 Kings 2:11, “11 And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.”
As Jesus hung on the cross, He told one of the criminals hung with Him in Luke 23:43 (NKJV), “43 And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise."
According to mainstream Christianity the wicked are punished by being sent to hell and tortured there for eternity. They cite the following scriptures in support for this belief:
Matthew 10:28, “28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”
Revelation 14:9-11, “9 And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, 10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: 11 And the smoke of their torment ascends up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receives the mark of his name.”
2 Thessalonians 1:4-9, “4 So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure: 5 Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer: 6 Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; 7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: 9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.”
Revelation 19:20, “20 And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.”
Luke 16:19-31, “19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: 20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, 21 and desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
“22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died and was buried; 23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and sees Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. 25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and you are tormented. 26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.
“27 Then he said, I pray to you therefore, father that you would send him to my father's house: 28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. 29 Abraham says unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. 30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. 31 And he said unto him, if they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.”
Mainstream Christianity does believe in some sort of hell, but there is wide disagreement over it. It is impossible to reconcile the idea of a merciful Creator God whose basic character is LOVE for His creation tormenting sinners for eternity in the worst possible way in an ever-burning hell, but their bodies never really being consumed.
Do These Concepts of Salvation Make Sense
Do you know that all religions which believe in a higher power believe that salvation is only for their religion? Catholicism believes that salvation is only for Catholics. All others will burn in hell for eternity without being consumed. Protestants believe that Catholics don’t get their beliefs from the Bible. Hence it is not true Christianity. They believe they are the true Christians and salvation is only for them.
The Jews believe that they are a chosen people and they will be the leading nation on earth. They believe salvation is only for them. But their ideas are hazy and leave many unanswered questions.
Islam believes that salvation is only through Islam, and very few will qualify. All others will burn in hell forever.
Sikhs believe that salvation is only for Sikhs, the Khalsa, the pure. Hinduism believes that salvation can be obtained through good deeds by anyone, but worship of their gods, who are the true gods, is essential for obtaining salvation. Then there is the German nation, which now openly acknowledges that Satan is their god. They believe that they are a special creation and are the only ones who have the divine spark in them. They are the only ones who can escape the human body that entraps the divine soul in them. Rest of humanity is mere creatures like animals and insects. When they die, that will be the end of their lives. But the Germans will escape this physical body and obtain salvation.
Important question is: Do these ideas of salvation in different religions make sense?
Islam offers an idea of paradise where one can enjoy all fleshly pleasures forever. Those in paradise will be able to eat, drink, listen to great music and enjoy sex all day long for eternity. They will have nothing else to do. Can you imagine spending eternity enjoying pleasures of the flesh with nothing else to do? But this reward is offered only to a tiny portion of male half of humanity. Can you imagine God creating humanity male and female and then offering salvation only to one half of His creation? And since only a few will qualify for this salvation, most of the rest of humanity will be tormented forever in an ever-burning hell. Can you imagine a Creator God creating His creation and then subjecting most of it to be tormented forever in pain and suffering? What a sadist God is pictured to be in Islam? Salvation in Islam thus does not make sense.
Now consider salvation offered by Hinduism and Sikhism, which is essentially the same in both religions. The goal or salvation offered to the Hindu and Sikh is to have his immortal soul be free from the cycle of birth and death as 8.4 million different creatures and merge with the great supreme soul from whom he was originally separated. Ask what purpose could God have had in creating creatures, have them go through birth and death through 8.4 million species of creatures till finally they can be born as a human being to obtain the chance to qualify for salvation through good deeds, and or worship of the Creator God and finally merge with Him? Why would God separate something from Himself (the so-called immortal soul) to create living creatures and then have them merge with Him? And why should the immortal soul be put through the horror of living life as 8.4 million creatures before getting the chance to qualify to merge with the supreme God? And it may not qualify for this ‘reward’ even in hundreds of such chances. It would be condemned to go through the same cycle one more time. The god of Hinduism appears to be a sadist as well.
Salvation in Judaism is only for the Jews. But their ideas of salvation are hazy. There are many unanswered questions. Where does the resurrection mentioned by Daniel the prophet in Daniel 12 and by Ezekiel the prophet in Ezekiel 37, which is a vision of the whole house of Israel being resurrected to physical life, fit in in the Jewish scheme of salvation? Such issues are still unresolved in Judaism. Can you imagine all those of the House of Israel who have ever lived being resurrected to live as human beings and then having children and this continuing forever? Eventually humanity will run out of land on earth. Would God design such a plan guaranteed to ultimately lead to destruction? Again, ideas of salvation in Judaism are hazy because they only have the Old Testament to rely on.
Jesus Christ’s statement to His disciples explained why their understanding of the afterlife based on the Old Testament was hazy until Jesus clarified it for them. He said in Matthew 13:17: “For verily [or truly] I say unto you, that many prophets and righteous men [Luke 10:24 adds ‘kings’] have desired to see those things which you see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which you hear, and have not heard them.” The Old Testament simply does not give a complete picture about God’s plan for humanity as explained in the pages of the Bible. That’s why Jewish ideas on salvation still remain hazy.
However, from the ideas of salvation as interpreted from the Bible, it seems that mainstream Christianity may not be faring any better than Islam, Hinduism or Sikhism. Does the idea of going to heaven and gazing at God’s face for eternity, or alternately plucking harps on clouds and listening to celestial music for eternity sound appealing to anyone? Eternity is a very very very long time. It is never-ending. John MacArthur in his book “The Glory of Heaven” p. 49 said that if this is all they are to do forever, then the prayer of many could be: “Please God, don’t take me to heaven yet…I haven’t even been to Hawaii!”
And then there is hell to contend with. Can you imagine God creating humanity where a large portion will end up in hell tortured for eternity? And the agony will be felt deeply even by those in ‘heaven’ because they are sure to have some relatives, possibly their own children or spouse or parents, consigned to hell for eternity. Thus, the idea of going to heaven as salvation or being consigned to hell does not make sense. It is not appealing to most.
Salvation According to the Church of God
The problem with mainstream Christianity’s idea of going to heaven or hell at the end of one’s life is that it is based on an incorrect interpretation of the various passages in the Bible. We will not go into a detailed proof of this in this book because proof has been provided in detail in the United Church of God booklet “Heaven & Hell: What Does the Bible Really Teach?” It is available free of charge to read download or order a printed copy at the Church’s web site www.ucg.org. All literature provided by God’s Church is free of charge, without any cost or obligation.
Essentially the confusion arises because the Bible mentions 3 heavens and 3 places called hell. The 3 heavens are, 1) The earth’s atmosphere, 2) Where celestial bodies such as the sun, moon, stars and galaxies are located, and 3) Where God’s throne is located. In interpreting some of the passages mainstream Christian denominations confuse one with the other.
Similarly, in the Bible 3 kinds of words are translated as hell, 1) The grave (translated from the Hebrew word sheol or the Greek word hades), 2) place of restraint or imprisonment for the angels on earth (translated from the Greek word tartaros, mentioned only once in the Bible), and 3) Lake of Fire (translated from the Greek word gahenna, referring to the Valley of Hinnom).
The truth according to the Bible as proved in the UCG booklet is that humans do not go to heaven on death. Jesus’ plain statement in John 3:13 is, “13 And no man has ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.” If no man has ascended to heaven, then humans do not go to heaven at death. hus, heaven cannot be the reward received by any who have died.
Many believe that they will go to heaven at death because Matthew mentions the Kingdom of Heaven’ many times in his gospel. For example, Matthew 5:3 states, “3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” He is the only writer who uses the term ‘kingdom of heaven.’ For the same situation Luke and other writers use the term ‘Kingdom of God.’ Luke 6:20 states, “Blessed be you poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.” When using the term ‘kingdom of heaven’ Matthew does not refer to God’s kingdom being in heaven. It is not in heaven, but of heaven because at present the King resides in Heaven.
These and many other passages interpreted by mainstream Christianity to support its belief that the reward of the saved is going to heaven are explained in detail in the booklet.
The booklet also thoroughly explains that the punishment of the incorrigibly wicked is not to burn in hell (gahenna or Lake of Fire) and be tortured forever. A merciful Creator God would not create beings with a plan of salvation that could potentially torture most of humanity forever. But the Bible does mention a real hell fire or Lake of Fire into which the wicked will be cast who do not repent of their sins and accept the sacrifice of Jesus Christ as payment of the death penalty on their behalf. These wicked will burn up and be consumed in the fire. Their death is permanent and will last forever. Such people are not tormented forever in the Lake of Fire. Their lives are simply extinguished forever.
Salvation thus according to the Bible as understood by the Church of God is NOT going to heaven as a reward. Nor is the punishment being tortured forever in a burning hell. The punishment definitely is burning in a fire and the body and soul being consumed together (Matthew 10:28, “28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell [gehenna]). Once the body and soul are consumed and turned into ashes, there is no more torment.
In contrast to the ideas of mainstream Christianity about Christians going to heaven or hell, God’s Church believes in the return of Jesus Christ to earth very soon to set up the Kingdom of God. At His return, the saints that God has called through the first 6,000 years of man’s history will be resurrected to eternal life as God’s literal sons and daughters with a body like that of Jesus Christ Himself, and will reign with Him on earth.
This is stated in 1 John 3:1-2, “1 Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knows us not, because it knew him not. 2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him [meaning have a spirit body like that of Jesus Christ]; for we shall see him as he is.”
1 Corinthians 15:47, 49 say the same thing, “47 The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. 48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.”
Our reward is not going to heaven with Jesus Christ but reigning on earth with Him. This is stated in Revelation 5:10, “10 And has made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.”
Revelation 20:4-6, “4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection: on such the second death [that in the gahenna fire] has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.”
God’s plan of salvation according to the Bible is pictured in the seven annual holy days that God’s Church celebrates. The first holy day is the Passover which pictures the sacrifice of Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God for the sins of mankind. The second festival is the seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread which pictures the putting away of sin out of our lives. Sin is defined as transgression (violation) of God’s Law (1 John 3:4).
The third holy day is called the Pentecost which pictures God calling into His Church only a limited few (called saints) during mankind’s first 6,000 years of history. They get their one and only chance to qualify to receive eternal life through the first resurrection at the return of Jesus Christ.
The fourth holy day is the Feast of Trumpets which pictures the return of Jesus Christ to earth and the resurrection of the saints to eternal life as immortal sons of God.
The fifth holy day is the Day of Atonement which pictures the putting away of Satan and the demons as rulers on earth and reconciliation of God to man.
The sixth festival is the Feast of Tabernacles which pictures the 1,000-year reign of Jesus Christ with the resurrected saints on earth as kings and priests.
The seventh festival is called the Last Great Day and pictures the resurrection of all of humanity to physical life to receive its true one chance to qualify to receive salvation, which is to be resurrected as God’s immortal sons and daughters. This means that all those who died without knowing the true God will now be taught God’s way of life and can qualify to receive eternal life. Most of humanity will qualify and receive eternal life.
God’s plan of salvation as pictured by the seven annual holy days is explained in great detail in the United Church of God booklet titled “God’s Holy Day Plan: Promise of Hope for all Mankind”, available free of charge at the Church’s web site www.ucg.org.
After Jesus Christ and the saints have brought salvation to all of humanity on earth, then the entire universe is available to rule for all of humanity together now glorified as sons of God. In fact, God has already allotted the stars and planets to various nations to rule after they become sons of God. Moses prophesied this in Deuteronomy 4:19, “19 And lest you lift up your eyes unto heaven, and when you see the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, should be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the Lord your God has divided unto all nations under the whole heaven.”
When God’s plan of salvation for all of humanity is complete, humanity will get to see God the Father whom no human has ever seen, because He will live with mankind, who will then have become His literal immortal sons and daughters just as Jesus Christ is His Son now. Thus, God is reproducing Himself to have an everlasting relationship with His children. This is prophesied in Revelation 7:17, “15 Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sits on the throne shall dwell among them.”
Revelation 21:1-5, “1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. 5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.”
As we have seen from the pages of the Bible, God has a dynamic plan for humanity. Humans will be able to see and meet the supreme God personally, look at Him as long as they want. He also has a dynamic future planned for them which includes ruling the universe with Him. That means no scarcity of anything. They will be given spirit bodies that will not be subject to the limitations of time and space. And they will have gained victory over death. And there are other exciting things God has planned for us which we don’t yet know (1 Corinthians 2:9, “9 But as it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him”).
The way to attain salvation is explained in the United Church of God booklet titled “The Road to Eternal Life” available free of charge and without any obligation at the Church’s web site www.ucg.org.
Will God Offer Different Kind of Salvation Based on One’s Religion
Many claim that all religions are true religions, just different paths to the same goal: salvation. But this is a foolish notion. The reason is obvious. Salvation offered by every religion is different. If the one true God has created every human being on earth, why would He promise different kind of salvation to different peoples?
Some can argue that all religions are true religions and that their adherents will receive the salvation offered by that religion. But that is a ludicrous idea. It is unreasonable to believe that the true God will offer different salvation to different human beings when all human beings look and function alike, think alike, have similar desires and aspirations. In my family I am the only Christian. My brothers and their families are all Sikhs, and all cousins on my mother’s side are Hindus. Do you believe when each of them receives salvation, it will be different for each member of the family? Such a belief is irrational. My brothers are of the same race, born to the same parents. Clearly the one true God is not going to offer different salvation to each of us.
Consider Catholicism, Protestantism, or Islam. Each of these faiths has adherents of all races, white, black, oriental and mixed races. And most of humanity belongs to mixed races anyway. All these faiths offer the same salvation to each adherent who qualifies for salvation. Clearly different salvation is not going to be offered to adherents of each of these religions based on race or nation. Hinduism and Sikhism also do not offer different salvation to their adherents based on race.
People can also change their religion and do, as I did. Would God offer such people salvation based on the previous religion or the new religion? Or can we pick and choose what salvation we want? Clearly this is all confusion. But if only one true Supreme God exists, He cannot be the author of this confusion, and if He is Almighty He would certainly have a plan to offer salvation to all of humanity with the potential for most to qualify to receive salvation. The only reasonable belief is that He is going to offer one kind of salvation, and one kind only, to all of humanity. That leads to the rational conclusion that only one religion can be the true religion, because all the others differ from it in the salvation they offer.
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