This section, dealing with the divine plan of salvation, is based on the book, New Testament Revelations of Jesus of Nazareth, which while it is not reflecting mainstream Christian thinking, I believe to be sound. Readers are invited to consider and decide for themselves.
Christians in general believe that Jesus’ shed blood and death on the cross save humans from their sins and satisfy the penalty of death which was brought about on all humanity through our first parents’ disobedience. This doctrine, including the idea that Jesus was fully God and fully human, and therefore his death could pay the death penalty incurred by the entire sinning humanity, was established at the Roman Church’s Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. These ideas were not believed unanimously by all, but were accepted as orthodox only after a period of bitter controversies between those who held these views and those who did not. It was only at that time that many of the books that now constitute the Bible were sanctioned by the church leaders as canonical. Even centuries later, when groups separated from Roman Catholicism in the Eastern Orthodox schism of the eleventh century and the Protestant movement in the sixteenth century, the doctrine of vicarious atonement as the divine plan of salvation has been retained by most denominations that resulted from the splits.
While most of us in the Christian tradition have taken this teaching for granted and accepted it by faith, some have felt uneasy or had questions about it. Let’s take a closer look at this belief and consider if this plan of salvation indeed makes sense. According to it, Jesus is the saviour of those who believe and personally accept that he paid the penalty for their sins. By shedding his blood, he washed away their sins, imputed his righteousness to them, and reconciled them with the Father. He is also believed to have saved them from God’s wrath. Jesus’ vicarious atonement made believers, upon accepting him as their saviour, redeemed and accepted children of God fit for enjoying heaven and the presence of the Father. The corollary of this belief is that those who have not accepted Jesus as their personal saviour will be sent to hell to be eternally damned and punished.
This plan of salvation, accepted by the majority of Christians, has actually hindered believers to reach what they fervently long for. Believing that they are saved and made righteous by accepting Jesus’ death as a sacrifice for their sins, they remain in a state of false security and fail to grow in love and character. They stagnate in their soul development, not attempting to develop qualities which are necessary for a relationship with God. So indeed, not everyone who says “Lord, Lord” will enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Matt. 7:21-23).
In reality, Jesus taught a different message of salvation. When he came, he was filled with the Divine Love of God, which had been unavailable to humanity since the Fall of the first parents. When the first human couple were created by being given a soul, they were not given the Divine Love. However, the way was open for them to seek it through earnest prayer. So they had the potential for immortality, which they could freely choose to seek. Upon their disobedience, however, this potential was taken away and in that sense, they died. In a way, they became disinherited children of God (though still children by creation) with no mediator between them and the Father. Jesus brought the good news that the Father had changed His will and the Divine Love and immortality were again available to humans, as well as to those in the spirit world. So while in the first man, Adam, all humans died (forfeited immortality), in Jesus, all are made alive – in regaining access to immortality (1 Cor. 15:22).
Jesus became the mediator of life, divine nature and immortality by announcing and teaching that the Divine Love was again available, as well as showing the way. Humans can become the recipients of this Love by earnestly seeking it through prayer. They will then participate in soul transformation by the Divine Love imparting divine nature and changing the soul from only a divine image to divine substance. This then results in the new birth. When humans who during their earthly lives pursued the Divine Love path pass upon death into the spirit world, they will be fit to reside in the mansions of the Kingdom of God or Celestial Heavens.
So to recap, Jesus is the saviour not by paying a supposed debt to God by his blood and death, but rather by bringing to light and showing the way to eternal life and immortality. He was the first to receive the Divine Love and become, at the soul level, divine himself – though not God. Thus he became the first fruit of the resurrection (Acts 26:23; 1 Cor. 15:20-23).
Everyone on earth and the spirit world can choose to follow Jesus’ example – the only way to unison and at-onement with the Father and access to the heavenly mansions of God’s Kingdom. Seeking soul transformation through the Divine Love so that the human soul becomes like God’s Soul and a partaker of the divine qualities of Love and life is an individual pursuit, because salvation is individual. Each person is responsible for their own growth.
In other words, the plan of salvation – the only way a person can be saved from their sins is through the new birth as Jesus pointed out to Nicodemus (John 3:3-8). This is the result of the flowing into the human soul of the Divine Love. As the soul becomes filled with the Love of the Father, everything that tends to sin and error will be absorbed by the Love and disappear. The Love spreads like leaven through dough and the person becomes like the Father in divine nature and fit to inhabit God’s Kingdom (Matt. 13:33; 2 Pet. 1:4).
So according to the plan of salvation that Jesus taught, one’s soul is not transformed by Jesus’ shed blood and death, but rather by imitating his earthly life and following his teachings. Jesus brought the message of the availability of the Divine Love through which the soul is transformed from divine image into Divine Substance and this results in the New Birth and salvation.
Photo credit: Blas Lamagni
Related articles on this website:
Salvation as New Birth
You Must Be Born Again
Salvation as Soul Transformation
At-Onement with God
Plan of Salvation – Bible
Reflection on the Gospels