Christianity has traditionally taught that to be saved, one must accept Jesus Christ as one’s Savior. The question naturally arises, what about those who had died before Jesus’ coming to earth or lived in parts of the world where Christianity for various reasons was not available to them? Are they all lost? Or, is there a possibility of salvation outside Christianity?
As this website shows, life continues beyond the grave and the opportunity for salvation is not limited to our brief earthly life. However, can one embark on the way to salvation without accepting Jesus as one’s Savior?
Let’s first consider what was Jesus’ earthly mission and how he is our Savior. His two-fold mission to declare to humankind that the Father had re-bestowed the Divine Love which Adam or the first parents had forfeited; and to show humans the way by which that love could be obtained, so that its possessor would become a partaker of the divine nature and immortal (2 Pet. 1:3-4; 1 Tim. 6:15-16). Jesus not only taught this truth, also referred as the New Birth (John 1:13; 3:3-7), but also lived it as his soul was filled with the Divine Love. Thus he brought immortality and eternal life to light (2 Tim. 1:10), showing humans how to inherit the Kingdom of God and experience salvation.
Jesus never claimed that he came to earth to pay any ransom for humankind, or to save them by his death on the cross, or to save them in any other way than by teaching them that the great gift or privilege of obtaining immortality had been bestowed upon them, and that by prayer and faith they could obtain it. Jesus’ blood and death, or the belief therein, does not reconcile humans to God. For a full reconciliation to God to occur, the soul has to be purified and only the Divine Love, imparted through the Holy Spirit, can bring this about. It erases sin from the soul and makes its recipient at one with God – a true child of God partaking of divine substance (in contrast to only being a child of God through the creation of soul, which is true of all humans).
In a reference that is a basis of much of the material on this website, we read regarding God re-bestowing the Divine Love through Jesus:
“But God in His goodness and love did not restrict the bestowal of this love to those who might be fortunate enough to learn of it from Jesus and his apostles, but sent His Holy Spirit to implant it in the souls of all men who might be in such condition of soul aspiration and longing as to permit this Love to enter their souls. When spirits became possessed of this knowledge they commenced the work of trying to influence men in such a way that there arose in them a longing for a closer unity with God, and an opening up of the soul perceptions, and as a result many men, in various parts of the world, received this Love in their souls without knowing that it was this Divine Love; but it was, and when these men in their spirit forms entered the spirit world, they soon found that, to some extent, they were possessed of this Love, and it was not difficult for them to listen to the explanations and teachings of those spirits who had received it, as to the truth of its existence….But whether the souls of mortals or spirits received the knowledge of this truth from Jesus or from the workings of the Holy Spirit in its ministrations, they all know that the seeking for and getting this Divine Love are the only means by which the soul may become an inhabitant of the Celestial Heavens.”
In other words, humans don’t need to have heard Jesus’ teachings from him when he walked the earth or from his followers after his death and throughout history up to our time. This means that those disseminating Jesus’ teachings don’t have to unduly stress or be discouraged that they are seemingly not accomplishing much by way of leading people to salvation. This is because there are far more people who may have the Divine Love in their soul and be on their way to salvation than have come to understand its existence or how it works. Christians don’t have to feel like little is happening in the world as far as salvation or feel like everything depends on them because God and the angels and the Holy Spirit are working behind the scenes in ways we know nothing about.
As an example from second-hand experience, I have learned the following. About five years ago, my husband Alex became interested in Buddhism. Surprisingly, he was led to it through a worldwide Christian meditation community, the leader of which, a Catholic monk, Father Lawrence Freeman, quoted in his talks from a number of Buddhist texts, including the Dhammapada. From there Alex explored other Buddhist writings and found them meaningful.
Buddhism – the teachings of the historical Buddha who lived about 500 years BCE — is commonly seen as a philosophy or a moral / ethical way of life. It focuses on finding individual happiness now and beyond this life. God, or a higher power, is not a part of the picture. This is certainly true of the early Buddhism, now known as Theravada. In an oversimplified way, a Theravada Buddhist believes in individual enlightenment with the goal of becoming an arhat, which is someone who has attained enlightenment and escaped the cycle of birth and death (the Buddha was an arhat). They believe this is done through one’s own effort, without the help of any outside influences or forces.
Not as commonly known is the fact that around the time that Jesus came to earth, Buddhism entered a new phase. Writings appeared, purported to come from the Buddha, yet different and therefore not accepted by many Buddhists. They were at a much higher level of spirituality, being concerned not just about one’s own well-being, but also that of others – in fact, of all sentient beings. This new phase of Buddhism is known as Mahayana. According to Mahayana Buddhism, individual enlightenment is not possible. The ideal is to enable all beings to be enlightened together, not only out of a sense of compassion, but because we cannot separate ourselves from each other. There is also involvement and assistance of spirit beings in the human spiritual journey and progress.
So in a nutshell, Theravada promotes personal liberation from suffering achieved by one’s own efforts, and Mahayana promotes liberating all sentient beings from suffering with the assistance of other powers. (References: http://www.diffen.com/difference/Mahayana_vs_Theravada; http://www.alanpeto.com/buddhism/understanding-mahayana-theravada/)
Many Buddhist concepts sound foreign to me and I don’t resonate with them, though I also see many truths and convergence with Christian principles. However, I am wondering if with Jesus’ coming, at which time both humans on earth and in the spirit world were introduced to the availability of Divine Love, higher spirit influences brought about what the Buddhists retrospectively call a “turning of the wheel”, whereby the new writings became much more spiritual – promoting and admonishing to love, compassion, empathetic joy, and sacrifice for the good of others. The ideals to be striven for (beyond the scope of this article) cannot be reached by the natural love alone, but only Divine Love. So even though these Buddhists both on earth and in the spirit world may not understand the Creator God and praying for the Divine Love as a way to the New Birth and salvation, based on the above quote, they may well have a measure of the Divine Love in their souls and thus be moving toward salvation and life in the Celestial Kingdom.
Reference: True Gospel Revealed Anew by Jesus, Vol. 1, p. 205
- Divine Love versus Human Love
- The Highest Law – Law of Love
- Divine Love vs Human Love – graphic
- Two Kinds of Love – PDF
- God is Love – PDF
- God’s Gift of Divine Love – PDF
- Divine Love Universality
- Working of the Divine Love
- Aspects of Love
- Types of Love – PDF
- Brotherhood of Man