The Narrow Gate

lunamoth

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13"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Matt 7 (NIV)

43"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor[h] and hate your enemy.' 44But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. Matt 5 (NIV)


Both of these are part of the Sermon on the Mount, which to me is the nucleus of Jesus' teachings. A lot of times the idea of the narrow gate is used along with the acceptance of Jesus as Saviour and Son of God, i.e., only those who 'believe' in Jesus are entering the narrow gate (which in turn is associated with heaven in the afterlife). But, the placement of this sentence in the Sermon might imply that the narrow gate is following all of these teachings, perhaps most simply summed up in the second quote above, the *hardest* teaching of all, to love your enemies.

I don't mean to limit the idea of the narrow gate to just applying the teachings of the Sermon to one's life. I'm guessing that some people might think this means I believe you can work your way to heaven (I don't). But, maybe Jesus was talking about earthly life, and the narrow gate is how difficult it is to love each other in the here and now. The Gate is the Way, and Jesus is the key?

What do you think? What is the meaning, are the meanings, of the Narrow Gate?

lunamoth
 
What do you think?
I think it must hurt the nail to be hit on the head so hard.

You gotta walk to a gate. All the bible is full of words and names that have many levels of meanings other than the literal ones. Your name is your nature, your way. Doing something in Jesus name, is to do it in his nature, in his way.

WWJD is powerful consideration....and I think a path to that gate.
 
I don't mean to limit the idea of the narrow gate to just applying the teachings of the Sermon to one's life. I'm guessing that some people might think this means I believe you can work your way to heaven (I don't). But, maybe Jesus was talking about earthly life, and the narrow gate is how difficult it is to love each other in the here and now. The Gate is the Way, and Jesus is the key?
Interesting topic. When I am reading the Bible, I generally put myself back in that time and in front of the ones talking.

Jesus was talking to the jews and those people at that time, and the narrow gate could be symbolizing a type of "remnant" of those that had ears to hear and eyes to see and not "hardened" to His words, would be saved.

In fact, one prohecy refers to them specifically and though this did occur in the first century on Jerusalem and Judea, a Remnant did through the "narrow gate" escape as prophecied.

Luke 21:23 "But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people.

The word LOVE is said and used less than the other 4 letter word "F...K" in the world today.

Maybe other religions don't view Jesus as the One to come in the OT because they feel He talked more to and about the jews and Israel than He did about the world, as much of the Bible does concern OC Israel/Jerusalem/Adam of the "flesh", types and shadows of the NC of Life/Spirit that was to come from the One like unto Moses.?
Matt 10:22 "And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end [#5056] will be saved. 23 "When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

Revelation 2:26 "And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end [#5056], to him I will give power over the nations --
For example, Paul in Romans describes the deliverer out of Zion which appears to be the fulfillment of the 70 weeks of Daniel. The Israel of God are now those that come to the stauros set up for an "ensign" that is to gather Israel and the World to the Living Word sent down by God the Father.

Romans 11:26 and so all Israel shall be saved, according as it hath been written, `There shall come forth out of Zion he who is delivering, and he shall turn away iniquity from Jacob,[genesis 49 Sceptre of Judah?]

Roman 9:25
As He says also in Hosea: "I will call them My people, who were not My people, And her beloved, who was not beloved." 26 "And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them, ['You are] not My people,' There they shall be called sons of the living God." 27 Isaiah also cries out concerning Israel: "Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, The remnant will be saved. 28 For He will finish the work and cut [it] short in righteousness, Because the LORD will make a short work upon the earth."
Revelation 18:4 And I heard another voice from heaven saying, "Come out of her, My People, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.
Daniel 12:1 `And at that time stand up doth Michael, the great head, who is standing up for the sons of thy people, and there hath been a time of distress, such as hath not been since there hath been a nation till that time, and at that time do Thy People escape, every one who is found written in the book. 2 `And the multitude of those sleeping in the dust of the ground do awake, some to life age-during, and some to reproaches--to abhorrence age-during.
 
Lunamoth, I think you hit a subject that's been on my mind a lot lately. In the past I've always regarded the narrow gate passage to refer to salvation (i.e. Jesus being the gate, so accept Him as your Savior). But I'm coming to a realization of a deeper connotation than the apparent.

In Matthew 22:37-40,

"37Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.


38This is the first and great commandment.

39And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."

You hit on the idea of how difficult it is to love people. Sometimes our love for others are NOT with the purest intentions.; sometimes we expect something in return or we give love conditionally. If we learn to love others as God does, that is unconditionally, which is really hard to do, then we fulfill the law of God. The problem is that we are selfish and prideful humans filled with all kinds emotions that can often lead us astray from "agape" loving. This is precisely why we need the Spirit of God in our lives. We need to experience God's love, power, and strength in our hearts so that we can tolerate, forgive, and love others, including our enemies. So we need to first establish a deep relationship with God. In the Christian perspective, the narrow gate to enter that relationship is through Christ, both in His sacrifice and in His teachings. Staying in the love of God is the narrow path, which requires constant attention, for with the world's distractions, it's easy stray from the course. When we stray from God, we are led to the broad road of what the world offers, many of which become traps and vices, aimed at our destruction, and the destruction of our relationship with God and with others.

One question I would pose is this:

Is it possible for someone outside the knowledge of Christ to find this narrow path with God (i.e through a different religion, belief system, or understanding of God), providing they fulfill the law of love (Matthew 22:37-40)?
 
Dondi said:
You hit on the idea of how difficult it is to love people. Sometimes our love for others are NOT with the purest intentions.; sometimes we expect something in return or we give love conditionally. If we learn to love others as God does, that is unconditionally, which is really hard to do, then we fulfill the law of God. The problem is that we are selfish and prideful humans filled with all kinds emotions that can often lead us astray from "agape" loving. This is precisely why we need the Spirit of God in our lives. We need to experience God's love, power, and strength in our hearts so that we can tolerate, forgive, and love others, including our enemies. So we need to first establish a deep relationship with God. In the Christian perspective, the narrow gate to enter that relationship is through Christ, both in His sacrifice and in His teachings. Staying in the love of God is the narrow path, which requires constant attention, for with the world's distractions, it's easy stray from the course. When we stray from God, we are led to the broad road of what the world offers, many of which become traps and vices, aimed at our destruction, and the destruction of our relationship with God and with others.

I like the points you make in this paragraph, Dondi. The problem is that we are not pure, our motivations are not pure, probably most of the time it's almost imposbbile for us to honestly admit all the underlying motivations for our thougths and actions. We often do good things for very mixed (but not all bad) reasons, and good people do things that they know are selfish and wrong at times. One of the things about the doctrine of original sin, in my mind, is not that we inherit some kind of sin DNA (a popular phrase these days), but that we are complex beings with many different things pulling at us in every decision we make. We inherently can't always do the righteous thing. Yet, we are called and expected (again, by my understanding of the Gospel) to do just that. Thus the need for forgiveness and mercy, for all of us.

Try as we might, pure motivations are rare.

About your last question, my understanding is that no one is outside the knowledge or love of Christ. The narrow path is available to everyone and not just those who call themselves Christians find it. Christ came for us all, He wants us all, and He will get us all. Can I explain this in words that will satisfy everyone, or anyone, else? No. To me it is a matter of faith. Grace is grace.

peace,
lunamoth
 
I believe that Jesus is the way and noone gets to the Father except through Him. The narrow path is accepting Jesus as your savior.

I have issues with WWJD because it is impossible to do what Jesus did because He was without sin and led a sinless life in a world saturated with sin. If we could possibly do what Jesus did.. there would be no need for His advocacy with the Father.

I also believe that we cannot possibly love like Jesus loved without having Jesus. I do not believe the love is like that..like a works thing.. I believe that the love comes with the change when you become a new creation.. and even then its a work in progress. We cannot expect perfection from ourselves or others lest we boast and become self-righteous.
 
Is it possible for someone outside the knowledge of Christ to find this narrow path with God (i.e through a different religion, belief system, or understanding of God), providing they fulfill the law of love (Matthew 22:37-40)?
and drumroll
About your last question, my understanding is that no one is outside the knowledge or love of Christ. The narrow path is available to everyone and not just those who call themselves Christians find it. Christ came for us all, He wants us all, and He will get us all. Can I explain this in words that will satisfy everyone, or anyone, else? No. To me it is a matter of faith. Grace is grace.
I say amen.

this heretic, ducking from the stones believes that one has not ever had heard of the bible or Christ can be admitted... grace is... faith is... love is.... no matter what language, what continent, what planet, or how you find it... don't need the shrubbery or the picket fence to have found the path....and walk it
 
This is precisely why we need the Spirit of God in our lives. We need to experience God's love, power, and strength in our hearts so that we can tolerate, forgive, and love others, including our enemies.

Try as we might, pure motivations are rare.

About your last question, my understanding is that no one is outside the knowledge or love of Christ. The narrow path is available to everyone and not just those who call themselves Christians find it. Christ came for us all, He wants us all, and He will get us all. Can I explain this in words that will satisfy everyone, or anyone, else? No. To me it is a matter of faith. Grace is grace.
Hi Luna.
Romans 14:11 For it is written: ["As] I live, says the LORD, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God."

So how do we get other major religions to see that Christ was the True Son of God sent for the world?

In either case, the Cross/stauros finished it and we must endure to the End/last day to enter the narrow gate, just as Jesus told the jews in His time.

Does judaism realize that after the messiah comes, dies, that a new heaven and earth comes down later after the Day of Vengeance/Time of the End in Isaiah 61??

John 19:30 So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished! [#5055]" And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.

Isaiah 61:2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn,

Matt 10:22
"And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end [#5056] will be saved. 23 "When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

Revelation 2:26 "And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end [#5056], to him I will give power over the nations --
 
Dondi said:
Staying in the love of God is the narrow path, which requires constant attention, for with the world's distractions, it's easy stray from the course. When we stray from God, we are led to the broad road of what the world offers, many of which become traps and vices, aimed at our destruction, and the destruction of our relationship with God and with others.

Sorry about being redundant, but I just re-noticed this very key point you made, Dondi. Excellent.

lunamoth
 
InChristAlways said:
Jesus was talking to the jews and those people at that time, and the narrow gate could be symbolizing a type of "remnant" of those that had ears to hear and eyes to see and not "hardened" to His words, would be saved.

Hi InChristAlways,

Interesting point. No doubt that the passage mentions that few are those who find the narrow gate, so it does fit in with the idea of the remnant. The few could be those who when listening to Jesus actually "got it." Somewhere else recently, I think it was somewhere on CR, there was a discussion about how difficult it is for people to generate and understand new ideas. We are so conditioned by our culture, our brains are shaped by it, that even if a new truth is given to us we often don't have the mental agility to 'hear' it.

peace,
lunamoth
 
Does judaism realize that after the messiah comes, dies, that a new heaven and earth comes down later after the Day of Vengeance/Time of the End in Isaiah 61??

John 19:30 So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished! [#5055]" And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.

Isaiah 61:2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn,
lunamoth said:
Hi InChristAlways,

Interesting point. No doubt that the passage mentions that few are those who find the narrow gate, so it does fit in with the idea of the remnant. The few could be those who when listening to Jesus actually "got it." Somewhere else recently, I think it was somewhere on CR, there was a discussion about how difficult it is for people to generate and understand new ideas. We are so conditioned by our culture, our brains are shaped by it, that even if a new truth is given to us we often don't have the mental agility to 'hear' it.
peace,
lunamoth
Hi Luna. The reason I mention Israel is because of my studying on Daniel 11 and 12, which appears to concern Israel after Jesus brings the NC to them[Jeremiah 31].

And as Paul says here, it is by the Remnant being saved that all Israel would be saved.
One of these days I would like to harmonize all of Paul's epistles into one as they are all addressed to the Ecclessia of Christ, just as the 4 gospels were harmonized about a 100 yrs ago.

Roman 9:25 As He says also in Hosea: "I will call them My people, who were not My people, And her beloved, who was not beloved." 26 "And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them, ['You are] not My people,' There they shall be called sons of the living God." 27 Isaiah also cries out concerning Israel: "Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, The remnant will be saved. 28 For He will finish the work and cut [it] short in righteousness, Because the LORD will make a short work upon the earth."

Romans 11:26 and so all Israel shall be saved, according as it hath been written, `There shall come forth out of Zion he who is delivering, and he shall turn away iniquity from Jacob,[genesis 49 Sceptre of Judah?]

Ezekiel 39:7 "So I will make My holy name known in the midst of My people Israel, and I will not [let them] profane My holy name anymore. Then the nations shall know that [I am] the LORD, the Holy One in Israel.
 
InChristAlways said:
Hi Luna. The reason I mention Israel is because of my studying on Daniel 11 and 12, which appears to concern Israel after Jesus brings the NC to them[Jeremiah 31].

And as Paul says here, it is by the Remnant being saved that all Israel would be saved.
One of these days I would like to harmonize all of Paul's epistles into one as they are all addressed to the Ecclessia of Christ, just as the 4 gospels were harmonized about a 100 yrs ago.

Roman 9:25 As He says also in Hosea: "I will call them My people, who were not My people, And her beloved, who was not beloved." 26 "And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them, ['You are] not My people,' There they shall be called sons of the living God." 27 Isaiah also cries out concerning Israel: "Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, The remnant will be saved. 28 For He will finish the work and cut [it] short in righteousness, Because the LORD will make a short work upon the earth."

Romans 11:26 and so all Israel shall be saved, according as it hath been written, `There shall come forth out of Zion he who is delivering, and he shall turn away iniquity from Jacob,[genesis 49 Sceptre of Judah?]

Ezekiel 39:7 "So I will make My holy name known in the midst of My people Israel, and I will not [let them] profane My holy name anymore. Then the nations shall know that [I am] the LORD, the Holy One in Israel.

Hi InChristAlways,

I was just kind of free-thinking about the term remnant and the passage about the narrow gate, not necessarily trying to recap your point. Sorry, not trying to put words in your mouth or anything.

I must admit that your study of the Bible leaves me rather in the dust. Am I correct in that you have a particular concern for Jews to recognize Christ as the Messiah?

From my perspective I don't really think that our Christian calling to evangelize means that we need to convince others of the 'correctness' of our beliefs. I think it means we are to share Christ's love with the world by our words and deeds, and to express the good news and reassurance that God extends His love to everyone. As for the Kingdom, we build it with our loving kindness but it is ultimately in God's hands. In the fullness of time we all, which of course includes all Israel, and shall be saved. Christ has done it--it is accomplished. Now, what being 'saved' is is a whole other thread. :)

lunamoth
 
13"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Matt 7 (NIV)

Ezekiel 39:7
"So I will make My holy name known in the midst of My people Israel, and I will not [let them] profane My holy name anymore. Then the nations shall know that [I am] the LORD, the Holy One in Israel.

27 Isaiah also cries out concerning Israel: "Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, The remnant will be saved. 28 For He will finish the work and cut [it] short in righteousness, Because the LORD will make a short work upon the earth."
Hi InChristAlways,

I was just kind of free-thinking about the term remnant and the passage about the narrow gate, not necessarily trying to recap your point. Sorry, not trying to put words in your mouth or anything.

I must admit that your study of the Bible leaves me rather in the dust. Am I correct in that you have a particularconcern for Jews to recognize Christ as the Messiah?

In the fullness of time we all, which of course includes all Israel, and shall be saved. Christ has done it--it is accomplished. Now, what being 'saved' is is a whole other thread. :)
I never try to convert, though I do try to talk to atheists and others that have fallen away, but I do love discussing the Scriptures.

I was just interested in the interpretation of the OT prophecies relating to the Day of the Lord/Time of the End and Israel from both a jewish and christian view.

The words day of the lord occur in 370 verses, including 25 exact phrase matches shown first:

The words time of the end occur in 9 verses, including 5 exact phrase matches shown first:

The gentiles, including the muslims never had the Covenant that God gave Israel and the Messiah is to come to them first according to Malachi/Isaiah 28, correct? Then after that, the Day of the Lord comes, at least according to the way I view it though "jewish eyes" :eek:

Sorry I took this off topic.
Steve
 
lunamoth said:
About your last question, my understanding is that no one is outside the knowledge or love of Christ. The narrow path is available to everyone and not just those who call themselves Christians find it. Christ came for us all, He wants us all, and He will get us all. Can I explain this in words that will satisfy everyone, or anyone, else? No. To me it is a matter of faith. Grace is grace.

I would like to propose the notion that there are people in other religions who have found this narrow gate through their own understanding of God in the paradigm of their religion. Somehow, apart from Biblical knowledge, they have found the Love of God in their hearts and have known forgiveness of sins. I tend to think that in these cases the grace of God is evident in their lives. Though they don't know Christ according to knowledge, they know Him in their hearts. It does not diminish the fact that Christ died for them, it's just that they may not have sought God according to the Christian tradition, yet God knows their desire to know Him. That the Sacrifice of Christ is manifested to them, though they never have heard of Christ or perhaps heard wrongly about Him. Wouldn't you agree?
 
Faithfulservant said:
I believe that Jesus is the way and noone gets to the Father except through Him. The narrow path is accepting Jesus as your savior.

I have issues with WWJD because it is impossible to do what Jesus did because He was without sin and led a sinless life in a world saturated with sin. If we could possibly do what Jesus did.. there would be no need for His advocacy with the Father.

I also believe that we cannot possibly love like Jesus loved without having Jesus. I do not believe the love is like that..like a works thing.. I believe that the love comes with the change when you become a new creation.. and even then its a work in progress. We cannot expect perfection from ourselves or others lest we boast and become self-righteous.

i agree with FaithfulServant:) .
Jesus was without sin & he knew no sin. Jesus is our advocate with the Father. I dont think it is possible to be that way either, but i think we can try to be more like Jesus & God will honor our efforts. OTH- it does not matter how much love we show & how we candy coat it, without the blood of Jesus for remission of sin, all that Jesus taught & all the love he showed up to Calvary is worthless without the shedding of blood. Faith in the blood of Jesus is what makes us different from other religions:)

Jesus said he entered through the door & became the door of the sheep & the sheep hear his voice & follow him. any man who tries to enter a different way (outside of Jesus) is as a thief & a robber. the bible says not every man who cries LORD LORD will enter & he said there will be many to whom he says... "Depart from me ye workers of iniquity, I never knew you." (& i dont think he was excluding those just because they claim the 'title' Christian)

Jesus gave Peter the keys to the Kingdom & those Keys are the death, burial & resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is the way. This is the gospel that was preached by the Apostles. This is the basic of our faith.

so there are two paths. not many like some people claim.
the narrow one is narrow because few choose to travel it. the wide one is wide & crooked because more people choose the way to destruction. they do not like the narrow path that Jesus gave to us.
there is a way that seemeth right to a man, but it is not always right.
i am paraphrasing all this because i dont have time right now to look up all the scriptures that would pertain & there are many that pertain.
there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run, there is still time to change the road you are on
even Led Zeppelin got it right.
 
InChristAlways said:
I never try to convert, though I do try to talk to atheists and others that have fallen away, but I do love discussing the Scriptures.

I was just interested in the interpretation of the OT prophecies relating to the Day of the Lord/Time of the End and Israel from both a jewish and christian view.

That's cool. :cool: Sorry if I read more into your comments than you intended.

The words day of the lord occur in 370 verses, including 25 exact phrase matches shown first:

The words time of the end occur in 9 verses, including 5 exact phrase matches shown first:

The gentiles, including the muslims never had the Covenant that God gave Israel and the Messiah is to come to them first according to Malachi/Isaiah 28, correct? Then after that, the Day of the Lord comes, at least according to the way I view it though "jewish eyes" :eek:

Sorry I took this off topic.
Steve

No apologies required. I enjoy the tangents too.

lunamoth
 
Hi Bandit, good to see you back. Hope your Christmas was very merry!
Bandit said:
i agree with FaithfulServant:) .
Jesus was without sin & he knew no sin. Jesus is our advocate with the Father. I dont think it is possible to be that way either, but i think we can try to be more like Jesus & God will honor our efforts. OTH- it does not matter how much love we show & how we candy coat it, without the blood of Jesus for remission of sin, all that Jesus taught & all the love he showed up to Calvary is worthless without the shedding of blood. Faith in the blood of Jesus is what makes us different from other religions:)
I don't see a single thing there that I would disagree with, Bandit. We will all fall short of the perfect love of Jesus, and yes that is why the need for forgiveness and the assistance of the Spirit and the reconciliation that came on Calvary. I think Wil said that consideration of WWJD is "powerful" and a "path to the gate," and I would agree with that too.

Bandit said:
Jesus said he entered through the door & became the door of the sheep & the sheep hear his voice & follow him. any man who tries to enter a different way (outside of Jesus) is as a thief & a robber. the bible says not every man who cries LORD LORD will enter & he said there will be many to whom he says... "Depart from me ye workers of iniquity, I never knew you." (& i dont think he was excluding those just because they claim the 'title' Christian).

Jesus gave Peter the keys to the Kingdom & those Keys are the death, burial & resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is the way. This is the gospel that was preached by the Apostles. This is the basic of our faith.

so there are two paths. not many like some people claim.
the narrow one is narrow because few choose to travel it. the wide one is wide & crooked because more people choose the way to destruction. they do not like the narrow path that Jesus gave to us.
there is a way that seemeth right to a man, but it is not always right.
i am paraphrasing all this because i dont have time right now to look up all the scriptures that would pertain & there are many that pertain.

even Led Zeppelin got it right.

Good points all, Bandit. I'd like to write more now but I've got to put the girls to bed! Be back later.

peace,
lunamoth
 
Dondi said:
I would like to propose the notion that there are people in other religions who have found this narrow gate through their own understanding of God in the paradigm of their religion. Somehow, apart from Biblical knowledge, they have found the Love of God in their hearts and have known forgiveness of sins. I tend to think that in these cases the grace of God is evident in their lives. Though they don't know Christ according to knowledge, they know Him in their hearts. It does not diminish the fact that Christ died for them, it's just that they may not have sought God according to the Christian tradition, yet God knows their desire to know Him. That the Sacrifice of Christ is manifested to them, though they never have heard of Christ or perhaps heard wrongly about Him. Wouldn't you agree?

I would agree.

lunamoth
 
Faithfulservant said:
I believe that Jesus is the way and noone gets to the Father except through Him. The narrow path is accepting Jesus as your savior.

I have issues with WWJD because it is impossible to do what Jesus did because He was without sin and led a sinless life in a world saturated with sin. If we could possibly do what Jesus did.. there would be no need for His advocacy with the Father.

I also believe that we cannot possibly love like Jesus loved without having Jesus. I do not believe the love is like that..like a works thing.. I believe that the love comes with the change when you become a new creation.. and even then its a work in progress. We cannot expect perfection from ourselves or others lest we boast and become self-righteous.

Hi Faithfulservant,

You are right that as Christians we can't separate the Gospels from one another and take the practical teachings of the Sermon the Mount in Matthew and ignore the emphasis on believing in Christ the Son given to us in John's beautiful testimony. I searched and counted the word 'believe' and its dervatives in NIV online and found that, in addition to this:

36..."Don't be afraid; just believe." (Mark 5:36)

that the word believe is used 259 times (NIV) in the entire Bible, OT plus NT. It's in the entire OT only 29 times (11%), Matthew 9 times (3.5%), Mark 15 times (5.8%), and Luke 10 times (3.8 %). It's in John 74 times for a big 29%. It's in the total of the Epistles 73 times, Acts 47 times, and not at all in Revelation.

So, I would conclude that John is hammering home a point. :)

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6) NIV

This is for the living, right, about coming to the Father. But also in John we read that a time is coming when all who are their graves will hear his voice and come out--to be judged based upon their deeds (John 5:28). And, if they 'heard' the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount and tried to love their enemies, or at least believed that they were supposed to, and were assisted by their relationship with God, the judging might go quite a bit better. You're going to live your life based upon your beliefs. Just a thought.

My current understanding (and yes, I read the Bible! although I'm not as well versed as you) is that salvation, reconciliation, is always available to us. And the more we recognize the work of the Spirit in us, the closer we draw to God and the easier it is to accept that salvation.

I've told this analogy before here but I will again because it illustrates some of my thinking on this. I've heard the story about the minister (or whoever) who, while teaching a seeker of Christ, holds out a dollar bill and says 'here, take this, it's a free gift.' And as long as the bill remains in the minister's hand he keeps asking the seeker, 'is it yours?' the point being that the gift is not given until it is recieved. And in a way I like this metaphor because you can't get God's love until you turn to God and open yourself to His love--it takes that on your part. But, unlike the minister, God never puts the bill back in His pocket. And as John says, even the dead will have a chance to hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live (John 5:25).

And finally, as ministers of His Church we are to see Christ in each other, we are to represent Christ and to carry on His work of reconciliation in the world. To me the best way to do that is to follow those teachings from the Sermon on the Mount.

Another 'belief' quote, most handy:

"I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" (Mark 9:24)

Anyway, you've inspired me to read John again starting tonight. Thank you!

lunamoth
 
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I think Lunamoth is on a roll with this one.

"He who hath seen me hath seen the Father"
John 14:9

This is the point, that Christ is God become flesh; Christ is the Narrow Gate, and the Narrow Gate is Love.

Christ is the Incarnation of that Love - the Love of God for his creation.

"God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him."
1 John 4:16

As Tolstoy (and Gandhi) said: 'where love is, there God is also'

To love is a Godly thing, and if there is love in one's heart, there is God in one's heart - when Christ said 'Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect' (Matthew 5:48) he was not asking the impossible. He was saying, not simply love, but love without counting the cost, and to love without counting the cost means we must love unconditionally.

"blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed."
John 20:29

To me this must mean, as Dondi said, those who have never set eyes nor heard the word of Scripture - and this sets them apart from those who have seen and heard, and yet continue to disbelieve (to them is addressed the doctrine that there is no salvation outside the church - but that church includes those who have not seen, and yet believe).

Clement of Alexandria named them 'anonymous Christians' - they are hidden in Christ, and Christ is hidden in them.

The Christian, surely, must hope and pray that all will be saved?
What joy is there in knowing that some are bound for perdition?
What empty triumph will there be when the 'justified' enter Paradise to find the angelic choirs weeping with their Master over the loss of just one soul?

And what answer shall we give when we are asked, "where is your brother?"

Thomas
 
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