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Old 11-06-2006, 01:49 AM   #16
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From a cursory reading of several Old Testament passages, it's clear that God's plan was never for the Israelite people to the exclusion of all others. (God's initial conversation with Abraham is that through him all the nations of the earth would be blessed; the Israelites were commanded to welcome the foreigner in their midst; etc.) God's plan has always been for all people to come to a knowledge of the truth. The book of Hebrews, which deals with the issues of law (Old Covenant) and grace (New Covenant), runs through a very long list of all the faithful Israelites predating Jesus whose faith in the revelation given them by God was credited to them as righteousness. Jesus himself states that he came not to abolish the law but to fulfill it -- therefore, those who followed God before him under the old covenant of the law were welcomed into the bosom of Abraham (see his parable of the rich man and Lazarus for a sense of Heaven and Hell).

God's plan in Testaments old and new has always been one of inclusion. If there's a fault, it is with His followers who create barriers to God instead of relationship with Him.
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Old 11-06-2006, 08:12 AM   #17
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God's plan in Testaments old and new has always been one of inclusion.
If God's plan has always been one of "inclusion" of all peoples, why did He (and still does) exclude millions of people from this plan? Why did He only show the "true path" to Heaven to the Israelites (thus excluding everyone from all the other parts of the world)? There are even people today who have never even heard the name Jesus, etc. How can a "merciful" and "forgiving" God sentence millions of people to Hell - simply because they had never heard of him?
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Old 11-06-2006, 08:39 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally posted by bobert16


If God's plan has always been one of "inclusion" of all peoples, why did He (and still does) exclude millions of people from this plan? Why did He only show the "true path" to Heaven to the Israelites (thus excluding everyone from all the other parts of the world)? There are even people today who have never even heard the name Jesus, etc. How can a "merciful" and "forgiving" God sentence millions of people to Hell - simply because they had never heard of him?
First of all, you've got to be clear in understanding that not all Christians subscribe to the beliefs you've mentioned in your post. In fact, I'd venture to say that even most Christians do not believe such things. It's true that those that do tend to make the most noise, but these beliefs are definitely NOT par for the course in Christianity.

God does not exclude people from His plan. It's open to everyone. Unfortunately, some believers take it upon themselves to exclude others. This is what Jesus had to say to them: "you shut of the kingdom of heaven from men; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in." Matthew 23:13


You are correct, a merciful and forgiving God won't sentence millions to hell simply because they never heard of him.

I honestly believe that Christ's death on the cross covers everyone--the only way you can not be saved is to willingly reject that offer of salvation. There won't be any people who were lost merely because they were unlucky enough to be living in the wrong place.

After all "where you live should not decide whether you live or die."
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Old 11-06-2006, 09:10 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally posted by bobert16
If God's plan has always been one of "inclusion" of all peoples, why did He (and still does) exclude millions of people from this plan? Why did He only show the "true path" to Heaven to the Israelites (thus excluding everyone from all the other parts of the world)? There are even people today who have never even heard the name Jesus, etc. How can a "merciful" and "forgiving" God sentence millions of people to Hell - simply because they had never heard of him?
Don't blame God for what people have done and said in His name.
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Old 11-06-2006, 09:21 AM   #20
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Originally posted by anitram
I used to wonder about this.

Now I don't care about heaven and hell anymore. Let's do the best we can here, be good to each other while we are here, and God can sort the rest out later (for those who believe there is one).
What if we can't believe or disbelieve stuff in and out of existence? You may not care if there is heaven and hell, but what if that's how it's set up? What if those who don't believe in God find out there is one?

Another question you might want to ask is how good is good enough? If we're supposed to be good here on Earth, what's the standard? Even people we may consider really good -- i.e. Mother Theresa, Billy Graham -- believe (d) they're people with probelms who need forgiveness; a savior. Where do we place ourselves on the goodness rankings?
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Old 11-06-2006, 09:22 AM   #21
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Originally posted by martha


Don't blame God for what people have done and said in His name.
Nice point, Martha.
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Old 11-06-2006, 09:35 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally posted by bobert16


If God's plan has always been one of "inclusion" of all peoples, why did He (and still does) exclude millions of people from this plan? Why did He only show the "true path" to Heaven to the Israelites (thus excluding everyone from all the other parts of the world)? There are even people today who have never even heard the name Jesus, etc. How can a "merciful" and "forgiving" God sentence millions of people to Hell - simply because they had never heard of him?
Like Sean said, these assumptions make me go and I've been a Christian for quite some time. The way, the truth, the light is through the acceptance of Grace through Jesus Christ only. The life of Jesus fulfilled or nullified ALL of the OT covenants.

As a Calvinist, I believe in Special and General Revelation. General Revelation means that ANYBODY ANYWHERE can be saved, even if they've never heard the word Jesus or seen a Bible. GR refers to the Holy Spirit as it exists in Creation. Creation itself reflects the existence of God, so people can be moved by the Holy Spirit simply by looking at God's creation and thinking "wow, there must be a God for something so great to exist!" Special Revelation refers to the Holy Spirit working through the Bible and how God is revealed in Scripture.
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Old 11-06-2006, 09:45 AM   #23
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I do think many Old Testament Jews were saved. Here is my reasoning.

The reason why Christians are permitted to enter the Kingdom of Heaven is because we are found “not-guilty” because our faith in Christ has erased our entire record of sins. Jesus Christ’s righteousness has become our righteousness. It is this “righteousness” that is what gives access to heaven.

Throughout the Old and New Testament – the only way to achieve righteousness was not by “doing good deeds” – but by faith. I think we need only to look at the story of Abraham to see that he was far from perfect. He was considered righteous by his own merit. But he trusted God. (Genesis 15:6) 6Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.

If “faith” in a personal God (the Father of Christ and not any other concept of god or gods) is considered righteousness, then many others in the Old Testament were “saved.” We only need to look at the Book of Hebrews , Chapter 11 in the New Testament to see the “Hall of Faith.” To me, this is New Testament confirmation that ANY Jew prior to Christ, who lived a life of faith, and not merely a superficial display of good deeds – were in fact “saved.”
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Old 11-06-2006, 09:46 AM   #24
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Christian tradition states that there was no "heaven" before Christ. This is precisely why there are no canonized saints of those living before the New Testament.
Wow. I've never heard this before. If there was no heaven, why does the word heaven appear throughout Genesis. Why is God called the "God of heaven and earth."?

I'm not Catholic, but I would suspect there's no saints prior to the NT because Saints are in fact a Christian concept. (actually, a Catholic concept. The Bible says saints are simply followers of Christ.) The fact that there aren't any canonized saints prior to the NT doesn't negate a heaven.
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Old 11-06-2006, 09:50 AM   #25
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Wow. I've never heard this before. If there was no heaven, why does the word heaven appear throughout Genesis. Why is God called the "God of heaven and earth."?
"Heaven" is a generic term for the universe in the Old Testament context. A consistent theme, both in Pharisaic Judaism and Persian Zoroastrianism, the two Messianic religions that predated Christianity, is that "heaven" did not exist before the coming of the Messiah. The dead merely lie in waiting/oblivion until the resurrection of the dead.

I believe that this is why modern Judaism doesn't believe in heaven currently existing, but our Jewish members can correct me if I'm wrong.
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Old 11-06-2006, 10:15 AM   #26
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Originally posted by Ormus


"Heaven" is a generic term for the universe in the Old Testament context. A consistent theme, both in Pharisaic Judaism and Persian Zoroastrianism, the two Messianic religions that predated Christianity, is that "heaven" did not exist before the coming of the Messiah. The dead merely lie in waiting/oblivion until the resurrection of the dead.

I believe that this is why modern Judaism doesn't believe in heaven currently existing, but our Jewish members can correct me if I'm wrong.
Heaven can exist without people being sent there after they die.
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Old 11-06-2006, 11:23 AM   #27
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Another question you might want to ask is how good is good enough?
I leave that up to individual people to find out for themselves, according to their principles, their morals, their faith, whatever. Let a good Hindu be a good Hindu, I have absolutely no compulsion whatsoever to turn him into a Christian. None.
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Old 11-06-2006, 12:37 PM   #28
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I leave that up to individual people to find out for themselves, according to their principles, their morals, their faith, whatever. Let a good Hindu be a good Hindu, I have absolutely no compulsion whatsoever to turn him into a Christian. None.
Should a good mass murderer be allowed to act upon his own idea of what is "good" and "bad." Let a good mass murderer be a good mass muderer?

Also, you have no desire to bring other people into the "kingdom" because you yourself are not a Christian.

As Christians, we are commanded by Christ Himself to spend our lives saving lost souls and sharing the Gospel. It is not a choice.
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Old 11-06-2006, 12:43 PM   #29
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I honestly believe that Christ's death on the cross covers everyone--the only way you can not be saved is to willingly reject that offer of salvation.
Interesting post. I've never really heard that before.

Is a lack of rejection the same as acceptance?
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Old 11-06-2006, 12:46 PM   #30
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12 years of religious education.

Like I said, though, that's the tradition. Tradition also stated that babies who died before they were baptized wouldn't enter heaven either; but times change.
Thanks, I understand what you are saying now...
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