Please, here's another question:
I have been studying the topic of salvation for nothing less than 25 years. Paul, Peter and their associates got it wrong somewhere. Jesus did not teach the atonement doctrine. He did not go from place to place, screaming atonement. He went from place to place declaring, "The kingdom of God is within you". And he taught how to manifest the kingdom in our human affairs... The early Apostles must have been overwhelmed by "the Master's death and resurrection" that they got carried away and made it a doctrine of salvation. They meant well. But sowed seeds of confusion. Now, we have a big mess to clean up. 🙏
I am convinced in my heart, sincerely, speaking that the salvation message from the Father has never changed. It has always been the same thing regardless of dispensation. It is man's understanding and interpretation of it that changes, from time to time. As far as the Father is concerned, the MUST requirements for salvation has always been the same thing. Abraham received salvation. Enoch did. Elijah did...
My conclusion is, "We are saved by faith through grace". Faith in what? And whose grace? It is faith that God is our Father and we are his children and that he loves us. And it is the divine grace. It's that simple. But man finds it very hard to believe so they come up with all kinds of rituals and sacrifices that must be done. But that's syncretism.
I have asked, "Then why did Jesus really die?" Please, some of my conclusions thus far:
Before Jesus died, his disciples were saved. They were already in God's Kingdom. People's sins were washed away without the shedding of Jesus' blood. Jesus clearly forgave people their sins before he died. This tells you that blood must not be spilled for sins to be washed away. There's salvation at the Cross primarily because at the Cross, Jesus gave a very deep and powerful revelation of God's love. In the depths of the greatest hatred, despair and wickedness, he showed love and forgiveness. He revealed the love of God. It is this revelation of God's love in the midst of so much hatred that pulls many more people to God and His salvation. It is not the shedding of blood per se which inevitably followed his brutal hanging on the Cross.
This explains why some people recite the so-called sinner's prayer but do not experience salvation, even though they may think they have magically become saved. If at the Cross, an individual does not experience a soul-quickening transformation birthed from an understanding of God's love, resulting to a total acceptance of this love, he/she may not walk away saved. It does not matter the amount of sinner's prayer memorized and offered. It does not matter the number of times he/she runs to the altar in response to an "altar call". God is not a magician.
As we understand the Heavenly Father better, we see that it is LOVE that saves. This love may be discovered and wholeheartedly embraced at the foot of the Cross or somewhere else. This explains why in Heaven, we would meet people from all walks of life, various faiths and different planets.
So, why did the Master choose to die? I am convinced that this is one of the key reasons why:
He knew that through the sufferings and brutal death on a Cross, he would reveal God's love in a very deep, very emotional and very moving way. He knew that the Cross would reveal a love that may not be matched by anything else for, "No greater love can a man show towards others than to lay down his life for them". He knew that the revelation of God's love in the midst of so much hatred has a tremendous spiritual drawing power to pull many, many more people to God and His salvation. And for this, he was willing to take that extra step - to go that extra mile; "to walk a second mile", in order to make it easier for so many more people to embrace salvation. He did not have to do it but he chose to.
This reveals the great, great, great depths of his love towards us, such that he was willing to do anything and everything to rake in the numbers... But some of us have mistaken this to mean that his death and his blood were a MUST requirement for the salvation of anyone and everyone! The salvation was already available for anyone and everyone before he died; even before he came. And some people received it. But his physical presence (mortal bestowal), his teachings, his death and resurrection has made it and continues to make it much, much easier for many, many more people to understand, grasp and embrace salvation.
If we really understand exactly what one must do in order for his "soul" to be transformed, then things become clearer. There is this something that must happen to a soul in order for the soul to be saved. There's something or a spiritual transaction the soul must "go through" in order to receive the gift of salvation. If we really narrow things down and come to a good understanding of this spiritual transaction and the requirements needed for the transaction to occur, then we will really understand salvation. The concept of "the soul" is little understood. This is a part of the problem.
It is this "spiritual transaction" the soul must go through that I call "the spiritual technique of salvation". And I define it thus:
The spiritual technique of SALVATION occurs when an individual accepts and is "quickened" by the expression of God's LOVE and MERCY. Salvation is yours when you get a revelation of God's love and mercy: a revelation or understanding-experience that causes you to open your heart to God, to trust Him, to welcome Him into your life; to surrender all to Him and have FAITH in Him as your Father. These acts bring you to a place where you begin to see others as your brothers and sisters and you develop FAITH in your eternal salvation - that you will exist in and with God forever. Your heart becomes totally committed to doing His will. This is possible because of the GRACE and GOODNESS of God. Herein is your salvation. This is the explanation of salvation by faith through grace.
As I study (various books) and inquire further (within myself and interactions with others), I discover that Jesus also went through the Cross as a way to give a powerful response to his rebellious celestial children: Lucifer, Satan, the fallen Prince of this world, Beelzebub, fallen angels, etc. A close look at human history reveals that all over the world, these arch rebels instituted a system of religious blood sacrifice: in Africa, South America, the Middle East, etc - everywhere. They demanded something for favor. The priests would say, "...to appease God" or "to appease the gods". In actuality, the Paradise Father did not make those demands. It was the forces of darkness pretending to be angels of light that made those demands.
The Father even said he did not desire sacrifices and burnt offerings but a broken and a contrite heart; steadfast LOVE and the KNOWLEDGE of God (Psalm 51:16, Hebrews 10:8, Hosea 6:6, Psalm 40:6, 1 Sam 15:22). In the midst of the confusion of bloodletting, the Still Small Voice within sometimes managed to come through, speaking clearly to any who cared to listen, "I do not desire sacrifices and burnt offerings but a broken and a contrite heart; steadfast LOVE and the KNOWLEDGE of God". This has been the Father's heart from the very beginning. Never for once, did he change it.
Jesus must have thought to himself that there has to be a way to put a total, final and lasting stop to these ruthless human and animal blood sacrifices that were taking place, practically all over the world. He knew the celestial rebels were behind it and that they also used the "energies" from these blood for their nefarious aims. The Master must have thought to himself, "I can use my death on the Cross to show to these arch rebels and also to loyal angels the futility and madness of these crazy bloodletting. My rebellious celestial forces always used blood as a way to demand for something. I shall take the extra step; go an extra mile to present my blood in a bid to fully reclaim my planet in a way that will be unquestionable, even by the standards of my celestial arch enemies." The Cross was an unsuspecting chess move that Jesus used to shut them up, once and for all time. They did not see it coming. Initially, they thought they had their way when they inspired wicked men to crucify him.
The Cross was like the final straw that broke the camel's back! The vast host of loyal celestial personalities were in total shock to see their Creator (incarnated in flesh), hanging on a tree, bleeding like a useless vagabond; a helpless sheep. Any and every sympathy they may have had for the rebels evaporated! A very strong message with regards to the total folly of the Lucifer rebellion was registered all over the Universe. Even Lucifer was in shock! A lot of the arch rebels were in shock - when the realization of the folly of their actions began to dawn on them. Jesus offered his blood. And they could not even accept it. They could not touch it! They could not tap into "its energies and powers - its life" like they were doing with that of animals and humans, the world over. Oh! Yes, "There's power in the blood of Jesus!" It was game up for them.
These are some insights one can draw from the death on the Cross on a deeper cosmic, esoteric or celestial level. To die on that Cross was not a MUST. However, Christ, as Jesus, chose to, for various reasons (and interestingly, the Father willed it). And some of us are deeply engrossed in exploring and understanding these reasons. 🙏
- Karo E. Akamune