Table 2 Subject Category:
Salvation and the Afterlife

  • Christianity
  • Buddhism
  • Hinduism
  • Islam
  • Judaism
  • Primitive Religion

    Salvation and the Afterlife

    Turn to me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other (Isaiah 45:22).

    And He made from one, every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times, and the boundaries of their habitation that they should seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him though He is not far from each one of us--for in Him we live and move and exist (Acts 17:26-28).

    All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him (Isaiah 53:6).

    For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:7-8).

    God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them (2 Corinthians 5:19).

    He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).

    For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16).

    For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

    For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law. But the Scripture has shut up all men under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe (Galatians 3:21-22).

    For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes (Romans 10:4).

    "What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?" Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent" (John 6:28-29).

    There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12).

    For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins (Hebrews 10:4).

    See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ (Colossians 2:8).

    Jesus said to them, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me" (John 14:6).

    God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead (Acts 17:31).

    It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment (Hebrews 9:27).

    He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God (John 3:18).

    There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).

    For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain (Philippians I :21).

    We are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8).

    And many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt (Daniel 12:2).

    Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment (John 5:28-29).

    For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming, then comes the end, when He delivers up the kingdom to... God (I Corinthians 15:22-24).

    For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth (Isaiah 65: 17).

    And there shall no longer be any curse (Revelation 22:3).

    He who overcomes shall inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. But for the cowardly and unbelieving...their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death (Revelation 21:8).

    And who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (I John 5:5).

    How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? (Hebrews 2:3).

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    Salvation and the Afterlife

    Buddhism sees ignorance rather than sin as the roadblock to salvation. That is, the belief that the world and self truly exist, keeps the illusory wheel of existence rolling--only destruction of that belief will stop the mad course of the world.

    Its doctrine is summed up in the Four Noble Truths: (1) life is basically suffering, or dissatisfaction; (2) the origin of that suffering lies in craving or grasping; (3) the cessation of suffering is possible through the cessation of craving; and (4) the way to cease craving and so attain escape from continual rebirth is by following Buddhist practice, known as the Noble Eightfold Path.

    Original Buddhist teaching and the Therevada place emphasis on the individual monk working through self-control and a series of meditative practices that progressively lead him to lose a sense of his grasping self.

    The Mahayana school began with the insight that the ideal of the monk striving only for his own salvation was selfish and did little for the majority of men. Mahayanists eventually came to posit a vast number of Buddhas and bodhisettvas, "heroes of the faith" who reached the point of nirvana but refused to enter it until the rest of mankind was brought along with them. To varying degrees they can graciously grant aids to salvation to those who petition them.

    Nirvana literally means "blowing out," as with the flame of a candle. That is, nothing can be said about it except that it is a transcendent, permanent state.

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    Salvation and the Afterlife

    The final goal of salvation in Hinduism is escape from the endless round of birth, death, and rebirth. That can mean an eternal resting place for the individual personality in the arms of a loving, personal God, but it usually means the dissolving of all personality into the unimaginable abyss of Brahman.

    Four yogas, or ways of reaching such salvation, are described: (I) jnana yoga, the way of knowledge, employs philosophy and the mind to comprehend the unreal nature of the universe; (2) bhakti yoga, the way of devotion or love, reaches salvation through ecstatic worship of a divine being; (3) karma yogo, the way of action, strives toward salvation by performing works without regard for personal gain; and (4) raja yoga, "the royal road," makes use of meditative yoga techniques. Raja yoga is usually viewed as the highest way, but for the majority of people, who cannot become wandering monks, the other ways are considered valid.

    Most Hindus consider that they have many incarnations ahead of them before they can find final salvation, although some sects believe that a gracious divinity will carry them along the way more quickly.

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    Salvation and the Afterlife

    The Koran rejects the notion of redemption; salvation depends on a man's actions and attitudes. However, tauba ("repentance") can quickly turn an evil man toward the virtue that will save him. So Islam does not hold out the possibility of salvation through the work of God but invites man to accept God's guidance.

    The final day of reckoning is described in awesome terms. On that last day every man will account for what he has done, and his eternal existence will be determined on that basis: "Every man's actions have we hung around his neck, and on the last day shall be laid before him a wide-open book" (17.13).

    Muslims recognize that different individuals have been given different abilities and various degrees of insight into the truth. Each man will be judged according to his situation, and every man who lives according to the truth to the best of his abilities will achieve heaven. However, infidels who are presented with the truth of Islam and reject It will be given no mercy.

    The Koran has vivid descriptions of both heaven and hell. Heaven is depicted in terms of worldly delights, and the torments of hell are shown in lurid detail. Muslims disagree as to whether those descriptions are to be taken literally or not.

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    Salvation and the Afterlife

    One's eternal existence in the hereafter is determined by moral behavior and attitudes. Although there is no Christian notion of saving grace in Judaism, it is taught that God always offers even the most evil men the possibility of repentance (teshuva, "turning"). After such repentance one can atone for one's rebellion against God's ways by positive action.

    But the notion of individual salvation and heavenly existence is not prominent in Judaism. In fact many Jews criticize Christianity for being a "selfish" religion, too concerned with personal eternal rewards.

    The notion of an afterlife is not well developed in the Old Testament. Later writers speculated unsystematically about a final day of judgment.

    Jews still hope for the coming of the Messiah, who will hand out eternal judgment and reward to all. This hope is largely communal; the entire Jewish race and the whole of creation is in view more than individual men.

    In the end the moral life of man here on earth is considered the most proper concern of man; final judgments are best left to God.

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    Salvation and the Afterlife

    Often primitive religions teach that a messiah will some day come and bring in a reign of peace and prosperity for the tribe. Hopes for salvation generally relate to the group and to this world.

    There is little doctrine concerning the next life. A primitive man expects to merge with his ancestors in another world when he dies, but that other world is not vividly described, and it often is seen as just as full of trouble and confusion as this world.

    Salvation is thus piecemeal, relating to specific worldly distresses. It is not felt that a state of grace can be reached in any final way: there will always be new problems. Sacrifice--most often blood sacrifice of animals--is the usual means of atonement.

    Temporary escapes into the realm of "sacred time" (or "dream time") are possible. Through reenactments of mythological events primitive men mystically participate in the actions of gods and ancestral heroes. In that way they inject a sense of meaning into a chaotic world.

    The unenviable position of man without God is seen clearly in primitive man, who can only flee for short periods of time from a terrifying and purposeless existence.

    Taken from: The Spirit of Truth and the Spirit of Error 2. Compiled by Steven Cory. Copyright 1986, Moody Bible Institute of Chicago. Moody Press. Used by permission.

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