I've discovered that most of what we have previously believe has been not much more than man's traditions dressed up as "the gospel". Here is another wonderful point to think on, and hopefully you will begin to realize just how Big this Gospel really is and what a wonderful Father we have!
Jesus' disciple, The Apostle Thomas could not possibly have been "saved" according to Modern Western Christianities Rules! He did not place his faith in the risen Christ. He did not believe until AFTER he saw Jesus Face to Face.
In John 20 after His Resurrection, Jesus appears to Mary, then to all the disciples except Thomas.
The disciples run to find Thomas to tell him the Good news of the Risen Jesus. But he denies this Good news, He simply does NOT believe or have any Faith in Jesus. he said:
Joh 20:25 So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe."
Thomas outright denied the existence of the Risen Christ. He refused to "place his faith in Jesus"
But hold on... Weren't we all taught that placing our personal faith in Jesus is THE requirement for Salvation?
The account goes on to tell that a few days after this, they were all together inside a locked room and Jesus appeared in their midst.
He said to Thomas, "“Reach here your finger, and see my hands. Reach here your hand, and put it into my side. Don’t be unbelieving, but believing.”
So we see that even right up to this point, Thomas still had no faith/belief in the Good News as Jesus said to him, "don't be unbelieving".
Thomas is then filled with Joy as now he finally believes! But only after having SEEN Jesus, the Risen Christ.
Again, Doesn't Western Christianity teach that you can only "Choose Jesus now" because "when you are standing before Him, it'll be too late to decide to believe in him then!"
Jesus goes on to say, "Because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen, and have believed."
(it is necessary to point out here that the word translated "Blessed" (makarios) simply means "Happy". It does not mean they somehow have "extra merit" conferred on them via some special "anointing"..... it just means that they are Happy. Religious Christianity has made up a whole system of levels of blessing based on a whole lot of stuff, eg: if you give/tithe you will be extra "blessed" by God. The word simply means "happy")
From here we can see that Jesus was actually OK with Thomas believing the Good News only after having seen him.
Thomas was not the only one who only believed the Good news after having seen the Risen, Glorified Christ first. The is another man who also followed Thomas' pattern.....The Apostle Paul.
Paul was a man who was extremely opposed to the Good News message! So much so that he would imprison and have executed those who embraced the Gospel. Yet in One glorious moment of encounter, as Paul meets the risen Jesus in his Glory, He instantly believes!
Paul only became a believer AFTER having seen Jesus for himself!
Here is a wonderful description from Paul:
1Ti 1:12 I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, (Paul was Judged as "faithful" before his appointment by God to serve him, but before His appointment, he was an unbeliever who only believed after having seen Jesus face to face.)
1Ti 1:13 though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, (many in this age will reject Christ out of Ignorance and unbelief)
1Ti 1:14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. (As an unbeliever, Paul was extended Grace via the FAITH and LOVE OF JESUS - not his own faith.)
1Ti 1:15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. (Note, Jesus saves sinners with His own Faith. Sinners can not save themselves or make their own decision based on their own wisdom)
1Ti 1:16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as a pattern to those who shall believe in him for eternal(age-during) life.
1Ti 1:17 To the King of the ages(different periods of time), immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
Paul says that Gods display of Mercy in Salvation to him is a PATTERN/example to them that do not yet believe.
How did Paul believe? He saw the risen Christ and only then Believed.
Paul then emphasizes (vs 17) that God is the king of all the coming Ages.
He the writes that: “Jesus is the Savior of all mankind, especially of those who believe/trustful/persuaded.” (1 Tim. 4:10)
Paul states here that Jesus is the Savior of mankind but he is especially valuable to those who are now already convinced/persuaded/trusting of this fact. - In this age, they that believe will be "Happy" (Blessed) based on this fact.
Again, "blessed (happy) are those who believe without seeing God", but there will be many who will follow the same pattern of Paul who will believe after having seen. And like Thomas "Unless I see Him, I will not believe!"
My question is: Has God changed as revealed by Jesus in this account? - surely not.
Does God show partiality to Thomas and Paul by allowing only them to believe after having seen the risen Christ? - Surely not.
Will God reject those who have already died in their unbelief who did not believe, Or those at the end of this age who see him as he really is? Will he respond differently to these ones - not showing Grace, not showing Mercy, not showing Love and not showing Faith towards them? Will not EVERY knee bow and tongue confess him to His praise?
Heb 1:3 "The Son shows the glory of God. He is a perfect copy of God's nature"
Remember, Jesus perfectly reflected the Father and he demonstrated the Fathers heart when He accepted these guys who would not have believed if they did not first see Him.
Where does that leave "You can only saved if you place YOUR faith in Jesus in this age"??
God tells us that into the ages to come He will still be revealing his Grace to man.(Eph 2) These are those that will believe after having seen Him as he truly is like Paul and Thomas.
Presently we might only know in part but Then when we see him face to face we shall know him as He truly is - even as we have always been fully known by Him.
Many will believe the Gospel after having seen Jesus in his Glory, not only in this Age we are currently in, but also in the Ages to come.
Our Traditional Christianities representation of God is a Far cry from the Reality of Him who is the author of salvation, the Savior of all mankind, The Source and the Conclusion of Faith.
May the eyes of your heart be opened!