By God's design, Christianity was to be a world religion. It provided all people a Savior. It made forgiveness available to all people through Jesus Christ's blood. Anyone could be God's son or daughter. The person's faith in Jesus Christ combined with God's grace revealed through Jesus would place anyone among the saved.
A salvation extended to all people cannot be based on heritage. All people do not share the same heritage. A salvation extended to all people cannot be based on meaningful rituals. Meaningful rituals are based on the significant experiences of a people. All people do not share the same significant experiences. A salvation extended to all people cannot be based on one people's customs. Customs relevant to one people are not relevant to another people.
Prior to Jesus Christ, Judaism was an exclusive religion. God designed Judaism to function as an exclusive religion. It's exclusiveness shaped and molded Abraham's descendants [through Isaac]. That enabled God to work and to achieve His purpose through them. His purpose was to produce a forgiveness that was available to all people.
Why could people from all religious backgrounds be accepted by God? How could people who had known the living God for centuries and people who had just learned of the living God become Christians in the same church? How could people taught God's ways for generations and people who had been ignorant of God's ways become Christians in the same church? How could Christianity be God's "great divine melting pot?"
All the "whys" and all the "hows" were and are answered by understanding God's grace. It was essential for people converted from idolatry to understand grace. They had not been God's people for centuries. They had not received God's revelations. They had not possessed God's scriptures. They did not hear God's prophets. Why should they place confidence in God's love for them? They could have this confidence only if they understood and trusted God's grace. Only through an understanding of God's grace could they comprehend God's desire to save all people.
Christians converted from idolatry must understand and trust God's acceptance.
Read Romans 5:6-11.
Read Ephesians 2:1-10.
Read 2 Corinthians 5:20,21 [written to Christians with religious backgrounds in idolatry]:
Read Galatians 3:23-29.
Read Ephesians 4:17-32.
Note that the foundation for all transformation and change was [and is] what God did in Jesus Christ.
Paul cautioned Christians who were not Jews against assuming that God loved them more than God loved the Jewish people. Read Romans 11:11-24. The human spirit thrives on these attitudes: "If you like me, you do not like them; if you accept me, you reject them." We experience difficulty in relating to and accepting people very different from ourselves. That difficulty increases if "those people" previously rejected us. While that is extremely difficult for humans, it is not difficult for God.
Paul taught Jewish Christians that they were not the standard who determined the people God accepted or rejected. Paul cautioned Christians who were not Jews against arrogantly assuming they were the standard. God could and did accept Christians who were Jews and Christians who were not. God could and did accept Christians who descended from followers of God and Christians who descended from followers of idols. A Christian challenge is accepting what God accepts. That challenge is as old as first century Christianity.
Link to Teacher's Guide Quarter 1, Lesson 11
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