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Man and his salvation in the Gospels:

The Christian scriptures regard man as being a single, unified being, consisting of soul and body,
neither of which exits for ever without the other. Consequently, they proclaim the resurrection of
the body in the last days; eternal life with God is taught as a prolongation of earthly life in body
and soul in total bliss and happiness. The Gita, on the other hand has a wholly dualistic view of
man, consisting of a perishable body and an immortal soul. The separation of the eternal soul
from the perishable body and its final union with Lord Krishna constitutes salvation. That there
should be a resurrection of the body therefore must seem to the Gitas followers the widest
improbability and not only it is supremely impossible, but it is also absolutely undesirable. For
the body, and indeed all matter, is of its very nature corruptible; it passes away and can never be
reconstituted; the soul is by its very nature eternal and so can only suffer diminution and loss by
its association with the body. If there were a resurrection of the body, then this would be the final
insult to much that the Gita stands for,
Similarly there is not much agreement between the Gita and the Christian scriptures as regards
the way of mans salvation. As we have seen, the supreme evil which has befallen man,
according to the Gita, is that his eternal soul is hurled back into the revolving wheel of karma
samsara. Man must at all costs escape from it, and bhakti or loving devotion to Lord Krishna is
the best way, it according to the Gita, to final liberation. The deepest misery of man according to
the Christians scriptures, on the other hand, is the loss of Gods intimate love and friendship, and
thus the loss of holiness and the power to posses eternal life (Gen 1:1; 11:9). God in the Christian
scriptures is a living God, who alone possess the fullness of life an holiness, and the man, cut off
from God by his own evil will, is placed outside life and holiness (Rom. 3:24), and he is in a
state of man, cut off from the life-giving holiness of God; that is why the scriptures says of the
sinful man that he is dead and helpless to deliver himself (Rom 1:2,3). The real salvation of man,
therefore, consists in the deliverance from the state of sin and death which reigns over every
man. More than any other scriptural writer, Paul speaks of both the universality of mans state of
sin and death and of his utter helplessness to deliver himself from such an unhappy state (Rom
1,2,3), and he means it, what a wretched man I am who will rescue me from this body doomed
to death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ, our Lord (Rom 7:24).

Jesus begins his preaching of mans salvation with a call to repentance and conversion of God,
the heavenly Father. The time has come, he said, and the kingdom of God is close at hand.
Repent and believe the good news (Mk. 1:15; Mt. 4:17). The concept of conversion or turning
to God according to Jesus does not mean merely doing a penance or having contrition, but it
means an all-embracing change in ones life, in ones attitude, in ones thinking and beliefs,
words and deeds, in a word, a total personal revolution in ones whole life. Such a radical change
of life affects mans whole being and his relationship to God. Jesus bases the universal necessity
of such a total change on mans life in the flesh (Mk. 7:14-23, Mt 15:10-20), and on the fact that
man has been turned away from God as a result of mans sin, mans refusal to love and submit
himself to the will of God (Lk. 15:11-24).
The man of the flesh, as scripture calls the man in the state of sin, isolates himself from the life
giving holiness of God in autonomy of poverty in the pride of self- sufficiency and thinks that he
can save himself by himself. But the man, who listens to Jesus calls to repentance, recognizes
his own utter poverty and seeks the salvation that comes from God in Christ. If anyone wants to
be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me. For
everyone who wants to save his life will lose it (Mt. 16:24-25; Mk. 8:34-35; Lk. 9:23-24). The
repentant man goes out to himself, dies to what he was at first, to his own self sufficiency and
self righteousness, and begins to move towards God with the hope of salvation, with the hope of
rising above himself and to begin a new life with God in Christ.
This with the true repentance comes faith, which is a gift of God (Mt. 11:25-27; Lk. 10:21-22), to
fill the void, which true and total repentance has created. The object of faith is essentially
redemption; repentant man believes in God, who affects salvation in the death-resurrection of
Christ. To believe is to accept the fact of Gods intervention in history for mans salvation, and
that he has raised Christ in the fullness of the power of salvation which is open to everyone. This
is what the apostles proclaimed: This man, who was put into your power by the deliberate
intention and foreknowledge of God, you took and had him crucified my men outside the law.
You killed him, but the Lord raised him to life, freeing him from the pangs of death..God
raised this man Jesus to life, and all of us are witness to that. This is the stone rejected by you
the builders, but which has proved to be the keystone. For of all names in the world given to
men, this is the only one by which we can be saved (Acts 2:23, 24, 32; 4:11-12). Those who

accept this message of salvation proclaimed by the apostles, seek for salvation not in themselves,
in their own self- sufficiency nor in any other, be he a sage or a prophet, but accept the salvation
which god has effected in the death-resurrection of Christ.
To believe that God has affected mans salvation in the death-resurrection of Christ, which is
essential for participation in the mystery of salvation, is a real death to self and to the world of
sin. The believer refuses to find his salvation in himself and at Gods proclaimed word he comes
out of himself, out of his own self-sufficient isolation, and believes that he finds his true self and
his salvation by coming to God in Christ. This faith in Christ s death-resurrection implies that
the believer dies to his own self-sufficiency with Christ, dies to sin, dies to everything that stands
as an obstacle to Gods saving grace in him; and rises with Christ, for Christ lives. Christ, as we
know having been raised from the dead will never die again. Death has no power over him
anymore. When he died, he died once for all to sin, so his life now is life with God; and in that
way you too must consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive for God in Christ Jesus (Rom
6:9-11).
The believer who shares Christs risen life is also free from the dominion of sin and death, the
basic evils of man. Death is not, as it was when he was in the state of sin, the final frustration of
all his human endeavors. The new life, the life of the risen Christ, which is conferred upon the
believer, is proof against death; his life, like the life of risen Christ, has a permanent value;
because he is identified with the risen Christ, he can hope for a lasting achievement. I am the
resurrection. If anyone believes in me, even though he dies, he will live, and whoever lives and
believes in me will never die (Jn.11:25-26). Since the risen Christ is the resurrection and life,
faith in the risen Christ, unites the believer with resurrection and life. Eternal life is not proof
against physical death in the sense that the believer does not experience physical death. It is
proof against death because eternal life has made physical death an incident through which
eternal life enters into its fullness. The believers need not fear the death, nor does death terminate
the genuine life which has been communicated to him.
What emerges from what we have said so far concerning individual salvation is that the believer
united with Jesus Christ is saved by re-experiencing in himself the saving act: with Jesus he
empties himself of his own self-sufficiency and dies to his own self and rises to a new life in
Jesus. Now we come to an important question, which introduces the third element in mans

salvation. If mans salvation is effected in his total repentance and living faith, why do Jesus and
his apostles and his church on earth insist on baptism as an essential requirement of mans
salvation, mans incorporation into the salvific mystery of the death resurrection of Jesus? In
other words, if mans salvation lies in repentance and faith alone, what room is left for the power
of the sacrament? The answer, in brief, is that mans regeneration into Christ is not only an
interior psychological process, which is accomplished by repentance and faith, but is also a
manifest act in the community of those who are regenerated with Christ. Faith alone does not
incorporate the repentant believer in Christ, but faith and baptism do (Mk. 16:16; Mt. 28:19). For
it were faith alone which saves man, the salvation of man could be conceived as his own
personal achievement, but now the sacramental ritual, which is demanded by Christ, reminds
man that his salvation is fundamentally the work of God. Baptism is an objective visible means
by which mans salvation is affected, and the church, which is the manifest sign on earth of the
enduring presence of Gods saving act in Jesus, is the appointed agent of the baptismal ritual.
Thus, the salvation of the repentant believer in Christ is accomplished in and through the society
of the church.
The New Testament regards baptism as an initiation rite which is necessary for all who wish to
belong to the community of believers in Christ, to the kingdom of God inaugurated with the
death-resurrection of Christ. Symbolically baptism signifies the re-enactment of the saving act of
Jesus; by the reception of baptism he who believes in the redemptive power of Christs saving act
passes from death to life because of his incorporation into the risen Christ: hence immersion into
the baptismal water signifies the death and burial, and the coming out of the water symbolizes
the rising with Christ to a new life of holiness with him. You have been taught that when we
were baptized in Christ Jesus we were baptized into his death; in other words, when we were
baptized we went into the tomb with him and joined him in death, so that as Christ was raised
from the dead by the Fathers glory, we too might live a new life (Rom 6:3-4. Col 12, 12-13).
The early church believed and proclaimed that the recipient of baptism, on account of his
participation in Christs death-resurrection, passes from his state of sin and death to one of
holiness by sharing in the spirit of the risen Christ, which makes the baptized man a child of
God. The love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given
to us.

Now that the time has come we are no longer that guardian, and you are, all of you, sons of God
through faith in Jesus Christ (Rom 5:5; Col 3:25-26). The newly baptized, in the New
Testament writings, is considered innocent; he emerges without any guilt, and is given a share in
the life of the risen Christ (1 Cor. 1512-19). Thus, mans salvation is seen in the Christian
scriptures as a work of God through Christ, for, it is God alone who can grant total forgiveness of
sin and confer a new life of the risen Christ to the repentant believer who is baptized in Christ.
The personal transformation of the repentant believer in Christ from death to life, because it is
fundamentally the work of God in Christ, is a mystery which cannot be seen by the naked human
eye. But the effects of this mysterious transformation can be and must be seen in the daily life of
the Christian. The pivot on which his new life in Christ is structured is love love of God and
love of his neighbor. The centrality of love in the life of everyone who begins a new life in Christ
is set forth in the New Testament with such clarity that no one questions it. You must love the
Lord and your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. This first and
the greatest commandment. The second resembles it: you must love your neighbor as yourselves;
on these two commandments hang the whole law and the prophets also (Mt. 22:37-40; Mk.
12:29-30; Lk. 10:25-28), Jn. 15:14; 1 Cor. 13). Although the love of God is called the first
commandment, and the love of ones neighbor the second, the New Testament does not conceive
the love mentioned in the two commandments as two loves but as one love, for what is done to
ones neighbor is done to Christ. I tell you solemnly, in so far as you did this to one of the least
of these brothers of mine you did it to me (Mt. 25:40, Lk. 10:16; Acts 9:5). John observes that
ones love of can be proved only by his love of his neighbor. Anyone who says, I love God,
and hates his brother, is a liar, since a man, who does not love the brother that he can see, cannot
love God whom he has never seen. So this is the commandment that he has given us that anyone
who loves God must also love his brother (1 Jn. 4:20-21). Paul says that all commandments are
summed up in the commandment to love ones neighbor (Rom 13:8-10). I give you a new
commandment: love one another; just as I have loved you, you also must love one another. By
this love you have for one another, everyone will know that you are my disciples (Jn. 13:34-35).
It the love of neighbor carries the Christian as far as Jesus sure of the final victory over sin and
death, which are his basic evils which are swallowed up in the victory by the resurrection of
Jesus Christ, his savior.