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Dorothy Perry wrote:

Hello,

I have a Bible-quoting sister who believes that all non-Christians are not going to Heaven.

She says there are Scripture passages to back her statements and if I don't believe it, I am not a Bible believer.

I thought that Catholics, not being fundamentals, were more accepting of other religions and didn't condemn others.

I would appreciate some advice.

Thanks,

Dorothy Perry
Florida

  { How do I reply to my Bible-quoting sister who believes all non-Christians are not going to Heaven? }

Mary Ann replied:

Hi Dorothy,

All salvation comes through Jesus Christ, but that is not the same as saying that one must know and accept Jesus Christ to be saved.

Christ is the incarnate Word of God, who is the pattern of the universe, and the one through whom we are made. Those who follow the Word of God engraved in their hearts (the natural law) and seek truth and goodness the best they can, are certainly following Christ in the only way they can, and they can be saved.

Those who through no fault of their own do not know God or His Revelation in Christ can be saved because of what Christ accomplished.

I hope that helps.

Mary Ann

Eric replied:

Hi Dorothy,

Regarding your Bible believing sister, I would add that it is important to quote Scripture when addressing your sister. Have her read Romans 2:14-16; here it says:

14 Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since 15 they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them. 16 This will take place on the day when God will judge men's secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares."

Romans 2:14-16

What this means is that the Gentiles — those who do not have the revelation of God — do by nature, things required by the law — they can be saved. He goes on to say in verse 26,

"If those who are not circumcised keep the law's requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised?"

In other words, by analogy if those who haven't explicitly accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior act as if they did, God will regard them as if they did accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

The verses in Scripture, to which your sister is probably referring, are in reference to those who hear the Gospel. It would not be just for God to categorically condemn everyone in regions of Africa farthest from the Gospel or everyone who has never heard, or had the opportunity to hear, the Gospel.

[God] "wants all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth."

(1 Timothy 2:4)

Christ came:

"to save the world, not condemn it."

(John 3:17)

Nevertheless, someone who has heard the Gospel, understood it, and willfully and knowingly rejected it, cannot be saved.

While it is possible for someone who is not a believer in Christ to be saved, it is more difficult — perhaps much more difficult. It's important to proclaim the Gospel so that all will have sure access to the saving grace of Christ. Just as someone who is alone in the forest might be able to survive, it would nonetheless be much more likely for them to do so if you put them in a house in front of a table of food.

We must avoid indifferentism, which teaches that it doesn't matter what religion someone belongs to; they are all the same. This is categorically not true.

Eric

Bob replied:

Dorothy,

(Make sure to have your Bible when you read this and look up the verses.)

Acts 4:12 says that there is no Savior except Jesus. You can agree with your sister that nobody gets to Heaven but by Him. Then ask her what she would say to a Christian couple who just had a newborn child die prematurely or as an infant.

  • Is the child saved?
  • How?

      The child didn't make a personal confession of faith.

  • Where does the Bible say they are saved?
  • At what point do they become unsaved if they are saved as a child but not as an adult?
  • Where is her point of reason?
  • Where is that in the Bible?

The point is, the Bible doesn't always give us the particulars on every situation. Formulating a theological foundation requires an authority that is consistent with the teaching of Jesus as handed on to us in His Church. You can explain the Catholic view is more consistent with true Christian charity, but realistic in it's demands.

"To whom much is given, much is expected." (Luke 12:48)

If she is willing to admit the possibility that the child could be saved by Jesus without even knowing He saved her, but simply by His grace, then she might be able to see that His Mercy stretches in ways we cannot comprehend. Have her reflect on 1 Timothy 2:4 — God wills all men to be saved, and on 1 Timothy 4:10 — God is the savior of all, especially those who believe.

A summary:

Jesus is the Only Savior; everyone who is saved is saved by Him. He wants all to be saved, but some do reject His grace. Others receive His grace willingly. Leave it to God to know who is who. (cf. Matthew 7:21 and also, 1 Corinthians 4:3)

Peace,

Bob Kirby

John replied:

Hi Dorothy,

The Catholic Church, which is the Bible believing Church, has always understood that salvation is open to all men, and all men are saved in and through Jesus Christ.

You might want to point you sister to Matthew Chapters 24-25. The scene is the judgment of the nations. Notice that it does not say:

  • the Church will be gathered, or
  • Christians will be gathered

rather it says the nations shall be gathered and judged so this is not a judgment of believers.

Jesus separates the sheep from the goats and tells the sheep,

"When I was hungry you gave me to eat" and so forth. (Matthew 25:35)

The sheep then ask: "When did we feed you Lord"? (Matthew 25:37-39)

It is as if they are asking: Who are you Lord? If they were Bible believers, they wouldn't ask this question because they would know this text in Matthew!! . . . Wouldn't they?

Jesus responds by saying, What you did for the least of my brothers, you did unto me. (Matthew 25:45) Hence, God judges people on the basis of the grace and knowledge they were given. Now if someone knows the Gospel to be true and rejects it, then they are certainly in jeopardy of damnation but that is for God to judge.

We know that we are called to preach the Gospel, lead people to Christ and His Church. Nevertheless, we acknowledge that God saves anyone who responds to His grace. That grace,
in some instances, is exposure to the fullness of truth which subsists in the Catholic Church.

In other instances, some could be saved having never heard the name Jesus Christ, let alone understand the Gospel. Nevertheless, in every single instance, salvation comes in and through the person of Jesus Christ, by grace. No one will be saved by:

  • their own dead works
  • nor will they earn Heaven by their own human efforts
  • nor will they be saved because they followed another religion

It is only in and through Jesus Christ that man can be saved. For there is one name given under Heaven, among men whereby we can saved, that name is Jesus Christ. (Acts Chapter 4).

Hope this helps,

John

Dorothy replied:

HI guys,

Thanks for all the information and the Scripture quotes.

Now all I have to do is pray on how to present this to her!

Dorothy

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