Saved by Works Alone? Did the Pope just say that?

 

Did Pope Francis say that even an Atheist can be saved by works alone? Well not directly, but in a roundabout way he may have alluded to that is how we are redeemed. Emphasis is on, may. You know me; I can’t ever let misinformation float out there without clarification.

Don’t get me wrong.  Pope Benedict has set an awesome tone for Christianity all over the globe.  His first message and his continuing message is that of humility and service to the kingdom by caring for and ministering to the less fortunate. He shatters the old glass of the appearance of elitism within the church.  I have had an issue with that for a long time.  Not with all churches and certainly not those that are reflecting the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.  But I have to address this video blog from Huff Post Live and the accompanying article.

To set the record straight, I have a huge problem with secular media offering commentary on spiritual matters.  Their motives, purposes and commentators are not in my humble opinion fit to do play by play on the church.  I do think they are an important sounding board for Pastors and church leadership when you want to hear the objections and concerns of everyday people regarding organized religion.  A side note: While organization is not a prerequisite of religion as it is being defined in the world today, generally a religion is organized after a few people take a hold of it.  But we are not talking about religion. We are talking about a way of life based upon a scriptural truth upon which the Christian Church is founded.  You have to make the assumption that if you are talking about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, then the Holy Bible is a relevant and credible source of instruction from God. A belief system shrouded in faith in God, as a trinity and Christ is part of that trinity. As such Christ possesses the deity and characteristic of God because he is God.  If we were talking on a global level, perhaps we could debate that issue. We are not; we are talking about the Church and its foundational beliefs. We are also talking about the Pope the earthly head of the Roman Catholic Church, largely believed by many to be the voice of Christ’s church as he established it.[i]

In their web content on May 22, 2013 at www.huffingtonpost.com, the Huffington Post reported the following;

“Pope Francis rocked some religious and atheist minds today when he declared that everyone was redeemed through Jesus, including atheists.

During his homily at Wednesday Mass in Rome, Francis emphasized the importance of “doing good” as a principle that unites all humanity, and a “culture of encounter” to support peace.

Using scripture from the Gospel of Mark, Francis explained how upset Jesus’ disciples were that someone outside their group was doing good, according to a report from Vatican Radio.”

The headline read, Pope Francis Says Atheists Who Do Good Are Redeemed, Not Just Catholics for those of us who are students of the Bible and regularly attend church and believe in God, this has a far reaching connotation that may be overlooked by many.  I just wanted to clarify the matter for those who are committed to being skillful in Apologetics and the tenants of their faith.  For many Christians this might look like everybody can get into heaven by doing good works.  The thought process even spills over to people who are at a crossroads with their decision to confess Christ.  One common objection to surrendering to Christ as their Lord and savior is, “I am a good person so I should go to heaven.”  Well, that is not exactly true.

The pope used scriptures from Mark that were not articulated. This makes it difficult to specifically address the exact scripture. However, the substance of the message reported is clearly a part of a premise that we find well outlined in the Gospels and Pauline Epistles.  Christ came to pay the ransom for the Jew and Gentile, (Non-Jew).  That pretty much seals the deal that everyone has the ability to be saved. Either you are a Jew or you are not.  Redemption refers to redemption from sin. Redeemed means bought or paid for.  Our ransom for our sins was paid by Christ when he died on Calvary’s cross.  2 Corinthians 5:14 New Living Translation, (NLT), “Whatever we do, it is because Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for everyone, we also believe that we have all died to the old life we used to live.”  In Romans 6:23, NLT, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”

So in its proper context, Christ did redeem us all.  It doesn’t matter who we are, he died for all of man, his creation so that we would be with him forever. This brings me to my next point. Just because Christ died for our sins does not mean we are going to heaven.  OMG! What did you just say Pastor Offer?  Just because Jesus died for our sins does not mean we are going to heaven.  As you just saw in Romans it says that the FREE GIFT of God is eternal life.  Just because my wife buys me a suit doesn’t mean that I can wear it.  There is a little ceremony involved with that proposition.  First she gives it to me, and then I accept it. Once I accept the gift, then I can wear it.  God loves us and has offered the gift to us, but we have to accept it. This is where the overall interpretation of the Pope’s message, and perhaps the message itself, falls off the tracks.

Let the redeemed of the Lord say so

John 3:16, KJV, “For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth on Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”  It is through the shedding of Jesus’ blood that our sins are covered by his perfect sacrifice. There was no other person that could have died for all of mankind’s sins; past, present and future.  Jesus is it. So, Oprah and whoever else disputes it, there is but one way to heaven and that is through Jesus Christ.  John 14:6, NLT, Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” So Jesus declared it, that he was the only way to get to the Father in heaven.

Let us look at Romans 10:9 just to bring home the point that I am making.  That scripture outlines the path to salvation succinctly by saying, “For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Point one: If you want to have eternal life you have to first confess that Jesus Christ is who he says he is. From the Christian perspective there is no compromise and no chance of deviation from God’s plan. If you want the FREE GIFT of salvation and take advantage of your redemption, then you must confess Christ. Ergo, accept him as your Lord and savior. Acceptance that he did in fact die for you and he was that perfect sacrifice for you, is you admitting that you are first of all are a sinner and that you needed a sacrifice for your sin.  Remember Romans 6:23, Christ paid that wage for you on your behalf before you even knew there was a God.

Point Two:  You have to believe he is a live.  If he is not alive, he was a dude that died as a sacrifice for you, but he wasn’t any better than a goat on the altar.  But if you believe that God has raised him from the dead, the rest of the Gospel comes alive. Jesus is alive and risen from the dead. Jesus is coming back for all who died in the hope of the Gospel and those that are alive waiting for his return.  He will come back and take us to be with him in heaven for ever.  Thus, we have salvation and a completed redemption.

Now about this good works thing.  It sounds like the Pope was sharing that there is good in everyone and there is still hope for everyone to be saved.  I believe that too. All Christians should believe that as well. Otherwise, what is the purpose of sharing the Gospel with everyone?  Jesus commanded Christians in Matthew 28:19-20, NLT, “19 – Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  20 -Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  He wants us to teach them all of his ways. The only way to salvation is through confession of and faith in Jesus Christ.  Nothing about works is even mentioned as a method of salvation.  That sounds vaguely familiar of some other religious doctrine but not God’s. Ephesians 2:8 and 9, KJV, “8 – For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 – Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Works doesn’t cut it.  Salvation is the product of God’s grace activated by our faith.

While an atheist, ax murderer, terrorist and the world’s worst sinners have access to the Kingdom of heaven through Jesus Christ; their good works are not to be confused with a pass to get into heaven.  Good people don’t get into heaven.  Believers get into heaven.  Atheist, unfortunately, do not believe in God. They do not believe in Jesus. They do not believe in Heaven or Hell. Yet, in the Holy Bible, which is the basis for all that is Christian, all of these things are true and must be accepted in order to fulfill the requirements for Salvation. Without them, there is no need for Christ.  But the reality is, they are real and Christ has provided a real solution to the judgment issues we all face when we die. I leave you with this one final scripture on the issue of being good.  Romans 3:10, NLT, “As the Scriptures say, “No one is good — not even one.” It is only through the covering of the blood of Jesus Christ that God can see us as good.  Our righteousness is not righteousness and is at best a pile of horse poo.  But God’s righteousness which is given to us through the precious flow of Jesus’ blood makes us whole and righteous in the eyes of the Lord.  It is at that time, that we are under his grace and can enter into the Kingdom of Heaven and join all of the angels, our Lord Jesus and the Father himself.

If this blog has caused you to rethink some things in your life, or even inspired you to pursue a relationship with Jesus, you can contact us at HCM4Christ@gmail.com. At Harvest Crusade Ministries, we believe and are committed to a ministry that follows the example of Jesus Christ. We are a non-denominational Christian Church. No judgment from us, just compassionate ministry to tell you the truth and help you establish and strengthen your relationship with God.  You are welcome to subscribe to this blog, join us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/harvestforchrist or just keep in touch through email.  God bless you and may heaven shine upon you.


[i] I would be remiss if I did not point out that the Universal Christian Church undivided (with no denominations and as Christ established it) is the definition of Catholic, (Not Roman Catholic which is a denomination within the Christian Church).  Reference http://www.Merriam-Webster.com

Let’s Talk About “Bow Down”

The odd thing about Beyoncé and her new song (If you can call it that, “Bow Down”) is that it is no surprise to anyone. Oprah Winfrey is no surprise either in dubbing her the “beloved mistress of the universe”.  Note that I did not capitalize the title; I see it as a false god presentation to the world. Oprah has her own (no pun intended) issues. She used to call herself a Christian, and then she invites a panel of Christian women on her show to berate them and tell them there have to be several ways to get into heaven.  Oprah feels so smart that she can argue with a book that was written over the course 1500 years by more than 36 authors that does not contradict itself and has remained the number one selling book in stores for as long as it has been on bookshelves. No Oprah, Jesus Christ is still King of the Universe there is none other, and No one goes to the Father but by him.   First of all I want to be clear.  I AM NOT JUDGEING Beyoncé.  She is just like the rest of us, open to the infiltration of things that are foreign and destructive to our character, soul and eternal life.  I believed and still believe that she is a very talented singer and has the potential to go far in the music industry.  However, she also possesses the possibilities of being used by Satan to validate his hidden agenda within the cover of acceptability.  Satan is cunning and he never introduces us to things that are not of God unless it is packaged right and it is appealing.  Read Genesis 3 for the details of Satan’s trick on Adam and Eve.  Beyoncé is just like all of us, in constant pursuit of satisfaction of inner longings.  The question is, with what are we satisfying our inner longings?

English: Beyoncé in the Brazil.

Beyonce’ in Brazil.  Photo Credit: Wikipedia

We have seen photo after photo on the internet, (Google it for yourself) that shows how Beyoncé has identified with things that are demonic and not of this world.  From her proclamation of channeling Sasha Fierce to the jewelry that touts her dubious association with the forces of darkness, we see a pattern of behavior that at best can be described as a slippery slope upon which one could fall quickly into a pool of lies.  The lie, money, power, fame and glamour are the goals for which we should pursue and finally, we should worship them and the celebrities representing those things.

The root of my concern came when she got hooked up with Jay Z.  He has openly displayed and his fans display the sign of the Illuminati and better known as the “Third Eye” which is a visual portal that demonic forces use to connect with our world.  While displaying this sign, his fans at concerts will chant Jay Hovah.  Um, can you say blasphemy?  I really don’t need to make any cases regarding Jay Z. He has made the case himself.  He is a demigod (seeming to approach divinity) who seeks the same thing that Satan sought, to be a god like, God almighty.  He may be powerful within the music industry. But he is nothing in the universe without God.  That means spiritually, he is no higher than any of us and none of us is any higher than him. The difference is only there when God steps in. I will get to that a little later.  Jay Z has surrounded himself with an effective organization for business and it has morphed into a pseudo-kingdom of which in his mind he is the King.  That mentality has transferred into the mind of his bride.

I hold out hope that Beyoncé is smart enough to figure this out if she had the chance of a sane thought resonating within her.  However, I suspect that she is the epitome of a good woman. She loves and supports her man.  She believes him to be an authority on whatever he says as he has proven himself to her through his business success.  The problem is she has mistaken the doctrine of business for some other doctrine that translates into this perverted persona that has manifested as Sasha Fierce.  Have you seen the contortions of her face, body and voice?  If you dare to listen to Bow Down, you will hear voices that seem to be Beyoncé. Upon closer consideration, I believe it to be the voice of Sasha Fierce.  Oh stop acting like I am losing it.  Y’all can watch that foolishness, Paranormal Activity, and when I mention how Demons really work I get the blank stare.  The whole thing boils down to a simple concept.  When you align yourself with the devil, this is what happens, in the beginning.  Later on it gets more hardcore and eventually God takes a stand and judges what is going on and that is what ends it.

As Christians we need to stop listening to stuff that is justified by saying, “Oh it’s alright.  A little cussing, a little bling, a little bare skin and sex isn’t going to hurt nobody.”  Think again.  When you get a shot the first thing you get is the stick.  Some will say, oh that wasn’t bad.  Then the medicine is pushed in. That is a little more uncomfortable.  And then sometimes it burns and hurts for days afterward.  That is what happens when we allow anything to get into us.  At first it’s not so bad. But when the wrong stuff gets put into us it will kill us spiritually and then it is too late to do anything about.  Unless.  God provided the unless. What makes us different from other sinners and gullible people who fall for Satan’s foolishness is the redemption of our sin-sick souls by Jesus Christ. When we allow him to free us from the grip of Satan’s lies and sin, he gives us peace.  The face of peace is not contorted and angry and demonic. The face of peace is not filled with curses, foul language, violence and self-worship.  The face of peace is calm, inviting and humble before the Lord and the entire world.  Galatians 5:19-26, 19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, reveling, and such like: of the which I tell you before , as I have also told you in time past , that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another. KJV

According to the word of God, which I find no error or conflict in, there is none righteous no not one. We are all sinners. The wages of sin is death.  But while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 10:9 says that if we confess the Lord Jesus Christ, and believe that God has raised him from the dead, we shall be saved.  That sounds like a solid promise. SHALL BE SAVED.  No room for deviation in that one.  Beyoncé, Jay Z, Oprah and I all have the same opportunity to embrace the death burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the payment for our sins so that we can live forever in the Kingdom of Heaven with God.  Jay Z may be the King of something.  Beyoncé may be the Queen of something too.  But I am a child of the most high King and he alone has my adoration, and praises. I worship him and him alone.  So no Beyoncé, I don’t believe I am any of those names that you used in your song, but I will not bow down to you or anybody else.  I think I’ll just worship Jesus.

We Are Inside Four Walls

Harvest Crusade Ministries is moving into a church building

Glen Burnie, MD, March 1, 2013: The Officers and Members of Harvest Crusade Ministries announced today that they have moved into their new worship space at 508 Aquahart Road, Glen Burnie. After worshipping in a tent since November of 2011, the congregation of Harvest has partnered with Seventh Day Adventist of Glen Burnie who opened the doors to use their building for worship.

photo (5)After almost four years of outreach in the community, a tropical storm, hurricane and countless sever storms, the time has come to move out of the tent that they were using as a base of operations and worship. “We are so grateful to Pastor Diego Boquer and his congregation who graciously accepted us and chose to support us as we continue to grow,” explained Pastor Jay Offer of Harvest Crusade Ministries. He went on to say, “The tent has served us well. Some people found it strange for us to worship in a tent in the Pastor’s back yard. I found it to be a good place to lay a foundation” Harvest Crusade Ministries is a Christian non-denominational Church fellowship serving the West Glen Burnie/Millersville area.

“There is a need for spiritual liberation in this area“, says Pastor Offer. “We are here to share Christ in the way that Christ intended ministry to be. Honestly sharing the Gospel without condemning, but leading into a deeper relationship with God.” He summarizes their ministry as a “Real church for real people serving a real God.” Harvest’s focus is on people who have not felt like they belong in a church environment or were not welcomed into one. The leaders and membership of Harvest are proud to be one of many churches in the area that serve God and his people well. The doors of Harvest are open and on welcome hinges for all who choose to come. Harvest provides several opportunities to engage the community in events designed for family fun, to promote strength in the community and open opportunities for people to genuinely develop a relationship with God.

Services for Harvest Crusade Ministries are held at the church located at 508 Aquahart Road, Glen Burnie, MD 21061, Sundays beginning at 10:30 a.m. Contact the Church at 410-913-5327 for a more information A detailed listing of all services and classes can be found on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/harvestforlife.