This article on CNN came across my screen while perusing the news this morning. To be blunt, that is an ironic statement coming from the Pope, seeing as he is not a Christian himself.
Dear reader, does that assertion shock you? That is precisely why I am writing this article today. The world at large, and a hefty percentage of the professing evangelical church, sees Roman Catholicism as part of Christianity, akin to a denomination. This is a wildly false and grievous assumption. Roman Catholic doctrine is not biblical Christianity. They are at absolute odds with each other. Let’s examine a few of Francis’ statements from the article to demonstrate my point.
Expanding on his statement that it is better to be an atheist than a greedy Christian, Pope Francis said the following:
The problems with this statement are numerous. First, a Christian is someone who has placed their faith in the atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross for their salvation and forgiveness of their sins. That is what defines a Christian, we are saved by grace through faith. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
A person who is ever genuinely saved (converted/regenerated) is forever saved and is a Christian. “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day” (John 6:37,39).
The pope is saying that Christians who don’t do works the right way will be denied entrance into heaven. So, the first issue is that it would not be a Christian who is not admitted into heaven, it would be an unbeliever. All Christians will receive eternal life. The second issue is that we do not receive admittance into heaven based on offerings (good works). We are admitted because we placed our faith in Jesus. In Matthew 7:21-23 where Jesus says that He will turn away people He never knew, it is not because they did works the wrong way, or the wrong works. It is because they were never genuine believers in the first place. They had never placed their trust in Him for forgiveness of sins. That is the issue at hand.
“because, 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” (Romans 10:9)
“Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32-33)
“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,” (John 1:12)
Pope Francis has again confused what saves a person. He thinks works, God says faith in His Son.
Does Jesus’ death redeem every single person? No, as the verses below will show. Jesus sacrifice is infinite in its value…..it could save any number of people who come to saving faith. But it is not infinite in its application or efficacy, meaning that it is only applied to those who the Father draws, and gives the new heart to, enabling them to believe and repent. This is the doctrine of efficacious grace: the saving grace of God is effectually applied to those whom he has determined to save. However, if according to Francis Jesus paid for everyone’s sins, and the Bible says that people go to hell, then are we to believe that Jesus paid for the sins of the hell-bound and then they pay for their sins eternally in hell also? No, that is not just, and God is Just.
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45) Who did He give His life for? All? No, many. We do not say many when we mean all.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:16-18) Who will receive eternal life? Those who believe in Him. Do atheists believe? No, they do not.
Is everyone saved, as Pope Francis’ statement implies? No.
“Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. “For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it,” (Matthew 7:13-14)
And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:46)
“…when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,” (2 Thessalonians 1:6-9)
No, it is not better to be an atheist than a greedy Christian. If a Christian is committing the sin of greed, the Holy Spirit will convict them and bring them to repentance. Christians will go to heaven. Atheists will go to hell. I hope this short lesson in the scripture twisting and man-made rules of Roman Catholicism has been helpful for you, my readers. The reformation happened for a reason, because Roman Catholicism had defected from the true faith, and morphed into a false religion, preaching the doctrine of demons. People who are wrapped up in Roman Catholicism need to hear the true gospel. Those who do and believe in it, will reject the false doctrine of Roman Catholicism and come out from her.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Resources for further investigation:
Are Roman Catholicism and Christianity the same thing? article by CARM