I think many evangelicals say a Christian is one who has made a sincere act of faith or commitment to Christ – and an indicator of that sincerity can be judged by a person’s actions throughout the rest of his life. I think most Catholics would say that a Christian is anyone who has been validly baptized, but he can fall from grace and suffer damnation.
Do all Christians go to Heaven? Is that part of the definition of Christian? Is it exclusive (that is all Christians and only Christians go to heaven, or can non-Christians still somehow be saved)?
Yes, all Christians go to Heaven and all Non-Christians will be judged and condemned to the lake of fire. The saddest part of all are the ones that are mislead and think they are doing the right thing, but will be turned away.
Please explain this. The scripture references to belief and faith in Jesus Christ as the way to enternal life are too many for me to reference. Using on the Word of God, how can someone who does not believe or have faith in Jesus Christ, which is the definition of Christian, get to heaven? Also, how does one that has the belief and faith in Jesus Christ not get to heaven?
Scripture is really quite clear on the point: Christians can lose their salvation. There’s no “sure thing,” no matter how strongly some might wish.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will inherit the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven” (Matt. 7:21).
“See, then, the kindness and severity of God; severity toward those who fell, but God’s kindness to you, provided you remain in his kindness, otherwise you too will be cut off” (Rom. 11:22-23).
“I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified” (1 Cor. 9:27).
“These things happened to them as an example, and they have been written down as a warning to us, upon whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore, whoever thinks he is standing secure should take care not to fall” (1 Cor. 10:11-12).
“You are separated from Christ, you who are trying to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace” (Gal. 5:4).
“If we have died with him we shall also live with him; if we persevere we shall also reign with him. But if we deny him he will deny us. If we are unfaithful he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself” (2 Tim. 2:11-13).
“If we sin deliberately after receiving knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains sacrifice for sins. But a fearful prospect of judgment and a flaming fire that is going to consume the adversaries” (Heb. 10:26-27).
The Bible speaks of a merciful God who wants all to come to repentance and to a knowledge of the truth (cf. 1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9). God has established the Church as the means by which all people can come to him. But the question naturally arises about those who never hear of Christ’s salvation through the ministry of the Church. Are they thereby excluded from salvation even though their ignorance is no fault of their own?
Paul also said that “God has consigned all men to disobedience, that he may have mercy upon all” (Rom. 11:32). God’s ultimate purpose is not condemnation but salvation. This salvation normally comes through the ministry of the Church as people embrace Christ and the Church he founded. The question before us is this: What about those who are hindered from the normal means of hearing the gospel through the Church’s ministry? If an explicit and conscious knowledge were absolutely necessary, then children who die before they can understand the gospel would be lost. This also applies to people who are mentally disabled and don’t have the capacity to understand the gospel through ordinary use of language. Or again, what about those in world history who never had the chance to hear the gospel?
We don’t know what God will do for those outside the Church, so it’s best not to presume to judge. We can only hope and pray that God will have mercy on them.
Those who through not fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do His will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience may be saved. (Catechism, n.847)
God states what happens to the ones that were not reached with the Gospel.
11 For there is no partiality with God.
12 For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law;
13 for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified.
14 For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves,
15 in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them,
16 on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.
Agreed. God’s purpose is salvation. It is man that turns from God. But Romans 11 is talking about how God has not turned his back on the Jews, but has given the opportunity to grant mercy on the Gentiles. And the Gentiles should not be arogant toward the Jews because of this mercy.
Agreed. This is the mission of all Christians. The Gospel message is the key to heaven and communion with God.
Again, I would point to Romans 2 for this answer
We do know what happens to those of unbelief. The references to this is many and clear. The only way to the Father is through Jesus Christ.
Agreed. As stated in Romans 2, it is the doers of the law, not the hearers of the law, that are justified. So what does all this mean? We, Christians, have a command to go and make disciples. Jesus Christ is the door to heaven. The Gospel message is the key that opens that door. We are all commanded, from the apostles to us today, to go and make disciples. Those we reach and accept the key to heaven are freed from Earth and heaven. Those not reached or have not accepted the Gospel message are bound to Earth and Heaven.
But all this has to do with non-Christians. You also stated that not all true Christians go to heaven. Can you explain this to me?
The only Christians with the fullness of truth are Catholics as the Catholic Church is the one true Church founded by Christ on Peter.
To be morally confident of getting to Heaven you must be a Catholic who dies in a state of grace (i.e. no mortal sin on your sould at time of death). However a Catholic who dies in a state of unrepented mortal sin will not be saved.
For non-Catholic Christians it will be hard to get to Heaven as they have largely rejected the teachings of Christ’s Church which are the teachings of Christ.
Outside the Catholic Church the only ones who might be saved are those who live in invincible ignorance of Christ but still in that ignorance live a life according to Christ’s teachings, and also those who want to know Christ but are prevented from having the opportunity to know him but still live in accordance with his teachings (baptism of desire).
CCC 1257 The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation. He also commands his disciples to proclaim the Gospel to all nations and to baptize them. Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament. The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude; this is why she takes care not to neglect the mission she has received from the Lord to see that all who can be baptized are “reborn of water and the Spirit.” God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments.
CCC 1258 The Church has always held the firm conviction that those who suffer death for the sake of the faith without having received Baptism are baptized by their death for and with Christ. This Baptism of blood, like the desire for Baptism, brings about the fruits of Baptism without being a sacrament.
CCC 1259 For catechumens who die before their Baptism, their explicit desire to receive it, together with repentance for their sins, and charity, assures them the salvation that they were not able to receive through the sacrament.
CCC 1260 “Since Christ died for all, and since all men are in fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partakers, in a way known to God, of the Paschal mystery.” Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity.
CCC 1261 As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus’ tenderness toward children which caused him to say: “Let the children come to me, do not hinder them,” allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism. All the more urgent is the Church’s call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy Baptism.
I think this can also be applied to those who through no fault of their own do not know Christ. We are obligated to partake of the sacraments that Christ instituted, but Christ is not bound by his own sacraments. Christ’s sacraments are not more powerful than Christ himself.
So, specifcally, what is the Church’s view on Jews and salvation? Since we have had the opporutinity to ask for the sacraments, by and large, and have refused to do so, does the Church hold that we are doomed to a lake of fire?
There are differing opinions on this, but I believe most Catholics who have a knowledge of their faith would say that is is not our place to judge. I was recently looking for a statement along these lines in the Catchism, but I think I may have been thinking of something Roy Schoeman wrote in *Salvation is from the Jews. *If anyone knows a definitive statement on this topic from the Church, I’d also be interested. Given God’s merciful nature, however, and the historical and covenantial relationship of the Jewish people with God, I am inclined to believe/hope that an extra measure of mercy will be given to the Jewish people who have failed to recognize Christ as the Son of God and Messiah. Bottom line, though, we do not know, and it is pretty fruitless to speculate…
The Church doesn’t doom anyone to the Lake of Fire, the Church never tries to read God’s mind in these matters. Catholics believe that Jews, Muslims etc… if they do receive salvation it is through Christ and His Church and God’s infinite mercy.
Just like non-circumsized sojourners could not partake in the pasover with Jews, non-Baptized people can’t partake in the Lord’s Supper in eternity. They are seperated from the paschal mystery of Christ and His Church.
In the end I believe the Catholic Churches official position is that non-Christians may be saved through the mercy of God and Christ’s Church. Someone may have a better answer since I’m not an apologist. But I know for a fact the Church doesn’t teach that Jews go to the lake of fire and burn. We also profess that we all killed Jesus Christ, that I am 100% just as guilty as the Jewish leadership for condemning Jesus, or the Roman who drove the nails. Anyone who says otherwise is mistaken.
To answer the original question, NO all Christians do not go to Heaven, assurance of salvation is a myth. Work out your salvation through fear and trembling Paul said. For 1,500 years no Chrsitians believe in being saved by faith alone, assurance of salvation, or Sola Scriptura. Since the vast majority were illiterate and Bibles cost more than an entire village made in 40 years it’s probably a good thing.
I think the distinction that a Protestant would make is that all Christians DO go to heaven. Those “Christians” who don’t go to heaven really weren’t Christians in the first place. So perhaps the real question in that case would be, can you know that you are a Christian and can you know if others are Christian? If you can’t identify other Christians, can you identify the Church, or is it just some mystical unknowable reality?
An equivalent question for a Catholic would be, can you know if you are saved and can you know if others have been saved? I think the answer would have to be no, except for those who have died and are now canonized saints. But I think Catholics would say that the Church is identifiable at least to some extent, although some individual members of the Church have been / will be saved and others have rejected or will reject salvation.
[quote=Catechism]1793: If - on the contrary - the ignorance is invincible, or the moral subject is not responsible for his erroneous judgment, the evil committed by the person cannot be imputed to him. It remains no less an evil, a privation, a disorder. One must therefore work to correct the errors of moral conscience.
When dealing with eternal salvation though, who wants to take unnecessary chances?
All Christians have the fullness of truth. If one does not have the fullness of truth, he is not a Christian
To be confident of getting to Heaven, you must be a Christian. The Bible states that salvation is assured to those that put their faith in Jesus Christ. It does not mention a religion anywhere. This is the same mistake the Jews had when salvation was given to the Gentiles.
A Catholic or Protestant that is unrepentant is not a Christian and will not get be saved.
First I want to say there are only two kinds of Christians, those who are and those who are not. Non-Christians will never get to heaven and Christians will.
Sorry to sound like a broken a record, but Salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ. This is clear from the Scriptures. No where does the Scriptures state that salvation is through any religious denomination. According to Romans 2, no one lives in complete ignorance of God.
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