Faith At The last Minute


If a person can just suddenly find faith at the last minute and then just be automatically forgiven at the last minute for all manner of crimes and deplorable acts of depravities, then what good is faith for?

I for one, hate to think that a person can do all kinds of deplorable things all of their life and all of a sudden at the last few seconds of their lives be forgiven and allowed into heaven without any kind of recriminations.

It makes no sense to me, because when people who simply just don’t believe and even be really good and even save lots of lives, that they’ll still go to hell and be tortured for all eternity simply because they didn’t believe in God in the first place. Why should a criminal who slaughters innocent people and commit all kinds of crimes against humanity be forgiven at the last minute and allowed into heaven than a good person who is not allowed into heaven and will never under any circumstances be forgiven?

Simply because they don’t believe?

This is something I have wrestled with all my life but will probably never truly find any real answer for. I don’t understand it at all.


I think you will find the answer in this parable from Matthew 20:11-16

1The kingdom of heaven is like to an householder, who went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. 2And having agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3And going about the third hour, he saw others standing in the market place idle. 4And he said to them: Go you also into my vineyard, and I will give you what shall be just. 5And they went their way. And again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour, and did in like manner. 6But about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing, and he saith to them: Why stand you here all the day idle? 7They say to him: Because no man hath hired us. He saith to them: Go you also into my vineyard. 8And when evening was come, the lord of the vineyard saith to his steward: Call the labourers and pay them their hire, beginning from the last even to the first. 9When therefore they were come, that came about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. 10But when the first also came, they thought that they should receive more: and they also received every man a penny. 11And receiving it they murmured against the master of the house, 12Saying: These last have worked but one hour, and thou hast made them equal to us, that have borne the burden of the day and the heats. 13But he answering said to one of them: Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst thou not agree with me for a penny? 14Take what is thine, and go thy way: I will also give to this last even as to thee. 15Or, is it not lawful for me to do what I will? is thy eye evil, because I am good? 16So shall the last be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.**

Such is the Mercy of God. Not to be understood, but to be trusted. Servant of God, John Paul II The Great had a wonderful quote about Mercy which said “There is a Divine limit placed upon evil. It is the Mercy of God.”


I could site many places in the NT where Jesus explains this-but my best advise is for you to sit quietly in front of the Blessed Sacrament and ASK God-then listen for His response.


It’s probably something we’ve all wrestled with at one time or another. Maybe Heaven isn’t quite as static as you picture it. Maybe Heaven is more realization than real estate.

What works for me is the possibility of just that. To use a very poor example. Maybe heaven is like a great eternal round of golf.

The person who never cared for golf, in fact belittled the game when alive, knows nothing about it from any personal experience, has no idea how to play the game, but at the last minute decides that is where he wants to be, and he ends up on the Heavenly golf course. He thinks it’s nice, pretty, and he’s perfectly happy just sitting there watching everyone else. Of course he can’t play because he never put in the effort to learn and understand while on earth. On the other hand, the person who has put his life into the game appreciates all the subtleties of the course, he appreciates the challenges and the thrills of being involved with the course and the game, and everything about it. New and different shots have to be played, conquered, enjoyed, there’s always something new to be understood, enjoyed, and appreciated. It’s never ending

Now both people are happy being there. One out of ignorance, the other out of appreciation. To both their happiness is real, it is the fulfillment of their efforts here on earth. And they understand the justice of their existence.

A famous celebrity once accepted the faith and repented of his life of sin on his deathbed. He brought a thimble to God, and God filled it to the brim. Mother Teresa brought the Grand Canyon, and God filled it to the brim. And both are perfectly happy.

Heaven might be more understanding and realization, rather than just a ‘happy place’.

My two cents.


The parable of the prodigal son is another good example of this. I think we should praise God for His mercy but could also reason that He wouldn’t be foolish with it. The prodigal son or the thief on the cross would’ve had to have been genuinely contrite since God knows and judges by the heart. Someone who consciously waits until the end to believe and confess could never produce genuine faith or contrition on demand and would be mocking God, I think.


I also have a problem with this and I find my answer in the non-Christian belief in karma. With karma, you really get your just desserts. For example, a truly horrible person who causes much suffering through selfishness and greed does not get an auto entry into paradise by making a last minue conversion. Likewise, a truly good person who does many good works and alievates the suffering of many does not suffer eternal damnation because they don’t happen to be a Christian. I realize this is unpalatable for Christians but it does seem to work as a philosophy for millions of non-Christians and I thought I’d toss it out there.


Our church makes so much common sense…these are the 3 of my favorite teachings that I think may help…

The Catholic Church teaches

-that Christ’s Church teaches the fullness of faith and offers the blueprint to heaven.

-that the Lord takes us when we spiritually are most ready.

-that we on earth cannot know who will not get to heaven, only God knows that if in their heart, they are Catholic.


Letting God speak for Himself: [Ezechiel 18:21-29]

21 "But if a wicked man turns away from all his sins which he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 22 None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him; for the righteousness which he has done he shall live. 23* Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, says the Lord GOD, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live? 24 But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity and does the same abominable things that the wicked man does, shall he live? None of the righteous deeds which he has done shall be remembered; for the treachery of which he is guilty and the sin he has committed, he shall die. 25 "Yet you say, 'The way of the Lord is not just.’ Hear now, O house of Israel: **Is my way not just? Is it not your ways that are not just? **26 When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, he shall die for it; for the iniquity which he has committed he shall die. 27 Again, when a wicked man turns away from the wickedness he has committed and does what is lawful and right, he shall save his life. 28 Because he considered and turned away from all the transgressions which he had committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die.


This is something I have struggled with, too! Here is the answer I received that helped me. I don’t know if it fits within the framework of Catholic doctrine.

Heaven is like a bunch of different sized water jugs all filled to their brim. The person who has consistently holy life has a large water jug. The last minute repenter has a littler jug.

So, I have to be careful with this analogy, because God loves us all equally and infinitely. All of our “jugs” are completely filled with God’s love! And we’re all thrilled and completely happy to be filled with His love. But our capacity to be filled (the size of our jugs) is a function of how much WE want to receive HIM.


Frankly, we can’t afford to complain about the mercy of God. If we do, He might just tell us that, if we don’t like His generosity, He will spare us the embarrassment of partaking in any of it. (Go directly to Hell. Do not pass Go, do not collect 200 dollars.)

“If you, O Lord, looked upon our sins, who could stand?”

Honestly, there comes a moment when we ought to mind our own business and quit trying to judge God and tell Him what to do and how to do it. The more we show such mindboggling pride, the more we prove we need God’s mercy.

I don’t know what passes between God and any other sinner besides myself. I don’t know the true circumstances of how I wiggle a finger, much less how anybody else lives or how many spiritual attacks he receives. I don’t know anything, and I only exist by the grace of God.

So what is it to me if Hitler repented and went to Heaven? My job is to follow God, try to do His will, rejoice and praise Him that He deigned to save anybody at all, and hope in His mercy. When and if I get to Heaven and get the Beatific Vision, and when the final Judgement tells the truth about everybody to everybody – that’s when I’ll find out the full extent and reasoning of God’s perfect mercy and perfect justice.

But I’ve got a long row to hoe, before I get to that point. So there’s not much point fussing about it now.


:thumbsup: These are great points, and if and when we experience the beatific vision, I doubt anyone will bother to be looking anywhere besides at Him.


You are really being judgemental here…these forums are for people to discuss and learn.


Luke 23: 39 One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” But the other answered, and rebuking him said, "Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? “And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” And He said to him, **“Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” **


Every person will have to become perfected before entering heaven. All that we do towards that perfection here on earth is that much less we must undergo upon death. The person you describe will gain heaven, but will have to undergo a great deal of purification first.

If it seems like he’s somehow better off, ask yourself who is better off, one who marries his true beloved early in life, or one who flits around without love or commitment or direction for his entire life, only to marry his true beloved on his deathbed. If you consider that person’s life wasted life a tragedy then you get it.


It works if you think in terms of purification rather than punishment. The horrible person who converts at the last minute has encrusted his soul with a lifetime of evil. God will remove every last speck of that evil before the person enters heaven, and it stands to reason that the person will have a very hard time letting go of it - that’s where the pain of purgatory comes in. It is the pain of giving up all the evil that one has cherished in life.

And as for the good person who was not a Christian, we may have every hope for his salvation in that he was responding to God by following the law of God written onto every human heart. Fundamentalists will reject that notion, but the Church does not.


The wicked person who repents on his deathbed will have little or no “treasure” stored up in heaven. On the other hand, the person who lived a long life of faith and good works will have a great “treasure” stored up heaven. This suggests that the heavenly experience of the person who live a long life of faith and good works will be better than that of the wicked person who repents on his deathbed.


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