I’m sorry. But I just had to say this.
I am Catholic. Like me or hate me, I don’t care. The reason it matters is because of something I saw today. I was looking through Facebook and found that a page I follow (about Jesus and Christianity) is looking for volunteers. The ministry who runs the Facebook page had a small questionnaire on their page. It’s sort of like their application for the position. The part which irked me was a question asking if the applicant believes in “salvation by faith in Jesus Christ alone.” Now for those of you who don’t know, salvation would be the phenomena where God allows you entrance into Heaven and thus, saves you from eternal damnation.
Now, this is specifically where it gets important that I am Catholic.
Most Christian religions tend to teach that when you proclaim you believe Jesus died for your sins and then get baptized, you are instantly and for always “saved.” Catholics (the original Christian religion..) on the other hand seem to have a bad reputation for teaching people to do good works. Why the bad reputation for teaching people to do good? Because the other Christian religions claim we are saying you must do good works to get into Heaven; as if doing lots of good without proclaiming Jesus as your saviour would get you into Heaven. However, that’s not the case. No Catholic believes he can get into Heaven on his own merit. The good I do comes from God. I am merely an instrument of His peace (as St. Francis was). I still believe that you have to proclaim that Jesus is your Lord and Savior. Afterall, no man goes to the Father on their own; rather, only through Jesus can one get to the Father in Heaven.
That said, many of the quotes the Protestant religions use to bolster their argument come from people like Paul (who was once Saul). Sure, many of them come from Peter and other disciples, and many even come from Jesus himself. Even still, there are many more Bible verses where Jesus himself is telling us how to act. Why would Jesus bother telling us how to act if how we act (or, should I say, the works we do) had no weight on the question of “are you going to Heaven?”
And that’s only half my point.
The other reason I don’t like the Protestant mindset on salvation begins with the story of a young boy. Once upon a pool in a small American town, there was a young boy. This boy told one of the lifeguards that he did not make it to church (or he said he wasn’t going that day… I don’t remember). The lifeguard, joking around of course, remarks, “oooh. You’re going to Hell.” Now, this may not have been a very nice thing to say, even in a joking manner, but we can’t change the past. This kid, without missing a beat, replies, “no I’m not. I’ve been saved.” Now, In order for this story to make sense you have to know this boy. While he wasn’t exactly a “bad” kid, he was a troublemaker. I became upset because this troublemaker seemed to think that it didn’t matter what he did (even if he chose having fun over spending time with the Lord who saved him), he was already saved and didn’t need to worry about it.
The point? He, like many other Non-Catholics, seemed to think that he had been saved and that’s that. To be saved means you have been provided with salvation. That means you are most likely going to Heaven. While I believe this is within God’s power (since He made the rules), even when I feel as if I’m not measuring up, this kid believed he was going to Heaven already. So, essentially, he made up God’s mind for Him. I’m sure God wants this kid in Heaven with Him, but I’m not sure if God allows us to decide if we are going to Heaven. (as I said, He made the rules) God allows us the choice to follow the rules or throw them to the wind. By choosing not to follow the rules, you might be condemning yourself. But by choosing to follow the rules you still don’t secure your place in Heaven; that still doesn’t mean you’re saved.
Only God can decide who goes to Heaven and who doesn’t. It is through Jesus that we get to Heaven, not our own actions. Baptism is an action we take. Being human we are capable of making decisions and promises and then going back on them. It is ultimately up to God as to how well we followed the rules. The sacrifice Jesus made opened up salvation to all who accept it. This sacrifice, however, does not secure our place in Heaven. You won’t know if you’re getting in until you’re at the front door. This is why you need to live a good life, doing good works, following all the rules Jesus laid out for us, and believe Jesus died to save you.
Who do you think you are? You’re not God. You don’t get to make His decisions for Him.