April 18th, 2010. Questions and Answers with John MacArthur at Grace Community Church
QUESTION: Hi, I’m a Catholic. I’ve been a Catholic all of my life, that’s 75 years. The question I’m going to ask is a very, very basic and has been bothering me for many, many years of my adult life. To the billions of non-Christian denominations, I’m talking about the Jewish, the Buddhists, the Profuciests, Mormons and so forth that truly believe in their faith, that lived a very good life according to their faith. My question is, is there salvation...a heaven for them? Or all they all condemned to hell?
JOHN: Yeah, that’s a very good question. What’s your name?
JOHN: Hi, Charlie. That’s a very good question, Charlie.
The answer to that from the Word of God is they will all perish in hell because there is only one way to go to heaven. There’s no salvation in any other name than the name of Jesus Christ. Jesus said “You will die in your sins,” to the Jewish leaders, “because you believe not on Me...because you believe not on Me.” “God, that familiar John 3:16, so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes on Him shall not perish.”
There’s only one heaven and there’s only one way into heaven and that is through faith in Christ. It is the only hope, that is why we are told to go to the ends of the earth, preach the gospel to every creature. So all who perish without the knowledge of Christ, die in their sins and go everlastingly to hell.
Now the degree of punishment in hell will vary. But what makes it vary is not the goodness of the person because no person is good before God, no person. Only God is good and Jesus said that. No person is good, no person is good enough to earn heaven. The only difference in hell will be that the people who heard about Jesus Christ and rejected Him will have a greater punishment than the people who didn’t hear about Him. They will all be punished, but those who knew about Christ and didn’t receive Christ will have the greater punishment. That’s Hebrews, “How much sorer, or greater will be the punishment of those who trampled underfoot the blood of the covenant and counted the work of Christ, as it were, an unholy thing, rejected Christ.”
Now the other thing to say is this, that even if you believe in Christ, even if you believe in Christ as God and Christ dying on the cross and Christ being raised from the dead and Christ being Lord, and all those things, that may not be enough to get you into heaven either because in Matthew 7 it says, “Many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, we did this in Your name and that in Your name.’ And He’ll say, ‘Depart from Me, I never knew you.’” So you can know about Christ and you can know that He lived a holy life and was born of a virgin and that He died on the cross and He rose from the dead and ascended to heaven and reigns and is returning and not go to heaven.
But here’s the key. You must trust Christ for your salvation alone and reject any works of your own as having any contribution to your salvation.
JOHN: It doesn’t matter how many times you went to church, it doesn’t matter how many humanly good deeds you did, it doesn’t matter how many times you took the Mass, for example, in a Catholic situation, it doesn’t matter how many times you went to Confession, it doesn’t matter how bad you felt about the sins that you did, it doesn’t matter how many rosaries you said, it doesn’t matter any of those things...none of those things individually and all of those things collectively cannot save a person. A person will be saved by faith in Christ alone, recognizing that in my flesh dwells no good thing, by the deeds of the Law will not flesh be justified. You can’t earn your way in by being good. You can only receive salvation when you know you’re not good enough and you cry out to be forgiven of your sin by the sheer grace of God based upon the death and provision of Christ on the cross. Okay?
CHARLIE: Oh one last thing, I meant to add this. I am leaving the Catholic Church and hope to join this church.
JOHN: We welcome you. (Applause) Now you folks over there, you folks over there need to open your arms to Charlie, right? Let him know we love having him here.
You understand the gospel, right? The way I explained it? All right, Charlie, never too late, right? You’re the youngest-looking 75. What happened to me? I don’t get it. Okay. Alright.
[This has been taken from the Grace To You website.]