Yesterday Steven and I attended a funeral service for the mother of one of our church members. Actually, it was a funeral mass. It was the very first time that either of us had ever been inside a Catholic church. What a new experience!
There was quite a large crowd gathered to honor the life of the 92-year-old woman who had passed away, but only a small group seemed to be of the Catholic faith. The majority of people there were just as unsure of the protocol for a funeral mass as we were and, unfortunately, we somehow didn’t pick up the order of service as we entered. That would have been helpful. We just sat in a pew near the back and took it all in.
The music was beautiful, the organist talented, and the priest eloquent. He spoke highly of this well-loved, generous, and joyful lady. He also prayed for the dead and went through many other rituals. He said that this dear lady was “now beginning her journey to be with her heavenly Father,” and that, “hopefully, she will soon cross that great sea to be with God.” Those words didn’t seem very comforting to me because they lack assurance. For those of us who are in Christ Jesus, our journey is complete the moment we pass from this earthly existence.
Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. II Corinthians 5:6-8
My purpose is not to debate the tenants of Catholicism. There are some very good people who are Catholic, but that doesn’t mean that they (or any other religious person) are going to heaven when they die just because they adhere to a set of rules. God’s word, the Bible, doesn’t tell us to follow a pope or confess our sins to a priest. God’s word doesn’t tell us to pray for the dead or pray to idols.
For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; I Timothy 2:5
You might be a good Catholic reading these words right now, but maybe you’ve never heard the wonderful news that Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay for all of your sins and reconcile you to God. It’s not something that you have to wonder about and fret over; you can know for sure.
These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. I John 5:13
The Bible tells us that we all have sinned and that, because we have sinned, we deserve death. God provided a way for us to escape eternal death when His Son, Jesus Christ, willingly died on the cross to make the payment for our sins.
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Romans 3:23
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
Being religious doesn’t get us into heaven. Going to church, giving money to help others, or getting baptized doesn’t save a person’s soul. Our salvation is found in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. We have to put our faith and trust in Him alone and not in the good works that we do.
But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Romans 4:5
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Titus 3:5
You can know for sure that you will spend eternity in heaven with the Lord.
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Romans 10:9-10, 13
That 92-year-old woman did just what these verses told her to do. Just over a year ago she realized that if she could do enough good things to get her into heaven, there would not have been a reason for Jesus Christ to die on the cross. She put her faith and trust in Him. She didn’t need a priest to pray her into heaven at her funeral; she was already there with her Saviour.