Recently, there has been a lot of talk on the social media about Pope Francis' recent comments on his belief that atheists and agnostics could go to heaven. He stated that as long as they live according to their conscience, they would be accepted by God. For those of us who believe the Bible is the final Word of God, and that the proclamations of the Pope are not equal to the Bible's teaching, we are not surprised at his statements. After all, he is just a man to us, and therefore fallible.
But to Roman Catholics, the words of the Pope are to be accepted as equal to the Bible; in fact, they are sort of "updated versions" of God's revelation to His people. In other words, the Bible was "a good start," but God is a God of the "now," and as times change, so do His "truths." There in, is the rub! The vast majority of Catholics, perhaps over 99%, have never read the Bible! And for those who fall into that huge percentage, what the Priests, Bishops, and the Pope say, IS truth.
The Pope has failed to recognize that apart from the new birth, a man's conscience cannot be trusted. 1 Timothy 4:1-2 says, "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times
some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines
of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron." Titus 1:15 says, "Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that
are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even
their mind and conscience is defiled."
The Word of God is the only valid test of truth; it is not the opinion of one man, a committee of men, or the vast majority of men. The Apostle Paul commended the Bereans for listening to his preaching with an open mind, but then going home and checking out if what he said matched the teaching of Scripture (Acts 17:11)! So what does the Bible say about how one "qualifies for heaven?"
* Salvation is a free gift that can only be received by faith in the Giver (Eph. 2:8-9)!
* Salvation requires faith in Jesus Christ, the ONLY WAY to the Father (Jn. 14:6)!
* Salvation requires receiving Jesus Christ as LORD (Jn. 1:12; Rom. 10:9-10)!
* Salvation is the work of the Holy Spirit in a man's heart (Jn. 3:3-8)!