Saturday, June 16, 2018

CAN AN ATHEIST BE SAVED?



This little boy, whose recently deceased father was an atheist, cries out to Pope Francis wanting some hope that his father could be in heaven even if he didn't believe in Christ as the Son of God. And the pope's response that his father could be in heaven created a firestorm of negative responses from Christians accusing the pope of giving false hope to the child. Some wanted the pope to tell this little grieving boy that his father was in hell and to deal with it.

Nonsense! Pope Francis was within his God-given authority and within Biblical perimeters to tell the child his father certainly could be in heaven.
Even an atheist can be saved! The Catholic Church has always taught that. Pope Francis gave the boy a hope supported by scripture. The Gospel of Christ is good news, not bad news! If what you believe of God is bad news then you don't understand the gospel. Pope Francis understands it! He understands that we are never to judge whether certain individuals are in hell.

SIX BIBLICAL PROOFS THAT AN ATHEIST CAN BE SAVED

Because often the real Christ is not presented by Christians and when a person rejects the Christ they have been shown by other Christians, they are not truly rejecting Christ but rejecting that Christian who has warped the character of Christ.


1. GOD'S PEOPLE CAN BE OUTSIDE THE SHEEPFOLD

Jesus told us that He had followers that were some not of the visible sheepfold. We can assume the faithful sheep who live in the Kingdom of God are not aware of these people outside of sheepfold. Among them could be atheists. That is why we can never judge any specific person as lost.

2. GOD KNOWS OUR HEARTS BETTER THAN WE DO

Scripture says that our hearts—above all things—are deceived. We do not understand our own mind at times. God knows our hearts better than we know them ourselves. It is absolutely possible that some atheists have not rejected God but think they have. Atheists are all different and have differing reasons for rejecting God. I knew a woman who refused to believe in God and when we dug deeply into her reasoning, she discovered that her atheism was a wall to actually protect God. She saw a terrible world and believed that a good God would have never allowed suffering. So she rejected an evil God who allowed suffering. If God was good, she finally thought, she would believe in Him. 

Some atheists reject the God that confrontational, smug and arrogant Christians portray to them. While they call themselves atheists these people are really not different than believers (perhaps in a different denomination) who reject that God. I know lots of people who may not call themselves atheists, but they reject the mainstream fundamentalist or liberal God so many espouse. So, again, these "atheists" haven't rejected the true God, but the false God they were presented. And that is a good thing. Perhaps the authentic gospel was never shown to them.

So don't judge an atheist by his or her cover. The pope knows that a man's words may not be the last word on his beliefs. Look at his actions. In fact, lest we think we become prideful, Christ spoke often  against those who trust in money. And trusting money more than God is a type of atheism.
God knows the heart. The pope understands that our words, at times, may not reflect what is truly going on in our hearts and minds. The father of this young boy baptized his children which may tell us something about what he might have believed in his heart. We, of course, do not know for certain but that evidence is hopeful.

3. OBEDIENCE TELLS MORE THAN WORDS

I will repay each of you according to your deeds.  Rev. 2: 23

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. 2 Corinthians 5: 10

While this is similar to number two, this goes further to say that our deeds come from our hearts and often reveal a lot more than our words do. In general, actions speak louder than words. That is Biblical. Jesus reminds us of that in a parable. 

[A] man had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ The boy answered, ‘I will not.’ But later he had a change of heart and went. The father went to the other son and said the same thing. This boy answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did his father’s will?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, tax collectors and prostitutes will go ahead of you into the kingdom of God!” Matthew 21:28-30

If an atheist's life is full of good works, we simply cannot say they are going to hell because they bore good fruits. 

A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit….by their fruits you will know them. Matthew 7:16-20. 

This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” John 3: 19-21

Many who claim to be Christians have lives that bear bad fruit, and many who do not claim to believe have lives that bear good fruit. There will be people who practiced the truth without ever claiming to be Christians and when their life is brought into the light at judgement, their works will be seen to have been brought about by God. This is evident only at the judgement.

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25: 34-40

This texts tells us that some among the saved were not aware of their deed to God. They simply acted in love. And in the end, we will be judged by our self-sacrificing actions of love. The pope took the evidence of the father and understood that an atheist who had their children baptized may not truly be an atheist. Look at his actions—his fruits, not his words. His actions were in accordance with love and obedience to God.

4. ATHEISTS CAN BE SAVED BY BELIEVERS INTERCESSION

For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 2 Cor. 2: 15. 

Jesus called His followers priests—for each Christian is part of the royal priesthood. What is a priest for? To intercede for others through prayers and sacrifices. Christians should understand the important position given them as priests. Our intercessions have enormous powers to save even atheists. We must never give up hope and we should never stop praying for our loved ones because God is outside of time, therefore our prayers are outside of time. When God judges a person, He knows the prayers that were said and will be said for that person, and God has always pardoned a person because of another person's requests. That is so scriptural that there are too many verses to list here that back this up. I will just remind you of a few:

Lot was rescued out of Sodom because of the prayers of his uncle Abraham. Moses saved the entire nation of Israel when God was angry and about to wipe them out. When Jesus mother asked Jesus to help at the wedding at Cana, Jesus did what she asked and miraculously made wine out of water. When the paralytic was lowered before Jesus it was the faithful actions of his friends that made Jesus—not just heal the man but forgive him! Sons and daughters were healed by Christ at the request of their parents.

We should keep in mind our great power as Christians because St. Paul told us that our lives sanctify our household:
But to the rest I say, not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he must not divorce her. And a woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, she must not send her husband away. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy.  I Corinthians 7:12-14

Jesus listens to the intercessory prayers of His righteous people and they avail much! The little boy in the video seems to have had a mother who was a Christian and this could mean that his father was sanctified through the believing wife.


5. ATHEISTS WILL BE JUDGED BY THEIR LOVE

This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister. I John 3: 10
[L]ove comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. I John 4: 7
Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. I John 2: 10-11

God will judge the atheist according to his love. 

While we are saved by our faith, we are judged by our love. That give all humans who have ever lived hope that they will be in heaven. There is much biblical evidence of this.
If you Protestant readers still don't accept that the pope spoke truth to the boy, just remember that "Love coverth a multitude of sins." Even if the pope's compassion overcame him and he told the boy something more hopeful than he should have, let us remember that the pope's love will cover a multitude of his sins. And he gave the child hope. Is that ever wrong?

6. WHATEVER YOU BOUND ON EARTH WILL BE BOUND IN HEAVEN

For the Catholics, this should be easy. Pope Francis has the keys and whatever he binds on earth will be bound in heaven. If the pope was given a special revelation that the boy's father is in heaven, that is the pope's prerogative. May we pray that God bound in heaven what the pope bound on earth! For our faith tells us that God promised to do that for the man who holds the keys. And what a wonderful promise!


6 comments:

Unknown said...

An atheist can be saved only if he or she confesses with his mouth that Jesus is Lord (Acts 2:38), and not when he is dead as Ecclesiastes 9:5'...but the dead know nothing.."

Pope Francis should have said " God is the best judge , for now you young man must seek Jesus, confess your sins to Jesus and be saved..The problem is Pope Francis cannot help play God because that is already prophesied in Daniel 7:25

Teresa Beem said...

Dear Reader who calls himself Unknown,

I feel your need to come and comment. That is a natural urge when one reads something one disagrees with. However, rather than offer your opinion, please give me and other readers some proof of what you believe. I have carefully explained why atheists indeed can be saved. I have used the Bible to prove my assertions. You, who are obviously Adventist, have simply thrown out three SDA doctrines without in any way showing how they relate, nor any proof that they are true.

This would be like me commenting on a SDA site speaking about the Sabbath: Adventists are wrong because they don't keep the "thou shalt not murder" commandment and their teachers abuse their students.

Okay on the the one substantive thing you wrote:

You wrote that one must say "Jesus is Lord" to be saved. Yes, true, but we don't know WHEN one says it. Perhaps it is in purgatory. Perhaps it is at the Second Coming of Christ. What we CAN know is that Adam didn't say that. Nor did anyone up until Christ came. And many who have lived since then who have never heard of Christ. You are not saying that all those people are lost, surely. Jesus came to save everyone including those who lived before He came to earth as the Messiah. And we don't know atheists heart. If an atheist is saved, we can be certain they will be saying, "Jesus is Lord" at some point.

Let us see God as merciful and generous. The Cross tells us that.

Anonymous said...

Adventist teachers abuse their students? I guess you hadn't heard of the years of abuse that over a thousand children endured at the hands of your priests.

Teresa Beem said...

I have heard. The Loma Linda committee on sexual abuse found that Adventists have as much abuse as Catholics and in some areas they had more.

M said...

Wow! Always trying to make Adventists appear worse. You're like this Trmosters who in support of a racist, misogynist criminal yell:"But Hillary...!"

ComeLetUsReasonTogether said...

M,

Can you understand my confusion when I read your comments? This post has nothing to do with child abuse--it is about atheists being saved-- and yet you bring it up out of nowhere. Then all of a sudden you assume I voted for Trump, and say I make Adventists appear worse. Why don't we break down your objections and deal with them one at a time instead of jumping around from topic to topic.

Blessings,
Teresa