What if You Do Not Believe in God
Recently, Pope Francis made this statement which suggests that belief in God is optional to get to heaven :
“You ask me if the God of the Christians forgives those who don’t believe and who don’t seek the faith. I start by saying – and this is the fundamental thing – that God’s mercy has no limits if you go to him with a sincere and contrite heart. The issue for those who do not believe in God is to obey their conscience.
“Sin, even for those who have no faith, exists when people disobey their conscience.” Note1
Although I am saddened to say, it seems to me that the statement by Francis is diabolically opposed to Scripture.
When we offer alternative “gospels” (good news, a means of salvation), we are attempting to make Christ a liar when He said (John 14:6) that He was “THE” (one an only) way to the Father. Romans 3:3,4 states, “If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it? 4May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar.”
According to the Bible (John 3:16-18), unless and until, we believe on Christ, we are condemned:
“16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 1
The reward for the “unbelieving” is determined at the Great White Throne judgment: “for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8).
It may be that sovereign God may make some allowances for those who have not had an opportunity to hear the Gospel of Christ and believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior in their life. Although the Bible is unclear about such, it may fit with God’s sense of justice. However, it *IS* clear in the Bible that those who know of the Gospel and still disbelieve, are guilty before God (John 15:22) and (Hebrews 10:26) plus many others. So, how many of these “unbelievers” have never heard about Jesus Christ?
Note1 The full text of the Pope’s letter can be found here: https://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/letters/2013/documents/papa-francesco_20130911_eugenio-scalfari.html
A rebuttal argument can be found here: https://www.catholicvote.org/what-pope-francis-really-said-about-atheists/