There are many people in the Christian world who say they know God’s mind. They say they know who will go to heaven and who will go to hell. They totally understand God’s plans for judgement. Any question anybody has about salvation they have an answer for. They believe they totally understand the Bible, therefore they believe people should listen to them. They are like the man named Elihu who said to the prophet Job, “If thou hast anything to say, answer me: speak, for I desire to justify thee. If not, hearken unto me: hold thy peace, and I shall teach thee wisdom.” Job 33:32-33.
As I write this the Pope is in the city a few hours travel time down the highway from my city. The organizers thought there would be about sixty thousand people who would want to see him and attend events. Instead, over one hundred thousand people came. The Pope and the Roman Catholic Church believe they have the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven because Peter was the first Pope, and the authority of Peter was passed down from Pope to Pope. Jesus said, “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:18-19. In the Israel Truth movement, we do not believe this scripture is referring specifically to the Roman Catholic Church. We are Protestants. However, I am concerned that many Protestants do not believe the original Protestant doctrines of the Reformation.
One central idea in Protestant belief is that everyone has access to the scriptures and can decide for themselves what they believe, based on the scriptures rather than the dictates of church leaders. The apostle Paul wrote, “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” 1 Corinthians 11:3. I do not want to divert to the feminist argument, but if men would follow Christ Jesus, women would recognize the men’s spiritual authority and listen to them. My point is that the head of each man is not a pastor, priest, or Pope, but rather the Lord himself. Every man should be studying the Bible and communicating with the Lord through heartfelt prayer for guidance.
Some Christians say they know who are forgiven of their sins, only Christians that follow the beliefs of their denomination. The truth is that the Lord can forgive any sins he wants to. He is not governed by the beliefs of any denomination. “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.” Luke 23:34. The Roman soldiers who cast lots for his robe did not know who he was. They were just following orders to execute some criminals. Christians are forgiven all their sins, but the Lord can also forgive anyone else of any sin. It is up to Him, not us.
Other Christians say they know who goes to heaven. I have never been to a funeral where people do not believe the person has gone to heaven. Christians and non-Christians will say the person has gone to heaven because the person was a pretty good person. Occasionally there may be a very bad person that they have their doubts about. That is belief in salvation through works is not part of the Protestant belief. It is faith that saves a person, not works. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8,9. Also, we are not saved by any works of the church, by water baptism, taking communion, or confession of our sins to a pastor or other Christians. Those actions are good practice, but do not save us. We must put our trust in the sacrifice of Jesus, believing that he took our sins upon himself, and that our sins died on the cross with him. At the end of the final judgement Jesus Christ will have decided on each person’s eternity. Nobody should think they have a monopoly on understanding that final judgement.