Did Pope Francis say everyone will be saved by doing good?

Enormous theological ignorance and bad reading exploded onto the scene this week:

Pope Francis Says Atheists Who Do Good Are Redeemed, Not Just Catholics

(An earlier version had this headline: “Pope Francis Says All Who Do Good Are Redeemed – Atheists included.”)

(Huffington Post) Pope Francis rocked some religious and atheist minds today when he declared that everyone was redeemed through Jesus, including atheists.

[...]

Of course, not all Christians believe that those who don’t believe will be redeemed, and the Pope’s words may spark memories of the deep divisions from the Protestant reformation over the belief in redemption through grace versus redemption through works.

That supposedly correctly interprets remarks made by Pope Francis:

“They complain,” the Pope said in his homily, because they say, “If he is not one of us, he cannot do good. If he is not of our party, he cannot do good.” And Jesus corrects them: “Do not hinder him, he says, let him do good.” The disciples, Pope Francis explains, “were a little intolerant,” closed off by the idea of ​​possessing the truth, convinced that “those who do not have the truth, cannot do good.” “This was wrong . . . Jesus broadens the horizon.” Pope Francis said, “The root of this possibility of doing good – that we all have – is in creation.”

[...]

“The Lord created us in His image and likeness, and we are the image of the Lord, and He does good and all of us have this commandment at heart: do good and do not do evil. All of us. ‘But, Father, this is not Catholic! He cannot do good.’ Yes, he can… “The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone!”.. We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.”

First, I should note that I do not think any Orthodox Christian should have any problem with what Francis is quoted as saying here. Why?

Well, first, this is not universalism. It might appear to be so if you don’t know that there is a difference in traditional Christian theology between being saved and being redeemed. The redemption that Christ accomplished through the incarnation, cross and resurrection was for all of human nature, and so it is quite correct to say “The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ.” Redemption is something that happens for human nature, which is why all will be resurrected in the end and why all are capable of doing good.

But that is not the same thing as saying that all will be saved, and it certainly isn’t saying that everyone will be saved by doing good. It’s not even saying that everyone will be redeemed by doing good. Salvation, in distinction from redemption, is centered on the individual person, not on the whole of human nature. Salvation is what the individual person does with the redemption that Christ has given to all, and it involves much more than simply doing good.

But Francis holds out the possibility here for an encounter, that we may “meet one another” when good is done, by whoever it may be done. And he is absolutely correct. All good is from God, so even an atheist—even an anti-theist—who does good is in some sense participating in God’s goodness by virtue of his redemption by Christ and remaining created according to the image of God. But that doesn’t mean he is saved.

The headline for this piece and much of the writing has this all quite backwards. The capability of doing good is an effect of redemption, not its cause, and salvation is also another possibility because of that redemption. Someone may be redeemed and not be saved. Someone may be redeemed and not do good. Someone may also be redeemed, do good and yet not be saved.

The writer and many readers are not only theologically illiterate, but they are not even reading what Francis said. One does not need to know that redemption and salvation are two different things to see that his emphasis here is on who is capable of doing good—not who is redeemed or saved—and that he’s not at all saying that redemption or salvation are the result of doing good.

The lessons here are twofold: know your terms and read what is actually said.

Update: Here’s a good piece of analysis on this from a Roman Catholic viewpoint: Friends Don’t Let HuffPo Writers Do Theology

Comments

  1. Wesley Wilson says

    Perhaps you are right about the distinction the Pope is making between redemption and salvation but I’m unclear on what he meant by: ” But do good: we will meet one another there.” Meet one another where? In heaven? In purgatory? Or does he just mean that we will find unity and a common cause in doing good?

    • says

      Since the context of his remarks is Mark 9:38-40, I don’t think he’s talking about heaven or purgatory. “We must meet one another doing good” would seem to refer to an encounter here in this life. I don’t have the full text of his homily, though, but that would seem to fit with his quoted words here. Again, there doesn’t seem to be any warrant for a belief in universalism in his words.

  2. says

    “Salvation” is a _loaded_ word in the U.S. So, it’s no surprise that this bees nest of misunderstanding has been kicked. :) Do you have an article explain the depth and beauty, some of the fullness of the ancient Christian concept?

  3. coffeezombie says

    Sadly, I’m sure my Southern Baptist family/friends will be using Pope Francis’ remarks as validation of their belief that the Roman Catholic Church teaches that we can save ourselves.

  4. says

    This is tangential to the post, but I find it confusing how much the media, other denominations of Christianity, and even atheists seem to care (the latter perhaps in an antipathatic sense) about the Roman church’s validation. I think this is why they jumped to misread the pope’s words; they seem to be mining for some kind of imprimatur. If they believe Roman theology is bunk, then so what?

    When the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith rolled out their taxonomy of communions identifying the Orthodox Church as a ‘deficient communion’ many got hot under the collar; my thought was, “yeah, so what?” Not only were they being honest, but why would we need their validation?

    There is some inconsistency in these contexts that I’m not getting.

    • says

      I think the common thread is really a kind of anti-Catholicism, i.e., mining the data for proof that RCs are really as bad as we think they are. I honestly am not myself concerned with whether they are bad or good but with whether their doctrine is true or false.

      I am quite delighted when anyone declares that his church is true and then also concludes quite naturally that others are either false or somewhat less true. It means I am listening to someone who actually takes doctrine seriously.

      • says

        Father,
        Sorry for the ambigously-directed critique, I hadn’t include you, or this piece in this ‘validation complex’. I agree with you, I respect & appreciate one who is ‘orthodox’ in his confession, even if he disagrees with me. When the above-mentioned RCC commission rolled out its explanations, my response was, “Finally we’re getting some honesty on the RCC’s attitute toward us. _Now_ we can begin meaningful theological discussion.”

  5. Nicole says

    Beautiful. These are things I wish the Protestants could understand about patristic theology. I like your exposition.

  6. jonathan starkey says

    Um, but it is confusing. So why say it that way at all. If he knows it is dangerous language. It’s misleading to beginners.

    It is Jesuit thought, Liberation Theology.

  7. says

    My problem with responses like yours (I’ve heard other people say this) is two-fold:

    #1 We cannot judge him by our Eastern theology because he is not Eastern and hence is not defining terms Easternly. In Western theology, salvation and redemption is often the same thing.
    #2 Despite what he literally said or meant, the message communicated was implicit universalism. So the real fault then perhaps lies in pope Francis failing to define his terms, not in the readers’ failure to understand his message.

    • says

      1. I don’t think this is a place where “Eastern” theology is different from Roman Catholicism, i.e., the redemption of all human nature.

      2. There is no evidence that he’s a universalist. He’s talking about who can do good, not about who can be saved. That said, yes, he might have been more precise. Nevertheless, nowhere does he says that everyone who does good will be redeemed. Rather, he says that everyone is redeemed and therefore capable of doing good.

      • says

        I get the overarching point, but did get tricked up on what I was understanding in the use of the term “redeemed”. This seems to be a specific term a’la the kinsman redeemer by which Christ assumed our dead “family name” (via the Incarnation), has betrothed us, and now we as Bride pursue earnestly the good he has prepared for us (Eph 2), we subject ourselves to Him (Eph 5), and we abide with the Spirit, which is our seal and good will offering that we will _yet_ be redeemed (Eph 1 & 4).

        Is there a distinct POV on “redemption” I’m missing? Word precision discussion aside, Francis’s is a good will acknowledgement that helps to bridge divides in dialogue and mutual action with others. It is discouraging to see overzealous counter-reactions that cloud the big picture of what he is trying to accomplish.

  8. Jean says

    As a former Roman Catholic, trained in Roman Catholic theology, who is now a Protestant pastor, (with Orthodox friends, to boot), I appreciate your clarifications Fr. Damick. While ‘sloppy theology’ often blurs the line between redemption and salvation within much Protestant theology, the redemption of creation (including of humanity) of which Pope Francis speaks which allows for good works to be done by even athiests is NOT the same as salvation, nor is the Pope even talking about salvation; he is speaking about good works, and the value they hold, in and of themselves.

    As far as the comment, “meeting one another there”, realize the context that has been the now-Pope Francis’ ministry-Argentina, a country that has had (and presumably continues to have) a strong Marxist (including athiestic) influence for a number of years. Doing good CAN be a starting point for conversation with those who have rejected Christianity for reasons TOTALLY UNRELATED to the Gospel of Christ. Indeed, “doing good” is a very good place to meet those who have yet to hear the Good News of Jesus.

  9. says

    “Salvation is what the individual person does with the redemption that Christ has given to all, and it involves much more than simply doing good.”

    I caught that myself, that this is what he meant. But Americans are very Calvinized, even the non-Calvinists; Calvinists control the thinking of Arminians, and their terminology. They won’t see any distinction between the terms redemption and salvation. Nor can either one of them acknowledge that Jesus’ death on the cross did anything for those who don’t believe. That passage “Christ is the savior of all men–especially those who believe” has been mentally removed from their Bibles to boot. They can’t be expected to understand anything but “faith alone, faith alone, faith alone.” “Doing good? Why that’s Satan’s agenda!” I hear them saying faintly in the distance.

  10. Nolan Games says

    first off I am a believer who has been saved from a life of misery and is now wrapped in the hands of the best Daddy ever. I have researched and read much on this subject not to mention that I have many family members that are catholic and I am in no way naïve to the catholic faith so please do not dismiss me as ignorant. I am quite frankly shocked, not nescarily by the fact that the pope is declaring that everyone is redeemed but by the complete ignorance of the pope in his use of the most holy scriptures! that is horrendously taken out of context.

    Christ is by no means interested in “meeting us.” the idea of this is completely man centered. we shouldn’t be telling atheists to “do good” because are good deeds are nothing. absolutely nothing. Christ saves wretches like me. those who are completely lost in love to the world. our “good deeds” are putrid trash to a most holy good.

    take for example the wretch that lay dying on a cross next to the cross of Christ. he did nothing “good” to deserve salvation but Christ gave it to the sinner at the cost of His life.

    as for your argument that redemption is different then salvation that is completely false. to recognize this you must look at the definition of both. redemption is taking a man from one state and bringing it to another washed by the holy blood of God. which makes it a synonym to salvation which is redemption by another name.

    I would be glad to hear back from you but if I were you I would seriously be considering taking another look at the pope. one that missuses scripture and takes it out of context not to mention one who butchers his own religion in the name of tolerance.

    • Jason says

      The thief on the cross repented and embraced humility among other things. These actions were good, and Christ rewarded him.

      • Nolan Games says

        so you are saying that God granted the thief on the cross heaven because he “embraced humility among other things?” then why do we need Jesus???

        • Jason says

          We need Jesus because he’s the Savior – the Truth and the Light. He is also the Door; one which we have to approach and open.

  11. Richard Levinson says

    This is the modern version of angels on pinheads.And in your examples, you leave out the most important and ugliest…that someone may do good, and not be saved. And, conversely, someone may spend a lifetime doing evil and still ask for and receive grace.This is the psychological terrorism that underpins the structure of heirarchal Christianity and results in the coercive brutality of its history.

    • says

      My fifth paragraph after the quotations includes this line: “Someone may also be redeemed, do good and yet not be saved.” So, no, I didn’t leave that out.

      As for angels dancing on the heads of pins, well, I suppose that is a way of saying that this is not an important theological question. But I would disagree. The relationship between redemption, salvation and good works is quite important.

      As to whether any of this is brutal or coercive or represents “psychological terrorism,” none of that has been my experience at all. I suppose if one believes in the wrathful, vengeful, capricious God that is characteristic of much of Western theology, perhaps it might be experienced that way. But I don’t believe in such a “God,” and even those (unlike me) who do look at salvation as being saved from God (by God!) don’t witness to such an experience, either.

      I really know very few Christians who do what they do out of fear. Most would say that they believe and trust in God because He loves them and they love Him. You could say they’re lying, of course, but it’s not terribly helpful to decide for someone else what he believes and experiences.

    • says

      Someone can “do good” and yet not “live a good life.” I now this doesn’t answer to what you are saying, but I think that distinction needs to be made. But I would agree, the notion that someone who lives a good life can go to hell over some dogma while someone who lives a horrible life goes to heaven for believing that dogma — that’s pure nonsense, and it is the source of a great deal of “brutality,” even if that brutality is often emotional and psychological rather than physical.

  12. Mike says

    Father Andrew,

    Could you please expand more on “how redemption is for the whole human nature, and participating in God’s goodness by virtue of his redemption by Christ and remaining created according to the image of God. But that doesn’t mean he is saved.”

    I’m a recent convert and trying to explain the distinction between the being redeemed and being saved to my protestant friends who believe that there is no such thing as being redeemed and not saved. They say, “If the whole world was redeemed, what are they redeemed from or restored to? In that sense, redemption means nothing to nobody. If Christ redeemed everyone, everyone would be saved. It’s still universalism.”

    • says

      Nature and person are not the same thing. And not everything that is in the nature of a thing is necessarily perfectly expressed by the individual. It is, for instance, in the nature of mankind to have two legs, but not every person does. And because Christ has redeemed all of human nature (by being the New Adam), it is now in the nature of mankind to be perfect, which is why it is perfectly reasonable for Christ to command us to be perfect (Matt. 5:48). But of course we all express that perfection to varying degrees.

    • Mike says

      Father Andrew,

      Thanks for the response!

      Would it be correct to say that being redeemed means Christ made human nature perfect by his incarnation, death, and resurrection, and being saved means it’s our choice and choose to be perfect and like him, repent and pursue theosis by the grace of God?

      I’m trying to explain how one can be redeemed but not saved to my Protestant friends, the distinction between being redeemed and being saved.

  13. Kevin Allen says

    I think the pope must have been trying to convey some sort of theology of “doing good” as a reflection of divine nature in us – because “we are the image of the Lord”…and “…he does good…” – but I think he could have conveyed it with less confusion had he not brought in the “redemption” language. What was his point in saying, we are all redeemed even the atheists? Does this not give the impression the pope is validating that good works have some “redeeming” value apart from faith in Christ? Do they? That seems to be conveying a bit of “pelagianism”?

  14. Boris M. Garsky says

    I believe that the message is that we can all be brothers in doing good. We all have the power and will of doing and being good.

  15. Grace says

    Romans 11:6 (ESV)
    6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.

    Titus 3:5 (ESV)
    5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,

    Romans 3:22 (ESV)
    22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction:

    John 14:6 (ESV)
    6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

    That’s what the bible says ! And its CRYSTAL CLEAR ..

    • says

      Quite. And none of that contradicts what Pope Francis said. He never says that good works earn anyone salvation.

      Of course, “crystal clear” is very much in the eye of the beholder. What may be clear to one is not so clear to another, and what may be clearly “X” to one may be clearly “Y” to another. Merely quoting the Bible doesn’t usually help. It has to be interpreted.

      I find it’s best to assume that anyone with whom I disagree has actually read the whole Bible and has an interpretation for every passage. That assumption only gets stronger when the person I disagree with is a theological professional. Popes qualify. :)

      • Grace says

        I think when Jesus said that he was the only way to heaven ( John 14:6), all audience then understood him very well, without making a distinction between redemption and salvation, they knew that Jesus Christ will be their only way to heaven. That’s what I meant by crystal clear. Loving God and others are the greatest two commandments by which Jesus simplified the old testament, making good deeds definitely fits well in this category. However, the bible says that all our good deeds are like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6) and they won’t suffice for redemption or salvation. I would gladly like to ask you if, however, any bible verse states otherwise. I also believe that addressing atheists in the pope’s speech, it would be nearly impossible for them to make a distinction between redemption and salvation as presented here in the article. Let me quote from CNN here:
        David Silverman, president of American Atheists said these words:

        “While the concept of Jesus dying for atheists is wrong on many levels (especially given that Jesus himself promised hell for blasphemers), I can appreciate the pope’s `good faith’ effort to include atheists in the moral discussion,”

  16. Megan Leathers says

    Fr. Andrew, when I posted this, an Orthodox friend had some questions about it.

    “I’m not sure I understand what Father [Andrew] is saying. Is he saying that no-one could do good before Jesus redeemed human nature? If the individual today has not taken advantage of the redemption that Jesus provides, how is he any different from one who lived before Jesus? Why can he do good today, and the ones who lived before Jesus could not?”

    “I may have this wrong, but it is my understanding that man, after the fall, has always been able to do good in a fallen somewhat corrupted sense, but that Jesus, by redeeming human nature, made it possible to be and to do that which is purely and perfectly good, but only once he has taken advantage of that redemption. Before he has done so man is still just as fallen as he was before Jesus.”

    Thanks!

    • says

      The redemption of man is trans-temporal. Haven’t you noticed that in icons of the Resurrection Christ is pulling even Adam and Eve out of their graves? And how else is He called “firstborn over all creation”?

      To conclude that redemption is bound by linear time would also mean that salvation (a potential result of redemption) is also bound by linear time, thus making salvation impossible for the Old Testament saints. Yet Moses saw God.

      • Megan Leathers says

        Thanks for clarifying!

        I also find it interesting how far the Pope’s sermon has gone in terms of misunderstandings/miscommunications.

        Example: This quote from the CNN article, “Heaven for Atheists? Pope sparks debate.”

        “Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association, said that although he has been skeptical of Francis’ outreach to the nonreligious, he welcomed Wednesday’s comments.

        “’I gather from this statement that his view of the world’s religious and philosophical diversity is expanding,’ Speckhardt said. ‘While humanists have been saying for years that one can be good without a god, hearing this from the leader of the Catholic Church is quite heartening.'”

  17. Stephen says

    Father Damick, a very good piece. It has gotten good play on the Catholic Answers forum. As many reporting on this want to use it as a line of departure – a break – from Pope Benedict, it is worth noting that when still a Cardinal, Ratzinger wrote the following article that seems in direct alignment with your article at

    http://www.ignatiusinsight.com/features2006/ratzinger_formany_nov06.asp

    Would you agree that its in line with how you articulated it? I ask because there is a difference between the the language of theology and the proper meaning of terms and the public’s general unawareness of that language or an imprecise understanding. (In this, while a Protestant might make a different distinction to the meaning of a term, he should none-the-less be aware of how the party using the term meant it if there is a set canon underlying the use and meaning of such a term. Of course, the same would apply for a Catholic or Orthodox persons understanding of terms used by Protestants that may have evolved to a different meaning as well)

    Also, in Sunday Masses, Catholics say the Gloria and in the Gloria they say “peace to people of goodwill” — “et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntaries”. The point here is that there is nothing new or novel in what Pope Francis said. There is not even anything deficient in how he said it. Could it be that the confusion reflects societies dissipating understanding of such language?

  18. Jeff says

    No matter if you are Orthodox, RC or Prot, the Pope of Rome does represent you in the eyes of non-Christians, at least in some measure, like it or not. He is the Patriarch for more than 50% of the world’s Christians, and is automatically the most well-known figure in Christendom immediately upon election. That is why what he says matters, even if you are not RC.

  19. Carl Larsen says

    Where is the Apostles teaching in what he said? It’s not there. Those who come to Christ are saved, why we are baptized into Christ. No denomination can provide anyone with salvation, it’s based in Faith. Faith in Christ. Will we meet them there because of good ? No. We are saved through Faith not, never, works, he is wrong.

    • Grace says

      James 2:24
      KJV: Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
      NIV: You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.

      “Justified” as in KJV or even ( clearer here in NIV ) “righteous”, doesn’t guarantee heaven , that’s not what the verse says, however it shows that by our faith in Jesus we should be righteous, otherwise we have no faith in him. However, it is by grace alone that we are saved.

      Ephesians 2:8-9: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.

      • JJ says

        Here is the James 2:24 in the Greek.

        ὁρᾶτε ὅτι ἐξ ἔργων δικαιοῦται ἄνθρωπος καὶ οὐκ ἐκ πίστεως μόνον.

        The verb rendered as “is justified” in the KJV and “is considered righteous” in the NIV is δικαιοῦται (dikaioutai) above, the 3rd person, singular, present, indicative, passive of δικαιόω. It is being used here in the passive sense.

        According to the LSJ, the standard lexicon for Classical and Biblical Greek (see here: http://stephanus.tlg.uci.edu/lsj/#eid=27769&context=lsj&action=from-search ), the verb has the general meaning of “set right” in the active and “pronounce and treat as righteous, justify, vindicate,” especially in the New Testament. In other words, the sense of the word is that we are “set right” by works, not only by faith.

        • JJ says

          I should add, briefly, that the verb above shares the same stem as the noun, justice (δίκη) and just (δίκαιος). These are very, very often used in a legal context.

          • JJ says

            Uh, I should have edited that. The first word is the noun, justice, and, the second is the adjective, just.

  20. Aaron Sorensen says

    Carl, I am a comfortable Calvinist and have no problem with what pope Francis said. I believe firmly that the blood of Christ redeemed the whole world, this is not a comment on salvation but rather an orthodox truth about Christ being the propitiation. Romans 3:24-25

    • Carl Larsen says

      Good works have no bearing on salvation or we have no need of Christ! If Orthodoxy teaches you’re saved by good works, it’s no longer Orthodox!

  21. says

    Flat out, any opposition to good works is unchristian. Salvation is by grace through faith, yes. Good works are what mark us and enliven the faith in our hearts. But, God is the judge, and all people use only what they are given. The thief on the cross could only ask mercy and it was enough. Others received the same salvation, but had the capacity to do good afterwards and were instructed to do so over and over again. To come throwing around anti works righteousness rhetoric is to show that we’ve missed everything the Pope and Fr Andrew said. We also show that we don’t really listen, we alienate ourselves from other people when one word or idea can send us on tangents.

    Thank you for your helpful blog and book Fr Andrew. They very much helped me find my home in the Church this last Palm Sunday.

    • Aaron Sorensen says

      Good works enliven the faith in our hearts? I’m not sure I know what that means. I can say that as I’m not opposed to good works, I am opposed to the “social gospel”. That is to mean that when Christians set out to do good work without bringing the Gospel to people. I am opposed to wasting resource when it does not bring the ultimate good into people’s lives. I am suggesting that our definition of the word “good” is probably different.. I don’t perceive anything of me as being spiritually good, unless it has come from God.

      Now with that all said, as I’ve had so more time to think about what pope Francis said. I am a bit surprised that he wasn’t more clear. Andrew, you have been clear in response to the pope’s message. However, if our Evangelical brother’s and sisters are having trouble with what the pope said, how could do we expect an atheist to clearly understand this message?

  22. Myron Heckman says

    Protestants make no distinction between the redeemed and the saved, because as we read the Old and New Testaments, the saved are redeemed (purchased from sin’s slavery by the blood of Christ) and the redeemed are saved (rescued from sin, death, and hell and given eternal life). That is the root of the controversy of the Pope’s remarks for Protestants. If Patristic theology makes a different distinction into classes – redemption is general (provides to all a possibility of salvation) and salvation is particular (individuals are saved) – it would help to show examples from the Patristics that indicate the interpretation given in this article is rooted in church tradition.

    • says

      First, it’s important to point out that many protestants in fact do make a distinction between being redeemed and being saved, and many protestants have no problem with the content of the Pope’s message. Now, I guarantee there are those protestants that have a problem with it because it’s coming from the Pope, but if some else were to make similar statements, I don’t think they would find issue with the message.

      Second, a healthy number of (maybe even most) protestants would argue that the New Testament teaches that Christ died for the sins of whole world (as in John 3:16, 2 Cor. 5:14-15, 1 John 2:2). Yes, there are those who interpret these scriptures according to the framework of traditions which teach that Christ only died for the elect (thus, when John teaches that Christ “..is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for [the sins of] the whole world.” the meaning becomes something completely different—i.e.”us” refers to John and his target audience, and “the whole world” refers to the whole of the elect), but I would not at all be surprised if they are in the minority compared to the whole of Protestantism.

      Thus the question: do you believe that Christ died for the sins of the whole world? If not, then there is nothing further to discuss. If so, then the follow up question is: in what sense did he die for the sins of the whole world if he did not purchase them from sin’s slavery with his own blood (and thus by your definition above, redeem them)?

      I’ll conclude with an illustration I remember from my youth in a sermon by an Evangelical Protestant preacher. It’s like we are all in prison (the whole world), and Christ comes over and opens the prison doors and proclaims, “You are all free to go!” Now the prison doors remain open, and it is up to us to get up and walk out. There may be some who are incredulous that any prison doors even exist. Some, because of their long imprisonment may believe that everyone else is free to go, but they are excluded somehow. Some may even believe chains prevent them from leaving. And some may have gotten so use to imprisonment that they are simply too afraid to leave. Now concerning those that leave vs. those that stay. Those that leave can all do so singing and proclaiming “Christ has redeemed us from prison!” But what about those that remain, are they redeemed? As far as Christ is concerned the answer is yes, all have been freed from their imprisonment and are completely free to go. Yet, there is a sense in which they are still imprisoned. So, as far as God is concerned all are redeemed, but as far as we are concerned, we have to get up an leave, otherwise we remain imprisoned.

  23. ola says

    Worry about your own salavation not whether the guy next door will be saved or not…leave that to the Creator its not your call.

    • Aaron Sorensen says

      Ola, when you write about “the guy next door” you must mean my neighbor. Jesus has a lot to say to me about my neighbor. He really loves him and wants me to love him too. I’ve tried to not worry about his salvation and I’ve become really convicted that my “politeness” and a fear of personal rejection while sharing the Gospel is offensive to God.

      I’m finding that the fear I have over sharing the Gospel has turned the Gospel into something that is about me. When I shy away from sharing the Gospel it reveals a love for myself that I hold above my neighbor. I’m working on that.

      • bencutler says

        I’ve tried to not worry about his salvation and I’ve become really convicted that my “politeness” and a fear of personal rejection while sharing the Gospel is offensive to God.

        Ola did not say “don’t share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with your neighbor.” Instead ola said don’t worry about “…whether the guy next door will be saved or not…leave that to the Creator its not your call.” In other words, don’t worry that your neighbors faith is insufficient, or somehow believe it is up to you to save them, instead be concerned with your own salvation, then perhaps you can be a light to your neighbor and they might be saved too. It harkens back to the teaching of Christ: don’t take the speck out of your neighbors eye, first take the plank out of your own eye, then you will be able to see clearly enough to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.

        • Aaron Sorensen says

          How can you be a light to anyone if you’re aren’t EVEN concerned with your neighbor’s salvation? We live in a post modern world where it is polite to mind our own business when it comes to matters of faith, we act as though we are an island of spirituality and the COMMAND “therefor go and make disciples”… doesn’t apply to us. The Bible simply doesn’t teach anything you just supposed, The Scripture that you quoted … first take the plank out of your own eye… isn’t a reference to being concerned with a neighbor’s salvation, it’s about judging your brother. So if I’m mistaken, show me where in the Bible it hints at not concerning ourselves with our neighbor’s salvation.

          In response to your quote, “In other words, don’t worry that your neighbors faith is insufficient, or somehow believe it is up to you to save them.”

          I know it’s not up to me to save them. I really do believe that Jesus commanded to go out and make disciples.

          Not worrying about your neighbors insufficient faith is the very thing I war inwardly about. This are things I tell myself to justify my rebellion. These remarks are not pointed so much at you or Ola as they are at me.

          • says

            How can you be a light to anyone if you’re aren’t EVEN concerned with your neighbor’s salvation?

            If by concern you mean interest and involvement, then yes, we should be interested in everyone’s salvation.

            Unfortunately, too many people have encountered Christians who in their zeal for Christ and their own immaturity have gone around and told other people that they were going to hell (thereby judging the heart of another, which only God can do) unless they accept their particular version of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They had a zeal for God, but they have neglected to use that zeal to seek Christ and be transformed by Him.

            Not worrying about your neighbors insufficient faith is the very thing I war inwardly about. This are things I tell myself to justify my rebellion. These remarks are not pointed so much at you or Ola as they are at me.

            As one who’s been there before, let me say I understand what you’re felling. We love and are loved by God, and we desire to truly love our neighbor, but yet we struggle against our own flesh. It took me a while to understand what people like “ola” meant when they said things like “don’t concern yourself with another person’s salvation” but I believe I finally understand. It’s about setting priorities straight. One can’t truly be concerned for neighbor until one is personally transformed.

            St. Paul admonishes the Philippians:

            Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of [his] good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; (Philippians 2:12-15 emphasis mine)

            So, pray for the salvation of everyone. Be a light to everyone you know. But the only way to truly be a light is to be transformed yourself. So, first concern yourself with your own salvation and trust that in that struggle, Christ God will transform you into a son of God, then you will shine as a light to the world. As you become more like Him, you have genuine love and concern for the salvation of all.

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