Had the Answer in
the 17th Century
Many believe Robert Cardinal Bellarmine (1542-1621) was the best of all the Jesuit theologians. He was declared a Doctor of the Roman Catholic faith in 1931. In this article, I do not want to misrepresent him for he was a dedicated Roman Catholic to the day he died. Bellarmine made some strong statements about the doctrines of Intention and Good Works.
When a priest administers a sacrament, that priest must have the right intention or the person has not received the sacrament. (He can’t be daydreaming or worried about some sporting event.) The priest has to be 100% focused with pure motives. (Council of Trent, Sess. VII, Can. 11)
Bellarmine said this: “No one can be certain, with the certainty of Faith, that he has received a true sacrament, since no sacrament is performed without the intention of the ministers, and no one can see the intention of another.” (Bellarmine’s Works, Vol. 1, p. 488)
No One Knows for Sure
This teaching implies that no person could know for sure if they have been truly baptized, received penance, etc. Furthermore, and after a series of arguments on being saved by works, he makes this remarkable statement. “Nevertheless, although the way of acceptance with God is by our own works there is a danger that men may so trust in their own works as to grow proud, which would quite spoil their works; and, therefore, upon the whole, it is safest for them to rely upon the blood and merits of Jesus Christ alone.” (Quoted from a March 29, 1874 sermon by Charles H. Spurgeon.) Over 100 years earlier in 1765, John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Church, quoted Bellarmine in a sermon. Wesley stated that, when Bellarmine was dying, he was asked which saint he would trust in. The cardinal replied, “It is safest to trust in the merits of Christ.”
On July the 4th in 1969, I was employed as a religion teacher at a catholic high school in Michigan. On that day, I transferred my faith from religious teaching and works, that I could never be assured would get me to heaven, and placed my faith exclusively and completely in Jesus Christ alone as my Savior and only hope of Heaven. I trusted in the blood and merits of Jesus Christ alone.
The Bible teaches that salvation is of God. God decreed from the foundation of the world that Christ would die for our sins, and in time, He orchestrated His plan. (1 Peter 1:18-20; Revelation 13:8)
Our Sin Deserves
Our sin is extremely grave and deserves an eternal punishment.
uI have a friend who was an officer in the army. He was washing up in a restroom at his base when five private first class soldiers began to make fun of him because of his small stature. My friend picked up his coat from a nearby chair and put it on. When they saw that they were insulting an officer, they each stood at attention, saluted my friend, and apologized.
Many people think that sin is no big thing. Some think it's a joke. If you believe the above, you don't know who you have sinned against. Jesus Christ's office and divinity is worthy of your highest respect. He is the Supreme Commander of the entire Universe. Everyone will bow their knee in recognition of this fact at the judgment.
Romans 14:11 says, "For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.”
No one will have religions’ trump cards to veto their sin and save them on the Day of Judgment. All our sin carries an eternal punishment.
Matthew 25:41 describes the sinner’s fate as “into everlasting punishment." That's forever!
Revelation 14:11 declares, "And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever."
(See also Matthew 3:12; 13:41-42; Mark 9:48; Luke 16:23-24) Good works on our part will not eliminate the fact of eternal punishment.
Scripture says, “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) (See also Titus 3:5a)
Christ Paid Our Sin Debt
Jesus, the eternal Son of God, paid for our sins on the cross. Isaiah 53:6 says, “…and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” 1 Peter 2:24 says "who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree."
On the cross He said, “It is finished,” and died. (John 19:30) Scripture declares this sacrifice complete and never to be repeated again.
One Offering for Sin Forever
The Bible says in Hebrews 10:11, “And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.” And then speaking of Christ in verse 12, “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God.” The effects of Christ’s one sacrifice is forever. There is no need to repeat it. (See also Hebrews 7:27; 9:26, 28; 10:10, 14; I Peter 3:18)
The Battle was Christ’s
The battle to get us to heaven was Christ’s. It’s not ours and it’s not religion’s battle either! You and I and the church throughout history cannot add anything to or take anything from the victory of Jesus’ death on the cross.
Our faith in Christ and His great victory on the cross allows us entrance into heaven.
He became our sin and paid our sin debt in full—the eternal debt of punish-ment we all owe a righteous eternal God for our sins.
Is It Any Wonder?
Is it any wonder that Cardinal Bellarmine, aware of the fact that the best of men can have their works marred by sin, said in the 17th Century, “Rely upon the blood and merits of Jesus Christ alone?”
Trust in the death of Christ on the cross for your sins. You have no hope in human religious inventions presented by fallible men of whose teachings and intentions you could never be certain! But you can be certain of Christ’s infallible work on the cross that was recorded in the Bible. First Peter 2:24 says, “who himself bore our sins in his own body on the tree.” That was all the sins you committed in the past, present, and future. He paid it all.
Take Christ as Your Savior
This very second, ask God’s forgiveness and receive Jesus Christ alone as your only hope of heaven. John 1:12 says, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.”
“He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life.” (1 John 5:12-13a)
Receive Christ now. Would you read and then sincerely pray the following?
“Father in Heaven, I realize my utter helplessness of getting to heaven on my own goodness and merit. Forgive me for my sin and, as best as I can, I turn from it and receive Jesus Christ alone as my Lord, Savior, and only hope of Heaven. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins.”
If you have made this decision, please contact me at:
Norm Sharbaugh Ministries
P.O. Box 215
Brownsburg, IN 46112
Or e-mail me at:
I will send you free Bible studies to help you grow in your Christian faith.