the Answer in
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)
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
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
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
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.”
(See also Titus 3:5a)
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."
the cross He said, “It is finished,” and died. (John 19:30) Scripture declares
this sacrifice complete and never to be repeated again.
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)
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 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.
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
Receive Christ now. Would you read
and then sincerely pray the following?
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.