Those Dreadful Final Words

 

Those Dreadful Final Words

From time to time, I receive letters or emails that inform me of the death of someone I may have known in years gone by.  Like messages out of the night, these death announcements touch me deeply for I realize that another life has been snuffed out, another soul has departed, another death has occurred.  And there is no further opportunity to change the person’s destiny.

Just this morning another message came, with these dreadful words of finality: “I am sorry to report the loss of a classmate, . . . . Please keep her family and friends in your thoughts and prayers.”  Along with the announcement was a link to the obituary in a local newspaper.  I checked it out and read a few lines describing this woman’s life, marriages, and children, along with places where she worked.  Then were the solemn comments of her death.  I noted particularly her church affiliation and the religious arrangements for her burial.  My heart sank with an empty feeling of futility and hopelessness.

This woman (whom I don’t even remember meeting, although she was in our high school graduating class) must have held a couple responsible positions in life and raised children.  She must have loved and been loved by family and friends.  She must have had at least some religious inclinations, from the few words used in the obituary.  But that is all.  From those words of her church connection, it was clear that she belonged to a false religious group (one that is home to millions of others), a leading major church that has been called “the largest ‘Christian’ cult in the world.”  It was a group that I had just recently studied in depth and about which I wrote two thorough volumes.

As I wrote above, “my heart sank with an empty feeling of futility and hopelessness.”  From what the obituary stated, it appeared that she was part of the “Queen of Heaven” parish.  It also appears that a Mass would be held for her in “St. Mary’s Church,” part of the “Mary Mother of Hope” parish.  Why did I find this so devastating and so tragic? 

Because I know that Jesus declared, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6).  I know that the Word of God says that only Christ Jesus is “our hope” (1 Timothy 1:1), and Paul wrote that “Christ in you” is our “the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).  Only through the Lord Jesus Christ can we or anyone else be saved (Acts 4:12) and have the hope of heaven with Him.

God has made it clear that Mary (the mother of Jesus) is not the “Queen of Heaven.”  The only “queen of heaven” mentioned in the Bible was Ishtar, the false goddess of the Babylonian pantheon (see Jeremiah 7:18).  Further, it is clear that Mary is not any more a “saint” than every other follower of Christ, living or dead (Romans 1:7; Acts 9:13).  Quite plainly, Mary never had a church—for the only “church” that is composed of the saved ones is the one belonging to God (1 Corinthians 1:2) and Christ Jesus (Romans 16:16).  Sadly, we also know that it is vain to rely on “Mary Mother of Hope” for our only hope must be in Jesus Himself, our hope of eternal glory (cf. Titus 1:2-4).  It is not only futile to place our hope of salvation in any human being (including Mary), it is clearly blasphemous.

Can you understand the futile feeling I had as I read this death announcement?  Do you also share such feelings as you learn of the death of friends and members of your family?  I know, of course, that in this age of pluralism and relativism, some people aren’t shaken by any reference to a deceased person’s religious affiliation.  In our day, people may just think that good, moral, friendly Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, or Catholics and Protestants from various denominations are all saved and on their way to heaven—maybe on different roads but surely they will reach the same destination!  But for those of you who take God’s Word seriously, you know that this is an empty hope and futile expectation.  Jesus is the only possible way to heaven and He will not tolerate any compromising efforts of self-salvation through religious ritual or ecclesiastical faithfulness.

Whenever I read of someone’s death like this, I again am convinced that I must redouble my efforts to communicate the truth of God to needy but deceived souls—while there is still time.  Yes, they may consider me a “fanatic” or an “intolerant bigot,” but they condemned my Savior in this way as well (John 15:18-25; Matthew 10:24-25).  If we truly love people—as God has loved us—we should be willing to do all we can to inform people that God has placed our salvation in Jesus Christ alone, not in Mary or an angel or Buddha or Muhammad or any other personality.  Jesus is the only way!  And we must know Jesus as the way in order to be eternally saved.

Richard Hollerman

 


 

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