The core message of the Bible is of God’s great salvation, obtained through faith in Christ and repentance of sin.
This can be summed up in a great many verses in the Bible.
An example of this can be found in Mark 1:14-15, which says: “Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.”
The most famous verse of all, John 3:16, establishes this gospel truth. It says: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
1 John shows that we are sinners and have to confess our sins to Christ, who will forgive us if we do.
1 John 1:8-10 says: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
We cannot get to heaven without repentance, and our atonement is achieved by the precious blood of Christ, which he shed on the cross at Calvary, and Hebrews 9:22 says that “without shedding of blood is no remission”.
There is no other way to get to heaven.
Many people like to think they can get to heaven their own way, or that they can work out their salvation some way separate to that which is laid out in the Bible.
One such person appears to be Rosamond Bennett, the CEO (Chief Executive Officer) of Christian Aid Ireland and ‘elder’ (1 Timothy 2:12) in the Presbyterian Church.
Speaking in the most recent of the interviews with public figures about their faith with arch-ecumenist Alf McCreary in the Belfast Telegraph, Rosamond Bennett explained how she “came to faith” – and there was absolutely no mention of grief and guilt over sin or repentance or turning away from sin.
There was no acknowledgement of the need to be washed in the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.
While she told an emotive story, described in part in the headline by the newspaper to attract people’s attention, and one cannot fail to be sympathetic towards her when one reads the story, it sadly contains no details of any repentance for sin committed.
In the interview, she said: “It was only when my father died, when I was 10, that I fully became aware of God’s presence in my life. I had been away for the weekend and came home on Sunday evening. Daddy was ill with heart trouble and he asked me to bring him his tablets, which I did. I then went to bed, but I woke up a short time later. A voice in my head told me to go back to see him and to say ‘Goodbye’ because I’d never see him again.
“I went back to bed and he died during the night. When I woke up the next morning, my mother and older brothers and sisters — all in their twenties — told me he had died. He was only 63. I told them I already knew. I was sure that the voice in my head had been God, because He also said, ‘Don’t worry, I will be here for you. I will always be your Father’.”
It was certainly sad for her to lose her father aged just 10.
However, this was her answer to the question as to how she “came to faith”, admittedly a fairly soft way of phrasing becoming a Christian.
Did Rosamond Bennett, the leader of Christian Aid Ireland, repent of her sins to God?
Did Rosamond Bennett acknowledge her sinful estate before God and plead with him for forgiveness?
If she did, she certainly didn’t state that to have been the case.
Her story of “coming to faith” is one of emotion and feeling from within her own head, “a voice in my head”, she says.
An experience within her own head of a voice she attributes to God comforting her following the sad passing away of her father is apparently what saved Rosamond Bennett.
The Bible knows nothing of such a method of salvation, as has already been demonstrated in the verses above.
Is this the way that Christian Aid teaches people can be saved?
Such a thought would be enough to make you shudder.
There are other deeply concerning comments made within the interview by Rosamond Bennett.
This includes her implication that God may well be a woman, as well as questioning the existence of what was described in the interview as “hellfire”.
Answering the question of whether she ever gets angry with God (a futile, God dishonouring question, of course), Rosamond Bennett said: “Yes, I do get angry when I see injustice, violence, discrimination and starvation in the world. I don’t just read about these issues, I get to see them first-hand through my work with Christian Aid and it makes me angry and frustrated with God and with people in general, because the issues I see are created by people, not by God. I do express that anger to God, but (S)He can take it!”
Apart from the contradictory nature of her answer, initially saying she gets “angry and frustrated with God” before saying the issues she sees “are created by people, not by God”, it is offensive to God to say you are angry with God.
Look at God’s response to the people through Ezekiel when they express their dissatisfaction at how He executes His will.
Ezekiel 18:29: “Yet saith the house of Israel, The way of the Lord is not equal. O house of Israel, are not my ways equal? are not your ways unequal?”
To dispute with God is vexatious, carnal and futile.
Then there is the offensive and indeed rather silly and infantile comment of saying that “(S)He can take it”.
Of course, God is not a man or a woman as we know it, but rather he is a spirit, even as is demonstrated in the Shorter Catechism.
“God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.”
However, throughout the Scriptures, God is referred to as “he”. When Jesus came to earth, He came as a man, not a woman, and it is absolutely pathetic that the leader of a supposedly Christian organisation should pander to, or perhaps be part of, the politically correct nonsense sweeping through the western world.
Then, when asked if she feared “hellfire”, there was another Biblically illiterate answer from Rosamond Bennett.
She said: “No. The imagery of the Scriptures is varied and not always fire-related. It’s more about being on the outside, being banished.”
Let’s see what the Bible says is the portion of those who die outside of Christ.
Revelation 21:8 says: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
Jesus also confirmed the nature of hell and the fire therein.
When speaking of the rich man and Lazarus, Jesus recounts how he begged for a drop of water to cool his tongue from the fires of hell.
Luke 16:22-24: “…the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.”
Unrepentant souls face an eternity in the fires of hell, rather than just being outside the door of a party, as Rosamond Bennett seems to be implying.
Don’t allow yourself to be misled by any who tries to dumb down the reality of hell, or who tries to minimise or twist the words of God.
Such conduct is the work of the enemies of God.
Let’s not forget this was part of the tactic of the devil when he tempted Eve in the garden.
Genesis 3:1-4: “Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die”.
First he questioned God’s Word, saying “hath God said?”
Then he outright denied God’s Word, saying “ye shall not surely die”.
This is the work of the agents of the devil, to question and then outright deny God’s Word, and look at the damage done in the garden of Eden.
Don’t allow any who denies God’s Word to damage your soul.
Irreversible damage will be done if you do not come to Christ in repentance before you die, in a spirit of brokenness over sin and contrition.
If you are not saved, then won’t you even come to Christ for forgiveness of your sin?
Acts 3:19: “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord”.
2 Peter 3:9: “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
God wants us to repent, He is willing to forgive those who truly seek forgiveness of their sins.
However, if you do not repent, you will spend eternity in the fires of hell, regardless of what the leader of Christian Aid Ireland likes to think.
And if your church is involved with fundraising initiatives supporting the work of Christian Aid, we would encourage you to question the leadership of your church as to what they know of the character and message of that organisation.
Let us ever be unafraid to stand up against any who teach error, regardless of where they are coming from or who they claim to represent.
Jude 1:23: “…hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.”