For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9)
You heard the gospel Tuesday morning and believed by faith that Jesus died to save you from your sins. That night as you ate dinner, you choked and instantly died. You didn’t have a chance to ask God’s forgiveness for the sins committed since you were saved. Do you go to Heaven or Hell?
Because God cannot allow sin in Heaven, the Roman Catholic popes created the ritual of Anointing the Sick (or Last Rites). Just before death, a priest can cleanse the dying person’s soul for entrance into Purgatory. In Purgatory, the soul spends the thousands of years performing good works to atone for his sins. Last Rites include “perfect contrition” (perfect sorrow for one’s sins) and confession of sin to a priest for forgiveness, an anointing with oil, and taking communion. The priest can also give a blessing in the pope’s name to reduce time required in Purgatory.
Catholics who die without Last Rites can still have special prayers offered by family, friends, and a priest on behalf of the deceased.
Many people outside Romanism hold to a similar view. They believe Jesus died to forgive their sins up to the moment they were saved, but after that they are responsible to continually ask God’s forgiveness to stay saved and enter Heaven at death. Death without first asking God’s forgiveness results in the loss of salvation and damnation in Hell. The one whose salvation depends on himself can never be assured of eternal life.
The Bible teaches that salvation is by God’s grace alone, through God’s gift of faith alone, in God’s Son alone. When a sinner believes, God forgives all of his sins. His salvation is then kept, not by personal works of righteousness, but by the One who died to save him. No one’s works – even the works of continual asking forgiveness – can get a soul into Heaven; Jesus is the Door and He alone is the Way. He alone gets you into Heaven by His death, saving you unto an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in Heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation … (1 Peter 1:4-5).