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I think the good thief proved his faith in Jesus and also the thief did “Good works” by telling the other thief he was mistaken. Thus the Catholic position of “FAITH [b:2lgccxc6]PLUS[/b:2lgccxc6] GOOD WORKS” gets you into heaven.
But to say the way to the garden was gaurded by a sword and no person can enter is wrong. The book of revalations tells us Jesus has a sword coming from His mouth. Also we ALL must enter through Jesus. The Thief passed, Jesus’ judgement before death on the cross. He truly did enter ‘Through Jesus’.
Baptism makes us Children of the king. The bible tells us, some good works are better then “Faith Alone” (James)[i:2lgccxc6] I will show you my faith by my good works. [/i:2lgccxc6] Thus the people that have never heard of Jesus, can still enter heaven… “The Garden”… Lets say a Chinese Man, living in the 4th century never has heard of Jesus, BUT he was a Good loving man!