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Archive for the ‘Salvation’ Category

by Father Frederick William Faber

If we hated sin as we ought to hate it, purely, keenly, manfully, we should do more penance, we should inflict more self-punishment, we should sorrow for our sins more abidingly.

Then, again, the crowning disloyalty to God is heresy. It is the sin of sins, the most loathsome of things which God looks down upon in this malignant world. Yet how little do we understand of its excessive hatefulness! It is the polluting of God’s truth, which is the worst of all impurities.

Yet how light we make of it! We look at it, and are calm. We touch it and do not shudder. We mix with it, and have no fear. We see it touch holy things, and we have no sense of sacrilege. We breathe its odor, and show no signs of detestation or disgust.

Some of us affect its friendship; and some even extenuate its guilt. We do not love God enough to be angry for His glory. We do not love men enough to be charitably truthful for their souls.

Having lost the touch, the taste, the sight, and all the senses of heavenly-mindedness, we can dwell amidst this odious plague, in imperturbable tranquillity, reconciled to its foulness, not without some boastful professions of liberal admiration, perhaps even with a solicitous show of tolerant sympathies.

Why are we so far below the old saints, and even the modern apostles of these latter times, in the abundance of our conversations? Because we have not the antique sternness? We want the old Church-spirit, the old ecclesiastical genius. Our charity is untruthful, because it is not severe; and it is unpersuasive, because it is untruthful.
We lack devotion to truth as truth, as God’s truth. Our zeal for souls is puny, because we have no zeal for God’s honor. We act as if God were complimented by conversions, instead of trembling souls rescued by a stretch of mercy.

We tell men half the truth, the half that best suits our own pusillanimity and their conceit; and then we wonder that so few are converted, and that of those few so many apostatize.
We are so weak as to be surprised that our half- truth has not succeeded so well as God’s whole truth.

Where there is no hatred of heresy, there is no holiness.

A man, who might be an apostle, becomes a fester in the Church for the want of this righteous abomination. We need St. Michael to put new hearts into us in these days of universal heresy.

But devotion to the Precious Blood, with its hymning of the Church and its blazoning of the Sacraments will give us Michael’s heart and the craft to use Michael’s sword. Who ever drew his sword with nobler haste, or used his victory more tenderly, than that brave archangel, whose war-cry was All for God?

The Precious Blood is His Blood, who is especially Uncreated Truth. It is His Blood who came with His truth to redeem souls.

Hence love of souls is another grace, which comes from the spirit of devotion to the Precious Blood. I wish “the love of souls” were words that were not so shortly said. They mean so much that we should linger over them, in order to imbibe their sweetness, perhaps also their medicinal bitterness as well.

A volume would hardly say all that wants saying upon this matter. In all ages of the Church a zeal for souls is a most necessary grace; and this is hardly an age in which it is less necessary than usual.

Alas! It is a rare gift, incredibly rare, rare even amongst us priests, and a gift unfortunately dishonored more than most gifts by base counterfeits and discreditable impostures.

Of all things that can be named, the love of souls is perhaps the most distinctively Catholic. It seems to be a supernatural sense, belonging only to the Church.

There are several classes of saints, classes divided from each other by wide discrepancies of grace, and a dissimilitude, almost an incompatibility, of gifts. Yet the love of souls is an instinct common to all saints of whatever class.

It is a grace, which implies the accompaniment of the greatest number of graces and the exercise of the greatest number of virtues. It is the grace which irreligious people most dislike; for it is a grace which is peculiarly obnoxious to the worldly.

It is a gift also, which requires an unusually fine spiritual discernment; for it is always and everywhere the harmony of enthusiasm and discretion. Natural activity, vulgar emulation, the bustle of benevolence, the love of praise, the habit of meddling. The over-estimate of our own abilities, the hot-headedness of unripe fervor, the obstinacy of peculiar views, the endless foolishnesses of indocile originality — all these things prepare so many delusions for the soul, and so multiply them by combining in varieties, that the gift of counsel and the virtue of prudence, as well as the cool audacity of an apostle, are needed for the exercise of this love of souls.

It is also a very laborious grace, wearing the spirit, fatiguing the mind, disappointing the heart.

This is the reason why in so many persons it is a short-lived grace. It is a part of almost everybody’s fervor, while it is part of the perseverance of very few. It is a grace which never grows old, never has the feelings of age, or the repose of age, or the slowness of age.

Hence many men cast it aside as a thing which belongs to youth, as if it were a process to be gone through, and then there was an end of it. The soul of an apostle is always youthful. It was mature in its young prudence; and it is impetuous in its grey-haired zeal.

______________________
– Taken from The Precious Blood, Chapter VI “The Devotion To The Precious Blood”, by Frederick William Faber, originally published by Burns Oates & Washbourne Ltd., Publishers to the Holy See with a Dedication by Fr. Faber dated 1860 on the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul.

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Pocket Catholic Dictionary – Fr John Hardon SJ

Justification -. The process of a sinner becoming justified or made right with God. As defined by the Council of Trent.

“Justification is the change from the condition in which a person is born as a child of the first Adam into a state of grace and adoption among the children of God through the Second Adam, Jesus Christ our Savior” (Denzinger 1524)

Etymology of Justification comes from the Latin justus: just + facere: to make, do: justificatio.

A Catholic who is in the state of grace i.e. not in the state of mortal sin is justified. Depending on the sins from which a person is to be delivered, there are different kinds of justification:

1- An infant is justified by baptism and the faith of the one who requests or confers the sacrament.

2-Adults are justified for the first time either by personal faith, sorrow for sin and baptism, or by the perfect love of God, which is at least an implicit baptism of desire.

3- Adults who have sinned gravely after being justified can receive justification by sacramental absolution or perfect contrition for their sins.

SANCTIFICATION. Being made holy. (Etymology from Latin sanctificare: to make holy.

1- The first sanctification takes place at baptism, by which the love of God is infused by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5)…

2- The second sanctification is a lifelong process in which a person already in the state of grace grows in the possession of grace and in likeness to God by faithfully corresponding with divine inspirations.

3- The third sanctification takes place when a person enters heaven and becomes totally and irrevocably united with God in the beatific vision.

The following is from The Salvation Controversy – James Akin.

SALVATION. Salvation basically means being saved.

In the New Testament the focus is primarily on the idea of eternal salvation – salvation from the eternal consequences of sin (hell.)

In the Old Testament the term salvation often used to refer to temporal dangers – war, famine, disease, and death (physical rather than eternal.)

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Ever tried to explain the importance of the Sacraments to a protestant friend? Are they really necessary for Salvation, if  Salvation is a Gift of God? If yes,  are those who die without baptism, for example, condemned to eternal death? Cardinal Arinze answers these questions in the video below.

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The debate on justification between Protestants and Catholics have for a long time been concentrated on the definitions of Works of the law, as taught in scriptures by St Paul in Romans 3:28, as well as on the ‘biblicity’ of the Lutheran doctrine of ‘Faith Alone’. Now, some would argue that the sentence in Romans 3:28 “A man is justified by faith a part from the works of the law” is equivalent to say “A man is justified by faith alone”, but ‘justified by faith a part from the works of the law’ ONLY excludes works of law from faith, NOT such things as love, hope, charity or other virtuous quality. Moreover, as we study Scriptures we see that in fact, nowhere in the Bible has Paul associated the word alone with the word faith to explain justification. On the other hand, St. James, guided by the same Holy Spirit who inspired St Paul, asserts that Faith without Works is dead and writes: You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone (James 2:24).

Therefore, in the face of this controversy Catholics continue to be accused by their protestant counterpart of not relying on the Redemptive Sacrifice of Jesus for their salvation as they try to ‘earn’ their salvation through good works. So what is the real Catholic stand on Justification?

The Catholic teaching on justification is and has been the same as St Paul’s teachings, as we can verify it in the writings of the Council of Trent.

COUNCIL OF TRENT ON JUSTIFICATION – Canons On Justification – Session VI, (Jan. 13, 1547)

See also the Catholic definition of Anathemas

Canon 1. If anyone shall say that man can be justified before God by his own works which are done either by his own natural powers, or through the teaching of the Law, and without divine grace through Christ Jesus: let him be anathema.

Canon 2. If anyone shall say that divine grace through Christ Jesus is given for this only, that man may more easily be able to live justly and merit eternal life, as if by free will without grace he were able to do both, though with difficulty and hardship: let him be anathema.

Canon 3. If anyone shall say that without the anticipatory inspiration of the Holy Spirit and without His assistance man can believe, hope, and love or be repentant, as he ought, so that the grace of justification may be conferred upon him: let him be anathema.

Canon 4. If anyone shall say that man’s free will moved and aroused by God does not cooperate by assenting to God who rouses and calls, whereby it disposes and prepares itself to obtain the grace of justification, and that it cannot dissent, if it wishes, but that like something inanimate it does nothing at all and is merely in a passive state: let him be anathema.

Canon 5. If anyone shall say that after the sin of Adam man’s free will was lost and destroyed, or that it is a thing in name only, indeed a title without a reality, a fiction, moreover, brought into the Church by Satan: let him be anathema.

Canon 6. If anyone shall say that it is not in the power of man to make his ways evil, but that God produces the evil as well as the good works, not only by permission, but also properly and of Himself, so that the betrayal of Judas is no less His own proper work than the vocation of Paul: let him be anathema.

Canon 7.- If anyone shall say that all works that are done before justification, in whatever manner they have been done, are truly sins or deserving of the hatred of God, or that the more earnestly anyone strives to dispose himself for grace, so much the more grievously does he sin: let him anathema.

Can. 8. If anyone shall say that the fear of hell, whereby by grieving for sins we flee the mercy of God or refrain from sinning, is a sin or makes sinners worse: let him be anathema.

Canon 9. If anyone shall say that by faith alone the sinner is justified, so as to understand that nothing else is required to cooperate in the attainment of the grace of justification, and that it is in no way necessary that he be prepared and disposed by the action of his own will: let him be anathema.

Canon 10. If anyone shall say that men are justified without the justice of Christ by which He merited for us, or that by that justice itself they are formally just: let him be anathema.

Canon 11. If anyone shall say that men are justified either by the sole imputation of the justice of Christ, or by the sole remission of sins, to the exclusion of grace and charity, which is poured forth in their hearts by the Holy Spirit and remains in them, or even that the grace by which we are justified is only the favor of God: let him be anathema.

Canon 12. If anyone shall say that justifying faith is nothing else than confidence in the divine mercy which remits sins for Christ’s sake, or that it is this confidence alone by which we are justified: let him be anathema.

Canon 13. If anyone shall say that it is necessary for every man in order to obtain the remission of sins to believe for certain and without any hesitation due to his own weakness and indisposition that his sins are forgiven him: let him be anathema.

Canon 14. If anyone shall say that man is absolved from his sins and justified, because he believes for certain that he is absolved and justified, or that no one is truly justified but he who believes himself justified, and that by this faith alone absolution and justification are perfected: let him be anathema.

Canon 15. If anyone shall say that a man who is born again and justified is bound by faith to believe that he is assuredly in the number of the predestined: let him be anathema.

Canon 16. If anyone shall say that he will for certain with an absolute and infallible certainty have that great gift of perseverance up to the end, unless he shall have learned this by a special revelation: let him be anathema.

Canon 17. If anyone shall say that the grace of justification is attained by those only who are predestined unto life, but that all others, who are called, are called indeed, but do not receive grace, as if they are by divine power predestined to evil: let him be anathema.

Canon 18. If anyone shall say that the commandments of God are even for a man who is justified and confirmed in grace impossible to observe: let him be anathema.

Canon 19. If anyone shall say that nothing except faith is commanded in the Gospel, that other things are indifferent, neither commanded nor prohibited, but free, or that the ten commandments in no way pertain to Christians: let him be anathema. Canon 20. If anyone shall say that a man who is justified and ever so perfect is not bound to observe the commandments of God and the Church, but only to believe, as if indeed the Gospel were a mere absolute promise of eternal life, without the condition of observation of the commandments: let him be anathema.

Canon 21. If anyone shall say that Christ Jesus has been given by God to men as a Redeemer in whom they should trust, and not also as a legislator, whom they should obey: let him be anathema.

Canon 22. If anyone shall say that he who is justified can either persevere in the justice received without the special assistance of God, or that with that [assistance] he cannot: let him be anathema.

Canon 23. If anyone shall say that a man once justified can sin no more, nor lose grace, and that therefore he who falls and sins was never truly justified; or, on the contrary, that throughout his whole life he can avoid all sins even venial sins, except by a special privilege of God, as the Church holds in regard to the Blessed Virgin: let him be anathema.

Canon 24. If anyone shall say, that justice received is not preserved and also not increased in the sight of God through good works but that those same works are only the fruits and signs of justification received, but not a cause of its increase: let him be anathema.

Canon 25. If anyone shall say that in every good work the just one sins at least venially, or (what is more intolerable) mortally, and therefore deserves eternal punishments, and that it is only because God does not impute those works unto damnation that he is not damned, let him be anathema.

Canon 26. If anyone shall say that the just ought not to expect and hope for an eternal recompense from God and the merit of Jesus Christ for the good works which have been performed in God, if by doing well and in keeping the divine commandments they persevere even to the end: let him be anathema.

Canon 27. If anyone shall say that there is no mortal sin except that of infidelity, or that grace once received is not lost by any other sin however grievous and enormous, except the sin of infidelity: let him be anathema.

Can. 28. If anyone shall say that together with the loss of grace by sin faith also is always lost, or that the faith that remains is not a true faith, though it be not a living one, or that he, who has faith without charity, is not a Christian: let him be anathema.

Canon 29. If anyone shall say that he who has fallen after baptism cannot by the grace of God rise again; or that he can indeed recover lost justice, but by faith alone without the sacrament of penance, contrary to what the holy Roman and universal Church, taught by Christ the Lord and His apostles, has hitherto professed, observed, and taught: let him be anathema.

Canon 30. If anyone shall say that after the reception of the grace of justification, to every penitent sinner the guilt is so remitted and the penalty of eternal punishment so blotted out that no penalty of temporal punishment remains to be discharged either in this world or in the world to come in purgatory before the entrance to the kingdom of heaven can be opened: let him be anathema.

Canon 31. If anyone shall say that the one justified sins, when he performs good works with a view to an eternal reward: let him be anathema.

Canon 32. If anyone shall say that the good works of the man justified are in such a way the gifts of God that they are not also the good merits of him who is justified, or that the one justified by the good works, which are done by him through the grace of God and the merit of Jesus Christ (whose living member he is), does not truly merit increase of grace, eternal life, and the attainment of that eternal life (if he should die in grace), and also an increase of glory; let him be anathema.

Canon 33. If anyone shall say that because of this Catholic doctrine of justification as set forth by the holy Synod in this present decree, there is in some degree a detraction from the glory of God or from the merits of Jesus Christ our Lord, and that the truth of our faith, and in fact the glory of God and of Jesus Christ are not rather rendered illustrious: let be anathema

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As an Evangelical said to me once: “It is as if what Christ did on the cross to purify us of our sins (forgving us and cleansing us through His shed blood and sacrifice) is not enough and we must suffer ourselves to somehow earn a purification that we do not receive simply by believing in Christ alone so here”

Along the same lines Catholics could ask a fundamentalist Christian “why are we asked to keep the commandments, to be holy, to carry our cross, feed the hungry and clothe the naked,  if  faith in Christ is enough to take us to Heaven?  Didn’t his Sacrifice make up for every omission or wrongdoing that we could possibly do?  If we believe, but  fail to do all those things the Lord is asking of us, what happens, what are the consequences?”

Nevertheless, how should Catholics explain the position of the Church on Purgatory and Salvation to a protestant friend?

1030 – All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven ( Catechism of the Catholic Church)

First we have to clarify that  Catholics believe that only God is perfectly good and holy. However, God is just and fair, therefore he would not ask his children “to be Holy because he is Holy” (Cf Lev 11:44) if that was something impossible for any-one to achieve. Neither would Peter echoed these words in 1 Peter 1:15-16.

 Having said that, even the great saints in the Bible, such as David and the apostle Peter, sinned against God; didn’t they? So how can it be that without holiness no one will see God (Cf Heb 12: 14)?

I suppose the Catholic answer to this would be: Contrition, Expiation and Remission of Sins.

The Bible plainly says that “the soul that sinneth, it shall die”, Ezek. 18:4. It also says that, “Without shedding of blood is no remission” of sin (Heb.9:22).  Christ said before He went back to Heaven “that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47). Therefore, blood redemption in Christ means nothing to the individual until he first repents.

Contrition –  Repentance for one’s sins. Perfect Contrition, on the other hand is repentance for the LOVE of GOD rather than for fear of Hell.

Isaiah speaks of it in these words,“For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones” (Isa. 57:15).

Expiation – “The idea of expiation has to do with reparation for a wrong, the satisfaction of the demands of justice through paying a penalty.” To make expiation or satisfaction for a sin is to make amends or reparation for it. When someone makes reparations, he tries to repair the situation caused by his sin. This is a very clear concept that  I’ve seen in the lives of the of all Catholic saints that I’ve read.

I found this catholic explanation on Catholic Answers Website:

 Certainly when it comes to the eternal effects of our sins, only Christ can make amends or reparation. Only he was able to pay the infinite price necessary to cover our sins. We are completely unable to do so not only because we are finite creatures incapable of making an infinite satisfaction (or an infinite anything), but because everything we have been given to us by God. For us to try to satisfy God’s eternal justice would be like using money we had borrowed from someone to repay what we had stolen from him. No actual satisfaction would be made (cf. Ps. 49:7-9, Job 41:11, Rom. 11:35). This does not mean we can’t make amends or reparation for the temporal effects of our sins. The claim that only Christ can atone for or expiate our sins arises from a confusion about whether the temporal or the eternal dimension of our sins is being discussed. Only Christ can provide eternal satisfaction for our sins, but we can make temporal amends or reparations for them.

Proverbs 16:6 states, “By kindness and piety guilt is expiated, and by the fear of the LORD man avoids evil” Also on expiation, Exodus 30:15-16; Leviticus 17:11; Numbers 31:50

We could put it like this, in our earthly relationships whenever we hurt someone it is good to say sorry, but it is even better if we try to put things right whenever we can, because we are called to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. This can be done at all levels. Say that I break my neighbor’s window while playing ball, I can say sorry and apologize, but the right thing to do is to say sorry AND replace the window or pay for the damage. This would please my neighbor; wouldn’t it? The same thing with God. 

With true contrition comes the desire to put things right. With repentance comes remission of sins.

Remission of Sins –  A completely free and undeserved gift, a newness of life which we could never earn. God grants it to us out of his mercy. As Saint Paul wrote: “It is all God’s work. It was God who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the work of handing on this reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5, 18).

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“Blasphemy and false worship”, so is the Catholic relationship with Mary most commonly described by many non-Catholic Christians.   

Not so; the Catholic Catechism states:

II. “HIM ONLY SHALL YOU SERVE”

Adoration

2096 – Adoration is the first act of the virtue of religion. To adore God is to acknowledge him as God, as the Creator and Saviour, the Lord and Master of everything that exists, as infinite and merciful Love. “You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve,” says Jesus, citing Deuteronomy.13

III. “YOU SHALL HAVE NO OTHER GODS BEFORE ME”

2110 –  The first commandment forbids honouring gods other than the one Lord who has revealed himself to his people. It proscribes superstition and irreligion. Superstition in some sense represents a perverse excess of religion; irreligion is the vice contrary by defect to the virtue of religion.

The Catholic Church honours Mary not only for her gift of Mothering Jesus, our Saviour, but because she was his first and most loyal disciple and because in the Old Testament she is prefigured as the New Ark of the Covenant and The New Eve.

Here is an excellent video with Biblical support of this assertion: Mary the New Eve

The Holy Spirit has guided the Church throughout its history in the understanding of the faith that has been revealed in Jesus. Therefore, the knowledge of the Christian faith did not come to us in one instalment, but through the deepening of the understanding of God’s Revelation to mankind. In the Bible itself we see how the  Apostles, lead by Peter, established the matter of circumcision among believers. As promised by Jesus, the Holy Spirit played a crucial role in this process as the Guide for the Truth.

Mother of God – A Pagan title for a Christian Figure?

Title “Son of God” was used by Pagan leaders long before Jesus. History tells us that according to Near Eastern theology of kingship in Pagan Rome, Caesar Augustus and other Caesars declared themselves as Son of Divine Cesar, the Son of God (CF P. W. v. Martitz, TDNT, Vlll, pp. 334-340 esp. p. 336) … This does not take away from Jesus’ True Divine Sonship. Therefore, the protestant objection against Mary’s title falls short of support.

Unfortunately, many protestants don’t realize that the objection against Mary’s title as Mother of God was the very argument of some serious heresies of the 1st centuries of Christianity which  denied Jesus “Oness” with God the Father. Because of such heresies, the Church Fathers again, guided by the Holy Spirit, determined that Jesus is not divisible. He is TRUE Man And TRUE God. Therefore, to state that Mary is only Mother of Jesus Man, and not of His entire nature is a heresy in itself.

The mother of the King – A Biblical Perspective

In order to understand Mary’s queenship it is crucial to consider that in the OT the Queen was not the King’s wife, but his mother. Thus Mary’s intercessory influence is prefigured in the persons of the queens of the OT, such as in 1 Kgs 2:19-20:

‘Make your request, my mother; for I will not refuse you.’ (1 kgs 2:19-20)

Still on Mary’s Queenship and her prefiguration in the OT, we have to remember that the Scriptural exegesis of the  Church’s Fathers proves that they did realize that the 12 stars on the Woman’s crown takes us to the 12 tribes of Israel. However, they also understood that Our Lord presented himself throughout the Gospels in the light of the O.T, where He had been prefigured in many ways before being fully revealed in the NT. For this reason we should also understand the references used in the Book of revelation, not literally, but as fulfilment of the OT.

Jesus, the New Moses, brought the God of Israel to the world in fulfilment to what had been prophesied in Scriptures, making Israel the light house of the world. Through Jesus’ sacrifice the uncircumcised became adopted children of God. Thus, He established a New Israel, The Bride of the Lamb or His Church on earth.

Furthermore there are 3 points to consider:

  • The woman in Revelation gave birth to the King of the Israelites (Jesus) – who will rule the nations from Heaven.
  • The devil is very interested in destroying her but she is safe.
  • Her *children are all faithful Christians (the Church) who “follow the lamb” (Rev 12:17)

*Many fundamentalist Christians understand the ‘Woman’  in the book of Revelation to be Israel, not Mary. However Rev 12:17 confirms the Catholic understanding that Mary, not the nation of Israel, is the ‘Woman’ and the  Mother of the Church. 

For Catholics all honour given to Mary has the sole aim of coming closer to Jesus, which is Mary’s own purpose:

“His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” (2 Jn 1-5)

Catholics also believe that not only Mary, but all the just and Saints departed, are in heaven –  and not asleep waiting for the second coming of Jesus – from where they  pray for us in a way that we could not do ourselves.  St. James tells us that the prayer of the just (the saints) are powerful and effective.

Fundamentalists will argue that no-one has ascended to Heaven except for Jesus (Jn 3:13), so Mary could not be in Heaven as Catholics claim. But in the Gospel of John we see how the good thief on the cross obtained mercy and was promised heaven that day. Therefore, we should not assume that in John 3:13  Jesus was referring to those who lived before as well as after him.  Personally, I think  Jesus simply meant  that  no-one had gone or could ever go to heaven  by their own means or merit, except he Himself.

As I have discussed on other posts, Catholics believe that Salvation is attained by grace alone, because even the gift of faith comes from God’s grace. Salvation is a “free gift” given by God and only by Him, there is nothing we can do to “earn it”, so to speak. However, those who have already attained the crown of victory never stop  interceding on our behalf, so that we too can enter the glory of God.  As we see in the Lord’s prayer, ALL those in heaven do the will of God, and it is the will of God that all men shall be saved. The souls in heaven sympathise with our sufferings and trials, such as we are told by St Paul to bear  one another suffering and struggles  while here on earth. This applies to Mary, who constantly prays for us.

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According to Wikipedia the “Once Saved, Always Saved”, is a Christian teaching which holds that once a person is saved they can never lose their salvation. This notion was formulated by Calvin in the 1600’s and is shared by most Evangelical and reformed Protestant churches, such as the Church of England, as it is stated in the Westminster Confession of faith. However, there are some variations of the original doctrine of Calvin – no surprise here, protestants must do what they do best: Protest. Those who didn’t entirely agree with Calvin felt they needed to make changes… I believe the Baptist Church holds a non-Calvinistic OSAS doctrine.

Anyhow, Calvin sustained that a true believer can never lose his/her salvation. His doctrine argues that although individuals are free and responsible, they cannot choose salvation of their own accord. Rather, God selected certain individuals before the world began to whom he would draw to faith. According to Calvinism, since faith is not something they choose to do, but rather a work that God performs in them, it cannot be walked away from. Note that this Calvinist notion also denies the gift of Free Will.

Many Protestants, mainly born-again Evangelicals, like to quote verses such as Romans 10:9 which states that if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. They mention other passages where assurance of salvation is made to those who believe in Christ, in order to defend their view:

I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. John 10:28

There are two main problems with this approach. Most protestants like to think of salvation as a one-time event, not an ongoing process. Also it is tremendously common for Evangelicals to assert on isolated passages without the back-drop of the whole context of the Bible. In the case of John 10:28, which has a similar language to Romans 8:39, Jesus is telling us that no-one can take a person’s salvation away, but He is not saying that an individual can’t refuse the free-gift of salvation offered by God, through his own rejection or refusal to lead a life pleasing to God. In other words, one cannot be snatched away, but one can walk away. It all comes down to free will, which Calvin seems to ignore in his doctrinal formulation.

What else does the bible say?

Here are a few examples that refute OSAS:

New Testament:

Matthew 7: 21-23. Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but the one who shall do the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name have cast out devils, and in thy name have done many wonderful works? And then will I confess to them, I never knew you depart from me, you who work iniquity.

Phi. 2:12 “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;”

Matthew 24:13 – But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

1Pe 4:18 Now “If the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?”

Heb 6:4-6 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.

Jas 5:19-20 Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.

Old Testament:

Num 14:11-12 Then the LORD said to Moses: “How long will these people reject Me? And how long will they not believe Me, with all the signs which I have performed among them? I will strike them with the pestilence and disinherit them…”

1Sa 15:23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king.”

1Sa 28:6 -7 And when Saul inquired of the LORD, the LORD did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim or by the prophets. Then Saul said to his servants, “Find me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her…”

Pro 2:13 …From those who leave the paths of uprightness To walk in the ways of darkness…

Those who believe in the doctrine of eternal security often wonder why Catholics aren’t terrified of the possibility of being lost since we reject the assurance that they believe to possess. I would explain to them that Catholics neither presume God’s grace or despair of it. I would explain we are created in the image and likeness of God, and as a point to demonstrate the reality of free will in our experience and as an attribute that we possess as children of God.”

But what is the Catholic view on Salvation? Read more on the Catholic Doctrine of Salvation.

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Where the totality of grace is, there is the totality of Salvation. Where grace no longer exists in the fractured state of simul justus et peccator, but in pure “Yes”, death, sin’s jailer, has no place.

Naturally, this involves the questions: What does the assumption of body and soul into heavenly glory mean? What, after all, does ‘immortality’ mean? Man is not immortal by his own power, but only in and through another, preliminary, tentatively, fragmentarily, in children, in fame, but  finally and truly and only in and  from the Entirely-Other, God. We are mortal due to the usurped autarchy of a determination to remain within ourselves, which proves to be a deception…

Nevertheless, where the innate propensity to autarchy is totally lacking, where there is the pure self-disposession (= grace), death is absent, even when somatic end is present. Instead, the whole human being enters salvation, because as a whole, undiminished, he stands eternally in God’s life-giving memory that preserves him as himself in his own life.  

                                                                                                                                                                                                 Pope Benedict XIV

Read also: Saved by faith, not by Faith Alone

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 In 1521 Martin Luther declared at the Imperial Hearing of Worms to which he was called to answer questions on his controversial views on the fundamental Christian Doctrine of Salvation taught by the Catholic Church.

 “Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason – I do not accept the authority of the popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other – my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen.”

And thus was ‘officially’ created the Doctrine of Sola Scriptura or Scripture Alone. Luther’s rejection of the authority of the Church as the Gardian and interpreter of the Divine Revelation created another series of problems, namely, misguided interpretations of the teachings in the Gospel of Christ, for instance the Doctrine of Faith Alone.

Luther supported his doctrine of Salvation mainly by the writings of St Paul. However, in order to justify his understanding, when translating the works of St Paul, Luther added  the word ‘alone’ in Romans 3:28 in his German translation of the Original – “For we hold that a man is justified by faith alone”. Therefore, we can affirm that he corrupted the text of the Scripture to support his views and interpretation, because in a clean translation from the original Greek, St Paul actually explains justification as:

“For we consider that a person is justified by faith apart from works of the law. Does God belong to Jews alone? Does he not belong to Gentiles, too? Yes, also to Gentiles, for God is one and will justify the circumcised on the basis of faith and the uncircumcised through faith. Are we then annulling the law by this faith? Of course not! On the contrary, we are supporting the law”. (Rom 3:28)

Luther regarded the teachings of St Paul very highly, thus he once declared: “St Paul taught a simple gospel that relies on the Christian believing in the person and the works of Jesus Christ to be justified.” In simple terms, this affirmative institutes the doctrine of imputed righteousness, an alien righteousness that is imputed to the believer, which is held until today by most protestant denominations.

The Catholic Church teaches, as we will see in a moment, that men are justified by faith but not by faith alone. As Catholic we must receive the Sacrament of Baptism –  or Sacrament of Faith – through which the righteousness of Christ is infused in into the soul of the Christian, and becomes the righteousness of the believer AND believe in Christ Jesus as our Saviour. The Church also teaches that faith is a gift of God’s grace which is given to us only by God.  Therefore, we can say that salvation comes from grace alone.

The writings of St Paul demonstrate that he agrees with St James’ statement that a man is saved ‘not by faith alone’ (James 2: 24), and as we have seen, he writes that justification is  by ‘faith apart from the works of the Law’. But what does St Paul mean by works of the Law?

WORKS OF THE LAW:

The debate within the Catholic & Apostolic Church on the definition of ‘Works of the Law’ goes all the way back to St Jerome, who defined it as being the “ceremonial precepts of the Old Testament’, which are the precepts that Moses gave to the people of Israel to distinct them from the Gentiles, such as prohibition of eating certain foods, circumcision or any other cultural law kept by Jews. St Jerome did not include in his view neither the Judicial Precepts or the Moral Precepts, or the Decalogue – the Ten Commandments – in his definition of works of the Law.

The Council of Trent of the Catholic Church, on the other hand, included the entire body of the Mosaic Law as ‘works of the Law’, which at a first glance seem to be in accordance with Luther, except for the fact that the Catholic Church does not exclude the role of works off the process of sanctification of the believer. Therefore, we come to God with faith, and faith prepares us to walk in works. These works integral of justification are not merely the fruits of faith, because they cooperate with the faith.

In the Book of James the Apostle cites Gen 22 where Abraham is justified as he attempts to sacrifice his son and is said to be justified because his faith is cooperating with the works. The book of Genesis demonstrates that justification is not a one time event process, but continues to be developed, as we see Abraham himself being justified at least in two other occasions (Gen 12, 15) additionally to the one mentioned above.

Therefore, when St Paul speaks of ‘works of the Law’ we know that he refers to the 613 precepts of the Jewish law, but he is equally condemning anyone who would seek to impress God by his works alone, or  that he taught that the 10 commandments no longer apply to Christians. In Romans 3:31 St Paul writes:

31 Are we then annulling the law by this faith? Of course not! On the contrary, we are supporting the law.

Many Protestants wrongly believe that Catholics hold that we are justified by works. This is wrong, because Catholics know that works without faith is empty! Instead, Catholics believe that man is justified by faith working through love!  A view which is confirmed by St Paul, for instance, in his Epistle 1Corinthians 13: 1-3

If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I HAVE ALL faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.

St Paul is saying that faith must be formed with love and to love Jesus is to keep his commandments.(Jn 14:15). Therefore, a faith formed by love obeys the commandments and acts or works, and this has been the teaching of the Catholic Church. Justification does not occur by faith alone, but by faith through works of love. 

For in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor un-circumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love (Gal 5:6)

 This is ecchoed in the teachings of St Peter in Second letter:
 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtuewith knowledge, 6and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Pet 1:3-10)

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Read also: Saved by Grace Alone! and Catholic Doctrine of Salvation Revealed: By Grace alone

One of the biggest misconceptions about the Catholic teaching regarding salvation is the notion that says Catholics believe that they can ‘earn’ their salvation through good works. This is inaccurate and must be addressed. Catholics believe that Salvation is a free gift of God to all mankind and that we receive it through the merits of Jesus’ Sacrifice on the Holy Cross, not by our own efforts. However, we do believe that we have to diligently strive to do God’s will so that we may appear before the Lord wearing wedding clothes (Matt 22:11). Our offenses or sins distance us from God, which can ultimately impact  on our salvation because nothing unclean shall enter Heaven (Revelation 21:27).  In other words, our good works are the fruits of the faith we have (James 2:15-18).

WORK out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12).

 “And I heard a voice from Heaven saying, ‘Write: blessed are the dead who die in the Lord henceforth. Yes, says the Spirit, let them rest from their labors, for their WORKS follow them.” (Rev 14:13)

We believe that through His Sacrifice, we were granted a hope  to attain eternal  life.  As opposed to the Protestant notion that Salvation is a certainty for all those who ‘believe’ in Jesus, in spite of one’s actions in life. This ’doctrine’ is called ‘Sola Fide’ or Faith alone.

Hebrews 10:23 – Let us hold unswervingly to the HOPE we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

Titus 3: 6-7 – “whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the HOPE of eternal life”.

Now, if the scriptures assure us in many instances that there is no condemnation for those who are ‘in Christ’ (Rom 8:1) and that those who are ‘in Christ’ shall enter heaven, why can’t Catholics be certain? The definition of being ‘in Christ’ is certainly more complex that just saying the ‘sinners prayer’ and proclaiming Jesus as Lord and Saviour. To be truly ‘in Christ’ one needs to abide in His teachings.

Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will KEEP my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. (John 14:23)

Above Jesus talks about the importance of KEEPING His teachings as the key to being loved by the Father, not merely ‘confessing faith’ in Him. Obviously, keeping His teachings is a consequence of having faith in Him, and both are clearly interconnected, but in saying this Jesus signals that we have to live our faith, which opposes the faith alone belief.

James 2: 24 “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone”.

Although Jesus’ Sacrifice on the cross meant the forgiveness of sins, it didn’t mean sins were covered up. The Catholic understanding is that faith in Christ is necessary for Salvation,  but His death did not take away our free will to do evil or good. 

Do the Scriptures Support good works?

Mt 16: 27 – For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, & then he will reward each person according to what he has done. (has done = deeds)

Matt. 25: 40,45 – Jesus says “Whatever you did to the least of my brothers, you did it to Me”. We are judged and our eternal destiny is determined in accordance with our works.

Luke 14:14-13 – But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Jesus says we are repaid for the works we have done at the resurrection of the just.

A oppositor wrote me this:

There are other verses that make it impossible to believe our salvation would be judged by our works.

Rom 9:16 – It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. And John 6:37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

So I’m guessing you believe this verse to be a lie since you disagree with it. Our salvation is not up to us or by what we do. You are a liar. Catholics DO NOT believe we are saved by God’s grace. They believe we have to earn salvation through works also.

As stated, Catholics do not deny that Salvation is received by Grace. The official teaching of the Church is that we can be saved only by God’s grace.  With this said, for an accurate understanding of the Scriptures  above – John 6:37 and Rom 9:16 –  these verses must  be read in the light of what the Scriptures convey as a whole, and not through selected excerpts.

“Behold, I come quickly! And My reward is with Me, to render to each one according to his WORKS.” (Rev 22:12)

For instance, the same way St Paul talks about the role of Faith for salvation in Galatians 2:15–16, he also asserts on the value of our works in 1 Cor 3:12-15 and explains that even if our works are burned, we are ultimately saved, but only through purification or ‘fire’.

Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and he fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. 1 Cor 3:12-15

I asked an objector of  faith & works: Why would God judge our works?  And if He is not interested in our deeds, why did Jesus promise to reward our good actions, can you explain this?

This is the answer I received:

Of course good works matter, I can’t imagine anyone going through sanctification of the Holy Spirit and not becoming a new creature resulting in Good works, but like the Bible says We are elected by God, called by God, Justified by God, Glorified by God. Salvation comes from him not us or anything we do to try to achieve it.

The  Catholic teachings do not contradict the above statement in anyways. I’d only add that we must take into account the fact that there is no sanctification without justification. No-one is sanctified – made holy – before they are justified – made just. The Catechism of the RCC says:

The Holy Spirit is the master of the interior life. By giving birth to the “inner man,” justification entails the sanctification of his whole being: Just as you once yielded your members to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now yield your members to righteousness for sanctification…. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the return you get is sanctification and its end, eternal life.

It is relevant to also consider that the importance of good works is also  implicitly taught in the Scriptures in passages such as this:

Matthew 7: 14 – For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

In saying ‘the way is hard’, Jesus is signalling to us that we have to ‘stick’ to His teachings, even the hard ones, in order to be true followers. It is easier for some-one to declare he believes, than to faithfully live his life to Jesus’ standard!

But why do you call Me Lord, Lord, and do not do the things that I say? (Lk 6:46)

Did Jesus clearly tell us that we have to do good works?

But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbour to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” Luke 10: 33-37

“Go and do likewise” is a command for us to act in our faith by good deeds and not only have a passive faith.

Furthermore, Jesus said that if we keep the commandments we will inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. Keeping the commandments incurs in not offending God by evildoing against our neighbours or directly against God. We can understand with this that if we do no good works or evil, we will enter Heaven, simply by keeping God’s Word. But Jesus goes on to say:

Mark 10:21, Mathew 19:21 & Luke 18:22 – “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

Finally, I’d like to address a common objection made by some Protestants who base their ‘faith alone’ belief on Romans 3:28. The original Greek text differs from Luther’s translation because the word faith – pistei in Greek – is not accompanied by the word alone, rather it literally translates as ‘apart from work’. In fact, the only place where faith alone appears in the New Testament, is in James 2: 24 quoted above.

In order to understand Paul’s definition of ‘apart from work’ in Romans 3:28, we need to look at what he means by works elsewhere, otherwise, he would be contradicting James, who is definitely saying that we are justified by works, not faith alone.  In other Scriptures, Paul specifies what kind of works he is referring to: works of the law of circumcision, which he strongly opposes (Galatians 5:2). 

Furthermore, Paul  explains that we must show the “fruit of the Spirit” (Gal 5:16–26), which are our good deeds – and bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:5), again our good actions towards our neighbours – as a way of fulfilling the “law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2), which means abiding in His teachings.

Therefore, the Scriptures do  confirm the Catholic understanding for Faith & works regarding salvation. This doctrine, does not imply, however, that a soul can never go straight to heaven, because for Catholics  certainty of eternal life is a reality for those who follow Jesus with strict and unconditional obedience throughout life.

 

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