salvation

and

Justification

 


  1. BulletSalvation is a free gift from God by Jesus Christ salvific death on the cross 2000 years ago.


  1. BulletSalvation is an ongoing process on the part of the individual from baptism to death.


  1. BulletCatholics have a moral assurance of salvation in that Jesus Christ will be faithful to his promise of eternal heaven at the end if we are faithful to the end.


  1. BulletSalvation can be lost if the individual falls into mortal sin and never repents.


  1. BulletFaith and Works are both necessary for Salvation. Its both/and and not either/or.


  1. BulletJustification means “Sonship” with God by turning away from sin towards God and accepting his forgiveness.




Objection #1 – I am a Christian raised to believe that once I have accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour I have been saved forever. How then can you say that I can lose my salvation?


The doctrine you advocate is known as the Once saved always saved doctrine and is very popular among evangelicals and fundamentalist Protestants.  Unfortunately it is a byproduct of a Calvin doctrine held over from the Protestant reformation who advocated it and most Protestants usually quote Eph. 2:8-9 to support it. In Objection #2 we specifically address Eph. 2:8-9. To see why however, the once saved always saved doctrine is misleading, we must first get the big picture by examine the redemptive action of Jesus death on the cross 2000 years ago. Though his suffering, death and resurrection, Jesus Christ redeemed everyone as Acts 4:11-12 tells us;


[11] This is the stone which was rejected by you the builders, which is become the head of the corner. [12] Neither is there salvation in any other. For there is no other name under heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved.


See also Ephesians 1:7. Salvation therefore comes only through Jesus Christ. He made it possible by being the sacrificial unblemished lamb promised to Abraham in Genesis when Abraham said to his son Isaac “God will provide”.  Jesus Christ our redeemer came to conquer sin and to open the gates of heaven to mankind after they had been shut through the sin of our first parents in the garden of Eden.  That event however is a completed action and is spoken of in the scriptures in the past tense as in 2 Tim. 1:9;


[9] Who hath delivered us and called us by his holy calling, not according to our own works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the times of the world:


and in Romans 8:24,


[24] For we are saved by hope. But hope that is seen is not hope. For what a man seeth, why doth he hope for?


We are also being saved in the present tense as Paul tells us in Phil. 2:12 and in 1 Peter 1;9;


[12] Wherefore, my dearly beloved, (as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only but much more now in my absence) with fear and trembling work out your salvation.


[9] Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.


We are also saved in the future tense if we persevere and endure to the end as Matt. 24:13 and 10:22 tells us;


24:13 But he that shall persevere to the end, he shall be saved.


10:22 And you shall be hated by all men for my name's sake: but he that shall persevere unto the end, he shall be saved.


Salvation is therefore an ongoing process on our part from baptism to death. We need to hold to the end to be saved even if it means spending time in purgatory. Ultimately we will get to heaven. On possibly losing our salvation consider the words of St. Paul says in 1 Cor. 9:27 “But I chastise my body and bring it into subjection: lest perhaps, when I have preached to others, I myself should become a castaway.” Paul the greatest evangelist the world has known, is saying that he (and by extension us) has to subdue the fleshly desires in pursuit of the spiritual goal of heaven, least he himself falls short and does not make it.  Look at Heb. 6:4-6 which says,


[4] For it is impossible for those who were once illuminated, have tasted also the heavenly gift and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, [5] Have moreover tasted the good word of God and the powers of the world to come, [6] And are fallen away: to be renewed again to penance, crucifying again to themselves the Son of God and making him a mockery.


Here Paul makes mention of those who have fallen away from their faith who were initially sharers in baptism.  In 1 Tim. 4:1 we read “Now the Spirit manifestly saith that in the last times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to spirits of error and doctrines of devils,” proving that some will turn away from their faith to heresies.  Other useful passages which refer to the falling away of some from their faith include Ezel. 18:24, Luke 8:13, and Rom. 11:22. It might be worth the while to note that history has proved this time and time again, in those men who start off good, but go astray such as Simon, the disciple of Phillip the Apostle who spearheaded Gnosticism in the first century. Imagine being trained under Phillip the Apostle and falling into heresy! Terrible!


A useful analogy to think of salvation is to imagine heaven on the opposite side of this huge lake of life.  Sometimes it is calm, other times it is rough. Other times there are unseen dangers at sea. By ourselves we cannot cross the gulf that separates us, but Jesus Christ came to save us in a lifeboat. Only he can steer the lifeboat and power it. We cannot steer or get there by ourselves. By our Baptism and confirmation as children of his, he can take us in this boat to the other side where heaven awaits us only if we decide to stick it out in the boat of life, which can get tossed about on the lake.  We can decide through our free will at any point in time to jump off the life boat, but then we will eventually drown, unless we turn our gaze to Jesus in the boat and ask for his forgiveness.  In which case he gladly takes us back if we are sincere.  


Objection #2 – Eph. 2:8-9 states “[8] For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, for it is the gift of God; [9] Not of works, that no man may glory.” This proves that we are justified by faith through grace to be saved.


Catholics do not disagree with this scripture verse but say it is often taken out context. For the Catholic justification is a free gift of God’s grace alone. Most Protestants will agree with Catholics here. Catholics further say that there is nothing that you or I can do to “earn” it on our own merit or works. It is received through faith in Jesus Christ and at baptism, and is active in the good works we do to help one another and to advance the kingdom of God on earth. This is where however, we begin to diverge in our understandings. How do we know grace is received through faith? From scriptures passages such as Rom. 5:1 which states “Being justified therefore by faith, let us have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ:”. We are therefore justified by faith. Likewise in Acts 13:39 we read “In him every one that believeth, is justified.” So justification begins with having faith.  Other passages to support this include Rom. 1:17 and Acts 13:39. How then do we know that justification is active in good works? Let us examine Rom 2:13, which reads “For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.”  This tells us that just hearing the law does not justify us.  Rather we have to observe the law to be justified. To observe the law requires works and good works that is brought forth by the hand of God. The apostle James also wrote in James 1:22 “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” Again requiring that we do work least we deceive ourselves into thinking that we automatically get into heaven as Christians. Other passages include James 2:24 and 1 John 3:10.


Objection # 3 – I still think Faith Alone is all I need for Salvation.


It is true to say that faith is necessary for salvation (See Mark 16:16, Acts 2:44-47 and Heb 11:6) but it is incorrect to say that it alone will get me into heaven.  In fact nowhere in the Bible do we see it written that faith alone is necessary to get into heaven.  It is also true that Martin Luther added the word “Alone” to Rom. 3:28, but it was later removed. The doctrine of Faith Alone advanced by Martin Luther is otherwise known as Sola Fide. In fact, the Bible explicitly tells us that we are “not saved by faith alone”. Consider James 2:24 “Do you see that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only?” and in James 2:26 “For even as the body without the spirit is dead; so also faith without works is dead.”


Early on in James 2:17 he also says “So faith also, if it have not works, is dead in itself.”  The apostle James makes it clear that works are a necessity. Other passages to support the living relationship between faith and works are Matt. 7:21-27, Rom. 16:26, 1 Cor. 13:2 and Gal. 5:6. 


It is our duty as Christians and Catholics to spread the kingdom of God throughout the world and this can only be accomplished by sharing our faith with others and doing good works. We do good works so that others may see Christ is us for his benefit and glory and not for ours. The analogy I like best about faith and works being interdependent is to think of faith and works as two sides of the same coin.  One coin, with two sides. Faith without works is dead and at the same time, what is a man if he has no faith, for it is impossible to please God without faith.



Objection #4 – It matters not what works I do even if I believe in faith and works (sort of).


If you believe in both faith and works but consider that it makes no difference to the kingdom of God then you are mistaken. The Bible plainly tells us that we will be judged by our deeds at the end, whether it be in the particular judgment at our deaths or at the general judgment when Jesus returns. Consider Rom. 2:5-8 which reads


[5] But according to thy hardness and impenitent heart, thou treasurest up to thyself wrath, against the day of wrath, and revelation of the just judgment of God. [6] Who will render to every man according to his works. [7] To them indeed, who according to patience in good work, seek glory and honour and incorruption, eternal life: [8] But to them that are contentious, and who obey not the truth, but give credit to iniquity, wrath and indignation.”


Here Paul is telling us that God will repay each man according to his works. Need further proof? Look at 2 Cor. 5:10 which reads,


For we must all be manifested before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one may receive the proper things of the body, according as he hath done, whether it be good or evil.”


That is everyone is going to answer to Jesus Christ whether we are believers or not.  Our God is a tribune God faithful in his deeds and words and impartial to all.


Objection #5 – I have been good all my life doing good works. Does that matter in the scheme of things?


Only God can make such a judgment as to whether you (or I) have pleased him with the way we have used our lives for the advancement of his kingdom. He uses us to be instruments and tools for his advancement of the kingdom of God from the richest person to the poorest if we allow him. He does this without violating our free will, by standing by 24/7 to answer our call to him. Or our invitation for him to come into our lives, but we can say this much. What do you mean by being good?  Do you mean you have not killed anybody or stolen a million dollars in a bank heist right?  Wrong criteria! Have you broken any of the 10 commandments lately?  Here is a reminder of the 10 commandments


1. I am the LORD your God: you shall not have strange Gods before me!


2. You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain!


3. Remember to keep holy the LORD'S Day!


4. Honor your father and your mother!


5. You shall not kill!


6. You shall not commit adultery!


7. You shall not steal!


8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor!


9. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife!


10. You shall not covet your neighbor's goods!


Chances are you and I have broken at least one of the commandments over the past week.  For Catholics this requires that we examine our consciences continually, and if we have committed venial or mortal sins then we go to confession on a regular basis.  Failure to not go to confession on a regular basis can make us spiritually zombies or eventually kill our spiritual lives and further separate us from the love of God



Objection #6 – My understanding of Justification is that my sins have been covered up by Jesus death on the cross. What you have said earlier on seems to imply otherwise.


The Protestant understanding of Justification is that Jesus Christ on his death on the cross, resulted in a covering up of our sins with the righteous of God, much like snow covering a dirty baseball.  The outside is nice and shiny and the rotten core is never exposed so that we prepare ourselves to enter the kingdom of God eternally spotless. In other words it is imputed righteousness by our first accepting Jesus Christ as our lord and saviour “whenever the lightbulb is turned on”. In the words of the de facto head of the reformation Martin Luther, “Christians are like dunghills covered with snow” once we accept Jesus. To prove their point most Protestants point to Rom. 1:17 which states,


“For the justice of God is revealed therein, from faith unto faith, as it is written: The just man liveth by faith.


The problem with this verse is that it neglects not only the works that must go hand in hand as we saw in James earlier on, but it negates the transforming power of baptism. That grace that we receive when we are baptized that removes all stain of original sin as infants, and original and personal sin as adults. Furthermore, nowhere does the passage say it imputes righteous on us. Consider now Heb. 7:25 which states


“Whereby he is able also to save for ever them that come to God by him; always living to make intercession for us.”


Why is Jesus Christ always living to make intercession for us if he saved us once and for all?  Not only that but those “that come to God by him”?  If my sins have already been covered with “snow”, why the need for our High Priest to make intercession for us? The answer is simple. Justification is an ongoing process that starts at Baptism and continues until the moment we die. During that time frame, we are called to be transformed in Christ so our “dung” to use Luther words, becomes fertile ground and allows for the growth and development of “flowers and trees”.  The goal at the end of lives is to transform the “dung” so it no longer looks like “dung” but rather the person that Jesus Christ wants us to be. Psalm 50 illustrates this beautifully without ever mentioning the covering of “dung” with snow;


[4] Wash me yet more from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. [5] For I know my iniquity, and my sin is always before me. [6] To thee only have I sinned, and have done evil before thee: that thou mayst be justified in thy words and mayst overcome when thou art judged. [7] For behold I was conceived in iniquities; and in sins did my mother conceive me. [8] For behold thou hast loved truth: the uncertain and hidden things of thy wisdom thou hast made manifest to me. [9] Thou shalt sprinkle me with hyssop, and I shall be cleansed: thou shalt wash me, and I shall be made whiter than snow. … [11] Turn away thy face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. [12] Create a clean heart in me, O God: and renew a right spirit within my bowels.

 

Questions:


Do I want my “dung” to be transformed and suffer a short time in purgatory if any, or pretend that it is covered with snow and spend thousands of years in purgatory being purified?


Why do I still suffer from pain, sickness and disease if my sins have been covered with snow?