"Between Them and God"

When I was a child I used to ask my mother what happened to people who weren’t Christians when they died. She always said, “That’s between them and God.” I understand this as meaning that while I am assured of my own salvation, being faithful to Jesus Christ, if I extend that offer of blessing to others and they refuse it, they’re on their own. When they stand in front of God at the end of their lives, perhaps He will have mercy on them, perhaps He won’t. The difference is that while we are promised our eternal life in heaven, they are not and we can’t know with any certainty what will happen to them.

It’s sort of like this. Imagine a bullet-proof vest. If you get shot in the chest while wearing your vest, you will not die; the vest will protect you (assuming it’s the world’s most perfect vest). You recommend to others to wear the vest as well, and those that refuse get shot in the chest as well. Will they survive? Will they not? We don’t know, but we know that we are safe.

Is this what the Catholic Church is referring to when it speaks of salvation?

I don’t think the Catholics believe in a state of “being saved” in the manner you’re talking about.

Well, I certainly don’t mean megachurch evangelical “saved” (“WHOOO! JESUS!! I’M SAVED!! All right, let’s go clubbing.”). I mean saved by faith, which is manifested in the world by the Holy Spirit influencing our behavior.

Welcome to Catholic Answers Forums, Nabooru :slight_smile:

The official Catholic teaching regarding the salvation of souls, Christian and otherwise, is found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

If you wish, you can find it at this site:

May God bless you

We are sinners.
We cannot save by ourselves alone.
Jesus Christ came to save us.
To save us, we need to follow Jesus Christ, to be in Jesus Christ, to obey Jesus Christ, to recognize Him as the Lord.
We need also to look to our fellow men as our brothers and to to them as we would do to Jesus Christ.

As Catholics, we would avoid saying, “we are assured of our salvation” as to some non-Catholic Christians, use that phrase to say “we are saved by faith alone.”

Jesus, when He described the Last Judgement in Matthew 25 verses 31-46, indicated that more than faith is required, but “faith and good works”

He made it clear that practical acts of charity toward others during our lives is required for entry into heaven.

The bible supports this truth, and James explains it in the following bible texts:
Take the case, my brothers of someone who has never done a single good act but claims that he has faith. Will that faith save him? If one of the brothers or one of the sisters is in need of clothes and has not enough food to live on, and one of you says to them, ‘I wish you well; keep yourself warm and eat plenty’, without giving them these bare necessities of llife, then what good is that?: if good works do not go with it, it is quite dead.
This is the way to talk to people of that kind:'You say you have faith and I have good deeds; I will prove to you that I have faith by showing you my good deeds–now you prove to me that you have faith without any good deeds to show.

You believe in one God–that is creditable enough, but the demons have the same belief, and they tremble with fear. Do realise, you senseless man, that faith without works is useless. You surely know that Abraham our Father was justified by his deed, because he offered Isaac on the altar? There you see it; faith and good deeds were working together; his faith became perfect by what he did. This is what scripture really means when it says: Abraham put his faith in God, and this was counted as making him justified; and that is why he was called the friend of God. You see now that it is by doing something good, and not only by believing, that a man is justified." [James 2: 14-24]

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven will enter” [Matthew 7, 21].

Warm regards, Trishie

Here’s a way to think of it:

A Protestant man and a Catholic man each win the lottery.

The Protestant man says, “I’m rich!”

The Catholic man, however, is aware of all the things that could happen to the money between his winning it and his receiving it, and so says “I hope to be rich, but will not truly be rich until I have the money.”

No one is truly saved until they are in heaven, since that is the whole point and meaning of salvation. Catholics tend not to assume too much beforehand.

Well I’m not talking about the logistics of salvation, although that is pertinent, but about the ultimate fate of those who are not Christians. It’s up to them to decide whether or not to accept the faith, and if they don’t, we cannot say what their fate will be. It truly is between them and God.

Nabooru, I appreciate you exuberance, but your reaction is not exactly charitable. When we over react, we open our own believes to unfair criticism.

Humility is a good thing!

I apologize. :slight_smile:

The fact is I can’t promise salvation to anyone. I can just offer them their best bet, and God knows what is in their hearts. God knows there are many people filling up pews, and even preaching at pulpits, that don’t have any business doing so. BUT, as a Christian, I can be pretty sure of what’s going to happen to me, provided I keep the faith in all its forms. But I cannot promise anything for non-Christians.

Let’s take the lottery analogy. Suppose there are two people. Both of them want to have money. One gets an education, a career, and a steady paycheck. The other has no work, and instead buys lottery tickets instead, hoping one day to “hit it big”. Will they? Won’t they? I don’t know. While the worker has a pretty good assurance of having money, the non-worker doesn’t.

Nor should you. Salvation is not yours to give.

Hi Nabooru,

Every catholic knows or should know, that they must die in sanctifying grace if they are to go to heaven. And if they stay in this grace in this life, then when they die they will go to heaven.
Or if they lose this grace thru serious sin, they may recover this grace in God thru the sacrament of mercy, confession.

What happens to others, we don’t know. We do know that Jesus wishes us to teach and baptise others so they too will be in sanctifying grace which is God living in the soul.

So I suppose to die in sanctifying grace is to be “saved” in catholic terms.
In the Hail Mary of the Rosary this is exactly the prayer we say, “…holy Mary, Mother of
God, pray for us sinners now, and at the HOUR of our death.” Our love of God and sorrow for sin is very important at the time we die. God’s mercy is unlimited in this world and any and all sins may be forgiven, but especially at that moment of death. But we need to pray for that blessing.

Even so, usually we notice that the way a person lives, so a person dies. Tho not absolutely so. Jesus indicated this in some way when he said, “Peter put up your sword, for as a man lives by the sword, he will die by the sword.”

So catholics know they should always be ready to die at any moment because Jesus said, “you know not the day or the hour …”. To be ready means to be in sanctifying grace, or
that God is living withiin us. It is also indicated when Jesus gave the parable of the virgins, some having let their lights go out and were not ready when the bridegroom came. Catholics see in the lights going out as life of God going out in the soul, or sanctifying grace.

Just a catholic thought.

But would it be reasonable to say that those within the body of Christ have a much, much better chance of dying in that grace, and we do not know for certain if anyone outside of it has done so? Perhaps they end up in a kind of limbo, but the wages of sin is death, and thus one would need to be sinless to enter heaven IMO.

It’s between God and a person. God knows what is in a person’s heart. If a person cannot desiced for or agienst God, God will know the real reason and will be Just in putting them where they will be for all eternaty. :wink:

That is what I’m saying! I cannot know what is in a person’s heart and what their fate is - but I can go by what God has taught me in His Word. That Word tells me that their chances are not good, but theirs to take. Where they go from there is outside of my knowledge.

No one is sinless. That is why Jesus died on the cross for our sins.

I know, that’s what I’m saying. Jesus died to atone for our sins, even though we did not deserve it. Those that accept this atonement on their behalf are not made sinless, but forgiven, so long as their repentance and acceptance is sincere. Anyone else not accepting this atonement would, IMO, have to have lived in perfect accordance with God’s law without a speck of sin in order to be worthy of the presence of God. We accept Christ because we know we are sinners and we need Him. I personally don’t think anybody could be a member of the Church without knowing it; I acknowledge baptism ex voto and pre-baptismal martyrdom, but that is due to the grace brought on by faith in Christ and his atonement, and not simply through going through the rite of baptism. A person can be baptised and still go to hell.

Is this all a bit too Protestant for you guys? Outside of the liberal churches (which I don’t really consider “Protestant” since I don’t feel they’re “Christian” in the first place) we don’t really believe in “anonymous Christianity”.

Yes but in essence that IS the Church teaching. I mean he of course left out the part about mortal sin and that it isn’t a “once saved always saved” deal. Other than that it seems true.

To me, from what I’ve read here, it seems to be better to NOT evangelize, and leave people in blissful ignorance rather than convert them, and risk them not dying in perfect grace. It seems also though, not to make much of a difference. I don’t know why the RCC has such stringent rules, regulations and doctrines if it’s not neccessary to believe in them.

Blissful ignorance is, well, a bummer. It’s not helpful at all.

What you’re proposing is like not offering a primitive person the knowledge of fire because he’s perfectly blissful eating raw meat.

I don’t know why the RCC has such stringent rules, regulations and doctrines if it’s not neccessary to believe in them.

I’m not sure where you got the message from Catholics here that we believe it’s not “necessary” to believe in what Christ proclaimed, Nabooru.

Of course it is.

However, it is not for us to judge who is capable of going to heaven and who isn’t.

It is not for us to promise heaven to them, as you seem to think you can do.

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