Catholic Assurance of Salvation Revisited (Edited Title)

Hi Everyone,

This touches on a very important and classic issue between Catholics and Protestants, but after reading numerous modern Catholic apologetic sources (including some on CA itself), I am actually confused when I always thought I understood the issue very well.

So, put simply:

If a living Catholic has faith in Jesus Christ, regularly receives the sacraments, has not committed any mortal sins (except those that have been forgiven), can the Catholic know if he/she dies, he/she will go to heaven?

Pretty simple question but I have read several Catholic apologists give opposite answers, and many others who gave answers so confusing, it really didn’t help the Catholic cause at all.

Thanks for your time, as always.


Feel free to post your thoughts, but I thought the middle of this article from CA is quite good on this…But I think the beginning could lead people to incorrect conclusions.

It is not right to ever say, “I’m going straight to Heaven” or anything like that. For, we do NOT know about this at all and cannot really say for sure. Only God in Heaven knows what we have done and what we deserve based on our lives. However, if we live according to God’s ways in His Catholic Church, receives the Sacraments, remains generally free from sin, does good works, and loves, then one can be fairly confident that he or she will be rewared by God for that conduct.

May God bless you abundantly and forever! :slight_smile:

If a person lives and practices his or faith conscientiously and does his best to do God’s will, love of God, and love of neighbor, yes he will go to Heaven. as stated it may be by way of Purgatory, because nothing imperfect will enter Heaven. It is Christ who will get us there, all we have to do is the best we can do, and trust Him. Peace to men of good will!

Yes. He or she may spend time in purgatory due to the temporal stains of sin that need to be removed, but the conditions for eternal life in heaven have been met.

Your experience is unfortunate and unnecessary. The Church has made Her teaching in this matter quite clear. Here is what the Church teaches:

If a living Catholic has faith in Jesus Christ, regularly receives the sacraments, has not committed any mortal sins (except those that have been forgiven), can the Catholic know if he/she dies, he/she will go to heaven?

No, but the Catholic can be pretty darned sure.

The Church teaches that we are saved by Christian Baptism, and this Grace is our 100% assureamce us of salvation:

By Baptism all sins are forgiven, original sin and all personal sins, as well as all punishment for sin. In those who have been reborn nothing remains that would impede their entry into the Kingdom of God, neither Adam’s sin, nor personal sin, nor the consequences of sin, the gravest of which is separation from God. [CCC 1263]

If we do fall into mortal sin, Sacramental Confession will restore us to our Baptismal State of Grace:

Christ instituted the sacrament of Penance for all sinful members of his Church: above all for those who, since Baptism, have fallen into grave sin, and have thus lost their baptismal grace and wounded ecclesial communion. It is to them that the sacrament of Penance offers a new possibility to convert and to recover the grace of justification. [CCC 1446]

But the Church also teaches that we cannot be ABSOLUTELY 100% sure of our salvation, beyond all possible doubt:

For as no pious person ought to doubt the mercy of God, the merit of Christ and the virtue and efficacy of the sacraments, so each one, when he considers himself and his own weakness and indisposition, may have fear and apprehension concerning his own grace, since no one can know with the certainty of faith, which cannot be subject to error, that he has obtained the grace of God. [Council of Trent, Seventh Session, emphasis mine]

We are not infallible with regard to the status of our personal salvation. But we can be pretty darned sure.


We have a reasonable blessed assurance of our salvation. Scott Hahn gave several reasons for us to believe (not in an absolute way since we are not our own judge) but in a way with reasonable assurance that we are saved. We definitely have more assurance that any Protestant whose conviction is based on private interpretation.

Their theology seems to force them into a presumptuous and closed minded approach to the whole question. If they were to even question the validity of their theology, or of their salvation, that, in their mind, according to their theology, is itself to doubt and therefore would be a negation of “true faith.”

They seem to need to build up within themselves the same emotional assurance the Peter had that he would never deny Christ. How fragile of an assurance is that ?

Once i met a Protestant preacher who told me he had been a preacher for 40 years. BUT he was only just saved 9 months ago. Apparently he done something that didn’t fit into his understanding of what a saved person would do, or maybe he wanted to excuse himself from a previous marriage ???, who knows, and so nine months ago needed a “real conviction” a “real starting point” to begin all over as a TRUE Christian this time.

How fragile of a belief in assurance is that ?
If the first “being saved” that happened 40 years ago didn’t work what makes him so sure that the one nine months ago did work? They best he can do, according to his partial theological system, is to generate that save emotional conviction that Peter had.
[INDENT]Matthew 26:33-35
"Peter declared to him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” 34 Jesus said to him, “Truly, I say to you, this very night, before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.” 35 Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you.” [/INDENT]How blessed it is to be Catholic with valid Sacraments.


It seems that the apostle John believed that we may have assurance of our salvation:

1 John 5:13 New International Version (NIV): 13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.


Matthew 7:21
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.

Matthew 24:13
14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the world as a witness to all nations, and then the end will come.

Romans 11:22
22 See, then, the kindness and severity of God: severity toward those who fell, but God’s kindness to you, provided you remain in his kindness; otherwise you too will be cut off.

Philippians 2:12-13
12 So then, my beloved, obedient as you have always been, not only when I am present but all the more now when I am absent, work out your salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For God is the one who, for his good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work.

1 Corinthians 9:27
27 No, I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.

1 Corinthians 10:11-12
11 These things happened to them as an example, and they have been written down as a warning to us, upon whom the end of the ages has come. 12 Therefore, whoever thinks he is standing secure should take care not to fall.

Galatians 5:4
4 You are separated from Christ, you who are trying to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.

2 Timothy 2:11-13
11 This saying is trustworthy: If we have died with him we shall also live with him; 12 if we persevere we shall also reign with him. But if we deny him he will deny us. 13 If we are unfaithful he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself.

Hebrews 6:4-6
4 For it is impossible in the case of those who have once been enlightened and tasted the heavenly gift and shared in the holy Spirit 5 and tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then have fallen away, to bring them to repentance again, since they are recrucifying the Son of God for themselves and holding him up to contempt.

Hebrew 10:26-27
26 If we sin deliberately after receiving knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains sacrifice for sins 27 but a fearful prospect of judgment and a flaming fire that is going to consume the adversaries.

Catechism of the Catholic Church
all need salvation, 588
angels as messengers of the divine plan of, 331-32
Baptism necessary for, 1256-57, 1277
Christ’s coming for man’s, 456-57, 519, 1019
Church as the universal instrument and sacrament of, 776, 780, 816
comes from God alone, 169, 620
and the communion of saints, 1477
ecclesial ministry for man’s, 874
“economy of salvation,” 1066
everything is ordained for man’s, 313
gift of salvation presented through Christ, 1811
God desires the salvation of all men in the truth, 851
God opens the way to man’s, 54, 56, 218, 431, 781, 1058, 2575
help for salvation of the soul, 95
hope of, 2091
hope of salvation in Israel, 64
human freedom and, 1739-42
importance of moral decisions for, 1696
Is there salvation without Baptism? 1259, 1261
man needs, 1949, 2448
means of, 830, 980
mission of salvation in the work of priests, 1565
observance of the natural law necessary for, 2036
Paul contrasts the universality of sin with the universality of, 402
of the person and society bound up with conjugal happiness, 1603, 2250
prayer for, 2744
sacraments are necessary for, 1129
Sacred Scripture for man’s, 107, 122
sacrifice of the Cross for man’s, 600-02, 617
saving one’s own soul, 1889
service of and witness to the faith necessary for, 1816
Virgin Mary cooperated in human, 511, 969
work of salvation impeded by the Evil One, 2851

Salvation history
angels in, 332
beginning of, 280, 1080
Israel in, 431
Jesus as the recapitulation of, 430, 668
liturgy and events in, 1103


Past event (I have been saved)

Romans 8:24
24 For in hope we were saved. Now hope that sees for itself is not hope. For who hopes for what one sees?

Ephesians 2:5, 8
5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God;

2 Timothy 1:9
9 He saved us and called us to a holy life, not according to our works but according to his own design and the grace bestowed on us in Christ Jesus before time began

Titus 3:5-6
5 not because of any righteous deeds we had done but because of his mercy, he saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the holy Spirit, 6 whom he richly poured out on us
through Jesus Christ our savior

Present Process (I am being saved)

Philippians 2:12
12 So then, my beloved, obedient as you have always been, not only when I am present but all the more now when I am absent, work out your salvation with fear and trembling.

1 Peter 1:9
9 as you attain the goal of [your] faith, the salvation of your souls.

Future event (I will be saved)

Matthew 10:22
22 You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved.

Matthew 24:13
13 But the one who perseveres to the end will be saved.

Mark 8:35
35 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.

Acts 15:11
11 On the contrary, we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they.”

Romans 5:9-10
9 How much more then, since we are now justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath. 10 Indeed, if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, how much more, once reconciled, will we be saved by his life.

Romans 13:11
11 And do this because you know the time; it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep. For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed

1 Corinthians 3:15
15 But if someone’s work is burned up, that one will suffer loss; the person will be saved, but only as through fire.

1 Corinthians 5:5
5 you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.

Hebrews 9:28
28 so also Christ, offered once to take away the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to take away sin but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await him.

Justification: Process or One-Time Deal?
Article By Tim Staples at Catholic Answers

Catechism of the Catholic Church
“Outside the Church there is no salvation,” 846-48

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