Many “Protestants” (but far from all) believe that once a person trusts in Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior (or has faith alone), they can have 100% assurance that they will go to heaven, regardless of what happens to them or what they do.
If a Catholic is assured they are in a state of grace – not in mortal sin, follows the Church’s teachings, and has a close relationship with Christ, etc.-- does this mean that they can have 100% assurance that if they die, they will therefore be saved?
I know this “assurance” is defined differently. I’m not trying to compare the two; I’m merely trying to determine if a Catholic can “know” that they will die in God’s friendship. Essentially, is there a sense in which “absolute assurance” through the Catholic understanding holds true?
A Catholics’ assurance increases as he sees himself, by his external actions and interior state, aligning with what he knows, by his conscience aided by the Churchs’ teachings, to be the will of God. This is a process, not an all at once “born-again” experience, and it involves and requires the grace of God in order to be possible at all.
I think it’s a balancing act between being too brash in the certainty of our worthiness of salvation and knowing that we can have complete confidence in the trustworthiness, mercy, and love of God. In any event, only He can know our destinies with 100% certainty, and humility demands a certain amount of guardedness in this area of assurance, which even the saints had-in fact, they probably had more of it than most of us.
There is not absolute assurance of salvation. But, if we follow the precepts of the church and the churches teachings and all the teachings of Christ. Then we know that we are working toward that salvation. You see no one here on Earth will ever be absouletly assured of their salvation because it is not all about saying Lord Lord Lord nor is it all about our works. It is about how you live your personal inner life with God. Remember that Jesus said that their will be many who call him Lord Lord Lord and never did the work and when they come to him he will have them depart from him because they never truly lived their life according this his teachings.
As far a reborn. Catholics are reborn Christians. When we are baptized we are reborn into the family of God. The waters are a symbol of death and life. After that thier is no need to be “reborn” again.
If you are living in the state of grace, and know this, (both of which are indeed possible), then you can know that if you die you will inherit eternal salvation from your Father. However, this extends only insofar as you are able to know that you are in the state of grace. Therefore, it does not extend to the future: you cannot know whether you will be in the state of grace at your death, or in a year, or even later in the day. This is why we “hope” for salvation.
Protestants who think they are saved merely through belief should meditate on what Christ meant when He spoke of the apostle Judas who originally believed in Christ :
’The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born.’
Catholics have a hope of salvation. But there is no sure thing since that implies that God has no final say in our judgement and none of us would dare to speak for God. This is why heretical beliefs such as OSAS are so grievous since they place the human mind and will above God’s.
We Catholics trust in God to give us the grace we need and strive to cooperate with His Plan for us. There is no false sense of complacency so there is often a natural tension that compels us to want to please God and cooperate with Him and perfect our faith and our love. This natural tension is a good thing since it compels us to grow and keeps us walking forward with God. As one learns to walk with God spiritually we become progressively more comfortable in our salvation and trust and become His children. Conversely, a lack of inner peace and an elevated sense of insecurity tells us that God is signaling that something is wrong (some sort of sin or scrupulosity) and that we need to work more cooperatively with God’s grace.
It’s a life long process and we only hope that we can perfect our love and stay in His to the best of our abilities before He calls us home.
Among the posters who have participated thus far, yours is the closest to what my understanding of the Church teaches.
I’m not saying they are wrong; they are right, but perhaps they are viewing my question from a different perspective. I suppose we need to define terms. The concept of “absolute assurance” may be based on faith and hope regardless of one’s faith tradition.
All I’m saying is that if one firmly believes – essentially “knows” they are in a state of grace – they can be “assured” that if they die at that instant, they will be saved and/or die in God’s friendship.
Is it fair to say that if one “knows” (or with great confidence believes) they are not in mortal sin (in a state of grace), then they can also be confident that they will die in God’s friendship, assuming they do not fall?
To me, to believe otherwise is to lack trust in God’s love and mercy. If He does not give some sort of sense of who we are in Christ and where we will go when we die, are we not just wandering around in a somewhat scary haze of uncertainty? In other words, I believe He has revealed enough to us through His Church to determine clear parameters to recognize whether or not we are in a state of grace.
Likewise, doesn’t “the Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him that we may indeed be glorified with Him”? If we are living for Christ, His Spirit will reveal we are His, and will remain His, if we continue to abide in Him.
I am assured of salvation in Christ if I’m living for Him. And I have a definite sense of assurance that if I died now, I would die in a state of grace. This is not about my own righteousness; rather, it’s Christ in me; it is our Lord’s tender love and mercy.
My particular understanding of “Catholic Assurance” (which doesn’t technically exist as defined by the Church), but appears to complement, and is essentially the same as the Church’s understanding of having an unwaivering, supernatural hope.
There are definitely points mentioned in the piece regarding the assurance some of our separated brethren believe. As I suspected, it’s evident that supernatural hope is quite different from Protestant assurance.
There were a number historical tidbits and theological points I found interesting that I was not aware of. If you folks have time, it’s worth the read.