Catholic concept of Justification

Greetings in Christ,

JOINT DECLARATION ON THE DOCTRINE OF JUSTIFICATION by the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church

3/17 Justification is SOLELY due to the forgiving and renewing mercy that God imparts as a gift and we RECEIVE IN FAITH, and NEVER CAN MERIT IT ANY WAY.

4/25 We confess together that sinners are JUSTIFIED BY FAITH in the saving action of God in Christ. WHATEVER in the JUSTIFIED PRECEDES or FOLLOWS the free gift of FAITH is NEITHER THE BASIS of justification NOR MERITS it.

4/27.The Catholic understanding also sees FAITH as FUNDAMENTAL in justification. FOR WITHOUT FAITH, NO JUSTIFICATION CAN TAKE PLACE. Thus justifying grace never becomes a human possession. While Catholic teaching emphasizes the RENEWAL OF LIFE by justifying grace, this RENEWAL in FAITH, HOPE, LOVE is always dependent on God’s unfathomable grace and CONTRIBUTES NOTHING TO JUSTIFICATION

In Catholic teaching JUSTIFICATION incorporates RE-CREATION and SANCTIFICATION, it is one composite.

We get our INITIAL JUSTIFICATION as God’s gift by Christ’s merit on the cross.
AT THAT POINT when God gives us His gift of (formed) faith AT THE SAME TIME (at our conversion) He baptizes us into the Body of Christ.

JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH ALONE by James Akin
Quote: “In fact, in TRADITIONAL WORKS OF CATHOLIC THEOLOGY, one regularly encounters the statement that FORMED FAITH IS JUSTIFYING FAITH. If one has formed faith, one is justified. Period. End quote. (Emphasize mine.)

Before our conversion we were in the following spiritual position:-

OUR SPIRITUAL POSITION OF THE FALL

a. We were under God’s CONDEMNATION. – Rom.5:18a; John 3:18b.

b. We were in BONDAGE OF CORRUPTION. – Rom.8:19-21.

c. We were residents of the KINGDOM OF SATAN. – Luke 4:5-7.

d. We were SPIRITUALLY DEAD in sins. – Eph.2:1b; Col.2:13a.

e. We “did NOT accept anything from the Spirit of God: we saw it all as nonsense; it was BEYOND our UNDERSTANDING because it CAN ONLY be understood by means of the Spirit.” – 1 Cor.2:14 (Jerusalem Bible) Emphasize mine.

At our conversion, from Satan’s kingdom God has DELIVERED us up to HEAVEN and He has Baptized us into the Body of Christ, and at the same time God fully JUSTIFIED us, RE-CREATED us and SANCTIFIED us.

OUR NEW SPIRITUAL POSITION AS BORN AGAIN IN HEAVEN IN THE BODY OF CHRIST:-

We are perfect and complete in the Body of Christ.
100% RE-CREATED (Born Again/New Creation).
100% JUSTIFIED.
100% SANCTIFIED.

We CAN NOT contribute to our salvation (justification, sanctification) even one iota.
In the Body of Christ, we are 100% saved, 100% justified and 100% sanctified. – We cannot add anything to it. It is God’s PRFECT gift.

OUR EVERLASTING LIFE IS THE GIFT OF GOD BY CHRIST’S MERIT.

Our salvation CAN NOT be improved by addition and as God’s elects to Heaven to lose it is a THEOLOGICAL IMPOSSIBILITY.

OUR SPIRITUAL POSITION AS BORN AGAIN [as we are ourselves (not as members of the Body of Christ)] as Christ’s ambassadors here on earth in the kingdom of Satan.

Here on the earth as Christ’s ambassadors, we are not exactly HOLY and JUST in ourselves. We work on to improve them by our cooperation with the grace of God. “Ongoing event.”

Our salvation PRECEDES our cooperation with the grace of God.
So, to work on to be more JUST and HOLY is the FRUIT of our salvation NOT the cause of it.

The fruits of our salvation CAN NOT be contributed to our salvation. This is our SUPERNATURAL MERIT and the other is GOD’S GIFT OF SALVATION.
The two do NOT MIX!!!

The fruits of our salvation is our supernatural merit. God rewards it IN heaven.

In ourselves we become continually more HOLY and more JUST in cooperation with the grace of God.

To understand: This continued increase in HOLINESS and JUSTICE in ourselves CAN NOT be contributed to our HOLYNESS and JUSTICE in the Body of Christ, because in the Body of Christ we are 100% HOLY and 100% JUST. This is both GOD’S GIFT and 100% Perfect.

This is above a short overall picture of our JUSTIFICATION and SLVATION.

I would like to have the view of the members on my opinion in particular on the spiritual positions.

With love in Christ,
LH

Catholic Doctrine maintains that we are ALL justified. Everyone on earth. Regardless of faith, or Baptism, or any other such thing. The requirement for being “justified” is being “human.”

Justification means that we are eligible for salvation. Protestants often make the mistake of thinking the two terms are synonymous. They are not. All are justified, but not all are saved.

The ordinary means of salvation is Christian Baptism. This Sacrament can be validly conferred by any human capable of forming intent, upon any human recipient. If the recipient is capable of consent (of sufficient age and mental capacity), s/he must give it.

The Church has recognized that it is possible for someone to attain salvation apart from Christian Baptism (invincible ignorance). But the Church has no idea how this might work, or if many or few have done so, or if any at all have done so. Maybe Gandhi did it, but maybe nobody else ever did. Maybe Gandhi never did. Jesus told the Church how it ought to be done, and the Church promotes Christian Baptism around the world (which offers a 100% guarantee with the lowest possible “barrier to admission”). The Church does not promote possible and uncertain alternatives.

In Catholic teaching there is always a balance between the gratuitous nature of justification and our cooperation with that grace.

From the catechism:

1**989 The first work of the grace of the Holy Spirit is conversion, effecting justification in accordance with Jesus’ proclamation at the beginning of the Gospel: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."38 Moved by grace, man turns toward God and away from sin, thus accepting forgiveness and righteousness from on high. "Justification is not only the remission of sins, but also the sanctification and renewal of the interior man.39

1993 Justification establishes cooperation between God’s grace and man’s freedom. On man’s part it is expressed by the assent of faith to the Word of God, which invites him to conversion, and in the cooperation of charity with the prompting of the Holy Spirit who precedes and preserves his assent:

When God touches man’s heart through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, man himself is not inactive while receiving that inspiration, since he could reject it; and yet, without God’s grace, he cannot by his own free will move himself toward justice in God’s sight.42

1996 Our justification comes from the grace of God. Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life.46

2027 No one can merit the initial grace which is at the origin of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit, we can merit for ourselves and for others all the graces needed to attain eternal life, as well as necessary temporal goods.

From Trent:

CANON I.-If any one saith, that man may be justified before God by his own works, whether done through the teaching of human nature, or that of the law, without the grace of God through Jesus Christ; let him be anathema.

CANON IV.-If any one saith, that man’s free will moved and excited by God, by assenting to God exciting and calling, nowise co-operates towards disposing and preparing itself for obtaining the grace of Justification; that it cannot refuse its consent, if it would, but that, as something inanimate, it does nothing whatever and is merely passive; let him be anathema.

CANON IX.-If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema.

CANON XX.-If any one saith, that the man who is justified and how perfect soever, is not bound to observe the commandments of God and of the Church, but only to believe; as if indeed the Gospel were a bare and absolute promise of eternal life, without the condition of observing the commandments ; let him be anathema.

CANON XXIV.-If any one saith, that the justice received is not preserved and also increased before God through good works; but that the said works are merely the fruits and signs of Justification obtained, but not a cause of the increase thereof; let him be anathema.

CANON XXVI.-If any one saith, that the just ought not, for their good works done in God, to expect and hope for an eternal recompense from God, through His mercy and the merit of Jesus Christ, if so be that they persevere to the end in well doing and in keeping the divine commandments; let him be anathema.**

Greetings in Christ Fhansen,

We are unable to understand Justification unless we first see the WHOLE PICTURE OF SALVATION.

OUR SALVATION FROM THE BEGINNING:-

For easier understanding, we assume, we are among the elects to Heaven.

  1. Before the foundation of the world, before time began God has chosen us without our merits.
    He has predestined us to Heaven according His eternal decree and according to His own purpose. – Eph.1:4-5; 2 Tim.1:9.

  2. We have been born into Satan’s kingdom on the SPIRITUAL POSITION OF THE FALL and many of us have grown up in this fallen spiritual position.

THE FALLEN SPIRITUAL POSITION:-

a. We were under God’s CONDEMNATION. – Rom.5:18a; John 3:18b.

b. We were in BONDAGE OF CORRUPTION. – Rom.8:19-21.

c. We were residents of the KINGDOM OF SATAN. – Luke 4:5-7.

d. We were SPIRITUALLY DEAD in sins. – Eph.2:1b; Col.2:13a.

e. We “did NOT accept anything from the Spirit of God: we saw it all as nonsense; it was BEYOND our UNDERSTANDING because it CAN ONLY be understood by means of the Spirit.” – 1 Cor.2:14 (Jerusalem Bible) Emphasize mine.

  1. At God’s timing, as God’s predestined us to Heaven, God has called us into His service and to be His sons and daughters. – Rom.8:29-30.

To clearly understand our salvation, let’s see the way God has taken us out from Satan’s kingdom into Heaven (Eph.2:1; Col.1:13), and He has baptized us into the Body of Christ (1 Cor.1:30; 1 Cor.12:12-13, 20, 27).

In the Sacrament of Baptism there is God’s part to do, and our part to do.

GOD’S PART TO DO IN OUR SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM:-

  1. “ … He (Christ) loves us and has washed away our sins with His own blood,” – 1 Cor.6:11; Rev.1:5. (Jerusalem Bible)

  2. God has taken us up to heaven. – Col.1:13; Eph.2:6.

  3. God has Baptized us into the Body of Christ. – 1 Cor.12:12-13, 20, 27.

  4. In the Body of Christ, God JUSTIFIED us, RE-CREATED us (Born Again), and SANCTIFIED us. – Rom.3:24; 1 Cor.15:22b; 1 Cor.6:11; Rev.1:5.

  5. God has given us His gift of formed faith, (baptism of desire included). – Doctrine of the Church.

  6. God has prepared our will to freely accept His gift of faith. – Canon 4 of the Council of Orange (529 AD); John 6:44-45.

AT THAT POINT when God has given us His gift of formed faith, AT THAT POINT God has performed His part of our Baptism.

THE OUTCOME:-

a. God has JUSTIFIED us:- At our justification God has DECLARED us just and declared us to be sons of God. – Rom.3:24.

b. God has RE-CREATED us:- At our re-creation God has MADE us sons of God. – Ez.36:26-27; Eph.2:1; Col.2:10-13.

c. God has SANCTIFIED us:- At our sanctification God has MADE us holy. – 1 Cor.6:11; Rev.1:5.

Justification, re-creation and sanctification is one composite with three parts in it.
If we understand the function of each part of them, we can have a deeper understanding.

OUR PART TO DO IN OUR SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM:
To carry out our water Baptism.

In the Sacrament of Baptism God’s part MADE us Born Again and saved us.

God’s part in our Baptism is the process of the way God saves us.
Until God performs His part in our baptism, we are on the spiritual position of the fall, and we CAN NOT receive anything from the Spirit of God, in fact it is “foolishness to us.” – 1 Cor.2:14

Gods part to do in our salvation is an INSTANT event and causes INSTANT Justification/salvation, and this is God’s gift of everlasting life for His elects, which comes with His assurances.

First assurance: Rom.11:29 “God NEVER takes back his gifts or REVOKES his choice.” (Jerusalem Bible)

Second assurance: GOD’S GREAT AND SPECIAL GIFT OF FINAL PERSEVERANCE. According to the Council of Trent: This is also an absolute guarantee that the elects don’t lose their salvation.

It is beneficial to know the difference between periodical life and death and everlasting life. The two are not the same.
God’s gift of His elects is everlasting life. – Rom.6:23; John 5:24; 1 John 5:13.

OUR NEW SPIRITUAL POSITION AS BORN AGAIN IN HEAVEN IN THE BODY OF CHRIST

We are perfect and complete in the Body of Christ.

100% RE-CREATED (Born Again/New Creation).
100% JUSTIFIED.
100% SANCTIFIED.

We CAN NOT contribute to our salvation (justification, sanctification) even one iota.

In the Body of Christ, we are 100% saved, 100% justified and 100% sanctified. – We cannot add anything to it. It is God’s PRFECT gift.

OUR EVERLASTING LIFE IS THE GIFT OF GOD BY CHRIST’S MERIT.

Our salvation CAN NOT be improved by addition and as God’s elects to Heaven to lose it is a THEOLOGICAL IMPOSSIBILITY.

Continued on the next post

Continuation

OUR SPIRITUAL POSITION AS BORN AGAIN [as we are ourselves (not as members of the Body of Christ)] as Christ’s ambassadors here on earth in the kingdom of Satan.

Here on the earth as Christ’s ambassadors, we are not exactly HOLY and JUST in ourselves. We work on to improve them by our cooperation with the grace of God. “Ongoing event.”

Our salvation PRECEDES our cooperation with the grace of God.
So, to work to be more JUST and HOLY is the FRUIT of our salvation NOT the cause of it.

The fruits of our salvation CAN NOT be contributed to our salvation. This is our SUPERNATURAL MERIT and the other is GOD’S GIFT OF SALVATION.
The two do NOT MIX!!!
God rewards our supernatural merit IN heaven.

In ourselves we become continually more HOLY and more JUST in cooperation with the grace of God.

To understand: This continued increase in HOLINESS and JUSTICE in ourselves CAN NOT be contributed to our HOLYNESS and JUSTICE in the Body of Christ, because in the Body of Christ we are 100% HOLY and 100% JUST. This is both GOD’S GIFT.

SUMMARY

The KEY to a CLEAR understanding of our salvation is the CLEAR understanding of the three distinct spiritual positions.

THE SPIRITUAL POSITION OF THE FALL:-

a. We are under God’s CONDEMNATION. – Rom.5:18a; John 3:18b.

b. We are in BONDAGE OF CORRUPTION. – Rom.8:19-21.

c. We are residents of the KINGDOM OF SATAN. – Luke 4:5-7

d. We are SPIRITUALLY DEAD in sins. – Eph.2:1b; Col.2:13a.

e. We “do NOT accept anything from the Spirit of God: we see it all as nonsense; it is BEYOND our UNDERSTANDING because it CAN ONLY be understood by means of the Spirit.” – 1 Cor.2:14 (Jerusalem Bible) Emphasize mine.

OUR NEW SPIRITUAL POSITION AS BORN AGAIN IN HEAVEN IN THE BODY OF CHRIST

We are perfect and complete in the Body of Christ.

100% RE-CREATED (Born Again/New Creation).
100% JUSTIFIED.
100% SANCTIFIED.

We CAN NOT add anything to it, it is God’s perfect gift, by Christ’s merit.

OUR SPIRITUAL POSITION AS BORN AGAIN [as we are ourselves (not as members of the Body of Christ)] as Christ’s ambassadors here on earth in the kingdom of Satan.

Here on the earth as Christ’s ambassadors, we are not exactly HOLY and JUST in ourselves. We work on to improve them by our cooperation with the grace of God. “Ongoing event.”

This work is our supernatural merit/good works. CAN NOT be contributed to our salvation!!!
For our good works, God gives us rewards IN heaven.
The reward OF heaven is God’s gift by Christ’s merit.

If we have a clear understanding of the above three spiritual positions, we have a clear understanding of the economy of our salvation.

The members of a true religion STRICTLY keep SEPERATE Christ merit on the cross from their own supernatural merit/good works.

The members of a true religion KNOW:-
For Christ’s merit on the cross, they have God’s gift OF heaven.
For their own merit, they will have God’s reward IN heaven.

The members of a false religion MIX TOGETHER Christ’s merit on the cross with their own merit/works.

They mistakenly believe, from the combination of Christ’s merit + their own merit (if they work enough) will have God’s gift OF heaven.

This above is THE KEY to understand the differences between true religion and false religion.

This is also THE KEY to separate true doctrines from doctrines of demons, described in 2 Pet.2:1-3.

JOINT DECLARATION ON THE DOCTRINE OF JUSTIFICATION by the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church

3/17 Justification is SOLELY due to the forgiving and renewing mercy that God imparts as a gift and we RECEIVE IN FAITH, and NEVER CAN MERIT IT ANY WAY.

4/25 We confess together that sinners are JUSTIFIED BY FAITH in the saving action of God in Christ. WHATEVER in the JUSTIFIED PRECEDES or FOLLOWS the free gift of FAITH is NEITHER THE BASIS of justification NOR MERITS it.

4/27.The Catholic understanding also sees FAITH as FUNDAMENTAL in justification. FOR WITHOUT FAITH, NO JUSTIFICATION CAN TAKE PLACE. Thus justifying grace never becomes a human possession. While Catholic teaching emphasizes the RENEWAL OF LIFE by justifying grace, this RENEWAL in FAITH, HOPE, LOVE is always dependent on God’s unfathomable grace and CONTRIBUTES NOTHING TO JUSTIFICATION

As we see above: The members of a true religion STRICTLY keep SEPARATE Christ’s merit on the cross FROM their own supernatural merit/good works.

To mix the two merits together is THE POSITIVE identifying mark of a false religion.

WE MUST HAVE A CLEAR UNDERSTANDING OF THE THREE SPIRITUAL POSITIONS.

a. We MUST know our spiritual position in the Body of Christ.

b. We MUST know our spiritual position in ourselves.

c. What we MUST DO:- STRICTLY KEEP SEPARATE – Christ’s merit on the cross – from our own merits.

With love in Christ,
LH

Sorry, but again nobody can understand what you are trying to say. Can you give it to us in a few simple sentences.

Sounds an awful lot like Cathalvinism to me.

Greetings in Christ Thistle,

If we are not saved, we are not in the state of grace either.
We CAN NOT separate the two from each other. The two ALWAYS GOES TOGETHER.

If we die as unsaved, then we didn’t die in the state of grace either and our destiny is hell.

As salvation is by faith.
How can anyone be saved if he has no faith to believe that he is saved???

If someone believes that he is not saved and at the same time he believes, he is in the state of grace, then he has faith in a theological impossibility.

With love in Christ,
LH

Do demons believe they are saved? Does faith really mean ‘believing we’re saved’?

Greetings in Christ Fhansen,

I doubt that demons believe they are saved.

What I don’t doubt, they continually convincing us:- We are not saved either.

The Scripture continually convincing us:- We have been saved.

What I meant, faith saves us if we have faith in the Scripture:-

Eph.2:8; “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.”

John 5:24; “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.”

1 John 5:13; “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.”

Quote: Does faith really mean ‘believing we’re saved’?

I understand the question and I realized:- Faith can take us to Heaven or Hell.

With love in Christ,
LH

This should help you:

Catechism of the Catholic Church:

I. JUSTIFICATION

1987 The grace of the Holy Spirit has the power to justify us, that is, to cleanse us from our sins and to communicate to us “the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ” and through Baptism:34

But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. For we know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves as dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.35

1988 Through the power of the Holy Spirit we take part in Christ’s Passion by dying to sin, and in his Resurrection by being born to a new life; we are members of his Body which is the Church, branches grafted onto the vine which is himself:36

[God] gave himself to us through his Spirit. By the participation of the Spirit, we become communicants in the divine nature. . . . For this reason, those in whom the Spirit dwells are divinized.37

1989 The first work of the grace of the Holy Spirit is conversion, effecting justification in accordance with Jesus’ proclamation at the beginning of the Gospel: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."38 Moved by grace, man turns toward God and away from sin, thus accepting forgiveness and righteousness from on high. "Justification is not only the remission of sins, but also the sanctification and renewal of the interior man.39

1990 Justification detaches man from sin which contradicts the love of God, and purifies his heart of sin. Justification follows upon God’s merciful initiative of offering forgiveness. It reconciles man with God. It frees from the enslavement to sin, and it heals.

1991 Justification is at the same time the acceptance of God’s righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ. Righteousness (or “justice”) here means the rectitude of divine love. With justification, faith, hope, and charity are poured into our hearts, and obedience to the divine will is granted us.

1992 Justification has been merited for us by the Passion of Christ who offered himself on the cross as a living victim, holy and pleasing to God, and whose blood has become the instrument of atonement for the sins of all men. Justification is conferred in Baptism, the sacrament of faith. It conforms us to the righteousness of God, who makes us inwardly just by the power of his mercy. Its purpose is the glory of God and of Christ, and the gift of eternal life:40

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from law, although the law and the prophets bear witness to it, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as an expiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins; it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies him who has faith in Jesus.41

1993 Justification establishes cooperation between God’s grace and man’s freedom. On man’s part it is expressed by the assent of faith to the Word of God, which invites him to conversion, and in the cooperation of charity with the prompting of the Holy Spirit who precedes and preserves his assent:

When God touches man’s heart through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, man himself is not inactive while receiving that inspiration, since he could reject it; and yet, without God’s grace, he cannot by his own free will move himself toward justice in God’s sight.42

1994 Justification is the most excellent work of God’s love made manifest in Christ Jesus and granted by the Holy Spirit. It is the opinion of St. Augustine that “the justification of the wicked is a greater work than the creation of heaven and earth,” because "heaven and earth will pass away but the salvation and justification of the elect . . . will not pass away."43 He holds also that the justification of sinners surpasses the creation of the angels in justice, in that it bears witness to a greater mercy.

1995 The Holy Spirit is the master of the interior life. By giving birth to the "inner man,"44 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.45

The only thing that takes you to Hell is dying in a state of mortal sin.

I think you may have your terminology mixed up. I think instead of “all are justified” you may mean “all are redeemed”?

Justification is a free gift of grace, but we are not justified unless we accept Christ’s work of Redemption through faith and receive justification through Baptism.

We are not “justified”, we are not made righteous in and through Christ, until we are risen with Him through the sacrament.

The best explanation of justification and salvation comes from Karl Keating’s “Catholicism and Fundamentalism”:

From what I read in the Bible, and which is confirmed in the Church, is that justification is a true eradication of sins and a true sanctification and renewal. The soul becomes objectively pleasing to God and so merits heaven. It merits heaven because it is actually good. Scripture conceives of the forgiveness of sins as a real and complete removal of them. The words used are “blot out”(Ps 50:3), “clears away”(Ps 102:12), “blotting out”(Isa 43:25), “takes away”(Jn 1:29). The few times the Bible mentions “covering sins” refer not to the forgiveness of sins by God, but to the forgiveness of one man’s sins by another. Since we can’t actually forgive sins(that’s up to God), the best we can do is overlook them or “cover” them. Therefore your theology doesn’t do the very thing the Bible says God does to justify sinners, I.e. actually frees them from their sins.

The Bible is clear in that salvation, justification, is actually transformative; it is a generation of supernatural life in a former sinner(Jn 3:5; Titus 3:5), a thorough inner renewal(Eph 4:23), and a real sanctification( 1Cor 6:11). The soul itself becomes beautiful and holy. It is not merely an ugly soul covered over with a beautiful cloak. We are not “walking dead men”, we are in fact alive through God’s grace. And the Bible shows that the sacraments are the channels of that grace.

This is what the Church teaches about the matter, just so the record can be made straight:
Salvation depends on the state of the soul at death. Not on a passive, subjective feeling.

Christ has already redeemed us, unlocked the gates of heaven, as it were. (Note that redemption is not the same as salvation but is a necessary prelude.) He did His part, now we have to cooperate by doing ours.

If we are to pass through those gates, we have to be in the right spiritual state. We have to be spiritually alive. If a soul is merely in a natural state, without sanctifying grace, which is the grace that gives the soul supernatural life, then it is dead supernaturally and incapable of enjoying heaven. It will not be allowed through the gates.

But if it has sanctifying grace, then heaven is guaranteed even if a detour through purgatorial purification is required first. The Church teaches that only souls that are objectively good and objectively pleasing to God merit heaven, and such souls are filled with sanctifying grace.

The saint who never committed a mortal sin and the lifelong sinner who did not stop sinning until he repented on his death bed will each gain heaven, although one will have to be cleansed in the anteroom of purgatory. When they get to heaven, the one with the greater capacity for love will enjoy greater blessedness there, although each will enjoy it as fully as he is capable. As us Catholics see it, anyone can achieve heaven, and anyone can lose it.

The life-long sinner can remain that to the very end-and then he becomes an eternally lost sinner. The apparent saint can throw away salvation at the last moment and end up no better off than the man who never did a good deed in his life.

My opinion ( which you have asked us to share) is that you tend to use way too many CAPs in your posts. :D.

As to the matters discussed - I am a fairly simple man - not a theologian or bible scholar.
However - in the various discussions I have read, heard and been involved with, I find the whole matter of justification, merit, cooperation etc to become very “chicken-egg” like.

I also find it to be of little practical use. I’m sure it is quite interesting in the academic setting, but in daily life…not so much. For the Christian seeking to live his life in Christ - to show God’s Love and saving power to the world the particular distinctions between “saving” and “justification” and “sanctification” and when and how each occurs is of little consequence.
Truly we have enough to do just fulfilling Christ’s command that we Love one another as He has loved us.

This does not mean that I have not given this matter some thought…trying to reduce it to it’s most basic components which I will attempt to share here.

  1. The matter of Gifts…Gifts, like most things relational, requires two things - the free offer and the free acceptance. Without this interaction there is no gift. Thus, God offers the free gift of salvation to all - That is the nature of our God who is Love. It is up to us whether we accept or reject said gift - that is the nature of our God giving us free will.

  2. Justification…Probably the most confused and argued over word in the whole matter.
    Justification occurs when one accepts the gift offered which entails belief and baptism.
    Through baptism we are washed clean and receive the grace of God into us.
    Then it is up to us to act upon these gifts. If we do not, we risk losing our justification.
    In short, having once been made clean, it is up to us (by active participation) to keep ourselves clean.

  3. Sanctification…comes about through our acting upon the graces offered to us at the time of conversion and justification. So long as we act upon God’s graces, seeking to grow in Christ, we remain justified and we grow in holiness…becoming ever better ambassadors of God’s Kingdom on Earth.

I’m a fan of an analogy used where the two forms of the Greek “Baptizo” are used in a pickling recipe. One use is to dip or wash. The other use is to immerse for a period of time. In pickling, the cucumber is first washed (dipped) and then immersed in a brine for a period of time. At the washing no permanent change occurs - t remains a cucumber. However, immersion in the brine causes a gradual change over time - it changes from a cucumber to a pickle.

Our water baptism is somewhat like the first…It is a washing, both symbolic and real, of our body and soul to remove all prior sin, but our journey is not yet complete. Baptism of the Spirit is an immersion in the life of Christ, a taking on of Christ and a gradual infusion of holiness (sanctification) over time.

In all of this - we can neither take the credit that belongs to God - nor can we abandon our responsibility which is our part to play. Salvation is indeed a gift. May we be wise enough to accept that gift and may we have the perseverance to care for that gift as we ought to.

But - as I said earlier - the particulars of these kinds of arguments are of little importance in the real world where we are called upon to simply and fully share the Love of God in Christ.

Peace
James

David, can you give any sources for this? The old Catholic Encyclopedia seems to say the opposite: “A biblio-ecclesiastical term; which denotes the transforming of the sinner from the state of unrighteousness to the state of holiness and sonship of God. Considered as an act (actus justificationis), justification is the work of God alone, presupposing, however, on the part of the adult the process of justification and the cooperation of his free will with God’s preventing and helping grace (gratia praeveniens et cooperans). Considered as a state or habit (habitus justificationis), it denotes the continued possession of a quality inherent in the soul, which theologians aptly term sanctifying grace.

And then later on: “What then is meant by justification? Justification denotes that change or transformation in the soul by which man is transferred from the state of original sin, in which as a child of Adam he was born, to that of grace and Divine sonship through Jesus Christ, the second Adam, our Redeemer (l.c., cap.iv: “Justificatio impii. . . translatio ab eo statu, in quo homo nascitur filius primi Adae, in statum gratiae et adoptionis filiorum Dei per secundum Adam, Jesum Christum, Salvatorem nostrum”). In the New Law this justification cannot, according to Christ’s precept, be effected except at the fountain of regeneration, that is, by the baptism of water.

We are all born with original sin, and thus at one time before our baptism we cannot be said to be justified, yeah? Here’s the full article.

Sorry, but this is theologically incorrect and it is not what the Church teaches. We are not all “justified” for simply being human. Justification as defined by the Council of Trent and taught in the Catechism . The Catechism states:

1987 The grace of the Holy Spirit has the power to justify us, that is, to cleanse us from our sins and to communicate to us “the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ” and through Baptism:34

But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. For we know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves as dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.35
1988 Through the power of the Holy Spirit we take part in Christ’s Passion by dying to sin, and in his Resurrection by being born to a new life; we are members of his Body which is the Church, branches grafted onto the vine which is himself:36

[God] gave himself to us through his Spirit. By the participation of the Spirit, we become communicants in the divine nature. . . . For this reason, those in whom the Spirit dwells are divinized.37

1989 The first work of the grace of the Holy Spirit is conversion, effecting justification in accordance with Jesus’ proclamation at the beginning of the Gospel: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."38 Moved by grace, man turns toward God and away from sin, thus accepting forgiveness and righteousness from on high. "Justification is not only the remission of sins, but also the sanctification and renewal of the interior man.39

1990 Justification detaches man from sin which contradicts the love of God, and purifies his heart of sin. Justification follows upon God’s merciful initiative of offering forgiveness. It reconciles man with God. It frees from the enslavement to sin, and it heals.

1991 Justification is at the same time the acceptance of God’s righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ. Righteousness (or “justice”) here means the rectitude of divine love. With justification, faith, hope, and charity are poured into our hearts, and obedience to the divine will is granted us.

1992 Justification has been merited for us by the Passion of Christ who offered himself on the cross as a living victim, holy and pleasing to God, and whose blood has become the instrument of atonement for the sins of all men. Justification is conferred in Baptism, the sacrament of faith. It conforms us to the righteousness of God, who makes us inwardly just by the power of his mercy. Its purpose is the glory of God and of Christ, and the gift of eternal life:40

You are confusing objective redemption with subjective redemption. Christ died for all so all have access to the grace of justification merited on the Cross for all. Subjective redemption is when the individual actually experiences that redemption. That is when we are justified, which is the infusion of sanctifying grace in the soul, making it holy and acceptable before God.

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