Do Catholics know where they're going when they die?

I was recently accosted at a baseball game by some Protestant friends when the subject of heaven came up. A guy told me, “you Catholics don’t know where you’re goin to you’re dead, then you find out, but I know where I’m goin as we speak. Y’all can’t be sure if you’ve done enough this or that so you don’t know.”

I really didn’t know how to respond to that, thoughts?

The Catholic position, that judgment takes place at death, results in a day-to-day ignorance of our ultimate salvation, for it is true that we do not know whether our life is seen by God as “worthy” of eternal life. Yet, Catholics also have hope in Jesus Christ and the power of the cross and it is from this hope that they persevere, building up the kingdom in their own hearts and in the world.

Protestants, on the other, with all respect to them, strongly believe that judgment has already taken place and that the moment they have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, a moment Luther calls “the blessed exchange,” they are saved even though they remain sinful. Judgment for Protestants is not an evaluation of one’s own life, but, if one has faith, of the life of Jesus. In other words, the righteousness of Christ is imputed on to the believer as his own. Thus, the Lutheran maxim: “simul justus et peccator”-- at the same time a sinner and justified.

Ultimately, however, Catholics should be just as “certain” about their final destination as Protestants. It is a harsh reality, however, that all people continue to sin. We must hope therefore, and believe in the power of the cross, so that we might continue to persevere. To this effect, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which draws its power from the cross and Jesus’ power to forgive sins, provides an awesome and ever-present reality to recommission us for the sake of Christ until the day we die.

Well now, I know I have to work out my salvation with fear and trembling which to me puts to rest the “I know I’m going to heaven” scene. To believe that once I “accept” Christ, I am going to heaven no matter what, I don’t believe. I must accept God and His ways every single day and sometimes second. Which I work at but fail at so often.

If that is error, so be it. I would rather keep on a-plugging away and trying and repenting etc. and not take for granit where I am going. I would hate to be before God and be so smug in my opinion. He just might say, no way.


We hope for heaven, but I never assume it. I am not God ,and it’s not my call to decide who will go there

I always feel it is so haughty when people say I know where I am going…pride goeth before a fall…pride was the sin of Lucifer…I will fall on my face before God and plead for mercy ,when I see His face…until then I will try to live as best as I can ,by keeping the commandments

Just because you ‘think’ you know where you’re goin’ doesn’t mean that you actually will end up there. :slight_smile:

Tell your friend that you trust in Jesus, not in your self… and that since you dont trust your self you dont know if you end up falling in to sin and darkness a few months or years from now. Therefore you will not boast of your destination, but hope in it in humility and silence in your heart with a firm hope but yet a hope.

It is one thin to be certain, but this is presumption. Being so certain that leaves no room for error or self-deception is called yourself.

We can only hope and rely on the mercy of Almighty God that we will be judged worthy of the promises of Christ.

There is nothing that we can do to merit Heaven, But it is the love that we show towards God and neighbor that will be the measurement. Do you live your life loving God more than things and do you treat your neighbor with love and respect. There is no number of good deeds, dollar amount of charity, or set goal that you can set to determine Heaven or Hell, but its the overall account of your life’s work and beliefs that will determine your eternal destiny. There are no absolute goals for charity or love. You should strive to be charitable and loving all the time. If you should fail once in a while that’s okay.

IF you live your life as Jesus tells us to, you will be on solid ground. But if you’re judgemental, selfish, self centered, vengeful, petty, often angry or hateful then you should be worried.

The thing is God knows we are not perfect, He tells us to try to be perfect and it is in striving for perfection that one day we can reach it in Heaven.

I’m amused and sometimes cringe when folks say all Catholics are condemned or say they are certain that they will go to Heaven.

Such bravado is often based on a false assumption. They claim that by merely proclaiming that “Jesus Christ is Lord” that have automatically attained salvation.

Jesus Himself tells us that this is not true. “there are some who will cry out ‘Lord, Lord’ and I will say I don’t know you”.

There are no magic words to make it happen. You have to live your life in compliance to Jesus’s teachings. Faith is only part of the answer, good works is the essential ingredient that they ignore. Without it they are just blowing smoke. You have to accomodate your words with actions consistent with what you believe.

Well, if I was currently in a state of Grace (i.e., had no unconfessed and/or unrepentant mortal sins on my soul), I would have something like “well, at this moment, if I’m struck by lightening, or I die in a car wreck on my way home, I’ll go to heaven (silently adding “eventually”, b/c I wouldn’t want to open up the whole purgatory can of worms at that point), but I’m not arrogant enough to presume that I’m NEVER going to fall into unrepentant mortal sin ever again, and to think I could go to heaven while happily living in sin is an insult to God’s justice and Christ’s sacrifice.”

Of course, with the OSAS types, it won’t fly. It’s either you sin all you want and still go to heaven, as all sins, past, present, and future were forgiven the moment you were “saved”, or if you continue to sin you “weren’t really saved in the first place”. If it’s the 2nd type you’re dealing with, I’d ask them how they know they’re REALLY saved? What if they fall into a horribly sinful lifestyle in the future, and die w/o repenting? They could be deceiving themselves (these folks usually have no problem telling you that some people who claimed to be “saved” really aren’t, so turn it around on them, how can THEY be SURE?).

In Christ,


No one “knows” nothing! Catholics nor Protestants know their final destination. We can only have faith, and believe that we’re going to Heaven, but that is not knowledge…

What you’ve run into is the OSAS (Once saved always saved) theology.
I was involoved with a thread on this subject over here

It’s kind of lengthy but you’ll be able to get a lot of good information.


They won’t get this nor will they understand it, but a Catholic, who is in love and charity with God and his neighbor, and who is to the best of his knowledge in a state of grace, has every reasonable assurance that he will be among the blessed.

What we cannot have is absolute, unqualified, perfect assurance that nothing will ever change, that nothing we ever do might place us outside the grace of God. In order to love, we must have free will. God will never take our free will from us because without it we cannot love.

But it is not God who would condemn us, it is our own free will, in rejecting what we have been freely given and freely received from God that would condemn us.

I find it absolutely ridiculous when I hear someone say that if someone who claimed to be “saved” falls into sin, then he/she was never really saved to begin with. I am no scholar in logic and couldn’t name the fallacy involved, but I know a bad argument when I hear it. Besides, doesn’t the Bible tell us that all sin, and he who says that he has no sin is a liar? Do the OSAS crowd claim that after they accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior (alleluia to that) that they then never sin? If one sins then one needs to repent of the sin to be forgiven. “Repent and believe the Good News.” Repentance is not a one-time deaI and who would be so presumptuous as to say that it is not possible at some point in the future to sin and because of hardness of heart that develops through pride to be unable or unwilling to ask for forgiveness from God? (that would be the state of “sinning against the Holy Spirit”) I would point them to 1 Corinthians 4 to see what Paul has to say on the subject. I would also ask them this question: How are you different from that person who claimed to be saved and then fell into sin (thereby giving evidence that he was never saved to begin with)? Do you have more faith that you are saved than they did? They would have said the same as regards the next guy. The point is, we can all fall from a state of grace, of friendship with God, into sin. Those who claim otherwise more than anything else do not see the reality of life. Or rather when they see it, they claim they see something else and hold on to their own beliefs anyway: hence, the “they were never saved to begin with” argument. As for me, I will try to be like the repentant man who went into the temple and said, “O God, be merciful to me, a sinner” who went home justified as opposed to the proud man who did not. God grant that I may do that until my last breath!

Assurance of Salvation? - This should help.

Sometimes I wonder about how certain verses like “…work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12) appear to be overlooked by Protestants.

I think that what we really need to focus on is how big God is. He is so powerful and wonderful that if we have faith in him and rely on him, we can trust him to protect our souls on the route to heaven.

Amen Lief, amen… short but true :thumbsup:

It is impossible for one to know whether they will be saved or not upon death.

I may not know for certain where I am going, but I’m not worried. I love God and trust Him completely.

I don’t think God sends anyone to hell. I think they choose hell for themselves. I can’t imagine making that choice… so… :shrug:

How about just telling them that your going to Judgement.

If they ask if you know what the judgement will be you can erspond that you believe you do, but would not presume upon God’s Justice and mercy to declare it ahead of time.


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