For someone who Really understands Soteriology


#1

I have spent the past few days trying to piece together a more complete understanding of how justification and salvation actually works/happens. Here is what I have so far. I would like for you to please comment on it and clear up anything I have wrong, and to answer my questions at the end. Also, no offense whatsoever intended to anybody, but I would request that the first few responses only come from somebody who really knows what they are talking about. After that I don’t care! :slight_smile:

We are born in original sin, a state devoid of Grace. Upon baptism, we receive Sanctifying Grace. Throughought life, we continue to possess this SG unless we should mortally sin. If we do, we lose the SG. In such a case, we go to confession and have our SG restored.

Additionally, we must have faith. This faith is not merely a belief in Christ and His propitiation, but is a full mental act of faith, which consists of believing in Christ, His propitiation, and His words, instructions, and commandments. In other words, we must believe Him when He says that we must be baptized, or not murder for instance. Following these commands are necessary, and a full mental act of faith will result in this because A) we believe we must follow them, and B) our SG enables us to actually follow them. Therefore, if we are in a state of SG, we will be able to follow these commandments. On judgement day, we will be judged according to our deeds, if they be good or bad. If we are in a state of SG, we will be able to go to Heaven, because we will have been following the commandments and not mortally sinning. This SG enables us to resist mortal sin, and so to commit mortal sin requires the complete rejection of this SG.

Good works grow SG. Actual Graces also are necessary for every good work.

Some questions:

What is the relationship between the SG and the works? Two possibilities: 1) we are truly judged solely on our works. If we are in a state of SG, we will go to Heaven (or Purgatory), because by definition it means we will have had no unforgiven mortally bad works. However, it is not simply the fact that we are in this state that we are destined to Heaven. 2) It is in fact solely on our state that we are judged. If we are in SG, we go to Heaven, if not to Hell. We are judged on our works in the sense that our works determined which state we were in at the time of death.

Is there a distinction between works and good works and how does it impact justification and salvation? To my understanding, we must follow the 10 commandments and the words of Christ. Our SG through Christ enables this. The sense that the Bible tells us we must perform works is this: works in the sense of keeping the commandments, keeping Christ’s words, and in the sense such as that we may see a homeless man in need and thus need to help him. If we do not help him, we are sinning mortally and not following Christs words, and in this sense we are doing bad works. Must we also actually do GOOD works? Are we judged by our works insofar as that we are judged by what works we have done and if they are bad we are condemned, or insofar as that we must actually have specifically and unprompted good works. In other words, it’s clear that if we see a homeless man we must help. However, do we have to go out of our way and give to charities, and volunteer, and do things like that? Do these good works have bearing on our salvation, or merely on the degree of our Beatific reward? If they do have bearing on our salvation (in that if we have none we are not saved), how does it relate to SG?

What is the specific relationship between Grace, Faith, and Works?

Thank you very much and God Bless! :slight_smile:


#2

I don’t claim to be the expert that you are asking for, but I do have access to a Catechism…

“What is the relationship between the SG and the works?”

1999 The grace of Christ is the gratuitous gift that God makes to us of his own life, infused by the Holy Spirit into our soul to heal it of sin and to sanctify it. It is the ***sanctifying ***or *deifying grace * received in Baptism. It is in us the source of the work of sanctification:

Therefore if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself. **

2000** Sanctifying grace is an habitual gift, a stable and supernatural disposition that perfects the soul itself to enable it to live with God, to act by his love. Habitual grace, the permanent disposition to live and act in keeping with God’s call, is distinguished from actual graces which refer to God’s interventions, whether at the beginning of conversion or in the course of the work of sanctification.

-OK. So we see that SG enables us to do works pleasing to God. In fact, it seems to say that it is the source of these “pleasing works”. Actual Grace, however, is the direct intervention of God on a specific point (…say…to avert your eyes rather than look lustfully), to provide you the grace to cooperate with His will.

" Is there a distinction between works and good works and how does it impact justification and salvation?"

2007 With regard to God,** there is no strict right to any merit on the part of man. **Between God and us there is an immeasurable inequality, for we have received everything from him, our Creator.

**2008 **The merit of man before God in the Christian life arises from the fact that God has freely chosen to associate man with the work of his grace. The fatherly action of God is first on his own initiative, and then follows man’s free acting through his collaboration, so that the merit of good works is to be attributed in the first place to the grace of God, then to the faithful. Man’s merit, moreover, itself is due to God, for his good actions proceed in Christ, from the predispositions and assistance given by the Holy Spirit.

**2009 **Filial adoption, in making us partakers by grace in the divine nature, can bestow true merit on us as a result of God’s gratuitous justice. This is our right by grace, the full right of love, making us “co-heirs” with Christ and worthy of obtaining “the promised inheritance of eternal life.” The merits of our good works are gifts of the divine goodness. “Grace has gone before us; now we are given what is due. . . . Our merits are God’s gifts.”

**2010 **Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace, no one can merit the initial grace of forgiveness and justification, at the beginning of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life. Even temporal goods like health and friendship can be merited in accordance with God’s wisdom. These graces and goods are the object of Christian prayer. Prayer attends to the grace we need for meritorious actions.

2011 The charity of Christ is the source in us of all our merits before God. Grace, by uniting us to Christ in active love, ensures the supernatural quality of our acts and consequently their merit before God and before men. The saints have always had a lively awareness that their merits were pure grace.

After earth’s exile, I hope to go and enjoy you in the fatherland, but I do not want to lay up merits for heaven. I want to work for your love alone. . . . In the evening of this life, I shall appear before you with empty hands, for I do not ask you, Lord, to count my works. All our justice is blemished in your eyes. I wish, then, to be clothed in your own *justice *and to receive from your love the eternal possession of yourself

  • So Merit (works) do entitle us to some things, but no one (except Christ) has a strict right to anything from God. On the basis of our Faith, completed by works, we will be judged; said another way, we will be judged based on our Faith, worked out through Love.

#3

“Are we judged by our works insofar as that we are judged by what works we have done and if they are bad we are condemned, or insofar as that we must actually have specifically and unprompted good works. In other words, it’s clear that if we see a homeless man we must help. However, do we have to go out of our way and give to charities, and volunteer, and do things like that? Do these good works have bearing on our salvation, or merely on the degree of our Beatific reward? If they do have bearing on our salvation (in that if we have none we are not saved), how does it relate to SG?”

  • Very tough questions!

2013 “All Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of charity.” All are called to holiness: “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

In order to reach this perfection the faithful should use the strength dealt out to them by Christ’s gift, so that . . . doing the will of the Father in everything, they may wholeheartedly devote themselves to the glory of God and to the service of their neighbor. Thus the holiness of the People of God will grow in fruitful abundance, as is clearly shown in the history of the Church through the lives of so many saints.
…**
2016** The children of our holy mother the Church rightly hope for the grace of final perseverance and the recompense of God their Father for the good works accomplished with his grace in communion with Jesus.70 Keeping the same rule of life, believers share the “blessed hope” of those whom the divine mercy gathers into the “holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”

Judgement:

678 Following in the steps of the prophets and John the Baptist, Jesus announced the judgment of the Last Day in his preaching. Then will the conduct of each one and the secrets of hearts be brought to light. Then will the culpable unbelief that counted the offer of God’s grace as nothing be condemned. Our attitude to our neighbor will disclose acceptance or refusal of grace and divine love. On the Last Day Jesus will say: “Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.”

679 Christ is Lord of eternal life. Full right to pass definitive judgment on the works and hearts of men belongs to him as redeemer of the world. He “acquired” this right by his cross. The Father has given “all judgment to the Son”. Yet the Son did not come to judge, but to save and to give the life he has in himself. By rejecting grace in this life, one already judges oneself, receives according to one’s works, and can even condemn oneself for all eternity by rejecting the Spirit of love.

If you have no works, your faith is dead, and you will suffer damnation. If you have cooperated with God’s grace, you will be found worthy based on the works of Christ completed within you. Peter Kreeft (who I highly recommend for you and who’s free audio I have linked), made the statement (slightly paraphrased) as follows:

“The reason we are not already saints is easy: we do not wholly want to be. This is at once terrifying and inspiring. But I do not think we truly believe this; indeed, if we did, how could we live being anything less?”

If you gave Christ 100% of yourself 100% of the time with 100% of your heart, you would be a saint and would not need to fear judgement. Why don’t you? Because you do not wholly want to be.

Praying for the desire to be a saint,
RyanL


#4

As to the distinction between works and good works: St Paul in his writings, when discussing these in the negative sense is referring to two different things that are performed for the same erroneous end. Whe he talks about “works” in this sense, he is talking about “good deeds” --acts of charity or service–done for the sake of trying to put God under our obligation, which is impossible–God does not owe us anything, no matter what we do.

In discussing “works of the law,” on the other hand, Paul is referring to the 613 precepts of the law that certain Jews in his time were depending upon to be saved, again with the erroneous end to put God under obligation. It was a major issue in his time (less so to us) which is why it comes up so often in his writings.

Paul also talks about good works in the positive sense. As noted in the posts above, we are expected (in fact compelled by grace) to act in obedience to persevere in good works–the “obedience of faith” mentioned in Romans 1 and 16. This is evident in Jesus’ words about the sheep and the goats and by Paul in such passages as Romans 2:6-11. These works are not to work our way to heaven, trying to put God in our debt, but done out of love (1 Corinthians 13ff) and obedience. Our faith is incomplete without them, even dead (James 2:24)

Protestants, of course, often make the mistake of grouping both these kinds of works which leads them to a blanket condemnation of works in general.


#5

Let’s say a man is baptized, then goes his entire life without once seeing anybody in need or without once presented with an oppurtunity to help someone. This man doesn’t go out of his way to find any good works to do, but he never once turns down the chance to do them. On judgement day, is he saved?

(To clarify my questions, as far as this is thread is concerned I’m trying to figure out how the engine works; I already know how to drive the car. :slight_smile: I’ve been searching for days for a website or an article or an audio file which explains the nuts and bolts of this. I can only find apologetics stuff [sola fide is false because of James 2:24, blah blah etc. lol] and very basic overviews. I even read the Council of Trent which doesn’t seem to answer my questions.)


#6

Dear Fidelis,

quote:** Fidelis**
In discussing “works of the law,” on the other hand, Paul is referring to the 613 precepts of the law that certain Jews in his time were depending upon to be saved, again with the erroneous end to put God under obligation. It was a major issue in his time (less so to us) which is why it comes up so often in his writings.

An accurate reflection of Paul’s version of the Mosaic Law,
which is a total caricature of same, IMHO.

The 613 precepts of the Law continue to exist, right here in 2005.
Many of them deal with Temple service, and so are in
abeyance until the Third Temple is built, by Messiah.

As far as "…with the erroneous end to put God under
obligation…"
In fact, it is a reliance on the trustworthiness of God to
keep the promises in the Covenant.

There is a difference.

Best,
reen12


#7

Reen,

I’ve seen the various posts you’ve made about your beliefs and all that. First of all since I’ve never addressed you personally, thanks for helping out. Second, don’t feel prothylethized (sp?); I’m only saying this because you made me think of something very specific with what you said. I offer this to you: ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/seriessearchprog.asp?seriesID=-306548622&T1= It’s a series which almost exclusively covers the Old Testament. It is actually quite amazing in the way it presents the OT and helped me to understand it in ways I never did before. Jesus said that He came not to abolish the law but to fulfill it, and as a Christian I take this to mean not only the moral law but also God’s own faithfulness in the Covenants of the OT. I wouldn’t say it’s the main point of the series, and its certainly not exhaustive, but it begins to explain how what we like to call the New Covenant is not in any way an abolishment of the Old Covenant but a fulfillment (almost “keeping of”) it. Like I said, even for insights into the Old Testament this series is amazing, so you might like it for that too.

God Bless! :slight_smile:


#8

Dear Lazerlike42,

quote: Lazerlike42

I’ve seen the various posts you’ve made about your beliefs and all that. First of all since I’ve never addressed you personally, thanks for helping out. Second, don’t feel prothylethized (sp?); I’m only saying this because you made me think of something very specific with what you said. I offer this to you: ewtn.com/vondemand/audio…=-306548622&T1= It’s a series which almost exclusively covers the Old Testament. It is actually quite amazing in the way it presents the OT and helped me to understand it in ways I never did before.

Thanks very much. I’ll click on the link and see what
the series offers.

BTW, Lazerlike42, I tend to respond to posts where I
think there is an incorrect understanding of the reality
of OT thought. I try to give links to sites that have a
more fulsome appreciation of an OT topic.

I’ll definitely look at the link you’ve provided.
A Father Keeps His Promises.]

Thanks for your kindness,:tiphat:

reen12


#9

[quote=reen12]Dear Lazerlike42,

quote: Lazerlike42

Thanks very much. I’ll click on the link and see what
the series offers.

BTW, Lazerlike42, I tend to respond to posts where I
think there is an incorrect understanding of the reality
of OT thought. I try to give links to sites that have a
more fulsome appreciation of an OT topic.

I’ll definitely look at the link you’ve provided.
A Father Keeps His Promises.]

Thanks for your kindness,:tiphat:

reen12
[/quote]

The first episode is somewhat of an introuction, but it’s interesting in some ways. The first one is the most Christian because the second half is an introduction that tries to explain Who/What God is, and it describes Him in a very Trinitarian way. The good stuff really starts with the second one (Genesis) and the second (Exodus), which are both near the top of my list of all of them.


#10

Hi, Lazerlike42,

I was going to listen to episode #4, but maybe I’ll
listen to the episodes on Genesis and Exodus, first,
since you think highly of them.

Thanks,
reen12


#11

Episode 4 is on on the Exodus! :slight_smile:


#12

You could try reading the Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, by Ludwig Ott. Catholic Answers used to carry this book, so I think you could order it from them. It has discussion on good works, merit, justification, etc. in the middle of the book.

You have not mentioned the grace of Final Perseverance in detail.

Following these commands are necessary, and a full mental act of faith will result in this because A) we believe we must follow them, and B) our SG enables us to actually follow them

I would like to clarify that a person without SG can indeed do an act in conformity with the 10 commandments. Not everything is a sin before you have SG.

Is there a distinction between works and good works and how does it impact justification and salvation?

I don’t think this is what you are aiming for, but there are good deeds done by someone without SG and then there are good deeds done by someone with SG. The second has different possibilities of merit than the first.

It might help if you considered that SG can increase. There is not just some one amount of it, exactly. There can be more of it or less of it. The person who, while in it, has done good works will have more of it. This is separate from (only) having a bigger halo in heaven.

Concerning your scenario of the person who never actively does a bad work (nor an omission!), but doesn’t get the opportunity to do much of anything before dying, I offer Trent:

For God does not forsake those who having been once justified by His grace, unless He be first forsaken by them. Sixth session chapter 11

.

However, even if they fall dead almost right after baptism, they still have faith, hope, and most pointedly, *charity in their hearts.

*Also, being in a state of sanctifying grace isn’t just some, I don’t know…thing. We have a share in divine life, the HS dwells with us, we are adopted sons, we are grafted into the Vine (Christ), things of this nature. The lack of having of an opportunity to do much of anything before one is struck dead doesn’t change these things. The HS doesn’t say, “Oh, he’s about to be struck dead, but he hasn’t done anything yet, so I’ll depart now, before he dies.”


#13

IJust want to keep this alive I’m still looking for more and deeper answers :slight_smile:


#14

[quote=Lazerlike42]Let’s say a man is baptized, then goes his entire life without once seeing anybody in need or without once presented with an oppurtunity to help someone. This man doesn’t go out of his way to find any good works to do, but he never once turns down the chance to do them. On judgement day, is he saved?
[/quote]

In this entirely hypothetical situation, one that probably would never happen unless the person is alone on a desert island or other similar circumstance,( :)) I would say possibly. As it is, we are confronted with opportunities to do works constantly, either in out daily lives by direct contact with these needs, or by becoming aware of opportunities through others (directly or through some medium).

(To clarify my questions, as far as this is thread is concerned I’m trying to figure out how the engine works; I already know how to drive the car. :slight_smile: I’ve been searching for days for a website or an article or an audio file which explains the nuts and bolts of this. I can only find apologetics stuff [sola fide is false because of James 2:24, blah blah etc. lol] and very basic overviews. I even read the Council of Trent which doesn’t seem to answer my questions.)

I would recommend two books to you, both by the same writer. The first is “How Can I Get To Heaven?” and the second is a much larger and exhaustive version of the first “Not By Faith Alone.” Both books are by Robert Sungenis, who I know has some controversial ideas about geocentrism and so-forth, but these particular books are acknowledged by almost everyone conversant in this topic, as a must-have resource.


#15

[quote=reen12]Dear Fidelis,
An accurate reflection of Paul’s version of the Mosaic Law,
which is a total caricature of same, IMHO.
[/quote]

To refer to Paul’s description of the Mosaic law as he knew it at the time he wrote as “a cariacture” is to presume that either we know more about those times than he did, that he is purposely distorting the facts for partisan purposes (i.e. lying), or that he is ignorant on the entire topic. Any of those presumptions is, IMHO, unacceptable.

As far as "…with the erroneous end to put God under
obligation…"
In fact, it is a reliance on the trustworthiness of God to
keep the promises in the Covenant. There is a difference.

In fact, it could be either, depending on internal attitude of the person in question. Apparently, Paul is speaking about his own experience and those whom he was associated with. This is no reflection on Judaism as a whole, but is the milieu from which the New Testament was formed and is the context from which he is speaking, and should be understood and respected as such.

Peace,
Fidelis


#16

[quote=Fidelis]I"Not By Faith Alone." Both books are by Robert Sungenis,
[/quote]

This is a lovely resource if discussing with a Protestant. I don’t recall that it addresses the topic of doing good that is required v. doing good that is optional or beyond the call of duty. Do you know if it does? I’d like to read that portion if it does, give a page number, I own the book! :yup:

Lazarlike42, is that part of what is bothering you, good that is required v. good that is above the call of duty or optional?


#17

Lazer,

I offer this link therealpresence.org/archives/Grace.htm to an excellent exposition on grace by Fr. john Hardon. You may have already come across it in your internet searches. I found it helpful in trying to understand the different, and somewhat technical, uses of the word “grace”, “works”, etc.

I admire your desire to think this all through. I am right there with you brother! I too am trying to get a better grasp on this subject.

God Bless,
VC


#18

Hi, Fidelis,

All I can tell you is that Paul, himself, was a Pharisee,
and sat at the feet of Gamaiel, one of the foremost
rabbinic sages of his day. Surely, he* knew* what the
Mosiac Law was [and still is],the reason for the Law, and
the loving relationship it created between Israel and Israel’s
God.

quote: Fidelis

To refer to Paul’s description of the Mosaic law as he knew it at the time he wrote as “a cariacture” is to presume that either we know more about those times than he did, that he is purposely distorting the facts for partisan purposes (i.e. lying), or that he is ignorant on the entire topic. Any of those presumptions is, IMHO, unacceptable.

So, what am I saying? That Saul proposes to
convey the “meaning” of the Law, without understanding it?
Highly unlikely.

That we, in modern times, cannot know what the
Mosaic Law was, 2000 years ago?
That we cannot access Judaic sources, from the time?
Scholarship?
I don’t think so.

That, somehow, the “understanding” of the Mosaic Law of Saul’s day *differs *from the Mosaic Law, as it is still followed today?
How would Roman Catholics respond to the concept
that Church teaching today differs from the teaching,
2000 years ago?

No, Paul used the Mosaic Law to support a theological
position that was wholly new…and presented it in a way
that would be unrecognizable to a modern day follower
of the Mosaic Law…or to his former co-religionists.

That he learned from Gamaiel, and then went on, years later,
to depict the Jews as groaning under the weight of a Law
which they could not fulfill perfectly…and that the Law
constituted a propaedeutic function, in terms of God’s
plan of salvation?

I not only find that “view” unacceptable, I find it a
caricature.

The only way Saul’s theology could cohere, was to
give us all his unique view of the Law, and then employ
this* view* to introduce a concept- again, wholly new-
of Original Sin, and a transmorgrification of the Judaic
concept of Messiah.

In my view, Luther used the same approach:

He was superbly trained in Catholic theology and Scripture.
Yet, he went on to claim that he knew the real way to
interpret Scripture i.e., definitions of sola fide, sola gratia, etc.

No wonder Luther relied on the letters of Saul, for his
own unique view of things.

What’s called “heretical” by the Church…i.e. departing
from 1500 years of doctrine and understanding, is
called “inspired”, when Saul claims to* really* understand
the “meaning” of the Mosaic Law?

Best,
reen12


#19

[quote=Lazerlike42]Let’s say a man is baptized, then goes his entire life without once seeing anybody in need or without once presented with an oppurtunity to help someone. This man doesn’t go out of his way to find any good works to do, but he never once turns down the chance to do them.
[/quote]

I’m not scholar or expert, but I can see that that scenario is not going to happen. Why? Because God made us for that very purpose.

Ephesians 2:8-10 “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and thisis not your own doing; it is the gift of God – not because of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

We see then, that works are nthe necessary outworking of grace. In verses 8 and 9, St. Paul is stressing the causal primacy of grace producing faith and works and the mere futility of mear human works not preceded by grace. In verse 10 he theaches that good works ordained by God, and always preceeded by His grace, are equally part of salvation and justification. On the whole, then, salvation is both by faith and by works.

The scripture tells us that “Faith without works is dead” and
"Your see that man is justified by works and not by faith alone."

Yours in Christ.


#20

[quote=Lazerlike42]On judgement day, we will be judged according to our deeds, if they be good or bad.
[/quote]

There are sins of commission and sins of omission. Murder is a sin of commission. Sloth is a sin of omission. Both can bring about eternal damnation. No one is guaranteed salvation merely because they avoided sins of commission. Consider the story of the rich man and Lazarus. The sin of the rich man wasn’t that he abused Lazarus – the rich man’s sin was that he was indifferent to the suffering of Lazarus. His was a sin of omission because he failed to help Lazarus when he had the opportunity to help.

if we are in a state of SG, we will be able to follow these commandments

The commandments that we must obey are not merely the proscriptive commandments (thou shalt not commit …), but also the prescriptive commandments of the two great commandments of love. We must love as Jesus loved, and that kind of supernatural love is not possible without supernatural gift of sanctifying grace.

I have spent the past few days trying to piece together a more complete understanding of how justification and salvation actually works/happens.

This is a great mystery, of course. “Faith alone” Protestants, by and large, erroneously believe that justification can somehow exist distinct from sanctification. This is utter nonsense. We are both justified and sanctified because we share in the divine life of God (sharing in the divine life of God is the definition of sanctifying grace). Trying to separate justification from sanctification is like trying to take the “Holy” out of the Holy Spirit.


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