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!
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.
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!