John 3:16

John 3:16 is somewhat of a battle cry of some Evangelical Protestants in regard to the belief of once-saved, always-saved by basically professing a belief and acceptance of the Lord JesusChrist as savior. I do believe this is an important step and certainly not to be taken lightly. However, as Catholics we also believe beyond this: your actions throughout life have bearing on condemnation to hell if you die with unconfessed mortal sin or to a period of time in purgatory if one dies with venial sin on the soul. Are there some good scriptures to cite in the defense of the Catholic position that salvation is dependant on more than just those statements held in jJohn 3:16-21? Of course, it goes without saying that all scripture must be taken in light of its context, rather than an individual verse and should also be verifiable elswhere is the Gospels.

Thanks for any input.

Just keep reading a few verses farther in that same chapter of John.

John 3:36 He who believes in the Son has eternal life; he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests upon him.

There are many, many others.
All of Matthew 25 (3 parables: Ten Virgins, Talents, Last Judgement)

I would advise you to just sit down with paper and pen handy and read Matthew’s gospel through to the end (you can jumpstart a little by beginning with Chapter 5 - the sermon on the mount). Make note of all the instances where Jesus makes it plain that what we “do” influences where we spend eternity.

Here’s one from St. Paul:
Gal 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissensionk party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you (Galatian Christians) as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Also see 1 Cor 6:9-10; Eph 5:5; 2 Thess 1:8-9; Rev 21:27; Rev 22:15

If I’m correct, Jesus does not even speak of our Judgment without including what we do for our brothers and sisters in the process.

You simply have to read the parable of the sheep and the goats to get this picture loud and clear!

:thumbsup: And faith is not even mentioned in that Matthew 25 parable!


I like how you made sure to mention that it is not to be taken lightly and is an important step, because unfortunately Catholics can be too defensive and come back with a too rigid approach to salvation that makes us look as if we can have no assurance whatsoever about eternal life. Of course we need to approach God as being unworthy and that our fate is totally in His hands regardless of our merits, but God is our Father and He truly wants us to be with Him forever and He extends His wonderful grace above and beyond what we deserve. He also has given us the Sacraments which are ways to get us to Heaven through the shed blood of Jesus, and to go to Hell is something that we freely choose to do and we have to either reject Him and His gifts or to neglect Him and his promises in such a way that we actually deserve to go to Hell. God is not fickle by leaving us hanging on a thread in order for us to assume that we could love God and follow Him with all our hearts and then at the end we find that our efforts were in vain and we still end up in Hell; by no means!

I think that is the message that we need to share with our Protestant brothers and sisters because I think that Catholics can get just as extremely wrong just like the “once saved always saved” folks by taking the extreme opposite position. There is a fine balance and Scripture and the Church makes that clear.

Real bibles don’t say “should not perish”.

See what happens when you change the bible to fit your own heretical theology?

Ahhhhh, but we know its still important! Or else we allow the Faith vs. Works pendulum to swing way to far in the other direction, right?

On second thought, maybe a weigh scale would be a better analogy than a pendulum.

As others are doing a pretty good job of answering your question I thought I would mention something else.

John 3:16 is definitely not a verse that the Catholic Church has any problems with at all. It is used (or at least can optionally be used) quite a bit in the Mass:

John 3:13-17
Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (September 14th) Gospel

                             **John       3:14-21**
                 4th       Sunday of Lent Year B Gospel
                     **John       3:16-21**
                 Wednesday 2nd Week of       Easter Gospel
   Ritual       Mass for the Conferral of Christian Initiation Gospel (10th       Option)

                             **John       3:16-18**
                 Solemnity       of the Most Holy Trinity Year A Gospel

                             **John 3:16**
                 5th Day in the Octave of       Christmas (December 29th) Entrance Antiphon
   Thursday Before Epiphany Communion       Antiphon
   Thursday After Epiphany Communion       Antiphon
   Friday 2nd Week of Lent       Verse Before the Gospel
   3rd Sunday of Lent Year B       Verse Before the Gospel
   Thursday 4th Week of Lent       Verse Before the Gospel
   Wednesday 2nd Week of       Easter Alleluia Verse
   Saturday 3rd Week in       Ordinary Time Alleluia Verse
   6th Week in Ordinary Time       Communion Antiphon (2nd Option)
   9th Sunday in Ordinary       Time Year C Alleluia Verse
   Monday 24th Week in       Ordinary Time Alleluia Verse
   31st Sunday in Ordinary       Time Year C Alleluia Verse
   Ritual Mass for the Conferral of       Christian Initiation Alleluia Verse (2nd Option)
   Mass for Various Needs and       Occasions: For the Evangelization of Peoples Alleluia Verse (3rd       Option)
   Mass for       the Dead Alleluia Verse (3rd Option)

The Use of Scripture in the Roman Rite of the Mass

God bless,


Douay Rheims

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world as to give His only begotten son; that whosoever believeth in Him, MAY not perish but MAY have life everlasting.”

There’s a big difference between MAY and SHALL.

Absolutely. Else why would we consider it imperative to be obedient to His instructions.

Thanks for the helpful responses and scriptural citings.

Great points COPLAND. I very much agree with you here.

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