Knowledge of One's Own Salvation


With how much certainty can one know one’s eternal destiny? I mean, can I know that I’m saved, or can I not know that, or something else?


You find out if you are saved only after you die.

Having said that, St. Paul had great confidence that he had competed well and would see Jesus.


We can be certain that we can be saved because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. We must however accept that salvation by living the way Jesus taught, if we choose to live without Jesus and in sin we can refuse the salvation Christ gives.

We can certainly have hope, but we should leave the final judgment to God. Here’s how St. Paul explains it:

1 Cor. 4:3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself. 4* I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. 5* Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then every man will receive his commendation from God.

Jimmy Akin talks about the past, present, and future dimensions of “being saved.”

This answer makes the most sense to me. To say that we have absolutely no idea whether we will go to heaven doesn’t seem right to me. But then, we cannot presume to know the future either.

St. Paul perceived salvation as having all three time dimensions: past, present, and future.

1. Past (Simple & Past Participle)

Even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Jesus from the dead. It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved.
Ephesians 2, 5

The apostle is referring to the reason for our salvation and its condition: removal from guilt and the remission of sin. It is when we are baptized that we initially receive the grace of justification and sanctification for our interior renewal. This grace had been merited for us by Christ in strict justice and not by any preceding merit of ours through natural works outside the system of grace. The ongoing and dynamic process of justification and sanctification begins here in our journey of faith. By the merits of Jesus Christ we are transformed interiorly from the state of being born a child of Adam into the state of being reborn in the Spirit. What happens here isn’t a single event in our life of faith which is now complete and finally assures our salvation.

2. Present (Simple & Progressive)

*For **we are the aroma of Christ ***to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.
2 Corinthians 2, 15

What St. Paul has in mind here is the ongoing process of being made holy and righteous as opposed to habitually living in the state of sin like those who are perishing through their own obstinacy. Our baptismal commitment marks the next life-long stage of our justification and sanctification. Here the person who already is in the state of grace may merit - by right of friendship, but not in strict justice - as a reward more grace and an increase in sanctification and charity as they grow towards a more perfect image of God in the conduct of their lives through the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Sanctification is the essence of justification. In order for us to be just before God we must be inherently holy and righteous. We couldn’t be the “aroma of Christ” unless our righteousness personally belonged to us by the infusion of divine grace into our souls. To be just in God’s sight is to be intrinsically holy by the power of the Spirit who dwells in our souls. Thus on the occasion of a mortal sin (i.e., the act of adultery or bearing false witness against our neighbour), we risk forfeiting the salvation Christ achieved for us, since our souls would no longer be in the state of sanctifying grace. For this reason we must repent of our post-baptismal sins to be restored to friendship with God. ‘Look to yourselves that you lose not the things which you have wrought: but that you receive a full reward’ (1 Jn 2:8).

3. Future

This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is past and the day is at hand. Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armour of light.
Romans 13, 11

St. Paul certainly didn’t believe that justification is a static, one-time event in the lives of Christians which happened in the past and was finally made complete. For him it was an on-going process which required human collaboration with the work of God and involved transformations of the soul. In his Letter to the Romans, the apostle is concerned that we continually apply the Gospel truths in our daily lives to ensure that we finally receive what we hope for. Apparently, some members of the Roman church had reverted back to their pre-baptismal sinful habits and behaved unworthily as disciples of Christ. So Paul is exhorting these lapsed members to conform once again to their renewed way of life and persevere in grace so long as it isn’t too late. Their particular judgment can arrive at any moment upon death, so it’s time for them to “wake up” and stop deceiving themselves so that they won’t lose the salvation they hope for. There was no need for any grave exhortation if the Roman Christians had already been assuredly saved upon their initial profession of faith when they were baptized and cleansed of their past sins. By putting on the armour of light was meant that they should persevere in grace so that they might walk in the light as He is in the light. Unless they did walk in the light of faith, the salvation which Christ formally gained for them in strict justice would not be applied to them instrumentally by any merit of theirs by right of friendship with God. We cannot merit additional grace for ourselves and grow in perfection while in the state of mortal sin.

But* if we walk in the light***, as he also is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin.
1 John 1, 7


Some of the greatest saints were fearful that they would not enter heaven, because they knew all the gifts and graces that had been given to them, and were afraid they had not used them worthily enough. They understood that each person is judged differently… a priest will be held to a different standard than a street beggar; a person who is entrusted with the care of many souls will be judged differently than a person who does not have such responsibilities.

We are all called to salvation, but we need sincere will and the desire to serve God: in prayer; serving his creatures for love of him; works of charity; offering him the merits of our daily efforts. Sin will separate us from God. It can come through inadvertence and ignorance, or it can be deliberate and habitual. Which will be punished more severely? “The Life of St. Gertrude” has a lot of nuggets of wisdom on this subject, and is worth the read.

We’re to always retain a level of humility in light of our human weaknesses and limitations. We can have an assurance based on trusting in Gods goodness together with observing fruits in our own lives, but a somewhat gaurd assurance nonetheless. Here are two relevant teachings from the council of Trent:

Chapter IX
Against the vain confidence of Heretics.
But, although it is necessary to believe that sins neither are remitted, nor ever were remitted save gratuitously by the mercy of God for Christ’s sake; yet is it not to be said, that sins are forgiven, or have been forgiven, to any one who boasts of his confidence and certainty of the remission of his sins, and rests on that alone; seeing that it may exist, yea does in our day exist, amongst heretics and schismatics; and with great vehemence is this vain confidence, and one alien from all godliness, preached up in opposition to the Catholic Church. But neither [Page 37] is this to be asserted,-that they who are truly justified must needs, without any doubting whatever, settle within themselves that they are justified, and that no one is absolved from sins and justified, but he that believes for certain that he is absolved and justified; and that absolution and justification are effected by this faith alone: as though whoso has not this belief, doubts of the promises of God, and of the efficacy of the death and resurrection of Christ. For even as no pious person ought to doubt of the mercy of God, of the merit of Christ, and of the virtue and efficacy of the sacraments, even so each one, when he regards himself, and his own weakness and indisposition, may have fear and apprehension touching his own grace; seeing that no one can know with a certainty of faith, which cannot be subject to error, that he has obtained the grace of God.

That a rash presumptuousness in the matter of Predestination is to be avoided.
No one, moreover, so long as he is in this mortal life, ought so far to presume as regards the secret mystery of divine predestination, as to determine for certain that he is assuredly in [Page 40] the number of the predestinate; as if it were true, that he that is justified, either cannot sin any more, or, if he do sin, that he ought to promise himself an assured repentance; for except by special revelation, it cannot be known whom God hath chosen unto Himself.

I’ve felt like God was telling me I am to go to Heaven in the end. Now I know for sure it could not have been His Voice–that I was right to assume He would not tell me that. I commit too many mortal sins to be assured of this, and furthermore even if I didn’t commit mortal sin so much, or even at all, I should not assume I’m going to Heaven without a special revelation revealing such to me.

Well, actually, maybe it was Him because I do pray prayers that supposedly have Jesus’ promises attached to them. Unfortunately, these not being a part of dogma or doctrine, there is no real way to know if these are real until death.

To constantly commit mortal sin is to willfully, persistently hate and turn away from God, basically, and you might want to reassess whether, from that perspective, this is really so or not. And remember that “Jesus died for us while we were yet sinners” (Rom 5:8), so intense is Gods love for us in spite of sin. He may well have been telling you you’re to go to heaven-we’re all a work of His-in progress.

You can objectively know that if you die in a state of grace you will be saved.
However, NOBODY except God knows in advance that they will be saved. That would be Protestant thinking.

Yes, you can know with absolute certainty that what Jesus said is True and he will do all that he promised and he will judge us in the way He said that He would.

Talking around the question is just confusing to the OP.
Its simpler to tell the OP that we do not know in advance if we will be saved or not.

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