Greetings to the forum! Well, here’s another topic. It seems like the “one thing at a time approach” is working the best for me. All of the “weird” Catholic doctrines about Transubstantiation, the Immaculate Conception, Papal Infallibility and the like have been explained very well to me. The issue here for this post is Salvation. In my mind, Salvation is the key issue because what’s at stake is the everlasting condition of the human soul.
So, I have a few questions about this very important topic. First, though, I’ll outline my personal view of salvation:
We must confess with our mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead. In my mind, confessing that Jesus is Lord is not just saying the words, but rather literally accepting Him as Lord of our lives. As Jesus is the Lord of our lives, we should do what He commands. Additionally, we should do good out of a desire to please God and to see others saved as well. When we sin (as all people do), it hurts Christ and hurts our effectiveness for Him. However, it by itself does not somehow cut us off from our relationship with Him.
Of course, I’m already seeing problems with this view. Can someone who sincerely prays the above prayer, but then after a time, falls away and lives a completely sinful lifestyle really be considered saved? I’m starting to think the answer is no. However, I still struggle with the idea that one sin can move a person from a state of “if I die now I’ll to Heaven,” to “if I die now, I’ll go to Hell.” I don’t believe in eternal security, but it seems that losing one’s salvation would require not just a single act, but rather a complete change.
So, this brings up the subject of mortal sins and venial sins. According to my understanding of Catholic theology, if a person commits a mortal sin and then dies without first going to Confession (or at least *intending * to go to Confession), they will go to Hell. This will be true regardless of their previous life of service and good deeds. On the other hand, if a person commits a venial sin and then dies without first going to Confession, they’ll just have to spend a little extra time in Purgatory to have themselves be purified and cleansed so as to be fit for Heaven.
That being said, what is the difference between a mortal sin and a venial sin, and how can the one send us to Hell and the other not?
To continue on, I have read posts on this board that said a Catholic can never be certain of salvation. This is upsetting to me, though I think perhaps I misunderstand it. Does this mean that we can’t know our current state with God, or does this mean we can’t predict what we may do in the future? It just seems odd that a person could truthfully say, “I have accepted Christ’s sacrifice for my sin, I serve God with all my heart, I keep all the sacraments, I faithfully go to Mass, I care for the needy, I lead others to Christ, I have an earnest love for Christ,” and yet still not know where they would be spending eternity if they were to die immediately after saying that.
And then of course there’s the common Protestant view that Catholics think the sacrifice of Christ wasn’t quite enough to get us to Heaven, and we have to do a certain amount of good works to get us the rest of the way there. Well, I’m not saying this is what you believe, but could someone explain how works fit into salvation? Even a link to another post or site would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
Anyway, I thank you for your answers and especially for your patience! My time on this board has been extremely rewarding. May God richly bless you all!