On Salvation – yet another discussion on John 3:16

freedomwriter asked me a question regarding the necessity of church in relation to salvation.

So I said I will start a thread and reply to his question this way.

[quote=freedomwriter] I will go with Jn 3:16 as a starting point. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that WHOEVER believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life”. Jesus didn’t say anything about catholics or the church. He said whoever believes in Him. Now if you don’t have enough confidence in responding I will understand.

But what does believing in Christ mean?

If we limit believing in Christ to this one verse in the Bible (which so many misinterpret to mean mere intellectual assent to His person) is that really believing in Christ?

Christ said and did many more things in the gospels regarding salvation. Everything Christ said, did and willed is related to salvation because that is what He is about – salvation.

So let us take a look at some of the other things that our Lord said regarding salvation:

Matthew 7:21-23
21 "Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, **but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. **
22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’
23 Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.’

But what is the Father’s will? Well, we see that clearly in the Ten Commandments.

But what else has the Father willed? Is the church part of the Father’s will?

John 4:34
Jesus said to them, "My food is to do **the will of the one who sent me and to finish his work. **

So therefore, anything Jesus does is to complete the Father’s work and this work is our salvation.

Where does the church fit in all this?

Matthew 16: 13-19
13 When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi 9 he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
16 Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
17 Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
18 And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
19 I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

Christ says He will build a Church upon Peter. Since Christ is about completing the Father’s work of salvation, then clearly the Church is part of the manner in which God intended to effection salvation.

We see clearly in this text that Christ’s mission and identity is pronounced by Peter. Christ never said He is the messiah and the Son of God. Rather this proclamation was made by Peter. And according to Christ, Peter is only able to do so because the Father revealed it to him. So this is something the Father has clearly willed.

It is therefore evident that the Church is essential to salvation. God ccould have brought about our salvation any myriad of ways, but this the way that God CHOSE/WILLED to do it.

If we believe in Christ, we only do so because of the Church that He established.

So the Church IS HIS WILL. To say otherwise is to go against Christ’s and the Father’s expressed WILL.

“The gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.” I often wondered why the Lord said “gates.” I’ve never been able to visualize gates, the place of entry and exit, having to be opened and closed, being able to maneuver in order to prevail. I need a fresh way of looking at it in order to see it differently.
I’m of the opinion that believing in God’s Son, Jesus Christ, means trusting and hoping in Him. The Holy Spirit then enters the heart and guides the person into all truth. Fully trusting God will be a life of adventure and discovery with His mercy being demonstrated, sometimes minute after minute, continuously, as long as there is confession and repentance. He will place you in the body to function as the part He intended from before the foundation of the earth.
The Church is an integral part of that; the Communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, sharing in the unction of the Holy Spirit.

Hmmm… This just reminded me of a corresponding verse that I was participating on a thread about. Ephesians 5:25-26.

John 3:16 - For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. As your friend so rightly pointed out, Church is not mentioned here.

But let’s look at Ephesians to see just WHO Christ died for:***
Ephesians 5:25-26: Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her** to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word*,

I think the Church is clearly part of Christ’s intention - His mission in this World to create and then die for in order to consecrate Her.

Your friend makes the error of thinking that “believing in Christ” is limited only to that which is mentioned in verse 16, simply an intellectual assent that says “Yes, I believe John 3:16 is true, therefore I am saved.” The verse doesn’t say that though. The Bible is 2,000 pages long for a reason. Matthew 4:4 says we live by every word that proceeds from God.

That is exactly my point as well. The Gospel of John alone cannot be limited to one verse, nor can chapter three be condensed into this one verse. And that is just one book of the Bible as well.

“Bible Christians” it seems are not really about the Bible at all, because to be truly Bible Christians, then the entire Bible should be learned, not just those verses that suit a pre-determined theology.

[quote=freedomwriter]Again I said John 3:16 is a starting point on salvation. “Believes” - Whoever puts their faith and trust in Christ can assure themselves on salvation. Not like catholics who believe you must work your way to salvation.

*As a catholic cardinal put it, "church teaching is that I don’t know at any given moment what my eternal future will be. I can hope, pray, do my very best - but I still dont know. *

This is a misunderstanding of Catholic teaching. It is true that we need to co-operate with God’s grace. God will not save us against our will. That is why He gave us free-will. We are free to co-operate or reject His grace.

Also, St Paul says : Phil 2:12-14 So then, my beloved, obedient as you have always been, not only when I am present but all the more now when I am absent, work out your salvation with fear and trembling. For God is the one who, for his good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work. Do everything without grumbling or questioning, "

Also, Jesus said inMatthew 7:21 "**Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who DOES the will of my Father in heaven. **
DOING God’s will, involves WORK

Not sure what you are referring to here.

That is true. And the Catholic Church affirms this. But the question is HOW are we saved through Him. Is it just mere assent or do we have to do something other than say that we believe in Jesus?
Jesus Himself answered that in my quote from Matthew 7.

[quote=freedomwriter] I John 5:12-13 He who has the Son has LIFE; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things i have written to you who BELIEVE in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have ETERNAL life.

That is is true. But again, what does believing in Him mean? As I have show above Jesus Himself (not Paul) said that not everyone who calls Him Lord, Lord, will be saved but only the one who DOES the will of the Father. So therefore, DOING must go together with believing.

[quote=freedomwriter]To say that someone has to work their way to salvation again is contrary to God’s Word

Well then, refer to my quote from Philippians above.

[quote=freedomwriter]*In Matthew 16:18 If you read the whole context of this passage you will find that it is all about Jesus not Peter. Since Christ is referred to by Peter as “the cornerstone” of the church 1 Peter 2:7, doesn’t Christ alone occupy the place of prominence? *

Of course Christ is “the cornerstone” of the Church. But it is Christ Himself who changed Peter’s name to Rock and it is Christ Himself who said “You are Rock and upon this rock I will build my church” So the rock in Matthew 16:18 is Peter ACCORDING TO JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF.

[quote=freedomwriter] [FONT=Arial]Doesn’t it make sense to you tha since Christ himself built the church Matthew 16:18, purchase the church with his blood Acts

20:28, and is the head over the church Eph 5:23, that He Himself will protect the church? [/FONT]
Well of course it makes sense to me. But it seems not to make sense to you. That is why I said that the Catholic Church has been protected by Jesus Christ from day one because it is His Church. But thank you for making my point for me. :smiley:

No. The apostles need Christ and so Christ through the Holy Spirit, guided and continue to guide the Catholic Church, His Church. So again, thanks for making my point for me. :)I knew I would get you to agree with me somehow. :wink:

Yes, several. When Paul had to go to the apostles to verify whether to allow or not allow circumcision, was the first one to speak after Pentecost, was the one who moved for the filling of Judas’s office.

But you see in all these instances, Peter was following Christ. He wasn’t being pompous and lording it over the others but rather being servant because this is what Christ showed them at the last supper.

Well, sorry to disabuse you of that notion but he was because he was the only one whose name Jesus changed to Rock. He was the only to whom Jesus said You are Rock and upon this Rock I will build my Church, he was the only one who Jesus prayed for just before His death, and he was the one Jesus singled out after the ressurection telling him to feed his lambs, etc.

So could I.

Oh look, don’t treat me with kid gloves, I can handle it.

And I have given you ample scriptural support that it needs both.
And here’s another one:
James 2:24 See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.

As the Vicar of His Church chosen and appointed by Christ, Peter is pre-eminent:

All four promises to Peter alone:

“You are Peter and on this rock I will build My Church.” (Mt 16:18)

“The gates of hell will not prevail against it.”(Mt 16:18)

I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of heaven." ( Mt 16:19)

“Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven.” (Mt 16:19)

Sole authority:
“Strengthen your brethren.” (Lk 22:32)
“Feed My sheep.”(Jn 21:17).

The Church is “the pillar and bulwark of the truth (1 Tim 3:16).” St. Paul says also, “through the Church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places (Eph 3:10).” The Church teaches even the angels! This is with the authority of Christ!

Not any and every Christian community but Christ’s Church with seven sacraments, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and His teaching Vicar, the Pope. His Church which gave us the Bible.
Without Christ’s Church there is no salvation, since all salvation comes from Christ through His Church.

[quote=freedomwriter] Please provide scripture in Gods Word where Christ is protecting the catholic church.

But you’re the one who said: “ Doesn’t it make sense to you tha since Christ himself built the church Matthew 16:18, purchase the church with his blood Acts 20:28, and is the head over the church Eph 5:23, that He Himself will protect the church? “

What I did was merely agree with you. Since the Catholic Church is the Church that Christ built, then yes, of course you are right, Christ will protect His Church, the Catholic Church.

What ??? lol

Is that it? No rebuttal?

LoL In Acts 15 Peter was the one who spoke up but who was the last one to speak. It was James the leader of the Jerusalem Council.

Quite wrong. James was the Bishop of Jerusalem, but he was not the leader of the Council. Re-read Chapter 15 again. Peter makes the pronouncement not to impose circumcision on the gentiles. All James did was agree and second the motion. The revelation regarding the gentiles was given to Peter.

[quote=freedomwriter] Jesus gave this same authority to all the apostles not only Peter. Here Jesus was talking in terms of pastoral care, which all the apostles could do. Jesus did not give Peter supreme authority in this matter.

Yes, the other apostles were entrusted with the same pastoral care. But read that passage, Christ specifically SINGLES Peter out. He could have addressed everyone but no, Jesus addresses Peter. Just as he addressed Peter in Matthew 16:18, just as he addressed Peter in Luke 22:31-32 “Simon, Simon, behold Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed that your own faith may not fail; and once you have turned back, you must strengthen your brothers.”

Why not pray for all His apostles? On the eve of his death when he was agonizing in the garden He prays for who? For Peter.

Besides, saying that apostles share in this responsibility for pastoral care does not in any way diminish Peter’s primacy. He is first among equals.

[quote=freedomwriter] Now is this the same Peter that Jesus told to “Get behind me Satan”. Is this the one that you claim is the supreme authority over the church?

See, this is what I mean by chopping up verses and not getting the whole meaning. You really should extend your reading to entire chapters or at least entire passages so that you know what the particular verse means. Now why did Jesus say to Peter “Get behind me Satan? Wasn’t it because Peter did not want Him to suffer? In saying this Christ knew that it was the same temptation that was offered by Satan when Jesus went into the desert. He was being disuaded from fulfilling His mission.

Notice how this happens straight after He says to Him that Peter is the rock upon which He will build his church.

So here you see two influences: God the Father revealing to Peter the identity and mission of Jesus and the satan’s which echo the temptation in the desert.

Now Jesus knew Peter, and He knew that Peter will make this suggestion and yet He still promised to build His Church upon Peter. Notice that after Pentecost this fear of suffering for Christ left him and he was willingly martyred for Christ’s sake.

[quote=freedomwriter]In Philippians 2:12-14. You must read the whole context of this passage not just 1 verse. Here Paul is talking to believers. Those who had salvation through Christ. When He talks about “work out your own salvation”

Exactly! He was talking to believers and yet he still tells them to work out their salvation, and in fear and trembling to boot! If they are believers and are already saved by believing, why is he telling them to work out their salvation? Isn’t it rather superflous?

H was telling believers and the church to be more Christlike. To bring it to a completion. He was not talking about eternal salvation for each individual.

Well if he was not talking about eternal salvation for each individual what sort of salvation is he talking about? Is there another kind of salvation? And also, why should this working out one’s salvation be done in fear and trembling. What is there to be afraid of if one is already saved?

This church had many problems.

What has this church’s problems had to do with working out one’s salvation?

lso remember this is the same Paul who also wrote Eph 2:8-9

“For by GRACE you have been saved through FAITH and that not of yourselves it is the gift of God NOT of WORKS lest anyone should boast” hmmm same Paul.
So what is the meaning of Grace - Grace literally means “unmerited favor” Romans 5:1-11 tells us that God gives His grace to those who actually deserve the opposite - that is condemnation.

Exactly! How do you then reconcile the two since they seem to be in opposition?

The Catholic position on the other hand can reconcile them. Salvation is pure gift, unmerited.
But how does one attain to this pure gift? If our cooperation is not necessary then how come not everyone will be saved? If faith alone in Christ is necessary for salvation and if salvation is free, then don’t you think God is playing favourites? Not giving the gift to everyone?

So you see, protestant reading of verses puts them in a quite a quandary.

Salvation is like this: God pours out his saving grace like rain, free for everyone. But you need to step out there to get wet. You need to close your umbrella.

God has made the initiative but we need to respond to that initiative. I will pm you a post I made how free will, grace, faith and work all go work together towards salvation.

Romans 11:6 “if it is by grace it is no longer on the basis of works otherwise grace is no longer grace”

Eternal life according to Scripture cannot be earned. Verse after verse in Gods Word indicates eternal life is a free gift that comes as a result of believing in the Savior Jesus Christ. John 6:47, Romans 6:23

And it is indeed a free gift. That was never in question.

The Catholic position is we are saved by grace, by faith working in love. The protestant position is by faith alone. Of these two positions the Catholic position is the correct one as has been highlighted by the verses you have quoted above.

Hope this helps you in your study of Gods Word.

Actually it doesn’t since you are unable to give a proper exegesis of the verses you quoted and all you have managed to do is somehow say that St Paul is contradicting himself.

As for your other reply I will have to look at it again as it is so far off base. God Bless and have a great day in the Lord.

Peace and Joy of Christ be with you

Hello, also in that scripture you can see that when Jesus does come back for his church he is coming for the ones who took care of all those who were hungry, naked, in jail, sick, and have done form the least of his children they have done for him and the kingdom of God. Yes it is by our Faith but we need to do what Jesus told us to do to "Love one and other as we would Love ourselves, this to is important, this is a nice thread.:thumbsup:

freedomwriter, salvation is a gift but you must except it first and be washed in the blood of the lamb. You have faith and you renounce the devil and you walk the walk and then you can talk the talk. Jesus decipals walked a year before they were realy considered his decipals and he taught these men all he could that he felt they could take in, but not all did he teach, before they were baptized, because they needed to have it settle in their hearts and get the understanding throught the Holy Spirit of God then they could teach and preach it just dosent happen and you realy can loose your salvation it is not a sure thing like i usto think, nope it can be lost.


Cities in olden days were surrounded by walls and were essentially fortresses. The walls provided a very effective defense against invading armies but they also were an impediment to the movement of the city inhabitants. Therefore gates were installed in the walls to allow egress to and from the city or town. These gates were a weakness in the wall and because of this were more heavily fortified than other sections of the wall. Typically invading armies did not attempt to breach the walls of the city but rather attempted to besiege a city to starve it into surrender or attempted to attack one or more of its gates. But gates were more than a defensive structure. Since the gates enabled egress from the city they were also the means by which the besieged inhabitants could launch a counter attack on the invaders. So the term as used has both a defensive and offensive purpose and conveys the idea of military force. In fact some translations do translate it as “the forces of hell.” So the church is portrayed here as being engaged in a military struggle against hell in which it is attacking hell and subduing it. The church prevails over hell and not vice versa.

So therefore, anything Jesus does is to complete the Father’s work and this work is our salvation:?

OK I want to realy discuss this a little further so even i wiill get it. I was under the impression that when Jesus died on the cross that his work was completed and he did the Fathere’s work and it was finished. If it was not finished it is up to us to finish it, not Jesus he did his part and it is up to you, to do your part, like confessing your sins an walking the walk with fear and trembling. But i do believe the Fatheres work was finished with the death and resurection of Jesus. The author and finisher of my faith.

Where do you get that idea? If this was true, there would have been no need for the Pentecost, for instance.

The Holy Spirit is still doing the work of the Father. That’s why Jesus had to leave, so that the Holy Spirit would come.

In short, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit’s work is not finished until after the 2nd Coming (and the Final Judgement).

:rolleyes:Please, John:17:4 Isaiah :53 Thank you God Bless

I glorified you on earth by accomplishing the work that you gave me to do. Being that this was said prior to His Crucifixion, you can’t say that Jesus accomplished everything at the Cross.

BTW, what is the Isaiah quote?

As I understand it. The relationship between God and man was severed when Adam sinned. Jesus, the second Adam, restored that relationship by dying in atonement for the sin of the first Adam. So “It is finished” refers to the re-establishment of the relationship between God and man thru Jesus which enabled man to be saved. But it is not finished as far as our own personal salvation. Man still has free will and can either accept or reject that salvation.

I think that believing and obeying are not separate in the scriptures. We can see how they go together in John 3:36 -

“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains upon him.”

As you can see the opposite of believing is disobedience. Therefore believing implies obeying. Commonsense.

Also, check out this site -


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.