I have been thinking about the issue of Sola fides and justification. My understanding is that Protestants and Catholics usually accept pretty much the same thing; We are first saved by faith in Christ and then we begin our journey of following Him. I know it is far more fully developed than this on both sides of the issue, but I think we all agree that first Christ cleanses us from our sins (For P’s this is being born again, for C’s this may be a conversion event of Grace from Baptism.) Then from here we change. For Catholics our sancitification continues until we are fully justified before God and fully made righteous. For protestansts, we grow in God and become more like Him by sanctification.
-I should not that my understanding is probably less complete for the Catholic church as I’m not fully catholic yet.-
The key in the debate of Justification is if it is the one momentary event or if it is the finished work at the end of sanctification. From what I’ve heard from different speakers is that sanctification comes after salvation as evidence of salvation. So my question is- how important is it? In my experience and understanding of protestant theology is that it is very good and important, but if you happened to die it would just all of the sudden finish. If you live 90 years or 90 seconds after being saved it doesn’t really matter. And all of the sanctification you recieved in life is a drop in the bucket compared to the finished work done right when you die. Protestant theologians seem adament to say that they don’t deny sanctification but that it shouldn’t be called justification.
From all of this does it not follow that sanctification is not especially important? Wouldn’t it seem to suggest that if I am very sanctified, by leaps and bounds compared to trickling in sanctification, it doesn’t really matter because we are all on the same plane as soon as we die?
I believe that for me it was a strong belief in the importance of sanctification that led to my acceptance of purgatory. If sanctification is important then shouldn’t purgatory be as well? Or we could say: We are not perfect now, we will be perfect in Heaven, therefore something happens that purges us. Therefore there is a purgatory. And why would we assume purging is pleasent or perhaps unnoticed? It isn’t in this life, would it be in the closer presence of Christ?