Salvation


#1

Hello everyone,

I am a Protestant looking for some clarity in the Catholic belief of salvation.

First, I’m curious to know if all Catholics believe that Christians can not be certain of his their salvation through Jesus Christ’s atonement sacrafice? Or, do some Catholics believe they can be certain of their salvation?

For those who believe that salvation is not certain, how do Catholics interpret the verse Romans 10: 8 - 11
"But what does it say? "The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,“that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, ‘Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.’”

Thank you! :cool:


#2

Hello Craisin! Welcome! :wave: Love the screen name! :slight_smile:

Catholic Answers Library might be a good place for you to start. They have several tracts on Salvation which specifically address many of the questions Protestants typically have about Catholic beliefs.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC, for short) is also a good place to go to for the explanation of Catholic teaching. Here’s a link to salvation in the index of the CCC. From there, you can find the relevant parts of the Catechism.

To answer your questions, I don’t know what all Catholics believe, only what the Catholic Church teaches. :slight_smile: The Church does not teach the certainty of salvation mainly because we always have free will. Even if we make the choice for God and accept his gift of salvation, there remains the possibility that, at some point in the future, we might reject that gift. We don’t want to be presumptuous about the fate of our soul.

Thus, the Church will typically speak in terms of “hope” for our salvation, rather than in terms of “absolute certainty”.

As for the Romans verse, that is absolutely true. If we confess with our lips and believe in our hearts that Jesus is Lord, we will be saved. But, just because we may do so initially is no guarantee that we will continue to do so for the rest of our lives.

Hope this is helpful, at least to get you started! :slight_smile: I’m sure you’ll receive many, many more replies!


#3

To confess with our lips and believe in hearts means we not only acknowledge that Jesus is Lord and Saviour, but it also means that we will do the Will of God. It is by doing/following the Will of God that we are saved. Salvation is a gift which can refuse, refusing means Not to do His Will (best as we can anyway)…:twocents: on my limited knowledge of salvation.


#4

Hi Craisin! What denomination do you belong to? Are you Calvinist or Arminian?

Catholics believe that they can have a moral assurance, but not an absolute assurance. You also have passages in the Bible that state:

Romans 11:20-22

20Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith Do not be conceited, but fear;
21for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either.
22Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off

Galatians 5:1-3

1It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.
2Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you.
3And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law.
4You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.

John 15:2-6

2"Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.
3"You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.
4"Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.
5"I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.
6"If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.

God bless,
Michael


#5

Craisin,

Do you think this person will assuredly be saved? I’m sure at one point he believed with all his heart that he would be saved (was saved).

Do you deny that a person can “backslide” (to use a common Protestant term)?

Why is this question even important to you (maybe not you, but so many Protestants)? We Catholics believe in the promises of God, that if we do not reject him, he will never reject us. Why isn’t that enough? Why must you also believe that God will never let you reject him, especially in light of the scriptures that say otherwise, and of human experience?


#6

Hello all again,

I will clarify my current position on the issue and denomination. As for my denomination: well, I was brought up in my faith in an Evangelical Free church which taught that we can be sure of our salvation as long as we “believe in our hearts and profess with our mouths.” HOWEVER, I was taught we could still lose our salvation if we stop believing in our hearts that Jesus was Lord and was risen from the dead. Currently, I am attending an Anglican church which I believe teaches the same thing on salvation. I am also dating a devout Catholic, however, who does not believe this. You could say I am in the process of seeking the Lord for a refinement of my Christian beliefs grounded in faith.

Could you please also limit your answers to what the Catholics believe or teach? I am already questioning myself and various “Protestant” beliefs (which vary anyways), so I would rather hear feedback mainly about Catholic beliefs and teaching on salvation. It would help clarify what I am trying to understand about the Catholic faith. Thank you for your understanding! :wink:


#7

Hi Craisin and welcome to CAF,

“All” Catholics who are faithful to the Church’s teaching believe they cannot be certain of their salvation while still alive on earth. The reason is that we do no know with certainty what we might choose to do (even believe) in the future. (See for eg the Parable of the Seed in Mt 13.) We might choose to sin seriously, continue it, and die without repenting. As St. Paul warned the “believing” Christians in Galatia and Ephesus:
*Gal 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, 5:20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, 5:21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. * (cf Gal 5:5-6)

For those who believe that salvation is not certain, how do Catholics interpret the verse Romans 10: 8 - 11
"But what does it say? "The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,“that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, ‘Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.’”

Thank you! :cool:

To believe and confess that Jesus is Lord (God) means to believe everything He said is true. It’s impossible to read through the four Gospels, accepting every word Jesus says as absolute truth, and think that all we have to do is agree intellectually that He is God and say it out loud.

Regarding the Romans quote you give, it is the same St. Paul speaking there who also speaks in the passage from Galatians that I cited. Catholic teaching believes that Scripture passages need to be interpreted in such a way that there is no contradiction between them. If they seem contradictory at first, it is do to our faulty understanding of the proper meaning.

God bless,
Nita

Edit note: Your last post came in while I was preparing mine!! Tried to edit so it conforms better to what you’re seeking. Editing time is limited tho.


#8

Always feel rushed when I’m editing. Decided to continue by opening another post.

Catholics believe that obedience is an integral part of faith. A couple of Scripture quotes that express this relationship between faith and obedience:
Romans 1:5 …we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of **faith **

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.

Hence, the need to obey in all things - not only in what we think and say, but also in what we do.

Nita


#9

Joe5859 has really given the best advise. To learn what the Catholic church teaches on salvation, check the CCC. As a matter of fact, I would suggest checking the CCC anytime you have a question regarding the catholic faith. That way you don’t accidentally get error from a well intentioned, but incorrect source. As for individual catholics, who knows. They could be confused, in error or poorly catechized.

Peace
James


#10

Is there a discrepancy between what you believe on this topic, and what you understand the Catholic Church to teach on the topic?


#11

I think the discrepancy would be while I was taught that we can be assured of salvation as long as we don’t abandon our full faith in God, while I have come to understand the Catholic Church to believe that one can never be assured of their salvation, even if they do presently have full faith in God.


#12

It may be helpful to understand also that Catholics do not believe in justification by faith alone, but by faith and works.

For me, it helps to look at the parable of the sheep and goats in Matthew 25:31-46. Both those at his right and those at this left had faith in God (or else how would those on his left think they were assured of salvation?). But it was only those whose faith led them to good works in the name of God who were saved. Those who had faith but chose to ignore their brothers and sisters lost their salvation even though they still had faith.

It’s a tough concept, especially in light of all you have been taught over the years. Give it some time, read and keep asking those great questions - but keep an open mind for the answers. I will pray with you that God leads you to understanding.


#13

I refer you to this right here at CAF as it does a good job of summarizing. Be sure to read the referenced Scripture as you read this.

catholic.com/library/Assurance_of_Salvation.asp

Because I think some of the confusion is that Catholics and non-Catholics use different words to mean the same thing and the same words to mean different things. It creates so much misunderstanding.

Catholics can be assured in the confident hope and trust in Divine Mercy so long as they not only “have faith” but put it into practice (not works) by keeping their souls pure from Mortal sin or gaining absolution from such sin.

The reason that Catholics are very hesitant to speak with the assurance common in the non-Catholic evangelical communities is that we fear the sin of presumption whereby we make a judgment that is exclusively that of God. Jesus is the Judge and He has the full power to give or deny Salvation by any criteria He chooses.


#14

That’s interesting. In the first part you talk about full faith in God which extends to death (“don’t abandon”), while in the second part you talk only about present full faith in God. So you are not comparing the same things here at all. In fact, one who truly maintains full faith in God (with all that entails) until death is definitely assured salvation according to the Church.


#15

That’s very interesting. That helps clarify a bit more.


#16

That’s also interesting. So the Catholic Church teaches that when a person dies with full faith, they will be assured salvation? However, one does not want to be presumptuous by saying that a person is assured salvation because only God can judge who is and who is not saved.

I’m not sure what the process is for someone being titled as a Saint, but wouldn’t it similarly be presumptuous to title a particular person a Saint if you are not really sure how God has judged them?


#17

Yes, I think you’re grasping it. The Church can say with assurance what a generic person must do to be assured salvation, but no person can ever claim certainty of themselves that they will persevere. And yet having said that, I think I’m a fairly typical Catholic in saying I can’t imagine any possible way that I wouldn’t want to persevere. So while I recognize that I cannot see into the future, I feel quite at peace and not anxious about the final outcome. I must simply run the race, knowing full well that God will make available every grace necessary for my ultimate salvation.

I’m not sure what the process is for someone being titled as a Saint, but wouldn’t it similarly be presumptuous to title a particular person a Saint if you are not really sure how God has judged them?

This is always considered a revelation from God, not a human analysis, as to the status of the person. We cannot presume to judge, but God can tell us.


#18

Just a little addition, Catholic’s place their salvation in the hands of Jesus Christ who is Divine Mercy and Divine Justice. It is in this trust that gives us hope and confidence. We also know that God will always give us the Graces necessary to perservere and all we have to do is to accept them.

Catholics reluctance, even refusal, to say “I am saved” is a statement of Trust in the perfect Mercy and Justice of Jesus Christ. I like to say instead “I trust in the Sacred Heart of Jesus for my Salvation.”


#19

Looking abck than at the quote in the OP

This is the beginning of salvation. To Believe and to Trust in the Lord.

For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, **‘Anyone who trusts in him **will never be put to shame.’"

Thank you! :cool:

So If I believe in my heart and Trust in Him I will likely be saved. However a simple profession of faith is also not a guarentee of salvation. For faith without works is a hollow faith and here we come to the next portion of Catholic belief. That is the benefit of works.
If our faith is true, it will be accompanied by outward signs. Prayer, fasting, works of love and charity, etc can all be signs of this faith. Now Jesus admonishes us not to do these things for “show” but rather to be humble and quiet about doing them so that we are sure to do them for the glory of God and not of ourselves.
The idea of salvation by faith or works is, another stumbling block for non-catholics and is, in my opinion, a very wrongheaded way of looking at things. Salvation comes through the combination of Faith and Works. True Faith is the asking of God to enter us and to work through us as He wishes. Works are the result of that asking. If we have not the works, then we have not sufficiently submitted ourselves to God’s will.
In order to be saved, certainly one must first have faith in Jesus salvic mission. But if one has faith, one will certainly have works that accompany that faith. The great commandment of Love requires us to perform works of love toward our neighbors.
If we say we have faith in Jesus, but fail to perform works of love, it becomes obvious that our faith is false. So when we, as a christian of any stripe, act in an unchristian manner, and thereby sin, we must legitimately wonder about the assurance of our own salvation because we have shown ourselves to be not worthy of Christ in that instance.
On the other hand there are those who say that non-christans who perform good works cannot be saved. This is wrong for two reasons. First it denies and limits God’s mercy and power and second it presupposes a full knowledge of a persons heart and faith that we as humans cannot have.

I’m not sure if I am being clear here, but I hope I’ve been of some help.

Peace
James


#20

xxx


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