The latest of my attempts to wrap my head around theology:
First let me preface this by saying I find this subject really hard to understand.
Sorry if it is a little messy.
Catholic view: We are justified initially by faith which should lead into works that produce sanctification. Since sanctification and justification go hand in hand, once we are sanctified and completely free from sin, we are also justified.
Sanctification is by faith working through works of love.
Works are necessary because we need to keep away from sin/become sanctified and grow in love of God and our neighbour.
Justification is actual, in the sense that we are truly free from a sin nature and thereby justified.
It is a process because sanctification produces justification and we are not sanctified instantly.
We can lose justification by defiling our souls i.e. committing mortal sin.
Of course, all by the merits of Christs death and resurrection.
We are justified by faith alone, and because justification and sanctification are different we are not “actually” justified because justification is declaring a sinner righteous in the eyes of God by having him covered by Christs righteousness.
Justification is an event.
Sanctification, by works, follows naturally on from a true faith but does not go toward salvation because we only need to be justified to go to heaven. We work because we love God. Because of this, works are not necessary in the truest sense of the word but will always be done by the truly saved.
Justification is an event, but sanctification and the Christian life take a lifetime.
We can lose justification by losing faith in Christ. Sin does not separate us from God, but if one is not repentant then one probably is not saved.
Firstly, is this a fair treatment of the subject?
Secondly, I am having trouble finding out what the early church believed on the subject. I have tried catholic answers articles and scripturecatholic but I can never figure out when they are talking about works they are talking about justification or sanctification. If anyone can help then that would be great.