I have been pondering this question for a long time, and I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. I understand that He saved us from our sins, but then in Colossians 1:24, Paul says “Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.”
And I read on a previous post that it is our sufferings that is lacking. Like perhaps, as an example, Christ got out a box, put something special in it, wrapped it up, and handed it to us. And then I guess we have to do the job of opening up the present to find the special thing He has presented us hidden inside the box?
I’m pretty sure I understand that. I believe the thing that’s getting me stumped is the Protestant view on what Christ’s sufferings did for us. Sola… fide is it? Faith alone? Faith to Jesus alone, that He is their personal savior and all? Like, all they have to do is believe in Jesus and they’re saved. Does that mean they think that Jesus did all the suffering for them, so even if they sin it won’t matter and they’ll still go to Heaven?
My apologies to the Protestants out there, but to me that seems like such an easy road to go. TOO easy. I’d much rather suffer for Our Lord and going the hard path, instead of just floating through life thinking I can do anything I want right now because it won’t matter in the next any how. Because if I suffer, Heaven seems so much more precious and worth every thing I go through here on earth. If I step back and try to look through a Protestant’s mindset, everything just seems to become dull and gray.
So, um, Jesus’s sacrifice was sufficient, but I still can’t quite get it if there’s still sin everywhere. Could someone give me their share on the matter, please?
What is lacking is our participation in Christ’s sufferings.
What Christ did for us was to give an eternal/infinite act of atonement for our sin against an eternal/infinite God. He was only able to atone for us because He IS God. Man could never atone for himself…because we are only finite creatures who sinned against an infinite God.
Sin lead to death–which roughly means that sin is death.
Eternally dead is the end game of sin.
Salvation, removal from the curse of sin, is gained through Jesus’ Sacrifice (read Isaiah 53); He took on our sin in order to save of from eternal damnation.
Temporal existence is not free of sin–man’s tendency to choose himself over God causes him to sin (yes, even the Believer).
Christ’s death on the Cross paid for all sin past, present and future.
Accepting Christ as our Lord and Savior allows us to become part of His Mystical Body, the Church.
The Church has Jesus’ Delegation to offer the Sacraments (7) through which His Sacrificial Offering continues to act separating (making holy) and reconciling (forgiving sin) man to God.
As we become more dependent upon Christ’s Sacrificial Offering (by abiding in Him through His Church) we receive God’s Grace and approval.
However, we are slow and stubborn so we continue to choose self rather than Commit our will to God’s Will–thanks God for Jesus’ Sacrifice:
21 I find then a law, that when I have a will to do good, evil is present with me. 22 For I am delighted with the law of God, according to the inward man: 23 But I see another law in my members, fighting against the law of my mind, and captivating me in the law of sin, that is in my members. 24 Unhappy man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 25 The grace of God, by Jesus Christ our Lord. Therefore, I myself, with the mind serve the law of God; but with the flesh, the law of sin. (Romans 7:21-25)
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:56)
Without Christ’s Sacrifice it would be impossible to obtain reconciliation with God and receive His Grace and our ultimate Salvation.
The greatest gift imho that he gave us was the gift of himself and the Holy Spirit in order that we may “do the will of God”. If you look up the phrase “this is the will of God” you will find much more than the response we get that the will of God is to believe in Jesus. Sola fide doesn’t take those things into account, for example: this is Gods will for you, your sanctification. Most of them have you doing something associated with that phrase, works.
Jesus’ sacrifice is sufficient to cover the sins of all who believe and trust in him. Since the beginning of Genesis, whenever sin occurred, blood needed to be shed. In Genesis 3:21, God sacrificed for the first time an animal He created in order to cover Adam and Eve’s shame at being naked. This is a foreshadowing of the animal sacrifices that were done through the time of the covenant with Noah, through the covenant with Abraham, and through the covenant with Moses to atone for sin. The way they were forgiven and made right with God was through the shedding of blood. I am not sure of an instance where performing a good work or undergoing a suffering removed a sin from someone’s soul.
In Genesis 15, God cut a covenant with Abraham. Abraham/Abram cut 5 animals in half and God, as a smoking firepot with a blazing torch, appeared and walked between the pieces. Apparently this type of ritual was fairly common in this time and it was part of the blood covenant and symbolized the awareness that breaking the covenant meant death. (Jeremiah 34:18 – “Those who have violated my covenant and have not fulfilled the terms of the covenant they made before me, I will treat like the calf they cut in two and then walked between its pieces.”) The covenant was not always upheld by Abraham’s descendants. There was a penalty that needed to be repaid and could only be paid with the shedding of blood.
So, the only thing that can remove our sin is the blood of Jesus. This does not mean that we can sin all we want. I think that there is confusion with the definitions of justification and sanctification between Catholicism and Protestantism. In Protestantism, faith removes sin and justifies or “saves” us. This is evidenced by a relationship with Jesus and the displaying of good works. Good works do not cause us to be saved, but are evidence of having been saved. Having faith in Jesus doesn’t mean – “I think that Jesus guy was cool. The end.” It means entrusting your life to Jesus and walking every day in step with God’s teaching and seeking His will and direction in your life. Having faith and following Jesus may lead us through suffering, but the suffering we experience for following Jesus doesn’t make us just. Only Jesus’ sacrifice can do that. However, many believe that those who suffer more for their faith will receive greater reward in heaven.
I don’t know if this helps your question at all, but this is my best understanding of what Jesus’ sacrifice is all about.
Two analogies. First one from fr Mitch Pacwa. Luther lived in Germany where in the farmers fields there were stinky manure piles. In the winter time they would be covered with snow. Luther taught that this is a visual representation of how Christ justifies us. No matter how stinky or sinful we are, if we are in Christ we are covered by him, and thus the Father does not see us when he looks at us, but Christ. Or his righteousness. The Catholic view is that God doesn’t just want to cover us with Christ, but to transform us. He plants flowers in the dung hill so that it transforms into a bed of roses, no longer a stinky dung hill.
The second analogy is from Scott Hahn. A prisoner with a terminal disease is on death row. The Protestant view is that he is given a pardon and let go. However, the prisoner has a terminal disease. So, he will die anyways. The Catholic view is that not only is he given a pardon but he is healed of all his diseases. So, which is more merciful? The second. Who is the prisoner? We all are. What is the disease? Sin. Not only are we pardoned our sin, in Christ, but we are transformed by that sanctifying grace that Christ won for us on Calvary.
Thus, When someone asks you if you are saved you can say I was saved from death row (forgiven of sin, Original Sin) , I am being saved from sin (my diseases) and I will be saved when I have been completely healed and brought fully into the kingdom of God.