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"Have you been saved?
The Integrated Catholic Life ^ | November 16, 2014 | DEACON MICHAEL BICKERSTAFF

Posted on 11/16/2014 1:42:01 PM PST by NYer

"Return of the Prodigal Son" (detail) by Murillo

“Return of the Prodigal Son” (detail) by Murillo

Have You Been Saved?

In Acts 4, St. Peter delivers a powerful sermon. He concludes by saying, “There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved.”

I have written before in these pages of the time when I was growing up in the southern part of the United States and how I would from time to time encounter young, protestant teens and adults who would excitedly take to the streets to witness for Christ.

Now for Catholics who may not be familiar with the phrase, “witnessing for Christ”, this was how they would refer to their efforts to evangelize and share their faith in Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior.

The conversation would often begin with me being asked, “Do you know Jesus?” or “Have you accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior?” But the conversation would also frequently begin with the question, “Have you been saved?”

What in the world was a young, Catholic boy to make of this?

Of course I knew Jesus. And whether I understood the phraseology of the questions, yes, I knew that Jesus was a person; I received him in Holy Communion at least weekly; and I prayed to him. I knew he had come to save us and I sure hoped that I would be saved.

But the questions were still somewhat foreign to me. It seemed as if we had different understandings of the words being used. Inevitably, the discussion would lead to, “Do you know what you must do to be saved?”

The answer, I would be told, was that I must accept Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior and believe in (on) him. Then out came the bibles to prove what was being asserted. Words such as justification, salvation, and believing faith would be tossed back and forth; and occasionally, sanctification.

Prior to third grade, I did not know many Protestants except for family members on my father’s side; he was a Southern Baptist, who with my Catholic mother was raising a Catholic family in 1950s Mississippi.

While the state was overwhelmingly Protestant, we lived in a city that was, to my experience, almost totally Catholic, populated with first- and second-generation Irish, French, Slavic and southern European Catholics. My father was able to help me understand where these questions were coming from and to help me form answers true to my Catholic beliefs.

What Does the Catholic Church Teach?

In my ministry as a deacon today, I still hear non-Catholics speak these words and also of “justification” in connection to “being saved.” What does the Church teach about justification and salvation? What must I do to be saved?

1. Justification is an “act of grace” by God

Justification is wholly the action and work of God to cleanse a person of Original and Personal Sin, restoring him to friendship with God. Original Sin and Personal Sin separated us from that friendship. We could not restore the friendship, but Jesus Christ could and did. Not only is the justified person restored to friendship, he is adopted and made a child of God, a member of the family of God which is his Church. This action (a grace of the Holy Spirit) is merited for us by Christ’s Passion, Death and Resurrection. [cf. CCC 1987 – 1995 and 2017 – 2020]

2. Justification is also a “state of grace”

Justification is the state of being in habitual grace freely given by God to man. This grace that justifies and places one in this state is called sanctifying (or deifying) grace. It is supernatural because it is totally dependent upon God and cannot be earned (initiated) by man. The justified person is said to be in a state of [sanctifying] grace. [cf. CCC 1996 – 1998, 2005, and 2021]

3. Justification must be freely accepted by the human person (free will)

Justification presupposes man’s free act of will to accept and cooperate with this grace. God does not force this action or state on man. Human freedom is a secondary, but, essential element.

It is received by a person’s faith in Jesus Christ through which he freely accepts God’s forgiveness and righteousness. Justification makes possible cooperation between God’s grace and man’s freedom. [cf. CCC 2002 – 2004]

4. Justification transforms the human person

Justification is the beginning of the sanctification of the inner person. Man’s sins are not merely overlooked by God, as Martin Luther taught, rather, the human person is cleansed and by his cooperation with the grace is made truly holy. Through faith in Jesus Christ, man stands in this grace and merits increased (is strengthened in) grace and moves in charity by continued good works (the practice of the human virtues) toward perfection in Christ. Our good works, on our own initiative, do not directly save us, but they can strengthen our relationship with Christ and lead us to grow in holiness. [cf. CCC 1995, 1999, 2006 – 2016]

5. Justification (and thus, Salvation) can be lost

This grace is habitual because it endures and persists until we forfeit it. Man can lose this sanctifying grace by freely and knowingly committing a sin involving grave matter (referred to as being subjectively guilty of a mortal sin). [cf. CCC 1856, 1859, 2000]

The Protestant friends of my youth would tell me that once I was saved, there was nothing I could do, no matter how terribly sinful, that could separate me from God and cause me to lose my salvation. Their belief is the doctrine of some Protestants known as, “Once Saved, Always Saved”. But the New Testament Scriptures are filled with warnings that support the Catholic teaching that salvation can be lost.

St. Paul, writing to believers in 1 Corinthians 9:27 testifies, “…I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.”

That this speaks to his concern about losing his salvation is made obvious by the passage that immediately follows in 1 Corinthians 10 where he warns believers about giving in to sin and human confidence. In verses 12 and 13 he writes, “Therefore, whoever thinks he is standing secure should take care not to fall. No trial has come to you but what is human. God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it.”

If this is not enough to convince us, he writes to the believing Gentile Christians in Romans 11:17-21, “But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, a wild olive shoot, were grafted in their place and have come to share in the rich root of the olive tree, do not boast against the branches. If you do boast, consider that you do not support the root; the root supports you. Indeed you will say, ‘Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.’ That is so. They were broken off because of unbelief, but you are there because of faith. So do not become haughty, but stand in awe. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.”

Thus, St. Paul teaches us in Philippians 2:12-13, “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.”

6. Justification is initially received at Baptism

It is initially received at [the Sacrament of] Baptism.

This marks the beginning (not the end) of a person’s conversion and sanctification, man’s free response to the invitation to the Divine life from God where he turns from sin and toward God. Should a person lose the [sanctifying] grace of justification, it can be restored through sacramental confession (Sacrament of Reconciliation). [cf. CCC 1856, 1992, 2020]

7. So, how does Justification relate to Salvation?

The answer is so simple we often overlook it, so do not look for a long answer here.

The justified person attains salvation if he dies in a state of Sanctifying Grace.

So, have you been saved?

“Yes, I believe in Jesus and received his justifying (sanctifying) grace when I was baptized into his Church. Jesus saved me. And at those times when I have sinned gravely and lost this grace, I returned to the Lord to be cleansed again by him in the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) where I again received his justifying grace.

“I am strengthened in my personal relationship with him by my worship of him and receiving him in Holy Communion at Mass; through my prayer, devotion and reading of the Scriptures; by my study of the teachings of the faith; and through my good works prepared beforehand by him for me to perform while in his grace.

“I have been saved, am being saved, and have supernatural hope that I will be saved. I believe this because the Church, established by Jesus, through which this grace flows to me, teaches me that this is so.”

Into the deep…


TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; Evangelical Christian; Theology
KEYWORDS: baptism; beingsaved; catholic; confession; haveyoubeensaved; michaelbickerstaff; notbornagain; reconciliation; sacraments; saved
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1 posted on 11/16/2014 1:42:01 PM PST by NYer
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To: Tax-chick; GregB; SumProVita; narses; bboop; SevenofNine; Ronaldus Magnus; tiki; Salvation; ...

You are saved, ping!


2 posted on 11/16/2014 1:42:33 PM PST by NYer ("You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears." James 4:14)
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To: NYer

An excellent, brief exposition.


3 posted on 11/16/2014 1:50:33 PM PST by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: NYer

You have to be a Protestant!


4 posted on 11/16/2014 1:59:27 PM PST by buffyt (EBOLA CZAR says Overpopulation is the biggest threat to mankind Call the village we found your idiot)
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To: NYer
I knew he had come to save us and I sure hoped that I would be saved.

Let me complete this sentence from what I've heard from Catholics:

I knew he had come to save us and I sure hoped that I would be saved from Purgatory. My understanding being that they do not go directly to be with the Lord, but go to purgatory to deal with their sins and to be called out of purgatory into Heaven by the Catholic Church. It is that last step that one is declared a Saint.

And just like it was stated there is only a hope and no assurance.

As for me I believe Christ's words "who ever believes in me has eternal life" (Gospel of John 6:47).

Now which would you like, assurance of Eternal Life or no assurance of Heaven? That it depends on human men on this earth or that it is the free gift for those who believe?

5 posted on 11/16/2014 2:02:39 PM PST by sr4402
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To: NYer

This article is like trying to explain the inner workings of an iPhone to someone who has never seen a telephone before.

In other words, do not underestimate what God as done through Jesus Christ or overestimate what any man must accomplish or understand in order to obtain and retain God’s matchless Gift of eternal life to all who accept Jesus’ finished work and lovingly receive Him and other believers in Christ.

Salvation is of God through Jesus Christ, not via the Church, the Body of believers, which He founded with only Himself as the Head. It’s so simple, a child can always find Him if he/she looks in His direction and comes to Him faithfully.


6 posted on 11/16/2014 2:03:30 PM PST by Resettozero
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To: NYer

Question then becomes... can you lose your salvation?

If the answer is yes, then you cannot say you are or have been saved.... because you would lose it daily.


7 posted on 11/16/2014 2:12:15 PM PST by Safrguns (PM me if you like to play Minecraft!)
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To: NYer

Yes, I am. But do I have the same understanding of its meaning now as when I was first baptized? No, I think I have a better understanding of it now than 50+ years ago.


8 posted on 11/16/2014 2:26:02 PM PST by GreyFriar (Spearhead - 3rd Armored Division 75-78 & 83-87)
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To: Gamecock; metmom; BlueDragon; daniel1212

Because Catholics never post threads about, or even think about Protestants PING


9 posted on 11/16/2014 2:50:02 PM PST by Alex Murphy ("the defacto Leader of the FR Calvinist Protestant Brigades")
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To: NYer

Ephesians 1:13 In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; (NRSV - Catholic Ed.)

and again...

Ephesians 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. (NRSV - Catholic Ed.)

The believer is sealed in the Holy Spirit which cannot be broken, only by the one intended to open the sealed gift, which is Christ. So, it there any way one can lose their salvation? Jesus says this:

Matthew 12:31- 32 Therefore I tell you, people will be forgiven for every sin and blasphemy, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. (NRSV - Catholic Ed.)

And how does one blaspheme against the Holy Spirit? It isn’t clearly explained but I believe it is to grieve the Spirit in some excessive way such as ascribing some evil to the Spirit or renouncing one’s salvation or perhaps committing suicide.

I don’t believe it can be lost for most common sins (I hate to categorize them as common because all sin is against God) but what good would it do for salvation to be turned on and off like a light switch based on your last thought or action? It would make any honest person incredibly anxious knowing their salvation can be easily lost with a momentary slip.

As I have aged, I believe all the more that our God sees us as the vulnerable short-sighted children that we are and that He has taken it upon Himself to see that our salvation is secure and the only way it can be lost is by some deliberate action of defiant rejection of God’s free gift.

A requirement of confession and absolution for every common transgression would lose every soul that died suddenly by a bullet, a plane crash, a heart attack or car accident that had no time to seek a priest before they expired.

Perhaps this explains why so many ex-Catholics, tired of living under constant eternal uncertainty, seek relief through a church that believes God knows our lives from beginning to end and forgives generously, with rare exception, to all those who earnestly seek Him.


10 posted on 11/16/2014 2:59:05 PM PST by OrangeHoof (Every time you say no to a liberal, you make the Baby Barack cry.)
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To: sr4402
from Purgatory

No, that is inaccurate. The Church teaches that upon death men either go to hell or they are saved and go to heaven because the sanctifying grace is in them. Those who are saved, yet are incapable of entering heaven directly (There shall not enter into it any thing defiled, Apoc. 21:27) pass through purgatory, indeed, but that condition is temporary and those in purgatory are saved already.

11 posted on 11/16/2014 3:14:12 PM PST by annalex (fear them not)
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To: OrangeHoof
As I have aged, I believe all the more that our God sees us as the vulnerable short-sighted children that we are and that He has taken it upon Himself to see that our salvation is secure and the only way it can be lost is by some deliberate action of defiant rejection of God’s free gift.

Psalm 103:8-14 The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever.

He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.

As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.

12 posted on 11/16/2014 3:26:05 PM PST by metmom (...fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith...)
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To: sr4402

**I knew he had come to save us and I sure hoped that I would be saved from Purgatory. My understanding being that they do not go directly to be with the Lord, but go to purgatory to deal with their sins and to be called out of purgatory into Heaven by the Catholic Church. It is that last step that one is declared a Saint.**

A couple of things are mixed up here.

No one is called out of Purgatory and sent to heaven by the Catholic Church. Each person’s individual life history defines their length of time to stay in Purgatory and be purged of all sin by making reparations that they did not do on earth.

The process of being declared a saint is a four step process: being pronounced a person of goodness (Servant of God), venerable (approved for study into the matter of sainthood), blessed (beatified), saint (canonized).

http://www.catholicdoors.com/faq/qu221.htm


13 posted on 11/16/2014 3:29:41 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: NYer

Yes, I am saved.

However, I know I am a sinner and need to cleanse myself from personal sin through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.


14 posted on 11/16/2014 3:33:19 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: NYer
After I was saved, I thought I could stay in the Roman church ... but as I read the scriptures I realized that the scriptures and Rome did not line up/. Piece by piece the doctrines of Rome fell under the weight of the word of God, and I had to leave .

Catholics like to confuse the unknowing by saying they were" born again in baptism " , but the truth is a catholic does not know if they are "saved" until they meet the judge ... This is just word games

15 posted on 11/16/2014 4:20:43 PM PST by RnMomof7
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To: NYer

But the real interesting question is saved from what?


16 posted on 11/16/2014 4:30:35 PM PST by PeterPrinciple (Thinking Caps are no longer being issued but there must be a warehouse full of them somewhere.)
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To: annalex; sr4402
>> “The Church teaches that upon death men either go to hell or they are saved and go to heaven because the sanctifying grace is in them.” <<

.
But that does not align with what the Bible teaches.

John 3

[13] And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.
And as for being in Hell
Revelation 20:

[4] And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
[5] But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished.


So who can be in Heaven?

Or Hell?

.

17 posted on 11/16/2014 4:40:20 PM PST by editor-surveyor (Freepers: Not as smart as I'd hoped they'd be)
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To: PeterPrinciple

>> “But the real interesting question is saved from what?” <<

.
The second death!
.


18 posted on 11/16/2014 4:41:23 PM PST by editor-surveyor (Freepers: Not as smart as I'd hoped they'd be)
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To: RnMomof7
>> Catholics like to confuse the unknowing by saying they were” born again in baptism “ <<

.
But here is what Yeshua said to Nicodemus about being “Born Again:”

John 3:

[6] That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
[7] Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
[8] The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth:
so is every one that is born of the Spirit.


Have any of these claiming to have been "Born of the Spirit" ever walked invisibly through a room, like the wind?

.

19 posted on 11/16/2014 4:50:41 PM PST by editor-surveyor (Freepers: Not as smart as I'd hoped they'd be)
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To: editor-surveyor

“The Church teaches that upon death men either go to hell or they are saved and go to heaven because the sanctifying grace is in them.”

**

Well, that is what we Catholics believe. You are free to believe it or not.


20 posted on 11/16/2014 4:58:36 PM PST by Bigg Red (Congress, do your duty and repo his pen and his phone.)
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