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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

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Once Saved, Always Saved?

KATHLEEN:

Hello, I am a “catholic.” I firmly believe that through my faith in Jesus he has saved me. I, along with everyone else who believes in Jesus already has salvation. We are not going to hell. So my question is why would a “catholic” want or need to wear a scapular? How can one save what is already saved? And isn’t their belief in Jesus enough for salvation?  Thank you for input.

FATHER JOE:

You may be a Catholic, but your assessment of “blessed assurance” is representative of a Protestant view. Indeed, it is the sin of presumption for a Catholic to view himself as irrevocably saved. Certain evangelicals believe in the “once saved, always saved” interpretation that emerged from Martin Luther’s teaching of juridical justification through imputation. Simply put it means that after a faith profession in Christ one is saved regardless of personal sins and weaknesses. Supposedly, we are masked by Christ when the Father looks upon us. The Catholic understanding is different. The ancient Catholic truth has to do with being born again as a new creation. We must be transformed. Faith and baptism makes us members of God’s people, but just as faith can grow, it can sour. The Evangelical would say that if a person becomes a grievous sinner that their earlier faith was counterfeit. Catholics would not nullify or doubt such faith. Instead, we argue that we must grow in the life of grace.

Your view would dismiss a lot more than scapulars. If you are already saved then you would need no sacraments, no Mass, no Eucharist and no Church. That is why those who hold such ideas reject the divine mysteries and reduce the “Church” to a place for fellowship and making converts. Catholicism is the true Bible Church and views salvation in terms of faith and obedient works in charity.

I would recommend that you attend a Parish RCIA program and relearn your Catholic faith.

Catholics live in the sure and certain HOPE of their salvation in Christ. Salvation is God’s free gift to us. But faith is defined as more than believing with our heads. The apostles understood faith as something lived out in faith and obedience. It is in this manner, and the reception of the sacraments, that the life of grace grows within us. The spiritual life is not stagnant but dynamic. We must always be properly disposed to God’s mercy and strength.

Here are some passages for spiritual reflection:

Matthew 7:21 – “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.

John 5:28-29 – Do not be amazed at this, because the hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs will hear his voices and will come out, those who have done good deeds to the resurrection of life, but those who have done wicked deeds to the resurrection of condemnation.

Philippians 2:12 – 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.

Hebrews 5: 7-10 – In the days when he was in the flesh, he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered; and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, declared by God high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.

Hebrews 10:26-27 – If we sin deliberately after receiving knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains sacrifice for sins but a fearful prospect of judgment and a flaming fire that is going to consume the adversaries.

James 2: 17-24 – So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead. Indeed someone might say, “You have faith and I have works.” Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works. You believe that God is one. You do well. Even the demons believe that and tremble. Do you want proof, you ignoramus, that faith without works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by the works. Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called “the friend of God.” See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead….You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.

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2 Responses

  1. Thank you. Father Joe, do you happen to know Father Brian Cook. He began his priesthood 30 years ago in the Archdiocese of Washington, DC, where he worked for Mother Teresa. He’s now the pastor of St Leo’s who confirmed me, etc. ttp://www.stleocatholic.org/
    Just got home from Confession and Mass there now. Father Cook is a wonderful, compassionate (overworked) priest.

    FATHER JOE: Yes, I do know Fr. Brian. He is one of several priests from Washington who now serve in the diocese of Charlotte. I have not talked with him for many years, but I will confirm that he is a good priest. My dear friend Fr. Burke is another transplant over in Forest City. They came down when Bishop Curlin was the Ordinary. Bishop (then Msgr. Curlin) was originally the Vocations Director in Washington, D.C. I know your current bishop, as well, Bishop Peter Jugis. I lived with him when we were young priests and he was a student. Take care!

  2. Hi Father Joe, (It’s been a long time since I spoke with you. I fist knew you via our WordPress blogs, where I commented on your blog and you occasionally on mine. Maybe you remember; maybe not.) I am a new Catholic, confirmed at Easter this year (after being protestant almost 50 years) Believe me; it is hard to change old thinking patterns. (I just came from RCIA and in some ways need instruction more now than then. Yes, I have good priests to instruct me.) I have given up the idea of once saved, always saved due to the fact that God doesn’t take free will from the believer, that we can lose our salvation in sin. So my question is this, since we know we are saved at the time of Baptism, and we receive the HS at Confirmation, cane we say that whenever we are in a state of grace (having been absolved of our sins in Confession and receive further grace in the Eucharist, that we “are saved” at those moments? Until we fall again, which, being human, we will?

    FATHER JOE: I remember you well, Helen. It is true that we can have confidence in the absolution of a priest and in the efficacy of the sacraments. God really forgives sins and we can walk in his grace. We live in the “sure and certain hope” of our salvation in Christ. We might even have confidence about where we currently stand before God; the problem for the faithful is that we are in time and must maintain this relationship with the Lord. That is why Jesus tells us to pray that we might be led away from temptation and delivered from evil. I often think about the witness of Peter and Judas. Both were disciples who believed in Jesus. Both were weak and failed. But one reconciled with Christ and accepted his love. The other ran away and despaired. We must surrender to God and hold on to the three things that last: FAITH, HOPE and LOVE. God bless!

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