Battle Over the Doctrine of Salvation
The Battle continues to wage over doctrine concerning salvation. Well meaning non-Catholic brothers and sisters in Christ vehemently argue that we Catholics are wrong to believe that works are an important aspect of salvation. In doing so they usually site a passage from St. Paul’s letter to the Church in Ephesus in which he says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9 NAB).
These admonishments seem to imply that we Catholics believe that our salvation is determined solely by our works, and are therefore ignorant concerning the true Source of our salvation, and thus are not truly saved. Nothing could be further from the truth. If our brothers and sisters in Christ would just take the time to study carefully and prayerfully the teachings of the Catholic Church, they would soon learn of their gross misunderstanding, and perhaps even consider entering into the fullness of the Church! For it is there that Christ, the God of the universe and all its splendor and awesome wonder, humbles Himself out of love for each one of us, and makes Himself present in the sacrament of the Eucharist, giving Himself to us in a form we can understand and experience with all of our senses. What an awesome God to offer nourishment for our bodies and souls daily as we make our journey back to Him! Thank You Lord!!!
I can assure you that nowhere in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, or in any other Magisterial teaching of the Catholic Church will one find anything that remotely implies that we Catholics are to believe that we are saved solely by our works, or that our salvation is contingent solely upon how good we tried to be in this lifetime! Catholics believe that we are saved by the grace which God makes available to us through our Lord Jesus Christ, which was gained for us through His passion, death and resurrection. It is a free gift to those who will accept it by faith!
We are free to accept or reject this gift, but if we make the freewill choice to accept it, we must continuously ask for God’s grace in order to meet the demands of daily Christian existence! As fallen creatures, this takes WORK! Jesus tells us in Luke 9:23-24, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily 11 and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” This means we must begin to deny ourselves in order to love and serve others, and we must live our lives in a manner that is indicative of our gratitude for God’s saving grace!
The words, ‘I am saved by grace alone’ seem to imply that once the free gift of salvation is accepted we need do nothing more then wait for God to carry us off to Heaven! Consider the following. The words, ‘I love you’ are meaningless without action, or, if you will, WORKS! Can we tell our wives, husbands, children, or anyone else for that matter that we love them and never give of ourselves to show it! Can one truly and sincerely accept God’s saving grace by merely speaking the words? I think we can all agree that the answer is no!
St. James talks about the necessity of both faith and works when he says the following, “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well," but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? 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. And in the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by a different route? For just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. (James 2:14-26 NAB)
PLEASE, I appreciate the zeal expressed by my non-Catholic brothers and sisters in Christ, and the concern that they should have for my salvation, but I ask humbly and charitably to PLEASE look up and prayerfully read for yourself all that the Catechism of the Catholic Church has to say about SALVATION. Remember also that there is ONE TEACHING AUTHORITY for the Catholic Church, the Magisterium, which has been around for 2000 years, and will continue to exist until Christ returns.
Jesus Himself said, “And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, 13 and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.” (Matt 16:18 NAB) THE Church will remain despite the attacks of Satan, all human frailty and weakness, and all persecution, until Jesus returns! Jesus said it, so you can BELIEVE it!
It is with charity and not pride that I ask that you to accept the Magisterial teachings of the Catholic Church as truth, for the sin of pride leads to death rather than life, and our Lord Jesus Christ is the Way, Truth, and the Life. There is no better way to intimately know and receive Jesus than in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, which He, Himself instituted at the Last Supper as a way to remain with us until His return!
Approximately 1500 years after Christ founded His Church, a Catholic priest by the name of Martin Luther, publicly protested (the word from which the word Protestant is derived) against several practices of the Catholic Church. Satan saw this as a golden opportunity and an open door to conduct a clever attack, which for a relatively short period of time (500 years) has resulted in an extremely rapid increase in dissension and division among Christians, to the extent that there are now literally tens of thousands of Christian churches and denominations that continue to divide over doctrinal issues.
Contained in the Liturgy of the Catholic Mass, as part of the Eucharistic Prayer II are the very beautiful words, “Lord, remember your Church throughout the world; make us grow in love, together with Benedict XVI, our Pope . . .” Let us all ask the Holy Spirit for the wisdom to recognize the truth, and to protect us from all deception that hinders us from experiencing the closest relationship we can possibly have with our Savior, which is in the Eucharist!