Monday, July 6, 2009

Do Catholics know they have eternal life?

A favorite question of non-Catholics is: do you know you are saved? Most Catholics will answer no, I don’t know with 100% assurance that I’m saved. The non-Catholic then shows how unbiblical this Catholic belief is by reciting 1 John 5:13: “I write these things to you so that you may know that you have eternal life.” The emphasis is on “knowing”, not guessing or hoping, but knowing that we have eternal life. This is known as “assurance of salvation” and most non-Catholics believe that once a person is “saved” they cannot be “unsaved”. No sin can separate them from God.

A Catholic should, at this point, ask what things has John written to tell us we have eternal life? Does John say a person must accept Jesus as their personal lord and savior to know they have eternal life? Yes, but that’s only part of it.

Chapters 1-4 of 1 John are full of statements that start “If you…” and “Whoever…”. For example, “If we say, ‘We have fellowship with him,’ while we continue to walk in darkness, we lie and do not act in truth. But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, then we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of his Son Jesus cleanses us from all sin.” (1 Jn 1:6-7) and “Whoever says he is in the light, yet hates his brother, is still in the darkness.” (1 Jn 2:9). Check it out for yourself; there are a lot of these statements.

What do they all mean? Well, these are the things John has written to us that we may “know we have eternal life”. Must I accept Jesus as my personal lord and savior as Protestants say? Yes! However, you can’t stop there, you need to walk in light, you need to love your brother and on and on.

How does this jive with the rest of the Bible? Paul says in Phil 2:12 to “work out salvation with fear and trembling”. He also says “…for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.” (1 Cor 9:27). Jesus tells us to “work” for the bread of life in John 6:27.

A Catholic CAN know he has eternal life; by tapping into the grace of Jesus through the power of Confession we can be cleansed of our sins so we have fulfilled all the “ifs”. However, if we don’t follow one of those ifs (sin) we no longer have that guarantee of eternal life and need to get back on track!

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Still does not answer why so many Catholics do not know. Again, even by your answer, the focus is on WHAT I DO . This is religion. Truth is salvation is focussed on WHAT JESUS DID. It is also divinely and spiritually apprehended and given personally,on a one to one basis-you and the Lord. Of course you are personally accountable to God ,in doing this work, believing on Him. No church activity can substitute for this. Of course there are "ifs", and many churches try to cover these for you, and they can not. Once you are on and in the Rock, you will know what I or anyone else means when they have true Joy and knowledge of their eternal destiny, with every "if" covered by His power and grace and love and Word..... As a catholic, I was taught you can not be sure, you can only hope in the church's provision of confession before death, or make sure you have no mortal sin before death. So indeed catholics can only say "hope", there is no surety outside of the above. That is why the Hail Mary is so appropiate for a catholic, for he knows the vain experience of his perpetuity for sin, that he clings to absolution at the last moment and prays, "pray for us sinners,now and at the HOUR OF OUR DEATH.AMEN ".

dave ruiz said...

Did not Rome teach that it is anathema to preach assurance of salvation, that we can only "hope" for salvation ?

dave ruiz said...

Dan,Philip 2:12 I believe states what one does with their salvation.That is ,there is life after being born again, justified.We remain on earth ,to do His good works ordained before the foundation of the earth. That is how we tread after salvation : humbly, in fear and trembling, after all all it is God working it out in us. There is s difference between justification (saved) and sanctification (walking the walk for His purposes).So no ,I do not view this scripture as trembling as to whether you are in grace or "saved" or not.It is not "am i going to hell or not" .It is more like "I AM heaven bound, now Lord help me act like it".

dave ruiz said...

As far as 1 Cor. 9 :27 where Paul says "lest I be castaway"-"The word (castaway)-has no reference to loss of salvation. It means literally disapproved. Clearly, the apostle was concerned lest he be rejected by the umpire for the prize. He had no fear of the herald's barring him from participation from the race. All run, but not all receive the prize; Paul wanted to win the prize." Wycliffe commentary. It is like we enter in at the gate (saved) and now we are in a race (to accomplish those good works preordained). We will be rewarded accordingly, also all works will be tested with fire, and what remains we will be rewarded for,a "prize". Again, I do mot view this as a possibility for loss of salvation. Indeed ,Paul was the workhorse ,like no other apostle, writing more, preaching more, traveling more, starting more churches than any other apostle.

dave ruiz said...

As far as John 6;27 to work for eternal bread,one must be careful, for just as Phil 2;13 states ,it is God who WORKS, it is God who GIVES.Indeed the greatest work of all is to believe on whom God has sent. Can you work for a gift ? "This is the work of God,that ye believe"