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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Do Catholics have "Assurance of Salvation"?

“Love the Lord with all your heart, and with all your soul,     
and with all your MIND”--Matt 22:37

Faith is a personal act - the free response of the human person to the initiative of God 
who reveals himself. But faith is not an isolated act. 
No one can believe alone, just as no one can live alone. 
You have not given yourself faith as you have not given yourself life. 
The believer has received faith from others and should hand it on to others. 
Our love for Jesus and for our neighbor impels us to speak to others about our faith. 
Each believer is thus a link in the great chain of believers. 
I cannot believe without being carried by the faith of others, and by my faith I help support others in the faith.
--#166, Catechism of the Catholic Church

There is a common question that is posed by Evangelicals:  "If you died tonight do you have absolute assurance that you will go to heaven?"

The Evangelical Christian's position is this:  the Bible tells me that if I accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I do indeed have absolute assurance that I am going to go straight to heaven.  It doesn't matter what I do, how badly I fail, Jesus Christ died for my sins and because of that I am going to heaven.

This does indeed sound appealing.  All a person has to do is answer an altar call, go down on one's knees, confess Jesus as our savior, and no matter how we live the rest of our lives, we are assured that we will enter heaven.

However, this Sunday's second reading seems to suggest otherwise.  St. Paul professes, "I do not even pass judgement on myself. I am not conscious of anything against me, but I do not thereby stand acquitted; the one who judges me is the Lord"--1 Cor 4 

In other words, he is proclaiming the Catholic position regarding assurance of salvation (interesting how St. Paul and the Catholic Church's position go hand in hand!) We have a moral assurance of going to heaven, but not an absolute assurance.

And the rest of the Scriptures proclaim the idea that we must fight the good fight, cooperate with the graces of God and remain in friendship with Christ in order to achieve joy of heaven. Our final salvation depends upon the state of our soul at death, and our relationship with Christ until the end. "He who perseveres to the end will be saved"-Matt 24:13 

One Catholic apologist, John Martignoni, when asked this question about assurance of salvation responds with, “Where is that question in the Bible?”  Where does Jesus, or Paul, or Peter, or James, or anyone else ask someone, “If you died tonight do you know for sure that you would go to Heaven?”  Ask them to give you book, chapter, and verse.  They can’t do it, because that question is not in the Bible.  In other words, these “Bible–only” Christians have made up some sort of salvation test that is nowhere found in the Bible…it is a man–made invention."

Catholics can thus be confident that Christ abundantly accomplished what he intended--our salvation and entry into heaven.  We do proclaim that we have assurance of salvation; we just don't have an infallible certitude of this.

And while Evangelical Christians may be able to take a verse or two in Scripture to support their view that we can never lose our salvation, Catholics take the Word of God in its entirety and declare that we are not saved ONLY by confessing Jesus as our Lord and savior.

This is how Catholic profess we are saved:

By believing in Christ (Jn 3:16; Acts 16:31)

By repentance (Acts 2:38; 2 Pet 3:9)

By baptism (Jn 3:5; 1 Pet 3:21; Titus 3:5)

By eating his flesh and drinking his blood (Jn 6)

By the work of the Spirit (Jn 3:5; 2 Cor 3:6)

By declaring with our mouths (Lk 12:8; Rom 10:9)

By coming to a knowledge of the truth (1 Tim 2:4; Heb 10:26)

By works (Rom 2:6-7; James 2:24)

By grace (Acts 15:11; Eph 2:8)

By his blood (Rom 5:9; Heb 9:22)

By his righteousness (Rom 5:17; 2 Pet 1:1)

By keeping the commandments (Matt 19:17)

By our words (Matt 12:37)

"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect" - 1 Peter 3:15   


  1. this will be my second post here...while I am not a catholic I have to say this does have some interesting points of view however, a few problems 1. there are 96 different verses about "Assurance of Salvation" funny thing 1 corinthinas 4 is NOT one of them...Forgive me for this but you should let the readers of your blog know the FULL context of that verse (and I know it well from hearing it in a sermon message from one of my favorite preachers I listen to... 1 Corinthians 4:1-5 "Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact I do not even judge myself. For I know nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one's praise will come from God." that verse is more directed twords JUDGEMENT, not salvation/assurance of salvation. now regarding Romans 2:6-7 that does not mean that "good works" will "give you a boost" to heaven while yes you are to live your life as "holy" as humanly possible for our fallen state but living a "good" life won't help much at all now looking at the second "works" verse you gave you MUST look at the context of it they are refering to Abraham and his "works" when he was about to willingly sacrifice Isaac as the Lord told him to (that we find later as a test of his obedience to God because Abraham waited a long time for Isaac and even though he waited a long time and Isaac was his only son whom Abraham loved). Now please...PLEASE do NOT get me wrong and interpret my what ever you want to call this as bashing you or your faith/religion. so please....enlighten me on what I have said....and if you require proof of the 96 verses I'll provide them....given it will take a long time to type them all out lol

    1. Thanks for your comments, Cody.

      Regarding the 96 verses that speak of assurance of salvation--I will respectfully say that you, as a fallible interpreter of Scripture, have fallen prey to our fallen human nature, and incorrectly interpreted the Word of God as saying some things which they are not saying.

      Unless you can claim that you are infallible, you must assert that you do indeed have the possibility of error when you read the Bible.