“What does SAVED mean? Saved from what.” Can you imagine my shock? After more than 12 years of frequent meetings and discussions with this former Catholic seminarian, who had studied for the priesthood.
In our previous meeting of an hour and half he had indicated a problem with God and punishment. He seemed hung up on a God that is “all love- all forgiving- all accepting”. A problem with God's Sovereignty.
After I got over my initial shock I answered him in these 6 words. “Saved from the Wrath of God'. Saved from Eternal Separation from God, and Eternal Death. Saved from what we were rightfully condemned after the disobedience and offense of our representative 'first parents' and the FALL of mankind into SIN. Saved from Eternal punishment in Eternal hell!
Nicodemas, was a pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin and a teacher of the Jewish religion. A very learned man who came to Jesus in humility and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could do the miraculous signs that you do unless God were with him.”
Jesus replied, “I tell you the solemn truth, unless a person is born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:1- 21)
Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter his mother’s womb and be born a second time, can he?”
Nicodemus apparently did not struggle with the concept of being saved. The Jewish religion and the concept of sin and atonement was strong and clear. He had no problem accepting the concept of Eternal Death and hell. The pharisees were very familiar with the concept of Sin and a Wrathful God.
Surprisingly, Catholic doctrine concerning Sin is very certain and clear. However, the Catholic Church's doctrines on Salvation are very complex and dependent upon works, The Mass, the sacraments, ritualism and man-made doctrines. For someone who had studied for the priesthood this should have been obvious. Let's face it! If we were not promised and assured of Eternal Life by Jesus Christ how many of us would be following Him right now? What possible reasons can you give ?
The concept of a Wrathful God may be a terrifying concept but it is all too true. But it is also true that a loving God, from the beginning, planned a Way for us to escape His Wrath. His Way is in no way too complex for the most simple-minded of us. We must believe in Jesus Christ, that He is God, that He died to restore us from Eternal separation (SIN) from God, that He arose again from the dead and ascended into heaven where He acts as our sole mediator , advocate and Savior, interceding for us before God the Father.
First of all, I would agree that salvation is three fold: 1) We are saved. There is an initial decision to follow Christ and a beginning point where we become disciples of Christ and students of the whole counsel of God in all the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation. 2) We are being saved. That is, salvation is also a growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Sanctification is always imperfect, however. (2 Peter 3:18; Philippians 3:9-11; John 17:17). 3) We shall be saved. No one knows absolutely that they are "elect". That is, we believe we are saved and our assurance partly comes from good works. But we will not be ultimately and finally saved until we are glorified at the hour of our death. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.
All that being said, the problem with Rome is that Rome confuses justification with sanctification. I take it that reason you are also confused here is that the preaching you are sitting under has not made this clear. There are many false prophets out there who preach the same doctrines as Rome.
The bottom line is this: If justification is not by means of faith alone then you are correct. Justification would be by faith plus works. But if that is so no one could ever have any assurance of salvation whatsoever. Why not? Because God's moral law requires absolutely sinless obedience. No one except Christ could possibly meet that standard. (Matthew 5:17-20, 48).
Although good works do contribute something to our assurance the ultimate assurance comes from the fact that the ground of our justification is NOT in US. It is the CROSS! It is an objective and finished work of Christ who lived a sinless life for us and paid the penalty for our sins on the cross. This is called the active and passive obedience of Christ. When He died He said, "It is finished!". The finished work of Christ is absolutely necessary for any assurance of salvation. (John 19:30).
God does not grade on a curve. If you are going to heaven based on works, you FAIL. That is why Roman Catholics are not saved. It's also why ALL those who teach salvation by works are lost:
"Not everyone who says to Me,`Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 "Many will say to Me in that day,`Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' 23 "And then I will declare to them,`I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!' (Matthew 7:21-23 NKJ)
Furthermore, all of our righteousnesses are like filthy menstrual rags in the sight of God (Isaiah 64:6). Unless we are justified by faith our works are worthless and cannot please God whatsoever. Saying that works are necessary for our justification before God is to confuse sanctification with justification. Justification is objective and the ground or basis for our justification is outside of us on the cross. Faith is not the ground of our justification. It is the means or instrument by which justification is applied to our minds/hearts. Justification is perfect. It is imputed to us on the legal and forensic basis of Christ's sacrifice for His elect on the cross.
Sanctification, otoh, is always imperfect. We grow in sanctification but never arrive. (Philippians 2:12; 3:12-14). Sanctification is infused in the heart. It is subjective and relative. This is why Rome gets it wrong. Rome confuses the cross with the imperfection of our progress in sanctification of the heart/mind.
Although it is true that some evidence of a true profession of faith is necessary for membership in the visible church, it is not true that sanctification adds ANYTHING to our justification whatsoever. Salvation is founded on justification, NOT sanctification. Sanctification is the logical result of our justification and in that sense is part of our being saved. BUT if you're trusting in good works to JUSTIFY you now OR in the judgment then I would say you can have NO assurance of salvation whatsoever. Good works are a "sign" of a true profession of faith. They can add to our assurance because we obey the moral law as part of our duty under the 3rd use of the law. But the ultimate assurance, as Martin Luther taught, is from the justification which is by means of faith alone. (Romans 4:1-8; Galatians 2:16-20). We all fall short of the mark (Romans 3:23).
The false teachers love to confuse justification with sanctification and focus on ambiguity rather than logical clarity from God's propositional truths in Scripture.
The reason the thief on the cross was saved was faith, not works. The same is true of every true believer here on earth.
XII. Of Good Works. ALBEIT that good works, which are the fruits of faith and follow after justification, cannot put away our sins and endure the severity of God's judgement, yet are they pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ, and do spring out necessarily of a true and lively faith, insomuch that by them a lively faith may be as evidently known as a tree discerned by the fruit. Article XII
Justification is by faith and faith alone:
XI. Of the Justification of Man. WE are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by faith, and not for our own works or deservings. Wherefore that we are justified by faith only is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort; as more largely is expressed in the Homily of Justification. Article XI
The pertinent Articles in the 39 Articles of Religion that deal with salvation, justification, sanctification, etc. are Articles 9-18.
God's peace be with you,
For "who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?" But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16 NKJ)
Pope Francis’ Sermon Sparks Debate: ‘Even the Atheists’ Have Been Redeemed ‘With the Blood of Christ’ May. 23, 2013 11:33am Billy Hallowell
[NOTE: This has links to articles. I deleted the links but kept the blue color.]
[NOTE: Look at the following quote. It looks as if the pope is saying that atheists have been redeemed with the Blood of Jesus Christ, and that atheists are children of God. If so, then he is a promoting a one-world religion, and he he taking Catholics far away from true Christianity and far from traditional Catholic teaching.]
QUOTE: The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone! And this Blood makes us children of God of the first class! We are created children in the likeness of God and the Blood of Christ has redeemed us all! And we all have a duty to do good.
Atheist activists have long touted the notion that one doesn’t have to be religious to be considered a “good” person. On Wednesday, non-believers’ claims were given some credence when Pope Francis endorsed this view during Mass. Regardless of theological perspective, the pontiff said that “doing good” is a universal value that unites all of humanity. He also said that “even the atheists” have been redeemed “with the blood of Christ.”
Following the Vatican Radio report recapping Francis’ words, numerous media outlets highlighted the contents of his sermon. As a result, speculation and conversation will likely mount regarding what, exactly, it all meant.
Was he saying that non-believers, too, will inherit salvation? Or was he speaking more generally to the fact that all of humanity was saved by Jesus Christ’s actions on the cross? And then there’s the main question he attempted to answer: Are atheists really capable of being “good”?
As for this latter query, Francis made it clear that, in his view, it is possible for non-Catholics — and even those with no faith at all — to do good. Using the Bible (Gospel of Mark), Francis noted that even Jesus’ disciples assumed that only they could act in accordance with God’s will, because they possessed the truth.
But Jesus corrected them and told them to allow a man outside of their group be free to act in a positive fashion.Vatican Radio explains:
Wednesday’s Gospel speaks to us about the disciples who prevented a person from outside their group from doing good. “They complain,” the Pope said in his homily, because they say, “If he is not one of us, he cannot do good. If he is not of our party, he cannot do good.” And Jesus corrects them: “Do not hinder him, he says, let him do good.” The disciples, Pope Francis explains, “were a little intolerant,” closed off by the idea of possessing the truth, convinced that “those who do not have the truth, cannot do good.” “This was wrong . . . Jesus broadens the horizon.” Pope Francis said, “The root of this possibility of doing good – that we all have – is in creation.”
Everyone, in Francis’ view, is a part of the human experience and has an inherent potential for goodness.
“The Lord created us in His image and likeness, and we are the image of the Lord, and He does good and all of us have this commandment at heart: do good and do not do evil. All of us,” Pope Francis said, going on to provide examples. “‘But, Father, this is not Catholic! He cannot do good.’ Yes, he can. He must. Not can: must! Because he has this commandment within him.”
By closing others out, Francis warned that believers do harm and cause unnecessary division and war. The push to do good, he claims, is in every individual’s heart and has been ingrained in mankind by the Almighty. As for redemption, the pope went on to make it clear that everyone — even atheists — has been considered and redeemed by the Lord. Here’s what he said:
“The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone! And this Blood makes us children of God of the first class! We are created children in the likeness of God and the Blood of Christ has redeemed us all! And we all have a duty to do good. And this commandment for everyone to do good, I think, is a beautiful path towards peace. If we, each doing our own part, if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter: we need that so much. We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.“
Here, Francis made a plethora of important statements. To begin, he claims that, regardless of whether they accept the notion, atheists, too, have been redeemed by Christ. The very definition of redemption is, “to buy or pay off; clear by payment,” thus it appears he is speaking here about sin and goodness — issues pertaining to Christ’s crucifixion.
It does not appear as though Francis is speaking about the afterlife or salvation. Instead, he is highlighting the fact that Christ, from a theological perspective, died for all of mankind.
Beyond that, Francis calls everyone, regardless of religious views, to do good and to find common ground. Rather than railing against one another, the Catholic leader wants to see people from all perspectives come together to work for humanity.
Rather than cutting non-believers out of the mix, it appears he’s taking extra steps to make them feel welcome — a noticeable departure from other past leaders.
1. Just another attempt of the Roman State Church to make catholicism, "amiable" with the the end goal of increasing its dwindling numbers.
2. The pope's remark, "The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the blood of Christ..." if taken generally, even theologically, is no different than the doctrine of the vast majority of 'evanjellycals' and other so-called Christian denominations and religions. Most hold to universal atonement and believe that Christ's death paid the penalty for EVERYONE'S sins.
3. I agree that the RCC is becoming more and more "mushy".
I even begin to wonder if the pope understands what 'redemption' means. IMHO redemption means that Christ paid the penalty for the redeemed, that they have been saved and set aside for Him until the time He does redeem at the time of their death or at the Rapture. It is possible that some of the atheists are 'elected' by God and predestined and awaiting God's efficacious call. But I fail to see that redemption' is in effect until after they have received Him by faith.
the Pope's statement implies "Universalism". Or if everyone is NOT saved, "Redeemed" and reject HIM, Christ died invain? That does not fly with Reformed Theology.
And once again, let's be consistent with criticism, rightly justified to be sure, because it applies equally so in regard to the vast majority of denominations, churches and professing Christians who hold to the doctrine of universal atonement in any of its various forms.
If the Reformers and Protestants were right, the Papacy is the Antichrist (counterfeit Christ). And this would also mean that Catholics embrace a counterfeit Christianity that cannot save. In fact, any "free will" salvation is no different from theirs, resting on the same principles.