“As we have said before, so now I say again:
If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received,
let him be accursed.”
Fair warning to all. My writings do not fall in line with some denominations. In fact, they would be considered heretical. On the other hand, it is my reading that the bible would label these folks as the heretics. I don’t find this as something to be casually dismissed. Let’s face it, the Catholic church has been around a long, long time, and I have only been a believer since 2007. If they are labeling me a heretic, then I had better pay attention. At the same time, I should not simply accept their position because there is strong opposition to the Catholic way of doing things.
So, let’s begin this journey together. My writings are from a Reformed Theology perspective which stands at odds with Catholic and many Protestant denominations. The crux of the debate could be labeled, “Who saves whom?” I believe this may even be the name of a sermon by John MacArthur, one of the teachers I follow. It boils down to whether or not man contributes to his salvation. The implications of both reach farther than we realize.
I am beginning my research using the Catholic Encyclopedia found at https://www.catholic.com/. In particular, I will begin with the entry of “Salvation” at https://www.catholic.com/encyclopedia/salvation#i-salvation-of-the-human-race
Long story short according to the Catholic perspective, God offers unmerited grace, but it is up to the individual to respond or not. A positive response means that one becomes disposed for salvation, but God does not interfere with man’s free will. Salvation comes from man changing his own ways toward things of God and accepting of God’s grace and gifts, all of which is justification. Man cooperates in his own salvation and by changing his ways he is made just. God does not declare or repute one to be just; man is responsible for making this happen. This change happens by either 1) “a perfect act of charity elicited by a well-disposed sinner”, or 2) by virtue of the Sacrament of either a) Baptism or b) Penance. Furthermore, “justification excludes all mortal sin from the soul” in order to be considered as not liable to a sentence of death at judgment. Without “final perseverance,” “personal salvation from sin is not permanently secured.”
Here’s the big difference. Reformed theology would say the bible demonstrates that God declares an individual sinner forgiven and God’s grace is then freely given by God to a sinner who is uncooperative and unwilling to change his ways and that same grace is causing factor in his being born again as evidenced by his new demeanor. No perfect acts or rituals are required for God to completely and forever forgive past, present, and future sin so that the individual may enjoy everlasting life with God in heaven. Furthermore, this salvation, this free gift of faith, this grace, will not or cannot be lost due to sin or the willful rejection of it once received. It truly is a gift out of the blue that none of us ask for or are able to reject. It is forever and ever, amen. While man is able to cooperate or not with sanctification, the Holy Spirit will bring this process to fruition. Again, it is God who ultimately is in control.
1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.
Tomorrow, I hope to dig in further in the Catholic teaching of penance and final perseverance. It’s been awhile since I have really studied it, but I do remember that my prior conclusions were that I would have a 1-in-ten-billion chance of hitting all the requirements right so that I might end up in heaven. If salvation is dependent on me, I’m toast.
Father, guide me through this. I don’t want to be wrong about things of great importance, like these. Amen.
Copyright © 2020 Scott Powers