14 October, 2009

Discussion with "Bourn Again" about salvation

(Bourn Again) I've assumed that all who believe in Christ and repent are saved, but what if we withdraw that belief? I still think those who fall from grace do so because of disbelief, not sin, since we are saved by faith and not works.

(Cristoiglesia) I think that many times people fall from faith because they are trying to justify their desire for sin. Certainly the temptation of sin is strong and especially sexual sin and those sins motivated by greed. But the clear message from Scriptures and the teaching of the Church is that sin certainly does separate us from eternity. Of course some are more tempted by sin than others and St. Paul speaks of his thorn that constantly tempts him towards sin. He is not specific about what it is but we do get the feeling from His writings that we all have our own crosses to bear. Some of us accept these temptations as blessings that by recognizing them we are able to turn from them and others fall into the snare of our desires. I think we are all tempted and that sin does indeed separate us from God’s will and subsequently from our heavenly promise. Unrepentant sin will eventually cause our soul to die to Christ.

Certainly we are saved by faith and not works but we are not saved by faith alone. True salvific grace results in good works as they are an expression of love for others which accompanies the grace we receive. If one wants to recognize those not in His grace it is always revealed by their lack of love for others and their love for self.

(Bourn Again) If we are saved by faith we are condemned by lack of faith. Fortunately, I had never discussed this belief hard with someone before, so I did not lead any astray.

(Cristoiglesia) Certainly we are saved by faith and that initial salvific faith we receive is built upon through the work of the Holy Spirit continuing to appeal to the law written on our hearts. In the process our faith grows and the temptations of sin become easier to put aside as we are sanctified and justified through the Spirit. But, you are correct we must consciously turn from sin, and we do not fall from grace because there is insufficient salvific grace to keep us within God’s will and on the narrow path to salvation. I am afraid that I may have led others astray because of my rejection of Christ’s Church and my pride for not seeing what was obvious in hindsight as to the veracity of Christ’s Church. I constantly humble myself in prayer for forgiveness for my errors and my disobedience to His Church for so long. I pray that our Lord will have mercy on me for my obstinacy and as a result false teaching.

(Bourn Again) I still think I will be saved forever, but I must believe in Christ till I die. Before I had a system so that all who are truly saved die saved, and those who believe then fall away or stop believing never had a saving belief in the first place. So the good news from that is it set up the same result, just an askew way of looking at it.

(Cristoiglesia) I think that it is dangerous and makes us more vulnerable to temptation is we believe that it is our efforts to remain in His will that save us instead of it being more of grace. We must cooperate with the grace God provides but we must always be open to receive His ongoing grace that He provides for us. Surely this ongoing grace is the bread of life that we must receive which is His Body and Blood. Jesus compared this to the manna that sustained the Israelites and instructs us that it is real food which provides our endurance in God’s will and grace. Receiving of His great feast makes us strong to fight the temptations that can cause us to fall from grace never to reconcile back into the familial relationship which sustains us in His will.

Certainly we have all seen those who appeared to be recipients of God’s salvific grace that failed to live out the fruits of that grace. Surely some were not as they appeared but there are others who truly came to faith and truly received His grace that subsequently was not sustained because they succumbed to their temptation and fell away, their desire being stronger for sin than for God’s grace.

(Bourn Again) I still disagree with some Catholic beliefs, and I still don't think we need works for salvation, but I do think that true faith's effect is works. Do you think this is right, or my previous belief. If you disagree with both, which is closer?

(Cristoiglesia) Catholics would agree with you about not needing works for salvation but we do know also that works are evidence of salvific grace in our hearts and lives. We can never believe that our works are of ourselves but that they are the result of a response to grace.

(Bourn Again) Thanks for talking this stuff over with me. I acctually had believed that we could fall from grace before, until I meet a calvanist who thought otherwise. I think he looks at the askewed version, so in the end he believes in the same effect, so thats a plus.

(Cristoiglesia) Sometimes we speak different languages but come to the same conclusions. I do believe that free will is an essential Christian belief but that the belief in predestination is not a belief that in itself will keep us from final salvation. It is when it is developed to its fullest potential into Antinomianism that it becomes heretical and will if not realized make us more vulnerable to temptation and result in us falling permanently into sin while still believing that we are in God’s unrelenting grace regardless of our sin. As St. Paul warned we must work out our salvation with fear and trembling. It is just too easy for Satan to appeal to our pride and to cause us to fall into the sin of presumption. Can a Calvinist be saved? Of course, but his belief becomes a stumbling block to continuing faith and subsequently to ongoing salvific grace.

(Bourn Again) If we are believe in Christ and have repented we are saved, but if we later withdraw that belief we will not still be saved. I believe in the permenance of salvation as far as sins do not destroy it, but disbelief does. Am I looking at this right? Thanks.
God bless!

(Cristoiglesia) Correct, God does not force us to continue in faith. We are free to reject His grace at any time. As a result God will not save us as we have condemned ourselves by our lack of faith. The Bible tells us that there is no excuse for disbelief. Where we may disagree is that I believe that sin does indeed have an effect on our salvation. Sin will cause our souls to die to Christ if we remain unrepentant. That is why the Sacrament of Reconciliation is so important so that sin does not seduce our will to the point that we do not respond to the work of the Spirit appealing to the law on our hearts to bring us back into Gods will when we fall into sin. We sin because sin satisfies our carnal senses and we remain in faith because our spiritual senses are satisfied and our heart is at peace with God. But, both sin and faith require a response from us but it is grace and grace alone that prompts us to reject sin. The embracing of sin is a faith in ourselves alone and a rejection of God which indeed separates us from His will and His heavenly promise. God bless!

In Christ
Fr. Joseph

No comments:

Post a Comment