Salvation

AnswerMany Protestants believe we are saved by Faith Alone and they say Catholics believe they can “work” their way into Heaven. How do you answer that?

The Catholic Church does not now, nor has it ever, taught a doctrine of salvation by works…that we can “work” our way into Heaven. Additionally, nowhere in the Bible does it teach that we are saved by “faith alone.” The only place in all of Scripture where the phrase “faith alone” appears is in James 2:24, where it says that we are not justified (or saved) by faith alone.
The Bible says very clearly that we are not saved by faith alone.

Works do have something to do with our salvation. Numerous passages in the New Testament that I know of about judgment says we will be judged by our works, not by whether or not we have faith alone. We see this in Romans 2, Matthew 15 and 16, 1 Peter 1, Revelation 20 and 22, 2 Corinthians 5, and many, many more verses.

If we are saved by faith alone, why does 1 Corinthians 13:13 say that love is greater than faith? Shouldn’t it be the other way around?

As Catholics we believe that we are saved by God’s grace alone. We can do nothing, apart from God’s grace, to receive the free gift of salvation. We also believe, however, that we have to respond to God’s grace. Protestants believe that, too. However, many Protestants believe that the only response necessary is an act of faith; whereas, Catholics believe a response of faith and works is necessary…or, as the Bible puts it in Galatians 5:6, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumsion is of any avail, but faith working through love…” Faith working through love…just as the Church teaches.

AnswerHow should I (a Catholic) respond to someone who asks me if I’ve been saved, or born again?

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Answer with a resounding, “Yes!” Tell them that it is through Baptism that you were saved, just as the Bible says in 1 Ptr 3:20-21 and that it is through Baptism, water and the Spirit, that you are “born again,” just as the Bible says in John 3:5.You see, many Protestants believe that they are saved by making one single act of faith at one single point in time in their lives. Nowhere does Scripture say such a thing. As Catholics, however, we believe that salvation is a process which begins with our Baptism and continues throughout our lifetimes, just as the Bible teaches us.

There are so many places in Scripture, which talk about how one is “saved”, but not one of them says we are saved by one act of faith at just one point in time. As I just mentioned, 1 Ptr 3:20 says we are saved by baptism. In Hebrews 12:14 it says that we will not see the Lord unless we are holy, and that we have to strive for this holiness. In Matthew 6:14-15, it says we must forgive others or we will not be forgiven. Can you attain salvation if God hasn’t forgiven you? No! So, our forgiving others is necessary for our salvation.

1 Tim 2:15 says that woman will be saved through bearing children, if she continues in faith and love and holiness with modesty. John 6:54 says we will have eternal life by doing something…eating the flesh and drinking the blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In Matthew 19, verses 16 and 17, Jesus is asked directly what one must do to have eternal life. Did He say, accept me into your heart once and that’s it? No! Jesus said to keep the commandments and you will have life.

Yes, as Catholics we are born again. And, as Catholics we believe that we were saved, as Paul says in Rom 8:24; that we are being saved, as Paul says in 1 Cor 1:18; and that we will be saved, as Paul says in Rom 5:9-10, provided we persevere and keep our eyes on the prize. Salvation is a process, just as Catholics believe, and just as the Bible clearly teaches.

Suggested Books
The Salvation Controversy
By James Akin
Perhaps nothing splits apart Catholics and Protestants like the topic of salvation. The arguments rage over how we’re saved, when we’re saved, and whether we can be assured of salvation. And Protestants fight among themselves as much as they fight with Catholics. No one understands the various arguments better than Catholic Answers’ Jimmy Akin–a former Protestant himself. For the last 15 years, Jimmy has studied the issue of salvation, taking into account Church teachings and the various Protestant interpretations, while focusing primarily on Scripture. And now he’s taken his findings and put them into a noteworthy book, “The Salvation Controversy.” If you want to understand both the Catholic and Protestant positions on salvation–and be equipped to defend the Church’s teachings–there’s no better guide than “The Salvation Controversy.” It’s a complete guide to salvation that no Catholic should be without.

Catholic Christianity: A Complete Catechism of Catholic Beliefs Based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church
By Peter Kreeft
For the first time in 400 years the Catholic Church has authorized an official universal catechism which instantly became an international best-seller, the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Using this official Catechism, the highly-regarded author and professor Peter Kreeft presents a complete compendium of all the major beliefs of Catholicism written in his readable and concise style. Since the Catechism of the Catholic Church was written for the express purpose of grounding and fostering catechisms based on it for local needs and ordinary readers, Kreeft does just that, offering a thorough summary of Catholic doctrine, morality, and worship in a popular format with less technical language. He presents a systematic, organic synthesis of the essential and fundamental Catholic teachings in the light of the Second Vatican Council and the whole of the Church’s Tradition. This book is the most thorough, complete and popular catechetical summary of Catholic belief in print that is based on the universal Catechism.

Handbook of Catholic Apologetics: Reasoned Answers to Questions of Faith
By Peter Kreeft, Ronald Tracelli
Unbelievers, doubters and skeptics continue to attack the truths of Christianity. Handbook of Catholic Apologetics is the only book that categorizes and summarizes all the major arguments in support of the main Christian beliefs. Also included is a Protestant-friendly treatment of Catholic- Protestant issues. The Catholic answers to Protestant questions show how Catholicism is the fullness of the Christian faith. Handbook of Catholic Apologetics is full of the wisdom and wit, clarity and insight of philosophers Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli. This is an informative and valuable guidebook for anyone looking for answers to questions of faith and reason. Whether you are asking the questions yourself or want to respond to others who are, here is the resource you have been waiting for. Topics include: faith and reason, the existence of God, God’s nature, creation and evolution, providence and free will, miracles, problem of evil, Bible’s historical reliability, divinity of Chris, Christ’s resurrection, life after death, salvation, the Eucharist, Catholic hierarchy and more.

Jesus: The Word Became Flesh
Directed by Stephen Ray
In this edition in the Footprints of God series, join Stephen Ray as he catches fish in the Sea of Galilee, camps along the Jordan, and explores the places Jesus lived and performed his miracles. Follow the incredible journey through the streets of Jerusalem to Calvary and the tomb, to the Resurrection and Pentecost. Gain a deeper appreciation for our Savior and the salvation he purchased for the world. All this in a fast-paced, entertaining biography, travel documentary, Bible study, apologetics course and Church history study rolled into one remarkable adventure!