“Are You Saved?”

Catholics take a modest approach to the question, “Are you saved?” We hope to be saved in Jesus Christ, and we can have some measure of confidence that we will be, but Catholics consider it presumptuous to say that our salvation is assured. The Catholic attitude is like that expressed by Paul:

“It does not concern me in the least that I be judged by you or any human tribunal; I do not even pass judgment 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. Therefore, do not make any judgment before the appointed time, until the Lord comes, for he will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will manifest the motives of our hearts, and then everyone will receive praise from God.” (1st Corinthians 4:3-5)

After seeing the light on the road to Damascus, if anyone could be certain of their salvation one would imagine it would be Paul. However, in 1st Corinthians 9, Paul doesn’t speak as if he had Heaven already in the bag. He says:

“All this (becoming all things for all people) I do for the sake of the gospel, so that I too may have a share in it. … I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.” (1 Cor 9:23, 27)

Immediately following this, Paul warns the Corinthians about the necessity of remaining faithful lest they be condemned like God’s people during the Exodus:

“They were all under the cloud (like the Holy Spirit) and all passed through the sea (like baptism) and all of them were baptized into Moses (who imaged Christ) in the cloud and in the sea. All ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink (like the Eucharist)… Yet God was not pleased with most of them, for they were struck down in the desert. These things happened as examples for us, so that we might not desire evil things, as they did. … Therefore, whoever thinks he is standing secure should take care not to fall.” (1 Cor 10:1-6, 12)

In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus warns us that if we are to be saved, we must not be among those who acknowledge Him as “Lord, Lord” but fail to do God’s will:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’ Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.'” (Matthew 7:21-23)

Those condemned seemed surprised that they are refused entry into Heaven. This is why Catholics do not rest in a self-assurance of Heaven (that judgment belongs to the Lord.) Our part is to ceaselessly strive to cooperate with the saving grace of Jesus Christ as we “work out [our] salvation with fear and trembling” as God does His work in us. (Philippians 2:12)

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