October 21, 2015

The Reformation & the Rediscovery of Christian Assurance

by Eric Davis
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It was a saying frequently heard in those days. As they would make their way up to the doors of the monastery, history records that those daring to enter the Augustinian ranks chanted the following: “In thy holy name we have clad in the habit of a monk, that he may continue with thy help faithful in thy Church and merit eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

With the hope of accumulating that merit, the monk candidate then stepped foot into a life of austere devotion to Roman Catholic tradition. It would not be easy, but with enough rigor and exertion, the candidate could move himself that much closer to the possibility of heaven.

There was one such man who dared enter the Augustinian ranks at the age of 22. After nearly being struck by lightning, Martin Luther vowed to abandon his secular studies to become a monk. Two weeks later, on July 17, 1505, Luther presented himself at the monastery of Erfurt.

No Assurance, Necessary Torment

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As he read Scripture, Luther came to grasp God’s towering standards. He knew that man’s moral and spiritual condition was simply too depraved to satisfy God. Commenting on the Sermon on the Mount, Luther wrote, “This word is too high and too hard that anyone should fulfill it. This is proved, not merely by our Lord’s word, but by our own experience and feeling.” Thus, Luther was faced with the dilemma of the ages: how can sinful man be permanently in right standing with holy God?

So, Luther devoted himself to solving that dilemma. He gave himself fully to gaining the assurance of righteousness before God. For example, he would often fast for multiple consecutive days, supposing to inch himself closer to God’s favor. In an effort to cast off the guilt of sin, Luther would whip himself, cast off his blankets, sleep in the cold, and nearly freeze to death with the hope that the self-atonement would suffice. Moments when Luther supposed to have obeyed enough, his conscience would fire back: “But have you fasted enough? Prayed enough? Impoverished yourself enough?” He spent hours upon hours in confession, hoping to appease his conscience and God’s wrath that way. One of his mentors, Johann von Staupitz, once remarked, “If you expect Christ to forgive you, come in with something to forgive—parricide, blasphemy, adultery—instead of all these peccadilloes.” But Luther was bringing something in need of forgiveness: failures to perfectly love God from the heart at every moment. Under Rome, he had no assurance.

An Achieved Catholic

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Yet, he far exceeded the monastery’s requirements of prayers, discipline, fasting, confession, and piety, for he knew full well that such rigor still landed him short of God’s requirements for righteousness. Neither was Luther indulging in secret, flagrant sin. He was a chaste man. Even so, he was tormented with the awareness of falling short of God’s requirements. Luther was not plagued with hallucinations of his sin, but a well-oiled conscience being made aware of his undealt-with sin. And his diligent attempts at killing his sin only kindled it. Luther, like so many under Rome, had no assurance that they could ever stand righteous before God.

Some scorn Luther for such behavior. But contrary to what some Romanist theologians claim, Martin Luther was not a psychopath engaged in self-abuse because he was deranged in the mind. Rather, he was of sound mind. Sound in the sense that he grasped his own sinfulness, and, consequently, his condemnation. In a system like Rome’s where eternal life must be earned, Luther was not a bad Catholic, but one of the best there ever was. Like a smoke alarm that fires off in response to smoke undetectable to the average human nose, so Luther’s conscience fired off in response to his violations of God’s law which were undetectable by most. Luther wrote:

I was a good monk, and I kept the rule of my order so strictly that I may say that if ever a monk got to heaven by his monkery it was I. All my brothers in the monastery who knew me will bear me out. If I had kept on any longer, I should have killed myself with vigils, prayers, reading, and other work.

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Luther knew that such rigor was the only way make ground on the assurance of heaven under Rome. As Roland Bainton remarked of Luther: “The man who was later to revolt against monasticism became a monk for exactly the same reason as thousands of others, namely, in order to save his soul…Monasticism was the way par excellence to heaven.”

But Luther realized something profound in his Romanist devotion. One might work to merit righteousness by confessing all known sins, but that does not deal with man’s deeper problem. We are not condemned only by various sins we commit. We are condemned because of the sinful nature we possess. We sin because we are sinners. So, Catholic confession is merely clipping leaves on a bursting-forth willow tree. You cannot keep up with the leaf-clipping. Something more needs to be done for assurance.

Assurance Rediscovered

And then, it happened. Luther writes:

My situation was that, although an impeccable monk, I stood before God as a sinner troubled in conscience, and I had no confidence that my merit would assuage him. Therefore I did not love a just and angry God, but rather hated and murmured against him…Night and day I pondered until I saw the connection between the justice of God and the statement that ‘the just shall live by his faith.’ Then I grasped that the justice of God is that righteousness by which through grace and sheer mercy God justifies us through faith. Thereupon I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise. The whole of Scripture took on a new meaning, and whereas before the ‘justice of God’ had filled me with hate, now it became to me inexpressibly sweet in greater love. This passage of Paul became to me a gate to heaven.

assuranceWith that, the once tormented monk rested in the righteousness of Christ. Christian assurance had been rescued from the dark dungeon of Roman Catholicism. Luther realized that truth which every Christian has embraced and celebrated: the sinner’s assurance of right standing with God depends not on man’s moral proficiency before God, but on faith in the Person and finished work of Christ. Sinners do not progressively render themselves righteous before God through works, but are instantaneously declared righteous by faith in Jesus Christ. The penalty for our sin is not gradually purged through a mixture of man’s works, saintly merit, and time in Purgatory, but instantly forgiven through faith in Christ’s sin-bearing death on the cross. Righteousness sufficient for my assurance of heaven is not accumulated through careful keeping of the church’s sacraments, but is instantly credited by trusting in the righteous Christ alone as my mediator. Luther understood that justification is by faith alone in Christ alone. The result is that there is not one ounce of condemnation from God towards the sinner. And where there is an absence of condemnation, there is a presence of assurance.

Assurance Denied

But, the sad reality is that Roman Catholicism still plagues its adherents with the lack of assurance. The promise of heaven is something that Rome simply cannot give her devotees. Rome’s doctrine confirms this: “No one can know with a certainty of faith…that he has obtained the grace of God” (Council of Trent, 6th session, paragraph 9). Cardinal Robert Belarmine wrote, “The principle heresy of Protestants is that saints may obtain to a certain assurance of their gracious and pardoned state before God” (De justificatione 3.2.3). Christ’s sacrifice opens the possibility to heaven, but the sinner must rigorously work towards that possibility. And even then, the possibility remains only that.

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Rome has many other teachings which demonstrate her heresy of jeopardizing assurance. Purgatory, for example, is a teaching that must exist in a system of progressively earned righteousness. Though heaven is possible for those who “die in God’s grace and friendship,” they must yet be purified, or purged, in Purgatory for an indefinite amount of time. Some learned Catholics you speak with today will portray a nervousness over that indefinite duration.

If you listen carefully to contemporary Roman Catholic theologians, you will hear of assurance only in relation to those who have been canonized as saints. For example, when pope John Paul II and John XXIII were declared saints in April of 2014, one Catholic official said that the declaration affirms that these men are in heaven. For Roman Catholicism, saints are individuals who have been canonized by Rome’s official declaration. They are said to have possessed heroic virtue, performed two miracles (one after their death, which is said to confirm their place in heaven), and are nominated by the church. The saints, then, are usually the only individuals who are said to be in heaven. “The title of saint tells us that the person lived a holy life, is in heaven, and is to be honored by the universal Church.”

Biblical Assurance

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Tragically, Roman Catholic teaching on assurance differs radically from that of Scripture. For example, the Apostle writes, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1). To be justified here refers to having been declared in an absolute, unalterable state of perfect righteousness by God through Jesus Christ. Faith alone accesses that sufficient righteousness. Peace with God, or Christian assurance, is the consequence. No wavering. No wondering. No purging needed. Justification by faith alone in Christ alone renders us in a state of assurance. Christ proclaimed, “It is finished” (John 19:30).

Later, Paul wrote, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). Notice something amazing here. The consequence of union with Christ (“in Christ Jesus”), is a state of no-condemnation. The instant a sinner enters into union with Christ by faith, at that moment, there is no guilt, no penalty, and no remaining sentence for sin. It’s over and done. If the Christian dies with unconfessed sin, not to worry. They will awake, and stand before Christ in complete righteousness. Christ’s atoning death on the cross absorbs all of the Christian’s condemnation with the result that not one ounce of sin remains for expunging. Christ’s death satisfies the wrath of God. And we would not dare suppose that our puny, imperfect human acts of righteousness could ever add to Christ’s one, colossal, perfect act at the cross. Simply put, Rome offers assurance as a mere possibility to the highest moral heroes. God offers assurance as an absolute certainty to the lowest moral failures.

Five Solas 4Because Roman Catholicism maintains the heresy of a lack of assurance, its teaching must be vehemently opposed. The true gospel offers to sinners tormented with a guilty conscience the real peace through the assurance of Christ’s work, not theirs. Contrary to Rome, God offers sinners the free, instant gift of assurance through faith in Christ. That no-condemnation status can belong to any sinner because Christ took our condemned status on himself.

During this 498th official Reformation season, let us celebrate the rediscovery of Christian assurance: the certainty of right standing with God and entrance into heaven through faith alone in the Person and substitutionary atoning death of Jesus Christ.

Eric Davis

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Eric is the pastor of Cornerstone Church in Jackson Hole, WY. He and his team planted the church in 2008. Leslie is his wife of 14 years and mother of their 3 children.
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  • Pastor Davis, as a Catholic I found this article greatly troubling. Not because I was shocked by the differences between our teachings but because the Catholic position in this article is not Catholic at all. Pastor Davis you are essentially arguing against a straw man. You misrepresent what the church teaches on almost every line of the article.

    If the church tough what you say it did I would join you in opposing it. However it does not teach at all what you write it does.

    “Protestants believe that after Jesus ascended into heaven he became a book, they now worship that book and call it the “Word of God”.

    If I wrote this about your faith you would think I am crazy and completely ignorant about your faith, and you would be correct! Yet that is how I feel when I read your article. I know there is vast gulf that separates us. I know that you think Catholics are in some man made system where we work our way to heaven. You are incorrect. I hope that you will take time to clarify this article and present an honest representation of the Catholic faith you oppose, only then you will have a chance to even have a remote chance of reaching out to Catholics.

    • Matt Mumma

      What was wrong about what he said? There were several quotes from official Catholic Church doctrine.

      • Should I go line by line?

        In short, the author assumes incorrectly that Catholics believe in works salvation. This is not true. That we merit our entry into heaven, not true. That we are in constant fear of damnation, not true. That we don’t have any assurance of our state of soul, not true. That we rely on our own works instead of Christ not true. That purgatory and sacraments somehow make work of Christ less then it is. Not true. That we think only canonized saints have attained heaven, not true. In short everything in the article is wrong. Every single point made about the Catholic Church is wrong. That takes some skill.

        • Matt Mumma

          Then what do you believe? How is someone saved? How do we get to heaven?

          And what do these quotes from official Catholic doctrine mean then?

          “If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious [sinner] is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification … let him be anathema” (Council of Trent, Chapter XVI, Canon 9)

          “If any one saith, that, after the grace of Justification has been received, to every penitent sinner the guilt is remitted, and the debt of eternal punishment is blotted out in such wise, that there remains not any debt of temporal punishment to be discharged either in this world, or in the next in Purgatory, before the entrance to the kingdom of heaven can be opened (to him); let him be anathema” (Council of Trent, Chapter XVI, Canon 30)

          • Please read the whole Trent on Justification if you want to know what Catholics believe.

            How is someone saved? Eph 2:8-9

            For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. << That is the Catholic Teaching.

            Please not there is no word "alone" in there, which is why Trent had a problem with it.

          • Matt Mumma

            So we are saved by faith plus something? Why then does Paul say, “not by works?”

          • He says not by works because he means not by works of the Law as he kept drilling it to the Romans and Galatians. Catholic position is not “plus something” It is what the bible says.

            Trent on Justification Canon 1.

            If anyone says that man can be justified before God by his own works, whether done by his own natural powers or through the teaching of the law,[110] without divine grace through Jesus Christ, let him be anathema.

          • Matt Mumma

            Still does not answer how someone is saved.

          • Did you not read my reply? Eph 2:8-9

          • Matt Mumma

            So salvation is through faith alone in Christ alone by grace alone? Since it is not of works.

          • If you understand “faith” to be “faith working through love” as Paul does in Gal 5:6, then yes that would be what the Church teaches.

            But no Catholic would use those words because they are not biblical. There is no such passage in scripture that says “we are saved by faith alone” . The only time we find “faith alone” in Scripture is in James 2:24 and it says “You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.” Of course James does not mean we are saved by works he means same think that Paul means. The same that bible says, The same think that the Church teaches. We are saved by grace alone through Christ alone by faith working through love. That’s biblical.

            Catholics don’t insert their own theology into the bible. That’s what Protestants do. We take bible as it is, not mold it to our liking based on our man made traditions.

          • Matt Mumma

            What does “faith working through love mean?”

            And when the current Pope says that people from all religions and even atheist will go to heaven, is that taking the Bible at its word? Or is that molding the Bible to fit current thinking?

          • You never read Gal 5:6? Paul tells you what it means. Why do you need a Catholic to explain it to you? Are you not a bible christian? Should not the bible be clear enough to understand.

            As for the Pope, not what the Pope said. Quote in context please.

            The Pope simply stated the age old Catholic teaching, as old as the bible. Outside of the Church there is no salvation.

            “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me” (Jn 14:6)

            “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters” (Mt 12:30)

            As for those who are outside the Church? Again we have the bible telling is:

            “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin” (Jn 15:22).

            When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus. (Rom 2:14-16)

            This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church: Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience—those too may achieve eternal salvation. (CCC 847)

          • Matt Mumma

            Personal attacks aside, I was not asking because I don’t understand, but want to know what you mean it to say. John MacArthur says it better than I could, “Saving faith proves its genuine character by works of love. The person who lives by faith is internally motivated by love for God and Christ (cf. Matt. 22: 37– 40), which supernaturally issues forth in reverent worship, genuine obedience, and self-sacrificing love for others.”

            And if John 14:6 is true, how can it be true that those who try in their own actions to do the will of God (even though they don’t know God) be true?

          • I apologize, got worked up, will try to control my temper. You must understand how upsetting it is to have protestants constantly misrepresent Catholics, as this article does. The Church is Jesus’s body and when someone (not you) attacks his Church I get upset.

            As for your quote on faith working through love from the horrible anit-Catholic John MacArthur who understands Catholicism even less then the author of the article, I would agree with it.

            As for John 14:6, Rom 2:14-16 exists too and both must be taken together. Which is what the church does. And Rom 2:14-16 does not contradict John 14:6 because ANYONE who is saved is saved through Jesus!

          • GinaRD

            That’s not exactly what he said, Matt.

          • Eric Davis

            Gina – Francis used salvation language with reference to atheists, such as here: “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!…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.”

            And it was telling afterwards when scores of Roman Catholic websites and officials played major cleanup on such statements.

          • You don’t believe that Jesus redeemed all of us?

          • Eric Davis

            Matthew – I do not believe that. My understanding of redemption is that it means a release of individuals detained in bondage. In Col 1:14, for example, it says, “in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins,” the “whom,” speaking of Christ. So, here, those experiencing redemption are those who have been released from the bondage of sin, having experienced “the forgiveness of sins.” If one is forgiven of sin, then they are released from sin’s penalty, a child of God, a Christian, on their way to heaven. This cannot be said of “all of us,” if by “all,” you mean every human being, for not every human being enters heaven. Jesus said that the way is narrow which leads to life (Matt 7:14) and hell will be populated (Rev 20:15).

            So, I think we would differ on our understanding of redemption.

          • Yes we definitely differ on that.

            We believe that Christ is a redeemer of all. (that doesn’t mean that all will be saved), just that His work on the cross can redeem all.

            “For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe” (1 Tim. 4:10)

          • Eric Davis

            Rome takes an erroneous view of 1 Tim 4:10. Yes, Christ is the redeemer for humanity. There is no other by which we can be redeemed (Acts 4:12). However, not all are redeemed. As I mentioned previously, there are many (Matt 7:13-14, Rev 20:15) who end up in eternal punishment. Thus, not all are redeemed. Your understanding of 1 Tim 4:10 must be understood in light of the rest of Scripture.

          • I never said all are redeemed. The church never said that either. We say that Christ is a redeemer of all. His work is enough to redeem all. That doesn’t mean that all are redeemed. You surely agree with that? Yes? 1 Tim is pretty clear about it.

          • Eric Davis

            Of course. But the pope’s words from earlier this year, however, sure hinted that atheists and other non-Christians will go to heaven without regeneration through faith in Christ.

          • What the church teaches on this is not a secret. Outside of the Chuch there is no salvation. I already stated my references above.

            What the pope said must be taken in that context. I did not read the original quote in original language. He doesn’t speak English. And people misquote him all the time for their own purposes. So I would question your translation. Where did you get it? I will be happy to look for original version when I get home.

          • Jason

            I too, believe that true faith will result in a transformed life. However, my question is “why take offense at the word ‘alone’?” if the alternative is not “plus something”. What one thing can you say is absolutely required, besides faith, that makes the word “alone” so dirty?

            The Trent quotation doesn’t claim that a person isn’t justified by works. It qualifies that works apart from divine grace don’t justify a man (still leaving room for a discussion of if works with divine grace are what justify a man).

            I understand that from our limited, temporal perception a person may *seem* to be walking in the faith and then fall away (resulting in the necessity of them being cut off from fellowship, just as unbelieving Israel has always been cut off from the remnant throughout the Old Testament), but when considered from a perspective that sees the whole from the beginning to end, such a person was not one of us to begin with (1 John 2:19).

            If you also agree that no work is required to be saved, but that faith will save you and will also necessarily result in works and perseverance for a believer than I believe everyone here is arguing in circles for the sake of defending labels, which is a complete waste of time.

          • For obvious historical reasons Catholics have a problem with the insertion of alone into the text. There is a sense in which faith alone can be used using Catholic language. And Pope Benedict used it at times. Here is a small quote:

            Pope Benedict teaches that faith alone suffices and that it always comes with charity. He means, by “true faith,” a living faith. Now, living faith by dogmatic definition includes charity, for divine faith without hope and charity does not avail (1 Cor 13:2, 1 Jn 3:14). Charity is not first a “work.” It is first of all a divine gift of love that comes down from the Father (Jas 1:17) through the Holy Spirit (Rom 5:5). It is by this gift of divine love that faith can realize itself in good works (Gal 5:6). Pope Benedict teaches this very thing: Charity is the soul or form of faith (Audience, Nov. 19).

            This is why we Catholics prefer to use the biblical language without any insertions to it by saying Faith working through love. As St. Paul says.

            If that’s the sense that protestands see it then yes we agree.

            I also agree that a lot of argument comes from our labels and misunderstanding of Protestant vs Catholic theological language.

  • Pastor Davis, just a question about the line:

    “If the Christian dies with unconfessed sin, not to worry.”

    You previously stated that one needs to be “in Jesus Christ” to be in the state of non-condemnation. (And I agree, we call it state of grace) but what if this unconfessed sin is precisely turning away from Christ. Denying Christ. How then is one still “in Jesus Christ”? If one is not anymore “in Jesus Christ” do you not lose the state of non-condemnation? Is there biblical evidence for such a thing? I can list plenty of passages that deal with loosing ones salvation but I want to hear from you first. Is there such a thing in the bible that you have a Christian who after becoming Christian denies his Savior and is yet still saved?

    • Matt Mumma

      The great thing about the Christian’s assurance of salvation is that it does not rest on me but on the finished work of Christ. If I can do something to lose my salvation, then that is really bad for me since every day I sin and should loose my salvation every time I sin. If someone can lose their salvation, how are we to know when that is? How can I know or sure I am “in Christ?” And I can lose my salvation, then that means that I can earn it as well, for salvation is up to me to decide.

      Thankfully, my assurance of salvation is not up to me. Eric already quoted Rom 5:1, 8:1 and other passages that speak about how our assurance is based on Christ, and here is one more. John 10:28, “and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” If we were given eternal life by Christ, but we have the possibility of losing it, how can this passage be true? Is Christ a liar? May it never be!

      Your point about the sin of denying Christ is a valid question. If someone once professed Christ but then deny’s Christ and never turns back, then it is clear that this person was never saved. They did not lose what they did not have. 1 John 2:19, “They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for it they would had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.” This also speaks to the issue is the Christian’s perseverance.

      Is it possible for a Christian to deny Christ and yet still be saved? Yes. Should they have assurance though? No. Again, ones assurance is not based on their works, but on Christ. For those who have been saved by grace alone in Christ alone, there is full assurance of salvation and entrance to heaven.

      Titus 3:5-7, “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

      • Thank you Matt for your answer. I have a question about this line you wrote:

        “If someone once professed Christ but then deny’s Christ and never turns back, then it is clear that this person was never saved.”

        How is it clear? This person at some point assumed that he is saved. He has his assurance of salvation (in the protestant sense that the article is discussing). To me that seems more like a presumption of salvation.

        Also how do you deal with passages of the bible that directly state that one can lose their salvation. Passages from both St. Paul and Our Lord Himself.

        • Matt Mumma

          What passages?

          • For starters these two. (I can give you many many more)

            Paul to Romans (already Christians apparently with assurance of salvation):

            Romans 11:17-22:
            If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, 18 do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. 19 You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” 20 Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but tremble. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either. 22 Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.

            (Hebrews 10:26-29)
            26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?

          • Matt Mumma

            Both these are warning passages that if we are continually living in sin and are not repenting, we need to check ourselves to see if we are in the faith (2 Cor 13:5). One can profess Christ but have not bowed the knee to Christ, repented of sin and trusted in him alone for salvation. Just because someone goes to church and warms a pew, does not make them a Christ. That is false assurance because it is based on works. True assurance is based on Christ.

            What about the passages in John 10 about Christ not losing any to eternal life?

          • You are making my point. If there is such a think as false assurance then there is no such a think as assurance to the point of certainty of faith (Precisely what the Trent quote in the article stated). Catholics can have moral certainty that if we stay “in Christ” we call that “state of Grace” we will be saved. That is not the same as what the author and you are talking about.

            John 10 is about Christ not losing anyone, it doesn’t say that me and you cannot leave by yourself.

            You explained away the passages the I quoted. Paul is clearly speaking to Christians who if you are correct had assurance of salvation. Since you said that it was not a real assurance of salvation How do you know that YOU have a real assurance of salvation?

          • Jane Hildebrand

            Matthew, the answer to whether or not we can know we have assurance is in Ephesians 1:13-14: Read it carefully.

            “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the good news of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of His glory.”

            Being included in Christ means having received His Holy Spirit, being born again, and therefore receiving His assurance.

          • No one is questioning that you can have assurance. And this passage is a perfect example of that. Catholics have assurance. When I’m “in Christ” I have assurance. If I reject Christ my assurance disappears as I am no longer “in Christ” we just don’t say it is assurance to the point of certainty of faith. And we don’t neglect sin. Paul lists many times sins that separate you from Christ. I am sure you know the passages.

          • Jane Hildebrand

            Matthew, I’m thinking that your definition of “in Christ” is not the same as the Bible’s. The NT uses the words “in Christ” when speaking of those who have received the Holy Spirit, those who have been born again. This is not something we must continue to maintain, He indwells the believer through faith and doesn’t leave. This is the assurance of salvation. And it is then through the power of that Spirit that we can resist sin.

          • “The NT uses the words “in Christ” when speaking of those who have received the Holy Spirit, those who have been born again” Yes that’s what I mean by “in Christ”.

            You are wrong about the other parts, as the bible is also clear that one can lose ones salvation and one can regain it again. Like I already stated Rom. 11:22 etc.. above. Both things are in the bible, for some reason your brand of Protestantism chooses to ignore it.

            The holy spirit does not leave unless you kick him out. If you commit a mortal sin a sin serious in nature you are doing just that. That is why St. Paul made those lists of sins.

            If the bible tough what you believe it teaches there would be no passages that say the exact opposite to what you believe. Since there are passages that state the exact opposite to what you believe your belief is by necessity incorrect.

          • Jane Hildebrand

            Wait. So basically you are saying that catholics have assurance as long as they can stay in a “state of grace,” but if they mess up (commit a mortal sin) they risk their salvation?

            How is that any different than basing your assurance in what you do? Because however you try to spin it to make it sound like your faith is in Christ, you have just admitted to say it is also in you. And that is sadly what will keep God from granting you that assurance and joy that He promised to those who would come to Him broken and in spiritual poverty.

          • i think it is pretty clear that the type of assurance that the article is talking about is simply not biblical. Nothing in any of these answers convinces me. You are simply ignoring vast number of passages that are saying the opposite. The Catholic and most Protestant understanding is simply better and biblical.

            It is also very clear from the bible that one can loose ones salvation. This is not just Catholics talking, it’s most of Protestants too.

            I also believe God made us with free will and as such we always have the choice to reject him. Look at Adam! He received grace upon grace and still fell. Not sure if your tradition believes in free will.

            None of the above means that I am somehow “doing” something to gain salvation. Salvation is a free gift from God. But gifts can be rejected. That’s what mortal sin is.

            Also I don’t see how you came to the conclusion that I have faith in me. Care to explain? A Catholic has all his/her trust in Jesus. If I reject him I can always come back. He is ready to receive me. (Prodigal son parable), with open arms. What do you do with passages like that? Ignore them? I thin most of the confusion is because unlike the bible you think salvation is one time event in the life of a sinner. That’s not biblical. The bible speaks of salvation in past present and future.

            You seem to put your trust in a very shaky unbiblical believe system. That requires you to ignore or explain away vast areas of the bible.

            Don’t worry about my assurance. I trust in God to fulfil his work he started in me.

        • GinaRD

          As a lifelong Protestant, I too have problems with this teaching. It’s a little too reminiscent of the No True Scotsman fallacy.

    • Kara Brockett

      Matthew,

      One thing to keep in mind is that Protestants do not have a very clear understanding of what sin is. They make no distinctions between mortal and venial sins and most (obviously I cannot speak for all 30k denominations) believe that all sin is basically equal. Obviously, they say that the consequences are different, but when questioned, most Protestants admit that having anger in your heart towards someone and plotting then committing murder are equal in regards to their sin value. Confusing, right?

      This is probably why I spent a majority of my Protestant life feeling guilty and this is probably why they find assurance doctrines so necessary.

      • Matt Mumma

        So we should not need assurance? It is a necessary doctrine, otherwise I would go around all day trying to make sure I am saved, when in reality, my salvation is not based on me.

        And all sin, any sin makes you guilty before God. What do you do with that guilt?

        • Kara Brockett

          That’s my point Matt (though this was directed at the other Matthew) Protestants make no attempt to understand the nature of sin.

          In response to your question, first of all, if you’re running around committing mortal sins all day you should take a serious look at your life and your choices. Pray about it. If you have committed sin, confess them before God and the Church. That’s the solution Scripture gives us.

      • Lead Salad

        All sin separates us from God. That is crystal clear in scripture. Matthew 5:21 “You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not commit murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.” This is supported by many other verses of Scripture…Romans 3:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” There is no distinction made here between classes of sin. James 2:10-“For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.” And of course, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. So “us” Protestants have a very clear understanding of sin.

        Oh, and I love how Catholics bring up that 30,000 denomination lie that has been thoroughly debunked:

        http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php/2007/08/22/the-33000-denominations-myth/

        • Kara Brockett

          I would agree that all sin separates us from God. The Catholic Church does not deny this, we simply believe that serious sin has the potential to separate us from God even after our conversion.

          You will forgive me for not thinking that one article written by a protestant has “thoroughly debunked” the claim that there are 30,000+ denominations. No matter how many there are, there are too many. If man is only left with infallible scriptures and no infallible way to interpret them, you end up with a lot of schisms. This is how all of the truly heretical non-trinitarian churches get formed. It’s not a mystery. Just from reading this thread you will see serious disagreements in how to interpret the Scriptures.

          You are right. There is no distinction between sins made in Romans 3:23, but there are distinctions made in 1 Corinthians 6: 9-10. The point of the Romans verse is not to deny that there are distinctions in sin, but rather to point out that the fruit of mortal sin is death. This is also seen in Genesis; it’s a clear message.

          With that said, why is it important to make distinctions between sins? Because they have different consequences and because when we sin against ourselves we also sin against our community, the Church. Because there are different effects for sins made without full knowledge and sins committed willfully. Because it should be our desire to root out these sins from our lives and understanding them helps us to do this.

    • Eric Davis

      Hi Matthew – Good question. I think Matt handled it well, below. A regenerate, justified individual cannot have their status revoked; salvation cannot be lost. I would base that claim on passages like Romans 8:29-30, where Paul speaks of our salvation from eternity past to future, in past tense verbs as if to emphasize the certainty of it. The power of the Holy Spirit to keep us and persevere us is greater than our power, or any other, to actually lose our status of regenerate and justified.

      There is no such thing, therefore, as someone who used to be a Christian. They may have associated with Christians, thought they were, learned Christian truths, but they were never regenerate and justified. God loses none of his children. I understand that you differ with this view, but it is essential to your question.

      So, when an individual turns from Christ and persists in rejection, then, as Matt said below, they went out from b/c they were never truly among; they were never regenerate. Now, as we observe these painful situations, it can be perplexing. However, we must say what Scripture says; that they were never regenerate.

      So, what I meant by, “If the Christian dies with unconfessed sin, not to worry,” it this: a regenerate individual may have committed many sins about which they were unware or forgot. Perhaps 1 hour before they died, they committed adultery of the heart or something. Even so, that sin is propitiated at the cross, regardless if they voiced contrition or awareness of it. Hope that makes sense.

      • Thank you Pastor I appreciate your answer. It still leaves me confused. If some people (people that you say were never regenerate) but thought they were regenerate I am guessing they thought they had assurance of salvation. Would you say that is correct?

        When they fell away from Christ they lost that assurance, or as you would say they never had it in the first place, because they were never regenerate. Is that correct?

        Either way there are people that have an assurance of salvation that cannot be said is 100% because some of those people will in fact fall away from Christ.

        So the only Christians that really do have an assurance of salvation as the ones that persevered to the end, as our Lord said. So now you just pushed the problem forward, how do you KNOW for certain that you are going to not fall away from Christ?

        • Eric Davis

          Yes, you accurately represented my position. Those truly regenerate and justified; those in Christ, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, will continue as such until death precisely b/c they are actually regenerate.

          Your question is a good one. I believe that Christians can both have actual assurance of their salvation, yet, at the same time, there are warnings (e.g. Heb 3:12-14, 1 Tim 4:16) for us to persevere by the grace of God. To answer the question, I will point you to another post on the assurance of salvation:

          http://thecripplegate.com/when-assurance-is-lacking/

          Thanks Matthew

          • Thank you, I will have a look at that article. From the above it seems clear to me that Trent quote in your article is in fact correct when it says:

            “For as no pious person ought to doubt the mercy of God, the merit of Christ and the virtue and efficacy of the sacraments, so each one, when he considers himself and his own weakness and indisposition, may have fear and apprehension concerning his own grace, since no one can know with the certainty of faith, which cannot be subject to error, that he has obtained the grace of God.”

          • Eric Davis

            Agreed, thanks Matthew. It seems clearly stated that Trent declared an uncertainty when it comes to assurance, evidenced by that statement.

          • Not what it says. But we can argue in circles about it. Pastor I am linking to an article about this topic from our side. It can better explain it then me a layperson can. :).

            http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2009/08/st-thomas-aquinas-on-assurance-of-salvation/

            Have a look if you wish to truly understand what we believe.

          • Eric Davis

            I will look at that.

  • Kara Brockett

    Ah, Martin Luther. The straw that broke this converted Catholic’s back. Despite what you might claim, Martin Luther was not a “good” Catholic. He did not believe in grace, as good Catholics do. He rightly recognized that sin is a great gulf between us and our Creator, but Catholics do not deny this. We believe that it is only by the grace and work of Jesus Christ that we can hope for Heaven. We also do not deny Romans 8:1, we merely believe that mortal sin separates us from God and His Church. In other words, the big difference between the Catholic and Protestant position is this: Catholics take sin seriously, as the Scriptures tell us to do, while Protestants make light of sin. By denying that mortal sin is the willing separation of humans from God you might light of that sin and the work of Christ.

    Protestants act like the conversation of the role of grace and merit is a conversation that never happened before Martin Luther. Wrong. Literally every Catholic theologian worth his salt has dealt with this issue. You might want to consider reading Aquinas, Augustine, Bonaventure, Boethius, and Erasmus (Luther loved him, well, until he started hating him) before you claim to understand the Catholic position. You might be pleasantly surprised. You might find, like I did, that Catholic theology is rich and beautiful and nothing like the caricature you’ve created.

    You misrepresent what Catholics believe. I mean, I know you’re going to believe what you want to believe, confirmation bias and all that jazz, I just think you should do your homework if you ever want to put forward a convincing argument.

    • “You misrepresent what Catholics believe…”
      “Protestants make light of sin.”

      • Kara Brockett

        Yep. That about sums up my post. Thanks, I guess.

        • Jane Hildebrand

          Kara, you say that Luther didn’t believe in grace like “good catholics” do. Can you elaborate on the catholic definition of grace along with the supporting scriptures?

        • Eric Davis

          Kara – sincere question pertaining to grace, merit, and assurance: in RC belief, how long can one expect to spend in Purgatory enduring temporal punishment? And by what criteria is that duration determined?

          • The Church does not even teach that Purgatory takes any time at all. See Catechism 1031.

            “Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire” (1 Cor 3:12-15)

            Based on that Pope Benedict XVI said

            Some recent theologians are of the opinion that the fire which both burns and saves is Christ himself, the Judge and Saviour. The encounter with him is the decisive act of judgement. Before his gaze all falsehood melts away. This encounter with him, as it burns us, transforms and frees us, allowing us to become truly ourselves. All that we build during our lives can prove to be mere straw, pure bluster, and it collapses. Yet in the pain of this encounter, when the impurity and sickness of our lives become evident to us, there lies salvation. His gaze, the touch of his heart heals us through an undeniably painful transformation “as through fire”. But it is a blessed pain, in which the holy power of his love sears through us like a flame, enabling us to become totally ourselves and thus totally of God.

          • Eric Davis

            I understand that some RC theologians believe in the timelessness of Purgatory. But that is not held by many RC’s. Some indulgences, for example, were administered to reduce time in Purgatory, among other things. And there remains some practices which also contribute to decreased Purgatory time.

          • No that is incorrect. The days associated with indulgences do not correspond to time in purgatory. The church never thought about time after death. We have no knowledge of how time works in heaven.

          • Kara Brockett

            I think you fail to understand what Purgatory is. Purgatory is another grace of God, another opportunity to be cleansed with Christ’s redeeming fire. If you’ve made it to Purgatory; you’ve made it.

            As Matthew said, time is not a relative consideration as Heaven exists outside of time. It takes no time at all. As for your concerns over indulgences (which, by the way, have been abused in the past) I think this comes down to the fundamental belief in the unity of the Church and our relationship with other Christians. Because one could write books on the subject, I’ll not dive into the distinctions of Purgatory theology here. Suffice to say that the Protestant problem with Purgatory and indulgence is related to their dependence on individualism.

        • Lead Salad

          Then you misrepresent what Protestants believe.

          • Kara Brockett

            Obviously, such an unsupported statement hardly merits a response. By what evidence do you make that claim? Have I written any blogs condemning protestants of not believing in grace? Hint, the answer is “no”. Did you read what I said about my mother above? My mother is protestant and I really love and respect her. I firmly believe her prayers are the reason I’m not an atheist apostate.

            I would not claim to represent all 30,000+ protestant denominations with any kind of accuracy. How could anyone? Every time a protestant disagrees with another protestant they just form a new church. It makes it very hard to pin down any kind of doctrine statement/s.

            With that said, I do believe my background as a former protestant gives me some credit to speak on what they generally believe with a relative level of accuracy.

          • Lead Salad

            You’re comment that Protestants make light of sin. Talk about a statement that is unsupported and hardly merits a response. Jesse’s comment sums it up perfectly. And then with the lie of 30,000 Protestant denominations again……lol. You like falsehoods.

          • Kara Brockett

            Ah, so I see we’ve added ad hominem attacks to our straw man arguments. This thread would be a field day for Logic 101 students.

            As for the question of how many Protestant denominations there are, I looked for a secular study (since it seems that everyone making these studies is currently too invested in the outcome) and I could not find one. It seems there is a bit of a problem in defining denominations and finding a solid way to count them. For the sake of the argument, let’s define denomination as a group of Christians that are held accountable for upholding the truths of scripture by a particular set of authorities. This would make almost every Bible church its own denomination (since generally they are accountable to no one outside of their own church walls) and then The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod would be its own denomination since they are all held accountable by their synod. Clear? Really, the number isn’t the point. Even if it were only 500 denominations the argument still stands. The potential for different protestant denominations exists to infinity. In my own experience as a Protestant, I was involved in more than church break wherein a new denomination was formed. You can try to deny it, you can call it a lie if it pleases you, but the problem remains.

            I should clarify that I’m speaking to the Protestantism spoken of in this article. Protestantism is hardly a unified front of clear doctrinal statements. Protestantism makes light of sin with statements like “If the Christian dies with unconfessed sin, not to worry”, which was posted above. Statements like this ignore passages of Scripture which speak of people losing their salvation, and of the clear message of Jesus who said, “Go, and sin no more.” If we wish to fully participate in the grace-filled life that God has planned for us we are required to sin no more. But what happens when the Christian does sin? Is he doomed? No, because God’s grace cannot be tamed. As John 1:9 notes, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Clearly, this requires a level of participation. God’s forgiveness is freely given, but one must confess. This is why I would be greatly worried if I died with unconfessed mortal sin on my heart. God asks us to participate in our sanctification. This is why the rich man was told to sell his possessions. As the section later notes, this kind of radical Christian lifestyle requires the aid of God (Mark 10 17-27), but Catholics do not deny this. All the merit is God’s.

    • Eric Davis

      Kara – I understand that the conversation surrounding grace and merit occurred long before the 1500’s. And I have read many of those individuals you mention. But the deeper into Roman Catholic theology one dives, the more troubling it becomes; denying the heart of the gospel, for example, justification by faith alone in Christ alone. I understand that RC’s take issue with the word, “alone,” there, but it just could not be more clear in the NT. Justification is by faith; faith is opposed to merit, whether we earn it through grace or we gain it through grace or we do anything through grace to possess merit. Righteousness is a gift imputed instantaneously by faith in Jesus Christ. Christianity rises and falls there. For that reason, Rome renders itself a heresy, as it always has been, with statements like these: “If any one saith, that, after the grace of Justification has been received, to every penitent sinner the guilt is remitted, and the debt of eternal punishment is blotted out in such wise, that there remains not any debt of temporal punishment to be discharged either in this world, or in the next in Purgatory, before the entrance to the kingdom of heaven can be opened (to him); let him be anathema.”

      And Protestants certainly do take sin seriously. So seriously, in fact, that we understand that absolutely nothing, no grace-gained merit, for example, can propitiate the wrath of God due our sin except the finished work of Christ on the cross. Sin is such a big deal that no human being could possibly purge themselves of an ounce of its penalty through an eternity in Purgatory.

      • Pastor Davis, what do you think Catholics mean by merit? You have not used it correctly yet. Do protestants not belief in doctrine of reward?

        Also Catholics have a problem when one inserts things into the bible. Like the word “alone” where the bible does not have it. Did St Paul got it wrong?

        • Cory

          “And is not what the Church teaches.”
          Thus the problem with RCs; they use the Bible PLUS what the church teache, often giving the latter more authority. Why cant RCs just use the Bible? And why do they need a pope? The way RCs flock to him seems a lot like idol worship.

          • What is the pillar and bulwark of truth? Is it the bible or the church? Or both?

          • Eric Davis

            The church is charged with guarding (2 Tim 1:14) an existing body of truth, not creating more truth. We are to pillar the truth, not pile more manufactured doctrine up to pillar. God has handed us the truth of special revelation in the 66 books for that guarding and pillaring.

          • What is Paul talking about in 2 Tim 1:14? The New Testament was not yet done.

            And the Church is not creating more truth. Not all truth is contained in the bible. Jesus is truth. He is not contained to a set of books. You accept what Trinity means and the truth of it is in the bible. But the whole philosophical language to clearly state that truth and defend it agains Arians who used the Bible for their case had to develop over 400 years. Surely you don’t deny that? Development of doctrine is not the same as “adding truth”

            And it’s 73 books. Just because Luther didn’t like certain teachings doesn’t mean we can toss books out of the bible.

            Sorry pastor but we are getting out of scope of this article no? I don’t intend to defend every single Catholic misunderstanding you have in comments. Let’s stick to what’s in the article.

        • Eric Davis

          Yes, there certainly is the truth of reward for the righteous. However, unless we are talking about the gift of righteousness through faith in Christ alone, grace-earned or grace-enabled or grace-produced merit plays no part in our righteous standing before God. Right standing is purely a gift given through faith (Phil 3:9) in Christ.

          • Yep I agree and so does the church. Merit = reward for the righteous.

      • Kara Brockett

        I realize that Matthew already addressed your concerns, but I would like to add a few additional thoughts to the conversation. First, I would like to thank you for the courteous nature of your reply. I appreciate your ability to discuss these issues with civility. Even on this thread, I have not always experienced (or given) charitable replies and I really appreciate your decorum.

        Since you have read many of the great Catholic theologians, I wonder how you can, in good conscience, provide a false depiction of the Catholic understanding of grace? The doctors of the Church and others noteworthy theologians could not be clearer on the topic. It is only by the work of Christ that we may hope for Heaven.

        As for your quote from Trent, let’s dissect its meaning. Even after justification, consequences for sin still remain. The murderer still must go to jail, etc. The point is that though we will not be permanently separated from God, sin still carries weight. (Matthew or someone more familiar with Trent please correct me if I am in error)

        This is exactly what I mean when I suggested earlier that Protestants do not take sin seriously. What I mean is that Protestants do not take the consequences of sin seriously. Furthermore, after justification and baptism if one commits a mortal sin, Protestants do not believe that the sin is weighty enough to separate us from God. Their response is to claim that one was never “really” saved.

        That is not assurance; Protestantism offers no assurance. Where Catholicism offers present assurance and great hope for the future, Protestantism offers nothing. For if one can believe they are saved, and not actually be saved, then you can never trust your own mind. All you can do is hope that your current convictions actually are aligned with reality. This is the problem with the “once saved always saved” doctrine. You can never know if you actually believe what you believe.

  • Excellent article Eric. Thanks man. Its easy to forget that in all of the doctrinal differences between Catholicism and Evangelicalism, there are real people–and that Catholic dogma essentially forbids knowing with confidence about their souls.
    It is a shame that there are so many modern-day RCC people who simply feign assurance. What is lost in that feign is the conflict that Luther went through: how do you know what happens when you die? My prayer is for Catholics to ask that question, to be tormented by a lack of assurance, and to come to Christ for salvation. Luther, part 2.

    • Eric Davis

      Amen. That is my prayer as well, Jesse.

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  • tovlogos

    Perfect, Eric.

    “Under Rome, he had no assurance”. Absolutely — often a rite of passage for Christians in general.

    “We are not condemned only by various sins we commit. We are condemned because of the sinful nature we possess. We sin because we are sinners. So, Catholic confession is merely clipping leaves on a bursting-forth willow tree. You cannot keep up with the leaf-clipping. Something more needs to be done for assurance.”

    Which should become apparent as walk the narrow path. I see that most important attribute – Assurance – coming upon the believer, as the Spirit comes upon the believer.

    • Eric Davis

      Amen, Mark. thanks for your comments.

    • Yes let’s forget all the passages dealing with confession to fit our Protestant doctrine. How much of the bible do you need to ignore in order for it to fit your beliefs?

      • tovlogos

        No, I don’t do this with catholics — it’s as if we are reading two different books, which makes a conversation futile.

  • Rachel

    III. MERIT 2010 “Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace, no one can merit the initial grace of forgiveness and justification, at the beginning of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life. Even temporal goods like health and friendship can be merited in accordance with God’s wisdom. These graces and goods are the object of Christian prayer. Prayer attends to the grace we need for meritorious actions.”

    2020 Justification has been merited for us by the Passion of Christ. It is granted us through Baptism. It conforms us to the righteousness of God, who justifies us. It has for its goal the glory of God and of Christ, and the gift of eternal life. It is the most excellent work of God’s mercy.

    1987 The grace of the Holy Spirit has the power to justify us, that is, to cleanse us from our sins and to communicate to us “the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ” and through Baptism:34

    The RCC, has corrupted the definition of Grace, making it so that one can DO things to essentially purchase the “Grace” from God to do what can be used to then merit salvation. It’s a complete corruption. Jesus is turned into a potential savior; a Potential redeemer, IF we “cooperate” with our good works in helping to save ourselves, Jesus died to make men “Savable” but he doesn’t actually save anyone. When Protestants (by Conviction) speak of “Salvation” and “Redemption” by Scripture’s definition which says, Everyone whom The Father before time began chose to give to the Son, Those The Father sent the Son to die for to redeem and Those are who the Spirit draws, regenerates, supernaturally makes born from above (not by water nor by the will of man) and Those are the same Ones the Spirit seals as a promise that they have been redeemed and Those are the same Ones the Father, The Son and The Spirit intercede on behalf of so that Their Trinitarian Work of Redemption (notice Mary is not included in any of this) comes to its predetermined completion–Glorification & not One of Those The Father gave Christ Will be lost..

    Based on the entirety of Scripture Christ did not do “His part” in redeeming and now man must give his %, Christ did it ALL. If man Must cooperate, or can give his % then the Christ the RCC presents did not and cannot save anyone. The Christ Scripture presents Saves ALL He was sent to save. And this is why the RCC teaches that justification can be lost and a good Roman Catholic Must do the “necessary” sacraments to reobtain the “Grace” of justification, because that system does not present the Christ of Scripture.

    There is no way you can read the entire Bible in context allowing scripture to define it’s terms and to explain itself and walk away saying, yes I must go get baptized in a catholic church, I must pray to Mary I must re sacrifice Christ I must go to confession I must pray the rosary and I must come to grips that I will spend time in purgatory, unless someone pays to shorten my time or I do some “acts of charity” to shorten my stay, like following pope francis on twitter, Unless, you reject the Word’s of God, ie the Bible for the words of someone else, which takes you right back to the Garden and the fall.

    The Christ of Scripture is the only savior God the Father has provided and His work of complete redemption for all who would ever believe was Finished 2000 years ago at the cross, to the Glory of God alone.

    • You can yell at your straw man all you want. It doesn’t bother me. You are not yelling at the church but at the boogy man your Protestant upbringing constructed.

      If you want to have a conversation let’s start by not misrepresenting the other side.

      If you just want to show your hatred to something you have no clue about be my guest.

      • Jane Hildebrand

        Matthew and Kara, despite all the back and forth finger pointing, I hope you understand that the intent behind all of this is most importantly to prove that the assurance of salvation is something we can receive now, not something that is just hoped for and only attainable at the judgement (as Matthew’s above link explained).

        I have listened carefully to all your comments and read all your links and I understand that you have been taught that you must stay in a “state of grace” in order to have that assurance. I get that.

        But what if they’re wrong? What if God truly gives assurance to people now? People that didn’t do anything to deserve it? And what would we have to gain by trying to convince you of that?

        I know you are here to defend catholic doctrine. My hope is that one day you are both overwhelmed by God’s grace when you least deserve it, as we all were.

        • Kara Brockett

          Thank you, Jane. I appreciate your sincerity and your obvious love for God and His word. It certainly does you credit.

          God gives me grace that I don’t deserve every day. I have never deserved it and I never will. I believe that just as you do. I hope that He will give me the wisdom to understand the fullness of that grace more intimately. I think I agree with the sentiment of your message; that the nature of God’s grace transcends schisms and our disagreement today.

          Nevertheless, I think it is perfectly reasonable for us to feel upset and attacked when someone lies (whether intentionally or unintentionally) about what the Church teaches. It is not only uncharitable, it is also ultimately a “straw man” argument. I feel that it is my duty to “give a defense for the hope that is within me” (1 Peter 3:15). I know my defense is imperfect, as is my understanding, but imperfection isn’t really a good excuse for not trying.

          I think we can agree that we both feel assured concerning our salvation. I even feel assured for your salvation, though I do not know you. That is good; that is something we have in common. Ultimately, it is the love of God holds everything together. That love transcends our humanness. Thank God.

          How we understand doctrine matters, because what we believe has an impact on how we live. The point of our current disagreement, I believe, is not so much to condemn each other as it is to discuss the very real problem of apostates. It’s an unfortunate reality that they exist. People leave the church; people who used to seriously believe in Christ. I know some of these people, and I weep for them. I believe it is an error to say such people never actually were saved. Why? Because it means that you cannot have assurance. It means that our feelings are not trustworthy. I also want to point out that this is not strictly a Protestant/Catholic area of contention. I talked with my very Christ-filled Protestant mother (I really respect my mother, I hope you can tell) today and she says thinks that the apostates-were-never-really-saved doctrine is inconsistent with Scripture. The point is, I have to trust my feelings, but I cannot know the future. You might not like it, but it’s what the Bible teaches. The Bible teaches us to “put on the full armor of God” (Eph 6: 11-18) and I do not believe that we are meant to take it off after our baptisms and faith professions. We are meant to wear it always.

          I think I personally care a lot about this topic because it was something I most struggled with when I was Protestant. It’s because I was living as an apostate for a while, but in his grace, Christ called me home. He called me to the Church he established; he invited me to consume his flesh and live in His word. I’ve never looked back since.

        • I am here because I love Jesus and I love His Church. You can’t separate the two. When someone misrepresents the Church (Jesus’s body) it makes me upset. I don’t think you would like it if I started to talk lies about your family. That is how it feels like to be constantly bombarded by lies from our protestant brothers and sisters when they talk about Jesus’s body the Church. You have been tough lies all your life about the Church. Your tradition exists for the purpose to oppose the Church.

          The Catholic Church is a mystical body of Christ. We are united to Jesus, we are in Jesus, in as much as you love Jesus and I have no doubts that you do, you are also part of that body. All the gifts that your faith tradition has, come from this ONE church. Your faith comes from this ONE church. The bible comes from this ONE church, All the doctrines that you take for granted you took from this ONE Church. Protestantism did not re-discover anything, it only corrupts. I love Jesus that’s why I’m Catholic. I trust Jesus that’s why I am Catholic.

          As for my assurance of salvation, don’t worry, I trust Jesus.

          For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him; If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us; If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.

          • Jane Hildebrand

            Matthew, not to beat a dead horse, but since you accuse protestants of lying about your religion, you decide who is lying from the following quotes:

            Cardinal Robert Belarmine wrote, “The principle heresy of Protestants is that saints may obtain to a certain assurance of their gracious and pardoned state before God” (Dejustificatione 3.2.3). Christ’s sacrifice opens the possibility to heaven, but the sinner must rigorously work towards that possibility. And even then, the possibility remains only that.”

            The Apostle Paul wrote, “However, to the man who does not work, but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited to him as righteousness.” (Romans 4:5)

            “Therefore, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and a full assurance of faith.” (Hebrews 10:22)

            “Now we who have believed enter that rest…for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from His.” (Hebrews 4)

            The Apostle John wrote, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13)

            As for me, I praise God for the assurance He poured into my heart so many years ago. And I will continue to pray that He grants you that same assurance.

          • Nice quote, care to provide the source? I can’t find it anywhere on the internet. The only places I find them is other protestant blog posts about this very topic. I wonder where they got it from.

            Also for the life of me I can’t find this quote anywhere on the internet. Can you tell me where that quote is from?

            The Apostle Paul wrote, “However, to the man who does not work, but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited to him as righteousness.” (Romans 4:5) Yes agree 100%.

            “Therefore, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and a full assurance of faith.” (Hebrews 10:22) Yep agree 100% (note it doesn’t say what you want it to say assurance of salvation)

            “Now we who have believed enter that rest…for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from His.” (Hebrews 4) Not sure how you get assurance of salvation out of this.

            The Apostle John wrote, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13) Yep agree 100%. It doesn’t say anything about assurance of salvation, it says those who believe have eternal life. See he is writing to those who believe. If I believe and then stop believing then I no longer have eternal life.

            Jane you will not convince me. And you haven’t answered any of the problems I raised in my other answers.

          • Jane Hildebrand

            The first quote was from the above article if you read it.

            You are right, I will never convince you. My prayer is that God will.

          • Thank you for your prayers.

  • Can someone please find me the source of this quote:

    “The principle heresy of Protestants is that saints may obtain to a certain assurance of their gracious and pardoned state before God” (De justificatione 3.2.3).

    attributed to Cardinal Robert Bellarmine. For the life of me I can’t find it. The ONLY place I see it is on Protestant blogs who talk about this issue. Also looking at the works of the good Cardinal there is no such work as De justificatione. So WHERE does this quote come from??????

    Pastor Davis since you used the quote in your article care to tell me where you got it?

    • Kara Brockett

      If it makes you feel any better, I cannot find it anywhere either, and research is my spiritual gift.

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  • Anthony

    I am interested to know from the commenters that adhere to RC…
    What is so important to you in this discussion?
    What are you defending?

    • Kara Brockett

      Truth.

      • Jane Hildebrand

        Kara, may I ask you a question? You mentioned that your mother is a Protestant whom you love and respect. Has she ever spoken to you of her assurance of heaven? Were you taught that as a child? And if I may, what denomination were you raised in?

        • Kara Brockett

          My mother and I are both assured of each other’s salvation, and we respect each other despite some doctrinal differences. We actually agree on much more than we disagree on. I was raised in the Southern Baptist/Bible bent of Protestantism. My mom’s father was a pretty big Southern Baptist minister back in the day, but my family mostly attended independent Bible churches. We attended a Christian Missionary Alliance church for a while. We attended a lot of churches because we moved 9 times before I was in high school. In high school, I attended a classical Christian school, where most of the teachers were of a reformed Presbyterian bent. This shaped a lot of my Christian development. In college, I attended a reformed Presbyterian church before becoming an apostate.

          • Jane Hildebrand

            Thank you for replying, Kara. And while I understand your sarcasm in the “becoming an apostate” statement, I can assure you that I don’t see you as that. From your picture you appear to be the age of my daughter, so I feel more mercy than anything else. I would however be interested in knowing what turned you away from the Presbyterian faith, if that’s okay.

          • Kara Brockett

            Oh no! I was not being sarcastic. I actually lived an immoral life as if I was an atheist (I never could fully jump on board- atheism is so intellectually underwhelming) before becoming Catholic. I’m not proud of it, but it did happen. I actually believe my Mom’s prayers protected me from becoming an atheist/agnostic.

            It was such a long journey, that I’m not sure my reasons can do the subject justice in a short post. I would say that once on the path of covenant theology it’s hard not to carry it to it’s logical conclusion. I also found Calvinism lacking in Scriptural support, and sola scriptura is not a subject supported by scripture itself or early Church history. I also found myself loving and learning from some great Catholic thinkers: Ignatius, Justin Martyr, Polycarp, Augustine, Aquinas, Benedict, Boethius, Bonaventure, Catherine of Sienna, St. John of the Cross, St. Ignatius of Loyola, Erasmus, G.K Chesterton, Tolkien, Walker Percy, Flannery O’Connor, and Evelyn Waugh, just to name some. I recently read the book Rome Sweet Home by Scott Hahn, who was a former Presbyterian minister, and I remember his thought process and journey closely mirrored my own. I just thought I’d let you know in case you’re interested in a more detailed account.

          • Jane Hildebrand

            Thanks for sharing your story, Kara. It sounds like you have done a lot of studying. May I encourage you to continue your study of God’s Word, not with just the intent to compare differing theologies, but with the intent to know God more intimately. I say that because that’s where I found Him, and that’s where He met me with a great assurance and love that has only grown stronger through the years. I have learned there is a vast difference between knowing of God and truly knowing God.

            There are many, many voices out there, past and present, but the most important voice still belongs to God. Strive to hear that voice within His Word, and follow it with all your heart. I will hold you in my prayers.

          • Kara Brockett

            Thank you! I need prayers. I will pray for you too. I hope I am already studying with the intent of knowing God more fully, but my understanding is yet incomplete and sin is still a stumbling block. I look forward to an eternity of learning about God and I expect to meet you there. God Bless!