Friday, March 22, 2013

How are we saved?

Have you ever been confronted with the question:

- If you died today, how sure are you of getting to heaven?  Scripture teaches that we are saved through faith alone, yet the Catholic Church teaches a false doctrine of salvation by works, which do you believe, the Scripture or the Catholic Church?

Here’s the Catholic response:

1-      Scripture and the Church never contradict each other.  The Church WROTE the Scriptures

2-      The Catholic Church does not, nor has it ever, taught a salvation by works.

3-      The Church teaches a salvation by Grace alone.  Our response to this gift of God is what determines if we are justified in the eyes of God.  Our response must include first the response of faith and the response of works (doing His Will).  But these responses are only possible because of God’s Grace. 

We can’t do anything without God’s Grace.  Both faith and works are preceded by God’s Grace, accompanied by God’s Grace, and followed by God’s Grace.  Both Catholic and Protestant believe in salvation by Grace alone.  We have a common belief there.

The difference is the Protestant believes that God’s righteousness is imputed to us, covers up our sinfulness, we are legally declared righteous through our faith alone.   The Catholic believes that through faith, and the works that perfect faith, God doesn’t just declare us righteous He actually makes us righteous.  Although we believe that works are a necessary part of our salvation, we do not teach a doctrine of salvation by works.

The general consensus in the Protestant world is if one truly accepts Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior and repent of their sins…BOOM they’re saved.  They are justified in the eyes of God.  They are born again.

An evangelical site points out that we must be BORN AGAIN!  And this is the way they explained how to do it:

1-      All are sinners, including me
2-      Only God through Christ can save me.
3-      Believe on Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior
4-      Pray to Jesus acknowledging these three points.

If I have prayed honestly believing it in my heart, then I am born again.  There’s only one problem with this understanding of being born again.  It’s not Scriptural.  Jesus defines what it means to be born again in the Gospel of John, Chapter 3 verses 3 through 5.  He says:

unless a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John3:3)

Not understanding what Jesus meant, Nicodemus asks Him to explain.   Jesus said in answer,

Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5)

Both the Spirit and water is involved in the process of being born again and yet the Evangelical idea of being born again doesn’t even mention the use of water.  What do you think Jesus is referring to here?  Once done discussing being born again through water and spirit with Nicodemus we see that Jesus “…and his disciples came into the land of Judea: and there he abode with them and baptized.”  (John 3:22)

So, we are saved by being born again, by being baptized.  What else does baptism do?  Peter gives us a great explanation in his speech to the crowds on Pentecost Sunday.  He declared the truth about Jesus and told everyone “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)

We receive the remission of our sins, as well as the gift of the Holy Spirit at baptism.  The Lord God explained to us many centuries ago that He would do this.  He said: “…I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.   A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you… And I will put my spirit within you.” (Ezekiel 36:25-27)

Let’s compare Peter’s explanation with the Lord’s from the book of Ezekiel.
Peter said:                   “Be baptized”

God in Ezekiel said:    “I will sprinkle clean water upon you”

Peter said:                   “for the remission of sins”

God in Ezekiel said:    “and you shall be clean from all your filthiness”

Peter said:                   “you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit”

God in Ezekiel said:    “And I will put my spirit within you.”


So baptism involves water AND the Spirit while assuming faith is involved because Peter said to REPENT, we can’t do that unless we accept that we have done wrong by God.  This involves some degree of faith in Him.  Being born again means to be baptized and that’s why Peter can also say that “Baptism…now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet 3:21).

We are saved by being born-again through baptism and we are also born-again in the Protestant version whenever we make conscious returns to Christ.  The Biblical definition of being ‘born again’ though simply means being baptized in the faith.

No comments:

Post a Comment