Want Some Answers ???
Greetings. Thanks for your letter, materials and tape enclosed. And your time, writing and explaining your views. I also enjoy sharing my faith and it’s a pleasure to collect thoughts and focus our minds. You wrote,
>>I don't mind you quoting Scripture at me but, I am assuming, that you are of a Protestant faith and therefore your reliance on Scripture solely for your interpretation of what is right and wrong<<
Forgive me quoting Scripture and bear with me. Most people have personal interpretations, even Catholics. But I notice you are guilty of what you condemn me of, - selecting Bible verses and interpreting them. Yet surely Scripture should guide both of us about right and wrong regardless? You wrote,
>>Yes, I am obviously a practicing Catholic and one who attends Holy Mass and confession regular prays the rosary daily and has a great devotion to Mary, the Mother of God as well as Blessed Faustina and many other Saints. This all besides my great love for Jesus and his Church. I volunteer all this as a way of establishing where I am at with my faith; it is not an attempt to gain favour or look good, [just want to be honest with my belief If I did not practise what I preach you could truly call me a Pharisee!! ….the Catholic Church obtains it's doctrine from three sources, none of which stand on their own They are; Scripture, Tradition and the Teaching Magisterium of the Church. The task of interpreting the Word of God authentically has been entrusted solely to the Magisterium of the Church, that is, to the Pope and to the bishops in communion with turn (Catholic Catechism 100) “…many of the Christian Churches interpret Scripture incorrectly<<
You mention many religious observances and appear to preach churchianity rather than Christianity. But I see the logic in what you say. Yet what if I agree with you, does that mean my salvation is assured? Am I assured of heaven? Your answer is “no” -
>>your understanding of salvation and faith is incorrect We are not saved by final alone, as it says in St James; “In the same way faith, if good deeds do not go with it, is quite dead". James 2:17. You could in fact read all letter of St James to understand this further as the whole letter, which is quite short, speaks about faith and works. And again; ‘You see that it is by deeds, and not only believing, that someone is justified... As a body without a spirit is dead, so is faith without deeds". James 2; 24 & 26<<
[Reader see special note on Jewish Epistles]. After reading the whole Epistle we see how James uses the word “faith”. Note 2.14 “…What doth it profit my brethren, though a man say he hath faith…” Note the word, “say”. This is a say-so “faith”. Many say they have faith, but its not true faith. Even demons believe [2.19]. James is saying that if a person believes, we ought to see actions that show it. If one profess faith in God yet lives in sin we rightfully doubt they’re a Christian. James uses the words “faith, works and justify” differently than Paul. Paul writes –
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." Eph.2.8-1O.
You wrote, "salvation is all of you and Jesus is only a helper". Yet this verse says – “…not of yourselves”. We're not saved by works, but for works. Salvation is obtained solely through faith. This faith is faith that Christ's death is full payment for sin. We are saved by believing that and trusting Christ for our salvation. It is not 'faith in God' or faith that Christ once lived and died or that everything will turnout all right if we simply believe. The 'faith' here is faith in the sufficiency of Christ's death on the cross and its efficaciousness upon the individual believer.
Note Romans 3:4-6 "Now to him that works is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believe on him that justifies the ungodly his faith is counted for righteousness, Even as David also described the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputes righteousness without works. Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified". Gal 2.16
I was rather surprised when you wrote –
>>Yes, Jesus died for all our sins, He saw every act that you and I will do for our entire lives, good and bad, and he suffered for all those sins that so offended the Father, the Church and all creation<<
Yet you believe every time you sin, you undo the redemption Christ achieved on your behalf Paul would ask - This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith ? Gal.3.2. Having begun by the Spirit - saved by an act of God, without any merit of your own, what makes you think that position can be preserved by keeping the commandments? How can they add or take away from it ? An individual cannot live perfectly according to the law of God. If he could, he wouldn't need a Saviour. The fact that he can't, necessitates a Saviour. Salvation is, in one sense being saved from the inability of living according to the Law of God. Remember what I wrote –
“… your constantly in the position of being saved then unsaved…the idea of Christ dying in the sinner’s place and shedding His blood for the full payment of sin is meaningless. Instead of a Saviour, Christ has been relegated to the role of distant helper, whose help may or may not be sufficient, depending upon the sinner. The logical conclusion is that you have not been saved or redeemed from anything and have no Saviour…If you say Christ died as a full payment for all your sins, yet you insist that the very sins that have been atoned for might possibly send you to hell. You nullify the whole meaning of the cross...”
You deny the very' concept of substitutionary death. If you placed your trust in Christ alone as your Saviour, then you would be saved even as I. If Christ "died for all our sin" how could there be sin He didn't die for? Can sin take away the gift of eternal life and we earn it back by good works? I believe there's a difference between the Standing of the believer and his Walk. The first results from to the work of Christ, the other as he works-out his salvation. You wrote –
>>To presume that I am going to heaven, just because I say Jesus died for me (He did) and that I believe in Him and follow His commands is rather arrogant. I have no knowledge of the future and how I will be tested and tempted and whether I may fail and fall into serious (mortal) sin. I would not be so presumptuous<<
Yes, I see your problem. You're never sure of salvation, or going to heaven because you’re trusting yourself to work your way there. According to the Bible you haven't a chance. I have the confidence you don't, because I'm trusting in the work of Christ on the cross as payment for my sin. Read what Peter says to me about this –
"To an inheritance incorruptible and unedified, and that fades not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time". 1 Pet.1.4-5
The inheritance [reward] is sure and nothing will change it. It’s for those who are safely “…kept by the power of God". I couldn't be more safer than in God’s hands. It is 'God's power' that keeps me for heaven, not "good works". Paul says, “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” [Eph.2.6]. Those saved are as good as "seated" with Christ in heaven. A great cause for rejoicing in the grace and mercy of Jesus. You write,
>>conversion is a total and lifelong process which only ceases on our death. We work at being perfect all our lives and as we grow in perfection....only Saints enter heaven. No other is fit to be in the presence of God<<
The Holy Spirit works in the heart making it like Christ, rooting-out the old nature. But even if we work all our days we will never reach the level of "perfection" for the presence of God. Isaiah says, “…all our righteousness are as filthy rags in God's sight [Isa.64.6]. Paul writes, “…the Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe”. Notice it doesn't say "...to them that work" but "believe". All are sinners “…there is none righteous, no not one…” Rom.3. 10. The only thing mankind merits or deserves is damnation not salvation. You use the word "merit" –
>>...still merited heaven...we pay for our sin, we work to save ourselves and we merit salvation<<
If you “pay for sin” and work your way to heaven there's cause for boasting because you merit what you deserve. But what does Paul say? Note Rom.3.27-28 "Where then is there room for your boasting? It is for ever shut out. On what principle? On the ground of merit? No, but on the ground of faith. For we maintain that it is as the result of faith that a man is held to be righteous, apart from actions done in obedience to Law."
If you work your way to heaven you can boast, but I can’t because even my faith is given of God and it’s in Christ not me. I couldn't save myself in the first place nor keep myself saved. Christ is my boast and confidence I place trust in Him. You write -
>>You underestimate the evil and power sin has over us, especially the deadly sins, or mortal sins<<
Surely it is those who think they can “pay for sin and work their way to heaven”, who “underestimate the evil and power sin”. Paul tells me, “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin” [Rom 3:20]. This appears contrary to what you say about keeping the law and working to merit heaven. Should I trust my perfection or righteousness through the law to earn salvation? Not according to Paul "...And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: Phil.3.9. And so, “I do not frustrate the grace of God: if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain”. Gal.2.21
You make the point that it’s "a grave misunderstanding to believe that all sins are of equal value". True, in human experience there are different consequences to different actions. But the Bible says “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it” [Jas. 2.10]. Jesus said, "…anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart" [Mt.5.28]. It appears all sin ‘damages our soul’ more than what you think. You need to explain your point more clearly to me.
A modem translation reads in Galatians 3.10ff "it is clear that no one can ever win God's favour by trying to keep the law, because God has said that the only way we can be right in His sight is by faith. As the prophet Habakkak says, 'The man who finds life will find it through trusting God'. How different from this way of faith is the way of law which says that a man is saved by obeying every law of God, without one slip".
What of those who fall away? May I give an illustration [We can cover this matter further next time].
I was born a child to my parents. I shall always be a child of the family, regardless of my 'will power' or good or bad actions. I might distance myself or even disown them. They might be disappointed with me. Yet I shall always be a child of my parents and part of the family I was born into. Nothing can change that. I've been born into God's family (Jn.3:3) Have you?
I don't wish to take up too much of your time or write too long. I encourage you to pray about these matters. I look forward to hearing from you in due course and trust this finds you in the best of health.