Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Got Salvation?

I remember the first time I read Philippians 2:12. St. Paul’s instructions rang a bell, and once a bell rings it can never be un-rung.

“…work out your salvation with fear and trembling.”

In terms of salvation, “work out” implies some sort of process (not something that is instantaneous) and “fear and trembling” reminds us that it’s something that can be lost during said process. It seems St. Paul had a rather catholic understanding of salvation. But how does one receive salvation and eternal life? Is it really by faith alone as some might claim?

Perhaps the Bible alone will clear this up. St Peter’s speech at Pentecost made it clear as we read in Acts 2:38. After receiving the Holy Spirit, Peter said to the crowd “Repent and declare Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior and ask him to come into your heart and you will receive salvation this very instant with no possibility of ever losing it.” Well, that’s not exactly what St. Peter said in the Bible, in fact, it is not written anywhere in the Bible.

So, are you saved?
How does one get saved?
What must we do?
What does the Bible teach?

Must you repent and be baptized, right?
“Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Acts 2:38
How about just baptism alone?
“This prefigured baptism, which saves you now...”
1 Peter 3:21
Belief in Jesus alone?
“Believe in the Lord Jesus and you and your household will be saved.”
Acts 16:31
Belief in God alone?
“…whoever hears my word and believes in the one who sent me has eternal life and will not come to condemnation, but has passed from death to life.”
John 5:24
Words alone?
“I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before others the Son of Man will acknowledge before the angels of God.”
Luke 12:8
“By your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” Mt 12:37
 Works alone?
“Who will repay everyone according to his works: eternal life to those who seek glory, honor, and immortality through perseverance in good works”
Romans 2:6-7
“See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.”
James 2:24
“…those who have done good deeds to the resurrection of life, but those who have done wicked deeds to the resurrection of condemnation.”
John 5:29
Grace alone?
“On the contrary, we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus in the same way as they.”
Acts 15:11
Obedience alone?
“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains upon him.”
John 3:36
“But if the wicked man turns away from all the sins he has committed, if he keeps all my statutes and does what is just and right, he shall surely live. He shall not die!”
Ezekiel 18:21
Eating alone???
“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life...”
John 6:54
Given all this, how can anyone claim, using the Bible alone, that salvation is by one thing alone? None of the above items can be dismissed as part of our salvation process, nor can any one item be emphasized at the cost of the others.

As a side, does the Bible really teach, or do people teach? If it is people who teach, it does beg some questions about who should teach, and by what authority, and would God provide for any such authority? The answer lies in the Church that teaches the fullness of faith as well as salvation in its fullness.

You're kinda lost without it...

Let’s now get back to the mother of all questions:
Are you saved?
Think of a man sinking in quicksand that wants to be saved and sees a rescue team on the way. He has every confidence that he will be saved and shouts “I’m saved!”, but he is not actually saved until he’s out of the mud. It’s this same with us as we “work out” our salvation as part of the Church militant on earth with great confidence that we will one day be members of the Church triumphant in heaven.

Much of the preceding post was inspired by a book called "Crossing the Tiber" by Stephen Ray; a former non-Catholic Christian turned Catholic apologist.


Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Obligation to Live and Give

A recent post on this blog dealt with the potential creep of the Right to Die movement  morphing into the "Obligation to Die" via four distinct stages of "progress". I recently found a glimmer of hope to share, but first a brief review of the four stages.

Stage 1: Voluntary – Passive

Once legal, physician assisted suicide is voluntary, but not applauded. This first stage would have been unthinkable many years ago and no one should be coerced into suicide, because that would be unthinkable today...but unthinkable things can always be "re-thought" tomorrow.

Stage 2: Voluntary – Active We need to think of what is best for everyone. We live in a free country and no one can force you to do anything, but as a society we have an obligation to encourage what is “right” and actively promote the common welfare.

Stage 3: Mandatory – Passive
As our population ages and health care costs consume ever larger amounts of money, at least some legislation must be considered to help address the root cause. Just a few carefully worded laws to help guide people through their final stage of life and their final obligation to the society just makes sense.

Stage 4: Mandatory – Active
Physician assisted suicide need not be limited to only desperate pain. The very old, very sick and severely physically or mentally handicapped should all be considered for legal and mandatory euthanization once the quality of life has been properly assessed by health professionals. We must actively promote the common good and do the “right thing” no matter how difficult it may seem.

Now here is the glimmer of hope that kicks in after stage 1 and during stage 2 to slow or even help reverse the direction. Check it out.


Stage 2 above is all about actively persuading public opinion to accept euthanasia as "good" and "normal" and don't think for an instant it cannot be done; consider cigarettes.

It is perfectly legal for people over 18 to smoke cigarettes today, but anti-smoking campaigns, legislation and taxation have done a good job of breaking the will to smoke over the years. The same can be done to break the will to live.

The video does the opposite. It presents euthanasia as a companion for quitters. The message is that true dignity is in living, to live & fight and not to surrender. That is dignity. God is the author of life and we are not free to take it, but we are free to live it and give it to others.

My favorite take from this clip?
The way a story ends changes the meaning of every page.

Live and give to the end.