The Theology of Salvation, Pt. 1

The Theology of Salvation, Pt. 1 October 17, 2023

[see the book info-page / buy Kindle or Nook versions]
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Part one (pp. 161-200) of chapter four of my book, Bible Truths for Catholic Truths: A Source Book for Apologists and Inquirers (Manchester, New Hampshire: Sophia Institute Press, 2009); the paperback is now out-of-print. This book could also be known as Dave’s Topical Bible, and contains over 1,900 Bible passages, categorized under 115 thematic headings. I am now offering it online for free.
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In these blog posts I use — for readers’ convenience — the original RSV of the manuscript (© 1971 by Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America), rather than KJV, which was mostly used in the paperback, due to copyright law. This book is all Bible, except for a few clarifying comments here and there. Subtitles sometimes differ from the published version. They are my own original titles.

See Part Two.

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SALVATION BY GRACE ALONE (SOLA GRATIA)

Acts 15:11 But we believe that we shall be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.

Acts 18:27 . . . When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed.

Acts 20:24, 32 . . . the gospel of the grace of God.. . . And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

Romans 3:24 they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus,

Romans 4:16 That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants — not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham, for he is the father of us all,

Romans 5:2 Through him we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God.

Romans 5:15, 17 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. . . . If, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

Romans 5:20-21 Law came in, to increase the trespass; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 6:14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

Romans 11:5-6 So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.

1 Corinthians 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God which is with me.

Galatians 1:15 But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and had called me through his grace,

Galatians 2:21 I do not nullify the grace of God; for if justification were through the law, then Christ died to no purpose.

Ephesians 1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace

Ephesians 2:4-10 But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God — not because of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

2 Thessalonians 2:16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace,

2 Timothy 1:9 who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not in virtue of our works but in virtue of his own purpose and the grace which he gave us in Christ Jesus ages ago,

Titus 2:11 For the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men,

Titus 3:7 so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life.

1 Peter 1:10 The prophets who prophesied of the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired about this salvation;

Holy Scripture teaches that grace is primary in that it enables both faith and works that are organically tied to it in the process of sanctification and eventual eschatological salvation (i.e., when we actually get to heaven, or purgatory: which means we are saved, too, and inevitably on the way to heaven).

There is a biblical sense in which we are saved by grace alone, and this is asserted unambiguously without immediate qualification (as we see to the contrary in the cases of faith alone and works alone: see the next two sections). That highlights the nature of the difference compared to faith and works. Grace Alone, is, therefore, an entirely biblical, orthodox, Catholic statement, as long as it is understood exactly in its proper sense (i.e., not utterly excluding works and faith in the overall mix).

SALVATION IS NOT BY FAITH ALONE (SOLA FIDE)

Ezekiel 33:12-15, 18-19 And you, son of man, say to your people, The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him when he transgresses; and as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall by it when he turns from his wickedness; and the righteous shall not be able to live by his righteousness when he sins. Though I say to the righteous that he shall surely live, yet if he trusts in his righteousness and commits iniquity, none of his righteous deeds shall be remembered; but in the iniquity that he has committed he shall die. Again, though I say to the wicked, `You shall surely die,’ yet if he turns from his sin and does what is lawful and right, if the wicked restores the pledge, gives back what he has taken by robbery, and walks in the statutes of life, committing no iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die. . . . When the righteous turns from his righteousness, and commits iniquity, he shall die for it. And when the wicked turns from his wickedness, and does what is lawful and right, he shall live by it. 

James 2:14 What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him?

James 2:17-18 So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. But some one will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith.

James 2:20 Do you want to be shown, you shallow man, that faith apart from works is barren?

James 2:22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by works,

James 2:24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.

James 2:26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead.

We see above, directly in 2:24 and indirectly in all the others, that works also play a part in the sanctification and salvation process, but they are not by themselves. They are entirely enabled by God’s free grace and accompanied by faith.

SALVATION IS NOT BY WORKS ALONE (PELAGIANISM)

James 2:21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar?

James 2:25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the harlot justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?

This “justification by works” is not by itself, any more than faith is operative by itself. James writes of Abraham being “justified by works” (2:21) but this can’t be ripped from context, so as to distort his meaning, since in the verse immediately before he ties faith organically in with works, and he does the same in the verse immediately after, as he does in the larger context of 2:14, 17-18 and 2:26. They simply can’t be separated.

Likewise, when justification by works is asserted again in 2:24, it is qualified in 2:26, by connecting faith with it, and in the larger context before the statement, also in 2:14, 17-18, 20, 22. The works can’t possibly be interpreted as on their own, then, without doing massive violence to the contextual meaning and teaching.

The same applies to 2:25 and the statement about Rahab the harlot being “justified by works” — it is qualified in the same way in context, by the consideration of 2:14, 17-18, 20, 22, 26. Moreover, salvation by works alone is flatly and explicitly denied by St. Paul in Ephesians 2:8-9 and 2 Timothy 1:9, and the same is strongly implied in Rom 11:5-6 (see the section “Salvation By Grace Alone” above).

For the Catholic, justification is not the same thing as salvation or the attainment of eternal life. It can be lost, or rejected by means of human free will and disobedience. So to assert “justification by works” even in a qualified sense, is not at all the same as asserting salvation by works.

Therefore, it is scripturally improper to assert either salvation by works alone or salvation by faith alone. They are never taught in Holy Scripture, and are both denied more than once. Justification by faith or justification by works can be asserted in a limited sense, as Scripture does: always understood as hand-in-hand with the other two elements in the grace-faith-works triumvirate.

PAUL’S TEACHING ON THE ORGANIC RELATIONSHIP OF GRACE, FAITH, WORKS, ACTION, AND OBEDIENCE (50 PASSAGES)

Romans 1:5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, (cf. Acts 6:7)

Romans 1:17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, “He who through faith is righteous shall live.”

Romans 2:6-7 For he will render to every man according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; (cf. 2:8; 2:10)

Romans 2:13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. (cf. James 1:22-23; 2:21-24)

Romans 3:22  the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction;

Romans 3:31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

Romans 6:17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed,

Romans 8:13 for if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live. (cf. 2 Cor 11:15)

Romans 8:28 We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.

Romans 10:16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel; for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?”

Romans 14:23 But he who has doubts is condemned, if he eats, because he does not act from faith; for whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.

Romans 15:17-18 In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to be proud of my work for God. For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has wrought through me to win obedience from the Gentiles, by word and deed,

Romans 16:26 but is now disclosed and through the prophetic writings is made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith — (cf. Heb 11:8)

1 Corinthians 3:9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building. (cf. 3:8; Mk 16:20)

1 Corinthians 3:10  According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and another man is building upon it. Let each man take care how he builds upon it.

1 Corinthians 9:27  but I pommel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

1 Corinthians 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God which is with me.

1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

1 Corinthians 16:13 Be watchful, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong.

2 Corinthians 1:6 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer.

2 Corinthians 1:24  Not that we lord it over your faith; we work with you for your joy, for you stand firm in your faith.

2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive good or evil, according to what he has done in the body.

2 Corinthians 6:1 Working together with him, then, we entreat you not to accept the grace of God in vain.

2 Corinthians 8:3-7 For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own free will, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints — and this, not as we expected, but first they gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God. Accordingly we have urged Titus that as he had already made a beginning, he should also complete among you this gracious work. Now as you excel in everything — in faith, in utterance, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in your love for us — see that you excel in this gracious work also.

2 Corinthians 10:15 We do not boast beyond limit, in other men’s labors; but our hope is that as your faith increases, our field among you may be greatly enlarged,

2 Corinthians 11:23 Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one — I am talking like a madman — with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death.

2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves, to see whether you are holding to your faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you? — unless indeed you fail to meet the test!

Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galatians 5:6-7 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail, but faith working through love. You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth?

Galatians 6:7-9 Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption; but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Philippians 2:12-13 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Philippians 2:14-16 Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.

Philippians 3:9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own, based on law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith;

Philippians 4:3 And I ask you also, true yokefellow, help these women, for they have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.

Colossians 3:23-25 Whatever your task, work heartily, as serving the Lord and not men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you are serving the Lord Christ. For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.

1Thessalonians 1:3  remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Thessalonians 1:8  inflicting vengeance upon those who do not know God and upon those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.

2 Thessalonians 1:11 To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his call, and may fulfil every good resolve and work of faith by his power,

1 Timothy 6:11 But as for you, man of God, shun all this; aim at righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.

1 Timothy 6:18-19 They are to do good, to be rich in good deeds, liberal and generous, thus laying up for themselves a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life which is life indeed.

2 Timothy 2:10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain salvation in Christ Jesus with its eternal glory.

2 Timothy 2:22 So shun youthful passions and aim at righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call upon the Lord from a pure heart.

2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

Titus 1:16 They profess to know God, but they deny him by their deeds; they are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good deed.

Titus 3:8 The saying is sure. I desire you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to apply themselves to good deeds; these are excellent and profitable to men.

Titus 3:14 And let our people learn to apply themselves to good deeds, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not to be unfruitful.

FINAL JUDGMENT IS ALWAYS ASSOCIATED WITH WORKS AND NEVER WITH FAITH ALONE (50 PASSAGES)

1 Samuel 28:15-19 Then Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” Saul answered, “I am in great distress; for the Philistines are warring against me, and God has turned away from me and answers me no more, either by prophets or by dreams; therefore I have summoned you to tell me what I shall do.” And Samuel said, “Why then do you ask me, since the LORD has turned from you and become your enemy? The LORD has done to you as he spoke by me; for the LORD has torn the kingdom out of your hand, and given it to your neighbor, David. Because you did not obey the voice of the LORD, and did not carry out his fierce wrath against Am’alek, therefore the LORD has done this thing to you this day. Moreover the LORD will give Israel also with you into the hand of the Philistines; and tomorrow you and your sons shall be with me; the LORD will give the army of Israel also into the hand of the Philistines.”

2 Kings 22:13 Go, inquire of the LORD for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found; for great is the wrath of the LORD that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us. (cf. 2 Chron 34:21)

Psalm 7:8-10 The LORD judges the peoples; judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness and according to the integrity that is in me. O let the evil of the wicked come to an end, but establish thou the righteous, thou who triest the minds and hearts, thou righteous God. My shield is with God, who saves the upright in heart.

Psalm 58:11 Men will say, “Surely there is a reward for the righteous; surely there is a God who judges on earth.”

Ecclesiastes 12:14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.

Isaiah 59:18 According to their deeds, so will he repay, wrath to his adversaries, requital to his enemies; . . .

Jeremiah 4:4 Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, remove the foreskin of your hearts, O men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem; lest my wrath go forth like fire, and burn with none to quench it, because of the evil of your doings. (cf. 21:12)

Ezekiel 7:3 Now the end is upon you, and I will let loose my anger upon you, and will judge you according to your ways; and I will punish you for all your abominations. (cf. 7:8; 33:20)

Ezekiel 36:19 I scattered them among the nations, and they were dispersed through the countries; in accordance with their conduct and their deeds I judged them.

Micah 5:15 And in anger and wrath I will execute vengeance upon the nations that did not obey.

Zephaniah 2:3 Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land, who do his commands; seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you may be hidden on the day of the wrath of the LORD.

Matthew 5:22 But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, `You fool!’ shall be liable to the hell of fire.

Matthew 7:16-27 You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? So every sound tree bears good fruit; but the bad tree bears evil fruit. A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits. Not every one who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?” And then will I declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.” Every one then who hears these words of mine, and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And every one who hears these words of mine, and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell; and great was the fall of it.

Matthew 10:22. . . But he who endures to the end will be saved. (cf. Mt 24:13; Mk 13:13)

Matthew 16:27 For the Son of man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay every man for what he has done.

Matthew 18:8-9 And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life maimed or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire. (cf. Mk 9:43, 47)

Matthew 25:14-30 For it will be as when a man going on a journey called his servants and entrusted to them his property; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them; and he made five talents more. So also, he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, “Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.” And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, “Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.” He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, “Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not winnow; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.” But his master answered him, “You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sowed, and gather where I have not winnowed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to every one who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.”

Matthew 25:31-46 When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. Then the King will say to those at his right hand, “Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?” And the King will answer them, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.” Then he will say to those at his left hand, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” Then they also will answer, “Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee?” Then he will answer them, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.” And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.

Luke 3:9  Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. (cf. Mt 3:10; 7:19)

Luke 14:13-14 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.

Luke 21:34-36 But take heed to yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a snare; for it will come upon all who dwell upon the face of the whole earth. But watch at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of man.

John 5:26-29 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself, and has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of man. Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment.

Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth.

Romans 2:5-13 But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. For he will render to every man according to his works: To those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honour and peace for every one who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality. All who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.

1 Corinthians 3:8-9 He who plants and he who waters are equal, and each shall receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.

2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive good or evil, according to what he has done in the body.

1 Thessalonians 3:12-13 . . . may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all men, as we do to you, so that he may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

1 Thessalonians 5:23 May the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Thessalonians 1:7-12 . . . when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance upon those who do not know God and upon those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They shall suffer the punishment of eternal destruction and exclusion from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at in all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his call, and may fulfil every good resolve and work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 6:7-8 For land which has drunk the rain that often falls upon it, and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed; its end is to be burned.

1 Peter 1:17 . . .  who judges each one impartially according to his deeds.

1 Peter 4:13 But rejoice in so far as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. (cf. Rom 8:17)

2 Peter 3:10-14 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and the works that are upon it will be burned up. Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of persons ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be kindled and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire! But according to his promise we wait for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you wait for these, be zealous to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.

Jude 1:6-16 And the angels that did not keep their own position but left their proper dwelling have been kept by him in eternal chains in the nether gloom until the judgment of the great day; just as Sodom and Gomor’rah and the surrounding cities, which likewise acted immorally and indulged in unnatural lust, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. Yet in like manner these men in their dreamings defile the flesh, reject authority, and revile the glorious ones. But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, disputed about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a reviling judgment upon him, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” But these men revile whatever they do not understand, and by those things that they know by instinct as irrational animals do, they are destroyed. Woe to them! For they walk in the way of Cain, and abandon themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error, and perish in Korah’s rebellion. These are blemishes on your love feasts, as they boldly carouse together, looking after themselves; waterless clouds, carried along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars for whom the nether gloom of darkness has been reserved for ever. It was of these also that Enoch in the seventh generation from Adam prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with his holy myriads, to execute judgment on all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness which they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own passions, loud-mouthed boasters, flattering people to gain advantage.

Jude 1:20-21 But you, beloved, build yourselves up on your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God; wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

Revelation 2:5 Remember then from what you have fallen, repent and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.

Revelation 2:23 . . . I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you as your works deserve.

Revelation 20:11-13 Then I saw a great white throne and him who sat upon it; from his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Also another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, by what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead in them, and all were judged by what they had done.

Revelation 21:8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, as for murderers, fornicators, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their lot shall be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur, which is the second death.

Revelation 22:12 Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense, to repay every one for what he has done.

MORTAL AND VENIAL SIN

1 John 5:16-17 If any one sees his brother committing what is not a mortal sin, he will ask, and God will give him life for those whose sin is not mortal. There is sin which is mortal; I do not say that one is to pray for that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is a sin which is not mortal.

Some non-Catholic Christians think that all sins are exactly alike in the eyes of God: everything from a white lie or a child stealing a cookie to mass murder. They believe this not out of common sense, but because they erroneously think that the Bible teaches it. But this mistaken notion is decisively refuted by the above passage. Scripture provides several indications of this difference in seriousness of sin, and in subjective guiltiness for it:

Matthew 5:22 But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, “You fool!” shall be liable to the hell of fire.

Luke 12:47-48 And that servant who knew his master’s will, but did not make ready or act according to his will, shall receive a severe beating. But he who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, shall receive a light beating. Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required; and of him to whom men commit much they will demand the more.

Luke 23:34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” . . .

John 9:41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.”

John 19:11 . . . he who delivered me to you has the greater sin.

Acts 17:30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all men everywhere to repent,

Romans 3:25  . . . This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins;

1 Timothy 1:13 though I formerly blasphemed and persecuted and insulted him; but I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief.

Hebrews 10:26: For if we sin deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,

James 3:1 Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, for you know that we who teach shall be judged with greater strictness.

The Bible also refers to (mortal) sins which — if not repented of — will exclude one from heaven (e.g., 1 Cor 6:9-10; Gal 1:8; 5:19-21; Eph 5:3-6; Heb 12:16; Rev 21:8; 22:15).

Some objectors to these notions bring up James 2:10: “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.” Does this prove that all sins are the same; equally destructive and worthy of judgment? No; the passage is dealing with man’s inability to keep the entire Law of God: a common theme in Scripture. James accepts differences in degrees of sin and righteousness elsewhere in the same letter, such as 3:1 (above). In James 1:12, the man who endures trial will receive a “crown of life.” James also teaches that the “prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects” (5:16), which implies that there are relatively more righteous people, whom God honors more, by making their prayers more effective (he used the prophet Elijah as an example). If there is a lesser and greater righteousness, then there are lesser and greater sins also, because to be less righteous is to be more sinful, and vice versa.

GRACE: QUANTIFIABLE DIFFERENCES

Acts 4:33 And with great power the apostles gave their Testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.

Romans 5:20 Law came in, to increase the trespass; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,

Romans 6:1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?

Romans 12:3 For by the grace given to me I bid every one among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith which God has assigned him.

Ephesians 4:7 But grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

James 4:6 But he gives more grace; therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Pet 5:5 also cites this saying)

1 Peter 1:2 chosen and destined by God the Father and sanctified by the Spirit for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

1 Peter 4:10 As each has received a gift, employ it for one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.

2 Peter 1:2 May grace and peace be multiplied to you . . .

2 Peter 3:18: But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. . . .

DIFFERENTIAL MERIT BASED ON OUR RESPONSE TO GOD’S GRACE

Matthew 5:11-12 Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Matthew 6:3-4 But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (cf. 6:5-6,16-18)

Matthew 10:41-42 He who receives a prophet because he is a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward, and he who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.

Matthew 19:21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

Matthew 19:29 And every one who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life.

Mark 9:41 For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ, will by no means lose his reward.

Mark 10:29-30: Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.”

Luke 6:35, 38 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish. . . . give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back.

1 Corinthians 3:6-9 I planted, Apol’los watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are equal, and each shall receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.

2 Corinthians 9:6 The point is this: he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.

Ephesians 6:8 knowing that whatever good any one does, he will receive the same again from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free. (cf. Matt 16:27)

2 Timothy 2:15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

2 Timothy 4:8 Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

Hebrews 6:10 For God is not so unjust as to overlook your work and the love which you showed for his sake in serving the saints, as you still do.

Hebrews 10:35 Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.

Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please him. For whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

James 1:12 Blessed is the man who endures trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love him.

2 John 1:8 Look to yourselves, that you may not lose what you have worked for, but may win a full reward.

Revelation 2:10 . . . Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.

Revelation 3:11-12 . . . hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. He who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God; . . .

CO-WORKERS WITH GOD (SYNERGISM)

Mark 16:20 And they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that attended it. Amen.

Romans 8:28 We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.

1 Corinthians 3:9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.

1 Corinthians 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God which is with me.

1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

2 Corinthians 6:1 Working together with him, then, we entreat you not to accept the grace of God in vain.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Philippians 2:12-13 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

2 Peter 1:10 Therefore, brethren, be the more zealous to confirm your call and election, for if you do this you will never fall;

HUMAN DISTRIBUTION OF DIVINE GRACES AND SALVATION

Acts 2:40-41 And he testified with many other words and exhorted them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

Romans 11:13-14 Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry in order to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them.

1 Corinthians 7:16 Wife, how do you know whether you will save your husband? Husband, how do you know whether you will save your wife?

1 Corinthians 9:22 I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

2 Corinthians 1:6 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer.

2 Corinthians 4:15 For it [his many sufferings: 4:8-12, 17] is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

2 Corinthians 5:18-19 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

Ephesians 3:2 assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you.

Ephesians 4:29 Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for edifying, as fits the occasion, that it may impart grace to those who hear.

Philippians 2:12-13 . . . work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

1 Timothy 4:16 Take heed to yourself and to your teaching: hold to that, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.

2 Timothy 2:10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain salvation in Christ Jesus with its eternal glory.

Hebrews 10:24 and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,

James 5:20 let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

1 Peter 3:1 Likewise you wives, be submissive to your husbands, so that some, though they do not obey the word, may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives

1 Peter 4:8-10 . . . love covers a multitude of sins. Practice hospitality ungrudgingly to one another. As each has received a gift, employ it for one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.

Moreover, when we pray for someone and God answers, they are blessed, and one might say that they are given more grace thereby, just as Paul often opens his epistles, “grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Cor 1:2). This common greeting of “grace to you” (cf. Rom 1:7; 1 Cor 1:3; Gal 1:3; Eph 1:2; Phil 1:2; Col 1:2; 1 Thess 1:1; 2 Thess 1:2; Phlm 1:3; Rev 1:4) is in the sense of “may God give you more grace.” Thus, everyone who prays is potentially a “mini-distributor” of grace (and indirectly – in a limited sense — of salvation as well).

Revelation 1:4-5 John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ . . .

The angels also participate in this spreading around of God’s grace.

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Summary: I provide the biblical rationale for Catholic beliefs with regard to salvation, by presenting categorized Bible passages about grace, justification, faith & works, merit, etc.

 

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