Apologetic Tract Salvation

By 9:45 AM


Salvation
SALVATION 

  
Salvation is an important issue, or should be, for everyone.  In fact, of all the issues, it is the most important in our lives: whether we will be with God in eternity and for all eternity or not.  Sometimes, we become more involved in other things and forget this most important fact of our existence. I was created by God to know, love and serve him, and be with him forever.

Let me begin by stating some basic beliefs of our faith:
(1) Our salvation begins in the mind of God. "God wants all men to be saved and come to know the truth." (2 Timothy 2:4)

(2) Everyone needs salvation. "All men have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God." (Rom 3:23)

(3) Our salvation is accomplished in, through and by Jesus Christ. "All men are now undeservedly justified by the gift of God, through the redemption wrought in Christ Jesus. Through His blood, God made Him the means of expiation for all who believe." (Rom 3:24-25)

(4) Salvation is a gratuitous gift from God. We cannot merit or earn it in any way. "It is owing to His favor that salvation is yours through faith. This is not your own doing; it is God's gift; neither is it a reward for anything you have accomplished, so let no one pride himself on it." (Eph 2:8-9)

(5) The sign of God's redeeming love is first experienced in the Sacrament of Baptism. "You are now saved by a baptismal bath which corresponds to this exactly. This baptism is no removal of physical stain, but the pledge to God of an irreproachable conscience through the resurrection of Jesus Christ." (1 Pet 3:21)

(6) Water baptism is the general norm by which we begin our walk with the Lord.  "The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude" (Catechism of the Catholic Church #1257). But God is not limited. We believe that many people who lived before the death and resurrection of Jesus as well as many people, who through no fault of their own never had an opportunity of water baptism, are saved by Jesus. "Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity." (CCC # 1260)

(7) The gift of salvation calls for a response once we have reached the age of reason. "For if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Faith in the heart leads to justification; confession on the lips to salvation. (Rom 10:9-10)

(8) This response involves faith - acceptance of Jesus as Lord and Savior of our lives. For adults, this is preceded by repentance for personal sin. For an infant, this is the faith of the parents and the worshiping community to be handed down to the person until he or she is able to make his or her personal response to Jesus' gift.

Let me recap:
Jesus has saved us through His death and resurrection. He personalized this gift of salvation through the Sacrament of Baptism, i.e., I, at that moment, experienced and shared in the death and resurrection of Jesus in my life.  From that event on, I am in the process of salvation. This process involves my faith-acceptance of Jesus as my Lord and Savior.

Doing this means more than just saying words or going through mere external actions.  Rather, this commitment of my life to Jesus — this decision of the heart and mind — involves doing the will of the Father.  It entails moving from the domination of sin in my life to giving Jesus full control. "You must lay aside your former way of life and the old self which deteriorates through illusion and desire, and acquire a fresh, spiritual way of thinking. You must put on that new man created in God's image, whose justice and holiness are born of truth."  (Eph 4:22-24) This is a lifetime process.

As a gift, salvation is already and not yet: already, because of Jesus; not yet, because of me. This is what Paul means when he says: "work with anxious concern to achieve your salvation." (Phil 2: 12) We don't earn salvation; but we must respond to the gift by growing in holiness, by living in a real relationship with God.

There is enough evidence in Scripture to show that I can never presume I am saved. Some people feel that since Jesus saved them, no matter what they did or did not do, they will be saved. Scripture does not bear this out.  Read 1 Cor 15: 1-2; 9:27; Hebrews 6:4-6.

Only if I continue to grow in my daily walk with the Lord, only if I choose God's ways, only if I remain faithful to the gift of salvation and persevere in my decision of commitment, can I hope to experience the full salvation. "In hope we were saved. But hope is not hope if its object is seen; how is it possible for one to hope for what he sees?  And hoping for what we cannot see means a-waiting it with patient endurance.” (Rom 8: 24-25)

This completion of salvation comes when, at death, I am in relationship with Jesus.  From the time I first experienced the gift of salvation in baptism until the moment I see Jesus face to face, my attitude should be what Paul reflects in his letter to the Philippians:

“It is not that I have already taken hold of it or have already attained perfect maturity, but I continue my pursuit in hope that I may possess it, since I have indeed taken possession of by Christ (Jesus).  Brothers, I for my part do not consider myself to have taken possession.  Just one thing: forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead, I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus.  Let us, then, who are “perfectly mature” adopt this attitude.  And if you have a different attitude, this too God will reveal to you. Only, with regard to what we have attained, continue on the same course.” (Phil 3: 12-16)

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