Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Can we work for our Salvation?

Question What is wrong with thinking we can't work towards our own salvation? Is it just that then we don't try as hard and don't worry about hurting God? Is this the same idea with why we must be made just rather than declared just? What is meant by "once saved always saved"?

Answer One of the things that Luther objected to was the fact that people were trfying to 'earn' their way to Heaven. as if we could ever be so good that we could 'deserve' a relationship with God! He was right that we can never deserve it, but God through his grace wants to make us perfect anyway. We could never do it on our own. Lutherans and Catholics agree that we are saved by Grace (God's free gift) and not by works. But Luther thought that grace can 'declare' someone 'saved'- ie, perfect, prepared for Heaven- even though they are not perfect. Whereas Catholic teach that grace is working to make us perfect- and if the job is not done on Earth (which it hardly ever is) there is purgatory to finish the deal.

Some protestants (not all) say that since all you need to be 'saved' is to accept Jesus as Lord, then once you do this it is impossible to go back. You say it, and you can be absolutely certauin then that you will go to Heaven. Obviously, some people accept Jesus as Lord, and turn their backs on Him later- those protestants would just say that person was never really saved in the first place. That's what is meant by 'once saved always saved'.

For Catholics, since salvation is a process and not a one time thing, we continue to fight our sinful nature throughout life, and put all our Hope and trust in God that He can and will save us, but we have to fight for it. This is why scripture says things like

"...work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:12b-13)

The idea of process I think gives humans more diginty because we are part of what's going on, and is better for this world because it includes the promise that people can be freed from corruption here- so if we want to transform the world, there is hope that through bringing people to Christ this can happen.

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