Grace of Final Perseverance
The Catholic Church teaches that we must stay faithful until death in response to the Calvinist doctrine of predestination, "Once saved, always saved."
[X] Lots to think about: grace, free will, the virtue of hope, the parable of the sower, Peter starting to walk on the water, then sinking, Judas' betrayal, the parable of the two sons, etc., etc.
"Once saved, always saved"
John Calvin (1509-1564) originated the teaching that those who have been predestined for Heaven cannot be lost.
Variations in Paul about Salvation
|We have been saved|
|2 Tim 1:9||He saved us and called us to a holy life, not according to our works but according to his own design and the grace bestowed on us in Christ Jesus before time began.|
|Rom 8:24||For in hope we were saved.|
|Eph 2:5||Even when we were dead in our transgressions, [God] brought us to life with Christ. By grace you have been saved.|
|Eph 2:8||For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God.|
|Titus 3:5||He saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.|
|We are being saved|
|1 Cor 1:18||The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.|
|2 Cor 2:15||For we are the aroma of Christ for God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.|
|We will be saved|
|1 Cor 3:15||But if someone’s work is burned up, that one will suffer loss; the person will be saved, but only as through fire.|
|1 Cor 5:5||You are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.|
|1 Tim 2:15||But she will be saved through motherhood, provided women persevere in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.|
|Rom 5:9–10||How much more then, since we are now justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath. Indeed, if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, how much more, once reconciled, will we be saved by his life.|
|Rom 10:9||For, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.|
|Rom 10:13||For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."|
Work to do
Keeping the faith is a work that leads to other good works.
- John Martignoni, Newsletter #185.
- Romans and Galatians do not say that “works play no part in salvation,” they say that “works of the law” play no part in salvation. Does that mean all works? No, it does not. It means the works of the law that were imposed upon the Israelites by God in the desert. We see this quite clearly in Galatians 3:17 which tells us the law came “four hundred and thirty years after” Abraham. In other words, the phrase, “works of the law,” refers not to all good works, as you interpret it, but to the very specific requirements of the Mosaic Law.
- By your reasoning, a person can be saved, but then can go out and commit murder, rape, robbery, blasphemy, heresy, idolatry, homosexuality, fornication, adultery, and every other manner of sin, and never repent of those sins, and yet still be absolutely assured of their salvation. That, with all due respect, is nuts. If eternal security – absolute assurance of salvation – is true, then Paul’s letters to the Romans, to the Corinthians, the Galatians, Ephesians, and everyone else should have simply said: “Hey guys, you made it. Relax and rest easy because you’re saved. See ya in Heaven. Paul”
|Ez 18:21-32||free will||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! ...|
|Ez 33:13||The just can sin.||Even though I say to the just that they shall surely live, if they, relying on their justice, do wrong, none of their just deeds shall be remembered; because of the wrong they have done, they shall die.|
|Heb 6:4–6||The saved can fall away.||For it is impossible in the case of those who have once been enlightened and tasted the heavenly gift and shared in the holy Spirit and tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to bring them to repentance again, since they are recrucifying the Son of God for themselves and holding him up to contempt.|
|2 Ptr 2:20–22.||Entangled in defilements.||For if they, having escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of [our] Lord and savior Jesus Christ, again become entangled and overcome by them, their last condition is worse than their first. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment handed down to them. What is expressed in the true proverb has happened to them, “The dog returns to its own vomit,” and “A bathed sow returns to wallowing in the mire.”|
|1 Cor 9:27||perseverance||No, I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.|
|Phil 2:12||Works required.||Work out your salvation with fear and trembling.|
|Phil 3:12-14||Unfinished business.||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 been 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.|
|1 Cor 4:3-5||Jesus judges.||It does not concern me in the least that I be judged by you or any human tribunal; I do not even pass judgment on myself; I am not conscious of anything against me, but I do not thereby stand acquitted; the one who judges me is the Lord.|
|Col 1:21-23||Perseverance required.||And you who once were alienated and hostile in mind because of evil deeds he has now reconciled in his fleshly body through his death, to present you holy, without blemish, and irreproachable before him, provided that you persevere in the faith, firmly grounded, stable, and not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, am a minister.|
|Mt 7:21||Christians sin.||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.|
|Matt 19:17||Keep the commandments.||If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.|
|Gal 5:2–4||Remain in grace.||It is I, Paul, who am telling you that if you have yourselves circumcised, Christ will be of no benefit to you. Once again I declare to every man who has himself circumcised that he is bound to observe the entire law. You are separated from Christ, you who are trying to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.|
|Prov 21:2||We deceive ourselves.||Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.|
|Lk 9:23||Daily cross.||Then he said to all, "If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."|
|Jn 15:6||Abide in Jesus.||Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned.|
|Jn 15:10||Keep Jesus' commandments.||If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.|
|1 Jn 2:4–6||Live as Jesus lived.||Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps his word, the love of God is truly perfected in him. This is the way we may know that we are in union with him: whoever claims to abide in him ought to live [just] as he lived.|
|1 Jn 3:24||Abide in Jesus.||Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them, and the way we know that he remains in us is from the Spirit that he gave us.|
|1 Jn 4:16||Love.||We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us. God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.|
|2 Jn 9||Abide in the teaching.||Anyone who is so “progressive” as not to remain in the teaching of the Christ does not have God; whoever remains in the teaching has the Father and the Son.|
|Rom 11:21-22||We can be cut off.||For if God did not spare the natural branches, [perhaps] he will not spare you either. See, then, the kindness and severity of God: severity toward those who fell, but God’s kindness to you, provided you remain in his kindness; otherwise you too will be cut off.|
"That salvation is an absolutely free gift of God can be seen most clearly in the practice of infant Baptism, where the child cannot make an act of faith nor can he perform any work. He is saved gratuitously by God."
|John 3:3-5||Born again by Baptism||Jesus answered and said to him, "Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above." Nicodemus said to him, "How can a person once grown old be born again? Surely he cannot reenter his mother’s womb and be born again, can he?" Jesus answered, "Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit."|
|1 Pet 3:20-21||Baptism saves.||[The salvation of Noah's family] prefigured baptism, which saves you now. It is not a removal of dirt from the body but an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ|
|Acts 2:38||Baptism gives the Spirit.||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.|
Parable of the Sower
13 Jesus said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand any of the parables?
14 The sower sows the word.
15 These are the ones on the path where the word is sown. As soon as they hear, Satan comes at once and takes away the word sown in them.
16 And these are the ones sown on rocky ground who, when they hear the word, receive it at once with joy.
17 But they have no root; they last only for a time. Then when tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.
18 Those sown among thorns are another sort. They are the people who hear the word,
19 but worldly anxiety, the lure of riches, and the craving for other things intrude and choke the word, and it bears no fruit.
20 But those sown on rich soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.”
Catechism of the Catholic Church
- The children of our holy mother the Church rightly hope for the grace of final perseverance and the recompense of God their Father for the good works accomplished with his grace in communion with Jesus. Keeping the same rule of life, believers share the "blessed hope" of those whom the divine mercy gathers into the "holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband."
- The prayer of Abraham and Jacob is presented as a battle of faith marked by trust in God's faithfulness and by certitude in the victory promised to perseverance.
- "Pray constantly . . . always and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father." St. Paul adds, "Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance making supplication for all the saints." For "we have not been commanded to work, to keep watch and to fast constantly, but it has been laid down that we are to pray without ceasing." This tireless fervor can come only from love. Against our dullness and laziness, the battle of prayer is that of humble, trusting, and persevering love. This love opens our hearts to three enlightening and life-giving facts of faith about prayer.
- It is always possible to pray: The time of the Christian is that of the risen Christ who is with us always, no matter what tempests may arise. Our time is in the hands of God:
- It is possible to offer fervent prayer even while walking in public or strolling alone, or seated in your shop, . . . while buying or selling, . . . or even while cooking.
- Prayer is a vital necessity. Proof from the contrary is no less convincing: if we do not allow the Spirit to lead us, we fall back into the slavery of sin. How can the Holy Spirit be our life if our heart is far from him?
- Nothing is equal to prayer; for what is impossible it makes possible, what is difficult, easy. . . . For it is impossible, utterly impossible, for the man who prays eagerly and invokes God ceaselessly ever to sin.
- Those who pray are certainly saved; those who do not pray are certainly damned.
- Prayer and Christian life are inseparable, for they concern the same love and the same renunciation, proceeding from love; the same filial and loving conformity with the Father's plan of love; the same transforming union in the Holy Spirit who conforms us more and more to Christ Jesus; the same love for all men, the love with which Jesus has loved us. "Whatever you ask the Father in my name, he [will] give it to you. This I command you, to love one another."
- He "prays without ceasing" who unites prayer to works and good works to prayer. Only in this way can we consider as realizable the principle of praying without ceasing.
- In the battle of prayer we must confront erroneous conceptions of prayer, various currents of thought, and our own experience of failure. We must respond with humility, trust, and perseverance to these temptations which cast doubt on the usefulness or even the possibility of prayer.
Fortitude is a natural, cardinal virtue. Without fortitude (enduring patience or patient endurance), we will not continue to be just, temperate, or wise (prudent).
- Human virtues acquired by education, by deliberate acts and by a perseverance ever-renewed in repeated efforts are purified and elevated by divine grace. With God's help, they forge character and give facility in the practice of the good. The virtuous man is happy to practice them.
- It is not easy for man, wounded by sin, to maintain moral balance. Christ's gift of salvation offers us the grace necessary to persevere in the pursuit of the virtues. Everyone should always ask for this grace of light and strength, frequent the sacraments, cooperate with the Holy Spirit, and follow his calls to love what is good and shun evil.
- The moral virtues grow through education, deliberate acts, and perseverance in struggle. Divine grace purifies and elevates them.
On the one hand, we want to avoid the sin of presumption, which would cause us to become slothful about the spiritual life, resting content in the condition in which God first found us.
On the other hand, we want to avoid the sin of despair, which suggests that God may catch us off-guard and take our lives before we have a chance to repent of our most recent sins. Hmm. But then again, what are we doing committing mortal sins late in our spiritual life? Why are we trying to figure out a way to have our cake and eat it, too? That is so Catholic, in the worst sense of the word!.
- The conviction that "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved" depends upon the assumption that such people are acting in good faith and not merely giving the Lord lip service. The proverb is modified by our Lord's teaching that "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" (Mt 7:21).
- Judas may perhaps be a model of those who follow Jesus for a long time, but who turn away at the end.
- John Martignoni, Newsletter #185.
- Cf. Council of Trent (1547): DS 1576.
- Rev 21:2.
- 1 Thess 5:17; Eph 5:20.
- Eph 6:18.
- Evagrius Ponticus, Pract. 49:PG 40,1245C.
- Cf. Mt 28:20; Lk 8:24.
- St. John Chrysostom, Ecloga de oratione 2:PG 63,585.
- Cf. Gal 5:16-25.
- St. John Chrysostom, De Anna 4,5:PG 54,666.
- St. Alphonsus Liguori, Del gran Mezzo della preghiera.
- Jn 15:16-17.
- Origen, De orat. 12:PG 11,452c.