If saved by faith and works, then how can we be saved at death?
#1
My brother asked me this question, and I have been trying to think of an approptiate answer to give.

Quote:Alright, so Catholics believe that you are not saved by faith alone correct?
Wouldn't that mean that people who convert on their deathbed still wouldn't achieve salvation?
Because they didn't accomplish any works of their faith

If anyone has the answer to this question, I would really appreciate knowing. 

Thank you!
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#2
This is my simplistic understanding of it: If someone converts (and one assumes is sorry for their past sins, i.e. repentant) on their deathbed and is properly baptized, the baptism in and of itself remits (forgives, cancels) all their past sins.  If they then die without sin, I'm thinking that the assumption is that they are "saved".  Now...whether there is any kind of intermediate "cleansing" or "purgation" between their death and "getting to heaven" is something else and way, way above my pay grade.  Seems to me that that's between them and God.

Salvation is a  gift from God.  There is nothing we can "do", in terms of works,  to "earn" it.  What we can do and, I think, what God wants us to do, is to adequately prepare our hearts and souls so that we are able to receive, freely, His gift to us.  Or something like that. :)
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#3
Wouldn't having true contrition and repenting for your sins be a work? Works don't all necessarily need to be physical things. Prayer is a work. Praying for others is a work. Obedience to God is a work. No one knows for sure what such a person's judgement would be like (nor our own!), but I think a perfect act of contrition (especially with the Sacrament of Confession) would certainly qualify.
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#4
Man cannot merit the initial grace of faith through his works. Once in the state of grace, though, man can merit through works. A person who dies just after a deathbed conversion receives the initial grace gratuitously.

God saves whom he will. Someone who has a conversion like that is saved because of God's predilection -- God loves that person more and has, therefore, chosen to save them. Why God chooses to save some in this fashion and not others is a mystery, but it is not because such a person did good works while another person did not.

A standard idea is that, if someone is predestined to be saved, that person will infallibly be saved even if God has to send an angel to that person to bring them to faith. Again, all of this because God loves that person and not because of that person's works. People can only merit once they are already in the state of grace.
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#5
(03-15-2017, 01:38 PM)J Michael Wrote: This is my simplistic understanding of it: If someone converts (and one assumes is sorry for their past sins, i.e. repentant) on their deathbed and is properly baptized, the baptism in and of itself remits (forgives, cancels) all their past sins.  If they then die without sin, I'm thinking that the assumption is that they are "saved".  Now...whether there is any kind of intermediate "cleansing" or "purgation" between their death and "getting to heaven" is something else and way, way above my pay grade.  Seems to me that that's between them and God.

Salvation is a  gift from God.  There is nothing we can "do", in terms of works,  to "earn" it.  What we can do and, I think, what God wants us to do, is to adequately prepare our hearts and souls so that we are able to receive, freely, His gift to us.  Or something like that. :)

(03-15-2017, 01:38 PM)J Michael Wrote: This is my simplistic understanding of it: If someone converts (and one assumes is sorry for their past sins, i.e. repentant) on their deathbed and is properly baptized, the baptism in and of itself remits (forgives, cancels) all their past sins.  If they then die without sin, I'm thinking that the assumption is that they are "saved".  Now...whether there is any kind of intermediate "cleansing" or "purgation" between their death and "getting to heaven" is something else and way, way above my pay grade.  Seems to me that that's between them and God.

Salvation is a  gift from God.  There is nothing we can "do", in terms of works,  to "earn" it.  What we can do and, I think, what God wants us to do, is to adequately prepare our hearts and souls so that we are able to receive, freely, His gift to us.  Or something like that. :)

This is more or less how I see it as well. I guess you could say that making an act of faith is something that takes effort and thus fall under the heading of " works" but I'm not sure. I like to leave things a mystery. God calls whom He wills in ways known only to Him. We know as Christians that faith in Jesus Christ and baptism are the normal means of salvation, but we don't know what happens between a soul and a God in that intermediate twilight state between death and the Judgement.

Personally I don't believe in merit at all, if by merit it means that we as men have some sort of bank account with God whereby we do good things and get rewards for it. I might be misunderstanding the whole concept though. I prefer to remain apophatic about it. We are cleansed in baptism and grace works from the inside out, but it's all from God, it's not due to anything we do.  I don't fret much about " states of grace" or whether or not my prayers are effacacious, I just pray. If I thought too much about all that or looked at grace as a " state" to be granted and removed I'd be a scrupulous mess. I can't do it.

Personally I think it's dangerous to ask too many questions or to try and square every circle. Ultimately Christianity is a mystery, and there are plenty of questions that have no satisfactory answers this side of the grave.



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#6
(03-15-2017, 06:16 PM)formerbuddhist Wrote:
(03-15-2017, 01:38 PM)J Michael Wrote: This is my simplistic understanding of it: If someone converts (and one assumes is sorry for their past sins, i.e. repentant) on their deathbed and is properly baptized, the baptism in and of itself remits (forgives, cancels) all their past sins.  If they then die without sin, I'm thinking that the assumption is that they are "saved".  Now...whether there is any kind of intermediate "cleansing" or "purgation" between their death and "getting to heaven" is something else and way, way above my pay grade.  Seems to me that that's between them and God.

Salvation is a  gift from God.  There is nothing we can "do", in terms of works,  to "earn" it.  What we can do and, I think, what God wants us to do, is to adequately prepare our hearts and souls so that we are able to receive, freely, His gift to us.  Or something like that. :)

This is more or less how I see it as well. I guess you could say that making an act of faith is something that takes effort and thus fall under the heading of " works" but I'm not sure. I like to leave things a mystery. God calls whom He wills in ways known only to Him. We know as Christians that faith in Jesus Christ and baptism are the normal means of salvation, but we don't know what happens between a soul and a God in that intermediate twilight state between death and the Judgement.

Personally I don't believe in merit at all, if by merit it means that we as men have some sort of bank account with God whereby we do good things and get rewards for it. I might be misunderstanding the whole concept though. I prefer to remain apophatic about it. We are cleansed in baptism and grace works from the inside out, but it's all from God, it's not due to anything we do.  I don't fret much about " states of grace" or whether or not my prayers are effacacious, I just pray. If I thought too much about all that or looked at grace as a " state" to be granted and removed I'd be a scrupulous mess. I can't do it.

Personally I think it's dangerous to ask too many questions or to try and square every circle. Ultimately Christianity is a mystery, and there are plenty of questions that have no satisfactory answers this side of the grave.

^ This, ^this, and ^this, again! :)
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#7
(03-15-2017, 06:25 PM)J Michael Wrote:
(03-15-2017, 06:16 PM)formerbuddhist Wrote:
(03-15-2017, 01:38 PM)J Michael Wrote: This is my simplistic understanding of it: If someone converts (and one assumes is sorry for their past sins, i.e. repentant) on their deathbed and is properly baptized, the baptism in and of itself remits (forgives, cancels) all their past sins.  If they then die without sin, I'm thinking that the assumption is that they are "saved".  Now...whether there is any kind of intermediate "cleansing" or "purgation" between their death and "getting to heaven" is something else and way, way above my pay grade.  Seems to me that that's between them and God.

Salvation is a  gift from God.  There is nothing we can "do", in terms of works,  to "earn" it.  What we can do and, I think, what God wants us to do, is to adequately prepare our hearts and souls so that we are able to receive, freely, His gift to us.  Or something like that. :)

This is more or less how I see it as well. I guess you could say that making an act of faith is something that takes effort and thus fall under the heading of " works" but I'm not sure. I like to leave things a mystery. God calls whom He wills in ways known only to Him. We know as Christians that faith in Jesus Christ and baptism are the normal means of salvation, but we don't know what happens between a soul and a God in that intermediate twilight state between death and the Judgement.

Personally I don't believe in merit at all, if by merit it means that we as men have some sort of bank account with God whereby we do good things and get rewards for it. I might be misunderstanding the whole concept though. I prefer to remain apophatic about it. We are cleansed in baptism and grace works from the inside out, but it's all from God, it's not due to anything we do.  I don't fret much about " states of grace" or whether or not my prayers are effacacious, I just pray. If I thought too much about all that or looked at grace as a " state" to be granted and removed I'd be a scrupulous mess. I can't do it.

Personally I think it's dangerous to ask too many questions or to try and square every circle. Ultimately Christianity is a mystery, and there are plenty of questions that have no satisfactory answers this side of the grave.

^ This, ^this, and ^this, again! :)

Everytime I read posts like this, it makes wish we all lived closer.  I would love to go to Pascha liturgy with both of you and have beer and various meats over discussion at 3:30 in the morning.
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#8
Yah, well, and how does a person not understand this in regard to the 2 criminals crucified with Christ? That dialogue is rather pertinent to the question asked.

First order of business when debating with the "once saved always saved", "saved by faith alone"  folks is to ask on whose authority do you make the assertion? If the bible is their only authority, then why doesn't the bible say so? If the bible is the unchangeable word of God then who established the canon of scripture, and under whose authority did Martin Luther add the word "alone". Then, how do they get around "the Church is the pillar and foundation of truth"?
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#9
I partially agree with Former Buddhist with the addendum that I think "merit" is less of an actual thing in itself more so it is a measure of how well one cooperates with God's grace.

I am a very "Roman" Catholic so I still believe in purgatory and indulgences and states of grace but I can understand FB's thoughts on the matter. I find myself frequently falling into grave sin but I find it's easiest if I just sincerely ask for God's mercy with hope that He has already forgiven me then go to confession asap, letting God deal with the specifics.
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#10
(03-15-2017, 06:16 PM)formerbuddhist Wrote: Personally I don't believe in merit at all, if by merit it means that we as men have some sort of bank account with God whereby we do good things and get rewards for it. I might be misunderstanding the whole concept though. I prefer to remain apophatic about it. We are cleansed in baptism and grace works from the inside out, but it's all from God, it's not due to anything we do.  I don't fret much about " states of grace" or whether or not my prayers are effacacious, I just pray. If I thought too much about all that or looked at grace as a " state" to be granted and removed I'd be a scrupulous mess. I can't do it.

I think of the teaching on merits like a blueprint. It isn't necessary for one who sees a beautiful building to know how it was made in order to appreciate it. But there is an underlying schema that one could view, if one were so inclined.

In the same way, it isn't necessary to ever think of merits in order to appreciate how God works in us through his grace and love. But there is an explanation of that for those who are interested.

For me, learning something about these topics--merits and predestination--helps me to be more strident in the spiritual life. Studying the complexity helps me to appreciate the mystery all the more.
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