Saturday, November 05, 2005

Have You Been Saved?

Evangelical Protestants will sometimes ask a Catholic acquaintance "Have you been saved?" Many Catholics find this a puzzling question. On the one hand, a Catholic wants to say "of course I've been saved. Why do you have to ask?" But on the other hand, the question seems to suggest that a person's salvation is a once-and-for-all event that happens in a single moment, rather than a process or a "race" that continues throughout our lives.
I believe that an adequate (biblical and Catholic) answer to the question "Have you been saved?" involves making three affirmations. A Catholic can say that, "I have been saved", "I am being saved"; and "I hope to be saved."
First, a Catholic can say "I have been saved." It is an objective fact that Jesus Christ already has died and been raised to save me from my sin. The salvation of the world has been accomplished by Jesus Christ. This salvation has already begun to take effect in the life of everyone who has accepted Jesus Christ and been baptized. As St. Paul said, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation..." (2 Cor 5:17). In this sense, I can say, "Yes, I have been saved."
Second, Catholics need to say that "I am being saved." We must realize that we are still "running the race" to our ultimate destiny of heaven. We must turn to the Lord each day for the grace to enter more deeply into his plan for our lives and to accept his gift of salvation more fully. "And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another" (2 Cor 3:18). In this sense, I can say, "I am being saved."
Third, a Catholic must also say, "I hope to be saved." We must persevere in our faith in God, love for God, and obedience to his will until the end of our lives. We have hope and confidence that God will give us that grace, and that we will respond to it and accept his gift of salvation until the day we die. In this sense, "I hope to be saved."
Like Paul,
...[I hope] that if possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. (Phil 3:11-12)

-from Catholic & Christian by Alan Schreck

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