How does one get saved? Scripture teaches that one gets initially justified by faith and baptism as a free gift, God then allows us to participate to stay justified and continue our salvation by many ways. Although the bible teaches about Jesus's plan for our salvation, the bible never claims to be the sole authority to do so. After Jesus died all of his teachings (including information about the church, leadership, morality, and salvation) was passed on with a living tradition first to the apostles, then their successors. Eventually documents were written about Jesus and his teachings. The catholic church (Magesterium) was authorized by Jesus (through the commissioning of Peter, the apostles and their successors) and selected which of the older writings (old testament) and which of the new writings (new testament) should be included in an official canon of scripture. This process was finalized in the Councils of Rome, Hippo, and Carthage establishing the 73 Books of the Bible – 382 AD, 393 AD, and 397 AD respectively. The living tradition of the church including the consensus teaching of the church fathers also give us part of God's divine revelation. The bible itself even claims that the church, not the bible, is the pillar and bulwark of truth (1 Tim 3:15).
Salvation: A Past Event
We can’t scan through many page of the Bible without finding passages that refer to one’s salvation as a past event. For instance, just look at Paul’s letter to the Ephesians: “For by grace you have been saved through faith” (Eph 2:8-9). The tense of the word saved is in the past, implying that one is saved at a point in time. Similarly, Paul speaks of the hope that believers hold for the redemption of their bodies, saying that “in this hope we were saved” (Rom 8:24). Again with the past tense. Salvation is a past event. But, salvation is also spoken of in the present tense as well.
Salvation: A Process
If we read on, we will find that not all verses that speak of salvation are set in the past tense. For instance, Paul writes to the Philippians, instructing them: “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12). By instructing them to “work out” their salvation, it implies that salvation is something that is happening more than something that happened. One might point out that Paul was instructing the Philippians on how to become saved. And this is an important point to be made. But I think that it doesn’t match up with Paul’s original meaning. For instance, Paul is writing to the Christian community that he and Timothy established in Philippi. In his greeting he addresses the letter: “to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi…” (Phil 1:1). This isn’t exactly how you would greet a people who have not yet experienced salvation. Paul is exhorting the Philippians to grow closer to God. But he is doing so with the knowledge that salvation is something that is continual, not a one-time deal. Peter had also written similar words. He says to his readers: “Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:9, emphasis added). Again, notice that this is in the present tense: obtaining salvation. If salvation is something that occurred in the past, and something that continues through the reader’s life, you might expect that it’s spoken of as a future event.
Salvation: A Future Hope
Paul, writing to the Philippians says that the God “who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil 1:6). This is the hope that Christians hold dear to their hearts: that day when our salvation is complete; that day when go to our final home with our Lord. This is the final salvation that we one day hope to attain. Again, writing to the Romans, St. Paul tells his readers that “salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed” (Rom 13:11). Salvation is something that we can experience in our everyday lives, and it’s something that we ultimately hope to see to completion.
Justification is the process by which God welcomes us into his family, into the New Covenant. He makes us righteous by moving our hearts to faith, forgiving our sins and reconciling us with the Father. God then invites us to participate in this ongoing justification.
Justification is more than just a divine declaration of acquittal, as in a courtroom. An incomplete view of justification is the following:
Justification is only belief in Christ's atonement for our sins and profession of this fact to receive
individual justification. Once received, this initial justification atones for all one's sins past, present,
and future. Once received, justification can never be lost.
The presumption above is that justification is a one time event and cannot be undone. But, even most protestant theologians now understand that this definition of justification is flawed and does not consider Paul's complete teaching on justification. In protestant theology, a new understanding of Paul's teaching is often referred as the "new perspective" on Paul. This new perspective realizes the following:
1. Paul did not have a modern introspective guilt complex (Krister Stendahl).
2. Judaism was not a religion of human effort, or "works righteousness", but of covenantal nomism: keeping the law as a response to God's grace (E.P. Sanders).
3. The center of Paul's theology was not justification but participation in Christ (Sanders).
4. Justification is primarily about the inclusion of Gentiles in the covenant community apart from keeping the Jewish law, especially the Jewish boundary markers of circumcision, food (kosher), and Sabbath (D.G. Dunn).
5. Justification is God's gracious declaration of membership in the covenant, which will be followed at the judgment day by God's declaration of final vindication, based on works (N.T. Wright).
This "new perspective" on Paul is similar to what has long been catholic teaching: "Getting in" the covenant is by grace that moves our heart to belief and baptism. "Staying in" the covenant is by grace and good works (ongoing justification and sanctification). When we reject the covenant through sin (Gal 5:4; 1 Tim 4:1; 2 Pet 2:20-21; 2 Jn 1:8; Heb 10:26-31), Jesus gave us a way to rejoin the covenant by confession with those who have been given authority to forgive sins (Jn 20:21-23) .
Although Paul does use "court-room" language to describe aspects of justification, the respected Anglican theologian N.T. Wright explains, that justification "is never independent of the covenant setting. It cannot be made into an absolute and free-standing concept without doing violence both to itself and to the fundamental meaning of the covenant." (N.T. Wright, What Saint Paul Really Said, Eerdsman Publishing Co, Grand Rapids, MI, Pg 137)
The catholic church was created by Jesus to bring His kingdom to earth for our justification and continued sanctification. To combat heresy and error during the protestant reformation, the church formally defined justification during the Council of Trent: "Now, they [the adults] are disposed to that justice when, aroused and aided by divine grace, receiving faith by hearing, they are moved freely toward God, believing to be true what has been divinely revealed and promised, especially that the sinner is justified by God by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; and when, understanding themselves to be sinners, they, by turning themselves from the fear of divine justice, by which they are salutarily aroused, to consider the mercy of God, are raised to hope, trusting that God will be propitious to them for Christ’s sake; and they begin to love Him as the fountain of all justice, and on that account are moved against sin by a certain hatred and detestation, that is, by that repentance that must be performed before baptism; finally, when they resolve to receive baptism, to begin a new life and to keep the commandments of God." ~ THE COUNCIL OF TRENT Session VI 1547
Divine grace arouses faith which moves us towards God. This faith is what helps us have belief in God's divine revelation and promises. The main promise is that we, as sinners, are justified by God's grace through the redemption in Jesus. All of this moves us against sin and towards repentance which is necessary to receive baptism which removes original sin, our current personal sin, and any debt we have occurred.
This initial justification is our start in a new life in Christ. God then invites us in to the process (He doesn't need to, it is His gift to us). The waters of baptism wash away our sins. After we are anointed with the oil during baptism, we are welcomed into the family of God as his sons and daughters. The grace from Jesus's redemption on the cross actually changes us. This is done as the Holy Spirit enters our soul through baptism. The error of the reformers over 400 years ago was thinking that God only imputes His righteousness to us and we are instantly and forever saved. This man-made theology by the reformers claims that we are still depraved sinners (not changed at all); but God's righteousness covers and hides our sinful state so God can declare we are righteous (justified) anyways.
Jesus's teachings are that we are initially justified by faith and baptism. The process of maintaining our justification is done by our sanctification. This is where God invites us to participate in His divine work so we can become holy. Salvation is being perfected and entering into eternal Blessedness, Heaven, where we will see God face to face (the Beatific Vision). Moreover (as you will see) our justification and salvation can be lost. We maintain justification through grace by faith and works. It is a process, not a one time event.
This review will focus mainly on scripture and the early church fathers. The church fathers are extremely important as they are the ones that were not far removed from Jesus and were themselves taught by the apostles or their designated successors. To ignore their knowledge and insight is to ignore part of the deposit of faith handed on before the bible was written. It leaves one with only a limited part of God's revelation. After all, the bible did not exist until around the start of the early fifth century. When Jesus ascended He entrusted His teaching and message to the apostles to whom all authority was given. When Jesus ascended, He didn't hand out bibles or any written documents. Nor did He instruct His disciples to write any of His teachings down. Divine revelation was given to the apostles and their successors with Jesus's divine authority to guard, keep, and interpret His teaching and all of God's revelation. Jesus's final instructions are found in Matt 28:18-19, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commended you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age." Jesus left a kingdom on earth and promised to never leave it.
Keep reading to see what God has revealed to us about Himself, our justification, and salvation.
These topics should also be studied in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
INNER CHANGE OF PERSON (TRANSFORMATION) AND A DECLARATION BY GOD (IMPUTATION)
Psalm 51:1-2 – O God, blot out my transgressions, wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. This cleansing requires an inner change of heart. Many Protestants believe that we are so depraved that God only covers our sins up by declaring us righteous (imputing Christ’s righteousness to us). The Catholic (and Scriptural view), however, is that God is powerful enough to blot out our sins and remove them. The view that God just declares us righteous by “covering us up,” denigrates the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives, who continues the work of Christ through His work of justification and sanctification (infusing His grace into souls and changing the inner person).Psalm 51:7-9 – purge me and I shall be clean, wash me whiter than snow, fill me with joy, blot out my iniquities. We are purged and filled up internally, not just covered up externally.
Psalm 51:10 – create in me a clean heart, oh God, and put a new and right spirit within me (not “cover” me). God is so powerful that He brings about a real metamorphosis in ourselves.
Isaiah 1:18 – though my sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though red like crimson, they shall be like wool.
Isaiah 43:25 – I am He who blots out your transgressions and forgets your sins. God does not cover our sins up. He blots them out by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Isaiah 44:22 – I have swept away your transgressions like a cloud, your sin like mist. This is a real elimination of sin, not a covering up of sin.
Isaiah 64:5 – thou meet him that joyfully works righteousness. This means righteousness is not just imputed to us. We can actually do works of righteousness by God’s grace.
Ezek. 36:26-27 – a new heart I will give you and a new spirit I will put within you. These are interior changes effected by God.
Ezek. 37:23 – the Lord will save His people from all their backslidings in which they have sinned, and He will cleanse them (not cover them).
Matt. 5:3,5,8 – blessed are the poor in spirit, the meek, and the pure of heart. These are internal dispositions, not just an external reality.
Matt. 5:6; Luke 6:21 – those who hunger for righteousness “may be filled.” It is an inner change, not snow covering up a dunghill.
Matt. 5:20; Luke 1:6; Acts 10:35 – here are more examples of “doing” righteousness, not just being “imputed” external righteousness. We are not just defendants in a courtroom who have been exonerated. We are children of God endowed with the power of the Holy Spirit by whose grace we can become righteous.
Matt. 5:28 – Jesus teaches that just looking lustfully at a woman is adultery. But avoiding this involves an inner change, a response to God’s grace.
Matt. 6:1 – beware of practicing righteousness before men. We are not just declared righteous; we can practice righteousness as well.
Matt. 8:3 – Jesus cleanses the man’s leprosy. Jesus’ power reaches both the external and internal conditions of human beings. See also Matt. 11:5.
Matt. 15:18; Mark 7:15 -Jesus teaches the interior disposition is what defiles man. Thus, God’s infusion of grace changes us interiorly.
Matt. 23:25-28 – the Pharisees appeared outwardly righteous to men, but inside they were filled with hypocrisy. God desires and helps us effect an inner change of heart. He doesn’t just declare that we are righteous.
Luke 11:39-40 – the Pharisees cleansed the outside of the cup but inside they were full of wickedness. God demands an internal change and gives us the grace to make that change.
John 1:29 – Jesus the Lamb of God literally takes away the sin of the world. He does not just cover up the sins of the world.
Acts 3:19 – repent, that your sins may be “blotted” out. The word blotted comes from the Greek word “exalipho” which means an actual wiping away or removal, not a covering up.
Acts 22:16; 1 Cor. 6:11 – again, the phrase “wash away” is from the word “apolouo” which mean a literal removal or an infusion of cleansing, not an imputation or covering.
Rom. 4:3 – it was “credited” to him as righteousness. The word “credited” comes from the Greek word “elogisthe” which means a book entry. God records what there actually is; He does not make a phony entry on the books.
Rom. 5:17 – we do not receive Christ’s personal level of righteousness (which is impossible), but we are made righteous on His account by God’s mercy and the Lord’s work on the cross. The word “made” in Greek is “katestathesan” which refers to a real, actual, ontological change in the person’s soul.
Rom. 5:19 – through “Adam/Christ” we were made “sinners/righteous.” This means that there is not just a relational change in status, but an objective change in nature. We are not just declared righteous, but are actually made righteous. God does not declare something without making it so. For example, in Gen. 1:3, God declares that there is light, and there is light. The declaration is followed by the reality.
2 Cor. 3:18 – Paul says that we are being changed into the Lord’s likeness from one degree of glory to another, by the power of the Spirit. This shows that justification is ongoing, and changes in degrees throughout one’s life, based upon one’s obedience of faith.
2 Cor. 4:16 – though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed every day. Justification does not happen all at once, and is not an external declaration. Justification happens every day, and concerns our inner nature.
2 Cor. 5:17 – Paul says that if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. He is not just the old creation that is covered up. The old has passed away, and behold, the new has come.
2 Cor. 7:1 – Paul says that we must cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, and make holiness perfect in the fear of God. Holiness deals with being, what is, because its source is God, who is. It does not deal with what appears to be.
2 Cor. 13:5 – do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you? This indwelling of Christ brings about an internal transformation to those who cooperate with His grace.
Gal. 6:15 – for neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.
Eph. 4:22-24 – putting off the old nature for the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness, involves an internal change. Our lives are actually transformed. This is required in order for us to become adopted sons (not just defendants acquitted in a courtroom).
Phil. 2:13 – God is at work “in you.” God is so powerful, he can actually transform us by working in us. He is not just outside us making declarations about us.
Col. 3:10 – we have put on the new nature, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. We are new, and this newness is a continual process of renewal throughout our lives.
Titus 3:5 – justification is a generation of supernatural life in a former sinner. This means a real inner change or infusion, not just donning an outer cloak.
1 John 1:7,9 – Jesus will “cleanse” us from sin and unrighteousness. The word cleanse comes from the Greek word “katharizo” which means an actual “infused” cleansing, not an “imputed” pretend cleansing.
1 John 3:7,10 – righteousness may be obtained by “doing.” One who practices righteousness is righteous. God is not just declaring the person righteousness.
Rev. 19:8 – when we are clothed in fine linen in heaven, the fine linen is “our righteous acts.” It is our own righteousness, from the work and mercy of Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 1:4 – we are actually made righteous because God is the eternal family, and we partake of this divine nature as children. The Catholic position thus gives Jesus the most glory. His grace is powerful enough to change us interiorly.
1 Cor. 3:9 – this is because we are His fellow workers. God is not threatened by the grace and glory He gives His children!
AFTER INITIAL JUSTIFICATION, JUSTIFICATION IS ONGOING, NOT A ONE-TIME EVENT
2 Cor. 4:16 – though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed “every day.” This not only proves that justification is internal (not legal and external), but that it is also ongoing (it’s not a one-time event of accepting Jesus as personal Lord and Savior). Our inner nature is being renewed every day as we persevere in faith, hope and love.
John 3:16 – justification is ongoing, not a one-time event. God so loved (past) the world, that He gave (past) His only Son, that whoever believes (ongoing) in Him may have eternal life. The word “believes” is “pisteuo” in Greek which necessarily includes obedience throughout one’s life. This is proved by 1 Peter 2:7-8 which also uses “pisteuo” (to obey) and “apitheo” (to disobey). The same word “pisteuo” is used in many other verses about “believing in Christ” such as John 3:36; 5:24; Rom. 4:24; 10:9-10; cf. Rom. 1:5,16; 6:17; 16:26; 1 John 5:13 (often used by Protestants to support their “faith alone” theology). To “believe” means to “obey” throughout one’s life; it is not a one-time acceptance of Jesus as Savior.
Heb. 5:9 – Paul also confirms this by writing that Jesus became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him. Here are some examples of justification as an on-going process, and not a one-time event.
Gen. 12:1-4 – Abram is justified here, as God promises to make his name great and bless the families of the earth through his seed. Abram is justified by his faith in God. Heb. 11:8-10 confirms Abraham’s justification occurred here, before Gen. 15:6 (later) by referring to Gen. 12, not Gen. 15. Abraham’s justification increased over time because justification is not a one-time event, but an ongoing process of growing in holiness.
Gen. 14:19, 22-23 – Abram is also justified here, by being blessed by the priest-king Melchizedek. Melchizedek calls Abram blessed and Abram gives him a tenth of everything.
Gen. 15:6 – Abram is further justified here, as God promises him that his descendants will be as numerous as the stars. Because the Scripture says, “He believed the Lord, and He reckoned it to him as righteousness,” Protestants often say this was Abram’s initial justification, and cite Rom 4:2 to prove Abram was justified by his faith. Yes, it is true Abram was justified by his faith, but he was justified 25 years earlier in Gen. 12:1-4, as Heb. 11:8-10 proves.
Gen. 22:1-18 – Abraham is further justified here, this time by works, when he offered his son Isaac as a sacrifice to God. James 2:21 proves this as James writes, “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar?” James then confirms this by writing, “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness” (James 2:23). These verses prove that justification before God is an on-going process, not a one-time event of accepting Jesus as personal Lord and Savior, and is accomplished by faith and works.
1 Sam. 13:14 – David is justified here, as God describes him as “a man after his own heart.” No one in Scripture is described like this. Acts 13:22 confirms David’s justification before God.
1 Sam. 16:13 – David is also justified here. “The Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward.”
1 Sam. 17:37-54 – David is further justified here, as he responds to God’s grace and God delivers him from the hand of Goliath the Philistine.
2 Sam. 6:9,14 – David is further justified here, as he expresses a fear for the Lord in the presence of His ark, and dances before the ark of the Lord with all his might.
2 Sam. 12:7-15 – however, after David’s on-going justification before God, David falls out of justification by committing adultery with Bathsheba and slaying Uriah the Hittite. David still had faith in God, but he lost his justification because of his evil works.
Psalm 32:1-2; Rom. 4:7-8; cf. 51:2,7-10,17 – David repents of his sin and writes these beautiful psalms about God’s mercy and forgiveness. Of himself, he writes, “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered up.” David is re-justified before God. This proves that we can be justified before God, then lose our justification, and then be re-justified through repentance and reconciliation with God.
Matt 16:18-19 – Jesus blesses Simon for receiving a Revelation from God, changes his name to Peter, and gives him the keys to the kingdom of heaven. In John 6:68-69, Peter, justified before God, declares that Jesus has the words of eternal life. In Luke 22:31-32, Jesus prays for Peter that his faith may not fail and charges him to strengthen the rest of the apostles. In these and many other examples, Peter is justified before God.
Matt 26:75; Mark 14:72; John 18:17, 25-27 – Peter denies he knows Jesus and loses his justification before God.
John 21:15-17 – Peter is re-justified before God after he negates his three-fold denial of Jesus with a three-fold confirmation of his love for him. Jesus then charges Peter to feed the Lord’s sheep. Peter was justified, loses his justification, and regains it again through repentance and love.
Luke 15:24,32 – the prodigal son was dead, and now is alive again; he was lost and now is found. The prodigal son regained his father’s favor through repentance (v. 18-19,21). When we ask our Father for forgiveness, we too will regain His favor and be justified.
Acts 9:1- 17 – Protestants would say that Paul is instantly justified here, when he encounters Christ, obeys His command to enter the city, and is moved by the Holy Spirit. They would say that Paul’s sins are now covered up and Christ’s righteousness is imputed to him.
Acts 9:18; 22:16 – then why does Ananias command Saint Paul (who was directly chosen by Christ) to stand up and be baptized and “wash away” his sins? Because justification, as the Church has taught for 2,000 years, is ongoing. It is not a one-time event of accepting Jesus as personal Lord and Savior. Justification is freely given by God through faith, hope, love and the sacraments of the Church (here, baptism).
CHURCH FATHERS - JUSTIFICATION CAUSES INFUSED RIGHTEOUSNESS
MAINTAINING JUSTIFICATION AND BECOMING HOLY (SANCTIFICATION) TOWARDS SALVATION
As the council of Trent teaches (see above), "the sinner is justified by God by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." However, our redemption doesn't stop there and is not guaranteed (demonstrated shortly). The bible teaches that God invites us into the process of our own redemption. This faith and obedience are free gifts. However, God doesn't force himself onto us. He gives us the capacity to assent to His love and teaching. The more we accept His love and teaching, the more we grow in holiness and in capacity to share God's love with others. The pinnacle of our redemption is the death and resurrection of Jesus, but it is also much more. Our redemption is found in the entire life of Christ.
Baptism (Jn 3:3; 1 Pet 3:21; Titus 3:5;
Acts 22:16, Rom 6:3-4, Gal 3:27, Eph 4:4-6)
Belief (Mk 16:16, Jn 3:16; Acts 16:31)
Blood – His (Rom 5:9; Heb 9:22)
Commandments – keep (Rev 14:12; 1 Jn 5:3)
Cross (Eph 2:16; Col 2:14)
Endurance (Mt 24:13, 10:22, Mk 13:13, Heb 10:36)
Faith (Col 1:22-23; Mt 24:13, Rom 1:17)
Forgive – others (Mt 6:15, Mk 11:25)
Grace (Acts 15:11; Eph 2:8)
Holiness (Heb 12:14)
Kindness – remain in His (Rom 11:22)
Love God (Jam 1:12)
Love (1 Cor 13:2; Gal 5:6)
Mercy – show (Jam 2:13; Lk 6:36; Mt 9:13)
Mouth – declare with ours (Lk 12:8; Rom 10:9)
Name – believe in His (1 Jn 5:13)
Peace w/everyone (Heb 12:14)
Repentance (Acts 2:38; 2 Pet 3:9)
Righteousness – His (Rom 5:17; 2 Pet 1:1)
Sonship – Jesus (1 Jn 5:4)
Spirit – work of the (Jn 3:5; 2 Cor 3:6)
Suffering – joined with Christ (Col 1:24)
Temptation – endured (Jam 1:12)
Truth – knowledge of (1 Tim 2:4; Heb 10:26)
Words – good (Mt 12:36-37; Jam 2:12)
Works (John 5:28-29; Rom 2:6-7; Jam 2:14, Rev 2:23; Rev 14:13)
OBEDIENCE IS NECESSARY
Mt 7:24-27 (Listen & practice)
Gal 6:7-8 (Reap what one sows)
Gal 6:9 (Do not grow weary doing good)
Rom 8:12-13 (Put to death sin)
Rom 2:13 (Observe the law)
Matt 21:28 (2 sons, one is obedient)
Rom 1:5, 16:26 (Obedience of Faith)
JUDGED BY GOOD AND BAD WORKS
Mt 25:31 (Sheep & Goats)
Rom 2:6-7 (God repays by works)
Jam 2:24 (Works, not faith alone)
2 Cor 5:10 (Judgement seat of Christ)
Heb 9:27 (We are judged when we die)
Mt 6:12 (Jesus says we need to confess)
1 Jn 1:5-10 (Need to confess sins)
1 Jn 2:1 (Advocate for our sins)
1 Jn 5:16, Rom 5:12 (Mortal sin is deadly)
Jn 20:23 (Priests authorized to absolve)
SALVATION IS A PROCESS, A JOURNEY
Rom 8:24 (We were Saved)
1 Cor 1:18 (We are being Saved)
Rom 5:9 (We will be Saved)
AUTHORITY IN CHRIST’S KINGDOM
Lk 22:29-30 (Kingdom conferred to apostles)
Mt 16:19 (Peter has ultimate authority)
Mt 18:18 (The Church has authority)
Eph 2:20 (Apostles/prophets are foundation)
1 Tim 3:15 (Catholic Church is the truth)
THE NECESSITY AND POWER OF BAPTISM
Scripture mentions many times of the importance of baptism to be saved (Jn 3:3; 1 Pet 3:21; Titus 3:5; Rom 6:3-4, Gal 3:27, Eph 4:4-6). Performed by an authorized person with the proper form (In the name of the Father, in the name of the Son, and in the name of the Holy Spirit) and matter (water), baptism truly cleanses away sin from the individual and anoints them with the Holy Spirit. This anointing by the Holy Spirit was demonstrated by Jesus at his own baptism (Mt 3:16), which was foretold by the prophet Isaiah (Isa 11:2-3a) and imparts the gifts of the Holy Spirit into our soul (Isa 11:2-3a). Paul tells us in direct and clear words that Noah and his family were saved in the ark passing through water which prefigured baptism, which now saves you (1 Pet 3:20-21). Baptism is the gate into the church and new life with Christ.
Martin Luther knew the importance of Baptism, the power it had to give new life, and it's necessity for salvation.
“Baptism, then, signifies two things—death and resurrection, that is, full and complete justification… This death and resurrection we call the new creation, regeneration, and spiritual birth. This should not be understood only allegorically as the death of sin and the life of grace, as many understand it, but as actual death and resurrection. For baptism is not a false sign.”
~ Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Fortress Press, Ed. Pelikan and Lehman, 36:67-68
CHURCH FATHERS ON THE NECESSITY OF BAPTISM
Jesus tells us in John 15:5-6 that if we abide in Him, he will abide in us. If we don't remain in Him we will be thrown out like a branch, wither, thrown into a fire, and burned (lose salvation). John Chapter 6 is the Bread of Life Discourse. This is where Jesus tells us how He will abide in us and we in Him. In very strong and specific language, He describes the consequences of not doing so.
John Chapter 6 - Bread of Life Discourse
34-35 So they said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst. 48-50 I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” 53-58 Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.”
Jesus's instructions are clear. He is the living bread (Eucharist) which we need to eat to have eternal life (have sanctifying grace which maintains our Justification). If we do so, he will raise us on the last day (be saved to Heaven). His flesh (Eucharist) is for the life of the world (Salvation of all). if we don't eat the flesh of the Son of Man (Eucharist) and drink his blood (Precious blood), we have no life within us (lose our Justification and Salvation).
As a result of the difficulty of this teaching many of His disciples left Him. Jesus didn't run after them to explain that he was just speaking symbolically. He didn't later teach His apostles some hidden meaning of this discourse which he often did with other teachings and parables.
Jesus institutes the Priesthood of the New Covenant
The last supper is the new Passover and Jesus is the Passover lamb. Like the Passover of ancient Israel, the Passover lamb had to be eaten. Jesus holds up the bread and then the wine, consecrating them in prayer and instructing the apostles to continue to do so as an everlasting memorial. Since Jesus is God, and God is not constrained by time or space, whenever these New Covenant priests celebrate this required memorial, they are re-experiencing Jesus's passion, death, and resurrection. The event doesn't re-crucify Jesus. For it was Jesus Himself that required this re-presentation and only the apostles and their successors had the authority and the power to do so. There is a direct line of succession from Jesus, to the apostles and down to every priest, bishop, and pope ever since. There was a literal laying of hands and consecration that transferred down from these initial New Covenant priests all the way down to our current priests and bishops.
The Eucharist is the New Covenant
Mt 26:28, Mk 14:24, Lk 22:20, 1 Cor 11:25
The Eucharist was instituted at the Last Supper
Mt 26:26-27, Mk 14:22-23, Lk 22:19-20, 1 Cor 11:24-25
The Eucharist Celebration is required as a memorial
Lk 22:19, 1 Cor 11:25
Where is "Saved by Faith Alone" in the bible?
Paul uses the word faith (or faith-like) around 200 times. If Paul intended to teach saved by “faith alone” he would have taught with the phrase “faith alone” or “faith only” or have commented similarly. The phrase “faith alone” does occur in the bible one time. James states in Jam 2:24, “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.” The chapter concludes with, “For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead." Jam 2:26
Are we saved by a one-time event by declaring our faith in Jesus whereby God imputes (takes away the debt of sin legally) the righteousness of Jesus unto us to justify (save) us? No. Are we forgiven for all of our sins past, present and future and can never lose our salvation? No. Martin Luther’s inspiring verse was Rom 1:17 – “The one who is righteous will live by faith.” Yet, he ignored hundreds of bible verses that defined justification and salvation. Being saved by faith alone is a man-made tradition that is not supported by the bible.
Martin Luther even added "alone" after "faith" in Rom 3:28 in his German translation and admitted he changed the bible. "You tell me what a great fuss the Papists are making because the word alone is not in the text of Paul...say right out to him 'Dr. Martin Luther will have it so'...I will have it so, and I order it to be so, and my will is reason enough! I know very well that the word 'alone' is not in the Latin or the Greek text."
~ Martin Luther, Stoddard J. Rebuilding a Lost Faith. 1922, pp. 101-102; see also Luther M. Amic. Discussion, 1, 127).
Martin Luther applied papal infallibility to himself as he claimed: "My word is the word of Christ; my mouth is the mouth of Christ."
~ Martin Luther, O'Hare PF. The Facts About Luther, 1916--1987, pp. 203-4
Don’t some verses “imply” saved by faith alone? No.
Rom 3:28 – "For we consider that a person is justified by faith apart from works of the law." But works of the law were the Old Covenant rituals of circumcision, purity, and dietary laws, not moral works (Luther actually added the word “alone” after faith in his bible translation.)
Eph 2:8-9 – Explains we are saved by faith through grace. But, read Eph 2:10 which adds works, not excludes them.
Rom 1:17 – "The one who is righteous by faith will live." Paul is quoting Hab 2:4 where the proud people are contrasted with righteous people who live (behavior) by faith. Yet, he clearly does not state “faith alone.”
Peter Kreeft explains the necessity of faith as a first step in our salvation: “Faith is the root, the necessary beginning. Hope is the stem, the energy that makes the plant grow. Love is the fruit, the flower, the visible product, the bottom line. The plant of our new life in Christ is one; the life of God comes into us by faith, through us by hope, and out of us by the works of love.”
~ Peter Kreeft, Justification by Faith, Chap 44 in Fundamentals of the Faith, Ignatius Press, 1988, 277-281 Article Link
The whole bible is the Word of God and must be understood in its entirety. Verses don’t cancel each other out. Rather, verses are meant to be puzzle pieces that are part of the big picture of the Trinity, Christian life, and our redemption. Jesus’s entire life is part of our redemption with His passion and death being the pinnacle.
Some bible passages certainly place emphasis on faith. However, to claim that faith is the only necessary requirement for salvation is to exclude hundreds of other bible verses that reveal the other aspects and requirements of salvation.
Jesus states clearly that we need to forgive others in order for our Father I heaven to forgive us (Mk 11:25). Moreover, Paul states that we all reap what we sow. If we sin of the flesh, we will reap corruption; but if we stay in the Spirit, we will reap eternal life from the Spirit (Gal 6:7-8). Clearly Paul shows the necessity of good behavior (works) as he states, “For he will repay according to each one’s deeds: to those who by patiently doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; while for those who are self-seeking and who obey not the truth but wickedness, there will be wrath and fury.” (Rom 2:7) Paul flat out tells who will be justified, “For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but the doers of the law who will be justified.” (Rom 2:13)
Once truly justified, I won't sin anymore, right? Wrong.
Being initially justified by Christ does not automatically make you avoid sin. Some will point to Romans 6 as proof that once we are justified, we are unable to sin. Certainly as we grow in holiness we can distance ourselves from sin. But, Romans 6 displays what we are capable of. The end of Romans 6 states, "But now that you have been freed from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit that you have leads to sanctification." (Rom 6:22) We have the possibility of becoming sanctified (and therefore avoiding sin), not the guarantee of it. This is another example of not taking all of scripture into context. And, if we can't lose our salvation, why would Paul tell us what can lead to our sanctification? According to Luther's theology, there would be no need for sanctification after salvation. Yet, God created us with free wills. For Him to take away our free wills would mean that he failed in his creation and that he desires robots. Initial justification takes away past sins, not our tendency to sin. This tendency is called concupiscence as described in 1 John 2:16.
Martin Luther’s observation of the result of “Saved by Faith Alone” on human behavior
“Unfortunately, it is our daily experience that now under the gospel [saved by faith alone], the people entertain greater and bitterer hatred and envy and are worse with their avarice and money-grabbing than before under the papacy. The people feel that they are free from the bonds and fetters of the pope, but now they also want to get rid of the gospel and of all the laws of God. Everybody thinks that Christian liberty and licentiousness of the flesh are one in the same thing as if now everybody was allowed to do what he wants. Avarice, usury, debauchery, drunkenness, blasphemy, lying and cheating are far more prevalent now than they were under the papacy. This state of morals brings general discredit unto the gospel and its preachers. And the people say, “If this gospel is true, the person professing it should be more pious.”
~ Martin Luther, The Facts About Luther by Msgr. Patrick F. O’Hare
PAUL'S LETTER TO THE ROMANS
This letter of St. Paul’s is the longest and most systematic exposition of his salvation theology. However, like all his letters, this one arose out of a specific situation and historical context. Thus it was not intended to be a comprehensive and exclusive explanation of salvation. At this point, Paul has never been to Rome. The church there was not established by him; its origin is unknown but likely grew out of the Jewish community there. Thus Paul is eager to distinguish between Judaism and Christianity by emphasizing the principle of faith. That is the crucial context one has to keep in mind. He is not writing to people who are ignorant of the moral precepts of the Law. He also is writing to introduce himself to this church and to enlist support for future missionary work in Spain (which he never gets to do). The heart of the letter is St. Paul’s explanation about how Christians are initially forgiven and justified by faith, but not, as we’ll see, saved by faith alone as Luther conceived of it. Here is an ordered outline of the basic points of the letter on this topic:
- The law gives knowledge of sin, which is disobedience to the law (moral law). (2:20; 4:15; 5:13, 20; 7:7-9, 13)
- Sin condemns everyone because everyone sins. (2:1-3, 21-23; 3:7, 9-12, 23; 5:12, 18)
- The just sentence for sin is death. Thus everyone is under a death sentence because everyone sins. (1:32; 3:23; 4:15; 5:12; 7:10-11)
- The law itself and obedience to the law cannot forgive sins. Only one who has no original sin, has never sinned, and observes the law perfectly can be justified by the law alone (which is no one; the law condemns all to death). No human will or exertion can achieve the mercy of forgiveness. (2:12-13; 3:19-20; 4:2-8; 8:3; 9:16, 30-32)
- Faith alone in Jesus Christ forgives sins. This faith/forgiveness for disobedience is a free gift of God’s grace and (combined with obedience to the law) justifies, saves, and gives eternal life. (2:13; 3:24-28; 4:2-8, 13-14, 20-25; 5:1-2, 17, 21; 7:4-6)
- Works of the law, i.e. Mosaic/Jewish rituals with regard to cleanness, animal sacrifices, and circumcision, do not forgive and thus do not save. (2:25-29; 3:28)
- Forgiveness through faith comes through the sacraments of baptism and reconciliation, through the ministry of the Church. (2:4-5; 3:25; 5:5; 6:3-4)
- But faith, a free gift of God, requires, as one is able to, the willful response of action, of the fruit of good works and obedience to the moral law (e.g. the Decalogue) as given by Jesus, of participation in the life and love of Christ and the Spirit. Faith and obedience/works are inseparable. (1:5, 8-12, 17-18; 2:2-10, 13, 16, 25-29; 3:31; 4:16; 5:10; 6:1-23; 7:1, 4-6, 12; 8:5-13, 15-17; 10:4-6; 11:30-32; 12:1-2; 13:2, 8-14; 15:18-19)
- Salvation is not instantaneous, guaranteed, or unlosable the moment one first believes. It requires perseverance in faithful obedience. Grave sins after baptism void/destroy one’s justification gained through faith and baptism. (1:6-7, 18; 2:8, 25-26; 3:25; 5:3-5; 6:2-6, 16, 21-23; 8:9-25, 35-39; 11:21-22; 13:2, 11-14; 15:4)
- Every such sin requires repentance and reconciliation to renew one’s faith and justification before God. (2:4-5)
- Faith cannot be used as an excuse to sin. Faith is not a spiritual contraceptive that allows one to sin without consequences for one’s fate after death. It ceases to be faith then. This misunderstanding causes some to proclaim to “sin boldly“ only to their own demise. (3:8; 6:1-2, 15)
LINK TO A COMMENTARY OF KEY PARTS OF ROMANS
CHURCH FATHERS - MAINTAINING JUSTIFICATION BY GRACE, FAITH, & WORKS
LOSING YOUR SALVATION
The bible has clear passages that teach us that salvation is not only a process, but that it can be lost.
Gen 3:16-25 (Adam and Eve)
Mt 7:22-23 (Self-deception)
Mt 10:22 (Need to endure to end)
Jer 17:9 (The heart is deceitful)
Lk 8:13 (Believe, tested, fall away)
Jn 5:29 (Do evil and be condemned)
Rom 1:18-32 (Mortal sin)
Rom 2:3 (Judge others so be judged)
Rom 2:5-11 (Repay by deeds, wrath)
Rom 8:24 (In hope we are saved)
Rom 11:17-24 (Branches cut off)
1 Cor 4:4 (I am not justified, God judges)
1 Cor 6:9 (Wrongdoers after sanctified)
1 Cor 9:27 (Paul worries about being disqualified)
1 Cor 10:12 (Think standing, may fall)
1 Cor 15:1-2 (If you hold message firmly)
2 Cor 5:10 (Judged by Christ for works)
Gal 5:4 (Fallen away from grace)
Gal 5:16-21 (Sins of flesh lose salvation)
Phil 2:12 (Work out salvation, fear/trembling)
Col 1:22-23 (Reconciled if you keep faith)
1 Tim 1:9 (Faith can be shipwrecked)
1 Tim 4:1 (Depart from faith)
1 Tim 5:8 (Disown faith)
1 Tim 6:10 (Wander from faith)
1 Tim 6:21 (Missed faith)
2 Thes 2:13-15 (Hold fast to traditions)
Heb 2:1-3 (Drift away/neglect salvation)
Heb 3:12-14 (Hold firm to the end)
Heb 6:4-6 (Saved, fall away, can’t be restored)
Heb 6:11-12 (Assurance of hope at very end)
Heb 10:26-31 (Persist in sin after saved)
2 Pet 2:20-21 (Fall back to sin after saved)
2 Jn 1:8 (Lose reward that we worked for)
Rev 21:8 (Cowardly, faithless, liars)
Is the Catholic Church even the same as the early Apostolic church? Yes!
Haven't they strayed away from the Apostles' teachings? Wasn't there a "Great Apostasy? No!
St. Clement of Rome testified to Apostolic Authority and their perpetual Offices
"Now the gospel was given to the Apostles for us by the Lord Jesus Christ; and Jesus the Christ was sent from God. So thereafter, when the Apostles had been given their instructions...they set out in the full assurance of the Holy Spirit to proclaim the coming of God's kingdom. And as they went through the territories and townships preaching, they appointed their first converts...to be bishops and deacons for believers of the future...and they went on to add instruction that if these should fall asleep, other accredited persons should succeed them in their offices."
~ St. Clement of Rome, First Epistle to the Corinthians, 42-44, (AD 96)
A written description of first century Christian worship - the same as the Catholic church today
"But we, after we have thus washed him who has been convinced and has assented to our teaching, bring him to the place where those who are called brethren are assembled, in order that we may offer hearty prayers in common for ourselves and for the baptized person, and for all others in every place, that we may be counted worthy, now that we have learned the truth, by our works also to be found good citizens and keepers of the commandments, so that we may be saved with an everlasting salvation. Having ended the prayers, we salute one another with a kiss. There is then brought to the president of the brethren (Presider=Priest) bread and a cup of wine mixed with water; and he taking them, gives praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, and offers thanks at considerable length for our being counted worthy to receive these things at His hands. And when he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all the people present express their assent by saying Amen. And when the president has given thanks, and all the people have expressed their assent, those who are called by us deacons give to each of those present to partake of the bread and wine mixed with water over which the thanksgiving was pronounced, and to those who are absent they carry away a portion."
~ St. Justin, First Apology, Chap 65, (AD 153)
THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IS THE BODY OF CHRIST - CHRIST IS THE HEAD
Col 1:18 "He is the head of the body, the church...that in all things he himself might be preeminent."
Eph 1:22-23"And he put all things beneath his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of the one who fills all things in every way."
1 Cor 12:12-13 "As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body... and we were all given to drink of one Spirit."
1 Cor 12:22-27 "Indeed, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are all the more necessary, and those parts of the body that we consider less honorable we surround with greater honor, and our less presentable parts are treated with greater propriety, whereas our more presentable parts do not need this. But God has so constructed the body as to give greater honor to a part that is without it, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the parts may have the same concern for one another. If [one] part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy. Now you are Christ's body, and individually parts of it."
Rom 12:4-5 "For as in one body we have many parts, and all the parts do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another."
Eph 4:3-6 "Strive to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace: one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all."
Col 1:24-25 "Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church, of which I am a minister in accordance with God’s stewardship given to me to bring to completion for you the word of God."
Eph 4:15-16 "Rather, living the truth in love, we should grow in every way into him who is the head, Christ, from whom the whole body... brings about the body’s growth and builds itself up in love."
Col 3:15 "And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful."
WHAT IS THE CATHOLIC CHURCH?
The church that Jesus established - the Catholic Church (Mt 16:16-20; Lk 22:29-30)
The Priests of the New Covenant - catholic popes, bishops, and priests (Lk 22:19, 1 Cor 11:25)
Only current people commissioned and empowered by Jesus - catholic popes, bishops, and priests (Mt 28:18-20)
Only person authorized to have the "keys to the Kingdom" - the catholic popes as successors of St. Peter (Mt 16:18-19)
Only people authorized to consecrate bread and wine into the Eucharist - catholic popes, bishops, and priests (Mt 26:26-27, Mk 14:22-23)
Only people authorized to forgive sins on earth - catholic popes, bishops, and priests (Jn 20:21-23)
Only church Jesus promised that hell would not prevail against it - the Catholic Church (Mt 16:18)
Only church Jesus promised to be with forever - the Catholic Church (Mt 28:20)
JESUS LEFT A KINGDOM, NOT A BOOK (Lk 22:29-30)
Before Christ died, he commissioned specific people to have authority in His absence. His apostles were his closest disciples with Peter, James, and John the three that he chose to accompany Him during key events (Transfiguration, Raising Jairus's daughter from the dead, Agony in the Garden). When the apostles are listed in the bible, Peter is always mentioned first. This primary position culminates with Peter’s confession of who Christ is. Jesus asks his apostles, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood* has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Matt 16:15-19
Although this sounds confusing to us, every first century Jew would have known that the keys indicated absolute authority as in the prime minister of the Temple who had the keys to rule in the King’s absence. Isa 22:21-22 Binding and loosening were legal terms that also conferred absolute authority. Peter became the rock that the church was built which also shows the giving of authority from the Living Stone. 1 Peter 2:4-8
Authority was given secondarily to the rest of the apostles. Mt 18:18 His kingdom on earth (the church) was also “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone.” Eph 2:20 Jesus did not leave us a book. The only time he wrote anything was briefly in the sand when he was with the woman who had sinned. No, he left us a Kingdom with people in charge that he had conferred His authority upon.
After the last supper, when Jesus instituted the Eucharist, commanded that it be continually celebrated as a memorial, and instituted His apostles as the first priests of the New Covenant, he conferred upon them his kingdom and the authority to judge, “It is you who have stood by me in my trials; and I confer a kingdom on you, just as my Father has conferred one on me, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom; and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” Lk 22:29-30
Scripture is God’s beautiful Word that is inerrant truth. However, Jesus didn’t hand out bibles before He ascended. His last instructions to His apostles were, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” Mt 28:18-19 Jesus is with His church, the Catholic church, until the end of the age, the church that is the, “church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth.” 1 Tim 3:15
AUTHORITY PASSED ON BY ETERNAL OFFICES
Jesus gave all authority and power to the apostles with primacy to Peter. This included being responsible for guarding, teaching, and maintaining all of Christ's teaching. The apostles were the only ones authorized to interpret the meaning of scripture which at the time was the Jewish scripture (what we call the Old Testament) and determine if any new writings were the inspiration of God. In His divine wisdom, Jesus established the start of his church with offices. That way each office had the authority and power if transferred to another. Any first century Jew would have recognized this structure and strictly followed it. Before the exile, Isaiah demonstrates this authority and governance by explaining how the prime minister (master of the house) of the temple was an office. In the kings absence, the person of this office had complete authority and the "keys to the kingdom." See Isaiah 22. In almost identical language, Jesus gives the keys of the new kingdom first to Peter and then to the rest of the disciples (Matt 16:19 and Matt 18:18). Jesus explains the authority he has given to the apostles, "He who receives you, receives Me, and he who rejects you, rejects Me and the One who sent Me." (Matt 10:1, 40).
THE OFFICES OF ORDINATION (Eph 4:11-12; Matt 10:1, 40)
Pope (pontiff, head bishop) Mt 16:18; Isa 22:22; 1 Pet 2:25
Bishop (episcopoi) - Acts 15:6; Acts 22:14-15; Mk 16:15; Gen 14:18; Heb 13:17; Heb 13:7
Priest (elders, presbyteroi) - Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5; Acts 20:28; Jam 5:14; 1 Pet 5:1-4-15
Deacon (diakonoi) - Acts 6:1-15; 1 Tim 3:10;
Offices transmitted to others - 2 Tim 2:2; 1 Cor 11:2
Laying on of hands - Gen 48:8-20; Num 27:15-23; Num 11:16-25; Deut 34:9; Mark 8:22-25; 1 Tim 4:14; Acts 6:2-6; Acts 8:14-17
THE OFFICE OF NEW COVENANT PRIESTHOOD
Jesus, Himself, created the eternal office of New Covenant Priesthood. This was foreshadowed and prefigured by the Old Covenant priesthood. It is a misconception to think that their is a sharp division between the Old and New Testaments or the Old Covenants and the New Covenant. The same holds true for the priesthood. God, the Father created it all. The entirety of scripture is one continuous love story, one economy of revelation and salvation. When Jesus selected the twelve men who would become His apostles he did more than just honor them.
Mark tells us that, "He appointed twelve, whom he also named apostles, to be with him, and to be send out to proclaim the message, and to have authority to cast out demons. So he appointed the twelve..." (Mark 3:14). The Greek word for appoint is epoison, which means "to create" or "to ordain." The same verb, appointed (epoison), is used to refer to God appointing Jesus, "Consider that Jesus the apostle and high priest of our confession was faithful to the one who appointed him" (Heb 3:1-2). Jesus created this new position for the Twelve, similar to God the Father appointing Him.
Why twelve apostles? The number twelve represents the twelve tribes of the Old Covenant who were all initially priests until the sin of the golden calf in Exodus 32. So although this office is new and created by Christ, it is also a continuation, a perfection of the priesthood of the Old Covenant. Jesus, Himself, claims in His most important sermon, "Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill."
THE TITLES "FATHER" AND "BISHOP" IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
The English word "priest" is derived from the Greek word presbuteros, which is commonly rendered into Bible English as "elder" or "presbyter." The ministry of Catholic priests is that of the presbyters mentioned in the New Testament (Acts 15:6, 23). The Bible says little about the duties of presbyters, but it does reveal they functioned in a priestly capacity.
They were ordained by the laying on of hands (1 Tm 4:14, 5:22), they preached and taught the flock (1 Tm 5:17), and they administered sacraments (Jas 5:13-15). These are the essential functions of the priestly office, so wherever the various forms of presbuteros appear--except, of course, in instances which pertain to the Jewish elders (Mt 21:23, Acts 4:23)--the word may rightly be translated as "priest" instead of "elder" or "presbyter."
Episcopos arises from two words, epi (over) and skopeo (to see), and it means literally "an overseer": We translate it as "bishop." The King James Version renders the office of overseer, episkopen, as "bishopric" (Acts 1:20). The role of the episcopos is not clearly defined in the New Testament, but by the beginning of the second century it had obtained a fixed meaning. There is early evidence of this refinement in ecclesiastical nomenclature in the writings of Ignatius of Antioch (d. A.D. 107), who wrote at length of the authority of bishops as distinct from presbyters and deacons (Epistle to the Magnesians 6:1, 13:1-2; Epistle to the Trallians2:1-3; Epistle to the Smyrnaeans 8:1-2).
The New Testament tendency to use episcopos and presbuteros interchangeably is similar to the contemporary Protestant use of the term "minister" to denote various offices, both ordained and unordained (senior minister, music minister, youth minister). Similarly, the term diakonos is rendered both as "deacon" and as "minister" in the Bible, yet in Protestant churches the office of deacon is clearly distinguished from and subordinate to the office of minister.
In Acts 20:17-38 the same men are called presbyteroi (v. 17) and episcopoi (v. 28). Presbuteroi is used in a technical sense to identify their office of ordained leadership. Episcopoi is used in a non-technical sense to describe the type of ministry they exercised. This is how the Revised Standard Version renders the verses: "And from Miletus he [Paul] . . . called for the elders [presbuteroi]of the church. And when they came to him, he said to them . . . 'Take heed to yourselves and all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you guardians [episcopoi], to feed the church of the Lord.'"
In other passages it's clear that although men called presbuteroi ruled over individual congregations (parishes), the apostles ordained certain men, giving them authority over multiple congregations (dioceses), each with its own presbyters. These were endowed with the power to ordain additional presbyters as needed to shepherd the flock and carry on the work of the gospel. Titus and Timothy were two of those early episcopoi and clearly were above the office of presbuteros. They had the authority to select, ordain, and govern other presbyters, as is evidenced by Paul's instructions: "This is why I left you in Crete . . . that you might appoint elders in every town as I directed you" (Ti 1:5; cf. 1 Tm 5:17-22).
Use of the title "Father" in the New Testament
Paul explains to the Corinthians that he has "become your father in Christ Jesus." - 1 Cor 4:15
Paul refers to Timothy and Titus as his true "children in faith"- 1 Tim 1:2, 18:2, Titus 1:4
Paul says he has become the "father" of Onesimus - Phm 10
Peter refers to himself as father by calling Mark his "son" - 1 Pet 5:13
John calls members of the Church "children" - 1 John 2:1,18, 28; 3:18; 5:21; 3 John 4
John calls the elders of the church "fathers" - 1 John 2:1,13-14
Jesus refers to Abraham as our "father" - Matt 3:9; Luke 3:8
God's angel says Jesus will be given the throne of his "father" David - Luke 1:32
Jesus, in his parable about the rich man, says our "father" Abraham - Luke 16:24, 30
The Samaritan woman asks Jesus if He is greater than our "father" Jacob - John 4:12
Peter and John pray to God and refer to our "father" David - Acts 4:25
Stephen refers to our "fathers" in the faith - Acts 7:11-12, 15, 19, 38, 44-45, 51-52
Paul calls Isaac, a spiritual leader, our "forefather" - Rom 9:10
Paul says that he was zealous for the tradition of his "fathers" - Gal 1:14
The author of Hebrews says God spoke of old to our "fathers" - Heb 1:1
The Holy Spirit says that your "fathers" put me to the test - Heb 3:9
James says, was not our "father" Abraham justified by works? - Jam 2:21
PRIESTLY CELIBACY IS CHURCH PRACTICE, NOT DOGMA
Matt 19:11-12 – Jesus says celibacy is a gift from God and whoever can bear it should bear it. Jesus praises and recommends celibacy for full-time ministers in the Church. Because celibacy is a gift from God, those who criticize the Church’s practice of celibacy are criticizing God and this wonderful gift He bestows on His chosen ones.
Matt 19:29 – Jesus says that whoever gives up children for the sake of His name will receive a hundred times more and will inherit eternal life. Jesus praises celibacy when it is done for the sake of His kingdom.
Matt 22:30 – Jesus explains that in heaven there are no marriages. To bring about Jesus’ kingdom on earth, priests live the heavenly consecration to God by not taking a wife in marriage. This way, priests are able to focus exclusively on the spiritual family, and not have any additional pressures of the biological family (which is for the vocation of marriage). This also makes it easier for priests to be transferred to different parishes where they are most needed without having to worry about the impact of their transfer on wife and children.
1 Cor 7:1 – Paul teaches that it is well for a man not to touch a woman. This is the choice that the Catholic priests of the Roman rite make.
1 Cor 7:7 – Paul also acknowledges that celibacy is a gift from God and wishes that all were celibate like he is.
1 Cor 7:27 – Paul teaches men that they should not seek marriage. In Paul’s opinion, marriage introduces worldly temptations that can interfere with one’s relationship with God, specifically regarding those who will become full-time ministers in the Church.
1 Cor 7:32-33, 38 – Paul recommends celibacy for full-time ministers in the Church so that they are able to focus entirely upon God and building up His kingdom. He “who refrains from marriage will do better.”
1 Tim 3:2 – Paul instructs that bishops must be married only once. Many Protestants use this verse to prove that the Church’s celibacy law is in error. But they are mistaken because this verse refers to bishops that were widowers. Paul is instructing that these widowers could not remarry. The verse also refers to those bishops who were currently married. They also could not remarry (in the Catholic Church’s Eastern rite, priests are allowed to marry; celibacy is only a disciplinary rule for the clergy of the Roman rite). Therefore, this text has nothing to do with imposing a marriage requirement on becoming a bishop.
1 Tim 4:3 – in this verse, Paul refers to deceitful doctrines that forbid marriage. Many non-Catholics also use this verse to impugn the Church’s practice of celibacy. This is entirely misguided because the Catholic Church (unlike many Protestant churches) exalts marriage to a sacrament. In fact, marriage is elevated to a sacrament, but consecrated virginity is not. The Church declares marriage sacred, covenantal and life-giving. Paul is referring to doctrines that forbid marriage and other goods when done outside the teaching of Christ and for a lessor good. Celibacy is an act of giving up one good (marriage and children) for a greater good (complete spiritual union with God).
1 Tim. 5:9-12 – Paul recommends that older widows take a pledge of celibacy. This was the beginning of women religious orders.
2 Tim. 2:3-4 – Paul instructs his bishop Timothy that no soldier on service gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim his to satisfy the One who enlisted him. Paul is using an analogy to describe the role of the celibate priesthood in the Church.
Rev. 14:4 – unlike our sinful world of the flesh, in heaven, those consecrated to virginity are honored.
Isa 56:3-7 – the eunuchs who keep God’s covenant will have a special place in the kingdom of heaven.
Jer. 16:1-4 – Jeremiah is told by God not to take a wife or have children.
GETTING IN TO HEAVEN
Initial Justification - The process of original sin, all current personal sin, and death being conquered in us; and our start of a new life in Christ is called initial justification. This is all done as a free gift through the Holy Spirit by the merits of Jesus's death on the cross and His resurrection. To receive this initial justification, we need to have faith in Jesus (Rom 1:17) and the gospel, confess your sins (Matt 6:12) to a priest (Jn 20:22-23) and be baptized by water in the name of the father, the son, and the Holy Spirit (Matt 28:19). This purifies your soul of all original and current personal sin. Grace, virtue and the gifts of the Holy Spirit are infused into you (Isa 11:2-3a, Matt 3:16) like Jesus demonstrated at His baptism.
Whew, I'm saved forever, right? No. Go back and read all the biblical requirements for maintaining your justification/salvation, the importance of the Eucharist, and how easy it is to lose your salvation. We need to grow in holiness, also called sanctification. Sanctification is the process by continuing to join your life more and more with Christ. This is a process that we will continue to do during our entire earthly life. Because God created us with free wills, we can turn our back on Christ at any time. We can lose our faith and salvation.
Sanctification – We maintain our justification and grow more holy by prayer and the sacraments. Along with these we also strengthen faith by the virtues of faith, hope and charity (love) and the gifts of the Holy Spirit (Isa 11:2-3a). If we sin, through the merits of Jesus, we can receive forgiveness through confession. 1 Tim 2:5 tells us the Jesus is the only mediator between God and man. Jesus gave all authority to Peter, the apostles, and all their successors to govern His kingdom on earth and forgive sins in his name (Matt 16:19, Jn 20:22-23). We can go to Jesus by invoking the intercession of the angels and saints (Matt 18:10, Rev 5:8, Rev 8:3-4). We need to pray for others (1 Tim 2:14, Jam 5:16). We need to perform acts of charity, fasting, alms-giving, and prayer (Mt 6:1-18) to store up treasures in heaven (Matt 6:20). We need to go to Mass (Lk 22:19) and receive the Eucharist (Jn 6:51) if in a state of grace, without mortal sin (1 Cor 11:27-29). When we sin, we need to keep going to confession for Christ’s redemption (1 Jn 1:8-9).
Death & Salvation – Having been baptized, dying in a state of grace with Christ’s supernatural life within you (Mt 25:31, Rom 1:18-32, 1 Jn 5:16, Rev 21:8) and having performed good deeds (Jn 5:28-29; Rom 2:5-8) we have the hope of salvation and eternal blessedness with the Holy Trinity.
Early Christian Quotations on Salvation