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Friday, January 8, 2010

Salvation by Merit

Defining the terms is very important when you are discussing theology. Do not be scared, just because a word such as "merit" appears in the Catechism. You should not leap to the assumption that it means Catholics believe we earn our salvation. What you should do is see what Catholics mean when they use the term.

The word 'pray' is another example of this. It has come to imply worship, although the older original meaning was to make a request, or to entreat. When you look up the definition of a word in an unabridged dictionary, it lists the Catholic meaning as either "eccl" or "R. Cath" in the definition. The Catholic Church is so old, that it uses vocabulary which is now a bit antiquated.

What does the Catechism have to say about merit?

III. MERIT

You are glorified in the assembly of your Holy Ones, for in crowning their merits you are crowning your own gifts.

2006 The term "merit" refers in general to the recompense owed by a community or a society for the action of one of its members, experienced either as beneficial or harmful, deserving reward or punishment. Merit is relative to the virtue of justice, in conformity with the principle of equality which governs it.

2007 With regard to God, there is no strict right to any merit on the part of man. Between God and us there is an immeasurable inequality, for we have received everything from him, our Creator.

2008 The merit of man before God in the Christian life arises from the fact that God has freely chosen to associate man with the work of his grace. The fatherly action of God is first on his own initiative, and then follows man's free acting through his collaboration, so that the merit of good works is to be attributed in the first place to the grace of God, then to the faithful. Man's merit, moreover, itself is due to God, for his good actions proceed in Christ, from the predispositions and assistance given by the Holy Spirit.

2009 Filial adoption, in making us partakers by grace in the divine nature, can bestow true merit on us as a result of God's gratuitous justice. This is our right by grace, the full right of love, making us "co-heirs" with Christ and worthy of obtaining "the promised inheritance of eternal life." The merits of our good works are gifts of the divine goodness. "Grace has gone before us; now we are given what is due. . . . Our merits are God's gifts."

2010 Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace, no one can merit the initial grace of forgiveness and justification, at the beginning of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life. Even temporal goods like health and friendship can be merited in accordance with God's wisdom. These graces and goods are the object of Christian prayer. Prayer attends to the grace we need for meritorious actions.

2011 The charity of Christ is the source in us of all our merits before God. Grace, by uniting us to Christ in active love, ensures the supernatural quality of our acts and consequently their merit before God and before men. The saints have always had a lively awareness that their merits were pure grace.

After earth's exile, I hope to go and enjoy you in the fatherland, but I do not want to lay up merits for heaven. I want to work for your love alone. . . . In the evening of this life, I shall appear before you with empty hands, for I do not ask you, Lord, to count my works. All our justice is blemished in your eyes. I wish, then, to be clothed in your own justice and to receive from your love the eternal possession of yourself.

What this is saying, if you remove the offensive word "merit" is that it is God who initializes that moment where we accept Jesus as our Saviour, thereby obtaining (or meriting) salvation. Read #2007 carefully. It says that everything we merit originates from God.

What is necessary for salvation? God gives us the grace necessary for salvation. Then we turn to Him. Does He do everything? How much of our acceptance is work and how much is God? Can man initiate (semi-Pelagian) or is it only God? Are we co-operating with God, or not?

When we get to justification, is it imputed or infused? What type of grace are we talking here, sanctifying or actual?

To say that faith is simple is to oversimplify. There are a lot of possible variations, that that is why it seems complicated, and why we end up with so many beliefs among Christians.

To read the full section on justification in the Catechism, look here. But I will excerpt a few selections which show that we believed we are saved by God's grace.

#1992

Justification has been merited for us by the Passion of Christ who offered himself on the cross as a living victim, holy and pleasing to God, and whose blood has become the instrument of atonement for the sins of all men. Justification is conferred in Baptism, the sacrament of faith. It conforms us to the righteousness of God, who makes us inwardly just by the power of his mercy. Its purpose is the glory of God and of Christ, and the gift of eternal life:

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from law, although the law and the prophets bear witness to it, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as an expiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins; it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies him who has faith in Jesus.
#1996 Our justification comes from the grace of God. Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life.

#1999
The grace of Christ is the gratuitous gift that God makes to us of his own life, infused by the Holy Spirit into our soul to heal it of sin and to sanctify it. It is the sanctifying or deifying grace received in Baptism. It is in us the source of the work of sanctification:

Therefore if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself.
#2001 The preparation of man for the reception of grace is already a work of grace. This latter is needed to arouse and sustain our collaboration in justification through faith, and in sanctification through charity. God brings to completion in us what he has begun, "since he who completes his work by cooperating with our will began by working so that we might will it:"

Indeed we also work, but we are only collaborating with God who works, for his mercy has gone before us. It has gone before us so that we may be healed, and follows us so that once healed, we may be given life; it goes before us so that we may be called, and follows us so that we may be glorified; it goes before us so that we may live devoutly, and follows us so that we may always live with God: for without him we can do nothing.
#2002 God's free initiative demands man's free response, for God has created man in his image by conferring on him, along with freedom, the power to know him and love him. The soul only enters freely into the communion of love. God immediately touches and directly moves the heart of man. He has placed in man a longing for truth and goodness that only he can satisfy. The promises of "eternal life" respond, beyond all hope, to this desire:

If at the end of your very good works . . ., you rested on the seventh day, it was to foretell by the voice of your book that at the end of our works, which are indeed "very good" since you have given them to us, we shall also rest in you on the sabbath of eternal life.
#2003 Grace is first and foremost the gift of the Spirit who justifies and sanctifies us. But grace also includes the gifts that the Spirit grants us to associate us with his work, to enable us to collaborate in the salvation of others and in the growth of the Body of Christ, the Church. There are sacramental graces, gifts proper to the different sacraments. There are furthermore special graces, also called charisms after the Greek term used by St. Paul and meaning "favor," "gratuitous gift," "benefit." Whatever their character - sometimes it is extraordinary, such as the gift of miracles or of tongues - charisms are oriented toward sanctifying grace and are intended for the common good of the Church. They are at the service of charity which builds up the Church.

That was the section immediately before the Catechism begins to discuss merit. So we are back to that topic.
There are two kinds of merit in Catholic doctrine, condign merit and congruous merit.

See Catholic Encyclopedia for more information, but here is what I feel is the important part:

Condign merit supposes an equality between service and return; it is measured by commutative justice (justitia commutativa), and thus gives a real claim to a reward. Congruous merit, owing to its inadequacy and the lack of intrinsic proportion between the service and the recompense, claims a reward only on the ground of equity.

Christian faith teaches us that the Incarnate Son of God by His death on the cross has in our stead fully satisfied God's anger at our sins, and thereby effected a reconciliation between the world and its Creator. Not, however, as though nothing were now left to be done by man, or as though he were now restored to the state of original innocence, whether he wills it or not; on the contrary, God and Christ demand of him that he make the fruits of the Sacrifice of the Cross his own by personal exertion and co-operation with grace, by justifying faith and the reception of baptism. It is a defined article of the Catholic Faith that man before, in, and after justification derives his whole capability of meriting and satisfying, as well as his actual merits and satisfactions, solely from the infinite treasure of merits which Christ gained for us on the Cross.

So, to the best of my understanding, God gives us the grace that we need to turn to him, and cooperate. It is through this free response that we might say we merit our salvation, which is due entirely to Christ. To avoid the prohibited word "merit" we might instead say "accept the free gift of salvation by our faith."

As I said before, this is about vocabulary.

Works are bad, but bearing fruits is good.

Accepting/believing is not an action, despite being a verb, because actions are works, which are bad.

Meriting salvation is bad, but obtaining or being giving a salvation after an action is good.


I believe we are expressing the same idea, but in different words.



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114 comments:

Kelly said...

Tag. So I can sneak and read comments on my phone while I'm out.

Jennie said...

Well, since you're cutting and pasting from my comment section, here's another comment from there:

Paul said...

#162
"Believing in Jesus Christ and in the One who sent him for our salvation is necessary for obtaining that salvation.42 "Since ‘without faith it is impossible to please [God]' and to attain to the fellowship of his sons, therefore without faith no one has ever attained justification, nor will anyone obtain eternal life ‘but he who endures to the end.'"43

# 2027
" No one can merit the initial grace which is at the origin of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit, we can merit for ourselves and for others all the graces needed to attain eternal life, as well as necessary temporal goods.

Notice that "we can merit for ourselves" what is "needed to attain eternal life"

#2025

We can have merit in God's sight only because of God's free plan to associate man with the work of his grace. Merit is to be ascribed in the first place to the grace of God, and secondly to man's collaboration. Man's merit is due to God.

Note: Merit is ascribed both to Man and to God

Jennie said...

From 'Indulgentiarum Doctrina':


For "the only-begotten son of God...has won a treasure for the militant Church and has entrusted it to blessed Peter, the keybearer of heaven, and to his successors, Christ's vicars on earth, that they may distribute it to the faithful for their salvation, applying it mercifully for reasonable causes to all who are repentant and have confessed their sins, at times remitting completely and at times partially the temporal punishment due sin in a general as well as in special ways insofar as they judge it to be fitting in the eyes of the Lord. It is known that the merits of the Blessed Mother of God and of all the elect...add further to this treasure.(36)

This seems to say that Jesus and Mary and the saints all contribute merits to be distributed to the faithful for their salvation. Scripture doesn't teach that there is a treasury of merits that are given out little by little by the Church, but that Jesus Christ 'is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.'

Moonshadow said...

Thank you for posting this, Kelly.

Noah Webster may have been a devout Christian but his isn't a theological dictionary.

Kelly said...

I included my response to Paul's comment in my article. Perhaps you can test your reading comprehension skills by finding it.

Tell me, Jennie, what is the point in praying for the conversion of someone?

Scripture doesn't teach that there is a treasury of merits that are given out little by little by the Church

Scripture doesn't state anywhere that the book of Revelation should be included as Holy Scripture, yet here we are, all including it in our Bibles.

Colossians 1:24 is the verse which is normally given for this doctrine. The treasury of merits, I mean, not the book of Revelation.

Sarah said...

I am not Catholic, but have been reading here with interest. I'm trying to understand.

Jennie

As to #2027 does that not simply refer back to #2011 that it is the love of Christ is the source of such merits? Since God is love it is in essence God that provides said merit? Thus the merit of man, i.e. his charity, good deeds spring from the faith in God?

#2025 We surely do have responsibility to respond to God's grace and salvation otherwise our faith is dead (i.e. as in James).

Regarding your comment about the saints, etc., indeed God through Christ is the only One Who can save, but He will build His church (of living stones) and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. Plus, the Church is the pillar and foundation of the truth with Christ as the cornerstone. The Church as the Bride of Christ will be more beautiful than anything - Holy and pure. Surely one can therefore surmise that all the saints will add to that treasure? The beauty of the church built of living stones and sanctified by Christ.

Jesus did also say to His disciples: "If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven." John 20:23 So that bit makes sense to me. I'm not sure about the keybearer bit, I always thought that the keys weren't just given to Peter but they were given to but all the disciples.

As I said I'm not Catholic but I'm just taking the quotes and trying to understand their meaning.

Sarah

Jennie said...

Kelly,
Colossians 1:24 I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church.

This is staightforwardly saying that Paul is suffering hardship and persecution gladly for the sake of sharing the gospel in order to build the body of Christ. It has nothing to do with building up a treasury of merits, which is an artificial system that has no place in God's word. Paul's suffering refined him and gave an example of perseverance and love to others and his sharing of God's word caused many to believe and be saved. Suffering isn't some magical thing that builds up in a bank to be used by others for salvation. He was continuing the work of Christ to bring salvation by being obedient unto death as his master was.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

What's funny is that as I was scrolling down the comments, I was thinking of posting that same verse from Colossians that Jennie did!

Jennie, I'm not sure how you arrived at your interpretation that "suffering isn't some magical thing that builds up in a bank to be used by others for salvation," because that is exactly what St. Paul is saying in that verse--though, of course, he has a different way of putting it.

Jesus' suffering is a "magical thing" (a metaphor C.S. Lewis won't mind, at least!) that we can all draw from, and it makes sense that everyone who is part of the Body of Christ would be able to both draw from it and contribute to it.

Sarah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Clare@ BattlementsOfRubies said...

"The word 'pray' is another example of this of course. It has come to imply worship.
Although the older original meaning was to make a request, or to entreat.


I've been having a maddening conversation with a friend who keeps sending me stuff by email, doesn't read my response and then says he finds the conversation 'tiring'.
His latest was more stuff about 'praying to dead people'. He insists that praying is worship. I pointed out that not so long ago we were all praying to the living too ( "Prithee pass the salt") were people worshipping eachother back then?

Clare@ BattlementsOfRubies said...


I'm not very good at justification talk myself, but I recommend this link for some good higher level articles explaining the Catholic perspective.


Which link are you referring to Kelly?

Kelly said...

Which link are you referring to Kelly?

I'm so glad you said this, Clare. Yesterday, I wanted to separate the merit topic from the other post, which I wanted to remain on the topic of the conversation I had with Candy.

As Jennie and I had already had an extensive conversation about merit a few months back, I thought I could collate my comments from then into a single post, which is a good way of preserving them on our site, as well as gives me something to point Jennie to when we get back there again sometime in the spring. (I'm winking at Jennie here.)

Anyway, I quickly cut and pasted those comments here with the kids running around me, and when I read over it this morning, it was a good reminder of why I try to do all my writing when they were in bed. How awful! I have now edited and expanded the post, so please read through it again.

Kelly said...

This is staightforwardly saying that Paul is suffering hardship and persecution gladly for the sake of sharing the gospel in order to build the body of Christ.

Can you please explain "what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ?"

Suffering isn't some magical thing that builds up in a bank to be used by others for salvation.

Also, see my previous question. When you pray for someone to become a Christian, what role does that prayer play in their salvation? Are you not aiding them in some way? If not, what is the point in praying for conversion?

Kelly said...

Sarah, I was going to respond to your comment, but I see that you have deleted it, so I won't excerpt from it.

I will say welcome to the blog, and please feel free to ask any questions you like. Candy's repetitiveness makes for a rather boring blog after awhile because we end up just putting up our previously written articles. A good discussion livens things up.

Jennie has been here for over a year now, so we sometimes grate on each others nerves a bit, but we all enjoy the conversations and try to take a break when things get too tense.

Elena said...

Sarah, I will second what Kelly said.

In fact, in some ways I think I am better suited to dialogue and speak with people sincerely asking questions about the church than doing regular apologetics. My fuse grows all the more shorter every year I guess.

Feel free to ask away or e-mail us if you have specific questions.

Sarah said...

Elena and Kelly, thanks. I deleted my comment because I have lots of questions and realised perhaps this isn't the place to start asking. My questions have arisen from recent life events.

I'm not really sure where to start with the questions though - I need to regroup my brain I think.

I do enjoy reading here though, particularly as I've read a lot of what Candy has written in the past and it's good to read the 'other side'. She seemed to get more and more dramatic and bizarre in her assertions about Catholicism - which to be honest made me want to understand more about Catholicism rather than her intention - which seems to be to make everyone fear it.

I liked Candy's blog for a while, but I had an occasion or three where she hasn't published my comments where I've (hopefully) asked politely for her to explain.

Once I posted a long comment about the KJV, which she didn't publish. I then posted what I thought was a private comment apologising in case I'd offended her and she published the comment with no response or anything. Lol it made me look a bit of an idiot.

I'll end here because this isn't really related to your thread.

But thanks.

Sarah

Jennie said...

Ladies,
I'm sorry, I haven't been able to concentrate on this subject enough to make a coherent comment; I've been busy with life; so I need to reread the revised comment and read some more about merit, because I am don't think we're making sense to each other.
Enbrethiliel,
you made the following comments and confirmed my concerns about the subject:
Jennie, I'm not sure how you arrived at your interpretation that "suffering isn't some magical thing that builds up in a bank to be used by others for salvation," because that is exactly what St. Paul is saying in that verse--though, of course, he has a different way of putting it.

Jesus' suffering is a "magical thing" (a metaphor C.S. Lewis won't mind, at least!) that we can all draw from, and it makes sense that everyone who is part of the Body of Christ would be able to both draw from it and contribute to it.

I grew up immersed in C.S. Lewis and read most of his fiction and some of his non-fiction books over and over. I had to step back a few years ago when I realized that I was putting his writings and characters in too high a place and letting them influence my beliefs too much. They have some 'merit' but also much error in them. As long as one can enjoy them occasionally and in reason there is no harm, or not much I hope.
But I can't disagree more that it has nothing to do with with magic.

Jennie said...

I found two posts I'm going to read about merit:
http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2007/11/lutheran-catholic-dialogue3-comparative.html

http://turretinfan.blogspot.com/2009/09/augustine-vs-rome-definition-of-grace.html

Jennie said...

Kelly,
Can you please explain "what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ?"

Offhand, I'd say that this means, not that Christ's sacrifice and person is lacking anything, of course, but that as Jesus said “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father." The body of Christ participates in His work and suffering and helps others to join the body as we share the gospel, even giving up our lives for it. We are joined to Him and to each other by the Holy Spirit in us and so can help each other by sharing His word and praying for each other to the Father as Jesus taught us. Jesus' sacrifice was not lacking anything, but was sufficient and effective to 'save to the uttermost' those who come to Him. We can only 'add' to it by sharing the gospel of what He has already accomplished for us.

Jennie said...

Sarah,
My objections to the idea of merit stem partly from the fact that the terms used seem artificial as they are not used in scripture; also from the fact that the idea is linked to the teachings of penance, indulgences and purgatory which also seem like artificial substitutes for real biblical concepts. This is my impression. Like I said, I'm going to read some more to try to understand it better; but even when protestants and catholics use the same words, sometimes we don't understand the same thing by them. It makes communication difficult :)

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Hi guys!

Have not been here a while, but I just thought to peek in to see what you are all discusssing.

I must say Kelly that you did a fine job doing a technical analysis of merit and grace into its various components. So now we know what is involved, but obtaining it will be elusive, without the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit. No matter how much we study or dissect the various aspects and technicalities of grace and merit, we are POWERLESS to receive it unless God gives us the power to receive it.

As for prayer being defined as making a request or entreaty, I disagree. Prayer is a spiritual exercise in which we talk to God. It is spiritual because we are talking to someone we cannot see,touch,feel,and hear by audible voice conversations, or write to whether by letter or e-mail, or electronically; therefore we are talking to Him in our spirits. Having a conversation with someone in your presence, or via telephone, by this blog, e-mail, etc. IS NOT A SPIRITUAL EXERCISE, because we are connecting to someone physically - whether bodily, electronically.

The day I can converse with any of you guys in my spirit without uttering a word to you in your physical presence or electronically, or writing via this blog or e-mail, will be the day when I would be engaging in the spiritual communication called prayer.

Peace.

Jennie said...

The word 'pray' is another example of this. It has come to imply worship, although the older original meaning was to make a request, or to entreat.

Kelly,
I believe prayer in scripture, the Old and New testaments, is considered as part of worshiping God. We praise, thank, and entreat Him because we are dependent upon Him as our provider in everything. When we pray to anyone else as if God will not hear us best Himself, this is an insult to Him. I believe this is what scripture teaches. I think of Isaiah 8:19-20 And when they say to you, “Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter,” should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living? To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

Kelly said...

Don't take the bait. We are discussing merit, not Mary. Please don't fixate on one line I put in as an example.

If you get nostalgic, there are discussions about Mary on both of our blogs that you can review.

Jennie said...

Kelly,
Here is the search page for the word 'merit' on justforcatholics.org: I read the first three entries. What do you think of his understanding of merit and how it compares to scripture?
http://www.google.com/custom?domains=justforcatholics.org&cof=S%3Ahttp%3A%2F%2Fwww.justforcatholics.org%2F%3BGL%3A0%3BAH%3Acenter%3BLH%3A100%3BL%3Ahttp%3A%2F%2Fwww.justforcatholics.org%2Fjfc-header-google.gif%3BLW%3A750%3BAWFID%3A47e8afe731a5dfe0%3B&q=merit&sa=GO&sitesearch=justforcatholics.org

Jennie said...

I see Hillary and I both latched onto the prayer statement. But I had my say on it and will let it go now.

I'm reading Galatians now, as it occurred to me that it talks about 'having begun by the Spirit, are you now made perfect by the flesh?' In other words, we are justified by faith and regenerated by the power of the Spirit all by grace (unmerited favor). So we must continue to walk by faith and the power of the Spirit given by grace without merit on our part. We don't do works in order to remain in grace, but by grace and the Spirit we do works in love, which is obedience to His word. The Spirit works through God's word which 'is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.' 'Sanctify them by Thy truth; Thy word is truth' is what Jesus prayed to the Father.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Jennie:

Yes, C.S. Lewis can be (and often is) a sacred cow to many intellectual Christians. The word "magic" happened to remind me of him, but I think we can talk about merit, suffering, and what is "lacking in the afflictions of Christ" without being distracted by him, so let me try again . . . =)

Paul's suffering alone was not enough to refine him. (Catholics would say that such an idea is "Pelagianism.") He had to unite his suffering to the suffering of Jesus--just as we unite, say, our preaching to the preaching of Jesus, or our love to the love of Jesus, etc. Does this mean that people need to suffer in order to be saved? Of course not! Yet it does mean that Jesus' suffering is always available, as a source of grace, to anyone who wants it.

There is no contradiction between the sufferings of Jesus and the message of the Gospel.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Suffering DOES refine us. Suffering molds us character, and helps us to build virtues such as faith, patience, and humility, and longsuffering. In Colossians 1:24 Paul was comparing the suffering he went through as being so much less than the suffering Christ went through for us. Our suffering here on earth is small compared to what Christ went through. Anyway, it is through faithfulness in our trials and tribulations in this life, that we will reap an eternal reward in heaven.

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory (2 Corinthians 4:17).

This is not working for our salvation. Christ already did the work of atonement on the cross by dying for our sins. This is God purifying our sinful lives through the fires of affliction. Once we pass the affliction test, our reward in heaven will be Christ honoring us with great glory (stars in our crown, greatness in the kingdom of heaven, etc.). If we do not pass the affliction test, we will be deemed to be unfaithful servants, and be cast out into 'outer darkness' along with sinners.

Peace.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Let me add also that if we fail the affliction test, we can also repent and ask God to forgive us for failing Him, and He will. Christ's blood is sufficient to cleanse us from the sin of unfaithfulness.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Suffering on its own may build character, but I think we can all agree that what we (including St. Paul) are talking about here is suffering that is offered up and united with Jesus' suffering.

After all, an atheist could lose his entire family in a car crash and truly suffer from the tragedy, but is his suffering making up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His Body, etc.?

Elena said...

justforcatholics.org:


:::insert eye roll here:::

Another one of those authentically Catholic reference points you refer to regularly eh Jennie?

Lynn said...

Justforcatholics is lame. I read a definition of merit on a dominican blog a couple weeks ago. He said grandma gave a boy $10, just because. He didn't earn it or deserve it. In response, he went out and mowed the grass. Now, he still didn't earn that $10, nor did Grandma plan it as a bribe, but he has now merited it. The free gift changed him and he gave back. That's merit. It's *after* the gift of God's grace, and involves our response to it. To me it reads like meriting might be the process of our becoming the kind of people who might have deserved the gift in the first place.

Kelly said...

Jennie did say she was going to read Dave Armstrong, and while I'm not sure the article she posted was exactly the same topic, you can't fault his info.

I don't mind if she posts Just For Catholics to say "This is my view, can you give me your response to their points?"

However, I don't find it convincing when she posts JFC to say "See, they have now completely proven the Catholic view wrong."

Barbara C. said...

justforcatholics.org....LMAO, Elena

Jennie said...

I linked to justforcatholics.org because, as Kelly said, when I read his view it corresponded with mine as well as giving some good scriptures, and I wanted to see what you all think of his explanations.

I felt the same way as he did in the 'Gospel e-letter' when he said:
I used to feel frustrated whenever Catholics denied this teaching of their church, and I tried to persuade them otherwise from the official writings, especially the Council of Trent. (The 6th Session gives a detailed explanation of the doctrine of Justification).
I am not bothered anymore; actually I am glad that many Catholics are unaware of some of these doctrines, and even reject them. I don’t know the underlying reasons for this. Perhaps Catholic teachers and apologists are not presenting church doctrine clearly and faithfully as they should, or perhaps, it is due to the influence of evangelical Christianity. Whatever the reasons, I thank God that many Catholics believe that they cannot merit grace or eternal life.

As Dr. Mizzi shows, there are teachings that in effect and cumulatively say that people can help merit eternal life for themselves and each other, yet many catholics don't interpret it that way because it is contrary to scripture. I, just like Joe Mizzi, am glad that many Catholics don't believe they can merit salvation.

Jennie said...

Enbrethiliel,
Jesus' suffering as taught in scripture is not a 'bank' to draw from nor even a 'power source' to tap into. His suffering was to atone for our sins, to satisfy the justice of God for our debt of sin. This was done 'once for all' on the cross. Now He sits at the right hand of God interceding for us:

Hebrews 7:25 Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

Hebrews 10:12 But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, 13 from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. 14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.

Hebrew 4:14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 2:14 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage...17 Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.


We don't have to 'join ourselves to His suffering' if we are believers; we ARE joined to Him; and if we suffer it isn't a 'magical' thing in itself that helps us or others. What Paul was talking about in his suffering was that he was giving up his life to share the word of the gospel, in which salvation is found when the Spirit works through it in people's hearts and calls them to repentance. He suffered because people hated him for speaking God's word, just as the Jewish rulers hated Jesus for teaching it, because it exposed their sin and hypocrisy. The suffering did refine Paul because he was suffering in obedience to God and was walking in the Spirit, which means he submitted to God in everything and prayed to the Father for the grace and strength he needed, as it says in Hebrews 4:16 above.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

The suffering of an atheist may build character or make him/her bitter, but it does not merit for him/her eternal rewards.

Jennie said...

Kelly,
I started reading the Dave Armstrong post, which does talk about merit a little. He and you both quote from the catechism, including the following, and Armstrong also quotes from Augustine:

2008 The merit of man before God in the Christian life arises from the fact that God has freely chosen to associate man with the work of his grace. The fatherly action of God is first on his own initiative, and then follows man's free acting through his collaboration, so that the merit of good works is to be attributed in the first place to the grace of God, then to the faithful. Man's merit, moreover, itself is due to God, for his good actions proceed in Christ, from the predispositions and assistance given by the Holy Spirit.

2009 Filial adoption, in making us partakers by grace in the divine nature, can bestow true merit on us as a result of God's gratuitous justice. This is our right by grace, the full right of love, making us "co-heirs" with Christ and worthy of obtaining "the promised inheritance of eternal life."60 The merits of our good works are gifts of the divine goodness.61 "Grace has gone before us; now we are given what is due. . . . Our merits are God's gifts."62

2010 Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace, no one can merit the initial grace of forgiveness and justification, at the beginning of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life. Even temporal goods like health and friendship can be merited in accordance with God's wisdom. These graces and goods are the object of Christian prayer. Prayer attends to the grace we need for meritorious actions.


Augustine:
Wherefore, even eternal life itself, which is surely the reward of good works, the apostle calls the gift of God . . . We are to understand, then, that man’s good deserts are themselves the gift of God, so that when these obtain the recompense of eternal life, it is simply grace given for grace. (Enchiridion of Faith, Hope, and Love, chapter 107; NPNF 1, Vol. III)


One major thing that I see that is different than I believe Scripture teaches is that this seems to be saying that after conversion, good works are necessary to obtain eternal life. It does say that these good works are done by God's grace, but it also seems to say that the works are done to remain in a state of grace. The Bible teaches that after justification, which happens when a person comes to repentance and faith in Christ upon hearing the gospel, a believer begins to be sanctified (made holy and like Christ) as they abide in Christ daily by 'sitting at His feet hearing His word'. The believer begins to do good works as a result of this abiding, by responding in obedience to the word that he learns and depending upon the help of the indwelling Spirit through prayer.
Thus the person is saved 'for good works' not by good works. See John 15 and Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

Clare@ BattlementsOfRubies said...

The suffering of an atheist may build character or make him/her bitter, but it does not merit for him/her eternal rewards.

So, DOW, are you agreeing with Enbretheliel when she said:

"Suffering on its own may build character, but I think we can all agree that what we (including St. Paul) are talking about here is suffering that is offered up and united with Jesus' suffering.

After all, an atheist could lose his entire family in a car crash and truly suffer from the tragedy, but is his suffering making up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His Body, etc.?"

Jennie said...

In the post from TurretinFan that I linked to above(along with the Dave Armstrong link) he quotes from Augustine several times to show Augustine's view of grace. How does Augustine's view compare to the Catechism? Does it agree or disagree, do you think:

When God says, “Turn ye unto me, and I will turn unto you,” [Zech. i. 3.] one of these clauses—that which invites our return to God—evidently belongs to our will; while the other, which promises His return to us, belongs to His grace. Here, possibly, the Pelagians think they have a justification for their opinion which they so prominently advance, that God’s grace is given according to our merits. In the East, indeed, that is to say, in the province of Palestine, in which is the city of Jerusalem, Pelagius, when examined in person by the bishop, [See On the Proceedings of Pelagius, above, ch. xiv. (30–37).] did not venture to affirm this. For it happened that among the objections which were brought up against him, this in particular was objected, that he maintained that the grace of God was given according to our merits,—an opinion which was so diverse from catholic doctrine, and so hostile to the grace of Christ, that unless he had anathematized it, as laid to his charge, he himself must have been anathematized on its account. He pronounced, indeed, the required anathema upon the dogma, but how insincerely his later books plainly show; for in them he maintains absolutely no other opinion than that the grace of God is given according to our merits. Such passages do they collect out of the Scriptures,—like the one which I just now quoted, “Turn ye unto me, and I will turn unto you,”—as if it were owing to the merit of our turning to God that His grace were given us, wherein He Himself even turns unto us. Now the persons who hold this opinion fail to observe that, unless our turning to God were itself God’s gift, it would not be said to Him in prayer, “Turn us again, O God of hosts;” [Ps. lxxx. 7.] and, “Thou, O God, wilt turn and quicken us;” [Ps. lxxxv. 6.] and again, “Turn us, O God of our salvation,” [Ps. lxxxv. 4.] —with other passages of similar import, too numerous to mention here. For, with respect to our coming unto Christ, what else does it mean than our being turned to Him by believing? And yet He says: “No man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.” [John vi. 65.]

- Augustine, On Grace and Free Will, Chapter 10 (Section V in the Latin)(footnotes placed into brackets)

Elena said...

Thus the person is saved 'for good works' not by good works.


...sigh... how many times Jenny do we have to tell you that the Catholic church does not teach that we are saved by good works?

Jennie said...

Elena,
...sigh... how many times Jenny do we have to tell you that the Catholic church does not teach that we are saved by good works?

Catechism: Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life.
Augustine:
Wherefore, even eternal life itself, which is surely the reward of good works, the apostle calls the gift of God . . . We are to understand, then, that man’s good deserts are themselves the gift of God, so that when these obtain the recompense of eternal life, it is simply grace given for grace.

Both Augustine (in this quote) and the catechism seem to be saying that good works are needed after conversion in order to obtain eternal life. What is this saying if it's not saying that? ARE good works necessary to obtain eternal life?

Jennie said...

I'm confused now. Am I not remembering correctly that sometimes we've argued about whether we are saved by good works or for good works and that you all have said that we are going to be judged by our works for salvation? Are you not contradicting yourself Elena? Or do you just like to contradict me no matter what I say?

Moonshadow said...

"Thus, we are just by being united with him [Christ] and in no other way." - "The Doctrine of Justification: from Works to Faith" -- Benedict XVI, General Audience, St. Peter's Square, 11/19/08.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Herein lies the confusion which is so prevalent in the new theology of pop religion. This play on semantics of "we are saved by works" or "we are saved for good works." Let me level with you my fellow Protestants: If you have been cleansed from sin by Christ's blood, then good works will be a PART of your lifestyle. If you claim to be 'saved' but resist doing 'good works' and are only depending upon your initial conversion to Christ to be saved, then YOU WILL BE DAMNED! Your resistance to doing 'good works' is a SURE SIGN that your are NOT SAVED AT ALL, and that your are NOT CONVERTED.

Galatians 6:7-10, NIV:

7Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

What could be more clearer? And there are many more scriptures to support this doctrine of good works.

Many of my fellow Protestants seem to think that as long as we are 'saved' there is nothing more to do. HOW WRONG! Our initial conversion is only the starting point to a lifetime of purification/cleansing from sin, and change from a life of sinful and selfish practices/living to a life of holy, righteous, and unselfish practices. THIS IS NOT A ONE-TIME DEAL!

Every day I am being changed by Christ to be more and more like Him. Doing good works were difficult at first when I got converted, but now it has become easier and easier, because of the power of the Holy Spirit exerting His grace in my life.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Clare asked:

So, DOW, are you agreeing with Enbretheliel when she said:

"Suffering on its own may build character, but I think we can all agree that what we (including St. Paul) are talking about here is suffering that is offered up and united with Jesus' suffering.

After all, an atheist could lose his entire family in a car crash and truly suffer from the tragedy, but is his suffering making up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His Body, etc.?"
-----------------------------------

Clare to answer your question: The answer is yes and no.

Yes, we do build character through suffering. No, the suffering of an atheist does not make up for his "lacking in the afflictions of Christ." The atheist is not in a saving relation with Christ; so, the suffering of an atheist is a consequence of unfortunate circumstances occurring because we live in a sinful world where bad things happen.

Elena said...

Catechism 1697 (and I know I have done this one before)

a catechesis of grace, for it is by grace that we are saved and again it is by grace that our works can bear fruit for eternal life;

Clare@ BattlementsOfRubies said...

Clare to answer your question: The answer is yes and no.

Yes, we do build character through suffering. No, the suffering of an atheist does not make up for his "lacking in the afflictions of Christ." The atheist is not in a saving relation with Christ; so, the suffering of an atheist is a consequence of unfortunate circumstances occurring because we live in a sinful world where bad things happen.


DOW
Bear with me if I'm being a bit dense here, but it seems to me that you ARE agreeing with Enbretheliel. Her point was ( I think) that our sufferings can be offered up and united with Jesus's suffering. Presumably an atheist won't do that.
I read her question about the tragic atheist ( "but is his suffering making up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His Body, etc.?") to be merely rhetorical. Leading us to the obvious answer which is "No".
Or am I missing something here?

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Jennie: Now I get it! Protestants say it is over and Catholics say it isn't. Thanks for clearing up your side. Kelly and Elena might already know that Protestant interpretation of Scripture, but I certainly didn't.

Daughter of Wisdom: EXACTLY! I'm glad we can see eye to eye on this. =)

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Clare: I read Daughter of Wisdom's answer to my post before I read her answer to yours, and I admit that her second answer confuses me, too. =S

Jennie said...

Enbrethiliel,
Jennie: Now I get it! Protestants say it is over and Catholics say it isn't. Thanks for clearing up your side. Kelly and Elena might already know that Protestant interpretation of Scripture, but I certainly didn't.


What do protestants say is over?

Jennie said...

Protestants: If you have been cleansed from sin by Christ's blood, then good works will be a PART of your lifestyle. If you claim to be 'saved' but resist doing 'good works' and are only depending upon your initial conversion to Christ to be saved, then YOU WILL BE DAMNED! Your resistance to doing 'good works' is a SURE SIGN that your are NOT SAVED AT ALL, and that your are NOT CONVERTED.

Hillary (Daughter of Wisdom),
I agree that IF people have truly been converted and cleansed by Christ's blood that good works will be the fruit of their faith in Him. I agree that if good works do not follow this may show that they truly did not have saving faith that brought regeneration. However, the statement "If you claim to be 'saved' but resist doing 'good works' and are only depending upon your initial conversion to Christ to be saved, then YOU WILL BE DAMNED!" is not correct because it makes it sound like doing good works after you are converted is what keeps you from being damned. The works are a sign that you have faith, but the doing of them does not save; it just shows that you truly believe, just like Abraham, who obeyed because He believed the promise of God and trusted in Him.

Kelly said...

Am I not remembering correctly that sometimes we've argued about whether we are saved by good works or for good works and that you all have said that we are going to be judged by our works for salvation?

Jennie, I think that the Bible is clear that we will be judged by our works. See the parable of the sheep and goats, for starters.

What is being judged by our works? Our faith. Because faith without works is a dead faith. Look at John 3:19-21:

Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.

I see that there are several links from you that I need to look over and comment on, Jennie. I will try to get to that this afternoon.

Kelly said...

I generally agree with Hilary's 3 am comment. Having trouble sleeping?

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Jennie::

What do protestants say is over?

"Over" is perhaps the wrong term, as I was referring to Jesus' suffering.

You've said that it's "over" in the sense that Jesus is now at God's right hand, so He is no longer atoning for our sins at Calvary. (Do I get that right?)

Catholics say that it's not "over" in the sense that the sacrifice at Calvary is, to use your other metaphor, a power source that can constantly be tapped. In fact, it is tapped on a daily basis, in the Holy Mass!

Anyway, I'm just awaiting your confirmation that I understood what you were saying. It's clear that we (meaning you and I specifically) may never convince each other of anything, but I'm sincerely glad that I learned the Protestant view from our discussion. =)

Jennie said...

Enbrethiliel,
I think you have understood me correctly on Jesus' suffering. He HAS atoned for our sins, and is now interceding for us. Hebrews says this over and over.

We don't believe the suffering of the cross is something to be tapped into. It is a finished work. We only have to have faith in Him. Our power source is not His suffering, but His Spirit, the Holy Spirit, who lives in us after we believe.

Jennie said...

Kelly,
John 5:24
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life."

Jennie said...

Teresa (moonshadow),
Very interesting article. I remember reading about this when the pope gave this speech about justification. I don't think Kelly would want me to comment at length about it here, so maybe I'll do a post on it.

Jennie said...

Jennie, I think that the Bible is clear that we will be judged by our works. See the parable of the sheep and goats, for starters.

Jesus says that this takes place after He returns to earth, and Paul states that when Jesus returns the believers will be caught up with Him in the air and their bodies made incorruptible like His body, and then will be forever with Him. This leaves no room for judgment for salvation, though it leaves room for the purging of dead works (wood, straw, stubble vs. gold, silver, precious stones)

1 Thess. 4:15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.

1 Cor. 15:51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “ O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?”

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Jennie, I'm going to leap out of this discussion now, but let me say that I'm going to be thinking about "Calvary as the power source" vs. "the Holy Spirit as the power source" for quite a while. I think I know the Church's answer to your last comment, but I'd like to be sure. =) Thanks for this discussion!

Jennie said...

Enbrethiliel,
A parting thought (or shot):)

Acts 1:8
8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Acts 10:38
38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.

Romans 15:13
13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Jennie wrote:

"However, the statement "If you claim to be 'saved' but resist doing 'good works' and are only depending upon your initial conversion to Christ to be saved, then YOU WILL BE DAMNED!" is not correct because it makes it sound like doing good works after you are converted is what keeps you from being damned. The works are a sign that you have faith, but the doing of them does not save; it just shows that you truly believe, just like Abraham, who obeyed because He believed the promise of God and trusted in Him."
----------------------------------

Jennie, Abraham was justified because he BELIEVED God's promises and ACTED upon them. When God told him to leave his father's house because God was going to make of him a great nation, Abraham BELIEVED and LEFT his father's house (an action). When God told Abraham that through him all the nations of the earth would be blessed, Abraham BELIEVED God, and got to WORKING on making a baby with his wife :-). Belief by itself is a righteous thing, but belief that is not followed by action to back up that belief is just head knowledge/academic.

James 1:20-27:

"20But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

21Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?

22Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?

23And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.

24Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

25Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?

26For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also."

From the above scripture, we can see that Abraham's faith was made perfect by works (vs.22).

Peace.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Will God judge us and condemn us if we as Christians insist on living sinful lifestyles even though we are 'saved?' YES!

Ephesians 5:1-7:

"1Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;
2And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.
3But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;
4Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.
5For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, HATH ANY INHERITANCE IN THE KINGDOM OF CHRIST AND GOD.

6Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.
7Be not ye therefore partakers with them."


The parable of the unfaithful servant (Matthew 24:45-51):

"45Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?
46Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so DOING.
47Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods.
48But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming;
49And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken;
50The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of,
51And shall CUT HIM ASUNDER, and appoint him HIS PORTION WITH THE HYPOCRITES: there shall be WEEPING and GNASHING of teeth."





Peace.

Jennie said...

Hillary,
I agree with you that those who live in sin will be punished: if they are saved they will lose their reward and if they are not saved they will be punished in hell.

I don't agree that we should be saying "I have to get busy doing works or I will be lost." Our way of life should follow from faith and dependence on Him in love. We should be abiding in Him and walking in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Jennie wrote:

Hillary,
I agree with you that those who live in sin will be punished: if they are saved they will lose their reward and if they are not saved they will be punished in hell.
----------------------------------

So Jennie are you saying that there will be 'saved' sinners? People who live sinful lives but are saved anyway? That they will just lose their reward but make it into heaven anyway? If that is the case then Judas was saved.


Ezekiel 18:4-9

"4Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: THE SOUL THAT SINNETH THAT SOUL SHALL DIE.
5But if a man be just, and do that which is lawful and right,
6And hath not eaten upon the mountains, neither hath lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, neither hath defiled his neighbour's wife, neither hath come near to a menstruous woman,
7And hath not oppressed any, but hath restored to the debtor his pledge, hath spoiled none by violence, hath given his bread to the hungry, and hath covered the naked with a garment;
8He that hath not given forth upon usury, neither hath taken any increase, that hath withdrawn his hand from iniquity, hath executed true judgment between man and man,
9Hath walked in my statutes, and hath kept my judgments, to deal truly; he is just, HE SHALL SURELY LIVE, SAITH THE LORD GOD."

God is going to destroy the souls of people who sin; however, if such persons turn away from their wicked ways and do what is right, then those persons will inherit eternal life.

Ezekiel 3:20

Again, When a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness, and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumbling-block before him, he shall die: because thou hast not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he hath done shall not be remembered; but his blood will I require at thine hand.

Revelation 22:12-15:

"12And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, TO GIVE TO EVERY MAN ACCORDING AS HIS WORK SHALL BE.
13I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.
Blessed are they that DO his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
15For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie."

Peace.

Jennie said...

Hillary,
If someone is truly justified, but falls into sin, I believe they are still saved, but will suffer loss and be disciplined. I don't believe people lose salvation because they sin. If they depart from the faith (apostasize) then they lose their salvation. Some people believe these were never saved at all. But if so, what is apostasy?

Jennie said...

And I don't believe Judas ever believed.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

If a person who is 'saved' falls into sin, then that person will feel guilt and remorse, and will seek forgiveness and repent.

Generally speaking, a truly saved person does not commit sin, however if they do, we have an advocate Christ Jesus, and His blood cleanses us from sin. This was what John was talking about in his epistles. Therefore it is not impossible for a saved person to sin, but if they do, Christ is there to rescue us and restore us back into right relationship with God.

As for Judas, he did believe. He was fully accepted as part of Christ's ministry.

Acts 1:16-17:
"16Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus.
17For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry."

He was even given the power to heal sicknesses, and drive out demons with the other disciples. Judas believed, but he loved money more than Christ. It was his love for money that led to his downfall. Could God have forgiven him? Yes, but Judas had indulged so much in the sin of stealing from the ministry, that he no longer felt he was doing anything wrong. I tell you, when we resist God's Spirit to do what is right, and indulge in sin, we too like Judas, will be condemned.

Judas is a classic case of someone who believed but did not act upon his belief in a righteous way.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Another example of someone who belived was Simon Magus the sorcerer. He was even baptized! He was condemned when he tried to purchase a gift of the Holy Spirit (laying of hands) with money.

Should I also mention Ananias and Sapphira?

This list can get quite long. All these believers believed but did not act upon their beliefs in a righteous manner. Read the parable of the sower. You will see that in some will reject the word outright, others will receive the word but reject it when trials and testing occur, and others will receive the word and cling to it regardless of circumstances.

Peace.

Jennie said...

Well, Hillary,
we may be really saying the same thing. I believe that believers can apostasize; I don't know where the line is between being saved and being lost if someone is going in that direction.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

I'll be closing off now on this topic but the warning is clear that we should not despise the doctrine of good works. If we despise the doctrine of good works then much of our time will be spent doing selfish acts which eventually lead to sinful lifestyles. There are too many idle Christians out there caught up in self-serving, and selfishness which is SIN. Instead of spending time doing good for others and for the kingdom of Christ, many are more interested in seeking how they can grasp more of the good things of this life for themselves.

Let us seek ye FIRST the kingdom of God and His RIGHTEOUSNESS, then GOD will add on all these blessings of material prosperity to us. We don't have to seek after prosperity, for prosperity will come to us. God will send prosperity. Prosperity will chase us down and overtake us.

The line between apostasy and being saved is this: SELFISHNESS. Once we have crossed over back into selfishness we are on our way to apostasy.

Peace.

Clare@ BattlementsOfRubies said...

we should not despise the doctrine of good works. If we despise the doctrine of good works then much of our time will be spent doing selfish acts which eventually lead to sinful lifestyles.

Wow Hillary (DOW) I couldn't agree more. Well said.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

This cold, selfish, loveless Christianity which we are promoting nowadays is a far cry from the early Christianity of Christ. It is time for us to get back to our roots of love, where we care for one another, and do good things for one another (not just for family and friends). Beloved, let us love one another. For God is love and anyone that loves is born of God and knows God. He that does not love does not know God(1 John 4:7,8).

I really enjoy my Christianity. Much of my waking hours is spent 'doing good.' I care for the sick, instruct youth, give to charity or the church, worship, study my Bible, teach, advise, and so on. Yet I feel I can do more. It is like God is saying there is more I can do. It feels so good to love and be loved, and to also do good for others, even for those who may be considered unlovable. I know I can draw upon God's boundless limits of love to do what is right in His sight.

Let us open our hearts to God's love and show our love for others by DOING the right and loving thing for others. This is the doctrine of good works.

Amen.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Thanks Clare :-)

Jennie said...

Hillary,
I'm trying to stress that we do good works BECAUSE we are saved and walk by faith in love, not IN ORDER to be saved. If we are still trying to remain saved by works after we are justified, then we are still slaves. If we are doing good because of faith and love in obedience then we are sons and daughters. I definitely agree that believers should not live in selfishness and sin or they risk apostasy, but we live by faith by abiding in Christ so the power of the Holy Spirit and His word make us holy and give us strength to do what is good. We don't do it in our own power to save ourselves.
See Ephesians 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

Jennie said...

See also Romans 8:9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. 10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
Sonship Through the Spirit

12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.

Jennie said...

Here's another one about walking in the Spirit and by the Word, which also applies to what Enbrethiliel and I were discussing (the power of the Spirit). Notice that our power comes from faith, the word, and the Spirit:

Ephesians 6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— 19 and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel,

Kelly said...

Jesus says that this takes place after He returns to earth, and Paul states that when Jesus returns the believers will be caught up with Him in the air and their bodies made incorruptible like His body, and then will be forever with Him. This leaves no room for judgment for salvation, though it leaves room for the purging of dead works (wood, straw, stubble vs. gold, silver, precious stones)

Err, right. So, while you have moved on to proving my clarification is wrong, suffice it to say that CATHOLICS DO NOT BELIEVE WE EARN OUR SALVATION.

Our faith is judged by our works. Not "oh, I'd better go out and volunteer so God knows I have faith" but because you have faith, and out of the deep love of God that you hold, works will follow.

Someone who claims to have faith, but you cannot see it in their life, probably is lacking in faith.

I believe Hilary is on the same page with us on this one.

Jennie said...

This has been a good discussion and has really made me think and dig. I'd like to bring out that there's another side of the coin in this subject. We've discussed that salvation brings forth the fruit of good works by faith. On the other side, good works without salvation by faith will bring condemnation:

Matthew 7:
13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’


In other words, if one enters by a different gate than Jesus Christ, that one is not saved no matter what works and wonders they do in His name. If a person is not a good tree, one who is made alive by Christ, then their fruits are worthless.

Jesus invites us to come directly to Him by faith, laying down the burdens of our own ways, of sin or striving for salvation, since 'whatever is not from faith is sin.' Matthew 11:25 “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. 26 Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight. 27 All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. 28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Jennie said...

My husband brought out a good point when I was discussing this with him. He said that a believer's good works grow out naturally from obedience to Christ when we abide in His word (John 15)like Mary, who chose to sit at His feet and learn from Him rather than rush around and serve like Martha. Luke 10:38 Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.”
41 And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. 42 But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”

In John 15 Jesus says 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

In other words, the disciples were made clean by faith in the Word but must abide in the word or they can do nothing. No good works are possible without abiding in His word by faith, sitting at His feet continually and taking it to heart and then obedience will flow out.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Excuses, excuses, excuses....

Earthquake rocks Haiti.

Here is our opportunity to show love and do good works for others. We can sit here and make excuses or get into action and do God's work. What? Are we going to make sinners fill in the gap while we sit here and argue? Even sinners know it is right to do good works. They may not get any eternal rewards for their work, but God will reward them anyway, here on earth for the good they do.

Peace.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Jennie,

I pray for you. I see you are caught up in that deceptive doctrine that despises good works. A sinner that does good works receives earthly rewards from God. Think Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, etc. A Christian that does good works receives eternal rewards from God. God makes His rain to fall upon the just and unjust. Do not limit the power of God.



Peace.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

I see you mentioned Martha...

Jesus commended Mary over Martha because Martha's busywork was interfering with her spiritual growth. She was so busy 'serving God' that she had no time to actually get to know God. Mary was commended for taking the time to know God. If you read on in St. John's gospel chapter 12 you will see that six days before Jesus' crucifixion, they were all having a dinner party, where Martha SERVED. This time Jesus did not chastise her for serving. Not only did Martha serve, but Mary anointed the feet of Jesus as well, with her hair and precious ointment. They both served the Lord.

Serving is good but when your serving interferes with your spiritual life, then even your serving can become a hindrance to your spiritual growth. God is not against serving, but our serving must be in line with our spiritual walk. Our serving need to help us grow spiritually. That was what Jesus was trying to teach Martha.

When we do GOOD WORKS from a pure and holy motive, in service to our Lord, we will grow spiritually.

Peace.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Let me clarify. A sinner who does good works receives earthly rewards.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning (James 1:17).

"44But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
45That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the EVIL and on the GOOD, and sendeth rain on the JUST and on the UNJUST" (Matthew 5:44-45).


A Christian who does good works receives eternal rewards from God and earthly blessings. See Deuteronomy 28.

Peace.

Jennie said...

Hillary,
I see you have totally misunderstood me and so are hindering the scriptural message I am trying to share.
I do not despise good works. We are made new creatures for good works, and are to walk in the Spirit by His power and love which flows through us; this is the living water, the love of God by His word and His Spirit that overflows when we are abiding in Him.
Why are you determined to not hear what I'm saying and misunderstand me. You are causing others to misinterpret what i am saying by doing this.

Jennie said...

Jesus commended Mary over Martha because Martha's busywork was interfering with her spiritual growth. She was so busy 'serving God' that she had no time to actually get to know God. Mary was commended for taking the time to know God. If you read on in St. John's gospel chapter 12 you will see that six days before Jesus' crucifixion, they were all having a dinner party, where Martha SERVED. This time Jesus did not chastise her for serving. Not only did Martha serve, but Mary anointed the feet of Jesus as well, with her hair and precious ointment. They both served the Lord.

Hillary,
this was pretty much what I was trying to say, if you would read what I said again. Our good works grow out from our relationship with Jesus after we sit at His feet and learn from Him.

Jennie said...

I pray for you. I see you are caught up in that deceptive doctrine that despises good works. A sinner that does good works receives earthly rewards from God. Think Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, etc. A Christian that does good works receives eternal rewards from God. God makes His rain to fall upon the just and unjust. Do not limit the power of God.

I don't believe wealth is always, nor often, a reward for good works. Oprah Winfrey is rich because she is popular, but she teaches a false new age doctrine that is in opposition to scripture. I don't think she is being blessed by God. Wealth can be a curse as well.

Jennie said...

Here's Young's Literal Translation on the verses about the narrow gate. I like the more precise words used here. 'Strait' as you probably know is an older word that means 'difficult, limited, narrow, confined, constricted' as in 'we are living under straitened circumstances.' So the gate and the way are narrow and constricted as opposed to wide and broad. The Way is confined to Christ and His teachings as opposed to the seeming wideness and 'freedom' of the world, which is really slavery to sin. Jesus says to
come to Him and that there is no other gate or way to God.

13`Go ye in through the strait gate, because wide [is] the gate, and broad the way that is leading to the destruction, and many are those going in through it;

14how strait [is] the gate, and compressed the way that is leading to the life, and few are those finding it!

Jennie said...

I have been explaining what I believe scripture teaches about salvation, good works, and judgment; I hope that Kelly and anyone else would bounce back and clarify some more what you all believe (since I'm not quite following how merit actually works, maybe some examples would help) if you agree with me in any way, if you don't agree with me in any way, and why.
I am not assuming that the Catholics all think a certain way, but I am trying to figure out WHAT you actually think. And don't tell me to go read the catechism, because I've read the section about merit several times and just want to know, as I said, how this actually works in reality and how you interpret it.

Barbara C. said...

I suspect that part of the problem is how we define "works". What may sometimes be considered "works" by non-Catholics such as mandatory Mass attendance and regular confession are really considered "disciplines" by Catholics (even if they don't always use that exact term).

Going to Mass and receiving the Eucharist each week and going to regular confession allow us to discipline ourselves to "sit at His feet and learn from Him". There are many temptations in this world, and it can be very easy to fall away from God in little ways as well as big. But going to weekly (or daily Mass), receiving the Eucharist, and going to confession is about keeping up our side of our relationship with God.

With any relationship you value you work to stay close, you make amends when you have done wrong, you try to stay worthy of (or merit) the other person's love and affection even if they would give it to you no matter what. This is most often seen in the relationship between child and parent, and as we know God is Our Father.

Now, Jennie, you would probably not consider reading the Bible everyday (which Catholics are officially encouraged to do as well) or prayer as "works". They are disciplines, though.

Now what are works? Anything that could look like an empty gesture? Obviously good works (or actions) towards others should be fruits of our faith and not seen as tickets you collect and trade in at Chuck E. Cheese for the big HEAVEN reward.

The same goes for disciplines. Disciplines (actions that upkeep our relationship with God) should be in the daily life of every Christian. Our purpose in life should be to KNOW God, to LOVE God, and to SERVE God and disciplines help us to do so.

Kelly said...

I hope that Kelly and anyone else would bounce back and clarify some more what you all believe (since I'm not quite following how merit actually works, maybe some examples would help) if you agree with me in any way, if you don't agree with me in any way, and why.

Sorry, I was starting to doze off.;)

Okay, here is an example. We'll see if it helps.

Suppose I have a friend who is an atheist. I would pray for his conversion. When I experience suffering, such as going through labor, I would try to offer up that suffering, uniting it with Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. I would offer this with the intention that my friend's heart might be softened.

Now, suppose this prayer is answered, and my friend finds faith in God. Did I cause this salvation by my actions? No. As it says in CCC #2008:

The merit of man before God in the Christian life arises from the fact that God has freely chosen to associate man with the work of his grace. The fatherly action of God is first on his own initiative, and then follows man's free acting through his collaboration, so that the merit of good works is to be attributed in the first place to the grace of God, then to the faithful.

God allowed me to associate with His work, but my friend's salvation was still due entirely to God's grace. In fact, my prayers for his conversion were due to God's grace.

CCC 2010: Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification

It was the Holy Spirit who moved me to pray and offer sacrifices, as well as the love of God which I feel (charity/agape) and desire for everyone to experience. This love (charity) originates in Christ.

CCC 2011: The charity of Christ is the source in us of all our merits before God. Grace, by uniting us to Christ in active love, ensures the supernatural quality of our acts and consequently their merit before God and before men.

Does that help you to understand, Jennie?

Moonshadow said...

regular confession are really considered "disciplines" by Catholics ... receiving the Eucharist each week and going to regular confession allow us to discipline ourselves

Disciplines? Catholic sacraments are means of grace, the ordinary means of salvation. A discipline would be something like fasting:

"Eminent divines, like Francisco Suárez, claim that the Eucharist, if not absolutely necessary, is at least a relatively and morally necessary means to salvation, in the sense that no adult can long sustain his spiritual, supernatural life who neglects on principle to approach Holy Communion." - "The Blessed Eucharist as a Sacrament", Catholic Encyclopedia

Kelly said...

I like the more precise words used here. 'Strait' as you probably know is an older word that means 'difficult, limited, narrow, confined, constricted' as in 'we are living under straitened circumstances.'

Jennie, a strait is a narrow channel joining two bodies of water, or sometimes, being in distress. Look it up in the dictionary. To use the word strait as you are doing seems to me to be artificial, and perhaps intentionally confusing.

Okay, just kidding. Couldn't resist. ;)

Jennie said...

Going to Mass and receiving the Eucharist each week and going to regular confession allow us to discipline ourselves to "sit at His feet and learn from Him". There are many temptations in this world, and it can be very easy to fall away from God in little ways as well as big. But going to weekly (or daily Mass), receiving the Eucharist, and going to confession is about keeping up our side of our relationship with God.

With any relationship you value you work to stay close, you make amends when you have done wrong, you try to stay worthy of (or merit) the other person's love and affection even if they would give it to you no matter what. This is most often seen in the relationship between child and parent, and as we know God is Our Father.

Now, Jennie, you would probably not consider reading the Bible everyday (which Catholics are officially encouraged to do as well) or prayer as "works". They are disciplines, though.


Ok, thanks Barbara. That helps me understand better where you are coming from. So would you agree that if a Baptist considered reading the Bible as a 'work' that he had to do to be acceptable to God that that would be a 'bad fruit'? In the same way if a Catholic considered going to Mass or confession as a 'work' that he had to do to be acceptable to God then would that be a 'bad fruit'?
I'm thinking that it is in the attitude of the person as to whether what they do is a 'good fruit' (from faith and love) or a 'bad fruit' (from pride or striving to save themselves). So a Baptist reading his Bible, if it is not done from faith but from pride, is sinning. He may not be saved, or if he is he has forgotten that he can do nothing apart from Christ and faith.

Jennie said...

Jennie, a strait is a narrow channel joining two bodies of water, or sometimes, being in distress. Look it up in the dictionary. To use the word strait as you are doing seems to me to be artificial, and perhaps intentionally confusing.

Okay, just kidding. Couldn't resist. ;)


Hmmm....I guess you're referring to my description earlier of the words in the catechism seeming artificial? It took me a minute...
BUT strait really does also mean what I said above, don't you agree?

Lynn said...

Jennie, one thing that has been a big change for me as a convert, is the whole idea that a person reading their Bible could be doing it for the wrong reason, and therefore a good thing could actually be a sin. We don't really think that way. If a person were reading the Bible out of pride, the pride would be sinful, but not the Scripture reading. And such reading would *not* be worthless just because the motivation was wrong. Doing the right thing because it is the right thing has a benefit to us, even if we can't manage to do it for the right reasons. I am trying to get back into the habit of praying the Liturgy of the Hours twice daily, the Psalm-based prayer of the whole Church. I'm not really doing it because I love Jesus or because it feels good. At this point, I do it because it is the right thing to do, and even if it doesn't make me feel connected to God lately, habits like this make the right kind of ruts in my soul. And I offer it when I pray, for different staff members at my parish.

I don't think that makes it a "bad" fruit. Bad fruit is bad things, not good things done for the wrong or less-than-ideal reasons. I suppose we limit ourselves to earthly rewards if we do good things for sinful reasons (pride is really the only totally inappropriate motivation I can think of right this minute). We'll look good in other people's eyes, and that's the end of it, because we don't allow those works/disciplines/fruits to change us and draw us closer to God. But if a person is reading Scripture, for whatever motivation, God's Word still does not return void.

Lynn said...

Here's the Dominican blog post on merit that I mentioned earlier:

http://hancaquam.blogspot.com/2009/12/theological-interlude-meriting-grace.html

Kelly said...

I was thinking specifically to your reaction, not only to our definition of merit, but of "praying" to Mary.

Yes, I agree that you use a valid definition of strait, and I assume that is the root of a straitjacket. It was listed as archaic in my dictionary (I had to make sure your definition wasn't the first one!)

Jennie said...

Kelly,
Suppose I have a friend who is an atheist. I would pray for his conversion. When I experience suffering, such as going through labor, I would try to offer up that suffering, uniting it with Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. I would offer this with the intention that my friend's heart might be softened.
I think I see what you are saying, and can see that such a thing is an offering of love, but the idea of offering up suffering or that our suffering in itself is effective is foreign to me. I can understand if the suffering is attached to the effort to convert your friend, such as Paul suffering hardship and imprisonment in the act of bringing the gospel to people. I am not denigrating your example, just saying that I think the example of suffering Paul gave is talking about directly suffering for the sake of the gospel because he is in the act of sharing the gospel. Can you think of a scriptural example of what you are saying? Of course Jesus' suffered in bearing our sins and in being tortured by those who rejected His message, but can any suffering be offered up in this way? I don't know.

CCC 2010: Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification

It was the Holy Spirit who moved me to pray and offer sacrifices, as well as the love of God which I feel (charity/agape) and desire for everyone to experience. This love (charity) originates in Christ.


That part I can agree with, if merit really means 'gain by God's grace'.
In #2010 it also adds: "Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life."

The 'attainment of eternal life' part is what makes me think it means 'we can merit for ourselves the graces needed for the attainment of eternal life.' But if one is justified and regenerated (made alive by faith) then one has already attained eternal life (if one perseveres, which is also by God's grace). Maybe you don't interpret that section the way it sounds to me.

Jennie said...

Lynn,
If a person were reading the Bible out of pride, the pride would be sinful, but not the Scripture reading. And such reading would *not* be worthless just because the motivation was wrong. Doing the right thing because it is the right thing has a benefit to us, even if we can't manage to do it for the right reasons. I am trying to get back into the habit of praying the Liturgy of the Hours twice daily, the Psalm-based prayer of the whole Church. I'm not really doing it because I love Jesus or because it feels good. At this point, I do it because it is the right thing to do, and even if it doesn't make me feel connected to God lately, habits like this make the right kind of ruts in my soul. And I offer it when I pray, for different staff members at my parish.
I agree that the pride, or whatever, is the sinful part, not the Bible reading itself, though the Bible says 'whatever is not from faith is sin.' And yes, the word does not return void, though maybe our indifference to His word is a reaction that God uses to judge us, just as our acceptance and submission to it is a reaction that God uses to bless us.
Last year I was in a place for a long time of not wanting to read the Bible, and I prayed (by God's grace) that He would give me the desire to study and read His word and enjoy it again. How funny that He brought me to Kelly and Elena's blog, which has caused me to dig into His word about many subjects and regain the fire of love for His truth. I'm grateful for that to Him, and also to Kelly and Elena, and Barbara and Teresa, even though we don't agree on lots of things. God has used this, and hopefully my rantings have been of some use to you all too, at least in giving a different perspective. :)

Barbara C. said...

"Disciplines? Catholic sacraments are means of grace, the ordinary means of salvation. A discipline would be something like fasting:"

I am not denying that the sacraments are a means of grace. But what is grace? My understanding is that it is God's love and compassion for us and that the sacraments are not the only ways that one may receive God's grace.

Lynn, I think you make a good point, too, about doing works/disciplines for empty reasons vs. "faking it until you make it". If you're doing good works just for your college application or to make others think well of you or because you think you're collecting a "get out of jail free card" from God then that would indeed be empty.

Now if you try to do good works in hopes that they will one day orient you even more towards God even if they are not doing so yet, then how can that be a bad thing? It's like putting scripture verses on your bathroom mirror in hopes that it will remind you how God wants you to be even when you don't feel like it.

Elena said...

Jennie brings up Romans 14 in a round about way - I looked it up and I think it really adds a lot to this conversation - emphasis mine:

1Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. 2One man's faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. 4Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

5One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. 8If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

9For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. 10You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat. 11It is written:
" 'As surely as I live,' says the Lord,
'every knee will bow before me;
every tongue will confess to God.' "[a] 12So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.

13Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way. 14As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food[b] is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. 15If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died. 16Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil. 17For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.

19Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.

22So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.

Jennie said...

9For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. 10You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat.

13Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way.


Ha! Point taken, Elena! I read it earlier too, when I looked it up. I think what you are saying about judgment is one thing I've been learning this year as we've discussed things. I've been trying to find the balance between sharing the truth as I see it and realizing that others are in the truth, too, even though we don't agree. That doesn't mean that I don't see errors (and I see many of my own faults and pray that I will see and be corrected of more as I go along)but that we all have some errors and can learn from each other.

Moonshadow said...

Romans 14 was written for me, the weak, "religious" one.

I agree with Lynn's first comment, especially the first paragraph of it.

What is grace, Barbara? "It is God's own life, shared by us." (Merton)

Jennie said...

I also would add that while I don't like to assume anybody is saved and avoid sharing the gospel, I'm also learning not to assume people aren't saved just because they are in a different group and may believe certain things or practice certain things I don't agree with. But I think it's good to give my perspective in case it helps somebody. I try to speak honestly and respectfully.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Wow! I guess it is time for us to get to work and stop criticizing others who are working for the Lord. Let us stop trying to judge motives! Only God knows the true motives of a person heart! Doing good works is not natural, even for a converted person. It is not like we get up one day and start doing good works automatically. It ain't automatic! Satan will put stumbling blocks in your way to discourage you from doing good works, and to hinder you; but we must press on in faith, knowing that God will give us the strength to do His work.

Peace.

Jennie said...

Hillary (and everyone)
you mentioned Haiti earlier; I received a group email from my home-school co-op leader about a ministry that suffered destruction and death from the earthquake. I posted the emails on my blog. Please pray for this ministry, the people the emails mentioned, and all of Haiti.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

Yes, I saw your blog. I am here online trying to make a donation but it is almost impossible. I will keep on trying until I get through.

Jennie said...

Who are you donating through, Hillary?

Barbara C. said...

Moonshadow, it seems like we are saying grace is the same thing. The next line of your Merton quote is "God's life is LOVE", so if grace is God's own life, and God's life is love, then grace is God's love...which I think is basically what I said.

And perhaps there is a better term to describe things like the sacraments than "disciplines" but I was trying to explain how they do not necessarily fit into the non-Catholic idea of "works", especially "empty works".

Even as a cradle Catholic, I am still sometimes relearning or learning for the first time some things. And even though I can know what the Church teaches in my heart it can be hard sometimes to articulate in a way that sounds completely right to others, not to mention bridging Catholic/non-Catholic language barrier.

Daughter of Wisdom said...

In view of the ongoing crisis in Haiti, a lot of bad theology is going around. If you like, please click on this link to my blog to see a comment made by Pat Robertson.

Peace.

Lynn said...

Good heavens. Here is our prime example of why it's often very appropriate to just Shut. Up. Does it actually help anyone at all to believe that Haiti made a pact with the devil? I suppose he's trying to warn the US that we're headed down the same path. Puhleeze. Not to mention his total lack of understanding pervasive poverty from a sociological standpoint. I hope most people are so used to writing him off by now that they won't take him seriously.

Jennie said...

I posted some more info about Haiti and the ministry A Voice in the Wilderness that I mentioned on my blog yesterday. There is a website with a mail address for donations, but as yet I haven't found a way to give online. Maybe they will set it up soon.

Kelly said...

Can you think of a scriptural example of what you are saying? Of course Jesus' suffered in bearing our sins and in being tortured by those who rejected His message, but can any suffering be offered up in this way?

I'm going to leave the research up to you on this one. I'm in the middle of three big projects right now, and if you don't mind, I'd like to wind this thread down.

The place to start with this Catholic doctrine is Salvifici Doloris.

The 'attainment of eternal life' part is what makes me think it means 'we can merit for ourselves the graces needed for the attainment of eternal life.'

I explained #2010 in my example. Through the grace of God, we are prompted to pray, thus cooperating with God in a way, to help others receive the graces needed to attain eternal life. You have to look at the entire thing in context, not just take one phrase.

Last year I was in a place for a long time of not wanting to read the Bible, and I prayed (by God's grace) that He would give me the desire to study and read His word and enjoy it again. How funny that He brought me to Kelly and Elena's blog, which has caused me to dig into His word about many subjects and regain the fire of love for His truth.

Thank you so much for sharing that, Jennie. I'm glad to hear that we are iron sharpening iron for you. (Although I suspect you see it that your iron sword is demolishing our wooden one, but I'll take the optimistic view.)

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

I know I said I'd drop out of the discussion . . . but then I stumbled upon something which is so relevant to what Jennie and I were last discussing, that I want to share it here.

(In other words, if Jennie may have a parting shot, then I may return fire! ;) )

I recently read a gloss of something written by St. Hilary of Poitiers, the first to describe the Holy Spirit as "the gift"--as God's very being, living within us. Then I realised that it was exactly what Jennie has been saying about the Holy Spirit! =P

So she and I probably had another confusion of terms in our discussion of suffering! Catholic teaching on the suffering of Jesus, and the way we can all both contribute to it and draw from it, is in no contradiction to Catholic teaching on the Holy Spirit (which Jennie happens to agree with anyway). So when Catholics pray, "Passion of Christ, give me strength," or offer up small daily inconveniences, we're certainly not trying to minimise the Holy Spirit's role. If anything, we think of it as a way to live in the Spirit!

I think what Jennie and I actually disagree on is the nature of the "once and for all" Sacrifice at Calvary. Catholics don't say it's "over" simply because Jesus is finally seated at the right hand of the Father. Anybody in the world, at any time, can spiritually place himself at the foot of the Cross and join his prayers and sufferings to those of Jesus. Calvary has been seared into the world forever. I guess Protestants just choose to spiritually place themselves at the foot of Jesus' Throne in Heaven?