You cannot stand on a one- or two-legged stool

There are two questions that no doubt you have heard before: “Have you been saved?” and “Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior?

The central tenet or core belief that underlies these two questions is a firm belief that there is being and existence beyond this mortal life that involves eternal life with God. Most importantly and fundamentally within each question is the eschatological premise that salvation can be and is achieved by merely saying yes at some point in one’s life and that faith alone (sola fides) is all that is required to enjoy eternal happiness and bliss with God.

Salvation

Salvation

Let us examine for a moment this notion of salvation. While the dictionary contains several definitions for the noun ‘salvation’, ‘salvation is the deliverance from the power and penalty of sin, that is, redemption’ appears the most appropriate for our discussion. Christians believe that Jesus, the Son of God, came into this world to save us from the original sin of our first parents and by doing so reopened the gates of heaven for all of mankind. Virtually all Christian churches agree that God came into this world to save us from the consequences of sin which is eternal death. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” [Jn 3:16]

While there is general agreement on God’s plan to ‘save’ us, there is little agreement as to who can and will be saved or even how salvation might or can be attained. As is often the case when it comes to man and religion, the devil is in the details, and in any discussion concerning salvation, the details are the loci for many significantly divergent points of view and at times vitriolic and bitter disagreements.

Before traipsing further into what is most assuredly bound to be a contentious quagmire of strongly held beliefs, let us dissect that first question “Have you been saved?” a bit. Within this seemingly simple question lies the direct implication that salvation is a singular event that has no subsequent consequences that might result in any future loss of one’s salvific status. In other words, say yes now and be saved forever, no matter how sinful one might be in the future. “Hallelujah! I have been saved! Let the sinning begin.”

Somehow I’m not quite convinced that this is what God has in mind. There has to be a bit more to it than that. And there is. There are three pillars or elements that must be present for salvation to be possible and for us to attain it, and they are grace, faith, and works. And it is that nasty auxiliary verb ‘must’ where the battle has been waging, certainly since the Protestant Reformation in 1517, but in reality, since the very beginnings of Christ’s church.

To be saved, one must stand firmly and sinless before God and that requires a solid stable foundation. No one can stand on a one- or two-legged stool, but can easily stand on one with three legs. Thus to be able to stand before God at Parousia justified, one must consider the three pillars of salvation throughout the entirety of one’s life.

Stay tuned! Next week I will begin to build upon each leg of the three pillars.

Deacon Chuck

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: http://deaconscorner.org. Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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