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Sin and Salvation

Hey BG, I am confused. I’ve always believed that you can lose God’s grace through sinning and that you can lose salvation. But then my friend who is Christian (not Catholic) was saying that the Bible says you can’t lose grace and that you can’t lose salvation and that the Catholic Church doesn’t read the Bible right. He seemed to make sense and he started quoting all these verses and stuff. I’m needing some direction. Can you help me out and give me some verses to help me explain to him what the Catholic Church believes, please? Thanks!

Well, first, I want to encourage you to keep having this dialogue with your friend, because it is an important one. To say that it has life and death ramification is not overdramatic, but very true. It does have huge consequences on our souls.

It’s important to always remain humble in your conversations. Taking prideful stances or using disrespectful language is not of God and will get you nowhere. Some of my best friends are strong, Bible-believing Christians who really have sincere intentions. I’ve found that the more they can ask questions and receive Catholic answers in non-judgmental, respect-filled ways, the more open they are to the truth. Many of them have even converted over time. Invite Mary and the saints to pray with you and for you before, during and after conversations and watch as God’s grace moves in their hearts.

That being said, you are right in your initial thoughts (that you stated in your original question)– you can lose God’s grace through serious sin. Your friends’ assertion that the Catholic Church “doesn’t read the Bible right” is problematic on several levels…the most fundamental level being that the Catholic Church wrote and assembled the Bible. But we’ve dealt with that in other answers, so I won’t go into it here.

I’ve written a lot about salvation and Catholic, non-Catholic beliefs, too. Take some time to read more about the salvation “question”.

The Catholic Church teaches (and rightly so) that serious sin (mortal sins) destroys or “pushes out” the life of grace in our soul(s). Think of it as a bathtub filled to the brim with water…if you dump more water in, something is going to get pushed out. The more we fill the tub with sin, the more the grace gets eradicated. It’s an imperfect analogy, but all analogies are imperfect to a certain extent.

Your friend is, I’m sure, very well-intentioned but Scripture is quite clear that serious sin has deadly consequences.

For example, check out these words from 1 John 5:16-17:

“If any one sees his brother committing what is not a mortal sin, he will ask, and God will give him life for those whose sin is not mortal. There is sin which is mortal; I do not say that one is to pray for that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin which is not mortal.”

This verse demonstrates the Catholic Church teaching of mortal and venial sins.

For more on this truth you can check out:

Romans 11:21-22
Hebrews 10:26-31
2 Peter 2:20-22

Oh, and be sure to read the Catechism, CCC#1854-1861, 1472.

The good news is that grace is restored through repentance, true contrition and through the Sacrament of Confession (reconciliation). We should take full advantage of the Sacrament as frequently as necessary or possible.

It sounds like your friend is holding to the “belief” of “once saved, always saved”. That idea sort of says that once you “claim Jesus” as your personal Savior, that you cannot lose that salvation, no matter what you do.

While that is a nice idea, it is un-Biblical. St. Paul did not believe in the “once saved, always saved” idea of salvation.

Here are a few verses you can check out that demonstrate St. Paul’s belief that you could, indeed, lose salvation and they prove that St. Paul didn’t even have assurance of his own salvation:

Romans 2:1-13; 3:19-31; 11:17-23; 13:2
1 Corinthians 3:10-15; 6:9-11; 9:24-27; 10:6-13; 13:1-3; 15:1-2
Galatians 5:13-21; 6:6-10
Ephesians 2:8-10
1 Timothy 5:3-8
Philippians 2:12-16; 3:7-16

If that isn’t enough proof, head back to the Gospels, and find out what God, Himself, has to say about it in Matthew 19:16-21; 25-31-46.

What is also difficult is that when Catholics discuss grace it doesn’t mean the same thing as when non-Catholic Christians discuss “grace”. We can’t go into it here, but it’s important to make the distinction. Ask your non-Catholic friends what they consider “grace”. Then, read to them what the Church says grace is in CCC #1996-2005.

I hope this helps! Be God’s.

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