Are You Saved?
Have you accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior?
If you died right now do you have the assurance of your Salvation? Do you know that you’d go to Heaven?
Are you “saved”? Do you want to be? It’s very simple, just pray this prayer…”
These are questions the hardcore evangelists will ask in order to initiate a conversation regarding the eternal destination of an individuals soul for the sake of converting and saving the masses from the fires of Hell.
Many uncatechised Catholics can become very confused and disoriented by these questions because this is not vernacular that is used by the Church. In fact, it is not used in many mainline Protestant churches either. Assurance of Salvation is a relatively new doctrine in Christian theology and therefore when Catholics are spoken to about this their response is usually muttled or confused. Perhaps they’ll even reply “What’s that mean?” or “That’s a Protestant thing. I’m a Catholic, we don’t believe in that sort of thing.”
There is actually a better – and biblical – way for you to answer these questions.
Catholics, I feel, should stop being so scared to death of embracing the Bible and of using it to explain their faith. I think that perhaps Catholics somehow have an aversion to the study of and use of the Bible because somehow they perhaps feel that if they pick it up and really look into it they might find out they’re following the wrong church. I think a lot of this comes from the fact that evangelizing Protestants have embraced nothing but the Bible as their authority and therefore have quite a superior handle on it whereas Catholics have such a vast array of resources to choose from that their understanding of the Bible is only one of many, many things they are aware of and read. However, it should comfort and reassure the Catholic to know that since the Bible was given to the world by the Catholic Church that reading it and studying it will only confirm and solidify what the Church teaches about Christianity. The only difference between the Bibles of the Protestant faith and the Catholic faith is that Protestants simply removed some books of the Bible.
Make no mistake, it is quite intimidating to speak to non-Catholic Christians who have verses memorized and can spout them off in rapid succession faster than a machine gun spits out bullets. Non-Catholic Christians have a way of rapid-firing about faith period either in asking questions or in giving answers. This can also lead to an unlearned Catholic’s sense of being confused and overwhelmed. Evangelizing Protestants, like evangelizing Jehovah’s Witnesses and evangelizing Mormons already have the upper hand because they are very well versed in their faith and what they think is yours. They are well prepared to redirect and counter your answers with calculated and memorized Bible verses that seem to support their claims. Therefore, I believe many Catholics can come away hurt and confused at why their church has never taught them about accepting Christ as their Lord through a profession of faith and thus being ‘saved’.
Therefore, when you are asked, ‘Are you saved?’ You can simply answer, ‘I have been saved, I am being saved, and I hope to be saved.’ Then you can show them verses of your own.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith…” Eph 2:8
“… but to us who are being saved…” 1 Cor. 1:18
“much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God…” Romans 5:9
“Besides this you know what hour it is, how it is full-time now for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.” Romans 13:11
If someone does ask you if you’ve accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior you might want to ask them to explain that idea a little more clearly to you. Obviously, nowhere in the Bible does it talk about accepting Jesus as your “personal Lord and Savior” in order to be saved. Although, Christ is our personal Lord and Savior (it does not get much more personal the partaking of His Body and Blood in the Eucharist) it is not a Biblical proclamation required for Salvation. There is no explicit instruction that a believer must make a formulaic profession of faith in order to be saved. However, the verse for that usually ends up being used is,
“because, if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For man believes with his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved.”
Firstly, we must read this verse in context to what St. Paul is speaking about. Something for a Catholic to keep in mind is that very often Christians will take one verse out of the chapter and build an entire theology on it. Therefore, it is paramount to understand verses in context, not only with the chapter but also in harmony with all the other verses of Scripture. What St. Paul is demonstrating in the entire book of Romans is that we are saved by grace through faith, and not by keeping the Mosaic law. It is true that we cannot save ourselves because our works, done by our own strength, do not save us, especially the work of following the Law. Only faith in Jesus can save us. However, in conjunction with the other verses of Scripture our walk in faith is not limited to, nor does it end with, simply confessing faith in Jesus. Therefore, when St. Paul speaks about confessing that Jesus is Lord and that man is thereby saved by this act it is not an insular and singular act of absolute assurance of Salvation.
“Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you too will be cut off.” Romans 11:22
In fact, if we look at the Bible in Acts we see the question being pointedly asked of St. Peter, “What must I do in order to be saved?“
How does Peter reply?
“Accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior and you will be saved for all eternity.”
“Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'” Acts 2:38
In fact, if we study this passage we again find the words, “every man who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Acts 2:17-21) which is actually a quotation from the book of Joel who was speaking about the saved remnant of Israel rescued from Jerusalem and Peter uses it to demonstrate that the New Covenant is beginning and the Old is completed therefore in order to be ‘saved’ Israel, (and of course the whole world) must turn to Jesus Christ and confess Him as Lord. This does not mean, as we see a few verses later (Acts 2:38) that this confession is the be all, end all of Salvation.
Be careful that you are not confused and bewildered by extrapolations and snippets of Scripture into a misunderstanding of theology. Ultimately, let the Bible and its words convict you of your faith, not pull you away from it. Trust me when I tell you that since the Catholic Church gave the world the Bible, you’re not going to find anything in it which contradicts her teachings only fallible men who misinterpret its contents.