This question has been debated since the Protestant reformation for over 500 years.
The corresponding question is; Can it really be that easy? That all I have to do is believe in The Lord Jesus Christ, accept him as my personal lord and savior who died for our sins once and for all, and thereby no other conditions are necessary to retain our salvation.
Have you ever been handed the sinners prayer pamphlet outside of a mall or perhaps stuffed under your vehicles windshield wiper, or even approached by someone asking if you have been saved?
Chances are in some manner you probably have been exposed to this prayer tract. Whether by print, audio, video or by a personal confrontation, their purpose is to discern if you have been saved or not, depending on your circumstance, it may lead to an opportunity for them to offer you an invitation to accept Jesus Christ as your own personal Lord and Savior. They will then ask you to recite the sinner’s prayer track with a sincere heart, and then at the conclusion of the prayer you are now saved by virtue of your faith alone.
What is it that attracts people to this idea that all you need to do is to believe in Jesus Christ to gain your salvation?
Is it because no good deeds are necessary; there is no obligation to adhere to all the sacraments established by Christ, no desire or obligation to honour his mother, the most Blessed Virgin Mary. Instead of honouring the Blessed Virgin Mary through prayer or devotion after all she is the Mother of God, through whom salvation entered the world. Many choose to admire, respect and celebrate their favorite hockey, football or baseball hero’s and movie stars, even though they made no contribution to your salvation, you give them much more attention. No need for the sacraments as the church established by Christ celebrates them; there is no need to do any good works to accompany your faith.
Some may say this is taking the easy way out, but I would say that they are trying to get the easy way in! To get into heaven you need to retain your salvation, and yes you can lose it, take the fallen angels for an example!
If there is nothing to do but have faith alone, how much easier can it get?
This phrase of your personal Lord and Savior is used as a sort of gimmick in the sense that it is utilized as a kind of sales pitch, (buy this car and get free oil changes) or (have faith alone and you will be saved).
Even though this phrase has been around for over a hundred years it has only recently been widely circulated since around the 1950’s to the present.
Prominent evangelical leaders like Billy Graham have used this man made doctrine of salvation by faith alone and the sinner’s prayer as tools for evangelization. These evangelicals that profess this doctrine of salvation by faith alone with or without the use of the sinner’s prayer are offering a half filled cup of truth.
The process used to validate scripture and support this doctrine, is accomplished by their fallible interpretations of specific passages and cherry picking bible verses, and quoting and manipulating them out of context.
By ignoring the majority of passages that confirm salvation is gained by the grace of God alone, accompanied by faith and works and not by faith alone, may result in the loss of one’s salvation.
Having a personal relationship with Christ and to love God with all your heart, mind and soul should be the ultimate mission and goal of any Christian.
To be sure it takes much more than a simple prayer formula and profession of faith to gain your salvation, it’s just not that easy.
Could it really be that easy?
It may seem so if you believe in the doctrine of sola fide (salvation by faith alone). The problem is that being saved or in other words gaining your salvation by faith alone is not scripturally supported, and is as a matter of fact a man-made doctrine compliments of Martin Luther who invented the idea and professed it by his own authority in the 16th century.
With this personal relationship with Christ they believe that they are assured salvation by their profession of faith alone, no need to do any good works such as caring for the less fortunate, let alone any other charitable or moral obligation to care for those in distress. The problem is that they may choose do these things, but they don’t have to, you don’t even have give any importance or reverence for the petitions in the Lord’s prayer “and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” because they believe their salvation is guaranteed by their faith alone, there is no obligation to forgive anybody.
But what does Jesus say Matthew 6:15, “But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions”. If your transgressions (sins) are not forgiven then you lose your salvation, (Forgiving is a work as much as feeding and clothing the poor is a work). James 2:24 “See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone”. James 2 :26 “For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead”.
According to Jesus, the teaching authority of the Apostles and the Catholic Church, salvation is not that easy to obtain, it takes much more than just believing in God.
Let’s look at the literal history of the Exodus: the Ten Commandments were given to Gods people for a reason, after all the Commandments are a list of works, things we should and should not do, otherwise what would have been the purpose for Moses to receive the Ten Commandments.
This false doctrine of salvation by faith alone essentially renders the exodus out of Egypt and their journey to the Promised Land as meaningless.
Now remember what happened to the many believers who grew impatient with Moses waiting for him to come down from the mountain, they turned against him and God, committing great abominations, they lost their lives, swallowed up by the earth. These were people who witnessed the wrath of God, so fierce and devastating that it forced the pharaoh of Egypt and his great army to allow them to leave, and be free from their bondage. They witnessed the unimaginable parting of the Red Sea to allow them to escape to safety. Their faith in God must have been so great you would not think it possible for them to turn away from such an Almighty God after witnessing such miracles, but their faith alone was not enough to save those who turned away was it.
Think of the demons that Christ cast out during his ministry on earth, even these demons believed, they knew Jesus was the son of God, and God himself but to no avail. Then there were the fallen angels, who once were in the realm of heaven, they too believed but through their disobedience and sin were cast out of heaven and into damnation. Jesus and the writers of the gospels warn us many times about the risk of losing our salvation due to sin.
I ask salvation by faith alone, I don’t think so!
A simple prayer formula and/or a profession of faith to gain ones salvation is just not enough or isn’t even logical when the scriptures are read in contextual unity. This biblical history of the Exodus by itself should blow the doctrine of salvation by faith alone right out of the Red Sea water.
Now to be fair not all protestant denominations profess the formula of salvation by reciting the sinners prayer, but most protestant denominations do believe in salvation by faith alone (sola fide) and (sola scriptura) the bible alone as the sole rule of authority. These two main doctrines of the protestant reformation or I would say revolution against the Roman Catholic Church is the greatest cause of disunity amongst Christians around the world. This separation has caused a great lack of substance in their faith, and has become much diluted as a result of the dissention among their ranks. Their theological structure is that of a crumbling building with missing blocks and mortar, its foundation is weak and will eventually fail. This resulting consequence can be seen in the undeniable separation of some 40,000 plus denominations in Protestantism.
We should not assume however that their faith is not genuine and their love for God may be very passionate indeed. They are not shy when it comes to evangelizing for their faith, and have a passion for bible study and chapter and verse recitation, this we should admire and emulate in our own faithful passion during our daily lives.
The problem is they have been led astray by false doctrine and fallible theology.
Some may have been psychologically vulnerable, some who left the Catholic Church where not catechised properly in the faith in the first place, some became disillusioned by not seeking help or answers for their circumstance. Regardless of the reasons why people embrace Protestantism, the fact remains the fullness of truth as proclaimed by Jesus Christ and the apostles in the gospels is only obtained through the one true Catholic Church.
Catholics have the ultimate personal relationship with Christ, and the ultimate communal relationship through his Church.
In Baptism we receive the Holy Spirit into our heart and soul and are cleansed from the stain of original sin.
In the reception of the Eucharist we truly receive the real presence in the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ.
Through the sacrament of reconciliation we receive his forgiveness for our sins.
You cannot have a more personal relationship with God when you have the sacraments of the Church.
These three of the seven sacraments are an example of the greatest possible personal relationship with Jesus one can obtain.
Our communal relationship is one that have survived the test of time. For over 2,000 years we are a Church intact. The Magisterium of the Catholic Church is the authentic teaching of Christ and proclaimed by the Pope and all the bishops in communion with him throughout the world.
Every hour of every day there is a mass celebrated with liturgical union somewhere in the World till the end of time .
Now that’s what you can call the ultimate faith Community!
We are the Church Militant and the Church Triumphant.
There is only One True Holy and Apostolic Catholic Church.
This is our personal and communal relationship with God Almighty.