Today, let’s you and I take a look at the word “saved” (Greek: sozo). As a biblical concept, what does that word mean to you? Well, to some Christian believers, it usually means that when a person acknowledges their need for God and puts their faith in Jesus Christ, and they then pray what is known as the “sinners prayer,” that person can have a 100% absolute assurance of going to heaven at their death — whenever that may take place. This sounds good, but this answer to the question “Are you saved?” doesn’t speak accurately as to the journey of salvation, which we are required to cooperate with God’s grace on a daily basis. The word “saved” must be looked at and understood within the context of the entire New Testament.
The word “saved” can give us the wrong impression that the journey of salvation has already been accomplished. If a person is not careful, they can confuse redemption (a one time moment when Jesus shed his blood on Calvary), with salvation (a life-long walk with Christ beginning at Baptism and ending with entry into heaven). For instance; was Judas “saved” when he became one of the twelve apostles? When he joined Jesus’ inner circle and left everything behind, he certainly accepted Jesus as his “Lord and Savior.” But, what happened to him? It doesn’t appear that he successfully cooperated with God’s grace and faithfully complete his salvation journey at the end of his life.
St. Paul wrote a letter to the “saved” Christians in Corinth (1 Cor 1:1-2), where he warns them, “Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators nor idolators nor drunkards nor slanderers nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor 6:9-10).” . In other words, St. Paul is telling the “saved” Christians that if they are doing any of these sinful actions and don’t repent and turn their lives around, they might very well lose the promise of eternal life in heaven.
The Bible tells us that there are two different types of sins: “If anyone sees his brother sinning, if it is not deadly, he should pray to God and he will give him life… There is such a thing as a deadly sin about which I do not say that you should pray…(cf. 1 John 5:16-17).” A “deadly” (mortal) sin (if not repented of), “cuts off” a person’s chances of going to heaven, while the “non-deadly” (venial) sin implies that there is a way for atonement to be made.
St. Paul says in his letter to the Romans, “See, then, the kindness and severity of God: severity toward those who fell, but God’s kindness to you, provided you remain in his kindness; otherwise you too will be cut off (Rom 11:22).” Again, in 1 Corinthians he says, “Therefore, whoever thinks he is standing secure should take care not to fall (1 Cor 10:12).” In these two instances, St. Paul is letting us know, that when it comes to the journey of salvation, “it’s not over until it’s over.” In 1 Corinthians, Paul writes this about himself, “I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified (1Cor 9:27).”
In his letter to Timothy (a “saved” Christian), St. Paul writes: “I entrust this charge to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophetic words once spoken about you. Through them may you fight a good fight by having faith and a good conscience. Some, by rejecting conscience, have made a shipwreck of their faith (1 Tim 1:18-19).” He is telling us that it is possible for a Christian to “backslide” so seriously in his faith journey, that it will make a “shipwreck” of his faith in Christ.
What does Jesus himself say about the journey of faith? In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus says; “You will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who perseveres to the end will be saved (Mark 13:13).” Similarly in the Gospel of Matthew, he says; “…but whoever endures to the end will be saved (Matt 10:22).” Catholic Christians have a moral assurance of salvation. They believe and trust whole-hardheartedly in the Lord’s promise that eternal life will be awarded to those found faithful at the very end of their lives.
What should someone say when asked, “Are you saved?” The Catholic Christian would reply: “As the Bible says, I am already saved (Rom. 8:24, Eph. 2:5–8), but I’m also being saved (1 Cor. 1:18, 2 Cor. 2:15, Phil. 2:12), and I have the hope that I will be saved (Rom. 5:9–10, 1 Cor. 3:12–15). Like the apostle Paul I am working out my salvation in fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12), with hopeful confidence in the promises of Christ (Rom. 5:2, 2 Tim. 2:11–13).” Until next time, God bless.