Are You "Saved"?
© 2002 by Paul Thigpen
Catholic kids are often stumped when their Protestant friends ask: "Are you saved?" Unlike the query about having a personal relationship with Jesus, this one reveals a genuine theological difference between Catholics and Protestants that needs to be understood.
Some Protestants — though by no means all — think salvation is a one-time event that happens at the moment a person becomes a Christian. This is possible, they say, because "once saved, always saved" — that is, they teach that once you believe in Jesus, you're guaranteed a place in heaven. In their eyes, nothing you can do between that moment of faith and the moment you die can cancel your guarantee of eternal life.
The Catholic Church points to the Scripture (see, for example, Hebrews 6:4-9) as well as to common experience when it insists that, on the contrary, we have no such guarantee. Our free will doesn't cease when we become Christians. Many people accept Jesus as Lord and Savior for awhile, but later turn their backs on God and reject Him for eternity. The truth, the Church reminds us, was made clear by Jesus Himself: "Whoever endures to the end will be saved" (Matthew 10:22, emphasis added).
Our guarantee is this: God fervently desires for us to live with Him forever. So if we cooperate with Him in the lifelong process of our salvation, He'll give us the grace we need to endure to the end.
When asked whether they're "saved," your kids may want to respond with an analogy the Church has used for centuries: Life is like trying to cross a stormy sea to get home to a safe harbor. Without help, we're sure to drown. But Jesus comes alongside us in the ship of the Church and offers to take us safely home.
When we become Christians, we get in His ship and begin our journey to safety. We're being saved, but were not saved yet; at any time, we can choose to reject Jesus' help, jump out of the ship into the crashing waves, and be lost forever. Only when we've stayed with Him all the way to the safe harbor of heaven can we truly say we've been saved — and made it home at last.
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