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Grace alone part 1

WHY GRACE ALONE IS NOT ENOUGH FOR HEAVEN – PART 1 (DON’T MISS THIS)ByStephen DehExamining Romans 5:8, the text in contention these few days, there is ample evidence that this text speaks to the timeless effect of Grace in our lives. With this understanding and evidence, a good friend and brother ofmine with great faith and charisma concluded that “once we are justified by grace through Christ, we are justified forever irrespective of our past, present and future sins” and thus ruling out the necessity of the sacrament of Reconciliation as well as the relevance of the other sacraments to Christian salvation. The text reads, “but, God demonstrates (commands) His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).Validly, the Greek word for “were” in “while we were” is”on” (pronounced “oan”), which means “being”. So here”while we were” is “while we were being” sinners, which suggests a continues action. Also, the Greek word for “yet” is “eti” which means “of a thing which even now continues at present” suggesting a timeless action and therefore the conclusion of my venerable brother that “once we are maderighteous by grace, were are made righteous forever irrespective of our past, present and future sins”. The import of this conclusion is that “one can be supremely confident of their standing before God” such that like the command and promise of St. Paul to the Philippian jailer to”believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved” ( Acts 16:31), the believer can have the joy and assurance that he/she is saved with total absence of anxiety about his/her future salvation. This supreme confidence in ones standingbefore God has long since been rejected by the Catholic Church during the Council of Trent in which canon 12 states”if anyone says, that justifying faith is nothing else but confidence in the divine mercy which remits sins for Christ’ssake; or that his confidence alone is that whereby we are justified; let him be anathema”.Consequently, the Catholic Church understands justification or righteousness as referring principally to theinfusion of grace through the sacraments, which are outward signs of inward graces instituted by Christ, throughwhich the believer is transformed into righteousness rather than declared righteous per the legal meaning behind the word “justificatin” in the epistle to the Romans. This position of the Catholic Church that Christ instituted sacraments to confer graces that transforms to righteousness is biblical and is based on the Gospels which are narratives about Jesus’ ministry and His instructions for the future church.Every biblical student knows the basic chronology of the NewTestament writings. Without this knowledge of the datings of the various writings of the New Testament books, one does not really grasp the importance and relevance of why we have 4 Gospels instead of just one and also all the epistles instead of just one or two. The dating of the books gives us a glimpse to the development of faith and doctrineamong the early christians. By chronology, Pauline epistles predate the 4 Gospels except the Gospel of Mark which is loosely dated aound 40-70AD. So, whereas the Epistle to the Romans was written around 55AD, the Gospel of Matthew was around 68-80AD, Luke around 80AD and Johnaround 95-100AD.This chronology is important bcos it is clear that Romans predates the Gospels and consequently should the epistle to the Romans be sufficient for all of salvation, the Gospels which contain Jesus’ own instructions on righteousness and salvation wouldn’t have to be penned down and included in the Canon of the Bible. The early church’s understanding evolved with time above the letters of St. Paul to revolve around the words, sayings and instructions of Jesus such that the Gospels have become thecentre of reference with clear instructions about salvation and righteousness through the sacraments and our complementary roles in our salvation and the role of prayers of the saints and the mother of Lord on our journey to the glory of the Lord.So, am I looking for Jesus’ own instructions about how to become righteous and be saved? His instructions in the 4 Gospels reveal that Baptism, confirmation, eucharist,confession, anointing of the sick, marriage, and Holy Orders infuse the graces of righteousness and salvation. The sevensacraments are biblical: Baptism (Matthew 28:19-20), confirmation (Acts 8:14-17; 19:1-6), Eucharist (Luke 22:19-20; ICor. 11:23-36), Confession (John 20:21-23), Anointing of the Sick (Mark 6:12-13; James 5:14-15), Holy Orders and celibacy (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 1:8; Timothy 4:14 & Matthew 19:12) and Marraiage (Matthew 19:3-11).These seven sacraments which reveal the plan of Jesus for our salvation journey are more concrete in becoming children of God, partakers of the divine nature and eternal.It is my prayer that all who have received the sacraments will be more confident of the graces poured into their lives by the working of the Holy Spirit and exhibit the fruits especially the joy, hope and charity that flows from out of the reception. Let us pray for one another on this journey of faith bcos none of has arrived yet and since we are all susceptible to crisis of faith no matter our status or age in the church, let us take it easy with one another and let us believe His divine Will, which eventually triumph at the end of it all . Shalom!

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