A Philosophical look at God's Plan of Salvation
from EWTN Document Library
The best way to know, is to look at the Teaching of the Church, which
Christ Instituted to Safeguard the Doctrine that
He gave to the Apostles, and which was Completed through the Revelation of the
Holy Spirit to the Apostles after Jesus' Ascension.
We cannot 'Pick and Choose' what we believe about Faith
and Salvation. The Church clearly Teaches that we are
Justified by the Free-Gift of God's
Grace. If we do not Resist this First Grace
when it is given, we are Immediately Justified. Along with this
Grace we are given the Three (3) Theological Virtues.
Faith, in the 'Pauline' sense, encompasses all Three (3)
of these Virtues. Faith in the more Specific-sense is
the First Theological Virtue. This means
Belief in what God has Revealed. Thus the First
Theme of Christ's Teaching when He
began His Public Life (Mark 1:15) was, "Repent and Believe
the Good News". The Greek word for Repent is
"Metanoeo". It carries the Root-meaning "to Change one's Mind". This can
only refer to the Acceptance (i.e. non-Rejection) of the Saving Grace offered by
God, whereby the Mind is Turned-away from
Sin, to God. Notice that it comes before Belief,
or Faith. So First we turn to
God by Accepting Grace, and Immediately after that we Believe the
"Good News of the Kingdom of God". This Good News encompasses
all the Teachings of Christ. By the Close-connection of
Repentance and Belief which Jesus makes,
we see that to Refuse to Believe these Teachings is to Reject
However, it is also easy to see that a mere Intellectual Belief in the Teachings of Jesus does not
sufficiently express the meaning of His Words in Mark 1:15.
When Jesus tells us to "Believe the Good News of the Kingdom of
God", something more is implied. To Believe the Good News means to Believe that
Salvation has indeed arrived for Men that through
Jesus we are Rescued from Satan,
Sin and Death and made Adopted Children of
God. Christ promised
His Followers that they would not Die Forever, but that
He would Raise them up on the Last Day.
Belief that He spoke Truly,
i.e., Trust in His Promises, is also called
Hope. This, then, is the Second of the
Theological Virtues, the Second Aspect of the
Belief in the Good News.
But there is still something Missing. The Good News of the
Kingdom, as Preached by Jesus, also includes the
Moral Law, summed up in the Law of Charity. If we Truly Believe the
Good News, we must have Charity, or
Love: the Third
Theological Virtue. Thus Jesus says in Matthew 22:37:
"You shall Love the Lord your God with all your Heart, and with all your Soul, and with all your Mind . . . .
You shall Love your Neighbor as yourself. On these Two [Commandments] the Whole Law and the Prophets depend". Later,
He explains again what this Love means
(John 14:21): "He who keeps My Commandments, and observes them, he it is who loves Me. And he
who loves Me will be Loved by My Father . . . . ". In other words, Belief
(Faith in the Narrow-sense) is not Enough.
Hope is not Enough. In order to receive the Father's Favor, we must
Love, and this includes keeping the Commandments.
As James says (James 2:26), "For just as the Body without the Spirit is Dead,
so also Faith without Works is Dead".
How are we Saved? Not by Faith alone,
but by Grace alone, as I believe Father Most has said. This
Grace it is that makes us Participate in the very Nature of God
Himself, so that we become His Adopted Children. In other words, this Adoption,
and it alone, is what Justifies. But to avoid being
Disinherited, as it were, we must Act as Sons, and so God gives to all those in
the State of Grace the Capacities for Supernatural Acts of
Faith (again in the Restricted-sense), Hope, and
Charity. Unless we practice these Virtues, we shall
Lose that Sanctifying Grace, that Divine
Adoption; we shall no longer be Justified.
If I Refuse to Believe what my Father has
told me about Himself and His Plan for me, I
certainly cannot Participate in that Plan. Thus without the
Gift of Faith, i.e. Belief (insofar as I am Informed and Capable of Believing),
I cannot be Adopted. If I later Reject the
Faith, I shall be Disinherited.
Also, if I Refuse to Trust in the Promises that my
Father has made to me, then too I show myself to be Truly
Unworthy of them. Thus if I Refuse or
Reject the Gift of Hope, I cannot be a Son of
Finally, if I do not Act in a Way Proper to a Child of God, if I do not
Will in Conformity-to and in Response-to the Divine Will
of my Father, I cannot Retain my Adoption. That is, if I
Reject the Gift of Charity, which as we have seen involves the keeping of the
Moral Law, I cannot be Saved.
If you look carefully at the above, you will find that the Three (3) Theological
Virtues, Faith, Hope, and
Charity, correspond Perfectly to the Three (3) Aspects
of Pauline Faith. And this is not at all surprising, because Saint Paul, as has the Catholic
Church for 19 Centuries after him, read the
Gospels as an Elucidation of that First Teaching of
Christ. For Paul, Faith is our
Response to the Original Mandate to Believe the Good News of the
Kingdom of God, which, as we have seen, includes all Three (3) Aspects
which Paul explains in his Epistles.
Grace comes First.
Faith necessarily accompanies it. Faith shows itself under the
Three (3) Aspects of Theological Faith,
Hope, and Charity. This is the
Pure Teaching of Jesus Christ, the Good News of the
Kingdom of God. This is the Teaching of Saint Paul, that
First and Greatest Commentator on the Gospels. This is the
Sublime Teaching of the Catholic Church. It is
not Cold and Ritualistic, rather, it is the Magnificent Truth of
God's Great Love for us. You will never find the Fullness of Truth in any other
"Church". They may bring Emotional Satisfaction, but Faith is
something deeper than that. It is the Response of the Whole-Person to Jesus Christ in
Faith, Hope, and Charity.
Prayer to Divine Providence
O Sweet and Tender Providence of God, into Thy Hands I commend my Spirit, to Thee I
abandon myself, my Hopes, my Fears, my Desires, my Repugnance's, my Temporal and Eternal Prospects. To Thee I commit the Wants of my
Perishable Body, to Thee I commit the far more Precious Interests of my Immortal Soul, for whose interests I have Nothing to Fear while
I withdraw it not from Thy Bosom. Though my Faults are many, my Misery Great, my Spiritual Poverty Extreme, my Hope in Thee surpasses all.
It is Greater than my Difficulties, Stronger than Death. Though Temptations should Assail me, I will Hope in Thee, though I should Sink
beneath my Weakness, I will Hope in Thee still, though I should Break my Resolutions a Thousand Times, I will look to Thee Confidently
for Grace to keep them at last; though Thou shouldst Slay me, even then will I Trust Thee, for Thou art my God, my Father and my Friend.
Thou art my Kind, my Tender, my Indulgent Parent, and I am Thy Loving Child, who cast myself into Thy Arms and beg Thy Blessing, who put
my Trust in Thee, and so Trusting, shall Never be Confounded.
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