Showing posts with label Soteriology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Soteriology. Show all posts

You Are Sanctified, You Are Justified

 Justification & Sanctification

And such some of you were; but you are washed, but you are sanctified,
but you are justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the Spirit of our God.
1 Corinthians 6, 11

Protestants of the classical reformed persuasion mistakenly think Catholics have the wrong idea of what it means to be declared just or righteous by God, having differentiated the Biblical concept of sanctification from justification. They see the person who is declared justified by God as merely being synthetically just, but not inherently made righteous by the power of divine grace that is infused into the human soul through the work of the Holy Spirit; justification, for them, does not constitute a genuine renewal of being and supernatural transformation of the soul that affects interior holiness within the believer. Thus, in accordance with the logic of this Protestant conviction, God declares a person just or righteous even when they are sinful, or in a state of sin, only because of their profession of faith in the redemptive merits of Christ (sola Christo) whose personal righteousness is instrumentally imputed to them because of their faith (sola fide).

In this branch of Protestantism, the divine perfection that meets God’s standards can never be attained by us in this life, but only in the life of glory that is to come once we have been released from the bonds of the flesh with its warring members. When God declares a person to be righteous or just, therefore, He considers the believer as such only by having come into a right relationship with Him. Justification involves a change of relationship with God, not an ontological change or genuine spiritual renewal in the person. Only by being covered with the extrinsic or alien righteousness of Christ by faith in him can believers be declared justified. Intrinsic righteousness of our own by the sanctifying grace of God through the activity of the Holy Spirit has no bearing in their justification which is strictly forensic.

However, St. Paul uses the terms justification and sanctification interchangeably indicating a symbiosis between the two (Heb 13:12; Rom 5:9; 2 Thess 2:13; 1 Cor 6:11). We can better understand how justification and sanctification relate to each other in the Apostle’s theology by examining the metaphysics of the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle. He postulated that all created things exist on the principle of four causes: efficient, material, formal, and final. Our concern lies with formal causality since the Council of Trent defined sanctification as “the single formal cause (causa formalis) of justification” in the instrumental application of our redemption: “… the single formal cause is the justice of God, not that by which He Himself is just, but that by which He makes us just, that, namely, with which we being endowed by Him, are renewed in the spirit of our mind” (Decree on Justification: Chapter 7).

The formal cause of all things consists of the elements of a conception or thing conceived to be what it is or the idea of a formative principle in cooperation with physical matter. In other words, each thing is composed not only of matter but of form. The form is the principle of determination that accounts for something being what it is (an oak tree or justification). The substantial form of something accounts for its belonging to the species or category to which it belongs.

Justification (a concept or state) could not substantially be what it is or is supposed to be according to God’s design without its principle of determination, namely sanctity. However, neither justification nor sanctification could acquire their forms unless they were determined by the principle of efficient causality, which puts something into effect by the means of an agency for a distinct purpose. In this case, the material cause is grace bestowed by God the efficient Cause in the forms of both Divine favor and Divine persuasion through the activity of the Holy Spirit who justifies us by His sanctifying grace (formal cause). Justification and sanctification are the results of the one Divine initiative, and so they function inter-dependently like two sides of a single coin: redemption. Thus neither state can fruitfully exist on its own in the entire Divine plan of redemption (final cause).

Unless we are justified, by first receiving the initial grace of forgiveness, our sanctification through regeneration is irrelevant. And unless we are sanctified, we cannot be justified before God when he personally judges the state of our souls. Anyway, in philosophical jargon, the final cause of something is its end or purpose. Justification is a process whose purpose is to free us from all guilt in our relationship with God and whose end is our predestination for glory. Without its principal determinant – the essence of sanctity – the process of justification could not accomplish its purpose and achieve its end. Unless our righteousness (not Christ’s alien righteousness) surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, we will not enter the kingdom of heaven (Mt 5:20).

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you
used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of
the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are
disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the
cravings of our flesh, and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest
we were deserving by nature of wrath. But because of his great love for
us, God who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were
dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved.
Ephesians 2, 1-4

In Catholic theology, justification is declarative and forensic in some sense or to some degree to the extent God has decreed to really make us righteous in His sight by the means of His efficacious grace and the spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit produced for us strictly by Christ’s redeeming merits. In other words, we are reconciled to God through the initial grace of forgiveness and justification by no natural merit of our own (Eph 2:8-9). Our renewal in spirit ultimately rests upon the redemption Christ achieved for all humanity strictly by his just merits in his passion and atoning death on the Cross. Christ alone has merited the gift of our salvation in strict justice by Divine decree. Indeed, the entire human race has fallen from a perfect friendship with God. By nature, we are “children of wrath” being descendants of Adam and Eve (Eph 2:3-5). Neither our natural faculties and capacities nor the law can save us from divine justice since we are prone to fall from God’s grace at some point in our lives because of the effects of original sin.

Only God can take the first step in reconciling us to Him and delivering us from our miserable state of sin and death. And so, God sent His Son to free the world from bondage by paying a ransom for us with his blood and making atonement on our behalf (1 Tim 2:5-6). Yet by his passion and death on the Cross, Christ became the principle of grace and human merit that allows us to actively participate in his merits and thereby our redemption through self-denial and spiritual sacrifice which involves putting to death the deeds of the flesh and doing good works in charity (agape) and grace by the prompting of the Holy Spirit. What God has willed should be brought to fruition with our cooperation and collaboration (subjective redemption). The elect has the privilege to help determine the final destiny of their souls with the help of God’s saving grace in concurrence with what God has decreed and our free will but only because of Christ’s objective redemption of humanity (Rom 6:6-23).

1 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the
law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.
For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His
own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the
flesh, 4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk
according to the flesh but according to the Spirit… If Christ is in you, though the body is
dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of
Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the
dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. 12 So
then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— 13
for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are
putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are being led by the
Spirit of God, these are sons of God… 16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit
that we are children of God, 17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs
with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.
Romans 8, 1-17

In Romans 3:28, St. Paul says, “For we hold that a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.” What Paul means is that we aren’t justified by observing the external ceremonies of the Old Covenant such as circumcision, kosher, and ritual washings after having made contact with unclean things.  St. James would add that good works done in charity and grace are necessary for our salvation since it is by our faith in Christ and devotion to him that we are made just or righteous by fulfilling the spirit of the moral law. Having faith in Christ is primary since it is by having faith in him that we receive the Holy Spirit who justifies us by making us able to do with a renewed interior disposition what is pleasing and just and fulfill the moral requirements of God’s commandments summed up in the law of Christ given to us in the Gospels.

Once we have been made just by grace through faith in Christ, we must follow the Spirit and live holy lives. The Holy Spirit enables us to live our lives pleasing to God but not without our cooperation and steadfastness in faith. St. Paul makes it clear in Romans 8:1-17 that the “just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us” provided we “walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” We are given the chance to choose eternal life with God or eternal separation from God, “for if [we] walk according to the flesh, [we] will die (the second death), but if by the Spirit [we] put to death the deeds of the body, [we] will live.” The apostle adds in V.16 that it’s the Spirit Himself who is bearing witness to our spirit and that we are children of God. We who choose to live by the flesh and disobey God are hostile to Him, while we who choose to live by the Spirit are sons and daughters of our heavenly Father, “and if children, then heirs, heirs of God, and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified in Him.” We must overcome our selfish desires regardless of how difficult it might be if we hope to be reckoned as just and worthy of inheriting our eternal reward in Heaven.

Therefore, as we have borne the image of the earthly,
let us bear also the image of the heavenly.
1 Corinthians 15, 49

So, we are justified by faith and not external works of the Old Dispensation because it is through faith in Christ and our love for Him that we receive the Holy Spirit who enters our lives and enables and empowers us to do what is just in God’s sight. We shall be judged for the works that the Spirit has enabled us to do by giving us the strength to put the deeds of the body to death. Faith in Christ grants us the Holy Spirit to work in our lives so that we fulfill the moral law of Christ (love of God and neighbor) and be truly pleasing to God and judged worthy of being with Him eternally.

St. Paul tells us that we must cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, and make holiness perfect in the fear of God (2 Cor 7:1). The state of holiness must do with our internal being, originating from God who is the giver of sanctifying grace by the activity of the Holy Spirit. This holiness isn’t merely a fabrication or a synthetic justification because of the stain of original sin and its effects on our human nature. Concupiscence constantly plagues us, but it isn’t a sin. The truth is that, despite our sinful inclinations, Christ himself is in us by the power of the Holy Spirit. Our Lord’s indwelling brings about an internal transformation that renders us just and pleasing to God provided that we do not receive His grace in vain (2 Cor 3:15). God is hard at work in us, and He is so powerful, that He can actually transform us by re-creating us and renewing our nature through His Holy Spirit (Phil 2:13).

God is not distant and making impersonal, external declarations about us like a judge in a courtroom towards a defendant who needs to be bailed out by someone who can pay his debt for him without asking for anything in return. The view that God merely declares us righteous by covering us up with Christ’s external righteousness, while pretending not to notice our inherent unrighteousness, denigrates the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives, who continues the work of the resurrected Christ for our justification by infusing His sanctifying grace into our souls and thereby changing our interior being notwithstanding the bumps along the road to heaven because of our wounded nature. The gist of Romans 5:19 is that there isn’t just a change of relational status between God and us, but an objective transformation of our human nature however gradual the process may be. God does not just declare us righteous but makes us righteous by the power of the Holy Spirit working in us. God said, “Let there be light,” and there was real light (Gen 1:3). What God declares to exist is a tangible and objective reality.

Thus, “if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 Jn 1:7). Jesus did not come into the world only to make atonement for sin but also to produce the sanctifying grace it takes for us to live holy lives and be righteous as he is righteous in his sacred humanity by applying his righteousness in our lives daily in cooperation with his saving grace and in collaboration with the Holy Spirit (1 Jn 3:7). We are called to actively participate in the removal of guilt and forgiveness of our sins so as to be just in God’s sight. This is what God has declared should be if we hope to be saved in and through the merits of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who alone and initially has made all this possible for us.

Early Sacred Tradition

“So likewise men, if they do truly progress by faith towards better things, and
receive the Spirit of God, and bring forth the fruit thereof, shall be spiritual, as
being planted in the paradise of God. But if they cast out the Spirit, and remain
in their former condition, desirous of being of the flesh rather than of the Spirit,
then it is very justly said with regard to men of this stamp, ‘That flesh and blood
shall not inherit the kingdom of God
For when men sleep, the enemy
sows the material of tares; and for this cause did the Lord command His disciples
to be on the watch. And again, those persons who are not bringing forth the
fruits of righteousness, and are, as it were, covered over and lost among
brambles, if they use diligence, and receive the word of God as a graft, arrive at
the pristine nature of man–that which was created after the
image and likeness of God.”
St. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 5:10,1
(A.D. 180-190)

“You are mistaken, and are deceived, whosoever you are, that think yourself
rich in this world. Listen to the voice of your Lord in the Apocalypse, rebuking
men of your stamp with righteous reproaches: ‘Thou sayest,’ says He, ‘I am rich,
and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou
art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. I counsel thee to
buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that
thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness may not appear in
thee; and anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that thou mayest see.’ You, therefore,
who are rich and wealthy, buy for yourself of Christ gold tried by fire; that you
may be pure gold, with your filth burnt out as if by fire, if you are purged by
almsgiving and righteous works. Buy for yourself white raiment, that you who
had been naked according to Adam, and were before frightful and unseemly,
may be clothed with the white garment of Christ. And you who are a wealthy
and rich matron in Christ’s Church, anoint your eyes, not with the collyrium of
the devil, but with Christ’s eye-salve, that you may be able to attain to see God,
by deserving well of God, both by good works and character.”
St. Cyprian, On Works and Alms,14
(A.D. 254)

“He from the essence of the Father, nor is the Son again Son
according to essence, but in consequence of virtue,
as we who are called sons by grace.”
St. Athanasius, Defense of the Nicene Creed, 22
(A.D. 351)

“You see indeed, then, how the strength of the Lord is cooperative in human
endeavors, so that no one can build without the Lord, no one can preserve
without the Lord, no one build without the Lord, no one can preserve without
the Lord, no one can undertake anything without the Lord.”
St. Ambrose, Commentary on Luke, 2:84
(A.D. 389)

” ‘To declare His righteousness.’ What is declaring of righteousness? Like
declaring of His riches, not only for Him to be rich Himself, but also to make
others rich, or of life, not only that He is Himself living, but also that He makes
the dead to live; and of His power, not only that He is Himself powerful, but also
that He makes the feeble powerful. So also is the declaring of His righteousness
not only that He is Himself righteous, but that He doth also make them that are
filled with the putrefying sores ‘asapentas’ of sin suddenly righteous.”
St. John Chrysostom, Romans, Homily Vll: 24, 25
(A.D. 391)

“All His saints, also, imitate Christ in the pursuit of righteousness; whence the
same apostle, whom we have already quoted, says: ‘Be ye imitators of me, as I am
also of Christ.’ But besides this imitation, His grace works within us our
illumination and justification, by that operation concerning which the same
preacher of His [name] says: ‘Neither is he that planteth anything, nor he that
watereth, but God that giveth the increase.’ For by this grace He engrafts into His
body even baptized infants, who certainly have not yet become able to imitate
any one. As therefore He, in whom all are made alive, besides offering Himself as
an example of righteousness to those who imitate Him, gives also to those who
believe on Him the hidden grace of His Spirit, which He secretly infuses even into infants

St. Augustine, On the merits and forgiveness of sins, 1:9
(A.D. 412)

For I tell you, that unless your justice abound more than that of the scribes
and Pharisees, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5, 20

Pax vobiscum

You Have Been Saved


Even though we were dead because of our sins,
he gave us life when he raised Jesus from the dead.
It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved.
Ephesians 2, 5

St. Paul perceived salvation as embracing the three aspects of time: past, present, and future. In the original Greek, the statement “By grace you have been saved” reads χάριτί στε σεσσμένοι (chariti este sesōsmenoi); χάριτί or grace comes from chairo which means “graciousness, of manner or act.” The present indicative active – 2nd person plural – existential perfect verb form στε or have been indicates a collective ongoing existence that has resulted from a past event. What has resulted from the past and continues to exist in the present is being “saved” or σεσσμένοι. The present indicative active verb carries with it the affirmation that You exist or more precisely You are saved. The perfect participle σεσσμένοι literally means saved, delivered, or shielded.” Thus, the persons who are saved or delivered through God’s gracious act (grace or favor) continue in this state of existence as a result of a past event that is safeguarded from being nullified.

With respect to the past result that continues in the present, Paul is referring to the reason for our salvation and its condition: removal from guilt and the remission of sin. Christ’s formal redemption of the world continues. The grace of justification and forgiveness that our Lord alone has merited for humanity is the permanent result of his passion, death, and resurrection. God has reconciled the world to Himself through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (Rom 5:10-11).

It is when we are baptized that we actively receive the grace of justification and forgiveness for our own interior renewal. This grace has been merited for us by Christ alone in strict justice and not by any preceding merit of ours. (2 Tim 1:9; Titus 3:5). The ongoing and dynamic process of justification and sanctification begins here in our journey of faith. By the redeeming merits of Jesus Christ, we are transformed internally from the state of being born a child of Adam into the state of being reborn in the Spirit. What happens here isn’t a single event in our life of faith, which is now complete and eternally guarantees our individual salvation from that point on, but the beginning of an ongoing process of growing in holiness and striving for spiritual perfection despite the occasional falls from grace and acts of contrition following one’s baptism (2 Cor 7:1).

For we are the aroma of Christ to God
among those who are being saved
and among those who are perishing.
2 Corinthians 2, 15

By reading, “those who are being saved” in English, we might have the impression that St. Paul is addressing a community of believers who are in the act of being saved, but haven’t conclusively been saved yet, or that to be saved is an ongoing number of actions in sequences of time rather than an acquired and existing state that is ongoing and progressive because of a single act. We mustn’t confuse the ancient Greek present tense with the modern English present continuous tense. The present tense verb in NT Greek doesn’t necessarily mean a continual or objective kind of action (saving someone from drowning) that is momentarily continuing within a restricted time frame until it concludes (Aktionsart). As we saw above, the grace of justification and forgiveness that our Lord alone has merited for humanity is the permanent result of his passion, death, and resurrection. Christ paid the ransom for sin once and for all and reconciled humanity to God at a moment in time that occurred in the past with a complete and lasting effect.

Therefore, the verb that Paul uses (“being saved”) is in the present tense. In koine Greek, we have σωζομένοις (sōzomenois). The apostle is addressing those who are “saved or rescued and safeguarded.” Still, when reading the NT in the original Greek, we must consider the author’s vantage point on the action or on “being saved” (aspect). Greek verb tenses indicate the subjective portrayal of that action or state by the writer, which is called aspect. The aspectual tense mark of a Greek verb helps us see what the subjective portrayal of the action is but not without the aid of the analogy of Scripture. Let’s proceed to see what Paul is saying to those who ‘are saved’ and how their salvation might not be without any qualifications or conditions.

By doing so, we will discover that Christ has formally saved us all in a collective sense but instrumentally our salvation is still something we must “work out” for ourselves and finally attain in a distributive sense. We read in the King James Bible: “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12). In other words, we must cooperate with our Lord in saving ourselves from drowning (subjective redemption) with his principal help now that he has taken charge of our eternal destiny by his single self-sacrifice (objective redemption).

Writing in the present tense, what Paul has in mind is the ongoing process of being made holy and righteous as opposed to habitually living in the state of sin like those who are “perishing” (Present participle: πολλυμένοις or apollymenois “are destroyed” or “do destroy”) in their obstinacy. Their baptismal commitment marks the next life-long stage of their justification and sanctification. In their journey of faith, the Corinthians who have received the grace of justification and forgiveness in their baptism may merit by right of friendship with God, as a reward, more grace and an increase in sanctification and charity as they grow towards a more perfect image of God in the conduct of their lives through the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Sanctification is the essence or formal cause of justification. For us to be just before God we must be made inherently holy and righteous. We couldn’t be the “aroma of Christ” or Christ-like as members of his mystical Body unless our righteousness personally belonged to us by the infusion of sanctifying grace into our souls (2 Cor 13:15). And this requires work on our part in collaboration with the Holy Spirit. We are ultimately responsible for and deserving of the eternal reward or punishment that we receive. Christ does not save each of us personally by his work on the cross alone, though he alone has made it possible for us to be saved by his grace which he alone has produced for us by his redeeming merits.

To be just in God’s sight is to be intrinsically holy by the power of the Spirit who dwells in our souls. Thus, if we commit a mortal sin (i.e., the act of adultery or bearing false witness against our neighbor), we risk forfeiting the salvation Christ gained for us since our souls would no longer be in the state of sanctifying grace until we confess our sins and make an act of contrition and do penance preferably through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. For this reason, we must repent of our post-baptismal sins and do penance to be fully restored to friendship with God. “We must look to ourselves that we lose not the things which we have wrought (a meritorious increase in grace or bearing fruit) but that we receive a full reward” (1 Jn 2:8). John underscores the importance of cooperating with divine grace to ensure the instrumental application of our own salvation and its attainment by persevering in grace to the end, now that our Lord and Savior has made this possible for everyone by his passion, death, and resurrection.

Certainly, Paul didn’t believe that justification is a static, single event in the lives of Christians that happened in the past and was completed by their baptism through faith in Christ. For him, it was an ongoing process that required human collaboration with the work of God in the Holy Spirit and involved constructive transformations of the soul and daily renewal (2 Cor 3:18; 4:16; Eph 4:22-24; Phil 2:13). Our own salvation is something we must faithfully “work out in fear and trembling” lest we fall from grace and revert to our former sinful ways at the cost of our salvation. We should have no reason to fear eternal condemnation and tremble by the thought of it if all we had to do was simply put our faith in Christ’s redeeming merits and accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior. The grace of justification and forgiveness is a gift. This grace is not, however, a license to sin (Rom 6:1).

So, it’s imperative that all baptized members in the Body of Christ persevere in faith to their last day. Jesus himself warns us that we must endure to the end if we hope to be saved now that he alone has produced for us at one time the gift of salvation. (Mt 10:22; 24:13; Mk 13:13). We mustn’t allow ourselves to be destroyed or to destroy what Christ has gained for us like those who are perishing.

This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is;
time is running out. Wake up for our salvation is nearer now than
when we first believed. The night is past and the day is at hand. Let
us therefore cast off the works of darkness and put on the armour of light.
Romans 13, 11

In his Letter to the Romans, St. Paul speaks of salvation as pending future attainment that’s approaching ever nearer from the time his flock first professed their faith in Christ. Salvation, therefore, is something they must continually hope for in their pilgrimage of faith. It isn’t something they have already obtained individually in their personal lives and can’t ever lose notwithstanding the conduct of their lives. The apostle is concerned that they continually apply the Gospel truths in their daily lives to ensure that they finally receive what they hope for. Apparently, some members of the Roman church have reverted to their pre-baptismal sinful habits and behaved unworthily as disciples of Christ despite their professions of faith.

Thus, Paul is exhorting these lapsed members to conform once again to their renewed way of life and persevere in grace before it’s too late. Their particular judgment may arrive at any moment when it’s least expected; so, it’s time for them to “wake up” and stop deceiving themselves so that they won’t be caught off guard and lose the salvation they hope for. There is no need for Paul to exhort the Roman Christians if they’ve already been assuredly saved upon their initial profession of faith in Christ (1 Cor 6:9-11). By calling them to “put on the armor of light” Paul means that they should continue to persevere in grace so that they might be reckoned as righteous and saved at the time of death. The apostle understood very well that one’s own salvation isn’t guaranteed but is hoped for despite the formal redemption of all the descendants of Adam (1 Cor 4:4). How we conduct our lives is instrumental in the personal application of the salvation that Christ has gained for us on the Cross in strict justice.

Early Sacred Tradition

“And pray ye without ceasing in behalf of other men;
for there is hope of the repentance, that they may attain to God.
For ‘cannot he that falls arise again, and he may attain to God.’”
St. Ignatius of Antioch, To the Ephesians, 10
( A.D. 110)

“But He who raised Him up from the dead will raise up us also, if we do His will,
and walk in His commandments, and love what He loved, keeping ourselves from
all unrighteousness, covetousness, love of money, evil speaking, false witness;
‘not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing,’ or blow for blow, or cursing for
cursing, but being mindful of what the Lord said in His teaching: ‘Judge not, that
ye be not judged; forgive, and it shall be forgiven unto you; be merciful, that ye
may obtain mercy; with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you
again; and once more, “Blessed are the poor, and those that are persecuted for
righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of God.’”
St. Polycarp, To the Philippians, 2
(A.D. 135)

“And as many of them, he added, as have repented, shall have their dwelling in
the tower. And those of them who have been slower in repenting shall dwell
within the walls. And as many as do not repent at all, but abide in their deeds,
shall utterly perish
Yet they also, being naturally good, on hearing my
commandments, purified themselves, and soon repented. Their dwelling,
accordingly, was in the tower. But if anyone relapses into strife, he will be cast
out of the tower, and will lose his life.”
Hermas, The Shephard, 3:8:7
(A.D. 155)

“We have learned from the prophets, and we hold it to be true, that punishments,
and chastisements, and good rewards, are rendered according to the merit of
each man’s actions. Since if it be not so, but all things happen by fate, neither is
anything at all in our own power
But this we assert is inevitable fate, that they
who choose the good have worthy rewards, and those who choose the opposite
have their merited awards. For not like other things, as trees and quadrupeds,
which cannot act by choice, did God make man: for neither would he be worthy
of reward or praise did he not of himself choose the good, but were created for
this end; nor, if he were evil, would he be worthy of punishment, not being evil of
himself, but being able to be nothing else than what he was made.”
St. Justin Martyr, First Apology, 6
(A.D. 155)

“‘And other sheep there are also,’ saith the Lord, ‘which are not of this fold ‘
deemed worthy of another fold and mansion, in proportion to their faith. ‘But
My sheep hear My voice,’ understanding gnostically the commandments. And
this is to be taken in a magnanimous and worthy acceptation, along with also
the recompense and accompaniment of works. So that when we hear, ‘Thy faith
hath saved thee, we do not understand Him to say absolutely that those who
have believed in any way whatever shall be saved, unless also works follow. But
it was to the Jews alone that He spoke this utterance, who kept the law and lived
blamelessly, who wanted only faith in the Lord. No one, then, can be a believer
and at the same time be licentious; but though he quit the flesh, he must put off
the passions, so as to be capable of reaching his own mansion.”
St. Clement of Alexandria, The Stromata, 6:14
(A.D. 202)

“Whoever dies in his sins, even if he profess to believe in Christ, does not truly
believe in Him, and even if that which exists without works be called faith, such
faith is dead in itself, as we read in the Epistle bearing the name of James.”
Origen, Commentary on John, 19:6
(A.D. 232)

“He, in administering the righteous judgment of the Father to all, assigns to each
what is righteous according to his works
.the justification will be seen in the
awarding to each that which is just; since to those who have done well shall be
assigned righteously eternal bliss, and to the lovers of iniquity shall be given
eternal punishment. And the fire which is un-quenchable and without end
awaits these latter, and a certain fiery worm which dieth not
But the righteous
will remember only the righteous deeds by which they reached the heavenly
kingdom, in which there is neither sleep, nor pain, nor corruption”
St. Hippolytus, Against Plato, 3
(ante A.D. 235)

“For both to prophesy and to cast out devils, and to do great acts upon the earth
is certainly a sublime and an admirable thing; but one does not attain the
kingdom of heaven although he is found in all these things, unless he walks in
the observance of the right and just way. The Lord denounces, and says, ‘Many
shall say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name, and
in Thy name have cast out devils, and in Thy name done many wonderful works
And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that
work iniquity.’ There is need of righteousness, that one may deserve well of God
the Judge; we must obey His precepts and warnings, that our merits may
receive their reward.”
St. Cyprian, On the Unity of the Church, 16
(A.D. 251)

“Say not, none seeth me; think not, that there is no witness of the deed. Human
witness oftentimes there is not; but He who fashioned us, an unerring witness,
abides faithful in heaven, and beholds what thou doest. And the stains of sin also
remain in the body; for as when a wound has gone deep into the body, even if
there has been a healing, the scar remains, so sin wounds soul and body, and the
marks of its scars remain in all; and they are removed only from those who
receive the washing of Baptism. The past wounds therefore of soul and body God
heals by Baptism; against future ones let us one and all jointly guard ourselves,
that we may keep this vestment of the body pure, and may not for practicing
fornication and sensual indulgence or any other sin for a short season, lose the
salvation of heaven, but may inherit the eternal kingdom of God; of which may
God, of His own grace, deem all of you worthy.”
St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, 18:19,20
(A.D. 350)

“But he that shall persevere to the end, he shall be saved.”
Matthew 24,13

Pax vobiscum