April 2020

Dialog: Saved by Faith Alone or Faith & Works

by Steve Ray on April 28, 2020

I am responding to a polite gentleman named David who posted a comment on my blog. He was responding as a kind Protestant who was reacting to my article “Response to a Southern Baptist.” He is kind and well-spoken and I wish we could sit and have a cup of coffee together to discuss this more personally. I have responded only briefly and with a few random thoughts while on the run. I would suggest he and others read a new book by Steve Wood entitled, Grace & Justification: An Evangelical’s Guide to Catholic Beliefs.

David’s words are italicized and in blue; my words are in regular text and in black:

Steve’s opening thoughts in preparation to respond:

I would like to make two opening comments which are touched on only briefly below. First, the argument about “faith vs. works” has been twisted by Luther and subsequent Protestants into a Protestant vs. Catholic debate. However, Paul never intended that in his letters. There was no Protestant vs. Catholic debate — it was rather a Jew vs. Gentile. Works of the law were not required of Gentiles to become followers of the Jewish Messiah. Only faith like that of Abraham was required.

Second, Catholics are often accused of believing works is what saves us. This is not the case. It is the grace of God through the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus that saves us, though we believe we must cooperate with the Holy Spirit to bring that justification-sanctification to its heavenly fulfillment. Jesus does not say those with faith alone will be resurrected and saved, rather he says, John 5:28–29 “Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.” I am always amazed how the words of Jesus are set aside in preference to a poor interpretation of the words of St Paul.

David starts:
I believe that Evangelicals rightly emphasize that we are saved by grace through faith alone. We are saved by trusting in what Jesus did on the cross and not by earning our salvation by doing a list of required good works. This is taught throughout the New Testament and is especially clear in Ephesians 2:8-9. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith— and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” This clearly says that we are saved by faith in God’s grace, not by our works. We don’t earn our salvation. Grace is a free gift; but we must receive it by faith. Faith is a combination of believing and trusting in what Jesus did.

Click here for the full discussion.

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A young man wrote today telling me of his coming into full communion with the Church having been raised Catholic but fallen away during university. Now he is back with full joy and appreciation for the truth.

He asked about his parents who were previously lukewarm Catholics but now just a theist and the other an atheist. They are good citizens and loving people. He asked his priest if they had salvation. The priest said it sounded like they were just fine, as long as their hearts are in the right place they should be alright.

He asked me if the priest was correct. Here is my answer: 

“I think your priest if partly right and mostly wrong.
“The Catechism says in paragraph 847 ‘Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience—those too may achieve eternal salvation’.
 
If this applies to your parents they may achieve eternal life. However, I would not want my eternal destiny based precariously upon such a hope that maybe if I am ignorant enough and am really seeking God I might make it.
Your priest may have said these things for one of three reasons. He may 1) have been positive so won’t worry, or 2) considers your parents in the state described by paragraph 847, or 3) he tends toward “Universalism” – a belief that in the end all people are ultimately saved. In any case, he may be correct in #2 but he would be incorrect with #1 and #3.
 
It all depends on the state of your parents’ knowledge and how they respond to it. It seems to me that they have no excuse because the truth is there and in their face. They have been raised as Catholics. The truth is easy to find if they know the truth or they “seek God with a sincere heart…”  However, neither of those seem likely based on the smidgeon of information given to me in the e-mail.
 
There are some people going to hell for rejecting God and his salvation in Christ.  If not, then Christ is a liar. However, we can never say that any certain person has gone to hell since we can never know that.
We can never judge one’s eternal destiny since that is the prerogative of God alone. Many certainly have an invincible ignorance and do seek God. Many have converted at the last minute of their lives and we can always pray that they do make that decision between now and when it is too late. God reads the heart and knows that state of one’s soul and salvation, we cannot do that. Actions and words give evidence one way of the other, but only God knows.
 
Sorry I don’t have better news, but Universalism is a heresy and Scripture is clear that one has to turn to Christ and he is the only means of our salvation. We pray and witness and hope…

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Depth of Water in Sea of Galilee! HIGH!

by Steve Ray on April 25, 2020

For those who have traveled to Israel with Janet and I and stayed at the Ron Beach Hotel in Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee, you will certainly enjoy these pictures!

Janet and I have only seen the sea this high about 16 or 17 years ago. It is delightful to see it full again. Can’t wait to get back in July-August, October, November and December-January!

If you want statistics, the sea has risen about 20 feet! I suspect, based on the rock at the Primacy of Peter, that is about the level of the sea at Jesus’ time.

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My Grandkids never cease to amaze! Juggling Dominic!

April 25, 2020
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A Friend Meets Mormon Missionaries

April 24, 2020

Fr. Tom Smith, from a long line of Mormons back to Joseph Smith, tells why he converted to the Catholic Church. Read it HERE A friend wrote about Mormons below: I was doing a little shopping that day. Since I was in the neighborhood of a friend, I thought, I will stop by for a […]

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Police Officer Interrupts Mass, Heroic Priest refused to kick of 12 faithful

April 23, 2020

SONCINO, Italy, April 21, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Police interrupted a Mass celebrated with only 12 faithful present last Sunday in the northern Italian village of Soncino, close to Milan. A video shows a police officer talking to the priest, Don Lino Viola, right after the homily. Moments later he returned, trying to get Viola to speak to […]

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Death of Courageous, Fearless Catholic Bishop – God give a hundred more!

April 21, 2020

Missionary Catholic bishop who toiled in the heart of Islam dies on Easter Sunday Aid to the Church in Need. John Pontifex-ACN | Apr 20, 2020 Bishop Camillo Ballin wore his cassock and cross even in parts of the Persian Gulf where symbols of Christian faith are not welcome or banned. Abishop who died on Easter Sunday […]

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Two New Videos and Important Pilgrimage Updates

April 17, 2020

Click here to read my recent email newsletter for two videos from the Holy Land—including an exclusive look at the Easter Triduum services at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre—and important updates regarding upcoming pilgrimages. Be sure to scroll to the bottom for some words of encouragement from the Chaplains of our Mediterranean Cruise, Fr. […]

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Resurrection Appearances: Places & People

April 15, 2020

In response to my show on Drew Mariani, here is the list of the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus. Click here for the document: https://catholicconvert.com/wp-content/uploads/Resurrection-People-who-witnessed.pdf For the podcast of my show with Drew Mariani — the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus and the institution and need for Confession, click ? below  or click this link: https://relevantradio.com/2020/04/the-importance-of-sacrament-of-confession/ My segment begins […]

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Eternal Security: Is Baptist Pastor Charles Stanley Right?

April 15, 2020

ETERNAL SECURITY (Once Saved-Always Saved): Analyzing a Sermon by Baptist Pastor, Charles Stanley By Steve Ray Hello Protestant Friend: Even though I have watched his show off and on over the months, I had no intention of watching Charles Stanley on television last night. It was just that I was tired after getting home and […]

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Exclusive Video: Holy Week inside Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem

April 14, 2020

Join the Franciscan Friars for Easter in an exclusive – inside the Holy Sepulchre during the virus lockdown. Thanks to my friends Jeries Majlaton and Fr. Sinisa who provided me with exclusive photos and video footage inside the Holy Sepulchre during the Holy Week Triduum. The Franciscans are on lockdown inside the church and celebrated […]

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Steve’s 1/2 hour podcast: “Witnesses to the Resurrection” on Relevant Radio

April 13, 2020

After counting the different individuals or entities who were at the Tomb or later witnesses of the resurrected Christ, I came up with 15 witnesses in 9 locations. Enjoy the podcast! The interview starts at 02:40 minutes into the show.

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Andrea Bocelli: Music For Hope – Live From Duomo di Milano on Easter

April 13, 2020

On Easter Sunday (April 12, 2020), by invitation of the City and of the Duomo cathedral of Milan, Italian global music icon Andrea Bocelli gave a solo performance representing a message of love, healing and hope to Italy and the world. Already as of Monday AM 27 million have watched this video and listened to […]

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How Long Was Jesus in the Tomb? Another Contradiction?

April 12, 2020

“For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matt. 12:38-40) Skeptics claim to have discovered an error in the New Testament —claiming Jesus was not in the tomb […]

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The Virus that Stole Easter

April 11, 2020

If you have someone who reads well in the family, have them read this poem aloud. You will all love it and it fits right in with Easter and our current isolation. The Virus that Stole Easter By Kristi Bothur With a nod to Dr. Seuss Twas late in ‘19 when the virus began Bringing […]

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How you can tell if Steve and Janet Ray are at Mass

April 11, 2020

Since our group is riding camels today in Jericho, I thought I would post this funny picture. Check your church parking lot. See a camel? Steve and Janet may be there for Mass :-)

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