As a devout, not shy to claim it either, Roman Catholic, living in the south, I have been declared many times not saved by my protestant peers. My salvation is of great concern to those that feel more inclined to make judgement upon me and my family with their religious convictions and roots than to know who I am as a fellow human being. But here I must ask the question: Who still living IS saved?
Last Sunday, during the homily, the priest began with a note about the question of being 'saved," commenting that we Catholics get this question all the time. At the beginning of his discussion, I got excited and waited for him to give a concrete answer for us to use. Drat! It didn't happen, he just told us to be kind, patient, and don't get offended. Wow, was I disappointed, but then it gave me a great self discussion! Please, I know you all have self-discussions....you just don't tell others you have them. What would I say, better yet, what DO I say when I am asked, "Are you saved?" I know what I used to say, "Well, I pray and talk to Jesus all the time, why would He turn his back on me now?" Then, however, I would get this "But, have you accepted Him as your personal saviour?"
Well, let's talk about what salvation means for a moment. Salvation, as defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary is the "deliverance from the power and effects of sin" and "The liberation of ignorance and illusion," and still, "the preservation from destruction or failure." The Catholic Encyclopedia states salvation as in "Scriptural language the general meaning of liberation from straitened circumstances or from other evils, and of a translation into a state of freedom and security." So, essentially one that desires to be saved and enjoy eternal salvation must do something in order to obtain it...avoid sin, temptation, and all that is evil. To protect ones self from harm we need tools, the tool for salvation is Faith. Without faith we can do nothing, we feel nothing, and have nothing to do with God.....who is our source of salvation. To have faith, we need to be self-determined, prayerful, and knowledgeable to and about God and His gifts, especially, and most centrally, the gift of His son, Jesus Christ. Throughout our lives, we have decisions to make, growing up to do, and experiences to....well, experience, all of which is unknown to us at the threshold of the next event. With this unknown, we are to have faith in God that He will provide us with the capacity to rise to the occasion and persevere righteously. As the human we are, that is playing tug-of-war with our other Godly gift which is our "freewill." To say that we can be saved on a certain date is (I'm sorry, but) absurd. With the pending unknown at each corner of our lives, we can only say that being saved is an ongoing process that can only be completed at our earthly death. Matthew 10:22 states that "and you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved." Then again it is stated in Mt 24:13 "Whoever endures to the end will be saved." In 1 Timothy 1:18-19, St. Paul indicates to "Wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting conscience, certain persons have made shipwreck of their faith." So, shipwreck/backsliding IS possible!
So, my hope is that for those who read this and believe in "saved once, saved forever" just humor me and research the bible for this concept. It is my belief and the Church I come from that salvation is a continuous process throughout our life and that no one is saved, but by the Father. No one has the right to determine who is or who is not saved, frankly it is not any one's job for this judgement. So, to bottom line this post, my answer to the age old question I am sure to face again and again, will be: "Hum, I didn't know I was finished yet?"