I. Good Works in Sanctifying Grace are Necessary for
Neh. 13:14, Psalm 11:7,28:4, Isa. 3:10, 59:18, Jer. 25:14, 50:29, Ezek. 9:10,
11:21, 36:19, Hos. 4:9, 9:15, 12:2, Sir. 16:12,14 - The 2,000 year-old Catholic
position on salvation is that we are saved by Jesus Christ and Him alone (cf.
Acts 15:11; Eph. 2:5). But by the grace of Christ, we achieve the salvation God
desires for us through perseverance in both faith and works. Many Protestants,
on the other hand, believe that one just has to accept Jesus as personal Lord
and Savior to be saved, and good works are not necessary (they just flow from
those already saved). But these verses, and many others, teach us that our
performance of good works is necessary for our salvation. Scripture also does
not teach that good works distinguish those who are eternally saved from those
who are not saved.
Sir. 35:19; Luke 23:41; John 3:19-21, Rom. 8:13, 2 Tim 4:14, Titus 3:8,14, Rev.
22:12 - these verses also teach us that we all will be judged by God according
to our deeds. There is no distinction between the "saved" and the "unsaved."
1 Cor. 3:15 - if works are unnecessary for salvation as many Protestants
believe, then why is a man saved (not just rewarded) through fire by a judgment
of his works?
Matt. 7:1-3 - we are not judged just by faith, but actually how we judge
others, and we get what we have given. Hence, we are judged according to how we
responded to God's grace during our lives.
Matt. 10:22, 24:13; Mark 13:13 - Jesus taught that we must endure to the very
end to be saved. If this is true, then how can Protestants believe in the
erroneous teaching of "Once saved, always saved?" If salvation occurred at a
specific point in time when we accepted Jesus as personal Lord and Savior,
there would be no need to endure to the end. We would already be saved.
Matt. 16:27 – Jesus says He will repay every man for what he has done (works).
Matt. 25:31-46 - Jesus' teaching on the separation of the sheep from the goats
is based on the works that were done during their lives, not just on their
acceptance of Christ as Savior. In fact, this teaching even demonstrates that
those who are ultimately saved do not necessarily have to know Christ. Also, we
don’t accept Christ; He accepts us. God first makes the decision to accept us
before we could ever accept Him.
Matt. 25:40,45 - Jesus says "Whatever you did to the least of my brothers, you
did it to Me." We are judged and our eternal destiny is determined in
accordance with our works.
Mark 10:21 - Jesus says sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will
have treasure in heaven. This means that our salvation depends upon our works.
Luke 12:43-48 - these verses teach us that we must act according to the Lord's
will. We are judged based upon what we know and then do, not just upon what we
Luke 14:14 – Jesus says we are repaid for the works we have done at the
resurrection of the just. Our works lead to salvation.
Luke 23:41 - some Protestants argue that Jesus gave salvation to the good thief
even though the thief did not do any good works. However, the good thief did in
fact do a good work, which was rebuking the bad thief when he and others were
reviling Jesus. This was a "work" which justified the good thief before Jesus
and gained His favor. Moreover, we don't know if the good thief asked God for
forgiveness, did works of penance and charity and was reconciled to God before
he was crucified.
Rom. 2:6-10, 13 - God will judge every man according to his works. Our
salvation depends on how we cooperate with God's grace.
2 Cor. 5:10 - at the judgment Seat of Christ, we are judged according to what
we have done in the body, not how much faith we had.
2 Cor. 9:6 – Paul says that he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and
he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully, in connection with God’s
2 Cor. 11:15 - our end will correspond to our deeds. Our works are necessary to
both our justification and salvation.
Gal. 6:7-9 – whatever a man sows, he will reap. Paul warns the Galatians not to
grow weary in doing good works, for in due season they will reap (the rewards
of eternal life).
Eph. 6:8 – whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same again from the
Col. 3:24-25 - we will receive due payment according to what we have done. Even
so, Catholics recognize that such payment is a free unmerited gift from God
borne from His boundless mercy.
1 Tim. 6:18-19 – the rich are to be rich in good deeds so that they may take
hold of the life which is life indeed, that is, eternal life.
2 Tim. 4:14 – Alexander the coppersmith did Paul great harm, and Paul says the
Lord will requite him for his deeds.
Heb. 6:10 - God is not so unjust as to overlook your work and the love which
you showed for His sake. God rewards our works on earth and in heaven.
Heb. 12:14 – without holiness, no one will see the Lord. Holiness requires
works of self-denial and charity, and does not come about simply by a
profession of faith.
1 Peter 1:17 - God judges us impartially according to our deeds. We participate
in applying the grace Jesus won for us at Calvary in our daily lives.
Rev. 2:5 - Jesus tells the Ephesians they have fallen from love they used to
have, and orders them to do good works. He is not satisfied with their faith
alone. They need to do more than accept Him as personal Lord and Savior.
Rev. 2:10 – Jesus tells the church in Smyrna to be faithful unto death, and He
will give them the crown of life. This is the faith of obedience to His
Rev. 2:19 - Jesus judges the works of the Thyatirans, and despises their
tolerance of Jezebel, calling them to repentance.
Rev. 2:23 - Jesus tells us He will give to each of us as our works deserve. He
crowns His own gifts by rewarding our good works.
Rev. 2:26 - Jesus says he who conquers and keeps my works until the end will be
rewarded in heaven. Jesus thus instructs us to keep his works to the very end.
This is not necessary if we are "once saved, always saved."
Rev. 3:2-5,8,15 – Jesus is judging our works from heaven, and these works bear
upon our eternal salvation. If we conquer sin through faith and works, He will
not blot our names out of the book of life. This means that works bear upon our
salvation. Our “works” do not just deal with level of reward we will receive,
but whether we will in fact be saved.
Rev. 3:15 – Jesus says, “I know your works, you are neither cold nor hot.
Because you are lukewarm, I will spew you out of my mouth.” Jesus is condemning
indifferentism, which is often based on our works.
Rev. 14:13 - we are judged by the Lord by our works – “for their deeds follow
them!” Our faith during our life is completed and judged by our works.
Rev. 20:12 – “the dead are judged by what was written in the books, by what
they had done.”
Rev. 22:12 – Jesus says, “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense, to
repay everyone for what he has done.”
Sirach 16:12,14 – we are judged according to our deeds, and will receive in
accordance with our deeds.
V. Other Apostolic Teaching on Losing Salvation by
our Own Choice
Acts 7:51 - you stiff-necked people, you always resist the Holy Spirit. We, by
our own freewill, can resist God and His grace, and turn away from Him.
Rom. 11:20-23 – in expounding on Jesus’ teaching in John 15, Paul teaches that
the Jews (the natural branches) were broken off by lack of faith (v.20), but
says that the Romans stand fast through faith (v. 21). So the Romans are
justified. However, Paul then says that the Romans can also be cut off if they
don’t persevere in faith and kindness (v. 22-23). Hence, those justified before
God can fall away from the faith and lose their salvation (be “cut off”). Paul
also says that those who are cut off can be grafted back in if they do not
persist in their unbelief, for God has the power to graft them in again (v.23).
These verses are devastating to the “once saved, always saved” position.
1 Cor. 9:24-27 – Paul says that all the runners compete, but only one wins the
prize. Paul recognizes that if he doesn’t train himself properly in
perseverance, he too can become “disqualified.” The word "disqualified" comes
from the Greek word "adokimos" which literally means cut off from Christ, or
reprobate. When “adokimos” is used in the Scriptures, it always refers to those
who are to be condemned by God. It has nothing to do with going to heaven with
less rewards. See, for example, Rom. 1:28; Titus 1:16; 2 Tim. 3:8; Heb. 6:8; 2
Cor. 13:5-7. This proves that Saint Paul thought he could lose his salvation.
No one would reasonably argue that Paul wasn’t “saved” when he wrote the
Scriptures. So if Saint Paul thought that he could lose his salvation, why do
many Protestants think that they cannot lose theirs?
1 Cor. 9:24 – Paul says that only one wins the “prize” (brabeion). To further
prove that the race Paul is writing about refers to our journey to heaven,
“brabeion” always has a soteriological implication. See, for example, Phil.
3:14 where “prize” refers to the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (which is
1 Cor. 9:25 – Paul writes about achieving the “imperishable” (aphthartos)
wreath. Again, to further prove Paul is writing about salvation, “aphthartos”
always refers to the eternal. See, for example, 1 Cor. 15:51 (the only other
place in NT Scripture where “aphthartos” appears relative to humans) where Paul
says the dead will be raised “imperishable.” This refers to the resurrection of
our salvation. See also 1 Tim. 1:17 where the King of ages is called “immortal”
Rom. 13:11 – for salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. If
we already have salvation, then how can we only be nearer to it?
1 Cor. 4:4 - Paul says he is not aware of anything against himself, but he is
still not acquitted. Paul is not presumptuous about his salvation. Only the
Lord is our Judge.
1 Cor. 6:9-11 - we can be washed, sanctified, and justified, yet Paul still
warns us that we can be deceived and become unrighteous.
1 Cor. 10:6-13 – the passage is about how the Israelites, once justified before
God, fell away from God. Therefore, let anyone who thinks he stands take heed
lest he fall (v.12). You can be standing in God's grace, and then fall away.
But God will always provide enough grace to overcome the temptation (v.13).
1 Cor. 15:1-2 - we can be believers (predestined to grace) but believe in vain.
Scripture refutes the novel Protestant theory "once saved, always saved."
2 Cor. 6:1 - we can receive the grace of God (predestined to grace) in vain. We
can choose not to cooperate with His grace.
2 Cor. 11:2-3 – Paul writes, “I betrothed you to Christ, but I am afraid that
your thoughts will be led astray from a devotion to Christ.” The Corinthians
already had a sincere devotion to Christ, for Paul wrote to them earlier in the
letter, “you stand firm in your faith.” (2 Cor. 1:24). They are already
“saved.” But Paul warns them that they can fall away just like Eve fell away
(and, remember, Eve was created without sin!) This is another verse that is
devastating to the belief of “once saved, always saved.”
Gal. 1:8-9 – Paul says, “if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a
gospel to that which we preached to you…let him be accursed.” Paul says “if
we,” which means he believed even the sacred writers (currently “saved”) could
fall away from the true faith and teach a heretical gospel.
Gal. 4:9 – Paul asks those who know God how they can now turn back again to the
weak and beggarly elemental spirits, whose slaves they once were. Paul
acknowledges and warns of this possibility.
Gal. 5:1 – Paul writes that the Galatians are free in Christ, but warns them to
stand fast, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. You cannot be severed
from Christ if you were never connected to Christ. This warning applies to
those who are connected to Christ in faith.
Gal. 5:4 - Paul teaches that we can be in Christ, then be severed from Him and
fall away from God's grace. You cannot be severed from something unless you
were previously connected to it.
Phil. 2:12 - we cannot assume salvation. We need to work it out to the end with
fear and trembling. If "once saved, always saved" were true, why would the
great apostle Paul have to work his salvation out in fear and trembling? What
is there to fear if salvation is assured?
Phil. 3:11-14 – Paul writes that “if possible,” he may attain the resurrection,
says he is not perfect, and presses on toward the prize of salvation. Paul has
no presumption of salvation but works it out in fear and trembling.
Col. 1:21-23 - we have now been reconciled in His body to be presented holy and
blameless, provided we continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not
shifting from the hope of the gospel which we heard. Paul warns them that it is
possible to turn away and lose hope in the gospel.
Col. 2:18-19 - a man puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind has lost the
connection with Jesus. He had the connection and lost it.
1 Tim. 1:5-6 - some people have wandered away from a sincere faith, a pure
heart and a good conscience. They had a sincere (not a fake) faith, and still
1 Tim. 1:19-20 - Paul tells Timothy to hold fast to the faith, and not
shipwreck it like Alexander and Hymenaeus. They had it, and then they lost it.
1 Tim. 4:1 - the Spirit "expressly says that in later times some will depart
from the faith by giving heed to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons."
God Himself is telling us that some people who had the faith will lose the
1 Tim. 5:8 - if we do not provide for our relatives, we have disowned the faith
(we had the faith, and we lost it).
1 Tim. 5:15 – Paul says that some have already turned away and gone after
Satan. There is never any distinction between falling away from a true faith
versus a false faith.
1 Tim. 6:10 - for the love of riches we may wander from the faith (we had the
faith, and we can lose the faith).
Heb. 2:1 - we must pay closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift
away from it. We have it, but we can drift away from it.
Heb. 3:12 – the author warns the Hebrews to take care, lest there be in any one
of you an evil heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. We can be
with God, and choose to fall away from Him.
Heb. 3:13-14 – the author warns the Hebrews that they need to exhort one
another every day, so that none of them may be hardened by the deceitfulness of
sin. Paul teaches that we share in Christ, but only if we hold our first
confidence firm to the end.
Heb. 4:1 - while the promise of entering his rest remains, let us fear lest any
of you be judged to have failed to reach it. There would be nothing to fear if
salvation were assured.
Heb. 4:6,11 - we can receive the good news (predestined to grace) and then
disobey it and fall away. The author thus exhorts us to strive to enter that
rest, that no one falls by the same sort of disobedience.
Heb. 6:4-6 - those who have been enlightened and partakers of the Holy Spirit
(predestined to grace) can fall away, commit apostasy and crucify the Son of
Heb. 10:23-29 - we can sin deliberately after receiving knowledge of the truth
(predestined to grace) and then face a fury of fire.
Heb. 10:26 - if we continue to sin after knowing truth, there no longer remains
a sacrifice for sin - our salvation is jeopardized.
Heb. 10:35 - we can have confidence in salvation (predestined to grace), and
then throw it away. We can have it, and lose it.
Heb. 10:36: - we have the need of endurance, so that we may do the will of God
and receive what is promised. There is no need for endurance to get what is
promised if salvation is assured.
Heb. 10:38-39 – the author says that the righteous live by faith, but can
shrink back. He then exhorts the people not to shrink back and be destroyed,
but to keep their souls.
James 5:19-20 - we can be in the truth, and then wander from the truth which
means death, unless we are brought back.
1 Peter 1:14 – Peter warns that, as obedient children, do not be conformed to
the passions of your former ignorance. Thus, you can first be ignorant, then
receive the truth and become obedient, and later revert back to the passions of
your former ignorance.
2 Peter 2:1 - we can be bought by Christ, and then become false teachers of
destructive heresies and destroy ourselves.
2 Peter 1:10 – we must be zealous to confirm our call and election; for if we
do this we will never fall. But Peter is saying that it is possible to fall,
without zeal and perseverance.
2 Peter 2:15 – forsaking the right way they have gone astray; they have
followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing.
They had the right way, and then chose to forsake it.
2 Peter 2:20-22 - we can escape the defilements of the world through Jesus
(predestined to grace) and then become entangled again therein.
2 Peter 3:16-17 - we can be the beloved of God and then lose our stability and
carried away with the error of lawless men.
1 John 1:7 - if we walk in the light, the blood of Jesus cleanses us. But we
need continual cleansing, and can walk out of the light.
1 John 1:9 - if we confess our sins, Jesus will forgive them and cleanse us.
But we need continual cleansing. Growing in holiness is a lifelong process.
1 John 2:19 - "they left, but didn't not belong to us" refers to those who were
Christians who did not persevere and were thus not predestined to glory.
1 John 2:28 - we must abide in Him so we have confidence and don't shrink in
shame. If we fail to abide, we are lost.
2 John 8 - look to yourselves, that you may not lose what you have worked for.
You can lose the grace you currently have.
Jude 6 - even some of the angels, who beheld the face of God, fell. How much
more could we fall?
Gen. 3:6 - Adam and Eve, who were already living the divine life of
supernatural grace, fell away from God. Is falling more possible for us?
Ezek. 3:20; 18:24; 33:12,13,18 – the Lord clearly teaches us in these verses
that a righteous man can turn away from his righteousness and commit iniquity.
He was righteous (there is nothing about having phony righteousness), but he
fell away and chose unrighteousness. When he does, his prior good deeds shall
be forgotten, and he shall die.
SOME VERSES PROTESTANTS USE TO PROVE “ONCE SAVED, ALWAYS SAVED”
2 Tim. 4:8 – Protestants often use this verse to prove “once saved,
always saved,” even in the face of all Paul wrote about the possibility of
losing his salvation (including his). But it is only at end of Saint Paul's
life that he has a moral certitude of salvation. This is after a lifetime of
perseverance. As faithful believers in Christ, we indeed have a moral certitude
of our salvation, but this is different from being certain of our salvation. We
must persevere throughout our lives, and can choose to fall away.
Also, Catholics have more assurance of salvation that those who espouse “once
saved, always saved.” This is because the only distinction between a true
Christian and a superficial Christian is that the superficial Christian will
not persevere to the end – but this is something a Christian cannot know during
his life, and this necessarily imposes uncertainty upon him until the end. For
Catholics, we know that salvation is ours to lose. For “once saved, always
saved” Protestants, they don’t even know whether it is theirs to begin with.
Rom. 11:29 – “the gifts and the call of our God our irrevocable.” Some
Protestants use this to prove “once saved, always saved.” But this verse has
nothing to do with our response to salvation. It deals with God’s unmerited
gifts and call to us. Moreover, if a person is in “the elect,” then his
salvation is irrevocable. But we can never know if we are in the elect during
our lives (“the elect” only deals with God’s knowledge).
Rom. 14:4 – and he will be upheld, for the Master is able to make him stand.
This is another verse Protestants use to prove “once saved, always saved.” But
the verse speaks only to what God is able to do. It does not address what the
person is free to do (accept God’s grace or reject it).
Phil. 1:6 – “I am sure that He who began a good work in you will bring it to
completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Protestants also use this verse to
prove “once saved, always saved.” But Protestants wouldn’t argue that the whole
Philippi church was saved, so this statement must be qualified. In fact, Paul
does qualify it in Phil. 2:13 when he warns them to work out their salvation
“in fear and trembling,” and in Phil. 3:11-14 when he writes that “if
possible,” he may obtain the resurrection, and that he has not yet received the
prize (of salvation). Moreover, the verse tells us what God will do (He will
give all the grace to bring us to completion), but says nothing about our
cooperation with God’s grace.
Phil. 4:3 – some Protestants point to this verse about names which are in the
book of life. Indeed, because God knows the future, He knows who will persevere
(the elect). These are the people whose names are in the book of life. But
Jesus in Rev. 3:5 warns us that He can blot our names out of the book of life
if we fail to persevere.
Col. 3:23-24 – “work heartily as serving the Lord, not men, knowing that from
the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.” This is another
verse used to prove “once saved, always saved.” But the verse says our
inheritance depends on “working heartily.” It’s not just a matter of accepting
Christ as Savior, but working heartily in perseverance. If we persevere, then
we will indeed receive the inheritance as our reward.
2 Tim. 1:12 – “But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am
sure that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.”
Another verse proving “once saved, always saved?” Of course not. Paul is
writing about the Revelation of faith with which God has entrusted him, and
specifically that God will preserve his ability to teach the faith until the
end of his life (see v. 13 where Paul then exhorts Timothy to safeguard this
deposit of faith as well).
2 Tim. 4:18 – “the Lord will rescue me from every evil and save me for his
heavenly kingdom.” Again, this verse demonstrates God’s faithfulness to us, but
God’s ability to save us also depends upon our cooperation. God preserves His
elect, but only He knows who are His elect by His foreknowledge.
1 Peter 1:3-5 – Peter says we are born anew to a living hope through the
resurrection of Jesus Christ and to an inheritance which is imperishable, who
by God’s power are guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed
in the last time. No Protestant, however, would argue that all of northern Asia
Minor (to whom the letter was addressed) was saved. The verse simply sets forth
the tautology that God’s elect are saved (by God’s grace and the elect’s
perseverance), but only God knows who are His elect.
1 John 5:18 – John writes that anyone born of God does not sin (this, of
course, doesn’t say or prove anything about salvation). This is an example of
proverbial literature which John uses frequently. For example, see 1 John 1:8 –
if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
Proverbial literature tries to make a point by using an absolute, even though
the absolute is necessarily qualified (here, as seen by 1 John 1:8 which
seemingly contradicts 1 John 5:18).
Psalm 37:28 – “For the Lord loves justice; He will not forsake His saints. The
righteous shall be preserved forever, but the children of the wicked shall be
cut off.” Again, this verse shows that God will give the graces necessary for
the elect to persevere. Thus, they will be preserved. But the verse says
nothing about how we can ever know who is among God’s elect.
Psalm 121:3,7-8 – “He will not let your foot be moved, He who keeps you will
not slumber. The Lord will keep you from all evil; He will keep your life. The
Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and
forever more.” This is another example of proverbial literature about how God
will preserve His elect. But this also depends upon human cooperation. The
verse is about how faithful God will be, not how faithful we will be.
Jer. 32:40 – God will make them an everlasting covenant, that He will not turn
away from doing good to them; and He will put the fear of me in their hearts,
that they may not turn from me. This is another verse which describes the
faithfulness of God and how He, through His grace, causes the elect to
persevere to the end. But there are never any teachings in Scripture about how
we know whether we are part of God’s elect.
Tradition / Church Fathers
I. We are Saved by Faith and Works, and Not Faith
“Seeing, therefore, that we are the portion of the Holy One, let us do all
those things which pertain to holiness, avoiding all evil-speaking, all
abominable and impure embraces, together with all drunkenness, seeking after
change, all abominable lusts, detestable adultery, and execrable pride. 'For
God,' saith [the Scripture], 'resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the
humble.' Let us cleave, then, to those to whom grace has been given by God. Let
us clothe ourselves with concord and humility, ever exercising self-control,
standing far off from all whispering and evil-speaking, being justified by our
works, and not our words." Clement of Rome, Epistle to the Corinthians, 30
"For what reason was our father Abraham blessed? Was it not because he wrought
righteousness and truth through faith?" Clement of Rome, Epistle to the
Corinthians, 31 (A.D. 98).
"All these, therefore, were highly honoured, and made great, not for their own
sake, or for their own works, or for the righteousness which they wrought, but
through the operation of His will. And we, too, being called by His will in
Christ Jesus, are not justified by ourselves, nor by our own wisdom, or
understanding, or godliness, or works which we have wrought in holiness of
heart; but by that faith through which, from the beginning, Almighty God has
justified all men; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen." Clement of Rome,
Epistle to the Corinthians, 32 (A.D. 98).
"Now I beseech thee, by the grace with which thou art clothed, to add [speed]
to thy course, and that thou ever pray for all men that they may be saved, and
that thou demand things which are befitting, with all assiduity both of the
flesh and spirit. Be studious of unity, than which nothing is more precious.
Bear with all men, even as our Lord beareth with thee. Show patience with all
men in love, as [indeed] thou doest. Be steadfast in prayer. Ask for more
understanding than that which thou [already] hast. Be watchful, as possessing a
spirit which sleepeth not. Speak with every man according to the will of God.
Bear the infirmities of all men as a perfect athlete; for where the labour is
great, the gain is also great." Ignatius of Antioch, To Polycarp, 1 (A.D. 110).
"Look ye to the bishop, that God also may look upon you. I will be instead of
the souls of those who are subject to the bishop, and the presbyters, and the
deacons; with them may I have a portion in the presence of God! Labour together
with one another, act as athletes together, run together, suffer together,
sleep together, rise together. As stewards of God, and of His household, and
His servants, please Him and serve Him, that ye may receive from Him the wages
promised. Let none of you be rebellious. Let your baptism be to you as armour,
and faith as a spear, and love as a helmet, and patience as a panoply. Let your
treasures be your good works, that ye may receive the gift of God, as is just.
Let your spirit be long-suffering towards each other with meekness, even as God
is toward you. As for me, I rejoice in you at all times." Ignatius of Antioch,
To Polycarp, 6 (A.D. 110).
"For he who keepeth these shall be glorified in the kingdom of God; but he who
chooseth other things shall be destroyed with his works." Epistle of Barnabas,
2 (A.D. 132).
"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,
falsewitness; '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.'" Polycarp, To the Philippians, 2 (A.D. 135).
"They only who fear the Lord and keep His commandments have life with God; but
as to those who keep not His commandments, there is no life in them." Shepherd
of Hermas, 2 Comm 7 (A.D. 155).
"But those who do not keep his commandments, flee from his life, and despise
him. But he has his own honour with the Lord. All, therefore, who shall despise
him, and not follow his commands, deliver themselves to death, and every one of
them will be guilty of his own blood. But I enjoin you, that you obey his
commands, and you will have a cure for your former sins." Shepherd of Hermas, 3
Sim 10:2 (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 they
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." Justin Martyr, First Apology, 6 (A.D. 155).
"On this account also Paul the Apostle says to the Corinthians, 'Know ye not,
that they who run in a racecourse, do all indeed run, but one receiveth the
prize? So run, that ye may obtain. Every one also who engages in the contest is
temperate in all things: now these men that they may obtain a corruptible
crown, but we an incorruptible. But I so run, not as uncertainty; I fight, not
as One beating the air; but I make my body livid, and bring it into subjection,
lest by any means, when preaching to others, I may myself be rendered a
castaway.' This able wrestler, therefore, exhorts us to the struggle for
immortality, that we may be crowned, and may deem the crown precious, namely,
that which is acquired by our struggle, but which does not encircle us of its
own accord (sed non ultro coalitam)." Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 4:7 (A.D.
"But do you also, if you please, give reverential attention to the prophetic
Scriptures, and they will make your way plainer for escaping the eternal
punishments, and obtaining the eternal prizes of God. For He who gave the mouth
for speech, and formed the ear to hear, and made the eye to see, will examine
all things, and will judge righteous judgment, rendering merited awards to
each. To those who by patient continuance in well-doing seek immortality, He
will give life everlasting, joy, peace, rest, and abundance of good things,
which neither hath eye seen, nor ear heard, nor hath it entered into the heart
of man to conceive. But to the unbelieving and despisers, who obey not the
truth, but are obedient to unrighteousness, when they shall have been filled
with adulteries and fornications, and filthiness, and covetousness, and
unlawful idolatries, there shall be anger and wrath, tribulation and anguish,
and at the last everlasting fire shall possess such men. Since you said, "Show
me thy God," this is my God, and I counsel you to fear Him and to trust Him." Theophilius
of Antioch, To Autolycus, I:14 (A.D. 181).
"'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." Clement of
Alexandria, The Stromata, 6:14 (A.D. 202).
"[T]hus by the grace of the Saviour healing their souls, enlightening them and
leading them to the attainment of the truth; and whosoever obtains this and
distinguishes himself in good works shall gain the prize of everlasting life...
But others rightly and adequately comprehend this, but attaching slight
importance to the works which tend to salvation, do not make the requisite
preparation for attaining to the objects of their hope." Clement of Alexandria,
Who is the rich man that shall be saved?, 1,2 (A.D. 210).
"[T]he apostolic teaching is that the soul, having a substance and life of its
own, shall, after its departure from the world, be rewarded according to its
deserts, being destined to obtain either an inheritance of eternal life and
blessedness, if its actions shall have procured this for it, or to be delivered
up to eternal fire and punishments, if the guilt of its crimes shall have
brought it down to this." Origen, First Principles, Preface 5 (A.D. 230).
"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).
"And in like manner, the Gentiles by faith in Christ prepare for themselves
eternal life through good works." Hippolytus, Commentary on Proverbs (ante A.D.
"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" 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." Cyprian, On the Unity of the Church, 16 (A.D. 251).
"You must pray more eagerly and entreat; you must spend the day in grief; wear
out nights in watchings and weepings; occupy all your time in wailful
lamentations; lying stretched on the ground, you must cling close to the ashes,
be surrounded with sackcloth and filth; after losing the raiment of Christ, you
must be willing now to have no clothing; after the devil's meat, you must
prefer fasting; be earnest in righteous works, whereby sins may be purged;
frequently apply yourself to almsgiving, whereby souls are freed from death.
What the adversary took from you, let Christ receive; nor ought your estate now
either to be held or loved, by which you have been both deceived and conquered.
Wealth must be avoided as an enemy; must be fled from as a robber; must be
dreaded by its possessors as a sword and as poison. To this end only so much as
remains should be of service, that by it the crime and the fault may be
redeemed. Let good works be done without delay, and largely; let all your
estate be laid out for the healing of your wound; let us lend of our wealth and
our means to the Lord, who shall judge concerning us. Thus faith flourished in
the time of the apostles; thus the first people of believers kept Christ's
commands: they were prompt, they were liberal, they gave their all to be
distributed by the apostles; and yet they were not redeeming sins of such a
character as these." Cyprian, On the Lapsed, 35 (A.D. 251).
"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." Cyprian, Works and Almsgiving, 14 (A.D. 252).
"For this reason He has given us this present life, that we may either lose
that true and eternal life by our vices, or win it by virtue." Lactantius,
Divine Institutes, 7:5 (A.D. 310).
"But our faith thus teaches, that when men fall asleep, they sleep this slumber
without knowing good from evil. And the righteous look not forward to their
promises, nor do the wicked look forward to their sentence of punishment, until
the Judge come and separate those whose place is at His right hand from those
whose place is at His left. And be thou instructed by that which is written,
that when the Judge shall sit, and the books be opened before Him and the good
and evil deeds recited, then they that have wrought good works shall receive
good rewards from Him Who is good; and they that have done evil deeds shall
receive evil penalties from the just Judge... But hear, my beloved, this proof
that retribution shall take place at the end. For when the Shepherd divides His
flock and sets some on His right hand and some on His left. until He shall have
acknowledged the service of the good, then He will cause them to inherit the
kingdom; and until He shall have rebuked the evil and they are condemned, then
He will send them to the torment." Aphrahat, Select Demonstrations, 8:21 (A.D.
"Terrible in good truth is the judgment, and terrible the things announced. The
kingdom of heaven is set before us, and everlasting fire is prepared. How then,
some one will say, are we to escape the fire? And how to enter into the
kingdom? I was an hungered, He says, and ye gave Me meat. Learn hence the way;
there is here no need of allegory, but to fulfil what is said. I was an
hungered, and ye gave Me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave Me drink; I was a
stranger, and ye took Me in; naked, and ye clothed Me; I was sick, and ye
visited Me; I was in prison, and ye came unto Me. These things if thou do, thou
shall reign together with Him; but if thou do them not, thou shalt be
condemned. At once then begin to do these works, and abide in the faith; lest,
like the foolish virgins, tarrying to buy oil, thou be shut out." Cyril of
Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, 15:26 (A.D. 350).
"We shall be raised therefore, all with our bodies eternal, but not all with
bodies alike: for if a man is righteous, he will receive a heavenly body, that
he may be able worthily to hold converse with Angels; but if a man is a sinner,
he shall receive an eternal body, fitted to endure the penalties of sins, that
he may burn eternally in fire, nor ever be consumed. And righteously will God
assign this portion to either company; for we do nothing without the body. We
blaspheme with the mouth, and with the mouth we pray. With the body we commit
fornication, and with the body we keep chastity. With the hand we rob, and by
the hand we bestow alms; and the rest in like manner. Since then the body has
been our minister in all things, it shall also share with us in the future the
fruits of the past. Therefore, brethren, let us be careful of our bodies, nor
misuse them as though not our own. Let us not say like the heretics, that this
vesture of the body belongs not to us, but let us be careful of it as our own;
for we must give account to the Lord of all things done through the body.” Cyril
of Jerusalem,Catechetical Lectures, 18:19,20 (A.D. 350).
“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.” Cyril of
Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, 18:19,20 (A.D. 350).
"For it is not productive of virtue, nor is it any token of goodness. For none
of us is judged for what he knows not, and no one is called blessed because he
hath learning and knowledge. But each one will be called to judgment in these
points--whether he have kept the faith and truly observed the commandments." Athanasius,
Life of Antony, 33 (A.D. 362).
"'O Lord, my heart is not exalted, neither have mine eyes been lifted up.' This
Psalm, a short one, which demands an analytical rather than a homiletical
treatment, teaches us the lesson of humility and meekness. Now, as we have in a
great number of other places spoken about humility, there is no need to repeat
the same things here. Of course we are bound to bear in mind in how great need
our faith stands of humility when we hear the Prophet thus speaking of it as
equivalent to the performance of the highest works: O Lord, my heart is not
exalted. For a troubled heart is the noblest sacrifice in the eyes of God. The
heart, therefore, must not be lifted up by prosperity, but humbly kept within
the bounds of meekness through the fear of God." Hilary of Poitiers, Commentary
on the Psalms, 130/131:1 (A.D. 365).
"Now we have a woven work, when faith and action go together. Let none suppose
me to be misguided, in that I made at first a threefold division, each part
containing four, and afterwards a fourfold division, each part containing three
terms. The beauty of a good thing pleases the more, if it be shown under
various aspects. For those are good things, whereof the texture of the priestly
robe was the token, that is to say, either the Law, or the Church, which latter
hath made two garments for her spouse, as it is written'--the one of action,
the other of spirit, weaving together the threads of faith and works.... Faith
is profitable, therefore, when her brow is bright with a fair crown of good
works. This faith--that I may set the matter forth shortly--is contained in the
following principles, which cannot be overthrown." Ambrose, On the Christian
Faith, II:11, 13 (A.D. 380).
"Then, in the tenth place, work that which is good upon this foundation of
dogma; for faith without works is dead, even as are works apart from faith.
This is all that may be divulged of the Sacrament, and that is not forbidden to
the ear of the many. The rest yon shall learn within the Church by the grace of
the Holy Trinity; and those matters you shall conceal within yourself, sealed
and secure." Gregory of Nazianzen, Oration on Holy Baptism, 45 (A.D. 381).
"Innocence, then, and knowledge make a man blessed. We have also noted already
that the blessedness of eternal life is the reward for good works…Rejoice and
be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven; for so persecuted they
the prophets which were before you.' And again: 'He that will come after Me,
let him take up his cross and follow Me.'" Ambrose, Duties of the Clergy, 3:9
(c. A.D. 391).
"'Is it then enough,' saith one,' to believe on the Son, that one may have
eternal life?' By no means. And hear Christ Himself declaring this, and saying,
"Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of
heaven" (Matt. vii. 21); and the blasphemy against the Spirit is enough of
itself to cast a man into hell. But why speak I of a portion of doctrine?
Though a man believe rightly on the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, yet if
he lead not a right life, his faith will avail nothing towards his salvation." John
Chrysostom, Homilies on John, 31:1 (A.D. 391).
"You had a wife, the apostle says, when you believed. Do not fancy your faith
in Christ to be a reason for parting from her. For 'God hath called us in
peace.' 'Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing but the keeping
of the commandments of God.' Neither celibacy nor wedlock is of the slightest
use without works, since even faith, the distinguishing mark of Christians, if
it have not works, is said to be dead, and on such terms as these the virgins
of Vesta or of Juno, who was constant to one husband, might claim to be
numbered among the saints." Jerome, To Pammachius, Epistle 48:6 (A.D. 393).
"Paul, joining righteousness to faith and weaving them together, constructs of
them the breastsplates for the infantryman, armoring the soldier properly and
safely on both sides. A soldier cannot be considered safely armored when either
shield is disjoined from the other. For faith without works of justice is not
sufficient for salvation; neither, however, is righteous living secure in
itself of salvation, if it is disjoined from faith." Gregory of Nyssa, Homilies
on Ecclesiastes, 8 (A.D. 394).
"And he who has not this love, 'though he speak with the tongues of men and
angels, is sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal; and though he have the gift of
prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge, and though he have all
faith, so that he can remove mountains, he is nothing; and though he bestow all
his goods to feed the poor, and though he give his body to be burned, it
profiteth him nothing.' How great a good, then, is that without which goods so
great bring no one to eternal life! But love or charity itself,--for they are
two names for one thing,--if he have it that does not speak with tongues, nor
has the gift of prophecy, nor knows all mysteries and all knowledge, nor gives
all his goods to the poor, either because he has none to give or because some
necessity hinders, nor delivers his body to be burned, if no trial of such a
suffering overtakes him, brings that man to the kingdom, so that faith itself
is only rendered profitable by love, since faith without love can indeed exist,
but cannot profit. And therefore also the Apostle Paul says, 'In Christ Jesus
neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but faith that
worketh by love:' so distinguishing it from that faith by which even 'the
devils believe and tremble.' Love, therefore, which is of God and is God, is
specially the Holy Spirit, by whom the love of God is shed abroad in our
hearts, by which love the whole Trinity dwells in us. And therefore most
rightly is the Holy Spirit, although He is God, called also the gift of God.
And by that gift what else can properly be understood except love, which brings
to God, and without which any other gift of God whatsoever does not bring to
God?" Augustine, On the Trinity, 15:18,32 (A.D. 416).
"According to the Catholic faith we believe this also, that after grace has
been received through baptism, all the baptized with the help and cooperation
of Christ can and ought to fufill what pertains to the salvation of the soul,
if they will labor faithfully." Council of Orange II, Predestination (A.D.
"They acknowledge that they know God, but in deeds they deny Him (Tit. i. 16).
And John says, He that saith that he knows Him, and keepeth not His
commandments, is a liar (1 John ii. 4). James also, the brother of the Lord,
writes saying, Faith without works is dead (Jam. ii. 20). If, then, believers
now are not saved without good works, while the unbelieving and reprobate
without good action were saved by our Lord descending into hell, then the lot
of those who never saw the incarnation of the Lord was better than that of
these who have been born after the mystery of His incarnation." Gregory the
Great [regn. A.D. 590-604], To George (Presbyter), Epistle 15 (A.D. 591).
"If good life is wanting, faith has no merit, as the blessed James attests, who
says, Faith without works is dead (Jam; ii. 18)." Gregory the Great [regn. A.D.
590-604], To Theoderic, Epistle 110 (A.D. 591).
"The remission of sins, therefore, is granted alike to all through baptism: but
the grace of the Spirit is proportional to the faith and previous purification.
Now, indeed, we receive the firstfruits of the Holy Spirit through baptism, and
the second birth is for us the beginning and seal and security and illumination
s of another life. It behoves as, then, with all our strength to steadfastly
keep ourselves pure from filthy works, that we may not, like the dog returning
to his vomit, make ourselves again the slaves of sin. For faith apart from
works is dead, and so likewise are works apart from faith. For the true faith
is attested by works." John Damascene, Orthodox Faith, 9 (A.D. 743).
II. We are not “Once Saved, Always Saved”
"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.'" Ignatius of Antioch, To the Ephesians, 10 ( A.D.
"Watch for your life's sake. Let not your lamps be quenched, nor your loins
unloosed; but be ye ready, for ye know not the hour in which our Lord cometh.
But often shall ye come together, seeking the things which are befitting to
your souls: for the whole time of your faith will not profit you, if ye be not
made perfect in the last time." Didache, 16 (A.D. 90).
"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 any one relapse into strife, he will be
east out of the tower, and will lose his life." Hermas, The Shephard, 3:8:7
"[T]hat eternal fire has been prepared for him as he apostatized from God of
his own free-will, and likewise for all who unrepentant continue in the
apostasy, he now blasphemes, by means of such men, the Lord who brings judgment
[upon him] as being already condemned, and imputes the guilt of his apostasy to
his Maker, not to his own voluntary disposition." Justin Martyr, fragment in
Irenaeus' Against Heresies, 5:26:1 (A.D. 156).
"Now, in the beginning the spirit was a constant companion of the soul, but the
spirit forsook it because it was not willing to follow. Yet, retaining as it
were a spark of its power, though unable by reason of the separation to discern
the perfect, while seeking for God it fashioned to itself in its wandering many
gods, following the sophistries of the demons. But the Spirit of God is not
with all, but, taking up its abode with those who live justly, and intimately
combining with the soul, by prophecies it announced hidden things to other
souls." Tatian the Syrian, To the Greeks, 13 (A.D. 175).
"Christ shall not die again in behalf of those who now commit sin, for death
shall no more have dominion over Him; but the Son shall come in the glory of
the Father, requiring from His stewards and dispensers the money which He had
entrusted to them, with usury; and from those to whom He had given most shall
He demand most. We ought not, therefore, as that presbyter remarks, to be
puffed up, nor be severe upon those of old time, but ought ourselves to fear,
lest perchance, after [we have come to] the knowledge of Christ, if we do
things displeasing to God, we obtain no further forgiveness of sins, but be
shut out from His kingdom. And therefore it was that Paul said, 'For if [God]
spared not the natural branches, [take heed] lest He also spare not thee, who,
when thou wert a wild olive tree, wert grafted into the fatness of the olive
tree, and wert made a partaker of its fatness.'" Irenaeus, Against Heresies,
4:27:2 (A.D. 180).
"But some think as if God were under a necessity of bestowing even on the
unworthy, what He has engaged (to give); and they turn His liberality into
slavery. But if it is of necessity that God grants us the symbol of death, then
He does so unwilling. But who permits a gift to be permanently retained which
he has granted unwillingly? For do not many afterward fall out of (grace)? Is
not this gift taken away from many?" Tertullian, On Repentance, 6 (A.D. 204).
"Confession is the beginning of glory, not the full desert of the crown; nor
does it perfect our praise, but it initiates our dignity; and since it is
written, 'He that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved,' whatever has
been before the end is a step by which we ascend to the summit of salvation,
not a terminus wherein the full result of the ascent is already gained." Cyprian,
Unity of the Church, 21 (A.D. 251).
"Therefore, my beloved, we also have received of the Spirit of Christ, and
Christ dwelleth in us, as it is written that the Spirit said this through the
month of the Prophet: --I will dwell in them and will walk in them. Therefore
let us prepare our temples for the Spirit of Christ, and let us not grieve it
that it may not depart from us. Remember the warning that the Apostle gives
us:--Grieve not the Holy Spirit whereby ye have been sealed unto the day of
redemption. For from baptism do we receive the Spirit of Christ ... And
whatever man there is that receives the Spirit from the water (of baptism) and
grieves it, it departs from him until he dies, and returns according to its
nature to Christ, and accuses that man of having grieved it." Aphrahat,
Demonstrations, 6:14 (A.D. 345).
"Thou art made partaker of the Holy Vine. Well then, if thou abide in the Vine,
thou growest as a fruitful branch; but if thou abide not, thou wilt be consumed
by the fire. Let us therefore bear fruit worthily. God forbid that in us should
be done what befell that barren fig-tree, that Jesus come not even now and
curse us for our barrenness." Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, I:4
"It is the Spirit then which is in God, and not we viewed in our own selves;
and as we are sons and gods because of the Word in us, so we shall be in the
Son and in the Father, and we shall be accounted to have become one in Son and
in Father, because that that Spirit is in us, which is in the Word which is in
the Father. When then a man falls from the Spirit for any wickedness, if he
repent upon his fall, the grace remains irrevocably to such as are willing;
otherwise he who has fallen is no longer in God (because that Holy Spirit and
Paraclete which is in God has deserted him), but the sinner shall be in him to
whom he has subjected himself, as took place in Saul's instance; for the Spirit
of God departed from him and an evil spirit was afflicting him." Athanasius,
Discourse Against the Arians, 3:25 (A.D. 362).
"Clerics who are guilty of the sin unto death are degraded from their order,
but not excluded from the communion of the laity." Basil, To Amphilochius,
Letter 199:32 (A.D. 375).
"This temple is holier than that; for it glistened not with gold and silver,
but with the grace of the Spirit, and in place of the ark and the cherubim, it
had Christ, and His Father, and the Paraclete seated within. But now all is
changed, and the temple is desolate, and bare of its former beauty and
comeliness, unadorned with its divine and unspeakable adornments, destitute of
all security and protection; it has neither door nor bolt, and is laid open to
all manner of soul-destroying and shameful thoughts; and if the thought of
arrogance or fornication, or avarice, or any more accursed than these, wish to
enter in there is no one to hinder them; whereas formerly, even as the Heaven
is inaccessible to all these, so also was the purity of thy soul." John
Chrysostom, To the Fallen Theodore, Letter 1 (A.D. 378).
"But these sins were not after Baptism, you will say. Where is your proof?
Either prove it--or refrain from condemning; and if there be any doubt, let
charity prevail. But Novatus, you say, would not receive those who lapsed in
the persecution. What do you mean by this? If they were unrepentant he was
right; I too would refuse to receive those who either would not stoop at all or
not sufficiently, and who would refuse to make their amendment counterbalance
their sin; and when I do receive them, I will assign them their proper place;
but if he refused those who wore themselves away with weeping, I will not
imitate him." Gregory of Nazianzen, Oration on the Holy Lights, 39:19 (A.D.
"Let us admonish each other. Let us correct each other, that we may not go to
the other world as debtors, and then, needing to borrow of others, suffer the
fate of the foolish virgins, and fall from immortal salvation." John
Chrysostom, Concerning Statues, 21 (A.D. 387).
"Some offences are light, some heavy. It is one thing to owe ten thousand
talents, another to owe a farthing. We shall have to give account of the idle
word no less than of adultery; but it is not the same thing to be put to the
blush, and to be put upon the rack, to grow red in the face and to ensure
lasting torment. Do you think I am merely expressing my own views? Hear what
the Apostle John says: 'He who knows that his brother sinneth a sin not unto
death, let him ask, and he shall give him life, even to him that sinneth not
unto death. But he that hath sinned unto death, who shall pray for him? 'You
observe that if we entreat for smaller offences, we obtain pardon: if for
greater ones, it is difficult to obtain our request: and that there is a great
difference between sins.'" Jerome, Against Jovianus, 2:30 (A.D. 393).
"And, consequently, both those who have not heard the gospel, and those who,
having heard it and been changed by it for the better, have not received
perseverance, and those who, having heard the gospel, have refused to come to
Christ, that is, to believe on Him, since He Himself says, 'No man cometh unto
me, except it were given him of my Father,' and those who by their tender age
were unable to believe, but might be absolved from original sin by the sole
layer of regeneration, and yet have not received this laver, and have perished
in death: are not made to differ from that lump which it is plain is condemned,
as all go from one into condemnation." Augustine, On Rebuke and Grace, 12 (A.D.
"The faith of these, which worketh by love, either actually does not fail at
all, or, if there are any whose faith fails, it is restored before their life
is ended, and the iniquity which had intervened is done away, and perseverance
even to the end is allotted to them. But they who are not to persevere, and who
shall so fall away from Christian faith and conduct that the end of this life
shall find them in that case, beyond all doubt are not to be reckoned in the
number of these, even in that season wherein they are living well and piously.
For they are not made to differ from that mass of perdition by the
foreknowledge and predestination of God, and therefore are not called according
to God's purpose, and thus are not elected.” Augustine, On Rebuke and Grace, 16
"It is, indeed, to be wondered at, and greatly to be wondered at, that to some
of His own children--whom He has regenerated in Christ--to whom He has given
faith, hope, and love, God does not give perseverance also." Augustine, On
Rebuke and Grace, 18 (A.D. 427).
"Let the inquirer still go on, and say, 'Why is it that to some who have in
good faith worshipped Him He has not given to persevere to the end?' Why except
because he does not speak falsely who says, 'They went out from us, but they
were not of us; for if they had been of us, doubtless they would have continued
with us.' Are there, then, two natures of men? By no means. If there were two
natures there would not be any grace, for there would be given a gratuitous
deliverance to none if it were paid as a debt to nature. But it seems to men
that all who appear good believers ought to receive perseverance to the end.
But God has judged it to be better to mingle some who would not persevere with
a certain number of His saints, so that those for whom security from temptation
in this life is not desirable may not be secure." Augustine, On the Gift of
Perseverance, 19 (A.D. 429).
"The manifold mercy of God so assists men when they fall, that not only by the
grace of baptism but also by the remedy of penitence is the hope of eternal
life revived, in order that they who have violated the gifts of the second
birth, condemning themselves by their own judgment, may attain to remission of
their crimes, the provisions of the Divine Goodness having so ordained that
God’s indulgence cannot be obtained without the supplications of priests. For
the Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, has transmitted this
power to those that are set over the Church that they should both grant a
course of penitence to those who confess, and, when they are cleansed by
wholesome correction admit them through the door of reconciliation to communion
in the sacraments." Pope Leo the Great [regn. A.D. 440-461], To Theodore,
Epistle 108:2 (A.D. 452).
"The branches of the vine. Thus there are branches in the vine, not that they
may bestow anything upon the vine, but that they may receive from it the means
by which they may live...And by this it is an advantage to the disciples, not
to Christ, that each have Christ abiding in him, and that each abide in Christ.
For if the branch is cut off, another can sprout forth from the living root;
but that which has been cut off, cannot live without the root." Council of
Orange, Canon 24 (A.D. 529).
"And they who mourn their transgressions certainly cast forth by confession the
wickedness with which they have been evilly satiated, and which oppressed the
inmost parts of their soul; and yet, in recurring to it after confession, they
take it in again. But the sow, by wallowing in the mire when washed, is made
more filthy. And one who mourns past transgressions, yet forsakes them not,
subjects himself to the penalty of more grievous sin, since he both despises
the very pardon which he might have won by his weeping, and as it were rolls
himself in miry water; because in withholding purity of life from his weeping
he makes even his very tears filthy before the eyes of God." Pope Gregory the
Great [regn. A.D. 590-604], Pastoral Rule, 30 (A.D. 591).
"The remission of sins, therefore, is granted alike to all through baptism: but
the grace of the Spirit is proportional to the faith and previous purification.
Now, indeed, we receive the first fruits of the Holy Spirit through baptism,
and the second birth is for us the beginning and seal and security and
illumination s of another life. It behooves as, then, with all our strength to
steadfastly keep ourselves pure from filthy works, that we may not, like the
dog returning to his vomit, make ourselves again the slaves of sin. For faith
apart from works is dead, and so likewise are works apart from faith. For the
true faith is attested by works." John of Damascus, On the Orthodox Faith, 4:9