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The Gospel against Heretics

You are the Christ, the son of the living God (Mt. 16:16).

Scripture also has many references to the importance of confessing the name of Christ. For example, in Romans 10:9, if thou confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in thy heart that God hath raised him up from the dead, thou shalt be saved. Heretics have misinterpreted verses such as these to spread the pernicious error that merely accepting Christ as your “personal Lord and Saviour,” and superficially confessing that He is Lord, would by that fact, number you among the “saved”.

The truth however, is far deeper than that heresy. The very fact that the Scriptures teach us the need of confessing Jesus as Lord points to the necessity of good works in order to be saved. This does not in any way reflect the neo-Pelagian heresy that we are somehow saved by our own initiative by reaching out to God, who in turn gives us grace, for Scripture also teaches us no man can say ‘Jesus is Lord’, but by the Holy Ghost (1 Cor 12:3). However, this is contrasted with the other extreme of thinking that the human will is so damaged due to sin that it loses its autonomy and God has to move it like how we move an inanimate object. This latter extreme of the loss of free will due to original sin, a doctrine of the Calvinists, is unbiblical (cf. Mt. 23:37, Acts 7:51) as well as solemnly condemned by the Council of Trent.

The truth is that it is God through the Holy Spirit Who draws sinners to Himself by first giving them actual grace. Then they, assisted by that actual grace, are called to cooperate with it freely and conceive faith when Christ is preached to them. By believing what God has revealed to be true, especially in the truth of the Redemption, they are thereby moved to hope in His promises and then to love of Him. Lastly, out of love for Him and out of hatred for sin, the sinner is drawn to Baptism, where sanctifying grace is conferred by the indwelling of the Holy Ghost in their souls.

Therefore, it is faith working through charity that saves (Gal. 5:6). However, since we are called to be doers of the word, and not hearers only (Js. 1:22), we are also called to actualize our faith and confess that Jesus is Lord. This professing of faith in Christ in turn, draws others to Him, as God uses us as His instruments in drawing others to Him. However, faith working through charity is not only actualized in preaching Christ by word, but also in deed, for Scripture teaches let us not love in word, nor in tongue, but in deed (1 Jn. 3:18). And God has taught us how to love Him in deed, which is by keeping His commandments, as Scripture teaches: by this we know that we have known him, if we keep his commandments. He who saith that he knoweth him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him (1 Jn. 2:3-4).

Lastly, one of the greatest signs of a true follower of Christ is by the love we show for others. A Christian who shows no love for others in a concrete way undermines his own faith that he claims to profess in, for Scripture teaches: If any man say, I love God, and hateth his brother; he is a liar (1 Jn. 4:20), and

If any man think himself to be religious, not bridling his tongue, but deceiving his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. Religion clean and undefiled before God and the Father, is this: to visit the fatherless and widows in their tribulation: and to keep one’s self unspotted from this world (Js. 1:26-27).

So great is this importance of loving our neighbour that Our Lord Himself taught it with the greatest solemnity on the night of the Last Supper: A new commandment I give unto you: That you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another (Jn. 13:34). The Church, drawing from the Gospel, gives us a list of concrete examples on how we may practice charity, and this list is called the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

Sadly, there are some who still take this in a merely superficial way, practicing the minimalism of the Pharisees. Obeying the letter of the law by abstaining from committing murder, yet they murder their neighbour in their hearts by the hatred they bear towards them. It is for this reason that Our Lord taught us:

For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be liable to the hell of fire (Mt. 5:20-22).

Therefore, may we practice an authentic Christianity by remaining united to the mystical rock on which Christ founded His Church and by faith working through charity, keeping ourselves undefiled by sin and repenting whenever we fall through the Sacrament of Penance. By this, we will like Peter, truly be able to confess authentically to Our Lord that You are the Christ, the son of the living God.

Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us!

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