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John-Bunyan-slice

There’s no more pointless exercise than trawling across the internet claiming to be saved. If you think you are, you think you are. If, as one person here does, you then make the claim to know who else is, then you take on yourself what God alone knows; best of luck with that. Christ died for us all. Not all of us will receive him. If you feel a personal assurance that you are saved, that’s good; what’s bad is claiming to know that others are not saved.  We are his sheep, we know the sound of his voice. We are not the shepherd and nowhere in Scripture are we told we, the sheep, know which bleats mean the other sheep are saved. Sheep are none too bright, and any sheep who thinks he knows such things is dumber than the average sheep.

I first committed my life to God at the age of 11. Before that, I knew who he was, but had no assurance that he knew who I was. At that age I came to know him as my personal Saviour. But that assurance is not unconditional – and can’t be. we see in Acts and John’s letters saved people, people brought to Jesus by Paul and John, lapsing and falling away. We can, as some do, say it shows they weren’t ‘really’ saved, but for me it’s better and more accurate to say they have fallen away. If folk fall away and decide to commit adultery, then we can’t say it has no effect on their salvation – any more than we can say that if they turn from their sin and repent, God will not receive them as a Prodigal. We underestimate His mercy, just as we overestimate our own position if we think being saved means we can’t be tempted to fall away. Satan likes us to think we can’t be touched  in that state he can reach us.

A recent theme here has been that of this place as one where Christians can interact with each other, sometimes robustly, and sometimes helpfully, without in any sense compromising their beliefs. I have come to accept that the Catholic Church has sets of beliefs it has developed from Apostolic times, and those who have a problem with that need to do more reading. My own reading and praying don’t lead me to think that its way of doing things is the only way, and it no longer preaches its version of the ‘I’m saved’ thing – which was the ‘no salvation outside the Church’. It now seems to say that God alone knows where the boundaries of his church are – which is a good thing. A shame, then, that some rabid folk on my side of this debate can’t get off their high horse and admit the same. The old Pope only says he’s right in certain areas, the old Prods think they are infallible on everything – none of us are that.

Across a long life, I’ve moved from the intolerance that comes from being relieved that I’m saved, to the tolerance that comes from the Holy Ghost leading me to see that God’s mercy and wisdom are wider and deeper than anything my sinful self can conceive. If you’re saved, good. But don’t go round telling others they aren’t – you may end up with a nasty shock. I reckon old Dives thought he was a shoo-in.

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