Salvation by Faith vs. Salvation by Mature Faith
I need a clarification on your points 8-12 about salvation (referring to articles 8-12 of the series on Scripture and Tradition at www.onearthasinheaven.com). I know that the main point between Protestants on the one side and the Roman Catholic church (RCC) and the Orthodox Church on the other side is this: do the scriptures and/or tradition teach that the righteousness of God (Romans 1:17) is imputed to the believer or is it infused? In other words is a person DECLARED righteous and given a legal standing before God on the basis of faith in the promises of forgiveness in the gospel along with what Christ did for the believer, or is the believer somehow INFUSED with righteousness and he then is able to do good works and in a sense merit salvation?
The question has been around for centuries, so I don't feel too badly about not being sure about the truth of the matter. It bothers me in the sense that I want to worship God in Spirit and Truth and I'm not sure what side of the question to come down on. I read Robert Sungenis or the Orthodox position (he's actually for the Catholic position) and I'm on that side. I read the Lutheran, Calvin and Reformed position and I come down on that side. Drives one crazy.
Do you think the Orthodox Church is mixing up the Law and the Gospel? Mixing up the do's and don'ts of the Law with the pure grace and faith in the promises of the gospel! It seems like it.
Also, I have trouble with the idea that someone CANNOT be CERTAIN of their salvation. Where is it stated that God has a big eraser and stands before the Book of Life waiting to erase the sinner's name as soon as he sins? It's like, hey my name is written in the Book of Life. Oh no!! I sinned. Now my name is erased!! Wow, well I repented and confessed my sins. Great!! Now my name is back in the Book. It's like the Book of Life is a loose-leaf notebook. Now I'm in. Now I'm out. Now I'm in. Don't you think that since salvation is a free Gift of God that once the gift is given God does not take it back?
And of course if one is "saved" (I don't like the term because of the baggage it has accumulated in modern times) he won't get the hair-brained idea that gee, now I'm saved so I can sin all I want. I mean, I live under grace and once saved always saved so I'll go commit adultery, rob, be lustful, mean, dishonest etc. If a person is born from above he may sin like Paul did, but he needs to remember his Baptism every day and repent and be back right with God.
I have a hard time (to put it in modern terms) to believe that my name is on the list referred to in Revelation as the Book of Life. Then to imagine God sitting there and going, darn that guy just sinned. I'll DELETE him. Oh great, now he has repented. I'll hit the RESTORE button. Does one go through life being deleted and restored and then just hoping that when he dies he is not in the deleted position? That seems rather absurd.
The one thing about the gospel is that it is God who chose me. I didn't choose Him. Like in Acts 13:48 where it states that all that were ORDAINED to eternal life BELIEVED. Notice that it isn't the other way around. In John 10:26 it says "You don't believe in me, BECAUSE you ARE NOT OF MY SHEEP. It doesn't say, "Well work your way and cooperate with me and then when you get into the sheepfold you will believe." No, it doesn't say that at all.
If one just lets the bible speak for itself after reading Ephesians 1-3, and Romans 5, 9 and 11 -- and of course the great 10th chapter of John it is fairly difficult to see how the fallen natural man can or even wants to cooperate with God in his salvation. The natural man CANNOT understand the spiritual things of God (1 Corinthians 2:14) In fact, not only does he not understand, he is positively angry at God. In a lot of cases the natural man doesn't even BELIEVE God exists. What is that first thing, that first movement where a person (convicted by the Law of his hopelessness, his lost condition) turns to God and believes? To me that is the work of God drawing the sinner to HIM. The grace is freely given, the sinner finally sees his utterly lost condition and trusts and believes in the work of Christ and the promises of forgiveness in the gospel. The gospel is the power of God for salvation.
In all this I find it hard to believe that the natural man can cooperate with God. Now, once Justified by Faith, THEN the sinner enters into a life-long PROCESS of sanctification and grows in grace. I don't think that every time one of the Elect sins, God pushes the delete button and deletes the person from the Book of Life. That would be kind of like -- he loves me, he loves me not, he loves me etc.
I think one of the great things about the promises of the gospel is that it IS NOT THE LAW. Do this, do that, and on and on. What must I do to be saved? Well, Mark says believe and be baptized. There really is nothing there about cooperating with God and trying to either earn your way or work your way to salvation. If that were the case, man would be doomed to hell. God loved me while I was yet a sinner, then he justified me, then out of my absolute thanksgiving, I try to live the Christian life (sanctification) and can feel assured that God is not going to hit the delete button every time I sin.
Don in Colorado Springs, CO
I've thought a lot about these questions myself, & you're right, it does seem odd that one can gain & lose his salvation moment to moment, getting added in, erased, & added back into the Book of Life. But that isn't how the Early Christians interpreted salvation, nor does it conform to their spirituality. They thought of salvation as a healing process.
I think these questions & points you've raised are good for the sake of constructive analyses, but in my opinion, when a person begins to analyze the finer details of salvation, one is entering or bordering the realm of mystery, like the Trinity, which seems to defy human rules of logic. Even so, it's still important to go into these details & discuss them because what we think & believe eventually determines how our spirituality becomes, how we act, how we pray, how we unite with God, etc.
There are 3 main ideas that you've sent me in your e-mail. They are: 1) if our salvation is imputed to us by the merits of Christ's Cross & Resurrection or if it is infused into our souls by our merits as we progress in the Faith, 2) if or not salvation can be taken away from an individual after having become a Christian, & 3) if or not a person can be certain of his salvation. All of these points are connected with each other, & so I'll answer them as interconnected issues.
The Bible teaches many conflicting things about salvation. Some verses teach that God predetermines who will be saved or not, creating or manipulating certain people to either go to Heaven or to hell, without the people having any control over their eternity. But other verses teach that man has free will, total control over if or not he should become a Christian & be saved. Then again, the Bible teaches in some verses that salvation occurs just by faith, without any man doing something to attain it, like the repentant thief on a cross next to Jesus's Cross (Luke 23:39-43). But other verses teach that people must do & think certain things in order to be saved, such as be baptized (Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38), endure to the end (Luke 21:19), know the Lord (John 17:3), do good works (Revelation 20:12), love God & your neighbor (Mark 12:30, 1 Corinthians 13:13), etc. Thus, the Bible sometimes does not harmonize certain conflicting passages, nor does it state that they should be harmonized. This is why some verses teaching free will say nothing about God's predestination of souls in their contexts, though other verses teach that there is predestination. This is why some verses teaching how salvation is imputed say nothing in their contexts about how it is infused into us, though other verses clearly teach that it is infused. Nevertheless, Mark 16:16 does record Jesus teaching that our salvation requires faith & Baptism, not faith alone or Christ's Cross alone, & there are other passages stating other conditions for salvation. As a result, the Early Christians have never believed that the Bible teaches free will alone, nor that it teaches that salvation is only imputed to us.
The Early Christians had learned from the Apostles, in Scripture & Holy Tradition, that salvation occurs through a union of God's predestination of souls & our own free will, & that it is a life-long process from God through our own initiative. They also learned that salvation is a past event (Ephesians 2:8), an event currently active (Philippians 2:12), & a future event (1 Peter 1:5). Even though God's grace is at work affecting our salvation, they were taught to put forth effort in seeking its completion, that is, taking the Kingdom of Heaven by force, as the Early Christians understood Matthew 11:12, & working out our salvation, as Paul teaches in Philippians 2:12. This is not a theology defining if & when salvation occurs on earth. It's instead a message telling us that the only certainty of salvation is the knowledge of going through the process to the best of one's ability to the end of one's life. There was never any discussion or necessity for any other assurance. It has only been Protestant theology that demands knowing eternal salvation right now according to their own standards of what that may be.
The Early Christians also learned from the Apostles that if one does not receive the 5 Sacraments of Baptism, Chrismation, Confession, Communion, & Holy Unction, all from the Apostolic succession of bishops in the True Church, one cannot be saved, though they also understood that God does not always follow these strictures. This does not mean that we can work or earn our salvation, but that our salvation is a union of faith, repentance, good works, endurance (perseverance), the Sacraments, love, knowledge, obedience, submission, etc. Hence, there are conditions to salvation, such as being baptized (Mark 16:16). But if there aren't any conditions, then what is the point of preaching Baptism if our salvation is given to us by God & all we have to do is accept & believe in Christ? This is why the Early Church always associated salvation with obedience to Christ's commandments as they were taught by the Apostles & preserved in the Church. Salvation is begun by Christ, guided by God in us, & worked out with our own motivation & efforts. The argument that man can't be involved in the process of salvation was never accepted in Early Christian times, & there was no known doctrine from the Apostles teaching instant & permanent salvation while Christians lived on the earth.
This activity of working out our salvation was not taken to mean that we can convince God to save us or merit our salvation. The Early Christian concept of salvation wasn't to believe that we've been instantly & permanently declared sinless, but to actually strive to be sinless, which takes time & prayerful effort. This to me is an important point because their goal was the Holy Spirit, not feeling secure about their own convictions of salvation. If anyone should seem to be saved, it's not necessary to know, since it's not yet revealed (1 John 3:2-3). This is because our souls need to be corrected or purified in cooperation with God's grace. People can go around calling themselves Christians, but in the first stages of the Faith, the Christian life is spiritually inconsistent & self-indulgent, so that some Christians, who may seem Christian to themselves & to everyone else, may not be saved, as Jesus taught in Matthew 7:21-23, nor are they always skilled in identifying God's grace & will. These Christians in Matthew 7:21 who appear to be saved will not be saved because they didn't follow the conditions necessary for salvation, such as following God's will, as it says in that verse. They may appear to be following God's will, when in fact they don't know what it is or they don't want to listen. So there are things about our salvation that need to be worked out, even though Christ has begun our salvation. It's not simply a matter of belief (instant & permanent salvation) & then, as a side-effect, growing in that belief (so-called sanctification).
Doing good deeds wasn't the only activity for working out one's own salvation. Correcting our thoughts is part of the activity of working out our salvation, & so is correcting our faith in Christ, since in the beginning our faith is not necessarily pure or true. Some Christians, especially those who are babies in the Faith (a stage which for some people may last a lifetime), convince themselves & others that they love God. But if they really did love God, they would be constantly thinking about Him & always filled with joy every time they think of Him. Yet their minds are occupied with earthly things & thinking about God is a struggle. These people hardly pray, & when they do, it's difficult for them. They find more time & delight in watching TV than they do in prayer & meditating on God. Plus, these same Christians don't really believe in Christ, though they may go to Bible studies all the time. If they really did believe in the Gospel & in eternal life, then they would be thinking about them all the time. Instead, eternity is not something they worry about, so that they occupy their thoughts & actions with this present life, as though they are not foreigners on this earth. In other words, losing $10,000 is far more devastating to them than it is to a more mature Christian. So if they really believed in Christ, they would be fully occupied with Him, with His Church, with Scripture, finding joy & deep devotion in them no matter what the circumstances. Instead, they often hear God's words only from necessity or because of peer pressure & tradition or from a human love for the subject. These Christians often find reading secular materials more interesting & fun. And they are filled with some degree of self-love & self-pity, often seeing faults in others & excusing themselves. They pity their bodies more than their own souls, shortening their fasts & prayers because they are too hungry or too tired. They get angry when they are insulted & flattered when they are praised. So much about their spirituality is self-indulgent, so that their faith in Christ is either shaky or they see it as their means of making it to the good life in Heaven. They find little profit & joy in Christ, unless it somehow benefits them. These are things that need to be corrected in order for faith to be Biblical & truly experienced & for salvation itself to take effect. Thus, in the spiritual life, not to go forwards is to go backwards.
All of the observations above about a significant number of babies in Christ may not be manifested to themselves, nor to other Christians, so that such believers may live their whole lives thinking that they're saved, fooling not just themselves but also setting themselves up as bad examples for others to follow, thereby fooling everyone around into thinking that the immature faith is the path to salvation. But not only do some immature Christians manipulate faith to their own advantage, even mature Christians retain some degree of such a mentality, indicating that when the Bible talks about faith, love, salvation, & so on, we have to understand that what we assume to be faith in ourselves or imagine to be imputed or infused salvation within a certain soul may not be the quality of faith & salvation that God wants from each of us. The standard of determining salvation is neither ourselves nor what we think God has given us, nor even feelings of firm surety of our salvation; it's determined by God's judgment of our seeking spiritual perfection. It is this that makes the Christian.
Salvation for the Early Christians & Eastern Orthodox is decided on how one struggles for spiritual perfection through the Gospel, to be as perfect as our Father in Heaven is perfect, as Jesus taught in Matthew 5:48. The questions of imputed or infused righteousness, & even of knowing for sure that one is saved, were never expedient in the Church until the Catholic & Protestant theologians for the last 1100 years began inventing new perspectives on salvation. The premises of these modern men derive from the newly conceived concept that man can determine God's salvation. Though it is true that God did become Man, was crucified, & then rose from the dead, & that faith in this event is necessary for salvation, the Early Church perspective of salvation also concentrated on how to imitate Christ's Resurrection within oneself to the fullest, thereby looking forward to God's future judgment, rather than to man's theology about it. Hence, the Early Christians focused on resurrecting their souls, bodies, & spirits by taking the Kingdom of Heaven by force, submitting to the Church's Apostolic Tradition, following 5-7 Sacraments, seeking love in perfection (1 John 4:17-18), going from faith to faith in Christ (Romans 1:17), persevering in devotions, acquiring a particular knowledge about Christ (John 17:3), etc. They didn't accept any need to determine if, when, & how salvation occurs. Their motto was: just do what Christ teaches & love Him will all your heart, mind, soul, & strength. God will reveal your salvation when your course is done.
When the Catholics appeared in the 9th-11th centuries, though their doctrines continue to evolve, they began to focus on God sending down messages, grace, & salvation through the Roman popes. The papal document, Unam Sanctum, sums up their doctrine quite well by saying, "It is altogether necessary to salvation for every human creature to be subject to the Roman pontiff" (This opposes the Orthodox belief & what Augustine taught when he said that there are many lambs outside the flock & many wolves inside it, that is, that some believers outside the Church are closer to God than some Apostolic Christians inside the Church). And the Roman bishop's teachings have been considered to be Holy Spirit inspired. This means that God's salvation has been at least in part determined according to man-made criteria. Then when the Protestants appeared in the 16th century, though their doctrines continue to evolve, they began to focus on God sending down messages, grace, & salvation through one's own opinions & feelings. And these personal convictions have been considered to be Holy Spirit inspired. This means that God's salvation has been at least in part determined according to man-made criteria again. This is not how the Early Christians understood salvation in the Bible, no matter what Catholics & Protestants can find in Scripture supporting their positions.
Because of these new perspectives, there are a lot of misunderstandings about salvation in today's world. When Protestants talk about "faith", they mean something other than what the Early Christians-Eastern Orthodox have meant by it. When Protestants talk about "sanctification", they interpret it to mean something not associated with what it initially meant. When Protestants talk about "salvation", they mean something different from its original concept. When Protestants talk about "Apostolic", they're referring to some new paradigm. The same is true for Catholics. Also, when some Protestants discuss "losing one's salvation" or "eternal security", they discover these teachings from Scripture, even though the Early Christians never found such Biblical passages. For instance, the belief that once a person is saved, then that person can never lose his salvation (eternal security), was never debated or noticed throughout Early Christianity. There is only one reference about this subject in the Ancient Jewish Talmuds (Kiddushin 36a), where some sages debated this idea. The debate dealt with how the Jews could or could not be called God's children, despite their unfaithfulness. Nevertheless, the Early Christians never conceived of such a doctrine, since to them being God's child was a growing process, not necessarily an immediate &/or final event on earth. It was only the Protestant reformers in the 16th-17th centuries who christianized & popularized it.
The Protestant premise of salvation is based on the idea of "instant salvation", which parallels the heretical Gnostic doctrine. The Gnostics believed that they could immediately receive eternal life & join a gaseous church just by simple faith in Christ, a salvation that was predestined by God & could not be lost. This belief is similar to the Jewish dogma of imputed, instant salvation just for being circumcised a Jew. When Luther christianized this belief in the 16th century (at a time when Gnostic precepts were still floating around Europe, due to occasional surges of Gnostic sects), it became quite popular because it could be made Biblical, as it had also been for the Gnostics, & because it seemingly corrected the false Catholic perception of salvation through the Roman pope's version of the Gospel, as it seemed to the Gnostics to correct what they deemed to be a false Early Christian perception of salvation through the Church's version of the Gospel. This premise of instant salvation has led to a legalistic Protestant perception of salvation being exactly defined by certain feelings or convictions, which can be exactly defined at the moment of one's conversion to Christ & proven sincere by certain later outward acts, which may not even be necessary according to this premise. Hence, the moment of one's conversion is declared to determine one's eternity, while his later outward good works & actions are declared to be evidence of that salvation or as signs of spiritual growth or even as heavenly rewards stored up (also called fruits). The conversion is called "salvation", while the spiritual growth is called "sanctification", so that Protestants have made exact, legalistic distinctions between salvation & sanctification that were never believed by Orthodox Christians since Apostolic times. Because of this premise, any criticism or differing interpretation of salvation is immediately regarded as possibly or actually teaching that people can legalistically earn their salvation, or that one's salvation can legalistically turn on & off like a light bulb every other hour. These accusations are made without knowing the original Apostolic doctrines & premises behind them, thereby diverting attention away from the actual legalistic tendencies of the instant salvation dogma itself.
According to the Early Christians, the issue of God's salvation being imputed or infused is moot. They never thought of salvation for the average Christian being delineated & completed on earth. But they did understand that there are always exceptions in some aspects to the process of salvation. The repentant thief is a good example, & Paul's co-workers are said to have their names written in the Book of Life in Philippians 4:3. At the same time, they never regarded sanctification as being something separate from salvation. Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:11, writing about the salvation wrought by Christ, says that some of the Corinthians were washed (baptized), were sanctified (sealed), & were justified (saved). If sanctification is the lifetime after-effects of salvation, as Protestant theology teaches, then why does Paul talk about it in the past tense & as being equivalent to Baptism & salvation? But apart from this question, the Early Christians did not consider sanctification to be what Protestants teach it to mean. They taught that sanctification was the Sacrament performed with oil immediately after Baptism, called Chrismation. Baptism planted the Holy Spirit in the soul and Chrismation was the seal & renewing of the Holy Spirit, so that salvation could be activated (Titus 3:5-7), as Hippolytus in the 3rd century records in the 21st chapter of his book "On the Apostolic Tradition". After this, it was up to each person to pray & work out his salvation.
The Early Christian premise of salvation is that subjective feelings of enlightenment & conviction, even wondrous visions, though edifying if they are from God, are not proofs of salvation. James 2:19-25 makes the point clear that simple belief in Christ is not salvation, but that faith with good works do constitute salvation. It is possible that a beginner in the Faith & God may quickly unite at the moment of his conversion, as had happened with the repentant thief, but in most cases there is no way of knowing that initial Christian-like experiences are from deep conviction & from God, nor even salvific. The human soul has just emerged from a life of sin & the effects of sin still dominate & confuse the soul & body. This is what we see in Acts 8:9-24, where Simon Magus believed in Christ & was baptized, yet he still was in the chains of wickedness, as Peter said. At that point in time, it did not necessarily mean that Simon was erased from the Book of Life, for the Early Christians never recognized that salvation always occurs at one's conversion. Paul himself makes a note of this in 1 Corinthians 2:6-3:4, when he says that only the mature Christians possess the Holy Spirit & are in Christ, but that the immature (at least some of them) are still carnal, people of the flesh, infants in Christ, who nevertheless are not yet walking in Christ & possessing the Holy Spirit, even though they are Christians. These verses in 1 Corinthians to Protestants often mean that the natural man can't understand the spiritual things of God, & so he can't or won't choose Christ. But this passage is referring to both non-Christians & immature Christians, with some of the immature Christians having likely been baptized & accepted the Gospel already. This is something that these Protestants overlook, or at least they seem to. So when Paul in Romans 8:1 says that there is no condemnation for those in Christ, he is talking about the Christians who have actually entered maturity in the Faith, not the Christians who have recently been converted or who remain spiritually immature, fleshly, & inconsistent.
Had Simon Magus not revealed his sin to Peter, he could have gone through his whole life thinking & acting like a Christian, yet still keeping within him the chains of wickedness, knowingly or unknowingly to himself & others. This is why Jesus mentions in Matthew 7:21 that some people will go around proclaiming Christ as Lord & yet they will never be given salvation. Salvation means more than feelings of conviction & a seemingly decent Christian life. For example, Philippians 2:12 teaches Christians to work out their salvation, that is, seek to become mature, for the Apostles never taught that salvation was necessarily in effect at one's conversion, nor can it always be identified. This is why Peter says in Acts 2:38 (in the exact rendering of the Greek), "Be repenting, & be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; & you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." As it says here, our sins will not necessarily be forgiven if we repent only at our conversion, & that was the inference Peter made to Simon Magus. Luke's use of the Greek phrase "be repenting" means that salvation is an on-going process, & that once we are baptized we must continually repent & seek forgiveness, since our salvation is not secure until by God's grace & our efforts we take the Kingdom of Heaven by force, as Matthew 11:12 teaches. There are many other verses supporting this perception, like 1 Corinthians 1:18, "For the message about the Cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." This too is the precise Greek meaning of this verse, meaning that we are being saved, advancing toward spiritual maturity & perfection if our faith is true. That's why Paul said to test our faith in 2 Corinthians 13:5-9, according to the Apostolic standard of testing.
The question that Protestants love to rely on is this: Are you saved or aren't you saved? But the Early Christians never accepted the premise behind this question. According to the Early Christians, the premise & the question should be: Are you being saved or aren't you being saved? When their Apostolic premise is taken into consideration, instead of scorned, doubted, or ignored, then the questions of if salvation is imputed or infused, or if one's salvation can or can't be lost, become moot or must be re-evaluated. The Early Christian premise is derived from Matthew 7:14, where Jesus says, "Narrow is the gate & difficult is the way which leads to life…there are few who find it." Salvation is not something simple or instant, it takes some degree of time with God to become effectuated. But just as difficult as it may be to receive salvation, so is it difficult to lose it, since any change of heart requires some degree of time to solidify. God judges these things, & we have no idea if or not our faith is sincere & salvific, if at the beginning of our Christian life or in its maturity, & if or not it has been lost through short- or long-term sinful behavior. This is how the Ancient Witnesses understood the Apostles, & it is something based on experience, not felt from opinion.
I could go through lots of Bible verses supporting how salvation is a process, & the Catholics, Orthodox, & Protestants can & have gone through countless Scriptures proving their own points. But a standard of our perception of salvation must exist; Christian doctrine is not relative. This standard is the Early Church, the witnesses of the Apostles & their succession of disciples. The Early Church understood salvation to be most secure during spiritual maturity, & less feasible before that stage. They heard from the Prophets & Apostles that salvation was begun by Christ & yet it was a personal process, not always recognizably effectuated at the moment of one's conversion or at some good feeling of conviction. It is completed only when one stands before God's throne. Moreover, salvation, like faith, can be increased & shaped, as in Luke 17:5, when the Apostles assumed that Jesus could increase their faith, & in Hebrews 12:2, when it says that Christ perfects our faith. Since faith can be increased, so can salvation increase & decrease, because faith & salvation are interconnected. Even 1 John 4:17-18 talks about different levels of love- an immature level & a perfected stage. This is precisely the point behind monasticism. Monks & nuns for millennia have sought to advance toward spiritual perfection, not just for the fun of it, but for the sake of their own salvation, & for edifying & saving all Christians & non-Christians, motivating them to imitate Christ to perfection, as He taught in Matthew 5:48, "You shall be perfect, just as your Father in Heaven is perfect." They all have done this because of what the Apostles taught in Scripture & Tradition. This is the essence of the Gospel, not just loving God, but loving God in spiritual maturity.
I didn't want to write so long, but I had to because there were so many things involved with your questions. I'm not sure if I've really answered them well & most properly, but I gave it a try. If there are holes to the things I wrote, you can ask me for a better explanation or you could ask a priest or both. Anyway, defining salvation isn't always an exact science in my opinion, but it is good stuff to know & pray about. I only know what the Early Church taught, & She is by far the only credible standard of Biblical interpretation & Apostolic Witness. So just read what they teach on these subjects, but I suspect that you're already doing this, or you're about to. Your research is quite good & I pray that your enthusiasm may rub off onto others.
Romans 13:11, "And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed."
Gregory the Great in AD 604, "For many come to faith, but few are brought into the heavenly Kingdom. And many serve God with their tongue, but turn from Him in their lives. From this we should reflect on two things: the first is that no one should presume concerning his own salvation; for though he is called to the Faith, he knows not whether he will be chosen to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The second is that no one should take it upon himself to despair of his neighbor, whom he sees steeped in vice, because no one knows the richness of divine mercy."
John Chrysostom in AD 407, "If for this brief present time we have a care for our souls, let us put to silence those who dare to say, to proclaim, what is contrary to this belief, & let us walk the paths of virtue, so that drawing near with a confident heart to that tribunal (the Day of Judgment), we may receive of the good things He has promised us, by the grace & mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be honor & glory now & forever. Amen."
Revelation 20:12- "And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things that were written in the books."