In the Gospel of Matthew, when Jesus tells His disciples that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God, his disciples ask, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus responds, “For human beings it is impossible. But for God all things are possible.” We know our salvation is a gift, and not something that can be earned. But there are some things that we have been commanded to do in order to receive the inheritance of eternal life from our heavenly Father.
Recently a listener named Eric called in to The Patrick Madrid Show and shared that he is not Catholic, but is interested in Catholicism. And in his experience there seems to be an endless list of things Catholics must do (or not do) in order to gain salvation.
Guest host Father Mike Schmitz responded, “We see in Scripture that when it comes to salvation the New Testament offers at least four things that we’d say are necessary for salvation.”
One that you mentioned before is repent and believe in the Gospel. If you profess with your lips and believe in your heart that Jesus is Lord you’ll be saved, right? So we have that piece, and that’s one of the things you’ve been doing. That only can come from God’s gift. That’s completely His gift of grace that none of us deserve, none of us have earned. But you’ve responded to it and you’ve said yes.
If you look at John chapter 3 Jesus says that unless you’re born again of water and the Spirit you cannot enter the Kingdom of God. And Christians from that moment all the way through until now have believed that Jesus is referring to baptism there. Even in the book of the Acts of the Apostles, after Peter gives his speech on Pentecost it says that the crowd there was cut to the heart and they say, ‘What must we do to be saved?’ And he says repent and be baptized.
Then in John chapter 6 Jesus says, ‘Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood you have no life within you. If you eat my flesh and blood you have eternal life.’ So then you have this third necessity for salvation, which is the Eucharist.
Do the Father’s Will
What we have is very clearly, many times, St. Paul and even Jesus speaking on the necessity to do the Father’s will. In Matthew 25, you probably know the story of the sheep and the goats. And that at the end of time they all come toward Him and there are the sheep and the goats. And to the sheep Jesus says, ‘Come into the inheritance of My Father.’ Why? He says, ‘Because I was naked and you clothed me, I was hungry and you fed me, I was sick and in prison and you visited me.’ And then those who were excluded from the Kingdom he said, ‘I was naked and you did not clothe me, hungry and you did not feed me.’
The implication here is that they were even people who had professed belief, but they didn’t act on their professed belief. They failed to do what God wanted them to do. Doing the Father’s will is absolutely key.
When it comes to salvation we must remember that it is not a matter of simply following a process, but of developing a relationship with the Lord. God has given us these commands in order to help us grow in relationship with Him, so that we may be with Him forever in heaven. As Fr. Mike pointed out, “When it comes to salvation it’s simple, but it’s also deep.”
Listen to the full conversation below: