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Sacraments and Salvation

19 Oct 2015, by Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA in Sacraments

Some people have asked the question about the necessity of the Sacraments for salvation; do we need the sacraments to gain salvation? This is a question mostly asked by our none Catholic brethren; the reason for the question does not matter; it is a question that must not be ignored.the 7 sacraments To question the sacraments is to question the Church’s life because the liturgical life of the Church is centered or built around the sacraments. Take away the altar from the Catholic Church; it becomes something else, like any other “Church” you see around. So, the question about the Church’s sacraments and its relationship with salvation is something significant.

To properly answer this question, we need to know what salvation is all about and what the Church says about the sacrament.

Some Christians with little understanding of their faith confuse salvation for being saved from demonic oppression or healed of certain ailments. One can be healed or delivered from demonic power without having access to salvation. The flesh may be delivered from satanic powers, but if the soul is not delivered, then there is no salvation in that person. Jesus said; On that day, many will say to me, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name? And then, I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers. (Mt. 7:22-23).

Therefore, salvation is far more than physical healing or working a miracle; it is the deliverance from the righteous judgment of God. A man may be sick, no “visible miracle” may be seen in his life, yet he may be delivered from Divine judgment to gain eternal life in God. Therefore, salvation can be defined as the deliverance from Divine judgment to gain eternal life in God through Jesus Christ.

I guess this explanation of salvation is not new to you; yes, the question still stands: Do we need the sacraments to be delivered from this Divine judgment to gain eternal life in God? Well, salvation is the work of Christ, he came to die so that we may have life in abundance. Before his passion and death, he said to Nicodemus; Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. (Jn. 3:3-6). This idea of born again has been interpreted differently by different people; some, especially none Catholics sees it as repentance while Catholics, not completely ignoring the idea of repentance sees it more of baptism. Nicodemus himself was confused when Jesus first used the word “born anew”, but Jesus had to explain that he met “born of water and the Spirit.” The use of the word “water” indicates baptism. And shortly after his ascension into heaven, Jesus commissioned his apostles to baptize; All authority in heaven and on dearth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo. I am with you always, to the close of the age. (Mt. 28:18-20).

Since Jesus told Nicodemus thatSacraments unless one is born of water (The sacrament of baptism) and the Holy Spirit (The sacrament of confirmation) he cannot enter the kingdom of God (Salvation), then it therefore means that at least these two are necessary for salvation. Again, Jesus said, Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood (The Holy Eucharist), you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him at the last day. (Jn. 6:53-54). This also indicates that the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is necessary for salvation.

You may want to ask me how sure am I about the necessity of these three sacraments for salvation; I am sure because Jesus said so. Do you think Jesus lied when he said truly, truly? Was he joking? No, he wasn’t; he met every word of it.

You may want to ask also if the other sacraments are necessary for salvation. We know that there are seven sacraments in the Catholic Church: Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Eucharist, Penance, Anointing of the sick, Holy Orders, and Matrimony. Are the other four necessary for salvation too?

I will let you know that the Church sees the sacraments as outward signs of an inward grace. The sacraments are seven as listed above. Baptism, Confirmation, and the Holy Eucharist are necessary for salvation because Christ said so. Others may not be necessary because I do not need to marry to enter heaven; neither must I be ordained priest to gain salvation, but they remain essential sacraments in the Church. Without the beautiful gift of the sacrament of Orders, we would lack the necessary sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. One may decide to remain single for life without being an ordained priest, but if he or she must marry, then the sacrament of matrimony is necessary to keep him or her in full communion with the Church. One may gain heaven without being anointed before death. And for the sacrament of Penance, it is all about repentance, which is very necessary for salvation. However, the mercy of God is so great; it is beyond measure. If he saved a dying thief on the cross, then his mercy can save anyone. It is not ours to judge who enters heaven.