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Tim Holler wrote:

Hi, guys —

It is very confusing to sort out the differences between what we Protestants believe about salvation and what the Roman Catholic Church teaches about salvation.

Could you possibly tell me how you would answer the question:

  • What do I have to do to go to Heaven?

I have heard very conflicting answers for this question from several sources, both Catholic and Protestant alike.

Thank you for taking the time,

Tim Holler
Memphis, Tennessee

  { What is the Catholic view of what you have to do to go to Heaven? }

Mary Ann replied:

Dear Tim,

If you search the site you will find a few nice long answers to your question.

You are asking the wrong question.

"What do I have to do to go to Heaven?"

implies that we get to Heaven through what we do. We don't.

We get to Heaven through Jesus, who is the Way. He is the Path and He is the Means, both are meanings of the Way. He achieved redemption for us and it is through living in Him and living in His Word that are brought to eternal salvation by Him.

That said, living united with Him, living in His word, as He said at the Last Supper, means doing His will:

  • being branches of His vine
  • acting with His life in us.

If we don't do the works He has prepared for us, and which He gives us the grace to do, then we might be broken off and cast away. The first work is the daily work of believing in Him, and believing with our whole life, with what we do and say, with our trust and our love.

Once a young man asked Jesus the same question you ask. Jesus said,

"If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments . . . If thou wilt be perfect, go sell what you have and give to the poor . . . and come follow me."

(Mark 10:17-21)

Following means doing what He does so we don't get to Heaven by a passive statement of faith.

It takes our cooperation with God's plan of salvation.

Hope this helps,

Mary Ann

Mike replied:

Hi Tim,

I wanted to add a little more to what Mary Ann has said. She makes a good point, when she states,

"So we don't get to Heaven by a passive statement of faith."

It does take cooperation. Cooperation with the Holy Spirit. This starts via a personal daily prayer life and some introspective questioning that ponders:

  • Am I making a false assumption that the leaders of my congregation can trace their leadership back to the Apostles?
  • Can they prove their Apostolic origin? and if not:
  • How do I find the real successors to the Apostles in the third millennium?

    Especially when Jesus promised to St. Peter and his successors that the gates of Hell would not prevail against His Church, that He established on St. Peter and His successors. (Matthew 16:13-19; 1 Timothy 3:15)
  • Are the leaders of my current congregation saying the same thing that the first Christians, otherwise known as the Early Church Fathers said?
  • What is the history of my congregation?

I believe there are many, many, many sincere separated brethren who believe in the man-made congregations they were brought up in at birth because they were never taught anything else. They have good hearts, but have either:

  • been scandalized by bad Catholic behavior
  • been told incorrect things by uncatechized Catholics, and
  • were never taught the fullness of the Christian Faith that can only be found in the Catholic Church.

Hope this helps,


Bob replied:

Hi Tim,

Here is my quick answer to the question: — "Cooperate with God".

That's it in a nutshell, or

Say Yes to God's grace, and respond with:

  • Faith
  • Hope, and
  • Love.


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