What constitutes being saved?

I am hearing lots of different things about who is a Christian and who goes to Heaven. For instance, I have read there is no salvation outside the Church…now,is that the Catholic Church or the Church as the body of all believers? My priest told me anybody bapitsed in the name of the Triune God is a Christian, so there is some confusion on my part. Also, jews and muslims…heaven or no? Coming from an evangelical community for over 30 years, the answer is no, since they flat out reject Christ, but I have heard other Catholics say maybe they get in. Again, very confusing, for if salvation is found in no other Name but Christ, there shouldn’t even be a “maybe”. What are the official teachings on these subjects? Thank you!!

A heart, mind and soul that’s turned in conversion toward Christ. Having said that, there are good people on earth who don’t know Jesus, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church says that it is by their goodness that they also are saved from eternal damnation.

This may be helpful to you, from the CCC, read from 811 to 847:


**The Church and non-Christians **

839 "Those who have not yet received the Gospel are related to the People of God in various ways."325

The relationship of the Church with the Jewish People.

When she delves into her own mystery, the Church, the People of God in the New Covenant, discovers her link with the Jewish People,326 "the first to hear the Word of God."327 The Jewish faith, unlike other non-Christian religions, is already a response to God’s revelation in the Old Covenant. To the Jews “belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ”,328 "for the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable."329

840 And when one considers the future, God’s People of the Old Covenant and the new People of God tend towards similar goals: expectation of the coming (or the return) of the Messiah. But one awaits the return of the Messiah who died and rose from the dead and is recognized as Lord and Son of God; the other awaits the coming of a Messiah, whose features remain hidden till the end of time; and the latter waiting is accompanied by the drama of not knowing or of misunderstanding Christ Jesus.

841** The Church’s relationship with the Muslims.**

"The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day."330

842 The Church’s bond with non-Christian religions is in the first place the common origin and end of the human race:

All nations form but one community. This is so because all stem from the one stock which God created to people the entire earth, and also because all share a common destiny, namely God. His providence, evident goodness, and saving designs extend to all against the day when the elect are gathered together in the holy city. . .331

843 The Catholic Church recognizes in other religions that search, among shadows and images, for the God who is unknown yet near since he gives life and breath and all things and wants all men to be saved. Thus, the Church considers all goodness and truth found in these religions as "a preparation for the Gospel and given by him who enlightens all men that they may at length have life."332

844 In their religious behavior, however, men also display the limits and errors that disfigure the image of God in them:

Very often, deceived by the Evil One, men have become vain in their reasonings, and have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and served the creature rather than the Creator. Or else, living and dying in this world without God, they are exposed to ultimate despair.333

845 To reunite all his children, scattered and led astray by sin, the Father willed to call the whole of humanity together into his Son’s Church. The Church is the place where humanity must rediscover its unity and salvation. The Church is “the world reconciled.” She is that bark which “in the full sail of the Lord’s cross, by the breath of the Holy Spirit, navigates safely in this world.” According to another image dear to the Church Fathers, she is prefigured by Noah’s ark, which alone saves from the flood.334

“Outside the Church there is no salvation”

846 How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers?335 Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body:

Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.336

847 This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church:

Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too may achieve eternal salvation.337

848 "Although in ways known to himself God can lead those who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him, the Church still has the obligation and also the sacred right to evangelize all men."338

The heaven is populated, and filled with Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, Hindis, Buddhist, Sintoists. even with some atheists. Everybody who is in heaven part of the Triumphant Church, outside of the Church there is no salvation.

The hell also is populated and filled with Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, Hindis, Buddhist, Sintoists. and atheists.

Above that the Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus means that the existence Militant Church is the connection between the heaven and Earth. We do not know how, that is supernatural mystery.

After I read the above statements, it sounds like to me a very interesting form of Universalism, where goodness and believing in God but not necessarily Jesus may get one into heaven. “He who has the Son has life…He who has not the Son doesn not have life but stands condemned already…” the Gospel of John states, so again, how a Muslim who rejects Jesus, or even a "good’ person, whose righteousness is as filty rags, as Isaiah says, can enter into Heaven seems to me go go against the Scriptures itself.

Atheists in heaven? you mean those who know all about God and Christ yet thumb their noses at Him? really?? If Muslims, Hindis, Buddhist, etc. can enter heaven, why be Christian? If salvation can be found in other ways besides Jesus, why bother with all the Christian stuff??

To enable greater understanding, the Catechism of the Catholic Church was written under the direction of Pope John Paul II and by our current Pope, Pope Benedict.

You and I have been benefited by growing up in a Christian country. We should be held to a higher standard, we can fully know Christ here. I was baptised into my faith, raised by parents who also were Christians.

That is not true of a person growing up in a Jewish family, a Muslim family, etc. How would they specifically know Jesus? They know their God, their faith.

Jews have a moral standard, as do Muslims, or Buddists, Shintos or Hindus. God knows their heart.


Are you angered by Jesus’ forgiveness of the murderer who asked His forgiveness? Jesus told the man that he would be with Him that day in paradise.

Or, the parable of the workers in the vineyard. Each were given the same wage, whether they labored one hour or 8 hours.

As for your question concerning people who “thumb their noses at Jesus” then this paragraph applies.

"844 In their religious behavior, however, men also display the limits and errors that disfigure the image of God in them:
Very often, deceived by the Evil One, men have become vain in their reasonings, and have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and served the creature rather than the Creator. Or else, living and dying in this world without God, they are exposed to ultimate despair.333

God knows a person’s heart.

As we know, there are reasons why a person falls away from God’s grace. Children grow up with brutal parents, in brutal neighborhoods or they have catastrophy hit their lives in a way that prevents them from experiencing the love of God.

“He who believes, and is baptized, will be saved. He who does not believe will be condemned” Mark 16:16. So, are the Pharisees, whom Jesus condemned seven-fold, in heaven?

These are the paragraphs that specifically talk of Hell in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.



the Church’s teaching on, 1036
as the consequence of the continual rejection of God, 1034
definition of, 1033-34
eternal separation from God as hell’s chief punishment, 1035
as the free and willful turning away from God, 1037
mortal sin as the cause of eternal death, 1861


1033 We cannot be united with God unless we freely choose to love him. But we cannot love God if we sin gravely against him, against our neighbor or against ourselves: "He who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him."612 Our Lord warns us that we shall be separated from him if we fail to meet the serious needs of the poor and the little ones who are his brethren.613 To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God’s merciful love means remaining separated from him for ever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called “hell.”

1034 Jesus often speaks of “Gehenna” of “the unquenchable fire” reserved for those who to the end of their lives refuse to believe and be converted, where both soul and body can be lost.614 Jesus solemnly proclaims that he "will send his angels, and they will gather . . . all evil doers, and throw them into the furnace of fire,"615 and that he will pronounce the condemnation: "Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire!"616

1035 The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, "eternal fire."617 The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.

1036 The affirmations of Sacred Scripture and the teachings of the Church on the subject of hell are a call to the responsibility incumbent upon man to make use of his freedom in view of his eternal destiny. They are at the same time an urgent call to conversion: "Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few."618

Since we know neither the day nor the hour, we should follow the advice of the Lord and watch constantly so that, when the single course of our earthly life is completed, we may merit to enter with him into the marriage feast and be numbered among the blessed, and not, like the wicked and slothful servants, be ordered to depart into the eternal fire, into the outer darkness where "men will weep and gnash their teeth."619

1037 God predestines no one to go to hell;620 for this, a willful turning away from God (a mortal sin) is necessary, and persistence in it until the end. In the Eucharistic liturgy and in the daily prayers of her faithful, the Church implores the mercy of God, who does not want “any to perish, but all to come to repentance”:621

Father, accept this offering
from your whole family.
Grant us your peace in this life,
save us from final damnation,
and count us among those you have chosen.622

1859 Mortal sin requires full knowledge and complete consent. It presupposes knowledge of the sinful character of the act, of its opposition to God’s law. It also implies a consent sufficiently deliberate to be a personal choice. Feigned ignorance and hardness of heart133 do not diminish, but rather increase, the voluntary character of a sin.

1860 Unintentional ignorance can diminish or even remove the imputability of a grave offense. But no one is deemed to be ignorant of the principles of the moral law, which are written in the conscience of every man. The promptings of feelings and passions can also diminish the voluntary and free character of the offense, as can external pressures or pathological disorders. Sin committed through malice, by deliberate choice of evil, is the gravest.

1861 Mortal sin is a radical possibility of human freedom, as is love itself. It results in the loss of charity and the privation of sanctifying grace, that is, of the state of grace. If it is not redeemed by repentance and God’s forgiveness, it causes exclusion from Christ’s kingdom and the eternal death of hell, for our freedom has the power to make choices for ever, with no turning back. However, although we can judge that an act is in itself a grave offense, we must entrust judgment of persons to the justice and mercy of God.

The most concise and direct statement regarding salvation that I have ever heard was made by Fr. John Corapi, S.O.L.T. “You are not saved until your butt is in heaven”

According to the Christian faith the judgment belongs to Jesus Christ, and only to Jesus Christ. No one can say that this or that person is not in heaven.

Catholics get more resources toward the salvation with elevated responsibilities. If you understand that the Catholic faith is the closest of God’s revelation you should follow that. If you with clean conscience believe otherwise you should follow your conscience and God will judge you according to His norms, not revealed to us.

‘Those who believe and be baptized are saved’ (supposed that they remain in the state of sanctifying grace or recover it), ‘those who do not believe’ (the baptism as requirement is omitted here, but the point that they get the proper teaching is implicitly included) ‘will bet damned’. Those outside of this circle (e.g. if someone born in atheist family, lives a good life but never understood the importance of the faith) are in God;s hand. We have no right to judge them.

Word. Its irks me to no end hearing any christian telling me they are “saved”. “I know my wife and I are saved because we accepted Jesus Christ in our hearts.”

The arrogance of these people…no one can proclaim themselves saved unless they somehow see the future or God himself comes for them.

The most blunt statement on “saved”, is you are not saved, until you stand before God at judgement, and he judges you worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven, until then all we have is hope, hope that through the forgiveness of God, and Christ’s passion, we may enter the Kingdom of God.

My understanding of the Bible tells me we can assurance here on earth that we are Children of God, and we have the witness of the Spirit, so if we are truely His Children and are born of the Spirit, we can be assured of salvation. Not knowing if you are saved until you get to heaven and not having that security in your heart is a very Islamic teaching, for they teach you cant possibly know you are saved while you are here on earth, and that is something I totally disagree with. We who are born of God can know we are saved. True, God is the final judge, but He gives the assurance of the Spirit, which we are sealed with.

Jesus’ whole purpose is to reconcile man with God, restoring a relationship that was severed at the fall. Man is perfectly just, the commandments are fulfilled, and the universe is in order when he loves God with his whole heart, soul, mind and strength and his neighbor as himself. This is a process-salvation is not all at once-this is Gods work in us where He writes His laws in our minds and on our hearts as per the New Covenant promise in Jer 31 and this is why St john of the Cross could say,

**“At the evening of life, we shall be judged on our love”
And St Augustine could say,

“Love, and do what you like”

Because, as Scripture says,

“…love is the fulfillment of the Law.”

No one is assured of salvation. No one knows the future. It is a christian teaching as well. Live everyday as if you are not saved, that way one never grows complacent and will forever strive to achieve it.

What if you get cancer? Your wife/brother/sister/dad/etc die in some horrible manner? Many devout people can have their faith utterly destroyed by such events. Even those so sure of being “saved”. Ive seen it. The sin of presumption also comes to mind.

I was taught as a Protestant salvation is two fold…we are saved from damnation when we repent and submit to Christ’s Lordship, but we are also “being saved” daily as we “work out our salvation with fear and trembling” on a daily basis. That is a position I still hold to today.

Salvation is an ongoing event. Its not simply Ive accepted Jesus today therefore I will be saved 50 years from now. It is an ongoing battle against sin, something all humans are very prone to.

We can easily verify salvation as an ongoing event—just look at the world around us. If salvation was a past event, then Mother Theresa and Pope John Paul II would be a dime a dozen. Instead, they shine like stars in the darkness. The world is a cultural and spiritual battleground—a collision between the culture of life and the culture of death. This, however, is nothing new. St. Paul described man’s predicament in these terms: “What happens is that I do, not the good I will to do, but the evil I do not intend. But if I do what is against my will, it is not I who do it, but sin which dwells in me” (Rom 7:19-20).

Exactly- Catholics do believe that we were saved in the past, present, and future.
this website usually does a pretty good job at explaning Catholic teaching. We believe we can lose our souls even after we have come to Jesus. Look at it kind of like this: We need to be friends with God in order to be saved (state of grace=friend of God) We can make a friend with God through repentance (baptism gives us sanctifying grace) and hopefully we can maintain this friendship, but like any friendship, it can be destroyed. If it is, because God is loving he will give us a chance to apoligize and restore the friendship (confession gives sanctifying grace for those who lost it with mortal sin) Our time to love God and gain his friendship is life, after life, the time is up we have either gained God’s friendship or not- if not, we are not saved.

The question about the Church and salvation:
166. Are all obliged to belong to the Catholic Church in order to be saved?

All are obliged to belong to the Catholic Church in order to be saved.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through me.” (John 14:6)
167. What do we mean when we say, “Outside the Church there is no salvation?”

When we say, “Outside the Church there is no salvation,” we mean that Christ made the Catholic Church a necessary means of salvation and commanded all to enter it, so that a person must be connected with the Church in some way to be saved.
168. How can persons who are not members of the Catholic Church be saved?

Persons who are not members of the Catholic Church can be saved if, through no fault of their own, they do not know that the Catholic Church is the true Church, but they love God and try to do His will, for in this way they are connected with the Church by desire.
(Baltimore Catechism 1941)
For non-Catholic Christians: They are baptized (at least some of them are) and therefore part of the Church. If they do not realize their error, they are not culpably heretics and if they are truly sorry for their sins, they can be saved.
For non-Christians: They are not baptized but can still be united through the Church through desire and contrition for their sins. The question that is often debated is implicit baptism of desire: ie somebody does not know baptism of water is neccessary but they love God and desire to do all things necessary for salvation. The debate is over how much faith is needed for this- some would argue you need to believe in the trinity, Christ, and redemption, others would say as long as you believe in a God who will reward you if you seek him you can have implicit baptism of desire. I do not know, sometimes I think for those who do not know God and Jesus, God will give them a chance right before death to see the truth so that they can at least desire baptism implicitly.

St. Thomas on baptism:


I hope this helps, best I could do :wink: