The Sin of Presumption Opposed to Hope


Sonya:  The sin of presumption…I have not read this on your post but I understand Catholics believe it’s a sin to “know” your going to heaven. How does this compare to John telling us “these things have I written unto you…that ye may know that ye have eternal life” along with Jesus telling his disciples he was going to build a place for them (would it be wrong for the disciples to take Jesus at his word?).

Bread From Heaven: Not in a general way. But for a person to presume he was Heaven-bound absolutely is certainly not humble but presumptuous/arrogant. It is the vice opposed to the virtue of HOPE. And we know that “Faith, Hope and Love abide…

Hope is a cardinal virtue. On one extreme is the vice of despair. But on the opposite extreme is presumption. We are to have hope and to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling.”If one is sure he is going to Heaven he does not have hope he has assurance and neither will he “work out..salvation with fear and trembling” b/c he thinks it is a done deal.

There are thousands of verses warning believers and Jews not to “harden their hearts” “fall away”” apostasize” etc. To believe that God was making empty threats like a lax parent is demeaning. Since we possess free-will we are always capable of sinning egregiously and so lose salvation.

Sonya:  Also the thief on the cross…Today though shalt be with me in paradise…

Bread From Heaven:Jesus made this promise. Don’t know what you mean exactly by this point. But, I will point out that the thief did not go to Heaven on that day b/c Jesus did not go to Heaven that day either.

Thief on the Cross Did Not Go to Purgatory

Here is the pertinent part of that post:

SARAH: Another verse; Luke 23:43TODAY YOU WILL BE WITH ME IN PARADISE” Jesus does not go on to say after a couple hundred years of purification. JESUS states, “today”. Is Jesus capable of lying? misquoting the truth? Or is the son of God simply mistaken?

BFHU:I understand why you ask these questions. You are convinced that your interpretation of these verses leaves no other possibility than to believe that Jesus was a liar or at least not omniscient if Catholic theology is accepted. But, there are some other possibilities, after all. First of all, Jesus did not go to Heaven that very Friday as we find out when Jesus tells Mary Magdalene, on Sunday, that He has not ascended to the Father yet. Therefore, Jesus and the thief did not go directly to Heaven on Friday.

The possibility is that the Greek should be read: “I tell you today, you will be with Me in Paradise” rather than “I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise”. There are no commas in the Greek. Both are legitimate interpretations but the second one doesn’t line up with scripture.

Another possibility is that “paradise” referred to the happy part of the Sheol/Abraham’s bosom where Jesus did go to preach to the dead and lead the captives free. And the Good Thief accompanied Him there, which would have been just as good news as being told he was going to Heaven

Sonya:  Paul seemed to know…to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Was he sinning when he wrote this scripture?

Bread From Heaven: This is an inaccurate quote of the verse, perpetuated among Protestants unwittingly, in support of their rejection of Purgatory. Here is what the scripture actually says:

2 Corinthians 5:8
We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

The verse, in context, just doesn’t mean that a soul is either in the body or in the presence of God. It is not particularly doctrinal but expressing St. Paul’s preference to be with the Lord.  St. Paul says, he would be willing (he would rather) to be absent from the body and present with the Lord. The way it is usually quoted by Protestants makes it sound much more absolute than it is. Paul is not making a doctrinal statement as it is used by Protestants. I can say, “My flight  leaves at 8AM and arrives in New York at 3:00PM. This in no way implies that there are no layovers in Denver or somewhere else on the way.

Paul did not have assurance of Salvation in the sense Calvinism teaches. He only had hope of Salvation. And earlier in this section he uses words like “might” and “may” to describe his hope.

1 Corinthians 9:27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.


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3 Responses

  1. So..While Christians may “Hope” for Salvation, the reality is there is no way to “know” that we have been saved short of human presumption which is not Scripturally based. Is this Catholic teaching on Salvation? Also; I believe I read you saying that the Catholic Church believes you can “lose” your Salvation…So, how many “times” can a person be saved and then “lost”?

    My question is based on a simple premise, that all sin is sin and sin keeps us separated from God. It would be presumptuous to say well, my sin is certainly not enough to keep me from God, eternally, so in that, I have “Hope”. The second issue has to do with “assurance”. By this model, every person who has ever lived, assuming they are in fact humble, would be found laying on their death bed, petrified that the “unconfessed sin” could be the one that lands them in Hell for if purgatory does exist, it is also true that not all souls go there. For some, there sin is too great and they will awaken on the other side, in Hell.

    Is it not then presumptuous for anyone to assume their sin is only enough to require a period of cleansing in the much debated Purgatory?

    1 John 5:13, John 20:31, John 16:33, John 13:19, et al, seem to clearly indicate a peace (of mind) in “knowing” that Salvation is not just possible, but assured.

    The point is; a person who has come to know the Gospel and the truth of Scripture could not have “peace” or “hope” if there isn’t assurance. Most of us who claim Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior would spend our lives certain we could not possibly have measured up, once we are on our death beds. Scripture clearly indicates that we should no longer fear the outcome for we have believed and have been Saved…Either we are; or we aren’t. There is no “middle ground” and there certainly isn’t “peace” in wondering…

    • John: So…While Christians may “Hope” for Salvation, the reality is there is no way to “know” that we have been saved short of human presumption which is not Scripturally based.

      Bread From Heaven: First, I wish to deal with the comment “which is not Scripturally based”, as i have many times before. But Sola Scriptura or the Protestant doctrine that nothing is to be believed unless it is “Scripturally based” is itself NOT based in Scripture. There is no way to know without any doubt that we are going to go to Heaven when we die. How could we? We all have free will. We are not Christian Puppets once we are born again. We always have the choice to commit a sin unto death. We are not omniscient, so how is it possible for us to KNOW we will persevere to the end? Only God Knows. We can hope. We can be pretty sure that we will die in friendship with God and go to Heaven. Have you never known a person or more than one, who by all appearances was a good and true Christian who later was found to have had an affair, embezzled from work, or even committed murder?

      John:Is this Catholic teaching on Salvation? Also; I believe I read you saying that the Catholic Church believes you can “lose” your Salvation…So, how many “times” can a person be saved and then “lost”?

      Bread From Heaven: Only God knows. What we do know is that it is possible to commit sin so as to be lost to Heaven as St. Paul tells us and many writers of Scripture warn us of this.

      Please see my post Can We Lose Our Salvation? for just a few of the thousands of scriptures that supports the Catholic position.

      St. John clearly tells us about “sin unto death” or deadly sin.

      1. 1 John 5:16
        If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.
      2. 1 John 5:17
        All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death.
      3. And St. Paul Romans 6:16
        Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
      4. Romans 5:21
        That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

      And St. Paul has lists of sins that he exhorts avoidance b/c they have no part in the Kingdom of God.

      John: My question is based on a simple premise, that all sin is sin and sin keeps us separated from God.

      Bread From Heaven: All sin IS equal in that all sin, no matter what it is is enough to separate us from God so that we are in need of a Savior. But, all sin is not equal in the eyes of God. Some sin is an abomination and deadly as clearly stated in Scripture. For clarity please see my post–>Is All Sin The Same In God’s Eyes?

      John: It would be presumptuous to say well, my sin is certainly not enough to keep me from God, eternally, so in that, I have “Hope”.

      Bread From Heaven: I agree with you! But that is not Catholic teaching.

      All sin offends God. We are to confess and repent from all sin. And ” He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin.”This is what leads to hope. Not a self judgement that we haven’t done anything too bad so we still have hope. That is an abominable attitude. And it is indeed presumptuous.

      John: The second issue has to do with “assurance”. By this model, every person who has ever lived, assuming they are in fact humble, would be found laying on their death bed, petrified that the “unconfessed sin” could be the one that lands them in Hell for if purgatory does exist, it is also true that not all souls go there. For some, there sin is too great and they will awaken on the other side, in Hell.

      Bread From Heaven: One should be petrified of unconfessed and unrepented sin. That is why we pray for a holy death that includes a final confession to a priest and communion to strengthen us. If what you really mean is, forgotten and therefore unconfessed sin we have nothing to fear. Any confession to a priest absolves us from sin we have truly forgotten. If we remember it later than we are obligated to confess and of course repent from it. There is no sin that cannot be forgiven except persistent rejection of Grace.

      John: Is it not then presumptuous for anyone to assume their sin is only enough to require a period of cleansing in the much debated Purgatory?

      Bread From Heaven: Yes. We hope we make it to Purgatory. We should not assume it.

      John: 1 John 5:13, John 20:31, John 16:33, John 13:19, et al, seem to clearly indicate a peace (of mind) in “knowing” that Salvation is not just possible, but assured.

      Bread From Heaven: Let’s take a look at the actual passages.

      John 5:13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.

      John 13:19 From now on I am telling you before it comes to pass, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am He.

      John 16:33 These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”

      John 20:31 but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.

      Only the first passage, which says “so that you may know that you have eternal life”seems to argue against my contention that we cannot KNOW for sure we WILL go to Heaven. And of course, anyone can at a point in time be sure that they are saved. For example, we can know, immediately following a good confession or baptism, before we have had a chance to sin again. I do not mean to imply that we must go through life without a single clue about our eternal destiny. What I am saying is that falling away is always a possibility. Therefore, we cannot be absolutely SURE of final salvation for the next five, ten or twenty years etc. We must be humble before the unpredictability and fallenness of our nature.

      And let’s not forget that the passage we quoted above is after five chapters and many verses. For instance, some of what John wrote in order that we can “know we have eternal life”:

      2 In this we know that we love the children of God: when we love God, and keep his commandments.

      3 For this is the charity of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not heavy.

      4 For whatsoever is born of God, overcomes the world: and this is the victory which overcomes the world, our faith.

      For instance if we love the children of God, obey His commandments and overcome the world we can know we have eternal life. But this in no way assures one that they will continue to do so.

      John: The point is; a person who has come to know the Gospel and the truth of Scripture could not have “peace” or “hope” if there isn’t assurance.

      Bread From Heaven: Why not? I can have peace and hope at this moment b/c I am in friendship with God. I can have a certain amount of assurance at this moment in time. But I cannot have assurance of the future unless I have lost my free will and am merely a puppet of God. This is not what Scripture teaches.

      John: Most of us who claim Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior would spend our lives certain we could not possibly have measured up, once we are on our death beds.

      Bread From Heaven: But we cannot “measure up”. We must try to please God throughout our lives and hope for Heaven. Confess and repent when we sin and know that Our God is Merciful. We hope in His Mercy.

      John: Scripture clearly indicates that we should no longer fear the outcome for we have believed and have been Saved…Either we are; or we aren’t. There is no “middle ground” and there certainly isn’t “peace” in wondering…

      Bread From Heaven: then why does St. Paul tell us

      Philippians 2:12
      So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling;

  2. I believe there is so much more to the life of the repentant thief on the cross named St Dismas according to history documentation. Being the only one promised to see paradise on the day of the Lord’s crucification even out of the 12 discipes, there must of been other notable decisions in St Dismas’s life. He is a perfect example that it is never too late to get saved, even in our darkest hour.

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