When studying grace, we see that it is not only a free gift from God, but that it has a strong relationship with other aspects of soteriology. What is the relationship between freedom, grace, divine foreknowledge, predestination, and perseverance as they pertain to the Four Last Things? The relationship between all aspects are intertwined, but it starts with grace. This understanding is important when it comes to the four last things which are death, judgment, heaven, and hell.
As previously stated grace is a free gift from God. As with any gift we can either accept it or we can reject it. When we make the choice to accept grace we then have true freedom. The supernatural grace given to us leads us to even greater freedom. Regarding this Charles Journet writes, “It is not only God and man, grace and freedom, but God through man, grace through freedom, that does the good act” (Journet 2.5). Grace and human freedom are furthermore related of divine foreknowledge. 1 Timothy 2:4 states that God “desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (NRSV). Though God desired it, not everyone will be saved in the end. God knows, through divine foreknowledge, who with use their freedom and accept his grace.
Though one may accept grace, one must remain steadfast and ask God for the gift of perseverance (STII, Q109, A10). Some Protestants would say that those who persevere are predestined, but predestination has a different meaning in Catholic theology. According to Fr. John Hardon, “only the elect or predestined are members of the Church” (Hardon Ch. 3). Thus, we can see the fullness of the relationship of freedom, grace, divine foreknowledge, perseverance, and predestination regarding the four last things. Grace is at the forefront of them all, and grace is given from God through the church and her sacraments.
Aquinas, Thomas. Summa Theologia. Trans. Thomas Gornall. Blackfriars, St. Joseph, IN: Ave Maria Press, 1981. Accessed August 10, 2018.
Hardon, John. History and Theology of Grace. Ann Arbor, MI: Sapientia Press, 2005.
Journet, Charles. The Meaning of Grace. Princeton: Scepter Publishers, 1997.