I'm attempting to study the "Catholic Plan of Salvation". At first glance, it seems unnecessarily difficult. It's obvious that Jesus made it easy to be saved. Why, just look at the New Testament. All one has to do is repent & believe on Jesus Christ as Lord & Saviour, right? There was no need for a "sacrament" of any kind... Jesus spoke & the person responded one way or another. Everything was finished on the Cross. Its the confession of Christ's life, death & resurrection that saves you, not any other pickin' thing. Catholics must be off their rocker to think anything they do beyond that can grant them heaven. Well then, I guess that's it in a nutshell, eh?
Not so fast. The more I've become familiar with the Bible over the years, the more I've come to understand it as an outline for faith. The fullness of faith can't possibly be contained in 1,654 pages or less. When I read the Bible, I don't get the impression that it contains "everything we need for life & Godliness" as I hear quoted all too often. 2 Peter 1:3 says "God has given us everything we need for living a Godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know Him...", but Peter doesn't offer us a comprehensive list of just what "everything" & "all of this" is. When he was writing this discourse, there was no New Testament. The writings of the Apostles were mere letters floating from one church to the next. The only "Holy Scriptures" were the texts the Jews used, which is what we consider the Old Testament these days. Peter had to be talking about something more than scripture (and he was). He was actually talking about how we come to know Jesus. It's not a one time event that magically happens when the final syllable of the Sinner's Prayer is capped off with the all powerful "Amen". The bank account is not instantly full. "Everything we need" gets deposited in increments as we come to know Him.
How do we come to know Jesus? Certainly we come to know Him by enjoying a personal relationship with Him right? We read the Bible, pray, go to church, etc. We "feel" close or far away from God based on what we do or don't do, just like in a relationship. However, I have yet to come across the specific phrase "personal relationship" in the Bible as it concerns how we interact with any part of the Godhead. We infer it because Jesus tells us the Father loves us like the prodigal son, the lost sheep, the wayward wife... We see how the women responded to Him & how much time He spent with His disciples. Personal, right? Yes & no. It wasn't instantaneous. It took experience & time. Even some of the disciples were kind of clueless about Jesus after 3 full years with Him!