From the Decree Concerning Justification:
- "...Christ Jesus was given by God to men [not only] as a redeemer in whom to trust, [but also] as a legislator whom to obey..."
- "...the justice received [is] preserved [and] increased before God through good works..."
- "...the just [ought] for the good works done in God to expect and hope for an eternal reward from God through His mercy and the merit of Jesus Christ, if by doing well and by keeping the divine commandments they persevere to the end..."
- "...he who has fallen after baptism [can] by the grace of God rise again[; he] can indeed recover again the lost justice [with] the sacrament of penance..."
- "...after the reception of the grace of justification [a] debt of temporal punishment remains to be discharged either in this world or in purgatory before the gates of heaven can be opened..."
- "...the good works of the one justified are in such manner the gifts of God [and] also the good merits of him justified; [the] one justified by the good works that he performs by the grace of God and the merit of Jesus Christ, whose living member he is, [truly merits] an increase of grace, eternal life, and in case he dies in grace, the attainment of eternal life itself and also an increase of glory..."
Here is how I interpret the Decree:
|Not State of Grace||State of Grace|
|1. Before you were baptized, all hope was lost.||2. After you were baptized, all hope was gained.|
|3. When you committed a mortal sin, all hope was lost.||4. When you underwent the Sacrament of Penance/Confession, all hope was gained.|
|5. When you failed to perform the good works that God gave you the grace to do, all hope was lost.||6. When you performed the good works that God gave you the grace to do, all hope was gained.|
If you die in the state of grace, then by God's grace, you merit the attainment of eternal life. (A debt of temporal punishment remains to be discharged, either in this world or in purgatory, before one would enter heaven to be with God.)