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Where you and I differ is that I do not believe (and the Catholic Church does not teach) that salvation occurs before death. Jesus has redeemed us by his death on the cross, but salvation is the moment we enter heaven. Accepting Jesus doesn’t save us, but it does redeem us. Free will is an a factor in our lives until death. We can choose to go against God even if redeemed.

Even St. Paul worked out his salvation “with fear and trembling.” Salvation is a journey, redemption is the start of that journey.