Are faith/works necessary for salvation or just grace?


Greetings brothers and sisters in Christ.

I’m debating the above point with a protestant friend and he got me thinking…

My understanding is that we are saved by sanctifying grace alone. Now, if for instance, a person led an uncharitable life and confessed his/her sins and received absolution before dying, would that person be saved despite not having clothed the naked and fed the poor etc?

If this is possible, doesn’t it mean that works and not necessary for salvation but that we only need to die in a state of grace to be saved?

I’d be grateful for some enlightment on this point.

God bless,


read Matthew 25 beginning with verse 31, the judgement of nations, and see how Christ will be judging our performance of “works”

good I can still edit, found this on faith and salvation by Marcello D’Ambrosio today on the Catholic Exchange website

since salvation was achieved by Christ, not by anything we do, and since grace is the means by which he allows us to share in the fruits of his saving action, there is no dichotomy such as you imply in your title. What we do with that grace is our faith response and determines to what degree, or if at all, we may share in that salvific action.


Thanks for the reply puzzleannie.

Re my question about the uncharitable person who repented and received absolution and died, could this person be damned despite dying in a state of grace?

Maybe the judgement of our works determines our time in Purgatory
(assuming one died in a state of grace)?



Hi Noel -
Dont you think that discussing what happens to someone who comes to faith on their deathbed is a scenario which is pretty limited in its usefulness? I mean, if your friend’s point is that we should preach the gospel to someone who is about to die, everyone will agree that it is worthwhile. But in reality such discussions are an illogical smokescreen to promote “faith alone” theology. The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of us will have opportunities after coming to a knowledge of the Gospel to either embrace it and actively follow Jesus, or to reject it in favor of the world and sin. The fact that God can save someone during a deathbed conversion does not imply - as your friend would like to pretend - that the rest of us who have an opportunity to live out the Gospel through faith are not required to do so. “What good is it if a man says he has faith, but has no works - will that faith save him? Faith, if it is not accompanied by works is dead.” (cf James 2)


OK, I see what you mean. So basically it’s is “technically” possible but don’t take
a chance (not that I’d want to!).

Just on the technicality, is it possible that someone who dies in a state of grace, could be damned? And does dying in a state of grace guarantee salvation or a you still subject to God’s judgement? Sorry, I’m a bit confused about this. :confused:

God bless,


If you die in a state of sanctifying grace, you get to heaven eventually.

If you die in a state of mortal or original sin, you go to hell immediately.

We are saved by grace, however, should we wish to remain in that grace we must co-operate with it by not committing serious sin if we wish to persist in a state of sanctifying grace.



I just started reading Dietrich Boenhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship. He was an ordained Lutheran minister who died at the hands of the Nazis.
He begins by writing about cheap versus costly grace. Cheap grace is a perversion of what Luther actually taught.
All men are sinners. We are saved by grace, by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross. To presume our salvation without repentance and conversion is to “sin against the Holy Spirit.” The grace received demands a response on our part. We are indeed called to "pick up our cross and follow after him."
Cheap grace means we can continue to live our old secular lives, to remain in our sins. Costly grace means accepting the forgiveness of our sins and leaving those sins behind.
Cheap grace means forgiveness of sins without confession or contrition. Costly grace recognizes our sinfulness and continued need for salvation, for contrition and confession of sins. Costly grace implies reception of the Sacraments. It is Costly grace that recognizes the price paid on the cross at Calvary. It is Costly grace that Tradition, the Magisterium, and Scripture all teach.


It is not just “technically possible” that someone who repents on their deathbed and receives absolution is saved, it is a certainty.

If you die in a state of grace you can not be damned, it does guarantee salvation.

Remember, to have died in a state of grace, one has to have faith, causing you to repent, and have done at least one work, confession.

God Bless


Thanks for the replies.

DebChris, the discipleship book sounds good. I might just invest in a copy.

God bless you all.


Grace is the unearned favor of God. To die in a state of Grace means that you are in God’s favor, united through Christ. It is impossible to be damned if you die in this state.

Both! You are guaranteed salvation, but you still undergo the particular judgement (Heb 9:23 or 27) and the universal judgement at the second coming of Christ

Stick around and you will learn lots. I highly recommend you visit the CA homepage and check out the library section for info.


Folks, what I’m understanding from the replies is that salvation depends solely on whether we die in a state of grace.

This being the case, doesn’t this mean that works aren’t necessary to be saved?

I fully appreciate that for us to have true faith, we must live according to the Gospel which means self-sacrifice for God and neighbour. I’m don’t agree with doing the bare minimum to be saved.

But I’m asking about the conditions necessary for salvation from
a “technical” point of view.

God bless,


Read the Scriptures about the workers in the Vineyard. Some started work in early morn. The last group started work very near dusk, yet the owner paid them all the same wage.

Now consider if you are one who is hired early on(one who responds to the call and becomes a Christian early in life) the owner expects a days work. If you do not get the call until later and come into the Christian relationship late in life you would be expected to do what work you could in the time left. The wage is the same because the owner is generous.

To receive the call early and knowingly try to work the system would seem to be disingenuous. The Lord expects what he knows we can give, if for some it is deathbed repentance so be it.

Perhaps it is a little like the old communist saw,“to each according to his needs, from each acccording to his means.”


Technically whoever God decides to save is saved, period. That is salvation by grace alone.
As far as getting “technical” we know of no one who is in Heaven who’s faith did not manifest as works during their eartly life. Period. The question becomes, if you claim to have faith, but do not have works, do you truly have faith? Is it possible to “have faith” and not obey Christ? Of course not - that is not faith, that is delusion.
You obviously did not go read the 2nd chapter of James like I told you to…:tsktsk:
Here is a link to an online bible

And here is some of James 2:
12 So speak ye, and so do, as being to be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For judgment without mercy to him that hath not done mercy. And mercy exalteth itself above judgment. 14 **What shall it profit, my brethren, if a man say he hath faith, but hath not works? Shall faith be able to save him? **15 And if a brother or sister be naked, and want daily food:
16 And one of you say to them: Go in peace, be ye warmed and filled; yet give them not those things that are necessary for the body, what shall it profit? 17 So faith also, if it have not works, is dead in itself. 18 But some man will say: Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without works; and I will shew thee, by works, my faith. 19 Thou believest that there is one God. Thou dost well: the devils also believe and tremble. 20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, offering up Isaac his son upon the altar? 22 Seest thou, that faith did co-operate with his works; and by works faith was made perfect? 23 And the scripture was fulfilled, saying: Abraham believed God, and it was reputed to him to justice, and he was called the friend of God. 24 Do you see that by works a man is justified; and not by faith only? 25 And in like manner also Rahab the harlot, was not she justified by works, receiving the messengers, and sending them out another way?
26 For even as the body without the spirit is dead; so also faith without works is dead.


Thanks Philty. I did in fact read James 2, a few times.

And thanks to rwoehmke for the explanation from scripture.

God bless,


I will refer back to Dietrich Boenhoeffer.
"Those who believe obey and those who obey believe."
Jesus said that "it is not the one who cries "‘Lord, Lord’ who enters the kingdom of God, but the one who does the will of the Father."
The post immediately after this quoted post talks about the workers in the vineyard. Those who started late did what was asked of them as did those who had worked all day in the hot sun. A worker only receives pay because he/she has done what the boss asked.
The main point that Boenhoeffer was making in what I read yesterday is that it is not we who set the criteria for entering the kingdom, but it is God who sets down what is required.
Just as the workers had to wait for somebody to hire them, we have to wait for God’s call and then we must answer that call without excuses. Jesus called and the Apostles followed. It was only after they had been with Him awhile that they came to believe in him as the Son of God.
Joan of Arc said, “I pray that I am in a state of grace and if I am not I pray that God will put me in a state of grace.” Grace is purely a gift from God that requires a response. It is not our works in and of themselves that will bring us into the kingdom of God. Our works reflect the faith and grace that has been bestowed on us from above (St. James).
I may have written this earlier, but I also like the prayer of Thomas Merton. “Although I may not know whether or not I am in the will of God, I trust that my desire to follow God’s will places me within his will.”


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