Catholic Doctrine: Saved by works?

I am sure this has been dealt with hundreds of times.

If it is official Catholic teaching, where can I read it.

I apologize for this post.

I should know the answer.

I do not, I want to know the official teaching.

Thanks!

We are saved by grace. Faith and works can build grace. None of us can ever deserve salvation by our works, but God has adopted Christians as sons and daughters through Christ, and does expect our cooperation. Every good work done by a Christian, which can build grace, is initiated by God. That is, God sends us sufficient grace to move us, but leaves the response up to us. We can cooperate with God’s grace and do good works, or we can refuse. God doesn’t just sweep us along like automatons, but let’s us have agency in the matter (generally). This, while God is the first actor in regards to works, is why we do have responsibility in regards to works. Faith is also not something we can come to on our own, but is also something initiated by God.

The official teaching is that we are saved by grace alone. Full stop.

Works performed outside of the state of sanctifying grace merit nothing.

If one means -does one enter into a state of justification by works

The answer is no.

No works can do that.

As Paul puts it we are thus saved - by* faith* not by works. Tis the grace of God!

Pope Benedict XVI on the subjects of Faith and Works in St. Paul

vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2008/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20081119_en.html

vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2008/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20081126_en.html (scroll down)

Plus earlier one:

vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2006/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20061108_en.html

Read all three.

To quote from one of them:

"In the Catechesis last Wednesday I spoke of how man is justified before God. Following St Paul, we have seen that man is unable to “justify” himself with his own actions, but can only truly become “just” before God because God confers his “justice” upon him, uniting him to Christ his Son. And man obtains this union through faith. In this sense,

St Paul tells us: not our deeds, but rather faith renders us “just”.

This faith, however, is not a thought, an opinion, an idea. This faith is communion with Christ, which the Lord gives to us, and thus becomes life, becomes conformity with him. Or to use different words faith, if it is true, if it is real, becomes love, becomes charity, is expressed in charity. A faith without charity, without this fruit, would not be true faith. It would be a dead faith."

~ Pope Benedict XVI (emp added - make sure to read all three links)

St. James affirms that we are justified by means of works and not by faith alone (Jas. 2:24), while St. Paul strongly emphasizes that works carried out prior to faith are not meritorious, without hesitating, however, to invite the believer “to be adorned with good deeds” (1 Tm. 2:10). This means that human persons cannot merit fundamental justification, that is, cannot pass by their own effort from the state of sin to the state of grace, but that they are called and made able to “multiply good works of every sort” (Col. 1:10): not producing them “from self” (Jn. 15:4), but while “living in the love” of Christ (Jn. 15:9-10), love which “has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Rom. 5:5).
vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_19881118_chiesa-salvezza_en.html

Pope Benedict XVI on the subject of Faith and Works in St. Paul

vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2008/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20081119_en.html

vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2008/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20081126_en.html (scroll down)

Plus earlier one:

vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2006/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20061108_en.html

Read all three.

To quote from one of them:

"In the Catechesis last Wednesday I spoke of how man is justified before God. Following St Paul, we have seen that man is unable to “justify” himself with his own actions, but can only truly become “just” before God because God confers his “justice” upon him, uniting him to Christ his Son. And man obtains this union through faith. In this sense,

St Paul tells us: not our deeds, but rather faith renders us “just”.

This faith, however, is not a thought, an opinion, an idea. This faith is communion with Christ, which the Lord gives to us, and thus becomes life, becomes conformity with him. Or to use different words faith, if it is true, if it is real, becomes love, becomes charity, is expressed in charity. A faith without charity, without this fruit, would not be true faith. It would be a dead faith."

~ Pope Benedict XVI (emp added - make sure to read all three links)

Both faith and works (those prepared for us by God, Eph 2:10) are gifts of grace, and, as such, can be resisted or not cooperated with.

**2005 Since it belongs to the supernatural order, grace escapes our experience and cannot be known except by faith. We cannot therefore rely on our feelings or our works to conclude that we are justified and saved. However, according to the Lord’s words “Thus you will know them by their fruits”- reflection on God’s blessings in our life and in the lives of the saints offers us a guarantee that grace is at work in us and spurs us on to an ever greater faith and an attitude of trustful poverty.

A pleasing illustration of this attitude is found in the reply of St. Joan of Arc to a question posed as a trap by her ecclesiastical judges: “Asked if she knew that she was in God’s grace, she replied: ‘If I am not, may it please God to put me in it; if I am, may it please God to keep me there.’”

1697 Catechesis has to reveal in all clarity the joy and the demands of the way of Christ. Catechesis for the “newness of life” in him should be:

  • a catechesis of grace, for it is by grace that we are saved and again it is by grace that our works can bear fruit for eternal life;**

In any case we’re judged by what we do, with what we’ve been given, and Matt 25:31-46 gives some pretty good examples of the criteria by which that will happen. In the end love, itself the greatest gift of grace, defines our justice, and any works that God desires of us would necessarily flow from that love.

I recommend reading the entirety of sections 1987 - 2029 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, but to quote part of it:

III. MERIT

You are glorified in the assembly of your Holy Ones, for in crowning their merits you are crowning your own gifts.59

2006 The term “merit” refers in general to the recompense owed by a community or a society for the action of one of its members, experienced either as beneficial or harmful, deserving reward or punishment. Merit is relative to the virtue of justice, in conformity with the principle of equality which governs it.

2007 With regard to God, there is no strict right to any merit on the part of man. Between God and us there is an immeasurable inequality, for we have received everything from him, our Creator.

2008 The merit of man before God in the Christian life arises from the fact that God has freely chosen to associate man with the work of his grace. The fatherly action of God is first on his own initiative, and then follows man’s free acting through his collaboration, so that the merit of good works is to be attributed in the first place to the grace of God, then to the faithful. Man’s merit, moreover, itself is due to God, for his good actions proceed in Christ, from the predispositions and assistance given by the Holy Spirit.

2009 Filial adoption, in making us partakers by grace in the divine nature, can bestow true merit on us as a result of God’s gratuitous justice. This is our right by grace, the full right of love, making us “co-heirs” with Christ and worthy of obtaining "the promised inheritance of eternal life."60 The merits of our good works are gifts of the divine goodness.61 "Grace has gone before us; now we are given what is due. . . . Our merits are God’s gifts."62

2010 Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace, no one can merit the initial grace of forgiveness and justification, at the beginning of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life. Even temporal goods like health and friendship can be merited in accordance with God’s wisdom. These graces and goods are the object of Christian prayer. Prayer attends to the grace we need for meritorious actions.

2011 The charity of Christ is the source in us of all our merits before God. Grace, by uniting us to Christ in active love, ensures the supernatural quality of our acts and consequently their merit before God and before men. The saints have always had a lively awareness that their merits were pure grace.

After earth’s exile, I hope to go and enjoy you in the fatherland, but I do not want to lay up merits for heaven. I want to work for your love alone. . . . In the evening of this life, I shall appear before you with empty hands, for I do not ask you, Lord, to count my works. All our justice is blemished in your eyes. I wish, then, to be clothed in your own justice and to receive from your love the eternal possession of yourself.63

The full teaching can be found very simply in Chapter 3 of Titus:

v4: **Not by the works of justice, **which we have done, but according to his mercy, he saved us, by the laver of regeneration, and renovation of the Holy Ghost; (I.e., baptism)

v8: These things I will have thee affirm constantly, that they, who believe in God, may be careful to excel in good works."

And just to be clear, none of the responses here are meant to speak against any good works. Good works done in the state of grace are meritorious and earn reward in heaven. In fact, intentional failure to do a good work when morally bound to do so and without just cause (prayer, Sunday Mass, helping a neighbour when able and required) can cause the loss of the state of grace due to a mortal sin of omission.

Works are absolutely essential in the plan of salvation. It’s just that works do not save outside of grace.

If one were to take the account of the last judgment in Matthew 25:31-46 at face value, one would think that we are saved solely by works, since that is sole determinant stated. (“I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,” etc) No mention of faith or lack of faith, just what we did or failed to do. But then we don’t go by scripture alone either.

Right - and we do not take verses in isolation of others and the teachings of the Church.

Saved by grace through faith.

Every scriptural mention of judgment is according to our works, and Paul writes extensively of the need to perform good works. Still, it is God’s grace via our faith that saves us, but faith without works is dead - James 2:24.

When a Protestant quotes Roman’s 2:8
“It is by grace thru faith that we are saved,
and this is not of ourselves, it is a gift of
God, not by works so that no man may
boast” the Catholic can quote James 2:26
“Faith w/o works is dead”
Even Jesus supports the Catholic position
in that parable of the sheep and goats, there
are among the Christians “goats” who never
did a thing about their faith enough to feed
the poor, visit the sick or clothe the naked!!
in the parable of the Talents in Matt. 24:14ff
Jesus warns those who have been given a
measure of faith(Christians) and did not do
anything w/ it!! Also, Peter counsels us to
ADD to our faith in 2 Pet. 1:5ff SO, good
works help KEEP us on the straight and
narrow, lest we backslide and fall into
mortal sins and worldliness.

People should remember, good works brings grace. Not only is this logical, and in the Bible through stories, but with out good works bringing grace, what incentive would the be to DO good works? There are not NEARLY enough good works being done on Earth as it is.

The argument that good works are not necessary to go to heaven, only adds to the misery of the world. Keep in mind, good works can be something as simple as picking up a pen for someone who dropped it on the floor, or a hug for someone who needs it. Remember that feeling you had after volunteering a few hours of your time helping the poor? That is the grace you receive for your good works.

In the Litany of the Precious Blood, we ask God to allow us the opportunity to preform good works, not just receive. Good works is at the pinnacle of Christian faith, along with many other things. To exclude it is error. We have to look deeper and find out how we go about achieving grace.

Definitions are important here:

[LIST]
*]Saved - Going from a state of spiritually dead to spiritually alive, forgiven and adopted children of God. A person doesn’t buy/earn forgiveness nor adoption, it is a gift we merely reach out and receive by faith & baptism.
[/LIST]

[LIST]
*]Eternal Life / Heaven - We are judged worthy of entering Heaven if our lifestyle as adopted children is deemed to have persevered in love. This is where our behavior counts, after our conversion (“saved” above), where we grow up into mature children to inherit what was always ours as adopted children.
[/LIST]
Almost ever “faith vs works” debate fails to distinguish between “getting saved” (conversion) and the final step of attaining Eternal Life (Stand before the Judgement Seat according to our christian lifestyle). There is a reason why Paul never speaks of “Eternal Life” in the passages where he is discussing Conversion (Justification), but Paul does speak of “Eternal Life” in places where our lifestyle determines whether we enter Heaven or not.

Getting hired for a job (conversion/justification) is not the same as actually working at that job and being worthy of a paycheck (eternal life in Heaven).

I would put it a little differently that doesn’t compare being Christian and it’s graces to a job where payment is due: Getting adopted, through no merit on our part, is not the same as then having to live up to family responsibilities.

I am the OP.

I posted this is the Bible section. It was moved to Catholic Doctrine.

I was confused as to what happened to the post.

Thank God I found it.

I also want to thank all of you for your answers.

I am going to read them and study them.

THANKS!

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