Confused: Works/Salvation


#1

Okay, I have another questions which probably has a simple answer, but I can’t seem to comprehend it. Everyone usually has great answers, so I am depending on you guys! :slight_smile:

I realize the Church teaches salvation through grace alone. But then there is something about faith through works. I am not sure where or how, but I have been told that works are necessary in some form or fashion… “Work towards your salvation…”

At the same time, there are those mortal sins. If you die with an unconfessed mortal sin, you are bound for Hell. But… if you die without any mortal sins, then you eventually will get to Heaven. (via purgatory)

So, what if you never do a single good work in your life (hypothetical, of course…not probable, but let’s just go with it.) But, you don’t have any unconfessed mortal sins. What happens?

No good works…yet no mortal sin either? What happens.

Where do works fit into the scheme of things?

Sorry if this is a silly question, but all answers are greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

RyanL’s Wife


#2

Good question.

It is not a mistake that the word charity comes from the word caritas which means love. In essence to never do an act of charity is to never love. To never love is not a commission of sin in and of itself but to never love is a sin of omission. Thinking this way your premise is impossible. It is not possible to never do an act of charity and remain without sin because it is a sin in and of itself.

I like this question because today many people forget about sins of omission and this type of question brings the issue of omission to the stage.


#3

Let’s say that by some really weird set of cirumstances (so weird that the odds of this are virtually nonexistant), you go through your entire life without ever having the chance to do a single good work. If then you die without any mortal sin. yes you’ll get to heaven.

But for us normal folks who do have chances to do good works in our daily lives, then we will end up sinning by refusing to do some of these works when the oppurtunity comes up.

The best way of putting it is to say that you can’t work your way into heaven, but you can work your way out.


#4

[quote=mosher]Good question.

It is not a mistake that the word charity comes from the word caritas which means love. In essence to never do an act of charity is to never love. To never love is not a commission of sin in and of itself but to never love is a sin of omission. Thinking this way your premise is impossible. It is not possible to never do an act of charity and remain without sin because it is a sin in and of itself.

I like this question because today many people forget about sins of omission and this type of question brings the issue of omission to the stage.
[/quote]

Okay, that makes sense, but what if we change the premise a bit. Someone only does a few good works…then what. Obviously there isn’t going to be an exact number, but how many works need to be accomplish. Can someone strive to do the minimum.

Or we can get rid of the premise all together… I am just unsure how the two work/go together. Good Work vs. no mortal sins with the end result being Heaven.

(Where I am coming from… as a Baptist, we want and strive to do good works because it is a testimony of God’s love, but if we don’t seek out these works, or make a conscious effort, it doesn’t affect our salvation. Normally, they are just the natural result of what we view as our salvation)

I guess I am asking how good works affect or don’t affect your salvation as a Catholic


#5

[quote=RyanL’s Wife]Okay, that makes sense, but what if we change the premise a bit. Someone only does a few good works…then what. Obviously there isn’t going to be an exact number, but how many works need to be accomplish. Can someone strive to do the minimum.

Or we can get rid of the premise all together… I am just unsure how the two work/go together. Good Work vs. no mortal sins with the end result being Heaven.

(Where I am coming from… as a Baptist, we want and strive to do good works because it is a testimony of God’s love, but if we don’t seek out these works, or make a conscious effort, it doesn’t affect our salvation. Normally, they are just the natural result of what we view as our salvation)

I guess I am asking how good works affect or don’t affect your salvation as a Catholic
[/quote]

I am glad that you asked this. I, too, am from a Baptist background and I have some confusion on this very issue!! Similar questions have been asked before but I feel as though I can’t quite wrap my mind around them. It isn’t that I don’t understand but there seems to be a block.


#6

[quote=RyanL’s Wife]Okay, that makes sense, but what if we change the premise a bit. Someone only does a few good works…then what. Obviously there isn’t going to be an exact number, but how many works need to be accomplish. Can someone strive to do the minimum.

Or we can get rid of the premise all together… I am just unsure how the two work/go together. Good Work vs. no mortal sins with the end result being Heaven.

(Where I am coming from… as a Baptist, we want and strive to do good works because it is a testimony of God’s love, but if we don’t seek out these works, or make a conscious effort, it doesn’t affect our salvation. Normally, they are just the natural result of what we view as our salvation)

I guess I am asking how good works affect or don’t affect your salvation as a Catholic
[/quote]

We believe the same thing. Works are a demonstration of Faith which saves us just as Hope saves us all by the free gift of Grace. Hence the doctrine of “sola gratia.”

If works were and essential aspect of salvation in the sense that most protestants think that Catholics believe then it would bea heresy which we fought against in the early years of the Church called Palagianism and semi-palagianism.


#7

[quote=RyanL’s Wife]Okay, that makes sense, but what if we change the premise a bit. Someone only does a few good works…then what. Obviously there isn’t going to be an exact number, but how many works need to be accomplish. Can someone strive to do the minimum.

Or we can get rid of the premise all together… I am just unsure how the two work/go together. Good Work vs. no mortal sins with the end result being Heaven.

(Where I am coming from… as a Baptist, we want and strive to do good works because it is a testimony of God’s love, but if we don’t seek out these works, or make a conscious effort, it doesn’t affect our salvation. Normally, they are just the natural result of what we view as our salvation)

I guess I am asking how good works affect or don’t affect your salvation as a Catholic
[/quote]

Good works in and of themselves will not “earn” you salvation as salvation cannot be earned. It is a gift of grace.

Where “works” enter the equation is as the “RESULT” of faith and love of God. When one truly has faith, it is the result of grace from God and the only response to that is gratitude toward God. Our gratitude and love for God, as our love for a spouse, will necessarily *manifest * itself in works that demonstrate that faith and love.

In the “sheep and goats” parable (Matthew 25) Jesus tells us that it is those who fed the hungry, clothed the naked, etc who will inherit the Kingdom, while those who didn’t will not. When they ask when they did (or didn’t) do these things–obviously not even realizing they were acting out of love for him!–they are told that it is in doing these things for the “least of our brothers”.

Mosher is totally right IMO, that not inheriting the Kingdom will be by sins of omission, and that omission is the ommision of acting in love. As John says, “you can’t say you love the God you cannot see if you don’t love the neighbor you can see.”

The works don’t get you into heaven except as the fruits of faith and love. If you truly love God, you will love His children and that love will show itself in your works, even if those works only were to consist of sincere prayer.

Peace,


#8

[quote=Lazerlike42]Let’s say that by some really weird set of cirumstances (so weird that the odds of this are virtually nonexistant), you go through your entire life without ever having the chance to do a single good work. If then you die without any mortal sin. yes you’ll get to heaven.

But for us normal folks who do have chances to do good works in our daily lives, then we will end up sinning by refusing to do some of these works when the opportunity comes up.

The best way of putting it is to say that you can’t work your way into heaven, but you can work your way out.
[/quote]

So essentially, if an opportunity presents itself, you must respond, or else it is a sin? What you wrote makes sense, but then when I read what I just wrote, it seems you open yourself to being taken advantage of, or making yourself a door mat. Where is the line?


#9

I though Mosher gave a pretty good answer. Another thing that I would like to note: if a person spends much time reading the writings and lives of the saints, you will have a better idea of one is supposed to live a Christian life.

Read The 12 Steps to Holiness and Salvation by St. Alphonsus Ligouri (Doctor of the Church), it’s an easy read and it’s only about 200 pages long. I highley recommend it!


#10

[quote=RyanL’s Wife]So essentially, if an opportunity presents itself, you must respond, or else it is a sin? What you wrote makes sense, but then when I read what I just wrote, it seems you open yourself to being taken advantage of, or making yourself a door mat. Where is the line?
[/quote]

Virtue is always found in finding the “Golden Mean” To give to a point that your own children will not have food is a vice (hence a sin) because you are abandoning temporance and wisdom. All actions must be governed by the Cardinal Virtues of Temporance, Fortitude, Prudence and Justice and informed by the Theological Virtues of Faith, Hope and Love.


#11

[quote=RyanL’s Wife]So essentially, if an opportunity presents itself, you must respond, or else it is a sin? What you wrote makes sense, but then when I read what I just wrote, it seems you open yourself to being taken advantage of, or making yourself a door mat. Where is the line?
[/quote]

Christ Himself shows us the line…and he goes on to tell us that “if you wish to keep your life you will lose it, but if you lose your life for my sake you will inherit eternal life…”


#12

[quote=RyanL’s Wife]Okay, I have another questions which probably has a simple answer, but I can’t seem to comprehend it. Everyone usually has great answers, so I am depending on you guys! :slight_smile:

I realize the Church teaches salvation through grace alone. But then there is something about faith through works. I am not sure where or how, but I have been told that works are necessary in some form or fashion… “Work towards your salvation…”

At the same time, there are those mortal sins. If you die with an unconfessed mortal sin, you are bound for Hell. But… if you die without any mortal sins, then you eventually will get to Heaven. (via purgatory)

So, what if you never do a single good work in your life (hypothetical, of course…not probable, but let’s just go with it.) But, you don’t have any unconfessed mortal sins. What happens?

No good works…yet no mortal sin either? What happens.

Where do works fit into the scheme of things?

Sorry if this is a silly question, but all answers are greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

RyanL’s Wife
[/quote]

RyanL’s Wife, think about salvation as a process. Salvation is the process where we are made like Christ. Our goal is to become like Him in every way that is possible to us. By doing good works, like helping the poor we both show our love for others and God and we also are being perfected through these works. If I go and give up all that I have like mother Theresa did and serve the poor, I am putting myself in a place of struggle and I am taking steps that will allow Gods grace to work in me and purify my imperfections.

As revelation says, nothing imperfect shall enter heaven.

Now, the question, what if a man has no works but never sins? As someone said above this is kind of impossible. I will assume you mean physical works like thecorporal works of mercy. If the man is prayerful and truely loves God and is willing to sacrifice all for God then he will recieve salvation. But when we say works we include things like prayer and such. You must love God in order to recieve salvation.


#13

[quote=ncjohn]The works don’t get you into heaven except as the fruits of faith and love…
[/quote]

Or one might say, “The works don’t get you into heaven except as a cooperation with the grace of God…” :wink:


#14

Remember, a sin isnt somthing that we had to do, it can also be somthing that we failed to do. If you neglect to preform a good work, it could easily be a mortal sin.


#15

matthew 25: (KJV)

40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

this whole chapter pretty well sums up the Catholic belief…
our salvation is by grace, a free gift… but with that gift comes
responsibility… if we come short of meeting that responsibility,
we can be forgiven… but to intentionally fall short, when we are
capable of helping, is definately a sin for us…

:slight_smile:


#16

[quote=RyanL’s Wife]Okay, that makes sense, but what if we change the premise a bit. Someone only does a few good works…then what. Obviously there isn’t going to be an exact number, but how many works need to be accomplish. Can someone strive to do the minimum.

Or we can get rid of the premise all together… I am just unsure how the two work/go together. Good Work vs. no mortal sins with the end result being Heaven.

(Where I am coming from… as a Baptist, we want and strive to do good works because it is a testimony of God’s love, but if we don’t seek out these works, or make a conscious effort, it doesn’t affect our salvation. Normally, they are just the natural result of what we view as our salvation)

I guess I am asking how good works affect or don’t affect your salvation as a Catholic
[/quote]

Number means nothing. I could do 50 million good works and never recieve salvation. Work is part of salvation. Those in heaven are constantly doing works. They constantly praise God, which is a work. We are allow the grace of God work in us and perfect us to the point where we are constantly doing works like this, namely praising God. Ephesians 2;10 says that we were made for good works. That is our destiny that we should do good works. When it says that these works are prepared for us it is not saying that they are prepared so that we can show our love, but that that is salvation. Salvation is to participate in the beatific vision.

In Romans(might be 1Corinthians) Paul speaks of those who eat meat against their conscience. He says that they condemn themselves because they eat not of faith. Paul is connecting works and faith here. They are one. To follow your conscience is a work, but it is also in agreement with faith.


#17

this site is pretty good - check it out. God Bless You

Fisheaters


#18

[quote=johnshelby]matthew 25: (KJV)

40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

this whole chapter pretty well sums up the Catholic belief…
our salvation is by grace, a free gift… but with that gift comes
responsibility… if we come short of meeting that responsibility,
we can be forgiven… but to intentionally fall short, when we are
capable of helping, is definately a sin for us…

:slight_smile:
[/quote]

Okay, I think I get it now. Thanks!


#19

[quote=mattrue]this site is pretty good - check it out. God Bless You

Fisheaters
[/quote]

You must be careful however, as this site is somewhat anti-Vatican II.


#20

[quote=RyanL’s Wife]Okay, I have another questions which probably has a simple answer, but I can’t seem to comprehend it. Everyone usually has great answers, so I am depending on you guys! :slight_smile:

I realize the Church teaches salvation through grace alone. But then there is something about faith through works. I am not sure where or how, but I have been told that works are necessary in some form or fashion… “Work towards your salvation…”


Where do works fit into the scheme of things?

Sorry if this is a silly question, but all answers are greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

RyanL’s Wife
[/quote]

Actually its salvation BY Grace THROUGH Faith - just as St Paul taught in Ephesians (see below).
And its “Work OUT your salvation…” Philippians 2:12
Yes, works are necessary and provided for us by God. “For by Grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not from you, it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast. For we are his handiwork created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10
What most people from a Protestant background stumble on is the concept of works being an inseparable part of our faith. Even Christ described belief as a “work” in John 6-29, so the concept of faith as being separate from works is not the Gospel truth.
My favorite example is from Matthew 6:14-15:
"If you forgive others their transgressions then your Father in Heaven will forgive you yours. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your father forgive your transgressions."
It doesn’t get much clearer than that, does it? We all know we wont get saved without our sins being forgiven, right? And here we have our Lord himself telling us that without forgiving others we wont be forgiven ourselves! So which is it then: salvation by faith alone or by forgiving others? Its BOTH! Forgiving others IS FAITH in Jesus Christ - they cannot be separated. In reality, forgiving others is merely a subset of the broader concept of faith, and there are other activities which also belong to the broad category of “faith”: baptism, loving one another, etc, etc etc, and they all fall into the category of obedience. “Whoever has my commands and observes them is the one who loves me.” John 14:21 “Why do you call me Lord, yet you do not do what I say?” You can check out this thread which deals with this topic more fully.

[/font][font=Verdana]http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=85784
In particular, check out my post #44

Another undeniable conclusion from this passage - and another reason that it is one of my favorites - is that it refutes the concept of OSAS. Why? Because people will continue to sin/trespass against us and this requires us to PERSEVERE in forgiveness in order to have ALL of our sins forgiven…

I am vaguely familiar with your situation - Ryan is Catholic and you are not - and I feel an affinity toward you both because my wife and I are in a similar boat…

Talking helps - so does knowing when to shut up - especially for the men!

Phil


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