Well, here’s something I’m sure none of you have ever encountered before, a question about how faith and works go together in regard to salvation! :rolleyes: I really do wonder about this, though, so I hope you’ll bear with me…
Many Protestants believe that salvation comes simply by having faith in Christ. This usually means confessing that Christ is Lord and believing that God raised Him from the dead, as expressed in Romans 10:9:
That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Ephesians 2:8-9 also is often cited:
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
Of course, as I have studied, I have discovered many more verses that speak of the importance of works. In fact, immediately after the passage I just cited, verse 10 says:
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
There are also passages about faith without deeds being dead and many more. I’m not going to list them all here, but there are a good deal of them.
So, I’ve come to see that the common Protestant view of things is overly-simplistic. What I’m wondering is how Catholics actually view works and faith. It is apparent to me that they go together, but I’m not sure exactly how. I guess there are several ways of viewing things:
Salvation is purely by faith alone in Christ. Good works are a natural result of this faith, but do nothing to obtain salvation. Nothing a person does after receiving salvation can cause a person to lose it (aka “eternal security”).
Salvation is by faith alone in Christ. As above, good works are a natural result of this faith, but do nothing to obtain salvation. It is possible to lose salvation by completely falling way from Christianity (another Protestant view, held by those who don’t accept the “eternal security” idea).
Salvation is earned by doing good works and avoiding bad works or sins (this would be a common view of non-Christians who admit the existence of God but don’t accept organized religion).
Salvation is by faith in Christ, but every time a person sins, they lose their salvation, and need to repent of their sins to be restored to a “saved” state.
Salvation is by faith in Christ, but saying “yes” to Christ is not just a onetime confession. It is doing His will. So, in effect, good works are how we say “yes” to Christ in our everyday lives. Every time we sin, we are saying “no” to Christ. Certain sins (i.e. mortal sins), equate to such a violent “no” that we are no longer in the state of grace (i.e. the state we need to be in at death in order to go to Heaven).
Now, I guess I see option five as being the Catholic view, but I still don’t think I’m expressing it correctly. Could anyone give a better description of how faith and works go together in Catholicism? Thanks so very much, and thanks also for bearing with questions you’ve probably encountered many times before!