Is there a formal doctrine: God works in and through us?

Is there a formal doctrine: God works in and through us?

I am looking for a formal teaching of the Church.

Any help will be more than welcomed!

Obviously God doesn’t only work through us, but certainly He works through us. Heck, He works through the pagans and the unbelievers at times.

3 John 1:8 – “… that we may be fellow helpers of the Truth.” You may remember that Pope B16 took “cooperatores veritatis,” co-workers of Truth, as his motto.

There’s also some good bits in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, section 1742. “… the more docile we are to the promptings of grace, the more we grow in inner freedom and confidence during trials, such as those we face in the pressures and constraints of the outer world. By the working of grace the Holy Spirit educates us in spiritual freedom in order to make us free collaborators in his work in the Church and in the world.”

Hi Jim,
It is written “LORD, you will decree peace for us,
for you have accomplished all we have done.” (Isaiah 26:12)

Again “For God is the one who, for his good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work.” (Philippians 2:13).

And Jesus said “without me you can do nothing.”

The CCC (#308) states " The truth that God is at work in all the actions of his creatures is inseparable from faith in God the Creator. God is the first cause who operates in and through secondary causes: “For God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Far from diminishing the creature’s dignity, this truth enhances it. Drawn from nothingness by God’s power, wisdom and goodness, it can do nothing if it is cut off from its origin, for “without a Creator the creature vanishes.” Still less can a creature attain its ultimate end without the help of God’s grace."

The doctrine of grace is that grace is a supernatural help from God that enlightens our minds and moves our wills to good if we do not resist it. Without grace we cannot do any work meritorious of eternal life. Grace always precedes our good works. In fact, we cannot do any good natural or supernatural without God’s help as the #308 from the CCC states above. God is the first cause of all our actions who operates in and through secondary causes.

Oooooh, good answer.

I am the vine you are the branches. Without me you cannot do anything.


I will be waiting to read more great answers!

This is a thread that interests me a lot.

I see this phenomenon frequently. It was there again in today’s readings (Holy Thursday. Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper. Lectionary: 39).

Responsorial Psalm PS 116:12-13, 15-16bc, 17-18

R/. (cf. 1 Cor 10:16) Our blessing-cup is a communion with the Blood of Christ.

How shall I make a return to the LORD
for all the good he has done for me?
The cup of salvation I will take up,
and I will call upon the name of the LORD.

R/. Our blessing-cup is a communion with the Blood of Christ.

Precious in the eyes of the LORD
is the death of his faithful ones.
I am your servant, the son of your handmaid;
you have loosed my bonds.
R/. Our blessing-cup is a communion with the Blood of Christ.**

To you will I offer sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and I will call upon the name of the LORD.
My vows to the LORD I will pay
in the presence of all his people.
R/. Our blessing-cup is a communion with the Blood of Christ.**

This “participation” with the sacrificial lamb was foreshadowed in Exodus. The communion with the sacrificial lamb was so intimate, it extended even into partaking of the sacrificial lamb!

In the New Covenant Jesus is this Lamb as we are reminded of (see also John 1:29 and 1st Corinthians 5:7).

1st PETER 1:18-19 18 You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

Let’s go back to today’s readings . . .

From Exodus in today’s readings:

every house in which they partake of the lamb.
That same night they shall eat its roasted flesh
with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.

From 1st Corinthians in today’s readings:

This is my body that is for you.

And extends even into a “participation” or “communion” or “koinonia” or “sharing” in the Priesthood of Jesus Christ to varying degrees (at least this is suggested to me by today’s Liturgy).

Sometimes we reduce the Foot Washing Ceremony down to service.

Today’s reading from John 13 tells us . . . .

The Apostles were receiving a “share” or a “participation” or a “communion” or a “koinonia” or “inheritance” of something or some aspect of and/or in Jesus.

Jesus was washing the feet of the Apostles in the Upper Room.

Simon Peter saw that it was service. (The Foot Washing IS service . . . but it was more)

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him,
“Master, are you going to wash my feet?”

It DOES represent service, but there is MORE than helping folks in this anointing of feet here (Think: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”). The verses here describe in somehow or in some way a sharing or “inheritance” of Christ (I can’t prove it, but I think it somehow involves the ministerial Priesthood). These verses are laden with mystery so it is not obvious.

Jesus answered and said to him,
“What I am doing, you do not understand now,
but you will understand later.”

Then Jesus says something very mysterious. He tells Peter if he doesn’t allow Him to wash Peter’s feet, Simon Peter will . . . . . .

What? What does Jesus tell Simon Peter?

Does Jesus say? . . . .

Simon Peter, if you don’t let me wash your feet you will not be
the recipient of clean feet?


Does Jesus say? . . . .

Simon Peter, if you don’t let me wash your feet you will not be
the recipient of humble servitude?

No. Jesus doesn’t say that either.

What does Jesus say?

Simon Peter, if you don’t let me wash your feet you . . .

“Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.”

I think this is talking about the ministerial Priesthood and the resulting gift of the Priesthood (among other things, instituting the Eucharist and preaching the Gospel). And it was evidently difficult for the Apostles to understand what Jesus was doing. But whatever it was, it involved an “inheritance with” Him.

CCC 1337 The Lord, having loved those who were his own, loved them to the end. Knowing that the hour had come to leave this world and return to the Father, in the course of a meal he washed their feet and gave them the commandment of love.163 In order to leave them a pledge of this love, in order never to depart from his own and to make them sharers in his Passover, he instituted the Eucharist as the memorial of his death and Resurrection, and commanded his apostles to celebrate it until his return; "thereby he constituted them priests of the New Testament."164

God works in and through us in differing ways**, but immensely so in the ministerial Priesthood, in which the ministerial Priests, have a special “inheritance with” Jesus Christ.

*] Actual Grace internally and directly enlightens the understanding and strengthens the will. (Sent. certa.)
*] There is a supernatural intervention of God in the faculties of the soul, which precedes the free act of the will. (De fide.)
*] There is a supernatural influence of God in the faculties of the soul which coincides in time with man’s free act of will. (De fide.)
*] For every salutary act internal supernatural grace of God (gratia elevans) is absolutely necessary. (De fide.)
From **Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma **by Dr. Ludwig Ott



I will keep reading the answers!!!

I’ll try to post some others examples (of God working in and through us) as they are fun and interesting to see. I like thinking about these things too.

At Easter Vigil (tomorrow night) we will focus on our new life IN Christ.

We will focus on the Resurrection of Christ and how we get a share into this Resurrection of Christ (the first Resurrection for us being Baptism and the second Resurrection for us will occur later, at the end of time at the General Judgment).

How do we get a share into this Resurrection of Christ?

Baptism. Our Baptism puts us INTO Christ.

Our Baptism puts us into His death so we get to die with Jesus as the Stations of the Cross have told us repeatedly during Lent.

But our Baptism also puts us into His Resurrection so we get to rise with Jesus too.

ROMANS 6:3-5 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.

Resurrection of course is the theme of Easter, but the readings at the Easter Vigil tomorrow night will also be laden with Baptismal imagery as Baptism and the Resurrection of Jesus are intermingled thanks to the work of Christ.

Keeping Romans 6 in mind (some of which which will also be read at the Easter Vigil) . . .

The “water and the Spirit” in Genesis is a prefigurement to Baptism (being “born again” or being “born of water and the Spirit”).

GENESIS 1:1-2 1 In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, 2 the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss, while a mighty wind swept over the waters.

Since the “wind” is the same Hebrew word for “Spirit” here, perhaps the water and Spirit imagery will be easier to see with a different translation.

GENESIS 1:2 (DRV) And the earth was waste and empty, and darkness was on the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

GENESIS 1:2 (RSV) 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters.

GENESIS 1:2 (NIV) Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

Moses will save the people of God via water and the Spirit too. The Pillar of Cloud by day and Pillar of Fire by night is the Glory Cloud. The Holy Spirit. And the Spirit leads the people through the water of the Red Sea saving the people from their enslaving enemies. Water and Spirit imagery. Baptism. Being IN not only Christ’s death, but His Resurrection.

Isaiah 55 will tell us . . .

Thus says the LORD:
All you who are thirsty,
come to the water!
You who have no money,
come, receive grain and eat;
come, without paying and without cost,
drink wine and milk!
Why spend your money for what is not bread,
your wages for what fails to satisfy? . . .
. . . so shall my word be
that goes forth from my mouth;
my word shall not return to me void,
but shall do my will,
achieving the end for which I sent it.

“Come to the Water” suggests Baptismal imagery. More word of God imagery too.

Eucharistic imagery is seen too but I’ll stick to the water and Spirit imagery here.

Ezekiel 36 gives more water and the Spirit imagery . . .

. . . I will sprinkle clean water upon you
to cleanse you from all your impurities,
and from all your idols I will cleanse you.
I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you,
taking from your bodies your stony hearts
and giving you natural hearts.
I will put my spirit within you . . .

And there are several other like passages here too that I have not mentioned (i.e. “My strength and my courage is the LORD,and he has been my savior. With joy you will draw water at the fountain of salvation.”).

Here are some more examples.

PHILIPPIANS 2:12-13 12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

PHILIPPIANS 4:13 13 I can do all things in him who strengthens me.

GALATIANS 2:20 20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Here is a few more . . . .

EPHESIANS 3:20-21 20 Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.

HEBREWS 13:20a, 21 “Now may the God of peace . . . . equip you with everything good that you may do His will, working in you that which is pleasing in His sight through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

ROMANS 8:8-11 8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 But you are not in the flesh, you are in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Any one who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although your bodies are dead because of sin, your spirits are alive because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit which dwells in you.

JOHN 6:55-56 55 For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. 56 He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.

1st THESSALONIANS 2:13 13 And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.

PHILIPPIANS 1:6 6 And I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

I’ll try to come back here later and put up a few more examples of God at work IN US.

These works are a great grace! These are the kinds of works (Steve Wood calls them “grace works”) that DO figure into our salvation. Not works on our own, but works of grace in us anf through us by Jesus with our cooperation.

The Council of Trent . . .

Council of Trent (Session VI)


On the necessity, in adults, of preparation for Justification, and whence it proceeds.
The Synod furthermore declares, that in adults, the beginning of the said Justification is to be derived from the prevenient grace of God, through Jesus Christ, that is to say, from His vocation, whereby, without any merits existing on their parts, they are called; that so they, who by sins were alienated from God, may be disposed through His quickening and assisting grace, to convert themselves to their own justification, by freely assenting to and co-operating with that said grace: in such sort that, while God touches the heart of man by the illumination of the Holy Ghost, neither is man himself utterly without doing anything while he receives that inspiration, forasmuch as he is also able to reject it; yet is he not able, by his own free will, without the grace of God, to move himself unto justice in His sight. Whence, when it is said in the sacred writings: Turn ye to me, and I will turn to you, we are admonished of our liberty; and when we answer; Convert us, O Lord, to thee, and we shall be converted, we confess that we are prevented by the grace of God.

From Chapter 7

. . . . none of those things which precede justification-whether faith or works-merit the grace itself of justification. For, if it be a grace, it is not now by works, otherwise, as the same Apostle says, grace is no more grace.

1st CORINTHIANS 10:16-17 16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.

WHY are we “one body” in the Church? Because we have a participation IN Christ. A participation or sharing, or koinonia, IN HIM.

HOW did we get that “koinonia” or participation IN Him?

Fortunately Scripture tells us.

Because we partake of one bread–the Eucharist.

But HOW did we get to THAT point in the first place?

Fortunately again, Sacred Scripture tells us that too . . . .

1st CORINTHIANS 12:13 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body–Jews or Greeks, slaves or free–and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

The Council of Trent says: ‘If anyone shall assert that without the previous inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and his assistance, man can believe, hope, love or repent, as he ought, in order to obtain the grace of justification, let him be anathema.’


I just posted this elsewhere but it has relevance for this thread too.

Because of the faith he (Simon Peter) confessed, Peter will remain the unshakable rock . . . .

CCC 552 Simon Peter holds the first place in the college of the Twelve;283 Jesus entrusted a unique mission to him. Through a revelation from the Father, Peter had confessed: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Our Lord then declared to him: "You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it."284 Christ, the “living Stone”,285 thus assures his Church, built on Peter, of victory over the powers of death. Because of the faith he confessed Peter will remain the unshakable rock of the Church. His mission will be to keep this faith from every lapse and to strengthen his brothers in it.286

Because of the faith he confessed Peter will remain the unshakable rock . . .

But wait! There’s more!

There are other layers of Peter as “Rock”, one of which of course is his name change. One of which IS Peter as “ROCK”.

CCC 881 The Lord made Simon ALONE, whom he named Peter, the rock of his Church. He gave him the keys of his Church and instituted him shepherd of the whole flock. The office of binding and loosing which was given to Peter was also assigned to the college of apostles united to its head. This pastoral office of Peter and the apostles belongs to the Church’s very foundation and is continued by the bishops under the primacy of the Pope.

(all caps in CCC 881 mine)

Q: Well how can Peter possibly be the “Rock”? Christ is the Rock?

A: Because it is a unique “participation” or “sharing” or “koinonia” or “association” in Christ that Simon has.

It is this “participation” that Simon Peter is gifted and graced to share with Christ, that enables Simon to be “Cephas”, it enables Simon to be “Peter”, it enables Simon to be “Rock”.

CCC 551 From the beginning of his public life Jesus chose certain men, twelve in number, to be with him and to participate in his mission.280 He gives the Twelve a share in his authority and 'sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal."281 They remain associated for ever with Christ’s kingdom, for through them he directs the Church:

[INDENT]As my Father appointed a kingdom for me, so do I appoint for you that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.282[/INDENT]

CCC 586a Far from having been hostile to the Temple, where he gave the essential part of his teaching, Jesus was willing to pay the Temple-tax, associating with him Peter, whom he had just made the foundation of his future Church.359

Thanks for starting this thread Jim Baur!
It’s a wonder no one quoted John 14:12
“the one who believes in me will do what
I have been doing, **greater works **than these
will he do because I’m going to the Father”
Just a couple of verses before this Jesus was
saying that the Father was working in Him.
And immediately following this verse Jesus
explains that He will answer all they request of
Him in His Name.
It seems logical to deduce from this that Jesus
is saying that just as His Father was working
in Him So from now on HE will be working
in us, that is the Church! To God be the

Here are a couple more . . .

1st CORINTHIANS 9:1 1 Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are not you my workmanship in the Lord

2nd CORINTHIANS 6:1 1 Working together with him, then, we entreat you not to accept the grace of God in vain.

And a couple more . . .

St. Paul in a primary sense here, admittedly is discussing finances, but in a secondary sense, he is talking about evangelism too.

**2nd CORINTHIANS 9:8-10 ** 8 And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that you may always have enough of everything and may provide in abundance for every good work. 9 As it is written, “He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor; his righteousness endures for ever.” 10 He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your resources and increase the harvest of your righteousness.

Jesus talking to the Apostles here in John 9 . . .

JOHN 9:4 4 We must work the works of him who sent me, while it is day; night comes, when no one can work.

The following is for readers of this thread that may (correctly) have the justification issue in the back of their mind with all of this.

It is worth going back and re-reading all of the Bible verses that have to do with God WORKING . . . . all by Himself? Well . . . yes God does work all on His own but He ALSO works IN us.

God WORKS IN us. The Bible says so.

This is what Steve Wood calls “grace works”.

This is part of the reason these “works” are different than mere “works” on your own apart from grace . . . . such as Old Covenant circumcision (Romans 3:28) or apart from the graces Jesus work accomplished in His death and Resurrection (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Is it any wonder that St. Paul can tell us our works are not salvific (not grace works) in one sense, then turn around and tell us that works ARE part of our salvation in another sense (i.e. Romans 2:13).

There is some sense that works are not salvific. There is another sense that works ARE salvific.

Go back and re-read the verses below and see if it becomes more obvious which works ARE salvific (involved with our justification for those who are able to carry this out).

What does 1st Cor. 13:13 say?

NOT 1st CORINTHIANS 13:13 (Phantom verse) 13 "Of faith, hope, love, abide these three, but the greatest of these is faith so it fits into a man-made doctrine of justification by faith alone.

Is THAT what St. Paul said?


What did St. Paul really say?

1st CORINTHIANS 13:13 13 Of faith, hope, love, abide these three, but the greatest of these is love.

Jesus tells us “If you love Me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15 and 15:14).

You people are great!


I am the O.P.

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