Question about salvation


I’ve been reading a fabulous book called A Biblical Defense of Roman Catholicism. However, I’m still “wading through” so to speak, not b/c it’s a difficult book to read, but b/c I’m trying to squeeze a whole lot of new info into my head. :stuck_out_tongue:

However, whenever I discuss salvation- what it is, what it entails, and I try to discuss the RC idea of salvation, I get all muddled. People then accuse me of saying that since works are salvific, that RC is a church of works, and JC sacrfice wasn’t enough. Or they say “oh, so you don’t ever know you’re saved till you get to heaven?” How depressing! Or “so you get saved by the Eucharist? Jesus never said that.” He says “whosoever believes in me”…not the Eucharist. Then they bring up all sorts of evangelists and missionaries, people like Corrie Ten Boom and such, who aren’t Catholic, and say that they didn’t teach anything Catholic, and people were brought into the church and serving Christ all the same.

I must be explaining all this badly in order for all this mess to occur practically every time I open my mouth. :frowning: What is salvation, how is it attained, and how do we work for it without it being us trying to earn something we can never earn?:shrug:



Salvation is the reunion of God with Man. First, salvation was attained by the Mosaic Law of the Old Testament. But we know that whoever lives by the Law dies by the Law, and no one is righteous. Jesus came to bring the new and everlasting covenant, one of faith. As Catholics, we participate of this covenant at Mass, when we partake of the Eucharist. At the Last Supper, Jesus said, “Take, drink this all of you. This is the cup of my blood. The blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for many, so that sins may be forgiven. Do this in memory of me.”

First, we must debunk the thought that our sins are already forgiven because of Christ’s Passion. That is not the case. Jesus says that sins may be forgiven, not will be forgiven. How are sins forgiven then? That’s another topic.

At the end of the verse, Jesus commands His apostles to "do this in memory of me." Do what? Eat His body and drink His blood. 

This is a work we must do. St. Paul mentions work extensively in his letters. We must note that he used two Greek phrases for the word “work”. Most of the time, he is referring to works of the Law, Mosaic Law to be precise. But in James, he is talking about good works. James 2:24 “See how this man is saved by his works, and not by faith alone.” In this passage, our good works play a part in our salvation. The Catholic equation: faith+good works=Salvation.

We must keep in mind that because we have faith and good works does not mean we are saved. We have been saved, we are being saved, and we will be saved. We hope for salvation and we can lose salvation at any time through mortal sin. is a great resource in finding out the biblical basis of Catholic doctrine. On the left hand column, click on justification and/or salvation for scripture on that topic.


Here is a link with quite a few discussions about the salvation issues you’ve mentioned.

Your protestant friends might be open to looking at it because it has a heavy focus on scripture.

Good luck and God Bless,

Ryan :slight_smile:


Salvation is the process by which we are saved from eternal separation from God and are enabled to live eternally in God.

how is it attained,

Salvation is not attained in the purest sense of the term because it necessarily requires a gift of God, ie grace.
Titus 3-7 “But when the goodness and kindness of God our savior appeared He saved us, not because of any righteous deeds, but because of his Mercy through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the holy Spirit, whom he richly poured out on us in Jesus Christ” It does however, for those capable of acting with free will, require a cooperation with that grace. This cooperation is living faith and basically fulfills the commandments to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love one another. Such love is the fulfillment of the 10 commandments and the beatitudes.
Eph 2:8-10 “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 God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that he has prepared in advance that we may walk in them.”

and how do we work for it without it being us trying to earn something we can never earn?:shrug:


Salvation is life in Christ. We dont work for it, we work in it, because *of *it. It is by cooperating with Gods grace that we can perform good works. This is living in faith; faith that saves. God promises that He will provide the grace we need to withstand any temptation to sin.
1 Cor 10:13 No trial has come to you but what is human. God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial He will also provide a way out so that you may be able to bear it.
Doing good works is the “natural” result of supernatural life in Christ. Our good works flow from the love that is life in Christ.
Here is a little parable you might enjoy on the relationship between faith and works:

You have a pot, a watering can, a water supply and some dirt and you want to grow a flower.

You are hopeless without a seed. Nothing you do works. Your works do nothing!

God comes along and freely gives us a seed which begins to grow.Thank you God!

He also tells us - I’ll provide the Son, but you need to water the plant or it will die!
While you water the plant it lives. But eventually you stop watering the plant and it dies.

The pot, can, water and dirt - everything we are - is us in our sinful state.
The desire for a flower is the desire for eternal life
The attempt to grow the flower without a seed is works without faith
The seed is God’s gift of Grace and without it there will be no "flower"
Jesus is the Sun - the metaphor was to good to pass up - also necessary
The statement by God is His Word - it tells us what we need to do.
Failing to water the plant is "faith without works"
Watering the plant is the “works” part of eternal life - ignore them, and the plant dies.


The key is to realize Protestants and Catholics define grace differently, read the first post of this thread.


May God bless your efforts.

No, oneseeker, it is not you. There is a multitude of misunderstanding people out there who don’t know what the church teaches. Many of them call themselves Catholic. I recommend an you go to the library here, and look on the left, and read up on salvation.

There is also a great thread the points out the difference between Catholic and protestant understanding of salvation on CAF called “Works” Salvation. You can find it using the search link. Welcome to the forum.


I’ve been reading a fabulous book called A Biblical Defense of Roman Catholicism. However, I’m still “wading through” so to speak, not b/c it’s a difficult book to read, but b/c I’m trying to squeeze a whole lot of new info into my head.

I really liked that book. That was the book I started with. I don’t know what your background is but another really good book I found is Born Fundamentalist Born Again Catholic by David Currie.
that is the book that convinced my husband of the “real presence.” Once you get to that point there is really no turning back. He is starting RCIA next week. Also the archives here at Catholic Answers are great. I also Read Catholicism and Fundamentalism : The Attack on “Romanism” by “Bible Christians” by Karl Keating but it is much more in depth and technical and a heavier read.


I also posted this on the other thread of the same name, it seems like there are two of this same theread going on right now.

I might recommend a short book which compares the Catholic and Protestant positons on salvation.

Jimmy Akin’s book “The Salvation Controversy”

I will post as many of the articles as I could find which Mr. Akin has written and are included in his book. Therefore you could look up most of what is included in the book for free. There are some of the chapters and parts of them which I couldn’t find, but most of the books is contained here in these articles.

Chapter 1
Salvation Past, Present and Future

Chapter 2
Temporal and Eternal Salvation

Chapter 3
Two other kinds of salvation

Chapter 4
Doing Penance

**Chapter 5 **

Chapter 6
Tiptoe through the TULIP

Chapter 7
Resisting and Cooperating with God

Chapter 8
Faith, Works and Boasting
Faith Works and Boasting (another article)

Chapter 9
Justification and Ecumenism


Here is Fidelis’ Extremely Short Summary of How We Are Saved

An Extremely Short Explanation of How Are We Saved?: It’s All Grace

  • Christ did NOT die on the Cross in our place (“Substitutionary Atonement” as taught by some Protestants is false)
  • Christ DID die on the Cross to take away the sin (in general) of the world. This is what is called the Redemption.
    All men are redeemed, but each need to embrace salvation.
    · The Redemption made it possible for each of us to respond to God’s initiative (grace), place our faith in Jesus’ sacrifice and his promises, and be baptized.
  1. Baptism
    · Initial justification where our sins are washed away. As a Sacrament, baptism is an efficacious sign that really accomplishes what it signifies. We are “born again” to new life; sanctified and made holy and fit for heaven (this is called sanctifying grace). If we were to die in this state, we would go to heaven.

  2. Sanctification
    · After baptism, we want to remain in sanctifying grace since if we die in any other state we will not go to heaven. We do this by relying on “prompting” graces (called actual graces) from God to do good (virtue) and avoid evil (sin). If we respond to God’s grace, we will remain in sanctifying grace. This is the sense in which we are “saved by our works”—it is entirely due to the grace of God with our cooperation. The more graces we respond to, the more we grow in holiness (sanctification), and the surer we are headed for heaven. In this, also, we are, by cooperating with God’s grace, being obedient to the commandments of Our Lord.
    · If we fail to respond to God’s grace, especially if we fall into habitual venial sin, we run the risk of eventually falling into mortal sin. If we do, sanctifying grace dies in us and we are no longer “in a state of grace”—if we die in that state we cannot go to heaven.
    · It is then that God sends us graces to urge us to repent and to confess our sins in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We are then restored to sanctifying grace. This is how our justification can be seen as ongoing.

  3. Final Perseverance
    · Finally, if through faith we remain faithful to God and respond to the graces he has given us through our lives and die in the state of sanctifying grace, we will be with God forever in heaven.

Thus, (1) We have been saved (through baptism), (2) we are being saved (through responding to God’s continual graces); (3) and we will be saved (by final perseverance).



Continued from above post…

Where do works fit in?

Protestants may point out the following:

For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever **believeth in Him **should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

Catholics say: “Amen!” But what does Jesus mean here by believe? Go down further in this chapter, and you will find out:

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains upon him.(John 3:36)

Disobeying God is not following his commandments. Both faith AND works (by God’s grace, not our own power) are necessary.

“Yeah, but what about…

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." Ephesians 2:8,9

You know, of course, Paul is speaking here, not about good works in the sense of fulfilling the ten commandments and avoiding evil, but is talking about the Levitical Law. Please read the entire chapter in context. Same for the other famous “faith alone” proof-text, Romans 3:28.

Consider this: If good works sprang up naturally out of faith, the whole New Testament (which was addressed to believers) would be useless, since it *constantly *commands believers to do certain good actions and avoid certain evil ones.

Works are not the direct cause of salvation; we aren’t saved by the works themselves, even ones done as a response to and under the power of God’s grace.

But we **ARE **saved by works in the sense that if we don’t do the good works that God has set before us to do, or do evil works (mortal sins) in defiance of God’s clear prescription, this is disobedience and, as Jesus said in the passage above, the disobedient cannot be saved.

[God] will repay everyone according to his works: eternal life to those who seek glory, honor, and immortality through perseverance in good works, but wrath and fury to those who selfishly disobey the truth and obey wickedness. (Romans 2:6-8)

Another, secondary, way doing good works saves you is that when you occupy yourself with walking in God’s ways, you leave less room to fall into sins. When you head off even venial sin, it is harder for it to become habitual and lead you into serious sin:

No one experiencing temptation should say, “I am being tempted by God”; for God is not subject to temptation to evil, and he himself tempts no one. Rather, each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire conceives and brings forth sin, and when sin reaches maturity it gives birth to death. (James 1:13-15)

Occupy your minds with good thoughts, or the enemy will fill them with bad ones. Unoccupied, they cannot be. -St. Thomas More

Hope that helps…:slight_smile:


Fidelis, I gotta say, that is the most easy to understand post I have ever read on salvation. Thank you for taking the time to type that all out. God Bless.


You’re welcome, maryj. I’ve been working on it a while and am still refining it (and preparing to add the many, many Scripture references that could be used as examples for each point).

Really, it’s what we as Catholics already have always known and been taught by the Church the basics on how to be saved. It’s just rarely put down in one place in a systematic form.:slight_smile:


This is a very important question, especially the last part, and I’m glad you brought it up. Perhaps one of Jesus’s own examples will help to clarify. Jesus said “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing”. We can never earn salvation, but we need to remain in Him in order to receive the gift of salvation. The only way we can know if we are in Him is if we, as the branches, bear fruit with the lifegiving Holy Spirit, that flows like sap from Him and into us. That fruit is our works. Those works don’t earn us anything; they are evidence of our faith. That fruit also helps to nourish others, and guide them in the direction of God.

Hope that helps! :thumbsup:

God bless


Excellent questions. I think the relation between faith and works is so critical. Many reformed traditions teach that salvation is by faith" alone". They seem to forget that even practicing faith is “work” sometimes.

29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” John 6:28-30

Grace comes from God. Faith is the human response to grace, the two together produce salvation. This is what scripture means when it says “work our your salvation”

Phil 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."

God is at work in us by grace, and we choose to respond with out faith. Faith means obedience, as well as trust. Obedience cannot happen without “work”. It is essential that all these concepts be rightly related to one another.

Eph 2:7-10
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God - 9 not because of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."

We are saved by grace “through” faith (the conduit by which God’s grace flows into our hearts). We respond in faith by obedience, and our consecration to Him demonstrates itself in “good works”.

Good works are the “duty” of those touched by the grace of God.

Luke 17:10
10 So you also, when you have done all that is commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’"

By them, we do not “earn” salvation, something only available to us by the shed blood of Jesus on the cross. But by them we demonstrate our gratitude for His sacrifice.


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