Hey. I wrote this for my girlfriend. I took many direct sentences from some of you. (Pax, mosh, NotWorthy and others). So don’t get mad if you see it and say “hey! I said that!”. I am merely trying to explain faith and works. If I am wrong, someone please correct me.
What Faith and Works Means
A Catholic would say we are saved by grace alone, or “sola gratia”. We all agree that it is God’s grace that saves us, but where do Faith and Works come into play?
Good works, in and of themselves, will not “earn” salvation. Salvation cannot be earned. Most Protestants think Catholics believe we must earn, or merit, our salvation by having faith plus doing this or that. That is heresy. In fact, it is a heresy called Pelagianism that the early church fought against.
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. The only response to that grace is gratitude toward God. Our gratitude and love of God will manifest itself in works that demonstrate faith and love.
For example, if someone gave you a new car, when they dropped it off would you just hop in and never speak to them again? No. You would thank them, and then ask “How can I ever repay you?” Salvation is the gift given here. (Of course, nothing we have can ever repay God, but the point is still valid)
Another example. If you told your wife you loved her, but never did a single thing for her, would that be love? Would she believe that you really loved her? But, if you tried every day to show her how much she means to you, wouldn’t she then see your love? The same applies with our love for the Lord. Remember this – words speak, but actions scream.
Read Matthew 25:31-46. This is the parable of the sheep and the goats. This kinda sums up the Catholic belief. Finished reading? Good. Read verse 40 again. We do not do good works for ourselves, we do them for God. It is nothing we do, so we cannot boast. (Eph 2:9). It is through the grace of God that we do them. After all, we were created for good works. (Eph 2:10). If I was feeding the hungry expecting a reward, that would be one thing. But we feed the hungry to praise and glorify the Lord.
But what is a work? Prayer and praising God are works. Could we do these things without the grace of God? No. Just like feeding the hungry. It is only through the grace of God that we do these things.
Read John 6:29. Even belief is a work of God! ALL good things come through Him. Works are a good thing!
As we pray with out lips (faith), we also pray with our actions (works). See now how Catholics cannot separate faith and works?
We are saved by faith, through grace, just as Paul teaches in Eph 2:8-9. Remember, all works are the result of God, they do not come from us.
But what is faith? If it is faith alone that saves us, why does Jesus tell us we must do things, like forgiving others, to be forgiven ourselves? (Matt 6:14-15) After all, we must be forgiven to be saved, right? If faith is just something we have, then a lot of passages cease to make sense. If faith is an action, something we do, then everything is just a subset of our faith. (works)
Here is what it looks like. I would encourage you to look up all of these passages.
How are we saved?
(Faith? Grace? Baptism? Hope? Works? Obedience? Love?)
(Eph 2:8-9, Rom 3:24, Eph 2:4-6)
(1 Cor 1:21, Rom 3:28, Rom 10:10)
(That looked better in word. The point is they are all in a pyramid underneath faith)
(All of the passages for Works-Endurance can be found elsewhere. I have them written, but there is not space here.)