Salvation: What does faith and works mean

Ok, I just finished my first mission trip with an organization called CRU. And CRU is a protestant organization needless to say I was the only Catholic on this mission trip. Furthermore, my college ministry is also mainly protestant and since going about a year ago I have been bombarded with theological questions. The main one being about salvation and I always knew that Catholics believed in Faith and works but I don’t think I knew what that meant. So my question is when does salvation come in? I know we are justified through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross so are works apart of salvation or is Faith salvation and works are what proves we are saved and our faith?

The question is really about the role of man’s cooperation with God’s grace. The Church teaches that man can not have faith or do good works unless God prompts him towards both, but also teaches that man exercises his agency of his own free will in both refusing to cooperate with it and choosing to cooperate with it. Protestant Arminians believe similar.

Lutherans proclaim that man exercises his own agency actively in refusing God’s grace but that man is passive when God prompts him to do work, such that man is not actively cooperating but only passively being moved.

Calvinists proclaim that man is passive when “choosing” both to reject or accept God. There is no active choice of man to cooperate or not.

I’ve probably over simplified it. But there are some good articles on monogerism and synergism which you can look into.

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So Catholics believe man is responsible for works insofar as he has an active role in choosing to either cooperate or reject God’s grace.

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We work out our salvation with He who works in us (Phil 2). We are justified freely as a result of faith, in response to grace. Baptism is the expression of that faith and the primary means that God has provided to gain entrance into His kingdom. We’re “qualified” at that point for heaven. But most of us will have more time and opportunity to grow, to choose good over evil, to choose God and embrace Him more fully, which we’re expected to do. And as we choose Him we obey Him and He gives us the grace to be sanctified, with works He’s prepared for us to do. These are not works of the law, or “filthy rags”, but God’s will for us in this life. We can also refuse, we can turn back away from God.

"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. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance as our way of life." Eph 2:8-10

In Catholicism this response to grace continuously offered, this walking in righteousness, this affirmation of our baptismal vows and the justification that it gave us, is essential. We aren’t to rest on our laurels; we’re to strive, and to persevere. We’re to love, and love works, for the good of others, by its nature

"God “will repay each one according to his deeds.” To those who by perseverance in doing good seek glory, honor, and immortality, He will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow wickedness, there will be wrath and anger." Rom 2:6-8

"The only thing that counts is faith working through love." Gal 5:6

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The way I see it, OP is this: We believe in Jesus and we do what Jesus commands us to do. Faith without action is meaningless and actions without faith is likewise meaningless. It’s that simple.

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Got catechism? It’s all in there.

Another take: we all possess charisms (gifts) given to us by the Holy Spirit. We are intended to use those gifts to build the Church. For an example, read Matthew 25:14-30. Our Lord speaks of “talents”, but those talents can also be viewed as the charisms we have.

Using those charisms (grace from God) is one way we cooperate with God by using the gifts He has given us. He greatly desires a return on His investment.

RIGHTEOUSNESS AND MERIT by James Akin

“Protestants who say … Catholics believe we must do good works in order to become justified — a position which was explicitly condemned at Trent, which taught “nothing that precedes justification, whether faith or works, merits the grace of justification” (Decree on Justification 8).

Catholic theology teaches we do not do good works in order to be justified, but that we are justified in order to do good works, as Paul says: “[W]e are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10 ).

Justification is the cause, not the consequence, of good works.

However, these Protestants are still confused about the fact that Catholics do not teach we are made only partially righteous in justification.

The Church teaches that we are made totally righteous — we receive 100% pure righteousness — in justification.

Thus Trent declares: “[I]n those who are born again God hates nothing, because there is no condemnation to those who are truly buried together with Christ by baptism unto death . . . but, putting off the old man and putting on the new one who is created according to God, are made innocent, immaculate, pure, guiltless and beloved of God, heirs indeed of God, joint heirs with Christ; so that there is nothing whatever to hinder their entrance into heaven” (Decree on Original Sin 5).

You don’t have to do a diddly-do-da thing after being justified by God in baptism in order to go to heaven.

There is no magic level of works one needs to achieve in order to go to heaven.

One is saved the moment one is initially justified.”

http://www.ewtn.com/library/ANSWERS/RIGHTEOU.HTM

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JUSTIFICATION IN CATHOLIC TEACHING Jimmy Akin

What we do not do to receive it:

Justification is said to be by grace “because none of those things which precede justification, whether faith or works, merit the grace of justification. For, if by grace, it is not now by works, otherwise, as the Apostle says, grace is no more grace.”

As a result, Trent teaches that our initial justification, by which we come to and are accepted by God, is not merited by us in any way by anything we do, whether an act of faith or works.

It is intrinsically impossible (as we shall see later, in our discussion of Trent’s chapter sixteen) for an unjustified person to merit justification, therefore our justification is not merited by anything we do leading up to it.
This makes explicit what was taught in chapter seven: that Christ, not us, is the meritorious cause of our justification.

http://jimmyakin.com/justification-in-catholic-teaching
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Jimmy is the Senior Apologist at Catholic Answers, …
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THE ANSWER OF YOUR QUESTION
One is saved the moment one is initially justified.
Christ, not us, is the meritorious cause of our justification.

Heaven is God’s unmerited gift, for our good works God gives us rewards in Heaven. – 1 Cor.3:12-15.
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God bless

Welcome, @beccachatt ! I hope you’ll have a long, rewarding experience with CAF. Best wishes! :smiley:

Just so you know, and not be in the dark as I was, posters use “OP” to refer to the one who has written the Original Post.

Latin, I don’t know why you seek to spread confusion about the gospel. It’s actually disingenuous to leave out the whole story. More from the Council of Trent:

Canon 4.
If anyone says that man’s free will moved and aroused by God, by assenting to God’s call and action, in no way cooperates toward disposing and preparing itself to obtain the grace of justification, that it cannot refuse its assent if it wishes, but that, as something inanimate, it does nothing whatever and is merely passive, let him be anathema.

Canon 7.
If anyone says that all works done before justification, in whatever manner they may be done, are truly sins, or merit the hatred of God; that the more earnestly one strives to dispose himself for grace, the more grievously he sins, let him be anathema.

Canon 9.
If anyone says that the sinner is justified by faith alone,[114] meaning that nothing else is required to cooperate in order to obtain the grace of justification, and that it is not in any way necessary that he be prepared and disposed by the action of his own will, let him be anathema.

Canon 31.
If anyone says that the one justified sins when he performs good works with a view to an eternal reward,[133] let him be anathema.

Canon 32.
If anyone says that the good works of the one justified are in such manner the gifts of God that they are not also the good merits of him justified; or that the one justified by the good works that he performs by the grace of God and the merit of Jesus Christ, whose living member he is, does not truly merit an increase of grace, eternal life, and in case he dies in grace, the attainment of eternal life itself and also an increase of glory, let him be anathema.

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I believe it can come down to complete trust in God and in God’s Word.

So, if society tells you that you need to cheat in order to make a living, and you do the opposite knowing you might lose your job because you don’t cheat, then you are trusting that your needs will be met b/c you take God at his Word.

SIMPLE AND CLEAR TEACHINGS OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

Ante prævisa merita
Asserts that God, by an absolute decree and without regard to any future supernatural merits, predestined from all eternity certain men to the glory of heaven, and then, in consequence of this decree, decided to give them all the graces necessary for its accomplishment.

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FR. WILLIAM MOST TEACHES THE SAME ABOVE THEOLOGICAL FACTS
What does the Catholic Church teach on Predestination?

“Predestination is gratuitous: For even before God considers human merits, He predestines, and because the sole and total cause of predestination is the goodness and love of the Father which moves spontaneously WITHOUT stimulus, merit, or condition.”

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JOINT DECLARATION ON THE DOCTRINE OF JUSTIFICATION by the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church

4.1 Human Powerlessness and Sin in Relation to Justification

  1. “We confess together that all persons depend completely on the saving grace of God for their salvation. … Justification takes place solely by God’s grace. Because Catholics and Lutherans confess this together, it is true to say.”

4.3 Justification by Faith and through Grace

  1. We confess together that sinners are justified by faith in the saving action of God in Christ. … But whatever in the justified precedes or follows the free gift of faith is neither the basis of justification nor merits it.

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ANNEX TO THE OFFICIAL COMMON STATEMENT

C. Justification takes place by grace alone (JD 15 and 16), by faith alone, the person is justified „apart from works“ (Rom 3:28, cf. JD 25).

D. Certainly, "whatever in the justified precedes or follows the free gift of faith is neither the basis of justification nor merits it (JD 25).

3.The doctrine of justification is measure or touchstone for the Christian faith. No teaching may contradict this criterion. In this sense, the doctrine of justification is an "indispensable criterion which constantly serves to orient all the teaching and practice of our churches to Christ“ (JD l8).

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COUNCIL OF TRENT Session 6 Chapter 8

. . . None of those things which precede justification - whether faith or works - merit the grace itself of justification.
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Strictly speaking only a person in the STATE OF GRACE can merit, as defined by the Church (Denzinger 1576, 1582).
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Council of Orange 529 AD; CANON 18. That grace is not preceded by merit. Recompense is due to good works if they are performed; but grace, to which we have no claim, precedes them, to enable them to be done.
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MERIT; Divine reward for the practice of virtue.
“The reward given for good works is not won by reason of actions which precede grace, but GRACE, which is unmerited, PRECEDES actions in order that ENABLE them to be done.” (Denzinger 388).
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Rom.11:6; And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace.
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God bless

Yes, only a person in the state of grace can merit. And yet that same person can refuse that grace to begin with, or at any point later on down the line. Trent speaks with much wisdom. Read it carefully rather than picking and choosing; it doesn’t contradict itself. Then you’ll learn. It’s all about grace, and man’s will, whether he’s ready to accept that grace-or not.

GOD IS GOVERNING THE HUMAN RACE WITH 100 % SUCCESS AND SAVING WHOEVER HE WANTS WITH 100 % SUCCESS RATE, because God gives them all the graces necessary for its accomplishment.
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St. Thomas (C. G., II, xxviii) If God’s purpose were made dependent on the foreseen free act of any creature, God would thereby sacrifice His own freedom, and would submit Himself to His creatures, thus abdicating His essential supremacy–a thing which is, of course, utterly inconceivable.
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Aquinas said, “God changes the will WITHOUT FORCING IT.
But he can change the will from the fact that He himself operates in the will as He does in nature,” De Veritatis 22:9.

308 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.
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St. Thomas teaches that all movements of will and choice must be traced to the divine will: and not to any other cause, because Gad alone is the cause of our willing and choosing. CG, 3.91.

St. Thomas also teaches that God effects everything, the willing and the achievement. S. Th.II/II 4, 4 ad 3:

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Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma by Ludwig Ott;

a. There is a supernatural intervention of God in the faculties of the soul, which precedes the free act of the will, (De fide).

Our ability to cooperate with God’s graces, to will good and to do good, our free wills are the causation/ product of God’s Internal Supernatural Graces and God’s Supernatural Intervention in the faculties of our souls.
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b. Without the special help of God the justified cannot persevere to the end in justification. (De fide.)

Every receiver of God’s Supernatural Grace of Final Perseverance and God’s Supernatural Intervention in the faculties of the soul every receiver INFALLIBLY end up in Heaven, without it everyone would end up in hell, because there is no salvation without God’s Supernatural Grace of Final Perseverance. – Infallible teachings of the Trent.
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Question: So, who is responsible for our salvation?
Answer: God is responsible for our salvation by to provide us all the necessary graces.
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2022; The divine initiative in the work of grace precedes, prepares, and elicits the free response of man. Grace responds to the deepest yearnings of human freedom, calls freedom to cooperate with it, and perfects freedom.
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As we see above: WE ALL HAVE FREE WILLS, our Free Wills are the creation/ product of God’s Internal Supernatural Graces and His Supernatural Intervention in the faculties of our souls and we all INFALLIBLY and FREELY choose heaven as God wills it and we accomplish every act WILLED AND CAUSED BY GOD in the way, He provides us all the graces necessary for its accomplishment.
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God bless

Yes, He does. But if that means that we must accomplish it, then we have no free will.

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If something must happen and the opposite cannot be happen, we humans tend to think we have no free will in the matter, because we must act the way (cannot choose to do the opposite) that the predestined event by God must be accomplished.
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The fact that we have free will in the matter or we don’t have depends on, what is our reason we don’t want to choose to do the opposite.

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CATHOLIC SOTERIOLOGY ANSWER THE REASON WE CANNOT AND WE DON’T WANT TO CHOOSE TO DO THE OPPOSITE

Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma by Ludwig Ott;

There is a supernatural intervention of God in the faculties of the soul, which precedes the free act of the will, ( De fide ).
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Aquinas said, “God changes the will WITHOUT FORCING IT.
But he can change the will from the fact that He himself operates in the will as He does in nature,” De Veritatis 22:9.
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308 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.
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2022; The divine initiative in the work of grace precedes, prepares, and elicits the free response of man. Grace responds to the deepest yearnings of human freedom, calls freedom to cooperate with it, and perfects freedom.

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THE REASON THAT WE EVERY TIME FREELY WITHOUT ANY FORCE, INFALLIBLY CHOOSE TO DO THE WILL OF GOD IS; our free wills are the PRODUCT of God’s Internal Supernatural Graces and His Supernatural Intervention in the faculties of our souls.
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God provides us all the graces necessary (in all the graces necessary includes GOD’S CAUSE of our DESIRE to always freely and infallibly choose to do His will), so we have free will.

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ST. AUGUSTINE ON GRACE AND PREDESTINATION

De gratia Christi 25, 26:
For not only has God given us our ability and helps it, but He even works [brings about] willing and acting in us; not that we do not will or that we do not act, but that without His help we neither will anything good nor do it.
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De gratia et libero arbitrio 16, 32:
It is certain that we will when we will; but He brings it about that we will good . . . . It is certain that we act when we act, but He brings it about that we act, PROVIDING MOST EFFECTIVE POWERS TO THE WILL.
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God bless

Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma by Ludwig Ott

The human will remains free under the influence of efficacious grace, which is not irresistible. (De Fide)

Council of Trent

Canon 4.
If anyone says that man’s free will moved and aroused by God, by assenting to God’s call and action, in no way cooperates toward disposing and preparing itself to obtain the grace of justification, that it cannot refuse its assent if it wishes, but that, as something inanimate, it does nothing whatever and is merely passive, let him be anathema.

Canon 6.
If anyone says that it is not in man’s power to make his ways evil, but that the works that are evil as well as those that are good God produces, not permissively only but also propria et per se, so that the treason of Judas is no less His own proper work than the vocation of St. Paul, let him be anathema.

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Why would action without faith be meaningless? If one helps others sincerely, even without faith, would not such helping still be a good thing in the eyes of G-d?

In that instance, I’m thinking that the good work would be good for others but ineffective for that person. Since it would be essentially “ going through the motions. “

If the good work is good for others, wouldn’t it also be good for the person doing it? And why would such work necessarily be ‘going through the motions’ if the person doing it was moved to help someone?

That’s a good question and I’m glad you brought it up. :thinking: I’d have to stick with Sacred Scripture on the inefficiency of works without faith. The details might just be above my pay grade.

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