So salvation?


If once at baptism we receive the grace needed for salvation - the initial justification; the “saved” (past-tense form) Scripture talks about…

CCC: 1987 The grace of the Holy Spirit has the power to justify us, that is, to cleanse us from our sins and to communicate to us “the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ” and through Baptism.

Then why do we need to continue on with good works?
I understand that we may lose our salvation by committing mortal sin, but that doesn’t mean every time we DON’T cooperate with God’s grace we mortally sin, right?

So, I guess I’m asking, why are good works neccessary for our salvation?


I believe it is because without “good works”, we will fall into serious sin and separate ourselves from God.

Our human nature abhors a vacuum. If we are not doing “good works” we will instead do “not good works”.


A Protestant would not say that good works are necessary but that is a different issue. I think everyone says we should do good works although we may differ on their effect.

James tells us:

“Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17)


I always thought that Baptism was a work.


I believe that Baptism is a work. Faith first, then work (baptism). That faith can be of the infant’s parents or guardians.


I think we get too hung up with semantics. I believe the Catholic teaching goes something like this:We are “saved” (given the gift of a chance at eternal life with God) by the one time sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross.

What is necessary for our salvation is “faith” (the taking of the free gift and our acknowledgement that we want to be with God).

It is NOT enough, however, to just announce “I am a sinner and I believe in Jesus as God”. That is not “faith”, that is a belief. You have “faith” when you put that belief into action and show God how serious you are about wanting to be with Him and how much you love him. These are “works”.

[FONT=Arial]I know there are many of my Catholic brothers and sisters who are much more knowledgeable in the formal theology and philosophy than I am so please fire away and correct me where I am in error.[/FONT]


You are absolutely right. Baptism is a work… that’s why we believe baptismal regeneration to be unbiblical…

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

Seems like I see a lot of Catholics “boasting” of their baptism… but not a lot of talk about the grace of God.


Faith is necessary for salvation, but faith requires action. That is the point James makes… that faith without works is a dead (non-saving) faith. If we receive the grace of baptism, that initial justification that comes unmerited to us, but fail to respond in love, then that justification ceases to be salvific. Our saving faith dies, and we face the prospect of a fearful judgment. The Catechism states the Church’s teaching from Scripture plainly.

Perseverance in faith

162 Faith is an entirely free gift that God makes to man. We can lose this priceless gift, as St. Paul indicated to St. Timothy: "Wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting conscience, certain persons have made shipwreck of their faith."44 To live, grow and persevere in the faith until the end we must nourish it with the word of God; we must beg the Lord to increase our faith;45 it must be “working through charity,” abounding in hope, and rooted in the faith of the Church.46

44 1 Tim 1:18-19.
45 Cf. Mk 9:24; Lk 17:5; 22:32.
46 Gal 5:6; Rom 15:13; cf. Jas 2:14-26.



works = faith in action

Is it acceptable to think about paying your utility bill but not write out the check? The intention is there but it isn’t enough…

If you have faith you will naturally want to imitate our savior… the highest form of worship… what would he do? What DID he do? He healed, he visited the lowly, in other words… Jesus set the example for us to follow… Faith… trust in God… how could you just pay lip service?


God offers the grace for each work, and its up to us to accept it. Works are only done by God’s grace, just like faith is offered to each person by God’s grace. Only grace saves, not faith. not works. Faith and works are simply modes of accepting God’s freely offered grace.

Don’t forget Ephesians 2:10:
For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.

God Bless,



There is such a thing as a “sin of omission.” Like a “sin of transgression,” a sin of omission can be mortal, if it concerns grave matter, is done with full knowledge and free consent of the will. Those condemned to eternal punishment in the Last Judgment in Matthew 25:31-46 are condemned for sins of omission, for not feeding the hungry, not giving drink to the thirsty, not clothing the naked, etc., in short, for not doing good works.

St. Thomas Aquinas briefly discusses sins of omission in his Summa Theologica, here.


I like this answer. It lays it out very nicely.

Paul preached faith to be saved
James teaches that Faith without works is dead
Paul also says that, of Fath Hope and Charity, the greatest is Charity.

Works - Acts of Charity - Loving God and neighbor, these are all ways of reinforcing our belief in God, strengthening our faith, and pleasing our Father in Heaven.

Also, never forget that each time we resist a sin, or “Avoid the narrow occasion” this to is a work that keeps us in God’s Grace.



Having faith in the face of daily temptation and choosing to do the “right thing”; and repenting when when chooses wrongly; is itself a MAJOR work of faith. Keeping the faith is a work of faith! Praying for others is a work of faith. Joyiously tolerating abuse and insults for being a Christian and praying for one’s enemies are all works of faith.

But as one grows in The Faith and becomes more and more steadfast and transformed into a soldier of Christ one not only defends himself from evil influences but starts defending others and doing charitable deeds for others. This is where the entire notion of Chivalry comes from. This is why we call the family of God on earth “The Church Militant”. We are God’s agents on earth and we perform His works as a natural and reflexive response to His grace. Truthfully, its impossible to not have works if one is truly holding to The Faith - either in maintaining oneself in grace or in helping others. Also consider, that others can be inspired by your own struggles (a work) with maintaining the faith and so one can perform works which one is not even consciously aware of.

Do not get too hung up on “works”. Works just “happen” for True Christians and these become fruits and signs of our salvation that signal to us and to others who we are and give us confidence that we are of the elect. It is nearly impossible to even utter the name “Jesus Christ” with good intentions without some good work coming of it. :thumbsup:



We are to produce fruit that befits repentance. The appropriate response to God’s saving grace is that we render acceptable service.

“…**you must make every effort **to support your faith with goodness, and goodness with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness, 7 and godliness with mutual affection, and mutual affection with love. 8 For if these things are yours and are increasing among you, they keep you from being ineffective and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For anyone who lacks these things is short-sighted and blind, and is forgetful of the cleansing of past sins. 10 Therefore, brothers and sisters, be all the more eager to confirm your call and election, for if you do this, you will never stumble. 11 For in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly provided for you.” 2 Peter 1:5-12

By putting forth “every effort” to support our faith with good character, we demonstrate that we are long sighted (eye on the prize) and perceptive (able to see the kingdom). Such striving keeps us ever mindful that we have been cleansed of our past sins. By our way of life we confirm our call and election, and fortify ourselves against stumbling. The Apostle shows us that it is in this way that we enter into the eternal kingdom.


I have never heard anyone “boast” about their baptism, Catholic or not. If they did, however, it would be boasting in the Lord. Baptism is not a work of the flesh, as you seem to imply. On the contrary, the Holy Scripture is clear that it has nothing to do with the flesh:

1 Peter 3:21-22
21 And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you — not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him."

Baptism is an “appeal to God for a good conscience”. How does man’s conscience become clear? Only by the grace of God, that has been poured into us at baptism.

Titus 3:5-7
"…he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. 6 This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life." Titus 3:5-7

Baptism saves because it is the washing of rebirth and renewal. People do not effect this, but only God. Yes, a person must choose to enter the waters of baptism, but it is God that does the pouring of the cleansing spirit. No one can be justified by their own works. We are justified by his grace. It is His mercy with which we join when we are washed in the water.


This is an EXCELLENT way of putting it:

Of course, salvation is unmerited. It starts with God’s grace, which causes our opening to faith. Then we’re baptized because Jesus made it clear enough (at least clear enough for his one true Church to understand) that the grace of God is infused to us at Baptism. This saving grace can be demolished due to our own choosing when we act towards sin and refuse to cooperate with God’s grace. When we do cooperate with God’s grace, and we perform works of love, God santifies us.


I think we get confused on this issue because our faith is not just about being cleansed from sin and then managing to avoid it for the rest of our lives. Sin and love are contradictory so that where one is decreasing the other must be increasing.

The CC teaches that justification is a process of conversion. She knows that anyone who lives past infancy will sin after Baptism-excepting Mary-but that nothing imperfect can enter heaven. God has a plan for us all and we’re either cooperating with it-which means we’re growing and being perfected in love-or we’re not. But He’s patient and longsuffering and “saves us while yet in our sins and transgressions” and He works in us in a myriad of ways, according to our unique personalities and life experiences, and He draws us, by His grace and without forcing us, to do those things which He’s set out for us to do. The rest is up to us.

**1989 The first work of the grace of the Holy Spirit is conversion, effecting justification in accordance with Jesus’ proclamation at the beginning of the Gospel: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."38 Moved by grace, man turns toward God and away from sin, thus accepting forgiveness and righteousness from on high. "Justification is not only the remission of sins, but also the sanctification and renewal of the interior man.39

1990 Justification detaches man from sin which contradicts the love of God, and purifies his heart of sin. Justification follows upon God’s merciful initiative of offering forgiveness. It reconciles man with God. It frees from the enslavement to sin, and it heals.

1993 Justification establishes cooperation between God’s grace and man’s freedom. On man’s part it is expressed by the assent of faith to the Word of God, which invites him to conversion, and in the cooperation of charity with the prompting of the Holy Spirit who precedes and preserves his assent:
When God touches man’s heart through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, man himself is not inactive while receiving that inspiration, since he could reject it; and yet, without God’s grace, he cannot by his own free will move himself toward justice in God’s sight.

2010 Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace, no one can merit the initial grace of forgiveness and justification, at the beginning of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life. Even temporal goods like health and friendship can be merited in accordance with God’s wisdom. These graces and goods are the object of Christian prayer. Prayer attends to the grace we need for meritorious actions.



In chapter eight of the Decree on Justification, the Church said that “none of those things which precede justification—whether faith or works—merit the grace itself of justification.” This means that no man can work himself into a state of justification. The New Covenant is not a system of works righteousness whereby a person can please God and earn heaven by doing a number of good deeds. This is what Paul is driving at in Ephesians 2. He is not saying that sin cannot separate us from Christ.


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