Sorry for another question, faith, grace and works

hi everyone,

i apologize for another question which has probably been answer already many times.

i’m been trying to learn my cahtolic faith better and read the section of the catechism about grace faith and good work but am still quite confused. i understand that grace preceeds all else and faith comes after that and good works let your faith shine through.

i’m confused on how they ties in to the proper understanding of justification and salvation though.

for example, even with god’s grace, if we don’t respond by having faith, we can’t reallly obtain salvation. and if we have faith but don’t do works to show our faith, does it follow the same line of reasoning?

any help is appreciated

God bless you for wanting to learn more about the Faith! :slight_smile: There is so much to learn and understand, and even some of us who think we’ve ‘got it’, don’t. I think many of our questions can be answered in the Catechism, but we still need explanation. I’ve thought of taking an RCIA class; there are also online free and paid courses in the Catholic Faith. Some dioceses have been running Catechism classes ( for example).

We also have to remember that some things are beyond are human minds, especially in this day of science and proofs for almost everything. We can’t ‘wrap’ our minds around Godly and Heavenly things the way we can around certain earthly things. We become spoiled by ‘simple’ reasoning, and spiritual things can confuse us…well, at least me, and I have to go by Faith and trust.

I think the answer to your question is yes.

God’s grace is a free gift; we do nothing to merit it. We have to have faith in Him, but we also have to have good works.

What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him? If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.— James 2: 14-17

James teaches us that we can’t just say, “Oh, I believe in Jesus so I’m saved now!” James 2:19 tells us, “Even the demons believe—and shudder.” One common argument against faith and works is Abraham, whose faith “was credited to him as righteousness.” James gives us an explanation:

Do you want to be shown, you foolish fellow, that faith apart from works is barren? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by works, and the scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness"; and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.— James 2:20-24

However, we must not forget the opposite is true. Without faith, works are dead also. We can’t pretend faith is a free ticket to Heaven, but we also can’t believe we can work ourselves there. Our deeds are meritorious, but without God’s freely-given grace, they are nothing. Only with that grace can we ever hope to reach Heaven.

thank you for tis explanation. i realize that perhaps i’ve been going about it the wrong way. i feel like i’ve been thiking about faith and works as sort of separate issues instead of them being under the same umbrella. maybe instead of saying that faith comes before works, i should be thiking more along the lines of saving faith encompasses works? does that make any sense? like they have a correllation, if you faith increases, the works probably will too. this at elast cuts out the part of now i have faith, how many works do i need to do? so does it mean if we don’t do works to show our faith, then we won’t be saved?

also, how does this differ from the protestant understandings?

The Council of Trent’s “Decree on Justification” should clear up most of your questions. I don’t have time to pull out quotations myself right now, but I would encourage you to read the whole thing anyway.

Regarding faith and works, you are right not to separate them too much as many Protestants do.

Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. (John 6:28-29)

CCC IV. Christian Holiness

2012 "We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him . . . For those whom he fore knew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren. and those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified."64

2013 "All Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of charity."65 All are called to holiness: "Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."66

In order to reach this perfection the faithful should use the strength dealt out to them by Christ’s gift, so that . . . doing the will of the Father in everything, they may wholeheartedly devote themselves to the glory of God and to the service of their neighbor. Thus the holiness of the People of God will grow in fruitful abundance, as is clearly shown in the history of the Church through the lives of so many saints.67

2014 Spiritual progress tends toward ever more intimate union with Christ. This union is called “mystical” because it participates in the mystery of Christ through the sacraments - “the holy mysteries” - and, in him, in the mystery of the Holy Trinity. God calls us all to this intimate union with him, even if the special graces or extraordinary signs of this mystical life are granted only to some for the sake of manifesting the gratuitous gift given to all.

2015 The way of perfection passes by way of the Cross. There is no holiness without renunciation and spiritual battle.68 Spiritual progress entails the ascesis and mortification that gradually lead to living in the peace and joy of the Beatitudes:

He who climbs never stops going from beginning to beginning, through beginnings that have no end. He never stops desiring what he already knows.69

2016 The children of our holy mother the Church rightly hope for the grace of final perseverance and the recompense of God their Father for the good works accomplished with his grace in communion with Jesus.70 Keeping the same rule of life, believers share the “blessed hope” of those whom the divine mercy gathers into the "holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband."71

1 John 5:2-3 In this way we know that we love the children of God when we love God and obey his commandments. For the love of God is this, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome,

The foregoing analyses will enable us to define an act of Divine supernatural faith as “the act of the intellect assenting to a Divine truth owing to the movement of the will, which is itself moved by the grace of God” (

The ordinary means of salvation is God’s gift of Baptism. Once you are baptized, you have sanctifying grace. You can lose this life of grace through mortal sin. If this happens, then the ordinary means of forgiveness is the sacrament of Penance.

Defining “Protestant Understandings” is difficult since their lack of an authoritative teaching office hasn’t helped them in preserving doctrinal unity. I think in general, sola fides proponents would say that salvation is entirely due to belief in Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior. While we certainly need to believe in Jesus, that’s not what the Bible teaches about salvation.

Think of faith like a candle, where it shows us the path to righteousness. However, along the path are additional candles. As we traverse the path we are given the candles to light from and replace the candle we have.

Walking the path is like keeping faith by doing good deeds and avoiding evil, following the lead of the Holy Spirit. As we do this our faith keeps alive. If we stop, eventually our faith (candles) will wane and be extinguished (die).


Faith needs to come first, because without faith and belief in God, works are pointless. If we love God, we should want to serve Him. We can start by doing His will in our everyday life; good works do not have a “standard” they must meet to be good; we just have to “take up our cross,” for the day. Maybe you go out of your way to speak to someone you see ignored. Perhaps you offer to hold the door for someone, or carry something for them. Or, you might volunteer at your parish. You exercise patience when you want to be irritable. You pray for the needs of others.

God calls each of us to our own vocation, to work and “carry our cross” in different ways. Strive to love God every day and do your best to fulfill whatever his will is for you. Pray a morning offering each day to give God everything you will face. If you do everything you can out of love for God, it will be okay. God knows we are weak; he knows we can’t be in more than one place, or participate in every parish event. Pray, do what you can, confess your sins, receive Our Lord in the Eucharist, and strive to be a disciple.

If we purposefully ignore people or things when we know we can help, God will hold us accountable, but the good news is that we can always repent of our negligence in Confession and keep going on the path of holiness!:thumbsup:

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit