What do our works do?


I’m in a discussion with a Non-Catholic, and I’ve been defending the place of works in Salvation. Now he’s asked “what do the works do?” and, to be honest, I’m not sure.

I’ve mainly been talking about baptism, visiting the sick and imprisoned, feeding the hungry, that sort of thing. I was planning on saying "They show our love for and desire to obey Christ. They help solidify the Body of Christ and can, in a small way, ease the suffering of Christ, which is made evident when Jesus says “what you did to the least of my brethren, you have done to me.” I’ll have to single out Baptism as giving saving grace.

Is there something I’m missing or saying wrong?



I encourage you to look at CCC starting at 1987 - 2029.




they demonstrate our obedience to Christ’s command after his resurrection (judgement of the nations in Matthew’s gospel) to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless etc.


Here’s a thread you might find interesting.



Sanctification, obedience, denial of self, becoming more “practiced” in the love that is God.

You could ask in return “what does faith do?”

And when he asks “how many works do you need to do to be saved” ask in return “how much faith do you need to be saved?”


I don’t remember the verse number, but in one of the letters. But its approximately, “Show me your faith with works and I will show you my faith by my works”


works exemplify faith
like when James said 'show me your faith without works and i will show you my faith with works’
works = love
If i have all faith so as to move mountains and have not love… you know the rest. 1 cor ch 13, powerful proof text


Revelation 14:13 - “And I heard a voice from heaven, saying to me: Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord. From henceforth now, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours. For their works follow them.”


Paul, to the Romans 2:5-8:

5 By your stubbornness and impenitent heart, you are storing up wrath for yourself for the day of wrath and revelation of the just judgment of God,** 6 who will repay everyone according to his works:
**** 7 eternal life to those who seek glory, honor, and immortality through perseverance in good works,** 8 but wrath and fury to those who selfishly disobey the truth and obey wickedness.

2 Corinthians 5:10

10For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive recompense, according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil.

Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ (Matthew 16:27):

For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay everyone according to his conduct.

Matthew 25:

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, 32 and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.33 He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34 Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ 40 And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ 41 Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’ 44 Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ 45 He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ 46 And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

John 5:28-29

28 Do not be amazed at this, because the hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and will come out, those who have done good deeds to the resurrection of life, but those who have done wicked deeds to the resurrection of condemnation.

Revelation 22:11-12

11 Let the wicked still act wickedly, and the filthy still be filthy. The righteous must still do right, and the holy still be holy." 12 "Behold, I am coming soon. I bring with me the recompense I will give to each according to his deeds.

The apostle, James (2:14-26):

14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? 17 So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18 Indeed someone might say, “You have faith and I have works.” Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works. 19 You believe that God is one. You do well. Even the demons believe that and tremble. 20 Do you want proof, you ignoramus, that faith without works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by the works. 23 Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called “the friend of God.” 24 See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by a different route? 26 For just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead

Jesus, Paul, James-- they all agree. Don’t be misled into the easy position, that works merely follow on faith. It isn’t that simple and the Scripture bears out a different picture. (cont)


We have no right to strict merit, this is true, as regards God. As Paul says, “A worker’s wage is credited not as a gift, but as something due” (Rom 4:4). People who try to justify themselves by the works of the law are trying to do exactly this-- obligate God to pay them. This is nonsense It is a false gospel which Paul derides. Without grace we are nothing.

However, when we enter into a familial relationship with God, we become true sons of God by adoption. And, with the grace of God, we can have a secondary type of merit. This is called condign or congruent merit. It is completely secondary on Christ’s grace and merits. But Scripture does bear it out plainly, as I have shown. Augustine says, quite sensibly, “You are glorified in the assembly of your Holy Ones, for in crowning their merits you are crowning your own gifts.” When God rewards us for our merit, He is really rewarding the very gifts He gave us. This is truly the Catholic position. As such, the Catechism states:

2007 With regard to God, there is no strict right to any merit on the part of man. Between God and us there is an immeasurable inequality, for we have received everything from him, our Creator.

**2008 **The merit of man before God in the Christian life arises from the fact that God has freely chosen to associate man with the work of his grace. The fatherly action of God is first on his own initiative, and then follows man’s free acting through his collaboration, so that the merit of good works is to be attributed in the first place to the grace of God, then to the faithful. Man’s merit, moreover, itself is due to God, for his good actions proceed in Christ, from the predispositions and assistance given by the Holy Spirit.

2009 Filial adoption, in making us partakers by grace in the divine nature, can bestow true merit on us as a result of God’s gratuitous justice. This is our right by grace, the full right of love, making us “co-heirs” with Christ and worthy of obtaining "the promised inheritance of eternal life."60 The merits of our good works are gifts of the divine goodness.61 "Grace has gone before us; now we are given what is due. . . . Our merits are God’s gifts."62

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.

**2011 **The charity of Christ is the source in us of all our merits before God. Grace, by uniting us to Christ in active love, ensures the supernatural quality of our acts and consequently their merit before God and before men. The saints have always had a lively awareness that their merits were pure grace.



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