Why must we perform “good works” to obtain salvation


I have always heard that the catholic view is that, to achieve salvation, you have to preform good works along with belief in Christ. What exactly does this mean, and how is it justified. Thanks, Kaden


This might help.
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.


We are saved by grace, not by works. No amount of works can save us without God’s grace.
But if we have faith won’t we want to obey God? If we don’t want to do His will, what kind of faith can we say we have?


Becuase without faith we cannot be saved, and faith without works is dead.


This is largely a Protestant accusation coming from a misunderstanding of the Catholic view of salvation. Luther had trouble with the book of James because it didn’t fit what he was selling. We cannot in any way shape or form earn our way to heaven. Salvation is an undeserved gift. We exhibit our faith BY our works. In other words, we don’t just say we are Christians, we DO things that show we are Christians. Heck, I could SAY that I am an NFL quarterback, but that doesn’t make it true.


Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness:
Abraham did not just say, “I believe you when you tell me I will have a son.”
Abraham’s belief was “perfect”, meaning it was completed. Completed faith is faith that takes shape in the world, not just in your thoughts.
Abraham had “perfect” faith in this regard - after the LORD told him and Sarah they would have a son, Abraham went in to his wife, Sarah, and ‘knew’ her that very night, knowing she would conceive even though she could not. He said to her then, “Now we shall have our son as promised.” And she laughed saying, “Yes, I know.”

God reckoned that Abraham poured out his life with abandon into the LORD, into taking him seriously. And that is righteousness, love, justice - giving to the LORD what is due to the LORD - your whole life. He continued his whole life to “DO ACTS OF FAITH”, as exemplified when he poured out his whole life by taking Isaac to the mountain to sacrifice him to the LORD. He believed God who gave him His whole being, so Abraham always gave his whole being back to the LORD in Reciprocal Love.

To achieve Isaac, Abraham had to “work”, to go into Sarah and know her. That is attaining the promise of the LORD, by the “ACT OF FAITH”.
We Catholics do not just refer to Faith, Hope, Love, but we perfect these with
just as Abraham did, as described by St. Paul.
This is indeed the Gift of God, with the filling of the Holy Spirit, infusing us with Grace and the Virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity, which we then make ACTual in the world by using these gifts.
We have the gifts and we use them and we are alive in joy.

John Martin


Well said John.


It’s more about that the lack of good works clearly demonstrates a lack of faith in God and the Gospel of Christ.

One can talk the talk, but if one doesn’t walk the walk then their talk about their faith in God is false.


I think, actually, the faith alone salvation thing had more to do with a rejection of sacramental living. The criticism was not about doing good works toward others, but about involving yourself in liturgy. Liturgy means “work of the people.”

To keep things basic, it’s good to recognize that the liturgy or Mass is the highest form of prayer. The work IS our prayers. They aren’t just prayers of petition, but prayers of meditation and contemplation. It is through prayer that we reach our hands up to God, that we open ourselves to God’s grace.

The Mass is considered the highest form of prayer as we enter into the mysteries of it.


Catholics would you say “Catholics are saved/justified by grace through faith, but faith without works proceeding the faith is dead.”?


God’s grace is merely sufficient when we do not cooperate with it, and efficacious when we do. We cooperate with grace which God gives otherwise we could not have salvation. The mode of action is that grace precedes and strengthens each act of will to good. We are not able to change our state of grace after our death, but can before then – grace is not irresistible – and we are not saved without that state of sanctifying grace.


I was taught that one needed to be baptized, be confirmed, confess sins to a priest, attend Mass weekly, go through Mary, pray the rosary, wear a scapular, obey the Ten Commandments, and receive the last rites. Are those the works one must do?


James 2:24: Faith without works is dead.


The Rosary is highly recommended by the Church but it is NOT required for salvation. Same for the scapular.


“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” John 14:15

One example of so many.


Excuse me, but we have seen that verse, normally out of context, hundreds of times. You do realize that Paul was speaking of the Mosaic law? Yes, he was. Ooops!

I must ask some rhetorical questions here: is Paul your Savior? Did Paul die on a cross for you? Are you Christian, or Paulist?

Rather, try reading the Lord Jesus Christ in the Gospels for a little deeper theology and some enlightenment on this subject. Let’s examine some WORKS, particularly fasting, prayer and alms giving…

Matthew 6:4 “so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

Matthew 6:6 “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

Matthew 6:16 “And when you fast, do not look dismal,
like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting
may be seen by men.”

Matthew 6:18 "…that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.I

Matthew 10:41 "He who receives a prophet because he is a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward, and he who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.

Matthew 10:42 "And whoever gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.”

Mark 9:41 "For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink
because you bear the name of Christ, will by no means lose his reward.

Luke 6:35 “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish.”

And PAUL!!!

1 Corinthians 3:14 “If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward.”

And John, the beloved disciple!

2 John 1:8 “Look to yourselves, that you may not lose what you have worked for, but may win a full reward.”

Guess you kinda missed these, huh? For this reason (Read the Book of Tobit if you have a complete bible) the Catholic Church has always taught 100% bible theology. In Tobit, see the benefits of fasting, prayer and alms giving, which is also taught by the Catholic Church. And see, I didn’t even mention the second chapter of James.

If you had any inkling of how much of your theology is utterly man-made, you would cry.



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“He also said to them: Neither do I tell you by what authority I do these things. But what think you? A certain man had two sons; and coming to the first, he said: Son, go work today in my vineyard. And he answering, said: I will not. But afterwards, being moved with repentance, he went. And coming to the other, he said in like manner. And he answering, said: I go, Sir; and he went not.

Which of the two did the father’s will? They say to him: The first. Jesus saith to them: Amen I say to you, that the publicans and the harlots shall go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of justice, and you did not believe him. But the publicans and the harlots believed him: but you, seeing it, did not even afterwards repent, that you might believe him.”

Matthew 21:27-32.

“Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 7:21.

It’s not about sitting around thinking that Jesus is cool. We have to do His will.


I suspect you’re thinking of the Catholic Medieval definition of and approach to “good works”. In a modern context, good works are expressions of love toward your fellow Man. We are called to actively care about and for others. That’s my ‘take’, anyway.


It really does not get any more clear than that.

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