Why must we perform “good works” to obtain salvation


The way you word the question is a little confusing.

Catholics believe it is impossible to do “good works” without God’s Grace so I’m not understanding how we could claim to do any work’s before receiving God’s free gift of grace?

Could you possible explain a little better what you are asking with this question?

God Bless



Salvation is only found by abiding in Christ. He is the way, the truth, and the life. Therefore, to have His life, we must not only believe His truth by faith, but also follow His way by our deeds.

That’s why Jesus says that not every one that says to Him, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, only those that do the will of His Father.



Just a couple of things I wanted to point out.

We don’t believe we “achieve” anything. Salvation is a free gift from God and we are incapable of achieving something that is a free gift.

As for good works, these are not something we do on our own. Good works can only be performed with God’s free gift if Grace by aligning our will with the will of the Father. Basically what I am trying to say is good works aren’t something we do on our own to force God to let us in. He isn’t sitting up their with 2 columns one labeled Good and one labeled Bad, and if the good column has more checks than the bad then we get in.

Like others have said how can we have faith if our will isn’t aligned to the Father’s which would produce good works. How can we say we have faith if we aren’t following Christ’s way by our deeds.

A great analogy I heard once on good works goes like this.

A father is pushing a wheel barrow full of gravel up a steep hill. The 3 year old son sees the father and out of love asks can I help. The father says I would love your help. The 3 year old walks over places his right hand on the wheel barrow and pushes for all his worth.

Now let’s think about this, is the son actually doing anything that is going to get the wheelbarrow to the top of the hill? Obviously not, heck he might actually be getting in the way.

However, once the wheelbarrow gets to the top of the hill what is the first thing that loving father is going to do. He is going to praise the son for the good work he just performed. He is going to praise the son for walking with him (cooperating with grace) in this good work.

God is the Father we are the son, the wheel barrow is the good works God has prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. He doesn’t want us fighting over who really does the work or when it is done. He wants us, like little children, to look at Him with love (which can only happen with grace) and ask Can I Help.

God Bless

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The bible states good works are necessary.i



Because good works are the fruits of our faith. Faith is a beginning not an end.



Actually, St. Paul was speaking of any works done without divine assistance.



A little background before my question… in comparative religion class at my synagogue when discussing some of the differences between Protestants and Catholics and the differing views of works, we studied Matthew 25:32 (the sheep and goats) and our Rabbi pointed out that this shows Jesus strongly teaching how important works are. Jesus does not even mention faith in Himself as a requirement! Is this an important pericope for Catholics and does anyone know how Protestants interpret it? Judaism is very much a works based faith and so naturally, I felt that Jesus was definitely showing how important works are to God. Your opinion?



My wife didn’t marry me because I performed well as a husband but if I am a bad husband I can lose her.

The same with works, you cannot work your way into Heaven but more a lack of works can lose you Heaven because no works at all means not loving or caring about others and thus losing the charity in you and so becomes harder to et to Heaven.



Yes the Judgement of Nations in Matthew 31-46.

From My Ignatius Bible study I was taught the Catholic understanding…

This is Jesus’ prophesy of the Last Judgement which the Catholic Church teaches unfolds at two historical levels.

  1. Jesus initially foretells the judgement of Old Covenant Israel. We see this involving His “coming” to Jerusalem (the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD) as the separation of the faithful sheep of Israel from the wicked goats.

This interpretation comes from…

Matthew 10:23 When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

Matthew 16:27 “For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. 28 Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

Ezekiel 34:17 As for you, my flock, thus says the Lord God: I shall judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and goats: 18 Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture, but you must tread down with your feet the rest of your pasture? When you drink of clear water, must you foul the rest with your feet? 19 And must my sheep eat what you have trodden with your feet, and drink what you have fouled with your feet?

20 Therefore, thus says the Lord God to them: I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. 21 Because you pushed with flank and shoulder, and butted at all the weak animals with your horns until you scattered them far and wide, 22 I will save my flock, and they shall no longer be ravaged; and I will judge between sheep and sheep.

  1. Jesus ultimately foretells the General Judgement at the end of history. This will involve Christ’s Second Coming and the general resurrection of all people before His throne to be blessed (25:34) or cursed (25:41) according to our deeds (works).

This interpretation comes from…

John 5:25 “Very truly, I tell you, the hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 For just as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself; 27 and he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. 28 Do not be astonished at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29 and will come out—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.

Revelation 20:11 Then I saw a great white throne and the one who sat on it; the earth and the heaven fled from his presence, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Also another book was opened, the book of life. And the dead were judged according to their works, as recorded in the books.

I’m not sure what the Protestant interpretation is?

Hope this helps,

God Bless



Assuming the opportunity to perform works, and keeping in mind the lesson of the poor widow. (Mark 12: 41-44)

41 And Jesus sitting over against the treasury, beheld how the people cast money into the treasury, and many that were rich cast in much. 42 And there came a certain poor widow, and she cast in two mites, which make a farthing. 43 And calling his disciples together, he saith to them: Amen I say to you, this poor widow hath cast in more than all they who have cast into the treasury. 44 For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want cast in all she had, even her whole living.

To put it another way they gave what they could spare. She gave all she had. That’s why her offering meant so much more.

You do what you can. God is not going to condemn you for what you couldn’t do. The poor widow got praise from Christ for giving a penny, when the rich men weren’t praised for giving large offerings.
And the rosary and scapular are devotions–good to do but not like baptism and Mass attendance. You can be a faithful Catholic without doing either of them.

@CajunJoy65: thank you for that image. :slight_smile:



Baptism is necessary because Jesus said that unless one is born of water and the spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God. He later instructs the apostles to go forth into all the nations and Baptize them in the name of The Father, Son and Holy spirit. And later in acts when a crowd asked St. Peter what they must do to be saved he told them “Repent and be Baptized” So we know Jesus himself wanted us to be Baptized. Now, we recognize that In Gods infinite justice and mercy he wont condemn someone who did not know they had to be Baptized. But for those of us that do know, it is required of us and we Baptize infants because St. Peter said this promise is for you AND your children and scripture speaks of whole households being Baptized. And other reasons but that would require its own thread.

(Taken from Catholic answers) “The sacrament of confirmation is found in Bible passages such as Acts 8:14–17, 9:17, 19:6, and Hebrews 6:2, which speak of a laying on of hands for the purpose of bestowing the Holy Spirit.” We believe Confirmation is Biblical.

Jesus gave the Apostles the authority to forgive sins in John 20-21-23. "21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” Now how would mere men know someones sins unless they witnessed them or the person confessed to them? The Sacrament of confession has always existed in one form or another in The Church.

We go to Mass weekly because it is a commandment. Honor the sabbath day and keep it holy. Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and God what is God’s. We know the Christians met on “The Lords day” every week from Scripture. Yes, The Church moved the day of rest from Sunday to Saturday but it had the authority to do so. And most protestants seem to have no problem with going to church on Sunday instead of Saturday with some exceptions.

Nowhere anywhere in a authoritative way have I ever heard that one must “Go through Mary” I presume you mean to Jesus? It is the opinion of some that it is more effective to do this but I would say they are wrong if they claim it is the only way. However, many have a extra special relationship with Mary while I do not. No disrespect to my blessed mother. That is their spirituality and is not binding on other Catholics.

No, you do not have to wear the scapular or pray the rosary. These are optional devotionals and anyone saying that anyone MUST do these things are wrong. However, they are helpful and encouraged but not a matter of salvation.

Yes, we must obey the ten commandments. They are commandments from God. Does one get into heaven by purposely and un-repentedly disobeying God?




The last rites are also from scripture in The Book of James and are a great thing to be able to have but they too are not necessary for salvation. However, this sacrament gives Grace and I am sure is comforting to many a dying Catholic and their loved ones.

If God commanded us to do certain things if we wish to be saved then it is in no way denying that only God can save us. Nobody is saved by works. However if we know God told us to do something (Such as eat my flesh and drink my blood, be baptized, Repent" we had better darn well do them!

Hope this helps. God bless!



I have a better question. How could anyone claiming to follow Jesus not also have good works? Good works are the natural product of a life lived in faith. Indeed, they are unavoidable if true faith is at work.



As a wise man once said, “you show me your faith without works, I will show you my faith by my works”

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"It is established that there were Jews living in Rome in the times of the Apostles, and that those Jews who had believed [in Christ] passed on to the Romans the tradition that they ought to profess Christ but keep the law [Torah] … One ought not to condemn the Romans, but to praise their faith, because without seeing any signs or miracles and without seeing any of the apostles, they nevertheless accepted faith in Christ, although according to a Jewish rite.

It need not be either/or, correct?



Yes I do know he was talking about the law of Moses. That is important because it’s God’s universal law that convicts the whole world past present and future of their sin. The world will not be judged by any other law. The law is to show us we can never be good enough on our own to be saved. By the works of the Law no flesh is saved. We need only Jesus for that.

The purpose of our works is to bring glory to God not for salvation.



Everything you quoted is correct. But, in Ephesians 2:8-9, among other passages, the works spoken about include any that are done without divine assistance, including but not limited to ceremonial works of the Mosaic Law.



So, what then is your point?

Are you saying faith alone?

I’m totally confused - not all that unusual here at…

Contrary Answers Forums.



My point is our works can’t ever save us. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves. I think that’s pretty clear.

Paul breaks it down pretty well. He was blameless before the law but still lost.



As others have said, it is not an either / or situation. We are saved by grace alone but not by faith alone. Both faith and works have their origin in grace. On the cross, Christ’s one perfect work of redemption merited salvation for every once of us, yet Christ, through His Church, mediates this salvation to each us individually and ask that we cooperate with His saving work. The parable of the vine in John 15 always comes to mind…those branches that remain on the vine bear good fruit. If we remain in Christ, we will do good works that are pleasing to the Father, not because we, as sinful humans, can please the Father, but because Christ empowers us to do so.

John 1:12:
But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God,

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