Works in salvation catholic doctrine

I had a question in regards to works in catholic salvation. From the CC

**1996 **Our justification comes from the grace of God. Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life.

2005 Since it belongs to the supernatural order, grace escapes our experience and cannot be known except by faith. We cannot therefore rely on our feelings or our works to conclude that we are justified and saved.56 However, according to the Lord’s words "Thus you will know them by their fruits"57 - reflection on God’s blessings in our life and in the lives of the saints offers us a **guarantee that grace is at work in us **and spurs us on to an ever greater faith and an attitude of trustful poverty.

so. just how are works involved in salvation for catholics. Are they just a sign of grace working in you? or do they contribute to your salvation? do the works contribute to salvation?.

It’s not just Catholic doctrine…it’s actually New Testament doctrine that has been watered down by many n-C communities over the last 500 years or so.

Look at Matthew 25:31-46 for example.

*]Salvation is “just believing in Jesus”…
*]Doesn’t the good thief prove sola fide?
*]Sola Fide before the Reformation?
*]How Is Man Saved? The Catholic View Of Justification
*]Justification Sola Fide
*]Scriptural Apologetics John Martignoni
These links cover this better than most of us can express it.

I read most links really did not see a answer. would you mind just answering the questions real quick, no links.

God provides us grace that allows us to turn to him and say ‘yes’ in baptism. Having been baptized, God provides us with grace that allows us lead a life of Christian virtue. Cooperating with that grace, we perform good acts; they’re not our acts alone, but are initiated and supported by God’s grace. That doesn’t mean that they have no merit, however: the good acts we perform at the beckoning of God’s grace do have merit, inasmuch as they are our response to the grace of God.

So, are we saved by our works? Not in the sense that these works sit independent of or without the need of God’s grace. But yes, in the sense that our cooperation in the order of grace is what carries us from ‘justification’ to ‘salvation.’

Thank you for the quotes as I decided to read the bits in between the references and suggest that it might be helpful to do the same so that the text is read in context. That part of the CCC is about the gift of Grace. My answer would be CCC para 2003-05 (I have put 2003& 2004 below for easy reference).

2003 Grace is first and foremost the gift of the Spirit who justifies and sanctifies us. But grace also includes the gifts that the Spirit grants us to associate us with his work, to enable us to collaborate in the salvation of others and in the growth of the Body of Christ, the Church.
2004 Among the special graces ought to be mentioned the graces of state that accompany the exercise of the responsibilities of the Christian life and of the ministries within the Church:

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; he who teaches, in his teaching; he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who contributes, in liberality; he who gives aid, with zeal; he who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

From the same source as the OP.

This is just a small contribution to the more in-depth answers previous supplied.

PS. At the end of the section in the CCC are the Biblical references.

I would say that in the simplest wording - Works are necessary for salvation because we are told that faith without works is dead and a dead faith cannot save. Look at: James 2:14-18, Mt 25:31-46, Mt 7:21-29. These are all passages that speak to the need to act.
So it can be said that yes - works contribute to salvation.

Now one can argue many variations on this matter - but to me such arguments are a bit of “chicken and egg” or “cart and horse”. We cannot separate faith and works.


Oh wow! This is perfect timing. I just wrote about all of this action in a thread about Confession to Country Gal! For me to answer your question, I will say that Grace works for this catholic gal in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, but is not confined to it. And your question is perfect backdrop for it. What better justification for the grace contained in the Sacrament of Penance then God’s own salvific work through it? To show what I mean, I’ll also quote what I just wrote: “Hello Country Gal. I’m sad for you and disappointed. You seemed resolved. I’m going to say something and I don’t want your feelings hurt in any way, so please don’t take this personal but IT ISN"T GOD WHO IS LEADING YOU AWAY FROM A SACRAMENT THAT HEALS YOUR BROKEN RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM! Do not be fooled. God left His Presence with us in the Sacraments. Every encounter with a Sacrament is an encounter with the living God, Jesus Christ. When we come to Him in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, He binds up our wounds and begins His Salvific work in us again, renewed. When a good Confession is made and proper absolution received, He does as the Bible says: tosses our sins behind Him as if they were dust and raises up the fallen! This is how we are healed of our brokenness. Please, Country Gal, begin your ENCOUNTER with Jesus Christ in the form He needs you to experience Him - the Sacrament of Confession. It has been my experience that His work continues long after the Sacrament is received. I cannot give you the words for it. You must experience it for yourself to get it. Don’t cheat yourself out of His help. You deserve it.”

The work is to take me to Confession, the Salvific actions are God’s in the form of the Sacrament of Penance and the work of the Church in His Priest who dispenses the grace by his adherence to the rubrics and form and by the work he did prior to being there for me the penitent, in the Confessional. It took him, the priest, his entire life up to that point in time to do God’s work for Him at that particular moment. God promised and He delivers!

It is also my work to prepare for my encounter with the living God, Jesus Christ in the Sacrament of Penance by instruction and guidance and examining my conscience, etc. That too, is me doing God’s will AND His works.


Indeed. No one will stand before Him and demand, “I earned this place because I prayed the rosary every day and I gave to the poor everything I had!”

But yes, in the sense that our cooperation in the order of grace is what carries us from ‘justification’ to ‘salvation.’

Amen! When we receive His Grace and say yes, grace will assist us in our interior prayer life as well as our external actions, carrying us towards Him closer and closer. :slight_smile:

Grace, and our willing response to it, are required. God initiates, He draws us, we can’t be saved without Him; He throws the life preserver but He won’t force us to take it. “Taking it” means responding in faith first of all, but then collaborating/cooperating, continuing to follow and remain in Christ as we express that faith working through love. (Gal 5:6) In the Parable of the Talents, the wicked and lazy servant was the one who refused to “invest” what he was given, thereby losing place in the kingdom.

**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.

2001 The preparation of man for the reception of grace is already a work of grace. This latter is needed to arouse and sustain our collaboration in justification through faith, and in sanctification through charity. God brings to completion in us what he has begun, “since he who completes his work by cooperating with our will began by working so that we might will it:”

Indeed we also work, but we are only collaborating with God who works, for his mercy has gone before us. It has gone before us so that we may be healed, and follows us so that once healed, we may be given life; it goes before us so that we may be called, and follows us so that we may be glorified; it goes before us so that we may live devoutly, and follows us so that we may always live with God: for without him we can do nothing.

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.

First of all a few distinctions that usually show up: (1) faith and works; (2) grace and freedom.

Regarding both an article from the CCC between the ones you cited helps:
2002 God’s free initiative demands man’s free response, for God has created man in his image by conferring on him, along with freedom, the power to know him and love him. The soul only enters freely into the communion of love.

Re (1)

(a) If one is going to separate or even just distinguish faith and works in the believer, then both are needed for salvation. Also both are inspired and empowered from beginning to end by grace. Grace enables us to choose freely to live the gospel including its moral content which is beyond the natural powers of man to do.

Jesus stresses the importance for salvation of adherence to the moral content of his teaching as much as he does to the doctrinal content.

St. Paul rejects “works of the Law” as a path to salvation because Jewish observance has been superseded by its fulfillment in Christ: Paul says it is “obsolete” (Rm 7:6, cf. Heb 8:13). We can read about his arrival at this conclusion in Phil 3:3-11. He also rejects pagan (faithless, graceless acts of natural virtue) morality as in itself being a saving set of choices. See Romans and Ephesians.

Paul does not dispute that our salvation as believers depends on choosing to live faithfully the moral content of the gospel. Twice he warns believers that if they do certain things they will not enter the kingdom of heaven. (1 Cor 6:8-10; Gal 5:16-21)

(b) However biblical authors do not separate faith and works (i.e., choosing to live the moral content of the gospel) in the life of the believer. OT and NT authors include obedience in faith. They also include faithfulness in faith.

So the faith that saves that is given by grace, involves and requires in its essence:
(i) assent to the Christian message about the Person and mission of Jesus Christ;
(ii) the choice to reorder one’s life and change ones behavior to abide by all the teaching (including the moral teaching) of the Gospel; and
(iii) faithfulness, that is, an enduring commitment to God in Christ for life.

When one knowingly fails in one or more of these, they have broken faith with God. If one does not repent even to the end, their salvation could well be lost. But only God can judge the individual.

Re (2)

Human freedom is a first person phenomena: I am aware that I can choose between alternatives with the simultaneous awareness that I am not being compelled, driven, controlled, taken over by another agency or set of forces in making the decision. There is no other way for me to know I am free, to have an awareness of my freedom. This means that since my behavior is known by experience to be under my rational control, I am accountable and responsible for it.

Grace does not take that away: it empowers human freedom to do more than it could on its own, to live gospel demands. We freely believe, in the biblical sense above, by the power of God’s grace; but at no time are we robots.

The unearned call of the gospel inspires us to choose freely to believe in the full sense of the term. When we so choose freely and continue to choose by the grace of God we know that if we were to die we would be go to heaven.

It’s summed up in the Book of James:

James 2:1 My brethren, show no partiality as you hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. 2 For if a man with gold rings and in fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, 3 and you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “Have a seat here, please,” while you say to the poor man, “Stand there,” or, “Sit at my feet,” 4 have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? 5 Listen, my beloved brethren. Has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which he has promised to those who love him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you, is it not they who drag you into court? 7 Is it not they who blaspheme that honorable name which was invoked over you?
8 If you really fulfil the royal law, according to the scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well. 9 But if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it. 11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” said also, “Do not kill.” If you do not commit adultery but do kill, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy; yet mercy triumphs over judgment.
14 What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, 16 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? 17 So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.
18 But some one will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder. 20 Do you want to be shown, you shallow man, that faith apart from works is barren? 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 works, 23 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. 24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.
25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the harlot justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead.

It doesn’t get any simpler than that.

Faith without works is dead. As Isaiah 45_9 said, it doesn’t get simpler than that. Works of love **are a response to God’s grace **and an integral part of faith. In other words, without works— you cannot call your belief “faith”. One who believes in Jesus, yet has no works of love, has what one could call mere intellectual assent. It is no better than belief that the demons have.

Catholics do not believe that their works save them. They believe that they are saved by GRACE (merited by Jesus) through faith that is alive and not dead. This is completely in line with the Scriptures if one chooses not to ignore James 2:14-17. St. Paul’s beautiful exhortations on believing in Jesus and being saved are not to be isolated from the rest of Scripture. Faith is never alone. It is initiated and nourished by God’s grace and it is actively expressed in our works of love.
(As a clarifier, Catholics also believe that torrents of grace come through the Sacraments which we receive in faith, but that is a topic for another thread)

Now that you (the OP) have seen that Catholic’s do not believe that works save us, perhaps you can share that tidbit with others. Quite frankly, it is a lie, a smear campaign,and one might wonder why the lie was invented… and who invented it.

Additional points from the CCC

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.” 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; it must be “working through charity,” abounding in hope, and rooted in the faith of the Church.

166 Faith is a personal act - the free response of the human person to the initiative of God who reveals himself. But faith is not an isolated act. No one can believe alone, just as no one can live alone. You have not given yourself faith as you have not given yourself life. The believer has received faith from others and should hand it on to others. Our love for Jesus and for our neighbor impels us to speak to others about our faith. Each believer is thus a link in the great chain of believers. I cannot believe without being carried by the faith of others, and by my faith I help support others in the faith.

169 Salvation comes from God alone; but because we receive the life of faith through the Church, she is our mother:…

1814 Faith is the theological virtue by which we believe in God and believe all that he has said and revealed to us, and that Holy Church proposes for our belief, because he is truth itself. By faith “man freely commits his entire self to God.” For this reason the believer seeks to know and do God’s will. “The righteous shall live by faith.” Living faith “work[s] through charity.”

Well stated.

There is Initial Justification, which acknowledges our complete dependence on God’s grace for our Justification. He acted out of His own goodness to associate Himself with mankind. In our beginning creation (Adam/Eve) and our second creation (Jesus/Mary…not to be confused that we believe Mary to have merited the grace given to her! ;)).

Then, there is the immediate and constant demand to hold fast to God’s free gift of life. A tree does not give fruit until it has grown and developed into maturity.

There have been many good responses here! Church Militant raised a good point. Read the words of Christ. He refers to our judgement being based on what we do! Accepting God’s gift of free salvation is through faith and belief, not because we did anything to deserve God’s life. Only He can create life and sustain it! Only He can overcome sin and death by His own power. JRKH raised the point that faith without works is dead. The same faith that we were given by God to recognize His voice, is what demands us to do what that voice asks us to do.

St. Paul uses terms like persevere, work out, and suffer to describe our participation/cooperation in His life. It is not saying, we do our part and He does His part. It is more He has done everything and we are participating in His everything!


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