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Non-Catholics Section: Works / Deeds

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Non-Catholics Section:

Works / Deeds

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Do You Believe That Good Works Are Not Necessary to Salvation?

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Do You Believe That Good Works Are Not Necessary to Salvation? 

Consider:

* Do you believe that persons are saved by faith alone? Click here

* Do you believe that you are saved and that you cannot lose your salvation? Click here

* If good works are not necessary to salvation, why does Christ teach that judgment will be based on good works (Mt. 25:31-46)? Why does Jesus specifically indicate that those who have done good works will be saved and those who have not will be condemned?

* If good works are not necessary to salvation, why does Scripture say that "the hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 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" (Jn. 5:28-29)?

* If good works are not necessary to salvation, why does Scripture say that "God...will repay everyone according to his works: eternal life to those who seek glory, honor, and immortality through perseverance in good works, but wrath and fury to those who selfishly disobey the truth and obey wickedness" (Rom. 2:5-8).

* If good works are not necessary to salvation, why does Scripture say that "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" (2 Cor. 5:10)?

* If good works are unimportant, why does Scripture say: "Make no mistake: God is not mocked, for a person will reap only what he sows, because the one who sows for his flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows for the spirit will reap eternal life from the spirit. Let us not grow tired of doing good, for in due time we shall reap our harvest, if we do not give up. So then, while we have the opportunity, let us do good to all, but especially to those who belong to the family of the faith" (Gal. 6:7-10)?

* If good works are unimportant, why does Scripture say that "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained by the world" (Jms. 1:27)?

* If good works are not necessary to salvation, why does Scripture say quite the opposite? "What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, 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? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 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. You believe that God is one. You do well. Even the demons believe that and tremble. Do you want proof, you ignoramus, that faith without works is useless? 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 the works. 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.' See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 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? For just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead." (Jms. 2:14-26, emphasis added) 

* If good works are unimportant, why does Scripture say that God will judge impartially according to each one's works (1 Pt. 1:17)?

* If good deeds are not important, why does Scripture say that the dead will be judged according to their deeds? "I saw the dead, the great and the lowly, standing before the throne, and scrolls were opened. Then another scroll was opened, the book of life. The dead were judged according to their deeds, by what was written in the scrolls. The sea gave up its dead; then Death and Hades gave up their dead. All the dead were judged according to their deeds." (Rv. 20:12-13)

* If good works are not necessary to salvation, why does Scripture speak of them as being useful to "winning true life": "Tell them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous, ready to share, thus accumulating as treasure a good foundation for the future, so as to win the life that is true life." (1 Tm. 6:18-19)

* If good works are unimportant, why does Scripture say that "We know that we have passed from death to life because we love our brothers. Whoever does not love remains in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life remaining in him. The way we came to know love was that he laid down his life for us; so we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If someone who has worldly means sees a brother in need and refuses him compassion, how can the love of God remain in him? Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth." (1 Jn. 3:14-18)...?

* If works are unimportant, why does Scripture say that St. Paul "preached the need to repent and turn to God, and to do works giving evidence of repentance" (Acts 26:20)?

* If works are of no avail, why does Scripture say that those in heaven will find "rest from their labors, for their works accompany them" (Rv. 14:13)?

* If works are unnecessary, how can Scripture say that by bearing one another's burdens one fulfills the law of Christ (see Gal. 6:2)?

* If works are unimportant, why does the Bible speak of Scripture being useful for equipping persons for good works (see 2 Tm. 3:16-17)?

* Although Scripture says that "Great as his mercy is his punishment; he judges men, each according to his deeds" (Sirach 16:12), do you expect one to now believe that the unchanging God will now simply ignore one's deeds and instead look solely at one's faith or lack thereof?

* If works are of no avail, how can Christ say that "everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life" (Mt. 19:29)?

* If works are unnecessary, "why is it that Christ tells us that the way to gain eternal life is by keeping the commandments" [see Mt. 19:17] (remember that the Commandments "deal in works, not faith")?

* Catholics do not believe we earn our justification by "works of the law", which is clearly contrary to Scripture (see Rom. 3:28, Rom. 11:6, Gal. 2:15-16, Gal. 3:1-14). Catholics know that we can't "earn our redemption" - redemption is a gift of Christ. However, we must cooperate with God's grace. The fact that good works are necessary - along with justification - does not in any way deny our redemption by Christ or mean we are relying on the "works of the law" for justification. As Scripture makes clear, both good works (not Jewish "works of the law") and justification are both necessary (cf. Jms. 2:14-26). Further, it should be remembered that where Scripture speaks of such works, this refers to Jewish works of the law, which are of no value since Christ established His Church, and not to good deeds. Furthermore, do you not realize that even though good works are necessary, they are preceded by grace? As St. Augustine has said, "In many passages [St. Paul] often bears witness to this, putting the grace of faith before works, not as if he wanted to put an end to works, but so as to show that works are the consequences rather than the precedents of grace. Thus, no man is to suppose that he has received grace because he has done good works but rather that he would not have been able to do these good works if he had not, through faith received grace." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church, c. 396 A.D.)

* Although the Catholic Church teaches the necessity of good works, she does not omit to mention that faith and grace are also necessary (and are, in fact, inseparable). As Pope St. Gregory has said, "Neither faith without works nor works without faith is of any avail, except, perhaps, that works may go toward the reception of faith [e.g. through God's grace]" (Pope St. Gregory I the Great, Doctor of the Church, 6th century A.D.)


In Closing...

"The good we do is both of God and of ourselves. It is God's through prevenient grace, ours through obedient free will. For if it is not God's, why do we give thanks to Him in eternity? And again, if it is not ours, why do we hope that a reward will be given us? It is not proper that we give thanks; for we know that we were anticipated by God's gift. And again, it is not improper that we seek a reward, because we know that by obedient free will we chose to do what is good." (Pope St. Gregory I the Great, Doctor of the Church, 6th century A.D.)

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