Always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you the reason for the hope that is in you, but do so with gentleness and reverence.”
cf. 1 Peter 3:15-16
A daily morsel of Catholic education and faith formation.
Faith, Works or Both?
QUESTION OR COMMON OBJECTION:
The Bible teaches that we’re saved by faith alone, not works.
We believe, like Saint Paul, salvation comes through “faith working in love” (cf. Gal 5:6). The only place the Bible uses the phrase “faith alone” is when Saint James condemns the idea.
See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone … so also faith without works is dead.”
James 2:24, 26
Catholics believe that we’re saved by “faith working in love.” It’s not enough to simply say “Jesus is Lord” and accept him into your heart (Mt 7:21-23). With his grace, we must follow his commandments.
Other References: Gal 5:6; Mt 7:21-29, 19:16-17; Jn 14:15, 14:21; Rom 2:2-8; Phil 2:12; 1 Cor 13:2
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From the Author
Because we Catholics believe that holy Scripture is inerrant and doesn’t contradict itself, we know that it can’t be an “either-or” between “faith” and “works”. These two ideas, these two expressions – of faith and of works – are not competing one against the other. Rather, they complement one another. New Testament writers, like Saint Paul and others, counsel us that how we live out our faith is important.
As followers of Jesus Christ, as his disciples, as Catholics, we do what he commands us to do: To love our neighbor.
The fullest expression of our love for neighbor – and our fullest expression of our obedience of faith – is how we treat one another, how we care for one another: We feed the hungry; we give drink to the thirsty; we shelter the homeless; we visit the sick; we visit the imprisoned; we bury the dead; we give alms to the poor. We Catholics call this the Corporal Works of Mercy and, when we’re at our best, we’re living this out in our lives daily.
We’re not trying to earn our salvation, as some hard-core anti-Catholics suggest. Rather, these actions are the fruit of what one would see of our Catholic faith working in love, as they are rooted in the teachings of Jesus (see Mt 25:31-46). When we instantiate them into our lives we become the face of Jesus Christ to others. And, because we love him, and because he taught us to love our neighbor, we do what he commands us in an obedience of our faith in Jesus Christ.
Even Jesus’ own mother, Mary, advised all of us: “Do whatever He tells you” (Jn 2:5). We think that’s great advice!
5 Bible Passages that Refute “Faith Alone”
catechism of the Catholic Church
For information about what the Catholic Church believes, answers to FAQs, and an encompassing resource addressing common objections and misconceptions non-Catholics and Catholics alike may have about the Church and what it teaches, we invite you to visit the online version of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Let us pray.
Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel
St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly hosts, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan, and all the evil spirits, who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.
It is Jesus that you seek when you dream of happiness; He is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you.”
Saint John Paul II, pope
Jesus, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life (cf. John 6:68).
Be not afraid! And may the peace of Christ be with you and your loved ones today and always. Holy Family, pray for us. Amen.