Do Catholics Have to Work Their Way to Heaven?



Q. Would you explain to me the Catholic belief concerning the book of Ephesians chapter 2 verses 8-9.

A. I would be happy to explain Ephesians 2:8-9. First, lets read it.

Ephesians 2:8
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

I am guessing that you are a Protestant and that the reason you have asked me to explain this verse is because you have been taught that no one can do any good work to earn their way into Heaven just as Eph. 2 says. But that Catholic believe that they must do good works to earn their way into Heaven. That Catholics believe in a Works Salvation rather than a Salvation by Faith in Jesus

I want to be very clear. I am an ex-Protestant. I was a zealous Sola Scriptura Protestant and was taught the “Catholic believe in works salvation” mantra.

What we were taught about the Catholic Faith is not True! Ok so what does the Catholic Church teach then?

WHAT THE CATHOLIC CHURCH TEACHES CONCERNING SALVATION AND WORKS.

Ephesians 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Contrary to what you have been taught, no well formed Catholic believes that we must earn our salvation through good works. But many Catholics are not well taught and confuse the two issues of salvation and good works, which we were “created in Christ Jesus to do…”

And the Apostle James tells us

James 2:17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself….”19 You believe that God is one You do well; even the demons also believe, and shudder. 20 But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “AND 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.

The stumbling block for Protestants is that they see obtaining Heaven as a one-step process–Salvation by Faith.

But Catholics are taught that obtaining Heaven is at least a two-step process.
1. Salvation by Faith.
2. Perfection/sanctification/ holiness/ purification.

As James says, faith is perfected, by works. Jesus did not just tell us to get our own souls to Heaven. He gave us a mission on Earth. But Salvation itself, becoming a part of the Body of Christ, is by Faith. But we believe, with James that FAITH MUST BE PERFECTED BY WORKS. The GREAT COMMISSION MUST BE ACCOPLISHED WITH WORKS.

But the possibility of salvation, the obtaining of salvation; and even Faith itself is a GIFT that cannot be earned.

Works Salvation/Works Righteousness
Do You Have to Be Baptized to be Saved?
Can We Lose Our Salvation?
Confession to God Alone? Scripture Alone?
Atonement, Salvation, & Temporal Punishment