Has anyone ever told you, “Catholicism is a works-based religion, and the Apostle Paul says that is wrong.”
Is Catholicism a works-based religion? Not necessarily. It is true that God does give His grace to us freely and willingly, but that doesn’t mean that what we do on earth doesn’t matter in God’s eyes.
In his book Why We’re Catholic: Our Reasons for Faith, Hope, and Love, Catholic Answers apologist Trent Horn explains that God offered His grace to us freely at our baptism. We did nothing to earn this grace; we just chose to have faith in God and to become baptized to enter His Church. However, that does not mean our works on earth are meaningless to God.
Some Christians will claim that St. Paul condemns justification through good works in his letters to the Romans and Ephesians. For instance, Romans 3:28 reads, “We hold that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the law.” Trent Horn explains this verse in context:
When Paul talked about being justified, or being made righteous apart from the Law, he didn’t mean good works have nothing to do with our salvation. What he meant was that a person is saved apart from obeying the Law of Moses… Paul did not teach that works have nothing to do with our salvation, because he said that God “will render to every man according to his works: to those by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life” (Romans 2:6-7).
As Catholics, we are expected to use God’s freely given grace to do good works on earth. We must do everything with humility and charity, even our day-to-day tasks.
In fact, the Catholic Church honors the saints because these holy men and women show us what it means to serve God on earth.
For more answers to common questions Catholics face, check out Trent Horn’s Why We’re Catholic.