Does the Catholic Church Teach that You Earn Salvation?

Does the Catholic Church Teach
that You Earn Salvation?

By Matt1618

A frequent charge made against the Catholic Church is that because it says one must be obedient unto salvation, it thereby teaches that we earn salvation. As within the realm of grace, this obedience is necessary, allegedly we earn our way to heaven. Our attempts to say that we do not 'earn' salvation is said to be double-speak, and trying to have it both ways. Because we say that works are necessary, and yet we say that salvation is all grace, the Church supposedly contradicts itself. Since we must do things, we are alleged to undermine any emphasis on grace (and really make any reference to grace as hollow).

The ones who argue that the Catholic concept is 'earning' will admit that God does reward those who are faithful to him with more 'crowns' in heaven. Thus, their admittance that God does reward faithful actions shows that the concept of reward in and of itself does not entail 'earning'. Their problem with the Catholic concept, is that since work is intermingled with salvation, that is what makes it earning. A Calvinist will say one appropriates salvation by God choosing the person, and the person under God's influence believes, and faith is the sole instrument of salvation. A Baptist will say that one must come to confess Jesus as Lord, accept him as Lord and Savior, and by that faith, that person will be saved. In any case, both are askance at the idea that works are in any away a cause of salvation, be it direct or indirect. If works are in any sense salvific, then supposedly this undermines Christ’s work on the cross. Thus, the Catholic use of works is termed ‘earning’, and is termed 'adding to the work of Christ'. Of course, those who say that one must 'Accept Jesus as Lord and Savior', and repent, somehow don't see those acts as 'earning' or 'adding to the work of Christ'. Those acts somehow don't 'earn' while our obedience is termed 'earning'. This critique is inconsistent, merely on the face of it.

As we approach this issue there are several things to note. The word ‘earn’ in English has the connotation of a debtor relationship. Someone earns a check by his work. He contracts with an employer. The employer pays the employee for his work. That is earning. If an employer owes the person who works for him a wage, then the employer earns the money, and the employer must pay him. If the Catholic Church taught that the relationship between the believer and God was put in that sense, the critique of the Catholic view would be correct. That would be earning. In fact that is the exact type of language on works that Paul condemns when he writes in Romans 4:2-4:

2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness." 4 Now to one who works, his wages are not reckoned as a gift but as his due. 5 And to one who does not work but trusts him who justifiess the ungodly.

Notice what Paul writes when he says works do not save. Paul writes that one can not be justified by works in and of itself. Works where one attempts to boast doesn’t cut it before God (v. 2). It is totally his mercy, and Abraham understood it that way. But as Paul details it even more in v. 4, look at the language Paul uses. It is in the context of earning. It is termed as if it is his due. No one can ever put God in that place. We can not make God a debtor. The type of justification that Paul says does not save, is where the person works to earn wages, his due. No one can earn salvation at all. That is what Paul speaks against. This exactly reflects the language of the Council of Trent, where it states, in Session Six, Chapter 8:

In what manner it is to be understood, that the impious is justified by faith, and gratuitously.

And whereas the Apostle saith, that man is justified by faith and freely, those words are to be understood in that sense which the perpetual consent of the Catholic Church hath held and expressed; to wit, that we are therefore said to be justified by faith, because faith is the beginning of human salvation, the foundation, and the root of all Justification; without which it is impossible to please God, and to come unto the fellowship of His sons: but we are therefore said to be justified freely, because that none of those things which precede justification-whether faith or works-merit the grace itself of justification. For, if it be a grace, it is not now by works, otherwise, as the same Apostle says, grace is no more grace (Rom. 11:6).

Notice that Trent relates, as does Paul, that we do not work to earn salvation, or God 'owing' us salvation. Our only means of being justified before God, is God's sheer gratuity. We can never put ourselves on equal terms with God,as though we are on contract, saying, "God gives me a job to do, I do it, and then God gives me as payment as salvation." This is not only what Paul is arguing against, but exactly what the Council of Trent argues against in chapter 8.

On the other hand there is other language in Scripture which shows that God does reward with heaven, those who are faithful to Christ with salvation: Paul writes, for example, in Gal. 6:8-9: For he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption; but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 And let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart.. . See also Romans 2:4-13. Jesus himself relates that (John 4:34-37): 34 "My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work. 35 Do you not say, 'There are yet four months, then comes the harvest'? I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see how the fields are already white for harvest. 36 He who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. 37 For here the saying holds true, 'One sows and another reaps.'. In another sense Jesus says one does receive wages, and its wage is eternal life itself!!!!. We can not pooh-pooh this language, and explain it away. Of course Jesus is not a Pelagian (See John 15:5-15, 6:37-44), so we must note whenever Jesus and Paul talk about works that reap eternal life, obviously they can not be in the same category as works condemned by Paul and Jesus as a means of justification. As Jesus says, apart from him we can do nothing (John 15:5-6). The grounds of our justification, is purely God’s benificience. Works apart from this grace merit nothing. Nonetheless, once one is inside the grace of God, works are to be rewarded by God not merely with extra rewards in heaven, but eternal life itself. Works in and of themselves can not be the ultimate grounds of one’s salvation. We do not force God to give us salvation (which would obligate him, as Paul condemns in Rom. 4:2-4). It is God who makes a promise to reward faithful sons with salvation itself.

In fact at the heart of the Catholic view of justification is that we are adopted sons. Not adopted sons as a mere byproduct of one being justified, but instead is at the core of being justified, according to the Council of Trent, Session 6, Chapter 4:


In which words is given a brief description of the justification of the sinner, as being a translation from that state in which man is born a child of the first Adam, to the state of grace and of the adoption of the sons of God through the second Adam, Jesus Christ, our Savior. This translation however cannot, since promulgation of the Gospel, be effected except through the laver of regeneration or its desire, as it is written: Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

Chapter 11, the Council of Trent continues:

But no one, however much justified, should consider himself exempt from the observance of the commandments; no one should use that rash statement, once forbidden by the Fathers under anathema, that the observance of the commandments of God is impossible for one that is justified. For God does not command impossibilities, but by commanding admonishes thee to do what thou canst and to pray for what thou canst not, and aids thee that thou mayest be able.[58] His commandments are not heavy,[59] and his yoke is sweet and burden light.[60] For they who are the sons of God love Christ, but they who love Him, keep His commandments, as He Himself testifies;[61] which, indeed, with the divine help they can do. For though during this mortal life, men, however holy and just, fall at times into at least light and daily sins, which are also called venial, they do not on that account cease to be just, for that petition of the just, forgive us our trespasses,[62] is both humble and true

As sons we must obey the Father and keep the commandments, according to Trent. The Father raises up adopted sons. The Father calls us to partake of the divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4), and he disciplines us to train us for holiness (Heb. 12:5-11). Trent says with Jesus that we can keep the commandments, but not perfectly, as Trent also recognizes that we will commit venial sins (1 John 5:16-17). Within the realm of grace, these lesser sins will not cut us off from eternal life.

In the Bible, heaven is seen as an inheritance. Efforts must be made on our part, however, to maintain the inheritance. Works are efficacious indeed. See Matthew 25:31-46. 34 Then the King will say to those at his right hand, 'Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me... Notice that one can inherit the kingdom of heaven because they were faithful and fed the hungry. Paul also uses language of inheritance in terms of the adopted son relationship when he writes in Rom. 8:14-17, where he concludes in v. 17: and if children, then heirs , heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. Here, inheritance depends upon God's children suffering with Christ. If they do not, they will not be glorified.

One's disobedient actions can cause disinheritance. Paul continues to use language of inheritance when he distinguishes those actions that can cause salvation from those that cause damnation. For example, Paul writes (Gal. 5:20-21): idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. Paul is writing to Christians and warning them that if they practice such mortal sins, they will throw forfeit their inheritance (See also 1 Cor. 6:9-11, Eph. 5:3-7), which happens to be heaven. This is reflected elsewhere by John (1 Jn. 3:1-7) and Jesus (Mt. 25:36). Jesus himself relates the parable of the prodigal son, who casted off his inheritance by splitting his relationship with his Father (thus mortally sinning) and was dead spirutally (Luke 15:24,32) though his repentance restored him back to the Father's grace.

I go through this as an important background to the Biblical view of justification, because divine sonship is important and central to the issue of justification. One does not work to 'earn' being a Son, or even maintaining Sonship. It is purely God's benificence that rewards his adopted children's actions. God could never be put in a position of being a debtor. In none of these places either in Paul or Jesus' teaching, is salvation ever seen as something God owes us. It is not earning, but God keeping to his promise to reward his sons for their faithfulness. We have an intimate relationship with the Father and attempt to obey our Father because we love him.

Some vehemently assert that Catholicism teaches earning, no matter my quoting of the magisterium which directly says that Catholicism does not teach earning. Just because we say that God holds us responsible for our actions eternally, we allegedly 'earn' salvation. However, these people will say that if one has to believe, repent, and have faith, that is not 'earning', even though it is something we have to do. One may claim that he just doesn't like complicated language (because the Bible teaches both that we do not earn salvation, but work is necessary for salvation). I just assert that Catholicism unambiguosly denies that anyone earns salvation but maintains both aspects of grace and works. In any case, never has the Church ever used the word 'earning' in reference to salvation.

That long introduction is an important backdrop to an exchange that I had on the issue of whether the Catholic Church teaches 'earning' salvation. I edit for the sake of clarity. In the following exchange, I exchange comments on the issue of whether Catholicism teaches 'earning' salvation (that has been edited for the sake of clarity). The Protestant's comments are in green. My response follows:

Matt insists the CC teaches that salvation is not earned. Look at how the Baltimore Catechism words it:

Now, you have no luck quoting the CCC (The Universal Catechism), because it specifically denies that we merit heaven on our own power, as though we work to make God owe us. See sections 2007-2011 CCC. The following is 2007-2009.

2007. "With regard to God, there is no strict right to any MERIT on the part of man. Between God and us there is an immeasurable inequality, for we have received everything from him, our Creator. " 2008. "The MERIT of man before God in the Christian life arises from the fact that God has freely chosen to associate man with the work of his grace. The fatherly action of God is first on his own initiative, and then follows man's free acting through his collaboration, so that the MERIT of good works is to be attributed in the first place to the grace of God, then to the faithful. Man's MERIT, moreover, itself is due to God, for his good actions proceed in Christ, from the predispositions and assistance given by the Holy Spirit. "

2009. "Filial adoption, in making us partakers by grace in the divine nature, can bestow true MERIT on us as a result of God's gratuitous justice. This is our right by grace, the full right of love, making us 'co-heirs' with Christ and worthy of obtaining 'the promised inheritance of eternal life.'[Council of Trent (1547): DS 1546.] The merits of our good works are gifts of the divine goodness.[Cf. Council of Trent (1547): DS 1548.] 'Grace has gone before us; now we are given what is due.... Our merits are God's gifts.'[St. Augustine, Sermo 298, 4-5: PL 38, 1367.]"

That doesn't suit you, so the next best thing you come up with is the Baltimore Catechism. Even there however, nowhere does it ever say, or even imply earning. Now in this Baltimore Catechism, there is indeed a very Biblical stress on judgment, and deeds related to that judgment. You quote from it:

A. Christ will judge us immediately after our death, and on the last day. 409. Q. What is the judgment called which we have to undergo immediately after death?
A. The judgment we have to undergo immediately after death is called the Particular Judgment. 410. Q. What is the judgment called which all men have to undergo on the last day?
A. The judgment which all men have to undergo on the last day is called the General Judgment. 411. Q. Why does Christ judge men immediately after death?
A. Christ judges men immediately after death to reward or punish them according to their deeds. 412. Q. What are the rewards or punishments appointed for men's souls after the Particular Judgment?
A. The rewards or punishments appointed for men's souls after the Particular Judgment are Heaven, Purgatory, and Hell.

Because it says that the rewards or punishments are based on deeds, you comment, this proves that Catholicism teaches that we earn salvation. Let us compare the Baltimore Catechism to what Jesus himself says on the matter, Mt. 16:

24 Then Jesus told his disciples, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life? 27 For the Son of man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay every man for what he has done.

Notice that the Baltimore Catechism said that Christ "judges men immediately after death to reward or punish them according to their deeds." What did Jesus say, that he "will repay every man for what he has done." Not much different at all.

Rev. 22:12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. 14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

Thus, Jesus himself confirms that the Batltimore Catechism is correct on the issue. Of course, this Catechism, I am sure, in another section would give the foundation for any good deeds that would suffice before God as being grace inspired, and seen through God's eyes of grace.

He continues to quote the Baltimore Catechism:

413. Q. What is Hell?
A. Hell is a state to which the wicked are condemned, and in which they are deprived of the sight of God for all eternity, and are in dreadful torments.

Jesus says: Rev. 22:13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. 15 For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.

I read the above and what am I told? I get heaven, purgatory or hell based on my deeds. Heaven is a reward, purgatory and hell are punishments. In my tribe where we use the Webster dictionary for the English language, that is earning or even meriting...a system of reward and punishment based on deeds.

But this judgment according to the Catechism conforms to the words of Jesus. Now do you have any judgment scene in the Bible (Like Mt. 25:31-46, Mt. 7:21-23, Rev. 22:11-15, Rev. 20:13-14) that say, 'well, "you get in because of faith alone?" Remember, this section in the Batlimore Catechism deals with judgment, so any commentary you have, should focus on judgment scenes. Let us look again at what Jesus himself on the matter. After stating the necessity of believing in John 5:24, he says something very pertinent on the matter:

28Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment.

Also, look at Mt. 25:31-46 where the separation of sheeps and goat is based on what people did or did not do as the criteria for salvation. Click here to see an examination of that passage.

Thus, those who have done good go to heaven, and those who do evil go to hell. Absolutely nothing about 'Christ's righteousness getting imputed to those believers account', as the grounds of righteousness that avails in this judgment.

According to your criteria of critiquing Catholic teaching, Christ teaches a work salvation and earning. Now, I have just given you a few verses that directly come from Christ's mouth. Now, if you can say that the Catholic gospel teaches an 'earning' gospel, then do you charge Christ with teaching an earning gospel? Christ in some sense is even more explicit than the Baltimore Catechism. Are Christ's words 'adding to the finished work of Christ?'

Have they mis-understood because not because of what the RCC teaches but because of the way it was taught (as in the Baltimore Catechism)? Or have Catholics mis-understood because, well they were just not smart enough?!

I suspect both/and. Catechesis in many areas is lacking, and many people don't look into the faith that has been given them. The Trent decrees as well as its Catechism has always been around. Many don't look into the faith. Besides that, I have a feeling that you only gave us some of the Baltimore Catechism. Like for example, grace being the foundation of everything good that one does, was probably in that Catechism. Besides that, the Church has put out the New Universal Catechism which is specific on the issue of justification, works and merits, and how any merits we do have, is strictly according to God's grace.

I know many want to make justification and salvation an easy, uncomplicated issue, to fit into easy soundbites, but if you want to go into the issue, and incorporate all of divine revelation, then simplistic answers do not suffice.

Correct, I am repelled by "according to their deeds."

Then Jesus' statements quoted above must repel you. (John 5:28-29, Mt. 25:31-46, Mt. 16:27-28, Rev. 22:11-15, etc.) Apparently, our words and actions do justify us. I would say how we speak is a deed, isn't it?

Well, Jesus says in Matthew 12:36-37:

I tell you, on the day of judgment men will render account for every careless word they utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned."

Those words of Jesus must really repel you, eh?

Besides, in its judgment scene, the Baltimore Catechism specifically cites Matthew 24-25 in support of this statement. It is a truly Biblical look at the situation. And it truly reflects Jesus own words.

Magisterial Document argument....that is another one I will add to my list of Catholic arguments. Sorry Matt and Dave but I do not speak "Catholic-ese" which is the language of those Magisterial Documents. Among other things, I see take with one hand what they give with the other.

Kind of strange that this is a 'new Catholic argument that you must admit to your list'. The Magisterium has always decided the meaning of things, ever since the time of Christ. It should not be considered strange that the Catholics who ask for documentation of your charge, ask for a Magisterial quote.

Jesus says that apart from him we can do nothing (John 15:5-6). It was he that chose us, not us who chose him. He says that we must believe (Jn 3:16, 5:24). But he also says that some of the criteria that separates those from going to heaven from those who go to hell, are deeds themselves. In none of the verses earlier given, did any of them say, 'well, these are only the effects of one's salvation, and not a cause of salvation'. Now did Jesus take with one hand and give with the other ? Or does this not just show each of these statements and many more that he made, must be incorporated into a true theology. Catholicism incorporates all his revelation and puts it into its theology, which is therefore not simplistic. Protestant, faith alone theology, ignores or explains away these verses as being merely effects but not causes. However, the words Jesus used shows them to be causes.

It has always been my position that I do not understand this Catholic language you speak. What I can do is translate it into everyday english. Now you say in Catholicism, earn and merit are not the same or similar. I say in everyday English they are. So we can leave it at that. Personally I don't believe Jesus spoke in such "Catholic-ese." He had to communicate with people most of whom could not read, let alone decipher "magisterial documents."

Of course, the Church did not make its definition of merit based on 20th century English, but 2nd century Latin and Greek. The Church specifically picked a word that does not mean earn. It is God being faithful to his Sons, and rewarding his sons. In English, the term merit may have the connotation of the word earning. However, the Church is vociferous in denying that when it teaches merit, that it in any way teaches earning. Remember, the Church specifically avoided using words in Latin or Greek which have any connotation of the word earning. In English, we can only use words which we have, and the word closest English word, to the Latin 'merit', unfortunately can have that connotation, but the Church has defined it clearly so it does not have that connotation. Strict merit no. We do not claim to be God's equal who forces him to give us salvation.

Congruent merit is something that the Catholic Church does teach. I borrow this descriptions from an essay by James Akin on the issue: Condign merit is when a person under the influence of actual graces performs the supernatural act, God is not only pleased by the act but he is guaranteed to reward it because he has promised to do so.

As Akin notes on the Catholic Church and earning:

In fact, it has never been what the term meant. It has only gained that connotation from its usage in post-Reformation anti-Catholic polemics. From the very beginning the term was used differently. Thus in the second century the Latin term meritum was introduced as a translation of the Greek term for "reward."[6] In fact, it was picked over another term (merces) precisely because it lacked the legalistic connotations of meritum. Thus a document released by the German conferences of Catholic and Lutheran bishops states

: "[T]he dispute about merit also rests largely on a misunderstanding. The Tridentine fathers ask: How can anyone have doubts about the concept of merit, when Jesus himself talks about 'reward' and when, moreover, it is only a question here of acts that a Christian performs as member of Christ? . . . Many antitheses could be overcome if the misleading word 'merit' were simply to be viewed and thought about in connection with the true sense of the biblical term 'wage' or reward (cf., among other passages, Matt. 20:1-16; 5:12; John 4:36; 1 Cor. 3:8, 14; Col. 3:24). There are strong indications, incidentally--and a linguistic analysis could provide the evidence--that the language of the liturgy does not merely reflect the true meaning of the concept of merit stressed here, but--quite contrary to the Reformers' fears--prefers to explain what was meant through the word meritum rather than through the term merces (reward), for the very reason that merit sounds less 'materialistic' than reward." For a more detailed look at the issue of merit and justification Click here to see James Akin's analysis of the issue.

To know what the CC teaches one must go to the magisterial documents?

Yea, as Catholics we are not our own magisterium. That is what makes us Catholic. You, however, are your own magisterium.

Maybe so...but what is of greater importance is what Christ taught.

It is not what Christ taught vs. the Church. It is what Christ has taught through the Church he established. Nonetheless, on this matter Jesus himself is pretty clear. He teaches that what separates the sheeps and the goats are deeds or lack of deeds (Mt. 25:31-46). That those who have done good go to the resurrection and those who do evil go to damnation (Jn 5:28-29). That we will be judged and sent to heaven based on our works (Mt. 12:36-38; 7:16-25; 16:27-28; Rev. 22:11-15). This must be combined with his other teachings that say that apart from him we can do nothing (Jn 15), that belief is foundational (Jn 3:16, 5:24) and that he is sovereign (Jn 6:37-44). These things must be coalesced, and not jettison one part of it to the exclusion of others. Catholic theology coalesces it, faith alone theology neglects these judgment scenes. For example, I have 3 long books by Faith Alone people (RC Sproul, Norman Geisler, James Buchanan), and in their numerous citations, they neglect to mention such verses as John 5:28-29, Mt. 25:31-46, Rev. 22:11-14, and are very selective in their citation of Paul as well. However, in Bob Sungenis' book, "Not By Faith Alone", all of these verses are cited.

I do not have time to plow through the CCC or other Catholic documents at the moment, and I do not think it is necessary.

It is obvious that you were able to plow through the Baltimore Catechism, if you thought it could be used to say, that the Church teaches earning, but you were not able to somehow get the Universal Catechism, which says, CCC 2007 "With regard to God there is no strict right to merit on the part of man.". This strict right to merit, is the type that earns. However, it specifically denies it, so it doesn't suit you.

Every Catholic must know what he/she MUST do to earn his way through the gates. As someone put it a few weeks ago: "Mary had to keep the the commandments."

I know that if I try to 'earn my way through the gates' that is Pelagian, or semi-Pelagian, and is condemned by the Church. Jesus certainly doesn't teach Pelagianism, to be sure, as apart from him we can do nothing (Jn 15:5-6). You say, that if anyone says that to enter eternal life, we must keep the commandments, we are earning their way through the gates. However, Jesus himself says, when asked the question, on what one must do to enter eternal life:

16 And behold, one came up to him, saying, "Teacher, what good deed must I do, to have eternal life?" 17 And he said to him, "Why do you ask me about what is good? One there is who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments." oops. That must repel you!!!! It seems like you somehow think 'keeping the commandments' is related to salvation, somehow puts one in the category of earning salvation. If that is the case, Jesus taught 'earning his way through the gates!' Do you really want to say that? Jesus said, that if one enters eternal life he must keep the commandments. According to you, if you are consistent, Jesus is teaching earning salvation. Again, if Catholicism teaches earning salvation, on what grounds does Jesus not teach 'earning salvation?'

Jesus said in John 14:15 "If you love me, you will keep my commandments."

This is exactly what the Church teaches, as shown earlier.

You alleged that Catholics teach 'earning his way to the gates'. Well, Jesus, after his death and resurrection, showing that what he taught before, he still means, says in Rev. 22:10-14: 10 And he said to me, "Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. 11 Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy." 12 "Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense, to repay every one for what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end." 14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

Thus, in the context of who gets to heaven and who gets to hell, Jesus again says he will repay those bad deeds with hell and good deeds with heaven. Every one will be so rewarded. Jesus also uses the term of doing the commandments so that one may have the right to the tree of life (v. 14), in the context of the righteous getting rewarded for their deeds and the unrighteous getting rewarded for their unrighteous deeds. However, Jesus does not use the term 'earning their way to the gates'. But those who do the commandments are given the right by God to enter through those gates. This is a cause of entering the gates. Again, only those who keep the commandments have a right to the tree of life. Is that not merit and salvation?

Rev. 2:25-26 "only hold fast what you have, until I come. He who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, I will give him power over the nations.

So did Jesus 'add to his own finished work?', or is not his own work supposed to be played out in our life, as a condition for salvation?

You said Jesus is so clear on the issue. Well, I agree:
He says to enter eternal life one must keep the commandments (Mt. 19:16-17). Catholicism repeats what he says. You call that repetition earning.
He separates the sheeps and goats based on deeds and those who get to heaven have good deeds and those that don't, don't get to heaven (Mt. 25:31-46). Catholicism repeats what he says. You call that repetition earning.
He says that those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, go to the resurrection of judgment (Jn 5:28-29, Rev. 22:10-14). Catholicism repeats what he says. You call that repetition earning.
He says that we will be justified or condemned based on our very words. (Mt. 12:36-37) That is a deed. Catholicism repeats what he says. You call that repetition earning.

Since you say that Jesus is so clear, and since you brought up judgment scenes in the Baltimore Catechism, where does he say in any judgment scene, that once you believe (and show me how obeying Christ adds to his work, while having to believe in him is not adding to his work), you are set for life, and what judgment scene shows he says, 'come here, because you believed in faith alone, inherit the kingdom, because you have my righteousness imputed to your account." (in contrast to Jn 5:28-29, Rev. 20:13, Rev. 22:11-15, Mt. 25:31-46, Mt. 7:21-23, Mt. 12:36-37, Mt. 16:27, etc.). In any case, if you charge the Catholic Church with teaching an 'earning' salvation, you must indict Jesus with that same charge. Do you really want to do that?

To all visitors Grace of Christ to you!

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