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Melody Jones wrote:

Hi, guys —

  • I heard Catholics believe you have to earn your way to Heaven, but don't you believe what the Bible says in Titus 3:5?

      Not by works of righteousness which we have done but according to His Mercy He saved us

    or Ephesians 2:8-9

      For by grace are we saved through faith and that not of ourselves, it is the gift of God — not of works, lest any man should boast.

God Bless :)

Mel

  { Why don't you believe what the Bible says in Titus 3:5 and Ephesians 2:8-9? }

Eric replied:

Mel,

Catholics do not believe you have to "earn" your way into heaven. I invite you to come up with a statement from the Church that suggests this, and we'd be happy to ensure you understand it in context of Catholic teaching.

A good example of why we believe that salvation is a pure grace and gift from God is that we believe that the newly-baptized infant who dies goes straight to heaven (we do not believe this of the unbaptized infant).

See my illustration here:

This topic is rather complicated because people have different ideas of what it means to "earn" your way into heaven. The short answer is that we, as Catholics, believe that salvation is a process; it begins with God's initiative.  We cooperate with His grace, and so long as we continue to do so until death (or repent, if we do not) (Romans 11:22, Colossians 1:23, Hebrews 3:6, Hebrews 6:11, and Revelation 2:7), we will be saved. Nevertheless, every step requires and depends on God's grace, so it isn't earned in the way you have in mind. It is faith working through love (Galatians  5:6). We also believe we must bear fruit to be saved (Matthew 3:10,
Matthew 7:19), but everything depends on God; as our Catechism, our guide to what we believe, quotes St. Augustine:

"for in crowning [the saints'] merits, you are crowning your own gifts." CCC 2006

Another good answer we gave in a similar posting can be read here:

Eric

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