Question for knowledgeable Protestants and Catholics?

It is my understanding that Protestants believe that Jesus covers all sins and they get to Heaven for only believing in Jesus, no matter what. First off, are there any Protestant or other non-Catholic denominations who don't believe this?

Secondly, it is my understanding that Catholics believe in faith and works carrying you to Heaven and that a believing Christian can still go to hell.

So my question is: What are your Scriptural proofs for your belief in the faith only position or faith and good works position?

Please don't answer if you are not going to provide the verses or other documentation to back up your argument. Thanks!


It was really hard picking a best answer on this one. There were several very good answers. Thanks for taking the time to explain. I can see Scripturally how there could be some confusion. May God guide us all.

16 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favourite answer

    Well, to be true, it does not fall so neatly along Protestant/Catholic lines (which fully neglect Orthodox and Evangelical Christianity), but that is immaterial to the discussion.

    Works: The book of James is often the best support for works based salvation. The oft-quoted passage comes from James 2:18-19.

    18But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds."

    Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.

    19You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

    This is basically saying that just believing that there is a God is enough, because those damned to hell believe in Him. Rather, you must prove that this belief in some way affects you, because if you truly believed then you would desire to do good things.

    Faith: The concept that all have sinned and none are worthy of being in Heaven, as well as the demands to be "more righteous than the Pharisees" in order to enter heaven, lend credence to the idea that salvation is only a matter of faith.

    Romans 11:16 says, "And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace."

    There are hundreds of passages that talk about belief and how belief is fundamental to a relationship with the Father.

    Synthesis: Both are necessary for salvation. Without faith, what good are works? If you only do things because you are supposed to, not because you believe they are right or with a belief in the truth of God, how is that supposed to please God? Does he only desire lip service? God desires your heart and soul more than your body. The body is temporary, but the spirit is eternal.

    Without works, there is no evidence of faith. As the saying goes, talk is cheap. If you have no proof that you believe, do you really believe? A true belief will cause a change that makes you desire the things of God and to do the good works of God. We are also called to bring truth to others, and just speaking about God rarely convinces people. Showing that God has affected your life to a great degree is infinitely more effective than the words of an inactive believer.

    To pick up on some questions I missed: Yes, there are some Protestant denominations that feel that there are certain deeds necessary to get into Heaven, but things like this vary from church to church, and from person to person.

    From what I understand, someone who just believes is not really a Christian, so therefore no access to heaven. You don't become a Christian until you go through certain Catholic rites, such as baptism and the Eucharist.

    I hope this helped some. I only included a few passages of scripture in my sources, but there are plenty more.

    Source(s): Matthew 25:31-46, 2 Timothy 2:19, James 2:14-26, Romans 4, Romans 11:16, various passages on grace, belief, deeds and salvation
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  • 1 decade ago

    What must I do to be saved?” This is the single most important question anyone can ever ask. Our souls will exist for eternity but on the Day of Judgment when Jesus Christ judges all who have ever lived, He will divide the saved from the unsaved. The saved will go to eternal life while the unsaved will go to eternal punishment (Matthew 25:31-46). This is why it is imperative we be on the right side of the dividing line before that day arrives.

    The Bible teaches, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). So everyone is in need of salvation. Salvation comes through Jesus Christ. And “salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12).

    To be saved we must:

    1.) Hear the “good news” (i.e. the gospel) of Jesus Christ (Romans 10:14)

    2.) Believe (Hebrews 11:6; Acts 8:37; Mark 16:16; John 8:24)

    3.) Repent of our sins (Luke 13:3,5; Acts 2:38; Acts 17:30; Mark 10:15)

    4.) Confess faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 8:36-37; Romans 10:9) {Footnote}

    5.) Be baptized (in water) for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:37-41; 1Peter 3:21; John 3:3-5; Acts 22:16; Romans 6:3-8; Colossians 2:12; Galatians 3:26-27; Mark 16:15-16; Acts 8:34-39; Titus 3:5; Ephesians 4:5)

    I would also add that when the Holy Spirit comes to you, you must receive many turn him away. All those in the New Testement who received the Holy Spirit spoke in tongues. Look up the scriptures in the book of Acts,,,paying special attention to Acts 10 and the conversion of the first new Christians....

    At Cornelius’ House. "And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God" (Acts 10:45,46).

    Read it did they know they had received the Holy Ghost? read the last line. Clink on link below to find out more..."IF you have not the Spirit of God, you are none of his"...

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  • 1 decade ago

    I need to answer this because it seems like no one here has the right answer.

    James 2:17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

    18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

    19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also bbelieve, and tremble.

    20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

    21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?

    22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?

    23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.

    24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

    25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?

    26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

    We need both, faith and works goes hand in hand. There is so much confusion about his because we need a prophet just like the olden days to interpret the scriptures for us. A good question to ask would be if there is a prophet on the Earth today, since God is the same yesterday, today and forever. There should be one.

    I am neither protestant or catholic. But thought this should be answered correctly.

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  • 1 decade ago

    I would have to say that the majority of Christians do not believe that you merely have to believe in Jesus and thats it. Even Satan acknowledged Jesus and he certainly isn't saved.

    Eph 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—

    It's not a simple belief in Jesus, it is faith. And without Faith you have nothing.. but Faith itself has requirements.

    James 2:17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

    James 2:26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

    This doesnt mean that the more works you do, the more saved you are, but that if you HAVE Faith, you WILL have works to show it.

    Salvation is not to be taken lightly, you need to continue in the faith.

    Phil 2:10 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,

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  • Anonymous
    4 years ago

    There is absolutely no point in condemning Catholics. I was raised as a Catholic, in a predominantly Catholic city. When I left to live elsewhere, I was shocked by the anger and misinformation some Protestants had regarding Catholicism. I was told Catholics worshipped idols, follow the Pope blindly (even to the point of being a traitor to the U.S., if called for), and committed sins without any fear, since communion "took care of that". One person told me she couldn't believe I was a Catholic, since I "seemed so nice". Your classmate is making fun of you out of ignorance. I am a Protestant now. I have a close relatives who are Catholic. If they ask me why I differ in my beliefs about a certain topic or doctrine in Christianity, I tell them, as best I can, but I don't "condemn" them.

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  • Ruth
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    1. All protestant faiths believe this as far as I know.

    I know Mormons believe in good works. Most Protestants consider them a cult.

    One verse Romans3:28

    Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

    verse 5

    But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

    Romans10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in thy heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

    Source(s): High fly why don't you say you are Mormon? (below me)
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  • 1 decade ago

    I think the answer is in Luke 23:43 -

    Jesus was hanging on the cross...and next to him were two of the most horrible criminals the region had. One was mocking and taunting the Christ, but other spoke up proclaiming that while they deserved to be there and deserved to die Jesus had done nothing wrong, and asked the other why he didn't fear the wrath of God even at the end.

    Jesus meanwhile is praying for God to forgive his crucifiers (v.34 "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do..."). Jesus goes on to tell the remorsefull criminal, "Low this day you shall be with me paradise..."

    So here is a man who has spent his whole life as a criminal and murderer, yet Jesus himself promises him eternal salvation in his closing moments of life, without him having ever done any works of charity or rituals or anything. Does this mean that we can live as sinners and throw up a deathbed, "Sorry, God, My bad, in Jesus name amen..." and waltz into heaven. It must be genuine repentence. Even after being saved we will all still fall short of the glory of God, but it is on us to try and truely live as best we can. This does not mean that if we die without having confessed our last sin, then we go to hell. Just that we must truely live a life in an effort to follow the will of the Lord.

    Likewise this does not make confession and works "un Christian." Paul wrote of the three virtues, proclaiming "The greatest of these is Charity (used somewhat interchangable with Love)" & if a confession to a priest or communion service helps you to focus on the will of God than it too can be a tool for you to use in keeping your faith, but it is not the faith itself.

    I don't claim to be a scriptual expert, just the interpretation of a humble servant of the Lord.

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  • L.C.
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    I am a Christian and Paul clearly explains that Faith save us and works are the result of our faith. There should be no question concerning this teaching.

    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.Ephesians 2

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  • 1 decade ago

    We are saved by grace, not by works, so that no one can boast.

    We are saved by grace alone. Recall that in Acts 16:31 the jailer asked Paul and Silas how to be saved. They responded, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved." The jailer believed and immediately became saved.

    Close to 200 times in the New Testament salvation is said to be by faith alone - with no works in sight. Consider the following:

    John 3:15 tells us that "everyone who believes in him may have eternal life."

    John 5:24 says, "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my words and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life."

    In John 11:25 Jesus says, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies."

    John 23:46 says, "I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness."

    John 20:31 says, "But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name."

    If salvation were not by faith alone, then Jesus' message in the Gospel of John - manifest in the above quotations - would be deceptive, stating that there is one condition for salvation when there are allegedly two - faith and works.

    I must emphasize that we are saved by faith for works. Works are not the condition of our salvation, but a consequence of it We are saved not by works, but by the kind of faith that produces works.

    Eph 2:8-10 God saved you by his special favor when you believed. And you can't take credit for this: It is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    John 3:16 covers it all.

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