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From the Confessions: The Chief Articles of Faith in the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Good Works
We teach that it is necessary to do good works because it is the will of God—not that we should trust them to earn God's grace. Forgiveness of sins is only received through faith with nothing else added. When faith is received through the Holy Spirit, hearts are renewed and given new affections, so that we want to do good works. Ambrose says, “Faith is the mother of a good will and right doing.” Without the Holy Spirit, our efforts are full of ungodly motivations, and our hearts are too weak to do works which are good in God's sight. In any case, our works are in the power of the devil who moves people to a variety of sins, to ungodly opinions, and even to open crimes. We see this in the philosophers, who tried to live upright lives but could not succeed, descending into public sins. This is the life of those without faith and the Holy Spirit, who govern themselves only by their own strength.
Pulling It Together: Faith is completed or fulfilled in our good works. One may say that she believes in God but if she left her brother hungry or threadbare would anyone suspect she was a member of the family of God? This is not a living faith. Living faith produces good works. In the end, the two are inseparable. One cannot claim to have faith, and another claim to have works. Faith is demonstrated by works. But we must be very careful to understand that these good works have earned us no favor in God's sight. He simply expects people of faith to bear good fruit so that his name will be honored and praised by people everywhere (Psa 48:10).
Prayer: May our lives bring you thanks and praise, O Lord our God. Amen.
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