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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 138

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Philippians 3:14-16

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

We also confess what we have often testified, that although justification and eternal life pertain to faith, nevertheless good works merit other bodily and spiritual rewards and degrees of rewards, according to 1 Cor. 3:8, “Each will receive his wages according to his labor.” The righteousness of the Gospel, dealing with the promise of grace, freely receives justification and rebirth. But the keeping of the law, which follows faith, has to do with the law, for which a reward is offered and is due, not freely, but according to our works. Those who merit this are justified before they keep the law. They have first been moved into the kingdom of God’s Son (Col 1:13), as Paul says, and made joint-heirs with Christ (Rom 8:17).

Pulling It Together

The issue here—and always—is Christ. Let us not think so much about rewards, but instead, about the reward. We must press on toward the real goal. That goal is not rewards but the reward of being with Christ in heaven. He is the “upward call”; it is not rewards for the works that we have done. We must hold true to the path of faith in Christ, through which we have attained justification with his Father. May we keep our minds upon Christ (Col 3:1-4) who has saved us because of his mercy, not because of the things that we have done (Titus 3:5). 

Prayer: Gracious God, help me keep my eyes on the prize of your upward calling in Christ Jesus. Amen.

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