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16 So says the Lord: “Restrain your voice from crying, and your eyes from tears; for there is reward for your work,” declares the Lord, “and they will return from the land of the enemy. 17 “There is hope for your future,” declares the Lord, “and your children will come back to their own land.” (Jeremiah 31:16–17)
From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Confession and Satisfaction
We have already testified frequently that repentance ought to produce good fruits, and that those good fruits are what the commandments teach, namely, prayer, thanksgiving, confessing and teaching the gospel, obeying parents and magistrates, being faithful to one’s calling, not killing or holding on to hatred, but being forgiving, giving to the needy so far as we can according to our means, not committing fornication or adultery, but restraining, bridling, and chastising the flesh, and speaking the truth—not for compensation of eternal punishment, but so as not to obey the devil, or offend the Holy Spirit. These fruits have God’s command, and ought to be brought forth for the sake of his glory and command. They also have their rewards.
Pulling It Together
In order for us to produce good fruits, we must depend upon God’s promises. We must have faith in him. Otherwise, we would eventually despair of doing much, if any, good. There is plenty of opportunity for despair in this life. Their is poverty of spirit, grief, hunger and thirst, hostility, and persecution, to name a few things from the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5:2–12). But there is great reward in heaven for those who, believing God’s promises, produce the fruits of faith, righteousness, mercy, purity, and peacemaking, in spite of the difficulties. There is reward for their work, and hope for their future.
Yet these good works are not to be done because we think they will appease God or relieve eternal punishment. We are to produce good fruits because we wish to bring glory to Christ, who has already appeased God for us, and because he has provided for us an eternal inheritance. If for no other reason, we should do good because that is God’s command.
Prayer: Turn my focus from hopeless weeping to hopeful faith in you, God. Amen.
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Many in the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) remember the loyalty, strength, and uniqueness of our Lutheran tradition and the necessity of "Christ Alone." Stand and Confess explores these traditions in light of Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions.