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From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Good Works
Peter speaks of works following the forgiveness of sins. He teaches that they should be done so that one’s calling may be sure, that is, lest they fall from their calling if they sin again. Do good works that you may persevere in your calling and not lose its gifts, which were given to you before your works, not because of them, and which are now retained by faith. For faith does not remain in those who lose the Holy Spirit, who reject repentance. We have said before that faith exists in repentance.
Pulling It Together
We do good works for three principal reasons. One, we are to bear good fruit so that God is glorified, and two, to prove that we are real disciples of Jesus. Doing good in Christ’s name not only shows others whom we follow, it also shows us that we are his disciples. Third, we do good works or bear good fruit so that our faith remains lively. A disciple who is not bearing fruit runs the great risk of becoming dull and cold and thereby, faithless again. Without faith, one falls away (Luke 8:13) and perishes (Heb 10:39).
So we see that works are not done to earn salvation. Christ alone merits the salvation of all who believe in him for that salvation. Having such faith, we must put it into practice, bearing good fruit so that God is glorified, and so that we prove whom we follow, and so that our faith may be kept alive. And here, let us add a fourth reason for doing good works. There is great joy in keeping God’s commandments, joy that the Lord stirs up in us because we have put faith into action and by doing so, are alive in his love.
Prayer: Holy Spirit, put my faith into action today. Amen.
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