From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law
They have taken certain sayings of the old writers, established statements as it were, and twisted them by their interpretations. They boast in the schools that good works please God because of grace, and that confidence must be put in his grace. But they distort grace by saying that it is an inclination to love God, as though the ancients meant to say that we ought to trust in our love, though without doubt, we experience how small and how impure that inclination is. It is strange that they bid us to trust in this love, since they teach us that we are not able to know whether it is even present. Why do they not set forth the grace and mercy of God toward us? As often as mention is made of this, they ought to add faith. For the promise of God’s mercy, reconciliation, and love toward us is not apprehended unless by faith. Then, since faith apprehends grace, they would be right in saying that we must trust in grace and that good works please because of grace.
Pulling It Together
The living grace of God is Jesus Christ. There is no salvation available to us without this grace. There is no grace without Jesus Christ. There is no grace without God. Grace and salvation have nothing to do with our deeds or our habits or inclinations to love God and neighbor. Should we do good? Should we love? Certainly, for because grace has appeared in Jesus Christ, it now trains us to do these things and to renounce the devil and sin. This happens because of grace but it is not grace itself. If grace is born from our own love, we would be a hopeless people. Because we understand that grace and righteousness are free gifts from God (Rom 5:17), and not our pitiful attempts to do good and to be righteous, we confess that Christ alone is our blessed hope. He is the hope that will not fail us.
Prayer: Come quickly, Lord Jesus! Amen.
The Smalcald Articles are often considered Luther's theological Last Will and Testament. Written in easy-to-understand language, this study is presented in a discussion formation with assigned readings from the Scriptures and the Book of Concord. Included in the study is a shorter work by Philip Melanchton called "The Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope."