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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
The Smalcald Articles – part 131

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James 2:14–17

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

Good works result from this faith, renewal, and forgiveness of sins. Whatever is still sinful or imperfect in these works will not be regarded as sin or imperfection, for Christ’s sake. The whole person, in respect to both deeds and being, is considered righteous and holy through the pure grace and mercy poured out upon and covering us in Christ. Therefore, we cannot boast of merits and works if they are viewed apart from grace and mercy. As it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast of the Lord” (1 Cor 1:31), namely, that we have a gracious God. Then all is well. In addition, we say that if good works do not follow, that faith is false, not true.

Pulling It Together

It is critical that we understand what real faith is, and is not. Faith is not mere belief, for as James says, even demons believe in that sense (James 2:19). Nor is faith merely good works, as we may readily observe. There are many who do good deeds but who do not believe in God, let alone Christ. Real faith, however, is rooted in the conviction that we cannot save ourselves from sin, death, and the devil. As a result, true faith trusts in Christ alone—his work on the cross for our salvation. That kind of faith insists that faith and works cannot be separated, that if we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ (Eph 2:8–9), then we have been created (reborn) for good works (Eph 2:10) that give God glory through our lives.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for granting me faith in Christ, and through his Spirit, moving me to do your will. Amen.

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