From the Confessions: The Chief Articles of Faith in the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Good Works
Since the doctrine concerning faith, which ought to be the chief teaching of the Church, has been neglected so long, as it must be admitted that there has been a great silence in sermons about the righteousness of faith, while only a doctrine of works was preached in the churches, our teachers have instructed the churches concerning faith as follows:
First, that our works cannot appease God or earn forgiveness of sins, grace, and justification. We obtain this only by faith when we believe that we are received into favor for Christ's sake, who alone is our Mediator and propitiation (1Tim 2:5) in order that the Father may be reconciled through him. Therefore, whoever believes that he earns grace through his works, despises the merit and grace of Christ, and seeks a way to God without Christ—by human strength, even though Christ said of himself: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6).
Pulling It Together: Faith trusts in Christ alone for salvation. This must be preached in all the churches since it is the teaching of Scripture and because this doctrine consoles Christians (Rom 5:1). When one tries to satisfy God and conscience through works and virtues, both are disappointed. The Apostle Paul plainly teaches: "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast" (Eph 2:8-9). If anyone would boast in works, let him boast in the work of Christ (1 Cor 1:31; 2 Cor 10:17). Human effort will always fall short of that which satisfies God, and that one thing that satisfies God is the work of his Son. So, let us have faith in the way of God who is Christ alone.
Prayer: Thank you, God, for saving me, for I am unable to save myself. Amen.
This seven-session study is the first in a three-part series on Saints and Sinners in the New Testament who were powerful witnesses to the faith in Christ. May this study of saints and sinners enrich your understanding of life with Christ and encourage you in discipleship.