From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law
Afterwards works merit other bodily and spiritual rewards because they please God on account of faith. There will be distinctions in the glory of the saints. But here the adversaries reply that eternal life is called a reward, and that it is therefore merited de condigno by good works. We reply briefly and plainly. Paul calls eternal life a gift (Rom 6:23), because the righteousness conferred for Christ's sake at the same time makes us sons of God and fellow heirs of Christ. John says, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life” (John 3:36). Augustine says, as also do very many others who follow him, “God crowns His gifts in us.” It is written elsewhere, “Your reward is great in heaven” (Luke 6:23). If these passages seem to our adversaries to be in conflict, they may explain them.
Pulling It Together: “Blessed are the poor,” Jesus says in Luke’s Sermon on the Plain (Luke 6:20). In Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount, he says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit” (Matt 5:3). You might wonder how there is blessing in poverty. Only when we admit our impoverished spiritual condition, may the kingdom become our possession. When we confess our sin and turn to the father, he enriches us with the righteousness of his Son. Jesus fills us with his Spirit, and we become rich in that which matters most. Our spirits are prospered. All of this is a free gift and reward to those poor people who believe in Christ for the riches of justification, righteousness, and salvation.
Prayer: Give me a longing, Lord, for the reward of heaven. Amen.
A Reading and Discussion of the Augsburg Confession is a more challenging study series based on assigned readings from the Book of Concord and related Scripture texts. Each study is comprised of eight sessions, plus an optional introductory session, presented in a question and discussion format. The Leader's Guide that accompanies this study is a resource for those facilitating group discussion, or may serve as a reader's commentary for those who are studying the Book of Concord on their own.