From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law
Whenever merit is mentioned, the adversaries immediately transfer the matter from other rewards to justification, even though the gospel freely offers justification on account of Christ’s merits, not because of our own. The merits of Christ are communicated to us by faith. But works and afflictions merit other rewards, not justification, as a reward is offered for the works in these passages. “He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully” (2 Cor 9:6). The measure of the reward is clearly connected with the measure of the work. “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land” (Exod 20:12).Here the law also offers a reward to a certain work.
Pulling It Together: Test God and determine whether he will bless you. Do the things that you are commanded and see if he will not pour out his blessings. But never expect him to justify you for the things you do. He blesses the just and the unjust alike (Matt 5:45) but he is only justified to those who have been made righteous through faith in Christ. These are two entirely different matters. God rewards us in this life with the things we need. He often blesses us with more than we need, sometimes because we have earned them. We ought to be thankful for the favors of God in this life. However, the righteousness required for the life to come is something we can never earn (Rom 3:28). God freely bestows this grace upon those who cannot earn it, indeed, upon those sinners who do not deserve his grace (Rom 5:8). He does so, only through faith in Jesus Christ, for all who believe (Rom 3:22).
Prayer: Forgive me, Lord, a sinner, yet one who believes. Amen.
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