From the Confessions: The Chief Articles of Faith in the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Good Works
Although this doctrine is scorned by the inexperienced, nevertheless God-fearing and anxious consciences find that it brings the greatest consolation, since the conscience cannot find rest through any works, but only through faith, when it takes the sure ground that for Christ's sake one has a reconciled God. For example, Paul teaches, “Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Rom 5:1) This doctrine should be applied to the struggle of the terrified conscience. Indeed, it can not be understood apart from that struggle. Therefore, inexperienced and worldly people judge poorly concerning this matter, imagining that Christian righteousness is nothing but civil and philosophical goodness.
Pulling It Together
This paragraph in the Confession considers two things: that being good will not bring peace to the restless heart, and that what does console is trust in God's promise of mercy through Jesus Christ. Some disagree, saying that works must be added to faith or God is not reconciled. Scripture says otherwise but consider that those who try the route of good deeds find that their hearts are still afraid. They wonder if God forgives all of their sins if they do not perform enough of the right kinds of acts. They are troubled, questioning if their salvation is guaranteed when they continue to sin, perhaps doing so by feeling proud of their deeds?
When one tries to reconcile God through good works, the conscience still trembles. One must put aside trust in self, and trust in Christ alone for righteousness before God. Nowhere in Scripture does it tell us to turn to ourselves and find peace. Nowhere are we instructed that by trying harder and doing better that we will then know peace and hope. Christ alone is the hope of all people, his reconciling sacrifice only being received by faith.
Prayer: Increase my hope, Lord, for I trust in you alone. Amen.
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