From the Confessions: The Chief Articles of Faith in the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Good Works
Until now, consciences were plagued with the doctrine of works because they did not hear the consolation from the gospel. Conscience drove some into the desert or into monasteries, hoping to earn grace through monastic life. Some devised other works as a way to earn God's grace and make satisfaction for their sins. Therefore, there was a great need to revive teaching the doctrine of faith in Christ, so that anxious consciences would not be without consolation but that they might know that grace, forgiveness of sins, and justification are obtained only by faith in Christ.
The term "faith" does not mean a mere knowledge of history, which even the ungodly and the devil know. Faith believes, not merely the history but also, the effect of the history—namely, this article: the forgiveness of sins. In other words, that we have grace, righteousness, and forgiveness of sins through Christ.
Pulling It Together
Our works are always questionable. Does one do enough, for the right reason, and so forth? Therefore, the conscience cannot be consoled as it will debate with itself as to whether one has become good enough for God. However one may try, she will never be good enough. The balance over against one's sin will always leave a person lacking in the reconciliation of the perfectly righteous God. Still, many try to gain some confidence with God by their own efforts. They devise plans to satisfy an angry God, not believing that God loves them and sent his own Son to satisfy their great deficiency.
So we must redouble our efforts to teach the doctrine of justification by faith in Christ alone. This is the article that consoles the troubled conscience. Yet, we must go beyond head knowledge and teach Christians to completely trust God. Grace, righteousness, and the forgiveness of sins is given to us freely through Christ. Lutherans confess this divine gift and do not compel the Church to satisfy God in any other way than to believe the gospel. Everything we would do to earn God's grace is rubbish, refuse, and dung.
Prayer: Lord, help me to trust in you alone so that I might gain Christ and his righteousness. Amen.
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Personalities of Faith is a ten-session Bible study for youth. The goal of the series is to encourage young people to commit themselves to follow Jesus in discipleship by becoming "personalities of faith." By showing biblical examples of people who have followed—or failed to follow—God's call, participants will be prepared to better follow the Lord in their own lives.