From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Good Works
They include other testimonies that are no better. Finally, they say that this opinion was condemned a thousand years ago, in the time of Augustine. This is altogether untrue. The Church of Christ always held that the forgiveness of sins is freely obtained. In fact, the Pelagians were condemned because they contended that grace is given on account of our works. Besides, we have already sufficiently shown how we maintain that good works must necessarily follow faith. For we do not overthrow the law, as Paul says in Romans 3:31. We uphold the law because when we have received the Holy Spirit by faith, fulfilling the law necessarily follows, by which love, patience, chastity, and other fruits of the Spirit gradually grow.
Pulling It Together
We receive salvation, forgiveness, and the Holy Spirit because of God’s grace—not because we deserve these gifts or have earned them. There is no merit in keeping the law, since it cannot save us, even if we could keep it, which we cannot do at any rate (Acts 15:10). Christ alone is able to save us. But we confess that when Christ who fulfilled the law has saved someone who is unable to keep the law, that person will then do good works out of necessity. Believers do good works because the Holy Spirit is given to all who have faith in Christ. When the Holy Spirit indwells a person, the Spirit begins to work in that person. It is the Spirit of Christ within us who is now fulfilling the law.
Prayer: Help me, Lord, to uphold your law while I depend upon your grace for salvation. Amen.
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