Originally published at: https://concordia.confident.faith/roman-confutation/article-vi/
1 Their Confession in the sixth article that faith should bring forth good fruits is acceptable and valid since “faith without works is dead,” James 2:17, and all Scripture invites us to works. For the wise man says: “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.” Eccles. 9:10. “And the Lord had respect to Abel and to his offering,” Gen. 4:4. He saw that Abraham would “command his Children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord, and to do justice and judgment,” Gen. 18:19. And: “By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing I will bless thee and multiply thy seed.” Gen 22:16. Thus he regarded the fast of the Ninevites, Jonah 3, and the lamentations and tears of King Hezekiah, 4:2; 2 Kings 20. For this cause all the faithful should follow the advice of St. Paul: “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith,” Gal. 6:10. For Christ says: The night cometh when no man can work” John 9:4. But in the same article their ascription of justification to faith alone is diametrically opposite the truth of the Gospel by which works are not excluded; because glory, honor and peace to every man that worketh good,” Rom. 2:10. Why? Because David, Ps. 62:12; Christ, Matt. 16:27; and Paul, Rom. 2:6 testify that God will render to every one according to his works. Besides Christ says: “Not every one that saith unto me Lord, Lord shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father,” Matt. 7:21. 4. Hence however much one may believe, if he work not what is good, he is not a friend of God. “Ye are my friends,” says Christ, “if ye do whatsoever I command you,” John 15:14. On this account their frequent ascription of justification to faith is not admitted since it pertains to grace and love. For St. Paul says: “Though I have all faith so that I could remove mountains and have not charity, I am nothing.” 1 Cor. 13:2. Here St. Paul certifies to the princes and the entire Church that faith alone does not justify. Accordingly he teaches that love is the chief virtue, Col. 3:14: “Above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.” Neither are they supported by the word of Christ: “When ye shall have done all these things, say We are unprofitable servants,” Luke 17:10. For if the doors ought to be called unprofitable, how much more fitting is it to say to those who only believe, When ye shall have believed all things say, We are unprofitable servants! This word of Christ, therefore, does not extol faith without works, but teaches that our works bring no profit to God; that no one can be puffed up by our works; that, when contrasted with the divine reward, our works are of no account and nothing. Thus St. Paul says: “I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory which shall be revealed in us,” Rom. 8:18. For faith and good works are gifts of God, whereby, through God’s mercy, eternal life is given. So, too, the citation at this point from Ambrose is in no way pertinent, since St. Ambrose is here expressly declaring his opinion concerning legal works. For he says: “Without the law,” but, “Without the law of the Sabbath, and of circumcision, and of revenge.” And this he declares the more clearly on Rom. 4, citing St. James concerning the justification of Abraham without legal works before circumcision. For how could Ambrose speak differently in his comments from St. Paul in the text when he says: “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight?” Therefore, finally, he does not exclude faith absolutely, but says: “We conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.