Originally published at: https://concordia.confident.faith/roman-confutation/article-xx/
1 In the twentieth article, which does not contain so much the confession of the princes and cities as the defense of the preachers, there is only one thing that pertains to the princes and cities – viz. concerning good works, that they do not merit the remission of sins, which, as it has been rejected and disapproved before, is also rejected and disapproved now. For the passage in Daniel is very familiar: “Redeem thy sins with alms,” Dan. 4:27; and the address of Tobit to his son: “Alms do deliver from death and suffereth not to come into darkness,” Tobit 4:10; and that of Christ: “Give alms of such things as ye have, and behold all things are clean unto you,” Luke 11:41. If works were not meritorious why would the wise man say: “God will render a reward of the labors of his saints”? Wisd. 10:17. Why would St. Peter so earnestly exhort to good works, saying: “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence by good works to make your calling and election sure”? 2 Pet. 1:19. Why would St. Paul have said: “God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love, which ye have showed towards his name”? Heb. 6:10. Nor by this do we reject Christ’s merit but we know that our works are nothing and of no merit unless by virtue of Christ’s passion. We know that Christ is “the way, the truth and the life,”. John 14:6. But Christ, as the Good Shepherd, who “began to do and teach,” Acts 1:1, has given us an example that as he has done we also should do, John 13:15. He also went through the desert by the way of good works, which all Christians ought to pursue, and according to his command bear the cross and follow him. Matt. 10:38; 16:24. He who bears not the cross, neither is nor can be Christ’s disciple. That also is true which John says: “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked,” 1 John 2:6. Moreover, this opinion concerning good works was condemned and rejected more than a thousand years ago in the time of Augustine.