April 24, 2008

Rewards and Merits

From time to time I come across people who think they are Lutherans but in fact have embraced the modern antinomianism. In their eyes, it is wrong to encourage Christians to do good works; particularly egregious is the mention of rewards for good works. All that is "legalism" and "works-righteousness." The fact that the New Testament is replete with references to these matters is irrelevant. Here is a passage that, were it not from the Apology, would be rejected by the aforementioned:

Here also we add something about rewards and merits. We teach that rewards have been offered and promised for the works of believers. We teach that good works have merit, not for forgiveness of sins, for grace, or for justification (for these we receive only through faith), but for other rewards, bodily and spiritual, in this life and after this life. For Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3:8, "Each will receive his wages according to his labor." There will be different rewards according to different labors. But forgiveness of sins is given alike and equal to all people, just as Christ is one, and is offered freely to all who believe that for his sake their sins are forgiven.
-Apology V.73f (Concordia, 2nd edition, p112)

1 comment:

The Rebellious Pastor's Wife said...

Add to it what comes before:

Good works are to be done because of God’s command and for the exercise of faith—confessing the faith and giving thanks. Good works must be done for these reasons. They are done in the flesh, which is not as yet entirely renewed. The flesh hinders the Holy Spirit’s motives and adds some of its uncleanness to the works. Yet, because of Christ, they are holy, divine works, sacrifices, and acts belonging to the rule of Christ, who in this way displays His kingdom before this world. For in these works He sanctifies hearts and represses the devil and, in our weakness, declares His power. Consider the dangers, labors, and sermons of the apostle Paul, of Athanasius, and aAugustine, and the rest who taught the churches. These deeds are holy works and true sacrifices acceptable to God. They are Christ’s battles (Col. 2:15)_ through which He repressed the devil and drove him away from those who believed. David’s labors, in waging wars and in his home government, are holy works, true sacrifices, and battles fought by God. They defend the people who had God’s Word against the devil, in order that the knowledge of God might not be entirely extinguished on earth. We think this way also about every good work in the humblest callings and in private affairs. Through these works Christ celebrates his victory over the devil, just as the distribution of alms by the Corinthians (I Corinthians 16:1) was a holy work, a sacrifice and battle of Christ against the devil, who labors so that nothing may be done to praise God. To demean such works (the confession of doctrine, sufferings, works of love, suppression of the flesh) would be to demean the outward rule of Christ’s kingdom among people. Apology V. 68 f (Concordia, 2nd edition, pp. 110-112)