Three Reasons We Are To Be Concerned About Doing Good Works
The way to avoid giving people the impression that they are saved by works is
most certainly not to avoid talking to Christians about the good works they are to be doing. There are some who believe that
when they condemn sins and point out where people are failing to live
in perfect accord with God’s Law they are thereby also covering the
topic of how, and why, Christians are to be doing good works. But this is not the way the doctrine of sanctification if presented in Scripture, the Lutheran Confessions or in our orthodox Lutheran teachers.
have become so cloudy for some on this point that I was told by a pious
Christian woman that she can never read her Bible, read about a virtue
commended, and say to herself, "I am, by God’s grace, going to try to
do this." She said that in saying that she would be taking her eyes of
In the Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel Church Order, in the
doctrinal statement (corpus doctrinae) that accompanies it, Martin
Chemnitz makes these points about how properly to teach good works, which I found very helpful. I’ve provided links for the Bible passages so you can read them as you go along.
"Luther used to present this doctrine in a fine way in three points:
good works should be done for the sake of God’s will, because to do
them is his command and will (John 15:1); because He is our Father, that
we show ourselves to be as obedient children toward Him, 1 Pet. 1:13f; 1 Jn
3:1, that we be God’s disciples, Eph. 5:1; 1 Pet. 2:21; 1 Jn 2:6, as he loves us
and has forgiven us, Col. 3:13; 1 John 4:9, because Christ has given himself
to us, in order that we not serve sin, but walk in the new life, Rom.
6:1; Titus 2:11; 1 Peter 1:3 and 2; Eph. 2:15-17; 2 Cor. 5:9ff, and in summary, that God
be praised through our good works, Mat. 5:16; Phil. 1:11, 1 Pet. 4:11
we are to do good works for the sake of our neighbor that he thereby be
helped and served in his need, 1 John 3:1ff, that we give no one offense, 2
Cor. 6:3; Phil. 2:14, and the doctrine not be ridiculed, 1 Tim. 6:1; Titus 2:5,
rather the mouth of the gainsayers be stopped, 1 Pet. 2:15 and 3:16, Titus 2:3,
and that others may be won through our good conduct, Mat. 5:16; 1 Peter 3:1.
we are to do good works, for the sake of our own need, so that through
them we may have a certain testimony that our faith is true, and that
we are truly righteous and saved by faith, 1 John 4:7; 2 Pet. 1:8-11; Gal. 5:22;
Phil. 1:9f;, that we not perchance deceive ourselves with a false and dead
faith, 1 John 2:4 and 3:7-10; 1 Tim. 5; 2 Pet. 1:8f; Js. 2:8, so that faith, the
Holy Spirit, righteousness and salvation not again be lost, if we live
according to the flesh, 1 Tim. 1:19; 5:8 and 6:10; 1 Pet. 2:11; 2 Pet. 1:4 and 2:18;
Rom. 8:6-8; Col. 3:5; Eph. 4:22; 1 Thess. 4:4, rather that faith be exercised and
the calling made sure, Gal. 5:6; 2 Pet. 1:3, also for this reason, because
God threatens severe punishment temporally and eternally for sin
against conscience and promises forgiveness of sins and blessedness,
they do otherwise, however, really have rich and glorious reward in
this and in the future life, not on account of the worthiness of the
works, but rather on account of grace, 1 Tim. 4:8; Gal. 6; Eph. 6; 2
Tim. 4, Mat. 5:2; 6:33; 10:33; 25:21; Mark 10:14; Luke 14:11, etc."
Kirchen-Ordnung, wie es mit Lehr und Ceremonien des
Fürstenthums-Braunschweig [Church Order, As to Doctrine and Ceremonies,
of the Duchy of Braunschweig]. 1569.
The Church Order of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel
by Martin Chemnitz
Printed in Wolfenbüttel by Conrad Horn, 1569
Translated by M. Harrison and A. Smith, 2006