1 Corinthians 3:6–9
From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law
To disparage works such as the confession of doctrine, affliction, works of charity, and mortification of the flesh would be to disparage the outward government of Christ's kingdom on earth. Here we add a word concerning rewards and merits. We teach that rewards have been offered and promised for the works of believers. We teach that good works are meritorious—not for the forgiveness of sins, grace, or justification which are only obtained through faith, but for other physical and spiritual rewards in this life and the life to come. Paul says, “Each shall receive his wages according to his labor” (1 Cor 3:8). Therefore, different rewards will be given to different labors. But the forgiveness of sins is offered in the same way and equally, just as Christ is one and is offered freely to all who believe that their sins are forgiven because of Christ. Forgiveness of sins and justification are received only by faith, and not because of any works. Terrors of conscience make this evident, since none of our works can oppose God's wrath. Paul clearly states this: “Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand,” etc (Rom 5:1).
Pulling It Together: That God rewards one’s labors is certain but what he rewards to “fellow workers,” and when, is unknown. What is very certain, however, is that all who believe in Christ for forgiveness of sins, justification with God, and salvation, receive these blessings equally. People do not receive more forgiveness because they labored harder or did greater works of charity. The remission of sins is received by faith in Christ’s work, not by believing in our own works. The result of the right faith is peace with God. Is there really a need for any additional reward?
Prayer: What shall I give to you today, Lord, but to receive your gift of salvation? Amen.
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Source: Daily Devotions in the Lutheran Confessions