Saturday, February 24, 2007

Roundtable 7: New Obedience

Well, sort of. Though it begins with new obedience, the topic quickly shifts back to justification - that is, to what our good works do not do. But there is some positive content and it needs attention.

Eck and company had long blasted the Lutherans for forbidding or at least denigrating "good works." The thought was clearly that if justification is by faith alone, then works become superfluous and a life of antinomianism ensues.

The Lutherans responded to this calumny with a clear confession:

1. Our churches teach that "such" faith is bound to bring forth good fruit.
2. Our churches teach that it is necessary to do good works commanded by God.
3. Our churches teach that we should not rely on those necessary good works to merit justification before God.
4. Our churches teach that forgiveness of sins and justification are received through faith.
5. Our churches teach that Christ our Lord excludes the merit of works in the realm of justification in Luke 17:10.
6. Our churches teach in accord with the Fathers that "whoever believes in Christ is saved, freely receiving forgiveness of sins, without works, through faith alone."

Unpacking that somewhat:

1. The AC puts it in the positive, and the Ap in the negative. AC: "this (solcher, such) faith" - the faith we've been talking about since AC IV - is "bound to bring forth" - "gut Früchte und gute Werke bringen soll" - "fides illa debeat bonos fructus parere." (In passing, note the force of the debeat and the soll - they both appear again in AC XIV!) The Apology asserts that a faith that does NOT result in such good works, good fruit, is not "such" faith - the saving faith wrought by the Holy Spirit through Word and Sacrament, for "such faith does not remain in those who obey their desires, neither does in dwell with mortal sin." (Ap V:23)

2. This one is the kicker. And it's not the "necessary." No true Lutheran has ever taught that good works are not necessary. They most certainly are. (Cf. FC IV) They are not necessary to justification or salvation. But they are necessary precisely as the fruits of faith. "For faith alone doth justify; works serve the neighbor and supply the proof that faith is living." But the thrust of this article as it will be expounded by Lutherans is in "good works commanded by God." Think of how the Large Catechism delights in this! Not works we dream up and call holy - but the works that God himself commands. So that the servant girl who cheerfully sweeps the floor and tends to her household chores is doing works that are truly good, pleasing to God - something we could never know about the holiness of the Carthusians and their man-made works.

3. We don't rely on our good works to merit justification. After AC IV, this is like a "well, duh?" Justification, of course, if a gift, can't be owed by God to us for what we do. And the Apostle is clear that justification is preeminently GIFT: "Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as ghift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness." (Rom 4:4,5) Does this lead the Blessed Apostle into antinomianism? "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?" (Rom 6:1-2)

4. Forgiveness and justification are received "durch den Glauben" or "fide apprehenditur." Back to Article IV again and to Article V. People are freely justified through faith. To obtain this faith we have the Predigtamt giving out the gifts.

5. The use of the Luke passage is excellent. It shows WHY our works can never be the basis of our justification before God: because even IF we have done all we are commanded, we remain "unworthy servants" doing only "what was our duty" while remaining unworthy. Here is the consciousness that a "good work" is a "good work" preeminently because God forgives it. As St. Therese said: "In the evening of this life I shall appear before Thee with empty hands because I do not ask Thee, Lord, to count my works. All our just acts have blemishes in Thine eyes." She got it down pat from Isaiah: "All our righteousnesses is as a filthy rag."

6. The Ambrose was an oo-boo. It was actually the fellow named Ambrosiaster. Not a bad quote. But not the one I'd have given. Chrysostom says the same:

They said that he who adhered to faith alone was cursed; but he, Paul, shows that he who adhered to faith alone is blessed. - St. John Chrysostom (Homily on Galatians 3)

or here:

Here he shows God's power, in that He has not only saved, but has even justified, and led them to boasting, and this too without needing works, but looking for faith only. - St. John Chrysostom (Homily 7 on Romans)

And so many, many more. The great fathers simply nailed that, and the Lutheran teaching on it was far from the novelty that you sometimes hear the RC and Orthodox apologists claim it was.

But see, the AC has led us from thinking about good works to the fountain from which good works will flow: faith and justification. This is the point that Melanchthon makes explicit in the Apology: we not only teach which good works are to be done (those that God himself has commanded!) but we show HOW the good works can be done.


Rev. Ryan Fouts said...

Thanks William -- I find your exposition of this article to be very helpful.

This article, along with our previous article on the Ministry, is also "swallowed" up into the article 4 in the Apology. Again -- as you aptly showed, this is really an extension of Article IV anyway.

It is interesting, in my mind, how much the Lutherans appeal to the Fathers in this article (in addition to the pseudo-citation in the AC, the Apology cites the Fathers quite frequently on these matters), while Eck's Confutation is chalk full of scripture citations (without any Fathers at all). In Eck's response, at my count, there are about 23 citations from Scripture. This follows well, I think, the Lutheran concern for catholicity and the Roman concern to try and establish that they are true to scripture. Thus, the Apology on this article is largely a refutation of Eck's use of Scripture, with further citations to support the Evangelical confession from the Fathers.

Thanks for those additional patristic citations -- I'll have to file those away in my "bag" of goodies.

Setting aside any discussions/debates as to what sort of authority the octavo edition of the Apology bears according to our confessional subscription, the octavo nonetheless is necessary for the sake of getting the Lutherans full response to Eck, here. The quarto text of the Apology, which we have in the 1584 Latin Book of Concord, was given to meet the Emperor's April deadline for a Lutheran response to the Confutation. Nonetheless, the Lutherans had only received a copy of the Confutation very recently from the theologians at Nuremberg -- not enough time to fully account for it in the first (quarto) edition of the Apology. Thus, the September, 1531, octavo text represents (again, questions of authority aside) a fuller response to the Confutation. In this respect the "italcized" portions in the K/W edition are rather helpful when following the reading pattern I often recommend: AC --> Confutation --> Apology.

I say all that simply to bring out a point that has inspired much reflection in my own meditations on this article -- largely instigated by Dr. Feuerhahn who often brought out in the classes I had with him the profundity of the Lutheran response to Eck's critique of AC 6. Namely, Eck's "chief" objection to this article was that " is not enough to say we are justified only by faith because justification pertains to faith and love." (fides caritas formata vs. fides Christo formata)

You get the most substantial part of the refutation to this in both the quarto and octavo texts, but there are a few blurbs in the octavo that I have come to appreciate - namely in response to Eck's use of 1 Cor. 13:13, "the greatest of these is love" and his argument that the "greatest" virtue ought to be that which justifies. Here is one blurb I appreciate from the octavo Apology:

"For there is no law that accuses us more, that does more to make the conscience enraged against the judgment of God, than this summary of the whole law, 'Love the Lord your God with all our heart." For who among the saints other than Christ dares to boast of having satisfied this law? Therefore the virtue of the law does not justify. But that virtue justifies, which receives the reconciliation given on account of Christ. That virtue is faith. Moreover, it does not justify on account of its own worthiness, but only because it receives the mercy by which we are regarded as righteous on account of Christ. For we are righteous, that is, accepted by God, not on account of our perfection but through mercy on account of Christ, as long as we take hold of it and set it against the wrath of God."

Also interesting, as a read-along with this article in the AC/Apology is Melanchthon's disputation, "We are Justified by Faith and Not by Love," published in the spring of 1531. It's in the "Sources and Contexts" volume edited by Kolb and Nestingen. While I haven't had the chance to really do a comparison to see how this played out -- from what I understand it played a significant role, as responses to his disputation came in from colleagues, as to how Melanchthon's apology to Eck's Confutation on AC 6 came to be. Reading this little gem from Melanchthon alongside the AC and Apology in this article is something that was only recently suggested to me and, while I have yet to really reap the benefits of that suggestion, I thought I'd pass it on.

One more brief point (one that we might get to much later when we get to the Formula), is how the Formula "orders" the articles in the attempt to parallel the AC. The article on “Good Works” (FC 4) follows the pattern of the Augsburg Confession in AC 6. The articles on Law and Gospel/Third Use of the Law could arguably be seen also in connection with AC 6 (but likely are intended also to reflect AC 7 “Concerning the Church” and “What is the Church?” due to the emphasis in these articles on the preaching of the Gospel). Thus, it is helpful also to frame many of our discussions on good works (obviously), but also on Law and Gospel, 3rd use, etc., in the terms of AC 6, and the corresponding parts in Apology 4.

I also appreciate, very much, your thought there that our doctrine here teaches not only that good works ought to be done, but HOW they come to be done. I hadn't ever thought of it in those terms before -- but that's really the crucial distinction between our Confessional theology of "good works" and every other theology of "good works" that emerges from the reason of sinful man.

No true "good work" is really a "good work" when it is done for the sake of one's own benefit, merit, or reward. Good works done "for the sake" of meriting eternal rewards end up focusing our works toward our own self, our own benefit, etc. The Apology, in conjunction with this article, however extols (along with the discussion on "love") how our love and good works are to be directed toward our neighbor. The glorious gospel, extolled here and in AC 4 (and elsewhere) frees us from the self-centeredness of doing good works for one's own sake, and allows us to freely bear fruit/works in love of neighbor. It's hard not to work in Luther's theology of vocation here -- where these "works of love" find their fruition in the life of the Baptized.

wm cwirla said...

Nice work, William. Your immersion in the early church fathers is especially appreciated.

You guys are right, there is a certain sense of "duh" when it comes to this article after traversing IV and V. If you get Christ and faith right, good works take their natural place. It get messed up when you leave Christ out of the picture.

I recall a great Korby aphorism. Something in the back of my mind tells me that I've already used it here, but I couldn't find it. It bears repeating nonetheless:

"We are concerned for the necessity of good works for salvation; God's concern is for the necessity of salvation for good works."

Rev. Ryan Fouts said...

In an effort to attempt to jump start this conversation...

While there is a sense of "duh" about the content of this article (it flows as naturally from AC IV/V as its content, the "new obedience" flows from "justification"), the Old Adam still seems caught up, as is appropriately noted by Wm. Cwirla's "Korby-ism," that we are concerned with the necessity of good works for salvation (even when we know better).

I've heard from several of my members who have family members who will not go to church because, they complain, that all Christians are "hypocritical." My immediate response is: Of course we are! (Who wouldn't be if they were being measured up against the law of God?). Being a Christian is not, first, about mustering up all the good works you can. It is, rather, that as much as we may try to do good works, we still end up as nasty as any sinner in the world (or even moreso). The difference is that we are forgiven -- and being forgiven, we are "freed" from the compulsion of doing good works for our own sake and pursuit of merit, and can actually do good works which are always a "response" to faith as fruits, directed to our neighbor in love.

Nonetheless, the constant accusation of Christian hypocrisy illustrates, at the heart of it all, how little people (even those who say they are Christians) really *get* the relationship between faith and good works, or between justification and sanctification.

There may be a "well, duh" factor involved in AC 6. However, as obvious as it ought to be, the Old Adam still confounds the "duh."

Mike said...

This is certainly considered the 3rd rail of the AC... and most people I know avoid this topic as something that deadly.

As a relatively new Lutheran, I found it very difficult to get solid help in the areas of the third use of the Law, good works, sanctification, and adiaphora. Answers were often rare, cryptic, and carefully guarded to the point of being generic and useless. It was frustrating, but I have to confess that I am not very good at helping others in this area either. What does the "new obedience" look like anyway?

It seems that the "duh" of this article extends only to the understanding of the actual doctrine. When it comes to applying this article in daily life and in the life of the congregation, we come down all over the place. All you have to do is mention good works in a lutheran Bible study and you will see the previously bold conversation stop in its tracks as people carefully chose their words and try their best not to say anything difinitive if they can help it. If that doesn't work, just mention "cheap versus costly grace" and watch everyone cringe.

On one end, we have Christians who enjoy doing absolutely nothing and seem apathetic to the point of being loath to put forth any effort for any reason. On the other end, we have Christians who seem to want to motivate themselves and others, but end up creating extra-biblical laws and requirements or judging the salvation of others who do not think and act the way that they do. Cut from the same cloth, many zealous Christians cling to their good works as a point of selfish pride. In between these two extremes, everyone else falls fairly scattered and without much understanding of how faith and works relate to each other... much less what to say about works and obedience when trying to encourage their fellow Christians to do good works and keep them accountable in regards to the new life in Christ.

The temptation is to avoid this troublesome issue all together so as not to tiptoe into pietism territory, but at what cost? What is a good Lutheran to do?

It would be easy to speak like the papists and break out the laundry list of things that we feel that the Christian needs to do, but at what cost? It would be easy to keep silent like many evangelical bodies do now and watch as fellow Christians live in unrepentant sin and hold Christian life in utter contempt, but at what cost? Without getting too deep into specific cases and examples, where is the happy medium between demanding good works to the detriment of Sola Fide and not even expecting any fruit at all. As an individual, where is the happy medium between clinging to my works and thinking that I can coast on "faith" alone.

Since the doctrine on paper seems pretty straight forward [Faith alone justifies apart from works, and faith creates good works, but works apart from faith are not good works at all], perhaps this discussion could benefit from some guidence on how to stand confidently behind the intent of this article and apply it in daily life without stepping off of the very narrow line that the AC seems to create between faith and works.

William Weedon said...


I take a different tact on that complaint. I say: Bull. A hypocrite is a person who says one thing and does another. But at my congregation we say every week that we're poor miserable sinners who deserve God's temporal and eternal punishment. And who should be surprised then that we sin much daily? : )

It is, of course, one thing to preach that good works are to be done (and we SHOULD hear such preaching much more than we do these days), but it is quite a different thing to show how good works CAN be done. And that's the beauty of the Korby gem that Polycarp Ephrem trotted out for our delight.

It all goes back to that unbeatable passage: John 15:5 "For apart from Me you can do nothing." Through faithful abiding in Christ (sacramentally), fruits will grow. Which is why I like to say that Lutheran weakness in the area of teaching regarding sanctification is because we've forgotten or grown afraid of the mystical union. THAT'S the key to getting sanctification bang on right.

RevFisk said...


You ask "what does this look like?"

I encourage you to turn to your catechisms (small and large) and contemplate the meanings of the Ten Commandments. That is what it looks like. There, you have more than enough to do.

I commend and agree with you concern that many modern American Lutherans seem to have "gospel reduced" themselves right out of the necessity of good works, much less Church discipline upon those who ardently refuse to turn from wicked ways. (And *that* discussion opens a host of worm cans and issues that I will refrain from going into.)

But, it is not Lutheranism that has a problem defining or talking about the New Obedience. It is at the heart of our doctrines, at the front of our catechisms, and, simply put, the reason *unto which* we were saved:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, [9] not a result of works, so that no one may boast. [10] For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus *for good works,* which God prepared beforehand, that we should *walk in them.* Ephes. 2:8-10 (ESV)

RevFisk said...

Will and Ryan,

It reminds me of "Biblical Theology" fourth year, where a fellow classmate remarked, "It seems like we've preached justification too much. Everyone understand justification, but they don't understand sanctifcation."

To this, the venerable Dr. Gibbs responded, with not a small amount of appropriate ire, "No. If their isn't enough sanctification, it is because we haven't understood justification at all."

Indeed, may we who are called to the Holy Office preach justification not *too much* or *too little* but rightly, that His people might abide in Him, and produce the fruit for which He has prepared them.

Rev. Ryan Fouts said...


The "narrow line," or in Sasse-like terms, the "lonely way" we travel between antinomianism and legalism is, as you said, easier on paper than experience reveals. It's also why, I believe, that relevant issues (i.e. 3rd use of the law, etc.) have plagued Lutheran debates from the time of the Reformation.

I have, myself, been called both an antinomian and a legalist. Most Lutherans, who walk that "lonely way" between the two will likely face the same accusations. If you're guarding against legalism, you may be perceived by the legalists as an antinomian. If you're guarding against antinomianism, you'll likely be perceived by the antinomians as a legalist.

For example -- I've said both of these things with respect to the Divine Service:

1. The Divine Liturgy is not an adiaphoron.
2. It is better to set aside some liturgical rubrics for a time if they confuse the people, and cannot be received by the congregation in the spirit that they are intended.

To the first, I've been met with charges of legalism. To the second, I've been suspected of antinomianism. And on both accounts the accusations have come from - you guessed it - fellow Lutherans. Go figure.

If Lutherans get a bit uncomfy at the mention of good works, you should see them squirm at passages like John 5:28-29, "Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment." Or, Revelation 22:12, "Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done." There are others, of course, to that effect. The angle I usually take (in my almost-a-year pastorate) is to tackle it from the perspective of what a "good work" is and who really does them (can anyone who has not been justified by grace, through faith alone, actually do good works in this sense -- or are their apparent good deeds merely in a civil sense?) In other words, I've tried to translate it in the terms of the 2 (or 3) kinds of righteousness. Though, I'd be interested to hear how others typically treat these questions.

Petersen said...

A part of our confusion, I suspect, comes from the modern misunderstanding of "freedom." As a political reality, freedom is not the freedom to do anything you want. Rather, it is equality under the Law. In a free country, no man, not even a "king" or a "president" is to be above the Law.

The Russians who lived under the Soviets, or the Germans in Nazi Germany, were not free. They were not equal under the Law. They had no or few rights. The secret police could come and snatch them in the night and there was no trial, no recourse, no justice.

But in America we are free. (Unlike modern Germans who are not free today to dis-believe what they want, but can be imprisoned merely for not believing in the Holocaust - and thus have the Fascists won the day. What a disgrace! Not that I am in favor of neo-Nazi propaganda, but the freedom to offend is the freedom of speech and the freedom to disbelieve and be unpopular or even stupid is fundamental to a free country.) In America, we are free. We are not free to do whatever we please, but we are free and equal under the Law. We have rights. And our government has obligations and duties toward us.

Christian freedom is not utterly distinct from this. Paul writes in the political aftermath of Marathon and the Romans were well versed in Aristotle. Christian freedom is not the freedom to do as you please. It is freedom under the Gospel. We are not free agents, neutral toward the world, not slaves to sin but the citizens of no country. Rather, we are slaves to God, marked as His, and we live according to and by His will and for and by His reward. Thus the entire set-up for Romans 7 in Romans 6.

Of course, then, good works will be necessary. God is good, and we are His. He works through and on and for us. So too does SD X define some of the limits and abuses of freedom in regards to adiaphora. Simply because something is indifferent in outward matters does not mean that it is of its nature and essence free. Context matters.

Christians are bound by God's Word to confess the doctrine of Christ freely and openly. Such confession is most certainly a necessary good work and flows directly out of the rescue and enslavement to God as described in Ap IV.

Mike said...

In attempting to apply this article, my focus has been directed on the cause (faith) and not the effects (works). I do my best to focus my efforts on Word and Sacrament and those "good works" that carry scriptural promises to strengthen faith so that it will bring forth good works as a consequence.

It seems that John 15 is at the heart of this artilce as it applies to bearing good fruit (works). The first instruction that Jesus gives on how to bear fruit is for us to abide in Him, and to have His words abide in us (v 6-7). Case closed....but then Jesus calls us to keep His commandments in order to abide in His love (v 10).

I have difficulty reconciling where the focus should be. Does one focus on abiding with Christ to bring forth fruit? Does one focus on keeping the Commandments in order to abide in Christ? Is it both? It seems they are so linked that I have difficulty seeing which is the cause of the other and which is evidence of the other.

When I first read the Book of Concord and converted to Lutheranism, it never occured to me what I was getting myself into =P.

I could never have imagined the quantity of doctrinal temperence it would take to remain steadfast to these Christian truths. The term "lonely way" is a perfect image. It is one thing to understand and agree with Scripture and AC. It is another to try to apply it faithfully and "New Obedience" is where the rubber meets the road.

Confessional Lutheranism walks this lonely way on the majority of these articles and I am hard-pressed to find very many points where the correct Scriptural interpretation does not teeter between error on either side: New Obedience, Christian Freedom, Law and Gospel, Real Presence, Predestination, Justification, etc... how quickly we can be decieved to take an easy, popular way out! My consternation at trying to unravel these things does nothing but reveal that God's wisdom is clearly not my wisdom.

Lord, keep us steadfast in Thy Word!

William Weedon said...

And to pick up on what Pastor Fisk said:

Since the Ten Commandments are simply the explication of what love looks like in action, that's what this new life looks like. It looks like love, because it IS love. It's communion with Him who IS love and who forgives us and unites us to Himself that His LIFE might become our life - that we might truly LOVE.

Love holds in itself all good works, so that without it no work at all is good. Walther had a GREAT devotion on that last week in *God Grant It.* [Commerical: if you haven't bought that book yet, DO SO. That is a commandment, a law, and an order. It is a good work that will get you X years out of purgatory. How's that for a blank check?] Seriously, though. Check it out. It is on page 237-238. To whet the appetite, here's a paragraph:

"We see here how important love is. A person may speak like an angel, in lovely tones and powerfully, so his speaking is like golden apples in silver skins. He may know all Scripture by heart. He may even be adorned with apostolic knowledge and the ability to perform amazing miracles. He may be rich in works. Everyone may praise him as a noble benefactor of mankind and boast of him as a zealous promoter of the kingdom of Christ. He may even end his life in martyrdom. But if all this does not flow out of love, everything he has accomplished is a dirty stream from a polluted spring. Without love, he is no Christian, despite all his gifts and visible works of love. Love is the true crown of all gifts, the true weight in the scale of all deeds. Where it is lacking, all works and the entire life of a person are sinful, lost, and rejected before God." Youch! But notice how boldly Walther can speak of love - so convinced is he that where there is true faith, true love comes into existence too. And that without true love, the faith is sham and lie.

From faith to love. It's the natural progression and it remains the only way to progress in the Christian life. Thus, we pray: "that we may be strengthened in faith toward You and in fervent love toward one another." Not by accident what came first.

William Weedon said...


Another thought that came to me. I think the discussion of "sanctification" is weak in the Lutheran Church today because the natural forum for it to take place has been largely abandoned: private confession and absolution. That's where sanctification "lives" in a rubber hits the road sort of way. More on that as we come to the topic in the AC, I'm sure.

David Jay Webber said...

>>The Ambrose was an oo-boo. It was actually the fellow named Ambrosiaster.>>

Not exactly. "Ambrosiaster" is a made-up name, invented by Erasmus to identify the unknown author of certain New Testament commentaries that had traditionally been attributed to St. Ambrose of Milan, but that were not actually written by him. By the way, Chemnitz had not yet been won over to Erasmus's scholarship on this point, so some of his citations from "St. Ambrose" in his Examination or Loci are actually from these commentaries.

Rev. Ryan Fouts said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Rev. Ryan Fouts said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Rev. Ryan Fouts said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Rev. Ryan Fouts said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Rev. Ryan Fouts said...

To address a concern e-mailed my direction by a lurker -- though one that other readers might also consider --

There is a sense of "idealism," about how good works are "fruits" of faith -- that is, "good works" as those flowing from the 3rd use of the law, sure. But there is also "civil righteousness," or the stuff that gets evoked by the 1st use of the law. Sometimes in our zeal to keep the 3rd use going, we forget that the 1st use is still a "valid" use of the law. And... when we preach the law... it just does what it does, and the response to a 1st-use function often presents itself externally in the same way that a 3rd-use function does. The former isn't really a "fruit" of the Gospel, but it's still better to keep sin at bay than to let it run wild until we're sure that we're getting at it through the 3rd-use, or from the Gospel. Thus, things get a little sticky in real life. If someone is contemplating suicide, do you preach law or gospel? Do you care much if it's 1st use or 3rd use?

Thus -- it should be emphasized that AC VI is being used within the context of the relationship between justification and good works -- not necessarily "good works" in the civil sense.

Paul T. McCain said...

Don't worry about the deleted comments. Somehow Pastor Fouts' computer posted the same identical comment: five times. So, I just deleted four of them.

Paul T. McCain said...

What is clear to me after considerable thought and research, is that the relatively recent trend in our circles that would imply that a pastor when he is preaching should not very specifically urge Christians to good works in his sermon; that is, flesh out the doctrine of sanctification, as Paul does in Rom. 12, has no foundation in Scripture, the Lutheran Confessions or the practice of our Lutheran fathers, up to and including Dr. C.F.W. Walther.

Just today in the devotional "God Grant It" I was reading Saturday's reading where Dr. Walther states:

"A Christian who will not continually fight against sin, earnestly strive after the virtues that please God, faithfully watch over his heart and life, and always pray for new power and grace soon ceases to be a Christian."

This is not in any way to suggest we are "saved by works" but we should not be afraid of good works to the point that we nearly spurn talking the good works that have been chosen for us to do by our Lord (Eph. 4!).