5 All Scripture ought to be distributed into these two principal topics: the Law and the promises. . . . 7 Of these two parts of Scripture the adversaries choose the Law, because in some way human reason naturally understands the Law (for it has the same judgment divinely written in the mind). By the Law they seek the forgiveness of sins and justification. 8 The Ten Commandments require outward civil works, which reason can in some way produce. But they also require other things placed far above reason: truly to fear God, truly to love God, truly to call upon God, truly to be convinced that God hears us, and to expect God's aid in death and in all afflictions. Finally, the Law requires obedience to God, in death and all afflictions, so that we may not run from these commandments or refuse them when God lays them upon us. . . . 12 In this opinion there are many great and deadly errors, which would be too boring to list. Let the careful reader think only about this: If this is Christian righteousness, what difference is there between philosophy and Christ's teaching? If we merit forgiveness of sins by these acts, of what benefit is Christ? If we can be justified by reason and the works of reason, what need is there of Christ or regeneration [1 Peter 1:18-21]? . . . It's as though Christ had come to deliver certain laws through which we might merit forgiveness of sins, as though we did not receive this freely because of His merits. 16 Therefore, if we here accept the teaching of the adversaries—that by the works of reason we merit forgiveness of sins and justification—there will be no difference between righteousness of philosophers (or certainly of Pharisees) and of Christians.
Condensed from CONCORDIA: THE LUTHERAN CONFESSIONS, copyright 2005,2006 by Concordia Publishing House. Used by permission. All rights reserved. To purchase a copy of CONCORDIA, call 800-325-3040.
Lord grant you faith in His grace alone for your salvation unto eternal life. Amen