Regeneration is the beginning of eternal life as Paul says, "If Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness". And, "Longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked." We certainly require good works, since we teach that faith arises in repentance and is bound to increase in repentance. The godly can understand this better than the adversaries' teaching about contemplation or perfection. However, just as justification applies to faith, so also eternal life applies to faith. Peter says, "Obtaining the outcome [or fruit] of your faith, the salvation of your souls." The justified are children of God and coheirs of Christ. Afterward, because works please God on account of faith, they earn other bodily and spiritual rewards. For there will be distinctions in the glory of the saints.
The adversaries call eternal life a reward, therefore, it is merited in a wholly deserving way by good works. We reply. Paul calls eternal life a "gift", because by the righteousness presented for Christ's sake, we are made at the same time sons of God and coheirs of Christ. John says, "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life." Augustine says, "God crowns His gifts in us." Elsewhere it is written, "Your reward is great in heaven." (paragraphs 231-235)
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.