Most people do good works to earn God's favor and special blessings. God's Word reminds us that the desire to do God's will is an appropriate expression of thanks and gratitude to God for all His blessings, but especially for having been born again as a child of God.
Good works without doubt follow true faith—if it is not a dead, but a living faith—just as fruit grows on a good tree. We believe, teach, and confess that good works should be entirely excluded from the question about salvation, just as they are excluded from the article of justification before God. The apostle testifies, "Just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: … "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast".
We also believe, teach, and confess that all people, but especially those who are born again and renewed by the Holy Spirit, are obligated to do good works This is not to be understood in any other way than as the Lord Christ and His apostles themselves declare. In other words, the free spirit does not obey from fear of punishment, like a servant, but from love of righteousness, like children.
In these last times it is certainly no less needful to encourage people to Christian discipline ‹to the way of right and godly living› and to do good works. We need to remind them of how necessary it is that they exercise themselves in good works as a declaration of their faith and gratitude to God [Hebrews 13:15-16]. But works should not be mingled in the article of justification. (paragraphs 6-8, 12, 18)
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.