The Confutatio Pontificia:

In Reference to the Matters Presented To His Imperial Majesty by the Elector Of Saxony and Some Princes and States of the Holy Roman Empire, On the Subject and Concerning Causes Pertaining to the Christian Orthodox Faith, the Following Christian Reply Can Be Given

August 3, 1530

Edited by J. M. Reu.
Published in
The Augsburg Confession, A Collection of Sources
Ft. Wayne, IN: Concordia Theological Seminary Press),
pp. 349-383.

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To Article IV

[cf. Augsburg Confession]

In the fourth article the condemnation of the Pelagians, who thought that man can merit eternal life by his own powers without the grace of God, is accepted as Catholic and in accordance with the ancient councils, for the Holy Scriptures expressly testify to this. John the Baptist says: "A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven," John 3:27 "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights," James l:17. Therefore "our sufficiency is of God," 2 Cor 3:5. And Christ says: "No man can come to me, Except the Father, which hath sent me, draw him," John 6:44 And Paul: What hast thou that thou didst not receive?" I Cor 4:7.

For if any one should intend to disapprove of the merits that men acquire by the assistance of divine grace, he would agree with the Manichaeans rather than with the Catholic Church. For it is entirely contrary to holy Scripture to deny that our works are meritorious. For St. Paul says "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day," 2 Tim. 4:7 & 8. And to the Corinthians he wrote "We must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad," 2 Cor. 5:10. For where there are wages there is merit. The Lord said to Abraham: "Fear not, Abraham, I am thy shield and thy exceeding great reward," Gen 15:l. And Isaiah says: "Behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him," Isa. 40:10; and, chapter 58:7, 8: "Deal they bread to the hungry, and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall gather thee up." So too the Lord to Cain: "If thou doest well shalt thou not be accepted?" Gen. 4:7. So the parable in the Gospel declares that we have been hired for the Lord's vineyard, who agrees with us for a penny a day, and says: "Ca11 the laborers and give them their hire," Matt 20:8. So Paul, knowing the mysteries of God, says: "Every man shall receive his own reward, according to his own labor," I Cor. 3:8. 6.

Nevertheless, all Catholics confess that our works of themselves have no merit, but that God's grace makes them worthy of eternal life. Thus St. John says: "They shall walk with me in white; for they are worthy," Rev. 3:4. And St Paul says to the Colossians, 1:12: "Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light."

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Rev. Robert E. Smith
Walther Library
Concordia Theological Seminary.

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