The more I read the Heidelberg Disputation, Luther's presentation of the implications of indulgences, the more I realize how much I need Jesus. We often function in American culture with a therapeutic deism. In essence, we are pretty much o.k., but we need God to kind of fill in the pieces. The harder we try the less we will need God, unless we mess up real bad (pre-marital pregnancy, alcoholic, abuse, STD's or some things that are worse). Yet, this assumes that we have a glimmer of hope. This is exactly what Luther was addressing. Hold on tight, you may not feel better about yourself after reading:
2. Much less can human works, which are done over and over again with the aid of natural precepts, so to speak, lead to that end (Hell).
3. Although the works of man always seem attractive and good, they are nevertheless likely to be mortal sins.
4. Although the works of God are always unattractive and appear evil, they are nevertheless really eternal merits.
Ever heard someone say, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, Jesus on the cross, but let's talk about what we need to do." This helps us put in perspective. All the works we do that appear attractive and good, actually separate us more from God when we think we are good for doing it. All of our works still are tainted by sin and often our intentions are not on the people by which we serve, BUT are for our own gain. A good example is when I try to get my kids to sleep, often my motivation is not for them to get good sleep, but so that I can read, get online, or get my own sleep.
And the works of God many times seem kind of lame. The words "you are forgiven" are a far cry from the Joel Osteen message of making tons of money. Salvation forever doesn't seem as good as a new house. Water, wine, and bread are not nearly as cool as someone making a decision for Christ. But those works of God are eternal, forever, and will give us salvation. Although appearing not to be real exciting, they are the source of salvation.
May we look to His works above our own.