A Writing from the Apology to the Augsburg Confession V 153-155, 164 -
This is the Way of Wisdom:
For Christ’s sake, and not for the sake of our works, we obtain the forgiveness of sins through faith. Our adversaries work to suppress this voice of the Gospel by means of distorted passages, which contain the doctrine of the Law or of works. It is true that in the doctrine of repentance works are required, because certainly a new life is required. But here the adversaries wrongly add that by such works we merit the forgiveness of sins, or justification. Christ often connects the promise of the forgiveness of sins to good works, yet not because He means that good works are an atoning sacrifice (for they follow reconciliation). Christ makes this connection for two reasons. One is because good fruit must necessarily follow. He reminds us that if good fruit do not follow, the repentance is hypocritical and fake. The other reason is that we have need of outward signs of so great a promise. A conscience full of fear has need of much consolation. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are signs that continually remind, cheer, and encourage despairing minds to believe more firmly that their sins are forgiven. So the same promise is written and portrayed in good works, in order that these works may remind us to believe more firmly. Those who produce no good works do not encourage themselves to believe, but despise these promises. On the other hand, the godly embrace them and rejoice that they have the signs and testimonies of so great a promise. So they exercise themselves in these signs and testimonies...
…The adversaries give the worst advice to godly consciences when they teach that the forgiveness of sins is earned by works. Conscience, in seeking forgiveness through works, cannot be confident that the work will satisfy God. It is always tormented, and continually invents other works and other acts of worship, until it completely despairs...Romans 4:5… proves that the promise of righteousness is not obtained because of our works. We could never affirm that we had a reconciled God, for the Law always accuses. So the promise would be in vain and uncertain. He concludes that this promise of the forgiveness of sins and of righteousness is received through faith, not because of works. This is Paul’s true, simple, and genuine meaning. In it the greatest consolation is offered to godly consciences, and Christ’s glory is shown forth. He certainly was given to us for this purpose, namely, that through Him we might have grace, righteousness, and peace.