Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Lutherans are sometimes accused of denying the necessity of good works. But while it is true that Lutherans teach that good works contribute in no way to our salvation, Lutherans do not deny their necessity.
Article VI of the Augsburg Confession comes on the heels of Articles IV and V which deal with pure Gospel (Justification and How it is Bestowed--The Ministry). It is careful to confess the necessity of good works, yet it places them in their proper context. The faith given by the Holy Spirit is a living and active power in our lives, bearing the fruit of good works.
Here is the text:
Our churches teach that this faith is bound to bring forth good fruit (Galatians 5:22-23). It is necessary to do good works commanded by God (Ephesians 2:10), because of God's will. We should not rely on those works to remit justification before God. The forgiveness of sins and justification is received through faith. The voice of Christ testifies, "So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, 'We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was out duty'" (Luke 17:10). The Fathers teach the same thing. Ambrose says, "It is ordained of God that he who believes in Christ is saved, freely receiving forgiveness of sins, without works, through faith alone."
Are good works necessary? Yes.
Do they contribute to our salvation? No.
And so we confess when we have not loved our neighbor, or God himself. And we praise God when good works are done, for they are only done by the power of the Holy Spirit working faith in Christ. Amen.