We should steadfastly maintain our teaching so that we never let any work take credit for gaining the favor and grace of God, for liberating us from sin, and for bringing us to heaven. My merit is worthless for this. And if someone should want to use it for this, I must trample it underfoot and damn it to the devil himself in hell, as a thing that denies Christ and seeks to hinder my faith. All that avails here is the fact that God has given all this free, out of pure grace, by sending Christ, His Son, and letting Him die for me, announcing and granting this to me, and commanding me simply to believe it and to be baptized in it.
None of my works has anything to do with this, but it is purely a gift, bestowed from heaven and brought to me by Christ. Let all merit be simply discarded here in favor of the conclusion that it is impossible to obtain grace and the forgiveness of sins in any other way, manner, or measure than by hearing the Word of God about Christ and by receiving it through faith. And why should we brag about our merit in order to make God applaud us? They themselves and all the saints have to pray in the Lord’s Prayer every day as long as we live: “Forgive us our debts.”