Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 24
Q. But why cannot our good works be our righteousness before God, or at least a part of it?
A. Because the righteousness which can stand before the judgment of God must be absolutely perfect and wholly in conformity with the divine Law. But even our best works in this life are all imperfect and defiled with sin.
Q. Will our good works merit nothing, even when it is God’s purpose to reward them in this life, and in the future life as well?
A. This reward is not given because of merit, but out of grace.
Q. But does not this teaching make people careless and sinful?
A. No, for it is impossible for those who are ingrafted into Christ by true faith not to bring forth the fruit of gratitude.