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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Concerning Free Will part 5

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1 Peter 1:8–9

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Free Will 

Therefore, although we concede to free will the liberty and power to perform the outward works of the law, we do not ascribe to it the spiritual ability for the true fear of God, true faith in God, true confidence and trust that God pays attention to us, hears us, forgives us, etc. These are the true works of the First Table, which the heart cannot render without the Holy Spirit, as Paul says, “The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God” (1 Cor 2:14).

Pulling It Together

A person who is not enlightened by God’s Holy Spirit—an “unspiritual” or “natural” person—does not, by natural reasoning or abilities, perceive or receive anything pertaining to God’s will and divine gifts. Natural reason can never wholly dedicate itself to God; indeed, it cannot even perceive who God is, and is always demanding to see God, like Moses of old. Furthermore, natural abilities are incapable of obtaining salvation, since salvation requires faith, which is entirely spiritual—not natural at all.

But the spiritual person, the one touched by the divine Spirit, thinks nothing of not having seen God. Though still only able to squint and peer through the glass dimly (1 Cor 13:12), the spiritual person loves God and believes in him, rejoicing at the outcome of this faith that God has given: the salvation of the soul.

Prayer: Thank you, Holy Spirit, for giving me a living hope in the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

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