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From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
We would cite more verses if they were not obvious to every godly reader of the Scriptures. We do not wish to be too long-winded, so that this case may be more readily seen through. There is no doubt that Paul’s position is what we are defending: that by faith we receive the forgiveness of sins for Christ’s sake, and that we should stand against God’s wrath with faith in Christ as mediator, not with our works. It should not disturb godly minds, even though the adversaries find fault with the teachings of Paul, for nothing is stated so simply that it cannot be distorted by nitpicking. We know that what we have stated is the true and genuine meaning of Paul, and that this belief brings sure comfort to godly consciences, without which no one can stand before God’s judgment.
Pulling It Together: Cleansing from sins has always been necessary to God. Atonement has been required since the earliest days of Judaism (Lev 16:14–16). Even the first sin needed covering with death (Gen 3:21). This is not only Paul’s position; it is the teaching of all Scripture. But we no longer make animal sacrifice to God to atone for our sins. Since the old covenant is ended, how is this covering and cleansing received?
Jesus has negotiated a new covenant that promises, not only the forgiveness of sins but, eternal life. The new covenant still requires sacrifice, yet Jesus made that sacrifice once to atone for the sin of all people (Heb 9:26). We receive God’s forgiveness of sin because of what Christ did, not for the sake of our own deeds. Knowing that “it is finished” (John 19:30), brings peace to troubled consciences. Therefore, we confess that faith in Christ Jesus is the only way (John 14:6) for sinners to stand before the coming judgment of God. For it is only by the blood of Christ that poor sinners are promised the inheritance of saints (Col 1:12), those for whom atonement has been made.
Prayer: I have faith in your covering for my sin, Lord, as all my deeds are worthless rags. Amen.
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A Listening Bible: Letters from Jesus in the Written Word, by Glen S.R. Carlson, helps you take time to LISTEN to what Jesus is saying to you from Romans to Jude (softcover; 692 pages).