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From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Human Traditions in the Church
Nor is there any difference between our traditions and the ceremonies of Moses, so far as this matter is concerned. Paul condemns the ceremonies of Moses, just as he condemns traditions, because they were regarded as works that merit righteousness before God, therefore obscuring the office of Christ and the righteousness of faith. Because the law and traditions have been removed, he contends that the forgiveness of sins has been promised, not because of our works, but freely because of Christ, so long as we receive it by faith, since only faith receives a promise.
Pulling It Together
God did not tell Abraham that if he kept certain traditions and fulfilled various commands, that he would be blessed. Rather, he promised him a son and descendants that would bless the whole world. That promise did not depend upon Abraham or his descendants. It depended upon the one who made the promise—as all promises do.
So, the promise of salvation is also dependent upon the one who makes the promise. When we depend on our own actions and traditions, instead of trusting God to do as he promised, it betrays a lack of faith in the promiser. And it more than implies that we trust ourselves, our traditions, and our religion more than we trust God, if we trust him at all.
So do good, as Abraham often did. But do not trust in your goodness or righteousness. Trust in God. This is what Abraham did, and because he believed the one making such a grand promise, God considered him a friend (James 2:23). Furthermore, God kept his promise to his friend—and to his offspring. This is why you may also have hope in the promise: you too, are the offspring of Abraham. If you have faith in the Christ of promise, you are a son of Abraham (Gal 3:7). Therefore the promise is for you, for you are a child of Abraham so long as you have faith to receive the promise made to him and all of his descendants.
Prayer: Spirit of the Living God, renew in me today the life of faith, through Jesus Christ the Lord. Amen.
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Getting to Know Martin Luther is a five-lesson Confirmation workbook about Martin Luther's life that will help confirmands get a better glimpse into what faith means for their own lives by searching and understanding the Word of God, trusting in Christ alone for our salvation, standing up for what they believe in, and helping others to learn the truth about God.