From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Good Works
If one seeks testimonies in Scripture by which to establish his thinking, he will discover that they are not lacking. Paul cries out at the top of his voice, as the saying goes, that we “are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (Rom 3:24). “That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed” (Rom 4:16). That is to say, if the promise depended upon our works, it would not be certain. If the forgiveness of sins were given because of our works, when would we know that we had obtained it? When would a terrified conscience find a work which it would consider sufficient to appease God’s wrath?
Pulling It Together: A promise has been made. All that remains is for us is to believe in God’s commitment to save us from sin. There is no need to do something in order to obtain his promise. God’s assurance that sins are freely forgiven is given because of Christ, not because we have somehow lived up to his promise.
Now if we were the ones who made the promise, we would have something to live up to: we would have to make good on our guarantee. That is precisely what God has done in Christ. He made the promise of justification, then lived up to it by dying—paying the penalty for our sin.
He made his promise and then, graciously guaranteed it through Christ. He left nothing for us to do but trust in the promiser. Believe his word of promise the same way that Abraham did: with faith in the grace of God.
Prayer: O Lord, I trust in your salvation. Amen.
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