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From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning the Invocation of Saints
It has been said of the other saints, “Each shall receive his wages according to his labor” (1 Cor 3:8). In other words, they cannot bestow their own merits upon one another, as the monks sell the merits of their orders. Even Hilary says of the foolish virgins, “And as the foolish virgins could not go forth with their lamps extinguished, they implored those who were prudent to lend them oil. The wise replied that they could not give it because there might not be enough for all. That is, no one can be aided by the works and merits of another, because it is necessary for everyone to buy oil for his own lamp.”
Pulling It Together
We cannot stand on our own two feet, let alone lend our works or merits to other people. This is the purview of Christ alone. Christ Jesus imputes his righteousness to us, but we do not ascribe our righteousness to anyone. First of all, we have none to give, for we are all unrighteous (Rom 3:10). Secondly, if we were to imagine that we did have righteousness to lend, why did the Father send his Son to die for us? If the sacrifice and virtue of someone other than Christ will suffice for our salvation, God has made a grave error.
But God has made no mistake in sending his Son to die for us. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, no matter the greatness or smallness of his works, his virtue, or his devotion. It all depends upon Christ, not the magnitude of one’s works, nor the bestowal of another’s generosity.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, I believe in you. Amen.
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Combining the message of salvation in Christ with personal witness, The Gospel in Miniature is a Lutheran guide for evangelism.