2 Corinthians 4:5–7
From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Monastic Vows
Since we have already fully shown the wickedness of the opinion that we obtain the forgiveness of sins because of our works, we shall be briefer here. The discriminating reader will easily be able to agree that we do not earn the forgiveness of sins by monastic works. Accordingly, Thomas’ blasphemy of the monastic profession being equal to Baptism is also insufferable. It is lunacy to make human tradition, which has neither God’s command nor promise, equal to an ordinance of Christ, which has both God’s command and promise, and holds the covenant of grace and eternal life.
Pulling It Together: The “power belongs to God.” We are incapable of securing our own forgiveness and salvation. Imagine the person who looks in the mirror and declares, “I forgive you of your sins.” What authority backs up that pronouncement? Sadder still is the person who imagines a vocation or duty of such importance that part of the wage is salvation. This is found nowhere in Scripture. Indeed, the opposite is declared (Rom 6:23). But if human traditions are to be trusted, then one may believe anything. If human authority and promise are reliable in spiritual matters, then we may as well proclaim self. The reasonable person sees the blindness here.
So, the Lutheran reformers proclaimed Scripture alone, in which they read grace alone, which is received through faith alone. All of this comes into the world because of God, only through the work of Christ, never by our own good works. We are created to do good works (Eph 2:10) but not be forgiven and saved because of them. Christ alone is our grace and salvation.
Prayer: Give me such faith, Lord God, that I may trust in your grace because I believe your Word. Amen.
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Sola's Through This Vain World Bible study takes a Christ-centered approach by looking at the book of Ecclesiastes through the lens of the Cross. It asks the hard questions of purpose and meaning in a world that often seems empty and vain. From the perspective that Martin Luther called a "theology of the cross," the questions and discussion in this study focus on our calling to take up our cross and follow Christ in faith "through this vain world."