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From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Monastic Vows
In the first place, it is certain that a monastic life does not merit the forgiveness of sins, for we obtain this freely by faith, as has already been said. Secondly, eternal life is granted for Christ’s sake by mercy to those who receive forgiveness through faith, not setting their own merits against God’s judgment. Bernard says this with great force: “First of all, it is necessary to believe that you cannot have the remission of sins unless by God’s indulgence. Secondly, you can have no good work whatever, unless he has also given this. Lastly, you can not merit eternal life by works, for this is also given freely.” We have quoted above the rest that follows to the same effect. Yet, Bernard adds at the end: “Let no one deceive himself, for if he carefully reflects, he will undoubtedly discern that he cannot with ten thousand soldiers meet God who comes against him with twenty thousand.”
Pulling It Together: What a joy it is to realize that God’s forgiveness and eternal life are gifts. Now, we all understand that one does not work for a gift; otherwise it is not a gift at all. Instead of a gift, it has become something we earned. Yet, forgiveness of sin and salvation cannot be earned. The Scriptures tell us over and over that these things are given to us freely by the hand of God (Eg: John 4:10; Rom 5:15-16, 6:23; Eph 2:8). Let us believe that God is the giver of all good gifts (James 1:17)—including forgiveness, justification, and salvation—and be thankful.
Prayer: Thank you, God, for your grace, given freely for Christ’s sake. Amen.
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A Reading and Discussion of the Augsburg Confession is written in easy-to-understand language but is a challenging study series based on assigned readings from the Book of Concord and related Scripture texts. Each study is comprised of eight sessions, plus an optional introductory session, each presented in a question and discussion format. Click here to see the Table of Contents and a sample session.