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From the Confessions: The Augsburg Confession
Concerning the Mass
Scripture also teaches that we are justified before God through faith in Christ, when we believe that our sins are forgiven for Christ's sake. Scripture does not allow that the Mass takes away the sins of the living and the dead by the outward act, as this would mean that justification results from the work of Masses, instead of by faith.
Instead, Christ commands us, “Do this in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19) Therefore, Lutherans confess that the Mass was instituted so that the faith of those who use the Sacrament would remember what benefits they receive through Christ, and as a result, that their anxious consciences be encouraged and comforted. For to remember Christ is to remember his benefits—that they are truly offered to us. It is not enough to simply remember the history, for the Jews and the ungodly can remember. The Mass is to be used to this end: that the Sacrament (Communion) be administered to them that have need of consolation, as Ambrose says: “Because I always sin, I am always bound to take the medicine.” Therefore this Sacrament requires faith, and without faith, it is used in vain.
Pulling It Together: When you approach the altar, you ought to ask, “What am I doing here?” The answer, of course, is that your Lord has called you to his table. You might think that you are unworthy to eat from his hand. Nevertheless, he has called you—commanded you. Take. Eat. As often as you do, you remember that he gave his body and that you must receive this grace by faith in Christ alone. He then commands, take and drink—all of you. Then you may remember that Jesus shed his blood, not only for the whole world, but also for you, the one now drinking who knows that he is undeserving.
The Sacrament is not about us; it is all about the one who has called us to eat and drink. The one who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29) gives us himself and commands us to receive him. We do this partaking by remembering what he did, surely, but also by believing that this meal has greatest value. In it is God's grace and mercy, the forgiveness of sins, for you. There is the comforting remembrance: that you are forgiven through the grace of God alone, and not by anything that you bring to the table—as if you had anything of value to offer.
Prayer: Thank you, God, for providing the true bread of heaven, your Son, Jesus Christ my Lord. 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.