From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law
The promise should always have the view that because of his promise, God wishes for Christ's sake, and not because of the law or our works, to be gracious and to justify. In this promise timid consciences ought to seek reconciliation and justification. By this promise they ought to sustain themselves and be confident that for Christ's sake, because of his promise, they have a gracious God. Thus works can never render a conscience pacified; only the promise can. If, therefore, justification and peace of conscience must be sought elsewhere than in love and works, love and works do not justify, although they are virtues and pertain to the righteousness of the law, in so far as they are a fulfilling of the law. To that degree, this obedience of the law justifies by the righteousness of the law. But this imperfect righteousness of the law is only accepted by God because of faith. Accordingly it does not justify, neither reconciling, nor regenerating, nor by itself making us acceptable before God.
Pulling It Together: Peace is a profound need in our world that is torn apart by war and terrorism. There is also the lack of peace caused by bad economic conditions. Yet the lack of peace that is most dire is spiritual. It is this peace that the Confessions address. The deepest need of the Christian—and of others, if they knew better—is peace of heart. This tranquility is only had by trusting in the promise of God. As soon as we begin to trust our religiosity, good works, morality, or virtue, peace of mind begins to slip away. Yet, when we remember that God wants to be gracious toward us and, in fact, is because of Christ’s reconciling work on the cross, the heart is quieted. Peace of mind is the great spiritual need of Christians, yet they rob themselves of it by trusting in their works and service. Works cannot justify us to God. These acts are only accepted by God if they are done with faith in Christ. Therefore, peace in the heart is discovered through faith, by trusting in the promise of God. Be still; have faith that God has been reconciled by Christ alone.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to be still and know that you are God. Amen.
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By the Will of God is an eight-part sermon series on Ephesians that follows the summer lectionary, year B. It uses the Brobston Telemetry Method of Preaching which is an easy way to capture the hearts and minds of listeners and draw them into the Good News of Jesus Christ.Use this series to focus in on the will of God in our lives. It is designed to be used from July 12 through August 30, 2015, but it can be used as a series anytime of the year the preacher wants to focus on Paul's letter to the church in Ephesus. It is also a great resource to give to lay-preachers in congregations where supply pastors are unavailable to fill in when the pastor goes on vacation. Each week there is a description of the bible passage, an image to build from, a section called "going deeper" which digs into the lesson even further, and some questions to use if you decide to discuss the sermon in a Bible Study or other forum.