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From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law
Now we will reply to those passages that the adversaries use to prove that we are justified by love and works. They cite: “And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing” (1Cor 13:2). Here they exult, claiming that Paul testifies to the entire Church that faith alone does not justify.
We have shown above what we hold concerning love and works. But a reply is easy. This passage of Paul requires love. We require it also. For we have said above that renewal and beginning to fulfill the law must exist in us, according to the word: “I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts” (Jer 31:33). Anyone who casts away love will not keep faith, however great it seems, for he does not retain the Holy Spirit.
Paul is not treating the mode of justification in this passage. He is writing to those who have already been justified, urging them to bear good fruit lest they lose the Holy Spirit.
Pulling It Together
The Roman Confutation claimed that people are justified by adding love and other works to faith in Christ. Conversely, the Lutherans confessed that love and good works are a necessary response to faith in the saving work of Christ. Although the work of Christ on the cross is sufficient for salvation, the person who will not love as Christ loves, has become spiritually cold and lives according to the flesh again. That person has become nothing, no longer keeping in step with the Spirit and living by faith. For the Holy Spirit does not dwell where Christian love and other fruits of the Spirit are not present.
Prayer: Holy Spirit, help me remember my baptism with daily repentance and sorrow for sin, so that the new person in Christ will emerge in me more and more every day. Amen.
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A Latin phrase meaning “Scripture Alone,” Sola Scriptura is one of the traditional Lutheran slogans used since the time of the Reformation. It expresses our confession that Scripture is “the only rule and norm according to which all doctrines and teachers alike must be appraised and judged.” Using the familiar phrase as its title, Sola Scriptura is a new, advanced-level Bible Study in a two-part series, of six chapters each, on the functional authority of Scripture. For those who would like to cover the topic in detail, there is enough material to cover one chapter in two sessions, making each part a 12-week study.