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From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law
The address of Tobit, regarded as a whole, “Be mindful of the Lord, thy God, all thy days” (Tobit 4:5), and later, “Bless the Lord, thy God, always, and desire of Him that thy ways be directed” (Tobit 4:19), shows that faith is required before alms. These activities properly belong to that faith of which we speak, that believes God is reconciled because of his mercy, and that wishes to be justified, sanctified, and governed by God. But our adversaries, ingenious men, choose mangled sentences in order to deceive those who are unskilled. Then they attach something from their own opinions. Entire passages are to be considered, because according to the common practice, it is unbecoming to judge or reply to any single clause unless the entire law is considered. Passages, when considered in context, frequently produce their own interpretation.
Pulling It Together
If we only read part of verse 8, we may end up believing good works are the point, that we must “be careful to devote [ourselves] to good works” (Titus 3:8). Yet, if we read the context of that partial verse, we discover that it is not our works that save us. “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy” (Titus 3:5). Having been redeemed, we are now to produce fruit that is in keeping with people who have believed in Christ. There is no opinion here; the passage interprets itself. We must be mindful to always interpret a passage with the text that surrounds that verse.
Prayer: Open my mind, Lord, that I may understand your Word. Amen.
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