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From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law
They corrupt many other passages in the schools because they do not teach the righteousness of faith. The scholastics understand faith as a mere knowledge of the history or of dogmas. They do not understand that faith is the virtue which apprehends the promise of grace and righteousness, and quickens hearts terrorized by sin and death. When Paul says, “For man believes with his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved” (Rom 10:1), we think that the adversaries will acknowledge here that confession justifies or saves, not ex opere operato, but only because of faith in the heart. Paul says that confession saves, in order to make clear what sort of faith obtains eternal life, namely firm and active faith.
Pulling It Together
If we teach that one should have faith, yet we do not believe, will our understanding of the teaching save us? If we come to the waters of baptism but have no faith in God’s promise, thinking it is simply the proper custom, will we be saved? If we go to church, feed the hungry, and buy coats and mittens for the poor, but have no faith in the God who calls us to do such things, do those good works save? What good will these customs and deeds do us when we are in hospital beds, anxious about death? When our sins find us out and terrify our consciences, our good works will not bring us peace. Good works cannot be trusted but Jesus can be trusted for peace now, and later, for eternal life. We must take Jesus at his word and have faith in his promise of grace. Failing to do so, is the supreme work of lawlessness. Trusting in our works is the evidence of that sin of sins.
Prayer: I believe that you are the way in to the kingdom of heaven, Lord Jesus. Amen.
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