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From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Furthermore, we ask the adversaries, to begin with, whether receiving absolution is a part of repentance, or not. If they try to make a subtle distinction that separates it from confession, we do not see of what benefit confession is without absolution. However, if they do not separate the receiving of absolution from confession, then it is necessary for them to hold that faith is a part of repentance, as absolution is not received except by faith. That absolution is not received except by faith can be proved from Paul, who teaches that the promise cannot be received except by faith (Rom 4:16).
Pulling It Together: Promises are laughable words, unless received with faith. Abraham and Sarai were promised a son in their advanced old age. Abraham laughed; he laughed so hard that he fell to the ground. This was no chuckle at a joke; he roared with laughter—at God and his promise. Worse, in his disbelief, Abraham promoted his own idea to God. Bless this thing that I have done instead. Through lack of faith, Ishmael was born, and because of our lack of faith, all manner of our ideas are also kicked upstairs. Indeed, religion with all of its works, is elevated as faith.
But faith believes, “Your sins are forgiven.” Disbelief laughs at these words of promise, and says, Do this, do that, and then, perhaps, you may yet be forgiven. So, we see that faith is very necessary to absolution. Without faith, we never come to a place of forgiveness. Instead we laugh at God and busy ourselves with religious works, hoping that we may garner our own salvation.
Prayer: I trust in your promises, Lord; help me believe. Amen.
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The Apostles' Creed book is a ten-week unit, with one session on the Trinity and three sessions on each article of the Creed. The Bible Study lessons in the Creed unit of the Sola Confirmation Series provide an overview of creation-redemption themes in Scripture, driving toward the promise of God at work in our present lives. Click here to see the introductory pages and a sample of session one.