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From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Thirdly, the adversaries say that sin is forgiven because a person with attrition or contrition elicits an act of love toward God, and by this act merits the receipt of the remission of sins. This is nothing but teaching the law, blotting out the gospel, and abolishing the promise of Christ. They only require the law and our works—because the law demands love. Besides, they teach us to be confident that we obtain forgiveness of sins because of contrition and love. What else is this than to put confidence in our works, not in the Word and promise of God concerning Christ? But if the law is sufficient for obtaining the remission of sins, what need is there of the gospel? What need is there of Christ if we obtain forgiveness of sins because of our own work?
Pulling It Together: Faith arouses good works, but it is faith in Christ that receives forgiveness. Although God certainly wills that we speak and do good, our salvation does not depend upon such goodness. Salvation depends upon Christ alone. Jesus tells us that the work of God is to believe in him (John 6:29). So faith is the thing that we must always return to—especially when we think that we are wretched sinners. Too often, we think we must try harder, do better, or give up more, when the fact is, Christ has done it all. Your works will not make one whit of difference, for Christ has already saved and justified you. Believe in him—not yourself. This “obedience of faith” is the true work of God.
Prayer: Help me do the work of God by having faith in you, Lord Jesus. Amen.
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The Wise & The Foolish is a nine-session Bible study that focuses entirely on Jesus' "people parables"—what might be descirbed as Discipleship Parables. These are the character stories that focus on the nature of discipleship and what it means to be a wise and faithful follower of Jesus.