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From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Confession and Satisfaction
Good people can easily determine the greatest importance of preserving the true doctrine concerning the above-mentioned parts, namely contrition and faith. Therefore, we have focused more on the clarification of these topics, and have presented nothing as yet concerning confession and satisfaction.
Pulling It Together
In the time of the Reformation, Europe was beset by indulgence sellers. An indulgence was a certificate purchased with either prayers, good works, or money, that claimed to reduce the amount of one’s time spent in Purgatory. According to Roman Catholic doctrine, Purgatory is where believers go after death, but before they may go to heaven. It is an intermediate location where one is purged of sin and made fit for heaven. There are two errors here.
First, Christ makes us suitable for heaven. Through his death, resurrection, and ascension, he justifies all those who have faith in him (Phil 3:9; Rom 3:22). He makes us entirely righteous on his account, for we have nothing righteous in our account (Rom 3:10; Eccl 7:20). We “were bought with a price” (1 Cor 6:20). There is no partial payment or matching contribution to which we must add our contributions over time—or outside of time in a Purgatory—in order to bring God’s share up to full.
Second, we do not pay anything for this righteousness of God, as if we had anything of merit to offer. His righteousness and salvation is given to us freely. These are a gift, given by grace through faith (Rom 5:16; 6:23).
Therefore, when when confess our sins to God, we do so, knowing that Christ Jesus has made complete satisfaction or atonement for our sins. Having faith in Christ our Lord, we are very confident that God has put our sins “behind his back”—that we are wholly forgiven on his account, or as we say, for Christ’s sake.
Prayer: Thank you, God, for the free gifts of forgiveness, righteousness, and salvation through Jesus Christ the Lord. Amen.
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