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From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning the Number and Use of the Sacraments
The adversaries do not understand priesthood as the ministry of the Word, and administering the Sacraments to others. They understand it as sacrifice, as though in the New Testament there should be something like the Levitical priesthood, to make sacrifices that merit the remission of sins for the people. We teach that the sacrifice of Christ dying on the cross was sufficient for the sins of the whole world, and that there is no need for other sacrifices, as though this was not sufficient for our sins.
Pulling It Together: Are we to make sacrifices? Yes. For example, John teaches us that we ought to lay down our lives for the Church, for our brothers and sisters in the faith (1 John 3:16). Laying down one’s life is surely a sacrifice. Paul teaches us to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, and that this is true and correct worship (Rom 12:1). So, yes, we are to make sacrifices—even the sacrifice of our lives. Yet our sacrifices, though proper worship, should never be considered as offerings to God that earn his favor or merit the forgiveness of sin. That is what only Christ can do—and has done. He has already accomplished this sacrifice, so it does not bear repeating (Heb 7:27) even ceremonially, since his redemption is complete and eternal (Heb 9:11–12; 10:10–14). His grace is sufficient (2 Cor 12:9) and needs no sacrifice from us to make Christ’s sacrifice complete. “It is finished” (John 19:30).
Prayer: Make of me a living sacrifice who depends upon your grace alone. Amen.
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The newest volume in the series, "Old Places, New Faces," The General Epistles offers a series of 12 Bible studies based on Hebrews, James, I & II Peter, I, II, & III John, and Jude. The geographical locations of Biblical characters can symbolically refer to places we find ourselves with respect to our faith. As we become more acquainted with our spiritual geography, we will better discern where God would have us go or what changes we need to make in order to serve Him better.