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From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning the Mass
We remind our readers that this is the principal question. Aeschines admonished the judges that just as boxers contend with one another for their position, they also should strive with their adversary concerning the real point, not permitting him to wander beyond the issue. In the same manner, our opponents should be obliged to speak on the topic at hand. When the real issue has been thoroughly understood, an appraisal of both arguments will be very easy.
We have stated in our Confession that the Lord’s Supper does not bestow grace ex opere operato, and that, when applied on behalf of others, alive or dead, it does not merit for them ex opere operato the forgiveness of sins, guilt, or punishment. This position is clearly and firmly established, first, because it is impossible to obtain the forgiveness of sins on account of our own work ex opere operato, and second, because the terrors of sin and death must be overcome through faith, when we comfort our hearts with the knowledge of Christ, believing that we are forgiven for Christ’s sake, and that the merits and righteousness of Christ are given us. “Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom 5:1). These things are so sure and so firm that they can stand against all the gates of hell.
Pulling It Together
Peace comes to us through faith. Faith must come first, since we cannot know peace until we know that somehow we have become righteous before God. Now, any sane person knows that righteousness cannot come by virtue of human works. Try as we might, we know that we are not righteous by virtue of what good we have done, or what evil we have avoided. We know that all is lost; there is no way for us to have peace because it is impossible for us to become righteous under our own power. Our moral excellence is none too excellent. So, we try to do better. We do more religious works and good deeds but are ever mindful of how much we fall short (Rom 3:23). This persistent voice within us is that old hammer, the law, pounding away at us.
All would be lost if that were the only voice we ever heard. Yet, there is a good word too. That word is Jesus. We can never be righteous before God for the sake of the things we do, try to do, try not to do, or fail to do. Yet for the sake of Jesus, those who believe are forgiven their sins. We become justified, or made right, with God through our faith in Christ. The result is that our peace comes from Christ, not from ourselves (Phil 4:7; Col 3:15). This is a most excellent peace that persists despite our less than excellent thoughts, words, and actions.
Prayer: Lord, I believe. Amen.
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Teach Us to Pray is an eight lesson curriculum based around Luther's Small Catechism. Each lesson has a Bible study connected to the article of the Lord's Prayer covered. A section entitled "About Prayer" teaches students helpful items about a solid prayer life and a prayer assignment for the coming week. A major goal of this material is to help kids experience prayer and practice it in a variety of ways. This book could be used as part of a larger Confirmation series, or as a "pre-confirmation" Sunday School series for Jr. High and Middle School youth.