From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning the Mass
We may more easily understand the word by looking at the customs of the pagans that sprang from misunderstood expressions of ancient patriarchal traditions. When great calamity struck and God seemed to be especially enraged, the Latins offered what they considered an expiatory sacrifice to appease God’s wrath. They sometimes offered human sacrifices, perhaps because they had heard that a human victim would appease God for the entire human race. The Greeks sometimes called them refuse and scum. Isaiah and Paul, therefore, mean that Christ became a victim, that is, an expiation to reconcile God by his merits and not by our own. Let it remain established in this issue: only the death of Christ is truly a propitiatory sacrifice.
Pulling It Together: You may sacrifice this thing or another, hoping that God will be appeased and forgive your sins. Or you might do some good work or act of penance, again, hoping that God will remove your guilt. Then you might try to offer God something especially meaningful—money or perhaps your very life—toward the end that you feel a sense of peace. But you will not feel any better. Indeed, you will feel worse for the trying and failing. And fail you will because you cannot make such a sacrifice. Only God can. Only God has. Christ crucified is the only sacrifice that God honors. Thanks be to God that this one truly atoning sacrifice is effective for all who take hold of Christ through faith. Our petty attempts at sacrifice are nothing, mere shadows; only Christ is real, solid, substantial.
Prayer: Help me, Holy Spirit, hold fast to Jesus. Amen.
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