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From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Ecclesiastical Power
Even though we have embraced various topics in this article of the Confessions, our opponents make no reply, except that bishops have the power of rule and forceful correction, in order to direct their subjects to the goal of eternal blessedness, that the power to rule requires the power to judge, define, distinguish, and institute those things which are serviceable or conducive to the aforementioned end. These are the words of the Confutation, in which our opponents instruct us that the bishops have the authority to create laws useful for obtaining eternal life. That is the point of controversy.
Pulling It Together: No pastor, bishop, priest, or pope has the right to determine rules for apprehending eternal life when those rules have no authority from the Gospel. What we preach and teach must not be of our own creation. It should not be a “different gospel” (Gal 1:6). We are saved by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ (Eph 2:8–9). Human rules and traditions cannot save us from sin and death. In too many cases, human institutions move us away from the clear call of Scripture, distorting the Gospel (Gal 1:7). The Gospel of Christ declares that God saves us through the agency of the cross. The one who preaches a contrary gospel is cursed.
Prayer: Help me to listen to and hear the clear voice of your Word, Lord. Amen.
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