From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
In the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and, below, in the Twentieth Article, they condemn us, for teaching that people obtain remission of sins freely for Christ's sake, through faith in Christ, instead of by their own merits. They condemn us both for denying that people obtain remission of sins because of their own merits, and for affirming that through faith, men obtain remission of sins, and through faith in Christ are justified. This controversy addresses the chief topic of Christian doctrine which, rightly understood, illumines and magnifies the honor of Christ and brings necessary and abundant consolation to devout consciences. So we ask His Imperial Majesty to hear us with forbearance in regard to matters of such importance. For since the adversaries do not understand what remission of sins, faith, grace, or righteousness are, they woefully corrupt this topic and obscure the glory and benefits of Christ, robbing devout consciences of the consolations offered in Christ. Yet, that we may strengthen the position of our Confession and remove the charges which the adversaries raise against us, certain things must be set forth in the beginning so that the sources of both kinds of doctrine—that of our adversaries and our own—may be known.
Pulling It Together: We begin to handle a long Article with this reading, much longer than Article 2, “Concerning Original Sin.” This is the foremost of the chief articles for the Lutherans. Justification touches every other article and doctrine in the Augsburg Confession and its Defense. This could be seen in the conclusion of Article 3, Concerning Christ. Although it was noted that there was no disagreement between the Lutherans and their opponents on the doctrine of the dual nature of Christ, there was a note of what was to come in the following, lengthy Article. For it is not enough that one understands that Christ is both human and divine; one must also comprehend the benefits of his two-fold nature. One of those benefits is justification. Because Christ was qualified and just to offer a sacrifice for humanity, people may now be declared innocent of their sins, or justified with God. This happens through faith, not by a system of religious actions. As a result, “we have peace with God.” This peace of mind occurs because one never has to worry if the right thing has been done to appease God's wrath. Christ satisfied God's righteous requirement—a thing that no one else could ever do no matter how much effort is expended (Acts 15:10).
Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for the peace that comes through your righteousness. Amen.
Reading and Discussion of Luther's Catechisms is a more challenging study series based on assigned readings from the Book of Concord and related Scripture texts. Each study is comprised of eight sessions, plus an optional introductory session, presented in a question and discussion format.