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Concerning Justification, part 21
Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions


Romans 5:1–2

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

What Is Justifying Grace?

The adversaries pretend that faith is only historical knowledge, and therefore teach that it can coexist with mortal sin. The result is that they say nothing about faith, by which Paul so frequently says that men are justified, since those who are accounted righteous before God do not live in mortal sin. But that faith which justifies is not merely a knowledge of history; it is an embrace of the promise of God, in which the forgiveness of sins and justification are freely offered because of Christ. Just so that no one may imagine that faith is simply knowledge, we will add further: it is to desire and to receive the offered promise of the forgiveness of sins and of justification.

Pulling It Together: Even the devils believe in Christ, if by belief we mean mere knowledge (James 2:19). Knowing stories about Jesus is not faith. Faith is a matter of the heart over the head. Faith trusts that God loves me even when I think that he cannot. Faith believes the promise of God even when I know I have failed to deserve his gift. Faith joyfully receives the grace of God, forgiveness, justification, and salvation because of Christ's merits, not because of my own deeds. My mind wonders if I have brought enough to merit these great gifts. Indeed, my mind knows that I have not done enough. But God's Spirit testifies to my heart that I am nonetheless his child (Rom 8:16), so my heart is comforted and remains confident, peaceful, and full of hope in the grace and glory of God.

Prayer: Come and reign over me and in me in spite of me, Holy Spirit. Amen. 

Winning, Losing, Loving: The Gospel in the Old Testament is an overview of Old Testament Scripture, tracing themes of chosenness, sin, and grace throughout the early books of the Bible. These cycles of sin and redemption point forward toward God's ultimate act of redemption in Jesus Christ.

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