From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Therefore, the fathers too were not justified by the law, but through the promise and faith. It is astonishing that the adversaries diminish faith to such a degree, although they see that it is everywhere praised as an eminent service, as in Psalm 50:15: “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you.” God wishes himself to be known and worshiped in this way: that we receive benefits from him because of his mercy, not due to our merits. This is the richest consolation in all afflictions. But the adversaries abolish such consolations when they diminish and disparage faith by teaching that people only conduct themselves toward God by means of works and merits.
Pulling It Together: Daily sacrifices were performed at the temple in Jerusalem because God commanded them. Sacrifice was done as an outward expression of grateful dependence upon God. Note how David offered 1,000 bulls, 1,000 rams, and 1,000 lambs to the Lord. He did not do so to appease God. Rather, he made such a large offering in thanks to God for allowing Solomon to build the temple. He did not make the offering because God, who does not eat flesh anyway, was especially hungry that day. Was David's sacrifice rebuked? Are our works and ministries to the Lord not accepted? Of course not. God is pleased when we keep our obligations and do good works. However, when we imagine that these things mitigate or altogether appease God's righteous wrath concerning our sin, or think that God is now obligated to forgive us because we have balanced a bad deed with a good one, we do not glorify God. Instead, because of our lack of faith in him, and our misguided trust in our works, we are glorifying ourselves. Furthermore, by casting aside faith for works, we lose the benefit of God's comfort and peace. So long as we can do some work that we call good, we might delude ourselves in thinking that God is reconciled. What happens though, when one is bedridden, awaiting death, and thinks an evil thought toward a reckless caregiver? What work will be done then to counter that sin? If only that person had faith in a merciful God instead of in self and religion.
Prayer: Give me a thankful heart today, Lord, for all your blessings. Amen.
Saints and Sinners, Volume 3: Encouragers of the Faith, is a seven-session Bible study on New Testament Characters by Dr. Dan Lioy, PhD. This study is the third in a series of Saints and Sinners from the New Testament who were used by God to begin to spread the Gospel among both Jews and Gentiles. May your study of God’s saints and sinners enrich your understanding of your life with Christ and encourage you in discipleship.