From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Of these two parts, the adversaries choose the law because human reason naturally understands the law in some way (since it has the same judgment divinely written in the mind). They seek the remission of sins and justification through the law. But the Decalogue requires not only outward civil works that reason can to some degree produce; it also requires other works that are placed far above reason, namely, to truly fear God, to truly love God, to truly call upon God, to be truly convinced that God hears us, and to expect his aid in death and in all afflictions. Finally, it requires obedience to God in death and all afflictions so that we may not flee from these or refuse them when God imposes them.
Pulling It Together: Some things come to us naturally. For example, we can look at the beauty and complexity of nature and understand that there must be a creator. Yet, we do not instinctively know who the creator is, let alone begin to truly and completely love God (Deut 6:5; Mark 12:30). When we learn who God is, we quickly discover that we cannot keep his law. Yet there are some who insist that people can somehow work off the fine that has been levied for their sins (Rom 6:23). Those who opposed the Reformers believed that human effort could appease the wrath of God. To be fair, there are some things the law requires that we are completely capable of fulfilling (James 2:10). However, we cannot pick and choose the ceremonies and other requirements of the law that we determine are necessary; we are obligated to keep the entire law (Gal 5:3). If one is to depend upon the law, the whole law must be kept (James 2:10). Yet we must admit that even the first commandment eludes us—since we have other idols and do not love God with our whole heart and mind and strength. Nor do we trust him. A solid proof of this assertion is our seeking to satisfy his righteous law by our own works, instead of depending upon God.
Prayer: Blessed are you, Father, for quieting the unrest of my soul and setting my spirit free. Amen.
A Reading and Discussion of the Augsburg Confession 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. The Leader's Guide that accompanies this study is a resource for those facilitating group discussion or may serve as a reader's commentary for those who are studying the Book of Concord on their own.