From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law
The promise should always have the view that because of his promise, God wishes for Christ's sake, and not because of the law or our works, to be gracious and to justify. In this promise timid consciences ought to seek reconciliation and justification. By this promise they ought to sustain themselves and be confident that for Christ's sake, because of his promise, they have a gracious God. Thus works can never render a conscience pacified; only the promise can. If, therefore, justification and peace of conscience must be sought elsewhere than in love and works, love and works do not justify, although they are virtues and pertain to the righteousness of the law, in so far as they are a fulfilling of the law. To that degree, this obedience of the law justifies by the righteousness of the law. But this imperfect righteousness of the law is only accepted by God because of faith. Accordingly it does not justify, neither reconciling, nor regenerating, nor by itself making us acceptable before God.
Pulling It Together: Peace is a profound need in our world that is torn apart by war and terrorism. There is also the lack of peace caused by bad economic conditions. Yet the lack of peace that is most dire is spiritual. It is this peace that the Confessions address. The deepest need of the Christian—and of others, if they knew better—is peace of heart. This tranquility is only had by trusting in the promise of God. As soon as we begin to trust our religiosity, good works, morality, or virtue, peace of mind begins to slip away. Yet, when we remember that God wants to be gracious toward us and, in fact, is because of Christ’s reconciling work on the cross, the heart is quieted. Peace of mind is the great spiritual need of Christians, yet they rob themselves of it by trusting in their works and service. Works cannot justify us to God. These acts are only accepted by God if they are done with faith in Christ. Therefore, peace in the heart is discovered through faith, by trusting in the promise of God. Be still; have faith that God has been reconciled by Christ alone.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to be still and know that you are God. Amen.
A Nine-Session Bible Study on the Book of Ephesians
by Rev. Drs. Amy C. Little and Steven E. King
Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is one of the central books of the New Testament in that it lays out the solid foundation of Christ’s identity, what he has done for us, and what implications his grace has in our lives of faith. While the letter carries strong theological weight, it is also very gracious and supportive on a personal level. It reminds us that God alone is the sovereign actor in our salvation, choosing us in Christ before the foundation of the world. The book also shows us what this choice made by God means for how we live our lives.