From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law
Scripture shows this in many passages. “To him all the prophets bear witness that every one who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name” (Acts 10:43). “Your sins are forgiven for his sake” (1 John 2:12). “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses” (Eph 1:7). But why recite verses? This is the fundamental voice of the gospel, namely, that for Christ's sake, and not because of our works, we obtain forgiveness of sins through faith. Our adversaries endeavor to suppress the voice of the gospel by distorting passages that teach about the law or works. It is true that in teaching about repentance works are required, because a new life is certainly necessary. But here our opponents wrongly add that we earn the forgiveness of sins or justification through such works.
Pulling It Together: The great mystery of the ages has been revealed in Jesus Christ. All people—Jews and Gentiles alike—have been redeemed from their slavery to sin and death by the atoning work of Jesus. We are not saved or justified because of our religious and civil works, but because of the work of Christ—and only because of what he has accomplished. Although we are called to live a changed and godly life in which good works are done—however imperfectly—these works of ours, even if they were perfectly executed, add nothing to the complete justification that Jesus bought for us with his life. We have forgiveness of sins only through faith in the shed blood of Christ. Our sweat adds nothing to what God has graciously showered upon us.
Prayer: Thank you, Father, for delivering me from sin and death through your Son. Amen.
The purpose of Epistles, A Guide to Reading the Scriptures is twofold: to encourage Christians to read God’s Word on a regular basis, and to help the reader slow down and concentrate on each chapter of the epistles before moving on to the next.