From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law
In regard to their doctrine of justification, consciences are left in uncertainty. If they must believe that they have a reconciled God because they love and observe the law, they will always doubt whether they have a reconciled God. They either do not feel this love, as the adversaries acknowledge, or certainly feel this love is too little. Frequently they feel angry at the judgment of God who oppresses human nature with many terrible evils, with troubles of this life, the terrors of eternal wrath, and so forth. So, when will the conscience be at rest; when will it be pacified? In such doubt and terror, when will it love God? What else is the doctrine of the law than a doctrine of despair?
Pulling It Together: Christ came to the law keepers first, to show the truth of God’s promises. God fulfilled those promises in the Messiah by fulfilling the law for them, something which they could not accomplish (Acts 15:10). Second, Christ came to display God’s mercy to those who had no concern for the law. The Gentiles did not find peace through conversion to law keeping. The demands of the law are no reason for joy since no one can fulfill the law. Rather, their joy and peace abounded through belief in the Son of God. The hope of the Gentiles was full through the power of the Holy Spirit, who was given to them by faith. Nowhere are loving actions or observation of the law required for this joy, peace, and hope. These are endowments that come to us through faith in Christ, not by keeping the law or through love and religious ceremony. So, we see that God’s mercy is shown to the law keeper as well as those who have no concern for religion. We confess that joy, peace, and hope are available to all because of God’s mercy—but only through faith.
Prayer: Fill me with joy, peace, and hope through believing in you, Lord Jesus. Amen.
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