2 Thessalonians 3:16-18
From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning the Church
Paul means that the righteousness of the heart is a spiritual thing that quickens hearts. It is evident that human traditions do not quicken hearts. They are not effects of the Holy Spirit like love of one’s neighbor, chastity, and so forth. Nor are human traditions instruments through which God moves hearts to believe, as are the divinely given Word and Sacraments. Rather, these human practices do not pertain to the heart, and perish with the using. So we must not believe that they are necessary for righteousness before God. Paul speaks to the same effect, writing, “For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom 14:17).
Pulling It Together
External is not eternal. These outward things will never secure everlasting life. Furthermore, they will never give us peace. The heart must be changed by God for these things to be ours. Righteousness, peace, and the hope of salvation are all matters of the heart. Such spiritual things are effected by the Spirit of God and by his means, not by the things that we do or the disciplines and ceremonies that we keep. The hope of salvation is not aroused because one uses the correct Bible reading plan or worship style. The righteousness of the heart is not activated because of any human custom. God alone gives us grace, faith, peace, hope, and all good inner or spiritual things.
Prayer: Thank you, Holy Spirit, for being at work in me, in spite of me. Amen.
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