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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
The Smalcald Articles – part 130

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Acts 15:7–11

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles – part 130

Part III, Article XIII. How One is Justified before God, and of Good Works.

I do know not how I would change in the least what I taught previously and constantly about this, namely, that by faith, as St. Peter says, we receive a new and clean heart, and that God will and does deem us entirely righteous and holy for the sake of Christ, our mediator. Though sin in the flesh is not yet altogether dead and gone, he will not punish or remember it.

Pulling It Together: Faith is the passive receiver. It does not grab or make wild efforts that get in the way, as though flailing its limbs trying to grasp the unreachable. Faith does not seize; it simply receives what is given. Human reason and effort cannot make itself clean or create a new heart and reborn life. However, these things are available by God’s grace, and may be received through faith. Afterwards, you will look the same and quite often act the same. But you are not regarded the same by God. Where once you were dead, you are now filled with his Spirit. Where you were filthy and unrighteous before, you are now cleansed and holy. All of this happens, not because you got busy and cleaned up your ways, but because you received the good gifts of God, given to you by grace, only through faith, for Christ’s sake.

Prayer: God, who alone knows my heart, cleanse it for Christ’s sake. Amen.

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Pastor John Johnson

Posted November 20, 2018 at 6:48am

It is by faith alone that we have a nice clean heart, not by one single thing that we do. How wonderful this is because we would do nothing but muddy up everything without the love and forgiveness of God.

Mark Ryman

Posted November 20, 2018 at 8:24am

Thanks for your comment, Judy. And thank God for his gracious gifts.

Pastor John Johnson

Posted November 23, 2018 at 5:48am

How wonderful that our Lord washes us clean through faith. We don't have to do a single thing. Our Lord Jesus Christ has already done it all. By faith alone we are washed and cleansed.

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