From the Confessions: The Chief Articles of Faith in the Augsburg Confession
Also they teach that men cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits, or works, but are freely justified for Christ's sake, through faith, when they believe that they are received into favor, and that their sins are forgiven for Christ's sake, who, by His death, has made satisfaction for our sins. This faith God imputes for righteousness in His sight (Romans 3 and 4).
Pulling It Together
It sounds as though a sixteenth century Lutheran wrote the words but they were penned by the Apostle Paul and inspired by the Holy Spirit in the first century. “For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law” (Rom 3:28). There is no mingling of the two. Justification—God regarding a person good, righteous, holy—does not happen because once one has faith, she adds works. Works have nothing to do with justification. It is a gift from God, initiated by his grace, received by faith in Christ's work on the cross, and attributed to believers apart from any work or merit other than those of Christ. The satisfaction for sins—justification—was done on the cross. It does not depend upon the actions of sinners like us. Indeed, when we confess justification through faith (Eph 2:8-9), we are saying, in effect, that when God looks at poor sinners like us, he sees Christ who died for sinners. Those same sinners are now credited with the righteousness of Jesus Christ, and thus, they are saints in the truest sense of the word. They are saints by God's doing, not their own.
Prayer: Gracious God, help me this day to do your will out of gratefulness for your great salvation through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.
A Reading and Discussion of the Augsburg Confession is written in easy-to-understand language but is a challenging study series based on assigned readings from the Book of Concord and related Scripture texts. Each study is comprised of eight sessions, plus an optional introductory session, each presented in a question and discussion format. Click here to see the Table of Contents and a sample session.