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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Of Justification

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Romans 3:21-31

From the Confessions: The Chief Articles of Faith in the Augsburg Confession

Of Justification.

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.

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Katherine Harms

Posted February 24, 2015 at 7:42am

This teaching is one of the most difficult for most of us to process. We know what big messes we are. We love the concept, but we all know how we keep failing even our own expectations, let alone the standard of God's righteousness. Many people cannot let go of the hope that a good deed helps to add weight to their prospects for heaven. Thank you for this series that keeps reminding us of the truths that should motivate grateful service to our Lord.

Mark Ryman

Posted February 24, 2015 at 2:33pm

You are welcome, Katherine. I am just as grateful for your appreciation and the opportunity to write. Keep remembering that the standard of God's righteousness is Jesus Christ. The standard is not our abilities or even our ambitions or efforts. Then, try to do his will anyway. ;)

Mark Ryman

Posted February 25, 2015 at 5:40am

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