From the Confessions: The Augsburg Confession
Concerning the Power of Bishops
There are dumbfounding debates concerning alteration of the law, ceremonies of the New Testament, and changing the Sabbath day. All of these have sprung from the false belief that the Church should have services like the Jewish Levitical ones, and that Christ commissioned the apostles and bishops to devise new ceremonies of legalism that are necessary for salvation. These errors crept into the Church when the righteousness of faith was not clearly taught. Some contend that keeping the Lord's Day is not God's command but ought to be treated as though it were a divine order, going so far as to dictate how much work is lawful on the Lord's Day. What else are such debates than the entrapment of consciences? For although they try to modify the traditions, there can never be any real change as long as the opinion continues that they are necessary. Indeed, this opinion will always persist where the righteousness of faith and Christian liberty are unknown.
Pulling It Together: It is no wonder that people think one has to do something to make God happy. This is the way with religion. We imagine that God must be appeased and that religious people must do the pacifying. But Christianity is very different. Though we have driven God to righteous outrage, he has appeased himself. God gave himself as the sacrifice for the sin of the world. Scripture tells us that no more sacrifice is necessary (Heb 10:14). Yet, how could we think this was even possible? If God has made the perfect sacrifice, do we then presume to come after him with ceremonies and laws that will complete his “attempt” to satisfy his own requirements? There is, of course, nothing for us to add. No new laws or ceremonies will satisfy God and make the satisfier righteous before him. Why is this the case? This is so because God has already done it; he has satisfied not only his own holy and just requirements but he has also made righteous those who could never satisfy his demands. This is the good news, that God has graciously and powerfully provided “salvation to everyone who believes.” We should not be ashamed of this gospel difference. God has done the doing, and there is nothing we need to do but live by faith in the righteousness given to us by God.
Prayer: Lord, help me to live by the faith that your righteousness is all I need. Amen.
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