From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law
Reply to the Arguments of the Adversaries
Now, when the grounds of this case have been understood, namely, the distinction between the law and the promises or gospel, it will be easy to resolve the objections of the adversaries. They cite passages concerning the law and works, but omit passages concerning the promises. We reply to all opinions concerning the law that it cannot be observed without Christ, and that if civil works are done without Christ, they do not please God. Therefore, when works are commended, it is necessary to add that faith is required—that works are commended because of faith, that they are the fruits and testimonies of faith. Ambiguous and dangerous cases produce many and various solutions. For the judgment of the ancient poet is true: "An unjust cause, being in itself sick, requires skilfully applied remedies."
Pulling It Together: There is nothing ambiguous about the distinction between the law and the gospel. The law requires one to keep its commandments, rules, and rituals. The gospel requires one to believe that Jesus has fulfilled the law. Therefore, even when one obeys a commandment, it is done with faith in what Jesus has done. For even if we can practice the commandments sometimes, we cannot do so consistently and perfectly, which the law requires. The standards of the law are still in place, but because Jesus has fulfilled them, we now practice the law, however imperfectly, because of love instead of mere duty. More than that, we have come to understand that God does not love us because we keep the law. He loves us and accepts our efforts because we have faith in his Son. Anything we do, whether it be cutting the church lawn on Saturday or keeping the third commandment the next day, is a by-product of our faith in Christ. These things do not move God to accept us or love us.
Prayer: Thank you for even loving me, through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.
Go and Tell, unit 2 in the Word of Life Series, is a resource for those looking to develop small groups built around the Word of God. This model of small-group ministry is an excellent tool for evangelism since it is rooted in prayer and Scripture. Its primary focus is to empower those who believe in Jesus Christ to be comfortable sharing their faith and inviting others to experience a transformed life in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Meant for use in Small Group gatherings, each of the six sessions is based on a primary Scripture text, with intentional time for reflection. There are questions, prayer, faith sharing, and mini evangelism case studies. The series would be helpful for those involved in starting a Bible study fellowship, house church, or mission congregation. It can also be used by established congregations to aid in establishing a small group ministry.