1 John 5:13–15
From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law
We condemn this godless opinion concerning works. First, it obscures the glory of Christ when people offer their works to God as a price and propitiation, an honor due to Christ alone. Second, they nevertheless do not find peace of conscience in these works. Instead, in true terror, they heap up works upon works, and eventually despair because they find no work sufficiently pure. The law always accuses and elicits wrath. Thirdly, such persons never attain the knowledge of God because they angrily flee from God’s judgment and affliction, never believing that they are heard. But faith assures us of the presence of God, being certain that God freely forgives and hears us.
Pulling It Together: God wants us to be confident of eternal life. He does not dangle salvation over our heads, tempting us and teasing us to work a little harder, or else. Instead, we are to believe in the great name of Jesus Christ, who died and rose and ascended so that we might do the same. He alone endured the cross and the shame (Heb 12:2) for our sin. We did nothing. And we do nothing. Christ alone is the satisfaction for our sin. We do not share the honor with him.
It sounds downright un-American but you have to stop believing in yourself. As long as you believe that you have some stake in your salvation, you will always be frightened that you have not been good enough, have not done enough, or that what you have done was not done with purity and charity. That terror can be relieved. You can have peace of conscience and certainty in God—as soon as you stop having faith in yourself. When, instead, you have faith alone in Christ alone, you will serve him with a glad and liberated heart. You will pray to him, knowing that you are both loved and heard—because of what Christ did, not because of what you have done.
Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for hearing my prayers and caring for me. 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.