From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law
So far, we have reviewed the principal passages that the adversaries cite against us in order to show that faith does not justify, that we earn forgiveness of sins and grace by our works. We hope that we have shown clearly enough to godly consciences that these passages are not opposed to our doctrine and that the adversaries wickedly distort the Scriptures to their opinions. Most of the passages they cite have been garbled. They omit the clearest passages concerning faith, only selecting from the Scriptures passages concerning works, distorting even those. Everywhere they add human opinions to the words of Scripture. They teach the law in such a manner as to suppress the Gospel of Christ. For the entire doctrine of the adversaries is, in part, derived from human reason, and is, in part, a doctrine of the law, not of the gospel. For they teach two modes of justification, the one being derived from reason and the other from the law, not from the gospel or the promise of Christ.
Pulling It Together: The Scriptures are very clear. It is by the grace of God that we believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are God’s children because he has chosen us, not because we have chosen him. We are his because he has called us faithful and righteous by virtue of his Son, not because we have been either faithful or righteous. It is by grace alone that we stand before God with hope in Christ. Were we to hope in ourselves—in our moral works and religious ceremony—we would be altogether hopeless and lost. Knowing that we are chosen by God’s grace, we confess, as does Paul, that we cannot be saved by works. If we were also saved by works, then God’s grace would not be grace at all. At best, it would be a partial gift, one that we would have to add something to in order to make it effective. Thanks be to God that his gift is completely effective through the work of Christ, and needs no work of our own to complete his sufficient grace.
Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for saving me without any help from me. Amen.
Not My Will, But Yours: A Bible Study on the Bound Will explores the theme of human bondage seen throughout Scripture. From the Old Testament examples of people held in slavery whom God came to set free, to the New Testament examples of Jesus healing illnesses and casting out demons, we witness the Lord’s power of deliverance. Ultimately, all these stories point to the greatest act of God’s redemption in the cross, where Christ rescued us from our captivity to the powers of sin, death, and the devil.