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From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law
The adversaries speak of obedience to the law; they do not speak of obedience to the gospel. Yet we cannot obey the law unless we have been reborn through the gospel. Nor can we love God unless the we have received the forgiveness of sins. As long as we think that he is angry with us, human nature flees from his wrath and judgment. Some may prevaricate that if it is faith that wishes those things that are offered in the promise, then the properties of faith and hope seem to be confused, because hope is that which expects promised things. To this we reply that these dispositions cannot in reality be severed, in the manner that they are divided by idle speculations in the schools. For in the Epistle to the Hebrews faith is also defined as the “assurance of things hoped for” (Heb 11:1). Yet if anyone still desires a distinction to be made, we say that the object of hope is properly a future event, but that faith is concerned with future and present things, receiving in the present the forgiveness of sins that the promise offers.
Pulling It Together: If you would be righteous, you must live by faith (Hab 2:4; Rom 1:17; Gal 3:11; Heb 10:38). For if you imagine that you can be righteous by being virtuous and religious, then you are misguided by conceit. Righteousness is a characteristic of God alone that he shares with or imputes to those who have faith in his righteousness. Righteousness only comes to us from God, by believing in the good news of Jesus Christ’s redeeming work on the cross. Righteousness is not something acquired through obedience to the law; it is something that God freely gives to those who believe the gospel. Then, because we have received his forgiveness, love, and righteousness by believing what God promised, we have a sure and certain hope, a guaranteed inheritance, an eternity determined by God “before the foundation of the world” (Eph 1:4) for those who have preserved their souls through faith.
Prayer: My eyes are turned to you, Lord God, and in you I take refuge. Amen.
Saints and Sinners, Witnesses to the Faith, is the first in a three-volume series on saints and sinners in the New Testament who were powerful witnesses to faith in Christ. May this study of saints and sinners enrich your understanding of life with Christ and encourage you in discipleship.