From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law
These thoughts exert the mind, so we will briefly reply. It is necessary to firmly hold that we are saved by mercy so that hope may be certain, and so that there may be a prior distinction between those who obtain and those who do not obtain salvation. Unless it is qualified, this expression seems absurd. In civil courts and in human judgment, a right or a debt is certain, and mercy is uncertain. The matter is different with respect to God’s judgment. Here, mercy has God’s clear, certain promise and command. Strictly speaking, the gospel is the command to believe that God is merciful toward us for Christ’s sake. “For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. He who believes in him is not condemned...” (John 3:17-18).
Pulling It Together: What came first, the chicken or the egg? Some love to deliberate over such things; these questions wear out other people. For them, it is enough to know that we are saved through faith in Christ. Yet here, there is a clue for those who need to know the causes of things. The order of progression toward salvation is clear in Paul. One is saved through faith by grace (Eph 2:8). Faith in the promise precedes salvation. God’s grace comes before it all. Those who hear the gospel and believe with faith in Christ are those who are saved. All of this comes from the gracious hand of God.
Prayer: Thank you, God, for all those you have sent to me with the good news of your salvation. Amen.
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Views of Baptism is written for a range of readers including the parent or sponsor about to baptize a child, the adult who wants to understand baptism more fully, and the professional teacher or preacher who needs the truth about baptism stated simply but backed by careful research. This books explores three views of baptism: the individual-centered view, the means-of-grace view, and the Roman Catholic view. It includes a description of how Christian baptism came to us in stages from its Jewish roots. A question and answer section addresses specific matters often raised when people contemplate baptism.