From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning the Church
Likewise, what difference will there be between the people of the law and the Church if the Church is an outward organization? Paul distinguishes the Church from the people of the law in that the Church is a spiritual people. It has not been distinguished from the heathen by civil rites, but that it is the true people of God, regenerated by the Holy Spirit. The people of the law, born of the flesh, had promises concerning physical things, government, etc, in addition to the promise of Christ. Because of these promises, even the wicked among them were called the people of God, because God had separated their offspring from other nations by certain outward ordinances and promises. Nevertheless, these wicked people did not please God. But the Gospel does not bring a mere shadow of eternal things; it brings the eternal things themselves: the Holy Spirit and righteousness, by which we are righteous before God.
Pulling It Together
All those who by nature were born Jews, or Abraham’s seed, were given the law so that they might be an example to the nations of how God would have people live. Sinners were to be restrained by the law through civil discipline, penalties, teachings, and ceremonies. So it is plain to see that the law was a moral guardian and instructor, used by God until the Messiah came. Christ came so that people would be justified by faith in him, not through law keeping. All nations may be children of God through faith, so there is no longer a difference between Jews and other people. Indeed, all believers are spiritual Jews. Since Christ’s kingdom is a spiritual kingdom, if people are Christ’s, they are Abraham’s offspring. As such, every true Christian is a partaker of eternal blessings, even while here on earth. They enjoy eternal peace, eternal life, and the Holy Spirit because they have received a righteousness from God that is now their guardian until being completely saved in the world to come.
Prayer: Help me remember, Holy Spirit, that I am baptized into Christ. Amen.
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