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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Concerning the Number and Use of the Sacraments – part 4

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1 Corinthians 1:4–9

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Number and Use of the Sacraments

Confirmation and Extreme Unction are rites received from the Fathers which not even the Church requires as necessary to salvation since they do not have God’s command. Therefore it is useful to distinguish these rites from the former, which have God’s express command and a clear promise of grace.

Pulling It Together: By definition, confirmation and extreme unction, or last rites, are not sacraments. They do not contain the clear command of God in Scripture, nor do they have a promise of his grace. This is not to say that confirmation and last rites do not have value. Yet, if they are considered sacraments, then it is the Church’s grace that is offered, with whatever value that human or, worse, institutional grace has to offer. For these things are institutionally commanded.

Again, this is not to say that the Church should not have rites like Confirmation, but we should not consider it a sacrament that offers God’s grace. Rather, it is God who confirms us outside of any commandment of a rite. True confirmation comes from God’s Spirit, not from the Church. He freely gives us faith and his gifts, sustaining (or confirming, 1 Cor 1:8, KJV, ASV, NASB) believers until the end. He keeps us holy and blameless until his coming just as he made us holy and righteous to begin with, because of faith in Christ. 

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for your free gift of grace. Amen. 

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