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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Concerning the Number and Use of the Sacraments – part 12

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Romans 2:28–29

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Number and Use of the Sacraments 

The reason for this is clear and well-grounded. A promise is useless unless it is received with faith. The sacraments are signs of the promises, so in using the sacraments, faith must be added, so that when one uses the Lord’s Supper, it is received with faith. Because this is a sacrament of the New Testament, as Christ clearly says, those partaking should for this very reason be confident that the free forgiveness of sins that is promised in the New Testament is offered to them. They must acquire this by faith, be comforted in their troubled consciences, and know that these testimonies are not false. For God’s promises are as sure as though, by a new miracle, he shouted from heaven that it was his will to grant forgiveness. But what advantage would these miracles and promises be to an unbeliever?

Pulling It Together: What advantage are the sacraments if they are not believed, if there is no faith in the promises attached to them? Without faith in the Word of God connected with it, baptism is only water. Without faith in God’s promise of grace, Holy Communion is only bread and wine. Indeed, the water, bread, and wine are only such a small amount, they could hardly be considered of physical benefit. But God accomplishes his purposes through these elements when, and only when, the sacraments are “a matter of the heart,” when one believes the Word connected with the element.

Prayer: Change my heart, O God, to trust in you. Amen. 

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