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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Concerning the Invocation of Saints part 14

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1 John 2:1–2

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Invocation of Saints 

The second qualification of a propitiator is that his merits have been authorized as those which make satisfaction for others, which are bestowed by divine imputation on others, in order that through these, as if by their own merits, they may be accounted righteous. This is as if someone pays a debt for a friend. The debtor is freed by the virtue of another, as though it were by his own merit. Thus, the merits of Christ are bestowed upon us so that when we believe in Him, we are accounted righteous by our trust in Christ’s merits—as though we had merits of our own.

Pulling It Together

God’s law and holiness demand perfect holiness from us. Sadly, we do not act so devoutly. The just punishment for our failure is death (Rom 6:23). Happily, God sent Christ to become our substitute. He has vicariously taken upon himself our obligation under the law, appeasing God’s wrath by suffering death in our place. His propitious act in our stead makes us favorable to God. As our sin is covered by Christ’s sacrifice, he is rightly called “the propitiation for our sins.” The saints cannot be propitiators because they cannot cover our sins. Their virtues were not good enough to merit their own salvation, let alone ours. 

Prayer: Help me to abide in you, Lord Jesus, my righteous covering. Amen.

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