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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Concerning Justification, part 30

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1 Peter 1:3–5

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

But when we confess that faith justifies, perhaps some understand it as the beginning of justification or preparation for justification. But then it would not be faith itself through which we are accepted by God, but the works that follow faith. Accordingly, they would imagine that faith is highly praised because it is the beginning. The beginning is important because the beginning is half of everything, as they commonly say. It is just as if one would say that grammar makes the teachers of all arts, because grammar prepares for further arts—although in fact it is his own art that renders every one an artist. We do not believe this about faith, but we maintain that properly and truly, by faith itself, we are accounted righteous for Christ's sake, or are made acceptable to God. And because "to be justified" means that just persons are made out of unjust people, or born again, it also means that they are pronounced or accounted just. For Scripture speaks in both ways. Accordingly, we desire to first show this: that faith alone makes an unjust person into a just person, that one receives forgiveness of sins by faith alone.

Pulling It Together

What else do I need to do? Nothing. Christ has done it all. He has taken unrighteous sinners and assigned his own righteousness to their account. This is not the beginning of salvation, to which you must now add your own deeds to the work of Christ. He has done it all. Now, you will want to respond with all kinds of good deeds but remember that these do not justify you to God. Christ alone justifies you. He has at once converted you and made you righteous. You are born again to the Christ life. All this happened when you believed in Christ, when faith in him was kindled in a sinner's heart.

Prayer: Your righteousness is all I need, Lord. Amen. 

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Many in the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) remember the loyalty, strength, and uniqueness of our Lutheran tradition and the necessity of "Christ Alone." Stand and Confess explores these traditions in light of Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions.


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