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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law part 51

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1 Peter 2:4–6

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

But this is far distant from those praises of love which they recite from Paul, nor do they understand the word any more than the walls that bounce back their words. They also cite Peter in this verse: “Love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Pet 4:8). It is evident that Peter also speaks of love towards one's neighbor since he joins this passage to the precept that commands love for one another. It could never have come into the mind of any apostle that our love overcomes sin and death, that love is the propitiation by which God is reconciled, thereby excluding Christ as mediator, or that love is righteousness without Christ as mediator. For this love, if there would be any, would be a righteousness of the law, and not of the gospel that promises reconciliation and righteousness to us if we believe that the Father has been reconciled on account of Christ as propitiator, and that the merits of Christ are bestowed upon us. Accordingly, a little earlier Peter urges us to come to Christ so that we may be built upon Christ (1 Pet 2:4-5). And he adds, “He who believes in him will not be put to shame” (1 Pet 2:6). When God judges and convicts us, our love does not free us from shame. Nevertheless, faith in Christ liberates us despite these fears, because we know that for Christ's sake we are forgiven.

Pulling It Together

We must be careful not to build a doctrine of righteousness and salvation upon anything that we do. Such a house would surely fall, since it is founded on the limited and human instead of upon the infinite and divine. God commands us to do many things, including charity toward others and love for God. But these things, even though commanded by God, do not save. Only God saves. The Father has overcome sin and death through the work of his Son. That is a finished work; we are merely called to believe what God has done, not to add anything to his work in an effort to complete it in ourselves. If his work on the cross required our completion, he would not be the mediator between God and humanity since his work would not have been sufficient.

People seek to earn God’s favor because they feel the blush of sin. Though we should confess our sin and repent, we cannot earn God’s grace. That grace has already been earned for us by Jesus. When we believe what the love of God has wrought, the fear that the law delivers is quickly dispatched and then replaced with God’s forgiveness and peace, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Prayer: Loving Father, I offer you my sacrifice of praise while depending upon the final sacrifice of Jesus, my Savior. Amen.

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