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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law part 71

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Romans 4:22-5:2

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

In all our praise of works and in the preaching of the law, we must retain this rule: that the law cannot be observed without Christ. He himself said, “Apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Likewise, “And without faith it is impossible to please God” (Heb 11:6). The doctrine of the law is not intended to remove the gospel and Christ as propitiator. Let those Pharisees, our adversaries, be cursed, who interpret the law so as to ascribe the glory of Christ to works, namely, that they are a propitiation, that they merit the forgiveness of sins. It follows, therefore, that works are to be praised because they are pleasing to God on account of faith. For works do not please without Christ as propitiator. We have access to God through Christ (Rom 5:2), not by works, without Christ as mediator.

Pulling It Together

The preaching of the law must have its rightful place among us. The law sets necessary boundaries in society so that we might enjoy a measure of order and civility. It also reveals the holy God in such a way that we see ourselves in a different light. We begin to understand that we are poor sinners in need of God’s mercy and grace. The law also shows us how to live. So, we are to obey God’s laws but depend upon him for grace. This, of course, is where the gospel comes in to play.

We are justified to God through faith in the work of Jesus Christ. He died on the cross to make the payment for our sin. Then he was raised from the dead so that we would be justified to God. We should never expect our obedience to the law to cause our justification. This honor goes to Christ alone. So, let us teach and preach the law. Let us do good works and more of them, so that people know God is in their midst. But may we never be led so far astray as to imagine that these works earn God’s grace. We must also preach the gospel, so people comprehend that the God among them loves them, forgives sin, and justifies sinners.

Prayer: I have faith in you, Lord, and thank you for your peace. Amen. 

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