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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law part 120

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2 Thessalonians 2:13-17

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

But if they mean to argue from analogous statements—When you have done all things, do not trust in your works, and when you have believed all things, do not trust in the divine promise—there is no connection. They are not analogous, as the causes and objects of confidence in the former proposition are not the same as the latter. In the former, confidence is in our own works. In the latter, confidence is in the divine promise. Christ condemns confidence in our works; he does not condemn confidence in his promise. He does not wish us to despair of God's grace and mercy. He accuses our works as unworthy, but does not accuse the promise which freely offers mercy.

Pulling It Together

If a man was swimming in the ocean and began to drown, he would be quite correct to not trust his own efforts to save himself. But he would yell with his last breath to the lifeguard. The lifeguard is trained and dependable to save drowning swimmers. Think how the struggling swimmer’s hopes would buoy him up as he saw the lifeguard swimming toward him.

Would we now take a perfectly understandable comparison and turn it on itself? When you have swam your best but are about to drown, do not trust your swimming skills. Likewise, though you believe the lifeguard is there to save you, you cannot trust him either. It would be a special kind of madness to think like this. We immediately see through the bad analogy.

Just as a lifeguard may be trusted to save drowning swimmers, God may be trusted to save poor sinners. We are right to not trust in our religious skills and our good deeds. But we would be very wrong to not trust the promise of God.

Prayer: Lord, keep me steadfast in the word of your promise. Amen. 

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