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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Concerning Repentance part 30

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Ephesians 2:18; 3:11–12

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

Nor is love present before reconciliation has been accomplished through faith. For the law is not performed without Christ, according to this verse: “Through him we have obtained access to this grace” (Rom 5:2). This faith grows gradually and throughout the entire life, struggles with sin in order to overcome sin and death. But love follows faith, as we have said above. So filial fear can be clearly defined as an anxiety connected with faith, where faith consoles and sustains the anxious heart. Servile fear, however, has no faith to sustain the anxious heart.

Pulling It Together

We cannot fear, love, and trust God without faith. In other words, we cannot keep even the first of the commandments without faith, let alone the rest of the law. So, in this life, where we are tested by various temptations, we must do more than be sorry for our sins. We must have faith in a forgiving Father. For without faith, there is only fear of God’s wrath. The result is doubt of the Father’s love. Because we have faith in God, we are enabled by his Spirit to do more than fear; we also love and trust him. Indeed, we grow in faith because we have been given admittance to the Father. One has confidence of this filial access only through faith. Our works will never give us such confidence. Human love or devotion will never attain it, for this bold assurance is a gift granted by the Holy Spirit through faith. Believers have been made citizens in God’s kingdom but they are given more than citizenship. They are given family status. So we confess that through faith, we may confidently approach our Father with fear, love, and trust that he forgives.

Prayer: Thank you, God, for giving me faith to fear you, but to also love and trust you. Amen. 

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