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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Concerning the Mass part 20

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John 4:23–24

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

In short, the worship of the New Testament is spiritual. In other words, it is the righteousness of faith in the heart and the fruits of faith. Accordingly, it abolishes Levitical services. Christ says, “The true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24). This passage clearly condemns opinions about sacrifices which, they imagine, avail ex opere operato, and teaches that worship ought to be in spirit—with the heart and by faith.

Pulling It Together

In the New Testament, there is no offering or service or work that merits God’s favor ex opere operato—on account of the work that has been done or the service rendered. In later editions of “The Apology of the Augsburg Confession,” it was added here that this idea is “absolutely devilish, pharisaical, and antichristian” because it cheapens the sacrifice of Christ. Our Lord alone has provided the work that avails for forgiveness of sin and right standing with God. Our reasonable response is “spiritual worship” (Rom 12:1) which is a service of the heart that God has filled with faith. It fears God, while loving and trusting him with the whole heart. This is that true, spiritual worship of the New Testament that does not expect a reward from God for their own services rendered.

Prayer: Help me, O God, to worship you in spirit and in truth. Amen.

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