From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law
From these outcomes of faith the adversaries select one, namely, love, and teach that love justifies. Because of this it is obvious that they only teach the law. They do not teach that forgiveness of sins is first received through faith. They do not teach about Christ as Mediator, that on Christ's account we have a gracious God. They say these are because of our love. Yet, they do not and cannot say what the nature of this love is. They claim that they fulfill the law, although this glory belongs properly to Christ. They place confidence in their own works against the judgment of God by saying that they merit de condigno grace and eternal life. This self-assurance is absolutely impious and vain. For we cannot satisfy the law in this life because our sinful nature does not cease to bring forth wicked dispositions, even though the Spirit in us resists them.
Pulling It Together
If we endeavor to stand on our own two feet before God, to meet the demands of his law with our own righteousness and love, honest people will find themselves wanting. The very inclination to imagine that we can satisfy God’s holy demands is proof of our depravity. We cannot transcend ourselves by our own efforts; we are what we are. We are simply incapable of exceeding our limitations. We need assistance. Putting it in the vernacular: God knows, we need help. Though we try to keep the law, we will never pull it off on this side of eternity. Yet, if we insist upon depending on the law for our righteousness, or worse, of depending upon our own love and righteousness as a way to keep the law, then we discount faith altogether. We also invalidate the promise of God in our lives when we depend upon our own righteousness. For the law will always bring the accusations of both conscience and the devil, as well as the wrath of God. On the other hand, the love of God is abundantly available to those who will receive his grace by faith in God instead of trust in their own religious efforts.
Prayer: Take away all fear, Lord, and perfect me in your love. Amen.
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The Norm of Faith shows how an active view of the Word informs and guides our understanding of what Scripture says. In other words, it will talk about what the Bible means based on what it does. In terms of how we come to articulate our faith and our doctrinal teachings, to speak of Scripture as the "norm" of faith means that it is the standard against which our theology and proclamation are measured.