From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning the Church
The writings of the holy Fathers testify that sometimes they too built stubble upon the foundation, but that this did not overthrow their faith. Most of the errors that our adversaries defend however, do overthrow faith, such as their condemnation of the article in which we confess that the forgiveness of sins is received by faith. Similarly, it is a plain and pernicious error when the adversaries teach that people earn the forgiveness of sins by love for God, prior to grace. This too, removes Christ as the foundation. Likewise, why would there be need of faith if the sacraments justify ex opere operato, without a good disposition on the part of the one using them?
Pulling It Together
We must not replace Christ with works, offices, masses, or anything else. These things do not save; Christ alone saves and justifies. Yet he does not do this without faith, as faith alone receives God’s gracious gift. The forgiveness of sins is received through faith in Christ. God’s grace is received through faith even in the sacrament of Holy Communion. Grace is not received because we have mindlessly marched to the altar and taken bread and wine. We receive his body and blood through faith, remembering what he has done for us, and thus, partake in his grace. Faith in Christ is required in everything pertaining to salvation (2 Tim 3:15; Rom 3:25). The person who does not consider faith to be necessary has lost Christ, replacing him with trust in human deeds. The only work that matters is to believe in Christ Jesus, which is itself a gift from God.
Prayer: I believe, Lord; help my unbelief. Amen.
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