From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
The two principal works of God in men are to terrify and to justify, and quicken those who have been terrified. These two works are distributed throughout the Scripture. The one part is the law that exposes, admonishes, and condemns sins. The other part is the gospel: the promise of grace bestowed in Christ. This promise is constantly repeated in the whole of Scripture, first having been delivered to Adam, then to the patriarchs, then still more clearly proclaimed by the prophets, and lastly, preached and set forth among the Jews by Christ, and broadcast over the entire world by the apostles. For all the saints were justified by faith in this promise, and not by their own attrition or contrition.
Pulling It Together
The promise, though veiled, goes all the way back to Genesis. That very first sin demanded the declaration of a Savior from the loving God. For from those tragic bites of forbidden fruit—the overreaching of a divine boundary—comes the most tragic boundary of all. Through sin, death comes to us all (Rom 6:23). We cannot circumvent this boundary. Our fear of God (attrition) will never keep us from sin and death. Nor will love of God (contrition) cause the first person to escape the boundary of death. Though these will never save us, we must fear and love God, but we must also trust him. We may take to heart the response of Adam and Eve, who having just gravely sinned, understood the promise, believing with faith in the salvation to come. Even Adam and Eve, though contrite, had faith in God’s promise.
Prayer: God, give me faith in your gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus. Amen.
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Sola's Through This Vain World Bible study takes a Christ-centered approach by looking at the book of Ecclesiastes through the lens of the Cross. It asks the hard questions of purpose and meaning in a world that often seems empty and vain. From the perspective that Martin Luther called a "theology of the cross," the questions and discussion in this study focus on our calling to take up our cross and follow Christ in faith "through this vain world."