From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Consciences do nothing from faith if they are always doubting whether they have forgiveness. How can they call upon God with doubt; how can they be confident that they are heard? Therefore, their entire life is without God and without the true worship of God. This is what Paul says, “Whatever does not proceed from faith is sin” (Rom 14:23). Because they are constantly occupied with this doubt, they never experience what faith is, and eventually rush into despair. Such is the doctrine of the adversaries, the doctrine of the law, the annulling of the gospel, the doctrine of despair.
Pulling It Together
It is not possible for someone to have a peaceful conscience, if they doubt that God is gracious toward them. No matter how hard they try to do right and be religious, they still question whether they have forgiveness of sins. Thus, never knowing by faith that God loves and forgives because of Christ—not because of our deeds and devotion—they die in doubt, without confidence in God and his forgiveness. This is a religious life of despair—all because Christ and the gospel have been suppressed. The result is that people are led into irresistible sorrow because of tortured consciences.
This is the inevitable result of a religious system of works. So we confess the word that is near us—in our mouths and in our hearts—since we have come to believe that God loved us so much that he sent his only Son to die for us. We believe this, and believing, are justified to God and saved—not because of our devotion, nor by works, but by faith that God in Christ has accomplished what we can never do.
Prayer: Father, I believe in your Son, and rely upon him alone for the remission of sin, so that I may live in you and not be put to shame. Amen.
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Beginning in 2016, Sola is adding a Bible Overview year to its Confirmation Series, with two ten-session booklets — one on the Old Testament and one on the New Testament. These books provide a step-by-step overview of the history and geography of the Scriptures, exploring the various time periods and sections of the Bible and how they connect to one another. The goal is to give students a sense for the over-arching story of Scripture, fulfilled in the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ.