From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning the Mass
Another passage is also cited from Malachi: “He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, till they present right offerings to the Lord” (Mal 3:3). This passage clearly requires the sacrifices of the righteous, and therefore, does not support the opinion of opus operatum. For the sacrifices of the sons of Levi—in other words, the teaching of the New Testament—are the preaching of the gospel and its good fruits. This is why Paul speaks of being “a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit” (Rom 15:16), so they might be acceptable offerings to God by faith. The slaying of animals in the Law symbolized both the death of Christ and the preaching of the gospel, by which this old flesh is put to death, and new and eternal life is begun in us.
Pulling It Together
This is the sacrifice that is acceptable to God: our old nature mortified in Christ Jesus. The death of Christ occurred on the cross, while ours happens in baptism where our fleshly nature is slain with Christ. Our old selves are crucified in him. Through this sacrifice—provided by God just as he provided the original sacrifice (Gen 3:21)—sin is reduced to nothing within us. Sin is drowned, buried so that we are set free to live the new life in Christ, not in the flesh. This is what we are regenerated to be: alive in Christ forevermore.
Prayer: Thank you, Father, for baptizing me into Christ’s death and raising me to eternal life. Amen.
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