From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Ecclesiastical Power
Earlier, they also condemned Article XV, in which we declared that traditions do not merit the forgiveness of sins. They say here that traditions contribute to eternal life. Do they merit the forgiveness of sins? Are they services of worship that God approves as righteousness? Do they vivify hearts? Paul says to the Colossians that traditions gain nothing with respect to eternal righteousness and eternal life since food, drink, clothing and the like are things that perish with the using (Col 2:20–23). But eternal life is formed in the heart by eternal things: by the Word of God and the Holy Spirit. Therefore, let our opponents explain how traditions are conducive to eternal life.
Pulling It Together
Eternal life begins during this earthly life. It starts within us by faith. First, we are forgiven and made righteous before God through faith in his Son. These things which make our hearts eternally alive happen because God does them. No effort of our own can ever make us live forever. That is an absurd notion, and is obvious enough. Only the eternal Spirit can give such life to our spirits. What we eat and drink, or abstain from, has nothing to do with eternity; food and drink are things of this life. What we wear, or do not wear, also have nothing to do with salvation—unless we are speaking of being clothed with Christ (Gal 3:27). Special services of worship performed for the benefit of forgiving the sins of others who are not even present, or who do not even believe, may have a religious appearance. Nevertheless, without faith in Christ no one is saved.
Prayer: Clothe me, Lord Jesus, with your righteousness. Amen.
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