1 Timothy 1:3-5
From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law
We must consider first, that the passage is more against the adversaries than against us. For our opponents teach that people are justified by love and works. They say nothing of faith by which we apprehend Christ as propitiator. Indeed, they condemn this faith in sentences and writings, and also by the sword and capital punishments, endeavoring to exterminate faith in the Church. How much better does James teach, not excluding faith, or presenting love in preference to faith, but retaining faith, so that in justification Christ may not be excluded as propitiator! Paul also includes faith and love when he deals with the sum of the Christian life. “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and sincere faith” (1 Tim 1:5).
Pulling It Together
Propitiation means appeasement of God. The argument that the Lutherans were making is simply this: Christ alone is that satisfaction for our sins. What God has worked into us, we are now to work out with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12). However, we must be careful not to amplify the importance of our charity and works, as though what we do is the means of our justification with God. Our only boast is in the Lord (1 Cor 1:31). He is our atonement. When faith is genuine, when one trusts in Christ Jesus for righteousness, charity and good works will follow. The honor then, properly goes to God in Christ, for he alone is our propitiator.
Prayer: Give me sincere faith, Lord, a pure heart, and a good conscience, so that I may truly love. Amen.
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