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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
The Smalcald Articles – part 104

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John 1:16–17

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

John preaches about this repentance, and afterwards Christ does the same in the Gospel, and we also. By this preaching of repentance we dash to the ground the pope and everything that is built upon our good works. For all of that is constructed upon a rotten and futile foundation, which is called good works or the law. There is no good work there, but only wicked works, as no one keeps the law (Christ says so in John 7:19) but all transgress it. Therefore, everything built upon it is nothing but falsehood and hypocrisy, even if it seems most holy and beautiful.

Pulling It Together

The law was given us to illustrate how corrupt we really are. Therefore, it shows us our need for Christ’s gospel. We should then, receive the fullness of his grace, which he freely gives, instead of using the law to earn his grace. There is nothing we might do in any case, incompetent as we are, to merit God’s favor. This would be a futile effort at best, since God already loves us (John 3:16) and is disposed to give us his grace (Rom 5:8). This grace of God only comes through his act in Christ Jesus, not through our actions. 

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for your loving gift of grace, through your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

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