From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles
Part III, Article XV. Concerning Human Traditions.
The papist declaration that human traditions achieve the forgiveness of sins or earn salvation is unchristian and condemned. Christ says, “In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men” (Matt 15:9). Again, Titus 1:14: “men…who reject the truth.” So, when they proclaim that it is a mortal sin if one breaks these ordinances, this is also false.
Pulling It Together
If a ceremony or regulation denies the work of Christ, God’s grace, or his plan of redemption, then it is untrue, or to use a stronger term, heresy. If it is claimed that any religious tradition attains to the remission of sins—in whole or in part—it is heresy. For only Christ has accomplished this for us; it is given freely to all who hold to him in faith. If anyone insists that you not keeping their rules makes you a sinner, smile, and answer that you are indeed a sinner, a sinner whom Christ died for and saved to everlasting life, despite their rules and traditions.
Prayer: Help me to know you through your works, Lord Jesus, not mine. Amen.
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In Part 2 of Sola Scriptura, "The Norm of Faith" study shows how an active view of the Word informs and guides our understanding of what Scripture says. In other words, it will talk about what the Bible means based on what it does. In terms of how we come to articulate our faith and our doctrinal teachings, to speak of Scripture as the "norm" of faith means that it is the standard against which our theology and proclamation are measured.