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From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning the Mass
Since the priesthood of the New Testament is the ministry of the Spirit, as Paul teaches in 2 Corinthians 3:6, accordingly, Christ is the only satisfying sacrifice that may applied for the sins of others. It has no sacrifices like the Levitical, which could be applied ex opere operato on behalf of others. Rather, it offers them the Gospel and the Sacraments, that by these means they may receive faith and the Holy Spirit, and be mortified and quickened. The ministry of the Spirit is at odds with the application of an opus operatum. Through this ministry of the Spirit, God works in the heart so that his ministry is profitable to others, when it is efficacious in them by giving them a new birth and life. This does not occur by the application ex opere operato of the work of another on their behalf.
Pulling It Together
The religious works of others on our behalf can no more kill or mortify us than make us alive again or quickened. The work worked by them, the opus operatum, though perhaps very satisfying to the eye and ear, remains the work of a human being, quite ineffective in and of itself because it does not satisfy the justice of God. Sin is not forgiven ex opere operato, from the work worked by people. Where is the gospel in all of this working? The outward performance is there but where is the inward power? The gospel is not only words, not simply the retelling of the history of Jesus. It is the power of God’s Spirit at work in the ear and heart. Sin is forgiven because of the work done by God in Christ, received with faith by the power of God’s Spirit. The works of another cannot give us faith, without which we cannot have forgiveness, new life, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, godliness, or salvation.
Prayer: You are all I need, Lord; you alone are sufficient for life. Amen.
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Learning About Confession teaches the meaning of Confession and Forgiveness according Luther's guidance in the Small Catechism. It is recommended for the Sixth Grade Level.