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From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning the Mass
The Fathers speak of a twofold effect: the comfort of conscience, and thanksgiving or praise. The former of these effects pertains to the nature of the Sacrament; the latter to the sacrifice. Of consolation Ambrose says, “Go to him and be absolved, since he is the remission of sins. Do you ask who he is? Hear him when he says, ‘I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst’” (John 6:35). This passage testifies that the forgiveness of sins is offered in the Sacrament, and that it is to be received by faith. Many testimonies to this effect are found in the Fathers, all of which the adversaries pervert to reinforce the opus operatum, and applying that opus on behalf of others, even though the Fathers clearly require faith, and speak of the appropriation of the consolation—not its transferal.
Pulling It Together
Do your sins torment you? Go to the forgiver of sin. Do you fear eternal death? Go to the source of life. Do you hunger and thirst for righteousness? Then go to the table where the righteousness of another is served. You go. You go for yourself. You cannot eat and drink his righteousness for another any more than you could eat this evening’s chicken and its nutritional benefits be experienced by your granddaughter. Jesus said, “This is my body which is given for you,” not for others—for you. “This cup that is poured out for you” is not transferable from those of faith to those who lack faith. The forgiveness of sin is transferable from the giver to those who have faith in him. New life and righteousness are given at the source; there is no middle agency.
Prayer: Thank you, Father, for your Bread of Life, given for me. Amen.
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Reading and Discussion of Luther's Catechisms is a more challenging study series based on assigned readings from the Book of Concord and related Scripture texts. Each study is comprised of eight sessions, plus an optional introductory session, presented in a question and discussion format.