From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning the Mass
But let us return to the case. Since the Mass without faith, ex opere operato, is not a satisfaction for either punishment or guilt, it follows that its application on behalf of the dead is useless. So, there is no need here of a longer discussion. Clearly, this usage for the dead has no testimony in Scripture. Nor is it safe to establish forms of worship in the Church without the authority of Scripture. If it becomes necessary at any time, we shall speak at greater length about this whole subject. Why should we contend with opponents who do not understand the meaning of sacrifice, sacrament, forgiveness of sins, or faith?
Pulling It Together
Why is Scripture, or the Word of God, so important? Why is its authority paramount? It is the only objective way we have of knowing who God is, and of discerning his will among the countless voices demanding our attention. The three “solas” of the Lutheran Reformation help us understand. We are justified by the grace of God alone: sola gratia. This justification, or being made right with God, happens through faith alone: sola fide. But how do we know this to be the case except on the basis of Scripture alone: sola scriptura? It all breaks down without the Word. Indeed, the ceremonies are only uses of water, wine, and bread without the Word. But with the Word, these elements become Sacraments. Mere performance of the ceremonies is nothing without faith in the promises of God. This faith is provided to us by his grace alone.
Establishing new kinds of worship like masses for the dead, cannot be tolerated because they are based on the word and will of people. God’s Word is our only objective authority in such matters.
Prayer: Help me think of you properly, Lord, by giving careful attention to your Word. Amen.
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