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CANON 9: "If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema."
CANON 12: "If any one shall say that justifying faith is nothing else than confidence in the divine mercy pardoning sins for Christ's sake, or that it is that confidence alone by which we are justified...let him be accursed"
Canon 14: "If any one saith, that man is truly absolved from his sins and justified, because that he assuredly believed himself absolved and justified; or, that no one is truly justified but he who believes himself justified; and that, by this faith alone, absolution and justification are effected; let him be anathema."
Canon 24: "If any one saith, that the justice received is not preserved and also increased before God through good works; but that the said works are merely the fruits and signs of Justification obtained, but not a cause of the increase thereof; let him be anathema."
Canon 30: "If any one saith, that, after the grace of Justification has been received, to every penitent sinner the guilt is remitted, and the debt of eternal punishment is blotted out in such wise, that there remains not any debt of temporal punishment to be discharged either in this world, or in the next in Purgatory, before the entrance to the kingdom of heaven can be opened (to him); let him be anathema."
Canon 33: "If any one saith, that, by the Catholic doctrine touching Justification, by this holy Synod inset forth in this present decree, the glory of God, or the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ are in any way derogated from, and not rather that the truth of our faith, and the glory in fine of God and of Jesus Christ are rendered (more) illustrious; let him be anathema.
What you have been reading, thus far, is the Roman church’s condemnation of Lutheran doctrine, especially that of Justification, and still in force today. By the way, “anathema” means cursed of God. But it’s not just Lutheran doctrine. The Augsburg Confession was presented as the universal creed of Christianity on par with the Creeds.
And everyone agreed, for a few years, at least. However, the fight remains over Justification and our reaction to Jesus’ words, “everyone enacting sin is a slave to sin.” Here, Jesus leaves no middle ground. If you sin, no matter how small, you are a slave to that sin, even if you were saved yesterday.
If you misunderstand justification; meaning, if you misunderstand how Jesus is working in you to will and to do His good pleasure (Phil. 2:13), then you will miss salvation. Because you will either think that you are naturally powerful enough to prepare for free grace from God, that you just need a little help along the way, or that you think the Holy Spirit does not work through means.
We believe “…that in spiritual and divine things the intellect, heart, and will of the unregenerate man are utterly unable, by their own natural powers, to understand, believe, accept, think, will, begin, effect, do, work, or concur in working anything, but they are entirely dead to what is good, and corrupt, so that in man's nature since the Fall, before regeneration, there is not the least spark of spiritual power remaining, nor present, by which, of himself, he can prepare himself for God's grace, or accept the offered grace, nor be capable of it for and of himself, or apply or accommodate himself thereto, or by his own powers be able of himself, as of himself, to aid, do, work, or concur in working anything towards his conversion, either wholly, or half, or in any, even the least or most inconsiderable part; but that he is the servant [and slave] of sin, John 8:34, and a captive of the devil, by whom he is moved, Eph. 2:2; 2 Tim. 2:26. Hence the natural free will according to its perverted disposition and nature is strong and active only with respect to what is displeasing and contrary to God.” (SD.II:7)
As far as salvation, faith, grace, and forgiveness is concerned, we obtain this not because of our own merits, meaning ANY work we do, but freely for the benefit of Christ; through faith alone in Christ.
“Therefore there is a great difference between baptized and unbaptized men. For since, according to the doctrine of St. Paul, (Gal. 3:27), all who have been baptized have put on Christ, and thus are truly regenerate, they have now a liberated will, that is, as Christ says, they have been made free again, (John 8:36); whence they are able not only to hear the Word, but also to assent to it and accept it, although in great weakness.” (SD.II:67)
For when we talk about being justified by Christ, being turned into a free man, we are NOT talking about believers, after they have by faith, having accepted the remission of sins for Christ’s sake should also be renewed in the spirit of their mind. Neither is the issue whether or not the renewal belongs to the benefits of Christ.
Neither is the issue whether or not repentance, contrition, good intentions, love, or good works should follow such faith.
The chief issue is this: what is it that makes God receive sinful man in to grace? What must and can be set over against the judgment of God that we may not be condemned according to the strict sentence of the Law? What must faith apprehend and bring forward, on what must it rely in order to deal with God, and what intervenes between the sinner and eternal damnation?
Is it the satisfaction, obedience, and merit of the Son of God, the Mediator? Or is it the renewal which had been begun in you all, the love, and other virtues in you?
Justification is therefore not a process, but a promise, a promise that creates and gives in reality what God says. A promise that says, if the Son sets you free, you are free indeed. God is not a liar and God is not mocked.
Jesus is what makes God receive sinful man into grace. Jesus is what is set over and against the judgment of God that we may not be condemned. Jesus is what faith apprehends and brings forward and relies on to deal with God. Jesus is our intermediary and interventionist between us and eternal death.
Hopefully you see the importance of justification and the fight that the church of the
confession wages against the devil and this world. It is not hate-filled-labels,
or moldy history, nor is it “my church is better than your church”.
What we are interested in is the Truth. So, what we follow is that truth. Since we find truth in the
confession, we expect everyone to find that same truth. If we are seeking
like-minded believers, we ask what they think about the Augsburg Confession. If
they’ve never read it, we give them a copy.
For we want them to hear and believe what we hear and believe: that Justification is a free gift from God, a promise, not a process, that stands no matter what we do to it, because we did not make the promise, neither would we, but God did by His Son. And if this Crucified and risen Jesus Christ sets you free, then you are free indubitably.
Today marks the 487th anniversary of the presentation of that Augsburg Confession, and the birth of the
not on Reformation Day as most suppose. This was the first of the Reformation
Confessions defining just what was being reformed. In fact, as we have been
studying the Formula of Concord, which was written later, we find that everyone
agreed with the Augsburg Confession, until they started splitting off. Lutheran Church
“On Saturday, June 25, 1530, at three o’clock in the afternoon, Dr. Christian Beyer stood, walked toward the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, Charles V, and began reading the
Confession in a loud and distinct
voice. Through the open windows a hushed crowd outside in the courtyard
hung on his every word, as did the two hundred or so people gathered in the
hall. Beside Dr. Beyer stood Dr. Gregory Brück, holding a copy of the Augsburg Confession in
Latin. The German princes around them stood up to indicate their support
for the Confession. The emperor motioned for them to sit down. Augsburg
When Dr. Beyer finished reading, Dr. Brück took the German copy of the Confession from him, handed both copies to the emperor, and said, ‘Most gracious Emperor, this is a Confession that will even prevail against the gates of hell, with the grace and help of God.’ Thus was the
presented as a unique Confession of the truth of God’s holy Word, distinct from
Romanism on the one hand, and Reformed, Anabaptists, and radicals on the other. Augsburg
"... [in this way the] courageous Lutheran laymen confessed their faith and told the emperor and the Roman Church what they believed, taught, and confessed. They relied on the promise of God’s Word, as contained in Psalm 119:46, ‘I will also speak of Your testimonies before kings and shall not be put to shame.’ The
Confession was presented as a statement of biblical truth and a proposal for
true unity in the Christian faith. It has never been withdrawn.” Augsburg