1 It is also taught among us that we cannot obtain forgiveness of sin and righteousness before God by our own merits, works, or
satisfactions, but that we receive forgiveness of sin and become righteous before God by grace, for Christ’s sake, through faith,
2 when we believe that Christ suffered for us and that for his sake our sin is forgiven and righteousness and eternal life are given to us.
3 For God will regard and reckon this faith as righteousness, as Paul says in Romans 3:21–26 and 4:5.
V. [THE OFFICE OF THE MINISTRY]
1 To obtain such faith God instituted the office of the ministry, that is, provided the Gospel and the sacraments.
2 Through these, as through means, he gives the Holy Spirit, who works faith, when and where he pleases, in those who hear the Gospel.
3 And the Gospel teaches that we have a gracious God, not by our own merits but by the merit of Christ, when we believe this.
4 Condemned are the Anabaptists and others5 who teach that the Holy Spirit comes to us through our own preparations, thoughts, and works without the external word of the Gospel.
VI. [THE NEW OBEDIENCE]
1 It is also taught among us that such faith should produce good fruits and good works and that we must do all such good works as God has commanded,6 but we should do them for God’s sake and not place our trust in them as if thereby to merit favor before God.
Theodore G. Tappert, ed., The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959), 30–32.
These articles in the Augsburg Confession are tied together. Our JUSTIFICATION is from God, worked by faith. Faith doesn’t sprout willy-nilly from the air, THE OFFICE OF THE HOLY MINISTRY (A.K.A. PASTORS) preach the Gospel and administer the sacraments. The Holy Spirit works faith in those who hear The Gospel. After faith works, THE NEW OBEDIENCE begins showing up in our lives as a way to thank our God for these extraordinary gifts.
If God chooses to work through plain old human beings, far be it from me to argue. Pastors, their wives, and children certainly have targets painted on their backs!
We get to thank them for their work this month. This article is a lousy way to do it, but it’s my way to start.