Confession and Absolution with the Lutheran Fathers

January 23, 2010 at 7:31 am 1 comment

I came across this quote in the Lutheran Confessions and thought it might be appropriate as you prepare for worship this weekend. Two things are striking to me about this quote. First, the candor of the confessors concerning their sinfulness is a good reminder to us all concerning the importance of transparency over and against hypocrisy. Second, the questions asked by the confessors serve as a terrific guide for a private time of confession before God.  As you read, read the questions slowly and ask yourself, “How have I fallen short in each of these areas?” Be honest with yourself and with God.  But then, read on! For the second paragraph of this quote lays before us the sure and certain hope that we have been forgiven of our sins for the sake of Christ!  Indeed, I love how the confessors quote Augustine to this end: “All the commandments of God are fulfilled when whatever is not done, is forgiven.” This is beautiful gospel, for it reminds us that we are only righteous, noble, pious, and good when God forgives us for all the ways in which we have been sinful, depraved, wicked, and bad!  What a gracious God we serve and trust.

So, with that primer in mind, here is some wisdom from our Lutheran forefathers:

The Law always accuses us. For who loves or fears God sufficiently? Who with sufficient patience bears the afflictions imposed by God? Who does not frequently doubt whether human affairs are ruled by God’s counsel or by chance? Who does not frequently doubt whether he be heard by God? Who is not frequently enraged because the wicked enjoy a better lot than the pious, because the pious are oppressed by the wicked? Who does satisfaction to his own calling? Who loves his neighbor as himself? Who is not tempted by lust? Accordingly, Paul says in Romans 7:19: “The good that I would I do not; but the evil which I would not, that I do.”

Augustine says: “All the commandments of God are fulfilled when whatever is not done, is forgiven.”…Wherefore we cannot conclude that we are accounted righteous before God because of our fulfilling of the Law, but in order that the conscience may become tranquil, justification must be sought elsewhere. For we are not righteous before God as long as we flee from God’s judgment, and are angry with God. Therefore we must conclude that, being reconciled by faith, we are accounted righteous for Christ’s sake, not for the sake of the Law or our works.

Defense of the Augsburg Confession III 45-56

Want to read more from the Lutheran Confessions? Go to

Entry filed under: Devotional Thoughts.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Rev. Kevin Jennings  |  January 23, 2010 at 9:09 am

    Hi, Zach!

    Calvin voiced similar sentiments. The rules say, “Love God and your neighbor.” Calvin’s response was, “As if that were easy.”

    The great word of forgiveness is the great word that the triune God vows not to get even for the sake of Christ.

    The quotes you provide are critical for our understanding of ourselves because, interestingly enough, they come from the article concerning Original Sin. Will I ever do enough is changed to I will never do enough. Will I ever love sufficiently is changed to I will never love sufficiently.

    The Gospel of forgiveness is the sweetest, most soothing news. To those who honestly hear God’s Law and know the terror of their situation, God’s promise not to get even for the sake of Christ, received in faith, lifts the weight, or as Luther might say, opens the gates of heaven.

    God bless!


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