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Consolation Given to Devout Consciences

August 10, 2009

I picked up Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions after quite some time away from it and this passage from Article Four of the Apology to the Augsburg Confession struck me:

“When it [justification] is understood correctly, it illumines and amplifies Christ’s honor which is especially useful for the clear, correct understanding of the entire Holy Scriptures, and alone shows the way to the unspeakable treasure and right knowledge of Christ, and alone opens the door to the entire Bible. It brings necessary and most abundant consolation to devout consciences.”

I was first struck by how the Scriptures remain a closed book without Christ at the center, specifically His atoning work on the cross. At the cross we see justification in action, for it is there that Christ paid for all the sins of the world. But is that justification for me?

This is where the final sentence of the passage struck me: “It brings necessary and most abundant consolation to devout consciences.” Who are those devout consciences, and most importantly, am I one of them? If I examine myself, I find not a devout person but a poor, miserable sinner. All hope is lost!

But Christ has given us His Word and Sacraments to work faith in us and to forgive our sins. In Holy Baptism, the Holy Spirit worked faith in my heart, bringing Christ’s atoning sacrifice to bear on my sins. Living in this Baptism daily, the Old Adam is drowned and dies so that the New Man may daily rise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever. I am further reminded of my baptism when the pastor speaks the words of Holy Absolution, telling me that yes, Christ died for even my many sins. My sins are forgiven and my faith is strengthened through the Lord’s Supper of His very body and blood.

Because of what Christ has done for me on the cross, delivered to me through God’s Means of Grace, I am now the devout person the Apology speaks of. Not because of anything good in me, but because of everything good in Him. What a blessing is this Gospel! Amen! Thanks be to God!

From → Theology

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