"For it is certain that forgiveness of sins is received through faith alone."
-- Article V Apology of Augsburg Confession (line 37, page 133 from the Reader's Edition of the Book of Concord)
I've started plowing my way into the 5th article of the Apology Augsburg Confession (which actually means "in defence of.") It has been an amazing and fascinating experience. I find myself saying quietly as I read "yeah, that's right," "right on," "yep," and "wow, that was deep."
I've found myself underlining passages in pencil and scrawling notes in the margins.
They make it sound so easy. Faith. You are sanctified through faith. Through faith you are saved. Its not works. Being a "good person" doesn't give you a "get out of jail card." At some point, I'd have go back get the exact quote, the Apology says something to the effect of: "if you depend on works for salvation then you negate Jesus' sacrifice." Wow. We cannot, through our own designs, save ourselves. The faith that we received through the Holy Spirit is the only sure fire way.
I have been accused by friends of going a little overboard with research. I find a topic that interest me and I go and do research on it learn all I can. As a result of this need, I have found myself running (okay, walking) to my bookshelf and pulling down Walther's Proper Distinction BetweenLaw & Gospel and the CTCR (aka Commision on Theology and Churhc Relations)Document regarding Justification. I even went so far as to dig out my copy of Klug and Stahlke's book Getting into the Formula of Concord I may not need that right away, but its good to have that on tap.
I'll have much more to write about as I continue to read, my mind has to work through it all.
"... we are not justified by the Law, we receive forgiveness of sins and reconciliation through faith for Christ's sake. This is not because of love or the fulfilling of the Law; it follows neccesarily that we are justified through faith in Christ." (paragraph 38, page 133).