Augsburg Confession Article IV: About Justification


This is my fourth post in a series on the unaltered Augsburg Confession.  A full copy of which you can find HERE.  In my opinion this is the most important article of the Augsburg Confession.  The Gospel itself hinges on this doctrine, the minute you start adding the merits of man to salvation the Gospel is swallowed up by the Law.


“Our  churches  also  teach  that  humans  cannot  be justified before God by their own power, merits, or deeds. Rather, they are freely justified for  Christ’s sake  through faith. By faith we mean this: that they believe that they are both received into God’s favor and that their sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake. For by his death, Christ has paid the debt for our sins. Thus God views the person who has this faith to be righteous in his sight (Romans 3 and 4).”– The Unaltered Augsburg Confession


I have very lengthy posts on Faith, Grace, and Justification which I recommend reading if you’re unfamiliar with the topic.  The idea though is that God gives faith to man as a gift.  Man doesn’t have to be prepared for it or contribute to it, he just receives it.


“17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Rom 10:17 KJV 

“8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:; 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Eph 2:8-9 KJV 

“1 What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?; 2 For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.; 3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.; 4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.; 5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” Rom 4:1-5 KJV 

“9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faithPhp 3:9 KJV 


In the blog posts that I linked above I dig into this in greater depth.  But the idea from scripture that is confessed at Augsburg is that we are saved by faith alone.  Using the word “only” in a theological confession is a bold thing.  As you may have noticed with the confessions on the Trinity and such one cannot say “only” very often.  Instead you have to accept all teachings as true though paradox exists.  With justification however there is a very clear “only”.  I have highlighted some of the key words above that make this the only possible interpretation of Pauls teachings.  Furthermore, Paul ties this to the Gospel itself and anathematizes those who teach otherwise.


“8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” Gal 1:8 KJV 

“1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.; 3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” 1 Cor 15:1-4 KJV 


Either Paul is a anathema or the synergists are, there is no third option.  And since Paul so carefully and clearly defines Justification as something that is imputed to us through faith without works at all, I do believe that the word “only” is necessary here.  Works of man cannot be added to Justification.

About ACTheologian

I am a layman who blogs my Biblical studies. Enjoy, please read with an open Bible and do double check with your pastor.
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