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.
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.
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.