This is my fifth post in a series on the unaltered Augsburg Confession. A full copy of which you can find HERE. I have two older blog posts which I would recommend reading if you have not, which present both the office and means of grace from scripture.
“So that we might receive this faith, God established the ministry of teaching the gospel and administering the sacraments. For the Holy Spirit is given to people through the Word and sacraments, the tools through which God works. Whenever and wherever it pleases God, this ministry creates faith in the hearts of those who hear the gospel. And the gospel message is this: that not because of our own merits, but for Christ’s sake, God justifies those who believe that they are received into grace because of what Christ did.
We condemn the Anabaptists and all others who believe that the Holy Spirit can come to people without the external Word, through their own preparations, thoughts, and actions.”– The Unaltered Augsburg Confession
The idea is that God saves through means, and that the office God has given is here to provide these means. It is not the means themselves which save, but God’s work in with and under them. The most notable of which is the preaching of the Word.
When the confessions condemn the anabaptists it is because they are condemned by their false teaching in rejecting Monergistic means of Grace. Just like Rome, they teach quite consistently that man must be prepared and disposed of himself to receive grace, usually in the form of making a decision.
Just like Rome does most protestants will use the false teaching of prevenient grace to get around the obstacle of original sin here. Some these days won’t even bother to do that. The great irony in my opinion is that much of Protestantism today teaches the same falsehood of Rome, they just set the bar lower that’s all.
I think this is very sad, and those who don’t have the comfort from scripture that they are fully and wholly saved by Christ without themselves at all are condemned in false teaching. This doesn’t mean they are going to hell. But it does create an unnecessary stumbling block at best.
Jesus didn’t die on the cross to lower the bar so that it is easier for you to save yourself. Jesus took the punishment of sin for us entirely and gives this benefit to us. We contribute nothing but the sin that made it necessary. He has even sent others to find you and give it to you through means so that you can physically witness it happen and know that your salvation is a done deal.
You heard the Word of God preached in which God has promised to create faith in you. You were baptized in which God has saved you. You received the very body and blood of Christ in your mouth by which God has forgiven you. There is no reaching within your heart to grope the devil and ponder whether or not you were saved. You don’t have to try harder to make the decision right next time, it’s a done deal.
There is a great comfort and peace in this. Many well meaning faithful Christians like the Anabaptists above of course receive this benefit but they miss out on the comfort that goes with it due to false teaching.