A Simple Explanation of Justification by Faith
We teach, that we cannot obtain forgiveness of sins and righteousness before God, through our own merits, works or satisfaction, but that we obtain forgiveness of sins, and become righteous before God through grace, for Christ’s sake, by faith, if we believe that Christ suffered for us, and that for his sake sins are forgiven, and righteousness and eternal life are granted to us.
We are accounted righteous before God, only for the merits of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by faith, and not for our own works or deservings. Art. Epis. Church.
1. Saving faith must have a promise of God for its object. This promise is, that God will forgive us our sins, and grant us eternal life for Christ’s sake, under the condition that we penitently receive and embrace him as our Saviour. Mich. comp.th.dog. art. Faith.
He, who feels sorrow and grief on account of his sins, and truly believes that he is deserving of eternal damnation, but yet, that God will pardon his sins for Christ’s sake, will receive and embrace this promise of forgiveness and eternal life, with the greatest desire and eagerness, and at the same time be willing to perform those conditions, under which God offers them, to the utmost of his ability; so that he will endeavor, from that moment, to renounce the service of sin, for which Christ had to endure such dreadful punishments, and strive to love him with all his heart. Ibidem.
2. The faith, by and through which we are justified, consists not in a bare knowledge and assent to the truth of the gospel; but it is a certain inward persuasion, by which we sincerely, and with our whole heart, do embrace the doctrines contained in the word of God as true, and especially Christ as our Saviour, and this persuasion must penetrate the heart; and be accompanied with a suitable practice. Osterwald’s Theology.
3. The distinguishing doctrine of the reformation saith Dr. Buchanan, in his sermon, entitled “Star in the East,” was justification by faith. “This, said Luther, is the only solid rock. This rock, continues he, did Satan shake in paradise, when he persuaded our first parents, that by their own wisdom and power they might become like unto God, and thereby induced them to renounce their faith in God, who had given them life and a promise of its continuance.— The kingdom of Satan, added Luther, is to be resisted by this heavenly and all-powerful doctrine. Whether we be rude or eloquent—whether we be learned or unlearned, this rock must be defended—this doctrine must be published in animated strains.—It is “the magna charta ecclesiae stantis vel cadentis.” Luther’s preface to the Galatians.
— From “History, Doctrine, and Discipline of the Evangelical Lutheran Church” published in 1818. The whole book can be found here.