Augsburg Confession, Articles 3-4

VDMA (610x352)AC III: The Son of God

1Our churches teach that the Word, that is, the Son of God [John 1:14], assumed the human nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin Mary.  2And so He has two natures–divine and human–inseparably joined in the unity of one Person: one Christ, true God and true man, who was born of the Virgin Mary, truly suffered, was crucified, died, and was buried.  3He did this to reconcile us to the Father and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for all actual sins of people [John 1:29].

4He also descended into hell, and truly rose again on the third day.  Then He ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father.  There He forever reigns and has dominion over all creatures.  5He sanctifies those who believe in Him by sending the Holy Spirit into their hearts to rule, comfort, and enliven them and defend them against the devil and the power of sin.

6This same Christ will publicly return to judge the living and the dead according to the Apostles’ Creed.



This article simply affirmed what the Church has always confessed, which was earlier affirmed in the Council of Chalcedon in 451 AD.  That council decreed:

Following the holy Fathers, we unanimously teach and confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, complete in Godhead and complete in manhood.  He is true God and true man, with a rational soul and a body.  He is of one being with the Father according to His Godhead, and one being with us according to His humanity, like us in all ways except for sin.  Before all time, He was begotten of the Father according to His Godhead, but in these last days He was born for us and for our salvation of Mary the virgin, the bearer of God.

He is one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation.  The difference between the natures is in no way denied by the union; instead, the characteristics of each nature are preserved and both come together into one person.


Rome’s Response:

In the third article there is nothing to offend, since the entire Confession agrees with the Apostles’ Creed and the right rule of faith.


John 1:1, 14: The Apostle John telling us of Jesus and His incarnation: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God….  The Word became flesh and tabernacles among us.”

–          What does Article III first state about the Word?


–          What corrective does this apply for us today when we think of the Word of God?


Colossians 2:9-10: For the entire fullness of God’s nature dwells bodily in Christ, and in him you have been brought to fullness.

–          What does this verse tell us about Jesus?


Philippians 2:6-7: Although he [Jesus] was in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be exploited.  Instead, he emptied himself by taking on the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men.

–          Some think that the man, Jesus, took the Godhead into Himself.  What direction does the above passage show how God and man became on in Christ?


John 14:28: Jesus speaking to His disciples: “You have heard me tell you, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’  If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I am.”

–          How then could Jesus say what He said at the end of this verse?  In what way is Jesus less than the Father?

–          Discuss this paragraph

Lutheran worship is first–and primarily–about God’s action for us.  Article II brings that out when it speaks of the complete inability of human beings to fear and love God within themselves.  So, God’s action comes first, even to Christians “who are being saved,” which was hoe Paul described the Christians in Corinth who were already saved (1 Corinthians 1:18)!

Article III follows up with what is to be proclaimed during worship–the Gospel–as it echoes the ecumenical creeds in speaking of the person and work of Jesus.  For Christians who are saved are still being saved and still need to be saved.  That’s why they come to church.

For further study at home about this read: Ephesians 2:8-9 (salvation as a past event), 1 Corinthians 1:18 (salvation as a present event), and Romans 5:9 (salvation as a future event).


AC IV: Justification

1Our churches teach that people cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits, or works.  2People are justified as a gift because of Christ, through faith, when they believe that they are received into [His] favor and that their sins are forgiven because of Christ, who by His death made reparations for our sins.  3God counts this faith for righteousness in His sight (Romans 3:21-26; 4:5).


Ideas Rejected by Article IV 

  • That a way to salvation exists apart from faith in Christ and His work for you.
  • That people are saved by being “good.”
  • That an honest and sincere attempt will cause on to be saved.
  • That God considers anyone’s deeds or works–because of the goodness of those deeds–as being worthy of salvation.


Rome’s Response:

It is entirely contrary to Holy Scripture to deny that our works are meritorious. . . . all Catholics confess that of themselves our works have no merit but that God’s grace makes them worthy of eternal life.

The official Roman Catholic process of justification

  1. The person apart from Christ does the best he can (“what is in him”) to obey the Law of God written in his heart (civil righteousness, righteousness before others, natural law).
  2. God responds by infusing a person with the innate, essential, original, alien righteousness of Christ (infused righteousness)
  3. The person cooperates with the grace of Christ within him, to produce works of love (actual righteousness, flowing out of faith and essential righteousness)
  4. Because of this spiritual life evident in him, he is justified by God.


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