Augsburg Confession, Articles 6-7

Justified (610x351)AC VI: New Obedience

Our churches teach that this faith is bound to bring forth good fruits [Galatians 5:22-23] and that it should do good works commanded by God [Ephesians 2:10], because God so wills it. We should not, however, rely on those works to merit justification before God. For forgiveness of sins and justification are received through faith, as the voice of Christ testifies, “So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty’” (Luke 17:10). The Fathers teach the same thing. Ambrose says, “It is established by God that one who believes in Christ is saved, freely receiving forgiveness of sins, without works, through faith alone.”


Rome’s Response:

Their Confession in the sixth article that faith should bring forth good fruits is acceptable and valid since “faith without works is dead,” (James 2:17), and all Scripture invites us to works…. St. Paul says: “Though I have all faith so that I could remove mountains and have not charity, I am nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:2). Here St. Paul certifies to the princes and the entire Church that faith alone does not justify…. For faith and good works are gifts of God, whereby, through God’s mercy, eternal life is given.


  • Does Article 6 say that a Christian does good works?


  • What does Article 6 say about how we should not view those good works in our lives?


  • Although Rome agrees with us that faith brings forth good works, how are they differentiating themselves from the Lutheran Church?



After Luther’s death, a dispute occurred among Lutheran theologians, whether good works are necessary for salvation. This dispute was settled by the Formula of Concord:

  • Good works are necessary; but good works are not necessary, either to obtain, or to preserve, salvation:
    • Romans 5:2: We have also gained access through Him [Jesus] by faith into this grace in which we now stand.
    • Romans 11:20: They [the Jews who rejected Jesus as the Messiah] were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand by faith.
    • Colossians 1:22: But now Christ has reconciled you by his physical body through death to present you holy, without blemish, and blameless before him [God the Father]
    • 1 Peter 1:5, 9: You are being protected by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time…. You are receiving the end result of your faith: your salvation.


  • On the other hand, it is possible to lose faith and the gift of righteousness and salvation, through sin:
    • 1 Corinthians 6:9: Don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God’s kingdom?
    • Galatians 5:19-21: Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before: Those who like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
    • Ephesians 5:5: For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure, or greedy person (which means worshiping wealth) has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
    • 1 Corinthians 10:12: Let us not grumble, like some of them [the Jews in the Old Covenant] did, and were killed by the destroyer. These things happened to them as an example and were written down as a warning for us, on whom the ends of the ages have come. So let the one who thinks he is standing be careful that he does not fall.


Excursus: Faith and Works

The Apostle Paul said, “For we hold that someone is justified by faith apart from works of the law” (Romans 3:28). However, James, the first Bishop of Jerusalem, said, “So you see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone” (James 2:17). Which is it? It’s both.

The Greek word for “justify” is dikiaoo. The main idea behind dikiaoo is righteous. To help us understand the normal range of meanings for dikiaoo, we turn to the 4th Bishop of Rome, Clement, in a letter he wrote to the congregation at Corinth in 96 AD.

We read in 1 Clement 30:3, “Let us be justified by works and not by words.” Clement wrote that to encourage the Corinthians to be humble and not to boast in themselves. He encouraged each person to let his praise come from God and others, not himself. A little later, Clement stated the same idea using different words: “Let the wise man show his wisdom, not in words, but in works. Let the humble man not testify to his own humility, but let him leave it to others to testify on his behalf” [1 Clement 38:2].

When Clement was telling the Corinthians not to boast, the question was not how someone became righteous, but how he showed or lived out that righteousness. Here, Clement was using “justify” to mean “show to be righteous.”

Yet, we also read in 1 Clement 32:4: “We, having been called through God’s will in Christ Jesus, are not justified through ourselves or through our own wisdom, understanding, piety, or works that we do in holiness of heart, but through faith.” Here, Clement was using “justify” to mean something different than what he meant two chapters earlier.

In chapter 30, Clement said that Christians should be justified “by works and not by words.” But in chapter 32, he said that Christians are “not justified through … works … but through faith.” Which is it? It’s both. It comes down to the different meanings for the Greek word dikiaoo.Meaning of Dikiaoo

In one use of dikiaoo, Clement means “show to be righteous.” In the other, he means to be “made righteous” or “declared righteous.” In Clement, we see two differing meanings of dikiaoo. Those same two meanings also show up in the New Testament.   In Romans, Paul uses “justify” to mean to be made or declared righteous. In James, we see another meaning for “justify”: show to be righteous.

  • Evaluate this statement: Lutherans affirm that good works are necessary but they deny that good works are necessary to save them.


AC VII: The Church

Our churches also teach that one holy Church is to continue forever. The Church is the congregation of saints in which the Gospel is purely taught and the Sacraments are correctly administered. For the true unity of the Church it is enough to agree about the doctrine of the Gospel and the administration of the Sacraments. It is not necessary that human traditions or rites and ceremonies, instituted by people, should be alike everywhere. As Paul says, “One faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all” (Ephesians 4:5-6).


Rome’s Response:

The seventh article of the Confession, where it is affirmed that the Church is the congregation of saints, cannot be admitted without prejudice to faith if by this definition the wicked and sinners be separated from the Church…. Therefore this article of the Confession is in no way accepted.


  • What are the marks of the Church identified by the Lutheran confessors in Article 7?


  • Discuss: Why would Rome have a problem with that definition of how someone can identify the “Church”?


Matthew 26:26-28, Mark 14:22-24, Luke 22:19-20, 1 Corinthians 11:23-25: Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the night when he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to the disciples and said: “Take, eat; this is my body, which is given for you. This do in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup after supper, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying: “Drink of it all of you; this sup is the New Covenant in my blood, which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

Luke 24:47: [Jesus speaking to His Apostles,] “Repentance into the forgiveness of sins is to be preached in his [Jesus’] name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”

John 20:21-23: [Jesus speaking to His Apostles on Easter evening,] “Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace to you! As the Father has apostled me, so also am I sending you.” After saying this, he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain them, they are retained.’”

Matthew 28:19-20: [Jesus speaking to His Apostles,] “Therefore, after going, disciple the nations by baptizing them into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and teaching them to keep all that I have commanded you.”


  • Does the Roman Catholic Church have the Word and Sacraments [baptism, confession and absolution, and Lord’s Supper]?


  • Why then hasn’t the Lutheran Church joined the Roman-Catholic Church?


  • Does your average Protestant Church have both Word and Sacrament?


  • Then why can we consider Protestant churches Christian?


  • Discuss: Does the Lutheran Church have the fullness of what Christ instituted for His Church?



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