Those who think they win God's favor by their good deeds are lost sheep. The Good Shepherd is calling them and saying, "Fear not, I have paid in full for all your pride, rebellion and sinfulness, you are forgiven, rejoice in My gift of mercy.
The authors of the [Roman] Confutation have clearly condemned the following: (a) faith is a part of repentance, (b) we obtain forgiveness of sins by faith, (c) and by faith we overcome the terrors of sin, so the conscience is soothed. Who does not see that this article-that by faith we obtain the forgiveness of sins-is most true, most certain, and especially necessary to all Christians? Who to all posterity, hearing that such a doctrine has been condemned, will judge that the authors of it had any knowledge of Christ?
Even though the adversaries claim the name of the Church for themselves, we know that Christ's Church is with those who teach Christ's Gospel, not with those who defend wicked opinions contrary to the Gospel. As the Lord says, "My sheep hear My voice" (John 10:27). And Augustine says: The question is, "Where is the Church?" What, therefore, are we to do? Are we to seek it in our own words or in the words of its Head, our Lord Jesus Christ? I think that we ought to seek it in the words of Him who is Truth, and who knows His own body best.
In this way the judgments of our adversaries will not disturb us, since they defend human opinions contrary to the Gospel, contrary to the authority of the Holy Fathers who have written in the Church, and contrary to the testimonies of godly minds. (paragraphs 277, 279)
Condensed from CONCORDIA: THE LUTHERAN CONFESSIONS, copyright 2005,2006 by Concordia Publishing House. Used by permission. All rights reserved. To purchase a copy of CONCORDIA, call 800-325-3040.