48 . . . the faith that justifies is not merely a knowledge of history. It is to believe in God's promise. In the promise, for Christ's sake, forgiveness of sins and justification are freely offered. And so that no one may suppose that this is mere knowledge, we will add further: it is to want and to receive the offered promise of forgiveness of sins and of justification. 49 The difference between this faith and the righteousness of the Law can be easily discerned. Faith is the divine service (litreia) that receives the benefits offered by God. The righteousness of the Law is the divine service (litreia) that offers to God our merits. God wants to be worshiped through faith so that we receive from Him those things He promises and offers. 50 Faith means not only a knowledge of the history, but the kind of faith that believes in the promise. . . . 51 It will be easy to decide what faith is if we consider the Creed, where this article certainly stands: the forgiveness of sins. 52 It is not enough to believe that Christ was born, suffered, was raised again, unless we add also this article, which is the purpose of the history: the forgiveness of sins. . . . 53 Whenever we speak of justifying faith, we must keep in mind that these three objects belong together: the promise, grace, and Christ's merits as the price and atonement. The promise is received through faith. Grace excludes our merits and means that the benefit is offered only through mercy. Christ's merits are the price, because there must be a certain atonement for our sins. 54 Scripture frequently cries out for mercy; the Holy Fathers often say that we are saved by mercy. 55 Therefore, whenever mercy is mentioned, we must keep in mind that faith, which receives the promise of mercy, is required there. Again, whenever we speak about faith, we want an object of faith to be understood, namely, the promised mercy. 56 For faith justifies and saves, not because it is a worthy work in itself, but only because it receives the promised mercy.
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.
Lord grant you faith in His grace alone for your salvation unto eternal life. Amen