“Receiving” in Article IV of The Apology of the Augsburg Confession

Article IV of the Apology of the Augsburg Confession (1531) uses the terms “receive” or “received” (etc.) well over thirty times (I lost count!). This is very significant because Article IV is on justification sola fide. I don’t have time and space to explain all the details here and now, but this article uses the terms “receive” or “receives” so many times because it is echoing Scripture’s truth that a sinner is justified by faith alone in Christ alone, not by works. In other words, faith receives a gift: God’s mercy, forgiveness, and the righteousness of Christ. Faith is not a work that God rewards with justification now or in the future. Justifying faith doesn’t give anything to God, it receives from him. Faith is the open hand of a beggar receiving a blessing from God. Here are just a few examples of how Article IV uses the “receive” words (I’ve emphasized them in bold):

“Faith justifies and saves, not because it is a worthy work in itself, but only because it receives the promised mercy.”

“By faith alone in Christ – not through love, not because of love of works – we receive the forgiveness of sins, although love follows faith.”

“…A promise cannot be received except by faith alone.”

“…We receive Christ’s benefits by this [faith] alone.”

“Because faith receives forgiveness of sins and reconciles us to God, we are <like Abraham> counted as righteous for Christ’s sake before we love and before we do the works of the Law, although love necessarily follows.”

There is obviously more to the discussion. I just wanted to point out a great emphasis in the Apology that I thought was helpful and edifying!

The above quotes were taken from Article IV of the Apology in Concordia.

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015