Justified by faith
Philip Melanchthon was a friend and co-worker of Martin Luther’s. In 1530, when Lutheran leaders were called before the Holy Roman Emperor to defend their teaching and preaching, Luther, who had been branded an outlaw, could not go. It was Melanchthon, therefore, who led the reformers at Augsburg and authored the Augsburg Confession. Today, the Augsburg Confession remains a confession of what we believe as Christians. Luther identified justification by faith, which is confessed in Article IV of the Augsburg Confession, as the “first and chief article” of the Christian faith.
In his Apology (a longer explanation of the Confession), Article IV, Melanchthon writes:
“But since justification takes place through a free promise, it follows that we cannot justify ourselves. Otherwise, why would a promise be needed? And since the promise cannot be grasped in any other way than by faith, the gospel, which is, strictly speaking, the promise of the forgiveness of sins and justification on account of Christ, proclaims the righteousness of faith in Christ, which the law does not teach. Nor is this righteousness a law. For the law requires of us our own works and our own perfection. But the promise freely offers to us, who are oppressed by sin and death, reconciliation on account of Christ which is received not by works, but by faith alone.”
This is the faith we believe, teach, and confess.
Grace and peace to you,