AS TAUGHT IN LUTHER’S SMALL CATECHISM
Concordia Publishing House, 1901 Edition
Translation from German by V. H. Harley
P. 164 ff. II. Of The Forgiveness of Sins or Justification.
305. Why do you say in this article: I believe in the Forgiveness of Sins?
Because I hold with certainty that by my own powers or through my
own works I cannot be justified before God, but that the forgiveness of sins is
given me out of grace through faith in Jesus Christ. For where there is
forgiveness of sins, there is also true justification.
Ps. 130, 3.4; Ps. 143, 2; Is. 64, 6; Job 25, 4-6 (Q.124).
306. What is Justification?
Justification is that activity (Handlung) of God by which He out of
pure grace and mercy for the sake of Christ’s merits forgives the sins of a poor
sinner who truly believes in Jesus Christ and receives him to everlasting life.
307. How then do you become righteous before God and receive
Not out of any merit or works or through an indwelling and infused
righteousness, but alone out of God’s grace and mercy through and on account
of the sole merit of Christ which I with true confidence of the heart have taken
hold of and appropriated to myself.
Through the most holy obedience, as also through the suffering and
death of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, not through any other works. This I
hold on to with unwavering faith (ungezweifeltem Glauben), and upon this I
place the full confidence of my heart.
308. With which testimonies of the Scripture do you prove this?
Rom. 3:23-25; Rom. 3:28 (Q.147); Eph. 2:8 (Q.147); 2 Tim. 1:9;
(Q. 288); Rom. 4:5 (Q. 140); Rom. 10:4 (Q.125); Ps. 32:1.2 (Cp. Rom. 4:6-8),
Gen. 15:6 (Cp. Rom. 4:3); Is. 53:11; Rom. 11:6.
309. But how can one say that we are justified alone out of grace, alone
for the sake of Christ’s merits, and alone through faith, and yet also through the
Word and Sacraments?
We become justified:
1) Out of God’s grace and mercy as the activating cause
2) For the sake of Christ’s merit as the sole meritorius cause
(alleinigen verdienstlichen Ursache).
3) Alone through faith, as the sole instrumental cause (die einige
Mittelursache) or hand which takes hold of salvation.
4) Finally through the Word and Sacraments, as through the Means of
Grace, which partly offer and partly seal the salvation
(Gnadenmittel, die die seligkeit theils darbieten, theils
310. Can and should believers be certain of their faith and of their
justification and salvation?
Yes, most certainly; because: Since the evangelical promises of the
forgiveness of sins, of perseverance in faith, and of obtaining eternal life are
1) entirely firm and certain (1 Cor. 1:20),
2) affirmed by a divine oath (Ezek. 33:11 -Q.180, Cp. Heb.
3) sealed by the Holy Spirit in the hearts of the pious (2 cor.
4) and affirmed through the holy Sacraments as seal
therefore they can and should be certain that neither death, nor life may
separate them from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 8:
38.39, 2 Tim. 1:12, Q. 139).
NOTE: The above was translated from the edition done by Dr. Johann Conrad
Dietrich, Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, Mo.. This was the official
Catechism of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Missouri, Ohio and other States at the beginning of this century.