For the church does not live by morals, by the knowledge and observance of God’s law. Nor does it live by religion, by lofty experiences of the divine and an awareness of the mysteries of God. It lives solely by the forgiveness of sins. Hence reformation does not consist, as the late Middle Ages believed, and as has been believed in wide circles of the Protestant world, of an ethico-religious correction, of a moral quickening and a spiritual deepening throughout the church. It consists, rather, according to its own peculiar nature, of the revival of the preaching of the Gospel of the forgiveness of sins for Christ’s sake. That such a revival of the church’s message must have important consequences also in reviving the life of its members and in renovating the external forms of the church is only natural. But these are only consequences. What the world called, and still does call, reformation of the church is only the fruit of the real Reformation, the revival of the pure doctrine of the Gospel.
Hermann Sasse, Here We Stand, 69-70