What are we celebrating when we commemorate this day of the presentation of the Augsburg Confession by the reformers to Emperor Charles V?
St. Paul tells us that division is a part of this life since the Fall. We should not be ashamed when there is division over the Truth of the Word, but neither do we seek it out. The opening paragraphs of the Augsburg Confession demonstrate this.
Lutherans acknowledge that there are Christians in other denominations, which is why we often speak of the church on earth as being an "invisible church". We affirm they are Christians despite that many folks do not have the blessing to hear the pure doctrines of the Word taught to them; that they have not heard the Law & Gospel preached rightly. Walther said both in lectures and sermons that where the Word and Sacraments are present -- even if not in their purity -- God still works salvation out of His kindness and mercy. Our Lutheran fathers said this also in the introduction to our Lutheran Confessions (The Book of Concord, Preface: 20).
Even so, it still matters to be a Lutheran of the Augsburg Confession because that Confession and its Apology profess the fullness of the Truth. Before His passion, Jesus prayed that the church on earth would be sanctified by this Truth, and so we have been through the means of grace -- that is the Word and the Sacraments.
The Truth matters, and this is what we reflect upon this day. Jesus Himself said that He came not to bring peace, but a sword; this imagery is repeated in the Revelation given to St. John the Evangelist (Rev. 2:12,16), and when St. Paul exhorts Christians to put on "the *full* armour of God" which includes the belt of Truth around our waist (Eph. 2:14).
The Truth of His Word is how God our Father preserves us when we must contend with the devil, the world, and our flesh in cosmic, spiritual warfare beneath the shadow of the cross. And it is our fervent prayer that God would continue to work in us through his Holy Spirit, to reveal the Truth to us and to our neighbors and family: that we might see clearly our desperate need for redemption and remain steadfast upon the Rock of Truth and our salvation, Christ Jesus, during trials and the evil hour. This is our hope for eternal life, for which we wait patiently, and to which we are anchored (Rom. 8:24-25, Heb. 6:13-20).
Josh Radke is deacon at Hope Lutheran Church in Bangor ME. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Created: June 25th, 2015