“Concord” is a weekly study of the Lutheran Confessions, where we will take up a topic from the Book of Concord and reflect on what we believe, teach, and confess in the Lutheran Church. The purpose of this series is to deepen readers’ knowledge and appreciation for the confessions of the Lutheran Church, and to unite them “with one heart” to confess the teachings of Holy Scripture.
In the second article of the Augsburg Confession, the first evangelical Christians presented the problem of sin. Without delay, the solution to sin is given in the very next article of faith-Jesus Christ. It’s a simple and straightforward confession of faith, but there’s a lot packed into a few words.
Two natures. A whole book can be written on this topic alone, but simply put, Jesus is truly God and truly man: not one or the other; not part God and part man; not the body of a man and the soul of God. All of Jesus-body and soul-at the same time human and divine. This is the mystery of the incarnation: “Also they teach that the Word, that is, the Son of God, did assume the human nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin Mary, so that there are two natures, the divine and the human, inseparably enjoined in one Person, one Christ, true God and true man, who was born of the Virgin Mary” (Augsburg Confession III.1-2).
Sacrifice. He shared in our humanity so that by His death He would be the sacrifice for the sin of humanity. This includes the sin that has been passed down from Adam, as well as all sins which we ourselves have committed since. His blood earned our forgiveness. He “truly suffered, was crucified, dead, and buried, that He might reconcile the Father unto us, and be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for all actual sins of men” (Augsburg Confession III.2-3).
Reign. He is now risen and ascended to God’s right hand where He reigns over all creation, and in particular His kingdom of grace. His reign is His gracious activity in sending the Holy Spirit to create faith and to sanctify the faithful. “He also descended into hell, and truly rose again the third day; afterward He ascended into heaven that He might sit on the right hand of the Father, and forever reign and have dominion over all creatures, and sanctify them that believe in Him, by sending the Holy Ghost into their hearts, to rule, comfort, and quicken them, and to defend them against the devil and the power of sin” (Augsburg Confession III.4-5).
Return. We believe that Jesus will return, and that will be the Last Day of this present creation. He will raise the dead and give everlasting life to those who believe Him. “The same Christ shall openly come again to judge the quick and the dead, etc., according to the Apostles’ Creed” (Augsburg Confession III.6).
There is it. Simple. Clear. Compact. In fact, the whole content of the Christian faith is summarized in this article of faith. The rest of the Augsburg Confession simply unpacks what is already found here: Jesus-true God and true man, the sacrifice for sins, who reigns from God’s right hand, and who will return.
You can read the Book of Concord at http://www.bookofconcord.org
Rev. Jacob Ehrhard serves as pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in New Haven, MO.