The Lutheran Reformation: Believe, teach and confess
The Book of Concord (a.k.a. the Lutheran Confessions — a series of documents stating Lutheran doctrine based on strict adherence to Biblical truth) uses a phrase multiple times in its writings, that phrase being, “We believe, teach and confess…”
This assertion goes deeper than to merely express what one thinks, regards or interprets, but to what composes our faith and conviction, as to say, “By God’s grace, with intrepid hearts, we are willing to appear before the judgment seat of Christ with this confession” (Quote from Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, XII 40).
This is indeed a bold claim, not one made from reckless thought but in courageous conviction, without shame or regard for what we would suffer here on earth. Why would we today, or our Church founders in the time of the Reformation, make such a bold confession? This confession is made as it stands on the truth of God’s Word.
This is nothing new for God’s people. Stephen, in the Book of Acts was stoned to death for boldly proclaiming Jesus as the Son of God to officials who rejected Christ. John the Baptist was beheaded for speaking scriptural, moral truth in admonition to Herod. All but one of Jesus’ original disciples met gruesome, martyrs’ deaths for what they believed, taught and confessed.
Yet we find in confessing “truth” a challenge as old as time itself. What is truth? Pontius Pilate asked the question during the mock trial of Jesus, and today much philosophical thought believes truth to be relative, changing or determined by the times or by the individual’s need, interpretation or benefit.
Truth, by definition is: conformity with fact, reality, actual existence, agreement with a standard or rule. So to determine truth, one must consider — is there an authority above all other, that we will, if not now, one day be required to give an account of ourselves? One authority to which every knee shall bow and every tongue confess?
That answer is a confident yes! God is our designer, maker and moral authority and has given us His standard (as well as His forgiving grace) in the pages of His Holy Word, the Bible. For opponents of the faith to create their own truth or standard becomes a house built on sand. It will not stand the test, nor will it save.
To believe, teach and confess on God’s foundation gave the reformers of the Church the strength, conviction and the right to stand against the established Church of the 1500’s to identify and protest its errors, where it strayed from Scriptural truth. And today, God’s foundation gives us the conviction to speak out against the moral decay and shifting values that mark a culture straying from the “truth” of God’s holy Word.
To learn more about the Reformation, visit St. Paul Lutheran in Fredonia (672-6731), Immanuel Lutheran in Gowanda (532-4342) and Trinity Lutheran in Silver Creek (934-2002).