No Confession No Church
Friday of Pentecost 2
23 June 2017
Christians have always confessed their faith (1Pt 3:16), even at the cost of their own lives. Jesus calls on us to confess Him before men (Mt 10:33). Where the Lord has built the citadel of His church and she has confessed Him faithfully, the devil has mined her walls with his own confession. That makes our confessing all the more urgent. The confession of the truth beats back the foe's assault upon the kingdom of God, not because we confess more fervently or with greater passion than the one who confesses lies, but because of the inherent power of the Word of God that we confess to speak back the darkness. God's speaking bars the way to the citadel of the church. God's Word is always much more than information, but more importantly a Word that accomplishes what it says. It is never just instruction but an act-Word. One can see why it is so important to know and confess faithfully the Word of God because it accomplishes what it says (Gn 1).
Our Lutheran fathers took seriously the responsibility to confess the divine truth. That truth includes the deepest mysteries, such as the doctrine of the holy Trinity. The responsibility to confess the truth sets before us two alternatives, especially to the detriment of falsehood. That which contradicts the Christian truth must be rejected by the church if she is to remain the church. To contra-dict means literally "to speak against." When the dragon roars his lies or whispers his alternative truth, we should not fail to speak for God. That is the only weapon we have: a powerful two-edged sword that divides striking to the division of bone and marrow. God's story must speak against the satanic contradiction. Nothing riles our enemy more than hurling the Word of God at him. From it he flees defeated. No middle ground exists between Satan's speaking and God's. The alternative is clear. Either we smite Satan by confessing the truth, or we speak for Christ by denying it. Absent this confession the church ceases to be.
On 25 June 1530 the Lutheran confessors stood before Emperor Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire confessing the Christian truth when called to account for the hope that was in them (1Pt 3:16). Their confession of faith, called the Augsburg Confession, became the fundamental statement of their faith along with the Catechisms of Martin Luther. To these confessions Lutherans pledged both themselves and their posterity when they were collected into the Book of Concord in 1580. This collection of confessions is still relevant today in a world in which there is nothing new under the sun. Satan has not changed the kind of attack with which he approaches the church, only the names are changed. The Lutheran Confessions conclude by commending the faith of the ancient creeds: the Nicene and Athanasian to us. For these "old" confessions faithfully protect us from the "new" heresies the enemy flings at us. This is why we are glad to pledge ourselves to these "old" confessions. They are protective summaries of the Bible's faith.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

The Lutheran Confessions
"Some Anti-Trinitarians reject and condemn the old, approved symbols, the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds, both as to content and terminology, and instead teach that there is not one eternal, divine essence of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but that, as there are three distinct persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, so also each person has a distinct essence separate from the other two. Some teach that all three persons in the Trinity, like any three distinct and essentially separate human persons, have the same power, wisdom, majesty, and glory, while others teach that the three persons in the Trinity are unequal in their essence and properties. That only the Father is genuinely and truly God.
"All these and similar articles, and whatever attaches to them or follows from them, we reject and condemn as false, erroneous, heretical, contrary to the Word of God, to the three Creeds, to the Augsburg Confession and the Apology, to the Smalcald Articles, to Luther's Catechisms. All pious Christians will and should avoid these as dearly as they love their soul's welfare and salvation.
"Therefore, in the presence of God and of all Christendom among both our contemporaries and our posterity, we wish to testify that the present explanation of all the foregoing controverted articles here explained, and none other, is our teaching, belief, and confession in which by God's grace we shall appear with intrepid hearts before the judgment seat of Jesus Christ and for which we shall give an account. Nor shall we speak or write anything, privately or publicly, contrary to this confession, but we intend through God's grace to abide by it. In view of this we have advisedly, in the fear and invocation of God, subscribed our signatures with our own hands." 

Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, 12.37-40

Acts 24:10-21

When the governor had nodded to him to speak, Paul replied: "Knowing that for many years you have been a judge over this nation, I cheerfully make my defense. You can verify that it is not more than twelve days since I went up to worship in Jerusalem, and they did not find me disputing with anyone or stirring up a crowd, either in the temple or in the synagogues or in the city. Neither can they prove to you what they now bring up against me. But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets, having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust. So I always take pains to have a clear conscience toward both God and man. Now after several years I came to bring alms to my nation and to present offerings. While I was doing this, they found me purified in the temple, without any crowd or tumult. But some Jews from Asia- they ought to be here before you and to make an accusation, should they have anything against me. Or else let these men themselves say what wrongdoing they found when I stood before the council, other than this one thing that I cried out while standing among them: 'It is with respect to the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial before you this day.'" (ESV)
Almighty God, You granted our fathers intrepid hearts to confess the holy truth before kings and emperors. Send Your Spirit among us that we might confess the same truth in our day, that the light of Your gospel might be proclaimed against the darkness in all generations. Amen.
For Karolyn Hewitt, who is in a coma, that the Lord Jesus would guide and guard the hands of those who care for her and that healing would be brought to her
For the family of Cathy Pierson, whose mortal remains will be laid to rest tomorrow, that they would confess the resurrection of the flesh and the life of the world to come
For 1st VP Herbert C. Mueller of the LCMS, that the Lord would be with him as he serves the church
Art: Anton von WERNER,  Luther Before the Diet of Worms (1877)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2017
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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