I Believe

I Believe

26/10/11 19:51
I believe . . .

Standing before the congregation to give a personal testimony about one’s faith strikes many Lutherans as awkward. Rightly we shy away from anything that might draw attention away from God and place it on ourselves. Thus we focus our attention and our conversation upon what God has done for us.

“What God has done for us” and personal testimonies do go together. They did for our first Lutheran laymen and pastors when they stood before the Emperor Charles V. At his summons in1530 they presented a written confession of their faith and practices. The Reformation, modestly begun by a little monk in Wittenberg on October 31, 1517, had swept through Germany like a wildfire threatening to envelope all Europe. This “threat” to the empire had to be addressed. Our Lutheran fathers gladly accepted Charles’ summons, knowing that it presented an opportunity to speak the true Gospel to more people. Note how the compilers of the Book of Concord (The Lutheran Confessions) described that meeting:

In these last days of this transitory world the Almighty God, out of immeasurable love, grace, and mercy for the human race, has allowed the light of his holy gospel and his Word that alone grants salvation to appear and shine forth purely, unalloyed and unadulterated out of the superstitious, papistic darkness for the German nation, our beloved fatherland. As a result, a short confession was assembled out of the divine, apostolic, and prophetic Scripture. In 1530 at the Diet. of Augsburg it was presented in both German and Latin to the former Emperor of most praiseworthy memory, Charles V, by our pious and Christian predecessors; it was set forth for all estates of the Empire and was disseminated and has resounded publicly throughout all Christendom in the whole wide world.

In short, God used their confession to speak the true Gospel to the world. It was an evangelistic event on a grand scale. The confession that our fathers drafted was from beginning to end a presentation of God’s eternal Word, each article presenting a biblical doctrine essential to our salvation–Triune God, sinfulness of all people, God’s gift of His Son, justification by faith alone, and so on. The spotlight was on God not themselves.

At the same time this confession was their personal testimony, personal in more than one way. First, it was personal in the fact that they believed that this salvation was their treasure, given by God personally to each of them. As Luther wrote in his catechism, “I believe that Jesus Christ . . . is my Lord; who redeemed me a lost and condemned creature; who purchased me from all sins, death and the power of the devil.” The Gospel that they confessed was personal.

Secondly they personally confessed it. That is they confessed it with their own persons. They knew that they could be killed for confessing their faith and were willing to pay the supreme price rather than be silent or surrender it. Christ died and rose again from the dead to set them (and all people) free. They were willing to die in order for all people in the world to know that and to believe. That is a real personal testimony.

This Sunday we celebrate again the Lutheran Reformation, remembering the faith of our fathers, and more importantly the faithfulness of the God of our fathers. We do well to celebrate and even more to emulate that faithfulness–to make our church’s confession our personal testimony. We believe, and we want with all our heart for the whole world to believe it too. For with that faith comes eternal life.

-President Bob Newton, CNH

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Published in: on October 27, 2011 at 10:04 am  Leave a Comment  

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