St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church

Time to Confess

Podcast Version

Romans 10:9-10—…if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.

490 years ago today, there was a great meeting between the leaders of the Lutheran and Catholic churches. “The meeting began with a clear signal that the courageous Lutheran laymen were not about to concede to the emperor’s demands, nor compromise their convictions. As Emperor Charles’s royal procession approached Augsburg, it was met by a large delegation from the city, including the Lutheran princes. The pope’s ambassador stood to give the whole assembly a special blessing from the pope. When the crowd knelt, Elector John and his fellow Lutheran princes refused to kneel. Charles and those with him made their way into the city and arrived at the cathedral, where a special Mass was held. The crowd noticed that again Elector John and Philip of Hesse refused to kneel and remained standing, with their heads covered, during the blessing.

“Later that evening, Charles and his brother Ferdinand, the King of Austria, met privately with the Lutheran princes. They ordered them to forbid any Lutheran preaching in Augsburg during the meeting. They commanded them to attend the Corpus Christi festival the next day with the emperor. George, Margrave of Brandenburg, spoke boldly for the Lutherans. He refused to concede to Charles’s demands, saying, ‘Before I let anyone take from me the Word of God and ask me to deny my God, I will kneel and let them strike off my head.’ The emperor, clearly taken aback by George’s boldness, sputtered in broken German, ‘Not cut off head, dear prince. Not cut off head.’ ”
(Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions—A reader’s edition of the Book of Concord, CPH, St. Louis, 2006. p. 24-25)

While there is no danger for us in our land of actually losing our heads for confessing our faith, some people will figuratively lose their heads when we do. Is that any reason not to confess? Now, we would never want to do this belligerently, but it is important for us to be bold, just like the Lutheran confessors of long ago. Why? Because the same scriptural truths exist today as they do in any age.

Through our confession of God’s Word, people come to faith in God and are saved. I hear all too often about how politics and religion are off limits when it comes to family gatherings, the workplace, or even with certain relationships. I can understand the politics, especially these days. But what I can not understand and never will is the topic of religion. Is it a hot-button topic? You bet! But where politics only has outcomes on our temporary lives here on earth, the topic of religion is one whose impact is eternal!

Friends, far worse is at stake than someone loosing their temper with us for speaking the truth of God’s Word. Far worse is at stake even if we should face the prospect of physically loosing our head for speaking the truth of God’s Word. People’s eternal souls are at risk, your’s and mine included! On this 490th anniversary of the presentation of the Augsburg Confession, remember how important it is for you and others that you boldly confess God’s truth in love to the world around you.

“On Saturday, June 25, 1530, at three o’clock in the afternoon, Dr. Christian Beyer stood, walked toward the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, Charles V, and began reading the Augsburg Confession in a loud and distinct voice. Through the open windows a hushed crowd outside in the courtyard hung on his every word, as did the two hundred or so people gathered in the hall. Beside Dr. Beyer stood Dr. Gregory Brück, holding a copy of the Augsburg Confession in Latin. The German princes around them stood up to indicate their support for the Confession. The emperor motioned for them to sit down.

“When Dr. Beyer finished reading, Dr. Brück took the German copy of the Confession from him, handed both copies to the emperor, and said, “Most gracious Emperor, this is a Confession that will even prevail against the gates of hell, with the grace and help of God.” Thus was the Augsburg Confession presented as a unique Confession of the truth of God’s holy Word, distinct from Romanism on the one hand, and Reformed, Anabaptists, and radicals on the other. June 25, 1530, is a date every bit as important for Lutherans as is the more familiar date of October 31, 1517—the day on which Luther posted his Ninety-five Theses.”
(Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions—A reader’s edition of the Book of Concord, CPH, St. Louis, 2006. p. 21)