Article 3 of the Augsburg Confession

???????????????????????Article 3: The Son of God

“Our churches teach that the Word, that is, the Son of God (John 1:14), assumed the human nature in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. So there are two natures – the divine and the human – inseparably joined in one person. There is one Christ, true God and true man, who was born of the Virgin Mary, truly suffered, was crucified, died, and was buried. He did this to reconcile the Father to us and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for all actual sins of mankind (John 1:29).

“He also descended into hell, and truly rose again on the third day. Afterward, he ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father. There he forever reigns and has dominion over all creatures. He sanctifies those who believe in him, by sending the Holy Spirit into their hearts to rule, comfort, and make them alive. He defends them against the devil and the power of sin.

“The same Christ will openly come again to judge the living and the dead, and so forth, according to the Apostles’ Creed.”

 

Ok, this is a biggie. Article 3 and Article 4 (next week’s) are what distinguish a church from a cult (meaning, if a church does not teach this Article as truth, they are not a Christian church, because they don’t believe what Christ said about himself). If understood correctly, and believed, the doors of heaven are opened. If not understood, nor believed, hell is the only possible outcome. Either Jesus was God and Man, and he died for your sins, or you are still in your sins, and you are going to hell.

Maybe though, “understand” isn’t the best word to use with this Article. We can’t understand the God-Man Jesus in the same way I understand osmosis or how a combustion engine works. Continue reading

All’s Fair In Love and War… Or Is It? (Matthew 5:38-48)

Sermon for the 7th Sunday after Epiphany (2/23/14)

Text: Matthew 5:38-48

Theme: All’s Fair In Love and War… Or Is it?

            Last year Apple sued Samsung for patent infringement. It was big news. Apple claimed that Samsung copied patented components of the I-Phone and I-Pad in their own phones and tablets. And in the initial hearing Apple won a settlement of over a billion dollars. My big takeaway? Hauling someone to court is still a good way to “get even.”

In case you haven’t noticed, Apple isn’t the only group filing lawsuits in America these days. In 2013 over 15 million civil lawsuits were filled. 2.2% of America’s G.D.P., all of the money and goods America works with, is involved in lawsuits.

Fix-it man installing a fan breaks your family heirloom vase… I’ll see you in court, says America today.

Slip and fall on an unseen patch of ice outside a store that should have had salt down… I’ll see you in court, says America today.

McDonald’s coffee is hot and burned you when you spilled it… I’ll see you in court, says America today.

You worked in a place with asbestos and later developed mesothelioma… I’ll see you in court, says America today.

America has an obsession with lawsuits. Quite frankly I think this obsession is ridiculous and absurd. But when I really stop and think about it, it’s really not all that surprising, nor is to anything new to this world.

You see, the idea of stopping or punishing someone who hurt you, the idea of passing the buck to someone else for your mistakes, the idea of taking advantage of the system, the idea that self-preservation is of utmost importance – these ideas, that are behind all lawsuits, are really nothing new, in fact, they are as old as sin.

It’s how this world works. I take care of myself, you take care of yourself… sometimes that means we will be on opposite sides in a courtroom, a battlefield, or an office building, but may the best man or woman win, right? You’ve heard the saying “All’s fair in love and war” right? This familiar phrase encapsulates the idea that sometimes the end justifies the means. If it’s in the name of self-preservation or even in the name of love, do what it takes to win.

But, just like we have seen from Jesus time and time again (especially in his Sermon on the Mount), just because this world accepts something as true, that doesn’t mean that we should. Continue reading

When You Think of Jesus, Think Perfection (Matthew 5:21-37)

Sermon for the 6th Sunday of Epiphany (2/16/14)

Theme: When You Think of Jesus, Think Perfection

Text: Matthew 5:21-37

            When I say the name “Jesus,” what comes to mind?

Maybe you start thinking of Jesus shepherd of the sheep. You picture Jesus sitting in the middle of a sunny field with a lamb on his lap. Maybe you can almost hear Jesus’ words describing himself, “I am the good Shepherd, I know my sheep, and my sheep know me.”

Maybe when I say the name “Jesus,” images of little children running into open arms flood your mind. “Let the little children come to me,” says the Jesus you know and love.

Maybe when I say the name “Jesus” while you are sitting in this church, you think of Christ Our Savior who died on the cross to save us. And maybe some of the graphic scenes from the move The Passion of Christ flash though your mind as you think of what he went through before he spoke the words, “It is finished.”

We all have pictures of Jesus that just stick out in our minds – pictures of a loving, kind, merciful and patient Teacher and Savior.  Well, this morning as we continue to study Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, Jesus gives us another way to think about him. This morning, let’s look at why when you think of Jesus, you should think of perfection…

You know, perfection is a funny thing. I don’t think that any of you would look at me and tell me with a straight face that you are perfect. I don’t think that any of you have any delusions of perfection. But at the same time, I think all of us, to one degree or another, struggle with delusions of goodness.

I think it is a fairly common and natural to think things like: “I know I’m not perfect, but at least I haven’t done this sin or that sin. At least I haven’t murdered. At least I haven’t cheated on my wife. I may not be perfect, but at least I’m not a lying, cheating scoundrel like some people out there.” Continue reading

Article 2 of the Augsburg Confession

???????????????????????Article 2: Original Sin

“Our churches teach that since the fall of Adam, all who are naturally born are born with sin, that is, without the fear of God, without trust in God, and with the inclination to sin, called concupiscence. Concupiscence is a disease and original vice that is truly sin. It damns and brings eternal death on those who are not born anew through Baptism and the Holy Spirit.

“Our churches condemn the Pelagians and others who deny that original depravity is sin, thus obscuring the glory of Christ’s merit and benefits. Pelagians argue that a person can be justified before God by his own strength and reason.”

Article 19: The Cause of Sin

“Our churches teach that although God creates and preserves nature, the cause of sin is located in the will of the wicked, that is, the devil and ungodly people. Without God’s help, this will turns itself away from God, as Christ says, ‘When he lies, he speaks out of his own character’ (John 8:44).”

*For every point that is confessed about sin in the articles above, I have linked a Bible passage that clearly teaches what the Augsburg Confession states. Our churches teach the Augsburg Confession because it teaches what the Bible teaches.

Turn on the news and your senses will be assaulted with plenty of brutal, violet, and distressing stories. A little girl is kidnapped and forced to do terrible things.  A little boy is assaulted and abused in a locker room by a trusted mentor. A young man is sprayed with bullets because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. A man who actually enjoys stalking and killing people, as if they were deer, is finally found and put in jail.

The local, national, and worldwide news is often a depressing thing. Every time I hear one of these stories, the thought naturally goes through my mind, “how could they?” What is wrong with people? How can humans commit such terrible atrocities as the holocaust? What went wrong in that man’s life that make him enjoy taking the life of another human? How could that man’s moral compass be so off that he molests a little girl, and thinks nothing of it?

The teaching of the Bible found in Article 2 of the Augsburg Confession is the answer to the question, “What is wrong with humans?” Continue reading

This Little Light of Mine, I’m Gonna Let It Shine! (Matthew 5:13-20)

Sermon for the 5th Sunday of Epiphany

Text: Matthew 5:13-20

Theme: This Little Light of Mine, I’m Gonna Let It Shine!

            What would happen if you bought a car, parked it in your front yard, and just left it there? What if you never drove it, never changed the oil, never protected it from the elements? What would happen if that car just sat there, never used, and never cared for?

Well, eventually it would turn into a pile of useless, rusty car parts, right? When you own a car, a certain amount of responsibility comes with that. When you have something as precious and expensive as a new car, it is common sense that you need to take care of it. You need to let it run on a regular basis. You need to perform basic maintenance on it. You have it, so you do something with it…

What would happen if you had a child, and God forbid, you just put that child in a crib, and left him there? What if you never fed that child, never picked him up, never changed his diapers, or gave him the love and attention he needs? What would happen if you had a child, and you never took care of him?

Well, that child wouldn’t last very long, right? When you have a child, a certain amount of responsibility comes with that. When you have something as precious and important as a new baby, it is common sense that you need to take care of him/her. You need to feed him every couple hours. You need to change his diapers so he doesn’t get a rash. You need to give him the love and attention he needs. You have that child, so you do something with him…

Well, what do you think would happen if you owned a Bible, put it on a shelf at home, and just left it there? What would happen if you were given faith in Jesus as your Savior from sins, and you just buried that faith in one of the corners of your heart, and left it there? What would happen if you took your faith (which is naturally supposed to make you salty, make you different – which is naturally supposed to make you a light, make you stand out), and you didn’t use that faith to be the salt and light of the earth? What would happen if you had faith, and you never cared for it, or used it? Continue reading

Article 1 of the Augsburg Confession

???????????????????????Article 1: God

“Our churches teach with common consent that the decree of the Council of Nicaea about the unity of the divine essence and the three persons is true. It is to be believed without any doubt. God is one divine essence who is eternal, without a body, without parts, of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness. He is the maker and preserver of all things, visible and invisible. Yet there are three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These three persons are of the same essence and power. Our churches use the term person as the Fathers have used it. We use it to signify, not a part or quality in another, but that which subsists of itself.

Our churches condemn all heresies that arose against this article, such as the Manicheans, who assumed that there are two “principles,” one Good and the other Evil. They also condemn the Valentinians, Arians, Eunomians, Muslims, and all heresies such as these. Our churches also condemn the Samosatenes, old and new, who contend that God is but one person. Through sophistry they impiously argue that the Word and the Holy Spirit are not distinct persons. They say that Word signifies a spoken word, and Spirit signifies motion created in things.”

*For every point that is confessed about God in the article above, I have linked a Bible passage that clearly teaches what the Augsburg Confession states.

 

How do you explain God in a blog? A professor I had at Seminary made the analogy that trying to understand God is like trying to drink the ocean. The only way to attack such a task is to simply drink one glass at a time. Let this blog be one such glass from the ocean that is God.

What we know about God we learn from the Bible. We believe that the Bible is the word of God, and that the teachings of the Bible will be forever relevant. The Bible tells us that there is only one true God, and that he sent Jesus to die for our sins.

A note on the condemnation in this article of the Augsburg Confession: Recall that the Augsburg Confession was written to defend the budding Lutheran Church from false accusations levied against it by the Catholic Church. It was necessary for the Lutherans to distance themselves from the false teaching to which they were being associated. These condemnations are understood in light of Titus 3:10-11, “Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him. You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.” Only God can read the heart, and it is God’s job to judge on the last day. But when a church or individual publicly proclaims and teaches something contrary to God’s word, that we can and should condemn, warning of the danger of ignoring and changing God’s word.

Ok, enough with the disclaimers.

I am going to be straightforward and honest: There are some things about God that just don’t make sense to me Continue reading

A Fact You Can Count On: God Is Strong to Save (Matthew 5:1-12)

Sermon for the 4th Sunday of Epiphany (2/2/14)

Theme: A Fact You Can Count On: God Is Strong to Save

Text: Matthew 5:1-12

What would you think if I told you the best way to meet new people is to hike in the remote Alaskan wilderness?

What if I told you the best way to make a million dollars was to sit on the couch at home and watch TV all day long?

What if I told you the best way to lose that extra weight you put on over the holidays was to eat four McDoubles from McDonald’s every night of the week for a month straight?

You’d think I am crazy, right? I mean, there are some things that are just common sense. There are some things that are just basic rules of how thing work in this world, and I would be crazy to suggest that these basic truths can or should be ignored, right?

But is it really crazy? Is it really all that crazy to look at this world and not trust what this world portrays as truth?

This morning I would suggest to you: as a Christian in this sinful world, we should question everything this world portrays as truth, because this world is sinful and therefore, inherently flawed – which means that anything this world says is true, is therefore inherently flawed.

In the Gospel reading today from Matthew 5 we see Jesus pointing out a flaw in how this world thinks. According to the world, Jesus’ introduction to his sermon is just as foolish as me suggesting that the best way to lose weight is by eating McDoubles all day long. Continue reading