Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church, Linglestown, Pennsylvania, USA
June 25 - Presentation of the Augsburg Confession, 1530
Now we know that whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For "no human being will be justified in his sight" by deeds prescribed by the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin. But now, apart from law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood , effective through faith. He did this to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed; it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies the one who has faith in Jesus. then what becomes of boasting? It is excluded. By what law? by that of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law.
Just as all Christians can look to the Day of Pentecost as the birthday of the whole Christian Church, Lutheran Christians can regard June 25 as the anniversary of the beginning of the Church of the Reformation. On that day in 1530 the statement of faith called the Augsburg Confession -- which had been drafted by Philipp Melanchthon (a close friend and colleague of Martin Luther) and endorsed by Luther -- was read aloud to the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, Charles V, and his Diet (assembly) of Princes at Augsburg.
IN 1530, the Emperor Charles V summoned a Diet to settle the religious controversies of his realm and so present a united front in his military ventures against the Turks. Since Luther himself was under papal excommunication and imperial ban, it was Melanchthon who had the duty of being the chief representative of the Lutheran cause. He drafted a confession in early May which he twice revised, sending it each time to Luther for approval. On June 25 it was presented to the Emperor and his diet in Latin and German; it was signed by seven German princes and the representative of two free cities.
This statement of faith attempts to make clear that the Lutherans were not to be lumped together with other opponents of the Roman Catholic church, and it emphasizes not the differences from Rome, but the agreements with Rome. As the Preface says: " . . . we are prepared, in obedience to your Imperial Majesty, to discuss our differences (so that) we may be reconciled, and be united in one, true religion."
The Augsburg Confession spread rapidly among the churches, and within fifteen years almost all of Germany subscribed to it. During the sixteenth century many copies of the Confession circulated, some with expansions and changes of wording. In contrast to these Variata (altered editions), almost all Lutheran bodies today specify their adherence to the Unaltered (Invariata) edition of 1530.
The Augsburg Confession remains a vital symbol of the Christian faith, and is still recognized as both the founding document, and the contemporary expression, of the Lutheran movement within the church catholic. For Lutherans, this Confession comes only after the three great ecumenical creeds (the Apostles', the Nicene, and the Athanasian), as a "pure exposition of the word of God." (Copies of the Augsburg Confession are still being printed, and are available from Pastor Stickley. Simply speak with him or drop him an email -- firstname.lastname@example.org.)
-- from Festivals and Commemorations Philip H. Pfatteicher
The Augsburg Confession -- Art. IV -- Justification
It is also taught among us that we cannot obtain forgiveness of sin and righteousness before God by our own merits, works, or satisfactions, but that we receive forgiveness of sin and become righteous before God by grace, for Christ's sake, through faith, when we believe that Christ suffered for us and that for His sake our sin is forgiven and righteousness and eternal life are given to us. For God will regard and reckon this faith as righteousness, as Paul says in Romans 3.21-26 and 4.5.
Almighty God, gracious Lord, pour out your Holy Spirit upon your faithful people. Keep them steadfast in your Word, protect and comfort them in all temptations, defend them against all their enemies, and bestow on the Church your saving peace; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. AMEN
-- Pastor Stickley
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