“Often viewed as the chief Lutheran Confession, [the Augsburg Confession] was presented by the Lutherans to Emperor Charles V at the Imperial Diet of Augsburg [Germany] as a statement of the chief articles of the Christian faith as understood by Lutherans” (Concordia The Lutheran Confessions, Second Edition, Concordia Publishing House 2005, 2006, p xxxi).
I will also speak of your testimonies before kings and shall not be put to shame….
The armies of the Ottoman Empire were marching toward Europe. The reigning monarch – Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor – was understandable gravely concerned.
He need to raise an army to meet the invasion threat, with the hope that he could stop it southeast of Vienna.
But he had a problem back in Germany.
The Pope had excommunicated a German Monk by the name of Martin Luther. Luther, on the other hand, was extremely popular with the German princes and people. The Holy Roman Emperor was caught in the middle.
He needed German military to battle the Turks. He was also loyal to the Pope and Rome.
In an attempt to find a diplomatic solution, Charles V called an Imperial Diet in Augsburg to hear the Germans – and Luther – out.
Saved By Grace Alone
What he heard was perhaps one of the greatest confessions of faith since the establishment of the Nicene, Apostles’ and Athanasian Creeds.
While Martin Luther did not travel to Augsburg for the presentation, his colleague Philip Melanchthon wrote the Augsburg Confession. Dr. Christian Beyer, a laymen – not clergy – read it out loud to the Emperor.
It was a clear confession of faith that we are saved by grace alone. Good works, while a vital response to God’s salvation, plays no part whatsoever in earning our salvation.
Because it was presented by laymen and not pastors or priests, the Augsburg Confession showed that the Christian faith was for all people, not just elites and clergy.
Changing the World
The core of the Augsburg Confession is the Gospel message: salvation by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ alone. His death on the cross was the payment due for our sins and the sins of the entire world. His resurrection showed that God accepted his sacrifice for the sins of the world.
This Gospel, and the presentation of the Gospel in the Augsburg Confession, had the effect of changing the world.
The Gospel message of Jesus Christ – long hidden under church tradition and clergy abuse – was now clearly proclaimed to the world.
This had no small effect. Europe would stop the Ottoman Turks in their further invasion of Europe. The New World was opened. Missionaries traveled to North and South America, as well as the Far East.
People would form new countries in seeking religious freedom to worship Jesus Christ according to the Gospel found in the Scriptures as well as the new Lutheran Confessions.
That’s what happens with the Gospel of Jesus. It changes things! He changes things.
Jesus changes people. Will he change you today?
Heavenly Father, I pray that the Gospel of your son, Jesus Christ, will change me. Help me to know the Gospel. Please help me to live the Gospel. Help me to share the Gospel. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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