#21 Help Us Bear the Common Guilt and Confess Christ Faithfully Amid Persecution

Thus we must pray first of all that God may impart more and more strength to us and our friends and let his dear child Jesus grow in our hearts from day to day that we may praise, glorify, and confess him with a zealous and happy heart before the hardened and blind shepherds of this coarse and stilt-necked sect of papists. And then we must help to bear the common guilt of the German nation, asking God not to regard the vices of the base multitude; nor to make the poor souls suffer for their wickedness; not to withdraw the saving word, so long suppressed, again; nor to permit the reinstatement of the Antichrist;19 but, in accord with the prayer of King Hezekiah, that there be peace and truth in our time. Indeed, such a prayer and such concern are necessary.  (Luther’s Works, v.43, p.68)

Art. XIII  Das die Sacramëta zeugnus seyë durch welche der Glaub in unß erwecket und gestarckt wirt.
That the Sacraments are testimony through which faith is awakened and strengthened.
Marc 16, v. 16 ; “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.”
1st Cor. 11, v. 28 ; “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.”

[All of the pictures for this year’s posts are from an etching entitled “Augsburg Confession” by Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-1677) and found in the Royal Collection Trust.]

#20 We Are Thankful For God’s Working Through Our Witness During Persecution

Therefore our concern now must be to be grateful to the Father of all mercy and consolation and to see to it that our faith henceforth does not consist in words but in power. For St. Paul says in I Corinthians 3 [4:20], “The kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power.” Our ability to speak or write eloquently about it is not sufficient; rather must our lives and our deeds testify to the truth, as we demonstrate our love and bestow our works of kindness on friend and foe.  (Luther’s Works, v.43, p.68)

Art. XII  Das wahre Büß bestehe in rew und leyd über die sünde und Glauben an Christum.
“To preserve penance is contrition and sorrow for sin and faith in Christ.”
Mar. 1, v. 13 ; “And He was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan, and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to Him.”
Luc. 24, v. 47 ; “and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

[All of the pictures for this year’s posts are from an etching entitled “Augsburg Confession” by Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-1677) and found in the Royal Collection Trust.]

#19 We Thank God For Not Withdrawing His Word About Christ

Still we must thank God with all our heart that he still permits us to see him, as though he did not yet contemplate the withdrawal of his word, so that he has given you and others a spirit not offended by his word and a love for it. This is attested by the fact that you do not believe because of men but because of the word itself. There are many who believe because of me. However, only those are true Christians who would adhere to the word even if they heard that I myself (God forbid) had denied and forsaken it. These are the ones who are not affected by whatever base, horrible, and shameful things they hear about me or about our associates, for they believe not in Luther but in Christ himself. The word has them, and they have the word. They pay no heed to Luther, whether he be a knave or a saint. God can speak through Balaam as well as Isaiah, through Caiaphas as well as through Peter, yes, even through an ass.  I subscribe to their opinion. I myself do not know Luther either, nor do I want to know him, nor do I preach anything about him, but about Christ. The devil may take him [Luther] if he is able to, but if he keeps his hands off Christ, all is well with us.  (Luther’s Works, v.43, p.67-68)

Art. XI  Das die Beicht nötig : die Zehlung aber aller Sünden unmöglich sey. 
“That confession is necessary: that it is impossible to tell all sins.” 
Psal. 51, v. 7 ; Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Ps. 19, v. 15 ; “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.” (v. 14)

[All of the pictures for this year’s posts are from an etching entitled “Augsburg Confession” by Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-1677) and found in the Royal Collection Trust.]

#18 Allow Anything but The Hardening of Heart

God is my witness that my heart is filled with concern and anxiety that unless Judgment Day intervenes God will withdraw his word and visit the German nation with such blindness and hardening of the heart that the thought of it makes me shudder.
Lord, heavenly Father, if we must fall into sin, let us fall into any other sin, but deliver us from a hardening of the heart, and keep us in and with him whom you appointed Lord over sin and innocence. If we do not deny him or lose sight of him, all sin, death, and hell will not harm us. Yes, what is there that might harm us?  (Luther’s Works, v.43, p.67)

Art. X  Das mit Brot und wein im H. Abendmahl der ware leib und Blut emfangë werde.
With bread and wine in the Lord’s Supper, the body and blood are received.
Matt. 26, v. 26 ; “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body.’”
1st Cor. 11, v. 23 ; “For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread;

[All of the pictures for this year’s posts are from an etching entitled “Augsburg Confession” by Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-1677) and found in the Royal Collection Trust.]

#17 The Hardening of the Heart by the Jewish Nation

Thus we see that the Jews, who willfully condemned God’s Son, were consigned to such hardness of heart that they blaspheme him with the greatest complacency and impudence. They cannot cease, and thus they fulfill the Scripture, Psalm 109 [:17], “He did not like blessing; therefore it shall be far from him.” The same thing has happened to our papists. At Worms they also made bold to hate and to revile Christ. And now it is their fate that they cannot stop hating and reviling. Neither plea nor admonition avails with them, they only grow worse. Righteous are your judgments, heavenly Father! It seems to me that this is what it means to be afflicted with the real St. Vitus’ dance {Note: a possible reference to epilepsy}.  (Luther’s Works, v.43, p.67)

Art. IX  Das auch die kinder Tauff nötig seÿ durch welche sie Gott uberantwortet und gefälleg werden.
“That child baptism is necessary, through which they are handed over to God and supported.”
Job. 3, v. 5 ; May darkness and the shadow of death claim it; May a cloud settle on it; May the blackness of the day terrify it.
Tit. 3, v. 5 ; “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,.”

[All of the pictures for this year’s posts are from an etching entitled “Augsburg Confession” by Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-1677) and found in the Royal Collection Trust.]

 

 

#16 The German Nation Deserves Wrath

Unfortunately, my dear Hartmut, this is what the German nation has deserved for serving the pope at that fatal diet. They who today rant and are hardened are to blame for this, because at the time they were spinning the wheel and held the dice in their hand and imagined that Christ did not see them playing. O terrible and stern Judge, how mysterious, how dreadful are your judgments! How secure and safe Pharaoh always feels before he is drowned in the Red Sea!  He does not see that his own sense of security is evidence of the real and earnest wrath of God over him. O how unbearable it is for God to see his precious word reviled! [It is so unbearable] that he expended the blood of his dearest Child [for his word’s sake]. Meanwhile men will sit and jest and smile as they condemn and persecute it.  (Luther’s Works, v.43, p.66-67)

Picture: Art. VIII  Das in d’ sichtbarlichen kirchen frome und heuchler gefundë werden.  
“That it is well known in the visible church are found pious and hypocritical men.”
Matt. 7, v. 21 ; “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.”
2nd Tim. 2, v. 20 ; “But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor.”

[All of the pictures for this year’s posts are from an etching entitled “Augsburg Confession” by Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-1677) and found in the Royal Collection Trust.]

#15 The German Nation’s Sin of Rejecting the Gospel at Worms

#15 The German Nation’s Sin of Rejecting the Gospel at Worms

For you know that the sin committed at Worms, where the divine truth was so childishly scorned, publicly, wantonly, and consciously condemned without a hearing, is indeed a sin incurred by the entire German nation, since its leaders were involved in this and no one opposed them. That encumbered the nation with such a vast guilt before God that he might well withdraw the precious word entirely or permit such an offense to arise that no one would regard it as God’s word, and that they [the Germans] would, as they deserve, be impelled to blaspheme and persecute as the devil’s doctrine what they had first willfully and basely denied and condemned.  (Luther’s Works, v.43, p.66)

Picture: Art. VII  Das Allezeit eine Kirch seÿ welche ist eine versamlung d’ glaubigë.
“There is always a church where believers are gathered.”
Matt. 16, v. 18 ; “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”
Eph. 5, v. 27 ; “that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.”

[All of the pictures for this year’s posts are from an etching entitled “Augsburg Confession” by Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-1677) and found in the Royal Collection Trust.]

#14 God Will Bring Good Out of All General Tests and Trials

Our cause has not dropped to as low an ebb as did that of Christ in his own day, when even Peter denied him, when all the disciples fled from him, and when Judas betrayed and captured him.  Even if matters were to become that bad, our cause will not perish and Christ will not turn to dust. But I know and am convinced that this and anything else that may still come, happens as a general test and trial in which the strong will be confirmed, the weak strengthened, the confirmed praised, the false believers revealed; the enemies and those not worthy of recognizing and regarding it as God’s word are offended and hardened, as they indeed have deserved.  (Luther’s Works, v.43, p.66)

Picture: Art. VI  Das der Glaub sol gütte werck bringë, doch de wir nicht auff solche werck verfrawen.
“That faith should bring good works, but we do not rely on such works.”
Jac. 2, v. 17 ; Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (James)
Luc 17, v. 19 ; And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.”

[All of the pictures for this year’s posts are from an etching entitled “Augsburg Confession” by Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-1677) and found in the Royal Collection Trust.]

#13 Christ Brings Benefit and Growth from Persecution

We know that he who raised Christ from the dead and placed him at his right hand is strong and faithful enough to be a Lord over all things, without a doubt also over sin, death, devil, and hell, to say nothing of the papistic swine’s bladders with their threatening, noisy snapping.9 They will not quell this boast in us. And as long as that remains our boast, we will gleefully scorn them and see whether they can gobble up this Christ as easily as they think and replace him with another about whom the Father knows nothing. Therefore I hope that Christ will not only rectify matters again for us—even if they should subsequently devise something worse—but let these redound to our benefit and growth, in accord with the abundant riches of his wisdom and goodness, especially if you too assist with your intercession and your trust.  (Luther’s Works, v.43, p.65-66)

Picture: Art. V  Das Gott durche wort und Sacramenta den Glaube in uns wircket. 
“That God says through the Word and Sacraments faith works in us.”
Rom. 10, v. 17 ; So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Tit. 3. v. 5 ; Not by woks of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

[All of the pictures for this year’s posts are from an etching entitled “Augsburg Confession” by Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-1677) and found in the Royal Collection Trust.]

#12 Our Faith Transcends both Good Deeds and Sins

But be that as it may, whether we sinned or did right, we must for all of that be undaunted and unafraid. For just as we do not boast of our good deeds, neither do we despond in our sins. Bather do we thank God that our faith transcends both good deeds and sins. For the Father of all mercy has granted us faith, not in a wooden but in a living Christ, who is Lord over sin and over innocence, who can support and preserve us even if we fell into many thousands of sins every hour. Of this I have not the slightest doubt. And even if Satan would tempt us still more sorely and severely, he will not weary us, unless he succeeds in tearing Christ from the right hand of God. But so long as Christ remains enthroned there, we will also remain lords and masters over sin, death, devil, and everything. Nothing can undo that.  (Luther’s Works, v.43, p.65)

Picture:  Art. IIII  Das wir ohne unser verdinst durch den glaubë Gerechfertiget werdë. 
“That without our merit, through faith we are justified.”
Rom.  3, v. 24 ; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
Gal. 2, v. 16 ; Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law : for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

[All of the pictures for this year’s posts are from an etching entitled “Augsburg Confession” by Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-1677) and found in the Royal Collection Trust.]