Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Many people like books, movies and TV shows in which detectives solve crimes. Often these stories conclude with a confession by the wrongdoer. With his confession he reveals the truth about what occurred in the mysterious crime and also says, the fault is mine.
In the context of the church, the word "confession", has these two senses too. We talk about the confession of faith, a confession of divine truth, also the confession of our sins.
We often use the word "creed” for the confession of what we believe. There are three creeds that define the faith of all Christians: The Apostles' Creed, the Nicene Creed and the Athanasian Creed. All three are part of the Book of Concord, also known as "the Lutheran Confessions." That means, this book is a collection of documents explaining we believe, teach and confess as the Lutheran Church. In the Small Catechism of Dr. Martin Luther, which also is part of the Book of Concord, catechumens learn the Apostles' Creed with explanations. We also use the three faiths in our liturgy.
The Apostolic Creed is the simplest and oldest creed. We do not know who wrote this creed in its present form. The other creeds were written centuries after the canonical books of the New Testament. Therefore, some people say, why do we use these creeds? We found no creeds in the Bible. But this is not the truth.
Look at our text for today. What does Saint Paul write?
"For I delivered unto you first what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and rose again the third day according to the Scriptures ... "
And what does it say in the second article of the Apostles' Creed?
"(I believe) in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord; who it was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary; He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried, descended into hell; On the third day he rose from the dead; He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; and from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. "
Also the Nicene Creed:
"I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, begotten of the Father before all ages, God of God, light of light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made; who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary and became man; For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried and rose again the third day according to the Scriptures; and he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God; He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead. "
Atanasio Creed says this about Jesus Christ:
"Who suffered for our salvation; He descended into hell, the third day he rose from the dead; He ascended into heaven; He sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty from whence he shall come to judge the living and the dead. "
We find in our text the core of the Creeds. Like a pearl grows from a grain of sand, creeds are amplifications and restatements of the central truth of the New Testament. Christ, Son of God and Son of Man, died in our place on the cross and rose again the third day.
We trust this as historical fact. As St. Paul says, after His death, Jesus "appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brethren at once; most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James; then to all the apostles. "
Also in our reading of the Old Testament (Daniel 9.15-19), the prophet declared the power and grace of God as a historical fact: "Now, Lord our God, who brought your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand, and have made a name for yourself to this day ... " The Lord saved the Israelites from slavery in Egypt; through Jesus Christ saved us from the slavery of sin and the devil.
Well, how do these historical facts apply to us? They demand a confession of our sins. St. Paul says:
"And last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared to me. Because I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace has not been in vain for me; but I labored more than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. "
In view of the mercy God showed the people of Israel, the prophet Daniel said: "O Lord, according to all thy righteousness, stay thine anger and thy wrath from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain: because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are given to be a reproach to all around us. Now therefore, our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon your sanctuary desolate, for the love of the Lord. "
Public worship is a public confession. For our Lord said: "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father who is in heaven. and whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father who is in heaven. "(Matthew 10.32-33). In addition, says the author of Hebrews: "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some, but exhorting; and all the more as you see the day approaching. "
However, when we gather in worship, we do not do so as did the Pharisee in our gospel for today (Luke 18.9-14): "God, I thank thee, that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican; I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I possess. " He trusted in his own righteousness.
We begin our worship and prayer with confession of our sins, like the publican: "And the publican, standing afar off, would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast, saying. God be merciful to me a sinner" for the Lord has said, "I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other (the Pharisee); For everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. "
In Christ he has done for us on the cross and his resurrection believe in the promise of eternal life, and in confessing our sins receive God's forgiveness. This is the peace that passeth all understanding. Amen.
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