In our trek through The Apostles’ Creed we will take three weeks in visiting the Second Article. The Article begins, “I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, and born of the virgin Mary.” And Luther’s explanation for this portion goes, “I believe that Jesus Christ – true God, Son of the Father from eternity, and true man, born of the Virgin Mary – is my Lord.”
The Second Article starts with the all-important conversation on the identity of Jesus. Everyone who has heard of the first century Nazarene has some image in their mind of Jesus. The question is, do our cherished images conform with the way our Lord is presented in the Scriptures?
Many today claim that too much is made theologically about Jesus’ identity. The claim continues that we need to pay more attention to what Jesus taught and of the example of his life. The idea continues, we should ask what Jesus would do. And if we can’t find an example in the Bible, we imagine what Jesus would do. And usually we imagine him being very soft and affirming.
The problem with the aforementioned is that Jesus himself seemed to think his unique identity mattered, as is demonstrated in passages like Matthew 16:13f. Furthermore, the New Testament writers seemed as concerned with what Jesus’ life uniquely accomplished by his death, resurrection and ascension as they did with what he taught and how he lived.
The Second Article begins by affirming the Biblical witness that Jesus was uniquely both God and man! He was both by virtue of his divine conception and his virginal birth to Mary. As man he could identify with frail humans diseased by sin and needing salvation. And also as man he could taste death. As God he could provide the satisfaction required for sins, and he could defeat and then swallow up death forever. His identity as the God/man is key to our salvation!
Since You Asked…
Do Lutherans Promote Private Confession?
“Confession has not been abolished by the preachers on our side. … The people are carefully instructed concerning the consolation of the Word of absolution (forgiveness) so that they may esteem it as a great and precious thing. It is not the voice of the man who speaks it, but it is the Word of God, who forgives sin, for it is spoken in God’s stead and by God’s command. …it is necessary for terrified consciences” (Augsburg Confession, XXV)
Confession has two parts: First that we confess our sins, and second, that we receive absolution, that is, forgiveness, from the Pastor as from God himself.