One of the things that we will be discussing, reflecting upon, and promoting at the Annual Meeting is outreach. We know that the mission of our Lord is to redeem the world. We know this from the most familiar passage in the Bible, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16).
The mission is not ours! It belongs to our Lord Jesus. And yet he has chosen his followers to participate in his mission. To his appointed leaders, the Apostles, he said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold I am with you always to the end of the age” (Mt. 28:19-20).
The Apostles were witnesses to Christ’s death and resurrection. They proclaimed his dying and rising and invited people to repent. Their claim was that Christ died to make the forgiveness of our sins possible. And they taught that Christ’s third day rising bodily from the grave proves that by his death he had conquered sin, death, and the devil. This victory he means to share with all who receive the gift of salvation by faith. In Christ we have the promise of the forgiveness of sins and the chance to walk in newness of life as we await sharing in a bodily resurrection like his.
This Apostolic message itself becomes the power for salvation (cf. Ro. 1:16). It is through this message, often simply called the Gospel, that the Holy Spirit enables people to have faith in Christ and the work he accomplished on our behalf.
To participate in this mission is to be enlivened in this Faith ourselves. It is to become so familiar with the Word of the Lord that we are able to faithfully share and teach it to others.
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.