Sunday, December 27, 2009

Reading from the Large Catechism for Advent 4 Midweek

The Rev. Paul J Cain, Jr.

Large Catechism: Apostles’ Creed, Article II (CTLC)

Catechetical Instruction

Wednesday of Advent IV, 23 December 2009

Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming

In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

[In Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions, the introduction to Article II of the Apostles Creed in Luther’s Large Catechism notes,] “God withholds nothing from us, but gives all that we need for our life on earth. Even more, He gives us all that we need for eternal life with Him in heaven. Luther focuses on the one phrase he believes is the very essence of this article: “in Jesus Christ, … our Lord.” Providing a sweeping description of Creation and the fall, Luther notes that the word we includes every single person in the horrible drama of the Garden of Eden. In that sin we all fell away from God and were doomed to everlasting damnation. Yet Christ, our Lord, came and snatched us from the jaws of hell. This description of Christ’s victory over Satan would have been very familiar to the people who first read the Large Catechism. Many paintings from that era depict hell with horrifying detail, showing men and women being led into the gaping mouth of a dragonlike creature. Luther uses the biblical motif of Christ as Victor to describe His work of salvation for us. Jesus offered His own precious blood as satisfaction for our sins. This article of the Creed is essential for proper understanding and confession of the Gospel.”

25 And [I believe] in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.

26 Here we learn to know the Second Person of the Godhead. We see what we have from God over and above the temporal goods mentioned before. We see how He has completely poured forth Himself [Matthew 26:28] and withheld nothing from us [2 Corinthians 8:9]. Now, this article is very rich and broad. But in order to explain it briefly also and in a childlike way, we shall take up one phrase and sum up the entire article. As we have said, we may learn from this article how we have been redeemed. We shall base this on these words, “In Jesus Christ, our Lord.”

27 Now, if you are asked, “What do you believe in the Second Article about Jesus Christ?” answer briefly,

“I believe that Jesus Christ, God’s true Son, has become my Lord.”

“But what does it mean to become Lord?”

“It is this. He has redeemed me from sin, from the devil, from death, and from all evil. For before I did not have a Lord or King, but was captive under the devil’s power, condemned to death, stuck in sin and blindness” [see Ephesians 2:1–3].

28 For when we had been created by God the Father and had received from Him all kinds [Page 402] of good, the devil came and led us into disobedience, sin, death, and all evil [Genesis 3]. So we fell under God’s wrath and displeasure and were doomed to eternal damnation, just as we had merited and deserved. 29 There was no counsel, help, or comfort until this only and eternal Son of God—in His immeasurable goodness—had compassion upon our misery and wretchedness. He came from heaven to help us [John 1:9]. 30 So those tyrants and jailers are all expelled now. In their place has come Jesus Christ, Lord of life, righteousness, every blessing, and salvation. He has delivered us poor, lost people from hell’s jaws, has won us, has made us free [Romans 8:1–2], and has brought us again into the Father’s favor and grace. He has taken us as His own property under His shelter and protection [Psalm 61:3–4] so that He may govern us by His righteousness, wisdom, power, life, and blessedness.

31 Let this, then, be the sum of this article: the little word Lord means simply the same as redeemer. It means the One who has brought us from Satan to God, from death to life, from sin to righteousness, and who preserves us in the same. But all the points that follow in this article serve no other purpose than to explain and express this redemption. They explain how and by whom it was accomplished. They explain how much it cost Him and what He spent and risked so that He might win us and bring us under His dominion. It explains that He became man [John 1:14], was conceived and born without sin [Hebrews 4:15], from the Holy Spirit and from the virgin Mary [Luke 1:35], so that He might overcome sin. Further, it explains that He suffered, died, and was buried so that He might make satisfaction for me and pay what I owe [1 Corinthians 15:3–4], not with silver or gold, but with His own precious blood [1 Peter 1:18–19]. And He did all this in order to become my Lord. He did none of these things for Himself, nor did He have any need for redemption. After that He rose again from the dead, swallowed up and devoured death [1 Corinthians 15:54], and finally ascended into heaven and assumed the government at the Father’s right hand [1 Peter 3:22]. He did these things so that the devil and all powers must be subject to Him and lie at His feet [Hebrews 10:12–13] until finally, at the Last Day, He will completely divide and separate us from the wicked world, the devil, death, sin, and such [Matthew 25:31–46; 13:24–30, 47–50].

32 To explain all these individual points does not belong to brief sermons for children. That belongs to fuller sermons that extend throughout the entire year, especially at those times that are appointed for the purpose of treating each article at length—for Christ’s birth, sufferings, resurrection, ascension, and so on.

33 Yes, the entire Gospel that we preach is based on this point, that we properly understand this article as that upon which our salvation and all our happiness rests. It is so rich and complete that we can never learn it fully.

In the Name of Jesus. Amen.