By Adriane Heins
MILWAUKEE (July 12, 2016) — With Peter, the Church confesses that “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” and when she — or an individual Christian — does so, “it is a confession about the forgiveness of sins, a confession about the Gospel, a confession that Jesus is the Christ,” explained the Rev. Dr. Daniel Preus, Tuesday’s convention essayist and LCMS third vice-president.
“This is the confession upon which you and I and the entire Church are built,” Preus said.
Preus, who spoke on the topic of confession — both in terms of confession of sins as well as a confession of who Christ is and what He has done — is one of several essayists charged with explaining portions of the convention theme “Upon This Rock: Repent, Confess, Rejoice.”
He said that, as Lutherans, “we confess the same thing, the same doctrine, the same faith, and we do it together. Together we confess the same faith the Church has always confessed.”
In heaven and on earth
That unity is critical, especially “in this day of individualism and of the selfie, an age of hedonism and narcissism, and the deification of the self,” Preus noted, making it necessary that “we emphasize the importance of corporate confession” with others who believe the same.
Sharing that common confession, he explained, begets unity not only with other believers on earth who also confess Jesus as Lord but also with the saints in heaven. In confessing Christ, “our voices are joined together with those of the saints and angels in heaven,” he said, “and as one church, one choir, together we confess the Lamb and sing His praises.”
Unity of faith on account of such a confession also plays itself out in daily life as Christians bear witness to Christ in the various callings into which God has placed them.
“It is as though the Holy Spirit, through His Word, breathes in faith, and the one who is a Christian breathes out a confession of that faith,” he observed, “whether together with other Christians in the Divine Service or individually as they go about their daily lives.”
And so, rooted firmly in the Word of God, the Church — and every individual Christian — can find comfort in knowing that together with the faithful around the world, “we can all confess [Christ] with the same words,” he said, “and we do.”
Jesus at the center
Finally, Preus noted that any confession of faith can and should focus on one thing: Jesus.
“When we make our confession to others, in whatever form we make it,” he reminded delegates, “it is absolutely essential that we remember to keep the person and work of Jesus at the center of our confession.
“There is no access to the Father, there is no salvation, there is no hope apart from the person of Jesus.”
Ultimately, on account of Christ and because of His mercy, “The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod is a confessional church … because we believe in confessing. And now is the time for that confessing!” Preus encouraged.
“Now is the time to proclaim often and loudly that Jesus Christ is Lord.”
The 66th Regular Convention of the LCMS is meeting July 9–14 at the Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee under the theme “Upon This Rock: Repent, Confess, Rejoice.” Among the 1,500 convention participants are 1,123 clergy and lay voting delegates.
Adriane Heins (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the managing editor of The Lutheran Witness and the Journal of Lutheran Mission.
Posted July 12, 2016