CORE VALUES for Christians: GOD! By Rev. Alan J. Wollenburg

Pastor Alan Wollenburg writes a series of articles that have been published in his church newsletter. Looking for a way to introduce more of the members of his congregation and people of the community who happen across their parish newsletter on just what the Augsburg Confession is, he decided to write on the different articles of the AC under the general theme: “Core Values for Christians”. Here is his article on Article I of the Augsburg Confession.

Core Values” is something of a buzzword in our culture. People are asked to examine their “core values.” That’s a good idea!

What you value will govern what you do and how you live! What you value will govern that on which you spend your time, your money, and your energy. It is good to have a set of “core values.”

We Christians, of course, want to have “core values” which have been established by the salvation which God has given us in the Lord Jesus Christ so that our “core values” are defined by God’s Word! This short article is the first in a series of “core values” articles for our monthly newsletter.

Each of our “core values” will be based on an article of the Augsburg Confession.” BORRRIIINNNNGGG!!!, right? Wrong! The Augsburg Confession was written with two closely-related purposes in mind [1] to demonstrate that the “Lutheran” were not a bunch of oddballs who should be labeled as a mere sect; and [2] to define what a “Lutheran” believes, teachers, and confesses. When Emperor Charles V permitted the Augsburg Confession to be read, it legitimized Luther and others. Because of that history, it may well be said that it represents that “core values” of Lutheran Christians.

ARTICLE ONE: GOD

Well, that certainly seems pretty “core,” doesn’t it? If you are going to be a Christian or if you are going to be a Christian congregation, you must believe in God, right? Of course, the other question becomes: “And just Who/What is God?”

So, you might be asking, “Why did the Lutheran reformers use that as the first article in their ‘core values?'” Answer: Because this is fundamental.

WHO BELIEVES IN GOD?

Ask people if they believe in God and almost everyone will say that they most certainly do believe in God. You will run into a few people who deny the testimony of the existence of the universe, the testimony of their own consciences, and even the testimony of Scripture itself to say that they do not believe in God – but they are in the relative minority and, to tell you the truth, they speak and act foolishly when they say that there is no God (Ps. 14:1).

Ask people Who God is, and things will surely get interesting pretty quickly. There are many people in our world today who think it perfectly acceptable for them to attempt to define God according to their personal whims and desires. You have heard people say things like, “Well, my god wouldn’t damn anyone to hell!” As soon as you have heard someone say that (or something like it), you can be sure, sadly, that they do not worship the one, true God.

THE WRONG GOD AND BEING CRIPPLED

When a person has become crippled, life becomes exceedingly difficult (obviously). The person has to carry a cane or drag along a walker or a wheel chair or some other device, which will aid their mobility. The fact that they are crippled in some way will make their life much more difficult. There may even be parts of their lives in which they can no longer participate: races, high jumps, that sort of thing, perhaps.

When the great Old Testament prophet Elijah confronted the people of his day who thought that they could worship that true God and worship the idol Baal, he asked them, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God follow Him.” (1 Kings 18:21)

Elijah asked that question because the people of Israel no longer knew to whom they should pray. God? Baal? A little bit of both? But God has said that He will not tolerate us worshiping Him and someone else. If a person tries to worship different “gods” which exclude one another, then who shall you worship? That is why Elijah showed the children of Israel quite clearly that God is the one and only true God. Read the rest of 1 Kings 18; it’s quite dramatic!)

TO CONFESS THE TRUE GOD IS TO CONDEMN FALSE BELIEFS!

The original Lutherans saw fit, in the Augsburg Confession, to also condemn certain false ideas about God. As you quickly read the Augsburg Confession, you will see mention of those who had bought into the eastern principle of “ying and yang” (an error into which many unbelievers and even some Christians fall today), the Valentinians, the Arians, the Eumonians, the Muslims, all of whom have errors which persist to this day (there is never anything new about sin). Because those errors existed back then, the writers of the “core values” of Lutheran Christians had to make it clear that they stood apart from those errors. That is why we do the same thing today.

THIS ALL HAS ONE IMPORTANT PURPOSE!

The Lutherans wanted to be very clear that they: [1] loved God through Christ our Savior and that they would not accept any substitute for that; and [2] that they genuinely loved the souls of the people for whom our Lord Jesus Christ died. The exact same thing is true for us in our day.

Concordia Lutheran Church, and her members hold to this “core value” of worshiping only the one, true God – the blessed Trinity (yes, we know the words “Trinity” and “Triune” are not in the Bible, but the teaching plainly is there!) because we dare not accept any substitute for the true God (since only the true God can grant us salvation and the forgiveness of sins!), AND because we cherish the souls commended to the spiritual care of this congregation and the souls of the people of this community, we will offer to them no substitute!

May it ever be that the one, true God will bless our feeble efforts to make Him known. May it be that more and more men, women, and children will join us in the true worship of the only true God! May god protect this “core value” from any and every error. May all the members of our congregation participate in making God’s love known to our fallen world!


The Augsburg Confession
Chief Articles of Faith
Article I – God

“Our churches teach with common consent that the decree of the Council of Nicaea about the unity of the divine essence and the three persons is true. It is to be believed without any doubt. God is one divine essence who is eternal, without a body, without parts, of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness. He is the maker and preserver of all things, visible and invisible (Nehemiah 9:6) yet there are three persons, the Father, the son, and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19) these three persons are of the same essence and power.

Our churches use the term person as the Fathers have used it. We use it to signify, not a part or quality in another, but which subsists of itself. Our churches condemn all heresies (Titus 3:10-11) that arose against this article, such as the Manicheans, who assumed that there are two “principles,” one Good and the other Evil. They also condemn the Valentinians, Arians, Eunomians, Muslims, and all heresies such as these. Our churches also condemn the Samosatenes, old and new, who contend that God is but one person. Through sophistry they impiously argue that the Word and the Holy Spirit are not distinct persons. They day the Word signifies a spoken word, and Spirit signifies motion created in things.

(Source: CONCORDIA The Lutheran Confessions A Reader’s Edition of the Book of Concord. P. 57. @ 2005, CPH, St. Louis, MO.)


The editors of CONCORDIA The Lutheran Confessions A Reader’s Edition of the Book of Concord also saw fit to include this word of explanation prior to Article I:

“Martin Luther never intended to start a new church, but rather to purify the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church. The Augsburg Confession strongly affirms the doctrine of the Trinity confessed at the council of Nicaea (325), and later affirmed by the Council of Constantinople (381). God is one divine essence in three distinct persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Scriptures reveal this great mystery, confessed by all Christians.

“During the Reformation, radical groups espoused various forms of earlier heresies. The Augsburg Confession condemns the ancient heresies concerning God. Article I proves that Lutheranism is deeply anchored in the historic doctrine of biblical Christianity. It embraces the faith of the Church through the ages and rejects all the errors the Church has rejected. (See also Ap I; SA I).” (Ibid.)

About Norm Fisher

Norm was raised in the UCC in Connecticut, and like many fell away from the church after high school. With this background he saw it primarily as a service organization. On the miracle of his first child he came back to the church. On moving to Texas a few years later he found a home in Lutheranism when he was invited to a confessional church a half-hour away by our new neighbors.

He is one of those people who found a like mind in computers while in Middle School and has been programming ever since. He's responsible for many websites, including the Book of Concord, LCMSsermons.com, and several other sites.

He has served the church in various positions, including financial secretary, sunday school teacher, elder, PTF board member, and choir member.

More of his work can be found at KNFA.net.

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