They are seven documents from the Lutheran Reformation in the 16th century that were gathered together in a volume of over 600 pages, called the Book of Concord or the Concordia. Three of the documents were written for internal use and four of them were written for external use.
The Lutheran Reformation was not planned, rather it was a spontaneous eruption, a kind of cultural explosion in 16th century Germany. It started with a monk, a man named Martin Luther, who came to hear a message out of the Biblical word that turned things around for him which established a different way of hearing that is still as fresh for us today as it was then.
So, Luther started to publish. In fact, at one point in the 1520s, ¾ of the books in print in German were written by Martin Luther. Behind Luther sprung up a large scale movement. Originally it was other professors and pastors, but since, at that time, church and state were intricately intertwined, it wasn't long before the politicians became involved. Eventually this movement reached even into the communities of the common people - and thinking began to shift. This movement became a paradigm shift, a basic change in the way of interpreting the scripture and the theology of the church. That shift resulted in a collection of writings now called the Book of Concord.
Luther was interested to make sure that the Word was preached and taught, so he took the chief statements of the faith, the Ten Commandments, the Apostle's Creed (the oldest statement of the Christian faith), the Lord's Prayer, Baptism, The Lord's Supper (Communion), and confession and absolution and wrote the Small Catechism (for families) and Large Catechism (for pastors). The small Catechism quickly became known as the layman's Bible. Luther asked a very interesting question regarding these statements of faith. He wasn't only interested in 'what does this mean' but was also interested in how do they work - what do they do? What they do is declare the faith in simple and direct language, confessing the center, proclaiming and pointing to Christ Jesus.
The collective writings in the Book of Concord condense, summarize, state, and proclaim the heart of Biblical faith. They attempt to restore the scripture to the center of the life of the Church. So, the confessions are first of all and most importantly summaries of the Biblical teachings of the Reformation. They are confessions that seek to hand Christ over to other people. They have their basis in scripture but their orientation is to preaching. And so, like John the Baptist, Luther and the Lutheran Confessions are concerned to point others to Jesus and the words he has spoken to us, words that open the heart to faith.
The Confessions of the Reformation were then condensed and summarized into what we call the Solas (alone). That is, we are saved by the Grace of God alone, through Faith alone, in the finished work of Christ alone, by the authority of the Word alone, to the Glory of God alone.
Lutheran Christians do not follow Luther, they follow Jesus Christ and confess Him as Lord and Savior. Lutheran Christians simply join with Luther in this confession, so that others may hear the good news that God declares us forgiven and righteous on account of the finished work of Jesus.
The Lutheran Confessions, therefore, move and drive us to proclamation. They move us from talking about God to delivering promises from God in the form of proclamation. So, hear now God's proclamation to you - you are forgiven. Your sin is no longer counted against you. Jesus has taken your sin upon himself and in exchange has covered you with his righteousness. You are now free in Christ. A child of the Most High God. "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him." (John 3:17)
If you have not heard these words of forgiveness before, come join us and hear them again, or if you would like to talk to someone please call Pastor Michael 'Myke' Main at (218) 390-9987 or email email@example.com