Monday, October 20, 2008


The below is taken from an article prepared for our congregation's monthly newsletter. You may access the entire newsletter (October 2008) at: . At the end of this article, I will print out the actual text of the Augsburg Confession Article V and the introduction to it.
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“Everyone a Minister!” announces the sign in front of So-and-So-on-the-Corner Church.

"Wow,” you think, as you gaze at that signboard, “that must be a really great church! All of their members are ministers!” 

But then you start to wonder who really IS in charge of what goes on in that congregation. Who decides what should be preached? What should be taught? Who leads worship services? The praise band? What happened to the minister? Is preaching no longer popular? Do they vote on doctrine? Do they vote on what should be preached? Do they vote on what they think will be good for their souls?

We who so often rebel against God’s wonderful gifts sometimes forget that the Reformers thought it important to say that the Office of the Pastoral Ministry was one of their core values! The Office of the Pastoral Ministry was/is one of our core values because through it God cares for our immortal souls! We value that office because, through it, God sees to it that His Word and the Sacraments are delivered to us in the right way!

Let’s still value that office today, ok? Read on . . . .

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Article V - The Ministry

Many people think that the clergy are the ones who made up the doctrine of the office of The Ministry. After all, from a human point of view, it would make sense for ministers to do just that. The congregation pays the minister. Maybe, when the pastor talks about The Ministry, he is just being sure that his own pocket is being properly padded.

Please go read Article V of the Augsburg  Confession in the box on this page — it’s really short. Then come back here. Please? Thanks! I’ll wait . . . 

It is admittedly true that there have been false prophets in the past as in the present, and that there will be false prophets in the future. It is also sadly true that some “preachers” have announced themselves as “preachers” just so that they could bilk people out of their money. That is truly sad. They abuse one of the gifts of God by trying to use it for their own purposes. The same is true of the pastor who becomes lazy and does not fulfill the work to which he has been called.

But the very first thing which must be established about “The Ministry” is that God is the One Who has established that office. It is not up to us to decide to do away with that Office. 

+ + +

Why God Gives Us Pastors! 

In Ephesians 4:10-16, we are taught that it is God who has established the offices of The Ministry: 
“And  He gave the  apostles, the prophets, the  evangelists, the  pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for  building up  the body of Christ, until we all attain to  the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God,  to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of  the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children,  tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in  deceitful schemes. Rather,  speaking the truth in love, we are to  grow up in every way into Him Who is  the head, into Christ, from Whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped,  when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” (Eph 4:11-16)

As you read and re-read that text, you will note, of course, why God has established The Ministry. He wants His body (the Church, aka the local congregation) to be built up, so that we are brought to a unity of the faith, and to Christian maturity as people who know and trust in Christ our Savior. He does not want us to be tossed back and forth by every wind of false teaching. He wants His pastors to be faithful with respect to His Word and to be faithful to the Gospel. He does not want His pastors chasing down whatever is the latest teaching which goes around Christendom. He wants His pastors to so teach God’s people about Christ that they will know that they are from Christ and sustained only by Christ. When we know this, then the body of Christ will grow up in love.

Of course, the means for the pastor to accomplish all of this is what the Reformers wrote in the 5th “core value” of the Augsburg Confession. The means which the pastor uses is God’s “means of grace,” namely, the Gospel in His Word properly taught, and His sacraments (Baptism and Holy Communion) administered in the same way as they were instituted by God.

It is terribly important that we understand that God wants His pastors to work through these means. Note carefully that the Reformers condemned the position of the Anabaptists of their day who said that God does not necessarily work through His means. There were some in those days, as there are many in our day, who say that God comes to people outside of His Word. Those are the folks (led by their “pastors”) who must go chasing around and around, trying to “find the Holy Spirit” in a kind of ecstatic sort of experience. These are the same folks who think that they can manipulate folks into “feeling the Spirit” by the right kinds of music, theatrics, or other means. Rather than comforting souls which are troubled by sin, these are forever asking troubled sinners if they “feel saved.”

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TV “Pastors” and the Divine Call . . .
Someone says to his pastor that “You are not ‘dynamic enough,’” or something to that effect. They rather like the theatrics of the TV preacher. They say that they will get their worship of God from the TV, and that the TV minister is “my minister.” To that kind of thinking, we are quick to reply that, when they get sick and are scared nearly to death because of a sickness and/or some sin(s) in their lives, they should call the TV preacher. He surely will not come to their aid! It is highly likely that he will not even be in the least bit aware of their need. Hence, in an hour of tremendous need, when an immortal soul needs the consolation of the Gospel perhaps the most, there will be no “minister” there for him.

In the Divine Call, you have the assurance that your pastor is called by God, through your congregation, to consistently and constantly bring Christ to you! Your pastor is pledged, by means of his Call from God (this call is no mere “feeling,” but is concrete and real), to stand with you “through thick and thin” and to ever bring you Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.

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“Minister” = “Servant”

A true Christian “minister” postures himself NOT so much as the CEO of some corporation; rather, he postures himself as a servant. He serves Christ by announcing His Word of Law and Gospel, calling sinners to repentance, and consoling sinners who are bothered by their sins.  He further serves Christ by administering His Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion in the way that Christ has instituted them.

A true Christian “minister” also willingly serves the people of God by being available to them, and by calling to them from God’s Word. Sometimes he must serve them by serving up God’s Word of the Law to call them to repentance. At other times He serves them by serving up the Word of the Gospel so that they will know and trust in the dear Savior Christ as their Savior.

The pastor as “minister” does NOT mean that he is to be responsible for all of the things that must happen in the congregation from the sweeping of the floors, to the lawn mowing, to the banking, etc. His “servanthood” is one which makes him a servant to God, God’s Word, and God’s people.

+ + +

Jesus “with skin on” . . .

When the little boy, awakening from a nightmare, was told by his mother that he should “just believe that Jesus is here with you,” he replied: “Well, I want Jesus with skin on.”

In the writing of the 5th Article of the Augsburg Confession on the subject of “the Ministry,” the reformers had in mind that the pastor IS one who comes to us with Jesus. He comes in the Lord’s name. He comes to us again and again. He brings forgiveness of sins as he brings the Gospel of God’s Word and of God’s Sacraments.

May it be that pastor and people will continue to rejoice also in this “core value” for our souls’ good!  +

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 The Augsburg Confession
“Chief Articles of Faith”
Article V
The Ministry
So that we may obtain this faith, the ministry of teaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments was instituted. Through the Word and Sacraments, as through instruments, the Holy Spirit is given (John 20:22). he works faith, when and where it pleases God (John 3:8), in those who hear the good news that God justifies those who believe that they are received into grace for Christ’s sake. This happens not through our own merits, but for Christ’s sake.

Our churches condemn the anabaptists and others who thinks that through their own preparations and works the Holy Spirit comes to them without the external Word.


In Concordia The Lutheran Confessions A Reader’s Edition of the Book of  Concord, there is this “forward” which is intended to help first time readers of the Augsburg Confession understand the context in which it was written:

“How can what Christ die for us two thousand years ago - through His life, death, and resurrection - become effective in our lives today? God has given us sure, certin, and objective means by which He distributes the blessings of Christ’s salvation. These means are the Gospel proclainmed and taught, and the Sacraments administered according to Christ’s institution. Through these means the Holy Spirit creates and sustain our trust in Jesus’ merits. And through these means of grace the objective reality of Christ’s work is applied to us personally.

“God established the Office of the Holy Ministry precisely to distribute Christ’s good gifts. He sends shepherds, whom the Holy spirit appoints as overseers, to care for His flock. The German version of the Augsburg Confession uses a very concrete expression to describe this office of pastoral ministry: ‘preaching office” (Predigtamt). During the Reformation, and even today, some imagine they can experience the Holy Spirit through their own reflections, by enjoying nature, or by ecstatic religious experiences. The Holy Spirit does not operate that way. Rather, He works through the powerful, external, objective Gospel in Word and Sacrament. (See also SA III VII and X; Treatise.) 

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


Thursday, September 11, 2008

"Core Values for Christians: Justification"

(This article is taken from the July Newsletter of Concordia Ev. Lutheran Church of Sikeston, MO. That entire newsletter can be viewed as a pdf file at: At the end of the below article I will include the text - and introduction - of Article IVof the Augsburg Confession -- or, go to this link and read it yourself: .)
As you look around our community or other communities, do you get a clear picture of what the Church’s “job” is? Here’s a short list of impressions which you might get if you just looked around (in person and on the internet):

+ to put catchy sayings on  billboards

+ to get members from other churches to join your church

+ to make people feel good

+ to tell people how to “get along” in life (marriage, life in general, home, work, ...)

+ to host youth events (the bigger, the better)

+ to take trips to special places (for fun and recreation or for “missions”)

Well, those are just a few which your pastor thinks it might be easy for people to start to think of as the Church’s purpose — some are OK, but some of them are plain sinful. If you want some hints as to what the Church’s true purpose is, then see the pictures which are included in this article.
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Article IV
The truth is: the holy Christian Church will stand or fall on the basis of her belief in God’s message of justification to our fallen world. 

Please go read Article IV of the Augsburg  Confession on p. 3 of this newsletter — it’s really short. Then come back here. Please? Thanks! I’ll wait . . . 

So . . . assuming that you have read the Article, what does it mean? Is what the reformers wrote a “no-brainer” to you? If you think so, then it means that you have been properly catechized (taught), and your pastor is so very thankful for that! If you are inclined to disagree with Article IV, then you are in big trouble — and not just now but someday when you are on your deathbed.

The fact that God pronounces you and I “justified” or “righteous” in His sight for the sake of Christ’s holy work at Calvary (Jesus suffered for all of our sins and died as the perfect payment for all sins!), should be of the greatest comfort to you. It will, when you come to believe it properly, take away your natural fear of God, AND it will motivate you for a life of service to God which will (probably) astonish you!
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The Greatest Need of Every Sinner is . . . 
Back when we looked at Article II of the Augsburg Confession (a couple of months ago), we noted that the reformers wrote about the greatest need of every person in the world, namely, original sin. It is the sin which we have inherited from our parents. With the sin has come guilt. Because we are sinners. Just as the drug addict, whether or not s/he craves a “fix” at a particular moment, is still an addict, so the sinner, whether or not s/he is sinning at a particular point in time, is a sinner.

Therefore, it stands to reason to say that, since the greatest need of every person in the world is their sinfulness, then the greatest gift which can be given to them is the forgiveness of their sins. This truly is the great gift which our Lord Jesus Christ came to our fallen world to give us. When Jesus died, He uttered one word, a word which means everything to us who hope in Him: it is the word which, translated into English, is “It is finished!” What was finished, of course, was the perfect payment for all the world’s sins.
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The Right Motive for Anything is . . . 

Forgiveness! It changes things. Years ago, this pastor became aware of a man who had been “on the outs” with his wife for a number of years. There were terrible hurts which the man had inflicted upon his wife. They had been painful. He came to be deeply sorry for those hurts which he had caused. He wanted, with all his heart, to take those hurts away (but he could not, of course — and there’s a powerful lesson in that fact for all of us!). His wife told him that he had to “re-earn” her love. He waited and he tried. But  her required wait backfired on her. He became resentful and angry. Your pastor’s counsel to him was: quit trying because you cannot earn your wife’s (or anyone else’s) love. Your pastor’s counsel to her was: forgive him and love him even if you do not think he deserves it. Result: a marriage saved and a future hope for that home.

God’s forgiveness changes everything about our lives. Your pastor cringes when he hears or reads about how church leaders in our own church body and/or church leaders in other church bodies try to motivate  (a better word is manipulate) people to serve God out of a sense of personal or corporate guilt. Make no mistake: guilt is a quick motivator, that is, it gets people to try to do things. But guilt is a wrong motivator. People tire of trying to earn their “forgiveness.” Then they become resentful. Then they are no longer motivated. Or, worse, they think that they actually can earn their forgiveness. Then they become arrogant. Then they are no longer motivated. 

Your pastor knows that it will take much longer to get people “motivated” to serve God by telling them that God truly does love them! But your pastor knows that love is the only right and the only lasting motivation for your life of service to God. God loves you! God forgives you your sins for Christ’s sake! As you get to know that and are reassured of it again and again, then lives of service will surely follow.
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What does the Church “Dispense” . . . ?
Have you ever thought about that? Is the Church’s purpose to dispense “motivation” to folks ala Joel Olsteen? Or, what about the old mantra of “self-esteem?” Are we supposed to make people feel good about themselves? Some churches think that their job is to try to predict the future. Others dispense parenting advice. Still others offer Sunday morning sex advice (really — at least that’s what they have advertised). Other churches want to give you “an experience with God” of some sort. But none of those are the proper function of the Christian congregation! 
On Easter evening our Lord Christ appeared to the disciples and said to them: “ . . . If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven; if you withhold forgiveness from anyone, it is withheld.” (John 20:23) That, friends, is what Christ’s Church is supposed to “dispense:” the forgiveness of sins which Christ has purchased by His suffering and death!
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Learn to Expect This at Church . . .
Your pastor prays that you will expect to  hear him preach to you about God’s love for you, about Christ’s perfect payment for all of your sins, and about how God, because you have been brought to faith in Christ’s work, declares you righteous in His sight. 

Your pastor prays that the message of your justification in God’s sight through faith in Jesus Christ, will motivate you in your attendance at God’s house, in your offerings for His work, and in your resolve to invite your family and friends to God’s house. He also prays that you will encourage him NEVER to deviate from this central and most important message of Christendom, because it really is true that the doctrine of “Justification” is the doctrine by which the Christian Church finds her reason to exist.

This teaching of “Justification” truly is, then, a “core value” for us Christians. It is the message about how God permits us to have life with Him. It is the message about His grace that makes us righteous in His sight. It fills us with His love.  +

(Oops! Because I got behind on my blogging, I neglected to save what I had keyed in as the text of AC IV. But you can go read it yourself online at

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

"Core Values for Christians: The Son of God"

(This article is taken from the July Newsletter of Concordia Ev. Lutheran Church of Sikeston, MO. That entire newsletter can be viewed as a pdf file at: . At the end of the below article I will include the text - and introduction - of Article II of the Augsburg Confession -- or, go to this link and read it yourself: .)

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ our Lord:

Yes, I know, to you who have been properly instructed and who gladly receive God’s Word in worship every Sunday, to say that Jesus is truly the Son of God is a “no-brainer.” For this fact, you should get down on your knees and give thanks to God that you have been properly taught. :)

You see, not every person has been thus properly taught. For that matter, not every person who calls him-/herself a “Christian” has been thus properly taught. And, sometimes, people who have been properly taught have rejected the true Christian doctrine which was given to them for their souls’ comfort!

As a result, there truly are people who do not realize that “The Son of God” is THE “core value” of the Christian faith. It is easy to become distracted by trends and fads which come along in Christendom, or to be distracted by our own “felt needs” to start to think that there are other “core values” than “The Son of God.”
+ Article III - The Son of God  +

God has revealed Himself to us as three separate and distinct Persons in one God. He has revealed Himself as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. This is the blessed and adorable Trinity. You are right: the word “Trinity” and “Triune God” are not in the Bible. Nevertheless the doctrine is plainly there. 

Please go read Article III of the Augsburg  Confession at the end of this post OR at the post noted above). Then come back here. Please? Thanks! I’ll wait . . .  

So . . . assuming that you have read the Article, what does it mean? In a nutshell it means that we call ourselves “Christian” because we know and worship the “Christ.” This “Christ” is the very Son of God who has accomplished not just our salvation but the salvation of every man, woman, and child in the world.

When did He become the “Son of God?” That would seem a logical question since, to our finite way of thinking, everything and everyone has to have come from somewhere. Nevertheless Jesus is called the eternal Son of God. He has no beginning nor does He have an end. He is God. To say that Jesus is the “only-begotten Son of God” is simply to use Biblical language. God has chosen to reveal Himself to us in this way so that we may have some sense of realization of the gift of God in the giving of His Son for our salvation!

+ Why It Was Necessary for Jesus to be True Man!  +

It was necessary for our salvation that Jesus be true Man because we are sinners. A man needed to satisfy the justice of God because of sin. It was, after all, man who had broken God’s Law in the Garden of Eden and who had cast the whole world into sinfulness.

According to Luther’s Small Catechism, (Question #122 in the 1991 edition - or go see this online at: ), Jesus had to be true Man in order to: [1] “act in our place under the Law and fulfill it for us;” and [2] “be able to suffer and die for our guilt because we failed to keep the Law.”

The Law of God, of course, is holy and therefore demands our obedience. The problem is that we who are afflicted with Original Sin simply cannot, no matter how hard we might try, keep God’s Law perfectly.

So God takes our flesh and blood upon Himself (born of the Virgin Mary) and becomes the Man first who keeps God’s Law perfectly — He is tempted in every way just as we are tempted but He never sins — He is tempted and He never sins and He keeps God's Law not just once, but all the time!

Then, because God’s righteous justice demands a sacrifice for the sins already and continually being committed, Jesus the Man suffers and dies in our place.

Want proof of God’s “commitment” to you? Want proof of God’s love for you? Go stand at the foot of Christ’s cross and refelct upon what He endured for you, me, and for the whole world!

+ Why It was Necessary for Jesus to be True God! +

Even as Jesus had to be true Man in order to effect our salvation, He also had to be true God in order to effect our salvation. It is not hard to figure this out, is it? We naturally born people are sinners! We have inherited the problem of “sin” from our parents.

Because of that problem we simply could not keep God’s Law perfectly. We could, of course, suffer and die for our sins, but our sufferings and deaths would not be sufficient to pay for our own sins, much less for the sins of the whole entire world!

So, the Small Catechism (Question #122 in the 1991 edition - or go see this online at: ) says that our Lord Christ had to be true God so that [1] “His fulfilling of the Law, His life, suffering, and death might be a sufficient ransom for all people;” and [2] so that “He might be able to overcome death and the devil for us.”

We do not need to stand around wondering, or lay on our sleepless bed in the middle of the night wondering, or be wracked with doubts while lying on our death bed wondering IF Christ has sufficiently paid for our sins and/or IF Christ has truly satisfied the almighty God! He is God. He has done it perfectly!

+ The Comfort of Jesus as True Man! +

There is also great daily comfort for you, dear reader, in the realization that Christ is true God and true Man. The fact that He is true Man is God’s reassurance to you that God truly can “relate” to you and me.

Ever had someone try to destroy you? Ever suffered innocently? Do you ever wrestle with temptation? God knows! Jesus is your Brother! Hebrews 4:14-16 is one of my favorite texts! Check it out.

+ The Comfort of Jesus as True God! +

You do not ever need to wonder if Jesus has worked out your salvation “enough.” You and I often wonder if we have done some thing good “enough.” Not so with Christ! As God He never sins. Ever. He is never insufficient. He never only “comes close.” Because He is God you can rest in the sure knowledge of His work (for your salvation!) being complete.

+ Two Incredible Mysteries as The Church’s “High” Festivals +

The Son of God is true Man and true God! This is wondrous! Him we worship, for He has accomplished the whole world’s salvation.

AT CHRISTMAS the Church marvels in the truth and rejoices in the fact that God became a Man and, at a specific point in time, stepped into our world as a flesh and blood man! Oh, the ecstasy (and the agony) of knowing God’s love for us! Angels sang of it!

ON GOOD FRIDAY, we thankfully (but with overwhelming sadness in our hearts) watch God die nailed to a Cross as the bloody payment for mankind’s sins. Oh, the agony (and the ecstasy) of God’s suffering because of our sins. Oh, the joy of the forgiveness of our sins! And on Easter morning angels announced that He had risen!   +

In Christ, /S/ Pastor Wollenburg

The Augsburg Confession
“Chief Articles of Faith”
Article III
The Son of God
Our churches teach that the Word, that is, the Son of God (John 1:14), assumed the human nature in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. So there are two natures — the divine and the human — inseparably joined in one person. There is one Christ, true God and true man, who was born of the Virgin Mary, truly suffered, was crucified, died, and was buried. He did this to reconcile the Father to us and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for all actual sins of mankind (John 1:29).

He also descended into hell, and truly rose again on the third day. Afterward, He ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father. There He forever reigns and has domininon over all creatures. He sanctifies those who believe in Him, by sending the Holy Spirit into their hearts to rule, comfort, and make them alive. He defends them against the devil and the power of sin.

The same Christ will openly come again to judge the living and the dead, and so forth, according to the Apostles’ Creed.
+ + +
In Concordia The Lutheran Confessions A Reader’s Edition of the Book of  Concord, there is this “forward” which is intended to help first time readers of the Augsburg Confession understand the context in which it was written:

“The Augsburg Confession teaches the historic, biblical doctrine of Christ. Many early controversies about Christ’s human and divine natures were resolved thorugh careful study of God’s Word, and are reflected in the Nicene Creed. Article III echoes that creed - our Lord Jesus Christ is one person having two natures: truly God and truly man. This is another mystery of the Christian faith that we receive with thanks, bowing before Christ in humble adoration. His incarnation in the womb of His virgin mother, Mary, was for our salvation. He is, and remains, for all eternity the God-man, the One who appeased, or propitiated, God’s wrath against our sin and won for us eternal life. Even now He is present with us through His appointed means of grace - the Gospel and the Sacraments. He comes to strengthen, sustain, and support us, and to bring us safely to our heavenly home.(See also Ap III; SA II I; FC Ep VIII and SD VIII.)

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

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

"'Core Values' for Christians: Original Sin"

(This article is taken from the July Newsletter of Concordia Ev. Lutheran Church of Sikeston, MO. That entire newsletter can be viewed as a pdf file at: . At the end of the below article I will include the text - and introduction - of Article II of the Augsburg Confession -- or, go to this link and read it yourself: .)

Okay, Okay. My wife wants to know how “Original Sin” is a “core value” of Christians. Granted that sin is NOT something that we want in our lives as Christians, BUT sin is a reality with which the Christian Church and every single Christian must deal! If you think about it, if it were not for sin there would not, of course, be any need for a Savior, and the Savior would never have needed to start His Church! So, do we believe in “sin?” Absolutely. Do we like it? Absolutely NOT.

This short article is the second 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 “Lutherans” were not a bunch of oddballs who should be labeled as a mere sect; and [2] to define what a “Lutheran” believes, teaches, 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 the “core values” of Lutheran Christians.

As I wrote before, this is not a “core value” which we long to have. Rather, it is a “core value” which we believe and with which we simply have to deal! Please go read Article II of the Augsburg Confession (at the end of this article or go to the above link). Then come back here. Please? Thanks! I’ll wait . . .

So . . . assuming that you have read the Article, what does it mean? The authors of the Augsburg Confession are confessing, from God’s Word, that every man, woman, and child is born with a problem. Ever since the fall (into sin) of Adam in the Garden of Eden, everyone is afflicted with sin. Sin is rebellion against God. Sin is not just something that you do but it is something which you have. It is kind of the way it is when a person has a bad cough: the cough is both something which he does and which he has. He coughs because he has a cough. In the same way, every person in the world sins because s/he has sin. We believe that. Scripture teaches it.


The first question which we always find ourselves asking, whether about sin or a bad cough or a cancer, is “Where did it come from?” Many people — because of the disobedience and pride which is the result of original sin — point their accusing finger at God. They want to imagine that, since God is the creator of all things, He must also have created sin. How convenient to blame God thus! Then they can also accuse God of being inconsistent and even cruel! Nice try. It doesn’t work.

Sin comes from the devil. When God finished with His creating work, His opinion of the world which He had made (without sin!) was that it was “very good.” In other words, because it was without sin, it was perfect! But sometime between the creation of the world and the fall of Adam and Eve into sin, there was a war in heaven. One of God’s perfect angels, with help from some of the other angels, decided to rebel against God and usurp their Creator (oh, the arrogance of it all). Another of the angels, Michael, fought back. Satan (the one who rebelled) was cast out of heaven. Seeing that he was defeated, he went off to make war against those who are believers in God. He sought to mess things up good. And he did.

That is how sin came into existence! Remember who tempted Adam and Eve to sin against God in their perfect Garden of Eden? Yep. The same wicked angel. He’s a great deceiver, make no mistake about it. Want some proof texts for the above? Call me. Or, get out your Luther’s Small Catechism and look up “angels” in the back and read up on it. (Or, you can access a version of the Small Catechism and then follow the link to the explanation of the Small Catechism at:

+ + + SIN IN YOU AND OTHERS! + + +

Sin now gets passed on from one generation to the next. Here is the formula: Sinful Mommy + Sinful Daddy = Sinful Baby. If that seems simplistic, then so be it. Just as children inherit their eye color, hair color, and certain other physical characteristics from their parents, they also inherit this awful thing called “Original Sin” (aka “Inherited Sin”). It is not their (your, my, our) fault that they (we) have it. But we still have it. It is because someone before us was thoughtless and careless. And remember what it produces? As a cough will produce a cough, so original sin produces sins.

+ + + SIN AS A POISON! + + +
This sin poisons us inside and out. God told Adam and Eve that, as a result of their sin: [1] a woman’s child-bearing would not be as easy or as pleasant as it would have been by God’s original design; [2] a man would no longer find his work to be easy and enjoyable, but that now he would have to work with weeds, AND he would even sweat; [3] husbands and wives would no longer enjoy a perfectly happy relationship all of the time; and [4] DEATH had now entered into them and into God’s perfect creation! Sin had poisoned their lives and everything in it!

This pastor often uses the example of the child born addicted to crack or some other highly addictive drug. The mother uses the drug and the child ingests the drug in utero. Then the child is born, the umbilical cord is cut, and the truth is revealed: the newborn, so seemingly cute in the newness of his/her life, is nothing less than a drug addict! The doctors and nurses, recognizing that truth, need to deal with that baby’s addiction. If they don’t, the baby will die. When they save that child’s life, they remind that child — so that s/he can live a productive life — that s/he is a drug addict. S/He must learn that about him-/herself so that the drug does not control his/her life! This sin is a poison in our lives! It causes all kinds of other trouble, and dooms us to death.

+ + + SIN'S ANTIDOTE IS . . . + + +

. . . HOLINESS! BUT . . . NOT a “holiness” which comes from you! Rather, the righteousness (“holiness”) which comes from Christ and is put upon you. God gives you the holiness earned by the absolutely perfect life of our Lord Jesus Christ. Do NOT fall prey to those who think that you can somehow earn God’s favor by your goodness (as did Pelagius of old, and as do the different “holiness” groups of the present); that will cause you either to despair or — just as bad — to think that you do not really need God in your life (like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day).

GOOD NEWS! Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has become God’s holiness for you! He lived under God’s Law in a way which we could not (He never sinned!). When God brings us to faith in Christ and we are baptized, the perfect holiness of Christ, like a great big coat, is put over us. When God looks at us, then, though He knows that we are sinners, He sees the big coat of Jesus’ holiness and He declares us righteous, or holy, in His sight!

The antidote for our sins and sinfulness is the Lord Jesus Christ, and His holiness. Where there is sin, Christ — Who lived perfectly, and therefore died innocently, and arose again victoriously — is everything which we need!

+ + +

May God preserve us safe in the holy, true and Christian faith! Though we Lutherans do not “value” Original Sin, we do “own” that it exists, AND we own that it exists in every man, woman, and child in the world. And, because it does exist in every man, woman, and child in the world (except for our Lord Christ, obviously), we ask God to help us do what He wants us to do in order that every man, woman, and child will know and trust in the only antidote to Original Sin: Christ!

In Christ, Pastor Wollenburg

The Augsburg Confession
“Chief Articles of Faith”
Article II
Original Sin

Our churches teach that since the fall of Adam (Romans 5:12), all who are naturally born are born with sin (Psalm 51:5), that is, without the fear of God, without trust in God, and with the inclination to sin, called concupiscence. Concupiscence is a disease and original vice that is truly sin. It damns and brings eternal death on those who are not born anew through Baptism and the Holy Spirit (John 3:5). Our churches condemn the Pelagians and others who deny that original depravity is sin, thus obscuring the glory of Christ’s merit and benefits. Pelagians argue that a person can be justified before God by his own strengths and reason.

In Concordia The Lutheran Confessions A Reader’s Edition of the Book of Concord, there is this “forward” which is intended to help first time readers of the Augsburg Confession understand the context in which it was written: “Sin is much more than thinking, saying, and doing things that are wrong. It is a terminal disease. We are all conceived and born in sin; we inherit it from our first parents, Adam and Eve. The disease of sin can be overcome, but only by one medicine: the cleansing, healing, and forgiving blood of God’s own Son. By rejecting Pelagian errors in Article II, the Augsburg Confression subtly refers to the Roman view of sin. The Roman Church taught and still teaches that concupiscence (the inborn inclination to sin) is not actually sin. By misdiagnosing our fatal illness, Rome leads people to blieve they are able to cooperate with God’s grace for salvation. Lutheranism rejects all teachings that imply we are responsible for or contribute to our salvation. (See also Ap II; SA III, I; FC Ep I and SD I.)"