Our Lord tells us, "Whoever confesses Me before men, Him will I confess before My Father in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, Him will I deny before My Father who is in heaven."
I just finished spraying Round Up around my house. The weeds and little trees that have infiltrated the perimeter of my house make the house look unkempt, but even more, it threatens the foundation of our home. Those little trees become big trees and their roots threaten the very structure of our home. So I went around with a 1 gallon jug of chemicals to kill the weeds and will next go out with a hatchet and saw to take down the trees.
The Apostle Paul tells us that the Church is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone. He says no one can lay any other foundation than that which has been laid, Christ Jesus.
The little weeds and stink trees native to the human heart attack the Church at its foundation. Those weeds are the law and faith in human ability to save us. They attack the very foundation of our faith, that Christ alone saves.
The weeds had been growing for quite sometime because the house was unattended. The Roman Church, once a stalwart of western orthodoxy, began to have caretakers who were uninterested in preserving the faith, and instead looked upon the weeds as beautiful flowers, and only snipped them so they could sell them as such. The Popes began to use their power, not to preserve the faith, but to enrich themselves with wealth and power.
It was a nasty mess until an Augustinian monk, Martin Luther, decided it was time to spray a little Round Up, on all the weeds that had grown up around the Church. His tools were the Word and Sacraments, the law and the gospel. He stepped forward to confess that sinful mankind is saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. When he was threatened and ordered to stop, he gracefully and faithfully maintained his confession saying, "My conscience is bound to the Word of God. Here I stand; I can do no other. God help me. Amen."
Luther had not been the first to resist the abuses of the Roman Church, but he did it with such boldness, clarity, and faith in Christ that he is forever known as the Great Reformer of the Church. Luther did not attack the peripherals of Roman abuses, but went straight to the heart of the matter. Luther saw that the gospel was being buried under the law, and that Rome was denying Christ by teaching that good works contribute to our salvation.
But Luther was not alone. As Luther stood before the emperor at the diet of Worms in 1521, so his companions and princes stood before the same emporer in 1530, and presented a confession of Christ so clear that the enemies of the gospel could not come up with a confutation of it worth publishing. Reading the Augsburg Confession today we find it bound together by the central article of the faith, justification. The sweet gospel of grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone drips from every page. Those 28 articles are a confession of Christ as clear as any yet to be produced since the apostolic age.
Our Lord knew what He was demanding when He said, "Whoever confesses Me before men, I will confess Him before My Father in heaven." He was asking those who would follow Him to take up their cross, suffer the attacks of the evil one, the rejection of men, humility, suffering, and death. In other words they were to bear His image in this world. The authors and signers of our confessions did so with integrity and honor. They now dwell in the unapproachable light of their Father in heaven. Just as they, by grace, confessed Christ in this world, He has confessed them before His Father in heaven. With such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us press on in the great confession of our faith to the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Oops! a French salad ending.