On this day in 1530 a man named Christian Beyer stood before Emperor Charles V and a host of other people to make a confession of what his group, derogatorily called the “Lutherans,” believed. As he stood to confess the faith, he did so on the basis and with the comfort of Holy Scripture: “I will speak of Your testimonies before kings and will not be put to shame.” There was a lot at stake—livelihood, reputation, and even one’s life. Just seven years prior two young men, Heinrich Voes and Johann Esch, were burned at the stake for confessing what was called “Luther’s doctrine,” which really is the doctrine of Scripture. And Luther himself could not come to Augsburg to confess the faith because there was a bounty on his head. Today the Church gives thanks for the host that has gone before us that boldly and unwaveringly confessed the Scriptural, Christian, and Apostolic faith, and prays for the strength to do the same.
Why does the Pastor preach? Scripture explains that the role of preaching the Word of God is how saving faith is created: “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’ … So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ” (Romans 10:14-17). The Augsburg Confession, seeing this connection between the Preaching Office and saving faith, summarizes Scripture on the Office of the Holy Ministry in this way: “To obtain [saving, justifying] faith, God instituted the Office of Preaching, giving the Gospel and the Sacraments. Through these, as through means, He gives the Holy Spirit who produces faith, where and when He wills, in those who hear the Gospel. It teaches that we have a gracious God, not through our merit but through Christ’s merit, when we so believe” (AC V 1-3). The whole reason the Pastor preaches is so saving faith can be created, so we know that “we have a gracious God” who loves us and has saved us from our sin by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.