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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Of Original Sin

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Galatians 3:21-27

From the Confessions: The Chief Articles of Faith in the Augsburg Confession

Of Original Sin

Also they teach that since the fall of Adam all men begotten in the natural way are born with sin, that is, without the fear of God, without trust in God, and with concupiscence; and that this disease, or vice of origin, is truly sin, even now condemning and bringing eternal death upon those not born again through Baptism and the Holy Ghost.

They condemn the Pelagians and others who deny that original depravity is sin, and who, to obscure the glory of Christ's merit and benefits, argue that man can be justified before God by his own strength and reason.

Pulling It Together

The Lutherans of old wanted to make it clear at Augsburg that they were sinners. Indeed, they wished it understood that they believed all people since Adam (Rom 5:12) were in this condition from the very beginning of their lives. Otherwise, some might somehow live a perfectly sinless life, if only for a short time, before dying and therefore, have no need for a Savior. Why then would it be said that Jesus had died for the whole world when some had been sinless? There is no hope of this ever happening—no matter how precious some may think they or a family member might be. Sin has imprisoned us all (Gal 3:22); no one is free of its hold, even from the moment of birth. Thus, a rebirth is required. Indeed, a death (or baptism) and a rebirth, a resurrection to a newness of life (Rom 6:4) is needed.

Lutherans today, also wish to make it clear that they are sinners, captive to sin from the outset. We can do nothing to set ourselves free. We need a Savior; we need Christ, whom the Father sent to die for us and for our redemption. There are ancient and modern followers of Pelagius who taught and teach there was no need for the Father to have sent his Son, that humans are quite capable of moral perfection through the exertion of their own wills. They dismiss the need for God's grace. We confess the exact opposite: that we are poor and wretched sinners from the start, dead in our trespasses and denied the kingdom of heaven unless born again of the water and the Spirit. (John 3:3-5)

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, I praise you, the only one sent from the Father to save the world—and even me. Amen. 

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We Still Believe is a Bible study resource reflecting on key themes in biblical Lutheran doctrine that are at risk in the Church today. It is offered in the hope that it will inspire individuals and congregations to examine the core beliefs of traditional Lutheranism and how these beliefs apply to our own present context. Written in a question and discussion style by Pastor Steven King, the participant's book includes an introduction to and copy of the faith statement known as the Common Confession.


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