The Confession of 1535

They teach further that Christ is no longer present on earth in the physical mode perceptible to the senses in which He once lived and moved on earth as a mortal and was willing to undergo torture and be nailed to the tree, suffer death, and then rise gloriously through the hard stone and pass through the closed door, nor will He be until the end of the world. He is, however, in this mode in heaven, where alone with the Father every tongue is to confess Him and all are to worship them. And the article of faith [Apostles’ Creed] clearly testifies to this: “He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty, whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.” And Paul says in [1] Thessalonians 4[:16]: “The Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout and with the voice of the archangel and the trumpet of God.” Peter says the same in Acts [3:21]: “Whom the heaven is to receive until the time of the restitution of all things.” And in the last chapter of Mark it says [Mark 16:19]: “And then the Lord, after He had spoken with them, was received into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God,” and the angels who were standing by said to them [Acts 1:11]: “This Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come again in the same way as you have seen Him going into heaven.”

Still, they also teach that Christ Himself, true God and true human, is also truly with us on earth, but in a mode and manner of existence different from before, indeed invisible to the senses, but nevertheless truly and necessary for our salvation. In this mode He works in us, and we in Him, and He is present in us through the Holy Spirit and His gifts, whom He promised to send to His Church in place of His visible essence, and through whom He remains in His power, grace, goodness, and truth, by which those who believe in Him are saved, until the end of the age. John 16[:7]: “It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Comforter will not come to you; but if I go away, I will send Him to you.” And again [John 14:16-18]: “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter (other than me) that He may remain with you always, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because it does not see Him or know Him; but you know Him, for He dwells among you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you,” namely through this Spirit of truth.

And this sense of Scripture is by no means recently made up or fabricated, for even in the ancient Church it was taught to the people and was constantly held, as it says in the second distinction, chapter one, of the Decretals. And there are the words of Augustine: “The Lord has been taken up until the world is finished.” But nevertheless, this is the truth of the Lord to us, that the body in which He rose again must be in one place, but His truth is spread abroad in every place. Therefore they teach that Christ the Lord is present in the Church, in the ministry of the word and sacraments, in His other mode of existence, which we call “invisible.” Everyone ought to receive Him in this way by faith, believing that through this invisible presence He dwells with them, that is, through the Spirit of truth, concerning whom He said [John 14:17]: “He will be in you,” and again [John 14:18]: “I will come to you.”

Further, they teach that through Christ, by faith in Christ, people are freely justified, saved, and given remission of sins through mercy, without any human work or merit. They teach that His blood and death alone suffice for the abolition and expiation of all the sins of everyone. Peter agrees with this in Acts [4:12]: “There is salvation in no one else than in the one Lord Jesus, for there is no other name given under heaven by which we must be saved.” And again [Acts 10:43]: “To Him all the prophets bear witness, that whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins in His name.” And Paul in writing to the Hebrews says [Heb. 1:3]: “He purged our sins through Himself.” And again [Eph. 1:7]: “Through whom we have redemption through His blood, the remission of sins.” And John says [1 John 2:1-2]: “We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” Again Paul [Heb. 10:10]: “We are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ, made once for all.” And a little further on he says [Heb. 10:14]: “By this one offering are perfected forever those who are sanctified.”

They teach in addition that all people are to come to Christ alone for grace and the remission of their sins, for salvation, and for whatever else they implore through all the time of their lives. Hebrews 4[:14]: “Having therefore a great High Priest, who has gone through the heavens, Jesus Christ the Son of God, let us hold fast to our profession” (that is, of faith in Christ), and he adds [Heb. 4:16]: “Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help us in time of need.” And Christ Himself cries out [John 7:37]: “If any are thirsty, let them come and drink.” “Whoever comes to me will not hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst” [John 6:35].

Again they teach that all confidence and hope should be placed in Him alone, and all care cast on Him. And they add to this, that because of Him and His merit alone God is pleased and gracious to love us, to look upon us, to have us as His children; and that there is eternal life in Him which all who believe in Him may possess. As it says in John 6[:47]: “Whoever believes in me has eternal life.” And again [John 6:40]: “This is the will of Him who sent me, that all who see the Son and believe in Him will have life eternal, and I will raise them up on the last day.”

Again they teach that none are able to have this faith by their own powers, desire, or will, for it is a gift of God, who works it in people through the Holy Spirit where and when it seems good to Him, so that people might receive for salvation whatever is administered to them through the external word and sacraments instituted by Christ.

Concerning this, John the Baptist says to the Lord [John 3:27]: “One cannot have anything unless it is given from heaven.” And Christ Himself says [John 6:44]: “No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me.” And a little further on [John 6:65]: “Unless it has been given to them by my Father,” that is, through the Holy Spirit.

They go on in their teaching to say that people are justified before God only by faith or confidence in Jesus Christ, without any efforts, merits, or works of their own. As Paul says [Rom. 4:5]: “Further, to those who do not work, but believe in Him who justifies the ungodly, their faith is counted for righteousness.” Again [Rom. 3:21-22]: “Now indeed, without the Law, the righteousness of God is manifested, as the Law and the Prophets bear witness. And this righteousness is through faith in Jesus Christ, etc.” And elsewhere [Acts 13:39]: “Everyone who believes is justified through Him.” And this Sixth Article is regarded among us all as the main one by far, since it is the sum of all Christianity and piety. Therefore our people teach and expound it with all diligence and zeal and try to infuse it into all.

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