Martyrdom literally means witness. This is the lesson we learn from St. Stephen, first of Christ’s ministers of the Word to be slain for the right confession of the truth in the face of those convicted and offended by it. It is time for us to stand with him, the prophets and apostles, and our Lutheran fathers, in the long line of martyrs as men “full of faith and the Holy Spirit,” willing to witness, [i.e., confess] unto death “the faith once delivered to us” in every article without deviation or excuse.
4] To this Christian [pious] Augsburg Confession, so thoroughly grounded in God's Word, we herewith pledge ourselves again [publicly and solemnly] from our inmost hearts; . . . 5] We intend also, by the grace of the Almighty, faithfully to abide until our end by [the doctrine of] this Christian Confession, mentioned several times, as it was delivered in the year 1530 to the Emperor Charles V; and it is our purpose, neither in this nor in any other writing, to recede in the least from that oft-cited Confession, nor to propose another or new confession. 9] . . . For the controversies which have occurred are not, as some would regard them, mere misunderstandings or disputes concerning words . . . ; but here the subjects of controversy are important and great, and of such a nature that the opinion of the party in error cannot be tolerated in the Church of God, much less be excused or defended. 10] Necessity, therefore, requires us to explain these controverted articles according to God's Word and approved writings, so that . . . sincere Christians who have the truth at heart may guard and protect themselves against [flee and avoid] the errors and corruptions that have arisen.
40] Since now, in the sight of God and of all Christendom [the entire Church of Christ], we wish to testify to those now living and those who shall come after us that this declaration herewith presented concerning all the controverted articles aforementioned and explained, and no other, is our faith, doctrine, and confession, in which we are also willing, by God's grace, to appear with intrepid hearts before the judgment-seat of Jesus Christ, and give an account of it; and that we will neither privately nor publicly speak or write anything contrary to it, but, by the help of God's grace, intend to abide thereby: therefore, after mature deliberation, we have, in God's fear and with the invocation of His name, attached our signatures with our own hands.
Condensed from CONCORDIA: THE LUTHERAN CONFESSIONS, copyright 2005,2006 by Concordia Publishing House. Used by permission. All rights reserved. To purchase a copy of CONCORDIA, call 800-325-3040.
Lord grant you faith in His grace alone for your salvation unto eternal life. Amen