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Wonderful, Comforting and Powerful Christmas Grace and Truth

December 27th, 2013
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My friend, Pastor William Weedon, prepared a nice little summary of key assertions on Christmas from the Lutheran Confessions:

And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary – Apostles’ Creed

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made; who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary and was made man. — Nicene Creed

But it is also necessary for everlasting salvation that one faithfully believe the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, it is the right faith that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is at the same time both God and man. He is God, begotten of the substance of His Father before all ages; and He is man, born of the substance of His mother in this age: perfect God and perfect man, composed of a rational soul and human flesh; equal to the Father with respect to His divinity, less than the Father with respect to His humanity. Although He is God and man, He is not two, but one Christ: one, however, not by the conversion of divinity into flesh but by the assumption of the humanity into God; one another, not by confusion of substance, but by unity of person. — Athanasian Creed

Our Churches teach that the Word, that is the Son of God, assumed the human nature in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. So there are two natures – the divine and the human – inseparably joined in one person. There is one Christ, true God and true man, who was born of the Virgin Mary… – Augsburg Confession

The human nature is assumed by the Word into the unity of His person. — Apology to the Augsburg Confession

The Son became man in this manner: He was conceived, without the cooperation of man, by the Holy Spirit, and was born of the pure, holy, [and ever] Virgin Mary. — Smalcald Articles

I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord… – Small Catechism

We see how completely He has poured forth Himself and withheld nothing from us. – Large Catechism

So we believe, teach, and confess that Mary conceived and bore not merely a man and no more, but God’s true Son. Therefore she is rightly called and truly is “the mother of God.” – Formula of Concord

On account of the personal union and communion of the natures, Mary, the most blessed Virgin, did not bear a mere man. But, as the angel Gabriel testifies, she bore a man who is truly the Son of the most high God. He showed His divine majesty even in His mother’s womb, because He was born of a virgin without violating her virginity. Therefore, she is truly the mother of God and yet has remained a virgin. – Formula of Concord

Consider this majesty, to which Christ has been exalted according to His humanity. He did not first receive it when He rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. He received it when He was conceived in His mother’s womb and became man, and the divine and human natures were personally united with each other. – Formula of Concord

He employed this mode of presence when He left the closed grave and came through the closed doors, in the bread and wine in the Supper, and as people believe, when He was born in His mother. – Formula of Concord

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  1. Doug Pack
    December 27th, 2009 at 09:34 | #1

    I love that! Awesome!

  2. John Molitor
    December 27th, 2009 at 21:01 | #2

    Do the Smalcald Articles and Formula of Concord teach the Mary remained in perpetual virginity or not? Don’t the scriptures teach (Mark 3, Matthew 12) that Jesus had brothers, James being one of them (Matthew 13)?

    The Son became man in this manner: He was conceived, without the cooperation of man, by the Holy Spirit, and was born of the pure, holy, [and ever] Virgin Mary. — Smalcald Articles

    Therefore, she is truly the mother of God and yet has remained a virgin. – Formula of Concord

    SSgt John Molitor
    San Antonio, TX

    • December 28th, 2009 at 09:40 | #3

      Thank you for your questions, Sgt. Molitor. The Latin translation of the Smalcald Articles, as published in the 1584 authoritative Latin edition of the BOC does use the word “semper” or “ever” when it translates Luther’s reference to the Virgin Mary. The perpetual virginity of Mary was the common belief among most, if not all, of our Reformation Lutheran fathers. In the Formula, there is a passing reference to the perpetual virginity of Mary as well. Can we declare these passing references to be dogmatic assertions? I do not believe we can. However, I think we can with Francis Pieper say that if a theologian is orthodox in all respects in regard to his Christology, and yet does not affirm the perpetual virginity of Mary, he should not be held to be heterodox.

  3. John Molitor
    December 28th, 2009 at 15:27 | #4

    Thank you for your fast response. I guess it’s a challenge to prove the point either way. Does the intention remain for the confessing Lutheran to teach the perpetual viginity of Mary? The appears to be some room for disagreement. What do you make of Matthew 1:25?

    24When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

  4. Jonathan Trost
    December 27th, 2012 at 15:24 | #5

    Thanks to younand Pastor Weedon for that.

    Its inclusion of the first sentence in Luther’s Explanation in the Small Catechism of the Second Article of the Creed reminded me that in our congregation’s Christmas Day service the full paragraph of that explanation was used as and for the Confession of Faith that day.

    As the kids might say: “Spot on!”

    • December 27th, 2012 at 15:50 | #6

      Jonathan, what about the whole creed? I’m not a fan of swapping out creeds for other texts.

      Sorry.

      : )

  5. Jonathan Trost
    December 27th, 2012 at 21:46 | #7

    Pastor – Your reply made me smile because, having enjoyed and been around this board for a while now, I knew and could see it was coming! :) :)

    For sure, the use was not rubrical, but was intentional. The thrust of the sermon was on incarnation/redemption. It was about Jesus, the Christ, rather than merely the overly sentimentalized “sweet baby Jesus” who, in some Christmas messages, seems never to move beyond the manger.

    But, I take your point. Moreover, I’m confident our pastor would himself not be offended by it or even take exception to it.

    On most all Sundays, we use the Nicene Creed, except when there is a baptism and the Apostles’ Creed is contained in the baptismal formulary. I’m sure use of the 2nd Article Explanation on Christmas Day was for emphasis sake only.

    But, you did make me smile!

    • December 28th, 2012 at 07:12 | #8

      I’m glad you expected nothing less from me.
      :)

      I may be boring, but at least I’m predictable.

  6. Jonathan Trost
    December 29th, 2012 at 07:18 | #9

    Pastor -

    Never boring; often (as above) predictable; but always (as my grandmother might say) “bei der Sache!”, i.e., “on the mark!”

    And I and others, I’m sure, like that.

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