This is from "The Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord" (I know, that's a long title and a bit academic, isn't it?). Basically, this is an historical document that not only boldly and proudly proclaims the various truths the Scripture teaches, but one that also helped to establish what the Lutheran church believes, teaches, and confesses for anyone and everyone that truly wants to know.
The best part? We Lutherans don't issue any disclaimers or haven't changed this foundational text to reflect the changing trends of the times, because it's all derived from the Word of God, which is steadfast, true, and unchanging (as is our Lord and Savior; Hebrews 13:8) regardless of the time and place.
Check out this beautiful excerpt from what's called "Article II" that addresses the issue of man's "free will" which is a subject that will never cease to be debated within Christ's Church it seems.
The Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord
Article II -- Free Will, or Human Powers
10] 1 Corinthians 2:14: The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him. 1 Corinthians 1:21: For after that, in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. Ephesians 4:17f.: They (that is, those not born again of God's Spirit) walk in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart. Matthew 13:11ff; Luke 8:18: Seeing they see not, and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand; but it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. Romans 3:11. 12: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are all together become unprofitable, there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Accordingly, the Scriptures flatly call natural man in spiritual and divine things darkness, Ephesians 5:8, Acts 26:18. John 1:5: The light shineth in darkness (that is, in the dark, blind world, which does not know or regard God), and the darkness comprehendeth it not. Likewise, the Scriptures teach that man in sins is not only weak and sick, but defunct and entirely dead, Ephesians 2:1. 5; Colossians 2:13.
11] Now, just as a man who is physically dead cannot of his own powers prepare or adapt himself to obtain temporal life again, so the man who is spiritually dead in sins cannot of his own strength adapt or apply himself to the acquisition of spiritual and heavenly righteousness and life, unless he is delivered and quickened by the Son of God from the death of sin.
12] Therefore the Scriptures deny to the intellect, heart, and will of the natural man all aptness, skill, capacity, and ability to think, to understand, to be able to do, to begin, to will, to undertake, to act, to work or to concur in working anything good and right in spiritual things as of himself. 2 Corinthians 3:5: Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God. Romans 3:12: They are together become unprofitable. John 8:37: My Word hath no place in you. John 1:5: The darkness comprehendeth (or receiveth) it not [the light]. 1 Corinthians 2:14: The natural man receiveth not (or, as the Greek word properly signifies, grasps not, comprehends not, accepts not) the things of the Spirit, that is, he is not capable of spiritual things; for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them.
13] Much less will he truly believe the Gospel, or assent thereto and regard it as truth. Romans 8:7: The carnal mind, or the mind of the natural man, is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the Law of God, neither indeed can be. And, in a word, it remains eternally true what the Son of God says, John 15; 5: Without Me ye can do nothing. And Paul, Philippians 2:13: It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.
14] To all godly Christians who feel and experience in their hearts a small spark or longing for divine grace and eternal salvation this precious passage is very comforting; for they know that God has kindled in their hearts this beginning of true godliness, and that He will further strengthen and help them in their great weakness to persevere in true faith unto the end.
Isn't that fantastic?
There are a full 90 sections (90 different key points made) in this Article II of The Solid Declaration of the Formula of Concord.
That should give you some idea of how serious the first Lutherans were about communicating the truth of God's Word both accurately and clearly, but also in such a way where it would attempt to end the debates over this issue once-and-for-all with regard to all future generations.
I'm incredibly thankful that something like this exists. Trust me when I tell you that it's nice to have a confession of the faith like this to turn to that not only points us back to Christ and His Word and Sacraments, but one that also serves as a genuine comfort to believers like me who are trying to survive in a world of wolves in sheep's clothing.
I have come to absolutely love a pure, unadulterated confession of "the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3) not just for the immutable truths it espouses, but mainly because it's rooted in the doctrine that the Apostles and Christ Himself taught us.
In a Lutheran layman's terms, I've grown to treasure things like this, because it is simple, straightforward, true -- and Biblical.
NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just a regular Christian, Candy-Making, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm also a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism almost 2 years ago now. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and repeatedly point us back to over and over again) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Also, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). This knowledge of the Lutheran basics was completely foreign to me even though I was baptized, confirmed, and married in an LCMS church! So, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because they are not blasphemous/heretical, because we now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors both past and present have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries (this disclaimer/note is a perfect example of what I mean! haha!). I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a "Christian Dude's Diary" in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm experiencing and/or studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Feel free to comment/email me at any time. Grace and peace to you and yours!