A radio devotion given by Dr. Franz Pieper on behalf of the ministerium of the Missouri Synod in Baltimore on 25 June 1930 for the 400th anniversary of the Presentation of the Augsburg Confession.
[Translated from: Concordia Theological Monthly, Vol. 1, No. 9, September 1930]
Dear listeners near and far!
In His farewell discourse to His disciples, the Savior of the world says: “Peace I leave with you, MY peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” [John 14.27]
Peace! In our time, too, “Peace” is much discussed. What is meant, is an outward, a peace in and of this world. The violent unrests and terrors of the World War have not yet been overcome. They still reverberate throughout the whole world. And yet there is already talk in word and print of a universal world peace which, sooner or later, will come about as culture and science spread and as humanity morally improves.
There is a deception at the root of all this talk. We know exactly how it will be in this world as long as it stands. Holy Scripture, God’s own and infallible word, reveals to us that there will not be any outward peace in this world as long as it stands. To the contrary, the closer that the end of the world comes, all the more will humanity’s hostility among and against one another increase. There will never fail to be war and bloodshed.
But should we despair because of this? Should we spend our lives lamenting and crying over the “peaceless” life in this world? Certainly not! In the midst of each conflict, in every quarrel and strife, even in the midst of war and bloodshed, there is already peace in this world, a precious peace, a peace which precedes an eternal peace in heaven. It is the peace of conscience with God.
The peace with God—that is the peace upon which everything depends for us. As long as we do not have this peace, nothing in the world can truly make us happy or comfort us. If we have peace with God, then we say with the words of Psalm 73, Lord, “if only I have You, I do not care about heaven and earth; if body and soul fail me, You, O God, are still the comfort of my heart and my portion forever.”
But how do we come to this peace with God? Not by ourselves. Because of our sin, each one of us has a bad conscience before God. Not only has God’s holy Law testified to us that by our sins we have earned God’s wrath and eternal punishment, but so have our own consciences. Add to this the fact that with everything we do—our works—we cannot appease God’s wrath, as holy Scripture testifies, “For by the works of the Law no flesh shall be justified” [Gal. 2.16].
There is rescue from this greatest of all miseries. God had mercy on us God sent us a Peacemaker. He had His eternal Son become man and made Him be the Substitute for all people. He placed upon Him the obligation of His holy Law so that He might fulfill it in place of humankind. On Him God place upon Him the punishment of His holy Law so that He might bear the punishment for humankind’s trespasses. As the holy Scripture of Old and New Testament testify: “The Lord has laid in Him the iniquity of us all” [Isaiah 53.6]; “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” [John 1.29]; “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us” [Gal. 3.13]; “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them” [2 Cor. 5.19]; “Surely He has borne our grief and carried our sorrows…He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Hi, and by His stripes we are healed” [Isaiah 53.4-5]. All people, who by the work of the Holy Spirit receive in faith the word of that peace which has been obtained by Christ, have peace with God in their hearts and conscience and are certain of eternal peace in heaven. As St. Paul rejoices in the name of all Christians, “Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” [Rom. 5.1-2]
This peace of conscience with God, which was obtained by Christ’s substitutionary atonement and is received by us through faith without the works of the Law and with no worthiness on our part: this peace forms the true content of the Augsburg Confession, the 400th anniversary of which we celebrate today. The explanation and safeguarding of that peace with God not only serves the 21 doctrinal articles of the Augsburg Confession but also the following seven articles which show the abuses which imperil the peace Christ obtained. The confessors at Augsburg, particularly the Lutheran princes, cared greatly about this peace. The princes wanted to confess Christ. They were ready, by God’s grace, to give up peace in this world, their land and people and even their own lives. But they would not let themselves be excluded from confessing the Gospel. It is reported that Elector John of Saxony said, “God made me an elector of the empire, of which I was never worthy. May He continue to make of me whatever pleases Him!”
The confessors at Augsburg, the confessors of the Augsburg Confession on 25 June 1530, cared greatly about the peace of conscience with God and the eternal peace in heaven, which they had recognized through faith in the Gospel. Therefore we can call the assembly at Augsburg “The Assembly of the Peace with God and the Eternal Peace in Heaven through Faith in the Gospel of the Forgiveness of Sins Which Christ Has Obtained For All People.” May God grant grace that each of us, through faith in this Gospel, may have peace of conscience with God here on earth and after this life eternal peace in heaven.
Peace to the conscience,
Peace within the heart
Do Thou impart! Amen. [ELHB #279, 3; see TLH #258; LSB #659]