Thus far we have heard the first part of Christian doctrine, in which we have seen all that God wishes us to do or to leave undone. Now, there properly follows the Creed, which sets forth to us everything that we must expect and receive from God, and, to state it quite briefly, teaches us to know Him fully. And this is intended to help us do that which according to the Ten Commandments we ought to do. For (as said above) they are set so high that all human ability is far too feeble and weak to...keep them. Therefore it is as necessary to learn the Creed as it is the learn the Commandments in order that we may know how...to obtain such power.
This portrays and sets forth most briefly what is the essence, will, activity, and work of God the Father. For since the Ten Commandments have taught that we are to have not more than one God, the question might be asked, What kind of a person is God? What does He do? How can we praise, or portray and describe Him, that He may be known? That is taught in this and in the following article, so that the Creed is nothing else than the answer and confession of Christians arranged with respect to the First Commandment. As if you were to ask a little child: My dear, what sort of a God do you have? What do you know of Him? he or she could say: This is my God: first, the Father, who has created heaven and earth; besides this I regard nothing else as God; for there is no one else who could create heaven and earth.
What do you mean by these words: I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker, etc.? Answer: This is what I mean and believe, that I am a creature of God; that is, that He has given and constantly preserves my body, soul, and life, members great and small, all my senses, reason, and understanding, and so on, food and drink, clothing and support, spouse and children, helpers, house and home, etc. Besides, He causes all creatures to serve for the uses and necessities of life: sun, moon, and stars in the sky, day and night, air, fire, water, earth and whatever it produces, birds and fishes, beasts, grain, and all kinds of produce, and whatever else there is of bodily and temporal goods, good government, peace, security. Thus we learn from this article that none of us has by himself, nor can preserve, his life nor anything that is here listed or can be, however small and unimportant a thing it might be, for everything is summed up in the word Creator.
We also confess that God the Father has not only given us all that we have and see before our eyes, but daily preserves and defends us against all evil and misfortune, prevents all sorts of danger and calamity; and that He does all this out of pure love and goodness, without our deserving, as a benevolent Father, who cares for us that no evil befall us....
Now, since all that we possess, and whatever is in heaven and upon the earth, is daily given, preserved, and kept for us by God, it is readily [seen] that it is our duty to love, praise, and thank Him for it without ceasing, and...to serve Him with all these things, as He commanded us to do in the Ten Commandments.
From Martin Luther's Large Catechism.
Here we learn to know the Second Person of the Godhead, so that we see what we have from God over and above the temporal goods already mentioned; namely, how He has completely poured forth Himself and withheld nothing from us that He has not given us. Now, this article is very rich and broad; but in order to expound it also briefly and in a childlike way we shall take up one word and sum up in that the entire article, namely (as we have said), that we may here learn how we have been redeemed; and we shall base this on these words: In Jesus Christ, our Lord.
If now you are asked, What do you believe in the Second Article of Jesus Christ? answer briefly: I believe that Jesus Christ, true Son of God, has become my Lord. But what is it to become Lord? It is this, that He has redeemed me from sin, from the devil, from death, and all evil. For before I had no Lord nor King, but was captive under the power of the devil, condemned to death, enmeshed in sin and blindness.
For when we had been created by God the Father, and had received from Him all manner of good, the devil came and led us into disobedience, sin, death, and all evil, so that we fell under His wrath and displeasure and were doomed to eternal damnation, as we had merited and deserved. There was no counsel, help, or comfort until this unique and eternal Son of God...had compassion upon our misery and wretchedness, and came from heaven to help us. Those demonic tyrants and jailers, then, are all expelled now, and in their place has come Jesus Christ, Lord of life, righteousness, every blessing, and salvation, and has delivered us poor lost people from the jaws of hell, has won us, made us free, and brought us again into the favor and grace of the Father, and has taken us as His own property under His shelter and protection, that He may govern us by His righteousness, wisdom, power, life, and blessedness.
Let this, then, be the sum of this article that the little word "Lord" signifies simply as much as Redeemer, i.e., He who has brought us from Satan to God, from death to life, from sin to righteousness, and who preserves us in the same. But all the points which follow in order in this article serve no other end than to explain and express this redemption, how and whereby it was accomplished, that is, how much it cost Him, and what He spent and risked that He might win us and bring us under His dominion, namely, that He became human, conceived and born without [any stain of] sin, of the Holy Spirit and of the Virgin Mary, that He might overcome sin; moreover, that He suffered, died and was buried, that He might make satisfaction for me and pay what I owe, not with silver nor gold, but with His own precious blood. And all this, in order to become my Lord; for He did none of these for Himself, nor had He any need of it. And after that He rose again from the dead, swallowed up and devoured death, and finally ascended into heaven and assumed the government at the Father's right hand, so that the devil and all powers must be subject to Him and lie at His feet, until...at the last day, He will completely part and separate us from the wicked world, the devil, death, sin, etc.
But to explain all these single points separately belongs not to brief sermons for children, but rather to the fuller sermons that extend throughout the entire year, especially at those times which are appointed for the purpose of treating at length of each article-of the birth, sufferings, resurrection, ascension of Christ, etc.
So truly the entire Gospel which we preach is based on this, that we properly understand this article as that upon which our salvation and all our happiness rest, and which is so rich and comprehensive that we never can learn it fully.
From Martin Luther's Large Catechism.
I believe in the Holy Spirit; the holy catholic [Christian] Church, the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen.
This article...I cannot relate better than to Sanctification [or: being made holy], that through the same the Holy Spirit...He makes holy. Therefore we must take our stand upon the words Holy Spirit, because it is so precise and comprehensive.... For there are, besides, many kinds of spirits mentioned in the Holy Scriptures, as, the human spirit of, heavenly spirits, and evil spirits. But the Spirit of God alone is called Holy Spirit, that is, He who has sanctified [made holy] and still sanctifies us [makes us holy]. For as the Father is called Creator, the Son Redeemer, so the Holy Ghost, from His work, must be called Sanctifier, or One that makes holy. But how is such sanctifying done? Answer: Just as the Son obtains dominion, whereby He wins us, through His birth, death, resurrection, etc., so also the Holy Spirit brings about our sanctification by the following parts, namely, by the communion of saints or the Christian Church, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting; that is, He first leads us into His holy congregation, and places us in the bosom of the Church, whereby He preaches to us and brings us to Christ.
For neither you nor I could ever know anything of Christ, or believe on Him, and obtain Him for our Lord, unless it were offered to us and granted to our hearts by the Holy Spirit through the preaching of the Gospel. The work is done and accomplished; for Christ has acquired and gained the treasure for us by His suffering, death, resurrection, etc. But if the work he did for us remained concealed so that no one knew of it, then the work of Jesus would be in vain and lost. That this treasure, therefore, might not lie buried, but be received and enjoyed, God has caused the Word to go forth and be proclaimed, in which He gives the Holy Spirit to bring this treasure home and appropriate it to us. Therefore sanctifying [making us holy] is nothing else than bringing us to Christ to receive this good news of salvation, which we could not get of receive by ourselves.
From Martin Luther's large Catechism.