Ordinarily, we may think of a confession as an admission of guilt. "Confess" has a root meaning of "acknowledge together." In matters of error, we state that we have done what's wrong — we "fess up." But the positive side to confession means to declare faith. And so, "Jesus Christ is Lord," is a short and simple confession.
Christians have always made such confessions. Lutherans recognize the place of formalized confessions of Scriptural teaching. We officially accept three of the early Creeds (statements of belief) of the Christian Church. These are the Apostles Creed, Nicene Creed and Athanasian Creeds. Each of these is a summary of Christian, Biblical teaching (doctrine).
As members of the one, holy, catholic (universal), and apostolic Church, we gladly preach, teach, and confess the doctrines found in the symbolical books of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. In the late Medieval Age church reformers went to Scripture to assemble statements of faith which were topically arranged. For example, how many places in the Bible speak of Jesus' return in judgment on the Last Day? A formal confession pulls references together into a unified article with which all can agree.
Out of love for the Word and out of love for immortal souls, it was necessary for loving Christians to produce several confessions at this turbulent time in history. Six were drawn together with the Creeds into The Book of Concord (Agreement). All who claimed the title Lutheran (or "Evangelical") were asked to subscribe to, or agree with, the Holy Scriptures as the source and norm of all Christian teaching and to subscribe to these confessions as being correct expositions of Scripture.
Confessing individuals and confessional Lutheran churches still make such a confessional subscription without reservation or condition.
Confession is finally and ultimately done in the lives of individual Christians. Our confession of faith involves all we say, think, or do as we live our lives under the cross of Christ and travel through life to our heavenly home.
All of this is ours by God's grace, through faith. Confession's goal remains to give all praise, honor, and glory to God. Our enduring goal remains to proclaim this changeless gospel to an ever-changing world. As a result of allowing the Holy Scriptures to interpret themselves, we legitimately interpret the Bible in the grammatical, historical way. We believe it to be God's revealed and true Word.