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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Concerning the Church part 10

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1 John 3:2-7

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Church 

According to the gospel, therefore, only those who receive this promise of the Spirit are the people. Besides, the Church is the kingdom of Christ, distinguished from the kingdom of the devil. Furthermore, it is certain that the wicked are in the power of the devil, and members of the kingdom of the devil, as Paul teaches, when he says that the devil “is now at work in the sons of disobedience” (Eph 2:2). The Pharisees certainly had outward fellowship with the Church, that is with the saints among the people of the law, since they held office, sacrificed, and taught. Christ says to them, “You are of your father the devil” (John 8:44). Therefore, the Church, which is truly the kingdom of Christ is, properly speaking, the congregation of the saints. The wicked are ruled by the devil, and are his captives; they are not ruled by the Spirit of Christ.

Pulling It Together

As worshipers come forward for Holy Communion, many pause at the baptismal font, place their fingers in the water, and make the sign of the cross on their forehead. They are physically remembering that they are baptized into Christ. In their journey to the altar to receive God’s grace, they remind themselves that, though they are sinners in need of forgiveness, they are also the saints of God in Christ. They are sorry for their sins, and desire to receive both pardon and the power of righteousness. They are making a clean break from sin, trusting in Christ for a reconciled God. These people do not make a practice of sin, yet admit that they are still sinners who need God’s grace. There is more to righteousness than doing holy things. True righteousness is absolute dependence upon Christ alone for holiness through justification to God. This is the holy catholic Church: those who hope in Christ for the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.

Prayer: Take away my sin, Lord, and fortify my faith in you. Amen.

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