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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Concerning the Church part 19

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Mark 16:15-16

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Church 

We have spoken with sufficient clearness about this matter in the Confession, where we condemn the Donatists and Wyclifites, who thought that men sinned when they received the Sacraments from the unworthy in the Church. That seemed to be sufficient at the time for our description of the Church. Neither do we see how it should be described otherwise than we have described it when the Church, properly termed, is called the body of Christ. For it is unmistakable that the wicked belong to the kingdom and body of the devil, who impels and holds them captive. These things are clearer than the light of noonday. However, if our adversaries continue to pervert them, we will not hesitate to reply at greater length.

Pulling It Together

The effectiveness of the sacraments depends upon Christ. Were you baptized in a stream or at a font, at the hands of a priest or a pastor, by a saint or a sinner? These things do not make a baptism valid. The quantity or flow of water does not make the difference. Nor does the moral character of the minister make the difference. Christ makes the difference. What matters is the promise of Christ that attends the water. “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:16).

The same is true of Holy Communion. The moral character of the person distributing the bread and wine is not what makes the elements Christ’s body and blood. This grace is afforded us by the word of Christ, not the moral fiber of the minister. “This is my body.” Did the minister say those words? No; Christ said them, as well as these: “This cup is the new covenant in my blood.” No matter who the minister belongs to, Christ or the devil, the sacraments belong to Christ, for it is his word that makes them effective means of grace in the Church.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for your promises. Amen.

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Learning About Baptism teaches the meaning of Holy Baptism according to the pattern of Luther's Small Catechism, and is recommended for the First Grade Level. Each week focuses on a specific Bible story which illustrates the theme, with additional references from Scripture and Luther's Small Catechism - Children's Version. Lessons focus on Baptism as a promise from God, emphasizing the power of God's Word in the Sacrament to create faith and repentance in our daily life.


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