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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Concerning the Mass part 71

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Exodus 20:7

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

Our opponents have no scriptural testimonies or commands for defending the application of the ceremony in order to liberate the souls of the dead, from which they obtain infinite revenue. Establishing such services in the Church without the command of God and without the example of Scripture, is not a petty sin. Applying the Lord’s Supper to the dead, when it was instituted for commemoration and preaching among the living is a violation of the Second Commandment, as it abuses God’s name.

Pulling It Together

It is obvious that there is no verse of Scripture that would have us celebrate the Sacrament in such a way that it promises benefits to those who are dead. Therefore, we are not commanded to do so. But where money may be gained, gullible souls are ready to pay. Profit seems to make the sin more reprehensible, if that is possible. For what could be worse than taking the name of the Lord in vain by swearing to unwitting people that they will emancipate the dead by purchasing a Mass?

The Sacrament of Holy Communion was instituted by Jesus for the benefit of the living. In it, he offers himself to those who believe, who have faith in him and his promised benefits. These benefits include the forgiveness of sins, peace with God, the blessed memory of Christ, communion with him and his people, strength, and eternal life. These are always offered to the living who believe, but never to the dead—whether physically or spiritually.

Prayer: Thank you, Jesus, for your promises, and for fulfilling them. Amen.

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I Am Who I Am is a six-week study that explores what it means to “not take the name of the LORD your God in vain” (Exod 20:7), while at the same time trusting the promise in Christ that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21).


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