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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Concerning Monastic Vows, Part 9

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1 Timothy 4:1–5

From the Confessions: The Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows

The teachings and the true service of God are concealed when men hear that only monks are in a state of perfection. For Christian perfection consists in fearing God with the whole heart, and yet to have great faith in him, trusting that for Christ's sake we have a God who has been reconciled, and are able to ask of God and to expect his help in all things that are to be done, according to each person's calling. Meanwhile, each person is able to see to his own calling, being diligent in outward good works. True perfection and service of God are in these things. They do not exist in celibacy, or in begging, or in dark apparel. However, the people conceive many corrupting opinions from the false accolades of monastic life. They hear celibacy praised beyond measure; therefore their consciences are troubled because they are married. When they hear that only beggar monks are perfect, they believe that they, themselves, sin by keeping their possessions and doing business. They hear that it is a simply the advice of the gospel to not to seek revenge, so some are not afraid to take revenge in private life since they hear that it is only counsel instead of a commandment. Others believe that a Christian cannot rightly hold a civil office or be a magistrate.

Pulling It Together

What is there to do when the advice one gets at Church is in conflict with the gospel? First of all, we should not be surprised. Scripture warns us that there will be deceitful spirits and that there will be factions in the Church so that we may know what is true (1Cor 11:19). Paul specifically names those who will “forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods" (1Tim 4:3). Yet, people are misled even more by saying that such abstentions will earn righteousness and grace and reconcile God. Second, our response should be to continue doing what God has called us to do. In whatever calling of life God has placed you, do it with all your heart as if you were doing that job for the Lord (Col 3:23). Leaving job and family for some isolated place, removed from the cares of the world, is not God's answer. Indeed, he calls us to go into the world with the gospel (Matt 28:19-20). But whatever you do, do not think it earns you God's grace. He gives his grace freely to all those who fear and love him, no matter their station in life.

Prayer: Father, help me to know the truth of your Word. Amen.

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Many Gifts, One Lord considers grace in relation to the gifts of the Holy Spirit in order to show that the grace of God is free to flow with all those gifts without causing division and disharmoney in the body of Christ. It is interesting that we really never seem to tire of gifts. Sad to say many go through life not even aware that they have specific gifts; which could not only be a blessing to themselves but to others. 

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2 Comments

1

Andrew McKusick

Posted April 17, 2015 at 6:48am

Mark - thank you for exposing us to this treatise of the nature of Christian perfection, namely, fearing God with the whole heart, and yet to have great faith in him, trusting that for Christ's sake we have a God who has been reconciled, and are able to ask of God and to expect his help in all things that are to be done, according to each person's calling. It's also may not be coincidental that the devotions that I read this morning was I Cor. 12
2

Mark Ryman

Posted April 17, 2015 at 8:43am

You are entirely welcome, Andy. Sharing these is a privilege. Seems like the Spirit is on a mission. It's not coincidence!

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