Sola Publishing News and Feedback http://solapublishing.com/news_feedback/feed.html News and feedback blog for Sola Publishing en-us Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 24 Feb 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Colossians 2:13–14

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

The faithful should be seized with the most bitter grief if they consider the fact that the Mass has been largely transferred to the dead and to satisfactions for punishments. This banishes the daily sacrifice from the Church. It is the kingdom of Antiochus, who transferred the most blessed promises concerning faith and the remission of guilt to the most vain opinions concerning satisfactions. This defiles the gospel and corrupts the use of the Sacraments. These are the ones whom Paul has said are “guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord” (1 Cor 11:27). They have suppressed the doctrine about faith and the forgiveness of sins, and, under the pretext of satisfactions, have devoted the body and blood of the Lord to sacrilegious gain. Some day they will pay the penalty for this sacrilege. Therefore we and all godly consciences should be conscientious against approving of the abuses of our opponents.

Pulling It Together

Using the Sacrament in a way that Christ did not intend, abuses and profanes his Holy Supper. Offering his blessed promises to the dead and to those who do not believe makes it an occasion for sin and judgment. Teaching people that they must make satisfaction for punishments that await them beyond this life, makes mockery of Christ’s cross, as well as his promises. Of what use is the cross if I must now do other things to appease an angry God? This scoffs at Christ, teaching that he was not up to the task—but we are; it will just take some extra time.

No! God has accomplished all things through Christ. Our sin—every last bit of it—has been nailed to the cross. God made us alive in Christ while we were still sinners. Now that we are alive in Christ, are we to do things that make us live? Again, no! We are already alive through faith in God’s grace toward us. We can add nothing to the cross of Christ. Indeed, nothing needs to be added.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for giving us all we need in Christ alone. Amen.

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Connections is a magazine for evangelical Lutheran Christians filled with meaty articles as well as lighter spiritual fare. Articles and features are contributed by individuals and ministries of LCMC, NALC, CALC, Lutheran Core and other evangelical Lutherans from congregations across North America. Connections is published six times a year. 

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For information on congregational/group orders, click HERE.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 23 Feb 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Isaiah 1:18

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

Now, we shall exclude the sort of proofs that our opponents have about purgatory, what kinds of punishments they think there are in purgatory, and what grounds the doctrine of satisfactions has, which we have confuted above. We present only this in opposition: It is certain that the Lord’s Supper was instituted for the purpose of forgiving guilt. For it offers the forgiveness of sins, so guilt must necessarily be truly understood. Nevertheless, it does not make satisfaction for guilt. If it did, the Mass would be equal to the death of Christ. Forgiveness of guilt may be received in no other way than by faith. Therefore the Mass is not a satisfaction, but a promise and Sacrament that require faith.

Pulling It Together

What consolation would we have if forgiveness of sin were offered in Holy Communion, yet there was no respite from and remission of guilt? Yet there is both respite and remission, for though we are scarlet sinners, our sin is snow-driven by the grace of God. We are so completely forgiven that we are atoned for, covered like a fresh fallen snow.

Now, if you believe the Father to be that caring and loving, I ask you, what need is there of a Purgatory. Besides Purgatory being extra-biblical, what logical need exists for such a place if sin and guilt are covered by the blessed work of Christ? “Come now, let us reason together.” Enjoy the snow. It reminds us of the Father’s love.

Prayer: I trust your love, Father, and am at peace because of Christ. Amen.

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Who is Jesus? is a five-session study, meant to serve as an introduction to what the Bible says about Jesus Christ—who he is and what it means to trust in him as Savior and Lord.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 22 Feb 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Romans 5:1–2

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

For a start, it is a dishonor to the gospel to assert that a ceremony ex opere operato is a sacrifice that reconciles God, and makes satisfaction for sins without faith. It is horrible to attribute as much to the work of a priest as to the death of Christ. Then again, sin and death cannot be overcome unless through faith in Christ, as Paul teaches. “Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom 5:1). So, the punishment of purgatory cannot be overcome by the application of the work of another.

Pulling It Together

Ceremonies and rituals are nice. But a ceremony or a ritual is not fine in and of itself. For example, if I go through the motions of living with my wife but do not believe that she loves me, consider the relational benefits alone that are absent to me. I may offer my paycheck, my chores, and even eat at the same table. Yet, if I do not believe that she loves me, what real profit is there in what amounts to ritual ceremony? I may have a nice house, pay all the bills, and have a full belly, but it would be a sad and lonely existence.

I might also go to church, sing the hymns, put money in the plate, and go forward to eat and drink a bit of bread and wine. Yet, if I have no faith in God, and do not believe that he loves me, all I receive is some nice music in my ears—though it would not move my heart—the satisfaction of helping some people have a place to meet, and the feeling of a not very full stomach. (No wonder some folks cannot wait for Sunday lunch.) I may even develop some meaningful relationships with folks in the congregation. Of what use is any of that if I do not have a loving relationship with God?

Believing in my wife’s love provides me with enough to sustain us even if we have no house, food, or the other things that money buys. Believing that God loves me provides even more. Faith in him turns ceremony and ritual into something that moves my soul. When faith is added to the ceremony, God gives me the confidence that he forgives my sins; I enjoy peace with him; and I know that he will keep all his promises to me, including salvation and eternal life.

This saving faith is in the gracious work of our Lord alone, not the rituals of priests and pastors.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for giving me faith in you. Amen.

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Alphabet Soup is a three-unit (seven lessons each) Sunday School series designed for young students in Preschool and Kindergarten. Lessons are based on storytelling, rhyme, and pictures, and are suitable for participation by non-readers. The flexible lesson plans introduce the youngest believers to the importance and truth of God’s Word. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 21 Feb 18 00:00:00 -0600

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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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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 20 Feb 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Romans 12:1–2

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

The Greek canon also says many things about the offering, but it shows plainly that it is not speaking properly of the body and blood of the Lord, but of the whole service: of prayers and thanksgivings. It says: “And make us worthy to come to offer you requests and supplications and bloodless sacrifices for all the people.” This gives no offense when rightly understood. It asks that we be made worthy to offer prayers and supplications and bloodless sacrifices for the people. He even calls prayers bloodless sacrifices. A little later: “We offer this reasonable and bloodless service.” They misinterpret this as a reasonable sacrifice, and assign it to the very body of Christ, even though the canon speaks of the entire worship. Paul has spoken of logike latreia (reasonable service, Rom 12:1), as the worship of the mind, of fear, of faith, of prayer, of thanksgiving, and so forth, in opposition to the opus operatum.

Pulling It Together

The word “bodies,” used in nearly every English translation of Romans 12:1, does not mean body in the way we think. The Greek somata means more than the physical. In this case, body should be thought of in terms of a whole body of work, as in the entire corpus of the Bible. If thought of in that way, “body” works here. We are to offer our whole corpus to God—everything we are, not just our physical bodies but our thoughts, wills, and emotions too. This is why Paul slides so comfortably into speaking of the mind and the will in verse two. We are not transformed by the offerings of the flesh but by the renewing of the mind. How else would we discern the will of God? These bodies understand little, let alone the depth of God’s will.

This whole corpus then, our entire being, is what we offer to God as our sensible service of worship. It is our due service of the mind and will, not a sacrifice of blood. Otherwise, we would not be offering “all [our] faculties to Him” (Weymouth New Testament), let alone those sacrifices be considered “living.”

Prayer: I give myself to you, Lord, and ask your help in giving more. Amen.

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Of One Mind and Purpose is a six-session study examines the unique way in which the Bible describes being united in Christ. It explains how God’s Word can either divide people or bring them together in faith, showing how the relationship we have with one another in the Church comes through Christ alone.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 19 Feb 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Matthew 21:21–22

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

Let us eliminate these trifles. It is ridiculous that our opponents produce such trifling conjectures about a matter of such great importance. For though the Mass is called an offering, how does that term support the imaginary opus operatum, and the imagined application that merits forgiveness of sins for others? It may be called an offering because prayers, thanksgivings, and the entire worship are offered, and so, it is also called Eucharist. But neither ceremonies nor prayers are profitable ex opere operato, without faith. Still, we are not disputing about prayers, but particularly about the Lord’s Supper.

Pulling It Together

There are many fine collections of prayers available. If a person reads those prayers but does not believe in God, are they effective prayers? According to Jesus, you must have faith in order for your prayers to be answered. Just doing the work of saying a prayer is powerless. If a person does the work of eating bread and drinking wine, but does not believe it is the body and blood of Christ, is his eating and drinking effectual? No, for faith is required, not the act alone. So, it is absurd to imagine the merits of the Eucharist are available to someone who does not believe, let alone is not present to eat and drink.

Prayer: Strengthen my faith in you, Lord, by the working of your Holy Spirit. Amen.

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Martin Luther's Small Catechism (Spanish/Español)

Este pequeño manual, conocido como El Catecismo Menor de Martín Lutero, ha sido utilizado por los Luteranos durante siglos como una herramienta de enseñanza, especialmente en la instrucción de la confirmación. El pequeño manual pretende dar a los lectores un breve resumen de las enseñanzas de la Biblia, viendo algunos ejemplos de versos bien conocidos por los cristianos, oraciones y elementos de adoración.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 17 Feb 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Hebrews 10:11–14

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

It is a ridiculous inference that the Mass must be a sacrifice because the Holy Scriptures mention an altar. Paul refers to the altar by way of comparison. They also fabricate the term Mass from midzbeah, meaning altar. Why such a far-fetched an etymology, unless to show off your knowledge of Hebrew? Why seek the etymology from afar, when the term is found in Deuteronomy 16:10, where it means the collection or gifts of the people, not the offering of the priest? Individuals coming to the celebration of the Passover were obliged to bring some gift as a contribution. Originally, the Christians kept this custom. The Canons of the Apostles show that when they came together, they brought bread, wine, and other things. Part was to be consecrated; the rest was distributed to the poor. With this custom they also retained Mass as the name of the contributions. It appears that the Mass was elsewhere called agape because of these contributions, unless one would prefer that it was called Mass because of the common feast.

Pulling It Together

The origin and therefore, original meaning of the term “Mass” is widely disputed. That it originates in the Latin word missa is not disputed. That word means “sending” or “dismissal.” Research in the Oxford English Dictionary yields no conclusive or even straightforward etymology from its earliest usages in our language. What is clear is that it was used to refer to a worship service, particularly of the Eucharist. Melancthon seems to favor the idea that “Mass” is related to the dismissal at the end of the liturgy. If that is the case, worshipers would be sent out to love and serve the Lord by loving and serving their neighbors, using part of the offerings of the Church.

The real question, rather than this quick side note on etymology, is whether the Mass is our sacrifice, or a priest’s sacrifice of Christ, or a remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice. It is the latter, at very least, because that is the one that requires faith in God. Moreover, it cannot be the second because it is in conflict with Scripture.

Prayer: Help me to remember you, Lord, and send me to bring others. Amen.

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This edition of the Luther's Small Catechism is specifically designed to go with the Sola Confirmation Series. The 2010 Sola/ReClaim Edition* is a faithful word-for-word translation from Luther's German Catechism. It also includes the section on the Office of the Keys, added later to Luther's Catechism.

This pocket edition features quotations from the English Standard Version (ESV) of Scripture, and the traditional ICET liturgical texts (as used in the Lutheran Book of Worship). The primary verses of Scripture, Creed, and Prayers are printed in italics; Luther’s explanations are printed in plain text. Luther’s explanations are formatted with a mid-sentence break, to highlight contrasting phrases and to aid in memorization.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 16 Feb 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Acts 2:42

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

There is no need of further proof, since readers of the Greek writers will find examples everywhere of the use of leitourgia for public, civil duties and assistance. Because there is a diphthong, grammarians do not derive it from lite, which means prayers, but from leita, meaning public goods. Leitourgeo means, “I attend to” or “administer public goods.”

Pulling It Together

So, we have come to see that the liturgy of the Church is not a sacrifice at all. It is the whole service of worship that is done for the good of all present. From the outset, the liturgy is confession and assurance of forgiveness (1 John 1:9). It is also hymn singing (Eph 5:19, Col 3:16), gracious greeting (2 Cor 13:14), prayers—sung, spoken, and silent—(Acts 16:25, 1 Cor 14:15, Rev 15:3), the reading of Scripture and preaching (2 Tim 3:16, 4:13), belief statements (1 Cor 15:13-14, Rom 10:9-10), offerings (Rom 12:1, 2 Cor 9:7, Heb 13:6), and the Great Thanksgiving, including Holy Communion (Acts 2:42, 20:7, 1 Cor 1:16, 11:23-24). The liturgy of the Church is worship for the common good or blessing from God.

Prayer: Bless us, O Lord, as we gather to worship you. Amen.

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Sola’s Confirmation workbook, The Lord's Prayer, is designed to be a small group Bible study, student book for home school or independent study programs, or as a classroom tool and homework resource as part of an existing confirmation program.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 15 Feb 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Romans 12:1

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

Thus the term leitourgia agrees aptly with the ministry. It is an old word, ordinarily employed in public civil administrations. To the Greeks, it meant “public duties” like taxes for the expense of equipping a fleet, or similar things. As Demosthenes’ speech Against Leptines shows, all of which is occupied with the discussion of public duties and immunities: “He will say that some unworthy men, having found an immunity, have withdrawn from public burdens.” This is how they spoke in the time of the Romans, as the rescript of Pertinax, “On the Law of Exemption” shows: “Even though the number of children does not liberate parents from all public duties.” The Commentary on Demosthenes’ Oration to Leptines states that leitourgia is a kind of tax: the expenses of the games, equipping vessels, attending to the gymnasia, and similar public obligations.

Paul use the word for a collection in 2 Corinthians 9:12. The taking of the collection supplies those things that are needed by the saints, and causes them to give more abundant thanks to God. In Philippians 2:25, he calls Epaphroditus a “minister to my needs,” where Paul certainly does not mean a sacrificer.

Pulling It Together

The sacrifice, or re-sacrifice, of Christ is not to be added to Holy Communion. It cannot be added, since it has already been accomplished. However, we may add our own sacrifice: the sacrifice of ourselves. Our sacrifice, such as faith, obedience, or other things, does not merit God’s forgiveness or our salvation. Yet sacrifice of self is the proper response to God’s mercy. It is “holy and acceptable to God,” but not as a work that earns us any standing with God. Rather, it is the reasonable response of those who have already been afforded such standing because of God’s mercy and grace.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for your mercy in Christ and the work of your Spirit begun in my baptism and which you will finish on that Day. Amen.

Receive Sola's Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

  

The Spiritual Realms is a nine-session Bible Study series on Heaven and Hell and places beyond this world. Specifically, the study looks at the many “place names” that are found throughout Scripture, referring to spiritual realms of existence that underlie and comprise the universe God created. This Bible Study series is a challenging one, in that it explores realities of existence beyond what we know and experience everyday.

The study not only addresses matters of life, death, heaven and hell, it steadfastly affirms that Jesus Christ is at the center of all these things. Our ultimate faith and hope rest in Christ’s death and resurrection for our sake. We live in faith by the biblical promise that: “God raised the Lord, and will also raise us up by his power.” (1 Cor 6:14)

A separate Leader's Guide is available. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 14 Feb 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Psalm 116:12–13

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

They say the Greek word leitourgia means sacrifice, and so they call the Mass a liturgy. Why do they omit the old name synaxis or “communion,” that shows that the Mass was formerly the communion of many? Still, let us speak of the word “liturgy.” This word does not signify a sacrifice, but rather the public ministry, and appropriately agrees with our position that a minister consecrates, then tenders the body and blood of the Lord to the rest of the people, just as one minister who preaches, tenders the gospel to the people. Paul says, “This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God” (1 Cor 4:1), that is, of the Gospel and the Sacraments. “So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Cor 5:20).

Pulling It Together

Liturgy does not mean sacrifice. It never meant that in secular Greek and in biblical Greek it is a word related to the ministry of the Church. The term “liturgy” means a required, public service that is of benefit to others. So, it is not relegated to the service of Holy Communion but instead, to the whole ministry of the Church, including the Lord’s Supper. As such, Holy Communion is a service or ministry of all God’s people, the communion of many saints. Worship is our required service to the Lord.

So, the question is: what is that required service? What should we render to the Lord for all his great blessings to us? There is but one thing we can do. We lift up the cup of salvation, calling upon the name of the Lord in great thanksgiving.

Prayer: Thank you, God, for your many blessings. Amen.

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Learning About Communion teaches the meaning of Holy Communion according to the pattern of Luther's Small Catechism, and is recommended for the Fifth Grade Level. Each week focuses on a specific Bible story which illustrates the theme, with additional references from Scripture andLuther's Small Catechism - Children's Version. Lessons emphasize the sacramental promise of the forgiveness of sins conveyed to us in the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. This booklet was designed to be used as a Sunday School unit, or for classes to prepare students for their First Communion.

 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 13 Feb 18 00:00:00 -0600

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1 Corinthians 11:26

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

The adversaries also refer us to philology. From names for the Mass they make arguments that do not require a long discussion. For though the Mass is called a sacrifice, it does not follow that it must confer grace ex opere operato, or that it merits the forgiveness of sins when applied on behalf of others.

Pulling It Together

Though some call it the sacrifice of the Mass, it still would not mean that this service of thanksgiving, or Eucharist, bestows God’s grace upon people whether they have faith in him or not. Even if it were a sacrifice, the doing of the ceremony does not deserve forgiveness and salvation for unbelievers, let alone for those not present or even dead. At any rate, Holy Communion is not a sacrifice. It is a service of great thanksgiving and communion among many people, a liturgy of the gratitude of God’s people and of blessing from God. We are not killing or sacrificing Jesus again and again at each communal remembrance. Instead, in the service of worship or liturgy, the congregation proclaims Christ’s one-time death until he returns.

Prayer: Strengthen me and keep me in your grace, Father, through faith in your Son. Amen.

Receive Sola's Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

  

The Spiritual Realms is a nine-session Bible Study series on Heaven and Hell and places beyond this world. Specifically, the study looks at the many “place names” that are found throughout Scripture, referring to spiritual realms of existence that underlie and comprise the universe God created. This Bible Study series is a challenging one, in that it explores realities of existence beyond what we know and experience everyday.

The study not only addresses matters of life, death, heaven and hell, it steadfastly affirms that Jesus Christ is at the center of all these things. Our ultimate faith and hope rest in Christ’s death and resurrection for our sake. We live in faith by the biblical promise that: “God raised the Lord, and will also raise us up by his power.” (1 Cor 6:14)

A separate Leader's Guide is available. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 12 Feb 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Hebrews 11:6

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

The ceremony itself, the giving of thanks, can not to be applied ex opere operato on behalf of others so that it merits the forgiveness of sins for them, or so that it liberates the souls of the dead. These things conflict with the righteousness of faith, as though, without faith, a ceremony can profit either the one performing it or others.

Pulling It Together

Faith is the byword of the Lutheran Reformation. The Church could only be reformed, shaped back to what it was meant to be, through faith in God. Each person receives forgiveness of sin when he has faith in the forgiving God. I cannot have faith for my neighbor or for my children or for my dead parents. That is or was a matter of their own faith in Christ. The benefits of the Sacraments require faith in what God has done for us. I cannot carry out a ceremony and it then, have a benefit for others simply because I performed a religious work on their behalf. Without faith, the ceremony is useless. The ceremony itself, is lifeless without faith. Without personal faith, forgiveness of sin is impossible and dead souls stay dead. Without faith in God, even religious and moral works are sheer presumption of one’s own righteousness.

Prayer: Reform my faith, Lord, so that I trust in you alone. Amen.

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All God’s Critters (unit 2 of 3) is a Sunday School series designed for young students in Preschool and Kindergarten. Lessons are based on storytelling, rhyme, and pictures, and are suitable for participation by non-readers. The flexible lesson plans introduce the youngest believers to the importance and truth of God’s Word. Each lesson includes the story of the day written in a simplified manner so that young children may understand an important truth about God and what it means for us to be God’s children.

The All God’s Critters curriculum is fully reproducible and is designed with the particular needs of small churches, mission congregations, and house churches in mind. Check out some sample pages by clicking here.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 10 Feb 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Romans 1:17

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

There are other statements about thanksgiving, such as that most beautiful expression of Cyprian concerning the godly communicant. “Piety,” he says, “makes a distinction between what has been given and what has been forgiven, thanking the Bestower of such abundant blessing.” That is, piety considers both what has been given and what has been forgiven. It compares the greatness of God’s blessings and the greatness of our ills—sin and death—with each other, and gives thanks. Hence, the term Eucharist arose in the Church.

Pulling It Together

In Confession and Absolution, we are to carefully consider our sins. We stare squarely into our souls and see who we truly are, and recognize that we are sinners. After receiving the blessed absolution, the assurance of God’s forgiveness for Christ’s sake, we move forward to the table. There, we are to consider Christ alone. Only then may we apprehend the deep truth that he has made us a new people, the communion of saints—again, for his sake. Here, in the midst of this divine service, we see ourselves correctly as both sinners and saints, simul iustus et peccator. We are sinners saved by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ. This gracious gift of faith apprehends both its own sinfulness and God’s faithfulness to forgive. In other words, the truly righteous person is a sinner who lives by faith in God’s righteousness. What else would sinners do but raise the strain of thanksgiving?

Prayer: Thank you Father, for giving me faith to believe in your forgiveness through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.

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Open the Eyes of My Heart, Lord is a Lenten Sermon Series booklet that provides the background and thematic resources to allow a preacher to put together a five-week sermon series for Lent. The booklet uses a unique approach called the "Telemetry Method" for preaching that helps to visualize each sermon, including the launching point for the sermon, two nodal points along the trajectory of the message, the place where the good news touches the human heart by connecting believers to the heart of Christ, and then the landing place, which represents the sermon's conclusion. Also provided are "thoughts to ponder," theological reflection, as well as sample bulletins and hymn suggestions, making it easy to plan an entire Lenten series.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 09 Feb 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Luke 22:19–20

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

The Fathers speak of a twofold effect: the comfort of conscience, and thanksgiving or praise. The former of these effects pertains to the nature of the Sacrament; the latter to the sacrifice. Of consolation Ambrose says, “Go to him and be absolved, since he is the remission of sins. Do you ask who he is? Hear him when he says, ‘I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst’” (John 6:35). This passage testifies that the forgiveness of sins is offered in the Sacrament, and that it is to be received by faith. Many testimonies to this effect are found in the Fathers, all of which the adversaries pervert to reinforce the opus operatum, and applying that opus on behalf of others, even though the Fathers clearly require faith, and speak of the appropriation of the consolation—not its transferal.

Pulling It Together

Do your sins torment you? Go to the forgiver of sin. Do you fear eternal death? Go to the source of life. Do you hunger and thirst for righteousness? Then go to the table where the righteousness of another is served. You go. You go for yourself. You cannot eat and drink his righteousness for another any more than you could eat this evening’s chicken and its nutritional benefits be experienced by your granddaughter. Jesus said, “This is my body which is given for you,” not for others—for you. “This cup that is poured out for you” is not transferable from those of faith to those who lack faith. The forgiveness of sin is transferable from the giver to those who have faith in him. New life and righteousness are given at the source; there is no middle agency.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for your Bread of Life, given for me. Amen.

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Reading and Discussion of Luther's Catechisms is a more challenging study series based on assigned readings from the Book of Concord and related Scripture texts. Each study is comprised of eight sessions, plus an optional introductory session, presented in a question and discussion format. 

• Student Workbook   • Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 08 Feb 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Hebrews 13:10–15

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

As there may be several purposes for a single act, thanksgiving is also added. After conscience has been encouraged by faith and perceives its freedom from terror, then it may fervently give thanks for the blessings of Christ’s suffering. It uses the ceremony itself to praise God, through this obedience showing its gratitude, and testifying to the high esteem it holds for the gifts of God. Thus the ceremony becomes a sacrifice of praise.

Pulling It Together

Faith is the very thing that determines the right to eat at the Lord’s table. A person must first examine himself to see whether he has faith to eat and drink (1 Cor 11:28). Dining without faith is not only useless, it is damnable. But when faith is present, so is peace, since one is liberated from the dear of sin, judgment, and death. Once a person is freed from such fears, praise and thanksgiving flow from the heart. Without faith, this sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving are impossible.

Prayer: Open my heart, Lord, to declare your praise. Amen.

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Written in clear, understandable language, Who Cares About the Bible? tackles the most important questions concerning this unique book. It is an excellent primer for anyone interested in what the Bible is, how to properly understand it, and how to deal with the vast amount of misleading information that has been spread about it.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 07 Feb 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Psalm 111:4–5

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

The remembrance of Christ is not the unprofitable celebration of a show, or something established for the sake of example, such as a play in memory of Hercules or Ulysses. Rather, it remembers the benefits of Christ and receives them by faith, so they may make us live. Accordingly, the psalmist says, “He has caused his wonderful works to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and merciful. He provides food for those who fear him” (Psa 111:4–5). This means that the will and the mercy of God should be discerned in the ceremony. The faith that apprehends mercy makes alive. This is the principal use of the Sacrament, through which it is apparent that terrified consciences are those fit for the Sacrament, and how they ought to use it.

Pulling It Together

Holy Communion is not effective because of motions and rituals. We are not accomplishing something because we have acted out a tragedy. We are remembering that it is Christ who has acted. In this remembering, we recall what God can never forget. We are remembering that he has promised to remember us. In this Holy Communion, we see God’s mercy—that he loves and forgives sinners like us. We also discern his will—that he would have us make use of this holy food and drink, that he himself has provided for those who fear, love, and trust him. The Father has bequeathed his own Son as a perpetual remembrance of his love to sinners who thankfully receive.

Prayer: Gracious and merciful Lord, I give you thanks for your unfaltering love. Amen.

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The Sola Online Worship eResource (SOWeR) provides so many resources that it is hard to list them all. One of those resources is a growing section of liturgies and services that subscribers may use. These are ready-to-print service booklets like the Sola Scriptura Setting (a spoken liturgy for Holy Communion). 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 06 Feb 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Romans 2:25–29

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

This use of the Sacrament, when faith enlivens terrified hearts, is New Testament worship because the New Testament requires spiritual orientation, death, and new life. This is the use that Christ instituted, as he commanded: “Do this in remembrance of me” (1 Cor 11:24).

Pulling It Together

The New Testament teaches that the highest form of worship happens within, spiritually, in the heart. One may do all the outward, religious services but do so with a corrupt heart. This is mere performance, acting. But the pure heart, that spirit which is driven by the Holy Spirit, will render to God what he desires of a person. The former, while going through religious motions, hangs on to the old nature, never quite dying. The latter has died. While in this life, the old nature continues to die—by no work of its own. Through Word and Sacrament, God orients the human spirit to himself and gives it peace. This is God’s work within us through faith in him.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for giving me life by your Spirit. Amen.

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Go and Tell - Word of Life Series (Unit 2) is a resource for those looking to develop small groups built around the Word of God. This model of small-group ministry is an excellent tool for evangelism since it is rooted in prayer and Scripture. Its primary focus is to empower those who believe in Jesus Christ to be comfortable sharing their faith and inviting others to experience a transformed life in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Meant for use in Small Group gathering, each of the six sessions is based on a primary Scripture text, with intentional time for reflection. There are questions, prayer, faith sharing, and mini evangelism case-studies. The series would be helpful for those involved in starting a Bible study fellowship, house church, or mission congregation. It can also be used by established congregations to aid in establishing a small group ministry.

• Unit 1   • Unit 2   • Unit 3

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 05 Feb 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Mark 9:23–24

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

Such faith encourages contrite minds. As the Word has been given to kindle this faith, so the Sacrament has been instituted so that the outward appearance will move the heart to believe what meets the eyes. For the Holy Spirit works through the Word and Sacrament.

Pulling It Together

The Word has been given to reveal God and to arouse faith in him. The Sacrament of Holy Communion was instituted so that, in remembering Christ, that faith may be strengthened. The outward appearance of the elements of bread and wine provide us focus on the body and blood of our Savior, which the Holy Spirit uses to help our unbelief. We cannot get enough of either. For the Word and the Sacrament work together through the power of the Holy Spirit to both give us faith and to strengthen the same in us.

Prayer: Lord, help my unbelief! Amen.

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The Power of Lent is a series of lenten dramas pairing two characters each week from the story of Jesus' Passion; bearing witness to what they saw, heard, and felt. Each pair of biblical characters reflects upon a similar theme for the week, showing how the same events brought about very different reactions to Jesus and his identity.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 02 Feb 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Romans 5:1–2

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

The Sacraments are not merely signs among people, but are signs of God’s will toward us. So, it is correct to define the New Testament Sacraments as signs of grace. There are two parts to a Sacrament: a sign and the Word. In the New Testament, the Word is the added promise of grace. The promise in the New Testament is the forgiveness of sins, as the text says: “This is my body which is given for you... This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you” (Luke 22:19 KJV). So, the Word offers the forgiveness of sins, while the ceremony is a picture or seal, as Paul calls it (Rom 4:11), of the Word making known the promise. Therefore, just as the promise is useless unless it is received by faith, a ceremony is useless unless faith is present, truly believing that the forgiveness of sins is offered in the Sacrament.

Pulling It Together

Even the feeling of peace—let alone genuine peace—is not held for long by the mere use of signs. A husband may buy his wife diamonds, flowers, and many other things, but if his word does not accompany them, it is difficult to believe for long that these are signs of his love. He must also promise his love for her; he must tell her that he loves her. Then the gifts, the signs, may mean something—if the wife takes him at his word.

We gain access to God’s grace through faith in his word: his promise to forgive us. True peace is not had in any other way. As long as you depend upon signs alone, you will want to add your own assurances, such as good works and ceremonies. Faith in God’s promise must be added.

Prayer: I believe you, Lord; help my unbelief. Amen.

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In Harmony with the Word is an eight-session Bible Study that focuses on Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, from Matthew 5-7. It is written at an introductory level, to be led by a lay leader or pastor in a small-group question and discussion format. The study would serve as an excellent resource for monthly women's group meetings or in an informal small-group setting.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 01 Feb 18 00:00:00 -0600

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1 Corinthians 11:27–29

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

Some clever people imagine that the Lord’s Supper was instituted for two reasons. First, that it might be a symbol and testimony of profession, just as a particular shape of hood is the sign of a particular profession. Then they think that such a symbol is especially pleasing to Christ because it is a feast that signifies mutual union and friendship among Christians, since banquets are signs of concord and friendship. But this is a secular view that does not show the chief use of the things delivered by God. It speaks only of the exercise of love, which is understood by profane and worldly people. It does not speak of faith, which few understand.

Pulling It Together

Drawing significance to professions, making divisions among ourselves, is the furthest thing from the focus of the Lord’s Supper. Christ is the emphasis of our communion. Christ is our communion. This is why faith is critical, why we must examine ourselves to be sure we are eating and drinking rightly. When our faith is in Christ, instead of our position in the church (or someone else’s), then we eat and drink in a worthy manner. We dishonor the communion of saints when these divisions are celebrated among us, when we separate ourselves into classes and ranks in the church, especially at the table. We are too much like secular institutions at this point. How can their be a communion of saints who commune with their Lord, when he is not present to them? If he is not the focus, but they and their trappings are, all is lost. Worse, they eat and drink judgment upon themselves. Eating and drinking in a worthy manner, requires faith in and focus upon the one who established the meal. All eyes on Christ! The banquet is prepared.

Prayer: Help me to believe, O Lord, and so, partake of you in a worthy manner. Amen.

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Sola’s Confirmation workbook, The Lord's Prayer, is designed to be a small group Bible study, student book for home school or independent study programs, or as a classroom tool and homework resource as part of an existing confirmation program.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 31 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Romans 9:10

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

This is a sufficient reply to our opponents about the sayings of the Fathers. It is certain that this fiction about the merit of the opus operatum is found nowhere in the Fathers. In order to better understand the whole case, we will also state those things about the use of the Sacrament that actually harmonize with the Fathers and Scripture.

Pulling It Together

The human heart, harder than diamonds, is determined to have its own way. Religious matters are not exempt from our hardness of heart. So, we bullheadedly set about working at being good people, participating in services, or buying things that make false promises, all in the hopes of pleasing God enough that we will deserve forgiveness and eternal life. We deserve no such thing. But because God loves us with the softest heart, he has made a way for us where we could never find or make a way. Forgiveness and salvation do not depend upon our will or labors. These depend upon a loving and merciful God

Prayer: Soften my heart, Lord, that I may have a heart of faith. Amen.

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The Upper Room is a six-part drama and sermon series for use during the weeks of Lent, in midweek or Sunday morning services. The stories in this series seek to focus our hearts and minds on the last days of Jesus, drawing us into a greater spiritual maturity that recognizes the blessings and responsibilities of this life of faith, as we walk with our Lord on the path to the cross.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 30 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Colossians 2:6–7

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

We have already shown that a eucharistic sacrifice does not merit reconciliation, but is made by those who have been reconciled. Nor do afflictions earn reconciliation, but are eucharistic sacrifices when those who have been reconciled endure them.

Pulling It Together

Our sacrifices—on an altar or on the altar of life do not settle the score with God. As we have shown many times, Christ alone is the sacrifice that has reconciled God. Yet, he is not a continuing sacrifice, offered once again for sins in Holy Communion. He was sacrificed once, that sacrifice being sufficient to meet the sin-debt of a world. Now, faith must meet his sacrifice. When faith sees it can do nothing but come to the altar, believing in what has already been done, what should be brought—to the holy table and to life? We may offer thanks for the grace that has been extended to ourselves and others (1 Cor 1:4). Thanksgiving is not a saving sacrifice but an offering made by those who have been saved. We should be thankful even when sorely oppressed (1 Thes 5:18), again, this affliction not being a sacrifice that merits anything—other than our thanks to God for his mercy and grace.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for your indescribable gift! Amen.

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Pilate's Investigation is a five-part series designed for use during Lent. Each of the dramas feature Pontius Pilate, seeking to learn the identity of the mysterious figure who has been brought to him for judgment. Scripture texts are assigned for each of the dramas, along with notes for the actors.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 29 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Luke 22:19

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

Now that we have explained the passages of Scripture cited against us, we should also talk about the Fathers. We are know that the Fathers call the Mass a sacrifice. They do not mean that the Mass confers grace ex opere operato, that it merits the forgiveness of sins, guilt, and punishment when transferred to others. Where do the Fathers say anything so monstrous? Instead, they openly testify that they are speaking of thanksgiving. Accordingly they call it a “eucharist.”

Pulling It Together

The disciples gathered around their Lord, bringing nothing to the table. Christ Jesus brought it all. The disciples did nothing but receive with thankful hearts. Jesus set the example for this Eucharist, or thanksgiving. He took the bread and gave thanks. Then, he gave it to his disciples, and they received his body. Nowhere do they make a sacrifice. If this is the institution of the Holy Supper—and it surely is—then Christ has instituted no sacrifice other than his own. We disciples still bring nothing to the table but thanks.

Prayer: Thank you, Jesus. Amen.

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Of One Mind and Purpose is a six-session study examines the unique way in which the Bible describes being united in Christ. It explains how God’s Word can either divide people or bring them together in faith, showing how the relationship we have with one another in the Church comes through Christ alone.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 27 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Luke 22:17–20

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

These errors have produced endless others, such as the Masses being valid when applied for many just as much as when applied individually. The scholastics have particular degrees of merit, just as money-changers have weights for gold or silver. Then they sell the Mass as a price for obtaining what each one wants: to merchants for prosperous business, to hunters for successful hunting, and countless other things. Finally, they apply it to the dead, liberating souls from the pains of purgatory by the application of the Sacrament, though the Mass is of no use even to the living if they do not have faith. Our opponents are unable to produce even one syllable from the Scriptures in defense of their fables which they teach with great authority in the Church; nor do they have the testimonies of the ancient Church and the Fathers.

Pulling It Together

Besides the odious practice of marketing Christ’s body and blood, this commerce is based upon selfish desires, largely the freeing of departed loved ones from a place that does not exist. We do not come to the altar to receive worldly affluence. We come to receive the riches of God’s grace. Nor do we come to the altar for the sins of others; we come with faith, confessing our own sins, and receiving the assurance of forgiveness for those sins. Nowhere in our Lord’s institution or in apostolic instruction is there anything about this being done for others.

Though the Church Fathers are certainly not inspired and faultless, they carry great weight since they represent the thought and practices of the early Church, so we will next look into what they had to say on this matter. 

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for all you have given me—even giving your very self. Amen.

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The Power of Lent is a series of lenten dramas pairing two characters each week from the story of Jesus' Passion; bearing witness to what they saw, heard, and felt. Each pair of biblical characters reflects upon a similar theme for the week, showing how the same events brought about very different reactions to Jesus and his identity.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 26 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

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1 Corinthians 10:16–17

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

Other common errors are also to be rejected, such as, that the Mass confers grace upon one using it ex opere operato, or that it merits the forgiveness of sins, guilt, and punishment when it is transferred to others, even for wicked persons, provided they do not interpose an obstacle. All these things are false and godless, recently invented by unlearned monks. They obscure the glory of Christ’s suffering and the righteousness of faith.

Pulling It Together

Holy Communion is the privilege of those who truly participate in the body and blood of Christ. This participation is genuine fellowship in the communion of saints, else it is a mockery. One must be present in every sense: physical, mental, spiritual. We do not commune with Christ and with one another without understanding what has been done for us, or by partaking thoughtlessly, mechanically. And we certainly cannot benefit if we are not physically present. The mere doing of the thing is simply another work. The fellowship of the saints and every other blessing of the Third Article of the Apostles’ Creed are received with active, engaged faith—not by rote, by mindless, spiritless works. 

Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, for your great gifts, given freely to those who believe. Amen.

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This congregational resource book describes how a parish can host an “invite-able” event, as part of a larger evangelism initiative, energizing God’s people for the mission of Christ. Using a practical step-by-step “how to” approach, provides guidance, organization, and ideas — not simply to promote a single program, but to develop and inspire the over-all outreach of the congregation. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 25 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

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1 Corinthians 11:23–29

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

We have also shown that the Scriptures cited against us do not support our opponents’ godless opinion about the opus operatum. Good folk everywhere can judge this. Therefore the error of Thomas is to be rejected, who wrote: “The body of the Lord, once offered on the cross for original debt, is continually offered on the altar for daily offenses, in order that, in this, the Church might have a service that reconciles God to herself.”

Pulling It Together

There is false security in performing a ritual, or in it being performed for us, expecting that it has some spiritual value just because the ceremony is done. It is not enough to come to the altar to eat and drink a bit of bread and wine. That action does nothing other than give one a sense being religious, as though that feeling earns some favor with God. But eating and drinking with faith produces great things—not by the hands of either priest or people, but by God’s power. The mere work done by human hands is worthless, or even harmful since it produces a false, religious security. But the work performed by God in Christ has great merit and power when received in faith. Through faith we remember what Christ has done for us, graciously forgiving us when we eat and drink his body and blood. This does not happen however, when we simply go through the motions. Nor does it help others if the Mass is celebrated for them in their absence. The simple reason is that faith is required.

Without faith in God’s word and promise, the bread and wine remain simply bread and wine. Faith knows that the bread and wine, Christ’s body and blood, are not being offered at all. He has already offered himself. Faith remembers this, proclaiming his death and resurrection each time we eat this bread and drink this cup until Christ comes again. Eating and drinking without faith, without believing, is not only worthless, it is harmful. Those who eat and drink unworthily, without faith, are guilty before God, no matter how religious they feel. Those who eat with faith are exonerated, no matter how guilty they know themselves to be. The table is spread for sinners. Come! Eat! Drink! Remember.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for your free grace and forgiveness for sinners like me. Amen.

Prayer: Blessed Redeemer, thank you for saving me by God’s grace through faith in you. Amen.

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This pocket edition of the Luther's Small Catechism is specifically designed to go with the Sola Confirmation Series. The Sola/ReClaim Edition is a faithful word-for-word translation from Luther's German Catechism. It also includes the section on the Office of the Keys, added later to Luther's Catechism.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 24 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Romans 3:27–28

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

We have shown the reason why the Mass does not justify ex opere operato, and why, when applied on behalf of others, it does not merit forgiveness. Both conflict with the righteousness of faith. There is no forgiveness of sins, nor are the terrors of death and sin overcome by any work or anything other than by faith in Christ, as Paul says, “Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom 5:1).

Pulling It Together

We cannot work our way to God. We cannot do so morally or religiously. Imagine someone saying, I’m good enough now to be forgiven my badness. It makes no sense at all. If you are bad, you are bad. How can you be good enough to have earned a removal of your badness? How can you be pure enough to merit the removal of your sin? If you are not pure, you are impure. If you sin, you are a sinner. You cannot fix that condition of your nature. Do not reason this way: If I work hard enough at being good, my goodness will outweigh my sin enough that God will reward me. He will not. Paul says that God’s law prevents such boasting.

Rejoice, sinner! Because Christ has upheld God’s law and redeemed the world, you are vindicated through faith in him. This is a legal action, independent of your deeds. God absolves you, exonerates you, clears your name, by virtue of what Christ has done for you, not because of any work, religious or otherwise, that you have done.

Prayer: Blessed Redeemer, thank you for saving me by God’s grace through faith in you. Amen.

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This is Most Certainly True! is a six-chapter mid-week Lenten Series features monologues from Martin Luther himself, based on his writings in the Large Catechism. Luther explains eloquently and simply what each part of the catechism means for us as believers and ends it with an affirmation of certainty: "This is most certainly true!"

Luther's thoughts have been transformed here into dramatic monologues so that we might hear and meditate on the foundations of our Christian faith. In addition to a sample worship service outline, there are hymns suggestions for each monologue and opening dialogues for worship based on the parts of the Small Catechism.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 23 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

Index of Scripture Graphics and posts by Scripture reference

Galatians 3:2

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

Since the priesthood of the New Testament is the ministry of the Spirit, as Paul teaches in 2 Corinthians 3:6, accordingly, Christ is the only satisfying sacrifice that may applied for the sins of others. It has no sacrifices like the Levitical, which could be applied ex opere operato on behalf of others. Rather, it offers them the Gospel and the Sacraments, that by these means they may receive faith and the Holy Spirit, and be mortified and quickened. The ministry of the Spirit is at odds with the application of an opus operatum. Through this ministry of the Spirit, God works in the heart so that his ministry is profitable to others, when it is efficacious in them by giving them a new birth and life. This does not occur by the application ex opere operato of the work of another on their behalf.

Pulling It Together

The religious works of others on our behalf can no more kill or mortify us than make us alive again or quickened. The work worked by them, the opus operatum, though perhaps very satisfying to the eye and ear, remains the work of a human being, quite ineffective in and of itself because it does not satisfy the justice of God. Sin is not forgiven ex opere operato, from the work worked by people. Where is the gospel in all of this working? The outward performance is there but where is the inward power? The gospel is not only words, not simply the retelling of the history of Jesus. It is the power of God’s Spirit at work in the ear and heart. Sin is forgiven because of the work done by God in Christ, received with faith by the power of God’s Spirit. The works of another cannot give us faith, without which we cannot have forgiveness, new life, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, godliness, or salvation.

Prayer: You are all I need, Lord; you alone are sufficient for life. Amen.

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Learning About Confession teaches the meaning of Confession and Forgiveness according Luther's guidance in the Small Catechism. It is recommended for the Sixth Grade Level. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 22 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

Original image  •  Index of Scripture Graphics and posts by Scripture reference

Hebrews 7:27–28

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

Therefore, if anyone insists that a priest is required to make an offering for sins in the New Testament, this must be granted only to Christ. The entire Epistle to the Hebrews confirms this interpretation. If we were to seek any other satisfaction in addition to the death of Christ that is effectual for the sins of others and that reconciles God, this would be nothing more than appointing other mediators besides Christ.

Pulling It Together

Either Christ is the full and final atonement for the sins of the world, or he is not. In the latter case, two things are true. First, new and daily sacrifices would need to continue on behalf of sinners everywhere. Second, Christ would no longer be our Savior. He is either Savior, or he is not. If he has saved us, then sacrifices are no longer necessary. If he has not saved us, then bring on the priests. A system of works demands a priestly system, while faith insists it has no need for priests and sacrifices because it has a Savior.

Prayer: Thank you, God, for appointing us a Savior. Amen.

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The Small Cat series is a comprehensive way to teach the Catechism to all of your children. There is a workbook and leader's guide for each of grades one through six, along with other complimentary resources. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 20 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

Original image  •  Index of Scripture Graphics and posts by Scripture reference

Colossians 1:19–23

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

It is altogether incorrect to imagine that the Levitical sacrifices earned the forgiveness of sins before God, and that by analogy, sacrifices in addition to the death of Christ are required in the New Testament that are effectual for the sins of others. This fiction completely invalidates the merit of Christ’s suffering and the righteousness of faith, and corrupts the teaching of the Old and New Testaments by replacing Christ as our mediator and reconciler with priests and sacrificers who daily hawk their wares in the churches.

Pulling It Together

Paul tells us all that is required to be reconciled to God. All things in heaven and earth are brought peace and consolation through the blood of Christ alone. Through faith, we are made holy and blameless with God. If we continue with faith in Christ, in his sacrifice on our behalf, we who were alienated from God because of sin, are united with him by the blood of the cross—his work, not ours. He alone is our mediator and atonement.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for the peace your cross brings to sinners like me. Amen.

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Connections magazine is an emerging voice for confessional Lutheranism in North America, that features ministries and mission efforts, reliable, Biblically based content, stories of faith, and inspirational messages all in a “coffee table quality” package.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 19 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

Index of Scripture Graphics and posts by Scripture reference

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Hebrews 9:13–14

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

Since the Old Testament sacrifices did not merit reconciliation—unless by analogy—but pointed to the coming sacrifice, it follows that Christ is the only valid sacrifice for the sins of others. Therefore, no sacrifice is left in the New Testament to be applied for the sins of others, except the one sacrifice of Christ upon the cross.

Pulling It Together

The services of the Old Testament were a symbol or a picture of what was to come. Their use was to cleanse the flesh, the natural person, from sin. These services required constant repetition because of constant sin. The New Testament services of the Church remember what our great High Priest has accomplished through his sacrifice on the cross. His is the perfect service that requires no repetition. His blood cleanses conscience and spirit, not merely the flesh, for all who have faith in him.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, for granting me the faith to trust in you. Amen.

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Rejoice in the Lord, Always! is a nine week study examines some of the most treasured verses in Scripture, in ways that are encouraging and realistic about our life in faith. Celebrating both the tensions and the joys of discipleship, Paul reminds us of Who it is that makes us a community as we share our lives together in a common commitment to Christ.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 18 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

Index of Scripture Graphics and posts by Scripture reference

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Acts 2:22–24

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

Although our belief has its main testimonies in the Epistle to the Hebrews, our opponents nevertheless distort and mutilate passages from this Epistle against us. In this same passage, where it says that every high priest is ordained to offer sacrifices for sins, Scripture itself immediately adds that Christ is that High Priest (Heb 5:5-6, 10). The preceding words speak of the Levitical priesthood, demonstrating how that Levitical priesthood was a symbol of the priesthood of Christ. The Levitical sacrifices for sins did not merit the forgiveness of sins before God. They were only a representation of the sacrifice of Christ, which was to be the one atoning sacrifice, as we have earlier stated.

Therefore, a large part of the Epistle is occupied with the subject of that ancient priesthood and its sacrifices not being instituted for the purpose of earning the forgiveness of sins before God or reconciliation, but only to point to the future sacrifice of Christ alone. In the Old Testament as well as in the New Testament, it was necessary for the saints to be justified by faith in the promise of the forgiveness of sins that was to be granted for Christ’s sake. From the beginning of the world, all saints have needed to believe that the Christ would be the promised offering and satisfaction for sins. Isaiah teaches: “...when he makes himself an offering for sin” (Isa 53:10).

Pulling It Together

God had a plan—from the beginning. You see it spread before you as early as the book of Genesis. He made a covenant with Abraham in order to bless the nations through the Lion of tribe of Judah. That Lion and Root of David, Christ Jesus, has defeated death, being raised by God (raising himself from death), undoing the sting of death (1 Cor 15:55) for all who have faith in him. His giving of his own life is the only sacrifice, as predetermined, that has ever made a difference. Christ alone has made true satisfaction for our sins. He is the remedy for our illness; we—our services and works—are not. Persevere with faith in he who has overcome a world of sin (John 16:33). 

Prayer: Grant, O Lord, that I may remain in you until that Day. Amen.

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Since Lent is fast approaching... 

Will You Betray Me?” is a five-part drama series focuses on “betrayal” as a central theme. Written in a direct and edgy style, the monologues feature biblical characters that (knowingly or unknowingly) contributed to the betrayal and death of Jesus.  

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 17 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

Index of Scripture Graphics and posts by Scripture reference

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Hebrews 4:14–16

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

They also quote from the Epistle to the Hebrews. “For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins” (Heb 5:1). They conclude from this verse that, since there are high priests and priests in the New Testament, there must also be a sacrifice for sins. This argument makes an impression on the unlearned, especially when priestly pomp and sacrifices of the Old Testament are spread before the eyes. The resemblance deceives them, so that they think a ceremonial sacrifice for sins ought to exist among us just as in the Old Testament. The services of the Mass and the rest of the papal organization are only false zeal stemming from a poor interpretation of the Levitical order.

Pulling It Together

Jesus Christ is the only high priest able to stand between you and God. As such, he is called our “great high priest” by the writer of Hebrews. Because Jesus is our high priest, we are able to make the good confession. That confession is that he is the Christ, the one whose sacrifice has made the difference. So long as we maintain that it is our sacrifices—our good works and ceremonies—that earn us favor with God, we will fall into despair. For how can we be good enough, do enough, confess every last sin? We cannot; nor would it make a difference since we are born in sin.

In order to set the record straight and to soothe our troubled consciences, this section in Hebrews shows us that we no longer need high priests. It does not demonstrate the further need for them, but establishes Christ Jesus as our great high priest. He is the one, as Hebrews goes on to confirm (Heb 10:14), who has made the one, perfect sacrifice needed to perfect “those who are being sanctified.” We are being sanctified by him, not by our own doing. Knowing this to be true, how could we ever rely upon our own sacrifices, or for that matter, those performed by priests “chosen from among men” (Heb 5:1)? Because of our confession of Christ alone, we may draw near to God with full confidence in his mercy toward sinners like us.

Prayer: Forgive me, God, for Christ’s sake. Amen.

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The Basics of the Christian Faith is an edition of the catechism that is aimed at seekers, visitors, and those that may not come from a Lutheran background. It is recommended for use in outreach, as a visitor welcome gift, or in new member packets.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 16 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

Index of Scripture Graphics and posts by Scripture reference

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Mark 1:14–20

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

As for outward appearances, church attendance is better among us than among our opponents. Helpful, clear sermons hold the audience, but neither the people nor the teachers have ever understood our opponents. The true adornment of the churches is godly, practical, and clear teaching, the devout use of the Sacraments, ardent prayer, and so forth. Candles, golden vessels, and similar adornments are fitting, but they are not the adornment that properly belongs to the Church. If our opponents make worship consist of such matters instead of the proclamation of the gospel, faith, and the struggles of faith, they are to be numbered among those whom Daniel describes as worshiping their God with gold and silver (Dan 11:38).

Pulling It Together

What is it that proclaims the gospel? That thing belongs in our services of worship. The Sacraments proclaim the gospel on the deepest level. “Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” clearly “speak” (Eph 5:19; Col 3:16) the good news of Christ among us. Prayers turn our attentions back to the source of faith. Whatever else is on display in our sanctuaries, our churches must be draped in plain, simple, clear preaching of the gospel. Anything among us that does not preach the gospel is just decoration.

The real beauty of the Church is the gospel. The Church exists to preach the gospel. If it is not preached there, it is a church in name only. The sign outside may say “Lutheran Church” but if the clear call to “repent and believe in the gospel” is not heard there, it is not a church. Jesus came preaching repentance and faith in the gospel of God. He then called men to follow him, that they might learn to do the same. He still calls people to be his disciples, and in following Jesus, both individuals and congregations are commissioned to proclaim his gospel. 

Prayer: Teach me how to follow you, Lord. Amen.

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When we speak of the "Great Commission," we usually think of Jesus' words at the end of Matthew's Gospel. But there are actually several places in the New Testament that describe the commission we have been given to speak and act, bearing witness to the truth of the gospel message. All these biblical articulations convey the same charge and calling, but each adds something important to our appreciation and understanding of the mission to which we have been called.

The Great Commissions is a six-session Bible study drawing from all four Gospels, as well as the book of Acts and the writings of Paul, to focus on the calling that Jesus has given us and how it works in our everyday lives. Here is a sample PDF of the introduction and first chapter.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 15 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

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1 Corinthians 11:23–29

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

If the use of the Sacrament is the daily sacrifice, we would still keep it more than our opponents, because their priests use it for earning money. Our churches use it more frequently and devoutly. The people use it, but after first having been instructed and examined. They are taught the proper use of the Sacrament: that it was instituted for the purpose of being a seal and testimony of free forgiveness of sins, and as an encouragement for alarmed consciences, that they may be truly confident and believe that their sins are freely forgiven. Therefore, since we retain both the preaching of the gospel and the proper use of the Sacrament, we have preserved the daily sacrifice.

Pulling It Together

The Lutherans believed (and believe) that we have no need of a human, priestly intermediary in order to receive the benefits of Holy Communion. Christ is our intermediary. We only need his grace, and that is freely available to all who believe. As such, there is no need to pay someone to perform a ceremony that does what Christ has already accomplished. The blessings of God are fully available in his Sacrament. Holy Communion is the true body and blood of the Lord “for you.” As such, we remember that Christ Jesus has given us a sign of his sacrifice: the bread and wine, his body and blood. We also remember his Word: the promise of God’s gracious forgiveness.

As often as we eat this bread and drink this cup, we declare his death and all the blessings that his sacrifice means. Yet we do not do so as mere ritual. Therefore, we instruct people as to who and what are being remembered in this holy meal, so that they may eat and drink without judgment, and so that we may retain what the Lord first established.

Prayer: Help me, O Lord, to remember that you freely gave yourself for me. Amen.

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A Discussion of Living Religions is a brief introduction to major world religions that takes a conversational approach as a group of friends talk together about what it is they believe. Each has a chance to speak for themselves about how they understand the fundamentals of reality and faith.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 14 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Ephesians 2:8–10

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

In contrast, due to the blessing of God, our priests see to the ministry of the Word, teaching the gospel with its blessings of Christ, and showing that the forgiveness of sins happens freely for Christ’s sake. This doctrine brings sure consolation to consciences. They also teach the doctrine of good works which God commands, and declare the worth and use of the Sacraments.

Pulling It Together

We have been saved by God’s grace—not by our good works or offerings of money or service. This salvation happens through faith in Christ. It is that simple. There is no need to keep score or balance a so-called ledger that keeps account of our sin. If we needed to worry about such things, our consciences would always be troubled. But when we do sin—we are, after all, sinners—we know that Christ Jesus forgives and forgives completely. No one is able to add anything to completeness. So, we cannot and need not add good deeds or offerings to something that God has already fully accomplished. For the person who believes in Christ, this brings immeasurable consolation. The person, however, who believes that she must trust in her own merit, will always have a trembling conscience.

Because we are forgiven and promised eternal life, we are able to freely give of ourselves without the need to add to God’s full grace. We are liberated—free of concern about sin, death, the devil, hell, or purgatory—to do what we were made to do: live lives that bring honor to God through good works and walking in the commandments. 

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for forgiving me and setting me free to live life for you. Amen.

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The Reformation is a collection and summary of some of the key documents of the Reformation. Assembled and edited by the Rev. Jeffray Greene for the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation in 2017, it is meant to be a reference-resource for congregations and study groups, to familiarize laity with the scope and contents of these important texts. The length of this book has been kept brief to allow congregations to make it available to people at a reasonable price.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 13 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Luke 22:19–20

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

Consciences were tormented by satisfactions and the enumeration of sins. Our opponents made no mention of faith, by which we freely receive the forgiveness of sins. All of their books and sermons were silent about the use of faith in struggling with despair, and the free forgiveness of sins for Christ’s sake. Additionally, they horribly desecrated the Mass and added many other godless services in the churches. This is the desolation that Daniel describes.

Pulling It Together

Faith in Christ, in what he has done for us, is so important because it always makes us look to the source of forgiveness and salvation. Anything that turns our attention away from him must be avoided altogether. Therefore, the introduction of anything other than what Christ instituted is not only unnecessary, it is harmful. Requiring the listing of one’s sins brings the focus again, to self. We do not need to list every last sin, in fear that one might be forgotten and therefore, not covered. All our sin is covered by the blood of Christ. The listing or enumeration of sins is just another work. Instead, we should turn to Christ, who heartily desires to forgive us. He is not waiting to catch us in the failure to confess some sin. He forgives us all our sins, so we need not despair that there is some corner of our lives that we have forgotten, and is not dealt with by God for Christ’s sake. We are forgiven for his sake, not for the sake of our good works, long lists, or any other method we employ to make satisfaction for sin. Christ alone is that satisfaction.

Prayer: Give me such faith in you, Lord, that my soul may be fed by your body and blood. Amen.

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A Latin phrase meaning “Scripture Alone,” Sola Scriptura is one of the traditional Lutheran slogans used since the time of the Reformation. It expresses our confession that Scripture is “the only rule and norm according to which all doctrines and teachers alike must be appraised and judged.” Using the familiar phrase as its title, Sola Scriptura is a new, advanced-level Bible Study in a two-part series, of six chapters each, on the functional authority of Scripture. For those who would like to cover the topic in detail, there is enough material to cover one chapter in two sessions, making each part a 12-week study.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 12 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Luke 13:1–5

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

The people were overwhelmed by the multitude and variety of traditions and opinions, and so, were unable to appreciate the substance of Christian doctrine. Who among the people ever understood our opponents’ doctrine of repentance? Yet this is the primary teaching of the Christian faith.

Pulling It Together

Repentance does not mean that we must go and do something to overturn God’s anger. Repetition of prayers and good deeds do not effect God’s forgiveness. Though we ought to pray often and do good, these are not the causes of forgiveness; they are the outcome. Repentance is turning back to God. That means we first comprehend that we have turned aside—in other words, we have sinned. Repentance then becomes sorrow for turning away from God, confessing it and knowing that he will forgive. For the promise is certain: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

The condition of this forgiveness is not our doing. The condition is God. He has promised, and so, we must believe. If we lack the faith in God’s promise to forgive, repentance is mere sociology. We feel guilty, so we try to assuage our guilt with ceremony or other deeds. This approach is doomed, because its focus is self. True repentance depends upon God alone, who has come from beyond us and who has promised to forgive sinners. 

Prayer: Give me the humility to admit my sins to you, Lord, and the conviction to believe you forgive sinners like me. Amen.

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Check out Sola’s Confirmation workbook, The Apostle’s Creed, designed to be a small group Bible study, student book for home school or independent study programs, or as a classroom tool and homework resource as part of an existing confirmation program.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 11 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Daniel 11:29–32

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

In their Confutation our opponents make a big deal about the desolation of churches, namely, that the altars stand unadorned, without candles and images. They regard these trifles as the beauty of the churches. It is a far different desolation that Daniel means (Dan 11:31; 12:11): ignorance of the gospel.

Pulling It Together

The desolating sacrilege that Daniel referred to in chapters 11 and 12 are not about decorations, ceremony, and other external matters. God is instead, teaching us internal, spiritual matters through Daniel’s prophecy: to keep faith, to keep the true religion, not replacing it with paganism or anything else. This is always the danger in God’s Church. Those who seek to do the Lord’s will, those who would obey God rather than man (Acts 5:29), are under attack by people and the devil. This attack is more often than not, subtle. The teaching of traditions and ceremonies and the works one must do in order to be right with God are an ongoing way that God-fearing folks are led away from Christ. When they begin to trust in their own works instead of having faith in Christ’s work, the desolation has begun. This is the great sacrilege: that we place our confidence in things rather than in God. The beauty of the Bride of Christ, the Church, is not her adornment but her heart. Christ must ever be her heart, else the desolation is complete. 

Prayer: Give me your pure heart, O Lord, that I may see you ever before me. Amen.

Receive Sola's Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

Reading and Discussion of Luther's Catechisms is a more challenging study series based on assigned readings from the Book of Concord and related Scripture texts. Each study is comprised of eight sessions, plus an optional introductory session, each presented in a question and discussion format. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 10 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Hebrews 4:1–3a

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

They do not teach the gospel in their sermons, or console consciences, or show that sins are freely forgiven for Christ’s sake. Instead, they talk about worship of saints, human satisfactions, and human traditions, claiming that these justify people before God. Although some of these traditions are obviously godless, they nevertheless defend them with violence. If any preachers wish to be more learned, they undertake philosophical questions, which neither they nor the people understand. Those who are more tolerable, teach the law but say nothing about the righteousness of faith.

Pulling It Together

The good news of Jesus Christ comes to us in preaching. We must hear it; then God gives us faith (Rom 10:17). But the Word must truly be heard in this proclamation, with all that “hearing” means. This listening to the Word is not casual, but engaged. I believe I have mentioned this illustration before. Many children hear their parents say something, perhaps, “Clean up your room,” or, “Finish your homework.” When these things are not done by the child, the parent asks, “Did you hear me?” Now, what they mean is not whether or not the sound reached their ears. They know full well that the child heard, in that sense. Parents are not concerned about whether children’s ears are working. They want to make sure hearts are working. For if the heart is engaged, the homework will be done, the room cleaned. True hearing means obedience.

Yet, if the good news—for that is what we are considering—is never preached, how would the heart become engaged? If only religious traditions, or the heresy of works righteousness, or even if only the law is taught, how will there be faith? First, God’s law must be taught so that the hearer is aware of her alienation from God, and her need of forgiveness. Then the gospel must be preached, so that she may know with certainty that God desires to forgive and provide eternal fellowship with himself. This is the great task of preaching: that faith in Christ may be the outcome.

Prayer: Help me, O God, to truly listen to your Word. Amen.

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"Why Did Jesus Have to Die?" examines the most profound event of salvation history—the crucifixion of Jesus Christ—exploring from a biblical perspective what is known as the doctrine of the Atonement. This six-week Bible Study would be particularly appropriate during the season of Lent.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 09 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

Index of Scripture Graphics and posts by Scripture reference

  Click for a recording of today's lesson. 

Acts 8:18–22

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

For our opponents retain only the ceremony in the Mass, and publicly use it as a profane fundraiser. Then they claim that this work can be transferred to others so that they will deserve grace and all good things.

Pulling It Together

Whether it is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, or grace, forgiveness, and eternal life under consideration, God’s gifts are just that: gifts. He gives freely to all who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. No one, at any price, may earn his own salvation, any more than he might purchase the power of the Holy Spirit. This cannot be accomplished with money or through religious deeds. 

The gifts of God are also personal, in the sense that they may not be applied to others. When you come to the Lord’s table, you hear these words: “The body of Christ given for you.” And, “The blood of Christ shed for you.” For you. The gift of grace is freely given to those who have faith in the giver, in God. It is not then, able to be applied to whom one pleases—whether they have faith or do not.

Prayer: Forgive me, Lord, of any thoughts and actions when I imagined that I could earn your grace. Amen.

Receive Sola's Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

The Sacraments is one of six books in the Sola Confirmation Series and serves as a simple and practical resource for teaching the biblical Word of God according to the traditional pattern of Martin Luther’s Small Catechism. Each book in the series may be used as the basis for a “come as you are” small group Bible study, as a student book for home school or independent study programs, or as a classroom tool and homework resource as part of an existing confirmation program. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 08 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

Index of Scripture Graphics and posts by Scripture reference

  Click for a recording of today's lesson. 

Acts 2:42–47

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

Good folks can readily see it is a false accusation that we abolish the daily sacrifice. Experience shows the kind of despots who hold power in the Church. Under the pretext of religion, they seize the kingdom of the world, ruling without concern for religion and the teaching of the gospel, waging war like the kings of the world, and instituting new services in the Church.

Pulling It Together

The Lutheran Reformers taught that there are two basic types of kingdoms in the world: the first, spiritual, the second, temporal. The Church at the time of the Reformation held—and wielded—both powers. The overlap allowed for all manner of problems, such as viewing religious matters through the lens of the State, and funding the worldly campaigns of the Church with the offerings of the people. The result, in terms of the Mass, was that it became a money-making ceremony. It’s purpose was not so much remembrance and forgiveness but a kind of profiteering. Using the Mass as a fundraiser was out of the question, thus, paying for a Mass to be “said” was unthinkable, though practiced daily, whether the purchaser was present or not. The Reformers wanted Christ—not money and other worldly concerns—to be the focus everywhere and of everything in the Church. We are to to come together to remember our Lord in the breaking of bread, yet never as a commercial enterprise. When the focus is on Christ, the means are available, even if it means we sell our possessions in order to care for others.

Prayer: Fix the priorities of your Church, Lord, as you keep us ever reforming. Amen.

Receive Sola's Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

This congregational resource book describes how a parish can host an “invite-able” event, as part of a larger evangelism initiative, energizing God’s people for the mission of Christ. Using a practical step-by-step “how to” approach, provides guidance, organization, and ideas — not simply to promote a single program, but to develop and inspire the over-all outreach of the congregation. 

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October 31, 1517: The Day Luther Hit the Nail on the Head! http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 08 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

October 31, 1517: The Day Luther Hit the Nail on the Head!

by Jaynan Clark

In this year of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, it is notable that the anniversary is marked by the date that Martin Luther hit the nail on the head, pounding the 95 Theses onto the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg. The anniversary year isn’t marked by Luther’s birthday or by his faithful stand at the Diet of Worms (April 18, 1521), or by the formal presentation of the Augsburg Confession to the emperor (June 25th, 1530), or by the date of Luther’s death (February 18, 1546) at the age of 62. The Reformation’s anniversary is measured from and celebrated on the date that it is said to have  begun with the banging of the hammer and the posting of 95 statements for debate. 

It begs the question: if these 95 “things” were so important as to be the change agent for all of world history, the event that ushered the citizens of the world from the darkness of the Middle Ages into the Modern Era, later tagged “The Reformation”, then shouldn't we know what “they”are? What changes did they usher in? These seem to be obvious and legitimate questions that few pursue. 

In the small church I now serve, the mid-week Bible Study folks wanted to study about Luther and the Reformation “as long as it is the 500th anniversary.” We’ve been working through a Bible study on the life of Luther, and when we got about halfway through the workbook we arrived at the section dealing with the 95 Theses. There were three short paragraphs and two questions. 

On the spot, I spontaneously asked the attendees if they wanted to get copies of the 95 Theses and study them. To my surprise,  they enthusiastically and unanimously said, “Yes!”   It was then that I realized that I really hadn’t studied them. Actually I can remember talking about them a lot and referring to them even more often, but do not recall working through them. I suspect this is true for many teachers and preachers and Lutherans in the pews. These theses marked the anniversary of the Reformation and are what started it all, and yet we know very little about them, other than by name. 

Unfortunately, I’ve found this is true also of the Bible. Many will talk about it and refer to it, but to actually read and study it is not as common. There are many “coffee table” editions of the Holy Bible that are touched when the covers need dusting, but never opened up to reveal the contents within. Unlike at the time of the Reformation, we can’t hide behind the excuse of widespread illiteracy or that it is all “Greek to me” (and Hebrew). 

A vitally important aspect of the Reformation was the translation of the Bible into the people’s language so the Word could be read and studied and not withheld from God’s children. The nailing of “the 95” spiked the curiosity of the masses and ignited the newly-invented printing presses. 

I challenge you to get a copy of the 95 Theses and read them —not because they are so interesting, but for their historic value. Notably, you won’t find them in the Book of Concord, which is the collection of the Lutheran Confessional writings. I suspect you will be hard-pressed to find a copy of them in your church library. I suggest it is worth a “google.” There you will find the 95 statements for debate and the following introduction: 

Out of love for the truth and from desire to elucidate it, the Reverend Father Martin Luther, Master of Arts and Sacred Theology, and ordinary lecturer therein at Wittenberg, intends to defend the following statements and to dispute on them in that place. Therefore he asks that those who cannot be present and dispute with him orally shall do so in their absence by letter. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen. 

As I began to read and study the theses, I was struck by one major light bulb moment: the recognition of how different Luther’s beliefs and theological convictions were in the writing of these theses from where he ends up in his later years and in our Lutheran Confessions. Here in the 95 Theses, Luther still speaks of purgatory as a reality and does not condemn indulgences but rather their issuance for money and the trust placed in them. 

Where Luther was in relationship to the institutional church and those who were in positions of authority, including the Pope, is much different here than it will be over the coming years. Luther as a teacher, preacher, theologian and believer evolved from where he was and who he was when he took pen in hand and crafted these theses.
It is very important that the teacher of the 95 Theses and the reader are reminded that many of the things discussed in “the 95” are not part of our confessional faith. A constant reminder is necessary that much of this discussion and debate is foreign to what we believe and practice as Christian Lutherans. 

As “the 95” mark the beginning of the Reformation, so they also mark the beginning of great change — in Luther’s thinking, his belief and his relationship to the institutional church. They mark the beginning of the rising of the masses through increased literacy and education. They mark the change in the power and primacy of the Roman Empire, both as a church and as the state. They mark the beginning of a time of reform that gave birth to multiple reformers and movements, many of which took issue with Luther and his theological convictions. They mark the beginning of a growing resistance against authority figures and institutions. And while we all know that “Rome was not built in a day,” this particular day in history with the nailing of the 95 Theses numbered the days of Rome’s unchecked authority as a church and as an empire. 

While many say the actual “nailing” of the Thesis to the door of the church is “legendary” and did not actually take place in that fashion, it would be accurate to say that whether Luther had an actual hammer in his hand or not, the proverbial “fan” was present on October 31, 1517 and all the “theses” hit it!  

To say that Luther was surprised by the reaction would probably be the understatement of the half millennium! It was not his plan to wage war against the powers that be or to incite a riot, or even just to ruffle a few clerical feathers. He drafted the theses in Latin, the language of the church and the language of his academic colleagues. He was basically posting an invitation to other teaching theologians and church leadership to come and debate the problems, as he perceived them. 

Luther identified the problem as the selling of God’s forgiveness in the form of indulgences with the assurance made to sinners that if they pay the price they can make satisfaction for their sins, or those of their loved ones, either in their present day or in Purgatory. Past, present and future forgiveness of sins granted by Papal decree for a profit was a practice of the church that Luther could not stomach, let alone defend Biblically. 

A quick perusal of Reformation history should impress upon us that it was the “cha-ching” of the coins in the church coffers, ringing with the promise of souls springing from purgatory, that really turned Luther’s crank. To see the plans for the erection of an imposing, glorious basilica named for St. Peter — knowing that it was funded by the false teaching regarding penance, the dismissal of true, God-invoked repentance and the defrauding of an illiterate population of believers — inspired Luther to start asking “all the wrong questions” from the leadership’s perspective. These were   questions that would lead to his potential arrest, a life in hiding branded as an outlaw and heretic, and a price put on his head.

So, Luther is a work in progress, traveling in the fast lane! His sending out of an invitation to debate the wrong teachings and practices of the church, in hopes of civil discourse resulting in much-needed correction and amends, was by 20/20 hindsight a bit of  a pipe dream. This somewhat naïve, not-so-young resident monk and teaching theologian, inexperienced in the ways of institutional church, got what may well have been the surprise of his life. 
It had only been six years since Luther had been sent to “Podunk” Wittenberg to serve, and only five years since he earned his doctorate (something he later reflected upon as an act of obedience not something he wanted to pursue.) This Luther — who nailed the Theses that hit the fan, ignited the spark and rocked the world of both church and state — is in a very different place in his theological development and convictions than the Luther who would make his historic stand at the Diet of Worms just three years later. 

As clay in the Potter’s hands, Luther set off not only a cultural reformation and an ecclesiastical (church) reformation, but he entered into the era of his own personal reformation. God was forming a prophet for this particular time in the history of His church and the history of His world groaning under the heavy weight of sin. 
For the church to burden the consciences of sinners and profit from that unorthodox, heretical adulteration of the Word was an institutional rebellion against the cross of Christ that needed to be confronted and corrected by a real live, rough and tumble, straight-talking prophet of German descent. God called Luther into something that he had never imagined possible and for which he did not dream of nor desire. 

This Luther, standing on the steps of Castle Church, still taught and practiced the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church. The numerous sacraments were not questioned, the existence of Purgatory was not contested, the categories of sins as moral and venial and acts of penance according to contrition and attrition remained, along with the office of the Pope with its increasing power and authority after the Crusades. 

Also not yet questioned was the divine necessity of church hierarchy; the teachings of apostolic succession and ordination;  the understanding of vocation and the priesthood of all believers; the limitations on the office of the keys; the practices associated with the Lord’s Supper, including the teaching of transubstantiation; the acceptance of other church doctrine that is not Scriptural; the  definition of a sacrament;  the presence of  the “treasury of merits” (which was a supposed account or fund of good works accumulated by Christ and the saints that the Pope could tap into); the prayers to the dead and for the dead; the means of grace; and the understanding of justification as a pure gift from God through Jesus Christ apart from works of the law. 

While this listing is admittedly exhausting to read, it is not exhaustive of all the huge theological teachings that are not even on the table when the 95 Theses were hung on the door. The Potter had a lot in store for His prophetic clay named Martin Luther, and it is a very good thing that the Holy Spirit had not yet clued him in for what the reaction would be and how far, wide and fast the ripple effect would spread. 

As our local class dove into the 95 Theses to actually read and study them, not just talk about them and repeat their title like a Lutheran mantra, we found that they were quite foreign to our confessional understanding of penance, confession of sin and absolution. In order to wade through them together and attempt to make them understandable to myself and to the class, I made my own groupings and elementary outline of “the 95”. I broke them down into categories that were more digestible and understandable. With a copy of “the 95” in front of you, you might want to wade through them this way: 

1-4: Repentance; 
5,6: The Pope; 
7: Guilt;  
8-12: Canons; 
13-16: Death/Dying; 
17-19: Purgatory; 
20-28: Penalty and Authority; 
29: Legendary Saints; 
30-36: Assurance; 
37-39: Grace; 
40-51: Teaching Good Works; 
52-58: Indulgences; 
59-66: Treasures of the Church; 
67-81: Preaching and Promises of Indulgences; 
 82-89: Questions for Debate; and
90-95: Conclusions. 

I would highlight #39, where Luther says, “It is very difficult, even for the most learned theologians, at one and the same time to commend to the people the bounty of indulgences and the need for true contrition.” 

Behind Luther’s statements runs this thread of concern that true contrition and repentance of one’s sin is not only being cheapened, but cut off for the profit of the church in the sale of indulgences. 

Knowing the man Luther, just a bit, and how he struggled with his burdened conscience, bouts of depression and a search for assurance and freedom in the face of an angry God, we can see that the ringing of the coins in the coffers bothered him not only because of the profit of the church built on the bent backs of burdened sinners, but also because the peddling of cheap grace that can never be free. A prophet like Luther could never turn a blind eye or deaf ear to such heresy (wrong, unorthodox teaching). 

Luther is still the one who called out to Saint Anne in the storm, committing his life to being a monk in exchange for his safety. 

Luther is still the one who later had his “Tower Experience” where he heard for the first time the gracious Word of God as both Law and Gospel. 

This Luther finally knew the free grace of God (apart from works of the Law), fully accomplished by Jesus’ death on the cross for him. 

This Luther, drafting the 95 Theses, did not do so as an enemy of the church or as a rebel looking for a cause, but as a freed and forgiven child of God. He wrote, knowing himself to be merely a beggar at the foot of Christ cross — a beggar who understood that the church, for good order, is not to be the stumbling block for repentant sinners but the path of least resistance to our Savior. 

The church and the Pope had put themselves in the positions of not only priest and mediator, but as gatekeepers peddling the gifts of God for personal profit like hirelings. In so doing, they had left the sheep without their Shepherd and His church without its true rock and confession that “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”  

Luther may or may not have taken up a hammer in his hand on October 31, 1517, but one thing we know for sure: he took up his cross and as a prophet of God’s own calling he boldly concluded his “95” with the sure and certain hope that life in Christ was never a promise of ease or comfort or privilege or success. Assured of this he wrote: 
Christians should be exhorted to be diligent in following Christ, their Head, through penalties, death and hell and thus be confident of entering into heaven through many tribulations rather than through the false security of peace (Acts 14:22). — #94, #95

And so with these words Luther was thrust into the turbulent years of the Reformation, knowing only the peace of God which the world does not understand. 

This is a message that we of the 21st century need to have ears to hear, loud and clear, as God continues to reform His church as clay in His scarred hands. 

 

 

 

 

Jaynan Clark is a chosen child of God, mother of four, grandma of one, preacher, teacher, missionary, writer, manual laborer, and known to many as a “tough ol’ broad !” Thanks be to God!

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October 31, 1517: The Day Luther Hit the Nail on the Head! http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 08 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

October 31, 1517: The Day Luther Hit the Nail on the Head!

by Jaynan Clark

In this year of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, it is notable that the anniversary is marked by the date that Martin Luther hit the nail on the head, pounding the 95 Theses onto the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg. The anniversary year isn’t marked by Luther’s birthday or by his faithful stand at the Diet of Worms (April 18, 1521), or by the formal presentation of the Augsburg Confession to the emperor (June 25th, 1530), or by the date of Luther’s death (February 18, 1546) at the age of 62. The Reformation’s anniversary is measured from and celebrated on the date that it is said to have  begun with the banging of the hammer and the posting of 95 statements for debate. 

It begs the question: if these 95 “things” were so important as to be the change agent for all of world history, the event that ushered the citizens of the world from the darkness of the Middle Ages into the Modern Era, later tagged “The Reformation”, then shouldn't we know what “they”are? What changes did they usher in? These seem to be obvious and legitimate questions that few pursue. 

In the small church I now serve, the mid-week Bible Study folks wanted to study about Luther and the Reformation “as long as it is the 500th anniversary.” We’ve been working through a Bible study on the life of Luther, and when we got about halfway through the workbook we arrived at the section dealing with the 95 Theses. There were three short paragraphs and two questions. 

On the spot, I spontaneously asked the attendees if they wanted to get copies of the 95 Theses and study them. To my surprise,  they enthusiastically and unanimously said, “Yes!”   It was then that I realized that I really hadn’t studied them. Actually I can remember talking about them a lot and referring to them even more often, but do not recall working through them. I suspect this is true for many teachers and preachers and Lutherans in the pews. These theses marked the anniversary of the Reformation and are what started it all, and yet we know very little about them, other than by name. 

Unfortunately, I’ve found this is true also of the Bible. Many will talk about it and refer to it, but to actually read and study it is not as common. There are many “coffee table” editions of the Holy Bible that are touched when the covers need dusting, but never opened up to reveal the contents within. Unlike at the time of the Reformation, we can’t hide behind the excuse of widespread illiteracy or that it is all “Greek to me” (and Hebrew). 

A vitally important aspect of the Reformation was the translation of the Bible into the people’s language so the Word could be read and studied and not withheld from God’s children. The nailing of “the 95” spiked the curiosity of the masses and ignited the newly-invented printing presses. 

I challenge you to get a copy of the 95 Theses and read them —not because they are so interesting, but for their historic value. Notably, you won’t find them in the Book of Concord, which is the collection of the Lutheran Confessional writings. I suspect you will be hard-pressed to find a copy of them in your church library. I suggest it is worth a “google.” There you will find the 95 statements for debate and the following introduction: 

Out of love for the truth and from desire to elucidate it, the Reverend Father Martin Luther, Master of Arts and Sacred Theology, and ordinary lecturer therein at Wittenberg, intends to defend the following statements and to dispute on them in that place. Therefore he asks that those who cannot be present and dispute with him orally shall do so in their absence by letter. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen. 

As I began to read and study the theses, I was struck by one major light bulb moment: the recognition of how different Luther’s beliefs and theological convictions were in the writing of these theses from where he ends up in his later years and in our Lutheran Confessions. Here in the 95 Theses, Luther still speaks of purgatory as a reality and does not condemn indulgences but rather their issuance for money and the trust placed in them. 

Where Luther was in relationship to the institutional church and those who were in positions of authority, including the Pope, is much different here than it will be over the coming years. Luther as a teacher, preacher, theologian and believer evolved from where he was and who he was when he took pen in hand and crafted these theses.

It is very important that the teacher of the 95 Theses and the reader are reminded that many of the things discussed in “the 95” are not part of our confessional faith. A constant reminder is necessary that much of this discussion and debate is foreign to what we believe and practice as Christian Lutherans. 

As “the 95” mark the beginning of the Reformation, so they also mark the beginning of great change — in Luther’s thinking, his belief and his relationship to the institutional church. They mark the beginning of the rising of the masses through increased literacy and education. They mark the change in the power and primacy of the Roman Empire, both as a church and as the state. They mark the beginning of a time of reform that gave birth to multiple reformers and movements, many of which took issue with Luther and his theological convictions. They mark the beginning of a growing resistance against authority figures and institutions. And while we all know that “Rome was not built in a day,” this particular day in history with the nailing of the 95 Theses numbered the days of Rome’s unchecked authority as a church and as an empire. 

While many say the actual “nailing” of the Thesis to the door of the church is “legendary” and did not actually take place in that fashion, it would be accurate to say that whether Luther had an actual hammer in his hand or not, the proverbial “fan” was present on October 31, 1517 and all the “theses” hit it!  

To say that Luther was surprised by the reaction would probably be the understatement of the half millennium! It was not his plan to wage war against the powers that be or to incite a riot, or even just to ruffle a few clerical feathers. He drafted the theses in Latin, the language of the church and the language of his academic colleagues. He was basically posting an invitation to other teaching theologians and church leadership to come and debate the problems, as he perceived them. 

Luther identified the problem as the selling of God’s forgiveness in the form of indulgences with the assurance made to sinners that if they pay the price they can make satisfaction for their sins, or those of their loved ones, either in their present day or in Purgatory. Past, present and future forgiveness of sins granted by Papal decree for a profit was a practice of the church that Luther could not stomach, let alone defend Biblically. 

A quick perusal of Reformation history should impress upon us that it was the “cha-ching” of the coins in the church coffers, ringing with the promise of souls springing from purgatory, that really turned Luther’s crank. To see the plans for the erection of an imposing, glorious basilica named for St. Peter — knowing that it was funded by the false teaching regarding penance, the dismissal of true, God-invoked repentance and the defrauding of an illiterate population of believers — inspired Luther to start asking “all the wrong questions” from the leadership’s perspective. These were   questions that would lead to his potential arrest, a life in hiding branded as an outlaw and heretic, and a price put on his head.

So, Luther is a work in progress, traveling in the fast lane! His sending out of an invitation to debate the wrong teachings and practices of the church, in hopes of civil discourse resulting in much-needed correction and amends, was by 20/20 hindsight a bit of  a pipe dream. This somewhat naïve, not-so-young resident monk and teaching theologian, inexperienced in the ways of institutional church, got what may well have been the surprise of his life. 

It had only been six years since Luther had been sent to “Podunk” Wittenberg to serve, and only five years since he earned his doctorate (something he later reflected upon as an act of obedience not something he wanted to pursue.) This Luther — who nailed the Theses that hit the fan, ignited the spark and rocked the world of both church and state — is in a very different place in his theological development and convictions than the Luther who would make his historic stand at the Diet of Worms just three years later. 

As clay in the Potter’s hands, Luther set off not only a cultural reformation and an ecclesiastical (church) reformation, but he entered into the era of his own personal reformation. God was forming a prophet for this particular time in the history of His church and the history of His world groaning under the heavy weight of sin. 

For the church to burden the consciences of sinners and profit from that unorthodox, heretical adulteration of the Word was an institutional rebellion against the cross of Christ that needed to be confronted and corrected by a real live, rough and tumble, straight-talking prophet of German descent. God called Luther into something that he had never imagined possible and for which he did not dream of nor desire. 

This Luther, standing on the steps of Castle Church, still taught and practiced the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church. The numerous sacraments were not questioned, the existence of Purgatory was not contested, the categories of sins as moral and venial and acts of penance according to contrition and attrition remained, along with the office of the Pope with its increasing power and authority after the Crusades. 

Also not yet questioned was the divine necessity of church hierarchy; the teachings of apostolic succession and ordination;  the understanding of vocation and the priesthood of all believers; the limitations on the office of the keys; the practices associated with the Lord’s Supper, including the teaching of transubstantiation; the acceptance of other church doctrine that is not Scriptural; the  definition of a sacrament;  the presence of  the “treasury of merits” (which was a supposed account or fund of good works accumulated by Christ and the saints that the Pope could tap into); the prayers to the dead and for the dead; the means of grace; and the understanding of justification as a pure gift from God through Jesus Christ apart from works of the law. 

While this listing is admittedly exhausting to read, it is not exhaustive of all the huge theological teachings that are not even on the table when the 95 Theses were hung on the door. The Potter had a lot in store for His prophetic clay named Martin Luther, and it is a very good thing that the Holy Spirit had not yet clued him in for what the reaction would be and how far, wide and fast the ripple effect would spread. 

As our local class dove into the 95 Theses to actually read and study them, not just talk about them and repeat their title like a Lutheran mantra, we found that they were quite foreign to our confessional understanding of penance, confession of sin and absolution. In order to wade through them together and attempt to make them understandable to myself and to the class, I made my own groupings and elementary outline of “the 95”. I broke them down into categories that were more digestible and understandable. With a copy of “the 95” in front of you, you might want to wade through them this way: 

1-4: Repentance; 
5,6: The Pope; 
7: Guilt;  
8-12: Canons; 
13-16: Death/Dying; 
17-19: Purgatory; 
20-28: Penalty and Authority; 
29: Legendary Saints; 
30-36: Assurance; 
37-39: Grace; 
40-51: Teaching Good Works; 
52-58: Indulgences; 
59-66: Treasures of the Church; 
67-81: Preaching and Promises of Indulgences; 
 82-89: Questions for Debate; and
90-95: Conclusions. 

I would highlight #39, where Luther says, “It is very difficult, even for the most learned theologians, at one and the same time to commend to the people the bounty of indulgences and the need for true contrition.” 

Behind Luther’s statements runs this thread of concern that true contrition and repentance of one’s sin is not only being cheapened, but cut off for the profit of the church in the sale of indulgences. 

Knowing the man Luther, just a bit, and how he struggled with his burdened conscience, bouts of depression and a search for assurance and freedom in the face of an angry God, we can see that the ringing of the coins in the coffers bothered him not only because of the profit of the church built on the bent backs of burdened sinners, but also because the peddling of cheap grace that can never be free. A prophet like Luther could never turn a blind eye or deaf ear to such heresy (wrong, unorthodox teaching). 

Luther is still the one who called out to Saint Anne in the storm, committing his life to being a monk in exchange for his safety. 

Luther is still the one who later had his “Tower Experience” where he heard for the first time the gracious Word of God as both Law and Gospel. 

This Luther finally knew the free grace of God (apart from works of the Law), fully accomplished by Jesus’ death on the cross for him. 

This Luther, drafting the 95 Theses, did not do so as an enemy of the church or as a rebel looking for a cause, but as a freed and forgiven child of God. He wrote, knowing himself to be merely a beggar at the foot of Christ cross — a beggar who understood that the church, for good order, is not to be the stumbling block for repentant sinners but the path of least resistance to our Savior. 

The church and the Pope had put themselves in the positions of not only priest and mediator, but as gatekeepers peddling the gifts of God for personal profit like hirelings. In so doing, they had left the sheep without their Shepherd and His church without its true rock and confession that “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”  

Luther may or may not have taken up a hammer in his hand on October 31, 1517, but one thing we know for sure: he took up his cross and as a prophet of God’s own calling he boldly concluded his “95” with the sure and certain hope that life in Christ was never a promise of ease or comfort or privilege or success. Assured of this he wrote: 
Christians should be exhorted to be diligent in following Christ, their Head, through penalties, death and hell and thus be confident of entering into heaven through many tribulations rather than through the false security of peace (Acts 14:22). — #94, #95

And so with these words Luther was thrust into the turbulent years of the Reformation, knowing only the peace of God which the world does not understand. 

This is a message that we of the 21st century need to have ears to hear, loud and clear, as God continues to reform His church as clay in His scarred hands. 

 

 

Jaynan Clark is a chosen child of God, mother of four, grandma of one, preacher, teacher, missionary, writer, manual laborer, and known to many as a “tough ol’ broad !” Thanks be to God!

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 07 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Ecclesiastes 5:1

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

Casting aside the pharisaic opinion of the opus operatum, we understand that spiritual worship and a daily sacrifice of the heart are intended. In the New Testament, we ought to seek the substance of good things: in other words, the Holy Spirit who kills and makes alive. It is sufficiently evident therefore, that the analogy of the daily sacrifice does not testify against us, but rather for us, because we insist upon all the things symbolized by the daily sacrifice. Our opponents falsely imagine that it means the ceremony alone, without the preaching of the gospel, being put to death, and being made alive.

Pulling It Together

We should not go through the motions of religious ceremony, for this is vanity and hypocrisy. Ritualism without understanding is foolishness. The Word must attend all ceremony, for without the Word, faith is not possible. And to eat and drink without faith is sin (Rom 14:23), and to do so without discernment is condemnation (1 Cor 11:29).

Prayer: Give me a heart for your Word, O Lord. Amen.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 06 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

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January 6, 2018

Genesis 15:1–6

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

Therefore, although a ceremony is a memorial of Christ’s death, nevertheless it alone is not the daily sacrifice. The remembrance itself is the daily sacrifice: that is, preaching and faith that truly believes that, by the death of Christ, God has been reconciled. A drink offering is required, that is, the effect of preaching, so that, being sprinkled by the gospel with the blood of Christ, we may be sanctified, as those put to death and made alive. Offerings of thanksgiving, confession, and affliction are also required.

Pulling It Together

Look to Abraham. Was his putting the knife to Isaac the sacrifice God desired? No; that was a test, not a real sacrifice. The true sacrifice was Abraham’s faith in God. God had promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations. Moreover, he named Isaac as that son of promise (Gen 15:4). “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness” (Rom 4:3, cf. Gen 15:6)).

The same applies to us, to all who believe. Do you believe God’s assurance of salvation, provided through a greater Son of promise? Do you believe that God is able to justify you through Christ as he promised? Or do you think you have to take the knife in hand, do some thing in order to earn God’s favor. As it required faith for Abraham, it takes faith from us to believe in that Son whom the Father raised from the dead to deliver us from sin and death (Rom 4:23-24).

Prayer: Help me, Father, to always believe in your Son of promise. Amen.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 05 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

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1 Peter 1:1–2

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

This analogy symbolizes not only the ceremony but also the preaching of the gospel. Numbers 28:4-7 shows three parts of that daily sacrifice: the burning of the lamb, the drink offering, and the offering of wheat flour. The Old Testament contained pictures or shadows of future things. Accordingly, Christ and the entire worship of the New Testament are represented in this scene. The burning of the lamb symbolizes the death of Christ. The drink offering symbolizes the sanctification of believers throughout the entire world who are sprinkled by the blood of that Lamb through the preaching of the gospel. Peter says they are, “sanctified by the Spirit for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood” (1 Pet 1:2). The offering of wheat flour symbolizes faith, prayer, and thanksgiving in the heart. Therefore, as we comprehend the shadow in the Old Testament, in the New we should seek the thing represented, not another symbol that appears to be a sacrifice.

Pulling It Together

In the Old Testament, many things represented things to come; they are lesser types of a greater future. What was concealed in the Old Testament is revealed in the New Testament. For example, Adam and Moses are types of Jesus. So, Paul teaches: “The first man Adam became a living being; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit” (1 Cor 15:45). Moses delivered Israel out of the bondage of slavery to Egypt. Jesus delivered the whole world from bondage to sin and death. Another example is sacrifice. The sacrifices of the Old Testament are a type of something greater to come. Even the priests making those sacrifices are symbols of a greater priest: Jesus. As the priests of old made daily sacrifices of animals, our great high priest has made one, perfect sacrifice of himself. “He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself” (Heb 7:27).

So, we see that these sacrifices are finished because of fulfillment. Instead of instituting new sacrifices that are based on the old ones, we should daily remember with thanksgiving that our high priest has accomplished forever in his one sacrifice what the priests of old did daily: sprinkled us with his blood, freed us from sin and death, and sanctified us forever (Heb 10:14). “It is finished” (John 19:30) means that grace and peace may truly be multiplied to all who believe. 

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for redeeming me and making me fit for heaven. Amen.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 04 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Luke 22:14–20

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

They also cite the daily sacrifice, that because there was a daily sacrifice in the Law, the Mass ought to be a daily sacrifice of the New Testament. Our opponents will have done well if we allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by allegories. It is plain, however, that allegories do not substantiate anything. We will permit the Mass to be understood as a daily sacrifice, so long as the entire Mass is considered: the ceremony along with the preaching of the gospel, faith, prayer, thanksgiving. Together, these are a daily sacrifice of the New Testament, because the Lord’s Supper was instituted for these things, and should not be separated from them. Accordingly, Paul says, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Cor 11:26). It does not follow from the Levitical analogy that a ceremony is needed to justify ex opere operato, or that it would merit the forgiveness of sins for others if applied to them.

Pulling It Together

Doctrine must have a sure and clear word of God, not obscure analogies. Nothing in Scripture suggests that a ceremony saves us from sin and death. God has done that for us. Our faith is then bolstered, being reminded of God’s grace through the ceremony—all of the ceremony, including confession, the proclamation of the gospel, prayer, thanksgiving, and the faith of the one partaking of both the bread and wine. “Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19). This requires faith, not dull performance. That would be just another work. We are not saved through any works other than that done by God himself in Christ Jesus. This is the plain testimony of Scripture. Therefore, if our works cannot save ourselves, it is the more absurd to imagine that they might save someone else when the ceremony is performed on their behalf.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for sending your Son to do what I could never do. Amen.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 03 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

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1 Peter 2:4-5

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

But our opponents always apply the term “sacrifice” to the ceremony alone. They exclude the preaching of the gospel, faith, prayer, and similar things, even though the ceremony has been established because of these. The New Testament requires sacrifices of the heart, not ceremonies for sin that are to be performed in the manner of a Levitical priesthood.

Pulling It Together

That holy priesthood called the Church is the temple of God through which sacrifices are to be made to him. We do not mean physical sacrifices. For Christ is the physical sacrifice that ended the need for further sacrifices of flesh. Rather, we are to offer ourselves to God in spiritual sacrifices of the heart like praise, prayer, thanksgiving, and other forms of worship. These are the sacrifices that God accepts for Christ’s sake. But they do not remove our sin (Heb 10:11). Rather, they are the joyful sacrifices of those who have been redeemed by Christ Jesus, the only sacrifice that has remitted sin (Heb 10:14).

Prayer: Teach me to worship you aright, O Lord. Amen.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 02 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Romans 6:5-8

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

Another passage is also cited from Malachi: “He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, till they present right offerings to the Lord” (Mal 3:3). This passage clearly requires the sacrifices of the righteous, and therefore, does not support the opinion of opus operatum. For the sacrifices of the sons of Levi—in other words, the teaching of the New Testament—are the preaching of the gospel and its good fruits. This is why Paul speaks of being “a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit” (Rom 15:16), so they might be acceptable offerings to God by faith. The slaying of animals in the Law symbolized both the death of Christ and the preaching of the gospel, by which this old flesh is put to death, and new and eternal life is begun in us.

Pulling It Together

This is the sacrifice that is acceptable to God: our old nature mortified in Christ Jesus. The death of Christ occurred on the cross, while ours happens in baptism where our fleshly nature is slain with Christ. Our old selves are crucified in him. Through this sacrifice—provided by God just as he provided the original sacrifice (Gen 3:21)—sin is reduced to nothing within us. Sin is drowned, buried so that we are set free to live the new life in Christ, not in the flesh. This is what we are regenerated to be: alive in Christ forevermore. 

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for baptizing me into Christ’s death and raising me to eternal life. Amen.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 01 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Malachi 1:10–11

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

Besides, the prophet’s own words express his meaning. First, he states that the name of the Lord will be great. This is accomplished by the preaching of the gospel, by which the name of Christ and the mercy of the Father promised in Christ are made known. The preaching of the gospel produces faith in those who receive the gospel. They call upon God, they give thanks to God, they bear afflictions in confession, they produce good works for the glory of Christ. This is how the name of the Lord becomes great throughout the nations.

Therefore “incense” and “a pure offering” do not mean a ceremony ex opere operato, but refer to all those sacrifices through which the name of the Lord becomes great, such as faith, prayer, the preaching of the gospel, confession, etc. If someone would include the ceremony, we readily concede it, provided he does not mean that the ceremony alone, ex opere operato, is salutary.

Among the praises of God, or the sacrifices of praise, we include the preaching of the Word. Just so, the reception of the Lord’s Supper can be praise or thanksgiving. But it does not justify ex opere operato or merit the remission of sins if applied to others. In a while, we will explain how even a ceremony is a sacrifice. Malachi speaks of all the services of the New Testament—not only of the Lord’s Supper—as he does not promote the pharisaic opinion of the opus operatum. So, Malachi is not against our position, but assists us. For he requires worship of the heart, through which the name of the Lord becomes truly great.

Pulling It Together

The day is coming when every knee in heaven and on earth will bow at the name of Jesus (Phil 2:10). This does not come through robotic religion; it happens when hearts are regenerated through the preaching of the gospel. Then people everywhere will praise the Lord, offer prayer and thanksgiving, confess their sin, and feast at his table. This is true worship, a pure offering to God. This is faith worked out in real life. All else is not a bending of the knee, but simply going through the motions of religion, which accomplishes nothing.

Prayer: Lord, make your name great among all people. Amen.

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Most Certainly True contains 75 stories of Lutherans throughout the world, during many eras, in various locations, revealing much about the Lutheran church. At their core, the stories explore the heart of the church and its people at work and reveal something of the ordinary and unique lives that have shaped Christ's church. God is at work through us and in spite of us: the communion of saints.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 20 Nov 17 00:00:00 -0600

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Revelation 5:8-10

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

Malachi speaks about these sacrifices: “For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name is great among the nations, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering” (Mal 1:11). Our adversaries misconstrue this passage, applying it to the Mass, citing the authority of the Fathers. A response, however, is easy. Even if this were a reference to the Mass, it would not follow that the Mass justifies ex opere operato, or that it merits the forgiveness of sins by transferring it to others. The prophet says nothing of that sort the monks and scholastics shamelessly concoct.

Pulling It Together

            The Lord’s name is great throughout the earth because of the preaching of the gospel. The Spirit produces faith in individuals through the Word (Rom 10:17). The result is that God’s priests (1 Pet 2:5, 9; Rev 1:5-6; 5:10)—all believers—offer the Lord true sacrifices of worship and praise. Still, these services do not save from sin and death. We will continue to proclaim, as did the Lutheran Reformers 500 years ago: only Christ saves. Our works can never merit forgiveness, justification, or eternal life. 

Prayer: O Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, give me the courage and joy to sing of your victory. Amen.

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The Basics of the Christian Faith is an edition of the catechism that is aimed at seekers, visitors, and those that may not come from a Lutheran background. It is recommended for use in outreach, as a visitor welcome gift, or in new member packets.

 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 17 Nov 17 00:00:00 -0600

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Romans 12:6–8

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

But Scripture is full of such passages which teach that sacrifices do not reconcile God ex opere operato. Accordingly, since Levitical sacrifices have been abrogated, the New Testament teaches that new and pure sacrifices will be made, namely: faith, prayer, thanksgiving, confession, and the preaching of the Gospel, suffering on account of the Gospel, and similar things.

Pulling It Together

Having been moved to faith, the Spirit of God begins to transform us through the Word, worship, and testing. He gives each believer a gift or gifts of the Spirit that should be used in service for God. This service is a sacrifice, rendered along with sacrifices of worship and prayer. Yet these services or sacrifices do not save us; they are the reasonable services of all people who have been saved by the grace of God.

Prayer: Thank you, Holy Spirit, for giving me a gift and a place in your Church. 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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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 15 Nov 17 00:00:00 -0600

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1 Samuel 15:22

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

Psalm 40:6 says: “Sacrifice and offering thou dost not desire; but thou hast given me an open ear.” That is, God has offered us his Word that we would hear it, and that he requires us to believe his Word and his promises, that he truly desires to show us mercy and help. Likewise, “For thou hast no delight in sacrifice... The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise” (Psa 51:16-17). And, “Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord” (Psa 4:5). He commands us to trust, and says that this trust is a righteous sacrifice, meaning that other sacrifices are not true and righteous sacrifices. Further, “I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord” (Psa 116:17). They call prayer a sacrifice of thanksgiving.

Pulling It Together

“According to His Word, God wants to repay works gloriously, but first He wants us to confess that we are sinners and to entrust ourselves to His mercy” (Luther’s Works, vol 12, 345). Works are things that God rewards, to be sure, but something else is more certain. God does not reward our good works with salvation. Put your trust in this: God rewards faith alone with eternal life, and he does so without cost of any kind other than that which was paid by his Son at Calvary.

Prayer: As you have offered me you word, give me faith to believe. Amen.

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The goal of Personalities of Faith, a ten-session Bible study for youth, is to encourage young people to commit themselves to follow Jesus in discipleship by becoming "personalities of faith". Using biblical examples of people who have followed—or failed to follow—God's call, participants will be prepared to better follow the Lord in their own lives.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 14 Nov 17 00:00:00 -0600

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Hebrews 13:15

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

Psalm 50:13, 15 rejects sacrifices and requires prayer. It also condemns the notion of ex opere operato. “Do I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats?” “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” The Psalmist testifies that calling upon God from the heart is true worship and honors him.

Pulling It Together

Do good but do not depend upon your good works. Depend upon God, upon his word and his promises. Though they please him if done from the heart, God does not require your sacrifices. He does require faith. Only wholehearted belief will trust God’s promises when it cannot trust its own works, services, and sacrifices. Such faith in God honors him alone and is genuine worship.

Prayer: O Lord, I rejoice in your salvation. Amen.

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The Cross and the Crown is an eight session study in Lutheran Basics, using the word "sola" to get the big picture right: that salvation is all God's doing.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 13 Nov 17 00:00:00 -0600

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Hosea 6:6

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

The Old Testament prophets condemn the popular opinion about ex opere operato, teaching instead the righteousness and sacrifices of the Spirit. “For in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, I did not speak to your fathers or command them concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices. But this command I gave them, ‘Obey my voice, and I will be your God...’” (Jer 7:22-23). How should we imagine that the Jews received this announcement, which seems to openly dissent with Moses? It is clear that God had given the fathers commands concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices, but Jeremiah is condemning an idea about sacrifices that had not come from God, namely, that these services pleased him ex opere operato. The prophet adds that God had commanded faith. “Obey my voice.” That is, believe that I am your God; that I wish to be known in this way when I show mercy and assist you, for I do not require your sacrifices. Believe that I wish to be God, the Justifier and Savior, not on account of your works, but on account of my word and promise. Truly and sincerely seek and expect help from me.

Pulling It Together

The Hebrew word for “obey” can also be understood to heed, listen, or hear. For to truly hear is to obey. If you do not obey, you have not really heard. How many times do parents cry out, “Did you hear me?” And when their child responds, “Yes,” reply with exasperation, “Then why didn’t you do what I said?” To have experienced this parental exasperation is to begin to sense the frustration of the Lord with his children.

Our parents did not wish for us to do the dishes or take out the trash or clean up our rooms, with the hope that they might love us or help us. If they were good parents, they already loved us and were more than willing to give us all the assistance we required. They did not want us to obey in order to be loved; they wanted us to obey because they already loved us. We understand this natural equation far better than we comprehend the spiritual. But there it is: God wants us to believe that he cares for us—that he is gracious and merciful—not because we have done him some service but, because he loves us.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for your steadfast and abundant mercy, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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A Latin phrase meaning “Scripture Alone,” Sola Scriptura is one of the traditional Lutheran slogans used since the time of the Reformation. It expresses our confession that Scripture is “the only rule and norm according to which all doctrines and teachers alike must be appraised and judged.” Using the familiar phrase as its title, Sola Scriptura is a new, advanced-level Bible Study in a two-part series, of six chapters each, on the functional authority of Scripture. For those who would like to cover the topic in detail, there is enough material to cover one chapter in two sessions, making each part a 12-week study.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 10 Nov 17 00:00:00 -0600

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John 4:23–24

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

In short, the worship of the New Testament is spiritual. In other words, it is the righteousness of faith in the heart and the fruits of faith. Accordingly, it abolishes Levitical services. Christ says, “The true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24). This passage clearly condemns opinions about sacrifices which, they imagine, avail ex opere operato, and teaches that worship ought to be in spirit—with the heart and by faith.

Pulling It Together

In the New Testament, there is no offering or service or work that merits God’s favor ex opere operato—on account of the work that has been done or the service rendered. In later editions of “The Apology of the Augsburg Confession,” it was added here that this idea is “absolutely devilish, pharisaical, and antichristian” because it cheapens the sacrifice of Christ. Our Lord alone has provided the work that avails for forgiveness of sin and right standing with God. Our reasonable response is “spiritual worship” (Rom 12:1) which is a service of the heart that God has filled with faith. It fears God, while loving and trusting him with the whole heart. This is that true, spiritual worship of the New Testament that does not expect a reward from God for their own services rendered.

Prayer: Help me, O God, to worship you in spirit and in truth. Amen.

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"From Death to Life" examines what happens when people die. In this book, the words of the Holy Bible and others like Martin Luther, will speak to you, tell you the truth, and give you words of comfort, so that you too can have the sure and steadfast anchor of the soul.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 09 Nov 17 00:00:00 -0600

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Romans 12:1–2

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

These are the sacrifices of the New Testament, as Peter teaches: “Like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet 2:5). Spiritual sacrifices, however, are contrasted not only with animal sacrifices, but even with human works offered ex opere operato. “Spiritual” refers to the movements of the Holy Spirit within us. Paul teaches the same thing: “Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Rom 12:1). “Spiritual worship” is that service in which the spirit knows and apprehends God, as happens when one fears and trusts God. This is therefore contrasted with Levitical service in which cattle are slain, and also with a service in which a work is imagined to be offered ex opere operato. The Epistle to the Hebrews teaches the same thing: “Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God” and adds the interpretation, “that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name” (Heb 13:15) He commands us to offer praises, that is, prayer, thanksgiving, confession, and the like. These are valid because of faith, not ex opere operato. This is understood by the phrase, “Through him then let us offer,” in other words, by faith in Christ.

Pulling It Together

We are to offer sacrifices but the Lutheran Reformers wanted to be clear, not only what those sacrifices are but, what they accomplish. There is no sacrifice that we can offer or that can be offered for us—at the altar or elsewhere—that accomplishes the forgiveness of sin, grants eternal life, or reconciles us to God. That has already been done for us, and may only be received in faith. In other words, you do not do anything to get God to forgive. God’s mercy toward us through Christ already made these gifts freely available to all who believe, not through any works, services, or sacrifices we render.

But there are other sacrifices that all Christians should offer; and these sacrifices, as has been stated, do not avail for salvation, forgiveness, and justification before God. These sacrifices of the new life in Christ are spiritual sacrifices, true worship in which the Spirit of God testifies with our spirits (Rom 8:16). This is how all believers are priests before God (1 Pet 2:5, 9; Rev 1:6), offering sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving. In this service of worship, we become living sacrifices to God. This transformation does not save, but instead is simply the reasonable service or spiritual worship of all believers.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for your mercy to me through your Son, Jesus Christ the Lord. Amen.

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This booklet provides a suggested list of Bible verses, prayers, and familiar worship texts assigned to various age levels, recommended for use along with Sola Publishing’s Sunday Schoolhouse curriculum series. The order of texts matches the suggested grade levels in Luther’s Small Cat Series: elementary-aged curriculum on Martin Luther’s Small Catechism, also available from Sola Publishing. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 08 Nov 17 00:00:00 -0600

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Revelation 5:6–10

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

Now the rest are eucharistic sacrifices, called sacrifices of praise, which are specifically the preaching of the Gospel, faith, prayer, thanksgiving, confession, the afflictions of saints, yes, all good works of saints. These sacrifices are not satisfactions for those making them, or applicable on behalf of others, so as to merit for those persons the remission of sins or reconciliation, ex opere operato. Indeed, they are made by those who have already been reconciled.

Pulling It Together

There is only one work that saves, reconciles, justifies, atones, provides forgiveness of sin. That one work or sacrifice is not something that any human being can do. People earn nothing from God through a work that they have done (ex opere operato). Now, they may indeed offer sacrifices, but they do not merit God’s favor so as to redress their sinful condition. Those who have already been redeemed may offer sacrifices of thanks, praise, or other kinds of worship. It is right that they should do so since they have been made into a kingdom of priests. But these sacrifices do not expiate sin. Only Christ atoned for our sin. 

Prayer: You alone are worthy, O Lamb of God. Amen.

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Views of Baptism is written for a range of readers including the parent or sponsor about to baptize a child, the adult who wants to understand baptism more fully, and the professional teacher or preacher who needs the truth about baptism stated simply but backed by careful research. This books explores three views of baptism: the individual-centered view, the means-of-grace view, and the Roman Catholic view. It includes a description of how Christian baptism came to us in stages from its Jewish roots. A question and answer section addresses specific matters often raised when people contemplate baptism.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 07 Nov 17 00:00:00 -0600

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Isaiah 53:4–6

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

The so-called Levitical propitiatory sacrifices only pointed to a future atonement. They were satisfactions by analogy, purchasing a righteousness of the Law so that those persons who sinned would not be excluded from the community. But after the revelation of the Gospel, they had to cease. Since they had to end with the revelation of the Gospel, they were not truly atoning sacrifices since the Gospel was promised for that very reason, that is, to set forth the atonement.

Pulling It Together

After the true sacrifice had been accomplished, all analogous and ceremonial sacrifices should cease. What they pointed toward had already been accomplished in Christ’s cross. There is no reason to use something lesser when it only pointed toward the fulfillment. This would be like handing a person who was dying of thirst an empty cup and telling him to drink deeply of the water that would one day appear, while holding a cup of water in the other hand. Only Christ crucified attends to our transgressions; in him alone is forgiveness of sin. No other sacrifice atones but that Lamb of God upon whom our iniquity has been laid.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for bearing my curse. Amen.

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Luther's Small Cat Discovers: The Seasons of the Church Year is written for 4th grade level students. This book takes students through the church year, accompanied by Luther’s Small Cat — a character who is just as inquisitive and precocious as the students. May your journey through the church year bring you closer to Christ, who walks through each moment of life alongside you.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 06 Nov 17 00:00:00 -0600

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Colossians 2:16–19

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

We may more easily understand the word by looking at the customs of the pagans that sprang from misunderstood expressions of ancient patriarchal traditions. When great calamity struck and God seemed to be especially enraged, the Latins offered what they considered an expiatory sacrifice to appease God’s wrath. They sometimes offered human sacrifices, perhaps because they had heard that a human victim would appease God for the entire human race. The Greeks sometimes called them refuse and scum. Isaiah and Paul, therefore, mean that Christ became a victim, that is, an expiation to reconcile God by his merits and not by our own. Let it remain established in this issue: only the death of Christ is truly a propitiatory sacrifice.

Pulling It Together

You may sacrifice this thing or another, hoping that God will be appeased and forgive your sins. Or you might do some good work or act of penance, again, hoping that God will remove your guilt. Then you might try to offer God something especially meaningful—money or perhaps your very life—toward the end that you feel a sense of peace. But you will not feel any better. Indeed, you will feel worse for the trying and failing. And fail you will because you cannot make such a sacrifice. Only God can. Only God has. Christ crucified is the only sacrifice that God honors. Thanks be to God that this one truly atoning sacrifice is effective for all who take hold of Christ through faith. Our petty attempts at sacrifice are nothing, mere shadows; only Christ is real, solid, substantial.

Prayer: Help me, Holy Spirit, hold fast to Jesus. Amen.

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Connections is a magazine for evangelical Lutheran Christians. It is filled with meaty articles as well as lighter spiritual fare. Connections provides great food for the soul. Articles and features are contributed by individuals and ministries of CALC, LCMC, NALC, Lutheran Core, and other evangelical Lutherans from congregations across North America. 

Grab your copy of the Reformation back issue before they're all gone. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 03 Nov 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 6:2-4

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

Isaiah interprets the Law so we may know that the death of Christ is truly expiation or satisfaction for our sins, which the ceremonies of the Law are not. Therefore he says, “When he makes himself an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring, he shall prolong his days” (Isa 53:10). For the word asam employed here means a victim sacrificed for transgression. In the Law this meant that a certain victim was to come to make satisfaction for our sins and reconcile God, so that people might know that God wishes to be reconciled to us on account of the merits of another, namely Christ, not because of our own righteousness. Paul interprets the same word as sin. “For sin, he condemned sin in the flesh” (Rom 8:3). God punished sin for sin, that is by a victim for sin.

Pulling It Together

Baptism “brings about forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and the devil, and gives everlasting salvation to all who believe, as the Word and promise of God declare” (The Small Catechism). There is no halfway here. Baptism does not sort of save, or maybe save. God’s promise attends the water, so baptism saves. This is not dependent upon our goodness or our religious righteousness. The efficacy of baptism depends upon the sacrifice that undergirds it, namely Christ. When we are baptized, we are buried into the death of Christ (Rom 6:3). So in our reborn person, there is no sin. Sin is quite dead. Our sin died with Christ on the cross. This is why Paul said that it was no longer he who sinned, but his flesh that did so (Rom 7:20). What else can this flesh do but sin? But thanks be to God that we are delivered from this body of flesh by the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

Prayer: Forgive me, Lord, a sinner of your own redeeming. Amen.

Receive Sola's Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

The Sola Confirmation Series, written by the Rev. Steven E. King, is basic work-book style Confirmation curriculum. It is designed to serve as a simple and practical resource for teaching the biblical Word of God according to the traditional pattern of Martin Luther’s Small Catechism.  Each book in the series can be used as the basis for a “come as you are” small group Bible study, as a student book for home school or independent study programs, or as a classroom tool and homework resource as part of an existing confirmation program. 

The Ten Commandments book is a ten-week unit, which includes one session on each of the Commandments. The Scripture focus in the Ten Commandment series is on Moses and the Exodus Cycle, with Bible Study lessons taken primarily from the Pentateuch.

• Student Workbook   • Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 02 Nov 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Hebrews 10:4-10

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

In fact, there has been only one propitiatory sacrifice in the world, namely, the death of Christ, as the Epistle to the Hebrews teaches. “For it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins” (Heb 10:4). A little later, it speaks of the will of Christ. “And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb 10:10).

Pulling It Together

Although there were symbolic types of atoning sacrifice in the Old Testament, true, propitiatory sacrifice was only accomplished by Jesus Christ. This was what he came to earth to accomplish. “Behold, I have come to do your will” (Heb 10:9). Because this justification of sinners with God could not be accomplished through the sacrifice of animals—even the thousands that Solomon offered (1 Kings 3:4; 2 Chr 7:5)—the perfect Son of God came to fulfill his Father’s will (Matt 5:17). The temporary satisfactions of animal sacrifice were finished in the perfect, complete work of God’s Lamb. His atoning sacrifice on the cross fulfilled the Law and makes God just to forgive us all our sins.

Prayer: Thank you, Jesus, for putting me in a righted relationship with your Father. Amen.

Receive Sola's Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

The Sola Confirmation Series is a basic work-book style Confirmation curriculum, designed to serve as a simple and practical resource for teaching the biblical Word of God according to the traditional pattern of Martin Luther’s Small Catechism. Each book in the series can be used as the basis for a “come as you are” small group Bible study, as a student book for home school or independent study programs, or as a classroom tool and homework resource as part of an existing confirmation program. 

The Lord's Prayer workbook is a ten-week unit, which includes one session on the Introduction, each of the Petitions, and the Conclusion. The Scripture focus in the Lord's Prayer series is on the Parables of Jesus, with Bible Study lessons taken from the Gospels.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 01 Nov 17 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Corinthians 2:2 

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

All Levitical sacrifices may be sorted under one of these groups. The Law titled certain sacrifices as propitiatory because of their significance or similarity. These sacrifices did not merit the forgiveness of sins before God, but did on the basis of the righteousness of the Law, so that those for whom they were made might not be excluded from the community. Therefore they were called atoning sacrifices for sin and burnt offerings for trespasses. The eucharistic sacrifices were food offerings, drink offerings, thanksgivings, first fruits, and tithes.

Pulling It Together

Our concern is what a propitiatory or atoning sacrifice is for Christians. For that matter, what is an atoning sacrifice for anyone during this Christian era? There is just one: Christ crucified. Every other sacrifice is not one that atones or reconciles God to sinners. We may render the sacrifice of praise, but it does not atone. We may offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, tithes, time, our very selves, but these will never satisfy God. Any sacrifice that we make can not make us righteous before God. Only “Christ and him crucified” satisfies God and justifies believers.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for dying so that I may live. Amen.

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All of the Sola Sunday Schoolhouse materials for Year C may be found here. They include reproducible sheets of Bible lesson, pictures, drama, worksheets, and a Christmas program. This is the Schoolhouse unit subtitled "Stories from the Beginning," covering Bible stories from the first half of the Old Testament, from Genesis through Joshua.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 31 Oct 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Hebrews 10:8-10

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

There are only two kinds of sacrifice—no more. One is propitiatory sacrifice: a work of satisfaction for guilt and punishment that reconciles God, or appeases God’s wrath, or that merits the forgiveness of sins for others. The other kind is the eucharistic sacrifice, which does not merit the forgiveness of sins or reconciliation, but by it those who have been reconciled give thanks or show gratitude for the forgiveness of sins and for other benefits received. We must keep in view these two types of sacrifice during this controversy, as well others, taking care not to confuse them. If the limits of this book would allow, we would add the reasons for this distinction, as it has many testimonies in the Epistle to the Hebrews and elsewhere.

Pulling It Together

Jesus ended the former type of sacrifice, that is, animal sacrifice for the purposes of reconciliation with God and the forgiveness of sin. Therefore, since that sort of sacrifice has been ended by Christ himself, we have no business offering a sacrifice of the altar that would be said to afford remission of sin or to appease an angry God. In Christ’s single sacrifice rendered for all people for all time, he offered himself as the perfect Lamb who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29)—both original sin and all of our various sins as well.

Prayer: Thank you, Jesus, for doing the will of your Father. Amen.

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In The Blowing WindPastor Eddy Perez gives a heartfelt and unvarnished recounting of the Holy Spirit's amazing work in his life and in the lives of others. In addition to speaking to the power of the Third Person of the Trinity, Pastor Perez's story also offers readers a rare glimpse of the day-to-day struggles of simply being a Christian under Cuba's communist regime, culminating with the cliffhanger account of his escape to the United States.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 30 Oct 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Mark 16:16

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

Theologians rightly distinguish between a Sacrament and a sacrifice. The common genus of both of these is either a ceremony or a sacred work. A Sacrament is a ceremony or work in which God presents us with that which the promise attached to the ceremony offers. Therefore, Baptism is a work—not one that we offer to God, but in which God baptizes us through a minister operating in the place of God. Here God offers and presents the forgiveness of sins according to the promise: “He who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:16). A sacrifice, on the contrary, is a ceremony or work that we render to God in order to honor him.

Pulling It Together

Baptism is necessary for salvation. Jesus did not say, Believe and you will be saved. Instead, he adds a work that he does to us through a Sacrament (meaning a sacred thing). This is not a sacrifice or work done by us, but one that God does for us. The work of God is effective because of the promise that he has connected to the ceremony. In the Sacrament of Baptism, both belief and baptism are given to us by God. Even the faith to believe is a gift from God (Eph 2:8). The promise attached to God’s work in us—both faith and baptism—is that one is saved. The Sacrament of Baptism “brings about forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and the devil, and gives everlasting salvation to all who believe, as the Word and promise of God declare” (Small Catechism).

Prayer: Help me to hold fast to my faith in you, Lord, by remembering that you baptized me. 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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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 27 Oct 17 00:00:00 -0500

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2 Timothy 2:15

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

Socrates, in the Phaedrus of Plato, says that he is especially fond of divisions, because without them nothing can either be explained or understood in a discussion, and if he discovers someone skillful in making divisions, he would attend him and follow in his footsteps as those of a god. He instructs the divider to separate the members at their very joints, lest like an unskillful cook, he sever the member at the wrong place. But the adversaries despise these principles, and so, according to Plato, are truly kakoi mavgeiroi or poor butchers, since they mutilate the members of the concept of “sacrifice,” as will be understood when we have enumerated the types of sacrifice.

Pulling It Together

It is critical to have a right understanding. Our modern English Bible translations use the phrase, “rightly handling the word of truth.” The King James Version puts a finer point on the phrase by following William Tyndale’s lead in literally translating the phrase as “rightly dividing the word of truth.” The idea here is that one should cut straight when reading the Bible. One should correctly analyze the word. This happens best when the plain truth of the Word is sought, allowing Scripture to interpret itself instead of filtering the Word with traditions and human philosophy. The latter too often leads to a butchering of the Word. What does Scripture have to say about a subject? That is the proper question when one wishes to rightly handle or divide God’s Word.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, lead me as I read your Word. Amen.

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"Why Did Jesus Have to Die?" examines the most profound event of salvation history—the crucifixion of Jesus Christ—exploring from a biblical perspective what is known as the doctrine of the Atonement. This six-week Bible Study would be particularly appropriate during the season of Lent.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 26 Oct 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Hebrews 10:11-14

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

Although our case has already been stated, we shall add a few things on this topic because the adversaries foolishly pervert many passages of Scripture to defend their errors. In the Confutation they have said many things concerning “sacrifice.” We purposely avoided this term in our Confession due to its ambiguity. We have explained our criticisms of how those persons misunderstand and abuse the term “sacrifice.” Now, in order to explain the passages of Scripture that have been wickedly perverted, it is necessary to set forth from the beginning what a sacrifice is. For a decade, the adversaries have published almost infinite volumes concerning sacrifice, yet not one of them has given a definition of sacrifice thus far. They simply rip the word “sacrifices” from either the Scriptures or the Fathers, then attach their own ideas, as though sacrifice signifies whatever pleases them.

Pulling It Together

Scripture presents Christ as our High Priest, who through his one sacrifice has taken away the sins of the world. Those who believe are justified with God by no merit or works of their own. They are sanctified forever for Christ’s sake, that is, because of what he has done. This sacrifice that has brought about forgiveness of sin, justification, sanctification, and eternal life with God are a free gift from God. In other words, our goodness, our religion, our works are not the conditions of God’s sacrifice for us. His grace alone has provided all that is necessary. We need only to have faith in him, believing that his love for us is sufficient to provide the one sacrifice for our salvation.

Prayer: Give me faith to believe, Lord, in you alone. Amen.

Receive Sola's Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

The Sola Confirmation Series, written by the Rev. Steven E. King, is basic work-book style Confirmation curriculum. It is designed to serve as a simple and practical resource for teaching the biblical Word of God according to the traditional pattern of Martin Luther’s Small Catechism.  Each book in the series can be used as the basis for a “come as you are” small group Bible study, as a student book for home school or independent study programs, or as a classroom tool and homework resource as part of an existing confirmation program. 

The Ten Commandments book is a ten-week unit, which includes one session on each of the Commandments. The Scripture focus in the Ten Commandment series is on Moses and the Exodus Cycle, with Bible Study lessons taken primarily from the Pentateuch.

• Student Workbook   • Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 25 Sep 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Matthew 26:28 

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

If this was all that needed to be said, then the case has already been stated. For no sane person can approve of that pharisaic and heathen opinion of opus operatum. Nevertheless, this opinion has seized the people, infinitely increasing the number of masses. Masses are purchased, thinking that by them, God’s wrath is appeased. They hope by this work to obtain the remission of guilt and punishment, to procure what they need in life, and even to liberate the dead. Monks and sophists have brought this pharisaical teaching into the Church.

Pulling It Together

The common belief was that God’s grace and mercy could be had at a price. Therefore, spiritual benefit could come from the work worked, opus operatum. Not only could God’s forgiveness be had in the Mass, but for a fee, one could have health and prosperity. The so-called prosperity gospel probably comes to the mind of today’s reader. Yet, in the Reformers’ day, this superstitious and heretical idea had taken hold of the whole Church.

Prayer: O Lord, help us to trust in your grace alone. Amen.

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If you are a pastor or Council member, you know it is budget preparation time for 2016. Please consider adding Sola Publishing to your benevolence. You may also securely donate as an individual by clicking the red donate button above. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 21 Sep 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 5:1-2 

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

We remind our readers that this is the principal question. Aeschines admonished the judges that just as boxers contend with one another for their position, they also should strive with their adversary concerning the real point, not permitting him to wander beyond the issue. In the same manner, our opponents should be obliged to speak on the topic at hand. When the real issue has been thoroughly understood, an appraisal of both arguments will be very easy.

We have stated in our Confession that the Lord’s Supper does not bestow grace ex opere operato, and that, when applied on behalf of others, alive or dead, it does not merit for them ex opere operato the forgiveness of sins, guilt, or punishment. This position is clearly and firmly established, first, because it is impossible to obtain the forgiveness of sins on account of our own work ex opere operato, and second, because the terrors of sin and death must be overcome through faith, when we comfort our hearts with the knowledge of Christ, believing that we are forgiven for Christ’s sake, and that the merits and righteousness of Christ are given us. “Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom 5:1). These things are so sure and so firm that they can stand against all the gates of hell.

Pulling It Together

Peace comes to us through faith. Faith must come first, since we cannot know peace until we know that somehow we have become righteous before God. Now, any sane person knows that righteousness cannot come by virtue of human works. Try as we might, we know that we are not righteous by virtue of what good we have done, or what evil we have avoided. We know that all is lost; there is no way for us to have peace because it is impossible for us to become righteous under our own power. Our moral excellence is none too excellent. So, we try to do better. We do more religious works and good deeds but are ever mindful of how much we fall short (Rom 3:23). This persistent voice within us is that old hammer, the law, pounding away at us.

All would be lost if that were the only voice we ever heard. Yet, there is a good word too. That word is Jesus. We can never be righteous before God for the sake of the things we do, try to do, try not to do, or fail to do. Yet for the sake of Jesus, those who believe are forgiven their sins. We become justified, or made right, with God through our faith in Christ. The result is that our peace comes from Christ, not from ourselves (Phil 4:7; Col 3:15). This is a most excellent peace that persists despite our less than excellent thoughts, words, and actions.

Prayer: Lord, I believe. Amen.

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The Lord's Prayer is a seven lesson curriculum based around Luther's Small Catechism.  Each lesson has a Bible study connected to the article of the Lord's Prayer covered. A section entitled "About Prayer"  teaches students helpful items about a solid prayer life and a prayer assignment for the coming week.  A major goal of this material is to help kids experience prayer and practice it in a variety of ways. This book could be used as part of a larger Confirmation series, or as a "pre-confirmation" Sunday School series for Jr. High and Middle School youth.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 19 Sep 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Mark 11:15–17 

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

Although our opponents have collected many testimonies to prove that the Mass is a sacrifice, their great tumult of words from authorities, rationalizations, and testimonies, however lengthy, are silenced by the single answer that the Mass does not confer grace ex opere operato. Nor may it be applied to merit for others the forgiveness of venial and mortal sins, guilt, and punishment. This one response overthrows all the objections of the adversaries, not only in their Confutation, but in all the writings that they have published concerning the Mass.

Pulling It Together

Grace is not merited “from the work worked” (ex opere operato) by humans. It is a gift received through faith in the great work of Christ. Going through religious motions accounts for nothing without faith in God’s word of promise. Therefore, since one may only have faith for self, God’s grace cannot be applied to another. I may not be baptized for another’s good. I may not receive the means of grace in the Holy Supper for the sake of another. More to the example at hand, I may not purchase an indulgence—even if it is a private Mass instead of a scrap of paper—that merits forgiveness of sins for anyone (myself or another), or take time off of a so-called Purgatory. Grace is a gift from God, received through individual faith, not something available from a vendor.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, for accomplishing for the world—yet even for me—forgiveness of sin and life everlasting. Amen.

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A Latin phrase meaning “Scripture Alone,” Sola Scriptura is one of the traditional Lutheran slogans used since the time of the Reformation. It expresses our confession that Scripture is “the only rule and norm according to which all doctrines and teachers alike must be appraised and judged.” Using the familiar phrase as its title, Sola Scriptura is a new, advanced-level Bible Study in a two-part series, of six chapters each, on the functional authority of Scripture. For those who would like to cover the topic in detail, there is enough material to cover one chapter in two sessions, making each part a 12-week study.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 18 Sep 17 00:00:00 -0500

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2 Thessalonians 3:10–12 

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

We will not discuss the nature of their origins for the moment. Yet, it is obvious that private Masses increased after the beggar monks began to prevail. The increase of superstition and racketeering caused good people to want some limit to this thing for a long time. St. Francis wished to mend this matter by deciding that each fraternity should be content with a single, daily, common Mass. This changed later, either because of superstition or for the sake of gain. So, where it is advantageous, they change the institutions of the Fathers, then cite the authority of the Fathers against us. Epiphanius writes that in Asia, Holy Communion was celebrated three times a week, but that there were no daily Masses. Indeed, he states that this custom was handed down from the apostles. He says, “Assemblies for Communion were appointed by the apostles to be held on the fourth day, on Sabbath eve, and the Lord’s Day.”

Pulling It Together

I know a man who reads his morning paper, then removes the employment section of the classified ads. He takes that bit of the paper with him on his drive to work. If someone is panhandling on a street corner, he hands them the employment classifieds. You may or may not like his approach, but you have to admit that there are a lot of beggars out there. Now, imagine that those beggars are religious, begging money so they can build a church. Envisage them at the street corners on your way to work. Imagine they tell you that your family members are kept from the joy of heaven because of you—because you could simply purchase a private Mass to be celebrated in their memory that would shorten their time in Purgatory. What would you do if besieged by these beggars day after day? Perhaps you would eventually consider printing copies of 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12 to hand to them when they approach you.

Prayer: Lord, give me work to do and help me do it as if I were working for you. Amen.

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Learning the Lord's Prayer teaches the Lord's Prayer according to the pattern of Luther's Small Catechism, and is recommended for the Second 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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 15 Sep 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Acts 20:7 

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

The fact that we hold only public or common Mass is no offense to the Church catholic. Even today, Greek churches do not conduct private Masses; there is only the public Mass, and that on the Lord’s Day and festivals. Daily Mass is held in the monasteries, but this too is only public. These are the vestiges of early practices, as the ancient writers before Gregory make no mention of private Masses.

Pulling It Together

The Augsburg Confession, of which this document is a defense against the charges of the Roman Confutation, states that “the Mass is a Sacrament for those gathered.” Therefore, Lutherans in the days of the Reformation celebrated Holy Communion when the people would gather to worship. The point of this is simply that the Lord’s Supper is for the people—all believers, not a select few who might be seeking special favor or who have paid for the privilege. For it is Christ who has paid the price—not any of us. 

Prayer: As we assemble to worship, Lord, help us always to gather around you. Amen.

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Personalities of Faith is a ten-session Bible study for youth. The goal of the series is to encourage young people to commit themselves to follow Jesus in discipleship by becoming "personalities of faith." By showing biblical examples of people who have followed—or failed to follow—God's call, participants will be prepared to better follow the Lord in their own lives.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 14 Sep 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 10:17 

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

Ceremonies should be observed to teach people Scripture, and that those who have been reproved by the Word may have faith and fear, and may then also pray. So, we retain the Latin language for those who are learning and understand Latin, yet mingle with it German hymns so that the people may also learn things that evoke faith and fear. This custom has always existed in our churches. Some sing German hymns more frequently, and others less often, nevertheless people almost everywhere sang something in their own language. However, it has nowhere been written or even suggested that the act of hearing lessons is a benefit to people when they do not understood the language, or that ceremonies are a benefit ex opere operato, because they are performed or are gazed upon—instead of because they teach or admonish. Away with such pharisaic opinions!

Pulling It Together

One must trust the promise of God, believing with true faith. Yet, as we have said, this cannot be accomplished without the Word. One must actually hear the words of Scripture, not a babbling in another language but real, understandable words. What would Christ himself have accomplished if he spoke to his disciples and the multitudes in Mandarin or English? They had a hard enough time comprehending his parables when spoken in their own language. Now we might insist that they should simply trust he was saying something very important and that they should just believe it. But believe what? Exactly what? There is the rub. One may say she believes, and feel quite pious for being so devout. But where is the faith in that?

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for working faith within me through your Word. Amen.

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The season of Advent is not only a time of preparation for Christmas, it is a time to consider God's long-term plans and how God has promised that he will intervene in the lives of his people, and the world itself, on the coming Day of the Lord. Prophecy Fulfilled is a four week Bible Study about the Old Testament prophecies of our Lord's Advent, showing how these prophetic words were fulfilled not only in the coming of Christ over 2,000 years ago, but how they also point ahead to the return of Christ in his Second Coming.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 13 Sep 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Acts 8:30

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

Our opponents offer a lengthy diatribe about the use of the Latin language in the Mass, in which they absurdly amuse themselves about how it profits someone who knows nothing of the faith of the Church to hear a Mass which he does not understand. They must imagine that the mere act of hearing is a service of worship that benefits people without it being understood. We are unwilling to belabor this point, but leave it to the judgment of the reader. We mention it in passing for the purpose of stating that our churches also also retain the Latin lessons and prayers.

Pulling It Together

More than one person has proclaimed to me, as though to unsettle me, I suppose, that going to church does not make one a Christian. Well, amen to that. God creates faith through the working of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. Now that very often happens in churches, but it may just as well happen in a house, a prison, a field, or anywhere else because it always happens by the same agency: hearing the word of Christ. “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Rom 10:17). Thank God for those like Wycliffe, Luther, and Tyndale who translated the Scriptures into their own languages, so that God may give us understanding. 

Prayer: Help me, Lord, to be engrossed by your Word. Amen.

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Sola’s Confirmation workbook, The Lord's Prayer, is designed to be a small group Bible study, student book for home school or independent study programs, or as a classroom tool and homework resource as part of an existing confirmation program.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 11 Sep 17 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Timothy 4:13–16

Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. 14 Do not neglect 

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

To begin with, we must repeat our preliminary statement that we do not abolish the Mass but religiously maintain and defend it. Mass is celebrated every Lord’s Day in our churches, and on the other festivals, when the Sacrament is offered to those who long for it after they have been examined and absolved. We observe traditional liturgical order such as the Lectionary, prayers, vestments, and similar things.

Pulling It Together

The Reformers would not sit still for the scattered blows of their opponents’ Confutation. Twisting statements into something they are not could not be permitted, if the central focus of the Reformation was to be maintained. It is easy enough for an adversary to get people to think you are something you are not, simply by spinning the truth. The fact was (and is) that Lutherans were quite similar to those whom they prayed would reform. Yet, this entire Defense shows that those who needed reforming tried to paint the Lutherans as wild heretics. Meanwhile, the Lutheran Reformers kept bringing the focus back to the main point of conflict: how God is reconciled. Our new section, “Concerning the Mass,” will show again the similarities and the one major difference between the Reformers and the Church they wished to reform.

Prayer: Bless us, O Lord, with those who teach us sound doctrine. Amen.

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The ReClaim Hymnal for Church and Home contains three Communion Settings along with liturgies for Baptism, Confirmation, Marriage, Funerals, and other occasional services. It also includes the Small Catechism, as well as 275 beloved hymns from various hymn traditions. It is a resource that would be suitable for confirmation and graduation gifts as well as congregational use. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 07 Sep 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Luke 11:28 

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

Whatever may happen, our princes will be able to have clear consciences. Even if priests had done wrong by marrying, it is surely contrary to the will and Word of God to break up marriages and issue these cruel bans. Our princes do not delight in novelty or dissent, but it is more certain that they have higher regard for the Word of God than all other things.

Pulling It Together

Cultural correctness is not an easy thing to buck. It feels like nearly everyone is against you. Yet, it is far better to have the whole world denounce you than have God condemn you. What is the clear teaching of the Word? That is God’s will. Does someone spin fine words and human reason that make you question God’s will? Go to his Word. What is written?

Prayer: Spirit of God, strengthen me to keep your Word. Amen.

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Connections is a magazine for evangelical Lutheran Christians filled with meaty articles as well as lighter spiritual fare. Connections provides great food for the soul. Articles and features are contributed by individuals and ministries of LCMC, NALC, CALC, Lutheran Core, and other evangelical Lutherans from congregations across North America.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 06 Sep 17 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Peter 1:24–25

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

They defend a law that is godless and destructive to good morals with false arguments like these. With such reasons they set the minds of princes firmly against God’s judgment, who will hold them accountable for dissolving marriages, and for torturing and killing priests. Do not doubt that, as the blood of Abel cried out in death (Gen 4:10), so the blood of many good men, against whom they have unjustly raged, will also cry out. God will avenge this cruelty. Then you will discover how vacuous our opponents’ reasons are, and you will perceive that in God’s judgment, no slander against God’s Word will stand, as Isaiah says, “All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field” (Isa 40:6).

Pulling It Together

Only God’s Word will abide. Our idle arguments will wither, our fine words and reasoning fall with the flowers at the end of summer. As they wither and fall, God’s glory will appear in full bloom before us. It was there all along but obscured by the high-standing hedges of our lofty intellects.

Prayer: Lord, have mercy. Amen.

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Not My Will, But Yours is a six-week study that explores the topic of the “free will” from a biblical perspective, looking at what Scripture has to say about the bondage of the human will, and how Jesus Christ has come to deliver us from ourselves.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 05 Sep 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Titus 3:5 

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

The third argument is horrible, namely, that the marriage of priests is the Jovinian heresy. Fine-sounding words! This is a new crime, that marriage is a heresy! In the time of Jovinian, the world did not yet know the law concerning perpetual celibacy. Therefore, it is an impudent falsehood to say that the marriage of priests is the heresy of Jovinian, or that the Church condemned marriage at that time. We can see in such passages the design our opponents had in writing their Confutation. They determined that the unlearned would be most easily stirred up if they were to frequently hear the charge of heresy, and if they pretended that our cause had been dispatched and condemned by many previous decisions of the Church. Hence, they often falsely quote the decisions of the Church. They know this well, which is why they refused to give us a copy of their Confutation, lest their lies and slander be exposed.

We have already expressed our opinion regarding the case of Jovinian about the values of celibacy and marriage, not considering marriage and celibacy equal. Still, neither merits justification.

Pulling It Together

As stated when writing about the Distinction of Meats, Jovinian was a monk and ascetic in the fourth century who wrote against celibacy and other monastic traditions. He praised the virtues of marriage and was therefore, of course, branded a heretic. Some considered him the forerunner of Luther and the Reformers. Yet Luther and others did no go so far as to discredit celibacy and the bodily disciplines altogether. Prayer and fasting were essentials of Lutheran preaching. Even celibacy was encouraged for those who could actually embrace it. As always for the Lutherans, their disagreement was not actually in matters of marriage versus celibacy, or indulgence versus asceticism, but that these things do not merit salvation. They taught that such works cannot earn favor with God, confessing instead that God’s favor is promised to those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Prayer: Help me remember, Father, that I am your child, cleansed and reborn by your grace alone. Amen.

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Combining the message of salvation in Christ with personal witness, The Gospel in Miniature is a Lutheran guide for evangelism. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 01 Sep 17 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Thessalonians 4:7–8

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

When Isaiah says, “Be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord,” it should be understood to mean a cleanness of heart and total repentance. Besides, the saints will know the value of restraint in the marriage bed, as Paul says about “possess[ing] his own vessel in sanctification and honor” (1 Thes 4:4, KJV). Finally, since marriage is pure, it is rightly said that those who do not practice sexual restraint should marry wives in order to be pure. Therefore, the same law, “Be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord,” commands impure celibates to become pure husbands.

Pulling It Together

If one cannot in his own power do what God expects, that is, if he continues to sin, then he should do what God says is the answer. It is foolhardy to do what people say ought to be done when God has given a different solution. God has provided his system for sexual purity. To act otherwise displays either a contempt of God’s word or lunacy—or both.

Prayer: Guide my way, Lord, according to your word. Amen.

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Views of Baptism is written for a range of readers including the parent or sponsor about to baptize a child, the adult who wants to understand baptism more fully, and the professional teacher or preacher who needs the truth about baptism stated simply but backed by careful research. This books explores three views of baptism: the individual-centered view, the means-of-grace view, and the Roman Catholic view. It includes a description of how Christian baptism came to us in stages from its Jewish roots. A question and answer section addresses specific matters often raised when people contemplate baptism.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 31 Aug 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Psalm 51:7

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

The second argument of our opponents is that priests should be pure, according to this sentence: “Be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord” (Isa 52:11, KJV). They cite many things to this effect. We have already shown this argument to be especially false. For we have said that virginity without faith is not purity before God, while marriage is pure because of faith. “To the pure all things are pure” (Titus 1:15). We have also said that outward purity and the ceremonies of the law are not applicable here because the gospel requires purity of heart, not ceremonies of the law. It may be that the heart of a husband such as Abraham or Jacob, who were polygamists, is purer and burns less with lust than that of many virgins who are actually celibate.

Pulling It Together

What makes a sinner pure? Flagellations? Fastings? Offerings? Are these the things that King David did in order to be clean after his sin with Bathsheba? David well understood who did the cleansing. If God did not purify him and absolve him of his transgressions then he would never be clean, no matter the austerity of his religious practices. It is God alone who creates clean hearts and right spirits within us, who washes away our iniquities and cleanses us of sin. Those who imagine that they do these things have a basic misunderstanding of faith. They misconstrue in whom they are to have that faith. Perhaps without even realizing what they have done, they have placed their faith in themselves, in their religious acts. This is the dividing line of the Reformation, for, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain” (Psa 127:1). 

Prayer: Create a clean heart within me, O God. Amen.

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Connections magazine is a voice for confessional Lutheranism in North America, featuring ministries and mission efforts of the movement. It provides reliable, Biblically based content, stories of faith, and inspirational messages all in a “coffee table quality” package that delights its subscribers. Connections has a deep commitment to the evangelical nature of Lutheranism that responds with vigor to Christ’s great commission to go and make disciples. It also gives a public center to the effort to renew Lutheranism in North America in concert with Biblical authority and the teachings of the Lutheran Confessions.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 30 Aug 17 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Corinthians 7:2

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

In enumerating our arguments, we have incidentally shown our opponents’ quibbling, while at the same time, refuting their arguments. Now we shall briefly relate the earthshaking reasons they defend their law. First, they claim that it has been revealed by God. See the utter impudence of these sorry fellows! They dare to assert that the law of perpetual celibacy has been divinely revealed, even though it is contrary to obvious testimonies of Scripture, which command that each one should have his own wife in order to avoid fornication (1 Cor 7:2). Likewise, it forbids dissolution of marriages (Matt 5:32; 19:6; 1 Cor 7:27).

Paul uncovers the real author of such laws when he calls them the doctrine of demons (1 Tim 4:1). The results—namely, the magnitude of monstrous lusts and murders which are now committed under the pretext of that law—reveal the author.

Pulling It Together

This long argument against the demonic dogma of enforced and perpetual celibacy may seem to some as being overdone. Yet these very same problems persist 500 years later. Let us learn well from this lengthy denunciation how to boldly speak the plain, scriptural truth in our own time.

Prayer: Speak, Lord—even through me. Amen.

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The goal of Personalities of Faith, a ten-session Bible study for youth, is to encourage young people to commit themselves to follow Jesus in discipleship by becoming "personalities of faith". Using biblical examples of people who have followed—or failed to follow—God's call, participants will be prepared to better follow the Lord in their own lives.

 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 29 Aug 17 00:00:00 -0500

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2 Corinthians 2:17

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

We have given the reasons why we cannot conscientiously agree with our opponents’ defense of the pontifical law concerning perpetual celibacy. It conflicts with divine and natural law, is at variance even with the canons, is superstitious and full of danger, and, lastly, because the whole affair is disingenuous. The law is enacted for the sake of domination, not religion. Religion is merely a wicked pretext. No sane person would debate these firmly established reasons. For the gospel allows marriage to those to whom it is necessary, yet does not force marriage on those who want to be celibate—provided they are truly celibate. We contend that this freedom should also be granted to the priests, nor do we wish to force anyone into celibacy or to break up marriages.

Pulling It Together

The Wittenberg Reformers knew something about peddlers of religion. The hucksters of indulgences plagued the lands, bilking folks out of scarce money. There were other charlatans too, who traded wholesale in religion, exchanging false promises for the blessings of life. But the gospel that is our commission is not religion. Instead of shackles, the good news of Christ Jesus is liberty. The way of bondage leads to sin and death, while the clear call of Christ is freedom.

Prayer: When we speak, Lord, may we proclaim you. Amen.

Receive Sola's Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

The Spiritual Realms is a nine-session Bible Study series on Heaven and Hell and places beyond this world. Specifically, the study looks at the many “place names” that are found throughout Scripture, referring to spiritual realms of existence that underlie and comprise the universe God created. This Bible Study series is a challenging one, in that it explores realities of existence beyond what we know and experience everyday.

The study not only addresses matters of life, death, heaven and hell, it steadfastly affirms that Jesus Christ is at the center of all these things. Our ultimate faith and hope rest in Christ’s death and resurrection for our sake. We live in faith by the biblical promise that: “God raised the Lord, and will also raise us up by his power” (1 Cor 6:14).

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 28 Aug 17 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Corinthians 11:19

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

We know that because we seem to have separated from those who are considered regular bishops, some regard us as schismatic. But our consciences are quite secure. Despite our earnest desire to establish harmony, we cannot please our opponents unless we reject clear truth by agreeing with these very men in defending this unjust law to dissolve marriages that have been contracted, to put to death priests if they do not obey, and to drive poor women and fatherless children into exile. Since these conditions are most certainly displeasing to God, we can not regret having no alliance with the multitude of murderers among our adversaries.

Pulling It Together

What is one to do when all attempts have been made to reason with people who have willfully gone astray? There are people—yes, even in the churches—who willfully ignore Scripture, insisting instead on their own bent reasoning. This is the kind of reason that Luther called a “whore.” When people get in bed with that sort of thinking, they become diseased in the soul and spirit. If there are demon-possessed people among us, these are surely the ones who need a good, old fashioned casting out. Sometimes though, the best we can do is come out from among them.

Prayer: Lord, keep me true to your Word. Amen.

Receive Sola's Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

All God’s Critters is a Sunday School series designed for young students in Preschool and Kindergarten. Lessons are based on storytelling, rhyme, and pictures, and are suitable for participation by non-readers. The flexible lesson plans introduce the youngest believers to the importance and truth of God’s Word. Each lesson includes the story of the day written in a simplified manner so that young children may understand an important truth about God and what it means for us to be God’s children.

The All God’s Critters curriculum is fully reproducible and is designed with the particular needs of small churches, mission congregations, and house churches in mind. Check out some sample pages by clicking here.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 25 Aug 17 00:00:00 -0500

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John 8:44

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

Popes dispense laws every day while changing other laws that are most excellent. Yet they are as resolute and relentless about this one law of celibacy, though it is obviously a simple human right. They are now making this law more severe in many ways. The canon commands that they suspend priests. These unfriendly interpreters of canon law suspend them not only from office, but from trees. They cruelly kill many men simply because they are married. These murders show this law to be a doctrine of demons. For since the devil is a murderer, he utilizes these murders to defend his law.

Pulling It Together

The devil’s lies brought sin and death into the world. Knowledge of this should provide godly people with ample courage to stand for the truth. Part of that truth is that God uses both self-discipline and marriage as means of faithfulness. Neither should be law, but each being offered to those most suited to them, either self-control or marriage. Enforced celibacy will only continue to lead undisciplined people astray. So what are the churches to do about this problem? They ought to stand for the truth. A law of celibacy is not God’s answer but marriage is his solution. And what are individual Christians to do? They too should stand for the truth in God’s Word, as they joyfully serve him in whatever vocation God has given.

Prayer: I delight in your perfect law, O Lord; help me to serve you through it in my inmost being. Amen.

Receive Sola's Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

God's Reluctant Leaders is a nine-session Bible Study focuses on the stories of three biblical characters: Jonah, Gideon, and Moses. Sessions explore how God works to create faith within those whom He calls to serve His mission. The study is written at an introductory level, to be led by a lay leader or pastor in a small-group question and discussion format. It would serve as an excellent resource for monthly women's group meetings, or in an informal small-group setting.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 24 Aug 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Hebrews 13:4

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

Accordingly, in a time like this, marriage should have been especially defended by rigorous laws and examples, and people should have been encouraged to marry. This is the responsibility of magistrates, who ought to maintain public order. Meanwhile, teachers of the Gospel should do both: they should exhort uncontrolled people to marry, and should exhort others to not despise the gift of self-discipline.

Pulling It Together

A further edition of the Lutheran Confessions adds, “God has now so blinded the world that adultery and fornication are permitted almost without punishment; on the contrary, punishment is inflicted on account of marriage.” Surely this sounds all too familiar to the reader. Marriage is held suspect in our time, while fornication, adultery, and a host of other sexual sins are not only glossed over, these things are actually encouraged. Worse, this is not simply a societal matter; it is championed by many churches. History teaches nothing to those who know better than God. Nevertheless, marriage remains his answer to these problems that assail us.

Prayer: Lord, teach your Church and give her your Spirit’s strength and courage to do your will. Amen.

Receive Sola's Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

Sola Publishing offers free downloadable resources for congregations and leaders in developing a Stewardship Emphasis for 2017-2018. The theme for this year's Stewardship Emphasis is "Dwelling in the Lord." The key Bible verse comes from Psalm 90:1“Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 23 Aug 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 1:18

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

We see the great vice that God denounced before the flood, what he condemned before the burning of the five cities. Similar vices have preceded the destruction of many other cities like Sybaris and Rome. In these is presented a picture of the times that will precede the end of things.

Pulling It Together

We do not like to think of a wrathful God. Yet a holy God is by default, angry at times. His anger is stirred by willful disobedience, by those who think they know better than he does. So, those who willfully disobey him when he has been so generous in providing a way of escape from the disobedience of sexual vice, will certainly taste his wrath—if not in this life, then worse, in eternity. How horrible that this disobedience is encouraged in the churches, where God’s will and ways should be taught as a comfort to his people.

Prayer: Thy will be done, Lord. Amen.

Receive Sola's Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

The Sola Music Series offers simple collections of easy-to-play worship music, including new songs and arrangements of old favorites. Based in a confessional theology and a respect for the historical and sacramental liturgy, these resources do not require a high level of musical expertise. Written in a simple and straight-forward style, these songs are intended for congregations that would like to explore a less formal musical style in worship, while still maintaining the integrity of the traditional order of worship. Such music would fit into what is sometimes referred to as "contemporary" or "blended" worship, without necessarily requiring a full band of experienced musicians and singers to lead the songs. Providing lead sheets for guitar and vocals, along with full scores for piano, Sola Publishing grants to those who purchase this volume the permission to reproduce words and music of the songs within for local congregational use.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 22 Aug 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Proverbs 31:10

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

This is how God pays back those who prohibit marriage, disdaining his gift and ordinance. But since it is customary to change other laws if the common good advises it, why is the same not done with respect to this law for which so many grave reasons concur about changing it, especially in these last times? Nature is gradually growing older and weaker, and vices are increasing, so divine remedies should have been employed.

Pulling It Together

Those who prohibit marriage, enforcing celibacy as a necessary good work, have become a laughing stock. Even their own dare to laugh when others make sport or even scorn their ways. For these ways are not God’s ways; perpetual celibacy is a human invention. This rule does not work now, as it did not work in the time of the Reformers. It is past time for the religious to seek God’s remedy instead. His answer is more valuable than great wealth, for which most men will never give up their pursuit. Moreover, this treasure is itself a gift from the Lord. Find a woman who fears the Lord (Prov 31:30) and who will love you, and you will have found God’s precious answer: a wife.

Prayer: Give us loving, respectful spouses, Lord, who fear, love, and trust you. Amen.

Receive Sola's Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

Sola Publishing offers some free downloadable resources for congregations and leaders in developing a Stewardship Emphasis for 2017-2018. The theme for this year's Stewardship Emphasis is "Dwelling in the Lord." The key Bible verse comes from Psalm 90:1: “Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 21 Aug 17 00:00:00 -0500

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2 Timothy 2:22–23

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

Good folks from all over have complained about this burden for a long time, either for themselves or for others whom they saw to be in danger. But no popes listened to these complaints. It is no mystery how this rule has greatly injured public morals, and what vices and shameful lusts it has produced. Rome still reads and recognizes in the satires its own morals.

Pulling It Together

The churches and seminaries should be places where people may safely flee the passions—not run straight into them, and with more abundance and variety than was known elsewhere. Bishops, pastors, and professors ought to lead the flight from lust, empowering their charges to stand against the riotous arguments that rationalize these vices. Nonetheless, wherever they find themselves, in the university or in the workplace, they may call upon the Lord with a pure heart, knowing that there is abundant forgiveness through Christ as they resist the world as the Word prescribes.

Prayer: Guard me, Lord, that I may stand with you for your Word. Amen.

Receive Sola's Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

Connections is a magazine for evangelical Lutheran Christians. It is filled with meaty articles as well as lighter spiritual fare. Connections provides great food for the soul. Articles and features are contributed by individuals and ministries of CALC, LCMC, NALC, Lutheran Core, and other evangelical Lutherans from congregations across North America. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 18 Aug 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Isaiah 55:8–9 

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

Sixthly, we have so many reasons for disapproving of the law of perpetual celibacy. Yet, besides these, though the law were not unjust, dangers to souls and public scandals must also be considered. These alone should discourage good folks from approving of such a burden as has destroyed innumerable souls.

Pulling It Together

We should never place so-called common sense before Holy Scripture. We may imagine that we understand something perfectly well, yet God’s way are not our ways. What once seemed entirely sensible to us looks quite different through the eyes of faith. Nevertheless, when God’s Word makes something clear, and common sense does as well, the way forward is unmistakable. This was the broad path of the Reformers; they could go in no other direction concerning celibacy than that which both Scripture and sensibility dictated. 

Prayer: Teach me your Word, O Lord, that your will would become my daily desire. Amen.

Receive Sola's Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

"The Great Reformer" is a Reformation Worship Service to Celebrate the 500th Anniversary of Luther’s Posting of the 95 Theses in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517. This downloadable PDF contains a monologue featuring Martin Luther and an accompanying order of service for Reformation.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 16 Aug 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Hebrews 10:10–14

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

Our adversaries require celibacy for religious reasons, for they know that chastity is not ordinarily rendered. But they feign these opinions in order to delude the ignorant. They are therefore more worthy of contempt than the Encratites, who seem to have strayed through a show of religion. By design, these Epicureans misuse religion as a pretext.

Pulling It Together

Not only was celibacy not the thing in Rome or in the monasteries, unchastity was on display in these places—as it is now. This hypocrisy was well-known to the people. Yet, the practice of having so-called celibate priests persisted, and continues to this day. This ecclesiastical law (for it is certainly not doctrine) seems to have begun to creep into the Church around the fourth century AD. At the Council of Nicea in 325AD, however, this kind of mandate was rejected. Still, it endures. Why?

It has long been believed in a variety of religions that priests who offer sacrifices must be pure. It is also thought that sex makes one impure. Therefore, a sexually active priest would be considered unclean, bringing that impurity upon the sacrifice. This presents a problem for those who believe that Christ is sacrificed again and again in the Mass. Thus, celibacy is seen as necessary.

The Reformers taught, as does Scripture, that Christ, who was pure and sinless, offered himself to God for the sins of the world. Saying that the priest makes the sacrifice of the mass pure, takes the honor away from Christ. Furthermore, as Scripture testifies, Christ Jesus offered himself as the “single sacrifice for sins.” Additional sacrifices of the Mass are both unnecessary and not biblical.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for your sacrifice and for the forgiveness of my sins. Amen.

Receive Sola's Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

Kinderbeten is a compelling story touching on the exercise of free religion, the religious wars in Europe, the roots of Evangelicalism, the supernatural, and more, all wrapped up in a religious revival which began not through a charismatic revivalist or any adult at all, but rather found it's origin with children aged four to fourteen. The children became pawns in a controversy between political and religious opponents. Indulge your curiosity and read the remarkable story about the King of Sweden and the 1707-08 Children's Revival in Silesia, a tale of hope and prayer.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 15 Aug 17 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Corinthians 7:35

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

We could provide examples of godly consciences that were distressed over the legitimacy of marriage. This evil sprang from the superstitious opinions of monks praising celibacy. Nevertheless, we do not find fault with temperance or continence, having stated above that discipline and mortification of the body are necessary. Yet we deny that confidence should be placed in certain observances, as if they made one righteous. Epiphanius has elegantly said that these observances should be commended “for restraining the body or for public morals,” just as certain rites were introduced for instructing the ignorant, but not as services that justify.

Pulling It Together

Marriage should never be considered an obstacle to salvation, nor as a life filled with sin. Quite the opposite is true. The Apostle Paul praises the married life for its unique ability to keep one from sin (1 Cor 7:1-7). Because of the overwhelming temptation for most people to sin sexually, Paul encourages marriage. He also recommends self-control, even for those who are married. Self-discipline in the face of this strong temptation is good for the soul and a general advantage to the public. Consider the benefit to our society if people would control themselves. There is no better way to do so than through a godly marriage. Nonetheless, even such self-control does not save. Faith in Christ is what saves, and this faith is the gracious gift of God, not something that we perform or earn. This was the continuing focus of the Reformers; how could they have possibly supported celibacy as a means of justification?

Prayer: Help me, Lord Jesus, to control myself. Amen.

Receive Sola's Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

The kind of church we see in the New Testament is different from what most modern people imagine when they think of “going to church.” Experience Life Together: Experiencing House-Church Ministry, by Rev. Tom Hilpert, is a 15-week house-church curriculum designed for pastors, lay leaders, and churches interested in getting a taste for what church in the home is really like. Whether referred to as a house-church, organic church, alternative church, or cell church, this material applies well to any group that wants to experience Christian worship in the context of a small group meeting within the homes of the participants.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 14 Aug 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Colossians 2:18–19

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

Paul greatly disapproves of these angelic forms of worship in Colossians 2:18. For when people believe that they are pure and righteous on account of such hypocrisy, they suppress the knowledge of Christ. They also inhibit the knowledge of God’s gifts and commandments which he desires us to employ in a godly way.

Pulling It Together

Programs of austerity for the sake of meriting favor with God are useless. Indeed, they are harmful. These things make us think that we are the cause of our own salvation. But when we face our condition, confessing our sins instead of imagining that we can atone for them, then we understand that Christ alone is our Head, the only ground of salvation. Looking to him, we find that he is the one who created faith in us through the gospel, and is then perfecting it in us through the sacraments (Heb 12:2).

Receive Sola's Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

Reading and Discussion of Luther's Catechisms is a more challenging study series based on assigned readings from the Book of Concord and related Scripture texts. Each study is comprised of eight sessions, plus an optional introductory session, presented in a question and discussion format. 

• Student Workbook   • Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 31 Jul 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Isaiah 53:6

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

Misunderstanding the law of Moses, many heretics have treated marriage with contempt, but celibacy with extraordinary admiration. Epiphanius complains that by commending this, the Encratites subdued gullible minds. They abstained from wine—even in the Lord’s Supper; they abstained from the flesh of all animals, surpassing even the Dominican friars who eat fish. They also abstained from marriage; and this gained the principal admiration. They thought that they merited more grace by these works, these services rather than by using wine, meat, and marriage. These seemed to be profane and unclean matters that could scarcely please God, even though not altogether condemned.

Pulling It Together

These false teachings come about by not understanding the principal teaching of the New Testament, the one from which all good doctrine springs, and the central tenet of the Lutherans. That principal belief is that we are saved by God. Yet there are those who disagree. Those who think that they save themselves will come up with exhaustive lists of things that must be done. Denominations who imagine that people can be holy, will devise any number of ways to sanctify themselves. There are even folks—some who call themselves Lutheran—who would tell you that they are saved by God’s grace, yet will still give you things you must do in order to be justified to God.

What can a human being do that will make him right with God? I can think of nothing. Still, let us try. Does going to church get you right with God? No; worship is what keeps you oriented to the one who justifies you to himself. Does reading the Bible make you right with God? Again, no; the Scripture makes you aware of how unholy you are, while revealing the one who makes you holy in spite of yourself. Hopefully, you get the idea.

This is a matter of choosing the correct interrogative. Think of justification in terms of “who” instead of “what.” It is not what you must do but who must do it for you. What can you do? Nothing. Who has done it for you? Christ alone. So why must monks and priests be celibate instead of enjoying the good gift of God in Christian marriage? Because they are thinking of “what” instead of “who.”

Prayer: Keep me ever focused, Lord, upon you. Amen.

Receive Sola's Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

The Sola Confirmation Series, written by the Rev. Steven E. King, is work-book style Confirmation curriculum. It is designed to serve as a simple and practical resource for teaching the biblical Word of God according to the traditional pattern of Martin Luther’s Small Catechism.  Each book in the series can be used as the basis for a “come as you are” small group Bible study, as a student book for home school or independent study programs, or as a classroom tool and homework resource as part of an existing confirmation program. 

The Ten Commandments book is a ten-week unit, which includes one session on each of the Commandments. The Scripture focus in the Ten Commandment series is on Moses and the Exodus Cycle, with Bible Study lessons taken primarily from the Pentateuch.

• Student Workbook   • Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 28 Jul 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Psalm 51:17

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

Now such self-control is easy for those who are godly and employed. But the facts show that the multitude of slothful priests living indulgently in the fraternities cannot keep Levitical self-control. The verse is well known: The boy accustomed to being lazy, hates those who are busy.

Pulling It Together

Those who enjoy their ease and indolence, without the benefit of the Word of God, and having no regard for it, live their lives without worry or guilt. These conditions brought the most debauched lifestyles upon the Church, just as they do in our times. Such people are unable to observe Levitical self-control, let alone perpetual celibacy. Add to this that God does not desire such sacrifice from his people. The sacrifices of God are the confession of sin and genuine repentance. 

Prayer: Wash me, Lord, and I shall be clean. Amen.

Receive Sola's Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

The Spiritual Realms is a nine-session Bible Study series on Heaven and Hell and places beyond this world. Specifically, the study looks at the many “place names” that are found throughout Scripture, referring to spiritual realms of existence that underlie and comprise the universe God created. This Bible Study series is a challenging one, in that it explores realities of existence beyond what we know and experience everyday.

The study not only addresses matters of life, death, heaven and hell, it steadfastly affirms that Jesus Christ is at the center of all these things. Our ultimate faith and hope rest in Christ’s death and resurrection for our sake. We live in faith by the biblical promise that: “God raised the Lord, and will also raise us up by his power” (1 Cor 6:14).

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 27 Jul 17 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Corinthians 7:5

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

In the meanwhile, good people will know how to moderately use marriage. This is especially so when they are occupied with public service, which often provides good people with so much labor that all domestic thoughts are removed from their minds. Good folk also know this, that Paul, in 1 Thessalonians 4:4, commands every one to control their own bodies with holiness. They also understand that they must sometimes abstain, in order that there may be time for prayer. Yet Paul does not wish this to be perpetual (1 Cor 7:5).

Pulling It Together

There must be good order in all things. I once did marriage counseling with a couple whose problems always seemed to come back to talk about sex. He was unsatisfied; she was overwhelmed by his constant advances. When I asked him what would be an agreeable number of times in a week for sex, his answer was first thing in the morning and last thing at night—every day. Twice. My counsel was that they not have sex for the next week but instead, devote themselves to prayer. Of course, he turned a deaf ear to this advice.

I was not encouraging celibacy but that he practice controlling his body and its urges for a while. This is about as far as Scripture takes us in terms of abstinence. It does not demand celibacy for anyone, not even ministers. But it does insist upon godly order and holiness—in bed and otherwise.

Prayer: Lord, give me such devotion to you that I honor you with my body as well as my spirit. Amen.

Receive these daily Sola Devotions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

The Basics of the Christian Faith is an edition of the catechism that is aimed at seekers, visitors, and those that may not come from a Lutheran background. It is recommended for use in outreach, as a visitor welcome gift, or in new member packets.

 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 26 Jul 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Acts 15:8–10

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

If any defend the rule of celibacy with the purpose of burdening consciences with these Levitical observances, we must strongly oppose them, just as the apostles did in Acts 15:10, resisting those who required circumcision and tried to impose the law of Moses upon Christians.

Pulling It Together

We neither require nor need any acts of purification. For it is God alone who cleanses hearts. King David knew this to be true. What work of cleansing did he do after his sin with Bathsheba? He did nothing but ask God to create a clean heart within him (Psa 51:10). The most heinous of sins are forgiven by God when one confesses those sins, believing with faith that God is both faithful and just to do forgive (1 John 1:9). God covers such persons with the righteousness of Christ (2 Cor 5:21). But if one expects to end up with a clean heart because he keeps certain fasts, gives alms, is celibate, or does any variety of good works, that person is deceived. We must resist sects who require these works, since all they do is weigh down the conscience with grief and guilt.

Prayer: Lord, create a clean heart heart within me. Amen.

Receive these daily Sola Devotions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

The Sola Online Worship Resource (SOWeR) includes liturgies and services for your use. There are ready-to-copy settings for Holy Communion, services, services of the Word, Vespers, occasional services, funerals, and seasonal services. SOWeR is a lectionary-based web resource for Scripture lessons, lectionary inserts, children's bulletins, devotionals, text studies, prayers, hymn-planning, and much more! Join the hundreds of congregations who have discovered how simple, flexible, and useful SOWeR is for worship planning and sermon preparation. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 25 Jul 17 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Corinthians 1:30–31

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

In reference to their examples about the Levitical priests, we have already replied that these do not impose a perpetual celibacy upon the priests. Furthermore, the Levitical ceremonial statutes about uncleanness do not pertain to Christians. Intercourse contrary to these statutes was an impurity. Now it is not impurity, since Paul says, “To the pure all things are pure” (Titus 1:15). The Gospel frees us from these Levitical regulations about uncleanness.

Pulling It Together

The ceremonial code in the law of Moses, those things concerning what is clean or unclean, do not pertain to Christians. Christians are freed from all the ceremonies of Moses, not only from the laws concerning uncleanness. For it is Christ who makes us pure, not washings or other observances. He has become our holiness. Holiness is not found in hairstyles, clothing, lack of jewelry, the foods eaten or abstained from, nor celibacy or marriage—or anything other than Christ Jesus. He alone is our cleanness, holiness, righteousness, purity. If one wants to be a holy priest, there is only one necessary thing: believe in Jesus Christ. 

Prayer: Thank you, righteous Lord, for imputing your righteousness to me. Amen.

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The Sola Online Worship Resource (SOWeR) also includes bulletin templates. There are word processing templates for both communion and non-communion services. There are also templates for Sola, LBW, and Reclaim service settings. SOWeR is a lectionary-based web resource for Scripture lessons, lectionary inserts, children's bulletins, devotionals, text studies, prayers, hymn-planning, and much more! Join the hundreds of congregations who have discovered how simple, flexible, and useful SOWeR is for worship planning and sermon preparation. This brochure will answer more questions about SOWeR. Call 1-888-887-9840 to order a yearly subscription. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 24 Jul 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Matthew 19:10–12

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

Neither Christ nor Paul praise virginity because it justifies, but because it is freer and less distracted by domestic occupations, allowing time for prayer, teaching, serving. For this reason Paul says, “He that is unmarried cares for the things that belong to the Lord” (1 Cor 7:32). Virginity is therefore commended for the sake of of meditation and study. Thus Christ does not simply praise those who make themselves eunuchs, but adds, for the kingdom of heaven’s sake, that is, that they may have leisure to learn or teach the Gospel. He does not say that virginity merits the forgiveness of sins or salvation.

Pulling It Together

I am distracted every day by domestic duties, when what I am anxious to do is write and study and pray and so forth. On Saturday about Noon, in the midst of running one more household errand, I complained (again) to my wife: “I’m not going to get anything done today!” Truth be told, I ended up getting a great deal of kingdom work accomplished, but see how anxious I was when domestic duties got in the way? Furthermore, domestic duties are kingdom duties. Being Susan’s husband is part of my calling. But for those who can receive it, celibacy probably affords more time to a stricter regimen.

Prayer: Lord God, help Christian families make time to do your will and the work of the kingdom. Amen.

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The Sola Online Worship Resource is a lectionary-based web resource for Scripture lessons, lectionary inserts, children's bulletins, devotionals, text studies, prayers, hymn-planning, and much more! Join the hundreds of congregations who have discovered how simple, flexible, and useful SOWeR is for worship planning and sermon preparation. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 21 Jul 17 00:00:00 -0500

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2 Timothy 1:9

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

Here they might exclaim that we put marriage on par with celibacy, like Jovinian. But such clamoring will not cause us to reject the truth about the righteousness of faith that we have explained above. Still, we do not consider celibacy and marriage as equal. For just as one gift surpasses another—prophecy surpassing eloquence, military science surpassing agriculture, and eloquence surpassing architecture—celibacy is a more excellent gift than marriage. Yet, just as an orator is not more righteous before God because of his eloquence than an architect because of his skill in architecture, so a virgin does not merit justification through virginity more than a married person merits it by marital duties. Instead, each one ought to faithfully serve within his own gift, believing that he receives the forgiveness of sins for Christ’s sake, and through faith is accounted righteous before God.

Pulling It Together

Whether or not we concur with the rhetorical comparisons used by Melancthon, we may understand his point. That is, we cannot earn the favor of God. Rather, because of Christ’s work, those who believe are regarded as righteous by God. Whatever our gifts or vocation in life, we are to serve God faithfully with and within those gifts and vocations, never dreaming that our lot in life or the works we do justify us to God. That is always the work of Christ alone, as God graciously determined before all creation. So, how could justification possibly be the work of creatures like us?

Prayer: Thank you, O Father, for choosing before this world began, to save all who believe in your only Son our Lord. Amen.

Receive these daily Sola Devotions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

The Sola Online Worship Resource (SOWeR) also includes bulletin templates. There are word processing templates for both communion and non-communion services. There are also templates for Sola, LBW, and Reclaim service settings. SOWeR is a lectionary-based web resource for Scripture lessons, lectionary inserts, children's bulletins, devotionals, text studies, prayers, hymn-planning, and much more! Join the hundreds of congregations who have discovered how simple, flexible, and useful SOWeR is for worship planning and sermon preparation. This brochure will answer more questions about SOWeR. Call 1-888-887-9840 to order a yearly subscription. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 20 Jul 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 5:1

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

Finally, if they understand celibacy as purity in the sense that it merits justification more than does marriage, we most emphatically disagree. For we are not justified on account of virginity or on account of marriage, but freely for Christ’s sake, when we believe that God is gracious to us for his sake.

Pulling It Together

Whenever some religious notion enters our heads, making us imagine that we must do one thing or another in order to earn God’s grace, we may confidently declare that thing to be false. It is not that the thing should not be done; rather, it is that the thing does not save. For example, if you think that you should pray the hours, then by all means, pray! Yet, do not think for a second that your prayers make you right with God. Christ alone makes you right with God. If you want to fast on a certain day of the week, do so with God’s blessing. But do not imagine that your discipline merits justification with God. Christ alone justifies. If you feel led to be celibate, do so joyfully but do not hope that your celibacy gains you any righteousness beyond the righteousness that you freely receive from God because you believe in the righteousness of Christ.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, for giving me access to the hope of God’s grace through faith. Amen.

Receive these daily Sola Devotions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

The Sola Online Worship Resource (SOWeR) includes liturgies and services for your use. There are ready-to-copy settings for Holy Communion, services, services of the Word, Vespers, occasional services, funerals, and seasonal services. SOWeR is a lectionary-based web resource for Scripture lessons, lectionary inserts, children's bulletins, devotionals, text studies, prayers, hymn-planning, and much more! Join the hundreds of congregations who have discovered how simple, flexible, and useful SOWeR is for worship planning and sermon preparation. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 19 Jul 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Matthew 15:10–20

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests – part 28

Again, a proper comparison between purity and lust means that purity means a purity of the heart, a putting lust to death. Therefore, the law does not prohibit marriage, but rather lust, adultery, fornication. So, celibacy is not purity. For there may be greater purity of heart in a married man, as in Abraham or Jacob, than in most of those who are actually celibate.

Pulling It Together

It is the heart that must be changed, not necessarily one’s vocation or position in life. One may think that he must become a pastor in order to be on heaven’s path. Yet the worker on an assembly line is enabled to meditate on God’s Word in the minutes between each screw he must fasten on the next item coming by him. Others imagine they must dress in a certain manner, cut their hair just so, not cut their hair at all, go on pilgrimages, eat or not eat certain foods, be celibate, or maintain any number of other religious practices in order to be pure before God. But it is not the clothing that must change, or the hair, or the place, or the food, or the drink, or the marital state—or anything else than the heart—that must change.

Prayer: Make me pure, Lord, and I shall be pure. Amen.

Receive these daily Sola Devotions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

Getting to Know Martin Luther is a five-lesson Conformation workbook about Martin Luther's life that will help confirmands get a better glimpse into what faith means for their own lives by searching and understanding the Word of God, trusting in Christ alone for our salvation, standing up for what they believe in, and helping others to learn the truth about God.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 18 Jul 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Titus 1:15

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

These readings teach that marriage is a lawful thing. If purity indicates the permission and approval of God, marriages are pure because they have been approved by the Word of God. Paul says of lawful things, “To the pure all things are pure” (Titus 1:15), that is, to those who believe in Christ and are righteous by faith. So, as virginity is impure in the godless, so marriage is pure in the godly on account of the Word of God and faith.

Pulling It Together

Nothing is pure, if it is done outside of faith and God’s Word. An unbeliever may practice the most ascetic spiritual disciplines. He may fast, study, meditate, remain celibate, and feed the poor, but none of this is pure if it is exercised without faith. But for the believer, the one who has faith in Christ, “all things are pure.” For it is God who makes things pure; the works themselves do not purify. Celibacy without faith in God is actually a defilement of the person. If even a believer imagines his efforts at purity, his supposed good works, purify him, then he is both deluded and impure. However, if a priest or anyone else marries, having faith in God’s Word, that he makes this estate pure, then it is not only pure but must also be permitted.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord God, for purifying even the most basic things of life. Amen.

Receive these daily Sola Devotions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

The ReClaim Hymnal for Church and Home contains three Communion Settings along with liturgies for Baptism, Confirmation, Marriage, Funerals, and other occasional services. It also includes the Small Catechism, as well as 275 beloved hymns from various hymn traditions. It is a resource that would be suitable for confirmation and graduation gifts as well as congregational use. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 17 Jul 17 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Timothy 1:14

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

Likewise, “Yet woman will be saved through bearing children, if she continues in faith and love and holiness, with modesty” (1 Tim 2:15). If our opponents could produce such a passage about celibacy, then they could celebrate a great triumph. Paul says that woman is saved through childbearing. What could be a more fitting statement against the hypocrisy of celibacy than the honor that woman is saved by the conjugal works themselves—by marital intercourse, by bearing children, and other duties of the home? But what does Paul mean? Let the reader observe that faith is added—that domestic duties without faith are not praised. “If she continues,” he says, “in faith.” He speaks of the whole class of mothers, so he particularly requires faith by which woman receives the forgiveness of sins and justification. Then he adds a particular work of the calling, just as a good work of a particular calling ought to follow faith in every person. This work pleases God because of faith. So, we see that the duties of the woman please God on account of faith, and a believing woman is saved who devoutly serves her calling in such duties.

Pulling It Together

If ever there were a single word that summed up the Lutheran Confessions, it is the word faith. Everything depends upon faith in God, and that depends upon God’s grace. So, even in being a mother or any other vocation, faith must be both the catalyst and the fuel. If women expect to be saved through motherhood alone, they will be disappointed. If someone expects justification with God because of being a pastor, they will be shocked when judgment comes. If someone expects to be saved because of any great work, well, this is not the word of the Scripture. Faith must be added. We are saved because we have faith in Christ; this faith then compels us to fulfill our vocations, our callings—whether parent or pastor or doctor or any other calling that is made holy through faith in God. That is why Paul says, “continues.” The faith was present first, then came the work, but faith must endure since we trust in Christ, not our callings or our works. 

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for your overflowing grace toward me that gives me faith in Christ alone. Amen.

Receive these daily Sola Devotions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

Journey Through the Bible is a twenty-session series written by Tony Stoutenburg, intended as a video study guide for watching the made-for-television miniseries, "The Bible" — a ten-part video available on DVD and Blueray. (Note: For those who do not have access to “The Bible” Miniseries, it is certainly possible to substitute other videos or clips to tell the same stories. The classroom portion of this book also can be used as a stand-alone, 10-session study.)

Alternating between classroom discussion and video viewing sessions, the goal is to visually expose students to the stories of the full Biblical narrative across the Old and New Testaments. The curriculum is aimed at the middle-school age level for use as an introductory pre-confirmation Bible overview or as a year-long Confirmation unit. (Click HERE to purchase the Leader's Guide.)

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 14 Jul 17 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Corinthians 7:12–14

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

Likewise, the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, etc. (1 Cor 7:14). That is, marriage is permitted and holy on account of faith in Christ, just as it is permitted to eat meat, etc.

Pulling It Together

Even if one partner in a marriage is not Christian, marriage remains holy. Its sanctity depends upon God’s word, not upon one person’s beliefs. Even so, it is often the case that the wife’s or husband’s example leads the husband or wife to faith in Christ. But the main point here is that marriage remains a holy estate even if one person is not a believer—not because of the beliefs of the person, but because of the God who ordains marriage. If God has joined two people in marriage, as he most certainly does, then marriage is pure and holy because of God. Furthermore, the unbelieving spouse has been set apart (which is the meaning of being holy) to live within a Christian sphere of influence.

Prayer: Use believing husbands and wives, Lord, to lead their spouses to faith in Christ. Amen.

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500th Anniversary – The Reformation is a collection and summary of some of the key documents of the Reformation. Assembled and edited by the Rev. Jeffray Greene for the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation in 2017, it is meant to be a reference-resource for congregations and study groups, to familiarize laity with the scope and contents of these important texts. (The length of this book was kept brief, to allow congregations to make it available to people at a reasonable price.)

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 13 Jul 17 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Timothy 4:1–5 

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests – part 24

Paul says that marriage, food, and similar things are sanctified by the Word of God and prayer (1 Tim 4:5)—through the Word which makes consciences certain that God approves—through prayer, that is, by faith that uses it with thanksgiving as a gift of God.

Pulling It Together

Efforts to be holy through anything other than Christ are denials of Christ and of his justification of us. Devoting ourselves to religious things such as abstinence—whether foods or marriage—is to deprive ourselves, not only of foods and marriage but, of Christ himself. God created these good things for the benefit of those who put their trust in Christ alone. Indeed, they are not merely good, but holy also, because the believer receives them with thanksgiving, since they have been sanctified through the Word of God.

Prayer: Give me faith to always trust in you alone, God, through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.

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A Reading and Discussion of the Augsburg Confession is a more challenging study series based on assigned readings from the Book of Concord and related Scripture texts. Each study is comprised of eight sessions, plus an optional introductory session, presented in a question and discussion format. The Leader's Guide that accompanies this study is a resource for those facilitating group discussion, or may serve as a reader's commentary for those who are studying the Book of Concord on their own.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 12 Jul 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Matthew 19:4–6

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

Christ calls marriage a divine union when he says, “What therefore God has joined together...” (Matt 19:6).

Pulling It Together

Christ himself says here that married people are joined together by God. He is quoting Moses and then adds that it is God who joins them together. This mystical union cannot be created by human action; it is God alone who is able to unite two people as one (cp. Gen 2:24, Mark 10:8-9). Therefore, marriage is a pure and holy estate because it is a work of God.

Prayer: Bless the marriages of all people, Lord. Amen.

Receive these daily Sola Devotions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

In The Life of a Pastor's Spouse, Cindy Jamison reflects on her life as a pastor’s spouse, and the unique opportunities and challenges such a calling presents. She offers her own observations on the particular dynamics facing a pastor’s family and spouse. This brief reader is intended to help a pastor’s spouse identify areas of tension and difficultly, while at the same time providing support and encouragement from the Word of God. This handbook will help a pastor's spouse discover answers to four essential questions: What is exptected of me? What am I supposed to do? How do I keep from feeling my marrige is threatened when I am not Number One in my spouse's life? How can I maintain my life and not fall to pieces?

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 11 Jul 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Proverbs 18:22 

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

We shall reply in order to these figments. In the first place, our opponents must admit that marriage is pure for believers because it has been sanctified by the Word of God. That is, the Word of God permits and approves marriage, as Scripture abundantly testifies.

Pulling It Together

Before going on with arguments, let us acknowledge that the Holy Scriptures of both the Old and New Testaments declare marriage a holy matter, something that God has ordained. Otherwise, how could the Roman Church call it a sacrament? This is not to say that Lutherans consider marriage a sacrament of the Church. Nonetheless, by their own doctrines, the opponents of the Lutherans must admit that marriage is holy. Before concerning ourselves with further proofs, let us admit this much.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for your gifts and favor. Amen.

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Este pequeño manual, conocido como El Catecismo Menor de Martín Lutero, ha sido utilizado por los Luteranos durante siglos como una herramienta de enseñanza, especialmente en la instrucción de la confirmación. El pequeño manual pretende dar a los lectores un breve resumen de las enseñanzas de la Biblia, viendo algunos ejemplos de versos bien conocidos por los cristianos, oraciones y elementos de adoración.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 10 Jul 17 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Peter 2:4–5

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

Fifthly, although our opponents do not defend this regulation because of religion, since they see that it is not generally observed, still they diffuse superstitious opinions to give a pretext of religion. They proclaim that they require celibacy because it is pure, as though marriage is impure or sinful, or as though celibacy merited justification more than marriage does. To this end they cite the ceremonies of the Mosaic Law, that under the law, at the time of ministering, the priests were separated from their wives. Therefore, the priest in the New Testament, who ought always to pray, should always practice continence. This ridiculous comparison is presented as a proof to compel priests to perpetual celibacy, even though this very comparison allows marriage to priests, only prohibiting intercourse during the time of ministering. Moreover, it is one thing to pray, another to minister. The saints prayed even when they did not exercise the public ministry. Marital intercourse did hinder their prayers.

Pulling It Together

Is a pastor purer to God if unmarried? Is this what makes people pure under the New Testament? Is it the New Testament in human purity or the New Testament in Christ’s blood? The very idea of introducing regulations for human purity in the priesthood is an effort to undermine Christ’s merit. Further, Peter proclaims that all Christians are priests who have access to the Father through Christ (Eph 2:18)—not through celibacy or any other attempt at so-called purity. Imagine if the whole of God’s people, that priesthood of all believers, were celibate. The churches would be near empty in a generation or so.

Prayer: Help me, God, to offer you the true sacrifice of praise. Amen.

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The 2017-18 Liturgical calendar charts the Scripture readings for each Sunday in the Church Year, with each Sunday printed in the proper liturgical color for easy reference. Sola Publishing recommends the use of the Revised Common Lectionary as found in the Lutheran Service Book (LSB) published by Concordia Publishing House, and makes use of this lectionary in its own Sola Online Worship eResource (SOWeR) website.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 30 Jun 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Daniel 11:36–37

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

In their Confutation the adversaries insist that celibacy has been commanded by the councils. We do not find fault with the decrees of the councils, for under certain conditions these allow marriage. Yet we find fault with the laws that the Roman popes have framed since the ancient synods, and contrary to their authority. The popes despise the authority of the synods, while wishing it to appear to others as holy. Therefore, this regulation about perpetual celibacy is characteristic of this new pontifical absolutism—and with good reason. Daniel assigns the contempt of women as a feature of the Antichrist’s kingdom (Dan 11:37).

Pulling It Together

That phrase in Daniel 11:37 may be translated in a couple of ways. Melancthon’s rendering of the Hebrew was that the kingdom of the Antichrist would be known for disdaining the natural desire for women. This is similar to the King James’ and New American Standard: “the desire of women.” However, the phrase might be rendered as the Revised Standard and English Standard do: “the one beloved by women.” Regardless of wording, Daniel paints the “king” whom Melancthon infers to be an Antichrist as one who exalts himself above all people, all gods, all law. This is what Luther rebelled against in the papacy of his time: that the pope elevated himself above even Christ’s word.

Prayer: Help me to honor you, Lord, so that I have no other gods before you. Amen.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 29 Jun 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Matthew 19:6–8

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

Fourthly, pontifical law also disagrees with the canons of the councils. The ancient canons do not prohibit marriage, nor do they dissolve marriages that have been contracted—though they remove from public office those who have contracted marriage while in office. In those times, these dismissals were an act of kindness. The new canons have been made according to the private judgment of popes instead of being framed in the synods. They prohibit contracting marriages, and dissolve them when contracted. This is brazenly done, contrary to the command of Christ: “What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matt 19:6).

Pulling It Together

Contrast the hardness of humans with the mercy of God. Humans invent divorce and laws like celibacy—even forcing divorces upon those already married so that human regulation will be kept, even when it is in open defiance of God’s command. But God is merciful, allowing us in our weakness, a helpmate so that we may not sin against him. Human council, however, permits and even demands divorce—though Christ himself commands otherwise. Hardhearted humanity knows no bounds, even in the church.

Prayer: Strengthen Christian marriages, Lord, so that your will is honored. Amen.

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The Sola Online Worship Resource is a lectionary-based web resource for Scripture lessons, lectionary inserts, children's bulletins, devotionals, text studies, prayers, hymn-planning, and much more! Join the hundreds of congregations who have discovered how simple, flexible, and useful SOWeR is for worship planning and sermon preparation. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 27 Jun 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Galatians 5:19–21

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

Gerson also testifies that there have been many good men who tried to conquer the flesh, yet with little progress. So, Ambrose is right in saying, “Virginity is a thing that may only be recommended, not commanded; it is voluntary, not obligatory.” If any one would raise the objection that Christ praises those “who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 19:12), consider also that he is praising those who have that unusual gift of self-control. For he adds, “He who is able to receive this, let him receive it” (ibid.). Impure restraint does not please Christ. We also praise true continence. But now we are disputing about law and those who do not have the gift of continence. This ought to be a matter of liberty, not a rule that sets a snare for the weak.

Pulling It Together

There are those who are able to truly and consistently practice control of the flesh. But if they are not able, if they have not been empowered with restraint by God, then they should marry. This is God’s plan for us—with good reason. Those who hold to a pattern of fleshly behavior will not inherit the kingdom. So we should not require persons, even ministers of the gospel—indeed, especially ministers of the gospel—to be celibate when God has given them the good gift of marriage. Coercing them into celibacy or commanding them to stay celibate when they are not suited for that lifestyle is counter-productive to God’s plan for us—temporally and eternally.

Prayer: Lead me by your Spirit, Lord, that I may daily crucify the flesh. Amen.

Receive these daily Sola Devotions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

The Sola Online Worship Resource (SOWeR) also includes liturgies and services for your use. There are ready-to-copy settings for Holy Communion, services, services of the Word, Vespers, occasional services, funerals, and seasonal services. 

SOWeR is a lectionary-based web resource for Scripture lessons, lectionary inserts, children's bulletins, devotionals, text studies, prayers, hymn-planning, and much more! Join the hundreds of congregations who have discovered how simple, flexible, and useful SOWeR is for worship planning and sermon preparation. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 26 Jun 17 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Corinthians 10:12–13

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

If self-discipline were possible for everyone, it would not require a peculiar gift. Christ shows that is does require a peculiar gift; therefore continence is not possible for everyone. God wants the rest to use the common law of nature which he has instituted, for God does not want us to despise his ordinances, his creation. He wants people to be chaste by using the remedy he has provided, just as he wishes to nourish our life by the use of food and drink. 

Pulling It Together

Do you imagine that you are able to be virtuous in your own strength? Of course, we must rely on God’s strength, not our own. Yet we are not to rely upon his strength alone. We must also depend upon his plan. So one must consider, should a program of celibacy be undertaken when it ignores God’s plan? The Apostle Paul wished everyone could be as disciplined as himself (1 Cor 7:7); but we are not. To impose a program of celibacy upon people ignores God’s “way of escape” from a temptation that is all too “common to man.” Fasting, prayer, and other methods for overcoming this temptation will fail unless a person is particularly gifted by God. Those who think they are able to stand against this temptation of the flesh will very likely fall unless they avail themselves of God’s remedy. 

Prayer: Help me, Lord, in all things to rely upon you. Amen.

Receive these daily Sola Devotions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

The Sola Online Worship Resource (SOWeR) also includes bulletin templates. There are word processing templates for both communion and non-communion services. There are also templates for Sola, LBW, and Reclaim service settings. 

SOWeR is a lectionary-based web resource for Scripture lessons, lectionary inserts, children's bulletins, devotionals, text studies, prayers, hymn-planning, and much more! Join the hundreds of congregations who have discovered how simple, flexible, and useful SOWeR is for worship planning and sermon preparation. This brochure will answer more questions about SOWeR. Call 1-888-887-9840 to order a yearly subscription. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 16 Jun 17 00:00:00 -0500

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James 1:17

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

So, they command people to pray to God for self-control, and to weaken the body through labors and fasting. Why do they not proclaim these magnificent commandments to themselves? As we have already said, our opponents are only playing; they are not serious.

Pulling It Together

God has already provided the answer; and it is a splendid solution. So, if anything, people should pray for common sense. God has blessed men and women with the sweet fellowship of marriage and the comfort and peace of the marriage bed. Some religious folks would deprive them of these good gifts. When they cannot abide such deprivation, the command comes to deprive themselves of still more of God’s bounty. Then is the time they should pray for sense.

Prayer: Thank you, God, for all your wondrous gifts. Amen.

Receive these daily Sola Devotions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

The Sola Online Worship Resource (SOWeR) includes a limited selection of music for use in worship, drawing primarily upon texts and music in the public domain, along with biblical texts set to familiar tunes. SOWeR is a lectionary-based web resource for Scripture lessons, lectionary inserts, children's bulletins, devotionals, text studies, prayers, hymn-planning, and much more! Join the hundreds of congregations who have discovered how simple, flexible, and useful SOWeR is for worship planning and sermon preparation. This brochure will answer more questions about SOWeR. Call 1-888-887-9840 to order a yearly subscription. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 15 Jun 17 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Corinthians 7:6–7

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

Nor can any human authority, any law, any vows remove this declaration: “It is better to marry than to burn,” because they cannot remove the nature or concupiscence. Therefore all who burn, retain the right to marry. Paul’s command to avoid fornication by every man having his own wife binds all those who do not truly control themselves. The conscience of each person must decide.

Pulling It Together

Paul does not say here that he wishes all were celibate. Rather, he speaks of his gifting from God’s Spirit to keep himself under control. He would prefer that all were like himself, self-controlled in matters of sexual appetite. But because all are not able to be so disciplined, he commands them to marry. All must decide for themselves whether they have this gift from God.

Prayer: Spirit of the living God, empower me to control myself. Amen.

Receive these daily Sola Devotions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

The Sola Online Worship Resource (SOWeR) includes bulletin templates. There are word processing templates for both communion and non-communion services. There are also templates for Sola, LBW, and Reclaim service settings.

SOWeR is a lectionary-based web resource for Scripture lessons, lectionary inserts, children's bulletins, devotionals, text studies, prayers, hymn-planning, and much more! Join the hundreds of congregations who have discovered how simple, flexible, and useful SOWeR is for worship planning and sermon preparation. This brochure will answer more questions about SOWeR. Call 1-888-887-9840 to order a yearly subscription. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 14 Jun 17 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Corinthians 7:3–5

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

Does not Paul command here that those who do not have the gift of self-control should marry? After all, he interprets himself a little later when he says, “For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion” (1 Cor 7:9). Christ has also clearly stated, “Not all men can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given” (Matt 19:11). Ever since sin entered the world, natural desire and the lust that inflames it have combined. So, there is more need of marriage now than when in a pure nature. Accordingly, Paul speaks of marriage as a remedy, and commands us to marry because of these passions.

Pulling It Together

Since the fall of Adam, the temptation to sin in general has been difficult (Rom 7:19) but the struggle with lust may be at the top of the list. Self-control is a hard habit to master. Consider sins that involve food, drink, anger, pride, and others too numerous to name in this short space. If we have serious trouble with these, imagine our difficulty with sexual appetite. There are some who are able to say “no” but this seems to be a special gift from God (1 Cor 7:7b). If one finds himself or herself in such a predicament, it is better to marry than to burn—physically or eternally (1 Cor 7:9). Paul makes no distinction; his commanding advice is for priests and pastors, as well as the laity.

Prayer: Thank you, God, for the good gifts you have given. Amen.

Receive these daily Sola Devotions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

Ambidextrous Christianity is a nine-session Bible Study that explores nine key questions of faith and life, letting our Lord direct us in navigating the narrow path of faith. In studying God's Word with other believers, we seek to grow in our ability to move forward in our journey together, no matter what the road presents.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 13 Jun 17 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Corinthians 7:1–2

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

Thirdly, Paul says to avoid fornication by letting every man have his own wife. This is an explicit command pertaining to all who are not fit for celibacy (1 Cor 7:6-7). Our adversaries demand that we show them a command that commands priests to marry—as though priests are not men! We maintain that whatever pertains to human nature in general also is to be applied to priests.

Pulling It Together

Evidently, the notion of celibacy had been raised with Paul by the Corinthians (see quotation marks in verse one). The apostle gives a conditional response. There are some who have received special graces from God, so that they may be celibate. However, it does not follow that this grace applies to priests. The fact is, that imposing celibacy upon the priesthood has had scandalous results—in our own time and in previous ages. In order to avoid this the apostle urges each man and woman to be married unless especially gifted by God.

Prayer: Lord, be glorified in the marriages of your Church. Amen.

Receive these daily Sola Devotions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

In the Luther Household is a six-session Bible study on the Lutheran understanding of marriage and family. Based on foundational texts from Scripture, the study also draws from the real-life experience of Martin and Katie Luther, who were not only husband and wife, but the parents of several children. It includes excerpts from Luther's personal writings to family and friends as they faced the good and bad that come in everyday living.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 12 Jun 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Genesis 1:27–28

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

As we said before, we are not speaking of concupiscence or sinful lust, but about that desire called physical love. Concupiscence has not removed this from human nature, but inflames it, so that there is now a greater need of a remedy. Marriage is necessary not only for the sake of procreation, but also as this remedy. These things are so clear and well established that they are undeniable.

Pulling It Together

Natural love existed between men and women even when their nature was still pure. God told Adam and Eve to “be fruitful and multiply” (Gen 1:28), which of course, happens in but one manner. But the fall of humanity due to their sin, only increased the desire of one sex for the other. The requirement foisted upon some people to forgo this drive is unnecessary, for God’s law contains no such command. On the contrary, as mentioned already, his command is not to be fruitless but to to multiply by being fruitful. Faithful, sexual union, is what God commands, not the opposite. This proper desire of one for another is the result of a divine ordinance.

Prayer: Be with all Christian marriages, Lord, granting them grace and fruitfulness. Amen.

Receive these daily Sola Devotions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

Este pequeño manual, conocido como El Catecismo Menor de Martín Lutero, ha sido utilizado por los Luteranos durante siglos como una herramienta de enseñanza, especialmente en la instrucción de la confirmación. El pequeño manual pretende dar a los lectores un breve resumen de las enseñanzas de la Biblia, viendo algunos ejemplos de versos bien conocidos por los cristianos, oraciones y elementos de adoración.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 13 May 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Genesis 5:1-2

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

Therefore, let us keep in mind what both Scripture teaches and the jurist wisely says: namely, that the union of male and female is a natural right. Furthermore, a natural right is actually a divine right, because it is a rule divinely imprinted on nature. Since this right cannot be changed without an extraordinary work of God, the right to contract marriage necessarily remains. Because the natural desire of one sex for the other is a rule of God in nature, it is a right. Why else would both sexes have been created?

Pulling It Together

In the wisdom of God, there are both male and female, the one for the other. He formed man from “the dust of the ground,” then breathing into him “the breath of life” (Heb 2:7). He formed the woman from the man’s side. They are, by divine design, to be each others companions, helpers, and lovers. In marriage, they become “one flesh” (Gen 2:24), meant to be so singular that even at creation, both male and female are named adam or man. This precious gift of God is a natural right because it is a birthright impressed by God upon human nature.

Prayer: As you draw each into oneness with another, draw your Church into unity with you. Amen.

Receive these daily Sola Devotions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

Mark your calendars for the Sola Education Festival to be held on June 9th-10th at Abounding Joy Lutheran (LCMC/NALC), in St. Cloud Minnesota (6000 County Rd 120, St Cloud, MN 56303, 320-217-8784). The event is for pastors, lay leaders, teachers, and any people who work in education ministry.

This event will feature keynote presentations from two of Sola Publishing’s editors, Rev. Mark Ryman and Rev. Steve King, along with a number of workshops led by regional pastors and ministry leaders. There will be product sales tables from Sola Publishing and well as Concordia Publishing House, along with displays from other educational ministries. 

• Click for brochure.   • Registration

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 12 May 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Matthew 24:36-39

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

Therefore it is ridiculous for our opponents to prattle on about marriage being commanded in the beginning but not now. This is the same as saying that formerly, people were born with a sex but now they are not. Or, formerly, they were born with a natural right but now they do not have that right. No craftsman could fabricate anything more devious than these absurdities, which were devised to circumvent a right of nature.

Pulling It Together

Eating, drinking, marrying, and other such natural privileges and rights are good; God has blessed these things for our use. Yet a problem occurs when we enjoy (or over-enjoy) these rights without thanks to God. For then, these good things obscure our vision of God; we enjoy them to the extent that we no longer enjoy God. Nevertheless, God has given us these things so that we may be grateful to him and enjoy life. Marriage is a good gift of God and the natural right of all people. No one should rob another of this blessed prerogative, for it is a gift of God.

Prayer: As we await that blessed day, O Lord, give us thankful hearts. Amen.

Receive these daily Sola Devotions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

This six-session Bible study focuses on the Godly vocations of marriage and family. Based on foundational texts from Scripture, the study also draws from the real-life experience of Martin and Katie Luther, husband and wife, and also the parents of several children. The Luther Household includes excerpts from Luther's personal writings to family and friends as they faced the good and bad that come in everyday living.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 11 May 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Ephesians 5:25-33

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

Secondly, because this founding or divine ordinance in humanity is a natural right, jurists have wisely and correctly stated that the union of men and women is a natural right. Since natural right is immutable, the right to contract marriage must always continue. Where nature is changeless, that ordinance which God has constructed in nature must not not change, and cannot be removed by human laws.

Pulling It Together

God has built into nature—indeed, into our natures—the union of men and women (Gen 2:24). But this built-in right points to the glory of the regenerated nature that we have in Christ. This new nature’s union with God, or the divine marriage, is found throughout both Testaments. In the New Testament, the marriage of the Bridegroom to his Bride is picked up by the gospel evangelists as well as the writers of the letters. Marriage, that thing which is so natural and common to us, is proclaimed in Scripture as that rarest and most extraordinary relationship. It is not much of a stretch to imagine that the desire for marriage is built into us so that we might yearn for union with God, and so that we may begin to understand the mystery of union with the divine.

Prayer: Strengthen marriages in your Church, Lord, that your Church might ache for you. Amen.

Receive these daily Sola Devotions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

Getting to Know Martin Luther is a five-lesson Conformation workbook about Martin Luther's life that will help confirmands get a better glimpse into what faith means for their own lives by searching and understanding the Word of God, trusting in Christ alone for our salvation, standing up for what they believe in, and helping others to learn the truth about God.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 02 May 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Genesis 2:18

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

Our opponents’ frivolous arguments say that originally, the commandment was given to replenish the earth, but now that the earth has been replenished, marriage is no longer commanded. See how wise they are! The word of God made the nature of humanity to be fruitful, not only at the beginning of the creation, but as long as our physical nature exists, just as his word makes the earth fruitful. “And God said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, upon the earth.” And it was so” (Gen 1:11). Because of this ordinance, the earth did not begin to bring forth plants only in the beginning. The fields are clothed every year as long as this natural order exists. Humans cannot legislate that the nature of the earth be changed, so without a special work of God, the nature of a human being cannot be changed either—by vows or by human law.

Pulling It Together

This is human reason at work again. Scripture says one thing, but we come up with our reasons for not believing what the Word says. Men and women are made for one another; it has been so from the beginning, as God saw fit. He has not changed his mind. We have. No matter how much we argue, no matter how finely we reason, no matter how outraged we become at the word of God, it is still his word. Their argument is with God—not another part of his Church. So we must confess that legislating celibacy is contrary to the word of God—in the beginning and in the present. One either believes the word of God, or not. The Lord will sort out the rest. 

Prayer: Keep me steadfast in your word, Lord. Amen.

Receive these daily Sola Devotions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

Mark your calendars for the Sola Education Festival to be held on June 9th-10th at Abounding Joy Lutheran (LCMC/NALC), in St. Cloud Minnesota (6000 County Rd 120, St Cloud, MN 56303, 320-217-8784). The event is for pastors, lay leaders, teachers, and any people who work in education ministry.

This event will feature keynote presentations from two of Sola Publishing’s editors, Rev. Mark Ryman and Rev. Steve King, along with a number of workshops led by regional pastors and ministry leaders. There will be product sales tables from Sola Publishing and well as Concordia Publishing House, along with displays from other educational ministries. 

• Click for brochure.   • Registration

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 01 May 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Genesis 1:27–28

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

First, Genesis 1:28 teaches that people were created to be fruitful, and that one sex should should properly desire the other. We are not speaking of lust, which is sin, but of what is called physical love, that desire which was to have been uncorrupted in nature. This love of one sex for the other is truly a divine ordinance. Since this is an ordinance of God, it cannot be removed without an extraordinary work of God. So, it follows that the right to contract marriage cannot be removed by statutes or vows.

Pulling It Together

“Reason cannot establish anything sure about God” (Luther’s Works, vol. 1, Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999, 70). But if we rely upon what is written, if we look to Scripture for our answers, we see quite clearly that God created men and women for the purposes of partnership and filling the earth with people. Neither reason nor religion nullifies the rule of God. One person or group may not legislate over another, at any point in life, whether or not he or she may marry. 

Prayer: Make me fruitful for your kingdom, Lord, and faithful to whom I am given. Amen.

Receive these daily Sola Devotions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

Holy Families! is an initiative of the North American Lutheran Church provided through a generous grant from the Thrivent Foundation, in honor of the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation (1517 AD to 2017 AD). Produced by Sola Publishing, this special initiative includes a number of Lutheran discipleship resources for families and congregations, including Daily Family Prayer Resources, Parent Pages, Faith Formation downloadable pages for children/families, Educational Videos, Parents' Video/Discussion Series on Faith Formation, Reformation Bible Study: In the Luther Household

Holy Families! is also on the free Sola App for Android and Apple

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 21 Apr 17 00:00:00 -0500

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2 Peter 2:1–3

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

Their defense of celibacy is not a serious one. For they are not ignorant of how few there are who actually practice chastity, but they use religion to implement their authority, which they think that celibacy assists. Now we understand just how right Peter’s admonition was, that there will be false teachers who will deceive people with heresies (2 Pet 2:1). Our opponents do not say, write, or do anything honestly, frankly, or candidly in this whole concern. They merely dispute about their authority, falsely thinking it is in jeopardy. So, they try to fortify it with a wicked pretense of piety.

Pulling It Together

Some people just have to be right—even at the expense of being very wrong. Cultures—whether religious or political—never seem to change in this regard. And it seems that they always end up defending their positions with personal attacks. This, of course, sidetracks the actual discussion. When it gets personal—as it was in the days of the Reformers, and as it is today—discussions never get to the heart of the issue. Nothing gets resolved. That way, the mudslingers can go on insisting that they are right. This also, usually keeps them in power. That is the point, is it not? 

Prayer: Give me wisdom and patience, Lord. Amen.

Receive these daily Sola Devotions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

Holy Families! is an initiative of the North American Lutheran Church provided through a generous grant from the Thrivent Foundation, in honor of the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation (1517 AD to 2017 AD). Produced by Sola Publishing, this special initiative includes a number of Lutheran discipleship resources for families and congregations, including Daily Family Prayer Resources, Parent Pages, Faith Formation downloadable pages for children/families, Educational Videos, Parents' Video/Discussion Series on Faith Formation, Reformation Bible Study: In the Luther Household

Holy Families! is also on the free Sola App for Android and Apple

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 18 Apr 17 00:00:00 -0500

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John 15:18–20

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

To you, most excellent and chaste Emperor, they propose such laws—that no barbarity, however monstrous and cruel, would consider. Because your character is not stained by disgrace or cruelty, we hope that you will deal with us charitably in this matter, especially when you have learned that we have the gravest reasons for our position, derived from the Word of God, which the adversaries oppose with the most trifling and vain opinions.

Pulling It Together

There it is; that is the problem. When we base our positions on traditions, we end up with opinions. When our beliefs come from God’s Word, how can we do anything but oppose human opinions that are contrary to his Word? Sola Scriptura—Scripture alone—being one of the pillars of Reformation thought, helps us remember that we do not interpret Scripture with tradition, nor do we develop doctrine based upon tradition. Lutherans—indeed, Christians—are to use Scripture to interpret Scripture, and to understand life. Scripture must be our worldview. It will make us seem strange to some, and the world will likely hate us, but we will have done as our Lord instructs us, firmly taking our stand in faith through the Word of God (1 Cor 16:13). You can take no stronger stance, as Luther stated at the Diet of Worms in 1521, “A simple layman armed with Scripture is greater than the mightiest pope without it.”

Prayer: Give me the insight and the courage, O Lord, to take my stand in your Word. Amen.

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Holy Families! is an initiative of the North American Lutheran Church provided through a generous grant from the Thrivent Foundation, in honor of the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation (1517 AD to 2017 AD). Produced by Sola Publishing, this special initiative includes a number of Lutheran discipleship resources for families and congregations, including Daily Family Prayer Resources, Parent Pages, Faith Formation downloadable pages for children/families, Educational Videos, Parents' Video/Discussion Series on Faith Formation, Reformation Bible Study: In the Luther Household

Holy Families! is also on the free Sola App for Android and Apple

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 17 Apr 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Ephesians 5:31–32

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

They ask you to defend their lusts with your chaste right hand, Emperor Charles—whom even some ancient predictions call the king of modest face, as the saying appears concerning you: “One modest in face shall reign everywhere.” Contrary to divine law, the law of nations, and the canons of councils, they ask that you sunder marriages. They ask this in order to inflict terrible punishments upon innocent men, execute priests—whom even barbarians reverently spare—and drive into exile banished women and fatherless children, just because they are married.

Pulling It Together

It is an irony. One would think that priests would be the ones to marry. After all, Paul tells us that marriage is a symbol of the relationship that Christ has with his Church. The Revelator also tells us of the marriage of Christ and his Church (Rev 19:7, 8; 21:2, 9; 22:17). In fact, this metaphor is found in many places in both the Old and New Testaments. If marriage is such a powerful image of the relationship between God and his people, one would think that his priests would be the very ones to marry, so that they could demonstrate what this holy state looks like. It is ironic, therefore, that priests would live the opposite of what God knows to be such a compelling lifestyle. Furthermore, why would they chastise and even condemn those who follow the Lord’s own example?

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for your perfect devotion to me. Amen.

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Dwell In My Love! - Word of Life Series (Unit 3) is a resource for those looking to develop small groups built around the Word of God. This model of small-group ministry is an excellent tool for evangelism since it is rooted in prayer and Scripture. Its primary focus is to empower those who believe in Jesus Christ to be comfortable sharing their faith and inviting others to experience a transformed life in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Meant for use in Small Group gathering, each of the six sessions is based on a primary Scripture text, with intentional time for reflection. There are questions, prayer, faith sharing, and mini evangelism case-studies. The series would be helpful for those involved in starting a Bible study fellowship, house church, or mission congregation. It can also be used by established congregations to aid in establishing a small group ministry.

• Unit 1   • Unit 2   • Unit 3

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 15 Apr 17 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Corinthians 7:7–9

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

What greater shamelessness has ever been read about in all of history than that of our opponents? We will review their arguments soon. First, let the wise reader consider the brazenness of these good-for-nothings who say that marriages bring dishonor and disgrace to the government—as though the public infamy of the criminal and unnatural lusts which glow among these “holy fathers,” who feign that they are Curii and live like Bacchanals, were a great ornament to the Church. Most of the things that these men do with the greatest license cannot even be mentioned without a breach of modesty.

Pulling It Together

One cannot put on an alb and cincture, yet live like an unbound infidel, and think that putting on an extra robe will cover the hypocrisy. More laws and traditions are not needed. It is the Word of God that is necessary; it addresses the problem. The question here is not the virtue of government, or the control of priests and pastors. The real issue is the piety of God’s people. Restricting marriage is hardly the solution for holiness, as the Apostle Paul attests. If one is like the apostle, able to remain unmarried, he or she may devote life to the Lord’s service (1 Cor 7:33–34). But Paul never meant this to be a control over people (1 Cor 7:35), as though this made them holy. Indeed, he teaches to the contrary (1 Cor 7:14).

Prayer: Lord, strengthen Christian marriages and use them to bring unbelievers to faith. Amen.

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Come and See - Word of Life Series (Unit 1) is a resource for those looking to develop small groups built around the Word of God. This model of small-group ministry is an excellent tool for evangelism since it is rooted in prayer and Scripture. Its primary focus is to empower those who believe in Jesus Christ to be comfortable sharing their faith and inviting others to experience a transformed life in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

• Unit 1   • Unit 2   • Unit 3

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 14 Apr 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Isaiah 47:10

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

Despite the terrible infamy of their defiled celibacy, our opponents not only have the wicked and false presumption of using the divine name in defending pontifical law, but even to exhort the Emperor and princes to not permit the disgrace and infamy of the Roman Empire by tolerating the marriage of priests. These are their words.

Pulling It Together

The authors of the Roman Confutation acted as if the shameful lives of so many priests were of little concern compared to the issue of priests being permitted to marry. The writers of the Confutation insisted that the shame and indignity of a whole empire lay in the law of celibacy among their priests. Yet the letter of their law was all that concerned them. For priests took wives in secret and shamelessly took their young charges as well, as was well-known among the people. Their shameful lives, not the marriage of priests, is what brought great dishonor to the Church of Christ—never mind the empire.

Prayer: Help me live my life, knowing that all hearts are open before you and that none of my secrets are hidden. Amen.

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In Harmony with the Word is an eight-session Bible Study focusing on Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, from Matthew 5-7. It is written at an introductory level, to be led by a lay leader or pastor in a small-group question and discussion format. The study would serve as an excellent resource for monthly women's group meetings, or in an informal small-group setting.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 13 Apr 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Ezekiel 7:25–26

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Both Kinds in the Lord’s Supper 

Further, we do not assume that the Church immediately agrees with or approves of whatever the pontiffs determine, especially since Scripture prophesies concerning bishops and pastors to this effect, as in Ezekiel, who says, “The Law perishes from the priest” (Ezek 7:26).

Pulling It Together

There have always been and still are priests, popes, pastors, and bishops who will have nothing to do with the commands and law of God. Scripture is not their guide; indeed, they teach the people that some verses of the Bible are true, while others are fairy tales. In short, they are their own rule of faith and would have others live by their word instead of by God’s word.

Congregations should not be measured by their false teachings—unless, knowing better, they follow these heresies. The words of Christ must be our standard of faith and practice, even if traditions and the opinions of men must be condemned.

Prayer: Give me your strength, Holy Spirit, so that I may live by your word of truth. Amen.

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Back issues of Connections magazine are available. So are new subscriptions!

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 12 Apr 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Mark 7:8, 13

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Both Kinds in the Lord’s Supper 

Even if we presume the freedom to use one part or both, how can the prohibition of one kind be defended? The Church cannot take the liberty of turning the ordinances of Christ into matters of indifference. Yet we excuse the Church, which has borne the injury since it could not obtain both parts. However, we condemn those who maintain in their writings that the use of the entire Sacrament is justly prohibited, those who not only prohibit, but even excommunicate and violently persecute those using the entire Sacrament. Let them determine how they will give an account to God for their decisions.

Pulling It Together

Christ’s command cannot get much clearer than, “Take; eat,” and “Drink of it, all of you.” He did not suggest a choice of courses. It is not a matter of whether one likes the taste of either bread or wine. Nor is it a matter of class of people, or care of the carpet. It is simply a matter of command. What did Christ say? Thus, it is not a question of what tradition a church holds to, or what their pastor thinks about the Lord’s Supper. It has always been and remains his meal, that is received in the way he instituted.

Imagine Christ handing the cup to any believer and the pastor stepping between Christ and that person, insisting, “Nope! None for her, sir. She’s no one special.” Quite the contrary; she is a person for whom Christ shed his blood, and the cup is meant for her. The poor consciences of sinners should not be deprived from either course in God’s holy meal.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, for your gracious commands. Amen.

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New Sola electronic greeting cards for Holy Week and Easter have been added to the free Sola app. Download it today and send some e-cards! • Android  • Apple  This free, mobile app also includes a searchable ESV Bible, the Sola Small Catechism, Sola Devotions, Sola products, the Sola Online Worship eResource, and more.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 31 Mar 17 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Corinthians 11:23–25

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Both Kinds in the Lord’s Supper 

They also claim that there is a danger of spilling and other things which do not have sufficient force to alter the ordinance of Christ.

Pulling It Together

I am always impressed by the steady hands of those who pour from a chalice into a small, individual communion cups. I am no less impressed by those who can hold the cup to the lips without spilling, and for those lips to receive without dribbling. I suppose they do at times, over the years, spill some wine. If they did, would that change Christ’s instruction to give the cup to all? For what reason would it ever be proper to change the ordinance of Christ? The Apostle Paul hands down to us exactly what Christ instituted. Lutherans pass on the same without altering the Lord’s instructions for any reason.

Prayer: Thank you, Living Bread, for your resolve to shed your blood for the life of the world.

Receive these daily Sola Devotions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

In the Luther Household is a six-session Bible study on the Lutheran understanding of marriage and family. Based on foundational texts from Scripture, the study also draws from the real-life experience of Martin and Katie Luther, who were not only husband and wife, but the parents of several children. It includes excerpts from Luther's personal writings to family and friends as they faced the good and bad that come in everyday living.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 30 Mar 17 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Timothy 3:1

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Both Kinds in the Lord’s Supper 

If they withhold the cup in order to distinguish orders, this very thing ought to keep us from any agreement with our opponents—though we might otherwise be inclined toward their custom. There are other distinguishing marks between the orders of priests and laity, but why they defend this distinction so earnestly is no mystery. We will not say more concerning their wily purposes, so as not to give the impression that we are detracting from the true worth of the order.

Pulling It Together

Whether one takes 1 Timothy 3:1 as referring to bishops, pastors, or elders, it is clear that the office of overseer is a noble one. Therefore, when someone in this office teaches bad doctrine, especially in order to promote self, it sullies the office—not merely the person in the office. Therefore, the focus of the Lord’s Supper should not be the office of the minister, but of Christ alone. With him as our focus, we easily see that there are indeed offices or orders in Christ’s Church but that we “are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28). 

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for giving your body and shedding your blood—even for me. Amen.

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A Reading and Discussion of the Augsburg Confession is written in easy-to-understand language but is a challenging study series based on assigned readings from the Book of Concord and related Scripture texts. Each study is comprised of eight sessions, plus an optional introductory session, each presented in a question and discussion format. Click here to see the Table of Contents and a sample session.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 24 Mar 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Matthew 26:26–28

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Both Kinds in the Lord’s Supper 

In the judgment of God, will the reasons that he cites excuse those who prohibit a part of the Sacrament, and who rage against people using the entire Sacrament?

Pulling It Together

All of God’s people are to be given both kinds in the Lord’s Supper—both the bread and the wine, his body and his blood. The reason for this usage is simply this: the Lord himself commands this practice for the forgiveness of sins. “Take, eat...drink of it, all of you.” May God’s mercy extend to those who forbid and withhold the cup that Christ so clearly offers to all who believe.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for pouring out the new covenant upon all believers. Amen.

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The Sola Confirmation Series, written by the Rev. Steven E. King, is basic work-book style Confirmation curriculum. It is designed to serve as a simple and practical resource for teaching the biblical Word of God according to the traditional pattern of Martin Luther’s Small Catechism.  Each book in the series can be used as the basis for a “come as you are” small group Bible study, as a student book for home school or independent study programs, or as a classroom tool and homework resource as part of an existing confirmation program. 

The Apostles' Creed book is a ten-week unit, with one session on the Trinity and three sessions on each article of the Creed.  The Bible Study lessons in the Creed series provide an overview of creation-redemption themes in Scripture, driving toward the promise of God at work in our present lives. Click here to see the introductory pages and a sample of session one.

• Student Workbook   • Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 23 Mar 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Matthew 4:1–4

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Both Kinds in the Lord’s Supper 

This is the word of a tyrant. Why should they be content? “Don’t ask for a reason, but allow as law whatever the theologians say.” This is a concoction of Eck. We recognize those prideful words. If we wished to respond, there would be no want of words. For you see how great his impudence is. He commands like a tyrant in the tragedies: “Whether they like it or not, they must be satisfied!”

Pulling It Together

Just because someone wants it to be a certain way, does not make it so. If someone commands authority, this does not necessarily make his demands right. The dictates of an entire culture do not stamp a matter with divine approval. So we must ask again and again: Have we exceeded “what is written” (1 Cor 4:6)? This was the modus operandi of Christ himself. “It is written!” Jesus thwarted the designs of the devil with this practice. Sola Scriptura must be our banner as well. Having the Word of God as our authority, we should never collapse under the weight of culture, tradition, or human authority.

Prayer: Help me to live in your word, Lord. Amen.

Receive these daily Sola Devotions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

The Sola Confirmation Series, written by the Rev. Steven E. King, is basic work-book style Confirmation curriculum. It is designed to serve as a simple and practical resource for teaching the biblical Word of God according to the traditional pattern of Martin Luther’s Small Catechism.  Each book in the series can be used as the basis for a “come as you are” small group Bible study, as a student book for home school or independent study programs, or as a classroom tool and homework resource as part of an existing confirmation program. 

The Ten Commandments book is a ten-week unit, which includes one session on each of the Commandments. The Scripture focus in the Ten Commandment series is on Moses and the Exodus Cycle, with Bible Study lessons taken primarily from the Pentateuch.

• Student Workbook     • Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 20 Mar 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Psalm 23:5

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Both Kinds in the Lord’s Supper 

The Sacrament was instituted to console and comfort terrified minds, when they believe that Christ’s flesh is food, given for the life of the world, and that they are made alive by being joined to Christ. Our adversaries argue that the laity is kept from one kind as a punishment. They say, “They ought to be content.”

Pulling It Together

If we are to seek first the kingdom of God (Matt 6:33), what is it that we should desire? The simplest answer is that we should seek Christ. The kingdom is God’s, so it is God whom we should want with all our hearts. There are ways that we may seek him, but there is one way that Christ himself established. God has prepared a table for us, spread in the presence of our enemies (Psa 23:5). We may as well say that it is spread in the presence of sin, death, and the devil. There, at his table, Christ satisfies the thirsty soul who hungers and thirsts for righteousness (Matt 5:6). There, in the giving of himself—his flesh and blood—is grace and forgiveness of sins. We should not be content with only a portion of the table that Christ has spread for us—denying ourselves of what he has prepared for us. Our cups overflow; drink!

Prayer: Thank you, Shepherd of my soul, for the benefit of your body and blood. Amen.

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Kinderbeten is a compelling story touching on the exercise of free religion, the religious wars in Europe, the roots of Evangelicalism, the supernatural, and more, all wrapped up in a religious revival which began not through a charismatic revivalist or any adult at all, but rather found it's origin with children aged four to fourteen. The children became pawns in a controversy between political and religious opponents. Indulge your curiosity and read the remarkable story about the King of Sweden and the 1707-08 Children's Revival in Silesia, a tale of hope and prayer.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 17 Mar 17 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Peter 2:9–10

Concerning Both Kinds in the Lord’s Supper 

They also cite in the Confutation that the sons of Eli, after the loss of the high-priesthood, were to seek the one part pertaining to the priests (1 Sam 2:36). They say that this indicates the use of one kind, and add: “Therefore, our laity should be content with that one part offered by the priests, that is, with one kind.” Our opponents are clearly trifling when they apply the story of Eli’s posterity to the Sacrament. Eli’s punishment is described in that narrative. Do they mean to say that the laity is being punished by taking away one kind?

Pulling It Together

Even if we were to allow such a faulty example, we would need to deal with the priesthood of all believers, and that we are all one in Christ (1 Pet 2:5, 9; Gal 3:28). Lutherans confess that there is no class difference in the Church; all are priests before the Lord. So, let us imagine that, for a time, only one kind was to be allowed to the laity while both kinds permitted for priests. Since all believers are now priests under the new covenant in Christ’s blood, all would therefore receive both kinds. This is a far better analogy from Scripture than the foolish comparison to Eli’s sons.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for giving me direct access to you and to all of your benefits. Amen.

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Written in 1521, Martin Luther's Commentary on the Magnificat is a spiritual classic with a timeless message: soli deo gloria — to God alone be the glory. Johann Sebastian Bach wrote his musical masterpiece, Magnificat, during his first year as Kantor of the Church of St. Thomas in Leipzig. Luther and Bach on the Magnificat interprets the timeless message of the Magnificat in a unique and inspirational word and music study experience that can be enjoyed year after year by individuals and congregations alike.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 16 Mar 17 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Corinthians 10:16

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Both Kinds in the Lord’s Supper 

They also refer to “Lay Communion.” Yet this is not a reference to the mere use of one kind, but a denial of both. For whenever priests are commanded to use Lay Communion, it means that they have been removed from the ministry of consecration. The adversaries are not ignorant of this, but they abuse the ignorance of the uneducated, who, when they hear of Lay Communion, immediately think of the custom of our time, that only a part of the Sacrament is given to the laity.

Consider their impudence. Recounting reasons why both parts are not given, Gabriel says that a distinction should be made between laity and clergy. That this is the chief reason why the refusal of one part is defended, is beyond question. In this way, the status of the clergy is more highly exalted through a religious rite. To put it mildly, this is a human design, and its purpose is obvious.

Pulling It Together

Who is elevated or remembered in such a distinction between clergy and laity? Is it Christ? Or is it the clergy who are given the greater dignity? If we place our entire focus upon Jesus, we will remember that he gave us his body, and shed for us his blood—that all might participate by drinking from that cup of Christ’s own blood. And so, we do both, breaking bread and blessing cup together, in remembrance of what he instituted among us. In doing so, we enjoy the forgiveness of sins. May it never be that we withhold this great benefit of the faith because of class distinction. .

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for including me in your gift of grace. Amen.

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Personalities of Faith is a ten-session Bible study for youth. The goal of the series is to encourage young people to commit themselves to follow Jesus in discipleship by becoming "personalities of faith." By showing biblical examples of people who have followed—or failed to follow—God's call, participants will be prepared to better follow the Lord in their own lives.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 15 Mar 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Luke 24:30–35

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Both Kinds in the Lord’s Supper 

They imagine that, in the beginning of the Church, it was the custom in some places that only one part was administered. Nevertheless they are not able to produce any ancient example of this practice. They cite the passages that mention bread, as in Luke 24:35, where it is written that the disciples recognized Christ in the breaking of bread. They also quote other passages concerning the breaking of bread. Although we do not seriously object if some interpret these passages as referring to the Sacrament, yet it does not follow that only one kind was given, since, according to the ordinary usage of language, the naming of one signifies the other.

Pulling It Together

When we speak of breaking bread, we mean that we take the time to enjoy a meal. In the Church, this may simply refer to a fellowship meal. Yet, in certain Scriptures it could be understood as being something more than a potluck: perhaps a common meal during which Holy Communion was received. Some interpret “the breaking of bread” in the New Testament as being the Lord’s Supper if it was done on the Lord’s Day. This still follows the meaning of having a meal together, but in this case that gracious sustenance is Holy Communion. 

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for helping me remember you in the receiving of your body and blood. Amen.

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We Still Believe is a Bible study resource reflecting on key themes in biblical Lutheran doctrine that are at risk in the Church today. It is offered in the hope that it will inspire individuals and congregations to examine the core beliefs of traditional Lutheranism and how these beliefs apply to our own present context. Written in a question and discussion style by Pastor Steven King, the participant's book includes an introduction to and copy of the faith statement known as the Common Confession.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 14 Mar 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Luke 22:19–20

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Both Kinds in the Lord’s Supper 

The adversaries do not endeavor in their Confutation to explain to the Church why one part of the Sacrament has been denied them. Good, religious men ought to have provided a strong reason for denying the Church, instructing those consciences to whom only a part of the Sacrament could be granted. These very men maintain that it is right to prohibit one kind, and forbid the allowance of both kinds.

Pulling It Together

In the institution of the Lord’s Supper, Jesus does not mention the bitter herbs or the sweet charoset or other elements of the Passover meal. He calls attention to those new courses in his meal that the Church is to remember. He does not spotlight two courses of matzo, but the one bread—his body “given for you.” Nor does he mention the four cups of deliverance, but only the one cup of deliverance—the new covenant in his blood. He has instructed us to remember him as we partake of both the bread and the wine.

Prayer: Thank you for the new covenant, sealed with your blood. Amen.

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A Latin phrase meaning “Scripture Alone,” Sola Scriptura is one of the traditional Lutheran slogans used since the time of the Reformation. It expresses our confession that Scripture is “the only rule and norm according to which all doctrines and teachers alike must be appraised and judged.” Using the familiar phrase as its title, Sola Scriptura is a new, advanced-level Bible Study in a two-part series, of six chapters each, on the functional authority of Scripture. For those who would like to cover the topic in detail, there is enough material to cover one chapter in two sessions, making each part a 12-week study.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 13 Mar 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Mark 14:22–24

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Both Kinds in the Lord’s Supper 

It is evident, therefore, that the whole Sacrament was instituted for the entire Church. The practice remains in the Greek churches, and also once prevailed in the Latin churches, as Cyprian and Jerome testify. Jerome says in his commentary on Zephaniah: “The priests who administer the Eucharist and distribute the Lord’s blood to the people,” etc. The Council of Toledo gives the same testimony. Nor would it be difficult to accumulate a great multitude of testimonies. We exaggerate nothing here, but leave it to the prudent reader to determine what should be believed concerning a divine ordinance.

Pulling It Together

The blood of Christ is “poured out for many.” This word “many” means for the multitude or for the whole gathering. This was the institution of Christ and the practice of the early Church. It remained the custom of the churches in the East and West for hundreds of years. Christ’s intentions are clear enough. Let us follow him.

Prayer: Thank you Lord, for sustaining me with your body and blood. Amen.

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Why Did Jesus Have to Die? is a six-week Bible Study that examines the most profound event of salvation history — the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ — exploring from a biblical perspective what is known as the doctrine of the Atonement.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 10 Mar 17 00:00:00 -0600

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1 Corinthians 11:27–29

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Both Kinds in the Lord’s Supper 

Paul says that he passed on what he had received from the Lord (1 Cor 11:23). But the text clearly shows that he had delivered the use of both kinds. “This do,” he says first, concerning his body. Afterwards, he repeats the same words concerning the cup. And then he says, “Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.” These are the words of him who established the Sacrament, saying previously that those who will use the Lord’s Supper should use both kinds.

Pulling It Together

We usually read this passage of Scripture, thinking about how we ought to confess our sins before receiving Holy Communion. This is proper. Indeed, it is necessary, as Paul teaches. But we also clearly see here that the early Church—not just Jesus’ disciples—received both elements of the Lord’s Supper. Everyone received bread; all received wine. Why? The simple reason Paul gives is, that is the way the Lord established it, so that is what the apostle passed on to the Church.

Prayer: Help me, Holy Spirit, to confess my sins and truly believe that I am forgiven, so that I may eat and drink in a worthy manner. Amen.

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Not My Will, But Yours is a six-week study that explores the topic of the “free will” from a biblical perspective, looking at what Scripture has to say about the bondage of the human will, and how Jesus Christ has come to deliver us from ourselves.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 09 Mar 17 00:00:00 -0600

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1 Corinthians 11:23–26

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Both Kinds in the Lord’s Supper 

Now, if Christ has established his meal for the entire Church, why is one kind denied to a part of the Church? Why is the use of the other part prohibited? Why is the directive of Christ changed—especially when he himself calls it his testament? If it is illegal to annul man’s testament, how is it allowable to overturn the testament of Christ?

Pulling It Together

Luther frequently taught that “the Words of Institution are the ‘gospel in a nutshell’” (Luther’s Works, vol 53, p 59). “Take and eat; this is my body, given for you... Again, after supper, he took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it for all to drink...for the forgiveness of sin.” This is a summary of the gospel because it shows that in Holy Communion we receive the forgiveness of sins. Sinners receive God’s grace for Christ’s sake. That is the gospel.

Lutherans do no alter Christ’s institution, for in so doing, we would change the very message of the gospel. Christ gave his body and shed his blood for all. So, the bread is given to all, and the cup is given to all. This is done so that all may receive God’s grace as Christ intended.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for the forgiveness of sin, through your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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Written in honor of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, The Life of Martin Luthera nine-session adult study, takes participants through the circumstances and events of the life of Martin Luther as it reflects on the biblical themes underlying the Lutheran Reformation. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 08 Mar 17 00:00:00 -0600

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John 6:53–56

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Both Kinds in the Lord’s Supper 

It cannot be doubted that the use of both parts in the Lord’s Supper is godly and in accord with the institution of Christ and the words of Paul. For Christ instituted both parts, not doing so for part of the Church but for the entire Church. The whole Church uses the Sacrament—not only the priests—and this, by the authority of Christ, not by human authority, as we suppose the adversaries acknowledge.

Pulling It Together

Jesus cannot be more clear. One must partake of both his body and blood in order to have new life in Christ. To eat and drink of the Sacrament is a holy communion with Christ himself. In the Lord’s Supper, we receive the grace to continue in the faith—to abide in him. Further, he promises to abide in us. We rob ourselves of “grace upon grace,” (John 1:16) of continuing in him, when we do not partake in his fullness. It is the one who both eats and drinks who remains in Christ, and in whom Christ abides.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for your enduring grace. Amen.

Receive these daily Sola Devotions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

This six-session Bible study focuses on the Godly vocations of marriage and family. Based on foundational texts from Scripture, the study also draws from the real-life experience of Martin and Katie Luther, husband and wife, and also the parents of several children. The Luther Household includes excerpts from Luther's personal writings to family and friends as they faced the good and bad that come in everyday living.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 07 Mar 17 00:00:00 -0600

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Proverbs 20:28

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Invocation of Saints 

Therefore, most excellent Emperor Charles, for the sake of the glory of Christ, which we have no doubt that you desire to praise and magnify, we urge you not to assent to the violent counsels of our adversaries, but to seek other honorable ways of establishing harmony, so that godly consciences are not burdened, and that no cruelty is exercised against innocent people as we have seen before, and that sound doctrine is not suppressed in the Church. To God, most of all, you have the duty to maintain sound doctrine, and to hand it down to the next generation, and to defend those who teach what is right. God demands this when he honors kings with his own name and calls them gods: “I say, ‘You are gods’” (Psa 82:6). Kings should attend to the preservation and propagation of divine things on earth—namely the Gospel of Christ—and as vicars of God, they should defend the life and safety of the innocent.

Pulling It Together

The Augsburg Confession and its Apology, or defense, urged the emperor to find a way to maintain harmony in the empire. The point of such concord was that orthodoxy could prevail in the churches and that people be protected from those who wished otherwise. The Lutherans maintained that this was the emperor’s responsibility, that his rule was maintained by God and so, he owed it to God to rule righteously.

The purpose of government is to maintain God’s will on earth. Specifically, our leaders are to do two things: maintain the faith and protect the people. They stretch their responsibility when they move beyond this two-fold charge. Let them do these things well, and they will have enough to do.

Prayer: Help our leaders and me, Holy Spirit, to turn from evil and do good, to seek peace and pursue it. Amen.

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Click any of the covers for these new overviews of the
Old and New Testaments, with separate Leader's Guides.

  

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 17 Feb 17 00:00:00 -0600

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1 Corinthians 4:1–6

From the Confessions: The Athanasian Creed

Although he is God and man, he is not divided, but is one Christ. He is united because God has taken humanity into himself; he does not transform deity into humanity. He is completely one in the unity of his person, without confusing his natures. For as the rational soul and body are one person, so the one Christ is God and man.

Pulling It Together

How can we begin to understand through human reasoning the dual nature of Christ? We cannot wrap our minds around it, though perhaps a little more easily than we can think on the Trinity itself. Jesus is man and divinity at once. This is what Scripture attests and we would do well to leave it there. So, what does the Word say? What is written?

“The Word became flesh” (John 1:14). “In [Christ] the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” (Col 2:9). “Though he was in the form of God...born in the likeness of men” (Phil 2:7). “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same...” (Heb 2:14).

The Son of God took human body but remained God. His divinity remained though he was clothed in flesh. He did not set aside his divinity to become a man for a time. He was and is both divine and human. He is forever God and man, sitting at the father's right hand and reigning triumphant over sin and death. There is not a part of him that is human and another part that is God, as though he were oil and water in the same glass. His two natures are completely unified in the one person, Jesus Christ. Jesus is a whole person like us, having a body, soul, and spirit. Yet, at the same time, he is the divine Word of God, or Logos (John 1:1). He is not two beings, a god and a man somehow in a kind of symbiosis. Nor is he some kind of compound or complex organism, made by the joining of two beings, but no longer quite human or divine as a the result. We confess that he is God and man, undivided, one Christ. 

Prayer: Fill me with your grace, O God, that throughout this day I may delight in your praise through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen. 

Receive these daily Sola Devotions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

This edition of the Luther's Small Catechism is specifically designed to go with the Sola Confirmation Series. The 2010 Sola/ReClaim Edition* is a faithful word-for-word translation from Luther's German Catechism. It also includes the section on the Office of the Keys, added later to Luther's Catechism.

This pocket edition features quotations from the English Standard Version (ESV) of Scripture, and the traditional ICET liturgical texts (as used in the Lutheran Book of Worship). The primary verses of Scripture, Creed, and Prayers are printed in italics; Luther’s explanations are printed in plain text. Luther’s explanations are formatted with a mid-sentence break, to highlight contrasting phrases and to aid in memorization.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 16 Feb 17 00:00:00 -0600

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Colossians 2:8–15

From the Confessions: The Athanasian Creed

It is necessary for eternal salvation that one also faithfully believe that Jesus Christ became flesh. For this is the true faith that we believe and confess: That our Lord Jesus Christ, God's Son, is both God and man. He is God, begotten before all worlds from the being of the Father, and he is man, born in the world from the being of his mother—existing fully as God, and fully as man with a rational soul and a human body; equal to the Father in divinity, subordinate to the Father in humanity.

Pulling It Together

The issue of the Athanasian Creed is not only that we rightly understand the Trinity of God but that we correctly understand the dual nature of Jesus Christ. If one believes that a man named Jesus died for her outside of an ancient city thousands of years ago, but believes that he was simply a man, then it profits her nothing. For no man can die for another and it pay his sin debt (Rom 6:23) to God. It is necessary to believe that the man Jesus was God in the flesh—otherwise you miss the point of it all.

Because Jesus was conceived by the Spirit, not by a man, he was able to live a perfect life, never sinning as we do. Nor was he corrupted by original sin, passed on to the rest of us through Adam's transgression (Rom 5:12). Therefore, being perfectly guiltless, he became an acceptable sacrifice to God for the sins of the world. His human blood was necessary for redemption, as under the law, the shedding of innocent blood is required for the forgiveness of sin (Heb 9:22). But only as God was Jesus able to redeem the sin of everyone (not just his own, which was unnecessary at any rate since he was sinless), so long as he satisfied his law too. Being both man and God, he satisfied the demand of the law and his desire for grace toward us. Though he was fully God, as man, Jesus submitted to the will of his Father (Matt 6:10; Luke 22:42), dying for us as only he could do.

Prayer: Thank you, God, for canceling my record of debt, nailing it to the cross. Amen. 

Receive these daily Sola Devotions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

Sola’s Confirmation workbook, The Lord's Prayer, is designed to be a small group Bible study, student book for home school or independent study programs, or as a classroom tool and homework resource as part of an existing confirmation program.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 15 Feb 17 00:00:00 -0600

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1 Corinthians 1:18–21

From the Confessions: The Athanasian Creed

The Father was neither made nor created nor begotten; the Son was neither made nor created, but was alone begotten of the Father; the Spirit was neither made nor created, but is proceeding from the Father and the Son. Thus there is one Father, not three fathers; one Son, not three sons; one Holy Spirit, not three spirits. And in this Trinity, no one is before or after, greater or less than the other; but all three persons are in themselves, coeternal and coequal; and so we must worship the Trinity in unity and the One God in three persons. Whoever wants to be saved should think thus about the Trinity.

Pulling It Together

Notice how the creed repeats itself. As Paul says, repetition is good for us (Phil 3:1). We need to hear the difficult teachings many times before we begin to understand. So we hear again that each of the three Persons of the Trinity are uncreated. This time, it is refined a bit, just to be sure we do not mistake the meaning. There are not three fathers, or three sons, or three spirits. There are one of each and those three are one God. Next we hear a very valuable, direct statement in the creed. No doubt this statement is present because people wondered about “begottenness” and procession. Did these words in the Nicene Creed indicate that the Father was first and the Son and the Spirit came after him? The Athanasian Creed makes it very clear: “in this Trinity none is before or after other.” But is the Father somehow greater than his Son, the Spirit less than the Father and Son from whom he proceeds? “None is greater or less than another.” The oneness of the Trinity is to be worshiped because this is God. And each of the three in the Unity is to be worshiped, for each is God.

The final sentence for our consideration today is surely in reference to those who hold to the heresies that the creed addresses. Certainly, God alone will judge persons but they would be wise to know who God is, if they would depend upon him. It is not that one must say “amen” to the Athanasian Creed in order to be saved. Faith in the God whom the creed names, however—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—is very necessary to salvation.

Prayer: Lord of heaven and earth, enlighten my understanding of you. Amen. 

Receive these daily Sola Devotions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

We Still Believe is a Bible study resource reflecting on key themes in biblical Lutheran doctrine that are at risk in the Church today. It is offered in the hope that it will inspire individuals and congregations to examine the core beliefs of traditional Lutheranism and how these beliefs apply to our own present context. Written in a question and discussion style by Pastor Steven King, the participant's book includes an introduction to and copy of the faith statement known as the Common Confession.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 10 Feb 17 00:00:00 -0600

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Ephesians 4:1–3

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Invocation of Saints 

Many signs indicate that they have little concern for the state of the Church. They take no pains to provide for people a summary of the Church’s teachings. They defend obvious abuses with new and unusual cruelty. They will not permit suitable teachers in the churches. Doing things in this way is not in their interest or the Church’s, and decent people may easily judge the outcome. For after the good teachers have been killed and sound doctrine suppressed, fanatical spirits will rise up, whom the adversaries will not be able to restrain. They will disturb the Church with godless teaching, and will overthrow the whole government of the church, which we greatly desire to maintain.

Pulling It Together

The unity of Christ’s Church depends upon the Holy Spirit—not our actions. However, individual congregations can be destroyed by both our deeds and an intolerance of biblical teaching. So we should be eager to keep the unity which the Spirit gives the Church, by maintaining conduct that is consistent with the Christian faith. Such concern for the well-being of the churches is an indication of godly, peaceable people being led by the Holy Spirit.

Prayer: Help me to love my sisters and brothers in Christ, with his love and forbearance. Amen.

Receive these daily Sola Devotions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

In the Luther Household is a six-session Bible study on the Lutheran understanding of marriage and family. Based on foundational texts from Scripture, the study also draws from the real-life experience of Martin and Katie Luther, who were not only husband and wife, but the parents of several children. It includes excerpts from Luther's personal writings to family and friends as they faced the good and bad that come in everyday living.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 08 Feb 17 00:00:00 -0600

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Romans 14:17–19

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Invocation of Saints 

The adversaries, by ignoring these abuses when they required us to assent to the Confutation, have not acted frankly. If they cared for the interests of the Church, especially on this topic, they would take this opportunity to ask our most excellent Emperor to take measures for the correction of abuses. For it is clear that he greatly desires the healing and improvement of the Church. But the adversaries act so as to crush us in every way instead of assisting the most honorable and most holy will of the Emperor.

Pulling It Together

The promise of the gospel is righteousness, peace, and joy—not religious and dietary laws. More rules and laws provide none of these benefits. If you work harder so that you may become righteous, you will never become righteous, for a person’s righteousness only comes through faith in Christ. So, never knowing if you have become righteous enough to appease the god you are trying to appease, you will try even harder to become righteous—but continue to fail. This provides a fleeting peace that is only sensed when you imagine you have done well. Yet even that peace is false. What joy is there in such religion?

Christ is the righteousness we pursue—instead of a self-righteousness. Therefore, we are at peace, being confident that Christ has done all things necessary for our justification and salvation. The Holy Spirit reminds us daily that he has done so, and this brings joy upon joy. This is the needed message of the Church and for the world, for it is the gospel, and that makes for peace and the mutual building up of one another in the faith.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for making me acceptable to you through your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Receive these daily Sola Devotions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

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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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 07 Feb 17 00:00:00 -0600

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1 Timothy 6:3–6

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Invocation of Saints 

Luther was not the first to complain about public abuses. Long ago, there were many excellent, learned men who deplored the abuses of the Mass, trust in monastic observances, veneration of the saints that was meant to yield revenue, and confusion of the doctrine of repentance—which ought to be as clear and plain in the Church as possible. We have heard of excellent theologians who desire modification of the scholastic doctrine, which is more useful for philosophical debates than for piety. Nevertheless, the older theologians are generally nearer to Scripture than are the more recent ones. So their theology has steadily worsened.

Many good people sided with Luther from the very first, if for no other reason than they saw that he was freeing people’s minds from the mazes of these most confused and incessant discussions of the scholastic theologians and canonists, and was teaching things profitable for godliness.

Pulling It Together

Without “the words of faith” (1 Tim 4:6) the Christian Church will cease to be. Traditions and myths bring no peace but the plain teaching of Scripture brings contentment. I know of people who live their lives believing in “silly myths” (1 Tim 4:7) but have no certainty of eternal life. Their God, whom they think to be the God of Christians, is as capricious to them as the Greek and Roman gods were to those who believed in them.

So we must teach “the words of faith,” which are profitable for both godliness and contentment. For when one is content with Christ, he is at peace in all circumstances. That person trusts in God’s promises instead of human traditions that cannot be kept (Acts 15:10). Trusting in God’s faithfulness, we are at peace in Christ. This is the heart of “the words of faith” that we confess.

Prayer: Turn my mind to your word, Lord. Amen.

Receive these daily Sola Devotions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

Deliver Us from Evilby Rev. Philip Gagnon, provides a ritual approach to exorcism and the demonic. It is a helpful instrument of pastoral care for such times when a pastor encounters the need for performing an exorcism. Pastor Gagnon explores the scriptural and early Church background and response to the demonic, as well as the pastoral discernment and the use of the sacraments in relation to exorcism. Included are two rites of renunciation, two rites of exorcism, and a rite for the exorcism and blessing of a dwelling. Additional prayers and blessings are included as helps in the battle. The book serves as an alert to the manifold ways in which evil may work in the human heart.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 31 Jan 17 00:00:00 -0600

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2 Peter 1:16

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Invocation of Saints 

Thus the Confutation has been deceitfully written, not only on this topic, but nearly everywhere. They make no distinctions in any passages between obvious abuses and their teachings. Those of sounder mind among them would concede that the teaching of the scholastics and canonists contain many false opinions, and that the ignorance and negligence of the pastors allowed for many abuses to creep into the Church. 

Pulling It Together

“Well, I don’t know what art is but I like pink.” That opinion may be fine for my granddaughter but it will not fly at the Guggenheim. It does not work in Christian faith either. Opinions are of no use to us. We require the word of God, what is written, the Scriptures. When we depart from sola Scriptura, we begin to drown in human opinions. Pastors and professors, as in the days prior to the Reformation, may lead us down the path of opinion, and some may be content to dodder along behind them. But God is faithful, and will always call his Church back to the word. 

Prayer: Give me ears to hear, God. Amen.

Receive these daily Sola Devotions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

The Upper Room is a six-part drama and sermon series for use during the weeks of Lent, in midweek or Sunday morning services. The stories in this series seek to focus our hearts and minds on the last days of Jesus, drawing us into a greater spiritual maturity that recognizes the blessings and responsibilities of this life of faith, as we walk with our Lord on the path to the cross.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 30 Jan 17 00:00:00 -0600

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Romans 3:21–22

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Invocation of Saints 

Bishops, theologians, and monks applaud these monstrous and wicked tales because they put food in their bellies. But they do not tolerate us because we do not require the invocation of saints, and because we condemn abuses in the worship of saints so that the honor and office of Christ may be more conspicuous. Good people everywhere have longed for either the authority of the bishops or the diligence of the preachers to correct these abuses. Nevertheless, our adversaries altogether pass over obvious vices in their Confutation, as though they wish, by forcing our acceptance of the Confutation, to require us to approve of even the most notorious abuses.

Pulling It Together

The office that Melancthon refers to is that Christ is our Propitiator and Mediator. Christ alone has atoned for our sin and it is he who stands between sinners and God. The law does us no good because we cannot keep it—nor can other sinners keep it for us. Beyond that, it would make no difference if we could; the law is something sinners should obey but it does not make them righteous even when they sometimes manage to obey its demands. All the law does is point its accusing finger at us and tell us to do better. But it does not justify us to God. This is the office of Christ—not of the law or of our works of the law. He provides all who have faith in him with the righteousness of God instead of a so-called righteousness of law keeping.

Prayer: My only boast is in you, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Receive these daily Sola Devotions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

Faith Webbing is a deep, purposeful intergenerational approach to connecting youth to faith through a congregation. Its premise is to intentionally identify relationship voids in young peoples’ lives and then to fill those voids with members from within the congregation. For some youth, there might not be a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, older sibling, or younger sibling in their life. With Faith Webbing youth develop scores of long-term surrogate church family relationships of all ages.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 26 Jan 17 00:00:00 -0600

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2 Timothy 3:14-17

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Invocation of Saints 

But certain triflers, having no knowledge either of faith or civil affairs, have invented epic stories that are nothing but superstitious examples about certain prayers, fasts, and new services created for monetary gain. There is no need to cite examples of their fabrications of miracles about rosaries and similar ceremonies, since these “legends,” as they call them, and the “mirrors” of examples, and the “rosaries” are readily available, containing many things like the “true stories” of Lucian.

Pulling It Together

The Scripture is not some pulp fiction, read for shallow thrills on an idle evening. Rather, the word permeates our whole lives, penetrating and informing us who we are before God (Heb 4:12). It wounds our consciences, piercing so deeply that we must depend upon God’s grace instead of our piety or the merits of saints. The word of God makes us “wise for salvation”—not through fables about saints but through faith in Jesus Christ. The inspired, God-breathed word is beneficial to our souls, so Lutherans confess sola Scriptura: Scripture alone is our rule of faith and practice.

Prayer: Give me confidence in your word, Lord. Amen.

Receive these daily Sola Devotions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

This congregational resource book describes how a parish can host an “invite-able” event, as part of a larger evangelism initiative, energizing God’s people for the mission of Christ. Using a practical step-by-step “how to” approach, provides guidance, organization, and ideas — not simply to promote a single program, but to develop and inspire the over-all outreach of the congregation. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 24 Jan 17 00:00:00 -0600

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Matthew 18:21–22

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Invocation of Saints 

Examples of mercy are also beneficial, as when we see Peter’s denial forgiven, Cyprian forgiven for having been a sorcerer, Augustine experiencing the power of faith in sickness and steadily affirming that God truly hears the prayers of believers. It is profitable to teach examples such as these, which speak of either faith, or fear, or the administration of the state.

Pulling It Together

The mercy of God knows no bounds. He even forgives us when we are unfaithful to him (2 Tim 2:13), as we see in his forgiveness of Peter’s denials (Luke 22:54–62). He forgives in extreme situations like this but he also forgives us as often as we come to him in repentance. Many rabbis taught that we should forgive each other as many as three times, so Peter, in a moment of magnanimity, suggests to Jesus that his disciples ought to forgive people seven times. Jesus responds that real forgiveness ought to be 77 times, or as the King James puts it, “seventy times seven,” or 490 times. It is not the specific quantity that is at issue for Jesus; he is teaching, by saying 77 times, that our forgiveness should have no terminus, just as we may expect from God. We must forgive one another even as we have been forgiven (Matt 6:12).

This is the type of example from the lives of the saints that we declare is profitable for teaching in the Church. For these examples teach us more about the greatness of our God than of the character of the saints. 

Prayer: Forgive me of my sins, Lord, even as I forgive those who sin against me. Amen.

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This is Most Certainly True! is a six-chapter mid-week Lenten Series features monologues from Martin Luther himself, based on his writings in the Large Catechism. Luther explains eloquently and simply what each part of the catechism means for us as believers and ends it with an affirmation of certainty: "This is most certainly true!"

Luther's thoughts have been transformed here into dramatic monologues so that we might hear and meditate on the foundations of our Christian faith. In addition to a sample worship service outline, there are hymns suggestions for each monologue and opening dialogues for worship based on the parts of the Small Catechism.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 23 Jan 17 00:00:00 -0600

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Philippians 3:17

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Invocation of Saints 

Although the saints performed great deeds, useful as examples in either public or private life, the remembrance of which would promote the strengthening of faith and the imitation of their example in the administration of public affairs, no one has searched for true stories from the lives of the saints. Still, it is advantageous to hear how holy people administered governments, underwent calamities and dangers, were an aid to kings at times of great peril, taught the Gospel, and confronted heretics.

Pulling It Together

The “Apostolic Fathers” inform us that Polycarp was a disciple of the Apostle John, and “the angel of the church in Smyrna” (Rev 2:8). Irenaeus was his disciple and tells of the bishop’s faithful life, teaching, stand against heresy, and martyrdom. Polycarp is a beneficial example of the Christian life because his story teaches us how he imitated the life of John who followed the teaching and example of Jesus. Polycarp should be set forth as an example to us all for that reason: because he followed the example Christ that he learned from others, notably John—not because of some imaginative tale.

Prayer: Help me, Lord, to stand firm with faith in you. Amen.

Receive these daily Sola Devotions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

The Sola Online Worship Resource (SOWeR) includes a limited selection of music for use in worship, drawing primarily upon texts and music in the public domain, along with biblical texts set to familiar tunes. SOWeR is a lectionary-based web resource for Scripture lessons, lectionary inserts, children's bulletins, devotionals, text studies, prayers, hymn-planning, and much more! Join the hundreds of congregations who have discovered how simple, flexible, and useful SOWeR is for worship planning and sermon preparation. This brochure will answer more questions about SOWeR. Call 1-888-887-9840 to order a yearly subscription. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 22 Jan 17 00:00:00 -0600

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1 Peter 2:9

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Invocation of Saints 

Still, the incredible stories of statues and pictures are surpassed by the fabulous tales about the saints that are publicly taught with great authority. Barbara, amidst her torments, asked for this reward: that no one who would invoke her should die without the Eucharist. Another, standing on one foot, recited the whole Psalter each day. Some wise fellow painted Christopher in a way that symbolizes those who would bear Christ, that is, those who would teach or confess the Gospel, must have strong souls because they must undergo the greatest dangers. Then the foolish monks taught people to invoke Christopher, as though such a Polyphemus had once existed.

Pulling It Together

God has done great things through his people, both in the Church and in the affairs of the world. There are so many examples in the lives of his peculiar people (1 Pet 2:9, KJV) that would be an advantage for all to hear, for inspiring and strengthening their faith, and for directing their attention and praise to God. So, why pass over those great stories, teaching tales—many of which are obviously contrived—that exalt the saints instead of their Lord? For the task of God’s people is to proclaim the excellencies of Christ, not the importance of departed saints.

Prayer: Give me strength, Lord, to imitate those who imitated you. Amen.

Receive these daily Sola Devotions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

The Sola Online Worship Resource (SOWeR) also includes bulletin templates. There are word processing templates for both communion and non-communion services. There are also templates for Sola, LBW, and Reclaim service settings. SOWeR is a lectionary-based web resource for Scripture lessons, lectionary inserts, children's bulletins, devotionals, text studies, prayers, hymn-planning, and much more! Join the hundreds of congregations who have discovered how simple, flexible, and useful SOWeR is for worship planning and sermon preparation. This brochure will answer more questions about SOWeR. Call 1-888-887-9840 to order a yearly subscription. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 21 Jan 17 00:00:00 -0600

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Romans 8:34

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Invocation of Saints 

As I have said above, the entire knowledge of Christ is suppressed when other mediators are sought besides Christ, and trust is placed in others. The facts demonstrate the reality. At the first mention of the saints, as in the ancient prayers, it seems to have been done in a tolerable manner. But invocation followed, and with it, immense abuses that are worse than pagan. From invocation, the next step was to images. These were also worshiped, because it was believed that magical power existed in them, just as sorcerers imagine that power exists in horoscopes carved at a particular time. In a certain monastery we have seen a statue of the blessed Virgin, moved like a puppet on a string, seeming to nod yes or no to those making requests.

Pulling It Together

It is a slippery slope. It is one thing to ask someone to pray for you, but quite another to expect that person to mediate between you and God. Yet this is the slope so many descended. Initially, dead saints were asked to pray but eventually they were expected to answer those prayers. The saints have no such power—either in images of them or in any reality. Christ alone is the Mediator between people and God. This is because he is the atonement of God, the only one who may stand before the Father on our behalf. We ask people to pray for us, as we pray for others, but we pray only to God in Christ.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for caring to hear my prayers, through Jesus Christ the Lord. Amen.

Receive these daily Sola Devotions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

The Sola Online Worship Resource (SOWeR) also includes liturgies and services for your use. There are ready-to-copy settings for Holy Communion, services, services of the Word, Vespers, occasional services, funerals, and seasonal services. SOWeR is a lectionary-based web resource for Scripture lessons, lectionary inserts, children's bulletins, devotionals, text studies, prayers, hymn-planning, and much more! Join the hundreds of congregations who have discovered how simple, flexible, and useful SOWeR is for worship planning and sermon preparation. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 20 Jan 17 00:00:00 -0600

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1 Timothy 2:1–6

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Invocation of Saints 

Even if we could imagine that the invocation of saints were taught with the greatest circumspection, the subject is still dangerous. Why is it necessary to defend it when it has no command or testimony from God’s Word? Indeed, it does not have even the testimony of the ancient writers.

Pulling It Together

Great value was placed on Patristics: what the early theologians and bishops called the Church Fathers taught about the Christian faith from the time of the apostles through the seven ecumenical councils of the Church (roughly until early in the eighth century).

As the centuries passed, the practices of the churches changed. In the earliest centuries, churches gave thanks to God in memory of the faithful. This is still done today, for example, the Commemoration of Polycarp, disciple of John, pastor, and martyr. He is remembered on February 23rd each year. Athanasius of Alexandria is remembered on May 2nd, Mary on July 22nd, and others on various days of the year. Eventually, thanks gave way to veneration of and prayer to the saints. This evolution may be observed in the Church Fathers.

It cannot, however, be found in the New Testament, where Christ alone is the Mediator of the Church. “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim 2:5). This is the testimony of Scripture, of the earliest Church Fathers (the Apostolic Fathers), and the confession of Lutherans. 

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for hearing my prayers. Amen.

Receive these daily Sola Devotions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

The Sola Online Worship eResource is a lectionary-based web resource for Scripture lessons, lectionary inserts, children's bulletins, devotionals, text studies, prayers, hymn-planning, and much more! Join the hundreds of congregations who have discovered how simple, flexible, and useful SOWeR is for worship planning and sermon preparation. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 19 Jan 17 00:00:00 -0600

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Psalm 91:1–4

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Invocation of Saints 

This error also prevails among the theologians, namely, that each saint has been committed a particular administration. Anna bestows riches; Sebastian repels pestilence; Valentine heals epilepsy; George protects horsemen. These opinions have clearly sprung from paganism. Among the Romans, Juno was thought to enrich, Febris to fended off fever, Castor and Pollux to protect horsemen, and so on.

Pulling It Together

The Lord himself is our sure defense. We need cry out to no other, for no one other than the Almighty is able or inclined to save us (Acts 4:12). This is what the Scriptures teach us. Let us not muddy the clear waters of the Word with the practices of other religions or the myths of pagan cultures. God alone is our shield and buckler. More than defenses, he is our deliverer. We confess that the saints cannot help us but that the Lord is our certain help and hope in the face of all trouble and danger.

Prayer: You alone, O Lord, are my refuge and strength. Amen.

Receive these daily Sola Devotions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

The Adventures of Martin Luther is a simple musical drama was written for youth to tell the story of Martin Luther's adventures, including his testimony before the Emperor at the Diet of Worms and what was happening in Wittenberg during Luther's exile at Wartburg Castle. It is being released by Sola Publishing as part of the celebration of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation in 2017. The script allows for many participants, using accessible language and easy-to-learn songs based on familiar hymn tunes. It serves as a fun and interesting way for young people to enter into the story of Martin Luther, acting out some key moments in his life. Costume and prop notes are included, to help those in charge of the production.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 18 Jan 17 00:00:00 -0600

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1 Peter 2:4–6

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Invocation of Saints 

The adversaries teach us to trust in the invocation of saints, though this has neither the Word of God nor an example in Scripture. They apply the merits of the saints to others just like the merits of Christ, transferring the honor belonging only to Christ to the saints. Therefore, we cannot receive either their opinions about the worship of the saints or their practice of praying to the saints. For we know that confidence is to be placed in the intercession of Christ, because this alone has God’s promise. We know that the merits of Christ alone are a propitiation for us. When we believe in Christ, we are accounted righteous because of his merits, as the text says, “He who believes in him will not be put to shame” (Rom 9:33). We are not accounted righteous by trusting in the merits of the blessed Virgin or of the other saints.

Pulling It Together

All Christians are priests before God. The Church, a “holy priesthood” of believers prays to God through Jesus Christ. God does not require other intercessors who are in his presence. We are already in his presence since he dwells in the midst of all believers, his “spiritual house,” the temple of his Spirit. Concerning the merits of the saints, Scripture only speaks of placing our trust in Christ. Those who do, will not be disappointed (1 Pet 2:6, NASB).

Prayer: I trust in you, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Receive these daily Sola Devotions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

Our free, mobile app includes a searchable ESV Bible, the Sola Small Catechism, Sola Devotions, electronic greeting cards, Sola products, the Sola Online Worship eResource, and more—with even more to come. Download the new Sola App for Android or Apple

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 17 Jan 17 00:00:00 -0600

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John 3:16

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Invocation of Saints 

It has been said of the other saints, “Each shall receive his wages according to his labor” (1 Cor 3:8). In other words, they cannot bestow their own merits upon one another, as the monks sell the merits of their orders. Even Hilary says of the foolish virgins, “And as the foolish virgins could not go forth with their lamps extinguished, they implored those who were prudent to lend them oil. The wise replied that they could not give it because there might not be enough for all. That is, no one can be aided by the works and merits of another, because it is necessary for everyone to buy oil for his own lamp.”

Pulling It Together

We cannot stand on our own two feet, let alone lend our works or merits to other people. This is the purview of Christ alone. Christ Jesus imputes his righteousness to us, but we do not ascribe our righteousness to anyone. First of all, we have none to give, for we are all unrighteous (Rom 3:10). Secondly, if we were to imagine that we did have righteousness to lend, why did the Father send his Son to die for us? If the sacrifice and virtue of someone other than Christ will suffice for our salvation, God has made a grave error.

But God has made no mistake in sending his Son to die for us. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, no matter the greatness or smallness of his works, his virtue, or his devotion. It all depends upon Christ, not the magnitude of one’s works, nor the bestowal of another’s generosity.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I believe in you. Amen.

Receive these daily Sola Devotions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

Combining the message of salvation in Christ with personal witness, The Gospel in Miniature is a Lutheran guide for evangelism. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 16 Jan 17 00:00:00 -0600

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Hebrews 9:15–17

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Invocation of Saints 

The sober fact is that the blessed Virgin has altogether replaced Christ in public opinion. People have invoked her, trusted in her mercy, and have desired to appease Christ through her, as though He were not a Propitiator, but only a dreadful judge and avenger. We believe, however, that we must not trust that the merits of the saints are applied to us, that because of them, God is reconciled to us, or has accounted us just, or saves us. We obtain forgiveness of sins only by the merits of Christ, when we believe in Him.

Pulling It Together

Because of his sacrificial death for us, Christ alone has satisfied the just requirement of God’s law, something which we nor the saints could ever do. Scripture therefore, calls only Christ our Mediator. Christ now sits at God’s right hand (Mark 16:19), where he intercedes for all who believe. Through Christ a New Covenant was established by the shedding of his blood (Luke 22:20). The Scriptures never speak of anyone else doing this for us.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for dying in my place, mediating for me before your Father, so that I am purchased back from death. Amen.

Receive these daily Sola Devotions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

Written for a general audience, Luther's Pigtails is a one-act comedy is based on the actual words of Martin and Katie Luther and Philipp Melanchthon. The play is of an appropriate length to be performed within the context of a worship service, or it may serve as the basis for a special congregational event in celebration of the Reformation. The play gives the audience a glimpse into the real life of Martin and Katie, illustrating why Luther was able to say, "There is no more lovely, friendly, and charming relationship, communion, or company than a good marriage."

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 13 Jan 17 00:00:00 -0600

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Revelation 1:1-3

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Church – part 26

But there is no need to cite many testimonies, since they are obvious throughout the Scriptures. We have referenced much of it in the latter articles of our Confession. In a while, we will need to repeat the point that must be decided in this controversy: whether human traditions are acts of worship that are necessary for righteousness before God. There we will discuss this matter more fully.

Pulling It Together

“It is written.” This was a favorite saying of the prophets, the evangelists, the apostles, and Jesus. Sometimes it is phrased as a question: “What is written?” They use this expression almost 100 times to point to the truth of what is stated in the Scriptures. Oh, that we would be content with what Scripture says, instead of going beyond what is written (1 Cor 4:6) by depending upon our traditions, old sayings, and pronouncements. These things swell the head but do nothing for the heart. We may even feel like we have won an argument but at the end of that disputation, the question remains. “What is written?” This is how we must decide all controversies. 

Prayer: Speak through your Scripture, Lord, for your servant listens. Amen.

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A Latin phrase meaning “Scripture Alone,” Sola Scriptura is one of the traditional Lutheran slogans used since the time of the Reformation. It expresses our confession that Scripture is “the only rule and norm according to which all doctrines and teachers alike must be appraised and judged.” Using the familiar phrase as its title, Sola Scriptura is a new, advanced-level Bible Study in a two-part series, of six chapters each, on the functional authority of Scripture. For those who would like to cover the topic in detail, there is enough material to cover one chapter in two sessions, making each part a 12-week study.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 12 Jan 17 00:00:00 -0600

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2 Thessalonians 3:16-18

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Church – part 25

Paul means that the righteousness of the heart is a spiritual thing that quickens hearts. It is evident that human traditions do not quicken hearts. They are not effects of the Holy Spirit like love of one’s neighbor, chastity, and so forth. Nor are human traditions instruments through which God moves hearts to believe, as are the divinely given Word and Sacraments. Rather, these human practices do not pertain to the heart, and perish with the using. So we must not believe that they are necessary for righteousness before God. Paul speaks to the same effect, writing, “For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom 14:17).

Pulling It Together

External is not eternal. These outward things will never secure everlasting life. Furthermore, they will never give us peace. The heart must be changed by God for these things to be ours. Righteousness, peace, and the hope of salvation are all matters of the heart. Such spiritual things are effected by the Spirit of God and by his means, not by the things that we do or the disciplines and ceremonies that we keep. The hope of salvation is not aroused because one uses the correct Bible reading plan or worship style. The righteousness of the heart is not activated because of any human custom. God alone gives us grace, faith, peace, hope, and all good inner or spiritual things.

Prayer: Thank you, Holy Spirit, for being at work in me, in spite of me. Amen.

Receive these daily Sola Devotions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

Check out Sola’s Confirmation workbook, The Apostle’s Creed, designed to be a small group Bible study, student book for home school or independent study programs, or as a classroom tool and homework resource as part of an existing confirmation program.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 11 Jan 17 00:00:00 -0600

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John 19:16–27

From the Confessions: The Apostles Creed

“Was Crucified”

Pulling It Together

All of Jesus' ministry looks toward the crucifixion. He tells his disciples over and over that this is why he came to earth. Sometimes it is a veiled announcement (John 2:19); other times it is straightforward (Matt 20:18-19). His life pointed toward crucifixion, an event that Jesus declared would redeem the world (Mark 10:45).

A hanging produces immediate death. Compared to crucifixion, hanging is merciful. Crucifixion is meant to make a person suffer. It is a gruesome, slow, painful, and public death. The victim was tied or nailed to a wooden crossbeam and left hanging upon it to slowly die from suffocation. If a person was crucified on a simple cross (a pole or crux simplex) with hands tied over the head, the suffering was over within an hour or so. Being crucified with outstretched arms meant a much slower death—and someone who wanted the suffering to linger. It was literally excruciating (from the Latin word excruciatus meaning “from the cross”).

Jesus suffered for our sin to the point of enduring the most painful and humiliating death known to the people of his time. We confess that Christ suffered in our place, redeeming us from the curse of the law (Gal 3:13) by dying the cursed death of crucifixion (Deut 21:23).

Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, for dying for me. Amen. 

• Receive these daily Sola Devotions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your Subject.

Reading and Discussion of Luther's Catechisms is a more challenging study series based on assigned readings from the Book of Concord and related Scripture texts. Each study is comprised of eight sessions, plus an optional introductory session, each presented in a question and discussion format. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 10 Jan 17 00:00:00 -0600

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Galatians 5:1-6

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Church 

Now we are not discussing the question whether there is advantage to observe them for the sake of order or bodily profit. Another matter is being considered: whether the observances of human traditions are acts of worship necessary for righteousness before God. This is the point to be judged in this controversy, and when this is decided, it can then be judged whether the true unity of the Church depends upon human traditions being the same everywhere. If human traditions are not acts of worship necessary for righteousness before God, it also follows that people can be righteous and children of God if they do not have traditions that are in use elsewhere. For instance, if the style of German clothing is not worship of God necessary for righteousness before him, it follows that people can be righteous and children of God and the Church of Christ, even though they wear French clothing.

Pulling It Together

I have convictions about what service book I wish to use and what style and order of worship I prefer, and even which half-dozen translations of the Bible I favor. If I dare to make those things qualifications for your righteousness and salvation, please take me to task. When such matters—and there are a host of others—of indifference to justification are considered necessary for church unity, then true worship is harmed. Indeed, idolatry has set in when we venerate these human preferences and traditions. If we give way to these things as the new law in the church, then we have submitted ourselves again to slavery. We will have fallen from grace, having shown that we have no desire for God’s grace, but instead a slavish insistence on our preferences and traditions becoming the observances and ceremonies used by everyone.

Prayer: Help me to worship you, Almighty God, in spirit and in truth, for Christ’s sake. Amen.

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All God’s Critters - Unit 2 is now available. All God's Critters is a Sunday School series designed for young students in Preschool and Kindergarten. Lessons are based on storytelling, rhyme, and pictures, and are suitable for participation by non-readers. The flexible lesson plans introduce the youngest believers to the importance and truth of God’s Word. Each lesson includes the story of the day written in a simplified manner so that young children may understand an important truth about God and what it means for us to be God’s children.

The All God’s Critters curriculum is fully reproducible and is designed with the particular needs of small churches, mission congregations, and house churches in mind. Check out some sample pages by clicking HERE.

All God's Critters - Unit 1

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 09 Jan 17 00:00:00 -0600

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John 20:24-26

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Church – part 22

Just as the differences in length of day and night does not injure the unity of the Church, so we believe that the true unity of the Church is not injured by different rites instituted by men. However, it is pleasing to us that universal rites are observed for the sake of order. So, in our churches we willingly observe the order of the Mass, the Lord’s Day, and other more important feast days. We embrace the profitable and ancient ordinances with a very grateful mind, especially since they contain a discipline that is profitable for the instruction and training of people and those who are uneducated.

Pulling It Together

I once went to a church where you had to use two service books plus music and text from other service books printed in the bulletin in order to follow the service. I felt like a juggler. In my opinion, it did not promote good order. However, the true unity of the church was not damaged by their choice of liturgical sources. The Church is that gathering of saints where the Gospel is correctly taught and the Sacraments are rightly administered. As I tried to determine which service book to use next, I was certain that the other worshipers shared my faith and desired the means of grace as much as I did. And there—right there—is the true church. There is the truest order and real peace, for there—in the midst of we who had gathered around his Word and Sacraments—Jesus came and stood among us. 

Prayer: Lord, do not just give me peace; be my peace. Amen.

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The Sacraments is one of four books in the Sola Confirmation Series and serves as a simple and practical resource for teaching the biblical Word of God according to the traditional pattern of Martin Luther’s Small Catechism. Each book in the series may be used as the basis for a “come as you are” small group Bible study, as a student book for home school or independent study programs, or as a classroom tool and homework resource as part of an existing confirmation program. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 08 Jan 17 00:00:00 -0600

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1 Corinthians 15:55–58

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Invocation of Saints 

Granted, the blessed Mary prays for the Church, but does she receive souls in death, does she conquer death, does she give life? What does Christ do if the blessed Mary does these things? Though she is deserving of the most ample honors, nevertheless she does not wish to be made equal to Christ, but instead wishes us to consider and follow her example.

Pulling It Together

First, Scripture does not tell us that Mary is the victory over sin and death, not does it even hint at such things. Christ conquered death for Mary and for us all. His victory is so complete that we are considered to be more than victorious (Rom 8:37) through faith in him. There is no area untouched by this total victory. But it is not Mary’s victory; it is not Paul’s or Peter’s or any other saint’s triumph. It is Christ’s victory that is shared by all believers through faith in him (1 John 5:4-5). Mary and the other saints cannot provide us any victory over sin and death. God is due all of the thanks because he has defeated sin and death through his Son, and given us full share in his victory. We too overcome these enemies through faith in Christ alone (1 John 5:4).

Second, we should certainly follow Mary’s example of steadfast faith—and not hers only, but the examples of all the saints, both dead and living.  

Prayer: Thank you, Jesus, for your total victory over sin and death. Amen.

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Have you downloaded the Sola App for Android or Apple? This free, mobile app includes these Sola Devotions, a searchable ESV Bible, the Sola Small Catechism, electronic greeting cards featuring our daily Scripture graphics, Sola products, the Sola Online Worship eResource, and more—with even more to come. Download it today!

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 07 Jan 17 00:00:00 -0600

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Revelation 1:17–18

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Invocation of Saints 

Some of us have seen a certain theologian, a monk, brought to console a dying doctor of theology, who pressed on the dying man nothing but this prayer: “Mother of grace, protect us from the enemy; receive us in the hour of death.”

Pulling It Together

It is The Living One who makes us live. The one who died but lives again causes us to live forevermore through faith in him. Jesus tells us that it is his voice that the dead will one day hear (John 5:28) when some will be resurrected to eternal life, while others are resurrected to judgment. We confess that it is God alone, the one who holds the keys to death, who is the only one whom we may call upon to provide escape from the grave. Therefore, we have no fear of either death or the devil, for the right hand of the Lord is upon us, giving peace through the assurance of his word and resurrection. Only the great I AM who is “the first and the last” and “the living one,” gives life and salvation to all who call upon his name (Joel 2:32; Rom 10:12).

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for unlocking the door of death and giving me eternal life with you. Amen.

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Have you downloaded the Sola App for Android or Apple? This free, mobile app includes these Sola Devotions, a searchable ESV Bible, the Sola Small Catechism, electronic greeting cards featuring our daily Scripture graphics, Sola products, the Sola Online Worship eResource, and more—with even more to come. Download it today!

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 06 Jan 17 00:00:00 -0600

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Ephesians 5:25–27

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Invocation of Saints 

This form of absolution is sometimes used: “The passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, the merits of the most blessed Virgin Mary and of all the saints, be to thee for the remission of sins.” According to the declaration of this absolution, we are reconciled and accounted righteous, not only by the merits of Christ but also, by the merits of the other saints.

Pulling It Together

No saints are named by Paul (or any other writer in the New Testament) as responsible for the act of cleansing the church. Christ alone has made the church holy—so holy that she is without blemish. Does Christ need someone’s help in this sanctification of his church? Does he need a single saint’s assistance, or has he done this on his own by giving himself for her on the cross? What is written?

Prayer: Thank you, Jesus, for giving yourself up for me and for all who believe. Amen.

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Written in honor of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, The Life of Martin Luthera nine-session adult study, takes participants through the circumstances and events of the life of Martin Luther as it reflects on the biblical themes underlying the Lutheran Reformation. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 05 Jan 17 00:00:00 -0600

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Hebrews 7:23–25

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Invocation of Saints 

But where has this arrangement that Biel refers to, saying that we ought to resort to the aid of the saints, been instituted by God? Let him produce a single example or command from Scripture. Perhaps they derive this arrangement from the courts of kings where friends must be used as intercessors. But if a king has appointed a certain intercessor, he will not want cases to be brought to him through others. So, since Christ has been appointed as Intercessor and High Priest, why would we seek others?

Pulling It Together

No one draws near to a king unless he is commanded to do so. Therefore, if you wish to have the king’s ear, it must be done through one who is already in the king’s presence—and to whom the king will listen. In American terms, just try to get close enough to the president so that he would hear your request. You have to go through a representative. In kingdom terms, Jesus is our representative. He is the only one whom God has elected to be our permanent intercessor. This is what Scripture teaches us. How could we confess differently? 

Prayer: Thank you, God, for hearing my prayers, through the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

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Our prayer is that My Zoe Journal: A Girl's Journey of Self-discovery will open the hearts of young ladies in faith, that they would be filled with the love of Christ. We hope that through these pages, girls might come to discover their gifts, abilities, and growth areas, and come to understand that our most basic identity comes from the One who loves us the most.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 04 Jan 17 00:00:00 -0600

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John 6:35–40

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Invocation of Saints 

Through indulgences they say that they apply the merits of the saints. Gabriel Biel, the interpreter of the canon of the Mass, confidently declares: “According to the order instituted by God, we should betake ourselves to the aid of the saints, in order that we may be saved by their merits and vows.” These are the words of Gabriel. Even more absurd things may be read here and there in the books and sermons of the adversaries. What is this if not to make the saints propitiators? If we are to trust that we are saved by the merits of saints then they are considered altogether equal to Christ.

Pulling It Together

Jesus said that whoever comes to him would never again hunger or thirst (John 6:35). Now that is satisfaction: to never be hungry or thirsty—and to never worry about being filled. But Jesus is not talking about the belly, otherwise he would not have called himself “the bread of life.” In this paragraph of the gospel, Jesus is speaking about eternal life and how we will be resurrected at the end. Jesus teaches us that there is a bread more important than the loaf in the bread box. Sufficient quantity of baked bread will keep us alive for 70 or 80 years (Psa 90:10). Feasting on the bread of life will make us live forever. Everyone who looks for life in the true bread “that comes down from heaven” will never die (John 11:26).

We are forgiven, made righteous, and saved through Christ alone. The Bread of Life is the only satisfaction for our sins. No other life, however meritorious, virtuous, or pious satisfies the law's demand (Rom 6:23) and turns away God’s just wrath. So believe and be satisfied.

Prayer: Thank you, Jesus, for filling me with your own Spirit. Amen.

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Re-Thinking Confirmation: A Practical Guide will help you think through your confirmation ministry and offers suggestions to design, implement, and lead an effective confirmation program.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 03 Jan 17 00:00:00 -0600

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1 Corinthians 1:27–31

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Invocation of Saints 

Secondly, they apply the merits of the saints to others, just like the merits of Christ. They tell us to trust in the merits of the saints as though we were accounted righteous on because of their merits in the same way that we are accounted righteous by the merits of Christ. We are not inventing these charges.

Pulling It Together

Everything that we have comes from God. Both our physical and spiritual lives are gifts. Since all comes from God, why would we think righteousness and eternal life come from another source? Why would we think ourselves or anyone else able to give such great gifts? Now we might make much of ourselves, of our religious devotion, our prayers to saints, our offerings and other sacrifices. Or we might make much of a saint’s life, and depend upon that saint to answer our prayers. We would do so because we recognize that our own lives are insufficient to earn such favor. So at least we would have understood that our own standing before God is affected because of the righteousness of someone else. But that someone—the only one—who can assign his own righteousness to us is Christ. We are made righteous because of his merits, not because of the saintly lives of any others. Our boast is not in ourselves or saints but in the Lord alone. He is our righteousness, holiness, and redemption.

Prayer: All praise belongs to you alone, Lord, who has accomplished our salvation. Amen.

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The Adventures of Martin Luther is a simple musical drama was written for youth to tell the story of Martin Luther's adventures, including his testimony before the Emperor at the Diet of Worms and what was happening in Wittenberg during Luther's exile at Wartburg Castle. It is being released by Sola Publishing as part of the celebration of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation in 2017. The script allows for many participants, using accessible language and easy-to-learn songs based on familiar hymn tunes. It serves as a fun and interesting way for young people to enter into the story of Martin Luther, acting out some key moments in his life. Costume and prop notes are included, to help those in charge of the production.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 02 Jan 17 00:00:00 -0600

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John 14:13–14

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Invocation of Saints 

Our adversaries tell us first to invoke the saints, even though they do not have God’s promise, or a command, or an example from Scripture. Nevertheless, they would have us place greater confidence in the mercy of the saints than in that of Christ, though Christ instructed us to come to Him, not to the saints.

Pulling It Together

When we pray correctly, we will receive anything that we ask of God (James 4:3). It pleases him to answer our prayers when we pray according to his will. So, just as we are careful to ask that his “will be done” in heaven, we should be as concerned that God’s “will be done on earth.” This begins in our prayers; we must pray according to his will, not according to our desires and passions. We should have great confidence in answer to such prayers to Jesus. Did Christ himself not say, “I will do it”?

Paul, Peter, and others never promised such a thing. The Scriptures do not say this; nor do the writers of Scripture show it in some example from their lives. Only God has promised to hear our prayers. Let us then pray to him, according to his will, in Jesus’ name, for he has promised to be merciful toward us, not only hearing our prayers but answering them. 

Prayer: Give me the desire to pray your will, Lord. Amen.

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In addition to the four core catechism booklets in the Sola Confirmation Series, there are now two Scripture overview units: one on the Old Testament and one on the New Testament. These books provide a step-by-step overview of the history and geography of the Scriptures, exploring the various time periods and sections of the Bible and how they connect to one another. The goal is to give students a sense for the over-arching story of Scripture, fulfilled in the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. A Leader's Guide is also available.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 01 Jan 17 00:00:00 -0600

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Psalm 10:17

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Invocation of Saints 

Confidence in mercy arises from both the promise and the bestowal of merits. Such trust in the divine promise and in the merits of Christ ought to be the foundation of prayer. For we ought to be truly confident that we are heard for Christ’s sake, and that by His merits we have a reconciled Father.

Pulling It Together

Christian prayer must be founded upon both God’s promise and the merits of Christ. We may confidently approach God because he has promised to hear our prayers. How often we pray that his will be done, and when we ask according to his will, he hears us (1 John 5:14). But he also hears us when we pray in Jesus’ name. Because of what he has accomplished, the Son is now our mediator before God. The Father hears us because we have the Son as intercessor. By this is not meant the mere invoking of his name at the end of our prayers. Rather, we come before his Father, as it were, as though Jesus himself sent us with this request for God. As God would not ignore his beloved Son, he will not ignore the one whom Jesus has sent, the one who prays in his name.

Imagine yourself, kneeling at the throne of God, praying in Jesus’ name, while Jesus sits at his Father’s right hand listening and nodding his approval. This is how boldly and confidently we ought to draw near to the throne of grace where we will most certainly receive mercy and find grace to help in time our of need (Heb 4:16).

Prayer: Keep forever, O Lord, the purposes of your will in the hearts of your people, and direct their hearts toward you. Amen.

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This is Most Certainly True! is a six-chapter mid-week Lenten Series features monologues from Martin Luther himself, based on his writings in the Large Catechism. Luther explains eloquently and simply what each part of the catechism means for us as believers and ends it with an affirmation of certainty: "This is most certainly true!"

Luther's thoughts have been transformed here into dramatic monologues so that we might hear and meditate on the foundations of our Christian faith. In addition to a sample worship service outline, there are hymns suggestions for each monologue and opening dialogues for worship based on the parts of the Small Catechism.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 31 Dec 16 00:00:00 -0600

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1 John 2:1–2

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Invocation of Saints 

The second qualification of a propitiator is that his merits have been authorized as those which make satisfaction for others, which are bestowed by divine imputation on others, in order that through these, as if by their own merits, they may be accounted righteous. This is as if someone pays a debt for a friend. The debtor is freed by the virtue of another, as though it were by his own merit. Thus, the merits of Christ are bestowed upon us so that when we believe in Him, we are accounted righteous by our trust in Christ’s merits—as though we had merits of our own.

Pulling It Together

God’s law and holiness demand perfect holiness from us. Sadly, we do not act so devoutly. The just punishment for our failure is death (Rom 6:23). Happily, God sent Christ to become our substitute. He has vicariously taken upon himself our obligation under the law, appeasing God’s wrath by suffering death in our place. His propitious act in our stead makes us favorable to God. As our sin is covered by Christ’s sacrifice, he is rightly called “the propitiation for our sins.” The saints cannot be propitiators because they cannot cover our sins. Their virtues were not good enough to merit their own salvation, let alone ours. 

Prayer: Help me to abide in you, Lord Jesus, my righteous covering. Amen.

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Today is the last day in 2016 to make a tax-deductible gift to Sola Publishing. You may securely donate by clicking the red donate button above. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 30 Dec 16 00:00:00 -0600

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Matthew 11:25–30

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Invocation of Saints 

Then we also have Christ’s command to call upon him. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden,” etc (Matt 11:28), which is certainly spoken to us too. And Isaiah says, “In that day the root of Jesse shall stand as an ensign to the peoples; him shall the nations seek” (Isa 11:10). Then, “the people of Tyre will sue your favor with gifts, the richest of the people” (Psa 45:12). And, “May all kings fall down before him” (Psa 72:11), and shortly after, “May prayer be made for him continually” (Psa 72:15). Christ says, “that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father” (John 5:23). And Paul prays, “Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father...comfort your hearts and establish them” (2 Thes 2:16–17). What commandment or example can our opponents produce from the Scriptures concerning the invocation of saints?

Pulling It Together

Most people seek rest at the end of the day. If they have worked hard, they are tired. Others just want to retire; they want to stop working altogether. The rest that Jesus gives is rest despite the work, and further, regardless of the troubles of life. Jesus provides something more than physical rest; he gives spiritual rest, comfort, and peace. Because he bore the heavy load of our sins on the cross, our burden is comfortable and light. We are saved by God’s grace, not by the things we do or do not do.

This is the mystery that so many will not understand even though it has been revealed in Jesus. He alone is our salvation. Christ has eased the burden by saving us when we were unable to carry that load ourselves. He alone is faithful and just to forgive (1 John 1:9). Who else would you turn to in prayer other than he who supplies rest for your soul? Who else does the Scripture teach you to pray to except to the only one who has been given all authority to answer your prayers? 

Prayer: Thank you, Jesus, for bearing my sin and giving me rest. Amen.

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There are just a few more days left in 2016 to make an end of the year gift to Sola Publishing. You may securely donate by clicking the red donate button above. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 29 Dec 16 00:00:00 -0600

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Matthew 7:7–11

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Invocation of Saints 

There is such a promise concerning Christ. “If you ask anything of the Father, he will give it to you in my name” (John 16:23). There is no such promise with the saints. Therefore consciences cannot be firmly confident that we are heard by invoking the saints. Such an invocation, therefore, is not made from faith.

Pulling It Together

Jesus is teaching us to have confidence in God each time we pray the Lord’s Prayer, saying “Our Father.” Who else addresses the Father than his children? And because we have faith that “He is our true Father, and that we are His true children...we may ask Him confidently with all assurance, as dear children ask their dear father” (Small Catechism). A true father gives his children those “good gifts” that they need. This is the promise of God in Scripture. Ask of the Father in the Son’s name, and your prayer will be answered. Who is able to ask with such confidence of Paul or Peter? 

Prayer: Increase, O Lord, my confidence in your will to answer my prayers. Amen.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 28 Dec 16 00:00:00 -0600

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Romans 1:17

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Invocation of Saints 

Therefore, we shall show that they actually represent the saints as propitiators, that is, mediators of redemption, as well as intercessors. We do not yet recite the abuses of the common people, as we are still speaking of the opinions of the theologians. As regards the rest, even the inexperienced can judge.

Two things must concur if one is to be a propitiator. First, there ought to be a Word of God from which we may know with certainty that God wishes to show mercy, and to answer those calling upon him through this propitiator.

Pulling It Together

It has been said here over and over, and it shall yet be asked again and again, since it is so important. What is written? What does the Scripture say? Scripture itself begs the question. More than 80 times in the Old and New Testaments, the prophets, apostles, and others indicate the importance of what has been written in the Bible as a test of truth. From Joshua to Jesus and on to Paul, Peter, Luke, and the writer of Hebrews the phrase, “It is written,” is used to urge us to see if a teaching is founded in and defended by Scripture. There is surely no better time to depend upon the Word of God as guide than when considering for whose sake we are forgiven.

Prayer: Help me to depend upon what I know from your word, Lord. Amen.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 27 Dec 16 00:00:00 -0600

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1 Timothy 2:5

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Invocation of Saints 

But even if they distinguish between the saints being mediators of intercession and mediators of redemption, they do so without the testimony of Scripture. However so reverently they state this, it nevertheless obscures Christ’s office, and transfers to those saints the trust that we should place in Christ’s mercy. People imagine that Christ is more severe and the saints more easily appeased, so they trust in the mercy of the saints rather than the mercy of Christ. Fleeing Christ, they seek the saints. So they actually make them mediators of redemption.

Pulling It Together

What we are really discussing here is God’s ability to keep his promises. Does he forgive and justify those who have faith in Christ? Or not? We confess that God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins (1 John 1:9) and does so for Christ’s sake, not for the sake of Peter or Paul, John or James, Anselm or Augustine, or the myriad saints of heaven. All of them combined would have no effect on God’s grace, which is already freely afforded us because of Christ. He alone is our mediator, our intercessor before the Father.

Furthermore, there can be no other intercessors—even if they could influence God, which they cannot since he has already determined and has promised to forgive those who believe. Because there is only one God (Deut 6:4) and one mediator between God and man, that mediator—as Scripture testifies—is the only one who is both God and man: Jesus Christ.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for hearing my prayers, through Jesus Christ the Lord. Amen.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 26 Dec 16 00:00:00 -0600

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Ephesians 3:11–12

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Invocation of Saints 

In any case, this new invocation in the Church is not the same as the invocation of individuals. Furthermore, our opponents not only require invocation in the veneration of the saints, they also apply the merits of the saints to others, making the saints not only intercessors, but also propitiators. In no way is this to be supported since this completely transfers to the saints the honor that only belongs to Christ. They make them mediators and propitiators, and although they make a distinction between mediators of intercession and mediators of redemption, they nonetheless clearly make the saints mediators of redemption.

Pulling It Together

It is no accident that solus Christus (through Christ alone) was as central a slogan of the Reformation as sola fide (by faith alone). We have bold access to God through Christ alone. He alone is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). There is no other intercessor (1 Tim 2:5) between humanity and God. Christ alone is both mediator and redeemer. This was the confession of the Lutheran Reformers because this is the testimony of Scripture.

Prayer: Thank you, God, for the grace you have extended to me through Jesus Christ. Amen.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 25 Dec 16 00:00:00 -0600

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James 5:15–16

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Invocation of Saints 

Some plainly attribute divinity to the saints, namely the ability to discern the silent thoughts of our minds. They dispute over morning and evening knowledge, perhaps because they doubt whether the saints are able to hear us at one time or another.

They invent these things to defend lucrative services, not in order to treat the saints with honor. Nothing can be produced by the adversaries against this reasoning, that, since invocation does not have a testimony from God’s Word, it cannot be affirmed that the saints understand our invocation or even if they do understand it, that God approves of their doctrine. Therefore the adversaries ought not to force us to adopt an uncertain matter, because a prayer without faith is not prayer. Further, when they cite the example of the Church, it is clear that this is a new custom in the Church, for although the ancient prayers make mention of the saints, they do not invoke them.

Pulling It Together

“The prayer of faith” is an important dimension in Lutheran Christianity. But like too many other Christians we may have developed a misunderstanding of the prayer of faith. We might think of it this way: If I just believe enough then God will answer my prayer. This is the wrong attitude of prayer, foremost because it usurps God, putting all of the power and even the cause of faith in the hands of the one praying. How can anyone muster up enough faith so that God will then respond? They cannot; nor does the prayer of faith work that way, at any rate.

Instead, the Holy Spirit uses the Word to create faith in us (Rom 10:17). It has nothing (Nothing.) to do with us working up enough faith. God causes faith in Christ and through it, makes us righteous. However, this righteousness is not our own—something that happens because we have somehow made ourselves truly faithful. This given righteousness is the righteousness of Christ that covers us when we become children of God through faith and baptism. When one puts on Christ (Gal 3:26–27) through the faith that God has provided, then that person begins to trust in God’s will, seeks out his will, and prays along those lines.

People of faith know that because the Father loves them, he hears their prayers. Therefore, they do not require the assistance of dead saints. The saints of heaven cannot get the ear of God any more effectively or sooner than can any living Christian who prays with faith. To believe otherwise, is to deny God’s love and either his power or willingness to hear.

Prayer: Increase my faith, Lord. Amen.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 24 Dec 16 00:00:00 -0600

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James 1:5–8

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Invocation of Saints 

Since prayer ought to be made from faith, how do we know that God approves of this invocation? How do we know that the saints perceive each other’s prayers unless there is the testimony of Scripture?

Pulling It Together

One cannot invoke the saints of heaven with confident faith because the practice is based on human tradition instead of Scripture. It is based on the word of man, not upon the Word of God. Without real faith, that which is based on “what is written” (1 Cor 4:6), one may not expect to receive any answer to prayer.

Now people may claim that they have no doubt as to whether they are heard by the saints of heaven. That does not change the fact that the invocation of saints has no assurances from the Word. How can one really believe unless the Lord has established the matter in Scripture? Upon what do they base their trust? On whom do they place such confidence? The Lutherans confess sola Scriptura, that our trust only comes from “what is written” in the Scriptures, that our faith as well as our practice must stand or fall on the Word.

Prayer: Thank you for hearing my prayers, Father. Amen.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 23 Dec 16 00:00:00 -0600

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2 John 8–11

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Invocation of Saints 

Supposing the saints do passionately pray for the Church, it still does not follow that they are to be invoked. Still, our Confession only affirms this: that Scripture does not teach us to pray to the saints or ask them for help. Since neither a command, nor a promise, nor an example can be produced from the Scriptures about the invocation of saints, it follows that consciences cannot be certain about such invocation.

Pulling It Together

Scripture exhorts us to continue in the teachings of Christ’s apostles. We are not to go on ahead, that is, not invent new doctrines. If we teach as command, promise, or an example to be followed that which is not found in Scripture, we run the risk of heresy and worse, pulling others down with us. We must learn this well. Paul also teaches us to “not go beyond what is written” (1 Cor 4:6).

We may think that human traditions like the invocation of saints are harmless. Be clear; these things are not benign adiaphora. Otherwise Scripture would not admonish us to have nothing to do with a person who comes with a new teaching—something not found in the Old and New Testaments. That person is not living according to Christ’s word; that person is a deceiver and not from God.

Prayer: Help me to abide in your word, Lord, and so to abide in you. Amen.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 22 Dec 16 00:00:00 -0600

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Romans 8:34–35

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Invocation of Saints 

Besides, we also grant that the angels pray for us since there is Zechariah’s testimony (Zech 1:12). There an angel prays: “O LORD of hosts, how long wilt thou have no mercy on Jerusalem?” We also agree that just as the saints prayed for the whole Church in general while on earth, so in heaven they pray for the Church in general. However, there is no scriptural testimony about the dead praying. There is only an account of dream in the Second Book of Maccabees (15:14).

Pulling It Together

Why is there so much confusion about this matter—other than that Scripture is ignored in favor of human traditions? The prayers of saints and angels do not compare to the prayers of Jesus. Why not make much of Christ and give him the honor, instead of revering the saints and angels of heaven? Is Christ not in heaven? Scripture declares that he is not only there, but that he is at the Father’s right hand where he still makes intercession for the saints of earth, even as he did in his High Priestly Prayer while on earth (John 17:1–26).

Let us put our faith in Christ, for the Scripture says without ambiguity that he intercedes for the Church. Surely the angels pray to God, and the departed saints too. But we do not pray to them; we pray to the one who is our advocate with the Father (1 John 2:1).

Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you live and reign at your Father’s right hand. Amen.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 21 Dec 16 00:00:00 -0600

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1 Corinthians 4:16–17

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Invocation of Saints 

The third honor is the imitation of their faith and other virtues, which all Christians should imitate according to their callings. The adversaries do not require these true honors. They only argue about invocation, which, even though it were not dangerous, is nevertheless unnecessary.

Pulling It Together

We have already noted two honors that we ought to give to the saints: thanksgiving and the strengthening of faith. Let us be clear what we mean by honor. The honor that we give to “sleeping” (1 Thes 4:13) saints is not the veneration of their images or praying to them. Rather, we give them the truer honor of thanking God for their lives, and strengthening our own faith by learning about their lives in the Scriptures and teaching them in the Church and home.

We now add a third honor to the other two: the imitation of the faith and virtues of the saints. This is true, not only of the saints of heaven but also, of the saints in the Church on earth. We ought to also give thanks for them, note their steadfast faith despite their human condition, and imitate their faith and other virtues by applying them to our various callings in the Church, home, business, and government. 

Prayer: Help me, Holy Spirit, to lead a life worthy of imitation. Amen.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 20 Dec 16 00:00:00 -0600

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1 Timothy 1:12–14

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Invocation of Saints 

The second honor is the strengthening of our faith. When we see Peter forgiven for his denial, we are encouraged to believe even more that grace truly prevails over sin (Rom 5:20).

Pulling It Together

Who could be considered more guilty of sin toward Christ and his Church than Saul of Tarsus, who would become better know as the Apostle Paul? Because of his persecution of Christians, Paul eventually considered himself to be the greatest of all sinners (1 Tim 1:15). Peter too, was a great sinner, three times denying that he was a disciple or that he even knew Jesus, and doing so when Jesus needed loyal love the most.

People like Paul and Peter are precisely the reason the Father sent his Son to earth. God knew in a time before time that those sinners would need a Savior. He also knew that you and I would need a Savior, for we too are great sinners like all the apostles were. So let us honor these sinners who were saved by grace. Let us also honor the sainted sinners in our own churches. Give them the truest honor of thanking God for the mercy that caused the grace of the Lord to overflow for them. For because we have a Savior who is greater than all sinners, where there is great sin, grace is greater still (Rom 5:20). 

Prayer: Thank you, God, for your mercy and grace. Amen.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 19 Dec 16 00:00:00 -0600

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1 Corinthians 1:2-4

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Invocation of Saints 

Our Confession approves of honoring the saints. A threefold honor is approved. The first is thanksgiving. We ought to give thanks to God for showing examples of mercy, making known his will to save people, and giving teachers and other gifts to the Church. As these are the greatest gifts, they should be commended and the saints who have faithfully used these gifts should be praised, just as Christ praises faithful businessmen (Matt 25:21, 23).

Pulling It Together

To be sure, the Confession is not referring to the invocation of saints. Rather, like Paul, the Lutheran Reformers taught the churches to honor those who have been made holy and called saints because of their faith in Christ. We rightly give thanks for all of the saints: those who in every place call upon the Lord. We should further honor them by imitating their lives, just as Paul urged us to imitate himself (1 Cor 4:16; 11:1).

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for those who live faithful lives and call upon your name. Amen.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 05 Dec 16 00:00:00 -0600

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Psalm 116:15

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Invocation of Saints 

They altogether condemn the Twenty-first Article because we do not require the invocation of saints. Nor do they speak more eloquently or with more verbosity on any topic. Nevertheless, they do not substantiate anything except that the saints should be honored, and that the saints who are still living should pray for one another. This is all presented as through the invocation of dead saints were necessary on that account.

They cite Cyprian, because he asked Cornelius, while still alive, to pray for his brothers after he died. With this example they would prove the invocation of the dead. They also refer to Jerome and Vigilantius: “On this field,” they say, “eleven hundred years ago, Jerome overcame Vigilantius.” So our adversaries claim triumph, as though the war were already ended. Nor do those asses notice that in Jerome against Vigilantius, there is not a syllable concerning invocation. He speaks about honoring for the saints, not about invocation. Nor have the rest of the ancient writers before Gregory mentioned invocation. The invocation of saints, along with the adversaries’ opinions which they now teach concerning the application of merits, does not have the testimonies of the ancient writers.

Pulling It Together

Let us clarify our terms again. Saints are those who have been made holy by God’s grace; they are not those whom we have declared holy. Indeed, they are those whom God has declared holy for Christ’s sake. “For Christ’s sake” means “because of him.” We do not tally up the deeds of the deceased to see if they merit God’s favor and are therefore holy. Rather, the Father has accounted his Son’s life, death, resurrection, and ascension as that which merits holiness and salvation for those who believe. 

We should certainly pray for one another and honor the lives of the saints—not only those saints who are still living, but also those who have passed on before us. For the death of his saints is precious in the sight of the Lord. Precious, not because of their personal holiness, but because Jesus’ blood was shed so that they would be holy for Christ’s sake.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for making me holy because of your Son. Amen.

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The Smalcald Articles are often considered Luther's theological Last Will and Testament. Written in easy-to-understand language, this study is presented in a discussion formation with assigned readings from the Scriptures and the Book of Concord. Included in the study is a shorter work by Philip Melanchton called "The Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope." 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 02 Dec 16 00:00:00 -0600

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Romans 3:27–31

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Good Works 

They include other testimonies that are no better. Finally, they say that this opinion was condemned a thousand years ago, in the time of Augustine. This is altogether untrue. The Church of Christ always held that the forgiveness of sins is freely obtained. In fact, the Pelagians were condemned because they contended that grace is given on account of our works. Besides, we have already sufficiently shown how we maintain that good works must necessarily follow faith. For we do not overthrow the law, as Paul says in Romans 3:31. We uphold the law because when we have received the Holy Spirit by faith, fulfilling the law necessarily follows, by which love, patience, chastity, and other fruits of the Spirit gradually grow.

Pulling It Together

We receive salvation, forgiveness, and the Holy Spirit because of God’s grace—not because we deserve these gifts or have earned them. There is no merit in keeping the law, since it cannot save us, even if we could keep it, which we cannot do at any rate (Acts 15:10). Christ alone is able to save us. But we confess that when Christ who fulfilled the law has saved someone who is unable to keep the law, that person will then do good works out of necessity. Believers do good works because the Holy Spirit is given to all who have faith in Christ. When the Holy Spirit indwells a person, the Spirit begins to work in that person. It is the Spirit of Christ within us who is now fulfilling the law.

Prayer: Help me, Lord, to uphold your law while I depend upon your grace for salvation. Amen.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 01 Dec 16 00:00:00 -0600

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John 15:8–11

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Good Works 

Peter speaks of works following the forgiveness of sins. He teaches that they should be done so that one’s calling may be sure, that is, lest they fall from their calling if they sin again. Do good works that you may persevere in your calling and not lose its gifts, which were given to you before your works, not because of them, and which are now retained by faith. For faith does not remain in those who lose the Holy Spirit, who reject repentance. We have said before that faith exists in repentance.

Pulling It Together

We do good works for three principal reasons. One, we are to bear good fruit so that God is glorified, and two, to prove that we are real disciples of Jesus. Doing good in Christ’s name not only shows others whom we follow, it also shows us that we are his disciples. Third, we do good works or bear good fruit so that our faith remains lively. A disciple who is not bearing fruit runs the great risk of becoming dull and cold and thereby, faithless again. Without faith, one falls away (Luke 8:13) and perishes (Heb 10:39).

So we see that works are not done to earn salvation. Christ alone merits the salvation of all who believe in him for that salvation. Having such faith, we must put it into practice, bearing good fruit so that God is glorified, and so that we prove whom we follow, and so that our faith may be kept alive. And here, let us add a fourth reason for doing good works. There is great joy in keeping God’s commandments, joy that the Lord stirs up in us because we have put faith into action and by doing so, are alive in his love. 

Prayer: Holy Spirit, put my faith into action today. Amen.

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The Sola Online Worship Resource (SOWeR) includes a limited selection of music for use in worship, drawing primarily upon texts and music in the public domain, along with biblical texts set to familiar tunes. SOWeR is a lectionary-based web resource for Scripture lessons, lectionary inserts, children's bulletins, devotionals, text studies, prayers, hymn-planning, and much more! Join the hundreds of congregations who have discovered how simple, flexible, and useful SOWeR is for worship planning and sermon preparation. This brochure will answer more questions about SOWeR. Call 1-888-887-9840 to order a yearly subscription. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 30 Nov 16 00:00:00 -0600

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2 Peter 1:3–11

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Good Works 

The adversaries also add testimonies to their own condemnation, and it is worth while to recite several of them. They quote 2 Peter 1:10: “Be the more zealous to confirm your call and election,” etc. Now you see, reader, that our opponents have not wasted labor in learning logic, for they have learned the art of inferring from the Scriptures whatever pleases them. “Make your calling sure by good works” becomes “works merit the forgiveness of sins.” By this manner of reasoning, one would proclaim to a person sentenced to death, but whose punishment has been canceled: “The judge commands that you abstain hereafter from taking that which belongs to another. By doing so, you have merited the pardon of the penalty, because you are now abstaining from taking what belongs to another.” Arguing in this way makes a cause out of the effect.

Pulling It Together

The Holy Spirit calls us to faith through the Word (Rom 10:17), and thereby grants us eternal life. The promises of God have already been gifted through belief in the promise. To this—to that faith which apprehended the promise—we are to add the qualities of faith. If we do not, we will forget that we have been forgiven. So we must practice the qualities of faith, not so that we will be forgiven but, so that we will never forget that we have already been forgiven. We remember that we have been forgiven our sins through faith in Christ because we are now living a new life, growing stronger in our faith in Christ Jesus day by day.

Prayer: Let me appreciate your gift of eternal life, Lord, by living in eternity today. Amen.

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The Sola Online Worship Resource (SOWeR) also includes liturgies and services for your use. There are ready-to-copy settings for Holy Communion, services, services of the Word, Vespers, occasional services, funerals, and seasonal services. SOWeR is a lectionary-based web resource for Scripture lessons, lectionary inserts, children's bulletins, devotionals, text studies, prayers, hymn-planning, and much more! Join the hundreds of congregations who have discovered how simple, flexible, and useful SOWeR is for worship planning and sermon preparation. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 29 Nov 16 00:00:00 -0600

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John 6:47

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Good Works 

But we spoke of this entire matter above. Let the reader find evidence there. For the dishonorable treatment of the subject has forced from us the present complaint, rather than a discussion. They are on record as disapproving of our article: that we obtain forgiveness of sins by faith and freely on account of Christ, not because of our works.

Pulling It Together

We confess that for salvation, nothing else needs to be added to faith in Christ, or what is also called belief. Much is said in the record of Scripture about doing good works but never so that one would be justified with God by doing those works. We have said time after time—and will never grow weary of saying it yet one more time—that we cannot earn or merit forgiveness and salvation. These are gifts that God gives to those who believe, not because they paid the price for their sins but because Christ paid the price.

Prayer: Thank you, God, for eternal life through Jesus Christ the Lord. Amen.

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The Sola Online Worship Resource (SOWeR) includes a limited selection of music for use in worship, drawing primarily upon texts and music in the public domain, along with biblical texts set to familiar tunes. SOWeR is a lectionary-based web resource for Scripture lessons, lectionary inserts, children's bulletins, devotionals, text studies, prayers, hymn-planning, and much more! Join the hundreds of congregations who have discovered how simple, flexible, and useful SOWeR is for worship planning and sermon preparation. This brochure will answer more questions about SOWeR. Call 1-888-887-9840 to order a yearly subscription. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 28 Nov 16 00:00:00 -0600

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Romans 4:13–16

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Good Works 

If one seeks testimonies in Scripture by which to establish his thinking, he will discover that they are not lacking. Paul cries out at the top of his voice, as the saying goes, that we “are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (Rom 3:24). “That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed” (Rom 4:16). That is to say, if the promise depended upon our works, it would not be certain. If the forgiveness of sins were given because of our works, when would we know that we had obtained it? When would a terrified conscience find a work which it would consider sufficient to appease God’s wrath?

Pulling It Together

A promise has been made. All that remains is for us is to believe in God’s commitment to save us from sin. There is no need to do something in order to obtain his promise. God’s assurance that sins are freely forgiven is given because of Christ, not because we have somehow lived up to his promise.

Now if we were the ones who made the promise, we would have something to live up to: we would have to make good on our guarantee. That is precisely what God has done in Christ. He made the promise of justification, then lived up to it by dying—paying the penalty for our sin.

He made his promise and then, graciously guaranteed it through Christ. He left nothing for us to do but trust in the promiser. Believe his word of promise the same way that Abraham did: with faith in the grace of God.

Prayer: O Lord, I trust in your salvation. Amen.

Receive these lessons by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com  with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject. 

The Sola Online Worship Resource (SOWeR) also includes bulletin templates. There are word processing templates for both communion and non-communion services. There are also templates for Sola, LBW, and Reclaim service settings. SOWeR is a lectionary-based web resource for Scripture lessons, lectionary inserts, children's bulletins, devotionals, text studies, prayers, hymn-planning, and much more! Join the hundreds of congregations who have discovered how simple, flexible, and useful SOWeR is for worship planning and sermon preparation. This brochure will answer more questions about SOWeR. Call 1-888-887-9840 to order a yearly subscription. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 25 Nov 16 00:00:00 -0600

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Titus 3:5

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Good Works 

So this cause is a worthy one, for which we will refuse no danger to defend. If you have agreed to our Confession, “do not yield to the wicked, but go forward more boldly,” when our opponents employ their terrors and tortures and punishments to drive away from you that consolation which has been offered in our article to the whole Church.

Pulling It Together

Anyone who earnestly reads the Bible will soon observe that the teaching that we obtain the forgiveness of sins by faith freely for Christ’s sake has its foundation everywhere in the Bible. So we may confidently rely on God and the Lord Jesus Christ, faithfully confessing an obvious and important truth of Scripture even though it is harshly opposed. Who would want to have this great and everlasting comfort taken from him since the salvation of the whole Christian Church depends upon it?

Prayer: Lord, give me the conviction of faith. Amen.

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The goal of Personalities of Faith, a ten-session Bible study for youth, is to encourage young people to commit themselves to follow Jesus in discipleship by becoming "personalities of faith". Using biblical examples of people who have followed—or failed to follow—God's call, participants will be prepared to better follow the Lord in their own lives.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 13 Nov 16 00:00:00 -0600

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1 Peter 2:24

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Good Works 

Who would not rejoice to die in the confession of the article that we obtain the forgiveness of sins by faith freely for Christ’s sake, that we do not merit the forgiveness of sins by our works? The consciences of the pious will not have sufficiently sure consolation against the terrors of sin and of death, and against the devil inciting to despair, unless they know that they ought to be confident that they have the forgiveness of sins freely for Christ’s sake. This faith sustains and arouses hearts in that most violent conflict: with despair.

Pulling It Together

When despair sets in and you find no comfort in religion, family, or friends, you need something greater. When medicine cannot revive you, and doctors are of no use, and when death is imminent, your good works will give you no solace. You must have a reliable treatment for your condition when the despair of sin and death overwhelm you.

There is only one prescription for this malady that afflicts us all. Religion will not do it. A program of good works will not suffice. Only confident faith in Christ relieves us of the burden of sin and affords sure comfort in the face of death. Faith in Christ’s redeeming work on our account allows us to trust in God’s forgiveness, yes, even of the remission of sins—the sending back of our iniquities to Christ’s ledger, and the restoration of our souls to what God intended: the righteousness that we could never have achieved on our own.

Prayer: Thank you, God, for the gift of righteousness, through Jesus Christ the Lord. Amen.

Receive these lessons by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com  with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject. 

A Latin phrase meaning “Scripture Alone,” Sola Scriptura is one of the traditional Lutheran slogans used since the time of the Reformation. It expresses our confession that Scripture is “the only rule and norm according to which all doctrines and teachers alike must be appraised and judged.” Using the familiar phrase as its title, Sola Scriptura is a new, advanced-level Bible Study in a two-part series, of six chapters each, on the functional authority of Scripture. For those who would like to cover the topic in detail, there is enough material to cover one chapter in two sessions, making each part a 12-week study.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 10 Nov 16 00:00:00 -0600

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Joshua 1:5–7

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Good Works 

We see that a horrible decree has been prepared against us, which would terrify us even more if we were disputing dubious or trivial subjects. Now that our consciences understand the adversaries to be condemning the obvious truth—truth that must be defended for the Church and the increase of the glory of Christ—we easily dismiss the terrors of the world and will bravely bear whatever is to be suffered for the glory of Christ and the advantage of the Church.

Pulling It Together

We must hold the ground of the gospel and not give an inch. When the choice is between Scripture and tradition, the choice is clear even if it is sometimes difficult. There are many who stand against the truth and are very bold to do so. We must be bolder still, believing what God told Joshua. No one can prevail against the truth, so be strong and very courageous. Courage is necessary because, though truth will win out, the fight will be fierce. Do not be dismayed that no one believes you or takes the side of Scripture. Do not be surprised that they make your life difficult, or worse, at times a living hell. Your courageous stand for the truth of the gospel is advantageous to you and Christ’s Church, and brings glory to the Lord as well.

Prayer: Give me bold courage to stand for your truth, Lord. Amen.

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"From Death to Life" examines what happens when people die. In this book, the words of the Holy Bible and others like Martin Luther, will speak to you, tell you the truth, and give you words of comfort, so that you too can have the sure and steadfast anchor of the soul.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 09 Nov 16 00:00:00 -0600

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Isaiah 53:4–6 

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Good Works 

Here we could cite infinite testimonies from Scripture and from the Fathers, but we have said enough on this subject. There is no need of more testimonies for one who knows why Christ has been given to us, who knows that Christ is the propitiation for our sins. Isaiah says, “The LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). The adversaries, on the other hand, teach that God lays our iniquities on our works instead of on Christ. We are not disposed to mention here the sort of works that they teach.

Pulling It Together

The Father’s purpose in sending his Son into the world was so that the Christ would bear our sins. God’s plan has never been that we should bear our own iniquities. It was for these very iniquities that his hands, feet, side, and head were pierced. His blood covers our sins, satisfying God’s prescribed penalty for sin. That punishment is death (Rom 6:23). Our sins are not and can not be covered in any other way—not by penance or good works, by pilgrimages or prayers, by offerings or any other acts. Our sins are only covered and borne by Christ. How could we save ourselves? We are the sheep who have gone astray. 

Prayer: Blessed are you, Father, for sending your Son. Amen.

Receive these lessons by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com  with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject. 

This booklet provides a suggested list of Bible verses, prayers, and familiar worship texts assigned to various age levels, recommended for use along with Sola Publishing’s Sunday Schoolhouse curriculum series. The order of texts matches the suggested grade levels in Luther’s Small Cat Series: elementary-aged curriculum on Martin Luther’s Small Catechism, also available from Sola Publishing. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 06 Nov 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 3:26

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Good Works 

There have been writers who held that after the forgiveness of sins people are just before God, not by faith, but by works themselves. However, they did not think that the forgiveness of sins itself occurs on account of our works, and not freely for Christ’s sake.

Therefore the blasphemy of ascribing Christ’s honor to our works must not be tolerated. These theologians are without any shame if they dare to bring such an opinion into the Church. We do not doubt that His Most Excellent Imperial Majesty and very many of the princes would not have allowed this passage to remain in the Confutation if it had been brought to their attention.

Pulling It Together

God, who is faithful and just, forgives us of all sins and cleanses us from unrighteousness. He alone is legally and ethically righteous and honorable to forgive. He is the just justifier. But who does he justify? Who does he declare righteous? What is written? Does the just justifier forgive and cleanse those who have kept certain rituals, given sums of money, mustered up some kind of religious devotion without the aid of the Holy Spirit? The Scripture speaks of none of this. Faith is the word used over and again. The one who has faith in Christ is the one who is justly justified. Nothing else is added to the Word. This is why we say that we are justified by faith alone.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, that your righteousness is available in this present time to all who believe in you. Amen.

Receive these lessons by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com  with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject. 

The Life of Martin Luther Children's Coloring & Storybook presents children with an an easy-to-read introduction to the life of one of the most influential Christians in history, Martin Luther. From his childhood, to his days as a monk, to his becoming a teacher and pastor in Wittenberg — the stories in this book trace Luther's life of faith through many struggles and challenges, showing us what it means to be faithful to God's Word and bear witness to our faith in Jesus Christ.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 05 Nov 16 00:00:00 -0500

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John 3:12-15

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Good Works 

The framers of the Confutation openly show here what spirit leads them. For what is more certain in the Church than that the forgiveness of sins occurs freely for Christ’s sake, that Christ—not our works—is the propitiation for sins. As Peter says, “To him all the prophets bear witness that every one who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name” (Acts 10:43). We would rather assent to this Church of the prophets than to these derelict writers of the Confutation who so impudently blaspheme Christ.

Pulling It Together

It is hard to believe. But it is true and must be believed. Christ came to save poor sinners—and he does not need our help. It was undoubtedly difficult to believe that there would be healing of those snake-bitten people who looked upon the bronze serpent uplifted in the wilderness (Num 11:9). But, in order to live, they had to believe in God’s remedy. They had to have faith in God. And so it is with us. In sending his Son, the Father has provided a remedy for our disease. But we must believe; we must have faith in him. There is no other way (John 14:6). Our works are not the way; Christ is. Religion is not the truth; Christ is. Our devotion is not the life; Christ is. All we must do is have faith in him who is God’s way, truth, and life. It may be difficult to believe, but there is no other way under heaven (Acts 4:12).

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for providing a cure for my broken nature, through your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Receive these lessons by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com  with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject. 

The Life of Martin Luther is written in honor of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. This nine-session adult study takes participants through the circumstances and events of the life of Martin Luther as it reflects on the biblical themes underlying the Lutheran Reformation.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 04 Nov 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Ephesians 2:8-10

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Good Works 

They explicitly state that they reject and condemn our Twentieth Article which states that people do not merit the forgiveness of sins by good works. They distinctly declare that they reject and condemn this article. What is to be answered about a subject that is so clear?

Pulling It Together

The gospel clearly teaches that people are forgiven for Christ’s sake. The Apostle Paul instructs us in no uncertain terms that we are not saved from sin and death because of our works. We can do nothing to deserve his mercy. Indeed, it is the undeserving who receive God’s merciful grace. Though we receive God’s free gift through faith alone, we are created for good works. So we should surely do such deeds even though they are of no merit in terms of salvation. These works are only what we ought to have done (Luke 17:10), but they do not make us deserving of salvation or the forgiveness of sins.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for your free gift of eternal life, through Jesus Christ, your Son and our Lord. Amen.

Receive these lessons by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com  with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject. 

The Life of Martin Luther is written in honor of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. This nine-session adult study takes participants through the circumstances and events of the life of Martin Luther as it reflects on the biblical themes underlying the Lutheran Reformation.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 03 Nov 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Genesis 6:5

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Cause of Sin

The adversaries accept the Nineteenth Article where we confess that God alone has established all of nature and preserves all existing things. Yet the cause of sin is the will of the devil and of people turning away from God. For Christ has said of the devil, “When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature” (John 8:44).

Pulling It Together

God did not establish a world where sin existed. He created all good things and all things good. He did not create evil. Nevertheless, it is within his will that we may sin—otherwise, we could do no evil. Our human nature easily turns away from God when we resolve to not do good; and this is what we rightly call sin. As if we needed any assistance, we are further provoked to sin by the father of lies, the devil (John 8:44).

Prayer: Deliver me from evil, Lord. Amen.

Receive these lessons by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com  with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject. 

This is Most Certainly True! is a six-chapter mid-week, Lenten series that features dramatic monologues from Martin Luther, explaining what each part of the catechism means—ending it with the affirmation" "This is most certainly true!"

In addition to the monologues, there is a sample worship service outline, hymns suggestions for each monologue, and opening dialogues for worship based on the parts of the Small Catechism.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 02 Nov 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Acts 2:37-38

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Free Will 

This distinction has not been invented by us but is clearly taught in Scripture. Augustine also covers it, and recently William of Paris dealt with it well. Yet it has been wickedly suppressed by those who have imagined that people are able to obey God’s Law without the Holy Spirit, that instead, the Holy Spirit is given because obedient people are considered meritorious.

Pulling It Together

When the Sword of the Lord (Heb 4:12), his Word, delivers the cutting law of God, people understand that there is nothing they can do to be saved. The young man in Matthew 19 had been keeping the commandments his whole life, or so he claimed, but still knew something was lacking. So he asked Jesus, “What good deed must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus swung the law-edge of the sword at him so that he would be able to see his great need.

When people are able to see their need, they cry out, “What shall we do?” And here is the “follow me” that Jesus extended to the young man. “Repent and be baptized...in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” So we readily see that there is some civic good that we might do but, in the words of Charles Wesley, we are “all unrighteousness” (from “Jesus, Lover of My Soul). All that is left to us is to repent and be baptized. To such meek souls, the Holy Spirit is given—not earned. Through his power alone, we are enabled to follow Jesus, to be his disciples. 

Prayer: Forgive me, Lord, and give me grace to follow you anew. Amen.

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Sola is celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation in 2017 with an ever-growing collection of resources for your use. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 29 Sep 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 13:1

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Free Will 

Therefore, it is helpful to differentiate between civil righteousness, assigned to the free will, and spiritual righteousness, attributed to the governing of the Holy Spirit in the regenerate. This retains outward discipline, because all people ought to know that God requires this civil righteousness, and that, in some measure, we can achieve it. Yet a distinction is shown between human and spiritual righteousness, between philosophical teaching and the teaching of the Holy Spirit. Further, it can be understood that there is a need of the Holy Spirit.

Pulling It Together

Everyone is able to abide by the laws of the land, else the Scripture would not command us to do so. Furthermore, one may choose to obey the laws of the land or not. Because people keep the laws, we say that they are law abiding folks, but another way of putting it would be to refer to these upstanding citizens as civilly righteous. This brand of righteousness can be obtained by human will, without the aid of Holy Spirit.

Spiritual righteousness, however, requires the Spirit’s assistance. Further, it cannot be apprehended by those who have not been born again. For whereas civil righteousness may been obtained by the old, natural person, spiritual righteousness requires a new creation, a heart and mind that has been regenerated by the Spirit of God. Human nature is suited to civil righteousness but God’s Spirit is necessary for spiritual righteousness.

Prayer: Mold me, Lord, according to your will. Amen.

Receive these lessons by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com  with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject. 

The Sola Online Worship Resource (SOWeR) includes a limited selection of music for use in worship, drawing primarily upon texts and music in the public domain, along with biblical texts set to familiar tunes. SOWeR is a lectionary-based web resource for Scripture lessons, lectionary inserts, children's bulletins, devotionals, text studies, prayers, hymn-planning, and much more! Join the hundreds of congregations who have discovered how simple, flexible, and useful SOWeR is for worship planning and sermon preparation. This brochure will answer more questions about SOWeR. Call 1-888-887-9840 to order a yearly subscription. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 28 Sep 16 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Corinthians 1:28–31

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Free Will 

People can settle this if they consider what their hearts believe about God’s will, whether they are truly confident that they are heeded and heard by God. It is difficult even for saints to retain this faith; it is nonexistent in the godless. But as we have said above, it is conceived when terrified hearts hear the gospel and receive consolation.

Pulling It Together

Faith is a gift from God; it is not something that we can conjure by reason or industry. Do you truly fear, love, and trust God? Then you have been regenerated or born again and faith is at work in you. But did you accomplish this faith because you one day decided to have faith? No; that faith was given to you.

Do you truly believe that God cares for you, hears your prayers, and answers them for Christ’s sake? Yes? Good! Then you have faith. But did you achieve this faith because you developed a religious program that you followed over a period of time until you had faith? No; faith was given to you.

When you sin and begin to fear the wrath of God, do you soon enough remember that Christ died for you, that the Father loves sinners like you, and that he forgives you for Christ’s sake? Good! Then you have faith. But that faith was not a matter of your will or decision. Otherwise, you could not boast in Christ alone, as the Scriptures say we must (1 Cor 1:31; Gal 6:14). The Christian’s boast is in Christ and his cross, not in human will. 

Prayer: Help me, Lord, to only boast in your righteousness and redemption. Amen.

Receive these lessons by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com  with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject. 

The Sola Online Worship Resource (SOWeR) also includes bulletin templates. There are word processing templates for both communion and non-communion services. There are also templates for Sola, LBW, and Reclaim service settings. SOWeR is a lectionary-based web resource for Scripture lessons, lectionary inserts, children's bulletins, devotionals, text studies, prayers, hymn-planning, and much more! Join the hundreds of congregations who have discovered how simple, flexible, and useful SOWeR is for worship planning and sermon preparation. This brochure will answer more questions about SOWeR. Call 1-888-887-9840 to order a yearly subscription. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 27 Sep 16 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Peter 1:8–9

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Free Will 

Therefore, although we concede to free will the liberty and power to perform the outward works of the law, we do not ascribe to it the spiritual ability for the true fear of God, true faith in God, true confidence and trust that God pays attention to us, hears us, forgives us, etc. These are the true works of the First Table, which the heart cannot render without the Holy Spirit, as Paul says, “The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God” (1 Cor 2:14).

Pulling It Together

A person who is not enlightened by God’s Holy Spirit—an “unspiritual” or “natural” person—does not, by natural reasoning or abilities, perceive or receive anything pertaining to God’s will and divine gifts. Natural reason can never wholly dedicate itself to God; indeed, it cannot even perceive who God is, and is always demanding to see God, like Moses of old. Furthermore, natural abilities are incapable of obtaining salvation, since salvation requires faith, which is entirely spiritual—not natural at all.

But the spiritual person, the one touched by the divine Spirit, thinks nothing of not having seen God. Though still only able to squint and peer through the glass dimly (1 Cor 13:12), the spiritual person loves God and believes in him, rejoicing at the outcome of this faith that God has given: the salvation of the soul.

Prayer: Thank you, Holy Spirit, for giving me a living hope in the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Receive these lessons by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com  with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject. 

The Sola Online Worship Resource (SOWeR) also includes liturgies and services for your use. There are ready-to-copy settings for Holy Communion, services, services of the Word, Vespers, occasional services, funerals, and seasonal services. SOWeR is a lectionary-based web resource for Scripture lessons, lectionary inserts, children's bulletins, devotionals, text studies, prayers, hymn-planning, and much more! Join the hundreds of congregations who have discovered how simple, flexible, and useful SOWeR is for worship planning and sermon preparation. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 26 Sep 16 00:00:00 -0500

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John 3:16–18

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Free Will 

But it is false to say that one does not sin who performs the works of the commandments without grace. They further add that such works also merit de congruo the forgiveness of sins and justification. For without the Holy Spirit human hearts do not fear or trust God; nor do they believe that they are heard, forgiven, helped, and saved by God. Therefore they are godless, for a bad tree cannot bear good fruit (Matt 7:18). “And without faith it is impossible to please him” (Heb 11:6).

Pulling It Together

The reader is reminded that de congruo, or congruity, refers generally to the false doctrine that imagines one’s reason can properly orient itself toward God, or be inclined of itself to love God, and that by one’s natural abilities one can do good, please God, and thereby earn his favor. This is Pelagianism, no matter how you slice it, and further, it leads the uber-religious to despair, or worse, leads the smug who imagine that they do not sin, or care not if they do, fairly straight to hell.

But when one comes to the understanding that he is a sinner, through and through, always has been, and always will be, that person may then have the hope of finally pleasing God. For nothing pleases God more than a person who knows he is a sinner, confesses it to God, and relies on his mercy. This is why the Father sent his Son into the world: to save sinners (John 3:17; 1 Tim 1:15). 

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for sparing sinners by not sparing your only Son. Amen.

May you believe and be saved, through Jesus Christ the Lord. Amen.

Receive these lessons by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com  with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject. 

The Sola Online Worship Resource is a lectionary-based web resource for Scripture lessons, lectionary inserts, children's bulletins, devotionals, text studies, prayers, hymn-planning, and much more! Join the hundreds of congregations who have discovered how simple, flexible, and useful SOWeR is for worship planning and sermon preparation. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 15 Sep 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Ephesians 2:1–3

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Free Will 

However, the power of concupiscence is such that people more frequently obey evil inclinations than sound judgment. And the devil, who is powerful in the godless, as Paul says (Eph 2:2), never ceases to incite this feeble nature to various offenses. This is why even civil righteousness is rare, as we see that even the philosophers, who seem to have aspired after this righteousness, did not attain it.

Pulling It Together

Without the Spirit, people walk along the natural course of the world. This is the path of sin and death. We cannot do otherwise; we cannot move toward God on our own; human nature cannot do so without the Spirit’s guidance and empowerment. This is the way of the world, for the prince of this kingdom is a spirit who easily has his way with us since our natural desires are bent to offend—unless the Spirit of God regenerates us. Salvation and strength cannot be found elsewhere, as “our help is in the name of the Lord” (Psa 124:8).

Prayer: If it had not been for you, O Lord, who was on my side, the flood of sin and death would have swept me away. Amen.

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Personalities of Faith is a ten-session Bible study for youth. The goal of the series is to encourage young people to commit themselves to follow Jesus in discipleship by becoming "personalities of faith." By showing biblical examples of people who have followed—or failed to follow—God's call, participants will be prepared to better follow the Lord in their own lives.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 14 Sep 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 2:14–16

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Free Will 

Nor, indeed, do we deny that the human will has freedom. The human will has liberty in choosing works and things which reason comprehends by itself. It can render, to a certain extent, civil righteousness or the righteousness of works. It can speak of God, offer to God a certain service by an outward work, and obey magistrates and parents. Externally, human will can choose to restrict the hands from murder, from adultery, from theft. Since human nature still possesses reason and judgment about those things that the senses can detect, it can choose between those things, as well as the freedom and ability to accomplish civil righteousness. Scripture calls this the righteousness of the flesh that the carnal nature, that is, reason, does by itself without the Holy Spirit.

Pulling It Together

Without having ever taken a confirmation class, everybody knows that they should honor their parents. Do we need to understand that it is the sixth commandment in order to know we ought to be faithful to our spouses? No, we do not have to be a Christian or be religious at all to know these fundamental laws; they are written on the human heart. They are built in to our nature. So we can choose to steal or not, to murder or not, to lie or tell the truth. Human nature can choose to accomplish these outward things, though it does not perfectly succeed in the effort. Our power of will only goes so far. So yes, in a limited sense, we can choose to do the right thing; but can we do it without God’s assistance? Sometimes. Still, there are some things that human nature cannot achieve without the help of God. There are also limitations as to what unregenerate people may actually accomplish by keeping the second table of the law. We will investigate these matters next.

Prayer: Along with your law, write the words of your grace on my heart, Lord God. Amen.

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Sola’s Confirmation workbook, The Lord's Prayer, is designed to be a small group Bible study, student book for home school or independent study programs, or as a classroom tool and homework resource as part of an existing confirmation program.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 12 Sep 16 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Corinthians 2:9–10

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Free Will 

Our opponents accept the Eighteenth Article, “Concerning Free Will,” although they add some references not at all relevant to this case. They also declare that not too much should be granted to the free will as with the Pelagians, nor should all freedom be denied as with the Manicheans. Very well; but what difference is there between the Pelagians and our opponents? Both think that without the Holy Spirit people can love God and keep God’s commandments with respect to the substance of the acts, and can merit grace and justification through works which reason performs on its own. How many absurdities follow from these Pelagian opinions that are taught with great authority in the schools! Augustine, whose judgment, based on Paul, we recounted above in the article “Concerning Justification,” decidedly refutes these opinions.

Pulling It Together

Manichaeism, in the simplest understanding, holds that people are flawed and incapable of receiving the redemption that God offers in Christ. Pelagianism, on the other hand, claims that original sin has no effect on us (that we are not flawed), so that we are able to be righteous without God’s assistance. Both Manichaeism and Pelagianism are basic heresies of the Christian faith. Melancthon, the writer of the Apology, found it ironic that the Confutation of their adversaries accepted the Lutheran position on free will when they were themselves Pelagian in practice. The opponents of the Lutheran Confessions claimed that people are able to believe and do works of righteousness apart from the Holy Spirit. Further, they claimed that people can earn righteousness, justification, and salvation under their own natural power.

“Lutherans reject the Pelagians and others who teach that we are able to love God above all things and keep his commandments by the power of human nature alone, without the grace of the Holy Spirit” (Article 18, Augsburg Confession). The eighteenth article of the Augsburg Confession states, “But without the Holy Spirit, one has no power to achieve the righteousness of God, that is, spiritual righteousness, since ‘the natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God’ (1 Cor 2:14).” This was not condemned in the opponents’ Confutation.

Prayer: Reveal yourself to me, Lord, and help me understand, through the power of your Spirit. Amen.

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Combining the message of salvation in Christ with personal witness, The Gospel in Miniature is a Lutheran guide for evangelism.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 09 Sep 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Matthew 25:31–46

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Christ’s Return to Judgment

Our opponents accept the Seventeenth Article without exception. We confess there that Christ will appear at the consummation of the world, and will raise up all the dead, giving eternal life and eternal joys to the godly, but will condemn the ungodly to eternal punishment with the devil.

Pulling It Together

Because Jesus rose again from the dead, we confess that on the last day of the world, he will bring with him all who have died in the Lord (1 Thes 4:14) to be with him forever (1 Thes 4:17). These are comforting words for those who believe (1 Thes 4:18). We also confess that those who do not believe, will have no share in this glorious inheritance. Like a shepherd, Christ Jesus will separate people from people, the believing from the unbelieving, the sheep from the goats. The blessed believers will be brought into God’s eternal company, while those without faith in him will be sent away to eternal punishment.

Prayer: Help me to serve you, Lord, by serving others in your name. Amen.

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John is the fourth book in the "Old Places, New Faces" series. Twelve studies explore the profound metaphors of the Gospel of John. This study guide will make the story of Christ alive and relevant for today's readers.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 08 Sep 16 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Timothy 2:1–2

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Political Order 

This entire topic concerning civil affairs has been so clearly set forth by our theologians that many people who are occupied in the state and in business have declared how they have greatly benefited. Before, troubled by the opinion of the monks, they were in doubt as to whether the gospel permits public office and business. Accordingly, we have repeated these things here so that outsiders may understand that the kind of doctrine which we follow does not undermine the authority of magistrates and the worth of civil ordinances. Rather, our position strengthens their positions. The importance of these matters has been greatly obscured by foolish monastic opinions, which prefer the hypocrisy of poverty and humility to the state and the family, even though the latter have God’s command, while the Platonic community does not.

Pulling It Together

As God has established all civil authorities, he would have us pray for them—whether we like them or not. Christian love demands that we hold them before God in prayer. Moreover, wisdom compels us to pray for them, since the sound leadership of public servants is a benefit to us, providing us with “a peaceful and quiet life.”

Prayer: Help me, Lord, to lift up all those in high positions. Amen.

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This volume in the series, "Old Places, New Faces," The General Epistles offers a series of 12 Bible studies based on Hebrews, James, I & II Peter, I, II, & III John, and Jude. The geographical locations of Biblical characters can symbolically refer to places we find ourselves with respect to our faith. As we become more acquainted with our spiritual geography, we will better discern where God would have us go or what changes we need to make in order to serve Him better.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 07 Sep 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Matthew 5:33–37

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Political Order 

Endless discussions about contracts will never satisfy good consciences unless they know the rule that it is lawful for a Christian to make use of civil ordinances and laws. This rule protects consciences because it teaches that contracts are lawful before God if they are approved by magistrates or laws.

Pulling It Together

Obviously, we make contracts, such as in marriage or making a major purchase like a house or car. Because Jesus said, “Do not take an oath at all,” we may feel guilty when we do make contractual promises. The issue here is not what we sometimes think it is. The law tells us to swear by the name of God (Deut 6:13). In this context, we see that promises are made and broken (re: marriage, Matt 5:31–32). So Jesus is talking along some other line.

The kind of oath Jesus is referring to goes something like this: “I swear on my mother’s grave that I’ll do it by tomorrow.” Christians should not do this for a very simple reason: they are to always tell the truth. Indeed, they should be known for telling the truth. Therefore, they need only say, “Yes” or “No.” They will either do the thing or not. Employing the memory of a parent, or worse, the name of God is as unnecessary for the Christian as adding, “Cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye.” Only liars feel the need to swear.

None of this forbids civil contracts—nor does Scripture. 

Prayer: Lord, help me to tell the truth and keep my promises. Amen.

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Connections is a magazine for evangelical Lutheran Christians filled with meaty articles as well as lighter spiritual fare. Connections provides great food for the soul. Articles and features are contributed by individuals and ministries of LCMC, NALC, CALC, Lutheran Core, and other evangelical Lutherans from congregations across North America.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 06 Sep 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Acts 2:42–47

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Political Order 

But the monks have so thoroughly spread this outward hypocrisy before people’s eyes that they are blind to what true perfection is. With what praises they have promoted community property, as though it were gospel! This message is very dangerous, especially since it differs so much from the Scriptures. Scripture does not command that property be held in common. The Decalogue acknowledges rights of ownership, and commands each one to hold what is his own, when it says, “Thou shalt not steal” (Exod 20:15). Wycliffe was obviously crazed when he said that priests were not allowed to hold property.

Pulling It Together

It is dangerous to souls for us to concede that anything people do produces perfection. We are only made perfect by God through faith in Christ. This perfection is not brought about by our religious acts, and certainly not by this one: having all things in common. Granted, the early churches—and some today—had all things in common. God bless them! But this does not create perfection. When we have faith in Christ, God calls us, or considers us, perfect and holy—whether we see it or not—and in response to that faith, we may do any number of religious things, such as holding property in common. But these things are not required by the Scripture for the forgiveness of sins, a reconciled God, or eternal life. 

Prayer: Give me the spirit to further devote myself to you, Lord. Amen.

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Not My Will, But Yours is a six-week study that explores the topic of the “free will” from a biblical perspective, looking at what Scripture has to say about the bondage of the human will, and how Jesus Christ has come to deliver us from ourselves.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 05 Sep 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Hebrews 12:1–2

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Political Order 

It is also vain delusion that Christian perfection is had by not holding property. Christian perfection does not consist in the contempt of civil ordinances, but in inclinations of the heart, in great fear of God, in great faith, just as Abraham, David, Daniel, even in great wealth and while exercising civil power, were no less perfect than any hermits.

Pulling It Together

It is God who makes us perfect (1 Thes 5:23). There is nothing we can do or not do, possess or not possess, that makes us perfect or complete in the eyes of God. We do not achieve perfection; we are made perfect by God’s perfection in Jesus Christ. We are perfect through faith in him. Though many trials beset us, we must stand steadfast in the hope and joy that is set before us, through him who endured death and shame because of the joy that lay before him (Heb 12:2). This firmness of faith finally works itself out in a mature Christian (James 1:3–4). In the meanwhile, it is God who sanctifies all people who have faith in Christ. They do not work toward their own perfection; God calls them faithful, for the sake of Christ (1 Thes 5:24). So let us look to Jesus instead of to conceited, religious deceptions such as wealth or the lack thereof.

Prayer: Help me keep you as my focus, Lord. Amen.

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The kind of church we see in the New Testament is different from what most modern people imagine when they think of “going to church.” Experience Life Together: Experiencing House-Church Ministry, by Rev. Tom Hilpert, is a 15-week house-church curriculum designed for pastors, lay leaders, and churches interested in getting a taste for what church in the home is really like. Whether referred to as a house-church, organic church, alternative church, or cell church, this material applies well to any group that wants to experience Christian worship in the context of a small group meeting within the homes of the participants.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 04 Sep 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Matthew 5:38–40

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Political Order 

The gospel forbids private retaliation, and Christ frequently teaches this with the design that the apostles would not think that they are to appropriate the government from those who hold it, just as in the Jewish dream of a messianic kingdom. Rather, it is their duty to teach that the spiritual kingdom does not change the government. Therefore private revenge is prohibited—not by advice, but by command (Matt 5:39; Rom 12:19). Public redress, made through the office of the magistrate, is not advised against, but is commanded, and is a work of God, according to Paul (Rom 13:1). Now the different kinds of public redress include legal decisions, capital punishment, wars, military service.

It is obvious how many writers have incorrectly judged these matters because they erroneously held the that the gospel is an external, new, and monastic form of government. They did not see that the gospel brings eternal righteousness to hearts, while it outwardly approves the civil government.

Pulling It Together

This is an easy matter to keep straight in our minds, if we distinguish between private and public remedy. If someone wrongs you, are you to take matters into your own hands, taking vengeance on the one who has wronged you? No; vengeance is the Lord’s. You are not to privately retaliate when God has instituted civil government to hear your case. This public redress is the appropriate way to address wrongs you have suffered.

In private matters, we act within the spiritual kingdom, turning the other cheek (Matt 5:39). We do not privately retaliate, for God has promised vengeance in his own way. In public matters, however, we operate within the civil kingdom, where God has put people in place to protect us and hear our cases.

These two kingdoms must not be confused or merged, for the spiritual kingdom brings what the civil kingdom cannot: forgiveness, righteousness, and eternal life. The civil kingdom brings, by God’s institution, what the spiritual kingdom does not: protection of the people, laws of the land, legal decisions, and the resolution of disputes.

Prayer: Help me, Lord God, to trust in you. Amen.

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Combining the message of salvation in Christ with personal witness, The Gospel in Miniature is a Lutheran guide for evangelism. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 03 Sep 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 12:17–19

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Political Order 

Julian the Apostate, Celsus, and very many others made the objection to Christians that the gospel would destroy states, because it prohibited legal redress and taught certain other things not at all suited to political relationships. These questions distressed Origen, Nazianzen, and others, though they are readily explained, if we keep in mind the fact that the gospel does not introduce laws concerning the civil state. Instead, the gospel is the forgiveness of sins and the beginning of a new life in the hearts of believers. It not only approves outward governments, but subjects us to them (Rom 13:1), just as we have been necessarily placed under the laws of seasons, the changes of winter and summer, as divine ordinances. 

Pulling It Together

While we are not to take matters into our own hands, public redress is available to Christians. This is one of many reasons that God has instituted governing authorities. When the Lord says that vengeance is his, one way his retribution is felt is through our governments, the political kingdoms in which we live. We need not repay evil for evil—indeed, we are commanded otherwise—because we have the luxury of trying to live peaceably with all people. But when people will not have peace, the authorities have been granted the power to make peace.

Prayer: Help me, Lord, to live in peace with others. Amen.

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The Basics of the Christian Faith is an edition of the catechism that is aimed at seekers, visitors, and those that may not come from a Lutheran background. It is recommended for use in outreach, as a visitor welcome gift, or in new member packets.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 02 Sep 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Ecclesiastes 8:2–5

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Political Order 

The gospel does not introduce new laws for the civil state, but commands that we obey existing laws, whether they have been framed by unbelievers or by others. We are to practice love in this obedience. Carlstadt was daft when he tried to impose on us the judicial laws of Moses.

Our theologians have written more fully on these subjects because the monks spread many harmful opinions in the Church. They said community property is the polity of the gospel, and that not having property, and not vindicating oneself in the courts are evangelical counsels. These opinions greatly obscure the gospel and the spiritual kingdom, and are dangerous to the state. The gospel does not destroy the state or the family. Rather, it approves them, and bids us obey them as a divine ordinance, not just because of the fear of punishment, but for the sake of conscience.

Pulling It Together

It is claimed that Carlstadt, a colleague of Luther and Melancthon, had some radical views. Melancthon, as his associate at Wittenberg, would have known this all too well and so, mentions one of those views here. It is said that Carlstadt wished to supplant the law of the empire, replacing it with Mosaic law. This was a fanatical view, far from the teaching of Scripture, which tells us to “be subject to the governing authorities” (Rom 13:1), since they too are “ministers of God” (Rom 13:6).

The gospel does not give us new laws, nor does it call us to replace existing laws with the old Jewish law code. Instead, we are to obey the laws of the land while also living according to the rule of a higher kingdom, a spiritual kingdom. So, while we live on this earth, we “keep the king’s command” and pray daily to the King of kings, “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

Prayer: Help me, Lord, to live faithfully in two kingdoms. Amen.

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My Little Prayers is a collection of prayers for mealtime, bedtime, and other times with God. This padded, hard cover book, together with My Little Bible, are excellent tools for teaching young children about daily prayer and Bible reading.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 01 Sep 16 00:00:00 -0500

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1 John 3:19–24

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Political Order

The whole topic concerning the distinction between the kingdom of Christ and a political kingdom has been explained to advantage in the writings of our theologians. Christ’s kingdom is spiritual; that is to say, it begins in the heart through knowledge and fear of God, faith, eternal righteousness, and eternal life. The kingdom of Christ permits us to, at the same time, outwardly use the legitimate political ordinances of every nation in which we live, just as it permits us to use medicine or architecture, or food, drink, and air.

Pulling It Together

Christ does not rule like earthly rulers, through the passing of laws and the enforcement of the same. He governs by his Word and through preaching. This is why we say that his kingdom begins in the heart where one believes. While good citizens of earthly kingdoms obey the laws of the land, so long as they are not in opposition to the spiritual kingdom, they always obey Christ, as heard in Scripture and the proclamation of his Word. This too, is a matter of faith in our King, for even when we think that we are very poor citizens of his kingdom, his Spirit reassures our faint hearts through the Word. We are again made into confident citizens, remembering that citizenship in his kingdom is not a matter of obeying laws, but of believing in him and loving one another. 

Prayer: Help me, O King eternal, to keep your great command: to believe in you. Amen.

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Views of Baptism is written for a range of readers including the parent or sponsor about to baptize a child, the adult who wants to understand baptism more fully, and the professional teacher or preacher who needs the truth about baptism stated simply but backed by careful research. This books explores three views of baptism: the individual-centered view, the means-of-grace view, and the Roman Catholic view. It includes a description of how Christian baptism came to us in stages from its Jewish roots. A question and answer section addresses specific matters often raised when people contemplate baptism.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 30 Aug 16 00:00:00 -0500

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2 Chronicles 19:6–7

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Political Order 

Our opponents received the Sixteenth Article without challenge. We confessed therein that it is lawful for a Christian to hold public office, be a judge, resolve matters by the imperial laws, and other laws in present force, impose just punishments, engage in just wars, be a soldier, make legal contracts, hold property, take an oath when magistrates require it, and contract marriage. Legitimate public ordinances are good creations of God and divine ordinances in which a Christian may safely participate.

Pulling It Together

God is the final authority; all authority comes from him. Every governing power exists because of God (Rom 13:1). This is why Christians may serve in public office or be otherwise employed by governments. These necessary vocations are callings in which people are to act for the Lord. Faithful people may serve well in these various public positions, knowing that they serve the Lord by doing so.

This does not mean that every government is just, nor is any one government perfect. If Christians serve the public, let those servants know that they function within a human organization. All political orders will be wanting in one degree or another. So, let that man and woman understand that they do not merely serve the public; ultimately, they serve the Lord in their offices and duties. May they do so with reverence and fear of the Lord.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, move our leaders to serve in the fear of God. Amen.

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The Spiritual Realms is a nine-session Bible Study series on Heaven and Hell and places beyond this world. Specifically, the study looks at the many “place names” that are found throughout Scripture, referring to spiritual realms of existence that underlie and comprise the universe God created. This Bible Study series is a challenging one, in that it explores realities of existence beyond what we know and experience everyday.

The study not only addresses matters of life, death, heaven and hell, it steadfastly affirms that Jesus Christ is at the center of all these things. Our ultimate faith and hope rest in Christ’s death and resurrection for our sake. We live in faith by the biblical promise that: “God raised the Lord, and will also raise us up by his power” (1 Cor 6:14).

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 28 Aug 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Psalm 133:1–3

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Human Traditions in the Church 

In this very assembly we have sufficiently demonstrated that, for love’s sake, we do not refuse to observe adiaphora with others, even when this would have been disadvantageous. We thought that public harmony which could be produced without offense to consciences ought to be preferred to all other advantages. We will speak more of this entire subject when we consider vows and ecclesiastical power.

Pulling It Together

I was once declined in a congregation’s consideration as a new pastor, in part, because the church I was serving at the time did not use the Nicene Creed as much as the church in deliberation. How much we use each creed—indeed, whether we use the creeds at all—is adiaphora. That is, these things are not mandated in Scripture; there is no reason that we must do them. However, I do like the Nicene Creed very much and would have been happy to employ it often, had I been called to that congregation.

There are other things that I do not care much for, but again, they are adiaphora, and frankly, matters of taste. For the sake of unity, I do not make a stink about these matters. Though, I admit, there are times that I want to, but only because some things grate against my sensibilities about how I would like things to be—not because Scripture says they should be another way.

Then, there are those subjects that are matters of conscience, that we dare not compromise. For example, if a church taught that saying a creed is an act that deserves God’s favor, then we should decline, as a matter of conscience and principle, not because we disagree with the creed or even about saying creeds in general. It is not adiaphora when a church teaches that human traditions merit God’s grace. Nor does it promote harmony to do anything against conscience. While we ought to look for ways to produce unity among God’s people, they should not be done at the expense of conscience. 

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of your Church. Amen.

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All God’s Critters is a Sunday School series designed for young students in Preschool and Kindergarten. Lessons are based on storytelling, rhyme, and pictures, and are suitable for participation by non-readers. The flexible lesson plans introduce the youngest believers to the importance and truth of God’s Word. Each lesson includes the story of the day written in a simplified manner so that young children may understand an important truth about God and what it means for us to be God’s children.

The All God’s Critters curriculum is fully reproducible and is designed with the particular needs of small churches, mission congregations, and house churches in mind. Check out some sample pages by clicking here.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 27 Aug 16 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Corinthians 8:8–13

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Human Traditions in the Church 

Nevertheless, we teach that freedom should be judiciously employed in these matters so that the weak are not offended, and may not become more hostile to the true doctrine of the gospel because liberty is abused. Nothing should be changed in customary rites without a reasonable cause. So that harmony is promoted, the old customs may be observed if they can be observed without sin or without great inconvenience.

Pulling It Together

What difference does it make if you eat so-called unclean foods (Acts 10:15)? Will you go to hell because you ate some rabbit stew (Lev 11:6)? Will God withhold his forgiveness because you had a pork chop (Lev 11:7)? Or, in the case of 1 Corinthians 8, will you be damned if you eat some BBQ chicken served at a non-Christian religious festival? No, it says that the food makes no difference but that if someone less experienced in the faith sees you there eating that food, it may destroy their weak faith.

More specifically, does eating or not eating certain foods for religious reasons—or for that matter, following any other kind of human tradition—merit God’s favor and forgiveness? Again, no. Eating certain foods and following other human traditions do not commend us to God. These traditions are fine if used for personal discipline or unity in the church (such as a congregation fasting together)—so long as they may be observed without causing people to sin or lose faith, but they will never make us righteous before God.

Prayer: Help me depend upon you alone for salvation, God. Amen.

Receive these lessons by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com  with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to   the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject. 

Sola Publishing offers some free downloadable resources for congregations and leaders in developing a Stewardship Emphasis for 2016-17. The theme for this year's Stewardship Emphasis is "Growing in Faith." The key Bible verse comes from Luke 12:27: “Consider the lilies, how they grow...”

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 26 Aug 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Titus 3:4–8

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Human Traditions in the Church 

This topic of traditions contains many difficult and controversial questions. We have actually experienced that traditions are unquestionable snares for consciences. When they are required, the omission of any observance tortures in extraordinary ways the conscience. Again their abrogation has its own evils and its own questions.

But our case is plain and simple because the adversaries condemn us for teaching that human traditions do not merit the forgiveness of sins. They also require universal traditions, as they call them, as necessary for justification. Here we have as a constant champion Paul, who everywhere contends that these observances neither justify nor are necessary to be added to the righteousness of faith.

Pulling It Together

Start to read through the Bible in a year, and you will probably get behind at some point. Guilt will likely set in, especially if you do not catch up right away. Some people even wonder about their salvation when they cannot perform such acts of devotion. Try to pray the Hours and you will almost surely miss Matins some morning. Canon law requires some religious orders to pray the entire Liturgy of the Hours every day. Being part of a group that does these things, or doing them on your own, is fine. It is a good tradition and a valuable discipline. But to require such things as being necessary for justification, a reconciled God, forgiveness of sins, and therefore, salvation, is not what Scripture tells us.

The Bible tells us to apply ourselves to doing good but to not depend upon our good works for salvation. We must trust in the kind mercy of our loving God to justify us by his grace, and in doing so, make us inheritors of the hope of eternal life.

Prayer: Thank you for saving me—even me. Amen.

Receive these lessons by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com  with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to   the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject. 

Sola Publishing offers some free downloadable resources for congregations and leaders in developing a Stewardship Emphasis for 2016-17. The theme for this year's Stewardship Emphasis is "Growing in Faith." The key Bible verse comes from Luke 12:27: “Consider the lilies, how they grow...”

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 24 Aug 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Proverbs 3:11–12

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Human Traditions in the Church 

As to the mortification of the flesh and discipline of the body, we teach just as the Confession states, that a true and not a feigned mortification occurs through the cross and afflictions by which God disciplines us. In these we must obey God’s will, as Paul says, “Present your bodies as a living sacrifice” (Rom 12:1). These are the spiritual exercises of fear and faith. But in addition to the mortification that occurs through the cross, there is also a voluntary kind of exercise necessary. Christ speaks of this saying, “But take heed to yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation” (Luke 21:34). Paul also says, “I pommel my body and subdue it” (1 Cor 9:27).

These disciplines are not to be undertaken because they are services that justify, but in order to curb the flesh. Otherwise, satisfaction may overpower us, rendering us secure and indifferent. The result of this is people who indulge and obey the inclinations of the flesh. As it has the perpetual command of God, our diligence in this matter should be constant. The directive of certain foods and times does nothing to curb the flesh. These fasts are more luxurious and sumptuous than other feasts; not even the adversaries observe the prescriptions given in the canons.

Pulling It Together

It serves us well to discipline these human wills, bringing them in line with the will of God. This the very thing we ask so often, praying, “Thy will be done.” Our first resolve ought to be that his will be done in our own lives. Self-discipline will, to a large extent, accomplish this concern. This has the added benefit of not having to endure the crosses and troubles that God will inflict upon us if our earthly desires are not very heavenly. Be assured that, if God loves you (and he certainly does), he will do what is necessary to answer your prayer, and accomplish his will in your life. Though we ought to do all we can to discipline ourselves, we should not despise our Father’s discipline, since it is for our own good. Nor should we expect that our self-disciplines result in forgiveness, justification, or a reconciled God.

Prayer: Thy will be done, Lord, in my life as it is in heaven. Amen.

Receive these lessons by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com  with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to   the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject. 

Sola Publishing offers some free downloadable resources for congregations and leaders in developing a Stewardship Emphasis for 2016-17. The theme for this year's Stewardship Emphasis is "Growing in Faith." The key Bible verse comes from Luke 12:27: “Consider the lilies, how they grow...”

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 23 Aug 16 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Timothy 4:13–16

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Human Traditions in the Church 

On the other hand, all the sermons in our churches are occupied with such topics as repentance, the fear of God, faith in Christ, the righteousness of faith, the consolation of consciences by faith, the exercises of faith, prayer—what its nature should be and that we should be fully confident that it is heard and is effective, the cross, the authority of magistrates and all civil ordinances, the distinction between the kingdom of Christ (or the spiritual kingdom) and political affairs, marriage, the education and instruction of children, chastity, and all the works of love. From this report of our churches it may be judged that we diligently maintain church discipline, godly ceremonies, and good customs in the church.

Pulling It Together

Paul exhorts the young pastor to devote himself to three practices in his ministry: being sure that the Scriptures are read in services of worship, and preaching and teaching the Word of God. This is what the Church needs, though it is not necessarily what the people in congregations want. Too many of our churches want money managers, hand holders, back patters, and meeting goers who go by the name of Pastor but are afforded little time to actually fulfill their office.

The Church must make sure its pastors are allowed to absorb themselves in the office of God’s calling, not in the job description of a Council’s choosing. Then our pastors may faithfully read, preach, and teach God’s word in a way that is useful to their congregations.

Prayer: Give me the discipline, Lord, to immerse myself in your word. Amen.

Receive Sola's Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

The Sola Music Series offers simple collections of easy-to-play worship music, including new songs and arrangements of old favorites. Based in a confessional theology and a respect for the historical and sacramental liturgy, these resources do not require a high level of musical expertise. Written in a simple and straight-forward style, these songs are intended for congregations that would like to explore a less formal musical style in worship, while still maintaining the integrity of the traditional order of worship. Such music would fit into what is sometimes referred to as "contemporary" or "blended" worship, without necessarily requiring a full band of experienced musicians and singers to lead the songs. Providing lead sheets for guitar and vocals, along with full scores for piano, Sola Publishing grants to those who purchase this volume the permission to reproduce words and music of the songs within for local congregational use.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 22 Aug 16 00:00:00 -0500

Index of Scripture Graphics and posts by Scripture reference 

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1 Corinthians 1:20–25

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Human Traditions in the Church 

Among the adversaries, in many regions, no sermons are delivered during the entire year except in Lent. Yet the chief worship of God is the preaching of the gospel. When the adversaries do preach, they speak of human traditions, of the worship of saints, and similar trifles which the people justly loathe. Therefore, they are deserted as soon as the text of the gospel has been recited. A few of the better ones are now speaking of good works, but they say nothing about the righteousness of faith, faith in Christ, or the consolation of consciences. Indeed, they rail with reproaches at this most wholesome part of the gospel.

Pulling It Together

The gospel of God’s grace through Christ was snubbed as something “Lutheran” in the 16th century. In the 21st century, other gospels persist in churches. In their roots, these various false gospels are the same that Luther contended with and that the Apostle Paul fought against. They are each the so-called gospel of works righteousness. The prosperity gospel and the social (or activist) gospel are two of many such false gospels in our world today. Giving in order to gain is obviously a works-centered belief. A church that rallies around the latest cultural correctness and that believes God favors them for doing so, is also focused on a righteousness of works.

But we teach a much different gospel than these. “We preach Christ crucified.” This is a point of stumbling and offense for many but to those who are called, Christ is the power and wisdom of God (1 Cor 1:23–24). Christ is our righteousness, and his cross our rallying point. This is what must be preached and taught in our churches, lest human traditions and Christless religion soon overtake us.

Prayer: Ever draw me, O God, to the power and wisdom of Christ crucified. Amen.

Receive Sola's Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

Sola Publishing offers some free downloadable resources for congregations and leaders in developing a Stewardship Emphasis for 2016-17. The theme for this year's Stewardship Emphasis is "Growing in Faith." The key Bible verse comes from Luke 12:27: “Consider the lilies, how they grow...”

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 21 Aug 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Index of Scripture Graphics and posts by Scripture reference 

Deuteronomy 6:5–7

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Human Traditions in the Church 

With the adversaries, those who perform the Masses are unwilling celebrants and those hired for pay, and very frequently only for pay. They chant psalms, not to learn or pray but for the sake of the ceremony, as though the work was an act of worship, or at least due some reward. With us many receive the Lord’s Supper every Lord’s Day, but only after having first been instructed, examined, and absolved. The children sing psalms so that they may learn; the people also sing, in order that they may either learn or pray. There is no catechization of the children whatever among our opponents, though it is stipulated in the canons. With us, pastors and ministers of the churches are obligated to instruct and test the youth publicly, a custom that produces the best outcomes.

Pulling It Together

Holy Communion is not a ritual that is to be performed as though it were a good work done by us. Communion is a means of grace, something done by God for us and for Christ’s sake. This understanding must be taught to all, especially to our children. This instruction must begin in the home—for parents are the primary teachers of their own children. But the faith is also taught to the young in our churches by pastors and other faithful ministers, such as Sunday School teachers. Only then may Holy Communion be received with understanding, and the fear, love, and trust of God be properly instilled in our youth.   

Prayer: Teach me, O Lord, to love you with all my being. Amen.

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In Part 2 of Sola Scriptura, "The Norm of Faith" study shows how anactive view of the Word informs and guides our understanding of what Scripture says. In other words, it will talk about what the Bible means based on what it does. In terms of how we come to articulate our faith and our doctrinal teachings, to speak of Scripture as the "norm" of faith means that it is the standard against which our theology and proclamation are measured.

• Study Guide   • See also Sola Scriptura, Part 1: The Source of Faith

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 20 Aug 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Matthew 6:9–13

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Human Traditions in the Church 

But we cheerfully maintain the old traditions that were established in the Church for the sake of usefulness and tranquility. We interpret them in a more moderate way that excludes the opinion which holds that they justify. Yet our enemies falsely accuse us of abolishing good ordinances and church discipline. For we can truly declare that the liturgy in our churches is more becoming than with the adversaries. And if anyone will consider it properly, we conform to the canons more truly than do the adversaries.

Pulling It Together

Lucy was a sweet, Southern lady. Even suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, she was a very dear sister in Christ whom I liked to visit in the care facility where she had to live with others suffering from the same or similar conditions. At first, because I was wearing a clerical collar, she knew I was her pastor but she could not remember my name or the name of the church that she had attended for scores of years. Eventually, she did not even recognize me as her pastor. Whenever I asked if her daughter had been by to see her, she always said, “No,” or, “About a week ago,” even though her daughter visited every day. She just could not remember things anymore—her short-term memory being especially affected.

Toward the end of my pastorate in her church, I visited Lucy on a day when she seemed a little upset about something that she could not put into words. It might have been some fleeting memory that she could not quite recall, or perhaps the other patients were distressing her. At the end of my visit, I asked her if she would like me to pray. She always did, so politely smiled and said, “Yes, please.” As I quickly considered what to pray, I thought, “The Lord’s Prayer might be a comfort to her.” And so I began, “Our Father…”

Then Lucy joined me, softly saying, “who art in heaven,” and praying all the way to the “Amen.” Things changed during that time of prayer—for Lucy and for me. She was calmed and I felt better for her. As I drove away from the nursing home, I pondered what had happened. Of all the things and all the people she had forgotten, she remembered the prayer that Jesus taught us, the prayer that is part of the liturgy of her church. This public ritual, the “Our Father,” that Lucy participated in thousands of times did not reconcile God or merit the forgiveness of sins for her. But it did remind her of God’s presence and providence. Even when she seemed to have forgotten everything else, it was very clear that she had not forgotten God. 

Nor had he forgotten her.  

Prayer: Lord, teach me to pray. Amen.

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A Latin phrase meaning “Scripture Alone,” Sola Scriptura is one of the traditional Lutheran slogans used since the time of the Reformation. It expresses our confession that Scripture is “the only rule and norm according to which all doctrines and teachers alike must be appraised and judged.” Using the familiar phrase as its title, Sola Scriptura is a new, advanced-level Bible Study in a two-part series, of six chapters each, on the functional authority of Scripture. For those who would like to cover the topic in detail, there is enough material to cover one chapter in two sessions, making each part a 12-week study.

• Leader's Guide   • See also: Sola Scriptura, Part 2: The Norm of Faith

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 19 Aug 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Matthew 15:10–20

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Human Traditions in the Church 

Then, if any one observes these traditions, let it be done without the superstition of expecting some favor from God, just as there is no merit when soldiers are clothed one way and scholars another. The apostles violated traditions and were excused by Christ to show the Pharisees that these services are unprofitable. So if our people disregard useless traditions, they are excused when these traditions are said to merit justification, since such regard for Church traditions is profane.

Pulling It Together

Jesus says, “Hear and understand.” This is important. A person’s righteousness is not earned in the keeping of traditions or rituals or doing good works. Were someone to have a lifetime of perfect Sunday School attendance, never miss a Council meeting, never had a drink, given up smoking, always worn a nice outfit to worship, and never once uttered a bad word, these things could never earn God’s favor. If people make the sign of the cross at every mention of the Trinity, face the cross all the way through processions, bow so much that their friends wonder if they have a condition, and have developed an acute appetite for lutefisk, those people would be no more righteous or holy than anyone else.

People from other churches and countries observe different traditions. Let them do so. Furthermore, if people do not wish to do so, allow them this freedom. If the person sitting next to you in church, or who goes to another church, does not bow and cross, does wear jeans, but would not dare to eat fish gelatin, do not fret for her soul. It is not the things she wears, the things she does, or the food she puts in her mouth that defile her. Indeed, it is what comes out of her—out of her heart and soul—that corrupts.

So let us be more concerned with who is within us than with those things we do on the outside. “Hear and understand.” This is important.

Prayer: Give me grace, Lord, to hear and understand. Amen.  

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The General Epistles offers a series of 12 Bible studies based on Hebrews, James, I & II Peter, I, II, & III John, and Jude. The geographical locations of Biblical characters can symbolically refer to places we find ourselves with respect to our faith. As we become more acquainted with our spiritual geography, we will better discern where God would have us go or what changes we need to make in order to serve Him better.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 17 Aug 16 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Peter 3:13–16

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Human Traditions in the Church 

Many hope to find justification in the traditions, that they will soothe their consciences, yet can not find any sure measure by which to free themselves from these chains. When Alexander could not untie the Gordian knot, he cut it with his sword. Just so, the apostles freed consciences once and for all, especially from the idea that traditions merit justification. The apostles compel us with doctrine and example to oppose such ideas, teaching that traditions do not justify, are unnecessary for justification, and that no one should create or receive traditions with the belief that they merit justification.

Pulling It Together

Do you have hope? If so, what is the reason for your hope? The Apostle Peter says that we should be ready to give a reliable reason for the hope that is in us. That sounds like the hope within us all is the same hope, not something that each of us accomplishes in a variety of ways. At any rate, we have already established here that no one has a good conscience because of the things they do. Quite the opposite is the case. So, since one’s hope of salvation needs a good conscience, how may these be possessed? How may someone have hope and a good conscience, if they cannot be had by things done? Hope and a good conscience may only be apprehended by faith in Christ. If you believe that God’s grace comes to sinners through Christ alone, then you can have a certain hope—and a good conscience. For you have now apprehended the truth, that your personal holiness, religious devotion, and good works are not what make the crucial difference. “Christ in you” is your only “hope of glory” (Col 1:27). 

Prayer: I honor you, Lord Jesus, as the one who is holy in my life. Amen. 

Receive these daily Sola Devotions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

Examining Our Core Beliefs explains in straight-forward terms the core of what we believe—from a biblical, theological, historical, and confessional point of view. A 30-page study guide is included in the back of the book.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 11 Aug 16 00:00:00 -0500

Photograph by Bruce Shaw  •  Index of Scripture Graphics and posts by Scripture reference 

Galatians 5:1–7

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Human Traditions in the Church 

Nor do bishops have the authority to institute rites as though they justified or were necessary for justification. In the apostolic challenge, “Why do you make trial of God” (Acts 15:10), Peter declares that laying this burden on the Church is a great sin. Paul forbids the Galatians to submit to bondage again (Gal 5:1). The ceremonies of the law were necessary for a time. But the will of the apostles is that liberty remain in the Church, so that no services of the law or traditions be considered necessary. For if people think that these services merit justification, or are necessary for justification, the righteousness of faith is obscured.

Pulling It Together

Christ alone has the authority to institute rites in the Church that justify, reconcile, and forgive. Why is it though, that the Church or its bishops cannot establish these ceremonies? Rites that promise the grace of God depend upon the Word of God. Since God alone can make these gracious promises, he alone has the authority to institute rites that convey his grace. Christ has done this in Baptism and Holy Communion. All other rites are human institutions that do not have the authority to establish the rite, or the power to fulfill the promise.

Prayer: Help me to run the race well, Lord, depending upon you until the finish line. Amen.

Receive these daily Sola Devotions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

Learning About Communion teaches the meaning of Holy Communion according to the pattern of Luther's Small Catechism, and is recommended for the Fifth 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 emphasize the sacramental promise of the forgiveness of sins conveyed to us in the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. This booklet was designed to be used as a Sunday School unit, or for classes to prepare students for their First Communion.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 09 Aug 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Revelation 3:7–13

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Human Traditions in the Church 

We have already cited some testimonies, of which Paul overflows. He clearly says to the Colossians: “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a sabbath. These are only a shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ” (Col 2:16–17). He includes here both the law of Moses and human traditions at the same time, so that the adversaries may not resort to their typical practice and elude these testimonies on the ground that Paul is speaking only of the law of Moses. He clearly says here that he is speaking of human traditions. The adversaries do not know what they are claiming. If the gospel says that the divinely instituted ceremonies of Moses do not justify, how much less do human traditions justify!

Pulling It Together

If we are going to follow a command of God, let us keep this one: believe in his Son, Jesus Christ. For “this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us” (1 John 3:23). That is the greatest commandment, so let us keep that one and in so doing, keep all the rest. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27). If we are to do one thing, let us do that very blessed thing: believe in Jesus Christ. Let faith in him be our only obligation and his Spirit in us will drive all other duties. Only, let us not call those responsibilities things that save us or reconcile us to God. Only Christ saves (Acts 4:12).

We may not have much power in this life, but there is one thing we can do. By the grace of God, we may believe. There is an “open door” set before us all; it is the invitation to faith in Christ. It is certainly not a command to earn salvation through keeping laws, for Christ is the end of the law (Rom 10:4).

Prayer: Claim me as your own, Lord, and give me faith. Amen. 

Receive these daily Sola Devotions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

Not My Will, But Yours: A Bible Study on the Bound Will explores the theme of human bondage seen throughout Scripture. From the Old Testament examples of people held in slavery whom God came to set free, to the New Testament examples of Jesus healing illnesses and casting out demons, we witness the Lord’s power of deliverance. Ultimately, all these stories point to the greatest act of God’s redemption in the cross, where Christ rescued us from our captivity to the powers of sin, death, and the devil.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 08 Aug 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 3:27–28

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Human Traditions in the Church 

How the most excellent Gerson is tortured while he searches for the degrees and extent of the precepts yet, is unable to fix any mitigation in a definite degree. Meanwhile, he deeply deplores the dangers to godly consciences which this rigid interpretation of the traditions produces.

Against this deceitful illusion of wisdom and righteousness through human rites, let us fortify ourselves with the Word of God. Let us know that these traditions do not merit with God the remission of sins or justification, nor are they necessary for justification.

Pulling It Together

John Gerson became the chancellor of the University of Paris in 1395. Over a century before Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the castle door, Gerson wrote against human traditions in the Church that had students and others so focused on regulations that they took no time for the Scripture. He, and later the Lutherans, could not find how these traditions promised assurance and peace in the heart. As a result, the Lutherans insisted on proclaiming the gospel of grace.

When one takes time for study of the Scripture, it is easily discovered that no one merits God’s favor, forgiveness, et cetera through these human traditions in the Church. Scripture teaches everywhere that sinners cannot achieve any worth with God that deserves such rewards. So, of course, Scripture does not elevate human traditions to the level of justifier. Only Christ is “just and justifier” of those who have faith in him (Rom 3:26).

Prayer: Make me dependent, Lord, on your justifying righteousness. Amen. 

Receive these daily Sola Devotions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

If you are a pastor or Council member, you know it is close to budget preparation time for 2017. Please consider adding Sola Publishing to your benevolence. You may also securely donate as an individual by clicking the red donate button above. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 07 Aug 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Colossians 1:24–27

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Human Traditions in the Church 

That is not all. When minds are possessed with the notion that such observances are necessary for justification, consciences are in woefully anxious because they cannot fulfill all the requirements. Who could enumerate all of the observances? There are large books—indeed, whole libraries—that do not contain a syllable about Christ, faith in him, or the good works of one’s calling, but only collect the traditions along with interpretations by which observances are made more rigorous or relaxed.

Pulling It Together

How can there be a secure and sincere hope of glory when that hope is based in one’s own ability to perform? That would be to despair of glory. Our hope, however, is based on a truer self than self: on Christ in us. He is the only reason we have the hope of glory. This glorious hope is born of a great mystery but it is true nonetheless. Through the Word and the Sacraments, Christ is in us and is filling us with his Spirit in both new life and the righteousness of God. That is why we hope; the righteousness of “Christ in you” is your only “hope of glory.”

Prayer: I hope in you with a sure hope, Lord. Amen. 

Receive these daily Sola Devotions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

St. John's Churches: A Parable of Faithful Discipleship is a twelve session story invites disciples to explore and discern God's will for mission and ministry. Written in parable form, this funny, engaging story follows the ministry of Pastor Jeff Mutton as he dreams the big dream of a creative, vital ministry to the community in which St. John's serves. Each session can be used as opening devotions for church council meetings, discipleship training sessions, or a visioning team. The humorous story encourages listeners to dream the big dream of God's plan for mission in their context. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 06 Aug 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Colossians 3:18–24

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Human Traditions in the Church 

After this illusion of wisdom and righteousness has deceived people, infinite evils result. The gospel of the righteousness of faith in Christ is obscured, and vain confidence in such works follows. Then the commandments of God are obscured, for when these works lay claim to the title of a perfect and spiritual life, they are much preferred to the works of God’s commandments, such as one’s own calling, the administration of the state, the management of a family, married life, the bringing up of children. Compared with those religious ceremonies, vocations are considered profane, so that they are practiced by many with some doubt of conscience. For it is well known that many have abandoned the administration of the state and married life, in order to embrace these observances as better and holier.

Pulling It Together

When one realizes that righteousness does not come by doing religious things but by Christ having done everything for us, then we realize righteousness is something given to us through faith in Christ and by the grace of God. What results from this faith in Christ’s righteousness is the realization that all of the normal vocations of life may be just as holy and righteous—if not more so—as being a religious.

There is no need to enter a religious order to be righteous or lead a holy life. Christ makes husbands, wives, and parents as holy as priests. Senators and mayors, doctors and nurses, school teachers and soldiers are all made holy through faith in Christ. Once we believe that Christ gives us his holiness, without any of our works added, we are able to be at peace with our callings in life.

Prayer: Help me work for you, Lord, in such as way as brings you honor. Amen. 

Receive these daily Sola Devotions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

WELL Worship Notes – WELL stands for Worship, Explore, Learn, Live! Kids learn to worship by being in worship with the community of faith. These reproducible pages feature Luther's Small Cat and are designed to engage young worshippers (Grade 2 and above) in what is happening in the worship service. Children can answer questions, color, and learn why we do what we do when we worship God. There is a different page for each season of the church year (six pages in total). Click here for sample page.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 05 Aug 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Luke 18:10–14

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Human Traditions in the Church 

This is also how human reason understands the discipline of the body and fasting. Their purpose is restraint of the flesh, but reason thinks of them as services which justify. Thomas [Aquinas] writes: “Fasting avails for the extinguishing and the prevention of guilt.” These are the words of Thomas. Thus people are deceived by the illusion of wisdom and righteousness in such works. Additionally, people try to imitate the lives of the saints, for the most part imitating the outward exercises without their faith.

Pulling It Together

Human righteousness tends to look down its nose at those not religious in the same way. It is always watching to see what others are not doing so that it can compare all it does. These are, of course, outward things like ceremonies, rites, fasting, and manner of dress. If such things are regulated, one may easily determine if they are being righteous. More important to the self-righteous, one may also easily determine if others are not being righteous.

We are so easily deceived. It is not the outward things that matter. We may justify ourselves to other people because of our religious practices. But God knows the heart (Luke 16:15). God’s ways are not like our ways (Is 55:8). So we should not be surprised that outward disciplines are not at all important without faith toward God in the heart. This requires enough humility to admit that one is a sinner in need of the Savior.

Prayer: I thank you, Lord, that I am a sinner whom you love. Amen. 

Receive these daily Sola Devotions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

WELL Worship Notes – WELL stands for Worship, Explore, Learn, Live! Kids learn to worship by being in worship with the community of faith. These reproducible pages feature Luther's Small Cat and are designed to engage young worshippers (Grade 2 and above) in what is happening in the worship service. Children can answer questions, color, and learn why we do what we do when we worship God. There is a different page for each season of the church year (six pages in total). Click here for sample page.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 04 Aug 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Colossians 2:20–22

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Human Traditions in the Church 

Paul writes that traditions have “an appearance of wisdom” (Col 2:23); and indeed they do. For good order is very becoming in the Church, and for that reason is necessary. Yet human reason, because it does not understand the righteousness of faith, is inclined to believe that these works justify people because they reconcile God. This is what the common people among the Israelites thought, and because of this opinion, ceremonies increased, just as they have grown among us in the monasteries.

Pulling It Together

I have enjoyed wearing the most comfortable jeans. But it seems that just a few months after I get them broken in, they wear out and I have to start all over. Who knows how many pairs of jeans I have worn out in my life? They felt good for awhile but eventually they began to expose me where I once was covered.

That is just how human religious traditions work. They feel good at first but then they leave you exposed. Just like my favorite old jeans, my favorite religious traditions eventually wear out and leave me uncovered. My old traditions had the appearance of wisdom, just as my current traditions do. They kept and keep me on-track in my religious life but they do not cover me. In other words, they cannot justify me or reconcile God. When these traditions become regulations that we imagine earn us favor with God, then we may discover that we have been wearing nothing at all.

Prayer: Cover me, O Lord, in your righteousness. Amen. 

Receive these daily Sola Devotions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

All God’s Critters is a Sunday School series designed for young students in Preschool and Kindergarten. Lessons are based on storytelling, rhyme, and pictures, and are suitable for participation by non-readers. The flexible lesson plans introduce the youngest believers to the importance and truth of God’s Word. Each lesson includes the story of the day written in a simplified manner so that young children may understand an important truth about God and what it means for us to be God’s children.

The All God’s Critters curriculum is fully reproducible and is designed with the particular needs of small churches, mission congregations, and house churches in mind. Check out some sample pages by clicking here.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 03 Aug 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Isaiah 1:10–11

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Human Traditions in the Church 

The Fathers had these reasons for maintaining rites, and for these reasons we also judge it is right that traditions be maintained. We are greatly surprised, however, that the adversaries contend for another reason for traditions, namely, that they may merit the remission of sins, grace, or justification. What else is this than to honor God with gold and silver and precious stones—in other words, to believe that God becomes reconciled by a variety in clothing, ornaments, and by similar rites, such as are infinite in human traditions?

Pulling It Together

Maintaining rites for the sake of order in the Church is one thing. But to contend that these rites justify God is in opposition to the doctrine of the apostles, and contrary to both the Old and New Testaments. Sacrifice, whether animal or gold, is worthless to God without faith. Sacrifice, ceremony, and good works should all be responses of faith. God is greatly displeased with anything given with the idea that doing that thing will merit forgiveness and salvation. The remission of sins and eternal life is only received through faith in Christ. He is the only sacrifice that pleases God.

Prayer: Help me to hear your word, Lord, and respond in faith. Amen. 

Receive these daily Sola Devotions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

Go and Tell - Word of Life Series (Unit 2) is a resource for those looking to develop small groups built around the Word of God. This model of small-group ministry is an excellent tool for evangelism since it is rooted in prayer and Scripture. Its primary focus is to empower those who believe in Jesus Christ to be comfortable sharing their faith and inviting others to experience a transformed life in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Meant for use in Small Group gathering, each of the six sessions is based on a primary Scripture text, with intentional time for reflection. There are questions, prayer, faith sharing, and mini evangelism case-studies. The series would be helpful for those involved in starting a Bible study fellowship, house church, or mission congregation. It can also be used by established congregations to aid in establishing a small group ministry.

• Unit 1   • Unit 2   • Unit 3

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 02 Aug 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Matthew 14:28–31

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Human Traditions in the Church 

Although the holy Fathers had both rites and traditions, they did not maintain that these are useful or necessary for justification. They did not obscure the glory and office of Christ, but taught that we are justified by faith for Christ’s sake—not because of these human ceremonies. They observed these human rites for the sake of the body, that the people might know when to assemble, for an example in the churches how things may be done in order and decorously, and lastly, that common folk might receive a sort of training. For the distinctions of times and the variety of rites are valuable for instructing the common people.

Pulling It Together

Occasional services are useful tools in the churches. They help us to do things that promote good order, without having to invest a lot of time developing these services. Even the rubrics for the liturgy that are printed in the service books are very helpful. Yet when we begin to call upon these services—these human inventions—as those things which define Christians, we have gone overboard, and like Peter, have begun to lose our faith in Christ. Thus, we will surely sink, for our focus has become the wind of our opinions, instead of Christ. When this happens, even those things meant for good order will divide us.

Prayer: Take my hand, Lord, and give me faith in you. Amen. 

Receive Sola's Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

Come and See - Word of Life Series (Unit 1) is a resource for those looking to develop small groups built around the Word of God. This model of small-group ministry is an excellent tool for evangelism since it is rooted in prayer and Scripture. Its primary focus is to empower those who believe in Jesus Christ to be comfortable sharing their faith and inviting others to experience a transformed life in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

• Unit 1   • Unit 2   • Unit 3

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 01 Aug 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Revelation 14:9–12

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Human Traditions in the Church 

Daniel indicates that new human religious rites will be the very form and constitution of the kingdom of Antichrist. He says: “He shall honor the god of fortresses instead of these; a god whom his fathers did not know he shall honor with gold and silver, with precious stones and costly gifts” (Dan 11:38) He describes here the invention of new rites, as he says that such a god shall be worshiped as the fathers did not know.

Pulling It Together

The face of Christianity is changing in many places. Things that were once considered true because they are the testimony of Scripture, are now cast aside in favor of personal and public opinion. With these changes come new religious rites and unusual beliefs to base these ceremonies upon. What have those who are so deceived done but received the mark of the beast? They have sided with darkness, worshiping the beast instead of the Light of the World. This should come as no surprise, for John spoke of this when he wrote that the true light would not be received by the world (John 1:9–10).

We may fall in with the complainers who long for the so-called good old days. They are with us in every generation. Or we may have our minds opened to understand the Scriptures (Luke 24:45). Then we will realize that these changes were prophesied long ago and that we have a responsibility in such times. We are to patiently endure, being even more devoted to walking in God’s way and keeping our faith in Jesus—no matter the push and pull of the world around us. For to all who receive Jesus, who believe in him, he gives the right to become children of God (John 1:12). There is no other way of salvation (John 14:6), despite what some may claim. Though the world continues to change, and some churches right along with it, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb 13:8).

Prayer: Help me to endure these times, O Lord, and keep my faith in you. Amen. 

Receive Sola's Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

If you are a pastor or Council member, you know it is close to budget preparation time for 2017. Please consider adding Sola Publishing to your benevolence. You may also securely donate as an individual by clicking the red donate button above. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 31 Jul 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Colossians 2:1–5

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Human Traditions in the Church 

They condemn us in article seven of their Confutation for saying that it is not necessary that rites instituted by men should be the same everywhere for true unity of the Church.

Pulling It Together

Since rituals invented by people—instead of those instituted by God—have no testimony in the Word of God and no demand on his people, how could they have anything to do with real unity in the Church? For it is God who maintains unity and order in the Church. It is then up to us to obey—to obey God, not people (Acts 5:29).

God has given us what is necessary for good order and unity. There is no need to invent something new or additional. Yet how these things are observed will necessarily be different from one congregation to another. Language will be different, as will some wording, the flavor of wine, the temperature of the water, and so forth. Let us not quibble over such things but find our unity in Christ and his Word. Such firmness of faith in “the mystery of God” will bring about good order.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for revealing the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages. Amen. 

Receive Sola's Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

Learning About Confession teaches the meaning of Confession and Forgiveness according Luther's guidance in the Small Catechism. It is recommended for the Sixth Grade Level. Each week focuses on a specific Bible story that illustrates the theme, with additional references from Scripture and Luther's Small Catechism - Children's Version. With a healthy balance of Law and Gospel, lessons emphasize the connection between repentance and forgiveness, and how the promise of God’s forgiveness changes our lives.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 30 Jul 16 00:00:00 -0500

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John 1:10–13

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Human Traditions in the Church 

What need is there for words on a subject so plain? If the adversaries defend these human rituals as meriting justification, grace, and the forgiveness of sins, they are simply establishing the kingdom of Antichrist. The kingdom of Antichrist is a new worship of God that is invented by human authority that rejects Christ, just as the kingdom of Mohammed has services and works through which it seeks to be justified before God. It denies that people are freely justified before God by faith, for Christ’s sake. Thus the papacy also will be a part of the kingdom of Antichrist if it continues to insist that human rites justify. In doing so, the honor is taken away from Christ since they teach that we are not justified freely by faith, for Christ’s sake, but instead through these religious ceremonies—especially when they teach that such ceremonies are not only useful for justification, but are also necessary.

Pulling It Together

Our own will—and willpower—has nothing to do with being part of the family or kingdom of God. We are reborn into the kingdom of Christ because of faith in the King of the kingdom. When we believe in King Jesus, we become children of God. Now this should cause us to act like family, like citizens of his kingdom. But such actions are not what justify us to God. Neither do they merit his forgiveness. God’s grace, in all its forms, comes to us because it is his will to impart it to us for Christ’s sake—not for the sake of any good we might do. Inventing or defending a different approach to grace than the free justification that comes by faith in Christ is against Christ. Any religion that depends upon the will and willpower of people is therefore, of the kingdom of Antichrist. 

Prayer: Let me ever depend, O God, upon Christ alone. Amen. 

Receive Sola's Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

The Sola Confirmation Series, written by the Rev. Steven E. King, is work-book style Confirmation curriculum. It is designed to serve as a simple and practical resource for teaching the biblical Word of God according to the traditional pattern of Martin Luther’s Small Catechism.  Each book in the series can be used as the basis for a “come as you are” small group Bible study, as a student book for home school or independent study programs, or as a classroom tool and homework resource as part of an existing confirmation program. 

The Ten Commandments book is a ten-week unit, which includes one session on each of the Commandments. The Scripture focus in the Ten Commandment series is on Moses and the Exodus Cycle, with Bible Study lessons taken primarily from the Pentateuch.

• Student Workbook   • Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 29 Jul 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Revelation 22:14–17

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Human Traditions in the Church 

Lastly, how are we assured of justification through rites that have been instituted by people but which do not have God’s command, since nothing can be affirmed about God’s will without God’s Word? What if God does not approve of these services? How, then, do the adversaries assert that they justify, since this cannot be verified without God’s Word and testimony. Paul says, “Whatever does not proceed from faith is sin” (Rom 14:23). Since these services have no testimony from God’s Word, consciences will surely doubt whether they please God.

Pulling It Together

The Brief Order for Confession and Forgiveness (Lutheran Book of Worship, 56) asserts that, “we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves.” There is nothing we can do that will serve to extricate us from our slavery to sin. Nor can we be certain that God will honor fabricated rituals or other acts of worship meant to earn God’s favor, however well-intentioned. Indeed, while we cannot help but doubt whether God is pleased with such human institutions, we should actually not believe they could ever merit God’s favor.

God has already revealed through the testimony of his Word how we are given his grace—forgiven, justified, and granted eternal life—and it is not through the observance of religious ceremonies. Our robes are washed and whitened—that is to say, we are cleansed from sin—through the blood of the Lamb (Rev 7:14). This is not done at the neighborhood laundromat; it must be believed. No extra bleaching is necessary for Christ has fully cleansed those who have faith in him. Therefore, we do not need to add our works or other observances in order to be forgiven and saved, for the water of life is given without cost because Jesus paid that price (Gal 3:13–15.

Prayer: Father, help me to never doubt your grace. Amen. 

Receive Sola's Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

The 2016-2017 Liturgical Calendar (Year A) in color or grayscale charts the Scripture readings for each Sunday in the Church Year, with each Sunday printed in the proper liturgical color for easy reference. Sola Publishing recommends the use of the Revised Common Lectionary as found in the Lutheran Service Book (LSB) published by Concordia Publishing House, and makes use of this lectionary in the Sola Online Worship eResource (SOWeR) website.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 28 Jul 16 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Peter 1:6–7

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Human Traditions in the Church 

If we are allowed to create religious rites that merit grace or righteousness, why were the heathen and the Israelites denied this right? The religious rites of the heathen and the Israelites were rejected for the very reason that, because they did not yet know about the righteousness of faith, they believed that they earned remission of sins and righteousness through these ceremonies.

Pulling It Together

The highest service of God is to have faith in him. There is nothing you can do that is more precious to God than to trust him, believing his promises—to have faith, which is “more precious than gold.” This is another reason why we are denied the right to create our own ceremonies and sacraments. It is God’s pleasure to give; so we must receive, and that only requires faith.

In the sacraments themselves, we see that grace is nothing we earn. In Baptism, we are given new life in Christ; we do not earn rebirth. In Holy Communion, we are given the Body and the Blood of our Lord; we do not take it; we do not earn the benefits of his sacrifice. The Small Catechism asks, “What is the benefit of such eating and drinking?” It answers: “It is pointed out in these words: ‘Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.’ Through these words the forgiveness of sin, life, and salvation are given to us in the Sacrament, for where there is forgiveness of sin, there is also life and salvation.”

All these gracious blessings are “given to us.” So, instead of inventing ceremonies that are intended to earn grace, or trusting in rituals invented to do so, we must instead, give God the highest service we can: we must have faith in him to freely give us the grace he has promised.

Prayer: Increase my faith in you, Lord Jesus. Amen. 

Receive Sola's Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

The Spiritual Realms is a nine-session Bible Study series on Heaven and Hell and places beyond this world. Specifically, the study looks at the many “place names” that are found throughout Scripture, referring to spiritual realms of existence that underlie and comprise the universe God created. This Bible Study series is a challenging one, in that it explores realities of existence beyond what we know and experience everyday.

The study not only addresses matters of life, death, heaven and hell, it steadfastly affirms that Jesus Christ is at the center of all these things. Our ultimate faith and hope rest in Christ’s death and resurrection for our sake. We live in faith by the biblical promise that: “God raised the Lord, and will also raise us up by his power” (1 Cor 6:14).

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 27 Jul 16 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Timothy 2:5–6

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Human Traditions in the Church 

If people are allowed to institute religious rites with the purpose of meriting grace, then the religious rites of all the heathen will have to be approved. The rites instituted by Jeroboam (1 Kings 12:26) and by others, outside of the law, will have to be approved. For what difference does it make?

Pulling It Together

“You can’t make this stuff up,” people sometimes say when they hear something incredible—like the guy who called 911 because he was locked in his car. You can’t make this stuff up. Or can you?

God has determined to give us his grace freely because of Jesus and the cross. There are to be no ceremonies or any works added to faith in what Christ has done for us. There is no way but God’s way, and his way is Christ—Christ alone. Yet, instead of having the faith to trust him for his promised grace in forgiveness, justification, and eternal life, people invent things that need to be done to supposedly earn God’s grace. They would rather work for grace than receive it freely. You just can’t make this stuff up.

Prayer: Thank you, Jesus, for giving your life as a ransom for mine and for all people. Amen. 

Receive Sola's Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

Advent Adventures takes a “novel” approach to the season by offering serialized fiction stories to be used by a congregation over the weeks of Advent. Written by Pastor Paul Koch, these books are intended as a resource for midweek Advent services, but they could also be used on Sunday mornings, with stories and reflections serving as the sermon for the day. 

Each chapter in the larger story has a suggested psalm and scripture lesson along with a sermon reflection for the week, tying the fictional story to God’s story, proclaiming the gospel to the congregation. A suggested order for an evening vespers service is also included.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 21 Jul 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Matthew 15:6–9

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Human Traditions in the Church 

Why have a long discussion? The holy Fathers instituted no traditions with the intention of them meriting the remission of sins or righteousness. They were instituted for the sake of good order and tranquility in the Church.

When someone wants to institute certain works to merit the remission of sins, or righteousness, how will it be known that these works please God without the testimony of God’s Word? How, without God’s command and Word, will people be certain of God’s will? Does he not everywhere in the prophets prohibit people from instituting, without his commandment, peculiar rites of worship? Ezekiel writes, “Do not walk in the statutes of your fathers, nor observe their ordinances, nor defile yourselves with their idols. I the LORD am your God; walk in my statutes, and be careful to observe my ordinances” (Ezek 20:18–19).

Pulling It Together

Human traditions in the Church are not trifling matters. When they contradict the Word of God, they must be put out of the Church, since they are counter to what God teaches. There is no clearer teaching in all of Scripture than that which teaches us how and why we receive grace. God’s grace is received by faith, and only for Christ’s sake. We do not earn grace, not could we, since Christ is the only merit of grace. If you have faith in Christ, God’s grace is extended to you.

That is too simple for some folks, I suppose. So they create practices that are intended to earn God’s grace and forgiveness. These traditions are put in place and kept in play even though they violate the Word of God. But let us not let the Lutherans off too easily with regards to this matter.

Our churches do not have human rituals and traditions that are meant to merit forgiveness and grace. Still, some of our people treat a few of the divine practices in such a way that they may as well be human rituals that are devoid of grace. When people simply go through the motions of Communion, without due consideration of the body and blood of Christ, do they not eat and drink damnation upon themselves (1 Cor 11:29)? When Confession and Holy Communion are treated as mere rituals but carry the expectation of having done something to earn God’s favor, have we not corrupted the divine institution, turning it into a new tradition of works righteousness? 

Prayer: Help me, Lord, to honor you with my heart and my lips. Amen. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 20 Jul 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Philippians 1:3–7

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Human Traditions in the Church 

Since we receive the remission of sins by faith, and since by faith we have a propitious God for Christ’s sake, it is an error and an impiety to declare that we deserve the remission of sins because of ceremonies. Some might say here that we do not merit the remission of sins, but that those who have already been justified merit grace by these practices. Paul again replies that Christ would be the “minister of sin” (Gal 2:17, KJV) if after justification, we believe that we are not accounted righteous for Christ’s sake, but that we must first merit righteousness with other observances. “No one annuls even a man’s will, or adds to it, once it has been ratified” (Gal 3:15). Therefore, we do not add to God’s covenant that we must first attain his acceptance and justification through these observances, when he promises that he will be gracious to us for Christ’s sake.

Pulling It Together

God did not start a process that we must then finish. The Father sent his Son to accomplish a mission, not to partially complete the task. That task was to save the world through faith in Christ (John 3:16–17). Jesus completed his work of salvation through the cross, there and then proclaiming, “It is finished” (John 19:30). If his saving work is finished, what must we add to our faith in what he accomplished? If we must continue earning God’s grace with ceremonies, Christ’s work is not finished. If we must add anything to what Christ did, he did not finish the job.

But he did finish his work of salvation. Therefore, “whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, NIV). Furthermore, he will complete his redeeming work in our lives, as the Apostle Paul says: “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” God will fulfill his good work of salvation—not us. He is doing so because of Christ, not because of us, our deeds, or our religious practices.

Have faith in the promiser. “It is finished.”

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for making me a partaker in grace, through faith in Jesus Christ. Amen. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 19 Jul 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Galatians 3:7–9

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning H