Sola Publishing News and Feedback [Devotions Category] http://solapublishing.com/news_feedback/feed.html?category=19 News and feedback blog for Sola Publishing en-us Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a839.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.

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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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a838.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.

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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. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a837.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.

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"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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a834.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.

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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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a836.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.

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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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a835.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a833.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.

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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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a832.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.

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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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a831.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a830.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.

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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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a829.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.

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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a828.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.

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 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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a827.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a826.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a825.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a824.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.

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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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a823.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a822.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a821.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a820.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.

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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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a819.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a818.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a817.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a816.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a815.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a814.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.

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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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a813.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.

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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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a812.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a811.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a810.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a809.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a808.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a807.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a806.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a804.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a803.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a802.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a800.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.

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.

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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a797.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.

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.

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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a796.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.

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 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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a795.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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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a794.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a793.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.

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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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a792.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a791.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.

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 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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a790.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a789.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.

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.

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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a788.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a787.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.

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.

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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a786.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.

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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a785.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a784.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a783.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a782.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a781.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a779.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a778.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. 

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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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a777.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a775.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a776.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a774.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a773.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.

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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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a772.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.

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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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a771.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.

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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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a770.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.

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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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a769.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a768.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a767.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.

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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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a766.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a765.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a764.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a763.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a762.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.

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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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a761.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.

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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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a760.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.

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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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a759.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a758.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a757.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a756.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.

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 - 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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a755.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.

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 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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a754.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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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a753.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a752.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a751.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a750.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a749.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a748.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a747.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a746.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a745.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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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a744.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a743.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a742.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a741.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a740.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a739.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a738.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a737.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a736.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a735.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a734.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a733.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a732.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a731.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a730.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a729.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a728.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.

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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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a727.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a726.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.

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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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a725.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a724.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.

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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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a723.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 – part 3

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.

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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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a722.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 – part 2

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.

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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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a721.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 – part 1

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.

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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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a720.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.

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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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a719.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 – part 8

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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a717.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.

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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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a716.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.

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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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a715.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.

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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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a714.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.

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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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a713.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a712.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a711.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a710.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a709.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a708.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a707.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a706.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a705.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a704.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a703.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a702.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a701.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a700.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a699.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.

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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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a698.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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Daily Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/daily-lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a697.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a696.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.

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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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a695.html Mon, 22 Aug 16 00:00:00 -0500

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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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a694.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a693.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a692.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a691.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a688.html Thu, 11 Aug 16 00:00:00 -0500

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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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a687.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a686.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. 

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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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a685.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a684.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a683.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a682.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a681.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a680.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a679.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. 

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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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a678.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. 

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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. 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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a677.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. 

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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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a676.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. 

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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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a675.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a674.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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a673.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. 

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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a672.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. 

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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a671.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 Human Traditions in the Church 

Nor is there any difference between our traditions and the ceremonies of Moses, so far as this matter is concerned. Paul condemns the ceremonies of Moses, just as he condemns traditions, because they were regarded as works that merit righteousness before God, therefore obscuring the office of Christ and the righteousness of faith. Because the law and traditions have been removed, he contends that the forgiveness of sins has been promised, not because of our works, but freely because of Christ, so long as we receive it by faith, since only faith receives a promise.

Pulling It Together

God did not tell Abraham that if he kept certain traditions and fulfilled various commands, that he would be blessed. Rather, he promised him a son and descendants that would bless the whole world. That promise did not depend upon Abraham or his descendants. It depended upon the one who made the promise—as all promises do.

So, the promise of salvation is also dependent upon the one who makes the promise. When we depend on our own actions and traditions, instead of trusting God to do as he promised, it betrays a lack of faith in the promiser. And it more than implies that we trust ourselves, our traditions, and our religion more than we trust God, if we trust him at all.

So do good, as Abraham often did. But do not trust in your goodness or righteousness. Trust in God. This is what Abraham did, and because he believed the one making such a grand promise, God considered him a friend (James 2:23). Furthermore, God kept his promise to his friend—and to his offspring. This is why you may also have hope in the promise: you too, are the offspring of Abraham. If you have faith in the Christ of promise, you are a son of Abraham (Gal 3:7). Therefore the promise is for you, for you are a child of Abraham so long as you have faith to receive the promise made to him and all of his descendants.

Prayer: Spirit of the Living God, renew in me today the life of faith, 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 study, A Covenant of Aging, would be well-suited for use in retirement communities and nursing home settings, or for groups of older adults within a congregation. Seven sessions (16 pages). The type is in clear large print. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a670.html Mon, 18 Jul 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Hebrews 12:18–24

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Human Traditions in the Church 

Now these men say that people merit the remission of sins by these human observances. What else is this than to appoint another justifier, a mediator in Christ’s place? Paul says to the Galatians: “You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law” (Gal 5:4). In other words, if you contend that you deserve to be accounted righteous before God by the observance of the law, Christ will profit you nothing. Why do they need Christ if they believe they are righteous by their own observance of the law? God has appointed Christ as mediator, promising to be gracious to us on his account, not because of our righteousness. But these men hold that God is reconciled and favorable because of traditions, not because of Christ. Therefore they withhold the honor of mediator from Christ.

Pulling It Together

People are robbed of the only means of grace available to them, when they are taught to earn God’s favor. Our works do not reconcile God. The traditions of the Church, though often useful for devotional purposes, can not make us right with God. Pastors and priests are not mediators between God and sinners. But they can point the way. And that way—the only way—is Christ.

If people are taught otherwise, that they are the way, that their good works and the keeping of human traditions make the difference, then they are deprived of a life of grace and peace. They are left with never knowing if they have done enough good, confessed all of their sins, or if God truly loves them. For their sense of God’s love is based upon their own merits. This is the fault in their religion.

Because God does love us, he sent his Son as mediator, ending the age-old conflict between the holy God and sinful humanity. God offered himself as the sacrifice for our sins. So you see, God already loves us. Nevertheless, sinners still need forgiveness. Only Jesus, God in human flesh, promises that kind of pardon and peace. He loves us. Period. But he pardons us because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, not because of our worth or works or religious traditions. Christ alone has the honor of being the mediator between God and sinners.

Prayer: Jesus, keep me near your 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.

This study on the book of Revelation is the latest addition to the Old Places, New Faces serires. The 12-part study bypasses the speculations of Revelation and seeks to identify and announce the great truths it contains for all people of all times: the serious consequences of humanity's sin, the destructive work of the evil one the hope for believers who suffer persectuion, and the amazing life Christians will experience after death.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a669.html Sun, 17 Jul 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 

We have above discussed at length that people are justified by faith when they believe that they are reconciled to God, not because of our works, but freely for Christ’s sake. It is certain that this is the doctrine of the gospel because Paul clearly teaches, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God—not because of works” (Eph 2:8–9).

Pulling It Together

I do not have a truck payment this month. In fact, I have not had to make my monthly payments for years. By making regular payments until my debt to the bank was paid off, I received the title to the truck. I was then entitled to drive my truck, free of charge. But had I not made even one of those monthly payments, the bank would own that truck.

That is the law.

I do not have a salvation payment this month. In fact, I have not ever had to make payments. I am entitled to live at peace with God, having been reconciled to the Father through the payment of Christ. He redeemed me from the curse of the law. Jesus paid the price that I could never pay. He did so freely and graciously, not because of my deeds or payments. I am justified with God on Christ’s account.

That is grace.

Prayer: Increase in me a life of faith in you, O 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 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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a668.html Sat, 16 Jul 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Isaiah 29:13–14

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Human Traditions in the Church 

The Gospel teaches that we freely receive the remission of sins and are reconciled to God by faith, for Christ’s sake. The adversaries, on the other hand, appoint another mediator, namely, their traditions. They wish to acquire remission of sins and appease God’s wrath through these traditions. But Christ clearly says, “In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men” (Matt 15:9).

Pulling It Together

Jesus quoted Isaiah, pointing to the futility of human, religious traditions. These practices achieve nothing. Nevertheless, God has accomplished something wonderful that the wisdom of the wise will never comprehend, the strength of the strong will not possess, and the piety of the religious can never earn. At just the right time, while we were unworthy sinners, Christ died for the sins of the world (Rom 5:6), justifying us to God through his blood (Rom 5:9), not because of our religious customs (Rom 4:5).

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for the wonder of our Savior. 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 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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a667.html Fri, 15 Jul 16 00:00:00 -0500

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John 8:43–45

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Human Traditions in the Church 

Although we thought that our opponents would defend human traditions on other grounds, we did not think that they would condemn the teaching that we do not merit the grace or forgiveness of sins by the observance of human traditions. Since this article has been condemned, we have an easy and plain case. The adversaries are now openly Judaizing, suppressing the gospel with the “doctrines of demons.” When it is taught that religious rites are useful in meriting the remission of sins and grace, Scripture calls such traditions “doctrines of demons.” For this conceals the gospel, the benefit of Christ, and the righteousness of faith.

Pulling It Together

We love a lie, especially when it seems like it just might be true. That kind of untruth seems to be especially attractive. The vast quantity of falsehoods that are shared in social media would be astounding, were it not for an understanding of our weak nature’s inclination to believe a lie. Someone will post an untrue story on the internet, and the next thing you know, that story is popping up in many more people’s accounts. They do not check to see if the article is true or even real; they just post it, seemingly without thinking, or worse, maliciously.

The devil has posted a lie. And people are too eager to believe it because it seems religious. So, it must be right. Right? Wrong. A lie is still a lie, even if it seems like the truth. Indeed, that sort of lie might be more insidious.

Satan wants us to believe in ourselves. Just work harder; pray more; confess more often; read the Bible; go to church; serve on another committee; do works of penance; tithe. Now, of course, all of these are fine things to do. That’s the trick of the lie. Make it sound religious. But if he can just get you to believe that these things earn favor with God, that doing them makes you worthy of his grace, then you have fallen for the ultimate lie. You have become a believer in yourself instead of in God.

This is the lie that was spread in the garden and is still being shared today. Basically the lie states: Do not believe what God said; believe in what you can accomplish. You can be good on your own. Grab that fruit and take a bite!

But Jesus has told us the truth. He is the truth (John 14:6). Christ came to save sinners (1 Tim 1:15), not to tell them to save themselves. Hear his word. Believe.

Prayer: Help me, Lord, to not fall for the lie but instead, to hear your word and believe. 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 Word of Life series 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 gatherings, each of the six sessions in Dwell in My Love 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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a666.html Thu, 14 Jul 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 3:19–20

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Human Traditions in the Church 

They accept the Fifteenth Article in the first part, where we say that ecclesiastical rites are to be observed when they may be observed without sin, and when they are of profit in the Church for tranquility and good order. They altogether condemn the second part, in which we say that human traditions that are instituted to appease God, to merit grace, and make satisfactions for sins are contrary to the gospel. Although we have spoken at sufficient length about traditions in our Confession, when considering the distinction of meats, still, certain things should be briefly recounted here.

Pulling It Together

Our works will never earn us salvation, nor were they meant to do so. We cannot reconcile ourselves to God, earn his grace, or otherwise make satisfaction for our sins by keeping the law, let alone by merely meeting the demands of human traditions. When we try to keep the law, as we should, we discover that we are undone, sinners who are unable to save themselves. So, we are left with the glorious alternative: to trust God to do as he promises, that he saves those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31; Rom 10:9)—for Christ’s sake alone.

Prayer: Lead me to always trust in you, Father, through Christ Jesus, your Son. 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 Ten Commandments is a ten-week unit in the Sola Confirmation Series. It 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.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a665.html Wed, 13 Jul 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Luke 6:31–35

And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Ecclesiastical Order 

Furthermore, we wish to testify again here that we will gladly maintain ecclesiastical and canonical government, provided that the bishops cease to rage against our churches. Our desire will clear us before both God and among all nations for all posterity from the accusations of undermining the authority of bishops. For people will read and hear that, although protesting against the unrighteous cruelty of the bishops, we could not obtain justice.

Pulling It Together

The Golden Rule is another way of stating the second half of the greatest commandment. It helps us put the commandment into action by telling us how to love our neighbors as ourselves. Do for them what you would like for people to do for you (Lev 19:18).

The key to order in the Church is not only correct doctrine and practice; we must also do for and to others as we would like for them to treat us. So when someone blows a gasket in a Council meeting, retaliation in-kind is not the answer. “A gentle answer turns away wrath” (Prov 15:1, NASB). When denominations disagree, gracious dialogue can be the beginning of the solution. But sometimes, the resolution is not agreement in either teaching or practice, but a parting of the ways. This separation still involves basic human kindnesses and Christian graciousness. The Golden Rule certainly does not allow for cruelty, either in deeds or with words. Jesus drives this home by commanding us to even love our enemies. 

Prayer: Lord, teach me how to love people—even the tough ones. 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.

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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a664.html Tue, 12 Jul 16 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Timothy 1:5–7

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Ecclesiastical Order 

We have clear consciences in this matter because we know that our confession is true, godly, and catholic. Also, we dare not approve the cruelty of those who persecute this doctrine. We know that the Church is where the Word of God is taught correctly, and the Sacraments are rightly administered. The Church is not among those who endeavor to efface God’s Word by their edicts, and who also put to death those who teach what is right and true. The canons are milder even towards those who transgress.

Pulling It Together

Is the result of your doctrine love or hate, peace or discord? Do you find that you are often agitated with people, politics, the news, life in general? Or are you focused on God, and are therefore at peace, in spite of what seems to be happening in the world around you?

The purpose of faith is not about winning arguments or feeling like you are right; it is about being right with God, because being justified to God means, among many other things, being at peace—not only with God but with yourself and your neighbor. After all, the goal of correct doctrine (1 Tim 1:3–4) is a love for God and neighbor (Mark 12:30–31). This love develops out of a pure heart, a good conscience, and genuine faith.

Therefore the Church is that assembly of people where right doctrine is taught and where the sacraments are properly administered, and thus, where people are at peace with God and neighbor, though all around them seems bent on hell and destruction.

Prayer: Help me do my part, Lord, in properly handling the gospel. 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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a663.html Mon, 11 Jul 16 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Corinthians 11:18–19

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Ecclesiastical Order 

But the bishops either compel our priests to reject and condemn the doctrine that we have confessed, or by a new and unheard-of cruelty, they put to death the poor, innocent men. This prevents our priests from acknowledging such bishops. Thus, the cruelty of the bishops is the reason why canonical government, which we greatly desired to maintain, has ceased in some places. Let them see to it how they will give an account to God for dispersing the Church.

Pulling It Together

When there are divisions in the Church that are based upon human reasons or traditions, they must either be resolved or condemned. In the end, after patient and prayerful dialogue, only the truth must stand. The teachings of the Scripture must rule the day, for there can be no real unity unless it is founded upon and in agreement with the bedrock of God’s Word.

It is natural that there are factions in the Church. God uses these differences for the good purpose of demonstrating, not only correct doctrine but, those who are faithful and those who are apostate. In the end, let us go our own ways, one to what he thinks and the other to what God has confirmed. But let there be no killing, by the stake or by the tongue. This only further confirms who is correct or in error. But for those who have suffered under such unrighteous persecution, may they be blessed in the memory of the Church. And for those who have performed such heinous acts against the faithful, may they be forgiven, for they do not comprehend the gravity of their own actions (Luke 23:34; Acts 7:60).  

Prayer: Unify your Church, Lord, even as you and the Father are one. 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 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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a662.html Sun, 10 Jul 16 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Corinthians 14:40

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Ecclesiastical Order 

They receive the Fourteenth Article—with the proviso that we employ canonical ordination—in which we say that only those rightly called should be allowed the administration of Word and Sacraments in the Church. We have frequently testified in this assembly about this subject, that it is our greatest wish to maintain church polity and the ranks in the Church, even though they have been made by human authority. We realize that church discipline was instituted by the Fathers with a good and useful intention in the manner described in the ancient canons.

Pulling It Together

There should be a form of order and discipline in the Church, as there is in every organization. The Lutherans had no squabble with the Roman Church about the ordering of such matters. They agreed with their opponents that only those who are rightly called should be entrusted with the most important affairs of the Church: preaching and teaching the Word of God and administering the sacraments.

Prayer: Help me to remain faithful 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.

The goal of the Personalities of Faith youth Bible study 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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a661.html Sat, 09 Jul 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Deuteronomy 30:11–14

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Number and Use of the Sacraments 

Words cannot express the sum of abuses that have been produced in the Church because of this fanatical opinion concerning the opus operatum without a good disposition on the part of the one using the sacraments. Hence the incessant profanation of the Masses which we shall speak of later. Neither can a single letter be produced from the ancient writers in which this matter favors the scholastics. Augustine actually writes to the contrary, that faith in the sacrament, not the sacrament, justifies. The declaration of Paul is also well known: “For man believes with his heart and so is justified” (Rom 10:10).

Pulling It Together

One must believe that God acts in the sacraments according to his promises. This is not difficult to comprehend. Simply going through the motions of a ritual is of no effect. God does not bestow his grace on people who are so disinterested that the sacrament is merely a religious routine for them. His grace—justification, righteousness, and salvation—is only had through faith. What is more, this is the only way to have peace in the conscience, for if one does believe God forgives sins and justifies us to himself, there can be no real peace. Of what use then, is the sacrament?

Prayer: Help me believe your word, Lord, and do it by having faith. Amen. 

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Come, Holy Spirit! is a workbook-style Bible study about the work of the third Person of the Trinity being connected to the work of the Father and the Son. From the beginning, the Holy Spirit was actvely involved in creation in giving life and breath. Througout the Old Testament, the Spirit revealed truth to people and empowered people to do God's will by speaking through the prophets. In the same way, the New Testament show that the Spirit is at work in the hearts of all believers as the source of our life in faith.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a659.html Fri, 08 Jul 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Luke 22:14–20

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Number and Use of the Sacraments – part 13

We are talking about that particular kind of faith that believes the offered promise, not only believing in general that God exists, but believing that the forgiveness of sins is offered. This use of the sacrament consoles godly but troubled minds.

Pulling It Together

This is why faith is critical. Without faith, one is simply going through the motions, and grace is not received. But when the sacrament is used with faith in God to do as he promises, great comfort is had, and anxious minds are conferred the peace of God, who is Christ Jesus himself. So, through faith in the Word or the promise that is attached to the sacrament—“This is my body... This is my blood...”—one does not simply receive bread and wine; one receives the peace who is Christ himself.

Prayer: Make me worthy to receive your blessings because of the surpassing worth of Jesus Christ my Savior. Amen. 

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By the Will of God is an eight part sermon series on Ephesians follows the summer lectionary, year B. It uses the Brobston Telemetry Method of Preaching which is an easy way to capture the hearts and minds of listeners and draw them into the Good News of Jesus Christ.Use this series to focus in on the will of God in our lives. It is designed to be used from July 12 through August 30, 2015, but it can be used as a series anytime of the year the preacher wants to focus on Paul's letter to the church in Ephesus. It is also a great resource to give to lay-preachers in congregations where supply pastors are unavailable to fill in when the pastor goes on vacation. Each week there is a description of the bible passage, an image to build from, a section called "going deeper" which digs into the lesson even further, and some questions to use if you decide to discuss the sermon in a Bible Study or other forum.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a660.html Thu, 07 Jul 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 2:28–29

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Number and Use of the Sacraments 

The reason for this is clear and well-grounded. A promise is useless unless it is received with faith. The sacraments are signs of the promises, so in using the sacraments, faith must be added, so that when one uses the Lord’s Supper, it is received with faith. Because this is a sacrament of the New Testament, as Christ clearly says, those partaking should for this very reason be confident that the free forgiveness of sins that is promised in the New Testament is offered to them. They must acquire this by faith, be comforted in their troubled consciences, and know that these testimonies are not false. For God’s promises are as sure as though, by a new miracle, he shouted from heaven that it was his will to grant forgiveness. But what advantage would these miracles and promises be to an unbeliever?

Pulling It Together

What advantage are the sacraments if they are not believed, if there is no faith in the promises attached to them? Without faith in the Word of God connected with it, baptism is only water. Without faith in God’s promise of grace, Holy Communion is only bread and wine. Indeed, the water, bread, and wine are only such a small amount, they could hardly be considered of physical benefit. But God accomplishes his purposes through these elements when, and only when, the sacraments are “a matter of the heart,” when one believes the Word connected with the element.

Prayer: Change my heart, O God, to trust in you. Amen. 

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Full-Color Catechism Posters (Set of Seven)  These glossy full-color 11"x 17" posters feature the main texts from the six parts of Luther's Small Catechism, and are designed for use in homes and churches to help children memorize these important and timeless words. Posters include: Holy Baptism, The Lord's Prayer, The Ten Commandments (standard), The Ten Commandments (simplified),The Apostles' Creed, Holy Communion, and Confession & Forgiveness. Each poster features a picture of "Luther's Small Cat" and matches the colors of the corresponding booklet from Sola's Luther's Small Cat Series.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a658.html Wed, 06 Jul 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 4:7–11

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Number and Use of the Sacraments 

It is more necessary to understand how the sacraments are to be used. Here we condemn the whole crowd of scholastic doctors, who teach that the sacraments confer grace ex opere operato, without a good disposition on the part of the one using them, unless there is some hindrance in the way. Thinking that we are justified by a ceremony, without a good disposition of the heart, that is, without faith, is simply Judaism. Yet this godless and insidious view is taught with great authority throughout the entire realm of the Pope. Paul disagrees (Rom 4:9), denying that Abraham was justified by circumcision, but asserts that circumcision was a sign given to exercise faith. So we teach that faith should to be added when using the sacraments, that one should believe the promises, and receive the promised things offered in the sacrament.

Pulling It Together

Faith is absolutely necessary. Christianity is not a list of things to do; it is faith in the one who has done what we could never do. So, even when we do things—things like baptism and communion—it is not really we who do them. It is God baptizing. It is God giving his body and shedding his blood. This requires faith because it is not the doing of the thing that brings grace. It is God doing the thing that brings grace. We are not justified by doing the thing but by having faith, by believing that God is doing something—that he is forgiving, regenerating, and saving as he promises to do.

Prayer: Give me a heart of faith in you, Lord. 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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a657.html Tue, 05 Jul 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Matthew 6:5–6

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Number and Use of the Sacraments 

In the end, if we count as sacraments all of those things that have God’s command with a related promise, then why do we not add prayer, which could most truly be called a sacrament? For it has both God’s command and very many promises. If it was placed among the sacraments, and so, be given a more important place, it would invite people to pray. Alms could also be considered here, as well as afflictions, both which are signs to which God has added promises. But let us skip these things, for wise people will not fuss too much about the number or the terminology, so long as those things are retained that have God’s command and promises.

Pulling It Together

God does command his people to pray (Matt 26:41; Mark 14:38; Luke 22:40, 46; 1 Thes 5:17). Rewards are promised to those who pray. However, there is no promise of grace attached to prayer. Nor is there the promise of grace connected with almsgiving, though we are commanded to give alms (Deut 15:11; Luke 11:41).

How many sacraments there are and what they are called is not at issue here. The question is: what is a sacrament? If a sacrament is a rite that has been commanded by God, and to which he has attached the promise of his grace, we should not argue too much.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for always being ready to hear my prayers. 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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a656.html Mon, 04 Jul 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Matthew 19:4–6

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Number and Use of the Sacraments 

Marriage was not initially instituted in the New Testament, but in the beginning, immediately upon the creation of the human race. Moreover, it has God’s command and also promises, yet not, strictly speaking, pertaining to the New Testament, but rather to the physical life. If anyone should wish to call it a sacrament, it should be distinguished from those preceding sacraments which are characteristic signs of the New Testament, and testimonies of grace and the forgiveness of sins. Yet if marriage gets the title of sacrament because it has God’s command, other states or offices that also have God’s command may be called sacraments—government, for example.

Pulling It Together

God has joined together those who marry. So, we do not quarrel over whether marriage is instituted by God. Still, it is not commanded that all marry but only that there is faithfulness among those who do marry. There is also blessing in marriage, yet grace is not promised to those who wed. By definition, marriage is not a sacrament. A sacrament is a rite that has been commanded by God, and to which he has attached the promise of his grace. 

Prayer: Lord, keep couples faithful to each other and to you. 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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a655.html Sun, 03 Jul 16 00:00:00 -0500

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John 14:25–26

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Number and Use of the Sacraments 

It is advantageous to adorn the ministry of the Word as much as possible with every kind of praise against fanatics who dream that the Holy Spirit is not given through the Word, but because of certain preparations of their own, as they sit unoccupied and silent in dark places, waiting for illumination, as the Enthusiasts formerly taught and the Anabaptists teach now.

Pulling It Together

There are groups who claim that there is something better than God’s Word. They believe that the Holy Spirit counsels them directly, without the aid of Scripture. It is true that the Holy Spirit teaches God’s people, but he does so by bringing to memory the words of Christ which, of course, we find in the Bible, along with the rest of God’s revelation. The Spirit puts the right light on the Word, interpreting the biblical revelation so that we may understand. We have no need for new deceptive teachings, the heresies of antichrists (1 John 2:18–26), for we have the Spirit as teacher and the Bible as text. Yes, the Holy Spirit does, indeed, teach us about the truth (1 John 2:27) but we should never imagine that our wandering minds receive new revelations from the Spirit. Like the noble Bereans, we had better compare such so-called insights with the Word of God, to determine what things are true (Acts 17:11). The ministry of the Word helps us do that very thing.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, bring me closer to Christ through your Word. Amen. 

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The ESV Grow Bible is designed to reach children ages 8-12 for the time between when they use a children's Bible and a more advanced Bible. It couples the full ESV text with all new features to help children learn. Nearly every page features a "W Question", boxes answering the who, what, where, when or why of a text—basic questions a child might have while reading. Introductions to each Bible book, charts, and maps help young readers understand the themes, characters, and context of Scripture. 45 "Cross Connections" explain how certain Bible passages point to Christ and 90 "4U" sections explain and apply texts to the child's life. In addition, articles about Jesus and the teachings of the Christian faith help children understand important theological concepts.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a654.html Sat, 02 Jul 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Isaiah 55:10–11

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Number and Use of the Sacraments 

If ordination is understood as applying to the ministry of the Word, we are not unwilling to call ordination a sacrament. For the ministry of the Word has God’s command and glorious promises. The Gospel “is the power of God for salvation to every one who has faith” (Rom 1:16). Likewise, “So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose” (Isa 55:11).

If ordination is understood in this way, we will also not refuse to call the imposition of hands a sacrament. The Church is commanded to appoint ministers, which should be most pleasing to us because we know that God approves and is present in this ministry.

Pulling It Together

If ordained ministry is interpreted as a priestly duty of making sacrifice for the people, this cannot be considered a sacrament. For the Scripture neither commands this, nor promises God’s grace to such an office. However, the Bible says much about the command to preach and teach the Word, and to administer the sacraments. It bids the Church to appoint such persons who are called to this ministry of Word and Sacrament. It promises grace to those who hear and believe the Word that is preached.

To the end of pointing out the differences between what their opponents called the priestly office and what the Lutherans taught, Melancthon went so far as to say that even ordination and the things pertaining to ordained ministry, such as the laying on of hands, could be considered sacramental. For, understood in that sense, these things are commanded by God and contain the promise of grace. 

Prayer: Lord, call and train ministers of the gospel to work in the fields of harvest. Amen. 

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We Still Believe is offered as a resource for 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, 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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a653.html Fri, 01 Jul 16 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Peter 2:9–10

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Number and Use of the Sacraments 

Accordingly, people are not justified because of any other sacrifices, but because of this one sacrifice of Christ—if they believe that they have been redeemed by this sacrifice. Therefore, priests are not called to make any sacrifices for the people so that they may merit remission of sins with those sacrifices as in the law but, because they are called to teach the gospel and administer the sacraments to the people. We do not have a priesthood like the Levitical, as the Epistle to the Hebrews sufficiently teaches.

Pulling It Together

Every Christian is a priest before God. Each Christian’s faith in God’s grace is representative of the old priesthood. It is faith itself that is is the duty of the new priesthood—not ceremonies. Therefore, those who have faith in God’s grace, forgiveness, justification, and eternal life, are the ones who parallel the old Levitical priesthood. It was the tribe of Levi who were set aside to be priests under the Old Covenant. In the New Testament, it is the tribe or the family of Jesus, “the people of God”(1 Pet 2:10 KJV)—those who have been adopted through faith in Jesus Christ (Eph 1:5)—who are priests before God. 

Prayer: Thank you for choosing me, Lord, to be in your family. Amen. 

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Pastor Kent Groethe's study of the Book of Acts, Acts - Old Places, New Facesfocuses on the life of the early church as a model for church life today. The message and power of the church today needs to be revitalized and renewed by the power of God's Spirit, just as it was in the early church.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a652.html Thu, 30 Jun 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 11:5–6

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Number and Use of the Sacraments 

The adversaries do not understand priesthood as the ministry of the Word, and administering the Sacraments to others. They understand it as sacrifice, as though in the New Testament there should be something like the Levitical priesthood, to make sacrifices that merit the remission of sins for the people. We teach that the sacrifice of Christ dying on the cross was sufficient for the sins of the whole world, and that there is no need for other sacrifices, as though this was not sufficient for our sins.

Pulling It Together

Are we to make sacrifices? Yes. For example, John teaches us that we ought to lay down our lives for the Church, for our brothers and sisters in the faith (1 John 3:16). Laying down one’s life is surely a sacrifice. Paul teaches us to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, and that this is true and correct worship (Rom 12:1). So, yes, we are to make sacrifices—even the sacrifice of our lives. Yet our sacrifices, though proper worship, should never be considered as offerings to God that earn his favor or merit the forgiveness of sin. That is what only Christ can do—and has done. He has already accomplished this sacrifice, so it does not bear repeating (Heb 7:27) even ceremonially, since his redemption is complete and eternal (Heb 9:11–12; 10:10–14). His grace is sufficient (2 Cor 12:9) and needs no sacrifice from us to make Christ’s sacrifice complete. “It is finished” (John 19:30).

Prayer: Make of me a living sacrifice who depends upon your grace alone. Amen. 

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The newest 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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a651.html Wed, 29 Jun 16 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Corinthians 1:4–9

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Number and Use of the Sacraments

Confirmation and Extreme Unction are rites received from the Fathers which not even the Church requires as necessary to salvation since they do not have God’s command. Therefore it is useful to distinguish these rites from the former, which have God’s express command and a clear promise of grace.

Pulling It Together

By definition, confirmation and extreme unction, or last rites, are not sacraments. They do not contain the clear command of God in Scripture, nor do they have a promise of his grace. This is not to say that confirmation and last rites do not have value. Yet, if they are considered sacraments, then it is the Church’s grace that is offered, with whatever value that human or, worse, institutional grace has to offer. For these things are institutionally commanded.

Again, this is not to say that the Church should not have rites like Confirmation, but we should not consider it a sacrament that offers God’s grace. Rather, it is God who confirms us outside of any commandment of a rite. True confirmation comes from God’s Spirit, not from the Church. He freely gives us faith and his gifts, sustaining (or confirming, 1 Cor 1:8, KJV, ASV, NASB) believers until the end. He keeps us holy and blameless until his coming just as he made us holy and righteous to begin with, because of faith in Christ. 

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for your free gift of grace. Amen. 

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The first in the series, Superior Justice is a mystery-fiction novel that features the character of Jonah Borden as a not-so-typical Lutheran Pastor, who also happens to investigate local mysteries. Set in the midst of the striking beauty of Minnesota's Lake Superior coastline, Superior Justice will draw you in with its unique and quirky characters, and keep you guessing until the end.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a650.html Tue, 28 Jun 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Psalm 95:6–9

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Number and Use of the Sacraments 

Therefore Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and Absolution, which is the Sacrament of Repentance, are truly Sacraments. For these rites have God’s command and the promise of grace, which is the substance to the New Testament. For when we are baptized, when we eat the Lord’s body, when we are absolved, our hearts must be firmly assured that God truly forgives us for Christ’s sake. Through the Word and the rite, God moves hearts to believe and conceive faith at the same time, just as Paul says, “Faith comes from what is heard” (Rom 10:17). But just as the Word enters the ear in order to strike our heart, so the rite itself strikes the eye, in order to move the heart. The effect of the Word and the rite is the same, as Augustine said well, calling a sacrament “the visible word.” For the rite is received by the eyes, and is, as it were, a picture of the Word, signifying the same thing as the Word. Therefore the effect of both is the same.

Pulling It Together

We find in God’s gracious commands, in the sacraments, the essence of the New Testament. For these things must be received in faith. We must come before the Word with soft, believing hearts, trusting that God has called us to the font and the table in order to forgive and regenerate us.

In baptism, we see and feel the water, but must take hold of God’s promise with faith in order to believe that God is washing away our sins. In Holy Communion, we see and taste earthly bread and the wine, but must comprehend with faith that this is heavenly food, the body and the blood of the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.

This goodwill of God is seen and heard in the sacraments, where grace is truly known, and through which God revives faith. We profess that his gift comes out the fullness of Christ, from whom we receive grace upon grace (John 1:16). His gift of grace is never-ending. We cannot reach the bottom of his stock, for his supply does not depend upon our goodness, but Christ’s goodness—upon our morality, but instead, Christ’s righteousness—upon our devotion, but rather, because God remains devoted to those who believe that, for Christ’s sake, God extends his grace to poor sinners. May our hearts remain soft and inclined to believe. 

Prayer: Help me to see and believe, Lord, yet even to believe without seeing. Amen. 

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Come, Lord Jesus answers the many questions that arise when modern readers look into the book of Revelation. In this book readers will come to understand the first-century context in which Revelation was written—and readers will join the holy choir in looking forward to the fulfillment of God's plan, offering our own invitation: "Come, Lord Jesus."

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a649.html Mon, 27 Jun 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Mark 2:5–7

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Number and Use of the Sacraments 

If we consider sacraments to be those rites which have the command of God, and to which the promise of grace has been added, it is easy to properly determine what are sacraments. Rites instituted by men will not, in this way, be properly called sacraments since it does not belong to human authority to promise grace. Therefore, signs instituted without God’s command are not sure signs of grace, even though they perhaps instruct or admonish the unlearned.

Pulling It Together

The sacraments have the express command of God for all the people of God. Go and make disciples, baptizing and teaching (Matt 28:19–20). Eat this bread and drink this cup (1 Cor 11:26). These are not commands for some people, yet not commanded to others. Further, these are not human traditions that are somewhat based in Scripture but modeled on a human construct. They are, instead, explicit commands found in the Word of God.

Sacraments also contain the promise of God’s grace, such as the regeneration of the fallen human condition (John 3:5), and the forgiveness of sins (Matt 26:28). These are not human promises since God alone is able to recreate and forgive sins (Mark 2:7).

So we enumerate these two things as necessary for a sacrament: one, the command of God, and two, his promise of grace. Some point out that a sacrament also contains a physical element such as water, bread, or wine. We might even consider one more thing, just to make our understanding of a sacrament very clear. A sacrament must have the clear command of God, and the promise of his grace, but that statute of grace must be made to all of his people, not to some yet not others—as to a priestly class but not the multitude, or vice versa. For God would bless all of his people with the promise of grace found in the sacraments.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for your promise of grace. Amen. 

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Acts – Old Places, New Faces focuses on the life of the early church as a model for church life today. The message and power of the church today needs to be revitalized and renewed by the power of God's Spirit, just as it was in the early church.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a648.html Sun, 26 Jun 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Jude 1–3

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Number and Use of the Sacraments 

In the Thirteenth Article the adversaries approve our statement that the sacraments are not only marks of profession among people, as some imagine, but are rather signs and testimonies of God’s will toward us, through which he moves hearts to believe. But here they ask us to also number seven sacraments.

We hold that the matters and ceremonies instituted in the Scriptures should be maintained and not be neglected, whatever the number. We do not think the quantity is of any consequence, if for the purpose of teaching, the number varies, provided what has been handed down in Scripture is properly preserved. The Fathers did not enumerate in the same manner either.

Pulling It Together

The sacraments are not merely indicators of who we are, in the sense of someone thinking that since a group baptizes in water, and ceremonially eats bread and drinks wine, they must be Christians. These sacraments are not so much what we do as they are what God does for us in the water, bread, and wine. We celebrate these sacraments because God commands it in his Word as ways through which he delivers his grace to those who believe in him, not merely because that is what a church does. This is what it means to be Christian, this celebration of the faith once handed down to us by Christ, and once and for all delivered to the Church in his gospel. Through the sacraments of baptism and Holy Communion, God multiplies his mercy, peace, and love to those who are called to our common salvation.

Prayer: Help me, Lord, to faithfully follow what you have handed down to the Church in your Word. Amen. 

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You Can Understand the Old Testament: Its Message and Its Meaning is an introduction to, and overview of, the Old Testament, exploring its meaning and its message for readers of today. Individual overviews and discussions of each book of the Old Testament are provided along with helpful maps, tables and charts as well as complete indexes of subject matter, biblical texts cited, and Hebrew words noted in the discussion. The book is aimed at students of the Bible, whether members of church congregations, pastors, or students in college or seminary. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a647.html Sat, 25 Jun 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Isaiah 41:8–10

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

We have set forth a summary of our doctrine concerning repentance, knowing it is godly and beneficial to reverent minds. If god-fearing people will compare our doctrine with the very confused discussions of our adversaries, they will perceive that our opponents have omitted the doctrine about faith justifying and consoling godly hearts. They will also see that the adversaries invent many things about the merits of attrition, the endless enumeration of offenses, and satisfactions. They say things that agree with neither human nor divine law, and which not even our adversaries themselves can satisfactorily explain.

Pulling It Together

There are times when it is difficult to believe that God really loves us. When we sin, we sense an estrangement with God that must somehow be overcome. The instinct is to make an offering, to do some good work or act of penance that will balance the scales of divine justice. That instinct is a good one, for God himself has acted on the same thought. Because sin and guilt alienate us from God, he sent his Son as the only offering, the only good work that can restore our relationship with him. When guilt and the despair of life begin to oppress us, we must hold on to the faith that encourages us to, “Fear not.” God will help and support us, console and justify us, only because the Son has satisfied the Father on our behalf—not because we have been religious, moral, or pious.

Prayer: Help me to remember with faith, Lord, that you are always with me. Amen. 

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It is a vital task of the church today to encourage a renewed interest in and use of God’s Word. Unfortunately, many people find the Scriptures difficult to read and hard to understand at first. The purpose of Epistles, a Guide to Reading the Scriptures is twofold: to encourage Christians to read God’s Word on a regular basis and to help the reader slow down and concentrate on each chapter of the epistles before moving on to the next.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a646.html Fri, 24 Jun 16 00:00:00 -0500

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2 Corinthians 13:9b–10

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction

Christ speaks of a spiritual kingdom. God commands that ministers of the gospel should absolve those who are converted, by the authority which the Lord has given us for edification (2 Cor 10:8). Therefore the reservation of cases is a secular affair. It is a reservation of canonical punishment, not the reservation of guilt before God in those who are truly converted. Therefore the adversaries are right when they confess that at the time of death the reservation of cases should not hinder absolution.

Pulling It Together

There are no confessed sins that Christ Jesus cannot or will not forgive. Therefore there is no confessed sin for which a minister of the gospel cannot and should not give absolution. Ministers are commanded to do so; it is their pastoral duty. Christ himself has given them the authority—his own authority—to forgive sins in his name. Absolving sinners is not a responsibility reserved for someone of a higher authority. There is no higher authority than that which calls men and women to the ministry of building up the people of God by restoring them to a righted relationship with the Lord through that peace that comes from confirmed forgiveness. For that office is itself the very highest authority, being true God in Christ.

Prayer: Give me the faith to hear and believe in your forgiveness, Lord. Amen. 

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Portraits of Jesus is a nine-session Bible study that explores the "I AM" statements given to us by Jesus himself. In comparing Jesus' words with related Scripture in both the Old and New Testaments, the study provides a well-rounded look at the center of our faith in Christ.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a645.html Thu, 23 Jun 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Matthew 18:15–18

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

The keys do not have the power of binding and loosing except upon earth. “Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matt 16:19). Further, as we have said above, the keys do not have the power to impose penalties, or to institute rites of worship. They only have the command to forgive the sins of those who are converted, and to convict and excommunicate those who are unwilling to be converted. For just as “to loose” means to forgive sins, “to bind” means not to forgive sins.

Pulling It Together

The purpose of the keys involves both peace and terror. For those who believe in Christ and confess their sins, there is the comfort of knowing that they are forgiven because Christ alone is God’s satisfaction. The minister, under the authority of Christ, states, “You are forgiven.” But for those who do not believe, or who will not repent, there is by the same authority, the discipline of withholding forgiveness. This is meant to bring such persons to repentance. For this is the desire of God, as Peter states (2 Pet 3:9), and also evidenced in Jesus’ teaching about what to do when one believer sins against another. God goes to great length to forgive and justify—even giving his own Son to die for us (John 3:16–18). 

Prayer: Help me to confess, Lord. Amen. 

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Genesis "Old Places, New Faces" Series   Places have to do with geography. In the Bible we find God's people in many different places, both physically and spiritually, in their relationship to the Creator and Savior. We, like them, journey through many lands in our Christian walk. We move from chaos to order, from Ur to Canaan, and from obedience to disobedience. 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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a644.html Wed, 22 Jun 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 4:22–25

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

But Scripture does not teach that eternal punishments are remitted only because of the payment rendered by certain traditions or by purgatory. Indulgences were formerly the pardoning of these public observances, so that people were not excessively burdened. But if human authority can pardon satisfactions and punishments, this compensation is not necessary by divine law, for a divine law is not annulled by human authority. Furthermore, since the custom has become obsolete and the bishops have remained silent, there is no necessity for these remissions. And yet the name “indulgences” remains. Just as “satisfactions” is no longer understood in terms of public discipline, but instead, in reference to the compensation of a punishment, so also “indulgences” is incorrectly understood as the freeing of souls from purgatory.

Pulling It Together

Where is it written? Where do the Scriptures teach that we pay the price of freedom from eternal death? How do our punishments replace the excelling merit of Christ’s satisfaction for sin? In fact, Scripture teaches us that the forgiveness of sins occurs without such payments, because of Christ—and only on his account. Human traditions and customs of churches must never be allowed to supplant the Word of God. And there is nothing clearer in all of Scripture than this: Christ died for our sins and was raised from the dead so that those who believe will be resurrected to eternal life. 

Prayer: Thank you for giving me faith in you, God. 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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a643.html Tue, 21 Jun 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Jeremiah 31:16–17

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

We have already testified frequently that repentance ought to produce good fruits, and that those good fruits are what the commandments teach, namely, prayer, thanksgiving, confessing and teaching the gospel, obeying parents and magistrates, being faithful to one’s calling, not killing or holding on to hatred, but being forgiving, giving to the needy so far as we can according to our means, not committing fornication or adultery, but restraining, bridling, and chastising the flesh, and speaking the truth—not for compensation of eternal punishment, but so as not to obey the devil, or offend the Holy Spirit. These fruits have God’s command, and ought to be brought forth for the sake of his glory and command. They also have their rewards.

Pulling It Together

In order for us to produce good fruits, we must depend upon God’s promises. We must have faith in him. Otherwise, we would eventually despair of doing much, if any, good. There is plenty of opportunity for despair in this life. Their is poverty of spirit, grief, hunger and thirst, hostility, and persecution, to name a few things from the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5:2–12). But there is great reward in heaven for those who, believing God’s promises, produce the fruits of faith, righteousness, mercy, purity, and peacemaking, in spite of the difficulties. There is reward for their work, and hope for their future.

Yet these good works are not to be done because we think they will appease God or relieve eternal punishment. We are to produce good fruits because we wish to bring glory to Christ, who has already appeased God for us, and because he has provided for us an eternal inheritance. If for no other reason, we should do good because that is God’s command. 

Prayer: Turn my focus from hopeless weeping to hopeful faith in you, God. Amen. 

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Many in the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) remember the loyalty, strength, and uniqueness of our Lutheran tradition and the necessity of "Christ Alone." Stand and Confess explores these traditions in light of Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a642.html Mon, 20 Jun 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Luke 6:36 

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

The authors of the Confutation write that the abolition of satisfactions contrary to the plain gospel is not to be permitted. But as we have shown, the gospel does not command these canonical satisfactions, that is, these optional works to be done in order to compensate for punishment. The subject itself shows this. If works of satisfaction are not mandatory works, why do they cite the plain gospel? For if the gospel commands that punishments be compensated for by such works, those works would not be optional.

They speak this way in order to deceive the inexperienced, citing testimonies about required works, though in their own satisfactions they prescribe non-obligatory works. Indeed, they concede in their schools that satisfactions can be refused without that refusal being a sin. Obviously, they write falsely when they say that we are compelled by the plain gospel to undertake these canonical satisfactions.

Pulling It Together

Does God say to do something? Then it must be done. You shall love the Lord your God, and your neighbor as yourself. These are not options; they are express commands. If God has commanded us to do certain works in order to compensate for our punishments from sinning, then we must do those works. They are not options. We are obliged to do them, if there are such works commanded by God.

Now, there are certainly commands of God—things we are obliged to do. However, these requirements are not connected with earning God’s forgiveness, being relieved of guilt, or lessening punishments for sin. They are simply things we are obliged to do—or stand in need of a Savior’s forgiveness because we have broken God’s commandments. These works—obligatory or not—should not to be prescribed to people as being necessary for obtaining God’s mercy, for that is freely given to those who have faith in the atoning work of Jesus Christ.

Does this mean that we do not need to concern ourselves with being merciful? Of course not, for Jesus commands us to be merciful. This is not optional. It is also not required as a work to be done in order to satisfy God, be forgiven, or to lessen punishments.

Prayer: Help me to be merciful like you are, Father 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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a641.html Sun, 19 Jun 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Revelation 2:2–5

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

Additionally, the Fathers wrote that once is sufficient for the public or ceremonial penitence that the canons mention concerning satisfactions. Therefore it is understood that they did not consider these canons as being necessary for the remission of sins. In addition, they frequently say that repentance should be shown in other ways than this ceremonial one expressed in the canons about satisfactions.

Pulling It Together

You may have all of the outward signs of a Christian but if you neglect the greatest commandment, you are headed for trouble. All of your morality and ceremonies and works can be in play but if you do not have love, you will come to nothing (1 Cor 13:3). Do you love the Lord with every fiber of your being? Do you love your neighbor as yourself (Matt 22:36–39)? If not, remember how far you have fallen since you first fell in love with Jesus. Repent; head back to that relationship with him, in which he is first in your life. This is the true repentance of the heart that causes various fruits of repentance to grow out of your life.

Prayer: Help me to remember the height from which I have fallen out of love with you, Lord—and help me to return. Amen. 

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Hymns and Spiritual Songs from The North is a compliation of Nordic hymns. In the spirit of Martin Luther, such a hymn is usually a meditation or sermon on a Biblical text that grows out of the text for a Sunday. Sometimes it is long and slow, even mournful, giving singers the possibility of meditating on God's Word in their own context. Less often it is joyful, but it is always filled with longing and hope. We can imagine the grandma, during long dark winters, sitting by the fire, spinning or knitting as she sang stanza after stanza of an old favorite hymn or spiritual song, teaching her grandchildren to sing along with her. When they learned to lisp those words with her, they were learning how Scripture could be used to meet the deepest sorrows and the greatest joys of life.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a640.html Sat, 18 Jun 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Luke 3:7–14

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

Thus, concerning restitution, Gregory says that repentance is false if it does not satisfy those whose property we have taken. Anyone who continues to steal is not truly sorry about theft or robbery. He is a thief or robber, so long as he unjustly possesses another’s property. This civil satisfaction is necessary, because it is written, “Let the thief no longer steal” (Eph 4:28). Chrysostom similarly says, “In the heart, contrition; in the mouth, confession; in the work, entire humility.” This amounts to nothing against us, for good works ought to follow repentance. Repentance should not be pretense, but a change of the entire life for the better.

Pulling It Together

Repentance means a changed mind. We might think of it as a change of heart. It follows that a real change of heart would include different fruits or results in that person’s life. What comes out of the mouth, or out of a life, originates in the heart (Matt 15:18). If a lie, it comes from a lying heart; if a kindness, it proceeds from a heart determined to be gracious. This does not mean that the repentant person is now perfect and always considerate to others. After all, that person is a fallible, human being. It does mean that when an unkind word is spoken, it is followed by grief, confession, and an apology. That is real repentance.

Prayer: Help me to be increasingly fruitful, Lord, as you continue to change my heart and turn my spirit toward you. Amen.  

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The Letters of Paul looks at all but one of Paul's thirteen epistles and seeks to get at the heart of each one so that his message can inspire new hope, faith and love in us today.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a639.html Fri, 17 Jun 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Psalm 51:7–12

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

Now and then the Fathers use the term “satisfaction” from the rite itself, to signify true mortification. Thus Augustine says, “True satisfaction is to cut off the causes of sin, that is, to mortify the flesh, likewise to restrain the flesh, not in order to pay for eternal punishments but so that the flesh may not tempt us to sin."

Pulling It Together

God will do what he must for the good of those he loves—even if it means inflicting them with some corrective troubles. Perhaps the psalmist’s bones were not actually broken but the weight of contrition is crushing to the soul nonetheless. This is one way God purges our proclivity to sin. He puts the flesh and the old nature to death so that we will delight in his will and desire to walk in his ways. As mentioned previously, this is in no sense to be considered payment for our iniquities. Christ has already accomplished that, as only he could do. Rather, these corrections slowly kill the sinful desires that beleaguer us as long as we live in this flesh.

Prayer: Thank you, God, for blotting out my sins, through Jesus Christ the Lord. Amen. 

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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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a638.html Thu, 16 Jun 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Proverbs 20:27–30

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

As we have said above, the Fathers’ reference to satisfaction, and the framing of canons by the councils, was a matter of church discipline instituted for the sake of example. They did not hold that this discipline was necessary for the remission either of the guilt or of the punishment. Their mention of purgatory is not as compensation for eternal punishment, nor as satisfaction, but as purification of imperfect souls. Augustine also says that venial offenses are consumed, that is, that distrust towards God, and similar dispositions are mortified.

Pulling It Together

Although it is scornful topic in some circles, it has long been known that sparing the rod creates spoiled brats (Pro 13:24). Just like good, earthly parents, God sometimes punishes us so that we will not spoil. Sin, not dealt with, produces a peculiar, spiritual stink that even transfers to other parts of one’s life. Our Father deals with us accordingly, so that through these mortifications of the flesh, the imperfections of our original nature do not spoil his children. His loving discipline should not, however, be misconstrued to mean that our sins are forgiven or that we are justified through these corrections. We are saved through Christ alone.

Prayer: Create in me a clean heart, O Lord. 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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a637.html Wed, 15 Jun 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Jonah 3:6–10

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

The important and beneficial meaning of full repentance, including works due or commanded by God should not be transferred to satisfactions and works of human traditions. It is profitable to teach that common evils are mitigated by our repentance and by the true fruits of repentance, by good works wrought from faith, not, as these men imagine, works performed in mortal sin. This is illustrated by the Ninevites, who through their repentance were reconciled to God, and obtained his favor, so that their city was not destroyed (Jon 3:10).

Pulling It Together

When a child says, “I’m sorry,” sometimes a parent responds, “Then act like it.” This is no different than the relationship that a child of God has with the Father. He expects us to act like we are truly sorry by turning from our sin. For entire repentance consists both in confession of sin and the good fruits that must follow confession. The final prayer in the service of Confession and Forgiveness sums up, as it should, our position on whole repentance. “Forgive us, renew us, and lead us, so that we may delight in your will and walk in your ways...” We ask forgiveness—so that we may walk in his ways. Delighting in his will does not make us righteous, for we are forgiven and empowered to walk in his ways “for the sake of [God’s] Son, Jesus Christ.” Still, God expects us to act like his children by being fully repentant, that is, asking for his mercy, and living the life of righteousness he has given us because of his Son. 

Prayer: Help me, Holy Spirit, to turn from every evil way that remains in my old nature, for the glory of 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.

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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a636.html Tue, 14 Jun 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Isaiah 45:22–23

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

Common calamities are not removed by these works of canonical satisfactions, that is, by performing these human traditions, which they say avail ex opere operato so that, even though they are performed in mortal sin, they redeem from punishments. A passage of Paul is cited against us: “But if we judged ourselves truly, we should not be judged” (1 Cor 11:31). The word “judge” should not be understood as referring to works one is not required to perform—but to the whole of repentance, including fruits that should follow. Our adversaries pay the penalty for despising grammar when they understand “judge” to refer to such things as making a pilgrimage clad in mail to the church of St. James, or similar works. To judge signifies entire repentance; it means to condemn sins. This condemnation really occurs in contrition and a change of life. The entire repentance—contrition, faith, and good fruits—obtains the mitigation of public and private punishments and calamities, as Isaiah teaches. “Cease to do evil; learn to do good... Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow... If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land” (Isa 1:16–19).

Pulling It Together

Works of repentance are required of us. They are not non-compulsory things that we can use to purchase our redemption or righteousness. Indeed, we should not expect that doing such works makes us righteous before God. The same prophet who demands these works of repentance, later claims that we are only made righteous in the Lord, in other words, not by our works. “Only in the LORD, it shall be said of me, are righteousness and strength” (Isa 45:24). One is saved through repentance, which means turning from sin, yes, but by turning to the Lord in faith. For he is our “righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Cor 1:30). He says, “Turn to me and be saved” (Isa 45:22).

Prayer: Help me to truly repent, O Holy Spirit of the Father, 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.

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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a635.html Mon, 13 Jun 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Galatians 4:13–14

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

Thus Paul says that the strength of God is made perfect in my weakness (2 Cor 12:5, 9). Therefore, because of God’s will, our bodies ought to be sacrifices, to declare our obedience, but not to compensate for eternal death, for which God has another price, namely, the death of his own Son. In this sense, Gregory interprets even the punishment of David when he says: If God had threatened that he would be humbled by his son because of that sin, why did he fulfill his threat when the sin had been forgiven? The answer is that his sin was forgiven so that man might not be hindered from receiving eternal life, but that the lesson from the threatening followed, in order that the piety of the man might be exercised and tested even in this humility. Thus God inflicted bodily death because of sin. Even after the forgiveness of sins, he did not remove it, for the sake of exercising righteousness, that is, in order that the righteousness of those who are sanctified might be exercised and tested.

Pulling It Together

Saul of Tarsus was a scholar, probably with good eyesight, able to read scrolls and manuscripts. Then he was blinded by God on the Damascus road. Though God restored his sight, Saul presumably had such trouble with his vision later that he declared the Galatians would have plucked out their own eyes and given them to the apostle (Gal 4:15). God made Saul of Tarsus, through such gracious afflictions, become the Apostle Paul, a man more troubled by the spiritual immaturity of the churches than he was of his own bodily ailments (Gal 4:19). His afflictions did not make up for his sins against God and the Church, but they tested the sinner and exercised the saints toward maturity of faith. 

Prayer: Open my eyes to the truth of 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 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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a634.html Sun, 12 Jun 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Acts 9:3–8

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

When the disciples asked about the blind man who sinned, Jesus replied that the cause of his blindness was not sin, but that the works of God would be made manifest in him (John 9:2–3). Jeremiah said, “They whose judgment was not to drink of the cup have assuredly drunken” (Jer 49:12, KJV). So the prophets and John the Baptist and other saints were killed. Therefore afflictions are not always punishments for certain past deeds, but are the works of God, intended for our profit so that the power of God might be made more manifest in our weakness.

Pulling It Together

Many people think that our troubles originate in our sins. Often enough, this is precisely the case—but not always. Sometimes our troubles are meant to point us and others to the glory and the power of God, as in the restoring of the blind man’s sight. More often still, our afflictions are used by the Holy Spirit to blind us, in order to give spiritual sight, to wound us so that we might be healed.

Was Saul of Tarsus blinded because he was “persecuting” Jesus? Not at all. He was blinded so that God would be glorified in the restoration of his sight and so that he would gain spiritual sight. God is good to us, even in our troubles.

Prayer: Open my eyes, God, that I may see the Way. 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.

Winning, Losing, Loving: The Gospel in the Old Testament is an overview of Old Testament Scripture, tracing themes of chosenness, sin, and grace throughout the early books of the Bible. These cycles of sin and redemption point forward toward God's ultimate act of Redemption in Jesus Christ.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a633.html Sat, 11 Jun 16 00:00:00 -0500

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James 1:2–4

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession 

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

Job was not afflicted because of past evil deeds, therefore afflictions are not always punishments or signs of wrath. When consciences are terrified because they see nothing but God's punishment and anger in their afflictions, they should not think that God has rejected them. They should be taught that the other end of afflictions is more important. The other more important end to be considered is that God is doing his strange work so that he may be able to do his own proper work, as Isaiah teaches in a long sermon (Isa 28:1ff).

Pulling It Together

We should learn to regard our troubles as signs of impending grace. God is at work in these afflictions. When we have gotten to the other side, we can see that suffering drew us back to God, and caused us to rely upon him, and persevere. It produced character in us and strengthened our hope in God. In short, suffering is not always punishment, and though we surely do not like it, our troubles are good for us. Even the more tragic trials bring about the blessing of drawing us closer to God, and knowing his presence and peace in deeper ways than we knew previously. This is the proper work of God: to terrify and console, to trip and turn, to kill and make alive. We do not like it much but through it all, God is awakening us more and more to real life.

Prayer: Thy will be done, Father. 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 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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a632.html Fri, 10 Jun 16 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Peter 1:14–19

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

A universal rule does not ensue from the particular punishment imposed on David, nor that, in addition to common afflictions, there is another punishment of purgatory where the degree of punishment corresponds to each sin. Where does Scripture teach that we can be freed from eternal death through the payment of certain punishments in addition to our common afflictions? On the other hand, Scripture frequently teaches that the remission of sins occurs without payments because of Christ, the victor over sin and death. Therefore the merit of satisfaction is not to be patched upon this. Although troubles remain, Scripture interprets these as the mortifications of present sin, not as payment or ransom for eternal death.

Pulling It Together

In the reasoning of God, we are to be holy, yet we are not holy, nor can we become holy, so God makes us holy through Christ. This does not make sense to our natural reason. We think that if someone does something wrong, there should be a penalty. Furthermore, we reason that the offender must pay, not someone else. But this is not God’s way. We cannot pay, so God makes the payment for us. This is why we say that God imputes his own righteousness to us. He paid the penalty and then assigns his holiness to those who believe. There is no payment we need to make—or can make—for our sins.

This is not the same thing as God afflicting us with certain troubles meant to humble and kill, or mortify, our original natures. The old person is being “put to death” (Rom 8:13; Col 3:5) a little each day. Let us be very clear, however; this is not payment for sin but the ongoing renewal of the image of God in us and our preparation for an eternal life of glory (Col 3:4–5).

Prayer: Thank you, Jesus, for ransoming me from the futility of my old ways. 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 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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a631.html Thu, 09 Jun 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Hebrews 9:22–24

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

Using the examples of Adam and David, who was punished for adultery, they infer a universal rule that, for sins to be forgiven, there are temporal punishments corresponding to those sins. We have said before that saints suffer punishments, which are works of God. They suffer contrition or terrors; they also suffer various common afflictions. Some also suffer particular punishments that have been levied by God. But these punishments have nothing to do with the keys, because the keys can neither impose nor remit them. God, without the ministry of the keys, imposes and remits them.

Pulling It Together

God may impose certain punishments for sins, by way of making an example of some people, and to discipline others. Previously, we explored the idea that this is one of the ways we know the Father loves us: he disciplines us as needed. But these punishments are corrections and examples, not a means of grace and forgiveness.

There are no punishments, works, or other legalities involved in the remission of sins. Nothing remits sin but the shed blood of Christ. We confess that when one believes on Christ, or has faith in him and his atoning work, that person may peacefully and confidently rest in the Father’s love. This peace happens because such persons believe that God’s forgiveness is predicated on the work of Christ’s cross, not on individual works, punishments, or anything else people impose or supposedly remit. He who stands between sinners and judgment is all the legal action needed for those who have faith in Christ.

Prayer: Bring me, O God, to maturity of faith, through the power of your Spirit 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.

      

Have you downloaded the Sola App for Android or Apple? This free, mobile app includes a searchable ESV Bible, the Sola Small Catechism, Sola Devotions, 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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a630.html Wed, 08 Jun 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 5:3–5

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

Furthermore, canonical satisfactions do not apply to these punishments, as the adversaries claim, saying that by the power of the keys a part of the punishments is remitted. These very men also say the keys remit the satisfactions and the punishments for which the satisfactions are made. But it is obvious that common afflictions are not removed by the power of the keys. If they wish to be understood, why then insist that satisfaction is to be rendered in purgatory?

Pulling It Together

Life happens. There are going to be troubles throughout life. All of them, whether they come from God or not, are allowed by his will. Through these sufferings, the Holy Spirit helps us to endure, which develops godly character. That quality produces hope in God who gives us this hope, provides reason to hope, and indeed, who is our hope (Psa 39:7). Our hope in God “does not disappoint us” (Rom 5:5 RSV) in this life any more than in the life to come.

We already enjoy the love of God that is poured into us through the through the Holy Spirit. This gift overflows in the heart of the believer, to the extent that we know God as Abba and Father (Gal 4:6). We know, even in times of trial, that our Father cares for us and will see us through these corrections to our character.

But endurance of these tests is not payment for sin. Christ alone is our satisfaction for sin. May we be satisfied with him.

Prayer: Help me, O Lord, to rejoice in my sufferings. 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.

By the Will of God is an eight part sermon series on Ephesians follows the summer lectionary, year B. It uses the Brobston Telemetry Method of Preaching which is an easy way to capture the hearts and minds of listeners and draw them into the Good News of Jesus Christ.Use this series to focus in on the will of God in our lives. It is designed to be used from July 12 through August 30, 2015, but it can be used as a series anytime of the year the preacher wants to focus on Paul's letter to the church in Ephesus. It is also a great resource to give to lay-preachers in congregations where supply pastors are unavailable to fill in when the pastor goes on vacation. Each week there is a description of the bible passage, an image to build from, a section called "going deeper" which digs into the lesson even further, and some questions to use if you decide to discuss the sermon in a Bible Study or other forum.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a629.html Tue, 07 Jun 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 8:18–23

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

Likewise, troubles are inflicted because of present sin so that lust is mortified and extinguished in the saints, so that they may be renewed by the Spirit. Paul says, “Your bodies are dead because of sin” (Rom 8:10); that is, they are mortified because of the present sin still left in our nature. Death itself serves the purpose of abolishing this sinful flesh, so that we may rise absolutely new. Since believers overcome death through faith, there is now no terror of death. There is no longer that sting and sense of wrath of which Paul speaks: “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law” (1 Cor 15:56). This power of sin, this sense of wrath, is truly a punishment as long as it is present. But without this sense of wrath, even death is no punishment.

Pulling It Together

Martin Luther proclaimed in his sermon, “On the Hymn of Zacahrias,” that as long as we are clothed with this flesh, sin is not extinguished, nor can be wholly subdued. Sin will remain in us so long as we live in this life. Meanwhile, the Spirit is killing off those sins and desires that remain in us even after having been justified by faith in Christ. So believers are being mortified, or put to death, more and more every day, until the day of our physical deaths, when this sinful flesh, or old nature, is altogether destroyed.

There is nothing about death that should worry us. Indeed, though they do us a great good, the corrections of the present life are far more trouble than death itself. For death is no affliction or punishment but rather, it is the “redemption of our bodies” and the unveiling of the glory of God.

Prayer: Give me patience and faith, O Lord, to endure the sufferings of this 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.

Full-Color Catechism Posters (Set of Seven)  These glossy full-color 11"x 17" posters feature the main texts from the six parts of Luther's Small Catechism, and are designed for use in homes and churches to help children memorize these important and timeless words. The posters include: Holy Baptism, The Lord's Prayer, The Ten Commandments (standard), The Ten Commandments (simplified),The Apostles' Creed, Holy Communion, and Confession & Forgiveness. Each poster features a picture of "Luther's Small Cat" and matches the colors of the corresponding booklet from Sola's Luther's Small Cat Series.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a628.html Mon, 06 Jun 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Hebrews 12:5–6

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

Besides, saints are subject to death, and all general afflictions, as 1 Peter 4:17 says. “For the time has come for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?” Although these afflictions are mostly punishments for sin, they have a better result in the godly, namely, to discipline them so that that they may learn from trials to seek God’s help and to acknowledge their disbelieving hearts, etc., as Paul says of himself, “We felt that we had received the sentence of death; but that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead” (2 Cor 1:9). And Isaiah says, “They poured out a prayer when thy chastening was upon them” (Isa 26:16). By these corrections, God disciplines the saints.

Pulling It Together

God disciplines his children because he loves them. He does not require this discipline as some means of grace. For how could this be grace, if it is required of us to endure? If we must do a work of penance, it is no longer God’s grace that saves; it is we who save ourselves. Thus, we confess that God does indeed punish us, but he does so in order to bring his children back to him, back to his grace. For it is by his grace alone that we are redeemed.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, save me and bring me back to you, even if it means I must be disciplined to return my attention to 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.

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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a627.html Sun, 05 Jun 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Psalm 6:1–4

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

But they object that it is compatible with Gods justice to punish sin. He certainly punishes it in these terrors of contrition when he shows his wrath. This is what David demonstrates when he prays, “ O Lord, rebuke me not in thy anger” (Psa 6:1). And Jeremiah says, “Correct me, O LORD, but in just measure; not in thy anger, lest thou bring me to nothing” (Jer 10:24). Here indeed, the most bitter punishments are uttered. Our opponents acknowledge that contrition can be so great that satisfaction is not required. Therefore, contrition is a truer punishment than satisfactions.

Pulling It Together

The human heart that is heartily sorry always turns to God. But when we are not really contrite, we seek human remedies to our guilt. The truly contrite person is so buried in spiritual remorse that there is nothing left but to depend upon God’s mercy. He no longer depends upon works of penitence, knowing that he cannot do anything but to cry out in trust to God who loves and forgives sinners in their sorrows.

Prayer: Be gracious to me, Lord, for I am a sinner in need of your mercy. 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.

Luther's Small Cat Series from Sola Publishing is a graded elementary-aged Sunday School curriculum based on the sections of the Small Catechism, with each lesson focusing on an applicable story from the Bible. This easy-to-use workbook style curriculum, allows kids to have a keepsake of the memory piece they master for the year.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a626.html Sat, 04 Jun 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Isaiah 30:15–17

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

Our opponents make a great mistake if they imagine that canonical satisfactions are truer punishments than true terrors in the heart. It is a foolish distortion to call these frigid satisfactions “punishments,” instead of referring to those horrible terrors of conscience like David mentions. “For the waves of death encompassed me” (Psa 18:4; 2 Sam 22:5). Who would not rather, clad in mail and equipped, seek the church of James, the basilica of Peter, and so forth, than bear that indescribable force of grief that exists even in ordinary persons who are truly repentant?

Pulling It Together

Those who are truly repentant would surely seek the grace and mercy of God instead of trying to fix the matter themselves. Imagine a husband or wife who has truly wronged his or her spouse, offering a box of chocolates, a bouquet of roses, or even a fancy meal, in an effort to gain forgiveness. Imagine a child who has dishonored a parent, taking the trash out for a week or cleaning his room in an attempt to compensate for that dishonor. Those who have been wronged are not interested in being bought off. A spouse or a parent want genuine sorrow, something that first happens in the heart.

It is much easier to buy a bouquet than to offer the sweetness of a real apology, followed, of course, by real devotion to the person who was wronged. We deceive ourselves when we think such bribery will bring peace to that person—or to ourselves. It is difficult to trust in the mercy of the person we have hurt, so we try to do something that might make them feel better, certainly, but even more, to make ourselves feel better.

But this does not work with God any more than it does with people. We must have faith. We must trust that these people love us. So, we can see that we must also trust in God’s love. This is the only way to have any peace in the conscience. Just as roses will not provide rest in human relationships, neither will pilgrimages, special offerings, or other so-called satisfactions provide peace in our relationships with God. These are the “swift steeds” we would ride upon to escape our guilt. But the further we ride, the more frightened and guilty we will become. For by these efforts at buying off God we are actually fleeing from him, instead of toward him. We must simply be willing to repent by returning to God with hearts broken by sin, believing that he still loves and forgives poor sinners. 

Prayer: Forgive me, Lord, a poor and wretched sinner. 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.

• Participant's Book    • Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a625.html Fri, 03 Jun 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Matthew 16:24–25

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

But our opponents object, insisting that vengeance or punishment is necessary for repentance, because Augustine says that “repentance is vengeance punishing,” and so forth. We grant that vengeance or punishment is necessarily a part of repentance, but not as a merit or price like the adversaries imagine satisfactions are. Vengeance is part of repentance in a formal sense because regeneration itself occurs through an ongoing mortification of the old nature. The saying of Scotus may be quite beautiful, that poenitentia, penitence, is so called because it is, as it were, poenae tenentia, it holds punishment. But of what punishment, of what vengeance does Augustine speak? He certainly speaks of true punishment and vengeance, namely, contrition and real terrors. Nor do we exclude here the outward mortification of the flesh which follows true sorrow of the heart.

Pulling It Together

Being a disciple of Jesus Christ involves taking up one’s cross and following him. That means one is willing to die rather than stop trusting God. It also entails denying the old nature, a continual death to the old person. All of this takes place through ongoing repentance, or turning to Jesus and following him. This is what one who is reborn does, but it is not the cause of rebirth, or salvation. Nor is it the grounds for justification and forgiveness. One can only follow Jesus with faith. Our human natures cannot do this, either through reason or working at religion. Faith is the only response to Jesus’ invitation to, “Follow me.” 

Prayer: Give me the faith, Lord Jesus, to follow you. Amen. 

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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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a624.html Thu, 02 Jun 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Titus 1:13–16

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

The adversaries futilely speculate about the remission of guilt, not seeing how the heart is freed from God’s anger and eternal death by the remission of guilt through faith in Christ. The death of Christ is the satisfaction for eternal death. Our adversaries even confess that these works of satisfaction are works that are not due. These are human traditions, which Christ says are unproductive practices of worship (Matt 15:9). Therefore, we can safely affirm that canonical satisfactions are not necessary by divine law for the remission of guilt, or eternal punishment, or the penalty of purgatory.

Pulling It Together

When we imagine that there is something we can do to appease God’s wrath toward our sin, we soon discover that we have deceived ourselves. The truth is that both forgiveness and peace in the heart come only through faith in what Christ has accomplished—not by any works we perform. Indeed, by trusting in such works, we deny God and his power and love. The only sound faith is to completely trust in Christ who has satisfied God’s holiness—and done so for us.

Prayer: Increase my faith, Lord. Amen. 

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Come, Worship the Lord (Sola Music Series, Vol I) 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. This book includes music from "The Holy Cross Setting" available with a SOWeR subscription.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a623.html Wed, 01 Jun 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 8:37–39

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

Additionally, repentance and grace are obscured because eternal death is not atoned for by this compensation of works, which is futile, and does not taste death in this present life. When death attacks us, something else must contend for us. Just so, as the wrath of God is overcome by faith in Christ, so death is overcome by faith in Christ. This is what Paul says, “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor 15:57). He does not say, who gives us the victory if we contend against death through our satisfactions.

Pulling It Together

We are threatened on every side. Ten things are listed in Romans 8:37–39, over which we have no power or control. Indeed, the tenth thing Paul lists is anything not mentioned in the first nine. These things constantly threaten to undo us. Who or what can contend with such enemies to our eternal existence? We cannot conquer any of these powerful foes. Nothing we try changes death or life; they happen to us no matter what we do.

But there is one who has successfully fought back for us—and won the victory. Through him, we also have victory. Faith in Christ accomplishes what a Herculean, religious effort can never achieve. Through him, we do more than conquer; we are gifted with the victory that he won. Though threats assail us, they will never separate us from the great love of God in Christ Jesus. 

Prayer: Lord God, thank you for your great love that sent a Savior. 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.

Download the new Sola App for Android or Apple. This free, mobile app includes a searchable ESV Bible, the Sola Small Catechism, Sola Devotions, Sola products, the Sola Online Worship eResource, and more—with even more to come. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a622.html Tue, 31 May 16 00:00:00 -0500

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1 John 5:1–5

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

There are works, such as pilgrimages, that depart even further from God’s commands, and of these there is a great variety. One makes a journey clad in mail, and another with bare feet. Christ calls these “vain acts of worship,” and thus, they do not serve to appease God’s displeasure, as the adversaries say. Nevertheless, they adorn these works with impressive titles. They call them works of supererogation, ascribing to these works the honor of being the price paid instead of eternal death. Thus they are preferred to the works of God’s commandments. In this way the law of God is obscured in two ways: one, because it is thought that outward and civil works satisfy God’s law, and two, because human traditions are added, whose works are preferred to the works of the divine law.

Pulling It Together

Are you a conqueror? Have you vanquished sin? Do you feel victorious?

Do not make the mistake of thinking that you need to do something special to conjure up the feeling of religious success. Working around the church, going on retreats, doing extra devotions, serving at the homeless shelter, giving special offerings, and other such things may help you feel pious. But this feeling will only last for awhile.

Nevertheless, doing things that promote religious feelings are often preferred to keeping God’s law: those works that are clearly required by God in the Ten Commandments. Perhaps the reason those other works are preferred is because they seem to make us feel better than loving God, honoring parents, being faithful, telling the truth, and not coveting.

The good news here is that being a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ, does not depend upon your feelings or the things that sometimes cause those feelings. We are world-conquerors because we have faith in Jesus Christ who has overcome the world (John 16:33). The ones who overcome the world, even when they do not feel too much like victors, are those who believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. They do not depend one whit upon themselves—or their feelings, or the works that sometimes cause those feelings. Christians trust in Christ alone for salvation.

Prayer: Jesus, I believe that you are the Son of 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.

Download the new Sola App for Android or Apple. This free, mobile app includes a searchable ESV Bible, the Sola Small Catechism, Sola Devotions, Sola products, the Sola Online Worship eResource, and more—with even more to come. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a621.html Mon, 30 May 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Isaiah 1:12–17

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

True prayer, charity, and fasting have God’s command, and where they have God’s command, they cannot be neglected without sin. But when these works have not been commanded by God’s law, but instead have a fixed form derived from human regulation, they are works of human traditions of which Christ says, “In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men” (Matt 15:9). For example, certain fasts have been appointed, not to restrain the flesh, but so that honor may be given to God by this work, as Scotus says, and satisfaction made for eternal death. Likewise, a prescribed number of prayers or works of charity, when performed as acts of devotion, are said to give honor to God and make up for eternal death ex opere operato. They ascribe satisfaction to these works for the sake of the works, teaching that they benefit even those who are in mortal sin.

Pulling It Together

God commands good works but he does not require them as satisfactions for sin. Any command to do fixed numbers of prayers, fasts, acts of charity, or other religious deeds are vain and human ordinances that not only do not satisfy God, they weary him. He would have us do good and seek justice because he commands these righteous acts. However, the works themselves do not make us righteous. God makes us righteous for Christ’s sake, not because of our works. 

Prayer: Thank you, Jesus, for your perfect, saving work of the cross. Amen. 

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Five VBS Class Posters & Five Sticker Sheets

These glossy full-color 11"x 17" posters with the title "Welcome to VBS!" are designed for use in recording attendance for Vacation Bible School.  Five posters are included in each set, along with five color sticker sheets.  Days are numbered 1-5, to correspond to the standard weekday VBS schedule.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a620.html Sun, 29 May 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Hebrews 7:18–19

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

Scripture exclaims everywhere that we are far from the perfection required by the law. Our opponents imagine that the law of God consists in outward and civil righteousness. They do not see that it requires us to love God with the whole heart and condemns all the lust in our nature. Therefore, no one does as much as the law requires. It is ridiculous to imagine that we can do more. Although we can perform outward works not commanded by God’s Law, it is vain and wicked to have confidence that these satisfy God’s law.

Pulling It Together

Honest people should be able to admit that they do not keep even the one, greatest commandment (Deut 6:5), let alone all of God’s law. We do not love God with our whole hearts—not even the most devout people do, and being God-fearing, they know this to be true. So, the answer cannot be found in seeking salvation through religious practices. Following rules is not the way to God in heaven. The law will never make us perfect, righteous, or holy. But hope is not lost. Through his death, resurrection, and ascension, Jesus has made a way to the Father (John 14:6) for all who believe. Have faith—in him. 

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for being the way to your Father. 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.

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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a619.html Sat, 28 May 16 00:00:00 -0500

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John 14:13–14

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

It is with unthinkable grief that we recite our adversaries’ absurdities. They have to enrage anyone who considers such doctrines of demons which the devil has spread in the Church to suppress the knowledge of the law and gospel, of repentance and quickening, and the benefits of Christ. For they say of the law that God, condescending to our weakness, has given people a standard that they are required to measure up to, namely, the observance of the commandments. Beyond this, from works of supererogation, they can render satisfaction for sins they have committed. These men imagine that we can do more than the law of God requires. 

Pulling It Together

There is only one mediator between God and man (1 Tim 2:5). He has worked beyond the role of intermediary, giving his life as ransom for all who are shackled by sin to death. To then say that Christ is incapable of following through on what Scripture says to be true, amounts to a rejection of the function of both Christ and Scripture. Furthermore, imagining that extra works (supererogation) must be performed in payment for sin, casts aspersion on the character of Christ. Did he promise, or not, to answer our prayers when they are asked within the will of God? Is it a trustworthy saying, or not, that Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1 Tim 1:15)? So then, if a sinner believes in Christ for eternal life (1 Tim 1:16) and asks for forgiveness, will Christ answer this prayer—or not? Does Christ save—or not? That is the question that the doctrine of supererogation should make everyone ask. Does Christ really save, as he promises, or is life a sort of tag-team match, in which Christ has wrestled Satan to the mat but now it is our turn in the ring, and each believer must somehow pin the devil?  

Prayer: Thank you, God, for hearing and answering 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.

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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a618.html Fri, 27 May 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Hosea 13:14

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

Besides, the death of Christ is a satisfaction not only for guilt, but also for eternal death, according to Hosea: “O death, I will be thy death” (Hos 13:14). How monstrous, therefore, it is to say that Christ’s satisfaction redeems us from the guilt, but our punishments redeem us from eternal death. In that case, our works, not Christ, are the subject of the expression, “I will be thy death”—indeed, not even works commanded by God, but some cold observances devised by men. These works are said to abolish death, even when they are wrought in mortal sin.

Pulling It Together

Melancthon seems to depend upon the Vulgate (the Latin translation) here. The Old Testament of the Luther Bibel would not be available for three more years. The German translation of Hosea 13:14 is more dependable than the Latin, though the Latin wording sounds better and contains excellent theology. “Ero mors tua, o mors!” or “O death, I will be thy death!” rings in the soul.

The impact of English translations is the same, if less poetic. Death has been vanquished. But who is speaking in Hosea’s prophecy? It is God speaking—not our works. It is God who says, “O Sheol, where is your sting?” For God in Christ has removed the sting of death, his death destroying both death and the devil (2 Tim 1:10; Heb 2:14). Faith in Christ’s satisfaction deals, not only with our guilt but, eternal death as well. 

Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, for delivering me from eternal 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.

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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a617.html Thu, 26 May 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Galatians 5:22–25

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

Moreover, a part of Lombard’s declaration about remitting a part of the punishments referred to canonical punishments, which the pastors remitted in part. We hold that repentance ought to bring forth good fruits for the sake of God’s glory and command. The good fruits of true fasting, prayer, and charity are commands of God. Yet we do not find anywhere in the Holy Scriptures where eternal punishments are not remitted except because of the punishment of purgatory or canonical satisfactions, that is, by non-mandatory works, or that the authority of the keys has the command to commute or to remit a portion of punishments. The adversaries would need to prove these things.

Pulling It Together

Do good works because God commands them to be done and because they bring him glory. But never hold the delusion that by doing good works, your sins will be forgiven or you will go to heaven. This is an almost irrelevant conversation. For those who truly repent will bear good fruits, since this is simply the result of the Holy Spirit at work within them. For example, the good fruit of true patience toward difficult people is nothing that persons muster the ability to accomplish. If they could, it would bring God no glory, and therefore, not be much good at all. But if you have been walking with the Lord for a while, you will notice changes in your character and actions that you did not produce. This is God at work within you, bringing you to maturity in Christ (Eph 4:13). But such good works—any works at all—are not so-called satisfactions that reduce temporal punishments or time in a purgatory. 

Prayer: Bring me in step with you, Holy 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 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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a616.html Wed, 25 May 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Matthew 16:19

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction – part 34

Since the cited passages of Scripture do not say that non-mandatory works compensate for eternal punishments, the adversaries are rash in declaring that canonical satisfactions compensate for these punishments. Nor do the keys have the authority to commute some punishments, or likewise, to remit part of the punishments. Where are such things found in Scripture? Christ speaks of the remission of sins when he says, “Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matt 18:18). In sin being forgiven, eternal death is replaced with eternal life. The words, “whatsoever you bind,” do not mean to impose punishments but to retain the sins of those who are not converted.

Pulling It Together

The commands of God’s Word are not negotiable. We are obliged to obey God. To disobey is to sin. After sinning, we are unable to work off those sins by either deeds or devotion. Yet we can be forgiven of our sins—not by virtue of the things we do, but by the virtue of Christ. Those who have faith that Christ is both just and faithful to forgive them when they confess their sins, have no difficulty believing these words of their pastor: “As an ordained minister of the Church of Christ and by his authority, I therefore declare to you the entire forgiveness of all your sins.” There are no punishments or satisfactions to be imposed. It is the Church’s duty to absolve in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. 

Prayer: Lord, forgive me, a poor sinner. 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.

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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a615.html Tue, 24 May 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Jeremiah 2:22

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

We do not care about refuting these absurdities of the adversaries in more words. Scripture is obviously speaking of necessary works, of the entire newness of life, and not of observances of works that are not required, of which the adversaries speak. And yet, by these figments they defend monastic orders, the sale of Masses, and incessant observances to make satisfaction for punishment—if not for the guilt.

Pulling It Together

I used to be a printer, working with thick, oily inks day after day. My skin became discolored by cleaning those inks from presses. I tried everything to get my hands clean—not only commercial products, but many that I invented also. Nothing worked. It seemed that my hands were permanently stained. But in fact, my hands were clean, except for the stains.

Scrub and scrub; scour as much as you like. Invent cleansing agents, potions, and rituals. You will still be unclean. The stain of your guilt will remain before the Lord. Nothing removes it—no amount of good works, no love of God, or devotion to religion. Though works, love, and devotion are required of us, they do not cleanse us of our sin. Only Christ can do that for us. He alone has removed the stain of guilt for all who believe.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for taking away my sin and my guilt. 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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a614.html Mon, 23 May 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Colossians 2:9–10

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

Observe what follows. If the punishments of purgatory are satisfactions, or rather “satispassions,” or if satisfactions are a redemption of the punishments of purgatory, do these passages also give the commandment that souls are to be punished in purgatory? Since this must result from the opinions of the adversaries, these passages should be interpreted in a new way. “Bear fruit that befits repentance,” and “Repent,” would mean, “Suffer the punishments of purgatory after this life.”

Pulling It Together

Jesus Christ is so completely holy and meritorious before the Father that he is holy and worthy for me. God is so pleased with his Son that he is well-pleased with those who believe in him. Christ is sufficient for you; you need nothing else but faith in him.

Compare a few translations of Colossians 2:10 to see how others have tried to express this sufficiency. “And ye are complete in him” (KJV). “You have come to fulness in him” (RSV). “In Him you have been made complete” (NASB). The Greek word used in the New Testament means to be completely filled, in the sense of being supplied with all you need. So, in Christ, we have all we need; we are well-supplied, full, complete. Nothing needs to be added to the fulness we have in Christ. 

There is no need for any satisfaction but Christ. And as there is not need for satisfactions, there is no need to invent a place for the purging of sin. Christ has sufficiently, nay, completely, accomplished this cleansing on the cross.

Prayer: Make me mature in faith toward you, O Lord, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of 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.

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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a613.html Sun, 22 May 16 00:00:00 -0500

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John 3:16–18

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

Thirdly, indulgences remit these satisfactions, as taught in the chapter, “Penitence and Remission,” beginning with the words, “Since from this...” But indulgences do not free us from commands like, “Repent” and, “Bear fruit that befits repentance.” Therefore it is obvious that these passages of Scripture have been wickedly distorted to apply to canonical satisfactions.

Pulling It Together

If one may buy off the need for the satisfaction, what then really, is the point—that if we have enough money, we may buy God’s remission of temporal punishments? Even if that were true (and it is not), obeying God’s commands would still be required. So, all of these passages, such as Jesus’ own word: “repent,” have been twisted to maintain a religion that weakens the relationship with God. Weakened, because it dashes our hopes. If we have no hope in the Father to forgive, the Son to justify, and the Spirit to give life, then we certainly will have no hope in ourselves—in our good works and devotion. We know better. We know we are poor and wretched sinners. All hope is lost unless we take Christ at his word. “Whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

Prayer: Help me to keep turning to your grace, 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.

Who is Jesus? An Introductory Bible Study

It is only in God’s Word that we find what God has to say about himself, and what he has chosen to reveal to us in Jesus Christ. This five-session study, written by the Rev. Roy Beutel, is 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. The study would work well for introducing people to Bible Study, for those new to the Christian faith, or for those who want a refresher on the basics of our faith in Christ.

• Student Workbook   • Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a612.html Sat, 21 May 16 00:00:00 -0500

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John 3:16–17

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

Secondly, the adversaries write that if any one goes to confession but refuses to undertake satisfactions, he does not sin, but will pay the penalties in purgatory. Now the following passages are, without argument, commandments pertaining to this life. “Repent.” “Bear fruit that befits repentance.” “Yield your members to righteousness for sanctification.” These cannot be distorted into satisfactions which one is permitted to refuse, for one is not permitted to refuse God’s commands.

Pulling It Together

When Scripture tells us to repent it is not speaking of something one may do beyond this life. All that goes with repentance is to be done in this life. For “it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment” (Heb 9:27). It will be too late for obedience then. Besides, all of this has been based upon a faulty premise, that assumption being that we can earn forgiveness through acts of penitence. This cannot be done in the afterlife any more than it can be done in this life. It is impossible to merit the remission of sins. To say otherwise is to disregard Christ who died for the sin of the world. It is faith, belief in Jesus Christ as Savior, that saves (John 20:31). Repentance—in this life—is surely commanded, but it is faith in Jesus Christ that justifies and saves to eternal life.

Prayer: Help me, Holy Spirit, to believe. 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 five session VBS series features one of the most famous people in Scripture. The Books of 1 and 2 Samuel tell the story of a young Israelite shepherd named David, who was chosen by God to be king. The biblical story shows how God can work through an ordinary person to do great things, illustrating the themes of faith, courage, compassion, and leadership. 

David: Hero of God, is one of five books in Sola's Versatile Budget Series. The VBS Series is a simple and flexible Vacation Bible School curriculum designed especially for small churches, house churches, and mission congregations. The flexible format works well for groups with limited budgets, or in situations where the ages and number of students may vary from session to session. Unlike more elaborate and expensive VBS kits, these books are meant to serve as an “all-in-one” teacher’s resource. The worksheets and handouts they contain can be reproduced according to local needs. Each book in the Versatile Budget Series focuses on a particular character from the Bible, bringing together several stories on a common theme. Resources and ideas are provided for gathering time, music, activities, games, and refreshments — allowing just a few adult leaders to host a week of Vacation Bible School.

The price of the book includes permission to reproduce the worksheets and handouts for local use. For smaller churches in a "one-room schoolhouse" setting, only one book is necessary. For churches with multiple grade levels and individual classes, we suggest that each teacher have a copy of the curriculum book.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a611.html Fri, 20 May 16 00:00:00 -0500

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2 Corinthians 5:6–7

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

Many arguments can also be collected to show that these passages of Scripture do not pertain in any way to scholastic satisfactions. These men imagine that satisfactions are works that are not due; but Scripture, in these passages, requires works that are due. For this word of Christ, “repent,” is a word of command.

Pulling It Together

Good works are mandatory. But they do not appease the wrath of God against sin. Repentance is required, as it is commanded by Christ (Matt 4:17). Yet again, this requirement does not make one righteous, justify a person to God, or save to eternal life. Likewise, we are mandated to keep the Ten Commandments but keeping the commandments, even if we could perfectly do so, can not, do not, and will never satisfy God. We can make no satisfaction through repentance, good works, or acts of devotion that will atone for our sins. Only Christ can satisfy or atone for sin; and he has done so for the sins of the world. So, while works are required, we must constantly remember that they do not satisfy. This is an edge that is difficult for many to walk—because it means walking in faith alone.

Prayer: Dear Lord God, help me to trust 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.

The biblical focus in this five session VBS series, Rebekah & Her Family, comes from the Book of Genesis. God's hand is seen at work throughout the story — from Rebekah’s being chosen as a bride for Isaac, through the birth and lives of their twin sons, Esau and Jacob.  The story illustrates how God remains faithful to his promise, despite our sin, and that God's power can actually change our lives!

Sola’s Versatile Budget Series is a simple and flexible educational Vacation Bible School curriculum designed especially for small churches, house churches, and mission congregations. The flexible format works well for groups with limited budgets, or in situations where the ages and number of students may vary from session to session. Unlike more elaborate and expensive VBS kits, this book is meant to serve as an “all-in-one” teacher’s resource. The worksheets and handouts it contains can be reproduced according to local needs. Each book in the Versatile Budget Series focuses on a particular character from the Bible, bringing together several stories on a common theme. Resources and ideas are provided for gathering time, music, activities, games, and refreshments — allowing just a few adult leaders to host a week of Vacation Bible School.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a610.html Thu, 19 May 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 6:19–23

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

We also say that this is the meaning of John when he says, “Bear fruit that befits repentance” (Matt 3:8), and of Paul when he says, “Yield your members to righteousness for sanctification” (Rom 6:19). He likewise says, “Present your bodies as a living sacrifice” (Rom 12:1). When Christ says, “Repent” (Matt 4:17), he is certainly speaking of whole repentance, of the entire newness of life and its fruits. He does not speak of those hypocritical satisfactions which the scholastics imagine avail for paying off the punishment of purgatory or other punishments when those satisfactions are made by those who are in mortal sin.

Pulling It Together

We are either slaves to the devil, sin, and death, or to God, righteousness, and life. Whichever we are bonded to will determine the fruit we get. The fruit or the wages of sin is death. The fruit or wages of righteousness is life—eternal life. Be careful! This righteousness is not your own. We have observed many times in these writings that we have no righteousness of our own (Phil 3:9). That is why the apostle declares that eternal life is a free gift, given by the one who is righteous.

Because Christians have been given life, they can be fruit-bearing trees. But this fruit is nothing that they do. Quite the opposite, it is something that is done in them because they have been given life. Observe how a tree produces fruit. It happens because it is designed to bear fruit and because rain falls and sun shines. Just so, Christians are designed to bear good fruit through the life-giving agency of the Holy Spirit.

So we say that there is nothing to offer God for our sins, if we could, that would satisfy him. However, Christ the Righteous has offered himself for us and satisfied God. His righteousness and eternal life are bestowed on those who believe. Since they are now alive, they are able to bear good fruit. Clearly, this fruit is not an offering for sin, since an unforgiven, dead “tree” cannot bear fruit. Good fruit is the result of having been forgiven and made alive.

Prayer: Help me, Holy Spirit, to bear good fruit. 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 biblical focus in The Adventures of Paul, a five-session VBS book, is on the life of the Apostle Paul, with lessons from the Book of Acts. Here Scripture tells the story of serious man named Saul, who worked to silence Christianity — until the risen Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus and changed his life. With his new name Paul, this one who had persecuted the Church went on to become one of the greatest apostles.

Sola’s Versatile Budget Series is a simple and flexible educational Vacation Bible School curriculum designed especially for small churches, house churches, and mission congregations. The flexible format works well for groups with limited budgets, or in situations where the ages and number of students may vary from session to session. Unlike more elaborate and expensive VBS kits, this book is meant to serve as an “all-in-one” teacher’s resource. The worksheets and handouts it contains can be reproduced according to local needs. Each book in the Versatile Budget Series focuses on a particular character from the Bible, bringing together several stories on a common theme. Resources and ideas are provided for gathering time, music, activities, games, and refreshments — allowing just a few adult leaders to host a week of Vacation Bible School.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a609.html Wed, 18 May 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 8:12–13

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

But let us return to the main point. The Scriptures cited by the adversaries speak in no way of canonical satisfactions or of these opinions of the scholastics, since it is evident that the latter were only recently invented. Therefore it is pure deception when they distort Scripture to suit their own opinions. We say that good fruits, good works in every kind of life, ought to follow repentance, that is, conversion or regeneration. There can be no true conversion or contrition where mortification of the flesh and good fruits do not follow. True terrors, true griefs of the mind, do not allow the body to indulge in sensual pleasures, and true faith is not ungrateful to God, neither does it despise his commandments. In a word, there is no inward repentance unless it also produces outward mortification of the flesh.

Pulling It Together

We are indebted to God in Christ to no longer live in the sin for which he died. This does not mean that we no longer sin, for as long as we are in the flesh of this mortal body, there is sin and death. Therefore, we are to live by the Spirit, even if it seems in fits and starts. When we do sin, we ask for and receive God’s forgiveness. We turn to Christ for justification to God. We do not depend upon our works and devotion for putting to death our sins, or mortifying our deeds of the body. We instead, depend upon God’s grace through Christ and his sacraments (Rom 6:4). So we confess that we are not perfect—yet are perfectly forgiven. Therefore, we attempt to do God’s will, but not in order to be saved. Rather, we seek to do his will because he has already saved us by dying for our sins while we were still sinners (Rom 5:8). The truest and best mortification of sin is when a sinner believes, yet again, in the one who died for sin.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for loving poor sinners like 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 biblical focus in this five-session VBS book, Moses and the Great Escape, is found in the Old Testament book of Exodus. God has a grand plan for humankind — a plan he enacts through the Hebrew people. He created Moses to be instrumental in this plan.

Sola’s Versatile Budget Series is a simple and flexible educational Vacation Bible School curriculum designed especially for small churches, house churches, and mission congregations. The flexible format works well for groups with limited budgets, or in situations where the ages and number of students may vary from session to session. Unlike more elaborate and expensive VBS kits, this book is meant to serve as an “all-in-one” teacher’s resource. The worksheets and handouts it contains can be reproduced according to local needs. Each book in the Versatile Budget Series focuses on a particular character from the Bible, bringing together several stories on a common theme. Resources and ideas are provided for gathering time, music, activities, games, and refreshments — allowing just a few adult leaders to host a week of Vacation Bible School.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a608.html Tue, 17 May 16 00:00:00 -0500

Index of Scripture Graphics and posts by Scripture reference 

 Click for audio of today's lesson. 

Philippians 4:5b–7

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

We have said these things not because we doubt our Confession. For we know that it is true, godly, and useful to godly consciences. But it is likely that there are many in many places who waver concerning matters of no light importance, yet do not hear teachers able to lead their consciences to peace.

Pulling It Together

The only one who is able to heal you, restore your soul, and give you peace, is near you right now. He is “at hand.” So there is no need for anxiety. Make your requests; God is listening. He has promised to hear you, so you are enabled to pray with full assurance, resting in God’s promises to love and care for you. Even when it feels like God is not near and they cannot understand why he even would be, people of faith trust in his presence and providence. Their hearts and minds are kept in Christ, despite momentary appearances. They are at rest through faith in Christ, even when they have been less than faithful, knowing that God’s promises are based on his righteousness instead of their own.

Prayer: Help me, O Lord, to always remember your nearness. 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 biblical focus of Mary, Martha & Many Faithful Women, a five-session VBS book is found in the gospels. Through the eyes of sisters, Mary and Martha, we get a look at the ministry of Jesus. We see him as both human and as God. Along with some of Jesus' other female friends, we follow Jesus to the cross where he suffered a horrendous death to pay the price for our sins. From the darkness of the cross, we join the women at the tomb with Mary Magdalene as the mystery and victory of Easter morning unfold.

Sola’s Versatile Budget Series is a simple and flexible educational Vacation Bible School curriculum designed especially for small churches, house churches, and mission congregations. The flexible format works well for groups with limited budgets, or in situations where the ages and number of students may vary from session to session. Unlike more elaborate and expensive VBS kits, this book is meant to serve as an “all-in-one” teacher’s resource. The worksheets and handouts it contains can be reproduced according to local needs. Each book in the Versatile Budget Series focuses on a particular character from the Bible, bringing together several stories on a common theme. Resources and ideas are provided for gathering time, music, activities, games, and refreshments — allowing just a few adult leaders to host a week of Vacation Bible School.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a607.html Mon, 16 May 16 00:00:00 -0500

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John 14:27

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction

We are not saying that you ought to fear God’s judgment. For those in the hierarchy imagine that they can easily provide against this, since they hold the keys. Of course, they can open heaven for themselves whenever they wish. We are talking about the judgments of men and the silent desires of all nations, which at this time, require that these matters be investigated and decided in such a manner that god-fearing minds may be healed and freed from doubt. Being wise, you can easily determine what will take place if at any time this hatred against you should explode. But by this favor of healing doubting consciences, you will be able to bind to yourself all nations, since all sane people regard it as the highest and most important matter.

Pulling It Together

Political and civil peace would be nice. Family peace would be a true blessing for many people. And of course, better finances and health would afford to many a certain peace of mind. Yet, even with all of these kinds of peace, we will still be troubled unless there is a deeper peace: peace with God. This is the very peace that Jesus has promised—a peace that is not like the world gives but instead, peace that comes from having faith that Christ alone reconciles us with God. So we are very careful to never attach to forgiveness satisfactions such as good deeds or acts of devotion. These works will not appease the conscience for long, let alone appease God. Nothing but Christ’s finished work (John 19:30) soothes and heals doubting and troubled consciences.

Prayer: Lord, help me to always depend upon and trust 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 biblical focus of The Adventures of Paul, a five-session VBS book, is the life of the Apostle Paul, using lessons from the Book of Acts. Here Scripture tells the story of serious man named Saul who worked to silence Christianity—until the risen Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus and changed his life. With his new name Paul, this one who had persecuted the Church went on to become one of the greatest apostles. 

The price of the book includes permission to reproduce the worksheets and handouts for local use. For smaller churches in a "one-room schoolhouse" setting, only one book is necessary. For churches with multiple grade levels and individual classes, we suggest that each teacher have a copy of the curriculum book.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a606.html Sun, 15 May 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Matthew 14:28–33

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

There are many good people for whom this doubt is more bitter than death. You do not sufficiently consider how important religion is, if you think that good people are anxious for slight reason when they begin to doubt doctrine. This doubt can have no other effect than producing a most bitter of hatred against those who ought to heal consciences, but instead, make themselves an obstacle to understanding the subject.

Pulling It Together

When I was a boy, I learned to carry a full cup of coffee to my father. I walked through the kitchen, down the carpeted hallway, and in to the living room, then handed it to him without having spilled a drop. I learned to do this by not looking at the coffee in the cup. Instead, I looked away from myself to a point where I was headed. When my father came in to sight, I then kept my eyes on him. This allowed me to walk naturally and evenly, which in turn, kept the cup of coffee level.

Doubt comes when we lose sight of the end or the object of our faith. Peter walked on the water but when his focus shifted to the wind and then the water, instead of the one who beckoned him, he was as good as sunk. How can I walk on water with this wind blowing? Peter probably thought. Whenever the object of our faith becomes something we will do or something we will believe, we will sink every time. For we will have come to believe in, or have faith in, ourselves instead of Jesus. 

We must, therefore, always be ready to call sinking and stumbling people back to the object of faith. Look! There is the hand of Jesus. Take it and know the calming of the storm.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for saving 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.

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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a605.html Sat, 14 May 16 00:00:00 -0500

Index of Scripture Graphics and posts by Scripture reference 

 Click for audio of today's lesson. 

Jude 20–23

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

You are mistaken if you think that churches should be retained only by force and arms. Men ask to be taught concerning religion. How many do you suppose there are, not only in Germany, but also in England, Spain, France, Italy, and finally even in the city of Rome, who are beginning to doubt because they see that controversies have arisen concerning subjects of the greatest importance. How many of them are silently indignant because you refuse to investigate these subjects, and rightly judge such weighty matters? For you do not rescue wavering consciences; instead, you simply command us be overthrown and annihilated by arms.

Pulling It Together

People doubt from time to time. Jesus said, “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt 26:41). It is unrealistic to think that everyone will always be strong in faith. So it is up to those who are strong in the faith to bear with the weak (Rom 15:1) and have mercy on the doubting. This is especially the case when things happen in church and society that run counter to expectations, to the way things have always been thought and done. At such times, people will naturally question and even doubt. This is not the moment to toss the lambs to the wolves. Instead, they should be the more carefully shepherded, so that, by God’s grace, they may be snatched from the fire, and spared to eternal life.

Prayer: Jesus, keep me in your love and mercy. 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 Wise & The Foolish — Women's and Men's Group Bible Study 

Some of the best-known instances of Jesus' teaching come in what we know as his parables. Through these teaching-stories, Jesus describes the experience of faith in the kingdom of God. The Wise & the Foolish is a Bible study that focuses entirely on Jesus' "people parables"—or what might better be descirbed as Discipleship Parables. These are the character stories that focus on the nature of discipleship and what it means to be a wise and faithful follower of Jesus.

This nine-session Bible study is intended for use by women's and men's groups, or for other small group fellowships gathering around the Word of God.

Click HERE to see the table of contents and a sample session of this study.

To view the Leader Guide click HERE.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a604.html Fri, 13 May 16 00:00:00 -0500

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 Click for audio of today's lesson. 

Matthew 24:9–14

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction

It was your duty, Campegius, in accordance with your wisdom and in regard to matters of such importance, to have taken care that they should write nothing which might seem to diminish respect for the Roman See, either now or in the future. If the Roman See judges it right that all nations should acknowledge her as mistress of the faith, then she ought to take pains that those with learning and integrity investigate religious matters. For what will the world think if the writing of the adversaries is ever brought to light? What will posterity judge concerning these critical judicial investigations?

You see, Campegius, these are the last times, in which Christ predicted that there would be the greatest danger to religion. You, therefore, who ought to sit, as it were, in the watchtower and moderate religious concerns, should in these times employ unusual wisdom and diligence. There are many signs which, unless you heed them, threaten a change to the Roman state.

Pulling It Together

Life is hard enough without those in authority leading people astray. Scripture teaches us to have faith in Christ for forgiveness and justification. So then, when religious leaders say that people have to pay for at least some of their sins, if not the sum of their sins, people can become confused, or even indifferent to the faith. This can happen for many reasons, but it should never happen because church leaders teach that something more than faith in Christ is necessary for salvation. That sort of distortion of the basics of the Christian faith often leads to moral decay and the breakdown of society. This then, is the time for patient endurance (Heb 10:36), steadfast faith, and keeping true to the gospel of our Lord.

Prayer: Keep me in your Name, 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.

Aimed at Sunday School teachers, helpers, and coordinators, this book provides an overview of the whole Sunday Schoolhouse series. In addition to laying out the structure of a Sunday School program for pastors, coordinators and superintendents, it contains basic information for teachers and helpers on using the curricula, conducting class sessions, and creating a disciplined teaching environment. It also includes a number of ideas on incorporating into the classroom, including: story-telling, drama, memory work, and creative activities. (The same Leader’s Manual can be used for all three years of the curriculum cycle.)

See a flyer with a description of this series HERE.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a603.html Thu, 12 May 16 00:00:00 -0500

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 Click for audio of today's lesson. 

2 Timothy 2:15–18

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

We hope that these aspersions will make little headway among good people. God will not long endure such impudence and wickedness. Nor did the Pope of Rome do well for his own dignity by using such patrons, because he has entrusted a matter of the greatest importance to the judgment of these sophists. For since we include in our Confession almost the sum of the entire Christian doctrine, judges should have been appointed, whose learning and faith would have been more approved than that of these sophists who have written this Confutation, to make a declaration concerning matters so important, so many, and so varied.

Pulling It Together

Misrepresentation of Holy Scripture will upset the faith of some, those who have itching ears (2 Tim 4:3), but also those who have not learned the faith. Such deception even leads people into lives of ungodliness. Therefore, the Church needs more sound teaching by those who are able to correctly handle the Word of God, those who put forward the power of God at work in us. Of course, this demands approved ministers—approved of God—who will stand for the truth.

The highest truth in Scripture is Christ, who is truth itself (John 14:6). But there are many in the Church who point away from Christ. They insist that people ought to cover their own sins, either by no longer calling sin sinful, or by teaching them that they can make their own satisfaction for sin through acts of devotion and other works. Such things have “the appearance of godliness” (2 Tim 3:5) but deny the power of Christ to forgive sin, justify people to God, and save sinners for eternal life. 

Prayer: Make me a worker of the Word, O 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.

Introduce young students to the Church through this five-week series titled Welcome to Church. Click here for the Table of Contents and a sample session.

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Index of Graphics and Scriptures http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/index-of-graphics-and-scriptures/a601.html Wed, 11 May 16 00:00:00 -0500 Original image credits, when available, are on the devotion pages.

Old Testament

 Scripture Graphic  Devotion
 Genesis 3:8  Genesis 3:6–8
 Genesis 3:15  Genesis 3:14–15
 Genesis 17:16  Genesis 17:15–18
 Deuteronomy 4:31  Deuteronomy 4:29–31
 1 Samuel 2:6  1 Samuel 2:2–6
 2 Samuel 12:13  2 Samuel 12:13–14
 Psalm 119:25  Psalm 119:25–28
 Psalm 143:1  Psalm 143:1–2
 Isaiah 1:18  Isaiah 1:18
 Isaiah 38:16–19  Isaiah 38:16–19
 Isaiah 40:31  Isaiah 40:28–31
 Isaiah 43:25  Isaiah 43:25
 Isaiah 53:5  Isaiah 53:5–6, 11–12
 Jeremiah 33:16  Jeremiah 33:14–16
 Ezekiel 33:12  Ezekiel 33:10–13
 Hosea 14:1  Hosea 14:1
 Micah 7:19  Micah 7:18–19
 Zechariah 9:12  Zechariah 9:11–12

 

New Testament

 Scripture Graphic  Devotion
 Matthew 3:8  Matthew 3:4–8
 Matthew 5:16  Matthew 5:13–16
 Matthew 11:28  Matthew 11:28–30
 Matthew 14:31  Matthew 14:28–33
 Matthew 24:13  Matthew 24:9–14
 Luke 7:50  Luke 7:36–38; 48–50
 John 3:17  John 3:16–18
 John 15:4  John 15:1–5
 Acts 10:43  Acts 10:42–43
 Acts 20:20–21  Acts 20:18–21
 Romans 3:23–25  Romans 3:21–25
 Romans 4:8  Romans 4:1–8
 Romans 5:1  Romans 4:20–5:1
 Romans 5:8  Romans 5:6–8
 Romans 8:5  Romans 8:3–5
 Romans 9:33  Romans 9:30–33
 Romans 10:10  Romans 10:8–11
 1 Corinthians 6:20  1 Corinthians 6:19–20
 2 Corinthians 3:16  2 Corinthians 3:12–16
 Galatians 3:23  Galatians 3:22–24
 Ephesians 4:22  Ephesians 4:20–25
 Ephesians 5:25  Ephesians 5:25–33
 Ephesians 6:16  Ephesians 6:14–20
 Philippians 1:27  Philippians 1:27
 Colossians 3:3  Colossians 3:1–3
 2 Timothy 2:15  2 Timothy 2:15–18
 2 Timothy 4:2  2 Timothy 4:1–4
 Hebrews 9:14  Hebrews 9:13–15
 James 1:6  James 1:6–8
 2 Peter 1:19  2 Peter 1:19–21
 1 John 4:10  1 John 4:9–10
 1 John 4:16  1 John 4:15–17
 1 John 5:19  1 John 5:9–12
 Jude 20–23  Jude 20–23
 Revelation 3:7  Revelation 3:7
 Revelation 7:14  Revelation 7:13–14
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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a602.html Wed, 11 May 16 00:00:00 -0500

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2 Timothy 4:1–4

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

May God rout these godless sophists who so wickedly distort God’s Word to fit their vain dreams! What good person is not moved by such deception? Christ says, “Repent”; the apostles preach repentance; therefore eternal punishments are compensated by the punishments of purgatory; therefore the keys have the power to remit part of the punishments of purgatory; therefore satisfactions redeem the punishments of purgatory! Who taught these asses such logic? Yet this is neither logic nor sophistry, but cunning trickery. Accordingly, they appeal to the expression “repent” in such a way that, when the inexperienced hear such a passage cited against us, they may derive the opinion that we entirely deny repentance. By these tricks they endeavor to alienate minds and inflame hatred, so that the naive may cry out against us, insisting that infectious heretics who disapprove of repentance should be removed from their midst.

Pulling It Together

It is important for us to keep the faith (2 Tim 4:7)—both in the sense continuing to believe in God, and in remaining true to the Word of God. Yet there are not a few who want pastors and teachers who will tell them what they want to hear, instead of what God wants them to hear. When the pastor preaches, “Repent,” many insist that they have not sinned, for sin is no longer sin. Never mind purgatory; since they imagine that they have not sinned, they think they need no forgiveness at all.

So now we must battle on two fronts. One front says God does not forgive sin unless it is compensated for or purged by the punishments of purgatory. The other front says they have not sinned and so, do not require God’s forgiveness. What is the Christian to do when faced with two battlefronts? Be ready at all times to preach and teach the word, patiently reproving, rebuking, and exhorting, whether people want to hear it or not.

Prayer: Open my ears, my eyes, and my heart to your word, O 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.

Experiencing Real Living guides the student in God's Word and nurtures key elements of faith. A picture diagram at the the beginning of each chapter assists the student in "seeing" the topic clearly. The series can be used to cover the over-arching biblical themes of creation, fall and redemption, or as a 12-week overview of the themes of the Catechism. It would serve especially well for leading an adult confirmation program. The volume is spiral bound for ease in use. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a600.html Tue, 10 May 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Jeremiah 33:14–16

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

They quote such passages as the following. “Bear fruit that befits repentance” (Matt 3:8). “Yield your members to righteousness for sanctification” (Rom 6:19). Christ preaches repentance: “Repent” (Matt 4:17). Christ commands the apostles to preach repentance (Luke 24:47). Peter preaches repentance (Acts 2:38). Then they cite certain passages of the Fathers and the canons, and conclude that satisfactions in the Church are not to be abolished, though this is contrary to the plain gospel and the decrees of the Councils and Fathers, that even that those who have been absolved by the priest should carry out the prescribed repentance, following the declaration of Paul, “...who gave himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2:14).

Pulling It Together

Christians should do good works. It has already been stated here, more than a few times, that genuine faith is shown in its works. This is an entirely different matter than saying that forgiveness happens because of those works. Even the passages quoted above prove this out. “Bear fruit that befits repentance,” does not demand the fruit as a prerequisite for forgiveness. Rather because one has faith in God’s forgiveness, there ought to be works appropriate to repentance. Surrendering oneself to righteousness should be understood as surrendering to God—who is our righteousness (Jer 33:16). Again, Christ and the apostles preached repentance, yet did not make works a requirement for forgiveness—as though our works could satisfy or appease God. God is satisfied by Christ alone, who is the perfect work of God, and our only righteousness (Phil 3:9).

Prayer: Thank you, God, for making good on your promise, saving me through your righteous Branch, 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.

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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a599.html Mon, 09 May 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 5:6–8

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

But the gloss on the canons testifies at various places that these observances were instituted for the sake of church discipline. Let us see how they prove these figments of theirs in the Confutation, that they had the presumption to thrust upon His Imperial Majesty. They cite many passages from the Scriptures in order to impose upon the inexperienced the idea that this subject had authority from the Scriptures, though it was unknown even in the time of Lombard.

Pulling It Together

The canons are the system of laws that the medieval church had produced to regulate its authority and maintain its organization and order. It is easy to see how satisfactions would have been part of this system, for in some cases, such as have been mentioned already, some proof of repentance would be necessary in extreme instances, while in others, these satisfactions might serve as an example to the rest of the Church. But to then mandate that a system of regular satisfactions is required for all, and insist that this church law is biblical, is fabrication.

Lutherans confess with Scripture that sinners are justified before God—that is, absolved of all sins and condemnation, without any worth or work of their own—through God’s pure grace. His grace is granted to sinners because of the sole merit of Christ’s suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension. It is his obedience alone that is accounted to us for righteousness through faith in him.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for your obedience to the will of your Father. Amen. 

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The Wise & The Foolish is a nine-session Bible study that focuses entirely on Jesus' "people parables"—what might be descirbed as Discipleship Parables. These are the character stories that focus on the nature of discipleship and what it means to be a wise and faithful follower of Jesus. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a598.html Sun, 08 May 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 8:3–5

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction

The scholastics saw that there were satisfactions in the Church, but did not notice that these exhibitions had been instituted as an example and to test those who desired to be received by the Church. They did not see that it was a discipline, and an entirely secular matter. Then they superstitiously imagined that these satisfactions availed, not for discipline before the Church, but for appeasing God. And just as in other places, where they frequently and with great ineptness confound spiritual and civil matters, they do the same with regard to satisfactions.

Pulling It Together

In the worldly kingdom, there are many disciplines we might bring to bear in order to make things more civil and orderly. Requiring certain satisfactions can even make folks feel better for a time. But in the kingdom of Christ, which is spiritual, any satisfaction we can make, any righteous deed we can perform, is of no consequence. In Christ’s kingdom, it is his righteousness that matters. Christ has satisfied God; therefore, what remains for us is to have faith in him, which produces peace, not just for a time, but for eternity. 

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for satisfying the requirements of the law for me. Amen. 

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One For All is a nine-session Bible study explores the center of the Christian faith by focusing on the unique and exclusive promise of Jesus. It examines not only the claims that Christ made about himself in Scripture, but the claim that the Lord makes on our lives as well. By focusing on the Gospel message of salvation in Christ alone, the study seeks to show how God makes us a part of His mission to the whole world, and how "the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all."

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a597.html Sat, 07 May 16 00:00:00 -0500

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2 Peter 1:19–21

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

This entire matter is fictitious, and recently fabricated without the authority of Scripture or the old writers of the Church. Not even Lombard speaks of satisfactions in this way.

Pulling It Together

We do well to appeal to the highest authority. The academics of scholastic theology turned to Peter Lombard, who wrote the standard medieval texts on theology, as their authority. The Reformers knew his writings and used them to advantage. They recognized that Lombard did not talk about satisfactions in the way their opponents disputed. More importantly, they saw no support for this in Scripture, nor did the Church Fathers write about satisfactions as a general discipline of the Church. When the darkness of the world challenges, we do well to pay closest attention to the light of the Word of God.

Prayer: Rise, O Morning Star, in my heart. 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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a596.html Fri, 06 May 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Zechariah 9:11–12

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

Our opponents acknowledge that satisfactions are of no profit for the remission of guilt, yet they imagine that satisfactions redeem from the penalty of purgatory or other punishments. They teach that in the remission of sins, God cancels the guilt, yet, because divine justice must punish sin, he commutes eternal punishment into temporal punishment. They further add that a part of this temporal punishment is remitted by the power of the keys, but that the rest is redeemed by means of satisfactions. But it can not be understood what punishments are remitted by the power of the keys, unless they say that part of the punishments of purgatory is remitted. Then it would follow that satisfactions are only punishments that redeem from purgatory. They say that these satisfactions work even though rendered by those who have relapsed into mortal sin, as if those who are in mortal sin could appease the divine displeasure.

Pulling It Together

Guilt and punishment alike are borne by God in Christ alone. We are set free from all bondage—from waterless pits to the depths of hell—because God promised to do so. Those who believe will be saved (Acts 16:31; Rom 3:22). Nowhere does the Scripture put this impossible burden on us. What a pitiless God we believe in if we imagine that we must buy our way out of the pit. So we confess that God is our hope and stronghold; we turn to him alone for rescue from sin and death.

Prayer: Help me to ever trust in you, God. 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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a595.html Thu, 05 May 16 00:00:00 -0500

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1 John 4:9–10

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

The doctrine concerning faith must be retained, that by faith we obtain remission of sins for Christ's sake—not for the sake of our works that precede or follow. This is why we have especially discussed the question of satisfactions, because in submitting to them the righteousness of faith is obscured, and people think that they obtain forgiveness of sins for the sake of these works. This error is assisted by many sayings that are current in the schools, such as their definition of “satisfaction”: that it is done to appease the divine displeasure.

Pulling It Together

It bears repeating: our love, devotion, good works, and religious activities do not satisfy God’s justice. Only God’s Son propitiates, appeases, or satisfies God’s just demand for holiness. Through faith in Christ, we are credited with righteous (Rom 4:24; 2 Cor 5:21; Gal 3:6; Phil 3:9). We are given the righteous of Christ through faith in him (Rom 3:22). Our love for each other and for God is not a saving devotion. Real love, saving love, is that God loved us before we ever had a thought for him, and sent his Son to be the perfect and final satisfaction for our sins—and not only for ours, but for the sins of the entire world (1 John 2:2).

Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, for satisfying your Father’s righteous demands so that I may enjoy your company forever. 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 pocket edition of Luther's Small Catechism includes quotations from the English Standard Versions (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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a594.html Wed, 04 May 16 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Corinthians 6:19–20

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

Yet now that the custom has become obsolete, the term “satisfaction” still remains, along with a trace of the custom of prescribing in confession certain satisfactions, which they define as works that are not due. We call them canonical satisfactions. We maintain that canonical satisfactions, just like enumeration, are not necessary by divine law for the forgiveness of sins, just as those ancient exhibitions of satisfactions in public repentance were not necessary by divine law for the forgiveness of sins.

Pulling It Together

Recently, a car rental company called, wanting to know when I was going to pay the bill on a transaction from over a month ago. I let them know that the company had paid that bill, informing them of the transaction details. Their claim on me was satisfied. Take note, however, it was nothing that I did to meet their demand for payment. Someone else did it; someone else paid the debt. Indeed, because the bill had already been paid, there was no debt at all.

We may get calls from our consciences, telling us that because we are sinners that we have a bill to pay. That just is not the case at all. Christ has already paid the debt in full. Our consciences, and the devil to boot, have no further claim on us.

Prayer: Thank you, God, for satisfying my debt, 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) 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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a593.html Tue, 03 May 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Colossians 3:1–3

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

The Fathers did not believe that people deserve the forgiveness of sins through such practices or such works. Nevertheless, these spectacles usually lead astray the unwitting to think that by these works they merit the forgiveness of sins before God. But if anyone believes this, he has a Jewish or heathen faith, for even the heathen had certain expiations for sins by which they imagined they were reconciled to God.

Pulling It Together

God’s justice requires the punishment of sin. We either take the punishment or pay the penalty. However, we cannot make restitution. We can neither keep from sinning, nor pay the penalty of that sin (Rom 6:23). All said, we can make no satisfaction for our sins. In other words, we cannot meet the demands of God’s law (Acts 15:10), and therefore, his justice. We must die, for that is the penalty of sin. Jesus Christ, however, has kept God’s law and met his requirements for justice. Those sinners who believe in Christ for forgiveness and eternal life, are no longer condemned by the law.

This means that Jesus Christ’s satisfaction of God’s righteous requirements was so perfect that the law can make no more demands on those who believe in him. There is no longer any more condemnation (Rom 8:1). Let us be clear about this matter. If you commit murder, the law will require your life. Subsequently, you are killed by lethal injection. What can the law require of you now? Nothing. You are dead. Just so, when you were baptized, you were put to death and buried with Christ (Rom 6:4; Col 2:12). You died (Col 3:3), so what satisfaction can the law require of you now? 

Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, for giving me new life 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) 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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a592.html Mon, 02 May 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Isaiah 1:18

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

The word “satisfaction” is left over from this rite of public repentance. The holy Fathers were unwilling to receive the fallen or the disreputable unless their repentance had been first examined and exhibited publicly, as far as it was possible. There seem to have been many reasons for this. To chastise those who had fallen served as an example, just as the gloss on the decrees admonishes. It was also improper to immediately admit notorious men to communion. These customs have long since grown obsolete. Nor is it necessary to restore them since they are not necessary for the forgiveness of sins before God.

Pulling It Together

It may be useful, in terms of order in the church, to in some cases make certain people show that they are truly repentant. It is too easy for wolves to steal in among the sheep, so when some people have been dishonorable or have wandered away from the faith, but now want to be part of the church, it might be a good thing to hold them accountable for awhile. This could serve to safeguard the flock. We do this when calling new pastors. Not only are efforts made to hear a potential pastor preach, but candidacy requirements such as education must be met, references are called, and even criminal backgrounds are checked. Accountability is a good thing, but are these things needed in order for God to forgive sins? Absolutely not. It doesn’t matter how far you have fallen, how disrespectable you are, or if you are downright notorious (Gal 1:23); God cleanses the worst of sinners (1 Tim 1:15).

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for loving me and forgiving 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) 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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a591.html Sun, 01 May 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Revelation 7:13–14

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction – part 10

Authors in the Church mention confession, but they speak of the rite of public repentance, not about an enumeration of secret offenses. The fallen or notorious were not received without specific satisfactions. They made confession to the presbyters so that satisfactions could be prescribed to them according to the measure of their offenses. But this is not the same as the enumeration that we are disputing. This confession was made, not because the forgiveness of sins before God could not occur without it, but because satisfactions could not be prescribed unless the kind of offense was first known. For different offenses had different rules.

Pulling It Together

Be very careful that you do not trust in your sorrow for sins. Your remorse does not merit God’s forgiveness. Being sorry—even though you go on at length about your specific regrets—does not repair your sinful condition or your broken fellowship with God. So, now you have to be even more careful that you do not place your trust in yourself, since the natural inclination is to try to make some satisfaction or atonement for your sins. But Christ has already accomplished that; and this is why faith is necessary. God does not favor you because of your remorse or because of your acts of penance. God favors you because you believe that he is gravely displeased with your sins, yet you have faith in Christ to absolve you of all your sin. God favors us because we have faith that the blood of Christ alone whitens our robes—that he cleanses us, covers our sin, and justifies us. 

Prayer: Thank you, Holy God, for counting me among the faithful, for Christ’s sake. 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 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/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a590.html Sat, 30 Apr 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Hosea 14:1

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

What our opponents have expressed in the Confutation, namely, that a full confession is necessary for salvation, is certainly most false. For this is impossible. And what snares they cast upon the conscience when they require a full confession! For when will conscience be sure that the confession is complete?

Pulling It Together

This Lutheran confession comes from experience. Yet it also comes from Scripture. Luther, in particular, was tortured by guilt, and would therefore wear out his confessor with hours of lists of specific sins. After leaving confession, he would remember yet another sin and rush back to add that one to the list. He doubted his salvation, believing that God was still angry with him over some as-yet-unconfessed offense. Eventually, he came to realize that one can never confess all sins. But he also realized something more important.: this brand of confession is a human invention, not called for in Scripture. Scripture requires turning to the Lord in sorrow for sin—and faith in God to forgive. 

Prayer: I believe in your love and forgiveness, Lord, for 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.

Download the new Sola App for Android or Apple. This free, mobile app includes a searchable ESV Bible, the Sola Small Catechism, Sola Devotions, Sola products, the Sola Online Worship eResource, and more—with even more to come. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a589.html Fri, 29 Apr 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Isaiah 43:25

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

Our adversaries will condemn many of the most generally accepted teachers if they claim that an enumeration of offenses is necessary in confession according to divine law. We approve of confession, and allow that some examination is beneficial in order to better instruct people. However, the matter must be controlled so that snares are not cast upon consciences, which will never be tranquil if they think that they cannot obtain the forgiveness of sins unless this precise enumeration is made.

Pulling It Together

Scripture does not teach that we must go to a confessor with a list of all our sins. Nevertheless, confession can be good, if seasoned with grace. When used with concern for the care of souls, specific confession may benefit people. Yet, God’s grace must always be offered, particularly when persons imagine that they must list every single offense in order to be forgiven. Of course, this can never be done; there will always be some lingering sin, forgotten until it is too late for confession. Then confession becomes a human law that imprisons souls. So, the penitent must always be reminded of God’s grace. For God has promised to not remember our sins. He does so for Christ’s sake, not because of our ability to recall lengthy lists of sins.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord God, for declaring me righteous, for Christ’s sake. Amen. 

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Beginning in 2016, Sola is adding a Bible Overview year to its Confirmation Series, with two ten-session booklets — 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.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a588.html Thu, 28 Apr 16 00:00:00 -0500

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Philippians 1:27

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

Perhaps some one may also cite James. “Confess your faults one to another” (James 5:16). But the reference there is not to a confession that is to be made to the priests. The reference is to general confession, concerning the reconciliation of believers with each other. For it commands that the confession be mutual.

Pulling It Together

We have been born again to the image of Christ. Therefore, the Holy Spirit is causing us to grow up into new people who share the mind of Christ. This maturing ought to cause us to labor with one another for the gospel—not strive against each other. So, we must often, because this old nature continues to assail us in the flesh, confess our sins against each other, to each other. Furthermore, we must forgive one another. Scripture calls for a reciprocal admission of wrongs, as needed, as well as for mutual forgiveness. Why? Otherwise, we get bogged down in bad feelings; we focus on ourselves. Confession and forgiveness are necessary so that we can move on together with the business of the Church: the proclamation of the truth of that gospel which produces faith.

Prayer: Grant me the grace to forgive, Lord—and to say that I am sorry. Amen. 

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