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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
The Smalcald Articles part 33

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Mark 14:22–25

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

In addition to all this, this dragon’s tail, the Mass, has spawned a brood of vermin and manifold idolatries. Purgatory is the first. They have carried their trade into purgatory with masses for souls, vigils, weekly, monthly, and yearly celebrations of requiems, and finally through the common week, All Souls’ Day, and soul baths, so that the Mass is used almost exclusively for the dead, even though Christ instituted the Sacrament only for the living. Therefore purgatory, and all its pomp, services, and commerce, should be regarded as nothing but a specter of the devil. For it conflicts with the chief article that Christ alone, not the works of men, helps souls. Besides, we have not been commanded or taught about the dead in this regard. Therefore, all this may be safely done away with, even if it were not heresy and idolatry.

Pulling It Together

What Christ actually instituted is sometimes quite different from what is practiced. So, let us be clear on what was actually done by our Lord, instead of what has been invented since. As Jesus and his disciples were eating the Passover meal together, Jesus took the table bread, blessed it, broke it, and distributed it to his disciples. As he gave it to them, he not only told them to take it, he also instructed them, saying, “This is my body.” In doing so, he established a communion, not only between himself and his disciples but between his body and the bread. Those words, “This is my body,” are as emphatic and effective as, “Let there be light” (Gen 1:14). God’s word accomplishes what he desires (Isa 55:11).

Then he took the cup, gave thanks, gave it to them, and they all drank the Passover wine. More instruction accompanied the cup. Jesus said it was his blood of the covenant. His sacrifice of his own body and blood would establish the meal he instituted with his followers. All of this was done for the living, with no instruction in the gospels or elsewhere in Scripture to commune the dead, those in a fancied purgatory—for which there is also no teaching or ground in Scripture.

Prayer: Help me believe what is written in your word. Amen.

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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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