Sola Publishing News and Feedback [Sola Devotions series] http://solapublishing.com/news_feedback/feed.html?series=1 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/a1086.html Mon, 24 Sep 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Galatians 2:16

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

There was no mention here of Christ or faith. Instead, people hoped to overcome and blot out sins before God by their own works. It was with this intention we became priests and monks: that we might organize ourselves against sin.

Pulling It Together

The object of our faith is Christ, not our works of the law. We are justified by faith in him, not by striving to be better. That would be putting faith in our own deeds instead of in the goodness and justice of Christ. This is why Luther stated his famous words: “Christ alone.” We are saved by faith in Christ alone. Should we strive to be holy for lifetimes, yet without faith in Christ, we could not be saved. Moreover, people may have faith in Christ, yet for their lifetimes know they are sinners, and nevertheless, be saved into eternal life. Such is the weight of God’s grace to people who have faith in his Christ.

Prayer: Help me live my life, O God, by faith in your Son. Amen.

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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/a1085.html Sat, 22 Sep 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Job 19:25–27

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

The scholastic theologians break down repentance into three parts: contrition, confession, and satisfaction. To these they add the consolation and promise that if someone truly repents, confesses, and renders satisfaction, he has earned forgiveness of sins, and paid for them before God. Therefore, in their doctrine of repentance they instruct people to place confidence in their own works. This is where the expression comes from that is used in the pulpit when public absolution was announced to the people: “Prolong my life, O God, until I make satisfaction for my sins and amend my life.”

Pulling It Together

I do not need to earn my salvation or prove, somehow, that I will do better. God is not subordinate to my actions, as though I need to do anything for him to be disposed to me in a favorable way. God is merciful to me for Christ’s sake, not for the sake of my religious acts of penance or devotion.

Nevertheless, I am nearly crushed by the weight of my sin. I know fully well that I am a sinner, but I also know something else, something far more wondrous. I know that my Redeemer lives. So, I will set my faith in him against all my sin and against all the accusations of the law. God does what he promises, and his Redeemer Christ is the fulfillment of his promise. I and my religious posturing are not.

Prayer: I put all my trust in you, Lord. Amen.

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

The 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/a1084.html Fri, 21 Sep 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Mark 2:17

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

As a result, people did penance only for actual sins, such as wicked thoughts they yielded to (for wicked feelings, lust, and improper inclinations that they did not consider sins), and for wicked words and wicked deeds, which free will could have easily avoided.

Pulling It Together

This is a superficial, thoroughly human, way of looking at sin—one that leaves the conscience troubled and rarely at peace with God. It demands people be focused on their specific sins, instead of upon the fact that they are sinners even when they are not sinning. The former has people trying to escape punishment; the latter has them turning to the Savior.

Prayer: Give me, Lord, the peace that passes understanding. Amen.

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The Wise Economy of Your Life, Balancing Your Time & Money shows how to practice the principles of God’s economy as revealed in the Scriptures, leading to wise “spending," and creating more freedom and versatility in your life. This study booklet is intended as a basis for group discussion and contains a list of Scripture verses to supplement each chapter.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a1083.html Thu, 20 Sep 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Matthew 6:25–33

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

Concerning the False Repentance of the Papists

It was impossible for them to teach correctly about repentance because they did not know the real sin. For, as shown above, they did not rightly believe the doctrine of original sin, but insisted that people’s natural powers have remained unimpaired and incorrupt—that reason is able to rightly understand, that the will is able to act accordingly, and that God undoubtedly bestows his grace to people when they do as much as possible with their free will.

Pulling It Together

Simply put: if you are acting in your own power, relying upon yourself to be a good person, you are sunk. From the moment you were born, you have never been good enough—if that were what was necessary—to merit eternal life. You have always been a sinner (Rom 5:19). From the outset, all you have ever cared about is yourself. What will you eat next? What will you wear? These are the ultimate concerns of human nature: that “old man” (Col 3:9).

The new person is not bent upon self, but instead, inclined to the things of God and his kingdom. The old self is dead from the get-go, while the new self is always being renewed in God. It does not look to its own will but to God’s will (Matt 6:10). The regenerated person does not depend upon its own filthy righteousness (Isa 64:6) but upon the righteousness of God. The Lord alone is our righteousness (Jer 23:6) and this only comes to us through faith in God’s Christ (Eph 2:8-9; 1 Cor 1:30; 2 Cor 5:21), not by the work of the human will.

Prayer: Thy will be done. Amen.

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a1082.html Wed, 19 Sep 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Matthew 27:3–5

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

Whenever the law exercises its function alone, without the gospel being added, there is only death and hell, and people must despair, like Saul and Judas. St. Paul says, the law kills through sin (Rom 7:10). On the other hand, the gospel brings consolation and forgiveness in more ways than one, for with the Lord there is bountiful redemption (as Psalm 130:7 says) from the dreadful captivity of sin, available through the Word and Sacraments and the like, as we shall soon hear.

For now, we must contrast the false repentance of the sophists (the scholastic theologians) with true repentance, so that both may be the better understood.

Pulling It Together

Judas sold out Jesus, his rabbi and Lord, for thirty pieces of silver. Would his Lord not forgive him for doing so? Of course, Jesus would forgive his disciple; he loved him. But all Judas could hear was the accusation of the law. In the despair of its condemnation, he could not hear his Lord’s word of grace.

Peter denied even knowing Jesus, and left him to suffer and die alone. If all Peter heard was the law, he too would have lost hope. Peter, however, did not simply hear the law hammering in his ears; he heard the gospel ringing in his heart. Though Peter had done something terrible and heartless, he knew the true heart of Christ. He believed his Lord’s promise of forgiveness, confessed his error, repented, and so, remained in faith. Had he been left to his own devices, he could not have recovered from so grievous a betrayal, and subjected himself to a similar fate as Judas, whether bodily, or emotionally and spiritually.

Prayer: Give me such faith in you, O Lord, that my despair always runs to your Word and promise 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.

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/a1081.html Tue, 18 Sep 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Ephesians 2:8

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

Preceding Christ, John is called a preacher of repentance, yet for the forgiveness of sins. That is, John was to accuse everyone, convincing them that they were sinners, so that they would know who they were before God, and acknowledge that they were lost. This is how they would be prepared to receive grace from the Lord, and to expect and accept from him forgiveness of sins. Christ himself says, “that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations” (Luke 24:47).

Pulling It Together

Knowledge of one’s sin is necessary but it is insufficient for salvation. Repentance from sin is also indispensable but regret and penance combined will not do for salvation. Knowledge and confession of sin, and remorse and repentance are what prepare us for God’s grace. His grace, however, is only apprehended by faith in Christ—not faith in what we do, such as confession and repentance.

Prayer: Convince me of my sin, Lord, and give me faith to believe. Amen.

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Learning the Lord's Prayer teaches the Lord's Prayer according to the pattern of Luther's Small Catechism, and is recommended for the Second Grade Level. Each week focuses on a specific Bible story which illustrates the theme, with additional references from Scripture and Luther's Small Catechism - Children's Version

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a1080.html Mon, 17 Sep 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Acts 2:38

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

The New Testament immediately adds the consoling promise of grace through the gospel to the function of the law. This must be believed, as Christ declares: “Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). That is, become different, do otherwise, and believe my promise.

Pulling It Together

It is no accident that the gospels follow directly after the Old Testament. The offer of God’s grace must always follow on the teaching of the law. Wherever the law is taught, accusations and guilt will follow. If left there, people will wallow in despair. So, the gospel, God’s promise of grace and forgiveness through Christ, must follow. That grace is received by turning to God in confession and repentance. You may not become a pious person as soon as you would have liked—or ever—but you are now changed because you admit God’s Word is true, that you are a sinner in need of the Savior. And that is the truest piety.

Prayer: Forgive me, Lord God, a sinner redeemed by Christ. 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/a1079.html Sat, 15 Sep 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 3:10–12

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

In the beginning of true repentance, people must hear such statements as this: You are all of no account. Whether you are obvious sinners or think you are saints, you must each become different than you are now and do otherwise than you are now doing—even if you imagine you are great, wise, powerful, and holy. Here no one is godly, etc.

Pulling It Together

No one is exempt; all are born in sin and captivated by it, until they have faith. Even then, the forgiveness of God is necessary, for saints are still sinners. But here is the difference: they are repentant sinners. In the midst of their sin, they seek God. They desire his righteousness to be their own, and so, confess their own unrighteousness and sin. In this way, saints are no longer enslaved to sin, and are saved from death and the devil, for Christ’s sake.

Prayer: Forgive me, God, a sinner, but redeemed by Christ. 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/a1078.html Fri, 14 Sep 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 13:11

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

This, then, is the thunderbolt of God that devastates open sinners and false saints alike, tolerating no one to be righteous, but driving all to terror and despair. This is the hammer that Jeremiah speaks of: “Is not my word…like a hammer which breaks the rock in pieces?” (Jer 23:29). This is not activa contritio or manufactured repentance, but passiva contritio — true sorrow of the heart, suffering, and threat of death.

Pulling It Together

God uses his law to demolish the false righteousness of so-called saints and sinners too. He uses his Word to awaken us from the death of spiritual sleep. The effect is not that of a gentle alarm clock but rather, a jackhammer that jolts us into consciousness. It wakes up the conscience and causes us to sense who we truly are: wholly unrighteous beings standing before the holiness of God. The religious are no more exempt from this sudden terror of conscience than are arrogant sinners. Even original sin must be repented of daily; it is an act of wakefulness, of awareness. When God’s Word, his hammer, brings a person to this place of contrition, salvation is nearer than they suspect.

Prayer: Bring the hammer of your Word, Lord, and awaken me. Amen.

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a1077.html Thu, 13 Sep 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Luke 18:13

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

Part III, Article III. Of Repentance

The New Testament maintains and teaches this function of the law, as St. Paul does, saying: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men” (Rom 1:18). Again, “that…the whole world may be held accountable to God. For no human being will be justified in his sight” (Rom 3:19). And Christ says that the Holy Spirit “will convince the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8).

Pulling It Together

The law’s job is to reveal sin and the wrath of God, and to convict the world of its unrighteousness and the judgment to come. That office is not closed. People still need to know about sin and judgment. The grace of God is not welcome without a keen conviction of unrighteousness. Indeed, the Holy Spirit uses the law for this very purpose.

Some people claim innocence, and some that there is no divine law to be kept. Their sin and ignorance will find them in the end. May it find them sooner, so that each may confess with the tax man, I am a sinner! For that revelation is part of God’s mercy and the beginning of a flow of grace.  

Prayer: God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner! 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/a1076.html Wed, 12 Sep 18 00:00:00 -0500

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John 6:61–63

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

But the chief purpose or power of the law is to reveal original sin with all its consequences, and show us how very low our nature has fallen, that it has become utterly corrupted. The law, therefore, must inform people that they neither have nor care for God, or worship other gods, a matter which before and without the law they could not have believed. So, they become terrified, humbled, despondent, despairing, and anxiously desire aid, but see no solution. They begin to be an enemy of God, to complain, etc. This is what Paul says: “The Law brings wrath” (Rom 4:15) and, “Law came in, to increase the trespass” (Rom 5:20).

Pulling It Together

The law is always there to terrify consciences. The terror is so complete and overpowering that we have nowhere to turn, not even to ourselves. Keeping the law is no answer. For who can do so? The harder we try, the more it accuses. If we depend upon works of the law, we are undone. Who could ever be certain of keeping the law or of being, as people say, “good enough”?

There are four responses to this human dilemma. One, try harder. But, as we have said, this only brings more accusation and more despair, as there is no advantage in our nature. Two, give up. Three, become calloused and even scarred, having contempt for all things divine or even merely religious. Four, turn for help to a nature and power beyond ourselves.

Prayer: Draw me close to you, Lord. 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/a1075.html Tue, 11 Sep 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Ephesians 2:4–5

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

Others become blind and arrogant, having the opinion that they can and do keep the law by their own powers, as was said above about the scholastic theologians. This is how hypocrites and false saints are produced.

Pulling It Together

Justification always comes through faith in God’s gracious promises in Christ. Being right with God is never a result of one’s devotion to God. The opposite is the case on two levels. One, the blindest and most arrogant people are created when they believe their righteous standing before God is the result of their piety. I once knew a woman who never sinned. That is what she insisted. Blinded by her own goodness, she no longer had use for the Savior. Two, justification comes to us because of God’s devotion to us—not the reverse.

Prayer: I need you, Jesus, because I am a sinner. 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/a1073.html Sat, 08 Sep 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Galatians 2:20–21

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles – part 72

These and many similar fictions have resulted from misunderstanding and ignorance concerning both sin and Christ, our Savior. These things are truly heathen doctrines, which we cannot endure. If this teaching is correct, then Christ has died in vain, since there would be no defect or sin in the human race for which Christ should have died. Or, he would have died only for the body, but not for the soul, inasmuch as the soul is sound, and only the body is subject to death.

Pulling It Together

It is not in our nature to love God or do good. That old nature must die, so that a new nature may be formed in us—a righteous nature given to us, one that may love God. Working at it will not make us God fearing or good people. We must be given a new life and being, a righteousness through faith. If it were otherwise, Scripture is untrue, and Christ has died for no reason whatsoever.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for the faith to believe. Amen.

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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/a1072.html Fri, 07 Sep 18 00:00:00 -0500

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John 15:5

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

7. That it is not found in Scripture that the Holy Spirit and his grace are necessary for the doing of a good work.

Pulling It Together

We may do some good on our own. For example, our own free will may be at work in civil matters. We may determine whether or not we will pay our taxes or stop when the light is red or if we will provide some service to our country. These are not spiritual matters; they have nothing to do with rebirth. God is necessary for our doing anything that is called good when it goes beyond mere civil works.

We can do no good apart from God. This is clear enough in Scripture. All we do that is good, flows from the Spirit of God who lives within us (Rom 8:9). We cannot love the Father or keep the other commandments without Christ’s help. What is more, we would not claim to be able to, as the notion that one can do these truly good works on his own, points to the deeper belief that doing so earns one some favor with God. The person who believes God is behind his good works would not then claim responsibility and recognition for those works. That would be tantamount to saying, You did this but I deserve the credit. Anyone who claims that she is able to do good works is really only wanting favor from God (and neighbor) for doing them. Luther was teaching us what Scripture clearly says, along with the underlying precept, that God is deserving of all our praise and honor.

Prayer: I want to live in and through you, Lord. Amen.

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The Reason for the Seasons is a flexible Sunday School curriculum connecting Scripture to the seasons of the Church Year. The emphasis in the series is on Bible stories that illustrate the major events and themes of each season. Using a "one-room schoolhouse" approach, the series allows children of varying ages and grade levels to meet together.

Each session in the Bible Story Lesson Book contains the biblical basis and core materials for leading a Sunday School class. Permission is granted to reproduce the pages of this book for local individual or congregational use. In keeping with the intended "one-room" audience, the resources provided in the book are suited to various elementary age levels — from simple coloring pages to interactive dramas.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a1071.html Thu, 06 Sep 18 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Corinthians 11:27–30

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

6. Again, if one wishes to go to the Sacrament, there is no need of an intention to do good, but it is sufficient if there is no wicked intention to commit sin, since human nature is entirely good and the Sacrament so able to produce its result.

Pulling It Together

You will recall that we are dealing with theological errors that Luther refuted in his “Smalcald Articles.” We have seen that these errors were largely due to being in conflict with the chief article: “That Jesus Christ, our God and Lord, died for our sins, and was raised again for our justification.” These benefits are received by faith, otherwise it is not Christ’s dying and rising that makes the difference. We continue.

Like all things, faith must be worked in, else the Word is not present. The Word and its promises may be spoken throughout the service of worship but if it is not heard with ears of faith, the forgiveness of sins is withheld. The Word is not a magical incantation that is effective whether you wish it to be or not. It must be received with faith; otherwise, the wine is simply wine, and the bread merely bread, and the one who eats and drinks, only an unforgiven sinner who would have duped God.

Because faith is present, there is an intention to cease from sin and do good. We come to the altar, asking the Lord’s forgiveness of our sins, not his permission to persist at sinning. Be careful though, lest you begin to think that your good works and morality are why you are forgiven. You are forgiven through faith in Christ alone. But that faith — real faith — desires to do God’s will. True faith is not present if the intention is to remain faithless.

Prayer: Help me examine myself so that I may earnestly eat and drink. 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/a1070.html Wed, 05 Sep 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 3:21–22 

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

3. Again, that people are able by their natural powers to observe and keep all the commandments of God.

4. Again, that by their natural powers, people are able to love God above all things and their neighbors as themselves.

5. Again, if people do as much as they can, God will certainly grant them his grace.

Pulling It Together

We have already seen how human nature is not equal to the task. But even if some person is able to live a perfectly sinless life, that person was born into sin (original sin), and so, remains a sinner. No one is exempt (Rom 3:23). Moreover, the ability to be sinless — which again, no one has — is not a virtue that earns them favor with God. There is no such human virtue. There is nothing in human nature, abilities, intentions, or accomplishments that moves God to grant people his grace. It is his love for humanity that moves him to freely offer his grace, yet also justly so, forgiving and making righteous those who have faith in Christ (Rom 3:26).

Prayer: Forgive me, Lord, for I am a 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.

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/a1069.html Tue, 04 Sep 18 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Corinthians 2:14–16

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles – part 68

2. Again, that people have free will to do good and avoid doing evil, and on the other hand, to refrain from good and do evil.

Pulling It Together

People are able to choose to do some good but they are incapable of being good. Likewise, they are able to leave off from doing some evil, while remaining incapable of being sinners. This is rooted in original sin. People begin life dead in their sins, and continue through life in one after another outright trespasses against God’s will and Word. They are helpless to do otherwise. One example from the greatest commandment will suffice. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deut 6:6). Or perhaps you prefer the Greek version: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matt 22:37). You cannot do it without God’s help. Who loves the Lord with a whole heart? No one. We cannot perfectly love God, so we ask him in the liturgy for the grace to do so. The rebirthed mind of Christ comprehends sin and the need of God’s grace. The natural person is simply hell-bent on being good—or not.

Prayer: Help me see my need for you, 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.

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. This 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/a1068.html Mon, 03 Sep 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Isaiah 50:4-5, 10

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

Therefore, what the scholastic theologians have taught regarding this article is nothing but error and blindness, namely:

1. That since the fall of Adam the natural powers of humankind have remained entire and uncorrupted, and that, by nature, they have sound reason and a good will, as the philosophers teach.

Pulling It Together

Though this passage in Isaiah depicts the coming Messiah, it may also be seen as a model for the godly life. Within it, we see that human beings have the capacity to learn and to think. They may learn to fear, love, and trust God. Yet, though they have the capacity, it must be developed by the grace of God. When convicted of their darkness and sin, they may find light and life only when the Lord opens their ears to hear his Word. When they trust him instead of their own reasoning, be calls them from their darkness and into his marvelous light (1 Pet 2:9). 

Prayer: Incline my ear to your Word, Lord, that I may find light, and life, and rest 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.

      

Sola Publishing carries four workbooks to help you with house church and small group ministry. Rev. Tom Hilpert's Experiencing Life Together is a 15-week curriculum designed for those who want to experience Christian worship in the context of a small group meeting within the homes of participants. Rev. Stéphane Kalonji'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 also an excellent tool for evangelism.

Experiencing Life Together   • Come and See!   • Go and Tell!   • Dwell in My Love!

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a1067.html Sat, 01 Sep 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Matthew 16:17

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

This hereditary sin is so deep a corruption of nature that it cannot be understand with reason. It must be believed from the revelation of the Scriptures (Psa 51:5; Rom 6:12ff; Exod 33:3; Gen 3:7ff).

Pulling It Together

The kingdom of God cannot be stormed by reason. Human reason is strong but it cannot bring itself to believe in the unseen, the unprovable. Moreover, human nature is blind to itself. A man may eventually yield to his own wrongdoing because of its sheer repetition, but then say, It wasn’t so bad, or Who did it harm? Or perhaps he does not even view his offenses as sin. He is merely trying to relieve his guilt when he proclaims, Sin is just a construct of religion. Reason brings us all to this terrible place. It locks the door on this self-centered prison where guilt festers and the lies are multiplied. Only God is able to break us free.

By God’s grace alone, we are enabled to come out of our cells and into the light. His grace provides us with the faith necessary to believe the unbelievable. And what is more unbelievable than that sinners like us may be forgiven, made righteous, and be loved by the Father of lights (James 1:17)? Such faith is the foundation of the Father’s family.

Prayer: Give me faith, Lord, by your Word. 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.

Where Two or Three Are Gathered is a guide for what Luther referred to as "mutual conversation and consolation" among believers. These are the times we come together one to one, as people of faith, to talk about our lives and struggles, and strengthen one another in prayer with the promise of God's grace and mercy. This devotional conversation guide may be used for a number of purposes and applications where people are looking for some help in structuring conversations on the practical and spiritual dimensions of Christian discipleship.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a1066.html Fri, 31 Aug 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Exodus 20:1

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

The fruits of this sin are the ensuing evil deeds that are forbidden in the Ten Commandments, such as unbelief, false faith, idolatry, being without the fear of God, presumption, despair, blindness, and in short, not knowing or regarding God — and further: lying, swearing by God’s name, not praying or calling upon God, disregard for God’s Word, disobedience to parents, murder, unchastity, thievery, deceit, and so forth.

Pulling It Together

Near the beginning, Adam and Eve paid no attention to what God spoke. He told them that they may eat of all manner of things in the garden of Eden, but that they must not eat from the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. So, what did they do? Yes, they ate of that tree but of more import, they did not listen. They gave the Lord no heed, and the result was sin.

This sin is a sin we all share. At our sinful core, we do not care what God says. We — each and all — neglect God’s Word. Without his grace, we would have nothing to do with it — or him. The result of this old Adam within us, is a profusion of sin which we must drown with daily repentance and sorrow, putting it to death so that under the promise of Christian baptism, the new Adam (Eph 2:14–16) may continue to rise up and live before God in the righteousness and purity Christ provides through forgiveness and sanctification.

Prayer: Give me such faith, Lord, that I may continue to believe in your Word. 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 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/a1065.html Thu, 30 Aug 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 5:12

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

Part III. Article I. Concerning Sin.

1. Here we must confess, as Paul says in Romans 5:12, that sin came from one man, Adam, by whose disobedience all people became sinners, and subject to death and the devil. This is called original or prime sin.

Pulling It Together

The prime sin, which brought all sin into the world, is a hereditary sin, making us all sinners, persons with a built-in desire to sin. We look at newborn babies and wonder how such a thing can be. We know it to be so, not because we have witnessed every so-called perfect little baby whom we have ever known to grow up and become an expert sinner, but because this original sin is revealed to us in the Scriptures (Psa 51:5; Jer 17:9; John 8:7; Rom 7:18–19, 23; 1 John 1:8–10). Sin abounds, not only in the world, but in each person. All this, and death too, is a result of one sin of disobedience by one man, on one day a very long time ago. 

Prayer: Lead me to, and keep me in, faith in you, O 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.

In One Word” is a Christmas program that tells the story of the nativity in the fictionalized format of a first century game show. The script is reproducible for use of the children. The program is able to accommodate eight character parts, plus a primary narrator (also able to be divided among multiple students). Simple biblical costuming and props are suggested. The script also includes music lead sheets for the Christmas carols that are a part of the program.

Click HERE to see the introduction and a couple of sample pages.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a1064.html Wed, 29 Aug 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Mark 7:31–35

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

The Third Part

The following articles deal with matters that may be considered with learned and reasonable people, or among ourselves. The pope and his government do not care much about these things, since the conscience is nothing to them, while money, honors, and power are everything.

Pulling It Together

What can you do with those who cannot or will not hear? If they will not listen, as reasonable people make a point to do, how will they be able to obey God’s Word? In Hebrew, the word for “listen,” also means “obey.” To truly listen to God’s Word means obedience to his word. It is no wonder some will not listen to the words of Scripture. Their ears are plugged and they like it that way. This is a real disability, but one that Jesus can easily heal. Jesus will open the ears of those who would truly hear, making them also able to speak plainly with others.

Prayer: Open my ears, Lord, so that I may obey your word. 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 2018 Liturgical calendar charts the Scripture readings for each Sunday in Church Year C, 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/a1063.html Tue, 28 Aug 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Ephesians 1:11–12

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles – part 62

We will not stand at this council before an emperor or a secular magistrate, as at Augsburg, where the emperor published a courteous summons, and caused matters to be considerately heard. Now we will stand before the pope and the devil himself, who intends to hear nothing, but merely condemn, murder, and force us into idolatry. Therefore, here we should not kiss his feet, or say, “You are my gracious lord,” but speak as the angel in Zechariah spoke to Satan: “The Lord rebuke you, O Satan!” (Zech 3:2).

Pulling It Together

Luther knew well where these charges came from, praying the Lord’s censure of Satan. This simply means Luther recognized that, though the devil was behind it, the Lord was in control. This is a sound reason for us to have hope and trust in the midst of our fears and anxieties. There are many things in life that would reduce us to trembling and ineffective faithlessness. But God is in control, using even things we wished had never occurred to his own purposes. We usually do not understand how—and we surely wish we did not have to experience it—but we may, nevertheless, go through any ordeal, trusting God with our futures.

Prayer: See me through this day, O Lord, with trust in you and therefore, 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.

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/a1062.html Mon, 27 Aug 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Revelation 22:20–21

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

The Council will have enough to condemn in these four articles, as they cannot and will not concede to us even the least point in one of these articles. We should be certain of this, and stir up the hope of Christ within us: that our Lord has attacked his adversary, and will prevail by both his Spirit and coming. Amen.

Pulling It Together

If we are looking for things to go our way in a public election, in the choice of a church leader, or in an assembly’s vote, we should not get our hopes up. Despite the outcome, our hope remains the same. When things do not turn out the way we would have them, we must remember where our real hope lies. Edward Mote wrote these encouraging words of reminder: “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” Jesus reigns—not councils, assemblies, polls, and courts. All is not finished because of a Church Council’s decisions. The world has not come to an end because a pastoral search did not end with the call you would have made. Would that this world would come to an end over such a thing. “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!”

Prayer: Jesus, Conqueror, be Lord of 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.

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

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a1061.html Fri, 24 Aug 18 00:00:00 -0500

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2 Peter 2:1–3

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

Lastly, it is nothing less than diabolical for the pope to insist on his falsehoods concerning masses, purgatory, the monastic life, human works and services (the essence of the papacy), which are over and against God, while condemning, murdering, and torturing all Christians who do not applaud and honor these abominations above all things. Therefore, just as little as we can worship the devil himself as Lord and God, are we able to endure his apostle, the pope or Antichrist, in his rule as head or lord. For deceit, murder, and the eternal destruction of body and soul are what his papal government really consists of, as I have very clearly shown in many books.

Pulling It Together

There is no teaching more false, no heresy more despicable, than for a representative of the Church to teach that salvation comes in any other manner than by God’s grace alone, through faith in Jesus Christ. Distorting scriptural truth for one’s own pleasure and glory, or for the building of an institution or empire, is the fundamental nature of false gospels and religion. We have been warned to be on the watch for this sort of exploitation in the Church. But how does one spot this treachery? Look for blasphemy.

False teachers promote themselves instead of Jesus. They may use his words but they twist them to their own ends. If they promote any other way of salvation than faith in God’s grace alone, they deny the very one who redeemed them. Beware.

Prayer: Help me to pray, Lord, with my eyes wide open. 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.

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a1060.html Thu, 23 Aug 18 00:00:00 -0500

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John 5:39–40

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

When we distinguish the pope’s teaching from, and compare it to Holy Scripture, it is clear that the pope’s teaching, at best, has been taken from the pagan law of the empire. It deals with political matters, judgments, and rights, as the decretals show. Consequently, it teaches about ceremonies of the churches, vestments, food, staff, and numerous other trivial, theatrical, and comical things. In all these things, nothing at all is mentioned about Christ, faith, and the commandments of God.

Pulling It Together

Sola Christus (Christ alone) was a predominant teaching of the Reformation. It should still be the foremost teaching of the Church today, as Christ is the central teaching of Scripture, and because the Church should always be reforming (Ecclesia semper reformanda est). Reformation happens when Christ is the chief teaching of the church. When matters of performance and concerns over procedure are dominant, they can eventually be considered central to salvation. Sola Christus means that salvation is located in Christ alone, not in mundane civil, or even religious, concerns.

Prayer: Reform your Church, O Lord, through 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 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/a1057.html Wed, 22 Aug 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Luke 22:24–27

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles – part 58

All this is a result of the pope desiring to be called the supreme head of the Christian Church by divine right. Accordingly, he had to make himself equal to and higher than Christ, then proclaimed the head of the Church, then her lord, and finally of the whole world—an earthly god who has even dared to issue commands to the angels in heaven.

Pulling It Together

The priesthood of believers (1 Pet 2:5, 9) leaves no room for airs, for the pretense of one Christian being greater than another. When this happens, the Church will squabble, as any family would in such circumstances, and be of no use to God. So, Jesus demonstrated how the greatest in the kingdom is really the one we would least expect. The greatest is the servant of all. No one has been the servant of all save Jesus, who came to earth to serve by giving his life as ransom (Mark 10:45) in order to create a kingdom of priests before God (Rev 5:9).

Prayer: Give me a towel and a heart to serve, Lord. Amen.

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

In One Word” is a Christmas program that tells the story of the nativity in the fictionalized format of a first century game show. The script is reproducible for use of the children. The program is able to accommodate eight character parts, plus a primary narrator (also able to be divided among multiple students). Simple biblical costuming and props are suggested. The script also includes music lead sheets for the Christmas carols that are a part of the program.

Click HERE to see the introduction and a couple of sample pages.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a1056.html Tue, 21 Aug 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Acts 4:11–12

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

Even the Turks and the Tartars, opposed to Christians as they are, do not do this, but permit those who believe in Christ, and receive physical tribute and obedience from Christians. The pope, however, will not permit this faith, saying that people must obey him in order to be saved. This we are unwilling to do, even if we must die for it in God’s name.

Pulling It Together

Salvation does not come by attending a particular church or belonging to a certain denomination. It does not happen because you follow a particular teacher or church leadership. It does not happen even if you prefer Paul over Peter or John over them both. Salvation comes through one name alone. It is not the name of your pastor, a priest, the pope, the name Lutheran or Roman Catholic or Baptist. The name by which all are saved is Jesus. He is the one who holds us all, and in him, all things hold together, for he is the head of the body (Col 1:17–18).

Prayer: Keep me in your name, 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.

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/a1055.html Mon, 20 Aug 18 00:00:00 -0500

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2 Thessalonians 2:3–4

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles – part 26

This teaching powerfully demonstrates that the pope is the actual Antichrist, who has exalted himself above and set himself against Christ. For the pope will not allow that Christians are saved unless by his power, which nevertheless, amounts to nothing, being neither ordained nor commanded by God. He is actually doing what Paul says is exalting oneself above all that is called god (2 Thes 2:4).

Pulling It Together

We cannot have it both ways. Either Christ is head of his Church, or the pope is. It was claimed that the pope was supreme in the Church. Furthermore, it was declared that this must be believed in order to be saved. None of this is found in Scripture. It is not only outrageous; it must be firmly refuted by all Christians, for this is the very spirit of the one we are warned to expect at the end, and that is already in the world (1 John 2:18).

Prayer: Lord, prepare me for the end by keeping me through faith, now and always. 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/a1054.html Mon, 13 Aug 18 00:00:00 -0500

Index of Scripture Graphics and posts by Scripture reference

Psalm 139:10

I am traveling this week, representing Sola Publishing at the North American Lutheran Church's Lutheran Week in Denver, CO. I will try to post a few photos from the event on our Facebook page

These lessons will resume Monday, August 20, 2018. In the meanwhile, please visit the archives that go back to January 1, 2015. More than 900 Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions are housed there, including The Ecumenical Creeds, The Augsburg Confession, The Defense of the Augsburg Confession, and these first 55 lessons from the Smalcald articles. 

For Christ and His Church,
Mark Ryman 

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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.” Experiencing Life Together, 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/a1053.html Fri, 10 Aug 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Colossians 1:17–18

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

So, the Church cannot be better governed and preserved than by us all living under one head, Christ, and by all the bishops being equal in office (though they are unequal in gifts), and diligently joined together in unity of doctrine, faith, Sacraments, prayer, works of love, and so forth. St. Jerome writes that the priests at Alexandria governed the churches together and in common, as the apostles also did, and afterwards all bishops throughout Christendom, until the pope raised his head over them all.

Pulling It Together

It is one thing to have a leader in the Church. It is another thing altogether to have that leader make claims that supersede Scripture, create new doctrines for the Church, and have power over others whom God himself has called to leadership. The easiest way around this problem is to have all bishops ruling together for the common good. More to the point, may their rule be displayed through faith in Christ our Head, by teaching the Scripture instead of dogma, administering the Sacraments rather than decrees, and by prayer and love for all the people.

Prayer: Hold your Church together, Lord, sending pastors to preach the Word and administer the Sacraments under your headship. Amen.

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a1052.html Thu, 09 Aug 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Matthew 24:10–13

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

Even if he did, Christianity would not be helped. More sects would arise than before. People would have to be subjects to this head, not from God’s command, but out of their own good pleasure. In short order, he would easily be despised and have no followers. Nor would he need to be confined forever to Rome or any other place, but might be wherever and in whatever church God would grant a person fit for the office. Oh, the complicated and confused state of affairs that would be!

Pulling It Together

Things are bound to get worse. That was Jesus’ message too. Yet, within his message was a word of hope and assurance: “the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Is this promise of salvation for the ones who weather the storms caused by sects and disunity, who find a way to get along despite the seemingly purposeful poor leadership and doctrine that can plague any human institution, even the church? That is no hope, unless you are so arrogant as to place your hope in yourself. Jesus was not giving a pep talk. He was not saying anything like Knute Rockne’s, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” He was not saying, “Just hang in there.”

He meant that, the ones who keep their faith in him, despite the troubles that will come, will be saved. Assurance of salvation lies in Christ alone, not in a system of church governance, and certainly not the head of the Church—unless the Head is Christ.

Prayer: Keep the eyes of my heart fixed upon you, Lord. Amen.

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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/a1051.html Wed, 08 Aug 18 00:00:00 -0500

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John 10:27

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

Imagine that the pope would yield this claim: that he is not sovereign by divine right or by God’s command. Suppose instead, that we must have a head to whom all the rest adhere in order that the unity of Christendom may be preserved against sects and heretics, and that if such a head were elected, that it was within the power of those people to change or remove that head. This is what happened at the Council of Constance in reference to the popes, deposing three and electing a fourth. Suppose, I say, that the pope and see at Rome would yield and accept this hypothesis (which, nevertheless, is impossible; for he would have to suffer his entire realm and estate to be overthrown and destroyed, along with all his rights and claims — a thing which, to speak in few words, he cannot do).

Pulling It Together

Oh, that Christ were head of the Church. We have no need of another. Christ has given his churches pastors, who are bishops or overseers of those congregations. Let them plainly and truly teach the Word of God. And let us have Christ as overseer of all bishops and their congregations. This is the best and simplest attempt at unity and purity of doctrine, for it is all that Scripture instructs. Anything else is human invention.

Prayer: Permit me to follow you, Lord, and no other. Amen.

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If you are a pastor or Council member, you know it is close to budget preparation time for the coming year. 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/a1050.html Tue, 07 Aug 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Matthew 23:9

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

The papacy is of no use in the Church because it is not a Christian office. Accordingly, it is necessary for the Church to move on and continue to exist without a pope.

Pulling It Together

In The Lord of the Rings, J. R. R. Tolkien describes 20 rings of power that were forged to rule the inhabitants of Middle Earth. One ring and its wearer was to rule over the other 19 and their wearers. Eventually, the rest of the peoples of Middle Earth would be bound in evil and darkness by this one, supreme power. Oh, the trouble that always happens when one person, having been given imaginary and unchallenged power, rules over the rest. The trouble becomes demonic when that person is allowed divine power such as establishing articles of faith, which may only come from Scripture. The office is not found in Scripture, neither in title nor responsibility.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, keep me steadfast in your Word. Amen.

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Disciples of the Cross is a two-part Bible study addressing the topic of Christian discipleship from a uniquely Lutheran perspective. Part 1: Who We Are is an introduction to the theology of discipleship, laying the biblical groundwork for what it means to be called to live the life of faith as a follower of Jesus. Part 2: What We Do is an introduction to the practice of discipleship, using the Lord's Prayer to take us through key aspects of our life of faith as followers of Jesus.

The study may be used in conjunction with various discipleship programs and studies to highlight themes from the Lutheran tradition that are not often addressed in many discipleship materials. These include: a Theology of the Cross, the centrality of the Word and Sacrament, an understanding of the Means of Grace, and a recognition of the Christian as both "Saint and Sinner."

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a1049.html Mon, 06 Aug 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Revelation 12:1–6

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

All the pope’s bulls and books exist, in which he roars like a lion (as the angel in Rev 10:3 depicts him), that no Christian can be saved unless by obeying him and being subject to him in all things that he wishes, that he says, and that he does. All of this amounts to nothing less than saying: Although you believe in Christ, and have everything in him that is necessary to salvation, yet it is nothing and all in vain unless you regard me as your god, and are subject and obedient to me. Yet it is obvious that the holy Church was without a pope for more than five hundred years at the least, and that the churches of the Greeks and of many other languages have never been under the pope and remain so even to the present day.

Besides, as often noted, the papacy is a human fabrication that is not commanded, and is unnecessary and useless. The holy Christian Church can exist very well without such a head, and certainly would have been better if such a head had not been raised up by the devil.

Pulling It Together

The “great red dragon” of Revelation 12 is depicted as a beast that has situated itself in such a way that it may easily devour the child about to be born into the world. The dragon and its spawn will do everything in their power to prevent the great salvation promised through that child. Despite his efforts, the child was born and ruled his kingdom invincibly, even overcoming death and ascending to the throne of God. Despite the dragon’s continuing efforts to destroy Christ’s Church, like the ancient Hebrews, they will live out their time in a wilderness where God will supply their every need. We have faith in this Papa, and no other.

Prayer: Give me faith in you alone, Lord Jesus. 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/a1048.html Fri, 03 Aug 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Jude 3

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

It follows from this that everything the pope has undertaken and carried out, from such false, mischievous, blasphemous, and arrogant authority have been and still are purely diabolical affairs and transactions (with the exception of such things as pertain to secular government, where God often permits much good to be effected for a people, even through a tyrant and scoundrel) for the ruin of the entire holy Christian Church (as far as it is in his power) and for the destruction of the first and chief article concerning redemption through Jesus Christ.

Pulling It Together

The real issue was, and will always be, in regards to redemption. How is one forgiven and saved? Does this happen because of our good works, religious services, the works of others, declarations of indulgence? Or are we forgiven and saved because we have faith in what Christ did? Do we slowly whittle down our sin debt to zero, even if in a purgatory? Or has Christ done this once and for all on Calvary?

Any doctrine or policy that attributes the work of salvation to anyone other than Christ, is wrong policy and heresy. Any declaration of forgiveness that is contrary to Scripture is arrogant, as it attempts to usurp God’s Word. God help the Church when human policies are authoritative and God’s Word is spurned. So, we must contend for that great truth once delivered to the saints: faith in Christ—not people, not works, not services. Solus Christus!

Prayer: Teach me, Lord, from your holy Word. Amen.

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

• Unit 1   • Unit 2   • Unit 3

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a1047.html Thu, 02 Aug 18 00:00:00 -0500

Index of Scripture Graphics and posts by Scripture reference

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Micah 5:2–5

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

Today, none of the bishops dare to address the pope as brother as once was done. They must call him “most gracious lord,” even if they are kings or emperors. We will not, cannot, must not take this upon our consciences. Let those, however, who would do this, do so without us.

Pulling It Together

This is not a matter of being unwilling to grovel. Rather, we should not address brothers and sisters in the Lord as though they were anyone but family. Moreover, it is the Lord who is our master and ruler, not someone chosen by vote. We stand before God, not by virtue of a religious office but, because of God’s might and his great name. Only in God’s name, his reputation—not a human’s—is our salvation and hope and peace.

Prayer: Help me, O Lord, to be true to your Word and give you alone my obeisance. Amen.

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Where Two or Three Are Gathered is a guide for what Luther referred to as "mutual conversation and consolation" among believers. These are the times we come together one to one, as people of faith, to talk about our lives and struggles, and strengthen one another in prayer with the promise of God's grace and mercy. This devotional conversation guide may be used for a number of purposes and applications where people are looking for some help in structuring conversations on the practical and spiritual dimensions of Christian discipleship.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a1046.html Wed, 01 Aug 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Psalm 118:19–24

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

Concerning the Papacy

The pope is not, according to divine law or the Word of God, the head of all Christendom, as this position only belongs to the one whose name is Jesus Christ. The pope is only the bishop and pastor of the churches in Rome and those that voluntarily or through a human institution (that is, a secular power) have attached themselves to him. They are not under a lord, but with him as fellow Christians and comrades, as the ancient councils and the age of Cyprian establish.

Pulling It Together

There is only one who is the head of the Church (Col 1:18). Jesus Christ must be given this honor, for the Father has conferred that authority and power on him alone (Matt 28:18). Furthermore, he has earned the title and the honor (Phil 2:8–9). Let us commit it to him alone. Otherwise, humans begin to believe they have the power to make up new rules and rites in the Church, things that have no basis in Scripture, or are even opposed to the clear teaching of God’s Word. This too, removes the honor from Christ alone. When his Word is dishonored, the Chief Cornerstone is rejected.

Prayer: Open to me, Lord Jesus, the gates of your righteousness. Amen.

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If you are a pastor or Council member, you know it is close to budget preparation time for 2019. 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/a1045.html Tue, 31 Jul 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Mark 10:46–52 

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

If monasteries and convents will not serve this purpose, it is better that they be abandoned or demolished, rather than continue with their blasphemous services invented by people, claiming to be something better than the ordinary Christian life and the offices and callings ordained by God. All this is also contrary to the first, chief article concerning redemption made through Jesus Christ. Besides this, like all other human inventions, these have not been commanded, and are needless and useless. Furthermore, they cause dangerous and vain efforts, such services as the prophets call aven, that is, deception and evil behavior.

Pulling It Together

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for well-meaning people to be caught up in religious practices, thinking they are doing right, while acting unrighteously. Add to this that they are deceiving themselves. Yet, at the base of all these actions is generally the notion that there is some benefit to come from these so-called services for God. The prosperity gospel, which is no gospel at all, promises good fortune if you sow a seed in the collection plate. Living the monastic life falsely promises favor from God, and the hope of becoming a saint through communal service.

All the while, it is ordinary Christians who are already saints, living the lives to which God has called them. They are not saints because they live these lives and perform acts of devotion to God. They are saints because God has made them holy by the single virtue of his Son. It is faith in Jesus that makes us well (ESV, NASB, RSV), heals us (NIV), makes us whole (KJV, ASV), or saves us (σώσω, Mark 10:52). This is where holiness comes from—not from works, lest anyone should boast (Eph 2:9) and fall into sin.

Life, crazy as every day may be, lived in Christ Jesus makes one holy, not a life lived in the ordered world of a cloister.

Prayer: I take heart at your word, Lord, and will follow you with the help of your Spirit. Amen.

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Disciples of the Cross is a two-part Bible study addressing the topic of Christian discipleship from a uniquely Lutheran perspective. Part 2: What We Do is an introduction to the practice of discipleship, using the Lord's Prayer to take us through key aspects of our life of faith as followers of Jesus.

Click HERE to download a sample session.

The study may be used in conjunction with various discipleship programs and studies to highlight themes from the Lutheran tradition that are not often addressed in many discipleship materials. These include: a Theology of the Cross, the centrality of the Word and Sacrament, an understanding of the Means of Grace, and a recognition of the Christian as both "Saint and Sinner."

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a1044.html Mon, 30 Jul 18 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Kings 19:1–8

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

Concerning Chapters and Cloisters

Chapters and cloisters, that in the past, were founded with the good intention of educating learned men and virtuous women, should be returned to this use, so that we may have pastors, preachers, and other ministers for the churches, others necessary for secular government of cities and countries, and well-educated young women for mothers, housekeepers, etc.

Pulling It Together

Monasteries and convents had become, by Luther’s time, places to earn one’s salvation. In other words, the sacrifice of living such a life was a merit of one’s virtue, imagined as deserving salvation. Luther viewed this, not only as distracting from the truth that we are saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ but, as unpractical. The various vocations of life needed well-trained people, from those making proper homes, including the schooling of children within those households, to civil servants and ministers of the Church.

Luther was taking on a dragon here. Cloistered orders were part of the fabric of society. What Luther proposed amounted to ripping that cloth from top to bottom. Sixteen years earlier, the Edict of Worms decreed that Luther be arrested and punished, probably by death as a heretic. Yet, he continued to champion the gospel by preaching, teaching, and writing about salvation by faith in Christ alone. God’s grace is the only food by which we are sustained for the journey to eternal life.

Prayer: Sustain me, Lord, by your 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.

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/a1043.html Sat, 28 Jul 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Psalm 145:10–13

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

In short, we cannot support the Mass and anything that proceeds from it or is attached to it. We must condemn these things so that the holy Sacrament is purely and certainly retained, according to the institution of Christ, administered and received through faith.

Pulling It Together

Habemus ad Dominum. This is part of the Preface prayer, just before we sing “Holy, Holy, Holy” in the liturgy. In English, we sing, “We lift them to the Lord.” We lift our hearts to the Lord, not to saints or angels or any other created thing. This adoration and invocation of saints is a byproduct of the larger corruption of the Mass that we have been discussing. The Lord’s Supper is the Lord’s, and must be retained as he instituted, so that we may receive him through faith. Be careful that you lift a thankful heart to the Lord, and no other.

Prayer: I give you thanks, O Lord, for the powerful effect of your body and blood. 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/a1042.html Fri, 27 Jul 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Mark 6:53–56

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

As a Christian and saint upon earth, you may pray for me, not only for one, but for many needs. I am not obliged to adore and pray to you because you do, nor celebrate festivals, fast, make oblations, hold masses for your honor, and put my faith in you for my salvation. I can honor, love, and thank you in Christ in other ways. If such idolatrous honor were withdrawn from angels and departed saints, the remaining honor would cause no harm and be quickly forgotten. When spiritual and physical reward and assistance are no longer expected, the saints will not be troubled, either in their graves or in heaven. For not many will remember, or esteem, or honor them out of pure love unless there is a reward.

Pulling It Together

Jesus’ disciples had just seen him walking on the sea, did not recognize him, and were terrified. Yet the people of Gennesaret “immediately recognized him” and were overjoyed at his presence. As though his disciples were not even present, the people hurried to bring their sick to Jesus. Why? Because they knew that wherever Jesus went, he would heal their sick. Jesus loves to heal people with faith in him, for such faith makes them well (Mark 5:34; Luke 17:19).

Like the townspeople, we are expected to bring out the sick and present them before Jesus (James 5:14–16). We may confidently pray to the Lord for one another, since his Word urges us to do so. However, Scripture does not have us pray to saints or expect anything from them. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17). Pray to him.

Prayer: Give me faith to believe, Lord God, that you hear my prayers—and answer. Amen.

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Disciples of the Cross is a two-part Bible study addressing the topic of Christian discipleship from a uniquely Lutheran perspective. Part 1: Who We Are is an introduction to the theology of discipleship, laying the biblical groundwork for what it means to be called to live the life of faith as a follower of Jesus. 

The study may be used in conjunction with various discipleship programs and studies to highlight themes from the Lutheran tradition that are not often addressed in many discipleship materials. These include: a Theology of the Cross, the centrality of the Word and Sacrament, an understanding of the Means of Grace, and a recognition of the Christian as both "Saint and Sinner."

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a1041.html Thu, 26 Jul 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 8:33–37

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

Although the angels of heaven pray for us (as Christ himself also does), as well as the saints on earth, and perhaps in heaven too, it does not then follow that we should invoke and adore angels and saints, holding fasts and festivals, celebrating Mass in their honor, making offerings, and establishing churches, altars, divine worship, serving them in still more ways, while regarding them as patrons and intercessors in times of need, and ascribing to them all manner of help, assigning to each one a particular form of assistance, as the papists teach and do. This is idolatry. Such honor belongs to God alone.

Pulling It Together

Only Jesus Christ is our mediator. If he intercedes for us (and he does), we need no other. He requires no assistance; he is up to the task. So, give him the honor of calling upon him in your time of need. New religious items are not required; Jesus alone is necessary. Indeed, these fasts and services and offerings not only do not help, they are a hindrance. If one depends on anything or anyone other than Jesus, they have done two things wrongly. First, they have called upon ones who cannot help. Second, they have dishonored Christ and spurned his love. He has promised to hear our prayers (1 John 5:14), so pray to him.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, for your listening love. 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/a1040.html Wed, 25 Jul 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Philippians 3:8–11

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

Concerning the Invocation of Saints

The invocation of saints is also one of the abuses of the Antichrist. It conflicts with the chief article, and subverts the knowledge of Christ. It is neither commanded nor counseled, and there is no example of it in Scripture. Even if prayer to saints was a precious thing—which it is not—we have everything a thousandfold better in Christ.

Pulling It Together

Lutherans commend honoring the saints by remembering them, and emulating godly lives. We disapprove of praying to saints and angels. Scripture does not in any way teach us to do so. Furthermore, it takes the honor from Christ. He alone is our mediator. Praying to saints removes proper focus. Do not go to Saint Nick or Saint Anne; go to Jesus. He is the one to be on speaking terms with and to know in ever deeper ways. Nothing is worth more than knowing Jesus through faith.

Prayer: Lord, I want to know you and the power of your resurrection. 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 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/a1039.html Tue, 24 Jul 18 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Timothy 2:5–6

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

Sixth are the precious indulgences granted (but only for money) both to the living and the dead, by which the miserable Judas, or pope, has sold the merit of Christ, together with the superfluous merits of the saints and of the entire Church, etc. All these things are not to be endured. They not only lack the authority of the Word of God, are unnecessary, and not commanded, but are in opposition to the chief article. For the merit of Christ is not obtained by our works or pennies, but by grace through faith. It is not offered through the power of the Pope, but without money and merit through the preaching of God’s Word.

Pulling It Together

God determines the payment for sin. The Church does not do so, nor does a pope. We know this because this is what the Bible teaches. God’s Word does not teach us to trust in the goodness of either religion or religious people. We are taught to trust in the merits of Jesus Christ. This is reliable instruction because the Word of God tells us that people, even so-called saints, are not good (Rom 3:10), and that Christ is so especially good that he is sufficient to cover the sins of the world (Heb 10:14; 1 John 2:2). Christ alone is our indulgence, freely given (Eph 1:7). This is taught in Scripture, even if not in commentaries and canons. This is written by the hand of the prophets and apostles, even if not not by popes and professors.

Prayer: Empower me through Christ and his salvation to do what you have created me to do. Amen.

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The Sola Online Worship Resource (SOWeR) includes music for use in worship, drawing upon the Reclaim Hymnal, original texts set to music in the public domain, as well as 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/a1038.html Mon, 23 Jul 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 5:8–11

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

Fifth are relics, in which there is found so much dishonesty and nonsense about the bones of dogs and horses, that even the devil has laughed at such deceit. Even if there were some good in them, they should have been condemned long ago. This is especially so since they have no basis in the Word of God. Being neither commanded nor counseled, they are entirely unnecessary and useless things. But the worst is that these relics are said to produce indulgence and the forgiveness of sins, that like the Mass, etc., they are a good work and service of God.

Pulling It Together

There is a painting that hangs above the altar in St. Peter and Paul Church in Weimar, Germany. In that painting, Luther is pointing to an open Bible in his hand. No doubt, the painter, Lucas Cranach the elder, and his son who finished the painting, meant to remind us to look to the Word of God. We must rely on what is written, not what is fabricated. Further, the painting makes clear that what Luther is pointing to is Scripture, that tells us how we are justified with God. The blood of Jesus Christ is central in the painting. Everything points to the cross—even the Word of God. We must remember that nothing else washes away sin but the blood of the Lamb of God.

Prayer: Help me remember, Lord Jesus, that you alone justify me 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.

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/a1037.html Sat, 21 Jul 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Acts 8:20–22

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

The fourth are fraternities. Monasteries, chapters, and vicars have contracted and conveyed (by legal contract and sale) all Masses, good works, and so forth, both for the living and the dead. This is not only sheer human rubbish, without the Word of God, entirely unnecessary, and not commanded, but also contrary to the chief article, “Concerning Redemption.” Therefore it is in no way to be tolerated.

Pulling It Together

The Mass had become property, something to be bought and sold. Huge sums were brought into the churches through the sale of the forgiveness of sins. We should continue to teach against this in our churches, since it is all too easy to slip back into this disgraceful practice. It is easy because we innately believe the old saying: nothing in this world is free. So, we naturally think we must pay for anything of value, and that anything free is not worth having. Nonetheless, there is one thing of immense value that is entirely free. God freely gives eternal life to all who have faith in Christ (Rom 6:23). Nothing may be paid for this free gift—not a deed, nor a rite, nor indeed, a payment for someone else to perform them.

Prayer: Thank you, God, for your abounding 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.

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/a1036.html Fri, 20 Jul 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Revelation 14:6–7

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

Pilgrimages is the third. Masses, forgiveness of sins, and the grace of God were sought in this too. The Mass controlled everything. Now it is certain that such pilgrimages have not been commanded by the Word of God, nor are they necessary, since we can have these things in a better way, thereby eliminating these pilgrimages without any sin and danger. So, why do they desert their own parishes, the Word of God, wives, children, etc.—which are essential and commanded—and run after these unnecessary, uncertain, pernicious will-o’-the-wisps of the devil? They do this because the devil was driving the pope, causing him to praise and establish these practices, so the people would turn from Christ to their own works, and worst of all, became idolaters. In any case, it is unnecessary, not commanded, senseless, uncertain, and harmful. So, here too, there can be no yielding or surrender. Let this be preached and then, see what becomes of these pilgrimages.

Pulling It Together

We are all on pilgrimage—to appear before God in judgment. That Day is approaching, whether or not we feel its nearness. Every day, we are miles closer in our journeys. We are not drawing near to relics, cathedrals, or shrines, hoping that we will find forgiveness and peace in these things. Indeed, we do not need to (nor should we) arrive at the gates of heaven to receive forgiveness. The gospel is eternal: not only unchanging, but present with us. Forgiveness of sin and eternal life are given to us now, in Christ alone. They are not guaranteed by a place or a thing; the gospel promises us these gifts here and now, so that we may live lives of fearful hope within the vocations of marriage, work, and other necessary and blessed duties.

Prayer: Lord, give me faith to fear, love, and trust you both now and 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.

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/a1035.html Thu, 19 Jul 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 10:14–17

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

Secondly, as consequence of their doctrine, evil spirits performed devilry by appearing as the souls of the departed, and with unspeakable lies and tricks, demanded masses, vigils, pilgrimages, and other alms. We had to accept all these things as articles of faith, and live accordingly. The pope confirmed these things, the Mass too, and all other abominations. Here, too, there must be no compromise or surrender.

Pulling It Together

Again, what has this to do with Scripture? What does the Word of God say about the matter? Someone says that a spirit told them to do something. How convenient. They may as well say, “God told me you’re supposed to do this.” They should ignore the voices in their heads and supposed spirits, and start listening to the Spirit of God. The only objective way to hear God is in his Word, not in one’s imagination.

Prayer: Speak to me, O Word 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.

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/a1034.html Wed, 18 Jul 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Galatians 1:8 

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

It will not do to make articles of faith from the works or words of the holy Fathers. If we did, what they ate, what they wore, the kinds of houses they lived in, etc., would have to become articles of faith, as was done with relics. The rule is: the Word of God shall establish articles of faith—no one else, not even an angel.

Pulling It Together

We have a rule to live by: sola Scriptura. This does not mean, as some think, that we speak only where Scripture speaks and are silent on all other matters. It means that the writings of the Old and New Testament are “the only rule and norm according to which all doctrines and teachers alike must be appraised and judged” (Formula of Concord). It goes to the “what is written.” Is a teaching in line with what the Word of God teaches? Yes? Then you may live by such a teaching. No? It may be discarded without guilt or regret.

But what if my bishop told me to follow this teaching? What is written? What if my conscience tells me to do it? What does the Scripture teach? What if my pastor and church Council say I have to do it to be a member of the congregation? Does the Word teach otherwise? But I heard the voice of an angel telling me to believe thus and so. What do you hear in the Scripture alone? Does the Word of God agree with the voice of the angel, your conscience, Council, pastor, bishop?

Prayer: Help me live my life in accord with your Word, 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 an 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.

Part 1 Participant
Part 1 Leader
​Part 2 Participant
Part 2 Leader

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a1033.html Tue, 17 Jul 18 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Corinthians 11:23–26

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

Our papists, however, cite such human opinions so that people will believe in their horrible, blasphemous, and cursed traffic in masses for souls in purgatory, etc. But they will never substantiate these things with Augustine. Now, when they have abolished their traffic in masses for purgatory, of which Augustine never dreamed, we will then discuss with them whether statements Augustine made without support of Scripture are to be admitted, and whether the dead are to be remembered at the Eucharist.

Pulling It Together

See where human reason takes you without the Word of God? One invention demands another until you have a system of traditions that cannot be supported from the Scripture. God’s Word tells us that he forgives the sin of those who have faith in his Son. Further, God is just to do so, because of Jesus’ perfect sacrifice for the world. Now, enter human reason. Surely, Christ must be sacrificed again and again because I sin again and again. Now that the death of Christ has been so trivialized, it opens the door to the idea of our own works paying the price of sin. Well, what if we have not done enough good to counter the bad? Does one go to heaven or hell? Scripture is clear; human reason, not so much. So, purgatory is invented. Here one may continue to pay the price until all one’s sins have been purged. Now, the sacrifice of the Mass is ready to offer extra help to those languishing in purgatory. Special masses are held in remembrance of loved ones.

None of this is supported in Scripture. Christ died once for everyone, and this grace is apprehended through faith alone. Without faith in Christ, one will continue to live apart from God in an eternity called hell. With faith in his Christ, one will live in eternal fellowship with God in heaven. We are kept in his grace through the body and blood of Jesus in the Sacrament. And, indeed, a remembrance is to be held every time the Sacrament is celebrated. “Do this in remembrance of me.”

Prayer: Lord, make my eating and drinking be a proclamation of your death to those I love. 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/a1032.html Mon, 16 Jul 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Revelation 22:18–19 

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

At this point, the papists quote Augustine and some of the Fathers who are said to have written about purgatory. They think that we do not understand for what purpose and to what end they wrote as they did. St. Augustine does not write that there is a purgatory, nor does he cite Scripture that would have him believe there is, but leaves it in doubt whether there is one, and mentions that his mother asked to be remembered at the altar or Sacrament. Now, all this is nothing but the devotion of certain individuals. It does not establish an article of faith, which is the prerogative of God alone.

Pulling It Together

What is written? One must look to the Scripture, then to the Church Fathers, and only listen the Fathers when they have heard the Word. We might be satisfied with the notion of a purgatory if two matters could be settled. First, if the idea of a purgatory were established in Scripture, we could be persuaded to investigate this fictitious place further. For example, the word “trinity,” is not found anywhere in Scripture, yet the Trinity is found throughout (eg: Matt 28:19). We are not looking for the word “purgatory;” just show where this place is taught in Scripture. Second, if it were written about in Scripture, we could be enticed to consider further if faith were not countermanded by such a place. Works are required for release from purgatory. Mere faith in Christ would keep one out, if it existed.

Prayer: O Lord, give me faith from your Spirit working through your Word alone. 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/a1031.html Sat, 14 Jul 18 00:00:00 -0500

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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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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a1030.html Fri, 13 Jul 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Revelation 5:11–12 

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

This article about the Mass will be the whole business of the Council. If it were possible for them to concede to us all the other articles, they would not concede this one. At Augsburg, Campegius said that he would be torn to pieces before he would give up the Mass. By the help of God, I too, would rather be reduced to ashes than allow a hireling of the Mass, be he good or bad, to be made equal to or exalted over Christ Jesus, my Lord and Savior. So, we are and remain eternally divided and opposed to one another. They know well enough that when the Mass falls, the papacy lies in ruins. Before they would let that happen, they would put us all to death if they could.

Pulling It Together

Millions of angels bow before Christ, who is worthy to be exalted over all creation. This is heard in Revelation’s septave of complete praise: power, wealth, wisdom, might, honor, glory, and blessing. No one else in all creation is worthy of such honor, yet it is afforded to priests. As long as one group believes Christ’s work is incomplete and therefore, further sacrifices for sin must be repeatedly offered, while another believes Christ’s single sacrifice perfects forever those who are being sanctified (Heb 10:14), there will be division in the Church. Such division is not a bad thing; it is necessary so that apostolic truth may be understood (1 Cor 11:19). Meanwhile, like the author of Hebrews and Luther and the Reformers with him, we must insist that priestly sacrifices, “offerings for sin” (Heb 10:18), are no longer necessary, and even reprehensible.

Prayer: Help me trust in your sacrifice, Jesus, my High Priest. 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/a1029.html Thu, 12 Jul 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Matthew 18:20

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

Some rationalize that administering the Sacrament, or Communion, to themselves is an act of personal devotion. This is disingenuous, for if they sincerely wish to commune, the surest and best way is in the administration of the Sacrament according to Christ’s institution. Communing oneself is a human notion, uncertain, unnecessary, and even prohibited. They do not know what they are doing, since they are following a false, human opinion and invention without the authority of the Word of God. It is not right (even if the matter were otherwise correct) for one to use the common Sacrament belonging to the Church, for private devotion, trifling with it outside the Word of God and the communion of his Church.

Pulling It Together

We confess in the Third Article of the Creed that we believe in the communion of saints. Personal Communion would say otherwise. Luther’s instruction on the Third Article is helpful. God “calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and preserves it in unity with Jesus Christ in the one true faith” (Luther’s Small Catechism). The Sacraments are always given and received in the community of Christians: the holy, catholic Church. Christ is present in this communion of saints where we freely receive his grace in the forgiveness of sins and the promises of resurrection and eternal life. Let those who are earnest in faith, come to the altar with the rest of the Church.

Prayer: Thank you, Jesus, for being present with 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.

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/a1028.html Wed, 11 Jul 18 00:00:00 -0500

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John 1:29

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles – part 30

Fifthly, the Mass is and can be nothing else than a human work (even when performed by wicked scoundrels, as Church law and all books declare). By it, one attempts to reconcile himself and others to God, and to obtain and deserve the forgiveness of sins and grace (for this is how the Mass is observed when it is observed at the very best; otherwise what purpose would it serve?). This is the very reason it should and must be condemned and rejected, as it directly conflicts with the chief article, which states that it is the Lamb of God, the Son of God, who bears away our sins—not either a wicked or a godly hireling of the Mass by what he does.

Pulling It Together

The mission of Jesus was to take upon himself the sin of the whole world (those who have ever lived, as well as those who ever will). The righteous, sinless Son of God bore the sin of all humanity, so that those who believe in him, may justly be considered righteous before God. He is our righteousness (1 Cor 1:30). He has done this for us; no one else does, nor can they. Any other religious form must be rejected. Holy Communion celebrates what Christ has done, not what someone else does. Christ alone was able to make this sacrifice, and he has done so. It is finished (John 19:30).

Prayer: Lamb of God, give me confidence in what you have done for the world, and even for me. 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/a1027.html Tue, 10 Jul 18 00:00:00 -0500

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John 14:6

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

Fourthly, since such innumerable and unspeakable abuses have resulted throughout the world because of the buying and selling of Masses, the Mass should justly be renounced, if for no other purpose than to prevent abuses, even if it had something advantageous and good. The more we should reject it, and escape forever these horrible abuses, when it is altogether unnecessary, useless, and dangerous, and when we may obtain everything by a more necessary, profitable, and certain way without the Mass.

Pulling It Together

The principal abuse of the Mass itself, was that it took the glory away from Christ. People are justified through faith in Christ alone, without the merit of additional sacrifices and works. So to say that they are justified, forgiven, and saved through any other sacrifice, even disguised in the robes of Christ himself, robs him of the honor, and us of what is promised.

Within the whole system of the Mass, was the outworking and the evidence of how wrong the Mass was, and why it should be abandoned. Because the Mass was a doing of a thing, a mere ritual performed, the logical result was the buying and selling of Masses. Without faith being necessary—faith in Christ’s one sacrifice, carried out a sufficient once for a whole world—it becomes necessary to perform the sacrifice over and over for the multitudes, even for the dead, whether they have faith or not. Furthermore, because there is no faith to grasp the extent of God’s mercy, the sacrifice must also be performed each time one has sinned again (since the last sacrifice). The sacrifice of the Mass was not the receiving of forgiveness and the reassurance of the certainty of salvation as instituted by Christ; it was the temporary purchase of these things, as dictated by humans.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, for being the better and only way. Amen.

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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/a1026.html Mon, 09 Jul 18 00:00:00 -0500

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John 19:28–30 

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles – part 28

Let it be publicly preached that the Mass is a human deception, and may be neglected without sin, that no one will be condemned for not observing it. One may be saved in a better way without the Mass. I predict that the Mass will then collapse by itself, not only among the rude, common people, but also among all pious, Christian, reasonable, God-fearing hearts—particularly when they hear that the Mass is a dangerous thing, fabricated and invented without the will and Word of God.

Pulling It Together

Justification is the thing around which all else circles. Look to any doctrine or practice of a church and observe how a person is justified to God. You will soon enough see whether that teaching or ritual is heresy or not. Does the praxis teach the apostolic faith, or has it shifted to human inventions, to heresy? In this case of the Mass, Luther is concerned about just this: justification. If the Mass centers around a fiction—indeed, a lie—then, is it truly the Lord’s Supper, a holy communion? If it is not, then it may be avoided without concern. There is a better way; that way being the Lord’s Supper, wherein one believes on Jesus Christ through faith and freely receives God’s grace and the forgiveness of sin. But if one has come to a sacrifice that frees us from our sins, then justification is not free at all. The Roman Mass was an activity that was said to merit the forgiveness of sins. Holy Communion is something remarkably other, in which we freely receive forgiveness from him whose merit affords it for us. “It is finished” (John 19:30). We can add nothing to Christ’s “finished.”

Prayer: Gracious God, thank you for your free gifts through 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.

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 actively involved in creation in giving life and breath. Throughout 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/a1025.html Sat, 07 Jul 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Mark 14:22–24

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles – part 27

Thirdly, the Sacrament may be received in a better and more blessed way: according to the institution of Christ. So, why do they drive the world to woe and misery on account of a fictitious, unnecessary matter, which may be easily obtained in another and more blessed way?

Pulling It Together

Christ’s words stand on their own; we do not need—nor should we—add anything to them in order to make them effective. The reason for this, is that it is his word that makes them effective. Consider creation. All things that have been made were spoken into existence by the Word (John 1:3). We contributed nothing to make creation what it is; God’s word alone was required. It is the same with Holy Communion. We add no works of our own and we add nothing to Christ’s words. We simply believe his word through faith, receiving his true body and blood in the bread and wine as a means of grace.

Prayer: Thank you, Living Word, for dying for 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.

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/a1024.html Fri, 06 Jul 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Hebrews 6:1–6

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles – part 26

Secondly, this is an unnecessary thing, which may be omitted without sin and danger.

Pulling It Together

While it may be “omitted without sin and danger,” it may not be done without danger of sin. If people believe that Holy Communion is a work, a sacrifice done by a priest, and a service performed by themselves to receive God’s grace and forgiveness, then they are in real danger. If they believe that God’s free grace is something that must be merited, then they reject Christ; they refuse his mercy and grace. They spurn Christ’s crucifixion, his death, and his resurrection, if they insist this sacrifice of the Mass must be performed again and again (Heb 9:28). This crucifying of Christ makes mockery of him, all for the sake of being religious. The irony is, this false religion affords no certain hope of real forgiveness or eternal life. Its adherents are always concerned whether they have done enough to compensate for their sins. All the while, Jesus has done everything.

Prayer: Restore to me, Lord Jesus, the joy of your salvation. 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/a1023.html Thu, 05 Jul 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Isaiah 29:13–14

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

If there were reasonable papists, we could speak reasonably and in a friendly way, asking why they so rigidly uphold the Mass. For they are strictly a human invention, not having been commanded by God. We may discard every human invention, as Christ declares: “In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men” (Matt 15:9).

Pulling It Together

Luther speaks here of the money-making Roman Mass. We have dealt earlier with masses paid for in order to absolve the dead, or others not present. Such things are religious and may make one feel faithful, yet they are not commanded by God. Indeed, in the case of this so-called Mass, it is evil because it does not require faith, since the dead, those not present, and even people who did not want a Mass paid for and said for them, are neither confessing their sins nor having faith in Christ. Ironically, it is through the pure Lord’s Supper that God does something wonderful, freely giving his grace to those with faith in Christ.

Prayer: Help me live by faith, Lord, not by religious works. 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/a1022.html Wed, 04 Jul 18 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Peter 1:18–19

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles – part 24

Part II, Article II: Of the Mass

The Mass must be considered as the greatest and most horrible abomination in the papacy, because it directly and powerfully conflicts with this chief article. It has been the principal and most specious of papal idolatries, above and before all others, for it is held that this sacrifice or work of the Mass (though it be offered by a wicked scoundrel) frees men from sins, both in this life and also in purgatory. Yet, only the Lamb of God can and must do this, as has been stated above. Nothing is to be surrendered or conceded in this article, because the first article does not allow it.

Pulling It Together

Jesus Christ paid the price for our sin. The blood of the perfect Lamb of God was the redemption price, liberating us from not only sin, but death and the devil to boot. This is not an act in a play, a drama to be reenacted by priests. For Christ laid down his life one time, a sufficient quantity for the life of a world (Heb 9:28).

Prayer: Thank you for my freedom, 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? 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/a1021.html Tue, 03 Jul 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Acts 4:12

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

Nothing in this article can be yielded or surrendered, though heaven and earth, or any other transient thing should pass away. As Peter says, “there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). “With his wounds we are healed” (Isa 53:5). On this article depends everything we teach and practice in opposition to the pope, the devil, and the world. Therefore, we must be certain about this doctrine, and not doubt. Otherwise all is lost, and the pope, the devil, and all others gain the victory over us.

Pulling It Together

Faith. Faith in Christ. Faith in Christ alone. This must not be yielded, or else anything may be believed. A system of law, or works, or any human tradition could be said to lead to salvation. But what is written? We have life in his name. Eternal life, salvation, righteousness, and justification all come through faith in Christ alone. Everything depends upon this doctrine. Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6); there is no other name by which we are saved.

Prayer: Give me the assurance of your salvation, Lord, and the peace that comes only from your 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.

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/a1020.html Mon, 02 Jul 18 00:00:00 -0500

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1 John 1:7–9

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles – part 22

Now, because this can not be acquired or apprehended by any work, law, or merit, but must be believed, it is clear and certain that only this faith justifies us. St. Paul says, “For we hold that a man is justified by faith apart from works of law” (Rom 3:28). A few verses earlier, Paul states that, God alone “is righteous and that he justifies him who has faith in Jesus” (Rom 3:26). 

Pulling It Together

Divine justice owes humanity nothing. We do not deserve to be justified to God because of anything we do. Indeed, our sin and sinfulness deserve exactly the opposite. This is not a system of quid pro quo, as though one good deed makes up for one bad, or that a promise to do better, along with a little community service, gets one off the hook. We are on sin’s hook from the get-go. The only way we are gotten off that hook is through faith in God’s justice, his system of merit. We confess our sins and have faith that God will do as he promised: forgive us of our sins and purge us of all unrighteousness. He is not merely faithful to do so but also just, not because we have earned it but, for Christ’s sake. 

Prayer: Help me to walk in the light—not any dim ray from my own deeds, but in the full, glorious light of Christ alone. 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/a1018.html Tue, 19 Jun 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 3:23–25a

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

3. Likewise, “all have sinned” and “are justified” without merit “by his grace,” “through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,” “in his blood” (Rom 3:23-25a).

Pulling It Together

The justification of sinners is received as God’s gift, not because of religious or moral activity. Justification is a legal term, appropriated by the Apostle Paul to express God’s great gift. It means that a person is vindicated of a crime. So, let us imagine what that looks like. You are served an arrest warrant, brought to the courthouse, and appear before the judge. The judge reads the charge: you have committed crimes against the state—and there is substantial evidence to prove the veracity of the charge. You are indeed this criminal, and the penalty is death. As your life flashes before your eyes, you try to make sense of the words you now hear coming from the judge’s mouth. You have been forgiven your crime. No fee need be paid—not even court costs. No jail time or community service will be required. It is only the good grace of the judge, freely offered to you, that now makes you a just person. Now, the judge is not being impulsive or unjust. Your punishment has been paid by another; the court is satisfied.

This is what happens through the grace of God by the blood of Christ. You are guilty as charged but the Judge absolves you because Christ has satisfied the righteous requirement of the law. You have been justified “by faith” in the Son of God. Christ earned your salvation. Not you. Christ alone.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for the great gift of your redeeming love. Amen.

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Hymns and Spiritual Songs from The North is a compilation 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/a1017.html Mon, 18 Jun 18 00:00:00 -0500

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John 1:29 

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

2. And he alone is “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29); and God has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isa 53:6).

Pulling It Together

In this great, narrative sentence, there is one subject and a countless number of direct objects. Let us begin with the objects of the subject. Sinners are the direct objects in the story of God. Since the beginning, sin had been met with sacrifice to appease God’s holiness. So much blood has been spilled for a world of sinners, “for all have sinned” (Rom 3:23). As God is the subject of creation, acting on chaos to bring order, he is also the subject of recreation, bringing forgiveness and justification where there had been judgment and alienation. 

Sinners could not take away the sin of the world; the direct object cannot act upon itself. But God laid the sin of us all upon himself, bearing the iniquity of a world of lost sinners, the objects of his love.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for your great and saving love. Amen.

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Sola Publishing’s Alphabet Soup 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. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a1016.html Sat, 16 Jun 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 4:20–25

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles – part 19

The Second Part

The second part deals with the articles that relate to the office and work of Jesus Christ, to our redemption.

The first and chief article:

1. That Jesus Christ, our God and Lord, died for our sins, and was raised again for our justification (Rom 4:25).

Pulling It Together

Faith in God is essential. Without faith, we are like ships tossed about on the waves (James 1:6). But if Christ was not raised from the dead, our faith is futile. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are essential. He died for our sins, but if he stayed dead, we remain dead in our sins. His resurrection proves his power to save, not only himself but, us. His resurrection shows that he is “able to do what he had promised”: raise us up from the death of sin and thereby, justify us with God.

Prayer: God, give me the faith of Abraham. 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/a1015.html Fri, 15 Jun 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 14:19 

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

There is no contention or dispute about these articles, since we confess them on both sides. Therefore, it is not necessary to deal any further with them now.

Pulling It Together

Luther wanted unity in the Church, but not if it meant sacrificing the very truths that upheld that Church. Three memorable, Latin slogans that came out of the Lutheran reform movement can help us determine when we are parting from Christian truth: sola gratia, sola fide, and sola Scriptura. We believe that we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, that is based on the Scripture alone. Since it is impossible to earn God’s forgiveness, his freely given grace furnishes confident hope for sinners. This grace is freely given for Christ’s sake, not because we have contributed in any way to our salvation. God’s grace is only apprehended by faith in Jesus Christ. The basis for these beliefs is the Word of God—only the Word of God. We must be careful to add nothing to the Scripture, such as church traditions, councils, or even modern critical interpretative tools, for they can be, and have been, very wrong. It is the Scripture alone that brings us back to God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

Prayer: Help me, God, to pursue peace that is in accord with Christ Jesus. Amen.

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

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/a1014.html Thu, 14 Jun 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Matthew 12:40

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles – part 17

IV. That the Son became man in this manner: he was conceived by the Holy Spirit, without the cooperation of man, and was born of the pure, holy, and virgin Mary. Afterwards, he suffered, died, was buried, descended to hell, rose from the dead, ascended to heaven, sits at the right hand of God, will come to judge the living and the dead, etc., as the Apostles’ Creed, as well as that of St. Athanasius, and the Catechism in common use for teaching children.

Pulling It Together

The force of Luther’s writing up to this point is that the German reformers and the church in Rome held to the same basic, credal beliefs. As we shall see, how those beliefs were put into practice, or what they were interpreted to mean, would make a great difference. Nonetheless, these are important points of doctrine, and needed to be stated, even if Rome agreed.

Let us address just one point, however, because it bothers some folks. Jesus descended into hell. It should be a great comfort to everyone that Jesus descended into hell, but some just cannot stomach the idea of Jesus being in hell. Take a moment and consider that hell could not contain him. Jesus had to overcome sin and death—and that means conquering hell and its devil. It is good news that hell could not keep him because that means it cannot keep you who believe in him who rose from the place of the dead. Because Jesus conquered hell, that place may not have you. Just as the great fish could not suffer Jonah, Jesus spent only a few days in the belly of the earth—long enough to rescue the faithful who had awaited that day for so long.

Prayer: Help me appreciate all you endured, Lord, for a sinner like me. Amen.

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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/a1013.html Wed, 13 Jun 18 00:00:00 -0500

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John 1:1, 14 

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles

III. That only the Son became man, not the Father nor the Holy Spirit.

Pulling It Together

When we confess that we “believe in God,” we are saying that we believe in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Only one of these persons “was made man.” We call this the “incarnation,” or the “in the flesh” of God. God was made flesh; “by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary.” As the Nicene Creed further states, God became man “for us and for our salvation.” God came down from heaven to enter this world as mortal flesh so that sinful humanity might be redeemed. No sinful person could deliver the human race from sin. God needed to descend from heaven to conquer sin and death as a being who is fully God while fully human. This too, is a divine mystery that may only be apprehended by faith.

Prayer: Help me believe the truth of the mystery that is you, Lord. Amen.

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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/a1012.html Tue, 12 Jun 18 00:00:00 -0500

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John 15:26

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

II. That the Father was begotten of no one; the Son is begotten of the Father; the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son.

Pulling It Together

With the Nicene Creed, Luther confessed that God the Father is eternal, that the Son is eternally begotten of the Father, and that the Holy Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son. Though the clause “and Son,” added to the Nicene Creed, caused such great debate in the Church that it led to a division into Eastern and Western churches just after the first millennium of Christianity, Scripture clearly teaches that the Holy Spirit is sent from both the Father and the Son, and that as God (Acts 5:3–4), the Spirit proceeds from them in eternity.

Prayer: Blessed Trinity whom the Church calls God, help me bear witness to your truth. 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/a1011.html Mon, 11 Jun 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 1:20 (ESV)

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

The First Part

The first part of the sublime articles deal with the divine majesty, specifically:

I. That Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, three distinct persons in one divine essence and nature, are one God, who has created heaven and earth.

Pulling It Together

Luther begins with the beginning: that God is that One God, the Only God, who has created everything. This beginning includes the great mystery of the Christian faith, that the One God, while being truly single, not only in essence, but by nature, is at the same time three distinct persons, the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. This is what the Scripture teaches us; this is what Luther confesses. Just as the universe begins, so begins good theology: with God.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, help me confess what the Bible teaches. Amen.

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a1010.html Sat, 09 Jun 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Hebrews 9:28 

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

O Lord Jesus Christ, convene your own Council, delivering your servants by your glorious advent! The Pope and his adherents are ruined, for they will have none of you. Help us then, who are poor and needy, who sigh to you and earnestly implore you according to the grace which you have given us through your Holy Spirit, who lives and reigns with you and the Father, blessed forever. Amen.

Pulling It Together

Oh! the dawn of that glorious Day! When Jesus returns, what need will there be of Councils? Every knee will bow before him (Isa 45:23; Rom 14:11; Phil 2:10) and his word will be enough for all. There will be no shrewd neglect of God’s word and will then. Save us from this world, Lord. Save us from ourselves. Come soon (Rev 22:20) and save us.

Prayer: I eagerly await your return, Lord Jesus. 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/a1009.html Fri, 08 Jun 18 00:00:00 -0500

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John 14:15, 21 

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

I have written only a few articles since, even without these, we have so many commands of God to observe in the Church, the state, and the family that we can never fulfill them. What is the use, what gain comes of many decrees and statutes made in a Council, especially when the chief matters, those commanded by God, are neither regarded nor observed? Do we actually think God is obligated to reward our guile while we tread his solemn commandments under foot? Our sins weigh upon us and keep God from being gracious to us, as we do not repent, and even want to defend our every abomination.

Pulling It Together

We busy ourselves with a kind of mundane yet exuberant piety, the machinations of religion, so that we might deceive ourselves (and others, I suppose) into thinking we are holy and righteous. God is not deceived (Gal 6:7). Neither, frankly, are we. So, we make more noise, more pretense, more outward show, hoping to drown out the reality that God’s will and commandments are ignored and not observed. Only when we are quiet before the Lord, do we know that he is God (Psa 46:10) and we are sinners.

Prayer: Help me, Lord God, to trust in your word instead of my works. 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/a1008.html Thu, 07 Jun 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Matthew 23:24–25

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

If the Council were to consider the chief matters that are contrary to God in the spiritual and worldly estates, they would have their hands so full that the child’s play and absurdity of long gowns, large tonsures, broad cinctures, bishops’ or cardinals’ hats or maces, and similar foolishness would soon be forgotten. If we would first act on God’s command and rule in the spiritual and secular estates, we would find time enough to reform food, clothing, tonsures, and surplices. But if we wish to swallow such camels and strain at gnats, allowing beams to stand in judgment of motes, we may as well be satisfied with the Council.

Pulling It Together

All those things that Luther denounced were outward displays. They ought to be fixed, but dealing with those outer matters neglects the more important things, the inner matters that end up improving the outer. It is that form of micromanagement that has others so busy fixing the myriad little things in their lives that they have no time or energy to see the large things that are wrong. Obsession with petty, outward pietism obscures the deep, spiritual matters that concern God.

Prayer: O Lord God, give me ears that hear your will, and a spirit that seeks to obey. 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/a1007.html Wed, 06 Jun 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Ephesians 4:22-23 

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

Besides such necessary concerns in the church, there are also innumerable improvements needed in the political estate. There are disagreements between the princes and the states. Lending and greed have burst in like a flood, and have become legalized. Wantonness, lewdness, extravagant clothing, gluttony, gambling, conceited display, all kinds of bad habits and wickedness, insubordination of subjects, of domestics and laborers, extortion in every trade and among the peasants have increased so much that they could not be corrected by ten Councils and twenty Diets.

Pulling It Together

The more things change, the more they stay the same. The old adage rings as true today as it seems it did in Luther’s day. His complaints could easily be applied to our own society. Committee meetings will not fix it all (sometimes it seems to make matters worse). City Councils care little for such matters, nor do the highest assemblies in the land. Church conferences will not fix it all. So, let us be content with the Word. A little every day, received by each of us, will go the furthest in correcting what is wrong with both church and culture. The change we desire all around us begins within us.

Prayer: Let it begin with me, Lord. Amen.

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a1006.html Tue, 05 Jun 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Matthew 9:35–38 

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

Returning to the subject, I sincerely desire to see a truly Christian Council so that many matters and persons might be helped. Not that we need it, for by God’s grace, our churches are now so enlightened and equipped with the pure Word and right use of the Sacraments, with an understanding of the various callings and of right works, that we ask for no Council for our sake. We have no hopes or expectations from a Council. But we see so many vacant and desolate parishes throughout the Church’s districts that it breaks our heart. Yet neither the bishops nor canons care how these poor people live or die. Though Christ has died for them, they are not permitted to hear him speak with them as the true shepherd with his sheep. This makes me shudder and fear that at some time he may send a council of angels upon Germany, utterly destroying us like Sodom and Gomorrah, because we so deliberately mock him with the pretense of a Council.

Pulling It Together

It was after Jesus saw the desolate villages, the “sheep without a shepherd,” that he called the twelve disciples. God equips his Church with a variety of vocations, and is concerned that one of these callings, the office of Word and Sacrament, opens his Word to the people. How else will the people be taught? How else will they have spiritual leadership from actual shepherds instead of those who extort them? The apostolic word is that we are to be devoted to public reading of Scripture, preaching and teaching from those texts (1 Tim 4:13). How can this happen when the sheep have no shepherd?

Prayer: Lord, send workers into your harvest, shepherds for every flock. 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/a1005.html Mon, 04 Jun 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Luke 13:3

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

I must tell a story. There was a doctor here in Wittenberg, sent from France, who said before us publicly that his king was beyond convinced that there is no church among us, no government, no married life, that all live promiscuously like cattle, and each one does as he pleases. Imagine now; how will they face us on that day before the judgment seat of Christ, who by their writings have instilled such gross lies into the king and other countries, as if their lies were pure truth? Christ, the Lord and judge of us all, well knows that they lie and have lied. I know that they in turn will hear his sentence. May God convert to repentance those who may yet repent. Suffering and regret will be the eternal condition of the rest.

Pulling It Together

The Spirit of God often uses new situations to change our perspective, to bring us to repentance. We are all sinners, so we are all in need of daily and constant repentance. Just as Ecclesia semper reformanda est—the Church must always be reformed—we always stand in need of repentance. Until that great Day, we must always be turning in the waters of our baptism, remembering Christ, facing him again, knowing that he forgives us. This is the hope of sinners: Christ forgives, so repent!

Prayer: Lead me, Lord, in a life of daily repentance. 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/a1004.html Sat, 02 Jun 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Ephesians 4:11–16

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

I often think of the good Gerson, who doubted whether good writing should be published. If it is not published, many souls are neglected who might have been saved. If it is published, the devil is there with innumerable wicked and malignant tongues to poison and corrupt everything, so that fruit is prevented anyway. Yet what they gain by doing so is unmistakable. For while they have so shamefully slandered us and used their lies to keep the people, God has constantly advanced his work, and has been making their following ever smaller and ours greater, and by their lies has caused and still causes them to be brought to shame.

Pulling It Together

God uses his Word and Sacraments to grow our faith, and increase and unify the Church. Nevertheless, his Word and Sacraments are distributed by the work of his Spirit through people. If God has called you to the work of an evangelist, spread his Word. If he has given you the gift of teaching, build up the Church. God works through the ministry of Word and Sacrament to make each and every one of his people grow up in faith, so that they may work together in his kingdom. It is human nature to be concerned if our words or works will be rejected, but the results are God’s business.

Prayer: Help me, Holy Spirit, do what you have called me to do. 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/a1003.html Fri, 01 Jun 18 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Corinthians 5:3–5

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

I imagine I should reply to everything while I am still living. But how can I alone stop all the mouths of the devil—especially those (as they are all poisoned) who will not listen or notice what we write? Their sole labor is shamefully perverting and corrupting our every word and letter. I will allow the devil to answer them—or in the end, God’s wrath—as they deserve.

Pulling It Together

Luther is still speaking primarily of the fanatics, the schwärmerei, those who used Luther’s words to their own ends. They twisted his teachings, bringing division to the church instead of reform. How could Luther correct people who were devoted to spinning the truth? Denying them worship and fellowship, putting them out of the community of faith, is a last resort. Luther’s only recourse may have been having nothing to do with them himself. Perhaps in this way, those whose faith were disasters might come under the conviction of the Law and come to repentance and restoration. Being put out of the church or at the arm-length of Luther, they, at very least, stood less chance of bringing the faith of others to shipwreck.

Prayer: O Lord, help me appreciate the joy of your people. 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 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

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. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a1002.html Thu, 31 May 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Galatians 2:4–5

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

What can I say? Why should I complain? I am still living, writing, preaching, and lecturing daily. Yet there are such spiteful people—not only among our opponents, but also false fellows who profess to be on our side—who dare to cite my writings and doctrine directly against me. Although they know very well that I teach otherwise, they let me look on and listen. They adorn their venom with my labor, misleading the poor people in my name. Imagine what will happen when I am dead!

Pulling It Together

Luther taught that we are only able to know God as God makes himself known to us: through his Word and through the Sacraments. There was no room for special revelation, or for earning our way to God through good deeds or forms of worship that were outside of God’s revelation. Yet, there were some among the Protestants who professed such things. Luther called them schwärmerei, relating them to swarms of annoying and harmful insects. These fanatics claimed God had given them personal knowledge or experience. But for Luther, the Word alone was the way to objectively know God’s truth.

Prayer: Keep me, O Lord, always in the truth of the gospel. 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/a1001.html Wed, 30 May 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Isaiah 1:18

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

But the court in Rome is dreadfully afraid of a free Christian Council, and shamefully shuns the light. Even those who are on its side, have been discouraged of hoping it will ever permit a free Council, much less that it will hold one. They are deeply offended and greatly troubled because of this, since they realize that the Pope would rather see all Christendom perish and all souls damned rather than suffer himself or his adherents be reformed even a little, which would limit his tyranny. Nevertheless, I have determined to publish these articles in plain print, so that, if I die before a Council is convened (as I fully expect since the rogues who flee the light and shun the day take such wretched pains to delay and prevent the Council), those who live after me may have my testimony and confession—in addition to the confession I previously issued. This will show how I have lived so far, and by God’s grace, will continue to live.

Pulling It Together

There is only one thing worse than not being permitted to meet with those who disagree with you. Meeting with them, only to hear them speak in a manner that is unreasonable, is even worse. Perhaps, Luther had things a bit better than might have been if he had met with a Council. How well had such meetings gone for him in the past? He was driven into exile at the Wartburg, but God used him there to produce German Scriptures for the people. This time, while awaiting a possible Council of the Church, he would prepare and publish—Council or not—a printed Confession, and hope for reform. If the powers at Rome would not reason with the reformer, he was determined to put what remained of his life to good and reasonable service for the Lord (Rom 12:1, KJV).

Prayer: Teach me your way, Lord, and reform my life. Amen.

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

• Unit 1   • Unit 2   • Unit 3

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a1000.html Tue, 29 May 18 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Peter 3:14–15

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

Accordingly, I have compiled these articles and presented them to our delegates. They have accepted them, and unanimously received them as our confession. It has been resolved that they be publicly delivered as the Confession of our Faith, if the Pope and his adherents should ever be so bold as to seriously and in good faith, without lying and cheating, to hold a truly free Christian Council.

Pulling It Together

When you are brought before a group you should not have anxiety about what you should testify, since the Spirit will teach you in the moment the words that need to be spoken (Luke 12:11-12). But if you have the time to get prepared, study and write for the benefit of anyone called to make the good confession (Matt 16:16; 1 Tim 6:12). This is precisely what Luther did for his contemporaries—and for all who would make the good confession that we are saved through faith in Christ alone. Beyond that confession, there is no hope.

Prayer: Give me peace, Lord, to honor you in my heart and with my mouth. Amen.

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

• Unit 1   • Unit 2   • Unit 3

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a999.html Mon, 28 May 18 00:00:00 -0500

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2 Timothy 2:23–26

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

Pope Paul III called a council to assemble last year at Mantua during Whitsuntide, but later transferred it from Mantua, so that it is not yet known where he will or can hold the council. We had to expect that we would be summoned to the council or be condemned without being summoned. So, I was directed to compose and compile articles of our doctrine in case of deliberation, showing what and how much we would be both willing and able to yield to the papists, and in what points we intended to persevere and abide to the end.

Pulling It Together

Up to this point in the Lutheran Confessions, we have largely had the writings of Philip Melancthon, professor of Greek at the University of Wittenberg, and friend of and collaborator with Martin Luther in the Protestant Reformation. Other reformers and Saxon notables reviewed his documents and assigned their signatures as approval. Nonetheless, the Elector John Frederick of Saxony eventually called upon Martin Luther to put into his own words what he considered the chief articles and concerns of the Reformation. Things seemed to be coming to a head with the church in Rome, and the Elector wanted to be certain where the reformer stood on each point of doctrine, so that there could be a unified front at any possible convening of a council. Perhaps the church could yet come to its senses and be reformed, if only the truth of Scripture were permitted to rule the day.

Prayer: Give me proper repentance, Lord, that I might hear your truth and do your will. 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/a997.html Mon, 21 May 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Psalm 119:105

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Ecclesiastical Power 

Those who originally condemned clear truth, and are now persecuting it with greatest cruelty, will give an account for the schism that has taken place. In any case, are there no scandals among our opponents? What evil there is in the profiteering, blasphemous profanation of the Mass! What a great disgrace is celibacy! But let us forget comparisons. For the time being, this is our reply to their Confutation. We leave it to the judgment of all godly people as to whether our opponents are correct in boasting that they have actually refuted our Confession with the Scriptures.

Pulling It Together

We cannot reason our way to God. Nor can traditions light the way to divine truth. Human institutions are unable to direct us to God. We stumble after forgiveness, justification, sanctification, eternal life, and similar things as though walking through a dense forest on a starless, moonless night. We cannot find our way; we need Gods’ help. The manner he has has chosen to show us the way is by his Word. If you find yourself falling back on some church tradition, cast it aside and listen to the Word. If you catch yourself thinking, “But the church teaches me to think this way,” then hear the word of Christ. You cannot be sanctified except by truth, and that truth is the Word of God (John 17:17). Open the Book and it will light your way.

Prayer: Lord, put within me a deep love of your Word. 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/a996.html Fri, 18 May 18 00:00:00 -0500

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John 8:31–33

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Ecclesiastical Power 

They present an objection based on the public offenses and commotions that have arisen under pretext of our doctrine. We will briefly reply. If all the offenses are combined, still the one article concerning the forgiveness of sins, that we freely obtain the forgiveness of sins for Christ’s sake through faith, brings so much good as to hide all evils. In the beginning, this gained Luther not only our favor, but also the favor of many who are now opposing us. “The former favor ceases, and mortals are forgetful,” says Pindar. Nevertheless, we do not desire to abandon truth essential to the Church, nor can we agree with our opponents who condemn it. “We must obey God rather than men.”

Pulling It Together

What is able to set you free: human traditions or the Word of God? Abide in one and lack assurance and peace. Abide in the other and know “perfect peace” (Isa 26:3). Keeping traditions will have you forever doubting that you have ever done enough to be forgiven and go to heaven. If you want assurance of the forgiveness of your sins, and would enjoy the fellowship of God in heaven, then keep your mind, trust, and faith in his Christ, who has fulfilled all rules and regulations (Matt 5:17). Jesus Christ is the end of the law. He is the righteousness of all who believe in him (Rom 10:14). Believe in his righteousness instead of your own, and be freed.

Prayer: Keep my mind stayed on you, Lord, and thereby, keep me in your perfect 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 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/a995.html Thu, 17 May 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Acts 5:29–31

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Ecclesiastical Power 

We make the same reply to Matthew 23:3. “Practice and observe whatever they tell you,” is clearly not a universal command to observe all things since elsewhere, Scripture tells us to “obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). Therefore, when they teach wicked things, they are not to be heard. But these are wicked things: that human traditions are worship of God, that they are necessary, and that they merit the forgiveness of sins and eternal life.

Pulling It Together

The old saying, “Do as I say but not as I do,” is applicable to pharisaical instruction. Jesus is teaching that we ought to observe right teaching of the Scripture, though not necessarily imitate the actions of those teaching. However, if someone’s teaching is contrary to God’s Word and command, that person’s teaching is to be censured. In particular, if anyone’s teaching declares that a human regulation or ritual must be done before God will forgive, that doctrine should be rejected outright. It is easy to determine what is right doctrine in these matters, by applying the rule of faith. Does a doctrine require you to add anything to faith in God before you may be forgiven or know the assurance of eternal life? Does a teaching demand you do something before your faith in Christ is acceptable? If a doctrine of forgiveness and salvation calls for anything to be added to faith, do not observe such a wicked teaching. If you do, you are obeying people instead of God.

Prayer: Lord, give me a spirit that hears your holy Word. Amen.

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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/a994.html Wed, 16 May 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Galatians 1:8–9

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Ecclesiastical Power 

They also quote Hebrews 13:17: “Obey your leaders and submit to them.” This passage requires obedience to the Gospel. For it does not establish an authority of the bishops apart from the Gospel. Nor should bishops create traditions contrary to the Gospel, or interpret their traditions contrary to the Gospel. When they do this, obedience is prohibited, according to Galatians 1:9: “If any one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed.”

Pulling It Together

Christians are called to lives of submission. We are to honor our parents (Exod 20:12), deferring to their authority. We are to obey earthly authorities (Rom 13:1-7), as well as church leadership (Heb 13:17). We are also and chiefly commanded to submit to God, from whom these other commands come. It dishonors God if we submit to earthly and ecclesial authority when those authorities are operating in opposition to God. If earthly government orders you to do something against God’s word, you must honor God, even if it means disobedience to civil law. Just so, if church leadership insists you do something adverse to the gospel, obey the gospel instead of the ecclesial power. One authority is higher than the other, as the other receives its authority from the one. Both civil and church leadership get their authority from God, so when they act contrary to God, their authority becomes loathsome.

If any ruler, civil or ecclesial, would have you follow a way different than the gospel, that ruler should be considered by you as accursed. The word “accursed” (Greek, anathema) in Galatians 1:9 means it is dedicated to destruction by divine wrath. One would do well to not associate with, let alone follow and obey, the damned.

Prayer: Strengthen me, Lord, and give me the courage to obey your Word. 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/a993.html Tue, 15 May 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Luke 10:16

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Ecclesiastical Power 

This is the simple manner of interpreting traditions: we should not understand them as necessary acts of worship, yet observe them properly for the sake of avoiding offenses. Many great and learned men in the Church understood traditions this way. We do not see what can be said to the contrary. For it is certain that the expression, “He who hears you hears me” (Luke 10:16), does not refer to traditions, but is primarily directed against traditions. For it is not a mandatum cum libera (a bestowal of unlimited authority), as they call it, but it is a cautio de rato (a caution concerning something prescribed), namely, concerning a special command, that is, a testimony given to the apostles so that we believe them with respect to another’s Word, instead of to their own. For Christ would assure us, as is necessary, that when people deliver the Word it is efficacious, and that no other word from heaven need be sought.

“He who hears you hears me” cannot be applied to traditions. Christ requires them to teach in a manner such that he is heard, for he says, “He...hears me.” Therefore he wishes his own voice, his own Word, to be heard—not human traditions. Yet, these stupid men take a saying that is especially favors our confession, it containing the most important consolation and teaching, and misuse it for the most trifling matters: the distinctions of food, clothing, and so forth.

Pulling It Together

The Lutheran reformers wanted to proclaim a clear word of Scripture. Human traditions that promised God’s favor were summarily dismissed in favor of God’s gracious favor being freely given through faith, for Christ’s sake. Therefore, to imagine that one, because of position or job title, may create some new command or doctrine that is to be received as if it were “gospel,” is outrageous. Just because a pope, bishop, priest, or pastor says it, does not mean it is the word of Christ. However, if one speaks the word of Christ, then surely, Christ is heard as if he himself stood before that person speaking.

Prayer: Speak, Lord, through your Word, and I will hear. 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/a992.html Mon, 14 May 18 00:00:00 -0500

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2 Corinthians 13:12–14

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Ecclesiastical Power 

The use of such ordinances, therefore, should be left free, provided that offenses are avoided, and that they not be judged as necessary acts of worship. The apostles themselves prescribed many things that have been changed with time, since they did not hand them down in such a way that they were not to be changed. For they did not disagree with their own writings, in which they worked hard so the Church would not be oppressed by the opinion that human rites are necessary acts of worship.

Pulling It 

It is amusing to consider the things that each Christian group focuses on, as though they were God’s perpetual commandments. Do this particular thing or else you are not really a Christian—or at least not a very “good” one. Let us imagine that one of today’s verses, verse twelve, was the dogmatic focus of a church. The exhortation to “greet one another with a holy kiss” is also found in three other New Testament letters of Paul (Rom 16:16; 1 Cor 16:20; 1 Thes 5:26). He told the churches four times to greet one another this way. But if the “holy kiss,” or even a hug or a handshake, were regarded as an ongoing and necessary act of worship, this would become a burden to the churches that has nothing to do with faith in God.

Prayer:On that Day, Jesus, joy of heaven, greet me with the eternal kiss of grace. Amen.

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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/a991.html Sat, 12 May 18 00:00:00 -0500

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James 1:25

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Ecclesiastical Power 

Still, we have added in the Confession the extent to which they may legitimately make traditions, namely, not as necessary services, but so that there may be order in the Church, for the sake of peace. These traditions should not ensnare consciences, as though ordering necessary acts of worship. This is what Paul teaches when he says, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Gal 5:1).

Pulling It Together

What right does anyone have to insist that we do certain things in order to be forgiven? Christ has set us free; so we are truly free (John 8:36). God does not tell us that certain sins cannot be forgiven or that our quantity of sins is too heavy, too grave to forgive. Nor does he tell us to get our acts together before he will forgive. So, we must be careful to not allow anyone to deceive us, taking our consciences captive to human traditions. The Gospel, that perfect, liberating law of God, declares that God freely forgives us for Christ’s sake. Believe and be at peace with God.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord God, for love that is conditional on 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.

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/a990.html Fri, 11 May 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Acts 6:1–4

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Ecclesiastical Power 

We have stated in the Confession what power the Gospel gives to bishops. Those who are presently bishops do not perform their duties according to the Gospel. They may be bishops according to canonical polity, which we do not criticize, but we are writing about a bishop according to the Gospel. We are content with the ancient division of power, into power of the order and power of jurisdiction. Therefore bishops have the power of the order: the ministry of the Word and Sacraments; they also have the power of jurisdiction: the authority to excommunicate those guilty of public transgressions, and to absolve them if they are converted and request absolution. But their power is not to be tyrannical, that is, without a fixed law, nor regal, that is, above law. They have a fixed command and a fixed Word of God, according to which they ought to teach, and according to which they ought to exercise their jurisdiction. Therefore, even though they should have some jurisdiction, it does not follow that they are able to institute new acts of worship. Such services are not under their power. They have the Word: they have the command concerning how far they should exercise their jurisdiction, namely, when anyone does something contrary to that Word which they have received from Christ.

Pulling It Together

Let the power of bishops—indeed, the power of the whole Church—reside in the Word alone, sola Scriptura. If the Spirit cannot make his case through the Word alone, is a bishop able to make new laws that are effective where God is not? For example, in Holy Communion, we have the promise of God in his Word that attend the Sacrament. This is enough. If people believe the Word attached to the bread and wine, God’s grace is there. No one needs to concoct penitential acts or other forms of worship or devotion to supplement faith. Faith alone, sola fide, is sufficient. Bishops—overseers, elders, pastors—should devote themselves to the ministry of the Word and prayer, so that the Word of God will increase and people may come to faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 6:7).

Prayer: Help me follow you through your Word alone, 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.

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/a989.html Thu, 10 May 18 00:00:00 -0500

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1 John 2:24–27

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Ecclesiastical Power 

However, since the Gospel clearly testifies that traditions should not be imposed upon the Church to merit the forgiveness of sins or to be services that God shall approve as righteousness, or to burden consciences by calling it sin if these traditions are excluded, the adversaries will never be able to show that the bishops have the power to institute such services.

Pulling It Together

What is it that you heard from the beginning other than that you are saved by believing on Jesus Christ? That you must or must not do certain things in order to be forgiven and saved came later when people tried to foist their religious brand upon you. Do not be led astray; remain in the Word, and the Holy Spirit will teach you all things necessary for both salvation and the working out of his salvation through keeping the faith and doing those good works for which you were created (Phil 2:12; Eph 2:10). Yet, do not trust in these works, nor in performing human traditions. Trust instead, in the promise given you at your baptism.

Prayer: Keep me in your Word, Lord, and protect me from those who would have me trust in anything other. 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/a988.html Wed, 09 May 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Colossians 2:20–23

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Ecclesiastical Power 

Earlier, they also condemned Article XV, in which we declared that traditions do not merit the forgiveness of sins. They say here that traditions contribute to eternal life. Do they merit the forgiveness of sins? Are they services of worship that God approves as righteousness? Do they vivify hearts? Paul says to the Colossians that traditions gain nothing with respect to eternal righteousness and eternal life since food, drink, clothing and the like are things that perish with the using (Col 2:20–23). But eternal life is formed in the heart by eternal things: by the Word of God and the Holy Spirit. Therefore, let our opponents explain how traditions are conducive to eternal life.

Pulling It Together

Eternal life begins during this earthly life. It starts within us by faith. First, we are forgiven and made righteous before God through faith in his Son. These things which make our hearts eternally alive happen because God does them. No effort of our own can ever make us live forever. That is an absurd notion, and is obvious enough. Only the eternal Spirit can give such life to our spirits. What we eat and drink, or abstain from, has nothing to do with eternity; food and drink are things of this life. What we wear, or do not wear, also have nothing to do with salvation—unless we are speaking of being clothed with Christ (Gal 3:27). Special services of worship performed for the benefit of forgiving the sins of others who are not even present, or who do not even believe, may have a religious appearance. Nevertheless, without faith in Christ no one is saved.

Prayer: Clothe me, Lord Jesus, with your righteousness. 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/a987.html Tue, 08 May 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Acts 15:6–11

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Ecclesiastical Power 

So, the bishops have no right to make traditions, claiming they merit the forgiveness of sins apart from the Gospel, nor services of worship that assert to please God as righteousness. Bishops have no right to burden consciences with these human traditions as though it would be a sin to ignore them. All this is taught by that one passage in Acts, where the apostles say that hearts are purified by faith (Acts 15:9), then forbid imposing a yoke, demonstrating how great a danger this is, emphasizing the sin of those who burden the Church. “Why are you testing God?” they ask (Acts 15:10). Our opponents, who violently defend their traditions and godless opinions, are not terrified in the least by this thunderbolt.

Pulling It Together

The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Rom 1:16). Nothing needs to be added to the Gospel in order to make it effective for the forgiveness of sins, justification, or eternal life. No traditions need to be added, nor are special acts of devotion or services of worship necessary for hearts to be purified. The Word of God is the means that makes us clean before God (John 15:3). In other words, God makes us clean—not the things we do or the human traditions that we maintain. We cannot keep them, even if they could keep us pure. But God can keep his word, and he has done so through Jesus Christ. Let us add nothing to Christ alone.

Prayer: O Living Word of God, help me trust in you. Amen.

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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/a986.html Fri, 04 May 18 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Corinthians 8:8

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Ecclesiastical Power 

We must retain this doctrine in the Church: that we receive the forgiveness of sins freely through faith for Christ’s sake. We must also retain this teaching: that human traditions are useless acts of worship, and therefore neither sin nor righteousness depends upon food, drink, clothing, and similar things. Christ leaves us free to use such things when he says that it is “not what goes into the mouth [that] defiles a man, but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man” (Matt 15:11). Paul says, “For the kingdom of God is not food and drink” (Rom 14:17).

Pulling It Together

What should shine forth from the Church above all other things? Buildings? Traditions? Fund raisers? The pastor? Denominational programs? The youth group? Style of worship? Number of people? Or even peculiar doctrines that set one church apart from another? No, and forever no! The clearest thing, that teaching and clarion cry of every Christian congregation, should be the Gospel. The Gospel, that we are forgiven and saved for eternal life with God through faith in Jesus Christ, is what truly sets us apart as Christian people.

Prayer: Help your Church focus, Lord, upon the good news of Jesus Christ. 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/a985.html Thu, 03 May 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Galatians 1:6–9

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Ecclesiastical Power 

Even though we have embraced various topics in this article of the Confessions, our opponents make no reply, except that bishops have the power of rule and forceful correction, in order to direct their subjects to the goal of eternal blessedness, that the power to rule requires the power to judge, define, distinguish, and institute those things which are serviceable or conducive to the aforementioned end. These are the words of the Confutation, in which our opponents instruct us that the bishops have the authority to create laws useful for obtaining eternal life. That is the point of controversy.

Pulling It Together

No pastor, bishop, priest, or pope has the right to determine rules for apprehending eternal life when those rules have no authority from the Gospel. What we preach and teach must not be of our own creation. It should not be a “different gospel” (Gal 1:6). We are saved by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ (Eph 2:8–9). Human rules and traditions cannot save us from sin and death. In too many cases, human institutions move us away from the clear call of Scripture, distorting the Gospel (Gal 1:7). The Gospel of Christ declares that God saves us through the agency of the cross. The one who preaches a contrary gospel is cursed.

Prayer: Help me to listen to and hear the clear voice of your Word, 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/a984.html Wed, 02 May 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Hebrews 4:12–13

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Ecclesiastical Power 

The people urgently desire teaching on the most important and difficult controversies so that they may have something certain to follow. Rather than freeing minds tortured with doubt, they call to arms. In obvious matters they present decrees written in blood, threatening people with horrible punishments unless they act with clear defiance to God’s command. Here, on the other hand, you should see the tears of the poor, and hear the pitiable complaints of so many good people. God undoubtedly considers and regards them all, and one day it will be to him you will submit an account of your stewardship.

Pulling It Together

The Reformation slogan, sola Scriptura, should be kept close in our thoughts. Much doubt and anxiety may be avoided, if God’s Word is our rule of faith and practice. Do our faith or practices depend upon tradition alone, while being in opposition to Scripture? Then we ought to answer, “Sola Scriptura!” This, not only clears up matters of practice, it being God’s Word, will bring peace to troubled consciences. If people are anxious because they cannot keep certain traditions that are taught to be essential to salvation, sola Scriptura! The Word alone! Let the Scriptures teach us, and human traditions will be found out.

Prayer: God, keep me steadfast in your Word. 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/a983.html Tue, 01 May 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Matthew 5:20

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Ecclesiastical Power 

On the other hand, if only our opponents would hear the complaints of the churches and godly minds. Our opponents courageously guard their own dignities and wealth while neglecting the condition of the churches. They take no care for the churches to be rightly taught, and the Sacraments duly administered. They admit all sorts to the priesthood without discrimination. Then they impose intolerable burdens on them, as though they were delighted with the destruction of their fellowmen. They demand that their traditions be observed far more accurately than the Gospel.

Pulling It Together

If our righteousness must exceed that of religious experts, then what are we to do? We are to understand what righteousness actually is. Righteousness is not the fruit of good deeds or even correct doctrine, dogma, or traditions. Righteousness is being properly related to Jesus. If Jesus considers us his friends (John 15:15), we are righteous indeed. We cannot earn righteousness; it is given to us. We are made right with God because of being rightly related to Jesus through faith. This is the good news of peace and reconciliation that sinners—especially self-righteous sinners—need to hear.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, for calling believers your friends. Amen.

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Holy Families! is an initiative of the North American Lutheran Church provided through a generous grant from the Thrivent Foundation, in honor of the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation (1517 AD to 2017 AD). Produced by Sola Publishing, this special initiative includes a number of Lutheran discipleship resources for families and congregations, including Daily Family Prayer Resources, Parent Pages, Faith Formation downloadable pages for children/families, Educational Videos, Parents' Video/Discussion Series on Faith Formation, and the 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/a982.html Mon, 30 Apr 18 00:00:00 -0500

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John 3:16

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Ecclesiastical Power – part 1

Here our opponents carry on about the privileges and immunities of the ecclesiastical estate. They add the conclusion: “Everything presented in the present article against the immunity of the churches and priests is false.” This is sheer defamation, since we have disputed other things in this article. Besides, we have frequently testified that we do not find fault with political ordinances, nor the gifts and privileges granted by princes.

Pulling It Together

The Defense of the Augsburg Confession concludes with a word on the power of the church. It insists that the church was corrupt and that this was harmful to the people in the church. Of particular interest will be the power of its bishops to determine how to obtain eternal life. So, we ought to be reminded, before we go much further, precisely how one is forgiven, justified, and saved. Those who believe on the Son whom the Father sent will have eternal life. This is not a special favor from the church, nor the result of acts of devotion. Salvation is apprehended only by faith in the Father’s great love, love that sent the Savior.

Prayer: Keep me focused on your love, Father. Amen.

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Sola has added 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/a981.html Sat, 28 Apr 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Isaiah 64:6

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows 

We have recounted some of our reasons, and in passing, have confuted the objections of our opponents. We have collected all of this, not only for our opponents, but even more so that godly minds would know why they ought to disapprove of hypocrisy and false monastic worship, all of which Christ overturns with this one saying: “In vain they do worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matt 15:9). Therefore the vows themselves, along with the observances of foods, lessons, chants, vestments, sandals, and cinctures, are useless services in God’s sight. Let every godly mind know with certainty that these views are simply pharisaic and condemned: that these observances merit the forgiveness of sins, that because of them we are accounted righteous, that we obtain eternal life because of them, instead of through mercy for Christ’s sake.

Holy men who observed this kind of life must have learned to reject any confidence in such observances, understanding that they received the forgiveness of sins freely, that for Christ’s sake through mercy they would obtain eternal life—not because of these services—because God only approves of services instituted by his Word, and that are used in faith.

Pulling It Together

May we all come to this understanding: that we despair of any way of life we may have imagined would save us. May we consider all our works as filthy garments, especially if they are performed as some hypocritical worship or service to God. Let us cast aside these false vestments, and hold fast to the promise of grace that we have in Christ alone through faith.

Prayer: Lord, I ask you again: help me to trust in you—only you. Amen.

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Reading and Discussion of Luther's Catechisms is a more challenging study series based on assigned readings from the Book of Concord and related Scripture texts. Each study is comprised of eight sessions, plus an optional introductory session, 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/a980.html Fri, 27 Apr 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Matthew 5:33–37

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows 

If our opponents wish to misapply this passage to vows, they must also misapply the prohibition that no “widow be enrolled if she is not less than sixty years of age” (1 Tim 5:9). Vows made before this age would therefore be invalid. But the Church did not yet know of these vows. Paul does not condemn widows because they marry (he commands the younger widows to marry [1 Tim 5:14]) but because they became wanton while being supported at the public expense and thus, abandoned faith. He clearly does not call this “first pledge” (1 Tim 5:12) a monastic vow, but a Christian oath. He understands faith in this sense in the same chapter: “If any one does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his own family, he has disowned the faith” (1 Tim 5:8). Paul speaks of faith differently than the sophists. He does not ascribe faith to those who have mortal sin. Accordingly, he says that those who do not care for their relatives have abandoned faith. In the same way, he says that wanton women reject faith.

Pulling It Together

These older widows had promised to not remarry so that they could receive assistance from the church. Remarrying was seen as breaking that “oath”—the same word translated as “faith.” It is better to make no oath at all, yet sometimes, when life presses us hard, it is difficult to trust in God’s providence.

But let us not be sidetracked in this discussion. What we are actually dealing with here, is the wrong use of Scripture. We must not use a verse to prove our point when the Scripture is not not even referring to our particular cause. In this case, Paul is speaking of the pledges made by widows over 60 years of age. He is not speaking of monastic vows made by men of any age during a time when the church knew nothing of monasticism.

Prayer: Help me trust in you, Lord. Amen.

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Sola VBS Series

Find all of Sola's Vacation Bible School offerings here.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a979.html Thu, 26 Apr 18 00:00:00 -0500

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1 John 2:25

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows 

They also cite 1 Timothy 5:11–12 about the widows who served the Church but were supported at the public expense, where it is said: “They desire to marry, and so they incur condemnation for having violated their first pledge.” First, let us suppose that the Apostle is speaking here of vows. This passage will still not back up monastic vows that are made concerning godless worship, and with the opinion that they merit the forgiveness of sins and justification. For Paul clearly condemns all worship, all laws, all works, if they are observed in order to merit the forgiveness of sins or to obtain eternal life for us on account of them, instead of through mercy for Christ’s sake. So, the vows of widows, if there were any, must have been unlike monastic vows.

Pulling It Together

It is clear enough from the context that these widows whom Paul spoke of were simply women the Church supported unless they remarried. Then their husbands would support them. Yet, this is not the real issue here. Let us not conceal the actual subject of our concern—the concern of Paul and of all Scripture. We are forgiven, justified, and given eternal life because of Christ alone. We are not saved from death and damnation because of our vows. Rather, we are saved because we believe the promises of God in Christ Jesus.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, promise of eternal life, train the eyes of my heart upon you. Amen.

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Moses and the Great Escape is an “all-in-one” teacher’s resource. The worksheets and handouts it contains may 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 biblical focus in the five-session Moses and the Great Escape VBS book 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.

All of Sola's VBS materials are here.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a978.html Wed, 25 Apr 18 00:00:00 -0500

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2 Timothy 4:7–8

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows 

But then, the custom also had a particular purpose. Because they were foreigners, not Israelites, it seems their father wished to distinguish them by certain signs from their countrymen, so that they might not relapse into the ungodliness of their countrymen. By these, he wished to caution them of the teaching of faith and immortality. This is a lawful purpose. But far different purposes are taught in monasticism. They imagine that the works of monasticism are acts of worship that merit the forgiveness of sins and justification. Therefore, the example of the Rechabites is unlike monasticism. We omit here other evils presently inherent in monasticism.

Pulling It Together

We need all the help we can get. No one would deny this to be true. But if the help obscures Christ, it is not help; it is a great evil. Anything that hinders you keeping the faith is, at very least, a serious temptation. If it persists, it is dire. Keeping the faith does not mean that one has maintained certain traditions or a lifestyle. It means that faith has been kept in its proper place, that it is in Christ alone, not human practices and institutions. The crown we seek is not a reward for our accomplishments. It is a crown of righteousness—not our own righteousness, but the righteousness of Christ that he gives us for having and keeping faith in him.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I look to you to show me the lane to the finish line. Amen.

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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/a977.html Tue, 24 Apr 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Galatians 3:22–26

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows 

It is a certainty that our observances do not merit the forgiveness of sins or justification. Therefore, when the Rechabites are praised, we observe that they observed their tradition, not because they believed that by it they earned forgiveness of sins, or that the work itself was a justifying service or by which they obtained eternal life—rather than by God’s mercy, for the sake of the promised Seed. But because they had the command of their parents, their obedience is praised, for this is the commandment of God: “Honor your father and your mother” (Exod 20:12).

Pulling It Together

We have a shared promise through Christ since we are all sons of God through faith in him. As such, all believers are joint heirs of the promise made to Christ, the Seed of Abraham. We too possess the oath made to Christ. It becomes for us “a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul” (Heb 6:19), a certain hope to hold on to, certain because it was promised by God who cannot lie (Heb 6:18). So, we see that the blessings promised to Abraham and his Seed are obtained through faith in the promise, or rather, in the one who promised, not through any effort of our own.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, help me keep the faith and receive the promise, through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.

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Mary, Martha & Many Faithful Women is a five-session VBS book designed especially for small churches, house churches, and mission congregations with a limited budget or in situations where the ages and number of students may vary from session to session. This resource includes worksheets and handouts that may be reproduced, 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.

Other VBS programs

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a976.html Mon, 23 Apr 18 00:00:00 -0500

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2 Peter 3:15–18

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows 

They also cite the Rechabites, who had no possessions and did not drink wine (Jer 35:6f). Yes, the example of the Rechabites really does fit beautifully with our monks, whose monasteries surpass the palaces of kings and who live most splendidly! Though the Rechabites experienced poverty in all things, they nevertheless married. Though abounding in every delight, our monks profess celibacy.

Besides, examples ought to be interpreted according to the rule, that is, according to sure and clear passages of Scripture, not contrary to the rule, that is, contrary to the Scriptures.

Pulling It Together

It is remarkably easy to take a verse or two from the Bible and construct a doctrine or a whole way of life. The safeguard to doing this, or falling prey to its adherents, is to, as we say, “be in the Word”—all of God’s Word. Still, there are parts of the Scripture that are difficult to understand, as Peter admits. It is okay for us to admit this too. After years of being immersed in Scripture, we may come to understand some of those difficult passages. All the while, God is teaching us what is necessary to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Though we may not understand certain verses, instead of twisting them to fit our lifestyle, we may trust God that, with prayerful reading, the Spirit will open the Scripture to us in a manner that shows us the way forward and gives understanding (Psa 119:105, 130)

Prayer: Lord, give me patience to hear your Spirit. 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/a975.html Sat, 21 Apr 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Titus 3:5

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows 

Here they present an example derived from the Law about the Nazarites (Num 6:2f). But the Nazarites did not take their vows with the opinions which, as we have said, we condemn in the vows of the monks. The rite of the Nazarites was an exercise or declaration of faith before people that did not merit the forgiveness of sins before God, nor justify before God. Just as circumcision or the slaying of victims would not be an act of worship now, so the rite of the Nazarites should not to be presented now as a service of worship, but ought to be judged simply as an adiaphoron. It is not proper to compare monasticism, devised without God’s Word, as a service that should merit the forgiveness of sins and justification, with the rite of the Nazarites, which had God’s Word, but without the purpose of meriting the forgiveness of sins. It was an outward service, just as other ceremonies of the Law. The same can be said concerning other ceremonies prescribed in the Law.

Pulling It Together

Our works, actions, and lifestyles do not make us right with God. Jesus Christ justifies us before God. This is why faith alone in the grace of God alone merits his forgiveness and salvation. Faith in what he has done—or more precisely, faith in him—because of his grace toward us must remain our focus. As soon as we begin to shift away from faith in him to faith in ourselves, in our works and services, we immediately rob God of glory, while placing our trust in the human instead of the divine. If one must fast, retreat, or perform some act of devotion, let him do so—but not imagining that it is a service to God that earns salvation.

Prayer: Thank you, God, for keeping your promise to give us your Savior. Amen.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a974.html Fri, 20 Apr 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Leviticus 5:4–6

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows 

Lastly, the canons themselves release many who made their vows without good judgment, as they were enticed by the tricks of the monks, or made vows under coercion by friends. Not even the canons declare these to be vows. Considering all of this, it is apparent that there are many reasons that monastic vows, such as have been made to this point, are not vows, and for this reason, is a way of life full of hypocrisy and false opinions that may be abandoned without risk.

Pulling It Together

Sometimes people make bad decisions. We all do this but one wrong decision should not necessitate a lifetime of poor choices or actions. God has provided a way out of this guilt through confession and atonement. Whatever the reasons for your past choices, confess your sins to the Lord, who is your atonement and your High Priest. Then be at peace; you are forgiven for Christ’s sake.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, for cleansing me of my sins. Amen.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a973.html Thu, 19 Apr 18 00:00:00 -0500

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John 14:6

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows 

Thus the entire monastic life is filled with hypocrisy and false opinions. Added to all these, is this danger: that those in these orders are compelled to assent to those persecuting the truth. There are therefore, many important and persuasive reasons that release good people from an obligation to this kind of life.

Pulling It Together

Be sure that your commitments depend upon God’s promises, power, and faithfulness, instead of your own. Be doubly certain that you do not imagine keeping your promises is the way to salvation. The truth shall set you free (John 8:32). Jesus sets us free. There is no other way or life that brings us to the Father—and to his forgiveness and salvation—than Jesus.

Prayer: Be my life, Jesus. Amen.

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This edition of the Luther's Small Catechism is specifically designed to go with the Sola Confimation 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.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a972.html Wed, 18 Apr 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Mark 7:6–8

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows 

We will not cover here the entire service of ceremonies: lessons, chanting, and similar things, which could be tolerated if they were regarded as exercises, like lessons in schools, designed to teach the hearers, and, while teaching, to move some to fear or faith. But now they pretend that these ceremonies are worship of God that merit the forgiveness of sins for themselves and for others. For this reason, they increase these ceremonies. If they undertake them in order to teach and exhort the hearers, brief and pointed lessons would be of more profit than these infinite babblings.

Pulling It Together

Religious acting can take the form of doing worship, that is, not worshiping at all. This often takes the form of a ritual that does not come from the heart. This is why people should be encouraged to use their service book instead of singing, reading, or praying from memory alone. While it is possible for people to say a creed, sing Scripture that is used weekly, and pray prayers that they have memorized from long use, seeing the words, helps the worshiper to engage with God on another level. Even paying close attention to punctuation helps. Why, I suppose I might thoughtfully pause here at this comma instead of blasting through as quickly as possible.

So, religious acting happens when worship does not come from the heart, but also when it does not come from God. If God commands one thing but we insist on another, then it is hypocrisy. If a style of worship or a human tradition becomes all-important while love of neighbor is ignored, then that tradition or style of worship, however fine it may be, is hollow and false. All of this finds its way back to the first table of the Commandments.

Prayer: Help me, Lord, to love you with all my heart, and my neighbor as myself. Amen.

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a971.html Tue, 17 Apr 18 00:00:00 -0500

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2 Timothy 2:14–16

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows 

Likewise, they do not hear or teach the gospel about the free forgiveness of sins for Christ’s sake, about the righteousness of faith, about real repentance, about works that have God’s command. They are occupied with either philosophical discussions or traditional ceremonies that obscure Christ.

Pulling It Together

The Word of God must be proclaimed with clarity, putting useless arguments aside in favor of the gospel. The best way to accomplish this is to cut a straight path through the Scripture, not turning to the side to chase rabbits. Our use of the Word must always cut straight to Christ. He is the goal of every verse. And so must be our worship. If hymns and prayers and preaching do not point to Christ and do so quickly and clearly, we are better off without them.

Prayer: Show me, O Lord, your truth, for Christ’s sake. Amen.

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a970.html Mon, 16 Apr 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Ecclesiastes 5:1–2

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows – part 36

Fourthly, those who live in monasteries are released from their vows by such godless ceremonies as the Mass being applied on behalf of the dead for the sake of profits. There is also the worship of saints, in which the fault is twofold: that the saints are put in Christ’s place, and that they are wickedly worshiped. So, the Dominicans invented the rosary of the Blessed Virgin, which is mere babbling, as foolish as it is wicked, and which nourishes a false assurance. These impieties are used only for the sake of gain.

Pulling It Together

Watch your step. When going before God in worship and prayer, we must be very careful. It is easy to walk into false doctrine, hypocrisy, and useless rituals. Thinking it devotion to God, we can get caught up in foolishness at best, and at worst, wicked foolishness. Any service or teaching that assigns to another the glory due to Christ falls is this sort of wicked foolishness. If we follow such services in order to obtain financial gain at the expense of others’ superstitions, we foster folly for them and for ourselves, since this encourages a false hope of forgiveness and salvation, that hope being built on the flimsiest of foundations: our own payment for God’s favor.

Prayer: Watch over my life, Lord, where I cannot see the way ahead. Amen.

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Letters to a Young Christian is a ten-session Bible Study iIn the biblical letters of First and Second Timothy. It is recommended for high school youth groups as well as for Sunday School classes with young adults, focusing on the Word of God at work in our modern lives. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a969.html Sat, 14 Apr 18 00:00:00 -0500

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1 John 5:1–5

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows 

Thirdly, chastity is promised in monastic vows. We have said above, however, concerning the marriage of priests, that the law of nature that is at work in people cannot be removed by vows or legislation. Since the gift of continence is not given to everyone, many are unsuccessfully continent because of weakness. Neither, indeed, can any vows or laws abolish the command of the Holy Spirit: “But because of the temptation to immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband” (1 Cor 7:2). Therefore, this vow is not lawful for the weak who despoil themselves because they do not have the gift of continence.

Enough has been said about this entire topic. It is so strange, that with all the dangers and scandals occurring before them, that our opponents still defend their traditions, contrary to the unmistakable command of God. They are even unaffected by the voice of Christ scolding the Pharisees for establishing traditions contrary to God’s command (Matt 15:3, 23:13f).

Pulling It Together

Everyone who believes in Christ overcomes the world through faith. There is no need to leave the world in order to do so. There is no need for us to go to additional lengths in order to be forgiven. God’s grace assures us of forgiveness through faith, for Christ’s sake. There is no demand from God to add anything to this faith in order for his promise of salvation to be realized. Should we go further? Ought we add to our faith: virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love (2 Pet 1:5–7)? Certainly, but because everyone who has received faith (1 Pet 1:1) is commanded to add these qualities to the new “divine nature” (1 Pet 1:4) shared by those of faith. Those who believe are divinely reborn in Christ through the faith given to them. We are supplementing that faith given by the grace of God, not earning his grace.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus Christ, for giving me faith of equal standing with the apostles, not because of my righteousness but because of his. Amen.

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a968.html Fri, 13 Apr 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Matthew 9:9

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows 

An example of obedience in one’s calling is presented in this passage. And since callings vary, this calling does not apply to everyone, but to that person with whom Christ is speaking. We see that the calls of David to reign, and of Abraham to slay his son, are not our calls to imitate. Callings are personal, just as matters of business vary with times and persons. Yet the example of obedience is general. Perfection would have been his if that young man had believed and obeyed his calling. Even so, it is perfection for each one to obey his own calling with true faith.

Pulling It Together

Jesus saw Matthew, a tax collector, and told him to follow: to be his disciple. How would there have been perfection if Matthew continued to sit there? If he persisted at his government post, it would have been disobedience to the Lord. Even more, there would be no perfection, no improvement. How could there have been any advancement if he just sat there doing the same thing? Jesus tells us, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). He asks, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46). Perfection lies in having faith in the Lord who gives the call.

Prayer: Give me such courageous faith, Lord, that I obey 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.

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a967.html Thu, 12 Apr 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Luke 14:26–27

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows 

Therefore, since the abandonment of property is just a human tradition, it is a useless service. It is excessive to praise it as the “Extravagant” does by stating that abdicating ownership of all things for God is meritorious and holy and a way of perfection. It is quite dangerous to exalt a matter that conflicts with political order. But, they insist, that Christ speaks of it here as perfection. Yes, but violence is done to the text by quoting it in a mutilated form. Perfection lies in what Christ adds: “Follow Me.”

Pulling It Together

Are you willing to follow Jesus? If it means you would lose the civil right to buy and sell, to make a living, to provide for your family, would you still follow Jesus? If it meant that your family turned their back on you, would you still be his disciple? Perhaps you wanted to be a doctor but it became clear that Jesus wants you to be a missionary. Would you follow him when that would mean leaving income, property, and family behind? Whoever does not bear his particular cross and follow Jesus cannot be his disciple.

Yet, even such obedience is not so-called evangelical perfection. Perfection is not found in what we do or the sacrifices we make, even for God. Perfection is the grace of God poured out within us. His glorious grace is not dispensed when we have finally done enough. It happens at the moment of faith and while we keep faith in God—no matter where he leads us.

Prayer: Give me the strength of your Spirit, Lord, that I may carry my cross and follow 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.

Try the electronic greeting cards on the free Sola app. Download it today and send friends and family free 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/a966.html Wed, 11 Apr 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Matthew 5:3

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows 

Here is another passage cited concerning perfection: “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor...and come, follow me” (Matt 19:21). This passage has vexed many, who have imagined that perfection happens by discarding possessions and the control of property. Let us allow the philosophers to extol Aristippus, who cast a great weight of gold into the sea. Such examples do not pertain in any way to Christian perfection. The division, control, and possession of property are civil ordinances, approved by God’s Word in the commandment. “You shalt not steal” (Exod 20:15). The abandonment of property has no command or counsel in Scripture. Poverty of the gospel does not consist in the abandonment of property, but in lack of greed and the trust of wealth—just as David was poor in a very wealthy kingdom.

Pulling It Together

Having no bank account does not aid the spirit, though it may destroy the spirit if one takes pride in the so-called accomplishment of giving up money and property. Being poor in spirit is the goal of the Christian life. Comprehending and admitting one’s spiritual insolvency is the beginning of perfection. When we acknowledge our absolute inability to pay for salvation, we may be driven to despair—or we may be impelled to faith. When we have faith in God despite personal failure and sin, God’s holiness, righteousness, and perfection is freely given to those who believe because of what Christ has done for us all.

Perfection has nothing to do with giving up money, property, or family. It has everything to do with having faith in Christ, following him, no matter what happens with possessions and relationships. The spiritually poor trust in God above all things, finding perfection in his perfection, not their own.

Prayer: Help me rejoice and be glad, Lord, because my reward is 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.

      

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/a965.html Tue, 10 Apr 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Mark 10:29–30

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows 

It is evident, therefore, that they wickedly distort Christ’s word by applying it to a monastic life, unless perhaps, the declaration that they “receive a hundredfold in this life” applies here. For many do not become monks for the sake of Gospel, but for sumptuous living and idleness, having ample riches instead of slender patrimonies. Just as the entire subject of monasticism is full of shams, they quote Scripture under false pretense. As a consequence, they sin doubly, deceiving people, and doing so under the pretext of the divine name.

Pulling It Together

I have known people who refused to work on Sunday. Some employers understood; others did not. I heard of one man who would not work on the Lord’s Day and as a result, lost his job. If your confession of the Gospel, whatever shape it may take, causes you loss of income or property, the Lord promises to more greatly supply your need in this life and bless you with eternal life as well. If following Jesus means family is left behind because they will not go where Jesus goes, our Lord promises to replace those with better relationships.

This is a plain understanding of Scripture. Now, if there are poor among us, let the Church care for them. But let us not consider those who receive these material gifts as acquiring that which merits forgiveness of sin and the gift of eternal life. These things can not be acquired by a monastic lifestyle because they are the free gift of God received through faith.

Prayer: Give me the fortitude, Lord, and the spirit to follow you. Amen.

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

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a964.html Mon, 09 Apr 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Matthew 6:33

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows 

We should even forsake our body for the gospel’s sake. But it would be ridiculous to think that suicide is a service to God, leaving the body without God’s command. Just so, it is silly to assert that it is a service to God to forsake possessions, friends, wife, children without God’s command.

Pulling It Together

God does not command certain pietistic practices of giving up property, friends, family, food, and clothing. Indeed, Jesus tells us to not be anxious about such things. A large part of the world is anxious about these things because they fear they will not have enough. There is, however, a smaller contingent who worries that by having these things at all, they are kept from righteousness. Life with God is not a matter of the body—of eating and drinking and clothing and shelter (Rom 14:13–23). Nor is it about the quantity of these things. Life in the Spirit is not about these things at all. Focusing on these externals blurs the proper focus. We ought to primarily seek God’s kingdom and his righteousness, remembering that his kingdom does not consist of food, drink, or clothing but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Spirit (Rom 14:17).

Prayer: Give me joy, Lord, deep down in my heart. 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/a963.html Sat, 07 Apr 18 00:00:00 -0500

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John 12:25–26

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows 

There are two kinds of “forsaking.” One occurs without a call, without God’s command. Christ does not approve, as the works chosen by us are useless services (Matt 15:9). The fact that Christ speaks of forsaking wife and children makes it even clearer that he disapproves of such flight. We know, moreover, that God’s commandment forbids forsaking wife and children.

The second kind of “forsaking” occurs by God’s command, when power or tyranny compels us either to leave or deny the Gospel. Here we have the command that we should bear injury instead, that we should rather suffer, not only wealth, wife, and children, but even life, to be taken from us. Christ approves of this kind of “forsaking.” Accordingly, he adds, “for the Gospel’s sake” (Mark 10:29 ASV, NASB), showing that he is not speaking about those who do injury to wife and children, but of those who endure injury because of the confession of the Gospel.

Pulling It Together

We must not forsake the gospel, even if it means loss of property, family, or even life. What is it that keeps you from following Jesus? That is what you leave behind if you do follow him. And follow you must, even if it means loss of income, or that family thinks you have left them, or that you suffer injury. Forsaking in order to follow Jesus can be simple things like choosing worship on the Lord’s Day instead of going to a child’s sporting event. Choosing worship over that game may seem to your child as though you do not love them. What does it mean to the Lord of your life?

Prayer: Help me to seek your kingdom first, Lord, and follow you for the sake of 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.

    

The Sola "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 gathering, each of the six sessions in each book 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. They may 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/a962.html Fri, 06 Apr 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Matthew 19:29

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows – part 28

Again, the Confutation says that the monks merit a more abundant eternal life, quoting Scripture: “And every one who has left houses” etc. (Matt 19:29). Here also, therefore, it claims perfection for artificial religious rites. But this passage of Scripture is not even speaking of monastic life. Christ does not say that to forsake parents, wife, and siblings is a work that must be done to merit the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. Such forsaking is accursed indeed. For the one who forsakes parents or wife in order to merit the forgiveness of sins or eternal life by this very work, dishonors Christ.

Pulling It Together

God’s commandments forbid the forsaking of parents. Yet in this teaching of Jesus about leaving one’s family—even children—for him, it is clear that Jesus is using hyperbole to make his point. His exaggeration helps us understand that we ought to “fear, love, and trust God above all things”—even family. Still, even this does not earn the forgiveness of sins or life eternal. Only Christ can do that for us; and he has done so. So, those who believe in Christ Jesus, despite the objections of family, even if it means being put out of their homes, receive far more than family and home can offer. Through their faith, they receive eternal life.

Prayer: Help me to honor and love my family, Lord, because I love you. Amen.

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a961.html Thu, 05 Apr 18 00:00:00 -0500

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2 Peter 1:3–8

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows 

Although our opponents now moderate their praises about perfection, they actually think otherwise. Under the pretext that they are observing precepts and counsels, they sell merits and apply them on behalf of others. So, they actually believe that they have excess merits. If this is not claiming self perfection, what is? Again, their Confutation claims that the monks endeavor to live more nearly to the gospel. But they are ascribing perfection to human traditions if they think that living more closely to the gospel means not having property, being unmarried, and obeying the rule in clothing, meats, and similar trifles.

Pulling It Together

Does our virtuous lifestyle add anything to faith? To be sure, we are to furnish our faith with virtue, knowledge, self-control, endurance, godliness, and brotherly and godly love. But can these qualities gain us salvation when we already have that promise from God himself? No. Rather, because God has already given us his great and precious promises of the forgiveness of sins, justification, sanctification, and eternal life, we are to supply our faith with characteristics appropriate to godly life. We have been filled with the Holy Spirit, so we ought to live as those who have a divine nature. This is what God expects of us (Luke 7:10) but living in this way does not give us any more merit than the perfection given us by Christ. So, a Christian lifestyle cannot provide us with superfluous merit to use for financial gain at the expense of the gullible.

Prayer: Help me to trust in your merit, Lord, above all else. 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/a960.html Wed, 04 Apr 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Philippians 2:3–5

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows 

In the histories of the hermits there are examples of Anthony and others which describe various vocations in life as equal. It is written that when Anthony asked God to show him the progress he was making in his kind of life, God showed him in a dream a certain shoemaker in the city of Alexandria to whom he should be compared. The next day Anthony went into the city and arrived at the shoemaker so that he might learn of his exercises and gifts. Having conversed with the man, Anthony heard nothing except that early in the morning the shoemaker prayed in a few words for the entire state, and then attended to his trade. This is how Anthony learned that justification is not to be attributed to the kind of life that one undertakes.

Pulling It Together

We are not justified before God because of a particular lifestyle, no matter how holy or special it may seem. God is able to make a child holy while that child, as yet, has no occupation. To think of one’s particular way of life as more holy than another is conceited. And how can conceit lead to holiness? Even more, to imagine that the things you do are what make you holy is robbery from God, who humbled himself so much as to become a man in order to save us. To think that we do this, steals from Christ the glory due him. This or that way of life life does not make one holy, nor do the things we do that are possible in a particular vocation. We are only made holy by God through faith in Christ.

Prayer: Spirit of God, give me the mind of Christ. Amen.

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Luther's Small Cat Discovers: Martin Luther and the Reformation. This five-week booklet in the Luther's Small Cat children’s series introduces Martin Luther and the era of the Reformation, and is written for upper elementary students. Designed to complement the original Luther's Small Cat series on the meaning of the catechism, this series looks at life in the Church and the unique heritage of the Lutheran faith tradition.

Teacher's Guide

 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a959.html Tue, 03 Apr 18 00:00:00 -0500

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2 Peter 3:14–18

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows 

But our opponents cunningly try to seem as if they are modifying the common opinion about perfection. They say that the monastic life is not perfection, but that it is a state in which to acquire perfection. How charming. We remember that this correction is found in Gerson. It appears that circumspect people were offended by these overstated praises of monastic life. Yet since they did not presume to entirely withdraw the praise of perfection, they made the modification that monasticism is a state in which perfection is acquired. If we follow this line of thinking, monasticism is no better a state of perfection than the life of a farmer or mechanic. These are also states in which to acquire perfection. For all people in every vocation should seek perfection. That is, they ought to grow in the fear of God, in faith, in love of their neighbor, and similar spiritual qualities.

Pulling It Together

How may a person of faith be found on that Day “without spot or blemish”? Even more, how may one be certain that their life is so blameless that they are at peace with God? If you imagine that these things happen because of things you do, you will never have peace because you will always have a little (or a lot) more to do. If you think this perfect status with God is achieved by you overcoming your sins, then, sinner, you will never be spotless. Nevertheless, in whatever state of life you find yourself, whatever vocation you are following, you are in the perfect place to enjoy God’s grace—and to grow in his grace. His grace. His.

Wherever you are today—in prison or a factory, a field or another kind of lot, an office or a classroom, a home or a hospital—you are in a place to grow in his grace, that through faith (Eph 2:8–9), freely provides you with the forgiveness of sins and salvation. Be diligent to fear and love God above all things, and trust him with your salvation. He has more than enough merit to share with you.

Prayer: Help me to trust you above all things, 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/a958.html Mon, 02 Apr 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 6:5–8

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows 

We speak more briefly about these subjects because it is sufficiently clear that monastic vows are not a price to be paid for granting the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. This is evident from those things which we said earlier about justification, repentance, and human traditions. And since Christ calls traditions useless services, they are in no way evangelical perfection.

Pulling It Together

As we are not made impure by physical things that enter us from the outside (Matt 15:17–20; Luke 11:41; Acts 10:15), so we do not purge our impurity by doing physical things (Rom 2:25–29). Impurity is a heart matter; so is purification. Perfection does not result from a series of things we do that finally adds up to a sufficiency that results in either sanctification or salvation. Holiness is not a matter of works any more than is eternal life. Righteousness and life everlasting are the result of a foreign action—something done to us by another, not something we ourselves do. Anyone who believes otherwise, who imagines that new life, the Christian life, is accomplished through services performed by this flesh, does violence to Easter itself. Christ arose so that those who have died with him through faith, buried in Christian baptism, may live the resurrected life with their risen Lord. We are made pure and perfect for God through faith in Jesus Christ, the One he sent to work on us from the outside-in.

Prayer: Create in me a clean heart, 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.

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/a957.html Sat, 31 Mar 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Luke 17:5–6

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows 

Thus those who teach that the monastic life merits the forgiveness of sins or eternal life are wholly suppressing the gospel about the forgiveness of sins and the promised mercy in Christ. They transfer the confidence due Christ to their foolish observances. Instead of freely apprehending Christ, they worship their own hoods and their own filth. Although even they need mercy, they act wickedly by concocting works of supererogation, then selling them to others.

Pulling It Together

How much faith is enough? Is there an admittance fee to heaven, but then you have to pay for any extras? Does a little more get you more once you get inside? Of course not. Jesus teaches that just a little faith is enough. Do you believe on Christ for forgiveness of your sins and salvation? It is enough. Even your little faith is sufficient for God to accomplish what seems impossible to you. Every act of faith is simply your duty (Luke 17:10) to him who has already rewarded your faith with the promise of eternal life. Believe!

Prayer: Increase my faith, O Lord, 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.

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/a956.html Fri, 30 Mar 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Psalm 16:1–2

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows 

However, since we do not merit the forgiveness of sins or eternal life because of works of the divine law, but must seek the mercy promised in Christ, far less do monastic observances deserve this honor of meriting the forgiveness of sins or eternal life, since they are mere human traditions.

Pulling It Together

Where is your confidence, your trust? Is it your bank account or perhaps, your pension? Maybe it is the government, its promise to protect you while lowering taxes and providing new jobs. Of course, those things do us no good once we return to the earth. But there is a good so great that it benefits us even after physical death. Indeed, even those other goods are no good at all apart from the greatest good who is God. Apart from him, from he who created all good (1 Tim 4:4), even good is no good. Goodness and greatness become a trap, something we place our hopes in but, apart from God, will fail us. But if God is our refuge, instead of government and the things money can buy, then he is our good, our security, our hope and delight—in this life and the next.

Prayer: Lord, give me the strength and courage to trust in you 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.

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/a955.html Thu, 29 Mar 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 11:5–6

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows 

In the first place, it is certain that a monastic life does not merit the forgiveness of sins, for we obtain this freely by faith, as has already been said. Secondly, eternal life is granted for Christ’s sake by mercy to those who receive forgiveness through faith, not setting their own merits against God’s judgment. Bernard says this with great force: “First of all, it is necessary to believe that you cannot have the remission of sins unless by God’s indulgence. Secondly, you can have no good work whatever, unless he has also given this. Lastly, you can not merit eternal life by works, for this is also given freely.” We have quoted above the rest that follows to the same effect. Yet, Bernard adds at the end: “Let no one deceive himself, for if he carefully reflects, he will undoubtedly discern that he cannot with ten thousand soldiers meet God who comes against him with twenty thousand.”

Pulling It Together

What a joy it is to realize that God’s forgiveness and eternal life are gifts. Now, we all understand that one does not work for a gift; otherwise it is not a gift at all. Instead of a gift, it has become something we earned. Yet, forgiveness of sin and salvation cannot be earned. The Scriptures tell us over and over that these things are given to us freely by the hand of God (Eg: John 4:10; Rom 5:15-16, 6:23; Eph 2:8). Let us believe that God is the giver of all good gifts (James 1:17)—including forgiveness, justification, and salvation—and be thankful.

Prayer: Thank you, God, for your grace, given freely 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.

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/a954.html Wed, 28 Mar 18 00:00:00 -0500

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2 Corinthians 4:3–4

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows 

Besides, they dishonor Christ when they say that men merit eternal life through monasticism. God has not even conferred his law the honor that of meriting eternal life. He clearly says so in Ezekiel 20:25. “Moreover I gave them statutes that were not good and ordinances by which they could not have life.”

Pulling It Together

Those who who do not believe in salvation for Christ’s sake, in other words, because of what God has done through his Son, are not only blind and witless, they have refused grace. When they trust in their own deeds instead of the great divine deed, they have renounced God’s blessing. Placing any merit in your own actions is apostasy. Salvation is completely in the hands of God, spread and nailed to a beam, folded over the chest in the grave, risen in victory toward heaven. Believe in that; believe in him. Then your good works (Eph 2:10) will follow your faith, but your faith will not be in your works, but his alone.

Prayer: Open the eyes of my heart and mind, Lord, to see and believe the gospel. Amen.

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This booklet 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/a953.html Tue, 27 Mar 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Exodus 20:12

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows 

Now hear the unworthy declaration our judges have recorded in the Confutation. Here is what they said. “It has been expressly declared in the Holy Scriptures that the monastic life merits eternal life if maintained by a due observance, which by the grace of God any monk can maintain. Indeed, Christ has promised this as much more abundant to those who have left home or brothers, etc.” (Matt 19:29). With these words our opponents first, most impudently claim that the Holy Scriptures state that a monastic life merits eternal life. Where do the Sacred Scriptures speak of a monastic life? This is the way our opponents plead their case, and how men of no account quote the Scriptures. Though everyone knows that the monastic life has only recently been devised, they still cite the authority of Scripture, and further add that their decree has been expressly declared in the Scriptures.

Pulling It Together

Does Jesus mean that dishonoring parents and dismissing the fourth commandment are of such great virtue that they merit eternal life? How absurd. Rather, the cited verse (Matt 19:29) shows us that, if family would ostracize us for Christ’s “name’s sake,” in other words, because of the Christian faith, then God will reward us for staying true to the gospel. The sacrifice of leaving behind family, friends, co-workers, or anyone because they insist we leave Christ, is a cost every Christian must consider. All Christians, in this sense, are called to renounce or leave everything they have and follow Jesus. We must follow Christ, no matter the cost (Luke 14:25–33).

Prayer: Give me the strength, Lord, and the courage to follow 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 Confirmation Series is a basic workbook style Confirmation curriculum, designed to serve as a simple and practical resource for teaching the biblical Word of God according to the traditional pattern of Martin Luther’s Small Catechism. Each book in the series can be used as the basis for a “come as you are” small group Bible study, as a student book for home school or independent study programs, or as a classroom tool and homework resource as part of an existing confirmation program. Click HERE to download a pdf sheet describing the program, including an outline of session topics.

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

• 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/a952.html Mon, 26 Mar 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Philippians 3:12–16

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows 

Virginity is recommended, but for those who have the gift, as has been said above. However, it is a most insidious error to believe that evangelical perfection lies in human traditions. If it did, then even the monks of the Mohammedans would be able to boast that they have evangelical perfection. Nor does it lie in the observance of other things which are called “adiaphora.” Because the kingdom of God is righteousness and life in the heart (Rom 14:17), perfection is growing in the fear of God, trusting the mercy promised in Christ, and devotion to one’s calling. Paul also describes perfection this way: “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Cor 3:18). He does not say that we are continually receiving another hood, or other sandals, or other girdles. It is deplorable that such pharisaic, even Mohammedan expressions should be read and heard in the Church: that the perfection of the gospel, of the kingdom of Christ, which is eternal life, should be placed in these foolish observances of vestments and of similar trifles.

Pulling It Together

I take a bit of exception to Melancthon’s verb choice—although I agree with him if I understand what he intended to say. I do not wish, however, to put my words in his mouth. When he says that perfection is growth, there is need for clarity. Can we become perfect in this life? Does this happen through such things as devotion? Perhaps a better question is: are we supposed to be perfect? Jesus said so: “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt 5:48). Jesus said that we must be perfect like God is perfect. That seems like a stretch for someone like me. Yet, all things are possible with God (Matt 19:26). Perhaps that is all Melancthon meant.

Like Paul, I confess that I am not perfect. Or am I? When I look in the mirror, I see a sinner—yet one who is baptized: a clean babe in the Father’s embrace. May I hold on to what I have already attained. No matter how I look to myself; how do I look to God? The Father sees me through rather rose tinted glasses, or more exactly, through blood stained lenses. I am clothed in Christ through baptism (Gal 3:27). This means that Christ is my righteousness—my perfection. It means that when the Father looks at me, he sees one dressed like his own Son, as though Christ were standing before him. God help me if this is not true.

Because I am a baptized child of God, this life is spent in striving to make Christ my own, just as he has made me his own. How can I do so except by fearing God, trusting his mercy that is promised for Christ’s sake, and remaining devoted to my calling into the family of God? If this must be called “growth,” then let us understand growth as maturing—through continued faith in Christ Jesus—into what what we already are through baptism: beloved children of the Father.

Prayer: Thank you, Jesus, for making me your own. 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 Sacraments is a ten-week study, including sessions on Baptism, Communion, and the Office of the Keys. The Bible Study lessons in The Sacraments series emphasize the connection between Old and New Testaments, by drawing on sacramental themes foreshadowed in familiar Old Testament stories, and how the promises of God "for you" are expressed and fulfilled 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/a951.html Sat, 24 Mar 18 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Timothy 4:1–5

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows 

It is also untrue that monastic observances are works advised by the gospel. The gospel does not counsel distinctions of clothing and foods, or relinquishing property. These are human traditions, all being answered with, “Food will not commend us to God” (1 Cor 8:8). Therefore, they are neither justifying services nor perfection. Indeed, when they are presented under cover of these titles, they are mere “doctrines of demons” (1 Tim 4:1).

Pulling It Together

We easily see that Paul, himself of the pharisaic tradition (Phil 3:5), taught that Christians leave the faith when they devote themselves to legal requirements such as those under consideration. These things make us no more righteous before God than anyone else. What we do does not “commend us to God.” These actions do not provide us with any merit or virtue before him. Christ has done that for us; have faith in him, not in your religious acts. They are devils who suggest that Christ Jesus is unnecessary and superfluous since justification and life eternal may be had for a price or because of a religious lifestyle.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for your Spirit who commends me to you 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 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/a950.html Fri, 23 Mar 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Index of Scripture Graphics and posts by Scripture reference

Mark 12:30

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows 

Just look at the impudence of our opponents! They not only teach that these observances are services that justify, they add that these services are more perfect—that they merit the forgiveness of sins and justification more than other kinds of life. Here they add many false and harmful views. They imagine that they observe precepts and counsels. So, imagining that they have the merits of supererogation, these liberal men then sell them to others.

These things are full of pharisaical vanity. It is the height of impiety for them to believe they satisfy the Decalogue in such a way that there are leftover merits when these commandments accuse everyone. “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might (Deut 6:5). “You shall not covet” (Exod 20:17; Deut 5:21; Rom 7:7). “All men are liars” (Psa 116:11); that is, they do not think correctly about God, do not sufficiently fear God, and do not believe him enough. Therefore, the monks falsely boast that they fulfill the commandments, and do more than what is commanded, by living a monastic life.

Pulling It Together

The most important commandment is greater than people are capable of apprehending in thought, let alone action. It is the height of theology. Every other doctrine in Scripture comes from this commandment. In the light of this greatest commandment, all must confess their sin. Even the patriarchs, prophets, and apostles recognized themselves as imperfect sinners. So, it is indeed pharisaical for monks or any others to say that they have kept this great commandment so perfectly that they have earned an abundance of merit. It is heretical to teach that such merit is even possible, let alone the supposed leftover merits be made available to others for a fee.

Prayer: Help me love you, Lord. Amen.

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

The Sola 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/a949.html Thu, 22 Mar 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Colossians 2:6–8

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows 

There are liable to be good men engaged in the ministry of the Word in some places who use these monastic observances without wicked opinions. But to hold that these observances are works that make them righteous before God, and through which they deserve eternal life, conflicts with the gospel concerning the righteousness of faith, which teaches that righteousness and eternal life are given to us for Christ’s sake. It also conflicts with the saying of Christ: “In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men” (Matt 15:9). And it conflicts with this statement: “Whatever does not proceed from faith is sin” (Rom 14:23). How can they affirm that God approves monastic works as righteousness before him when they have no testimony from God’s Word?

Pulling It Together

There are good religious traditions, and those that are no good at all. The good ones found and construct you in the faith. These traditions are learned in the pure Word of God. Bad ones turn you away from the Word and tear down your faith. These traditions are learned in philosophies and human reasoning. In our current case of monasticism, because human reasoning led people to believe they could earn righteousness and salvation, what better way, you can almost hear someone thinking, than through a life of complete commitment to God? As impressive as such dedication may be, if it is believed that justification and eternal life are due because of this lifestyle, then it is a sinful tradition. It depends upon the works of humans instead of faith in God.

Prayer: Help me be committed to you, God, through faith in your Son. Amen.

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

Leader's Guide for this study

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a948.html Wed, 21 Mar 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 14:1–9

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows 

Second, obedience, poverty, and celibacy, provided the latter is not impure, as disciplines, are adiaphora. Therefore, the saints may use these without sinning, just as Bernard, Francis, and other holy men used them. They were used for bodily advantage, so that they might have more leisure to teach and to perform other godly offices, not because the works themselves are services that justify or merit eternal life. Finally, they belong to the class of which Paul says, “Bodily training is of some value” (1 Tim 4:8).

Pulling It Together

Adiaphora are matters in which we should look for neither sin nor righteousness. They are non-essentials, things that have nothing to do with one’s standing before God. These non-essentials are typically traditions or customs. As a result, they are often considered quite essential by those who practice a particular tradition. On the silly end of the spectrum, just try to change the color of the carpet—or in a Lutheran church, the color of the front doors. Traditions can be intractable. Nonetheless, they are not essential, no matter how much weight people give them—because they are adiaphora.

So, one person may decide to fast a day each week in order to allow more time for prayer. Does that mean it should become a mandatory, church-wide affair? Someone else may resolve to skip television viewing in the evenings, making time to read the Bible. Are other people lesser Christians if they do not do the same? Others may quit their jobs and go to seminary to become a pastor, sell all they have to go into a mission field, or remain unmarried so they may focus on the Lord’s interests (1 Cor 7:32-35). Do such people have a better shot at heaven because they have done these things? No. These are adiaphora. They are non-essentials that have nothing to do with the forgiveness of sins, justification, and eternal life.

Prayer: Thank you for making me yours, Lord. 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/a947.html Tue, 20 Mar 18 00:00:00 -0500

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2 Corinthians 4:5–7

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows 

Since we have already fully shown the wickedness of the opinion that we obtain the forgiveness of sins because of our works, we shall be briefer here. The discriminating reader will easily be able to agree that we do not earn the forgiveness of sins by monastic works. Accordingly, Thomas’ blasphemy of the monastic profession being equal to Baptism is also insufferable. It is lunacy to make human tradition, which has neither God’s command nor promise, equal to an ordinance of Christ, which has both God’s command and promise, and holds the covenant of grace and eternal life.

Pulling It Together

The “power belongs to God.” We are incapable of securing our own forgiveness and salvation. Imagine the person who looks in the mirror and declares, “I forgive you of your sins.” What authority backs up that pronouncement? Sadder still is the person who imagines a vocation or duty of such importance that part of the wage is salvation. This is found nowhere in Scripture. Indeed, the opposite is declared (Rom 6:23). But if human traditions are to be trusted, then one may believe anything. If human authority and promise are reliable in spiritual matters, then we may as well proclaim self. The reasonable person sees the blindness here.

So, the Lutheran reformers proclaimed Scripture alone, in which they read grace alone, which is received through faith alone. All of this comes into the world because of God, only through the work of Christ, never by our own good works. We are created to do good works (Eph 2:10) but not be forgiven and saved because of them. Christ alone is our grace and salvation.

Prayer: Give me such faith, Lord God, that I may trust in your grace because I believe your Word. Amen.

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Sola's Through This Vain World Bible study takes a Christ-centered approach by looking at the book of Ecclesiastes through the lens of the Cross. It asks the hard questions of purpose and meaning in a world that often seems empty and vain. From the perspective that Martin Luther called a "theology of the cross," the questions and discussion in this study focus on our calling to take up our cross and follow Christ in faith "through this vain world."

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a946.html Mon, 19 Mar 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Galatians 1:21–24

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows 

But look, most clement Emperor Charles; look, princes; look, all people, at the great impudence of our opponents! Though we cited Paul’s supporting statement, they have written: “Those things that are here alleged against monasticism are wicked.” But what is more certain than that people receive the forgiveness of sins by faith for Christ’s sake? Yet, these scoundrels dare to call this a wicked opinion! Had you been advised of this passage, we do not doubt you would have made sure that such blasphemy was removed from the Confutation.

Pulling It Together

Before the advent of radio, television, and internet, news traveled slowly. In some circles, it travels more slowly today. A pharisee named Saul of Tarsus heard good news because a power greater than mass communications met him on the road to Damascus. It took a while for the churches to hear that Saul had become the Apostle Paul, a great preacher of faith in Jesus Christ. They thought he was still a law-focused hunter of Christians. Works-oriented folks seem to get the news about faith in Christ via slow transmission lines. Many of them want to destroy preachers of the faith like Paul. They may get rid of some preachers, but they can never eliminate the faith in Christ that they preach. They may as well seek to rid the world of God himself. For there is indeed, nothing more certain than this: that God wills to forgive the sins of all people through faith in Christ.

Prayer: Turn the hearts of willful people, Lord, to faith in you. 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/a945.html Sat, 17 Mar 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Galatians 5:2–4

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows 

Of course, the monks live more closely in accordance with the gospel in their pretend life. But Christ does not follow Moses by forgiving sins because of our works, but by setting his own merits and his own propitiation against God’s wrath on our behalf so that we may be freely forgiven. Whoever places his own merits, apart from Christ’s satisfaction, against God’s wrath, who on account of his own merits endeavors to obtain the forgiveness of sins, whether through the works of the Mosaic Law, or of the Decalogue, or of the rule of Benedict, or of the rule of Augustine, or of other rules, cancels the promise of Christ, has rejected Christ, and has fallen from grace. This is Paul’s verdict.

Pulling It Together

Scripture is clear: those who try to justify their sin by their works have fallen from grace. We cannot balance the scales by placing good works against bad works. It is not a matter of weights and measures. The concern is holiness and righteousness. So, of course, people try to be righteous by doing good and being good. The problem is, they are not good. They are sinners. They may sin less than before, but in their essence, they are sinners. They were born to the condition.

God has solved this problem by replacing our unrighteousness with his own perfect righteousness. He has done this by the work of Christ alone. He did not require our assistance. Our help is still unnecessary since Christ’s work was wholly sufficient to the task. Anyone who believes otherwise has spurned Christ. We enjoy his grace and have the hope of eternal life only because of Christ (Rom 5:2).

Prayer: Help me, O Lord, to love your law, but put my faith in you. Amen.

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

• Unit 1   • Unit 2   • Unit 3

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a944.html Fri, 16 Mar 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Galatians 6:1–2

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows 

Our opponents pretend that Paul abolishes the Law of Moses, and that Christ takes its place in such a way that he does not grant the forgiveness of sins freely, but because of keeping new laws that are devised. By this godless and fanatical illusion they conceal the benefit of Christ. Then they pretend that among those who observe this Law of Christ, the monks observe it more closely than others, on account of their poverty, obedience, and chastity—all of which are hypocrisies since indeed all these things are full of lies. They boast of poverty while enjoying an abundance of everything. They brag of their obedience, though no class of men has greater license than the monks. We do not like to speak about celibacy. Gerson indicates how pure this is in most of those who try to be chaste. But how many of them try? 

Pulling It Together

Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matt 5:17). Paul then said, “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Rom 10:4). So, we see that Jesus perfectly kept the law, fulfilling all righteousness not only for himself, but for we who believe. Being God and man, his death accomplished new life for all who believe on him (Rom 8:3). This new life in Christ is a life of righteousness—not a righteousness of our own but the righteousness of Christ within us (Rom 8:4). Righteousness is not through the keeping of the law but because we keep the Name: because we have faith in Christ.

But does this mean that we no longer keep the commandments? After all, Luther urges us to meditate on them daily. “I am also a doctor and preacher, indeed, as learned and experienced as all those who have such presumption and security. Yet I do as a child who is being taught the Catechism. Every morning, and whenever I have time, I read and say, word for word, the Ten Commandments, the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, the Psalms, etc.” (The Large Catechism). He even teaches in The Large Catechism that children should be withheld food and drink until they can recite the commandments. That is a serious exhortation, and he exhorts adults along the same lines. Why? Does he do so because we need to have the knowledge, or because we need to know what God expects of us?

We are still required to keep the law—but not so that we will be saved. Christ has already saved us. So, he has given us a new law, “the law of Christ” (Gal 6:2). What is this law except a distillation of the whole law, or simply that first commandment that sums up all others? Jesus said as much when saying this is the most important commandment of all: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:30–31). Love God and love your neighbor. In the ever popular parlance, “’Nuff said.”

Prayer: Help me to have faith in you, Lord, and to love those who irritate me. 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/a943.html Thu, 15 Mar 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Colossians 2:16–19

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows 

When Paul denies that people merit the forgiveness of sins through the Law of Moses, he withdraws praise from human traditions even more, providing clear examples (Col 2:16). If the divinely revealed Law of Moses did not merit the forgiveness of sins, how much less do these silly observances earn the remission of sins, disinclined as they are to the pattern of public life?

Pulling It Together

If our religion is one that earns forgiveness of sin and eternal life through religious devotion, services, and other good works, then we slander Christ, just as the religious authorities in Jerusalem spurned Christ himself (Heb 13:12). If we imagine it is our virtue that earns divine reward, then we miss the point of what Christ has accomplished. We are left with food and drink, special days and ceremonies. In other words, we are left with a religion that describes reality but is itself not real. It is a shadow world where people live in the dream that they are accomplishing something magnificent while all along, they have not been realizing it at all. Life has been a sham, and not only an imitation but a mockery. Any worship that puts the works of human beings in place of the work of Christ jeers at God—even if its intentions are otherwise. Christ alone is the worth of our forgiveness. Ours is only to keep faith in God.

Prayer: O Substance and Virtue of God, thank you for giving your body for the sins of the world. Amen.

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Come and See - 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.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a942.html Wed, 14 Mar 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Ephesians 2:8–9

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows 

O Christ, how long will you bear these reproaches with which our enemies treat your gospel? We have said in the Confession that the forgiveness of sins is received freely for Christ’s sake, through faith. If this is not the very voice of the gospel, if it is not the judgment of the eternal Father, which you who are in the bosom of the Father has revealed to the world, we are justly blamed. But your death is a witness; your resurrection is a witness; the Holy Spirit is a witness; your entire Church is a witness, that it is truly the judgment of the gospel that we obtain forgiveness of sins, not because of our merits but, because of you, through faith.

Pulling It Together

Years ago, my Dad took me to a Cincinnati Reds baseball game. On the way, we ate at a restaurant he liked. Over his protests, I bought my meal. He had already purchased the tickets to the game and would not take my money for the ticket. So, I bought the game magazine. He liked to look up information on the players and especially to keep score. He loved to scratch hits and runs in those tiny boxes. Later in the game, he mentioned that a cup of coffee sounded good, so during the seventh inning stretch, I jumped up and went to the concession stand. He was disappointed when I handed him the cup, and said that he was going to get us each a cup when the concessions guy walked by. I could not, for the life of me, figure out why he was so disappointed—even disapproving.

After describing the day to my wife, she said something to the effect of, “Why didn’t you just let him treat you on your birthday?” I had no idea this had been my Dad’s attempt to say happy birthday. I got so caught up in my ability to pay my own way, that I missed out on the gift.

Prayer: Help me to receive your gift of grace, O Lord, with thanksgiving and humility. 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/a941.html Tue, 13 Mar 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Exodus 20:2–3

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows 

But listen; hear how the composers of the Confutation take flight. They only apply this passage of Paul to the Law of Moses, adding that the monks observe all things for Christ’s sake, and endeavor to live more closely to the Gospel in order to merit eternal life. Then they tack on a horrible closing with these words: “Therefore, those things that are here alleged against monasticism are wicked.”

Pulling It Together

What does God want? What does he want more than anything? What does God want from us “above all things”? He wants us. He wants our hearts, our trust, so that he may bless us. We tend to think of it in reverse: we are to bless God by doing and being good. Then, perhaps he will have us in his company.

God joined the Hebrews, was determined to live among and bless them, before they had a thought of him. He gave himself to them: “I am the Lord your God,” just as he gives himself to us today: “Given for you.” So, God is not received by our doing but but our faith. What do you do to receive the body of the Lord? What do you do to receive his shed blood? They are given for you—not taken. We do not earn; we receive. God gives himself to us just as he has from the beginning. “I am the Lord your God.”

He is not God because we acquired him or decided he is the god we will have. He is our God for precisely the opposite reason: because he decided to have us. Now that he is our God, there are certain things he expects of us: nine things to be sure. But those nine commandments are all about faith—not works. You do not always honor your parents and spouse any more than you honor the name of God or the Sabbath rest. Sometimes you lie and covet. Nor do you always cherish human life. When you fail God by not keeping this simple, short list of commands, do you give up? Or, more to the point, does God give up on you?

When you fail the nine, return to the one, to the first commandment. That return or repentance takes faith. When you fail the “shalls” and the “shall nots,” have faith in the “I am.” God does not give up on you. He is the Lord your God, given in Christ Jesus for you. He is your merit. Have faith in him, not yourself, not your good deeds and religious service.

Prayer: Crush, O God, every thought of my goodness, so that I may rely on you who are my only good. 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/a940.html Mon, 12 Mar 18 00:00:00 -0500

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Galatians 5:4–6

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows 

First, it is certain that a vow is not lawful if by making it one thinks the forgiveness of sins before God, or satisfaction for sins before God are merited. This opinion is an obvious insult to the gospel, which teaches that the forgiveness of sins is freely given us for Christ’s sake, as has been said above at some length. Therefore, we have correctly quoted Paul’s declaration to the Galatians: “You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace” (Gal 5:4). Those who seek the forgiveness of sins by monastic works, instead of through faith in Christ, steal the honor from Christ, and crucify him anew.

Pulling It Together

Instead of “circumcision” (Gal 5:6), one might as well say “vows” or any other legalism—the idea is the same. Neither vows nor a lack of vows counts for anything. Only faith matters. The condition of the body or one’s position in society have absolutely no bearing on God’s grace. He freely gives his grace to those who believe in Christ Jesus, not to those who perform religious deeds or make vows of religious service. One might enter religious service without faith. More importantly, the one who thinks he earns virtue with God because of a vow made or a vow kept, falls from any grace he once enjoyed. He has snubbed Christ by considering him unnecessary. If one may gain eternal life through vows or other deeds, of what use is Christ? “If righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose” (Gal 2:21). But righteousness is bestowed by God, not earned. It is freely given through faith in Christ alone, not by works, vows, or the keeping of rules.

Prayer: Thank you, God, for your free gift of salvation. Amen.

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By What Authority is a book that confronts churches who no longer believe their own message. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a938.html Sat, 10 Mar 18 00:00:00 -0600

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1 Peter 3:13–16

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows 

We have said many things in our Confession about such vows—that even the papal canons condemn. Nevertheless, our opponents demand the rejection of all things that we have produced. They used those very words. It is worthwhile to hear how they pervert our explanations, and what they assert to strengthen their own cause. Therefore, we will briefly run through a few of our arguments, and in passing, explain away our adversaries’ sophistries concerning them. Since, Luther carefully and fully dealt with this whole issue in his book titled Monastic Vows, we wish to be understood here as reiterating that book.

Pulling It Together

What a trial the Lutheran Reformers faced; we can hardly imagine such an issue in our modern culture. Back and forth the arguments went, first being written out, edited by peers, then written again and again until all could be in agreement with the document before sending it to Rome. Melancthon’s stomach must have been a continual abode of butterflies, having to constantly defend his and the Lutheran’s theological positions.

Yet, this is one way we honor Christ as Lord: we defend the gospel. Putting Christ first by not fearing the rebuke and rejection of others, we must be ready to defend the hope that God has put within us. We do so, not in a pushy way, but in response to their requests; and we do so with civility. Conscience is at risk otherwise. It would be self-defeating to defend the hope within you but not be able to defend your behavior.

Prayer: Prepare me, Lord, to share the hope of Jesus Christ with others. 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/a937.html Fri, 09 Mar 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Matthew 19:16–26

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows 

We are discussing the kind of doctrine that the composers of the Confutation are now defending, not the question of whether vows should be observed. For we hold that lawful vows ought to be observed. But do these services merit the remission of sins and justification? Are they satisfactions for sins? Are they are equal to Baptism? Are they the observance of commands and counsels? Are they so-called evangelical perfection? Do they have the merits of supererogation? Do these merits, when applied on behalf of others, save them? Are vows made with these opinions valid? Are they legitimate vows if taken under the pretext of religion, yet merely for the sake of the belly and idleness? Are they truly vows if they have been extorted either from the unwilling or from those who on account of age were not able to judge the kind of life parents or friends made for them, thrusting them into monasteries so that they might be supported at the public expense, without the loss of private patrimony? Are vows lawful if they openly point to an evil purpose, either because weakness prevents observance, or because members of these orders are compelled to approve and support the abuses of the Mass, the godless worship of saints, and counsels to rage against good men? These are the questions we are considering.

Pulling It Together

So-called evangelical perfection is the keeping of all God’s commands. Let us consider three points in this regard. First, being in a monastic order does not equal “evangelical perfection” any more than does membership in a particular denomination. Joining a group does not equate to perfection—particularly when the group is concerned with human traditions rather than God’s commands.

Two, faith is true evangelical perfection. Jesus teaches that God’s commandment is to believe in his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another (1 John 3:23). In other words, the Apostle John summed up all the commandments with a version of the greatest commandment. “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:30–31). Keep believing in God and his Spirit will work in you to love your neighbor.

Three, Jesus always hammers people with the law when that is what they need. When people imagine that they may be perfect by doing the right things, Jesus always gives them the law so that they might discover how impossible it is to keep (Acts 15:10), then rely on God’s free gift of grace instead of their own imperfect works. So, in the case of the man in today’s gospel text, even if he could have given away all his wealth, would he have followed Jesus? Would he have faith in the one God sent? The law makes us see who we truly are; it demonstrates the mindlessness of the notion that we can save ourselves through good works, morality, and religion. We are not saved by letting go of wealth. But in the case of this man, seeing the impossibility of the task, he would have to turn to God instead of self.

When we have come to the end of the law’s rope, we find a noose—or we let loose of the rope and trust God. Believe in his Son; have faith; keep faith in him above all things. Even if you do not seem perfect in your own eyes—for you will always struggle in this imperfect nature—you have been perfected in Christ. So, remember your baptism and know that the impossible is possible with God—not with you or your good works.

Prayer: Give me your Spirit, God, that I may have faith in Christ alone. 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/a936.html Thu, 08 Mar 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Matthew 15:7–9

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows 

Once they were schools for Christian instruction. Now they have degenerated, as though from a golden to an iron age, or as the Platonic cube degenerates into bad harmonies, which Plato says brings destruction. Wealthy monasteries support an idle crowd that stuffs itself with the public alms of the Church. Christ, however, teaches that salt which has lost its savor should be cast out and be trodden under foot (Matt 5:13). Therefore, monks who act this way are signing their own fate.

In many places, they are the instigators of the death of good people. So, another sign is added, and God will undoubtedly avenge these murders soon enough. We do not find fault with everyone, for we are of the opinion that there are here and there some good men in the monasteries who hold moderate opinions about human and “factitious” services, as some writers call them, and who do not approve of the cruelty which the hypocrites among them exercise.

Pulling It Together

It is an easy enough trap to fall into. One imagines he is being religious but his religion is based on human traditions. Anything can happen now—and will, as was evidenced by Christians being slaughtered at the hands of the Church. When the doctrines of men are taught and worship is based on human customs, the savor of faith has been lost. However, it does not always seem so to those doing wrong. They tell themselves that they are in the right, even doing God’s work, but they deceive themselves. This kind of hypocrisy is rooted in an evil heart that trusts self instead of God, that obeys human rules over the Word of God.

Prayer: Give me your Spirit, Lord, so that I may honor you with my heart as well as my lips. Amen.

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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/a935.html Wed, 07 Mar 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Luke 12:16–21

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows 

“But another one will come in 1516 AD,” he said, “who will destroy you. You will be unable to resist him.” Subsequently, his friends found this same opinion concerning the diminishing power of the monks, and this number of years, written by him in commentaries he had left about certain passages of Daniel. Though the outcome will tell how much weight should be given to his declaration, there are other signs that are no less certain than oracles which threaten a change in the power of the monks. It is obvious how much hypocrisy, ambition, and greed there is in the monasteries, how ignorant and cruel the illiterate among them, what vanity exists in their sermons, and how they continually devise new means of gaining money. There are other faults which we do not care to mention.

Pulling It Together

Greed always ends in activity that is unfitting for Christians and harmful to the Church. What begins in the heart seeps out into character and behavior. Perhaps the worst part of this is dependence on wealth instead of God. At its root, greed is a lack of faith. This lack of faith was plain to see in the monasteries at the time of the Reformation. It is also manifest in Church Councils of our own times. We should all take care to listen to Jesus. “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15).

Prayer: Help me to trust in you alone, Lord. 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/a934.html Tue, 06 Mar 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Romans 15:4–6

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows 

Thirty years ago, in the Thuringian town of Eisenach, there was to our knowledge, a monk named John Hilten. His order threw him into prison because he had protested certain notorious abuses. We have seen his writings, from which the nature of his doctrine can be understood. Those who knew him testify that he was a mild, old man, serious but not morose. He predicted many things, some of which have already happened, while others are still pending. We do not wish to recite them all, lest it may be inferred that we are doing so because of anger or partiality toward anyone.

When he became ill, either because of his age or the unsanitary prison, he sent for the guard to tell inform him of his sickness. Inflamed with pharisaic hatred, the guard began to harshly reprimand the man because his doctrine seemed to be injurious to the kitchen. Without mentioning his sickness, Hilten sighed and said that he was patiently bearing these injuries for Christ’s sake, since he had not written or taught anything which could overthrow monasticism, but had only protested against some well-known abuses.

Pulling It Together

There are abuses in churches because there are people in churches. Sinners bring their problems and opinions with them and share them with everyone present. Of course, we should speak against certain abuses, using Scripture to reason with folks (Isa 1:18). Often enough, those people will have been doing and thinking about things in a certain way for so long that they do not want to hear what you or the Bible have to say. All one can do at that point, while not relenting, is prayerfully endure what frequently becomes hostility, encouraging unity and same mindedness, again through use of Scripture so that the Holy Spirit may be at work. The goal is not only right practice, but peace and good order in the church. At times, the best thing to do is move on, unless you are first thrown out—or cast into prison.

Prayer: Equip me, O God, with your endurance and the hope to persevere. 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. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a933.html Mon, 05 Mar 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Colossians 3:12–17

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

We have briefly stated these things about the Mass so that all good people in all parts of the world may be able to understand that we zealously maintain the dignity of the Mass, that we demonstrate its true use, and that we have the most just reasons for dissenting from our opponents. We would have all good people warned to not aid these adversaries in profaning the Mass, lest they burden themselves with other people’s sin. This is a great cause and a great issue, no less than the ministry of the prophet Elijah who condemned the worship of Baal. We have presented such an important case with the greatest moderation, and now reply without casting any rebuke. But if our opponents require us to compile all kinds of abuses of the Mass, the case will not be treated with such good nature.

Pulling It Together

It is a tightrope. We are taught to be patient and gentle, loving one another with humility and forgiveness. At the same time, we are to admonish one another from the Scripture. Often the two seem at odds, impossible to harmonize. Yet that is the task before us, as it was the labor of the Lutheran Reformers. How does one reform an errant church without people being offended? Nonetheless, that is precisely what we are to always do, as another saying of the Reformation states: semper reformanda, always reforming. The trick is to do so gently, patiently, humbly, and lovingly.

Prayer: Give me wisdom, Lord, to be faithful to your Word, and loving to all people. Amen.

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Where does the Bible come from? Who decided what should be included in it? How do we know it is reliable? Why should we even care what it says? And even if we do care, how can we make sense of of such a big and confusing book? Author and pastor Tom Hilpert takes readers on a journey of discovery through the world's best-selling and most-printed book. Written in clear, understandable language, Who Cares About the Bible? tackles the most important questions concerning this unique book. It is an excellent primer for anyone interested in what the Bible is, how to properly understand it, and how to deal with the vast amount of misleading information that has been spread about it.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a932.html Sat, 03 Mar 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Romans 3:21–26

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

A false opinion about sacrifices existed among the godless priests in Judah, just as the worship of Baal continued in Israel. Nevertheless, God’s church was there, disapproving of godless services. Just so, Baalitic worship endures in the domain of the Pope, namely, through the abuse of the Mass, which they use to merit the remission of guilt and punishment for the unrighteous. It seems that this Baalitic worship will endure as long as the reign of the Pope, until Christ returns to judge, and by the glory of his advent, destroys the reign of Antichrist. Meanwhile, all who truly believe the gospel ought to condemn these wicked services that have been contrived against God’s command to obscure the glory of Christ and the righteousness of faith.

Pulling It Together

The righteousness of faith is a most blessed, gracious gift of God. Through this righteousness, we honor him and possess a constant comfort against sin and death. We honor him because we give credit where it is due. We honor him because we do not presume to usurp the glory for what God provides for us, what we could never supply ourselves. We honor him by receiving his gracious gifts in the sacraments. We dishonor him if we imagine we earn our righteousness simply by doing a religious ceremony. We honor him with the faith that it is he alone who freely gives us his grace, forgiveness, and eternal life.

This faith is a great benefit to the human heart. Armed with faith, we no longer fear judgment, for we fear God instead. Indeed, we “fear, love, and trust God above all things” (Martin Luther, Small Catechism, First Commandment). We should fear him enough that we do not institute false worship, whether it resembles the true faith or not. We should love him enough to know that he is a Father who provides for all our needs, not just food and drink and shelter, but righteousness and salvation. “He does this purely out of fatherly and divine goodness and mercy, though [we] do not deserve it” (Martin Luther, Small Catechism, First Article). We should trust him enough to have the faith that he will deliver us from sin and death as he promised. Trusting God instead of ourselves, we are at peace, knowing that sin, death, and the devil have no hold on those who are held in the embrace of God.

Prayer: Help me, O Lord, a sinner who would trust in you alone. Amen.

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Exodus in Sola's "Old Places, New Faces" series is an adult Bible study that seeks to make the stories and places of the Bible a reality in our lives today. It makes the messages of Exodus relevant for today. This study relates to the Bible as a book that speaks clearly about present realities through stories of the past. Old places from within the Bible can come alive with present significance to new faces—us. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a931.html Fri, 02 Mar 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Judges 2:12–13

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

There was a similar persuasion held by the godless in the Old Testament. They thought that they merited the remission of sins through sacrifices ex opere operato, instead of freely by faith. So, they increased these services and sacrifices, instituted the worship of Baal in Israel, and even sacrificed in the groves of Judah. The prophets condemn this opinion, and battle not only with the worshipers of Baal, but also with other priests who made sacrifices ordained by God, yet with this godless view. This opinion that services and sacrifices satisfy God hangs on in the world, and always will. Carnal people cannot allow the sacrifice of Christ alone to be honored as a propitiation. This is because they do not understand the righteousness of faith, but ascribe equal honor to other services and sacrifices.

Pulling It Together

If you think that salvation is earned by the works you do, you either have become your own god or you have followed another false god. If you are able to save yourself from judgment by doing certain works, then being able to save yourself, you have become your own god, as you have determined that you need no god; you only need your religious works and your moral thoughts and actions.

The God of the Bible has always been the saving God. Because it is he who saves us—not we who save ourselves through works and character—he demands a certain kind of worship that looks quite different from a works-oriented, character-driven religion. Therefore, he prescribes the what and how of worship. The “what” includes Word and Sacrament: Baptism, confession, Holy Communion, preaching, singing “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” (Eph 5:19), and prayer. The “how” is to worship “in spirit and truth” (John 4:24), in other words, by faith. If any of the “whats” are done without the “how” of faith, then those “whats” do not measure up to God’s demands for our worship. We may look right while not being right with God. We may have all the right practices without having righteous hearts.

Prayer: Restore to me, Lord, the joy of your salvation. Amen.

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Learning About Communion teaches the meaning of Holy Communion according to the pattern of Luther's Small Catechism, and is recommended for the Fifth Grade Level. Each week focuses on a specific Bible story which illustrates the theme, with additional references from Scripture 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/a930.html Thu, 01 Mar 18 00:00:00 -0600

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1 Peter 1:8–9

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

Our opponents also falsely cite against us the condemnation of Aerius, who they say was condemned because he denied that an offering is made for the living and the dead in the Mass. They frequently spin the ancient heresies, falsely comparing them to our cause in order to crush us. Epiphanius testifies that Aerius believed prayers for the dead are useless. He finds fault with this view. We do not favor Aerius either, but are contending with you who are defending a heresy that plainly conflicts with the prophets, apostles, and holy Fathers, namely, that the Mass justifies ex opere operato, that it merits the remission of guilt and punishment to whom it is applied—even for the impious, if they do not object. We reject these pestilent errors, as they detract from the glory of Christ’s passion, and entirely overthrow the doctrine concerning the righteousness of faith.

Pulling It Together

Aerius was a fourth century bishop of Sabaste in Pontus (modern day Sivas in the Black Sea area of Turkey). His teachings about offerings for the dead not being part of the Mass labeled his as a heretic by most of the church. But this reference to Aerius was subterfuge on the part of the Roman Catholic theologians. The real issue under consideration was whether or not the Mass justified persons simply by doing the ceremony. Also under consideration was whether that work could be worked into the life of another if they were not present or were even dead.

The Lutheran Reformers disapproved of these notions, appealing first to Scripture, not the Church Fathers. The theologians from the early centuries of the Church were only significant to the Reformers if they were in agreement with Scripture. Scripture assigns all honor to Christ, not to the work of priests. Furthermore, was faith in the work of Christ required for the Mass to be efficacious? God’s Word teaches that salvation is the outcome of faith in Christ. The outcome of ceremony without faith is condemnation (John 3:18).

Prayer: Thank you, Holy Spirit, for giving me eyes of faith so that my life is filled with the glory of Jesus Christ. 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/a929.html Wed, 28 Feb 18 00:00:00 -0600

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John 4:23–24

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

Our opponents pray for the dead, which we do not prohibit; but we disapprove of the application ex opere operato of the Lord’s Supper on behalf of the dead. The ancients do not favor our opponents concerning the opus operatum. Even though they have the agreement of Gregory or modern theologians, we face them with the most clear and certain Scriptures. There is a great diversity among the Fathers. They were men, and could err and be deceived. If they could live again, and see their sayings used to support the notorious falsehoods which our opponents teach about the opus operatum, they would convey their thoughts far differently.

Pulling It Together

Worship in the New Testament is done “in spirit and truth.” This kind of worship means that the active agent is the Spirit of God—not us. Our works do not count for anything. So, we must worship God in faith. God does not delight in our works, but in our faith toward him. This is true worship, and the Lord is looking for those who would worship him in this way: from the heart and with faith.

Prayer: Fill me, Holy Spirit, so that I may worship you as you desire. Amen.

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a928.html Tue, 27 Feb 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Psalm 50:14–15

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

The Greek canon does not apply the offering as a satisfaction for the dead because it applies it equally for all the blessed patriarchs, prophets, and apostles. Therefore, it seems that the Greeks make an offering as thanksgiving, and do not apply it as satisfaction for punishments. Yet they speak not only of offering the body and blood of the Lord, but of the other parts of the Mass, namely, prayers and thanksgiving. For after the consecration they pray that it may profit those who partake of it. They speak of no others. Then they add that reasonable service does not mean the offering itself, but prayers and all things which are conducted there.

Pulling It Together

The ancients never intended to deliver the patriarchs, prophets, and apostles from a so-called purgatory. They only wished to offer up thanks together with them for the blessings that have been given to them and to us, the “household of faith” (Gal 6:10), the Israel of God (Gal 6:16), the whole Church.

These or similar words are spoken after the Lord’s Supper has been received: “The body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ strengthen you and keep you in his grace.” Then thanks and prayer are offered for all those present. Such thanks and praise are our reasonable service of worship.

Prayer: I give you thanks and praise, O God, for all the blessings your people receive in Word and Sacrament through the Holy Spirit of Christ Jesus. 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/a927.html Mon, 26 Feb 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Deuteronomy 4:2

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

But let us return to the case. Since the Mass without faith, ex opere operato, is not a satisfaction for either punishment or guilt, it follows that its application on behalf of the dead is useless. So, there is no need here of a longer discussion. Clearly, this usage for the dead has no testimony in Scripture. Nor is it safe to establish forms of worship in the Church without the authority of Scripture. If it becomes necessary at any time, we shall speak at greater length about this whole subject. Why should we contend with opponents who do not understand the meaning of sacrifice, sacrament, forgiveness of sins, or faith?

Pulling It Together

Why is Scripture, or the Word of God, so important? Why is its authority paramount? It is the only objective way we have of knowing who God is, and of discerning his will among the countless voices demanding our attention. The three “solas” of the Lutheran Reformation help us understand. We are justified by the grace of God alone: sola gratia. This justification, or being made right with God, happens through faith alone: sola fide. But how do we know this to be the case except on the basis of Scripture alone: sola scriptura? It all breaks down without the Word. Indeed, the ceremonies are only uses of water, wine, and bread without the Word. But with the Word, these elements become Sacraments. Mere performance of the ceremonies is nothing without faith in the promises of God. This faith is provided to us by his grace alone.

Establishing new kinds of worship like masses for the dead, cannot be tolerated because they are based on the word and will of people. God’s Word is our only objective authority in such matters.

Prayer: Help me think of you properly, Lord, by giving careful attention to your Word. Amen.

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Sola carries an assortment of greeting cards

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a926.html Sat, 24 Feb 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Colossians 2:13–14

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a925.html Fri, 23 Feb 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Isaiah 1:18

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a924.html Thu, 22 Feb 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Romans 5:1–2

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a923.html Wed, 21 Feb 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Exodus 20:7

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a922.html Tue, 20 Feb 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Romans 12:1–2

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a921.html Mon, 19 Feb 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Matthew 21:21–22

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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Martin Luther's Small Catechism (Spanish/Español)

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a920.html Sat, 17 Feb 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Hebrews 10:11–14

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a919.html Fri, 16 Feb 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Acts 2:42

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a918.html Thu, 15 Feb 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Romans 12:1

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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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)

A separate Leader's Guide is available. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a917.html Wed, 14 Feb 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Psalm 116:12–13

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

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

 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a916.html Tue, 13 Feb 18 00:00:00 -0600

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1 Corinthians 11:26

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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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)

A separate Leader's Guide is available. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a915.html Mon, 12 Feb 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Hebrews 11:6

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a914.html Sat, 10 Feb 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Romans 1:17

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a913.html Fri, 09 Feb 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Luke 22:19–20

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

• Student Workbook   • Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a912.html Thu, 08 Feb 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Hebrews 13:10–15

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a911.html Wed, 07 Feb 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Psalm 111:4–5

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a910.html Tue, 06 Feb 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Romans 2:25–29

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

• Unit 1   • Unit 2   • Unit 3

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a909.html Mon, 05 Feb 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Mark 9:23–24

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

Prayer: Lord, help my unbelief! Amen.

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a908.html Fri, 02 Feb 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Romans 5:1–2

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a907.html Thu, 01 Feb 18 00:00:00 -0600

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1 Corinthians 11:27–29

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a906.html Wed, 31 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Romans 9:10

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a905.html Tue, 30 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Colossians 2:6–7

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a904.html Mon, 29 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Luke 22:19

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

Prayer: Thank you, Jesus. Amen.

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a903.html Sat, 27 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Luke 22:17–20

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a902.html Fri, 26 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

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1 Corinthians 10:16–17

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a901.html Thu, 25 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

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1 Corinthians 11:23–29

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a900.html Wed, 24 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

Index of Scripture Graphics and posts by Scripture reference

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Romans 3:27–28

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a899.html Tue, 23 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

Index of Scripture Graphics and posts by Scripture reference

Galatians 3:2

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a898.html Mon, 22 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

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

Hebrews 7:27–28

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a897.html Sat, 20 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

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

Colossians 1:19–23

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a896.html Fri, 19 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

Index of Scripture Graphics and posts by Scripture reference

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Hebrews 9:13–14

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a895.html Thu, 18 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

Index of Scripture Graphics and posts by Scripture reference

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Acts 2:22–24

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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Since Lent is fast approaching... 

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a894.html Wed, 17 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

Index of Scripture Graphics and posts by Scripture reference

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Hebrews 4:14–16

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a893.html Tue, 16 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

Index of Scripture Graphics and posts by Scripture reference

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Mark 1:14–20

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a892.html Mon, 15 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

Index of Scripture Graphics and posts by Scripture reference

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1 Corinthians 11:23–29

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a891.html Sun, 14 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

Index of Scripture Graphics and posts by Scripture reference

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Ephesians 2:8–10

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a890.html Sat, 13 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Luke 22:19–20

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a889.html Fri, 12 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

Index of Scripture Graphics and posts by Scripture reference

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Luke 13:1–5

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a888.html Thu, 11 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

Index of Scripture Graphics and posts by Scripture reference

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Daniel 11:29–32

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a887.html Wed, 10 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Hebrews 4:1–3a

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a886.html Tue, 09 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Acts 8:18–22

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a883.html Mon, 08 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Acts 2:42–47

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a882.html Sun, 07 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Ecclesiastes 5:1

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a881.html Sat, 06 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

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January 6, 2018

Genesis 15:1–6

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a880.html Fri, 05 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

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1 Peter 1:1–2

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

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Download the Sola App for Android or Apple. This free, mobile app includes Holy Families devotions, these Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions, electronic greeting cards, a searchable ESV Bible, the Small Catechism, readings for the upcoming Sunday, and more. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a879.html Thu, 04 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Luke 22:14–20

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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Download the Sola App for Android or Apple. This free, mobile app includes these Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions, electronic greeting cards, a searchable ESV Bible, Holy Families devotions, the Small Catechism, readings for the upcoming Sunday, and more. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a878.html Wed, 03 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

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1 Peter 2:4-5

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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Download the Sola App for Android or Apple. This free, mobile app includes electronic greeting cards, a searchable ESV Bible, Holy Families devotions, Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions, the Sola Small Catechism, the readings for the upcoming Sunday, and more. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a877.html Tue, 02 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Romans 6:5-8

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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Download the Sola App for Android or Apple. This free, mobile app includes a searchable ESV Bible, Holy Families devotions, Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions, the Sola Small Catechism, the readings for the upcoming Sunday, electronic greeting cards, and more. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a876.html Mon, 01 Jan 18 00:00:00 -0600

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Malachi 1:10–11

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

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

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a875.html Mon, 20 Nov 17 00:00:00 -0600

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Revelation 5:8-10

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a874.html Fri, 17 Nov 17 00:00:00 -0600

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Romans 12:6–8

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

Prayer: Thank you, Holy Spirit, for giving me a gift and a place in your Church. Amen.

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a873.html Wed, 15 Nov 17 00:00:00 -0600

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1 Samuel 15:22

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a872.html Tue, 14 Nov 17 00:00:00 -0600

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Hebrews 13:15

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a871.html Mon, 13 Nov 17 00:00:00 -0600

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Hosea 6:6

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a870.html Fri, 10 Nov 17 00:00:00 -0600

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John 4:23–24

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a869.html Thu, 09 Nov 17 00:00:00 -0600

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Romans 12:1–2

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a868.html Wed, 08 Nov 17 00:00:00 -0600

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Revelation 5:6–10

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a867.html Tue, 07 Nov 17 00:00:00 -0600

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Isaiah 53:4–6

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a866.html Mon, 06 Nov 17 00:00:00 -0600

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Colossians 2:16–19

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a865.html Fri, 03 Nov 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 6:2-4

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

The 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/a864.html Thu, 02 Nov 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Hebrews 10:4-10

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

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

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a863.html Wed, 01 Nov 17 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Corinthians 2:2 

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a862.html Tue, 31 Oct 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Hebrews 10:8-10

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a861.html Mon, 30 Oct 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Mark 16:16

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

Prayer: Help me to hold fast to my faith in you, Lord, by remembering that you baptized me. Amen.

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Learning About Baptism teaches the meaning of Holy Baptism according to the pattern of Luther's Small Catechism, and is recommended for the First Grade Level. Each week focuses on a specific Bible story which illustrates the theme, with additional references from Scripture and Luther's Small Catechism - Children's Version. Lessons focus on Baptism as a promise from God, emphasizing the power of God's Word in the Sacrament to create faith and repentance in our daily life.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a860.html Fri, 27 Oct 17 00:00:00 -0500

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2 Timothy 2:15

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a859.html Thu, 26 Oct 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Hebrews 10:11-14

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

The 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/a858.html Mon, 25 Sep 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Matthew 26:28 

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a857.html Thu, 21 Sep 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 5:1-2 

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

Prayer: Lord, I believe. Amen.

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a856.html Tue, 19 Sep 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Mark 11:15–17 

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a855.html Mon, 18 Sep 17 00:00:00 -0500

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2 Thessalonians 3:10–12 

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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Learning the Lord's Prayer teaches the Lord's Prayer according to the pattern of Luther's Small Catechism, and is recommended for the Second Grade Level. Each week focuses on a specific Bible story which illustrates the theme, with additional references from Scripture and Luther's Small Catechism - Children's Version

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a854.html Fri, 15 Sep 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Acts 20:7 

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a853.html Thu, 14 Sep 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 10:17 

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a852.html Wed, 13 Sep 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Acts 8:30

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a851.html Mon, 11 Sep 17 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Timothy 4:13–16

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

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a850.html Thu, 07 Sep 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Luke 11:28 

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a849.html Wed, 06 Sep 17 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Peter 1:24–25

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

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

Pulling It Together

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

Prayer: Lord, have mercy. Amen.

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a848.html Tue, 05 Sep 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Titus 3:5 

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

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

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a847.html Fri, 01 Sep 17 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Thessalonians 4:7–8

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a846.html Thu, 31 Aug 17 00:00:00 -0500

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Psalm 51:7

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a845.html Wed, 30 Aug 17 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Corinthians 7:2

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

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

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a844.html Tue, 29 Aug 17 00:00:00 -0500

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2 Corinthians 2:17

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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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/a843.html Mon, 28 Aug 17 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Corinthians 11:19

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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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/a842.html Fri, 25 Aug 17 00:00:00 -0500

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John 8:44

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

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

Pulling It Together

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

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

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/lessons-in-the-lutheran-confessions/a841.html Thu, 24 Aug 17 00:00:00 -0500

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