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.