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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Concerning the Mass – part 49

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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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