Sola Publishing News and Feedback http://dev.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/feed.html News, devotions and feedback blog for Sola Publishing en-us Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 31 Dec 21 00:00:00 -0600 Click for larger image

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Ephesians 2:19-21

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Church 

We are not dreaming of a Platonic state, as some maliciously assert, but we teach that this Church does exist, comprised of truly believing and righteous people scattered throughout the whole world. And we add the marks: the pure doctrine of the gospel and the sacraments. This Church is properly the pillar of the truth (1 Tim 3:15) because it retains the pure gospel and what Paul calls the “foundation” (1 Cor 3:11), the true knowledge of Christ and faith. There are obviously many weak persons in the Church who build upon the foundation with stubble that will perish, that is, with useless opinions. Nevertheless, because they do not overthrow the foundation, they are both forgiven and also corrected. 

Pulling It Together

You will find the Church wherever two or more are gathered in the name of Jesus (Matt 18:20), that is with faith in him, teaching the gospel, and administering the sacraments. Christ is the cornerstone of the Church, and the teachings of the prophets and the apostles are its foundation (Eph 2:20). The sign in front of the building is not proof, nor are its articles of incorporation. The Holy Scriptures are its charter and constitution. Faithful people are its structure. This holy temple, the Church, is the work of God’s Spirit. Therefore, the Church is primarily spiritual and theological, not physical, organizational, or historical. It is a living temple and all people with faith in Christ are its living stones (1 Pet 2:5).

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for making me a member of your household, through your Son Jesus Christ. Amen.

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Introduce young students to the Church through this five-week series titled Welcome to Church. There are no student books necessary; all print resources needed to prepare and run a class session are included and are copy-ready. Each lesson includes background information for the teacher on the session theme and Bible lesson, as well as a step-by-step class session plan, ideas for welcome, prayers, Bible rhymes, activities and projects, as well as reproducible coloring pages and worksheets. The price of the book includes permission to reproduce pages for local use.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 30 Dec 21 00:00:00 -0600 Click for larger image

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Matthew 13:47-50

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Church – part 12

The parables of Christ clearly agree. “The good seed means the sons of the kingdom; the weeds are the sons of the evil one” (Matt 13:38). The field, he says, is the world, not the Church. Thus John speaks concerning the whole race of the Jews, and says that it will come to pass that the true Church will be separated from that people. Therefore, this passage is more against the adversaries than in their favor as it shows that the true and spiritual people will be separated from the physical people. Christ also speaks of the outward appearance of the Church when he says, “the kingdom of heaven is like a net” (Matt 13:47) or like “ten maidens” (Matt 25:1). He teaches that the Church has been obscured by a multitude of evils, so that this stumbling-block will not offend the faithful, and so that they may know that the Word and Sacraments are efficacious even when administered by ungodly people. Though these godless people have the fellowship of outward signs, he teaches that they are nevertheless not the true kingdom of Christ or members of Christ, since they are members of the kingdom of the devil.

Pulling It Together: Many kinds of people are drawn to the Church, but not all are members of the Church. Some have an outward appearance of belonging, yet that does not make them true members of the spiritual kingdom of Christ. They may hold office, being on a committee or even being a pastor or a bishop. Still, these offices do not determine who is of the true kingdom.

It is easy to become discouraged by such people, and to even wonder if their ministry achieves a good and holy outcome. We should remember a few things when we are receiving Word and Sacrament from such unholy ministers. First, Jesus and his apostles warned us that there would be weeds mixed within the wheat until the harvest (Matt 13:24-30). Second, God is able to speak through simpletons and open the mouths of asses (Num 22:28). Third, it is not the holiness of the person that makes a Sacrament effective; it is God’s word and promise that brings about the desired result. 

Prayer: Help me, Lord Jesus, to be faithful even if there are faithless people in your Church. 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. 

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 29 Dec 21 00:00:00 -0600 Click for larger image

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John 18:33-37

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Church 

But why is there need for more words about a matter that is quite clear? If the Church, which is truly the kingdom of Christ, is distinguished from the kingdom of the devil, it follows necessarily that the wicked are not the Church since they are in the kingdom of the devil. Yet they are mingled with the Church, and hold offices in the Church in this life because the kingdom of Christ has not yet been revealed. Just because the revelation has not yet arrived does not make the wicked the kingdom of Christ. For that which he quickens by his Spirit is always the kingdom, whether it is revealed or is hidden beneath the cross, just as Christ is the same Christ now that he has been glorified as when he was afflicted.

Pulling It Together

Jesus was clear on this matter when he was brought before Pilate. His kingdom is not of this world. It is not temporal but instead, spiritual. So we should expect that while his spiritual kingdom also exists physically and organizationally on this side of eternity, that there will be people associated with the Church who hold office in it, who even do good in the name of Christ (Matt 7:21-23), yet who are not members of the true Church. The real Church, the spiritual kingdom of Christ, is comprised of those who listen to the voice of Christ, and thus, believe in him. These are the people of faith, who do not rely upon great works of devotion and service. Instead, they trust in Christ alone for their citizenship in his kingdom. 

Prayer: Lord, do not allow my service for the Church to get in the way of my faith in you. Amen.

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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 described 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/summaries.html Tue, 28 Dec 21 00:00:00 -0600 Click for larger image

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1 John 3:2-7

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Church 

According to the gospel, therefore, only those who receive this promise of the Spirit are the people. Besides, the Church is the kingdom of Christ, distinguished from the kingdom of the devil. Furthermore, it is certain that the wicked are in the power of the devil, and members of the kingdom of the devil, as Paul teaches, when he says that the devil “is now at work in the sons of disobedience” (Eph 2:2). The Pharisees certainly had outward fellowship with the Church, that is with the saints among the people of the law, since they held office, sacrificed, and taught. Christ says to them, “You are of your father the devil” (John 8:44). Therefore, the Church, which is truly the kingdom of Christ is, properly speaking, the congregation of the saints. The wicked are ruled by the devil, and are his captives; they are not ruled by the Spirit of Christ.

Pulling It Together

As worshipers come forward for Holy Communion, many pause at the baptismal font, place their fingers in the water, and make the sign of the cross on their forehead. They are physically remembering that they are baptized into Christ. In their journey to the altar to receive God’s grace, they remind themselves that, though they are sinners in need of forgiveness, they are also the saints of God in Christ. They are sorry for their sins, and desire to receive both pardon and the power of righteousness. They are making a clean break from sin, trusting in Christ for a reconciled God. These people do not make a practice of sin, yet admit that they are still sinners who need God’s grace. There is more to righteousness than doing holy things. True righteousness is absolute dependence upon Christ alone for holiness through justification to God. This is the holy catholic Church: those who hope in Christ for the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.

Prayer: Take away my sin, Lord, and fortify my faith in you. Amen.

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Interactive PDF Certificates for Baptism, Rite of Confirmation, and First Communion. You get all three for one price. Simply download the files, choose the certificate you want to use, type in the name, date, and church information, then print on your color printer. Save files to your desktop and re-use over and over again. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 27 Dec 21 00:00:00 -0600

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Galatians 3:24-29

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Church 

Likewise, what difference will there be between the people of the law and the Church if the Church is an outward organization? Paul distinguishes the Church from the people of the law in that the Church is a spiritual people. It has not been distinguished from the heathen by civil rites, but that it is the true people of God, regenerated by the Holy Spirit. The people of the law, born of the flesh, had promises concerning physical things, government, etc, in addition to the promise of Christ. Because of these promises, even the wicked among them were called the people of God, because God had separated their offspring from other nations by certain outward ordinances and promises. Nevertheless, these wicked people did not please God. But the Gospel does not bring a mere shadow of eternal things; it brings the eternal things themselves: the Holy Spirit and righteousness, by which we are righteous before God.

Pulling It Together

All those who by nature were born Jews, or Abraham’s seed, were given the law so that they might be an example to the nations of how God would have people live. Sinners were to be restrained by the law through civil discipline, penalties, teachings, and ceremonies. So it is plain to see that the law was a moral guardian and instructor, used by God until the Messiah came. Christ came so that people would be justified by faith in him, not through law keeping. All nations may be children of God through faith, so there is no longer a difference between Jews and other people. Indeed, all believers are spiritual Jews. Since Christ’s kingdom is a spiritual kingdom, if people are Christ’s, they are Abraham’s offspring. As such, every true Christian is a partaker of eternal blessings, even while here on earth. They enjoy eternal peace, eternal life, and the Holy Spirit because they have received a righteousness from God that is now their guardian until being completely saved in the world to come.

Prayer: Help me remember, Holy Spirit, that I am baptized into 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.

Your support of Sola Publishing enables Sola to benefit future generations of Lutherans by continuing to produce resources that reflect the integrity of the Scriptures as the Word of God, from the perspective of the historical Lutheran Confessions.

Click the "Donate" button above to make a secure, one-time or recurring donation. Or mail checks made out to "Sola Publishing" to:

Sola Publishing
PO Box 521
Maple Lake, MN 55358

Questions? Please call toll free: 888-887-9840.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 26 Dec 21 00:00:00 -0600 Click for larger image

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1 Corinthians 12:4-11

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Church 

Jerome says, “The sinner, therefore, who has been soiled with any blotch cannot be called a member of the Church of Christ, neither can he be said to be subject to Christ.” Although hypocrites and wicked people are members of this true Church according to outward religious ceremony, it is necessary to define the Church according that which is the living body of Christ, that which is in name and in fact the Church. And for this there are many reasons.

It is necessary to understand the main thing that makes us members, that is, living members of the Church. If we define the Church as only an outward organization of both the godly and wicked, people will not understand that the kingdom of Christ is righteousness of heart and the gift of the Holy Spirit. They will suppose that it is only the outward observance of certain forms of worship and ceremonies.

Pulling It Together

The Body of Christ is not an organization that merely goes through the motions of ceremonies. The Church has gifts in the heart, namely, the Holy Spirit and faith. The kingdom of Christ is not only physical and organizational, it is chiefly spiritual. Therefore Christ rules inwardly, strengthening and comforting hearts, and imparting the Holy Spirit and various spiritual gifts. These gifts are given for the common good of the fellowship of the Church. All true members of this blessed communion of saints are ministers and priests (1 Pet 2:9). So God has given each of them gifts of the Spirit, to each member according to God’s will, so that the whole Body of Christ serves and is being served. Members of the kingdom of Christ do not go through the motions; they serve with the entire variety of gifts as God empowers them.

Prayer: Invest in me of your Spirit, Lord, so that I might serve you in 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.

The Sola Online Worship Resource (SOWeR) includes a hundreds of selections 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/summaries.html Sat, 25 Dec 21 00:00:00 -0600 Click for larger image

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Proverbs 12:5-7

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Church

It says “the Church catholic” so that we will not understand the Church to be an outward government of certain nations, but rather, people scattered throughout the whole world who agree concerning the gospel, and have the same Christ, the same Holy Spirit, and the same Sacraments, whether or not they have the same human traditions. The gloss in the Decrees says, “The Church in its wide sense includes both the godly and the wicked, yet the wicked are in the Church only in name, not in fact. But the godly are in the Church both in fact and in name.” The Fathers write to this effect in many passages.

Pulling It Together

The “house of the righteous,” the Church, is infiltrated by the wicked. Sometimes, they seem petty, though they are aggravating and ungodly. They bring their counsel, imagining that they are dropping pearls of wisdom on the Council table. Their intentions may be fine, but their counsel is far from the Word of God. Others hope to ensnare the righteous in evil schemes. Everyone involved in their congregation has known such people. We wonder why they really come to church. God’s will is that such people may be among us for the time being so that it will become plain who demonstrates genuine faith (1 Cor 11:19). The time is coming, however, when the ungodly will no longer stand with the faithful. Only the house of the righteous will stand before God on that glorious Day.

Prayer: Purify my thoughts, Lord, and cleanse my deeds with your righteousness. Amen.

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

Your support of Sola Publishing enables Sola to benefit future generations of Lutherans by continuing to produce resources that reflect the integrity of the Scriptures as the Word of God, from the perspective of the historical Lutheran Confessions.

Click the "Donate" button above to make a secure, one-time or recurring donation. Or mail checks made out to "Sola Publishing" to:

Sola Publishing
PO Box 521
Maple Lake, MN 55358

Questions? Please call toll free: 888-887-9840.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 24 Dec 21 00:00:00 -0600 Click for larger image

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Ephesians 5:25–27

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Church – part 6

This article has been presented for a necessary reason. We see the infinite dangers which threaten the destruction of the Church. Within herself is an infinite multitude of the wicked who oppress the Church. Therefore, in order that we may not despair, the Creed provides us with certain consolations in this article. The Church will remain, however great the multitude of the wicked may be. And Christ will continue to supply those gifts that he has promised to the Church: forgiveness of sins, answer to prayer, and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Pulling It Together

The article of the catholic or universal Church is comforting and necessary. When we perceive the threat to the Church—a threat that exists both from within and without—we can be led to despair of her continued existence. Yet we confess that Christ has established his Church and will present her in glorious splendor on that Day. In the meanwhile, the Church will continue to enjoy the other promises that we confess and hope for in the Creed: the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and everlasting life. 

Prayer: Though all the world should threaten your Church, Lord, I trust in your promises. 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/summaries.html Thu, 23 Dec 21 00:00:00 -0600 Click for larger image

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Philippians 2:12-16a

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Church 

The Church is also defined by the article in the Creed that teaches us to believe that there is “one holy catholic Church.” The wicked indeed are not a holy Church. “The communion of saints” that follows, seems to be added in order to explain what “church” signifies, namely, the congregation of saints who share the fellowship of the same gospel or doctrine, and of the same Holy Spirit who renews, sanctifies, and governs their hearts.

Pulling It Together: We believe in the Church. This is the congregation of those who believe in Christ. They are spread throughout the ages—past, present, and future. As such, the Church is also here now. It is that fellowship of souls whom God’s Spirit is regenerating and sanctifying. There are wolves among the flock of Christ (Matt 7:15, 10:16) but they are not in the flock. They are not sheep but are only masquerading among the sheep. They are not the people of God’s pasture (Psa 95:7) because they do not believe. The true Church holds fast to the word of life, the gospel of Jesus Christ, and as such, is being led by the Holy Spirit through this present wilderness of sin and death, always back to faith and life in Christ Jesus.

Prayer: Bring me always, Holy Spirit, back to faith in Christ. Amen.

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

The Sola Online Worship Resource is a lectionary-based web resource for Scripture lessons, lectionary inserts, children's bulletins, devotionals, text studies, prayers, worship 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/summaries.html Wed, 22 Dec 21 00:00:00 -0600 Click for larger image

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Titus 3:4-7

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Church 

So we wonder why they have found fault with our description that speaks of living members. We have said nothing new. Paul has defined the Church in precisely the same way, saying that it should be cleansed in order to be holy. He adds the outward marks of the Word and Sacraments, saying, “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Eph 5:25-27). We stated this in our Confession with almost the same wording.

Pulling It Together

The true Church consists of the righteous who enjoy Christ’s fellowship through faith and the Holy Spirit. So we must be careful to confess that sinful people, such as ourselves, become righteous and holy only through the grace of God. They do not become righteous by their own works but instead, are cleansed by the promise of God’s Word in Holy Baptism. The Holy Spirit regenerates and renews them, so that they are fit for the kingdom. Members of the Body of Christ are justified to God and sanctified by the gracious agency of God, not by their religious deeds and moral character. Being justified by his grace, the Church enjoys the hope of eternal life promised in the gospel to those who believe.

Prayer: Wash me, Lord, and I shall be whiter than snow. 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/summaries.html Tue, 21 Dec 21 00:00:00 -0600 Click for larger image

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Ephesians 1:15-23

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Church 

For Paul also predicts that Antichrist will sit in the temple of God, that he will rule and bear office in the Church (2 Thess 2:4). But the Church is not only the fellowship of outward objects and rites, like other governments. It is chiefly a fellowship of faith and of the Holy Spirit in people’s hearts. Nevertheless, this fellowship has outward marks so that it can be recognized, namely, the pure doctrine of the gospel, and the administration of the Sacraments in accordance with the Gospel of Christ. This Church alone is called the Body of Christ, which Christ renews, sanctifies, and governs by his Spirit, as Paul testifies, saying, “He has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fulness of him who fills all in all” (Eph 1:22-23). Hence, those in whom Christ does not act are not members of Christ. Our adversaries also acknowledge that the wicked are dead members of the Church.

Pulling It Together

We deplore the condition of some church bodies, that they have abandoned the Word of God for culturally correct beliefs. Yet, we should not complain overly much since we know that God is sovereign. We should expect apostasy of all kinds, for these things are but the foreshadowing of a larger evil, when the one who rules the Church will be the very embodiment of evil. While we should even be able to predict these outward defections of faith, we ought to also give thanks to God that he is always refining and sanctifying the true Church, the Church of his Spirit. These members of the Body of Christ have enlightened eyes of the heart (Eph 1:18), are growing in faith and love (2 Thess 1:3), and enjoy certain hope in a rich and glorious inheritance among the saints. Indeed, this hope of glory (Col 1:27) is already realized as Christ within and among us through faith—the truest measure of the members of Christ. 

Prayer: Open the eyes of my heart, Lord. Amen.

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

The 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/summaries.html Mon, 20 Dec 21 00:00:00 -0600 Click for larger image

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Matthew 26:26-28

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Church 

The saying is surely true that there is no remedy against the attacks of a slanderer. Nothing can be spoken with such care that it can escape criticism. For this reason we have added the eighth article, lest any one imagine that we separate the wicked and hypocrites from the outward fellowship of the Church, or that we deny efficacy to Sacraments administered by hypocrites or wicked men. So there is no need here of a long defense against this slander. The eighth article is sufficient to acquit us. We grant that in this life hypocrites and wicked men have been mingled with the Church, that they are members of the Church according to the outward signs of the Church’s fellowship, namely, Word, confession, and Sacraments. This is especially so if they have not been excommunicated. Neither are the Sacraments without efficacy if they are administered by wicked men. We may also rightly use Sacraments administered by wicked men.

Pulling It Together

In this life, the Church is a place where people of all kinds assemble. There will be those who believe and even those who come for other reasons. Some people attend church because they were raised to do so. They give no thought to faith; it is simply the right thing to do. There are people in churches who do not believe in Christ but use the church as a means of advancing their own agendas. Of course, such people are not the one, true Church which is composed of those who believe in Christ.

There are even pastors in the Church who do not believe. This is difficult to conceive of, but nonetheless true. They administer the Sacraments, bringing guilt upon themselves. Nevertheless, this does not diminish the effectiveness of the Sacraments in any way since these wicked pastors are not the ones who make the Sacraments valid. Baptism and Communion are efficacious because of the Word of God. It is God’s promise that makes the Sacraments effective, not the one dispensing those Sacraments. These words, “Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins,” together with the eating and drinking, are the chief thing in the Sacrament. Those who believe Christ’s words have what they say and declare, namely, the forgiveness of sins.

Prayer: Forgive me of my own faithlessness, Lord, and strengthen me to believe your words of promise. Amen.

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

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

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 19 Dec 21 00:00:00 -0600 Click for larger image

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Matthew 22:9–14

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Church 

The seventh article of our Confession, in which we stated that the Church is the congregation of saints, has been condemned by the authors of the Confutation. They have added a long essay, that the wicked are not to be separated from the Church since John compared the Church to a threshing-floor on which wheat and chaff are heaped together (Matt 3:12), and Christ compared it to a net in which there are both good and bad fishes (Matt 13:47).

Pulling It Together

It is true that different kinds of people attend services of the Church. Nearly 40 years ago, a half dozen people from a local cult attended my church, trying to get people to follow their false god. Were those people members of the Body of Christ simply because they were in the assembly that day? Sensible people readily see that this is not the case. The Body of our Lord is comprised of those who have received the grace of Christ, the forgiveness of sins, reconciliation to God, and everlasting life. While many gather together like so much wheat and chaff on the threshing floor, God’s sifting fork is in his hand (Matt 3:12). He will separate the righteous from the unrighteous and gather the true Church to himself in eternity.

May many, both wheat and chaff, assemble this Lord’s Day so that they might hear the gospel and believe. Let them take to heart two truths. God is ready to regenerate chaff, changing us into wheat through the baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire (Matt 3:11). Yet, God is also judge and will one day clear the Church of chaff, “burning it with unquenchable fire” (Matt 3:12). “Many are called but few are chosen” (Matt 22:14).

Prayer: Separate the chaff from my life, Lord, through the fire of your Spirit. Amen.

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St. John's Churches: A Parable of Faithful Discipleship is a twelve session story invites disciples to explore and discern God's will for mission and ministry. Written in parable form, this funny, engaging story follows the ministry of Pastor Jeff Mutton as he dreams the big dream of a creative, vital ministry to the community in which St. John's serves. Each session can be used as opening devotions for church council meetings, discipleship training sessions, or a visioning team. The humorous story encourages listeners to dream the big dream of God's plan for mission in their context. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 18 Dec 21 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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1 Timothy 1:15-19a

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Augustine says, “The question is, where is the Church? What, therefore, are we to do? Are we to seek it in our own words or in the words of its Head, our Lord Jesus Christ? I think that we ought to seek it in the words of him who is Truth, and who knows his own Body best.” Therefore the judgments of our adversaries will not disturb us since they defend human opinions contrary to the gospel, contrary to the authority of the holy Fathers, who have written in the Church, and contrary to the testimonies of godly minds.

Pulling It Together: Jesus did not come into the world to teach sinners how to save themselves. “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” We call him Savior, for he alone is the one who saves sinners. That is the truth, for he is the Truth (John 14:6). There will always be those who say we must do this or that in order to be reconciled to God and saved to life eternal. But there is only one who has the words of eternal life (John 6:68). Let us turn to him for the truth, for he is the Way to eternal life. Christ Jesus is the only God, the King of the Ages. He is the Life; to whom could we go but to him? Hold fast with faith, believing in Christ alone for eternal life.

Prayer: Unto you alone, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. Amen.

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How to be a Disciple is a six-part series of dramas featuring the first twelve disciples, each exploring a piece of the discipleship puzzle. The disciples are placed in a light-hearted contemporary setting, helping listeners to get a sense for the down-to-earth interplay between personalities. The progression of the series is meant to provide the larger picture of what discipleship means. (Two to five characters per drama.)

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 17 Dec 21 00:00:00 -0600 Click for jigsaw puzzle.

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From the Word: 25 Jesus answered them, “I told you and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness of me. 26 But you do not believe because you are not of my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life; and they shall never die; and no one shall snatch them from my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them from the Father’s hand.” (John 10:25-28)

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

One may ascertain from their spirit an unheard of cruelty, which up until now they have plainly expressed toward faithful people. We have heard in this assembly when opinions concerning our Confession were expressed, that a reverend father said in the imperial senate that no plan seemed better to him than to make a reply written in blood to the Confession which we had presented written in ink. Could Phalaris say anything more cruel? Some princes have also regarded this expression as unworthy to be spoken in such a meeting. So, although the adversaries claim for themselves the name of the Church, we know that the Church of Christ is with those who teach the Gospel of Christ. It is not with those who defend wicked opinions that are contrary to the Gospel. The Lord says, “My sheep hear my voice” (John 10:27).

Pulling It Together: There is nothing more cruel than to claim that faith does not save. Declaring that a Christian’s deeds are required for justification and salvation both denies Christ and leaves the believer in despair. So let us proclaim Christ, since there is nothing to be done about this bondage to sin than to be led out of Egypt. We are not called to stay in the house of slavery, working harder to free ourselves. We distance ourselves from the taskmaster and learn the ways of the Lord in the wilderness. Faith follows the voice of the Good Shepherd into the wild where it too is proved like the Lord was tested. Jesus was tempted to trust in false promises and works but he prevailed each time with the claim of faith: “It is written” (Matt 4:1-11). We too must hear his voice in the Word, trusting his promise instead of our works. 

Prayer: Lord, increase my faith in you alone. Amen.

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Developed and used by Pastor Fred Baltz in his church in Galena, Illinois, The Invitation Project is a congregational resource book describing how a parish can host an “invite-able” event. Using a practical, step-by-step “how to” approach, this book provides guidance, organization, and ideas, not simply to promote a single program of outreach, but to develop and inspire the overall outreach efforts of the congregation. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 16 Dec 21 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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John 20:19-23

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Now in this assembly, the authors of the Confutation have condemned with clear words the confession that faith is a part of repentance, by which we obtain forgiveness of sins, overcome the terrors of sin, and the conscience knows peace. Who does not see that this article—that by faith we obtain the forgiveness of sins—is most true, certain, and necessary for all Christians? Who in future generations, hearing that such a doctrine has been condemned, would guess that the authors of the condemnation had any knowledge of Christ?

Pulling It Together

The disciples were in hiding, very likely imagining that they were next, that the authorities would come for them too. They had crucified the Lord; what would they do to his followers? There would have been nothing the disciples could have done to alleviate their anxiety. The best they could do was be together, hiding behind locked doors. This is when Jesus comes to those of faith. He gathers with us in the midst of our fears, and speaks words of promise. “Peace be with you.” Faith believes his word and is revived.

Prayer: Breathe on me, O Breath of God, that I may do your will. 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 Leader's Guide  •  Part 2 Participant Book  •  Part 2 Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 15 Dec 21 00:00:00 -0600 Click for online jigsaw.

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Matthew 16:15-19

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

May faithful minds not be troubled by all those who condemn our teaching. Our opponents’ spirit can be easily judged since in some doctrines they have condemned truth that is so clear and plain that their godlessness openly appears. The bull of Leo X condemned a very necessary teaching, which all Christians should hold and believe, namely, that we ought to trust that we have been absolved because of Christ’s word, not because of our contrition. “Whatever you bind on earth” etc. (Matt 16:19).

Pulling It Together: Who do you say that Jesus is? If your confession is that he is “the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” you are blessed. God has revealed to you truth so deep that all of human reason cannot plumb. The mind alone cannot fathom that God forgives our sins for the sake of Christ alone. Surely, it is thought, there must be something we must do. This is the seed of religion and heresy, for faith knows that we can do nothing. We confess that Christ has done it all, that we are saved by his one work on the cross, not by our deeds. This is how one Christian is able to absolve another—not by the accumulation of religious works, but simply and clearly through confident faith in the finished work of Christ.

Prayer: I confess, Lord Jesus, that you are the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Amen.

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The Spiritual Realms is a nine-session Bible Study series on Heaven and Hell and places beyond this world. Specifically, the study looks at the many “place names” that are found throughout Scripture, referring to spiritual realms of existence that underlie and comprise the universe God created. This Bible Study series is a challenging one, in that it explores realities of existence beyond what we know and experience everyday.

The study not only addresses matters of life, death, heaven and hell, it steadfastly affirms that Jesus Christ is at the center of all these things. Our ultimate faith and hope rest in Christ’s death and resurrection for our sake. We live in faith by the biblical promise that: “God raised the Lord, and will also raise us up by his power.” (1 Cor 6:14)

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 14 Dec 21 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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Galatians 4:9-11

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Moreover, Scripture has predicted that the righteousness of faith would be obscured in this way by human traditions and the doctrine of works. Therefore, Paul often complains (Gal 4:9; 5:7; Col 2:8, 16-17; 1 Tim 4:2-3) that even at that time there were those who, instead of the righteousness of faith, taught that men were reconciled to God and justified by their own works and own acts of worship, and not by faith for Christ’s sake. By nature, people think that God ought to be appeased by works.

Reason only sees a righteousness of the law, understanding it in a civic sense. Accordingly, there have always existed in the world some who have only taught this carnal righteousness, to the exclusion of the righteousness of faith. Such teachers will always exist. The same happened among the people of Israel. The greater part of the people thought that they merited remission of sins by their works, accumulating sacrifices and acts of worship. The prophets, contrary to and in condemnation of this opinion, taught the righteousness of faith. The occurrences among the people of Israel are illustrations of those things which would occur in the Church.

Pulling It Together: It is human nature to imagine that we can buy our way out of problems. The person caught speeding, therefore, pays the court to keep the offense off the books so that insurance rates will not increase. So, when we sin, we naturally think that we can cover our offenses with good works and sacrifices. There is only one sacrifice that satisfies the Father. Our task, if we may call it a task, is to trust Christ, who is our sacrifice (Heb 10:10). There is nothing we can do; there is no buying out the judge. We are guilty. Yet if we know God, indeed, if we have been known by God, we need not go back to the old ways of paying for our sins. For Christ has paid the price for our sin (1 Cor 6:20)—once and for all (1 Pet 3:18).

Prayer: Knowing you, O Word of Truth, help me to trust in your forgiveness of sin. 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.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 13 Dec 21 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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2 Timothy 2:8–13

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

The Scriptures, the holy Fathers, and the judgments of all the godly everywhere reply. Though popes, or some theologians, and monks in the Church have taught us to seek remission of sins, grace, and righteousness through our own works, and to invent new forms of worship which have obscured the office of Christ, and have made out of Christ not a propitiator and justifier, but only a legislator, nevertheless the knowledge of Christ has always remained with some faithful people.

Pulling It Together: Let us continue to keep Christ at the center of all things. The promised Messiah, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin from the lineage of kings, suffered, was crucified and buried for our sins. That is the condition in which we would remain if Christ stayed in the tomb. Because he rose from the dead, we who are baptized into his death (Rom 6:3) will also rise with him to new life. The Scripture and even the creeds profess the work of Christ as central to salvation, and make no mention of our own works saving us. He is our justification and salvation (Rom 4:25). Though we fail him and continue to sin—for as long as we are in this mortal flesh, sin will continue—he remains faithful. “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). So let us keep good works out of the matter of justification and salvation, keeping our faith in Christ alone.

Prayer: Help me to keep faith in you, faithful God, until the last day. 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/summaries.html Sun, 12 Dec 21 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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1 John 4:7-10

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Their influence should not seem so great that it would be unlawful to differ with their arguments when many obvious errors found among them, such as being able to love God above all things by purely natural powers. Although it is clearly false, this teaching has produced many other errors.

Pulling It Together: The ability to love God is not something that we are born with or that we can develop on our own with this fallen nature of ours. In order to love God, one must first be born again. Everyone who believes in Christ Jesus is reborn by the will of God. Then they are empowered to love God and neighbor, since whoever truly loves has first been born of God and knows God. Love does not spring from the human heart but from the heart of God, since he is love. Real love has nothing to do with our loving God, and everything to do with God having loved us so much that he sent his Son to be the atonement for our sins. This power to love is received by faith, “for love is from God.”

Prayer: Thank you, God, for loving me so that I could know the joy of loving you. Amen.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 11 Dec 21 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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Mark 7:6-8

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

We should not expect that the Roman Church agrees with everything that the pope, or cardinals, or bishops, or some of the theologians, or monks approve. For it is clear that to most of the pontiffs, their own authority is of greater concern than the Gospel of Christ. It widely known that most of them are openly Epicureans. It is also unmistakable that the theologians have mingled more of philosophy with Christian doctrine than was sufficient.

Pulling It Together: Jesus rebuked the Pharisees because they valued their own traditions more than God’s commandments. We must be careful to evaluate those things that we believe and do, whether we are following our own opinions or the Word of God. A classic example of this is when we hear people (or ourselves) say things like, “I don’t know what they Bible says but what I think is...” Another dangerous instance is when we interpret Scripture through the lens of philosophy or culture. The gospel is always primary, as Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Christ himself is the lens of interpretation and practice.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, help me hear and obey, through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.

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By What Authority is a book that confronts churches who no longer believe their own message. It is about the end of traditional Christianity as practiced in modern times—not a futuristic end, but an end already accomplished, or partially accomplished, in a majority of countries, cities, and churches. Strange as it seems, many Christians haven't noticed. But others were so concerned they've gathered in these pages the wisdom of alert pastors, theologians, laity, young seminarians, and evangelicals. They all have a story to tell you in their own voices. and it's a story so urgent and timely it opens your eyes in ways few might imagine. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 10 Dec 21 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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Ephesians 3:8-12

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

We have shown the sources in this case, so far as can be done here, and have explained the objections of our opponents. Good people will easily judge these things, if they will remember, as often as a passage concerning love or works is cited, that the law cannot be observed without Christ and that we cannot be justified by the law, but through the gospel, the promise of the grace promised in Christ. We hope, however brief this discussion has been, that it will be profitable to good people for strengthening faith, teaching, and comforting consciences. For we know that what we have said is in harmony with the prophetic and apostolic Scriptures, with the holy Fathers, Ambrose, Augustine, and very many others, and with the whole Church of Christ, which certainly confesses that Christ is propitiator and justifier.

Pulling It Together: It is easy for us to confuse the plain sense of things. Sometimes we need someone to come in to our midst and cut to the chase. What is the point that underlies everything we do? What is the central thought that lies behind all of our thinking? The Apostle Paul was chosen by God for this very task. So Paul did not proclaim the traditions of religion. Instead, he taught the “unsearchable riches of Christ,” who is the source of all true doctrine. These are matters which we cannot come to by our own reasoning. A revelation from God is required. Therefore, God chose someone steeped in the old ways to declare the plain and central truth of the gospel.

Paul asserts that the plain, central thought is always Christ alone. He must be at the core and forefront of our thinking too. For when we understand who Christ is, that he is our mediator before the Father, our justification and salvation, we then begin to comprehend with the holy Catholic Church that we cannot be these things. If we do not have faith in Christ alone, there is no communion of saints, no forgiveness of sins, no resurrection of the body, and no life everlasting. When we have faith in him, instead of faith in ourselves and our traditions, then the riches of Christ are ours. It is only for Christ’s sake that the Father lavishes his love and grace on us (1 John 3:1; Eph 1:7-8). That is the plain sense of the gospel. 

Prayer: I thank you, Father, for your love and grace that is poured out to me in Christ Jesus. Amen.

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The English Standard Version Pew Bible containing the Old and New Testament is an affordable durable Bible, designed for regular church use. Hardcover black with black print.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 09 Dec 21 00:00:00 -0600

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Ephesians 6:13-17

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

The knowledge of this faith is necessary to Christians, for it brings the most abundant consolation in all afflictions, and displays to us the work of Christ. Those who deny that people are justified by faith, deny that Christ is mediator and propitiator, and repudiate the promise of grace and the gospel. They teach a doctrine of justification that is inferred either from reason or the law.

Pulling It Together: Whenever your conscience assails you, take up the shield of faith. When you doubt your salvation, take up that shield. Every time the law accuses you of wrongdoing or unholy thoughts, immediately grab that shield. Take it in hand and as you repent of your sins, remember that you are not saved because of a lack of doubts or because you always do good and think well of others. As you hold tightly to that shield, think, “I am saved by faith in Christ alone.” Lift up the shield of faith in Christ every time the devil attacks. Do not trust your thinking and your doing. Trust Christ, who is your shield. Faith in Christ will extinguish every fiery assault of the evil one.

Prayer: Lord, help me to always hold on to 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.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 08 Dec 21 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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1 Peter 1:3-9

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

That faith which does not manifest itself in confession is not firm. Thus other good works please God because of faith, as the prayers of the Church ask that all things may be accepted for Christ’s sake. They likewise ask all things for Christ’s sake. It is obvious that the close of all prayers adds this clause: “through Christ our Lord.” Accordingly, we conclude that we are justified before God, reconciled to him, and reborn by faith that in repentance apprehends the promise of grace, truly enlivens the frightened mind, and is convinced that God is reconciled and propitious to us for Christ’s sake. Through this faith, Peter says that we are are “guarded...for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Pet 1:5).

Pulling It Together: Justification, righteousness, and salvation are not only received by faith, these things are preserved for us to the end of time. It is faith that vindicates us in this life and gives us hope of the life to come. “The salvation of our souls” is believed because of faith in Christ. We even trust God for all good things in this life by virtue of Christ alone. This is why we always pray, “in Christ’s name.” These promises of God’s grace cannot be trusted to our good works. Yet, through faith in Christ and his work, we hope, believe, and endure all things (1 Cor 13:7).

Prayer: Almighty God, keep me in faith, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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We Still Believe is a Bible study resource reflecting on key themes in biblical Lutheran doctrine that are at risk in the Church today. It is offered in the hope that it will inspire individuals and congregations to examine the core beliefs of traditional Lutheranism and how these beliefs apply to our own present context. Written in a question and discussion style by Pastor Steven King, the participant's book includes an introduction to and copy of the faith statement known as the Common Confession.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 07 Dec 21 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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Matthew 7:21-23

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

They corrupt many other passages in the schools because they do not teach the righteousness of faith. The scholastics understand faith as a mere knowledge of the history or of dogmas. They do not understand that faith is the virtue which apprehends the promise of grace and righteousness, and quickens hearts terrorized by sin and death. When Paul says, “For man believes with his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved” (Rom 10:1), we think that the adversaries will acknowledge here that confession justifies or saves, not ex opere operato, but only because of faith in the heart. Paul says that confession saves, in order to make clear what sort of faith obtains eternal life, namely firm and active faith.

Pulling It Together: If we teach that one should have faith, yet we do not believe, will our understanding of the teaching save us? If we come to the waters of baptism but have no faith in God’s promise, thinking it is simply the proper custom, will we be saved? If we go to church, feed the hungry, and buy coats and mittens for the poor, but have no faith in the God who calls us to do such things, do those good works save? What good will these customs and deeds do us when we are in hospital beds, anxious about death? When our sins find us out and terrify our consciences, our good works will not bring us peace. Good works cannot be trusted but Jesus can be trusted for peace now, and later, for eternal life. We must take Jesus at his word and have faith in his promise of grace. Failing to do so, is the supreme work of lawlessness. Trusting in our works is the evidence of that sin of sins.

Prayer: I believe that you are the way in to the kingdom of heaven, Lord Jesus. Amen.

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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/summaries.html Mon, 06 Dec 21 00:00:00 -0600 Click for larger image

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Galatians 3:10-14

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

In the schools the boast is also made that our good deeds work by virtue of Christ’s passion. Well said! But why say nothing about faith? For Christ is a propitiation, as Paul says, “through faith” (Rom 3:25). When timid consciences are comforted by faith, and are convinced that our sins have been blotted out by the death of Christ, and that God has been reconciled to us on account of Christ’s suffering, then indeed, the suffering of Christ is a benefit to us. If the doctrine concerning faith is omitted, it is vain to claim that works benefit us by virtue of Christ’s passion.

Pulling It Together

Jesus satisfied God’s requirement of keeping the law perfectly. Moreover, he paid the penalty for the sins of those who cannot keep the commandments. In other words, he paid the price for us all, since none of us can keep the law. Those who rely upon their law keeping are “under a curse” because they cannot continue to fulfill God’s law. People who trust in their religiosity will never be righteous and justified to God. Instead, we must trust Christ who bore the curse of the law for us. Yet while we try to keep the law, as we should, but fail, the law will accuse us of not measuring up and our consciences can become terrified of the curse. So we must always trust in Christ who suffered and died to fulfill the law (Matt 5:17), for, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

Prayer: Thank you, Jesus, for redeeming me from the curse of the law. 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.

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.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 05 Dec 21 00:00:00 -0600 Click for larger image

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Titus 2:11-14

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

They have taken certain sayings of the old writers, established statements as it were, and twisted them by their interpretations. They boast in the schools that good works please God because of grace, and that confidence must be put in his grace. But they distort grace by saying that it is an inclination to love God, as though the ancients meant to say that we ought to trust in our love, though without doubt, we experience how small and how impure that inclination is. It is strange that they bid us to trust in this love, since they teach us that we are not able to know whether it is even present. Why do they not set forth the grace and mercy of God toward us? As often as mention is made of this, they ought to add faith. For the promise of God’s mercy, reconciliation, and love toward us is not apprehended unless by faith. Then, since faith apprehends grace, they would be right in saying that we must trust in grace and that good works please because of grace.

Pulling It Together

The living grace of God is Jesus Christ. There is no salvation available to us without this grace. There is no grace without Jesus Christ. There is no grace without God. Grace and salvation have nothing to do with our deeds or our habits or inclinations to love God and neighbor. Should we do good? Should we love? Certainly, for because grace has appeared in Jesus Christ, it now trains us to do these things and to renounce the devil and sin. This happens because of grace but it is not grace itself. If grace is born from our own love, we would be a hopeless people. Because we understand that grace and righteousness are free gifts from God (Rom 5:17), and not our pitiful attempts to do good and to be righteous, we confess that Christ alone is our blessed hope. He is the hope that will not fail us. 

Prayer: Come quickly, Lord Jesus! Amen.

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The Smalcald Articles are often considered Luther's theological Last Will and Testament. Written in easy-to-understand language, this study is presented in a discussion formation with assigned readings from the Scriptures and the Book of Concord. Included in the study is a shorter work by Philip Melanchton called "The Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope." 

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 04 Dec 21 00:00:00 -0600

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Isaiah 64:6-8

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

So this is no small matter that we argue with the adversaries. We are not looking for useless nuances when we find fault with those who teach that we merit eternal life by works, excluding faith that apprehends Christ as mediator. There is not a syllable in the scholastics concerning this faith which believes that the Father is favorably disposed to us for Christ’s sake. Everywhere they maintain that we are accepted and righteous because of our works, wrought either from reason, or at least by the inclination of that love about which they speak.

Pulling It Together: We cannot reason our way to righteousness. Who has been able to determine, “I shall be a good person?” and been successful in the enterprise? More importantly, even if one was able to be so good, would that goodness be acceptable to God? No, for the prophet tells us that our good deeds are like filthy rags to God unless we call upon the name of the Lord (Isaiah 64:6-7). Our reason cannot create new life; a better or spiritual attitude will not do it; nor will exhausting effort make us righteous before the Almighty. Yet, the person of faith is taken in God’s own hands and shaped into a new person. God smashes us to the potter’s wheel and makes of us whom he wills. The work is the Lord’s which he accomplishes in people who have put their trust in him instead of themselves.

Prayer: Smash me, Lord, and make of me what you will. 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/summaries.html Fri, 03 Dec 21 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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Romans 1:1-6

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

We condemn the teaching of the adversaries that understands such passages of Scripture in either a philosophical or a Jewish manner, and so abolishes the righteousness of faith, and excludes Christ as mediator. From these passages they infer that works merit grace, sometimes de congruo, and when love is added, de condigno. They claim that works justify, and because they are righteousness they are worthy of eternal life. This error plainly abolishes the righteousness of faith, which believes that we have access to God for Christ’s sake, not because of our works, and that through Christ, as priest and mediator, we are led to the Father, and have a reconciled Father, as has been sufficiently said above. The doctrine concerning the righteousness of faith is not to be neglected in the Church of Christ, because without it the office of Christ cannot be comprehended. The doctrine of justification that is left is only a doctrine of the law. So we should cling to the gospel and the teaching of the promise which is granted for Christ’s sake.

Pulling It Together: There is a difference between justification and sanctification. Justification is that obedience to the gospel that hears and believes and trusts God’s promise. Sanctification is the obedience that results from such faith. The former saves; the latter does not. Faith hears and believes and is therefore justified to God. Then the Holy Spirit goes to work in the believer, producing the fruit of faith, good works and upright character. It is a false sanctification or holiness that imagines people can bear good fruit through their own efforts, without faith and the resulting power of the Holy Spirit. Such personal holiness or law-keeping gives no credit to Christ, while faith always clings to Christ, believing in the promise of a Savior instead of depending upon works and personal holiness. 

Prayer: Holy Spirit, stir up in me the fruit of faith. Amen.

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Not everyone likes bread sticks. They are fine for appetizers, but it's nice to have some selection. Add in some onion rings, BBQ wings, cheese curds, veggies...and then you've got something! Faith Apptizers is a sampler platter of Biblical Christianity. With an assortment of styles and topics, offering both a challenge and a chuckle, it intends to awaken your days with faith. These 286 devotions are arranged Biblically, from Genesis to Revelation. Like the good God behind our good book, they will work both the mind and heart, sometimes comforting the afflicted and sometimes afflicting the comfortable. Open up and taste one; then pass 'em around.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 02 Dec 21 00:00:00 -0600

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Romans 5:1–5

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

No sane person can judge otherwise. We are not trying to be subtle by segregating the fruits from the righteousness of the heart. If the adversaries would only have acknowledged that the fruits please God because of faith, because of Christ as mediator, and that by themselves they are not worthy of grace and of eternal life.

Pulling It Together: Lasting peace with God comes through faith. Our deeds can make us feel good for a while but that feeling is not only false, it does not last. However, when faith in Christ justifies us to God, then we know a confident peace that enables us to stand before God. We rejoice, knowing that he cares for us and hears our prayers in this life, and we have real hope in the life to come. The Holy Spirit and God’s love are given to us, indeed, poured into us so that the character of good fruit is grown in us by God. Faith in Christ promises and accomplishes all of these things: hope, character, the fruit of the Spirit, and works that please God.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, for dying for me, and rising from the dead so that I may live. Amen.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 01 Dec 21 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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Matthew 25:44–46

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

When Paul says, “He will render to every one according to his works,” we are to understand not only the outward work, but all righteousness or unrighteousness. So, “Glory...for every one who does good,” namely, for the righteous. “You gave me food,” is cited as the fruit and evidence of the righteousness of the heart and of faith. Therefore, eternal life is given to righteousness. In this way Scripture embraces both the righteousness of the heart and its fruits. It often names the fruits, so that the inexperienced may better understand, and to signify that a new life and rebirth are required instead of hypocrisy. This rebirth happens by faith with repentance.

Pulling It Together: Yes, God wants our good works, but he earnestly desires our hearts. Works that are done with an unbelieving, faithless heart are not good works; they are hypocritical. It is not those who do some good deeds in their own power who are given eternal life. Rather, those who put their faith in Christ will do good deeds because of the power of his Spirit within them. Only when works flow from faith in him are they good and righteous deeds. Because the believing heart is deemed righteous, the deeds that stem from that believing, righteous heart are also considered righteous. This is why Jesus says that the righteous will go into everlasting life (Matt 25:46).

Prayer: Holy Spirit, move me to do good that glorifies God and helps my neighbor, for the sake of Christ. Amen.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 30 Nov 21 00:00:00 -0600 Click for smaller image

Click above for larger graphic  • Original image  • Index of Scripture Graphics and posts by Scripture reference 

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Genesis 4:3–5

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Whenever the law and works are mentioned, we must know that Christ is not to be excluded as mediator. For he is the end of the law, just as Jesus himself says, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). As we have said above, all passages concerning works can be judged by this rule. Therefore, when eternal life is granted to works, it is granted to those who have been justified, since no one can do good works except those who are justified, who are led by the Spirit of Christ. Good works do not please God without faith in Christ as mediator. “Without faith it is impossible to please him.” (Heb 11:6).

Pulling It Together

Be careful that you do not expect God to favor you on the merits of your offerings or works or religious activity. God only has regard for such things when they are done with faith in him. Our instinct, however, is to trust in our works. At harvest time, Cain brought an offering of grain. There is nothing wrong with offerings of grain; we see God accepting them throughout the Old Testament. There was, however, a problem with the one making the offering. That is why God did not accept either Cain’s offering or even Cain himself (Gen 4:5). This disregard for Cain suggests that God did not answer the prayers that accompanied Cain’s offering.

Abel is remembered differently. He is not noted for bringing a superior kind of offering, his being animal instead of grain. The writer of Hebrews tells us that Abel’s offering was accepted by God because it was given with faith in God (Heb 11:4). Abel had faith in God. Cain trusted his offering.

Prayer: O Lord, I trust in you. Amen.

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

The Sola Online Worship Resource is a lectionary-based web resource for Scripture lessons, lectionary inserts, children's bulletins, devotionals, text studies, prayers, worship 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/summaries.html Mon, 29 Nov 21 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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Hebrews 11:17-18

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

But the adversaries urge that it is the prerogative of good works to merit eternal life, because Paul says, “He will render to every man according to his works” (Rom 2:6). Likewise, “Glory and honor and peace for every one who does good” (Rom 2:10). “Those who have done good shall come to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment” (John 5:29). “I was hungry and you gave me food,” and so forth (Matt 25:35). In these and all similar passages in which works are praised in the Scriptures, it is necessary to understand faith of the heart along with the outward works, for Scripture does not speak hypocrisy, but of the righteousness of the heart along with its fruits.

Pulling It Together: Works must always flow from a heart of faith. Abraham did not make an offering of his only son, Isaac, as a mere work. Nor did he expect that God would honor the work itself. Notice how his offering was given in faith. Without faith, his deed would have been unacceptable. Faith comes first and is then completed by works (James 2:22). Without faith, works are incomplete, for God first requires a righteousness of the heart. Only then are works received. Indeed, in the example of Abraham, the work was not required. Faith by itself, yet willing to do the work, was sufficient. God honored Abraham’s faith, and without it, even if the deed had been added, his offering would have been unacceptable.

Prayer: Accept my faith in you, Lord, even when my works are wanting. Amen.

Receive these Sola Devotions in weekday emails. Click here to fill out a quick and secure subscription form. 

The Sola Online Worship Electronic Resource (SOWeR) includes a database of hundreds of hymns and songs for use in worship. Search for titles, themes, or categories; then open individual pages that feature author data, plain-text lyrics, full-score hymn inserts, and simplified lead sheets for accompanists. Hymn numbers are provided for LBW/WOV and ReClaim hymnals. The database also includes original lyrics written by Sola authors, that may be sung to familiar hymn 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/summaries.html Sun, 28 Nov 21 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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Romans 10:1-4

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Therefore, although the fulfilling of the law merits a reward because rewards properly pertain to the law, we ought to be mindful of the gospel, which freely offers justification for Christ’s sake. We neither keep the law, nor can keep it, until we have been reconciled to God, justified, and reborn. Keeping the law will not please God, unless we are first accepted on account of faith. Because people are accepted because of faith, the initial fulfilling of the law pleases God and has a reward in this life and after this life. Many other remarks concerning the term “reward” might be made here, that are derived from the nature of the law. Because they are so extensive, it must be explained in another connection.

Pulling It Together: We must remain aware of a dangerous temptation as we try to keep the law. As we observe the law, we can be enticed to think too highly of ourselves. If we see ourselves as living an upright life, we may forget about Christ’s benefits. Instead of trusting in Christ’s righteousness as our own, we might begin to trust our own righteousness. Of course, this is not righteousness (Isa 64:6); it is only doing what God expects of his people. Yet, keeping the law does not please God unless done in faith. Observing the law with faith in Christ has an added benefit, since it keeps our minds on Christ and his righteousness, instead of being misled into thoughts about being rewarded for religious and moral lives. The law will never save us, but Christ, who is the end of the law of righteousness, becomes the righteousness of all who believe. 

Prayer: O God, I trust in your righteousness, through Jesus Christ the Lord. Amen.

Receive these Sola Devotions in weekday emails. Click here to fill out a quick and secure subscription form. 

The Sola Online Worship Electronic 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/summaries.html Sat, 27 Nov 21 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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Malachi 3:10-12

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Whenever merit is mentioned, the adversaries immediately transfer the matter from other rewards to justification, even though the gospel freely offers justification on account of Christ’s merits, not because of our own. The merits of Christ are communicated to us by faith. But works and afflictions merit other rewards, not justification, as a reward is offered for the works in these passages. “He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully” (2 Cor 9:6). The measure of the reward is clearly connected with the measure of the work. “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land” (Exod 20:12).Here the law also offers a reward to a certain work. 

Pulling It Together: Test God and determine whether he will bless you. Do the things that you are commanded and see if he will not pour out his blessings. But never expect him to justify you for the things you do. He blesses the just and the unjust alike (Matt 5:45) but he is only justified to those who have been made righteous through faith in Christ. These are two entirely different matters. God rewards us in this life with the things we need. He often blesses us with more than we need, sometimes because we have earned them. We ought to be thankful for the favors of God in this life. However, the righteousness required for the life to come is something we can never earn (Rom 3:28). God freely bestows this grace upon those who cannot earn it, indeed, upon those sinners who do not deserve his grace (Rom 5:8). He does so, only through faith in Jesus Christ, for all who believe (Rom 3:22). 

Prayer: Forgive me, Lord, a sinner, yet one who believes. Amen.

Receive these Sola Devotions in weekday emails. Click here to fill out a quick and secure subscription form. 

The Sola Online Worship Electronic Resource (SOWeR) includes a database of hundreds of hymns and songs for use in worship. Search for titles, themes, or categories; then open individual pages that feature author data, plain-text lyrics, full-score hymn inserts, and simplified lead sheets for accompanists. Hymn numbers are provided for LBW/WOV and ReClaim hymnals. The database also includes original lyrics written by Sola authors, that may be sung to familiar hymn 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/summaries.html Fri, 26 Nov 21 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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Philippians 3:14-16

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

We also confess what we have often testified, that although justification and eternal life pertain to faith, nevertheless good works merit other bodily and spiritual rewards and degrees of rewards, according to 1 Cor. 3:8, “Each will receive his wages according to his labor.” The righteousness of the Gospel, dealing with the promise of grace, freely receives justification and rebirth. But the keeping of the law, which follows faith, has to do with the law, for which a reward is offered and is due, not freely, but according to our works. Those who merit this are justified before they keep the law. They have first been moved into the kingdom of God’s Son (Col 1:13), as Paul says, and made joint-heirs with Christ (Rom 8:17).

Pulling It Together: The issue here—and always—is Christ. Let us not think so much about rewards, but instead, about the reward. We must press on toward the real goal. That goal is not rewards but the reward of being with Christ in heaven. He is the “upward call”; it is not rewards for the works that we have done. We must hold true to the path of faith in Christ, through which we have attained justification with his Father. May we keep our minds upon Christ (Col 3:1-4) who has saved us because of his mercy, not because of the things that we have done (Titus 3:5). 

Prayer: Gracious God, help me keep my eyes on the prize of your upward calling in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Receive these Sola Devotions in weekday emails. Click here to fill out a quick and secure subscription form. 

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/summaries.html Thu, 25 Nov 21 00:00:00 -0600 Click for online jigsaw.

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2 Peter 1:1-4

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

The strong hear the mention of penalties and rewards in one way, and the weak hear it in another way, since the weak labor for the sake of their own advantage. Yet the proclamation of rewards and punishments is necessary. In the preaching of punishments the wrath of God is revealed; this pertains to the preaching of repentance. In the preaching of rewards, grace is set forth. When referring to good works, Scripture often mentions faith, in order to include the righteousness of the heart with the other fruits. So it sometimes offers grace along with other rewards, as in Isaiah 58:8-9, and frequently in other places in the prophets.

Pulling It Together: We belong to Christ because of faith. This belonging means that we are his servants. So, we are to do his will and bidding. It also means that we receive his gifts and rewards, if he should choose to grant them to us. By his divine power, he has indeed, granted us all things necessary for us to share his nature. By belonging to Christ through faith, we have escaped the decay of our original natures. While the knowledge of God’s wrath about sin is always present—even as sin is ever present—we do not lose hope. Our hope is immovable because our hope is in Christ and his precious promises. If we were to hope in our good works, it would be a precarious hope, at best. Our hope, however, is based on a knowledge of God and Jesus Christ our Lord, who have multiplied to us both peace and grace.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for giving me a faith in you that puts me in equal standing with the apostles. Amen.

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

The goal of Personalities of Faith, a ten-session Bible study for youth, is to encourage young people to commit themselves to follow Jesus in discipleship by becoming "personalities of faith". Using biblical examples of people who have followed—or failed to follow—God's call, participants will be prepared to better follow the Lord in their own lives.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 24 Nov 21 00:00:00 -0600

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2 Timothy 4:7-8

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Here belongs what Paul says, “Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me” (2 Tim 4:8). For the crown is due to the justified because of the promise. Saints should know this promise, not that they may labor for their own profit, since they ought to labor for the glory of God. They should know that God’s will is to aid, deliver, and protect them so that they will not despair in afflictions.

Pulling It Together

The Lord has fought the fight. He has gone before us and has won the long battle. He is with us and will never leave us or forsake us. Therefore, we should not fear, despair, or be dismayed (Deut 31:8). This is how we may finish our own race, fighting on to the finish. We live by faith (2 Cor 5:7) in the one who is already victor over the conflict. Take heart! Keep the faith. The battle is the Lord’s (2 Chr 20:15). He is victorious over sin and death, and will reward you with the crown of his righteousness.

Prayer: Give me your peace, Lord. 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.

Scripture texts are assigned for each of the weeks, along with a brief sermon reflection based on the theme. A sample order of service is provided.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 23 Nov 21 00:00:00 -0600 Click for larger image

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1 Corinthians 6:9-11

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Stop, reader; you have not the whole of this sorites. For certain “sacraments” of this transference must be added, as when the hood is placed upon the dead. The blessings of Christ and the righteousness of faith have been obscured by these summations. We are not agitating an idle argument concerning the term “reward.” If the adversaries will confess that we are accounted righteous by faith because of Christ, and that good works please God because of faith, we will not debate much more about the term “reward.” We admit that eternal life is a reward because it is something due on account of the promise, but not because of our merits. We have shown above that justification is properly a promised gift of God. The promise of eternal life has been added to this gift, as testified: “Those whom he justified he also glorified" (Rom 8:30).

Pulling It Together

Some orders of monks placed their hoods upon dead bodies, indicating that their good works were transferred to the account of the deceased. But if the living cannot trust that their own works justify, how are the dead to know that the works of others have done so? Is the troubled conscience ever to find rest? Yes, there is a righteousness that we can trust. To know this incomparable peace, one must turn away from human arguments and traditions, and rely upon Scripture alone.

We confess that the unrighteous will never inherit the kingdom of God. We further admit that we were counted among the unrighteous until that day when we were washed in the blood of Jesus (1 John 1:7). We have obtained eternal life because of his righteousness, not by our good works or those of others. So, we see that it is the righteousness of Christ that is transferred to us because we have faith in him. Only when we confess this truth of Scripture, will our hearts and minds will be kept in peace (Phil 4:7).

Prayer: Help me to depend upon you alone, Lord, for righteousness and eternal life. Amen.

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In Part 2 of Sola Scriptura, "The Norm of Faith" study shows how anactive view of the Word informs and guides our understanding of what Scripture says. In other words, it will talk about what the Bible means based on what it does. In terms of how we come to articulate our faith and our doctrinal teachings, to speak of Scripture as the "norm" of faith means that it is the standard against which our theology and proclamation are measured.

• Study Guide   • See also Sola Scriptura, Part 1: The Source of Faith

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 22 Nov 21 00:00:00 -0600 Click for jigsaw puzzle.

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Romans 14:8-12

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Our adversaries not only ascribe to works a worthiness of grace and eternal life, they also falsely state that they have superfluous merits that they can grant to others for justification, as when monks sell the merits of their orders to others. They heap up these incongruous conclusions in the manner of Chrysippus wherever the word “reward” is heard. For example, it is called a reward; therefore we have works as a price for which a reward is due; therefore works please by themselves, and not for the sake of Christ as mediator; and since one has more merits than another, therefore some have superfluous merits; those who merit them can bestow their merits upon others.

Pulling It Together

Chrysippus was a Greek philosopher who championed propositional logic. If this was the case, then the result would logically be something else. This if-then logic was applied to the term “reward.” If there is a reward, then there must be a price for the reward. Not only was this logic carried in the wrong direction, it was carried to absurd conclusions. The opponents’ conclusions were, that if one pays for his own reward, he might pay more than is due. Therefore, the credit must be transferable to others. This is an argument from human logic instead of from the mind of God. Scripture says that each person is accountable to God. So, the logic of God in Scripture runs as follows. The wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23); since all have sinned, all will die; but Christ has overcome sin and death, and gives his victory as a reward to all who believe (1 Cor 15:57). 

Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, for paying the debt that I can never pay. 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/summaries.html Sun, 21 Nov 21 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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Psalm 130:1-8

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

This logic is altogether new. We hear the term “reward,” and are therefore to infer that there is no need of Christ as mediator, or of faith having access to God for Christ’s sake instead of because of our works? Who does not see that this is a befuddled assumption? We do not argue about the term “reward.” Our dispute is whether good works are of themselves worthy of grace and of eternal life, or whether they please God only because of the faith that apprehends Christ as mediator.

Pulling It Together: There is nothing worthy of forgiveness and the resurrection of the body to everlasting life, save the work of Christ. Imagining otherwise does great damage to Scripture and to troubled hearts and minds. The Word of God does not tell us to depend upon ourselves. Rather it teaches that we have a mediator in Jesus Christ. He is the one who stands between us and the Father, for we cannot stand on our own (Psa 130:3). Further, our own consciences warn us that this is faulty thinking. No matter how much good work we do, we know that it is never enough to merit the reward of heaven. We are always left wondering if we have done enough.

So, it is good that we believe in God instead of ourselves. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen. Nowhere do we confess to believe in ourselves or to trust in our works.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for sustaining me through your Word, and through the promise of your forgiveness. Amen.

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Subscribe to Connections Magazine today. Connections features articles that connect Lutherans to the Word. Martin Luther’s Small Catechism provides the inspiration for confessional, biblical content, delivered in a stylish, readable design. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 20 Nov 21 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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Matthew 20:1-10

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

But they are not fair judges since they omit the word “gift.” They also exclude the principal part of the entire matter. Instead, they select the word “reward,” and interpret it in a manner that does injury to both Scripture and the very use of language. They surmise that because it is called a reward, our works ought to be the price for which eternal life is due. These works, they contend, are worthy of grace and life eternal, and do not stand in need of mercy, or of Christ as mediator, or of faith.

Pulling It Together: Eternal life is a reward from God that is based on something very important: his promise. It is not based upon how much work we have done. God rewards our faith in him, not our trust in the things we do. We are justified before God because Christ is always our mediator. He alone has set the record straight. He declares us justified through our trust in his righteousness. Nowhere are we taught that Christ comes to us saying, “I tried to get you off the hook, but you are going to have to pay this fine first—and also do some community service.” Christ does not need our help. We need his help. We are always in need of his mercy and grace, the very things he promises to those who believe.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for including me as an heir of eternal life, through your Son Jesus Christ. 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.

Use the Small Catechism as an outreach tool with a Customized 100-pack.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 19 Nov 21 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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Luke 6:20-23

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Afterwards works merit other bodily and spiritual rewards because they please God on account of faith. There will be distinctions in the glory of the saints. But here the adversaries reply that eternal life is called a reward, and that it is therefore merited de condigno by good works. We reply briefly and plainly. Paul calls eternal life a gift (Rom 6:23), because the righteousness conferred for Christ's sake at the same time makes us sons of God and fellow heirs of Christ. John says, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life” (John 3:36). Augustine says, as also do very many others who follow him, “God crowns His gifts in us.” It is written elsewhere, “Your reward is great in heaven” (Luke 6:23). If these passages seem to our adversaries to be in conflict, they may explain them.

Pulling It Together: “Blessed are the poor,” Jesus says in Luke’s Sermon on the Plain (Luke 6:20). In Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount, he says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit” (Matt 5:3). You might wonder how there is blessing in poverty. Only when we admit our impoverished spiritual condition, may the kingdom become our possession. When we confess our sin and turn to the father, he enriches us with the righteousness of his Son. Jesus fills us with his Spirit, and we become rich in that which matters most. Our spirits are prospered. All of this is a free gift and reward to those poor people who believe in Christ for the riches of justification, righteousness, and salvation.

Prayer: Give me a longing, Lord, for the reward of heaven. 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.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 18 Nov 21 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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1 Peter 1:3-9

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Just as justification pertains to faith, so eternal life also pertains to faith. Peter says, “As the outcome of your faith you obtain the salvation of your souls” (1 Pet 1:9). Our adversaries confess that the justified are children of God and fellow heirs with Christ.

Pulling It Together: Faith is the means of justification, righteousness, and salvation. Only faith keeps our souls at peace before God. Our good deeds will never give us rest. If peace of mind were left to our works and religious ceremony, we would always be scrambling to the next deed and ritual. The things we do never provide confident assurance of rightness with God. However, because of faith, we may sit at the feet of Jesus, assured that we have a justified God in this life.

Faith is also the means by which our salvation is maintained “forever and ever.” We do nothing to eternally preserve our lives. What could we possibly do to attain such a feat? Yet just as we have faith in God to justify in this earthly life, we have faith in him to preserve us to life eternal. This living hope in resurrection and of an inheritance of all that heaven offers also strengthens and sustains faith when we face trials that test our faith in this life.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, for giving me the hope of everlasting life with 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/summaries.html Wed, 17 Nov 21 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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2 Corinthians 5:1-7

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

This rebirth is, as it were, the beginning of eternal life, as Paul says, “But if Christ is in you, although your bodies are dead because of sin, your spirits are alive because of righteousness” (Rom 8:10). “Here indeed we groan, and long to put on our heavenly dwelling, so that by putting it on we may not be found naked” (2 Cor 5:2-3). The sincere reader can judge from these statements that we certainly require good works, since we teach that this faith arises in repentance, and in repentance ought continually to increase. If repentance and faith grow together in repentance, there is Christian and spiritual perfection. God-fearing people are better able to understood this teaching than those things taught by the adversaries concerning contemplation or perfection.

Pulling It Together: We are reborn with a purpose. But let us be clear; the purpose does not precede or cause rebirth. That purpose is the result of our being newly created (2 Cor 5:17), for we are “created in Christ for good works” (Eph 2:10). However, draped in these coats of flesh, it is difficult for us to perfectly walk in God’s ways. Therefore, we groan while we are still burdened by the flesh. We want to be clothed in Christ, with his perfection. So, we repent of our deeds of the flesh and begin to do works of righteousness. This process progresses with many sighs and groans until God finishes what he began (Phil 1:6). Yet, we never trust in these good works, as though they make us perfect. We live by faith, trusting in Christ, not in works of the flesh.

Prayer: Help me to never give up, Lord, and to always trust in you. Amen. 

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Interactive PDF Certificates for Baptism, Rite of Confirmation, and First Communion. You get all three for one price. Simply download the files, choose the certificate you want to use, type in the name, date, and church information and print on your color printer. Save files to your computer and re-use over and over again! 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 16 Nov 21 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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Romans 8:29-30

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

While we are being encouraged and comforted in the midst of terrors, other spiritual inclinations increase: hope and the knowledge, fear, and love of God. We are renewed, as Paul says, in the knowledge of God (Col 3:10) and, “beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness” (2 Cor 3:18). That is, we receive the true knowledge of God, so that we truly fear him, truly trust that he cares for us, and that we are heard by him.

Pulling It Together: What will be the result in the future life for the way we have lived the present life? Left on our own, sin and death are terrifying. Without the comfort and encouragement of God’s word, all one may do is worry, fear, despair, or try to dismiss the thought. Even Christians wrestle with these thoughts. When we sin against God “in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone,” we might worry sometimes that we have pushed God too far this time. When have not loved God “with our whole heart,” we can be tempted to wonder if he really loves us. When we “have not loved our neighbors as ourselves,” we can question whether God hears our prayers.

Through such tests of faith, we grow in faith. In fear of God, we face our sins. Confessing our sins, we find that God does indeed love and forgive us. So, our hope is emboldened, and the knowledge of God’s true nature increases. Beholding this glorious nature of God, we begin to shine a bit more, as Moses did when he came down from Mt. Sinai (Exod 34:29). God slowly transforms us until finally, on that great Day, he will complete in us the work that he has begun (Phil 1:6).

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for loving me, through Jesus Christ, your Son and my Lord. 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/summaries.html Mon, 15 Nov 21 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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Hebrews 10:22-25

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

We are reborn and receive the Holy Spirit for the very end that the new life may produce new works, new dispositions, the fear and love of God, hatred of lust, and so forth. This faith we speak of arises in repentance, and ought to become deep-rooted and grow in the midst of good works, temptations, and dangers, so that we may be more and more firmly persuaded that God for Christ's sake cares for us, forgives us, hears us. This is not learned without many great struggles. How often conscience is aroused and provokes us to despair when it displays our sins, either old or new, or the impurity of our nature! This handwriting is not blotted out without a great struggle, in which experience testifies what a difficult matter faith is.

Pulling It Together: We should recognize in ourselves that we are disposed to fall back into old ways. But we should also consider that others are just like us. They, like we, need encouragement to live the life of faith. As the great Day of Christ’s return draws ever nearer, we should promote love and good works in others. People get worn out from their vocations, their everyday lives, and even the troubles of the church. It should not be a surprise to us that many people even need encouragement to be in worship. The temptation to forsake the assembly is ever-present, and for many has become a habit. But how else will they be lifted above the troubles and temptations of this life unless they draw near to God with faith to receive his Word and Sacraments? How else will they be excited to love and good works unless they gather with a room full of sinners and see that faith is alive in people just like themselves?

Prayer: Lord, lift me when I fall, so that I might encourage someone’s faith today. 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/summaries.html Sun, 14 Nov 21 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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Romans 8:12-15

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Here the adversaries will cry out again that there is no need of good works if they do not merit eternal life. We have refuted this pretense above. Of course, it is necessary to do good works. We say that eternal life has been promised to the justified but those who walk according to the flesh retain neither faith nor righteousness. We are justified for this very purpose, that being righteous, we may begin to do good works and to obey God’s law.

Pulling It Together: Good works are evidence that a person has been justified. For the Spirit who produces good works only indwells the justified. Those who have been reborn begin to do good works freely, in the power of God, not because they fear God, temporal punishment, or eternal damnation. Good works are not something Christians owe in order to pay off a debt of righteousness. This would be living in the flesh and in fear. Those who are reborn in Christ, live according to the Spirit, believing that the Father loves and forgives them. As his children, we begin to act like his children, not because of troubled consciences but because of the impulse of the Spirit.

Prayer: Father, move me with your Spirit to love Christ by keeping his commandments. 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/summaries.html Sat, 13 Nov 21 00:00:00 -0600

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Romans 9:30-32a

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

So when mercy is spoken of, faith in the promise must be added. This faith produces sure hope because it relies upon the Word and command of God. If hope relied upon works, then it would be very uncertain because works cannot pacify the conscience, as has been frequently said above. This faith makes a distinction between those who are saved, and those who are not. Faith makes the distinction between the worthy and the unworthy because eternal life has been promised to the justified, and faith justifies.

Pulling It Together: Why did the gentiles come to a state of righteousness when the Jews worked hard at it but never arrived? Why did the gentiles attain righteousness when they did not even try? The answer is mercy. God’s mercy brought them to a state of righteousness. The gentiles did not believe in a system of religious works that made them righteous. They believed that God made them righteous through Christ. They had faith in God instead of themselves.

As long as people depend in themselves, and trust in their works, peace in the conscience will be fleeting. Their horizon will be filled with the lack of good works, failed efforts, and sin. The result will always be troubled consciences. However, those who trust God for righteousness through Christ, will see their own lack of good works but look to Christ’s work on the cross for salvation. They will notice their failures but depend on Christ’s victory over sin and death (1 Cor 15:57). They will confess their sins but see beyond them to the Savior. Their horizon is heaven; and it filled with confident hope in God’s mercy.

Prayer: Merciful God, give me a sure hope in Jesus Christ my 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/summaries.html Fri, 12 Nov 21 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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Romans 10:13–17

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

These thoughts exert the mind, so we will briefly reply. It is necessary to firmly hold that we are saved by mercy so that hope may be certain, and so that there may be a prior distinction between those who obtain and those who do not obtain salvation. Unless it is qualified, this expression seems absurd. In civil courts and in human judgment, a right or a debt is certain, and mercy is uncertain. The matter is different with respect to God’s judgment. Here, mercy has God’s clear, certain promise and command. Strictly speaking, the gospel is the command to believe that God is merciful toward us for Christ’s sake. “For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. He who believes in him is not condemned...” (John 3:17-18).

Pulling It Together: What came first, the chicken or the egg? Some love to deliberate over such things; these questions wear out other people. For them, it is enough to know that we are saved through faith in Christ. Yet here, there is a clue for those who need to know the causes of things. The order of progression toward salvation is clear in Paul. One is saved through faith by grace (Eph 2:8). Faith in the promise precedes salvation. God’s grace comes before it all. Those who hear the gospel and believe with faith in Christ are those who are saved. All of this comes from the gracious hand of God.

Prayer: Thank you, God, for all those you have sent to me with the good news of your salvation. 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/summaries.html Thu, 11 Nov 21 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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Ephesians 1:13-14

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Let us, therefore, hold fast to the Church’s confession that we are saved by mercy. Some may think, “If we are to be saved by mercy, hope will be uncertain, if in those who obtain salvation nothing precedes it by which they may be distinguished from those who do not obtain it.” We must give them a satisfactory answer, since the scholastics, moved by this reasoning seem to have devised the term meritum condigni.

Pulling It Together: If there must be something observed before one is able to hope in God’s mercy, there is such evidence. Faith is the antecedent. That is the difference between those who will receive God’s mercy and those who will not. The preceding factor is not condignity, an imagined worthiness because of good works. The difference that precedes salvation is easy to determine. That distinguishing feature is belief in the one who saves. Those who hear the gospel and believe in Christ are those who receive God’s mercy and are saved.

Prayer: Loving Father, thank you for guaranteeing my salvation through belief in Christ and the seal of his Spirit. Amen. 

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 10 Nov 21 00:00:00 -0600

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Luke 17:7-10

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

It is clearly a juvenile fallacy to interpret “unprofitable servant” as meaning that works are worthless to God but are profitable to us. Christ is speaking of a profit that would make God a debtor of grace to us, though it is out of place here to discuss what is profitable or unprofitable. “Unprofitable” servants means “insufficient,” because no one fears, loves, and trusts God as much as he ought. But let us be done with these cold quibbles of the adversaries which sound minds will easily judge when they are brought to the light. They think they have found a flaw in words that are very plain and clear. But everyone can see that this passage condemns confidence in our own works.

Pulling It Together: Our works earn us nothing. This is a clear teaching, made even clearer by understanding that the word translated as “servant” in so many English translations, literally means “slave.” This is humanity’s condition; we are not mere servants, in today’s understanding of someone who is paid for their service. We are indentured servants, slaves to sin and death, and we can never earn our freedom. No matter how much work we do, that labor is simply what is demanded of a slave. The slave’s work does not make the master indebted to the slave.

Either the master sets us free—and death and the devil are not going to do that—or someone pays our debt and sets free. This is precisely what Christ has done for us. He has paid our debt and liberated us, declaring, “No longer do I call you slaves” (John 15:15 NASB). If we are no longer indentured, to whom do we owe the debt? Indeed, if there is no longer a debt to be repaid, since Christ has paid it (Col 2:14), why would we even imagine a debt is to be requited? We not only condemn confidence in works, the whole notion of paying an already-paid debt is unreasonable.

Prayer: Thank you, God, for paying my sin debt, nailing it to the cross of Christ. 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/summaries.html Tue, 09 Nov 21 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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James 4:6–10

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Ambrose says it well: “Grace is to be acknowledged; but nature must not be disregarded.” We must trust in the promise of grace, not in our own nature. But the adversaries act in accordance with their custom, and distort the judgments about faith which have been given in support of faith. We leave these thorny points to the schools.

Pulling It Together: Our nature wants to do it all, and only hopes that God will give us his grace. That is the wrong inclination. Do not trust in your efforts; do not trust the old self-reliant nature that thinks God cannot achieve justification but you can attain it if you only work at it enough. The old nature believes that if one loves enough, is joyous all the time, at peace, patient and kind toward others, is good, faithful, and self-controlled, that person will have earned God’s grace. It is the ultimate pride to think that God cannot do a thing but you can.

But the new nature of those reborn in Christ relies upon God’s grace despite our inability to produce the fruit of the Spirit. We confess that this fruit does not come from us but instead, as the term itself makes clear, comes from the Spirit. These are not the fruit of the Christian; they are the fruit of the Spirit. Because we cannot depend upon our being fruitful to merit God’s grace, we should depend upon him—for his grace is already abundantly present. Then, when he produces his fruit in our lives, we may simply be humble and thankful that God has done what we could never do.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, help me depend upon you to bear your fruit in my life. 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/summaries.html Mon, 08 Nov 21 00:00:00 -0600

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2 Thessalonians 2:13-17

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

But if they mean to argue from analogous statements—When you have done all things, do not trust in your works, and when you have believed all things, do not trust in the divine promise—there is no connection. They are not analogous, as the causes and objects of confidence in the former proposition are not the same as the latter. In the former, confidence is in our own works. In the latter, confidence is in the divine promise. Christ condemns confidence in our works; he does not condemn confidence in his promise. He does not wish us to despair of God's grace and mercy. He accuses our works as unworthy, but does not accuse the promise which freely offers mercy.

Pulling It Together: If a man was swimming in the ocean and began to drown, he would be quite correct to not trust his own efforts to save himself. But he would yell with his last breath to the lifeguard. The lifeguard is trained and dependable to save drowning swimmers. Think how the struggling swimmer’s hopes would buoy him up as he saw the lifeguard swimming toward him.

Would we now take a perfectly understandable comparison and turn it on itself? When you have swam your best but are about to drown, do not trust your swimming skills. Likewise, though you believe the lifeguard is there to save you, you cannot trust him either. It would be a special kind of madness to think like this. We immediately see through the bad analogy.

Just as a lifeguard may be trusted to save drowning swimmers, God may be trusted to save poor sinners. We are right to not trust in our religious skills and our good deeds. But we would be very wrong to not trust the promise of God.

Prayer: Lord, keep me steadfast in the word of your promise. 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/summaries.html Sun, 07 Nov 21 00:00:00 -0500 Online jigsaw

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Titus 3:4-7

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Faith saves because it apprehends mercy and the promise of grace, even though our works are unworthy. Knowing this, their argument does not offend us: “When we have believed all things, say, ‘We are unworthy servants.’” Understanding that our works are worthless, we declare with the entire Church that we are saved by mercy.

Pulling It Together: There is faith and there is the fruit of faith. Faith ought to have results in this life, not just the result of an eternal life to come. For we pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” But those results—the fruit of our faith, our participation in the will of God—are not payments to God. We are not defraying a debt to God by slowly working it off in this life. That is not the way God’s economy works, as the Father has already paid the debt through his Son because our pitiful works could never amount to salvation. To insist on working off an already paid debt, cheats God by refusing his great gift. He has freely given us salvation through his mercy and loving kindness in Christ. He has also regenerated us to live the life of faith. In this new life, we continue to rely on Christ for salvation while we bear the fruit of faith through the power of his Holy Spirit. So, none of this is done in our own power or righteousness. God has done—and continues to do—it all.

Prayer: Help me to bear fruit for your kingdom, Lord, but depend upon you alone for salvation. 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.

Teacher's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 06 Nov 21 00:00:00 -0500 Online jigsaw

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Psalm 79:8–9

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Although these absurdities do not deserve a refutation, nevertheless we will reply to them in a few words. The antistrophe is defective. First, the adversaries are deceived in regard to the term “faith.” If it means a knowledge of history that the wicked and devils also have, our opponents would be correct in arguing that faith is unprofitable when they say, "When we have believed all things, say, ‘We are unworthy servants.’" But we are not speaking of knowledge of history. We are talking about confidence in the promise and mercy of God. This confidence in his promise confesses that we are unworthy servants. Indeed, the confession that our works are unprofitable is the very voice of faith, as demonstrated in the example of Daniel that we already cited above. “We do not present our supplications before thee on the ground of our righteousness, but on the ground of thy great mercy” (Dan 9:18).

Pulling It Together: God forgives us for the sake of his name. His reputation is at stake, so he will keep his promise. This is easy to understand. God does not require our works of righteousness, for that would mean that he forgives for our sake, because of the things we have done, because we have a righteous name to honor. Our works are unprofitable and unnecessary for salvation, forgiveness, and justification because God’s word is sufficient. He has promised to forgive for his own sake, because of his name.

A person might know that this is what Christians believe, but that knowledge does not merit justification. A person might not feel forgiven, and so, do an abundance of good works, hoping that God will forgive them because of their deeds. Yet those deeds will not earn forgiveness. Knowledge and deeds are both useless for salvation, since they cannot earn God’s grace. God’s word of promise is all that matters; you either believe him or you do not. Faith takes hold of God’s promise, believing that we are freely forgiven and justified for his name’s sake, for Christ’s sake. Faith adds nothing to the promise; it takes God at his word.

Prayer: When my iniquities prevail against me, Lord, help me to trust your promise of atonement. Amen. 

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Subscribe to Connections Magazine today. Connections features articles that connect Lutherans to the Word. Martin Luther’s Small Catechism provides the inspiration for confessional, biblical content, delivered in a stylish, readable design. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 05 Nov 21 00:00:00 -0500 Online jigsaw

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John 15:14-17

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

The teaching of Christ also applies here. “So you also, when you have done all that is commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty’” (Luke 17:10). These words clearly declare that God saves because of mercy and his promise, not that it is due because of the value of our works. At this point our opponents wonderfully play with the words of Christ, making an antistrophe and turning it against us. Daring to speak over the words of Christ, they declare that if we have believed all things, we are unworthy servants. Then they add that works are of no profit to God, but are profitable to us. See how the adolescent study of sophistry delights the adversaries.

Pulling It Together: Behold, what importance some people place in their works. They value deeds so thoroughly that they distort the words of Christ. When he downplays works, they exalt them. While he promotes the Father’s mercy, they degrade it by adding as a requirement of grace what Christ says is mere duty. The keeping of the commandments, including Christ’s command to love one another (John 15:12), is simply living out Christian discipleship. This is what it looks like to be a Christian. It shows that one is rightly related to Christ, that one is his friend, chosen by him to live a life of faith instead of mere servanthood.

Beware of anything that comes between you and faith in Christ. If you find yourself thinking how fine a Christian you are because of your great love, you are exalting your works over Christ. If you discover that your conscience is dependent upon keeping the law, you are not availing yourself of a greater peace of mind—that peace of God that surpasses all understanding (Phil 4:7).

Prayer: Thank you, Jesus, for choosing me to be your friend. Amen. 

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John is the fourth book in the "Old Places, New Faces" series. Twelve studies explore the profound metaphors of the Gospel of John. This study guide will make the story of Christ alive and relevant for today's readers.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 04 Nov 21 00:00:00 -0500 Online jigsaw

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John 10:7-9

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

We also wonder what our adversaries do in prayer, if indeed, the profane men ever ask anything of God. If they declare that they are worthy because they have love and good works, and ask for grace as if they had earned it, then they pray precisely like the Pharisee in Luke 18:11, who says, “I am not like other men.” He who prays for grace without relying upon God's mercy, dishonors Christ, who intercedes for us as our High Priest. Therefore, prayer relies upon God's mercy when we believe that we are heard for the sake of Christ, the High Priest, as he himself says, “ If you ask anything of the Father, he will give it to you in my name” (John 16:23). He says, “In my name,” because without this High Priest we cannot approach the Father.

Pulling It Together: If we come to God, expecting that we deserve his grace, then we are thieves of grace. When we think that we have earned God’s mercy and may therefore demand it, we rob God of the glory that belongs to him alone. We need a mediator, someone to go between us and God. Christ alone has earned this authority by ransoming himself for all people (1 Tim 2:5-6). If we imagine that we have attained such a high position, we steal the grace that the Father would freely give us through the Son whom he loves (Eph 1:6). We must therefore, always pray through Christ, expecting nothing because of ourselves or because of our deeds, yet expecting all good things of the Father because of his Son.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for making a way to the Father of grace. Amen. 

Pulling It TogetherReceive these Sola Devotions in weekday emails. Click here to fill out a quick and secure subscription form. 

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

Teacher's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 03 Nov 21 00:00:00 -0500 Online jigsaw

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Daniel 9:15-19

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Jonah also says, “Those who regard vanities abandon their own mercy” (Jonah 2:9, Vulgate). All confidence is vain, except confidence in mercy. Mercy delivers us; our own merits, our own efforts, do not. Accordingly, Daniel also prays, “For we do not present our supplications before thee on the ground of our righteousness, but on the ground of thy great mercy. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, give heed and act; delay not, for thy own sake, O my God, because thy city and thy people are called by thy name” (Dan 9:18-19). So Daniel teaches us to take hold of mercy when we pray, that is, to trust in God's mercy, not in our own merits before him.

Pulling It Together: The First Commandment teaches us that God is faithful to deliver his people. “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery” (Exod 20:2). When we confess our sin, God may also be depended upon to bring us out of our bondage to sin (1 John 1:9). We either admit our condition or remain in subjugation. The Hebrews might have stayed behind; and we too may remain enslaved to sin. So, we confess that we are in bondage. Further, we confess that we cannot free ourselves. Just as the Hebrews could not escape from their Egyptian overlords without God’s help, we cannot free ourselves from our masters: sin and death.

As God delivered the Hebrews through the Red Sea, he brings us safely through the waters of baptism. They wandered in the wilderness and finally arrived in the promised land. We move through this life and at long last, arrive at the gates of heaven. All of this is accomplished because God has promised and, in his great mercy, keeps his covenant. We take hold of his promises by faith, not by the bitter labors of “heavy burdens” and “hard service” (Exod 1:14). When God’s people depend upon their hard work, they are enslaved. Yet, when they do not depend upon their own efforts, but trust in God to do the necessary work, they are liberated from their slavery to sin and death. They are freed to live in the new kingdom, and never again regard Egypt.

Prayer: Though my efforts are unworthy, Lord, save me according to your great mercy. 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/summaries.html Tue, 02 Nov 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Luke 11:2–4

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

“I feared all my works” (Job 9:28, Vulgate). “If I wash myself with snow, and cleanse my hands with lye, yet thou wilt plunge me into a pit” (Job 9:30). “Who can say, ‘I have made my heart clean; I am pure from my sin’?” (Prov 20:9). “ If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). In the Lord's Prayer the saints ask for the forgiveness of sins, so even the saints have sins. “He will by no means clear the guilty” (Num 14:18; Exod 34:7). “The Lord your God is a devouring fire” (Deut 4:24). Zechariah also says, “Be silent, all flesh, before the Lord” (Zech 2:13). “All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it” (Isa 40:6). In other words, the flesh and the righteousness of the flesh cannot endure the judgment of God. 

Pulling It Together: Our sin leaves us indebted to God. This is why Jesus tells us to pray, “Forgive us our sins.” Matthew uses the word “debt” (Matt 6:12), making it clear that we owe God for our moral failure. No one is exempt; all people owe God. But we cannot pay our debt. Our sin nature, our natural being, cannot stand before the glory of God. We cannot work off our debt either, since the righteousness of the flesh will not endure God’s judgment (Rom 3:20). If anything, we should fear and distrust what we consider our good works. Without faith in Christ, these good works will burn with all the other “bad works” that we have done. We cannot cleanse ourselves. All we can do is avail ourselves of the mercy of God, praying, “Forgive us.”

Prayer: Father, thank you for hearing me when I pray, and forgiving me when I ask. Amen. 

Receive these Sola Devotions in weekday emails. Click here to fill out a quick and secure subscription form. 

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/summaries.html Mon, 01 Nov 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Hebrews 10:19–23

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 113

Scripture also often emphasizes the same. “Enter not into judgment with thy servant; for no man living is righteous before thee” (Psa 143:2). This passage absolutely denies the glory of righteousness, even to all saints and servants of God, if God does not forgive but judges and convicts their hearts. When David boasts in other places of his righteousness, he speaks of his cause against the persecutors of God's Word. He does not speak of his personal purity. He asks that the cause and glory of God be defended, as in Psalm 7:8: “Judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness and according to the integrity that is in me.” Likewise, in Psalm 130:3, he says that if God recorded our sins no one could endure God's judgment. “If thou, O Lord, shouldst mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand?”

Pulling It Together: Pour some dirt into a cup of water and find out how many people will drink? Just so, we are not palatable; each person is just some good mixed in with the bad. We are each an undrinkable cup. Everyone sins. Even the deeds we do that others consider good, are of no estimation before the Holy God. For we are not good if we are sometimes bad. Therefore, we cannot stand before God’s glory—unless he makes us holy. Unless the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us, we will never endure his glory.

Thanks be to God, that when we admit the bad within us, turning to the Lord, asking his forgiveness, believing that Christ Jesus died for our sins, he makes us good. This is not accomplished in any part by the good deeds we may do, nor by the intentions of the heart—even those that we rarely accomplish. So, we cannot make ourselves good; it is only God who can make someone righteous. He makes sinners gloriously righteous by giving them Christ’s righteousness. He forgives their sins and considers them completely righteous and holy for Christ’s sake, not ours. He is the only way (John 14:6) to the Father. There is no back door. Yet, through Christ, we may enter into the presence of God with confidence. Washed by his pure water, we may draw near with the full assurance of faith in Christ.

Prayer: Help me to hold fast the confession of my hope, Jesus Christ the Lord. 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/summaries.html Sun, 31 Oct 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for online jigsaw.

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Hebrews 4:14-16

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

The subject is well known and has a great many clear testimonies in Scripture and in the Church Fathers, all declaring with one voice that, even though we have good works, yet in these very works, we need mercy. Depending upon God’s mercy, faith cheers and consoles us. Therefore, the adversaries teach erroneously when they exalt merits, adding nothing about this faith that apprehends mercy. As we have said before, the promise and faith must cooperate since the promise is not apprehended unless by faith. So we say again that the promised mercy requires faith, and cannot be apprehended without faith. Therefore we justly find fault with the doctrine of meritum condigni since it teaches nothing about justifying faith. Furthermore, it obscures the glory and office of Christ as mediator. We should not be regarded as teaching anything new in this matter, since the Church Fathers have so clearly handed down the doctrine that even in good works we need mercy.

Pulling It Together: We cannot make any offering for sin that produces mercy and forgiveness. Our virtue will not do it, nor will religious works, the right disposition, or remorse. Yet there is still hope in the mercy of God, since our great High Priest has made the one offering that makes the difference. No other sacrifice affords God’s grace. Because his grace is only taken hold of through faith, we are able to confess with the Scripture that we may confidently draw near to the cross and receive the promised grace of God. If grace was to be apprehended through our own means, we could never have such bold confidence. It is faith in Christ that transports us to the cross, that blessed place of hope where our sins were carried and buried by Jesus Christ our Savior.

Prayer: I give you the honor and glory, Lord, and place all my hope in you. Amen. 

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Three Keys to What Lutherans Believe is a three-session introduction to themes in Lutheran theology. By focusing on key biblical concepts, it demonstrates the primary themes that Lutherans emphasize in thinking about the Christian faith and the teachings of Scripture. The study may be particularly suited to new member classes, adult baptismal or confirmation instruction, or for use with young adults. For use in shorter sessions, leaders may choose to divide each lesson into two parts to create a six-week study.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 30 Oct 21 00:00:00 -0500 Online jigsaw

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Proverbs 28:13-14

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 111

Fourth, the entire Church confesses that eternal life is attained through mercy. Speaking of the works that saints do after being justified, Augustine says in On Grace and Free Will, “God leads us to eternal life not by our merits, but according to His mercy.” In book nine of his Confessions, he writes, “Woe to the life of man, however much it may be worthy of praise, if it be judged with mercy removed.” In his treatise On the Lord’s Prayer Cyprian says, “Lest any one should flatter himself that he is innocent, and by exalting himself, should perish the more deeply, he is instructed and taught that he sins daily, in that he is bidden to entreat daily for his sins.”

Pulling It Together: Everybody sins. Anyone who claims otherwise, is kidding himself (1 John 1:8) but God is not fooled. We were born into sin (Psa 51:5); it invades all of life. What can be done about this condition that pervades us? Nothing. There is nothing that you can do except hope in a merciful God. Without his mercy, there is only judgment and death (Heb 9:27).

We may hide our sin from others but we cannot hide from God, who is not only merciful but righteous and just. It is a foolish person who, having no fear of God, hardens his heart and does not forsake his sin. But the wise person trembles before the Almighty, and admits his sin. Because he believes that he may depend upon God’s mercy, he does not despair by taking matters into his own useless hands. He relies completely on the only one who is willing, able, and just to do something about his sinful life (1 John 1:9). He confesses his sin and obtains God’s mercy.

This is all we can do, though we really are not doing a thing. We are only admitting our sin and leaving it with God to handle. In this confession, we will have done everything needful for peace with our merciful God.

Prayer: Loving Father, help me to truly confess my sins—not in the length of the list but in the range of my trust in your mercy. 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.

Teacher's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 29 Oct 21 00:00:00 -0500 Online jigsaw

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Hebrews 6:17-20

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Third, how will the conscience know when a work has been done through this inclination of love so that it is assured it has merited grace de condigno? This distinction, that people merit at one time de congruo and at another time de condigno, was devised to elude the Scriptures. As we have already said, the intention of the one who works does not distinguish the kinds of merit. In their security, hypocrites simply think their works are worthy, and that for this reason they are accounted righteous. Yet, terrified consciences doubt concerning all works, and for this reason are continually seeking other works. For this is what it means to merit de congruo: to doubt and to work without faith until despair takes place. In a word, all that the adversaries teach in regard to this matter is full of errors and dangers.

Pulling It Together: Some people have faith in their works. They believe that there are certain things they can do to earn God’s grace. This imagined acquisition of grace is called condignity or de condigno. It betrays a lack of faith in the finished work of Christ, trusting instead, that God will dignify human works with the grace of forgiveness and righteousness. There are others, sometimes those same people, who doubt the merit of condignity (as they should) and grasp at any good work in the hope that God will offer his grace in return. This is the so-called merit of congruity or de congruo, in which people hope that their efforts will bring them into harmony with God.

How can either condignity or congruity offer hope to the despairing soul? They cannot. Only Christ offers hope that is so sure and steadfast that it is an anchor for the soul. If our anchor is in self, the winds of doubt will drag us across the ocean to shipwreck. But when our hope is in Christ, the anchor holds.

Prayer: Give me faith to trust in you, Lord, my Rock and the anchor of my soul. Amen. 

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The Smalcald Articles are often considered Luther's theological Last Will and Testament. Written in easy-to-understand language, this study is presented in a discussion formation with assigned readings from the Scriptures and the Book of Concord. Included in the study is a shorter work by Philip Melanchton called "The Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope." 

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 28 Oct 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for online jigsaw.

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Mark 14:32-38; 1 Kings 19:11-13

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Second, the doctrine of the adversaries leaves consciences in doubt. Because the law always accuses us, even in good works, consciences can never be pacified. “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit” (Gal 5:17). Therefore, if a conscience believes that it must please God by the sake of its own work, instead of for Christ's sake, how will it have peace without faith? If hope springs from merits, what work will the conscience find that may firmly be relied upon as worthy of eternal life? Paul speaks against these doubts. “Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom 5:1). We ought to be firmly convinced that righteousness and eternal life are granted us for Christ's sake. Paul also says of Abraham that, “In hope he believed against hope” (Rom 4:18).

Pulling It Together: The spirit is compelled to have faith in God but the flesh is weak. It is hard to stay awake and watchful against the accusations of the law. It is easy enough, however, to fall asleep, dreaming that there must be some way that we might please God and avert his wrath. So, we must remain alert, listening carefully beneath the roar of the law’s accusations. The law thunders and quakes against the conscience. The fiery judgment of God leaves us unsettled and trembling. But listen; there is also the sound of a low whisper, calling us to stand before the Lord. It is the Spirit of the Lord coming to us through the gospel. Although he convicts us of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8), he does so with the hope of forgiveness. He calls us to the exit of our cave of doubts, awakening us to the reality of God’s mercy and grace, through Jesus Christ the Lord.

Prayer: Lead me, Lord, by your Spirit so that I am not controlled by the flesh. Amen. 

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The Great Search is a Christmas program that tells the story of those faithful travelers who made the journey to Bethlehem that very first Christmas. With the help of modern inventions, the magi, shepherds, and angels go on a Great Search to find the Christchild. This program can easily be adapted for large or smaller congregations. The congregation participates in the program through the singing of Christmas Carols.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 27 Oct 21 00:00:00 -0500 Online jigsaw

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From the Word: 15 We are Jews by nature, and not from Gentile sinners. 16 Yet, knowing that a person is not justified from works of the law, but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we believed on Christ Jesus that we might be justified by faith in Christ, and not by works of the law, for no flesh will be justified by works of the law. 17 But if, seeking to be justified in Christ, we too were revealed as sinners, is Christ a servant of sin? May it never be so! 18 For if I rebuild those things that I leveled, I prove myself an overstepper. (Galatians 2:16-18)

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

What else is this than to transfer the glory of Christ to our works, when we seek to please God because of our works instead of because of Christ? This also robs Christ of the glory of being the mediator, who is mediator perpetually, and not merely in the beginning of justification. Paul also says that if one who is justified in Christ later seeks righteousness elsewhere, he calls Christ “an agent of sin” (Gal 2:17) because he does not fully justify. The adversaries are quite absurd when they teach that good works merit grace de condigno, as though when the conscience is terrified after justification, as is often the case, grace must be sought through a good work, and not by faith in Christ.

Pulling It Together: Those who consider themselves Christian would confess that Christ saves. But the later actions of some betray a different belief than what they confess. Because they still sin, as everyone does, they begin to seek their salvation and forgiveness by doing something that they hope will appease God, whom they imagine must be angry with them. Because their consciences are troubled, they seek peace and reassurance in their own virtue instead of in Christ. But there is never lasting peace of mind for those who trust in the need to add their own deeds to what Christ has already fully accomplished.

The holy, catholic, Christian Church teaches, preaches, and confesses that we are saved by God’s grace through Christ our propitiator. We cannot be redeemed by our efforts to appease him. We demonstrated earlier that even Jerome said, “We are righteous when we confess that we are sinners, and that our righteousness consists not in our own merit, but in God's mercy.” Either Christ has saved us or he has not.

Prayer: Increase my faith in you, Lord, so that I will not depend upon myself. 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.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 26 Oct 21 00:00:00 -0500 Online jigsaw

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1 Timothy 2:3-6

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 107

It is also clear that we cannot observe the law without the aid of Christ, as he himself tells us. “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). So before we are able to observe the law, our hearts must be born again by faith. Therefore, it is understandable why we find fault with the doctrine of the adversaries concerning meritum condigni. The decision is very easy, since they do not mention faith or that we please God by faith for Christ's sake. Rather, they imagine that good works, done because of an inclination to love, constitute a righteousness worthy by itself to please God, and earn eternal life with no need of Christ as mediator.

Pulling It Together: There is no good thing that we can do, or even a lifetime’s collection of good works, that God would dignify as a righteousness worthy of eternal life. If that were so, why would he have sent his Son to be the satisfaction or propitiation for our sin? Why would God require faith in Christ if we could earn our own salvation? We need Christ; we cannot save ourselves. There is only one God and Savior (Titus 2:13; Jude 25) and he needs no assistance from us. He has paid the penalty for our sin, ransoming us from death (Mark 10:45). Jesus has negotiated or mediated the price that we could never pay, so that we could come to a knowledge of the truth and be set free (John 8:32) from sin and death. All of this happens without our help, but not without faith in Christ.

Prayer: Thank you, Jesus, for completely saving me so that I may have faith in you and not worry if there is something that I must still do to inherit eternal life. 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."

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 25 Oct 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for online jigsaw.

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Hebrews 12:28-29

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

These things are also plain, that we overcome the terrors of sin and death by faith, not by love, since our love and fulfilling of the law cannot stand against the wrath of God. Paul says that we we have access to God by faith in Christ (Rom 5:2). We stress this statement so frequently because of its clarity. It shows most plainly the state of our whole case, and when carefully considered, teaches abundantly about this whole matter, bringing consolation to well-disposed minds. Accordingly, it is advantageous to have it at hand and in sight, not only so that we may be able to use it against the doctrine of our adversaries, who teach that we come to God not by faith, but by love and merits, without Christ as mediator, but also so that we may cheer ourselves and exercise faith when fear assails us.

Pulling It Together: True faith in Christ is not shaken for long, since it remembers the source and object of its faith. Faith does not seek to appease an angry God but instead, recalls that God graciously forgives sins for Christ’s sake. Because of our trust in God, we are able to worship him without fear. We are consoled by the gospel that teaches us of a loving Father. Because God has imputed Christ’s righteousness to us, we are not destroyed by his “consuming fire”; we are cleansed by it instead. Our works and dispositions do not make us clean or righteous. Christ alone makes us righteous and enables us to stand before him with reverence and awe, offering him acceptable worship (Rom 5:2). 

Prayer: Lord Jesus, cleanse me with your shed blood so that I may offer you acceptable worship. 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.

Teacher's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 24 Oct 21 00:00:00 -0500 Onlilne jigsaw

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Hebrews 10:38-11:1

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

We hope that it can be sufficiently understood from these statements what faith is, and that we are compelled to hold that we are justified, reconciled, and regenerated by faith, if indeed, we wish to teach the righteousness of the gospel, and not of the law. Those who teach that we are justified by love teach the righteousness of the law, and do not instruct us to avail ourselves of Christ as mediator in justification.

Pulling It Together: Faith is not a mere intellectual understanding of God. Many people believe there is a God but they neither know who he is nor put their trust in him. Faith is not a decision to be religious. It is not head knowledge, and it is not the will to love God. These are by-products of faith. Faith is a complete trust in God even when the mind cannot comprehend, or when the will desires something other than God. One cannot trust in God if faith is of our own construction, merely human reason or will. Faith believes in Christ, not self.

Faith takes hold of God’s promises and will not let go—even when the mind cannot fathom God’s promises, even when the will cannot fully comply with the law. When the doubting mind and the weak, human will (Mark 14:38) leave us feeling guilty, faith still believes. Faith is a wholesale trust in God for justification, forgiveness of sins, rebirth, and eternal life. It takes no stock in self, but trusts in Christ alone. For if faith was a matter of reason and the will, no one could be assured of God’s promises; no one could have steadfast conviction in things unseen. God is the source of our faith, not us—not our reason or our will—so faith leaves our justification in his hands.

Prayer: Keep me steadfast, O Lord, in your word of promise. Amen. 

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Live from the First Century is based on the Christmas Story from the Gospel of Luke. This children's program takes the form of a first century newscast, reporting on events in Bethlehem. The script includes a number of character parts, with each scene featuring a Christmas carol sung by the children. Permission is granted to reproduce the script for local congregational use.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 23 Oct 21 00:00:00 -0500 Online jigsaw

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From the Word: 2 And the Lord answered me and said, “Write the vision, and make it plain upon tablets, that he may run while reading it. 3 For the vision still awaits the appointed time; it pants to the end, but will not deceive. Though it seems to plod, wait for it because it will surely come. It will not delay.

4 “Behold, his soul is puffed up, it is not upright in him; but the righteous will live by his faith.” (Habakkuk 2:2-4)

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

The adversaries speak of obedience to the law; they do not speak of obedience to the gospel. Yet we cannot obey the law unless we have been reborn through the gospel. Nor can we love God unless the we have received the forgiveness of sins. As long as we think that he is angry with us, human nature flees from his wrath and judgment. Some may prevaricate that if it is faith that wishes those things that are offered in the promise, then the properties of faith and hope seem to be confused, because hope is that which expects promised things. To this we reply that these dispositions cannot in reality be severed, in the manner that they are divided by idle speculations in the schools. For in the Epistle to the Hebrews faith is also defined as the “assurance of things hoped for” (Heb 11:1). Yet if anyone still desires a distinction to be made, we say that the object of hope is properly a future event, but that faith is concerned with future and present things, receiving in the present the forgiveness of sins that the promise offers.

Pulling It Together: If you would be righteous, you must live by faith (Hab 2:4; Rom 1:17; Gal 3:11; Heb 10:38). For if you imagine that you can be righteous by being virtuous and religious, then you are misguided by conceit. Righteousness is a characteristic of God alone that he shares with or imputes to those who have faith in his righteousness. Righteousness only comes to us from God, by believing in the good news of Jesus Christ’s redeeming work on the cross. Righteousness is not something acquired through obedience to the law; it is something that God freely gives to those who believe the gospel. Then, because we have received his forgiveness, love, and righteousness by believing what God promised, we have a sure and certain hope, a guaranteed inheritance, an eternity determined by God “before the foundation of the world” (Eph 1:4) for those who have preserved their souls through faith. 

Prayer: My eyes are turned to you, Lord God, and in you I take refuge. Amen. 

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Saints and Sinners, Witnesses to the Faith, is the first in a three-volume series on saints and sinners in the New Testament who were powerful witnesses to faith in Christ. May this study of saints and sinners enrich your understanding of life with Christ and encourage you in discipleship.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 22 Oct 21 00:00:00 -0500 Online jigsaw

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Romans 4:15-22

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

This faith gives God the honor that is his own by receiving the promises. It obeys him just as Paul says, “No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God” (Rom 4:20). Thus the worship and divine service of the gospel is to receive gifts from God, while the worship of the law is to offer our gifts to God. We can offer nothing to God unless we have first been reconciled and born again. This teaching brings the greatest consolation since the chief worship of the gospel is to desire to receive forgiveness of sins, grace, and righteousness. Christ says of this worship, “For this is the will of my Father, that every one who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life” (John 6:40). And the Father says, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him” (Matt 17:5).

Pulling It Together: Hope believes even when the situation appears hopeless. Abraham was confronted with an utterly hopeless situation. His son, who seemed to be the beginning of God’s guarantee of offspring, was to be sacrificed to God. Notice how bleak worship is when it is we who bring the gifts. Still, in that darkest, most desperate moment, the patriarch believed even when hope itself seemed hopeless. As the father was about to slaughter the son of promise, God spared Isaac’s life. Abraham’s worship was brought to life when God provided the sacrifice that Abraham never could. Even so, God has provided in his own Son the sacrifice that we could never offer. In God’s gift to the world is grace, forgiveness, and righteousness. Worship is truly worship when we receive these gifts from God through faith, even when our sins cause us to question if hope itself is hopeless.

Prayer: Help me to grow strong in faith, God, and give you the glory. Amen. 

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Family Matters is a nine-session Bible study that focuses on the first generations of God's people—Abraham and his descendants. It looks at how God's covenant promise sustained them as they navigated family relationships.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 21 Oct 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for online jigsaw.

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1 John 3:23-24

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

The righteousness of Christ is given to us through faith, so faith is righteousness in us by imputation. We are made acceptable to God because of the imputation and ordinance of God, as Paul says, “Faith is reckoned as righteousness” (Rom 4:3-5). Because of certain critics, we must speak technically: faith is truly righteousness because it is obedience to the gospel. Obviously, obedience to the command of a superior is plainly and truly a form of distributive justice. This obedience to the gospel is reckoned for righteousness, so that, only because we apprehend Christ as propitiator, are good works or obedience to the law pleasing. For we do not satisfy the law, but for Christ's sake this is forgiven us, as Paul says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:1).

Pulling It Together: If you are looking for something that you must do, some righteous work that gains eternal life, there is only one thing necessary. Believe in Christ (John 6:29). That is God’s commandment: believe. The Apostle John teaches us that this is God’s greatest commandment, that belief in Christ is the same thing as loving “the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matt 22:37). The next time you think that you surely do not love God with your whole heart, ponder this. Despite your sin, indeed, even if you consider yourself the worst of sinners (1 Tim 1:15), do you still believe in Christ? Do you still take hold of him as the means of forgiveness? Then you have kept God’s greatest commandment. There is nothing else to do but believe in Christ. Through this faith, God makes you truly righteous by instilling the righteousness of Christ in you. This is why you cannot be condemned (Rom 8:1): Christ with all of his righteousness now abides in you because you have kept God’s greatest commandment by believing in the name of his Son. 

Prayer: Father, grow my faith in your Son and my love for all people. 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.

You may customize your catechism with church name, address, and website.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 20 Oct 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for jigsaw puzzle.

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1 Peter 2:22-24

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

In this passage, justify is utilized in a legal sense, meaning to acquit a guilty person and declare him righteous—yet, on account of the righteousness of another, namely Christ’s, which is conveyed to us by faith. Since in this passage, our righteousness is the imputation of the righteousness of another, we must speak here of righteousness in a different manner than a philosophical or judicial inquiry about the righteousness of one's own work, which certainly is in the will. Accordingly, Paul says, “He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom, our righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Cor 1:30). “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor 5:21).

Pulling It Together: Jesus took our sin upon himself and died with it on the cross. When our sin was transferred to Christ, his righteousness was assigned to us through faith in him. There was nothing that the disciples could do on that horrible, yet blessed day, but watch. Jesus did it all, bearing the guilt and blame of everyone, justifying all who believe (Acts 13:39). Jesus paid the price of our sin so that we would receive the benefit of his righteousness. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:21). Like his first disciples, we can do nothing to assist in our justification. We cannot clear our own names but we can take the name of Jesus Christ, given to us in baptism and apprehended through faith (Gal 3:26-27).

Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, for bearing my sin on the cross, becoming my righteousness. Amen. 

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

All God's Critters is a Sunday School series designed for young students in Preschool and Kindergarten. Lessons are based on storytelling, rhyme, and pictures, and are suitable for participation by non-readers. The flexible lesson plans introduce the youngest believers to the importance and truth of God’s Word. Each lesson includes the story of the day written in a simplified manner so that young children may understand an important truth about God and what it means for us to be God’s children. The 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/summaries.html Tue, 19 Oct 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for online jigsaw.

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2 Timothy 3:14–15

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

A sophist may object that righteousness is in the will, and therefore cannot be ascribed to faith, which is in the intellect. A reply is easy, since even the scholastics acknowledge that the will commands the intellect to assent to the Word of God. We also say quite clearly: The terrors of sin and death are not only thoughts of the intellect but also horrible turbulence of the will fleeing God's judgment. Even so, faith is not only knowledge in the intellect, but also confidence in the will. It desires to receive what the promise offers, namely, reconciliation and forgiveness of sins. Scripture uses the term "faith" this way as Paul testifies in the following sentence. “Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God” (Rom 5:1).

Pulling It Together: We cannot reason our way to God or become justified before him because we have come to some intellectual understanding of divinity. Our sinful natures alone, as well as subsequent sins, have alienated us from God. Some try to deny this, but they know better since they cannot escape the fear of sin and death. So, what are we to do in order to be justified? The answer is: nothing. We cannot do a thing about our damned situation. There is however, someone who has done something about our condition, and the credit for what he has accomplished has been transferred to our account. When we admit our sinful condition, and desire to receive God’s forgiveness and to be reconciled to him, we may enjoy peace with, instead of the fear of, God. This happens when we believe the testimony of Scripture and have faith in the saving work of Jesus Christ. This is why we confess that people are justified to God through faith alone.

Prayer: Almighty God, increase my faith, through Christ Jesus, my Lord and Savior. Amen. 

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

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) 

Leader's Guide is available. 

Free Educational Resources on the Afterlife

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 18 Oct 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for jigsaw puzzle.

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Mark 1:21-24

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Let any one of our adversaries come forward who can teach us about this love, how he himself loves God. They do not at all understand what they say; they only echo, like the walls of a house, the little word "love," without understanding it. Their doctrine is so confused and obscure. It not only transfers the glory of Christ to human works, but also leads consciences either to presumption or to despair. Our doctrine, we hope, is readily understood by pious minds, and brings godly and salutary consolation to terrified consciences. For as the adversaries quibble that many wicked men and devils also believe, we have already frequently said that we speak of faith in Christ—of faith in the forgiveness of sins, faith that truly and heartily assents to the promise of grace. This does not happen without a great struggle in human hearts. Sensible people can easily judge that the faith which believes that we are cared for by God, and that we are forgiven and heard by him, is a matter beyond our nature. For the human mind, in its own power, does not believe this about God. Therefore, neither wicked people nor devils can have this faith that we are discussing.

Pulling It Together: Surveys are often filled out by a person who marks the box, “Christian.” Often what this means is that the person thinks there is a God. In the public mind, believing there is a God is synonymous with being a Christian. But this is a far cry from faith, from believing in God. Christians not only believe there is a God, they believe that he sent his Son to redeem them, to forgive them of their sins. They believe that God loves them and cares for them.

What devils have faith that God forgives their sins because of Christ? What demons believe that God loves and cares for them? They may know that Jesus is the Holy One of God but they lack faith. Theirs is mere intellectual assent. To know something is not the same thing as having faith. Faith believes even when it cannot fathom a matter. Who can understand that Jesus forgives them completely when they are such outrageous sinners? Yet this is precisely what we believe, because we have faith in his word. We believe that we are wholly forgiven without deed or charity of our own to balance the scale. This is beyond the ability of human nature to comprehend. Still, this is what we are asked to believe and trust.

People who only believe there must be a God, do not have faith in Christ. Devils know that God exists, but they too have no faith in him. But people who trust in Christ instead of themselves, who trust in his work on the cross instead of in religion, are the people of true faith—not an intellectual nod but a real trust in God. When it seems impossible to think that the Father cares for a sinner like you, trust in God. Do not trust in your good deeds to compensate for your sins, for they do not. People of faith believe that Christ has delivered them from all of their sins and has reconciled them to his Father.

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

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 17 Oct 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for online jigsaw.

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Romans 15:8-13

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

In regard to their doctrine of justification, consciences are left in uncertainty. If they must believe that they have a reconciled God because they love and observe the law, they will always doubt whether they have a reconciled God. They either do not feel this love, as the adversaries acknowledge, or certainly feel this love is too little. Frequently they feel angry at the judgment of God who oppresses human nature with many terrible evils, with troubles of this life, the terrors of eternal wrath, and so forth. So, when will the conscience be at rest; when will it be pacified? In such doubt and terror, when will it love God? What else is the doctrine of the law than a doctrine of despair?

Pulling It Together: Christ came to the law keepers first, to show the truth of God’s promises. God fulfilled those promises in the Messiah by fulfilling the law for them, something which they could not accomplish (Acts 15:10). Second, Christ came to display God’s mercy to those who had no concern for the law. The Gentiles did not find peace through conversion to law keeping. The demands of the law are no reason for joy since no one can fulfill the law. Rather, their joy and peace abounded through belief in the Son of God. The hope of the Gentiles was full through the power of the Holy Spirit, who was given to them by faith. Nowhere are loving actions or observation of the law required for this joy, peace, and hope. These are endowments that come to us through faith in Christ, not by keeping the law or through love and religious ceremony. So, we see that God’s mercy is shown to the law keeper as well as those who have no concern for religion. We confess that joy, peace, and hope are available to all because of God’s mercy—but only through faith. 

Prayer: Fill me with joy, peace, and hope through believing in you, Lord Jesus. Amen. 

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Remind your family and friends of the hope that they have in Christ. A variety of beautiful greeting cards are available from Sola Publishing. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 16 Oct 21 00:00:00 -0500 Online jigsaw

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John 5:21-24

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

The adversaries deprive the Church of great blessings when they condemn and try to blur the doctrine of the righteousness of faith. Therefore, let all well-disposed minds beware of consenting to their godless counsels. For they make no mention of Christ in justification, how we ought to set him against the wrath of God, as though, indeed, we were able to overcome the wrath of God by love, or to love an angry God.

Pulling It Together: What a blessing it is to be assured of eternity. Jesus gave us this assurance by saying that whoever believes his word and in the one who sent him has eternal life. Were we to think that eternity depended upon us, on our works canceling out our sins, we would never be confident. We would always wonder if God were angry with us, then conceive of some greater deed that we might do to appease him. But when we believe that Christ is the one who satisfies God, who has made him “well pleased” (Matt 3:17) by canceling our debt of sin (Col 2:14), then our hearts are set at joyful rest. Then we seek to please God for the sheer sake of honoring him. We no longer try to heap up deed after deed in the effort to gain an angry God’s favor. We rely instead, on that one work of a loving God, who in Christ has finished the work of our reconciliation to himself (John 19:30).

Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, for raising me from spiritual death and for giving me the hope of resurrection. 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, that refer 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).

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 15 Oct 21 00:00:00 -0500 Online jigsaw

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Matthew 11:28-30

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

The glory of Christ becomes more brilliant when we teach people to avail themselves of him as mediator and propitiator. Faithful consciences see that the most abundant consolation is offered to them in this doctrine. We learn to believe and fully trust that we have a reconciled Father for Christ's sake, not because of our own righteousness, but because Christ also helps us to observe the law.

Pulling It Together: What a burden it is to fulfill the law on our own. Who can keep the law? Is there anyone who can satisfy the demands of the law? Yes, there is one who can and did so for the world. Jesus Christ fulfilled all righteousness, and he did it as the mediator between us and God. Jesus reconciled us to God, becoming righteousness for us. When we trust in his propitiation or satisfaction of the law, our yoke becomes light. We are aided by his righteousness, aiming at keeping the law because of love for him instead of from fear of God’s wrath. When Christ is our mediator and propitiator, we find rest for our souls—not in our own righteousness but in the righteousness that has been given to us by God in Christ.

When you fail to keep the commandments, remind yourself that Christ is your righteousness—not your ability to perfectly fulfill the law’s requirements. Depend upon him and your yoke will be light, for he has carried the load.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to trust in you. 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/summaries.html Thu, 14 Oct 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Luke 24:44-45

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

These things are so simple, so evident that we marvel that the rage of the adversaries is so great as to call them into doubt. The proof is manifest, that since we are justified before God by the promise instead of the law, it is necessary to ascribe justification to faith. What argument can oppose this proof, unless some one wishes to altogether abolish the gospel and Christ?

Pulling It Together: Sometimes, even the simplest things are spun into complexities, the clearest teaching of Christ turned to sophistry, the clarity of orthodoxy twisted to heresy. This usually happens when something other than God’s Word becomes one’s authority. When feelings, tradition, religion, or culture are allowed to interpret Scripture, the strangest interpretations result. But when Scripture is our authoritative word, we stay truer to God’s will. So, let us bring the Word of God to bear on Scripture, allowing Scripture to interpret itself. For whenever some other sensibility begins to hold sway over the Word—whether personal feelings or the infamous saying, “We’ve never done it that way before”—we may be sure that we are about to lead ourselves astray.

Prayer: Help me listen, Lord, and truly hear your Word. Amen. 

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The English Standard Version Pew Bible containing the Old and New Testament is an affordable durable Bible, designed for regular church use. Hardcover black with black print.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 13 Oct 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for jigsaw puzzle.

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Hebrews 3:1-6

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

If any one has considered these foundations—that we are not justified by the law because human nature cannot observe the law of God and cannot love God, but that we are justified by the promise, through which reconciliation, righteousness, and eternal life have been promised for Christ's sake—he will easily understand that justification must necessarily be ascribed to faith. One need only reflect upon the fact that Christ has not been promised, revealed, born, suffered, and raised again in vain. The promise of grace in Christ, made from the beginning of the world, apart from and beyond the law, is not in vain. The promise is received by faith, as 1 John 5:10-11 says: “He who does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne to his Son. And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who has not the Son of God has not life.” Christ says, “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). Paul writes, “Through him we have obtained access to this grace,” (Rom 5:2) to which he adds, “by faith.”The promise of the forgiveness of sins and of righteousness is received by faith. We are not justified before God by reason or by the law.

Pulling It Together: We are made children of God through his grace. We were not born to his house but have been reborn and adopted by his merciful will (Eph 1:5). Therefore we have hope, hope not in the things we do, but in the things that have been accomplished by the Son of God who is faithful over his Father’s house. It is Christ who has made us to be his house, his family, the household of faith (Gal 6:10). We hold this hopeful confidence only through faith in him. For as soon as we begin to put our confidence in our reason or in works of the law, we will falter, hope will fade, our confidence will wane.

Who is there who pins the hope of eternity on self? That is a foolish person, blind to both experience and Scripture. We cannot hope in ourselves. Why else would God have promised us hope in another—“a man of God’s own choosing”? Why else was Christ revealed in the Word, born of a woman, suffered under Pilate, crucified, died, buried, and raised again from death and hell? God did all these things through his Son because they were needful. He gave us his Son by grace because we were not worthy of his house by our own virtues. We are justified, however, by faith in the merit of Christ Jesus. It is through Christ alone that “we rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Rom 5:2).

Prayer: Fill me with hopeful confidence, Holy Spirit, through faith in the Son of the Father. 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/summaries.html Tue, 12 Oct 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for online jigsaw.

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1 Corinthians 15:51-57

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Our eyes are to be turned far away from human reason, far away from Moses, and turned to Christ. We are to believe that Christ was given for us so that we may be accounted righteous because of him. We never satisfy the law in the flesh. Therefore, we are not accounted righteous because of the law, but on account of Christ, because his merits are granted to us if we believe in him.

Pulling It Together: I never understood why the rules of baseball allow a pinch runner. A coach is allowed to substitute a faster runner and remove the slower runner from the game. That does not seem fair. But if life, in the eternal sense, was fair, we would all die and that would be the end of the matter (Rom 6:23) because we have all sinned, and death is the punishment for sin (Rom 3:23). For all of our effort, we fall short of the glory of God. No matter how hard we try to keep it, we do not fulfill the law.

God must appreciate baseball, or at least the pinch runner rule. For he has substituted for all of us a more skillful keeper of the law. Jesus has come in to the game and that has changed the outcome. He has won the game of life for the whole world. The series has been decided.

That may not seem fair. Thanks be to God that he is more interested in the victory than in our sense of fairness. We may keep our eyes focused on the law, or even on how we can be good people. But then, we will miss the mystery of life. Death has been vanquished in a pinch, in the twinkling of an eye. “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 

Prayer: Thank you, Lord of life, for your victory over sin and death. Amen. 

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Sola's Sunday Schoolhouse offers Christmas programs for each year of the program. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 11 Oct 21 00:00:00 -0500 Online jigsaw

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Romans 8:1-4

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

From this foundation it is easy to determine why we ascribe justification to faith, not to love, though love follows faith because love is the keeping of the law. But Paul teaches that we are justified not by the law, but by the promise which is only received by faith. For we cannot come to God without Christ as mediator, nor do we receive forgiveness of sins because of our love, but because of Christ.

The law constantly accuses us, and therefore, always shows us an angry God. We are not able to love God while he is angry. Therefore, we must first apprehend the promise by faith—that for Christ's sake the Father is reconciled and forgives. Afterward, we begin to observe the law.

Pulling It Together: Jesus warned keepers of the law that the wrath of God was coming (Matt 3:7). The Pharisees already did not like Jesus, and this did not make them any happier. They wanted to be admired by men and favored by God because they played by a strict adherence to the rules. Yet, for all of their legalism, their spirits were not right. This can only occur when one’s basic nature has been changed through rebirth (Matt 3:3). One is only born again through belief in the promise of God, when one has faith in Christ instead of faith in one’s display of religion. Ironically, it is faith that exonerates—not law keeping. Because Christ has paid the penalty of the law in full, it remains for us to believe what he has accomplished. There is nothing for us to do but trust in the one who has stepped between us and the law, Christ our mediator. We cannot work around the law but we may have faith in the Son of God who fulfilled the law’s requirements for us.

Prayer: Thank you, Jesus, for taking away the law’s condemnation and for setting me free from sin and death. Amen. 

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Connections Magazine features articles that connect Lutherans to the Word. Luther's Small Catechism provides inspiration for confessional, biblical content, delivered in a stylish, readable design.

Subscribe today. For information on congregational/group orders, click HERE.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 10 Oct 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for online jigsaw.

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Genesis 15:1-6

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

This faith is credited as righteousness before God (Rom 4:3-5). When the heart is cheered and quickened by faith in this manner, it receives the Holy Spirit, who renews us so that we are able to observe the law and love God and his Word. We are enabled to be submissive to God in afflictions so that we are able to be chaste, love our neighbor, and so forth. Even though these works are far from the perfection of the law, they please God because of faith by which we are accounted righteous, because we believe that we have a reconciled God for Christ's sake. These things are plain, in harmony with the gospel, and can be understood by persons of sound mind.

Pulling It Together: “Look toward heaven.” When we look to ourselves, we tend to get in trouble. Initially, Abram believed God’s promise of a son. But after a while, he took his eyes off of God and his promise. Goaded by Sarai, his wife, Abram took the matter of having a son into his own hands, contributing to the biggest dysfunctional family since Adam and Eve (Gen 16:1-5). Nearly 15 years later, the Lord reminded Abram of his covenant (Gen 17:1-2). Making him wait was also a reminder of who is in control. “Look toward heaven.”

God promises us in our baptism to make us heirs of the covenant (Gal 3:29). Though we may wait a long time, longer perhaps than Abram waited, we too are blessed. We have received the Spirit of promise by faith, by believing the word of God (Gal 3:2). Let us not turn back to the flesh, taking matters into our own hands through works of the law (Gal 3:3). “Look toward heaven.” God is still in control; he keeps his promise.

Prayer: Give me a complete confidence in you, Lord, so that I may live for 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.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 09 Oct 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for online jigsaw.

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Philippians 3:1-3

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Therefore, Paul also says that righteousness is not of the law but of the promise, in which the Father has promised that he wishes to forgive, that he wishes to be reconciled for Christ's sake. This promise, however, is received by faith alone, as Paul testifies in Romans 4:13. Faith alone receives forgiveness of sins, justifies, and regenerates. Then love and other good fruits follow. As we have already said, we teach that people are justified when the conscience, terrified by the preaching of repentance, is encouraged and believes that for Christ's sake it has a reconciled God.

Pulling It Together: It is good to be reminded and to have the point driven home again and again. For we are easily led astray, imagining that we must do something to reconcile God, since we imagine he must be angry about our sins. But God has done it all. He has put to death our old natures through Christ’s crucifixion. He has regenerated us through his resurrection. “It is finished” (John 19:30). We receive this finished work of Christ through faith, no matter what others may insist, no matter what our own consciences imagine. All our confidence, all our hope, is in Christ alone.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for the grace to live in your righteousness instead of my 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 Great Search is a Christmas program that tells the story of those faithful travelers who made the journey to Bethlehem that very first Christmas. With the help of modern inventions, the magi, shepherds, and angels go on a Great Search to find the Christchild. This program can easily be adapted for large or smaller congregations. The congregation participates in the program through the singing of Christmas Carols.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 08 Oct 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for online jigsaw.

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1 Corinthians 15:1-3

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

But let us consider that the gospel has not been given to the world in vain. Christ was not promised, revealed, born, suffered, and raised in vain. Those who reflect upon this will readily understand that we are not justified by reason or the law. Thus, we are obligated to differ with the adversaries about justification. For the gospel shows another mode: it compels us to avail ourselves of Christ for justification. The gospel teaches that we have access to God through Christ by faith, that we ought to set him as mediator and propitiator against God's wrath. It teaches that forgiveness of sins, reconciliation, and triumph over the terrors of sin and of death are received by faith in Christ.

Pulling It Together: We inherit the kingdom through faith, just as an orphan receives a new family. When a child is adopted, she must follow her new family through the orphanage doors. It must be confusing. The orphanage has always been her home, the director her parent, the other orphans her brothers and sisters. She must now leave that world behind; and she must do so in faith. Who could believe that someone wants her as his own child? Yet that is precisely what is called for: belief, trust, faith.

We too have been called to walk across a threshold, to leave behind the hopeless realm of sin and death. To do so, we must have faith in Christ’s call to follow him. Once we do, our faith in, and even our works for God are not in vain. For our hope in the gospel, our holding fast to the Word, is a true and certain hope.

Prayer: Help me stand fast upon your word, Lord. Amen. 

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

C Is for Christmas — A group of children get together to put on a Christmas program for their church and can’t decide whether to present a program about Christmas hymns, symbolic ornaments for the Church’s Christmas tree, or the meaning of Christmas. Rather than argue about it, they decide to do all three. This delightful Christmas program is written to include all ages in Sunday School and is a downloadable PDF. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 07 Oct 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for online jigsaw.

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Romans 5:8–11

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

It is easy for a Christian to appraise each mode because both modes exclude Christ and are therefore to be rejected. The first teaches that our works are a satisfaction for sin, so the impiety is obvious. The second contains much that is injurious. It does not teach us to trust in Christ when we are born again. It does not teach that justification is the forgiveness of sins. It does not teach that we attain the forgiveness of sins before we love, but falsely expresses that we rouse in ourselves the act of love so that we merit forgiveness of sins. Nor does it teach that we overcome the terrors of sin and death by faith in Christ. It falsely claims that people come to God by their own fulfilling of the law, without Christ as propitiator. Finally, it imagines that this keeping of the law without Christ as propitiator is a righteousness worthy of grace and eternal life, though even in saints only a weak and feeble fulfilling of the law occurs.

Pulling It Together: The word “atonement” translated in Romans 5:11 in the Geneva and King James versions is abandoned in subsequent New Testament translations. From the American Standard Version (1901) through the English Standard Version (2001), the word “reconciliation” is used. Either word works but the newer word, it may be suspected, is used because English speaking cultures have forgotten what atonement means and so, it has fallen out of use. For the time being, we still use reconciliation because we understand it to mean that two parties have come to terms. When people are no longer enemies and have become friends again, they are reconciled.

When William Tyndale translated the New Testament (1526), he created the word “attonment” to express what Christ did for us. Jesus at-oned us to God. He became the at-one-ment that made us friends of God (John 15:15), instead of his enemies. This was accomplished, not through our own works but, solely through the work of Christ. The Greek word (καταλλαγ?) literally means “down upon another.” The doctrine of justification that we confess rests upon this one, central point: that our sins have fallen upon Jesus Christ instead of ourselves. We receive this atoning grace of God through faith in Christ’s merit.

Prayer: Keep me in faith, Lord, depending upon your atonement. Amen. 

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

The Basics of the Christian Faith is an edition of the catechism that is aimed at seekers, visitors, and those that may not come from a Lutheran background. It is recommended for use in outreach, as a visitor welcome gift, or in new member packets.

Get a 100-pack customized with your Church name and website printed on the back cover.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 06 Oct 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for online jigsaw.

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Ephesians 1:3-6 

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Another mode of justification is handed down by the scholastic theologians in which they teach that we are righteous through the habit of love which is infused by God. They teach that, aided by this habit, we observe the law of God outwardly and inwardly, and that this fulfilling of the law is worthy of grace and of eternal life. This teaching is plainly a doctrine of the law since it is true that the law says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might,” (Deut 6:5) and, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev 19:18). Therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

Pulling It Together: God wants us to live lives that reflect his own holiness and are in keeping with the regeneration that comes to us through faith. Yet neither the inclination nor the fulfilling of the law makes us worthy of his grace or of eternal life. First, we cannot fulfill the law’s demands. For who loves the Lord with a whole heart? Second, even if we could fulfill the law’s demands, our personal holiness does not merit God’s grace. He gives his grace freely (Eph 1:6) and it is by his free gift of grace that we are justified (Rom 3:24). So, yes, love the Lord your God and your neighbor too, as best as you are able through the power of God at work within you. Always remember when you fail to do so, it is also his power that calls you back to dependence upon his grace and forgiveness. 

Prayer: Help me to live a righteous life, Lord, while I depend upon you for righteousness. 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/summaries.html Tue, 05 Oct 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for online jigsaw.

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From the Word: 1 Do not allow your heart to be distressed. Believe in God; trust in me also. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, I would have told you, for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and will take you to myself, so that where I am, you may be also. 4 And you know the way where I am going. 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How are we to know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through me.” (John 14:1-6)

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

The first mode of justification that they teach is that people merit grace by good works both de congruo and de condigno. This mode is a doctrine of reason, because reason, not seeing the uncleanness of the heart, thinks that it pleases God if it performs good works. For this reason, people in great peril constantly devise other works and other acts of worship to counter the terrors of conscience. The heathen and the Israelites sacrificed human victims, and undertook many other painful works in order to appease God's wrath. Later, orders of monks were devised, and these vied with each other in the severity of their observances to cancel the terrors of conscience and God's wrath. This mode of justification can be understood because it is reasonable, and can be performed to a certain extent because it is occupied with outward works. So the canonists have distorted the Church ordinances that were enacted by the Fathers for a far different purpose: social tranquility and a certain order in the Church—not that by these works we should seek righteousness. They have also distorted the Sacraments in the same way, especially the Mass, through which they seek righteousness, grace, and salvation ex opere operato.

Pulling It Together: It is not the severity of our religious observances or the long list of our good works over a lifetime that makes us fit and worthy for the kingdom of God. Rather, it is the measure of God’s regard for us and therefore, the one great work he accomplished in a few days that make all the difference. Indeed, he has made the only difference. We can add nothing to his finished work (John 19:30). He is the way—not us. He is the truth—not our imagined theories of grace and salvation through works performed. He is the life. And the one who would live forever in his Father’s house does so through Christ alone.

Prayer: I long for the home you have prepared for me, Lord Jesus, so that I may live with you always. 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.

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.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 04 Oct 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for online jigsaw.

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Romans 11:5-6

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

So far, we have reviewed the principal passages that the adversaries cite against us in order to show that faith does not justify, that we earn forgiveness of sins and grace by our works. We hope that we have shown clearly enough to godly consciences that these passages are not opposed to our doctrine and that the adversaries wickedly distort the Scriptures to their opinions. Most of the passages they cite have been garbled. They omit the clearest passages concerning faith, only selecting from the Scriptures passages concerning works, distorting even those. Everywhere they add human opinions to the words of Scripture. They teach the law in such a manner as to suppress the Gospel of Christ. For the entire doctrine of the adversaries is, in part, derived from human reason, and is, in part, a doctrine of the law, not of the gospel. For they teach two modes of justification, the one being derived from reason and the other from the law, not from the gospel or the promise of Christ.

Pulling It Together: The Scriptures are very clear. It is by the grace of God that we believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are God’s children because he has chosen us, not because we have chosen him. We are his because he has called us faithful and righteous by virtue of his Son, not because we have been either faithful or righteous. It is by grace alone that we stand before God with hope in Christ. Were we to hope in ourselves—in our moral works and religious ceremony—we would be altogether hopeless and lost. Knowing that we are chosen by God’s grace, we confess, as does Paul, that we cannot be saved by works. If we were also saved by works, then God’s grace would not be grace at all. At best, it would be a partial gift, one that we would have to add something to in order to make it effective. Thanks be to God that his gift is completely effective through the work of Christ, and needs no work of our own to complete his sufficient grace.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for saving me without any help from 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.

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.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 03 Oct 21 00:00:00 -0500

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John 1:9-13

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law

Lastly, readers are reminded that the adversaries give the worst advice to godly consciences when they teach that forgiveness of sins is earned by works, because the conscience that seeks the forgiveness of sins through works cannot be confident that the work will satisfy God. It is always tormented and continually devises other works and other acts of worship until it finally despairs. This course is described by Paul in Romans 4:5 where he proves that the promise of righteousness is not obtained by our works since we could never affirm that we had a reconciled God. For the law always accuses. Therefore the promise would be in vain and uncertain. He concludes that the promise of the forgiveness of sins and righteousness is received by faith, not through works. This is the true, simple, and genuine meaning of Paul. It offers the greatest consolation to godly consciences, and shows the glory of Christ, who was surely given to us so that we may have grace, righteousness, and peace through him.

Pulling It Together: How may we know that we are forgiven of our sins, reborn, and are now children of God? Can this be determined because one has always lived correctly? Who has accomplished such a great feat but Christ alone? The conscience that depends upon morality and religious ceremony will always be troubled. For as soon as it imagines that it is right with God, it does some wrong or thinks an evil thought. It then begins to seek some other work to make itself right with God again. Works are an uncertain and false avenue to righteousness before God. Yet there is an altogether sure way to know that one has been made righteous with God, since God himself has provided that one way. All who receive Jesus Christ, the Light of the World, are given the right to be the children of God. This is not accomplished through the will and industry of human nature. It is apprehended solely through faith in the Christ of God.

Prayer: O Word of God incarnate, I praise you for the radiance of the Living Word, and long to see you face to face. Amen. 

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

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

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 02 Oct 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for online jigsaw.

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John 15:5–8

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Yet Peter says that hearts are purified by faith (Acts 15:9). When this entire passage is examined, it presents a meaning that harmonizes with the rest of Scripture—that if hearts are cleansed, and then alms are added outwardly, that is, all the works of love, they are then entirely clean, within and without. Why is the entire discourse not given? There are many parts of the argument, some which command faith, and others works. An honest reader would not pick out the commands concerning works and omit the passages about faith.

Pulling It Together: We are to produce fruit in keeping with repentance (Matt 3:8; Luke 3:8). Yet we do not pin our hope of salvation upon these works. The old hymn by Edward Mote says, “Our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness.” To that we might add that we trust in nothing more. The fruits of repentance show that we have faith (James 2:18). All the while, we must trust in God for salvation through Christ alone, and in his Holy Spirit for the sap that produces the fruit.

Prayer: May your will be done in me, Lord, so that my life may yield the fruit of your love. Amen. 

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

The Proverbs 31 Woman is a nine-session study that gives a realistic look into the lives of a number of biblical women, both from the Old and New Testaments. Each chapter is based on a specific theme from Proverbs 31, and looks at how it was exemplified in that woman's life story.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 01 Oct 21 00:00:00 -0500

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John 13:4–10

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

The adversaries misuse the universal particle “all.” Christ adds this conclusion to both clauses. All things will be clean to you if you are clean within and outwardly give alms. He indicates that outward cleanness is to be referred to works commanded by God instead of to human traditions such as the washings were at that time, or in our own time, the daily sprinkling of water, the clothing of monks, the distinctions of food, and similar acts of ostentation. But the adversaries distort the meaning by sophistically transferring the universal particle to only one part: "All things will be clean to those having given alms."

Pulling It Together: All things are clean to you if you are clean within and without, bathed on the inside and the outside, washed in faith and in action. Indeed, if you have been cleansed within by God, then your outward works will spring from that cleanness. Those works do not cleanse since one is already clean. The person who is clean does not do things in order to become clean. This would be like a person who steps from the shower in order to wash the hands. That person’s hands are already clean, yet their fear of germs drives them to wash again and again, though they are already clean.

If you have been cleansed by the word of Christ (John 15:3), you are already clean. You do not need to do things to become clean. Instead, because you are clean, you do clean works. As we go through life doing good works in Christ’s name, we must remember that he has already cleansed us within. Our good works do not make us clean, so they should not be done with that intention. Daily repentance and dependence upon God through faith in Christ keeps us clean. 

Prayer: Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, Lord, and cleanse me from my sin. 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 Bible 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.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 30 Sep 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for jigsaw puzzle.

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Matthew 23:25-26

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

When this passage is considered in context, it shows that faith is required. Christ rebukes the Pharisees for thinking that they are cleansed before God and justified by frequent ablutions. Just so, some Pope or another said that water sprinkled with salt sanctifies and cleanses people, and the gloss says that it cleanses from minor sins. These were also the opinions of the Pharisees. Christ reproved this counterfeit cleansing, teaching instead a double cleanness: one internal, the other external. He admonished them to be cleansed inwardly, and added concerning outward cleanness, “Give for alms those things which are within; and behold, everything is clean for you.”

Pulling It Together: If you are not clean on the inside, your outside will never be clean, despite regular religious washings. These outward ceremonies do not cleanse the person who is unclean within. How does one cleanse the inside? One cannot. Instead, you must call out to God for cleansing. “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Psa 51:10). This happens when one has faith in God instead of in ceremonies and other works. He is the only one who can cleanse the inside. “I will cleanse them from all the guilt of their sin against me” (Jer 33:8). When the inside is clean, your works will spring from faith instead of a desire to be cleansed by your actions. Then, everything is clean for you. 

Prayer: Wash me, O Lord, and I will be whiter than snow. Amen. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 29 Sep 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for online jigsaw.

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Luke 11:37-41

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Luke 11:41 is also cited in a mutilated form. “But give for alms those things which are within; and behold, everything is clean for you.” Our opponents have callous ears. Therefore, we must state time and again that the Gospel of Christ must be added to the preaching of the law, that good works please God because of Christ. Yet, they exclude Christ, teaching everywhere that justification is earned by works of the law.

Pulling It Together: Common sense informs us that giving from the heart means one expects to gain nothing from the gift. When one gives from within, out of the righteousness of faith, it blesses the needy while honoring and pleasing God. God does not want us to give because we think that by giving we have earned his favor and merited forgiveness of sin. Rather, because we have faith in the justification that Christ earned for us, we may then give cheerfully, giving thanks for God’s own great gift to us in his Son. 

Prayer: Cleanse me with your Spirit, God, so that I may be truly clean. Amen. 

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

The Sola Online Worship Resource (SOWeR) includes a limited selection of music for use in worship, drawing primarily upon texts and music in the public domain, along with biblical texts set to familiar tunes. SOWeR is a lectionary-based web resource for Scripture lessons, lectionary inserts, children's bulletins, devotionals, text studies, prayers, hymn-planning, and much more! Join the hundreds of congregations who have discovered how simple, flexible, and useful SOWeR is for worship planning and sermon preparation. This brochure will answer more questions about SOWeR. Call 1-888-887-9840 to order a yearly subscription. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 28 Sep 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for online jigsaw.

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Titus 3:4-8

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

The address of Tobit, regarded as a whole, “Be mindful of the Lord, thy God, all thy days” (Tobit 4:5), and later, “Bless the Lord, thy God, always, and desire of Him that thy ways be directed” (Tobit 4:19), shows that faith is required before alms. These activities properly belong to that faith of which we speak, that believes God is reconciled because of his mercy, and that wishes to be justified, sanctified, and governed by God. But our adversaries, ingenious men, choose mangled sentences in order to deceive those who are unskilled. Then they attach something from their own opinions. Entire passages are to be considered, because according to the common practice, it is unbecoming to judge or reply to any single clause unless the entire law is considered. Passages, when considered in context, frequently produce their own interpretation.

Pulling It Together: If we only read part of verse 8, we may end up believing good works are the point, that we must “be careful to devote [ourselves] to good works” (Titus 3:8). Yet, if we read the context of that partial verse, we discover that it is not our works that save us. “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy” (Titus 3:5). Having been redeemed, we are now to produce fruit that is in keeping with people who have believed in Christ. There is no opinion here; the passage interprets itself. We must be mindful to always interpret a passage with the text that surrounds that verse. 

Prayer: Open my mind, Lord, that I may understand 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 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/summaries.html Mon, 27 Sep 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for online jigsaw.

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John 8:31-32

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

God is pleased by those alms that follow reconciliation or justification—not those that precede. Therefore, almsgiving does not free from sin and death ex opere operato. Rather, as we have said above concerning repentance—that we ought to embrace faith and its fruits—so here we must say concerning alms, that it is the entire newness of life saves. The giving of alms is an exercise of that faith which receives the forgivenesss of sins and overcomes death while it exercises itself more and more and becomes stronger through these exercises of faith. We also grant that alms earn many blessings from God, such as the lessening of punishments, and a defense against the dangers of sins and of death, as we have said a little before concerning repentance in general.

Pulling It Together: Our works are not good works—they do not please God—unless they are done in faith. They are not good works, no matter how fine they may seem to us, if they are done expecting some favor from God merely because of the deed that has been done. Works, such as giving to the needy, please God because they are done by believers. Yet, these acts cannot overcome death, hell, the devil, and sin, or provide peace for the troubled conscience. These only occur through faith in Christ.

Yet the exercise of faith, the doing of good works, will increase faith. Jesus teaches that those who obey his commands (John 15:14) and live in his word (John 8:31) are those friends of his who are set free from sin, death, and the devil. So, true faith motivates good works, and those good works make faith stronger while fortifying the peace we enjoy in Christ Jesus.  

Prayer: Help me, O Lord, to continue in your word until my last breath. Amen. 

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

The Sola Online Worship Resource (SOWeR) also includes liturgies and services for your use. There are ready-to-copy settings for Holy Communion, services, services of the Word, Vespers, occasional services, funerals, and seasonal services. SOWeR is a lectionary-based web resource for Scripture lessons, lectionary inserts, children's bulletins, devotionals, text studies, prayers, hymn-planning, and much more! Join the hundreds of congregations who have discovered how simple, flexible, and useful SOWeR is for worship planning and sermon preparation. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 26 Sep 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Hebrews 13:15-16

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Even the statement in Tobit 4:11 ought to be understood in the same way. “Alms free from every sin and from death.” We will not say that this is hyperbole, though it ought to be understood in this way so that Christ is not robbed of glory. For it is his prerogative to free from sin and death. We must come back to the rule that without Christ the teaching of the law is unprofitable.

Pulling It Together: Those who trust in Christ ought to sacrifice. We no longer sacrifice animals as was done under the Old Covenant. Instead, because Christ is the once-for-all sacrifice for sin (Heb 10:14), those living under the New Covenant are to offer sacrifices of praise to God and good works for their neighbors. These sacrifices do not save, justify, or take away sins. Christ has already done that for us and for the world. Nevertheless, our sacrifices please God if they are done in faith, believing that Christ alone is the atonement for our sins, and that we offer the sacrifices of worship and good works only to please him.

Prayer: Lord, open my lips to give you thanks and sing your praise. 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/summaries.html Sat, 25 Sep 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for online jigsaw.

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John 3:16-21

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Yet Christ often connects the promise of the forgiveness of sins to good works. He does not mean that good works are a satisfaction, for they follow reconciliation, but he connects the promise and work for two other reasons. One is because good fruits must necessarily follow. Therefore he reminds us that if good fruits do not follow, the repentance is hypocritical and feigned. The other reason is because we have need of external signs of so great a promise. A fearful conscience needs manifold consolation. Baptism and the Lord's Supper are signs that continually admonish, cheer, and encourage despairing minds to believe the more firmly that their sins are forgiven. The same promise is written and portrayed in good works, so that these works may admonish us to believe more firmly. Those who do not produce good works are not aroused to believe but despise these promises. Yet, the faithful embrace them and rejoice that they have signs and testimonies of so great a promise. Accordingly, they exercise themselves in these signs and testimonies. Just as the Lord's Supper does not justify us ex opere operato, without faith, so alms do not justify us without faith, ex opere operato.

Pulling It Together: The Father sent his Son into the world to save sinners from the condemnation of sin and death. When people have faith in God’s sacrifice for their sin, they are saved, justified, and reborn. Having been born again, they become citizens of God’s kingdom (John 3:3). They now live in this world as though in the heavenly kingdom. They are to act differently than other people of this world. Though they will never keep the law and do good works perfectly in this life, they are to try since they are now citizens of the new kingdom. These efforts, however, do not save and justify, for God has already granted them rebirth through faith in Christ. These works—and the unflagging desire to please God—are a sign that he has begun something in us and will accomplish it on that great day (Phil 1:6).

Prayer: Heavenly Father, finish in me what you began, through the power of Christ’s Spirit. Amen. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 24 Sep 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for online jigsaw.

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Ephesians 1:7-9

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Scripture shows this in many passages. “To him all the prophets bear witness that every one who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name” (Acts 10:43). “Your sins are forgiven for his sake” (1 John 2:12). “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses” (Eph 1:7). But why recite verses? This is the fundamental voice of the gospel, namely, that for Christ's sake, and not because of our works, we obtain forgiveness of sins through faith. Our adversaries endeavor to suppress the voice of the gospel by distorting passages that teach about the law or works. It is true that in teaching about repentance works are required, because a new life is certainly necessary. But here our opponents wrongly add that we earn the forgiveness of sins or justification through such works. 

Pulling It Together: The great mystery of the ages has been revealed in Jesus Christ. All people—Jews and Gentiles alike—have been redeemed from their slavery to sin and death by the atoning work of Jesus. We are not saved or justified because of our religious and civil works, but because of the work of Christ—and only because of what he has accomplished. Although we are called to live a changed and godly life in which good works are done—however imperfectly—these works of ours, even if they were perfectly executed, add nothing to the complete justification that Jesus bought for us with his life. We have forgiveness of sins only through faith in the shed blood of Christ. Our sweat adds nothing to what God has graciously showered upon us. 

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for delivering me from sin and death through your Son. Amen. 

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

The 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/summaries.html Thu, 23 Sep 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for online jigsaw.

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Matthew 6:9-15

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

The doctrine of repentance necessarily requires faith because it not only commands new works, but also promises the forgiveness of sins. The forgiveness of sins is not received unless by faith. Therefore, in those passages that refer to repentance, we should always understand that not only works, but also faith is required. “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you” (Matt 6:14). A work is required here, and the promise of the forgiveness of sins is added. The promise does not depend upon the work, but upon Christ through faith.

Pulling It Together: The promise of forgiveness is bound to repentance. They are inseparable. “Repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations” (Luke 24:47). We see in Scripture that repentance is required but faith in Jesus Christ is also necessary, as Paul taught the elders in Ephesus where he testified “of repentance to God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21). The reason that faith is required and not works alone is obvious: a promise has been given. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Do you believe that you will be forgiven? If so, you have faith. If you do not believe the promise, then of course, you lack faith.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for hearing and forgiving me. Amen. 

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

Teach Us to Pray is an eight 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.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 22 Sep 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Exodus 20:1-6

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

We must regard the preaching of repentance in this way. Although the scholastics have said nothing at all about faith in their handling of the doctrine of repentance, we think that none of our adversaries is so mad as to deny that absolution is a voice of the gospel. Absolution should be received by faith, so that it may cheer the terrified conscience.

Pulling It Together: We should have no other gods before the Lord (Exod 20:3). He alone is God (Deut 6:4). We think that in the churches today, idols are a thing of the past. Take care; a false god does not have to be a statue of wood, stone, or metal. An idol does not even have to be money—though the cult of wealth is very much among us and in us. Luther teaches us in the Small Catechism that “the greatest idolatry” is when the “conscience...seeks help, comfort, and salvation in its own works and presumes to wrest heaven from God” (Theodore G. Tappert, ed., The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Philadelphia: Mu?hlenberg Press, 1959, 367.).

Do you truly trust in Christ to justify you or do you fear, love, and trust your own efforts at religion? Of whom do you seek forgiveness? When the law convicts and leads you to repentance, be sure to repent, but be more sure to trust in Christ for absolution. Do not think that your good works have justified you to God, for that would be to trust in yourself instead of having faith in God. There is the great danger: that thing you trust in most is your real and truest god.

Prayer: Crush me with the hammer of your Word, Lord, so that grace may have its way with me. Amen.

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

The Sola Confirmation Series, written by the Rev. Dr. Steven E. King, is a 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 is on Moses and the Exodus Cycle, with Bible Study lessons taken primarily from the Pentateuch.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 21 Sep 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Matthew 19:16-22

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Where Jesus said, “If you would enter life, keep the commandments” (Matt 19:17), we must understand that one cannot keep the commandments or please God without Christ. The first commandment in the Decalogue itself states, “showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments” (Exod 20:6), adding the most liberal promise of the law. But this law is not observed without Christ. For it always accuses the conscience which does not satisfy the law, and therefore, flies in terror from the judgment and punishment of the law. “For the law brings wrath” (Rom 4:15). People observe the law however, when they hear that God is reconciled to us for Christ's sake even though they cannot satisfy the law. When faith apprehends Christ as mediator, the heart discovers peace and begins to love God and observe the law. It knows that because of Christ as mediator, it is now pleasing to God, even though the rudimentary fulfilling of the law is far from perfect and very impure.

Pulling It Together: The rich man wanted to know what good deed he as yet lacked so that he could earn eternal life. Having boasted that he had kept all the commandments, he nonetheless felt that he still lacked some fine deed. For all of his religious pluses, he knew that he was still deficient. Jesus knew that he had actually failed to keep the first commandment, so he told the rich man to sell all of his possessions and give the money to the poor. Because he loved his wealth more than God, the rich man turned away from Jesus.

This is the point. Unless you turn to Jesus, the law will not be fulfilled no matter how religious you think that you are. As long as you think there is something you must do, perfection, justification, and peace will seem just out of reach. We must always remember to stop looking in the mirror, to turn around and see Jesus, the fulfillment of the law (Rom 10:4).

Prayer: Help me to turn away from myself, Lord, 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.

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/summaries.html Mon, 20 Sep 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 4:22-5:2

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

In all our praise of works and in the preaching of the law, we must retain this rule: that the law cannot be observed without Christ. He himself said, “Apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Likewise, “And without faith it is impossible to please God” (Heb 11:6). The doctrine of the law is not intended to remove the gospel and Christ as propitiator. Let those Pharisees, our adversaries, be cursed, who interpret the law so as to ascribe the glory of Christ to works, namely, that they are a propitiation, that they merit the forgiveness of sins. It follows, therefore, that works are to be praised because they are pleasing to God on account of faith. For works do not please without Christ as propitiator. We have access to God through Christ (Rom 5:2), not by works, without Christ as mediator.

Pulling It Together: The preaching of the law must have its rightful place among us. The law sets necessary boundaries in society so that we might enjoy a measure of order and civility. It also reveals the holy God in such a way that we see ourselves in a different light. We begin to understand that we are poor sinners in need of God’s mercy and grace. The law also shows us how to live. So, we are to obey God’s laws but depend upon him for grace. This, of course, is where the gospel comes in to play.

We are justified to God through faith in the work of Jesus Christ. He died on the cross to make the payment for our sin. Then he was raised from the dead so that we would be justified to God. We should never expect our obedience to the law to cause our justification. This honor goes to Christ alone. So, let us teach and preach the law. Let us do good works and more of them, so that people know God is in their midst. But may we never be led so far astray as to imagine that these works earn God’s grace. We must also preach the gospel, so people comprehend that the God among them loves them, forgives sin, and justifies sinners.

Prayer: I have faith in you, Lord, and thank you for your 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.

Teach Us to Pray is an eight 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.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 19 Sep 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Psalm 136:23-26

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

So, we reply to the words of Daniel that because he is preaching repentance, he is not teaching only about works, but also of faith, as the narrative itself testifies. Since Daniel clearly presents the promise, he necessarily requires faith that believes that sins are freely forgiven by God. Although he mentions works in regards to repentance, he does not say that we earn forgiveness of sins by these works. Daniel is not speaking only of the payment for the punishment because remittal of the punishment is sought in vain unless the heart first receives remission of guilt. If the adversaries understand Daniel as speaking only of the remission of punishment, this passage proves nothing against us, because it will be necessary for even them to admit that the remission of sin and justification precede works. Afterwards, even we concede that the punishments that chasten us are eased by our prayers and good works, and ultimately, by our entire repentance. These passages bear witness. “But if we judged ourselves truly, we should not be judged” (1 Cor 11:31). “If you return, I will restore you” (Jer 15:19). “Return to me...and I will return to you” (Zech 1:3). “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you” (Psa 50:15).

Pulling It Together: You may work all day and night, trying to prove yourself worthy to God, only to discover at the break of day that you do not believe he finds you worthy. So, you might set yourself to the task of working hard every day and night so that God would consider you deserving of his favor. Yet, at the end of some considerable period of time, you observe that you still do not believe that he favors you. All of your work has amounted to nothing because you do not believe that he loves and forgives. Nonetheless, God has loved you all the while. Your works make no impact on his love.

You must first believe that he loves you (John 3:16). Then you can trust in his promise to forgive and justify. Once you have faith in God, works are much more rewarding, since you do them out of simple, obedient love instead of for reward. Works will not merit forgiveness of sins or gain you any peace at the end of the day. You already have these things through faith in the God who has loved you all the while.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for loving me with an everlasting love. Amen. 

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

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.

• Part 1  • Part 1 Leader's Guide  • Part 2  • Part 2 Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 18 Sep 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for online jigsaw.

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Matthew 6:9-15

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 69

Human reason naturally admires works because they are impressive. Not considering, let alone understanding faith, all they see are works, and so they imagine that these works earn forgiveness of sins and justify. This opinion of the law is by nature stuck in people’s minds and cannot be displaced except by godly instruction. The mind must be recalled from such natural or fleshly opinions to the Word of God. We see that the gospel and the promise concerning Christ have been laid before us. So, when the law is preached, when works are ordered, we should not spurn the promise of Christ. We must first lay hold of the promise so that we may be able to produce good works that please God. For Christ says, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Therefore, if Daniel had said, "Redeem your sins by repentance," the adversaries would take no notice of this passage. But since he has expressed this thought in other words, the adversaries distort his words to the injury of the doctrine of grace and faith, even though Daniel decidedly means to include faith.

Pulling It Together: Consider this teaching from the Lord’s Prayer: Forgive, and you will be forgiven. The first part in this doctrine demands amendment of life and good works, while the second part adds the promise. We should not extrapolate from this that our forgiving of others earns for us forgiveness of sin. That is not what Christ said. Just as Christ has attached the promise to an external sign in the sacraments, so he attaches here the promise of the forgiveness of sin to an external work. We do not obtain forgiveness of sin in the Lord's Supper by faithlessly eating and drinking. We must have faith in the promise. So also, we do not receive forgiveness simply through the work of forgiving, merely by the work worked.

If Christianity was only a matter of the law, there would be no need of Christ. We could just work our way up to heaven—if such a thing were possible. If Christianity was merely a matter of faith, then the church would be filled with runaway sinners. To that, Paul exclaims, “God forbid” (Rom 6:1-2, KJV)! By understanding these passages in terms of both law and gospel, we always give Christ his due and thereby, gain considerable peace. Without faith in his satisfaction for our sin, and his appeasement of God, we would be forever uncertain if our pitiful works were of sufficient merit to satisfy an otherwise angry God. 

Prayer: Deliver me, Lord, from the temptation that I might save myself through my religion. Amen. 

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

Learning 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

Teacher's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 17 Sep 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 5:15-16

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Jerome added a particle to his translation of Daniel 4:24 that expresses doubt, and unwisely claims in his commentaries that the remission of sins is uncertain. Let us remember that the gospel gives a sure promise of the forgiveness of sins. Denying that there is certainty of the promise of forgiveness of sins is to abolish the gospel. So, let us dismiss Jerome concerning this passage, although the promise is evidenced even in the word “redeem.” For it signifies that the forgiveness of sins is possible, that sins can be redeemed, that the obligation or debt can be removed, that the wrath of God appeased. But our opponents always overlook the promises, considering only the commands, and attach the false, human opinion that forgiveness happens because of works. The text does not say this, but requires faith instead. For wherever there is a promise, faith is required, since a promise cannot be received unless with faith.

Pulling It Together: There is not only a different numbering of the verses in Jerome’s Latin translation of Daniel 4:24, but also a joining of verses 24 and 27 into one verse. Add to that the poor translation of a few words, and you end up with confusion. In English, we sometimes use the word “perhaps” when saying that something “may” happen. Yet, we also use the word “may” when there is certainty because of a promise of God, as in, “May it be so.” We state as much when we confidently add, “Amen,” to the end of the Lord’s Prayer. In our text, the word “may” ought to be understood this way: “...that he may forgive your sins.” In so doing, uncertainty is removed. At any rate, the Hebrew text is not speaking of redemption but of the lengthening of the king’s days.

So let us reject the entire squabble as not only a misunderstanding of the text, but a bad translation as well. May we comprehend the gospel instead, for there is nothing uncertain in Christ. Nowhere does the gospel require works or the earning of God’s grace. How could it be considered grace if it had to be earned? Rather, we confess that the grace of God is his freely given gift through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Prayer: Lord, give me unsurpassed peace through confidence in your free gift of redemption. 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 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/summaries.html Thu, 16 Sep 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Ezekiel 18:21-22

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Daniel knew that the forgiveness of sins in Christ was promised not only to the Israelites but to all nations. Otherwise he could not have promised to the king the forgiveness of sins. For it is not in the power of man, especially amid the terrors of sin, to assert that he ceases to be angry without having a sure word of God concerning God's will. The words of Daniel speak in his own language even more clearly of repentance, and clearly bring out the promise: “Redeem your sins by righteousness and your iniquities by favors toward the poor.” These words teach about the whole of repentance. They direct him to become righteous, then to do good works, defending the poor against injustice, as was the duty of a king.

Righteousness is faith in the heart. Sins are redeemed by repentance, that is, the obligation or guilt is removed because God forgives those who repent, as it is written in Ezekiel 18:21-22. We should not infer from this that he forgives because of works that follow faith or because of alms. Rather, he forgives because he promised; he forgives those who apprehend his promise. No one takes hold of his promise except those who truly believe, and by faith overcome sin and death. Being reborn, they ought to bear fruit corresponding to repentance, as John says in Matthew 3:8. The promise, therefore, was added: “There will be healing for your offenses.”

Pulling It Together: Daniel does not simply demand certain kingly works such as alms giving. He demands faith by saying, “Break off your sins by righteousness.” In Scripture, righteousness does not mean only external works, but includes faith (Heb 10:38). So, Daniel was not telling Nebuchadnezzar to sanctify himself by doing good deeds. Indeed, the king could not do those works because he did not believe the words of the prophet. Though Daniel told the king the will of God and added God’s promise too, the king would not believe—and therefore, he would not do the things required of a king. But God was not finished with Nebuchadnezzar. He drove him away from people, to live with wild beasts so that eventually, the king might come to his senses and believe.

The Spirit works the same way in our lives. He demands both faith and those works befitting faith in Christ, empowering us to both believe and practice righteousness. If we neglect his commands—or even one to the exclusion of the other—we too will suffer our madness because we have come to trust in ourselves instead of Christ. Yet, when we come to our senses and trust in God through Christ, our sins will be forgiven and forgotten. There will be healing for our offenses.

Prayer: Father, help me repent of my sins, through faith in your Son Jesus Christ. Amen. 

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

The 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.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 15 Sep 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Daniel 4:24-27

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Thus in Daniel’s sermon, faith is required (Dan 4:24). He did not intend that the king should only give alms, but he means everything pertaining to repentance by saying, “Break off your sins by practicing righteousness, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the oppressed” (Dan 4:27). In saying, “break off,” he implies a change of heart and works, for faith would be required. Daniel proclaims to him many things concerning the worship of the only God, the God of Israel, and converted the king not only to the bestowing of alms, but much more to faith. For we have the excellent confession of the king concerning the God of Israel: “There is no other god who is able to rescue in this way” (Dan. 3:29). So, Daniel’s sermon incorporates two components. The one part commands a new life and the works of the new life. In the other part, Daniel promises the king the forgiveness of sins. This promise of the forgiveness of sins is not a preaching of the law, but a truly prophetic and evangelical voice which Daniel certainly meant should be received in faith.

Pulling It Together: Even the prophets of old required faith since they too conveyed the promises of God. Promises require faith because they involve trust in the one making the promise. The promises of God cannot be received in any other way than by the heart relying on the sure word of God. For the heart cannot trust its own worthiness. Accordingly, faith was demanded for there to be forgiveness and healing of the king’s sins. So, we understand that God calls us to faith and at the same time, that we are to practice righteousness. The two cannot be separated.

Prayer: Holy and mighty God, I repent of all my sin, calling upon your mercy through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen. 

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

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.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 14 Sep 21 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Timothy 4:6-10

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

This is so certain that none of the gates of hell can overthrow it—that in the preaching of repentance, the preaching of the law is insufficient, because the law works wrath and always accuses. The preaching of the gospel must be added so that the forgiveness of sins is granted to us if we believe that sins are forgiven us for Christ's sake. Why else would there be need of the gospel? Why would there be need of Christ? This belief must always be kept in view so that we may refute those who cast aside Christ and blot out the gospel, wickedly distorting the Scriptures to the human opinion that we purchase forgiveness of sins with our works.

Pulling It Together: The law is used by God to achieve certain results. It exhorts us to look out for “number two,” or to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:31). Beyond urging us to care for others, the law also condemns us if we do not. So, the law provides us with standards of behavior, thereby making us acutely aware when we fail to keep God’s law. In so doing, the law creates in us a need of forgiveness. However, the law does not meet this need. This is why we confess that the law is insufficient by itself. The law needs the gospel. Nothing is more welcome and necessary than good news when one has heard a guilty verdict. God has provided that good news in Jesus Christ, who has purchased our redemption, for he is the Savior of the world—especially for those who believe.

Prayer: Help me set my hope on you, Lord, for you alone have come into the world to save sinners like me. Amen. 

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

Winning, Losing, Loving; The Gospel in the Old Testament traces themes of chosenness, sin, and grace throughout the early books of the Bible. These cycles of sin and redemption point forward toward God's ultimate act of redemption in Jesus Christ.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 13 Sep 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Matthew 18:23-35

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

This is how we must understand all similar passages. Christ preaches repentance when he says, “Forgive,” and then adds the promise, “And you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37). He does not say that by our forgiving we earn the forgiveness of sins by the work worked, or as they call it, ex opere operato. He expects a new life, which certainly is necessary. Yet, at the same time, he teaches that forgiveness of sins is received by faith. So, when Isaiah says, “Share your bread with the hungry” (Isa 58:7), he is requiring a new life. The prophet does not speak of this work alone, but as the text indicates, of total repentance. Yet, he concurrently means that forgiveness of sins is received by faith.

Pulling It Together: As the parable indicates, we are indebted to the King. Our sin-debt should cost us our lives (Rom 6:23) but God is merciful, forgiving us and making us into new persons. He now expects his new people to live like citizens of his kingdom. We are to forgive as we have been forgiven, and to do other good works. Having been shown mercy, we are now to live like the King’s people. However, take note that living like a good citizen of the kingdom is not what saved the servant in the parable. He was condemned but then forgiven while he was indebted to his king. We too, were shown mercy while we were still sinners (Rom 5:8). We did not do one thing that could earn God’s forgiveness. He freely forgave us because of his great mercy for Christ’s sake. Now he expects us to live like new people, still depending with faith upon his mercy, while doing what is merely expected of godly people.

Prayer: Lord, help me to forgive from the depths of my heart, just as you have forgiven 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.

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.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 12 Sep 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Isaiah 45:22-25

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

See how Isaiah preaches penitence. He urges us to repentance, then adds the promise. “Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” (Isa 1:16-18). It would be foolish to merely say, “Relieve the oppressed; defend the fatherless.” At the beginning, he says, “Cease to do evil,” reprimanding impiety of heart and requiring faith. Nor does the prophet say that they can merit the remission of sins ex opere operato, through the works of relieving the oppressed and defending the fatherless. Rather, he commands such works as are necessary in the new life. Concurrently, he wants us to understand that forgiveness of sins is received by faith, and accordingly, the promise is added.

Pulling It Together: God commands us through the prophets to do good. Yet, through those same prophets, he makes it clear that our righteousness does not come from the works worked, but from the Lord himself. Therefore, because it is not by anything we have done, but instead, because we believe the promise that God ascribes righteousness to us, what is left to us but trust in God? We are to repent and do good but our justification comes from God through faith.

Prayer: Lord, help me believe what you have promised. 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/summaries.html Sat, 11 Sep 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Hebrews 10:17-22

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Two things should be understood in the preaching of the law. First, the law cannot be observed unless we have been regenerated by faith in Christ. He teaches this, saying, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Second, though some external works can certainly be done, this general view of the entire law must be retained: “Without faith it is impossible to please him” (Heb 11:6). We must, therefore, always remember the promise of the gospel, that we have access to the Father through Christ (Rom 5:2; Heb 10:19). For it is evident that we are not justified by the law. Why would there be need of Christ or the gospel if the preaching of the law alone would be sufficient? In preaching about repentance, it is insufficient to only preach the law, the Word that convicts of sin, because the law brings wrath, only accusing and terrifying consciences. Consciences are never at peace unless they hear the voice of God in which the forgiveness of sins is clearly promised. Accordingly, the gospel must be added, that sins are forgiven for Christ's sake, and that we obtain remission of sins through faith in Christ. If our opponents exclude the Gospel of Christ from the preaching of penitence, they are judged correctly to be blasphemers against Christ.

Pulling It Together: The law must be preached. Yet, it must also be taught that the keeping of the law does not bring new birth. Only God can regenerate the dead, which we most certainly were (Rom 5:6). No amount of works or keeping of the law or acts of charity will ever cause the dead to be born again. So, the gospel must also be preached so that people may receive God’s forgiveness and be regenerated.

Though regenerate people are to do acts of charity and other good works, they will never do so to any degree of perfection. So, the law continues to convict everyone of sin, even if they have been reborn, as it is meant to do. Convicted, guilty consciences can only be afforded peace through faith in the promise of Christ’s gospel. So why is there any need to offer our works for the remission of sins? As the writer of Hebrews says, where there is forgiveness of sins, there is no more need of offering for sin (Heb 10:18).

Prayer: Merciful Father, forgive me of my sins for Christ’s sake, and empower me to do your will through your indwelling Spirit. Amen. 

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Combining the message of salvation in Christ with personal witness, The Gospel in Miniature is a Lutheran guide for evangelism.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 10 Sep 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Matthew 5:3-12

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 61

Certain other passages concerning works are also cited against us. “Forgive, and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37). “Is it not to share your bread with the hungry...? ...Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer” (Isa. 58:7,9). “Break off your sins by practicing righteousness, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the oppressed” (Dan 4:27). “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Matt 5:7). These verses only speak against us when our opponents attach false ideas to them.

These passages contain two things. One is the preaching of either the law or repentance, which not only convicts those doing wrong, but also instructs them to do what is right. The other is a promise which is added to the command. However, it is not stated that sins are forgiven without faith, or that works themselves are a propitiation.

Pulling It Together: Those who have been justified through faith in Christ are expected to act righteously. They are not, however, forgiven of their sins because they act in accordance with God’s will. For example, in verse ten, those who are persecuted for righteousness are called blessed because, while suffering abuse, the promise of a joyful future is already taken hold of by trusting in the promise. Therefore, even while being mistreated, we may already enjoy a beatific peace because we hope in the promise of God. Yet the forgiveness of sins is not added to the beatitude, nor is justification to God. For those who have faith in Christ have already been both justified and blessed by him. “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29).

Prayer: Thank you, God, for the many blessings of your grace. 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.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 09 Sep 21 00:00:00 -0500

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John 15:4-5

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

These statements, simply spoken, contain nothing erroneous, but they are distorted by our opponents, who attach to them godless opinions. For it does not follow that works merit the forgiveness of sins that causes regenerate hearts, that works are a propitiation, that works please without Christ as propitiator, or that works do not need Christ as propitiator. James says nothing of these things. Nevertheless, the adversaries shamelessly infer all these things from the words of James.

Pulling It Together: Any keeping of the law requires God’s help. Before we can ever keep the law in a way that God finds acceptable, we must have faith in Christ. For the works of the old nature are ruled by human intention instead of the will of God. Instead of calling upon God for help, we would be trying to fulfill the law in our own power. It would be as though the branches were separated from the vine, yet were and expected to bear fruit. We must first be born again through faith, the old nature being regenerated so that we are able to work with Christ, or to have Christ’s life-giving Spirit working in us. Apart from him, we can do nothing good. However, by abiding in him or being attached to Christ through faith, acceptable works or fruit will grow because we are attached to the vine that gives life to the branches.

Prayer: Thy will be done, Lord. Amen.

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John is the fourth book in the "Old Places, New Faces" series. Twelve studies explore the profound metaphors of the Gospel of John. This study guide will make the story of Christ alive and relevant for today's readers.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 08 Sep 21 00:00:00 -0500

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James 1:21-22

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

When James says that we are justified by faith and works, he certainly does not say that we are born again by works. Neither does he say that Christ is partly our propitiator while our works are partly our propitiation. He is not describing the mode of justification, but only the nature of the just after they have already been justified and regenerated. To be justified does not mean that a wicked person is made righteous, but that a person is pronounced righteous in a forensic sense, as in Romans 2:13: “The doers of the law shall be justified.” As these words contain nothing contrary to our doctrine, we also believe the words of James: “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone” (James 2:24), since people with faith and good works are certainly pronounced righteous. As we have said, the good works of saints are righteous, and please God because of faith. For James commends only such works as faith produces, as he testifies when he says of Abraham, “Faith was completed by works” (James 2:22). In this sense it is said that, “The doers of the law shall be justified,” that is, God pronounces that they are righteous when they believe in him from the heart and then have good fruits which please God because of faith, and consequently are a keeping of the law.

Pulling It Together

Again, James is referring to those works that should follow faith. So, it is well said that the one who has faith and good works is righteous. Righteousness is not earned through the works, but instead, because God pronounces a person righteous through faith in Christ. If an adopted child acts like his new father, he does not then, become a member of the family. He is already his father’s son because he had previously been accepted into the family. If he believes he is this father’s son, he will then begin to act like the father. He will never act like the father if he does not believe that the father loves him and has welcomed him into the family. Just so, good works follow new birth, as they must, though they do not make people acceptable to God. We must first be accepted by God through faith for Christ's sake. Works will not make God favorable toward us if he was not already gracious to us for the sake of Christ.

Prayer: Work out of me, Lord, the word that you have worked into me. Amen.

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The newest volume in the series, "Old Places, New Faces," The General Epistles offers a series of 12 Bible studies based on Hebrews, James, I & II Peter, I, II, & III John, and Jude. The geographical locations of Biblical characters can symbolically refer to places we find ourselves with respect to our faith. As we become more acquainted with our spiritual geography, we will better discern where God would have us go or what changes we need to make in order to serve Him better.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 07 Sep 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 8:8–11

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

It is clear that James does not contradict us since he is making a distinction between dead and living faith, and admonishes the idle and self-satisfied who imagine that they have faith when they do not. He says that faith is dead if it does not bring forth good works, and that faith is living if it brings forth good works. We have frequently shown what we call faith, not meaning idle knowledge such as devils have, but a faith that resists the terrors of conscience, and cheers and consoles terrified hearts. Such faith is neither an easy matter, as the adversaries dream, nor a human quality, but a divine power by which we are regenerated, and by which we overcome the devil and death. Paul says that faith is effective and overcomes death because of the power of God: “in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God” (Col 2:12). Since this faith is a new life, it necessarily produces new movements and works. Accordingly, James is right in denying that we are justified by a faith that has no works.

Pulling It Together: One cannot create faith by deciding to believe in the historical Jesus, but then, going on to live the same old, natural life. This is the sort of dead faith to which James refers. However, faith that is given by God creates a new person. Those who have been born again will be different from the old, lifeless persons they had been before God gave them faith. They will begin to produce fruit for Christ’s kingdom. Dead trees produce no fruit. Living trees, by nature, produce fruit. What else can they do? Yet, trees do not bear fruit because they have somehow decided to do so. They produce fruit because they were created for that purpose. Even so, you who once were dead, have been recreated by the power of God so that you may produce the fruit of good works (Eph 2:10). If the Spirit of God dwells in you through a living faith, you are a new creation and will bear fruit because that is what you have been created to do. It is your new nature. What else could you do—since the power of Jesus Christ is at work in you?

Prayer: Live in me today, Lord, bringing forth good fruit for your glorious kingdom. Amen.

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Subscribe to Connections Magazine today. Connections features articles that connect Lutherans to the Word. Martin Luther’s Small Catechism provides the inspiration for confessional, biblical content, delivered in a stylish, readable design. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 06 Sep 21 00:00:00 -0500

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James 1:17-18

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Thirdly, James has spoken shortly before concerning regeneration, namely, that it occurs through the gospel. Therefore, he says, “Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures” (James 1:18). When he says that we have been born again by the gospel, he teaches that we have been regenerated and justified by faith. For the promise of Christ is apprehended only by faith, when we set it against the terrors

Pulling It Together: Every good gift comes from the Father—most notably, the gift of new birth in Christ. Salvation is a gift. Forgiveness of sins and justification are not things that can be earned. They are promised gifts that come to us from God, not from ourselves or from our own doing. We do not take hold of salvation; it is apprehended by faith. It is faith, itself a gift from God, that takes hold of salvation. We cannot make our doubts and fears fly away because we will it so or work hard at being good. Yet, faith in the promise of God’s free gift brings both new birth and peace. Faith alone regenerates the natural person into one created to do good works (1 Tim 2:8-10).

Prayer: Help me look intently into your perfect, liberating law, Lord, so that I may be set free to become a doer of the word. 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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Romans 16:25-27

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Secondly, the subject itself declares that works follow faith, and show that faith is not dead, but living and effective in the heart. Therefore, James did not believe that we earn the forgiveness of sins and grace by good works. For he speaks of the works of those who have been justified, who have already been reconciled and accepted, and have obtained forgiveness of sins. So, the adversaries are mistaken when they infer that James teaches that we merit remission of sins and grace by good works, that by our works we have access to God, without Christ as propitiator.

Pulling It Together

The old real estate expression, “Location, location, location,” might be modified when it comes to reading. “Context, context, context,” is crucial when interpreting a text. Otherwise, one may end up buying into the wrong teaching. James has been teaching about what real faith is, and uses works as a proof of faith. His subject is faith: “Can that faith save him?” (James 2:14). Everything read in this section, if read in context, refers back to faith. Therefore, if one has saving faith in Christ, works that glorify God will ensue. First, Christ satisfies God’s righteousness, then because we believe in his sacrifice for our sin, we are made righteous because of him. Only those works that are attached to his righteousness are acceptable to God. One may do religious deeds for a lifetime, but they will never save. Yet, a sinner, having never done anything good, may finally believe and be saved because of Christ alone. That sainted sinner will then seek to be obedient to the gospel, to continue in a true and living faith that glorifies God. Chrysostom said it well: “As faith without works is dead, so are works without faith dead.”

Prayer: Make my faith in you a living faith so that you are glorified in my life, Lord. Amen.

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The kind of church we see in the New Testament is different from what most modern people imagine when they think of “going to church.” Experience Life Together: Experiencing House-Church Ministry, by Rev. Tom Hilpert, is a 15-week house-church curriculum designed for pastors, lay leaders, and churches interested in getting a taste for what church in the home is really like. Whether referred to as a house-church, organic church, alternative church, or cell church, this material applies well to any group that wants to experience Christian worship in the context of a small group meeting within the homes of the participants.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 04 Sep 21 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Timothy 1:3-5

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law

We must consider first, that the passage is more against the adversaries than against us. For our opponents teach that people are justified by love and works. They say nothing of faith by which we apprehend Christ as propitiator. Indeed, they condemn this faith in sentences and writings, and also by the sword and capital punishments, endeavoring to exterminate faith in the Church. How much better does James teach, not excluding faith, or presenting love in preference to faith, but retaining faith, so that in justification Christ may not be excluded as propitiator! Paul also includes faith and love when he deals with the sum of the Christian life. “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and sincere faith” (1 Tim 1:5).

Pulling It Together

Propitiation means appeasement of God. The argument that the Lutherans were making is simply this: Christ alone is that satisfaction for our sins. What God has worked into us, we are now to work out with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12). However, we must be careful not to amplify the importance of our charity and works, as though what we do is the means of our justification with God. Our only boast is in the Lord (1 Cor 1:31). He is our atonement. When faith is genuine, when one trusts in Christ Jesus for righteousness, charity and good works will follow. The honor then, properly goes to God in Christ, for he alone is our propitiator.

Prayer: Give me sincere faith, Lord, a pure heart, and a good conscience, so that I may truly love. 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/summaries.html Fri, 03 Sep 21 00:00:00 -0500

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James 2:17-26

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

They cite from James 2:24, “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.” No other passage is thought to contradict our belief more than this verse. But the reply is easy and plain. If our opponents do not attach their own opinions concerning the merits of works, the words of James contain nothing that is of disadvantage. Yet wherever there is mention of works, they falsely add ungodly opinions: that by means of good works we earn the forgiveness of sins, that good works are a propitiation and price by which God is reconciled to us, that good works overcome the terrors of sin and death, that good works are accepted in God's sight on account of their goodness, and that they do not need God’s mercy and Christ as propitiator. None of these things came into the mind of James, which the adversaries nevertheless, defend under the pretext of this passage of James.

Pulling It Together: James reinforces what kind of faith he has been referring to in this passage. Faith is not mere assent, such as you hear from people today when they say things like, “I believe in God,” or “I am a Christian,” or “I go to church.” That type of faith, which is nothing more than religion like any other religion or “faith,” does not save. Faith that believes Christ is the satisfaction for sin will both save and produce good fruit. This is the substance of James and is discovered in the context of his letter—not in one verse. Living faith is never detached from good works because God will grow what he has established in those persons whom he has already justified and saved. The danger here is when we begin to believe in ourselves, in our good works as a virtue or merit that God ought to recognize as justification for our sins. Still, good works must never be absent from faith. When this occurs, that faith, as James says, is dead.

Prayer: Help me do the works of faith, Lord, by the power of your Spirit. 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.

Customized edition

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 02 Sep 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Proverbs 19:11–12

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

So, Peter does not mean that love earns God's forgiveness of sins, that it is a propitiation to the exclusion of Christ as mediator, that it regenerates and justifies. He is teaching that love toward one another is not moody, harsh, or obstinate, that it overlooks some mistakes of its friends, that it takes in stride even the harsher manners of others, just like the well-known expression: “Know, but do not hate, the manners of a friend.” Nor was it without design that the apostle taught so frequently concerning this duty that the philosophers call epiekeia, or leniency. For this virtue is necessary for harmony, which cannot last unless pastors and churches mutually overlook and pardon many things.

Pulling It Together: Presidential pardons, bestowed by outgoing US presidents, are received with gratitude but also sometimes, with irritation by those who disagree with a president’s choices. Nevertheless, the mercy of a ruler is refreshing, according to the proverb. If a president excuses the offenses of some whose crimes we might find unpardonable, we ought to find mercy to overlook the faults and even the outright offenses of the friends of Jesus (John 15:15). This is sensible public decency and promotes concord in Christian fellowship. While our charity ought not to be mistaken as something that justifies us to God, we rejoice with thankfulness that God has covered our own sins. Just so, we ought to pray daily, “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”

Prayer: Set me free of my debts, God, and empower me to forgive others, through Jesus Christ our Lord. 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/summaries.html Wed, 01 Sep 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Proverbs 10:9–12

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Besides, this sentence concerning love is derived from Proverbs 10:12, where the antithesis clearly shows how it ought to be understood: “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.” It teaches precisely the same thing as the passage of Paul from Colossians, that if any dissensions occur, they should be moderated and settled by equitable and lenient conduct. Dissensions, it informs, increase because of hatred, as we often see that tragedies arise from the most trifling offenses. Certain trifling offenses occurred between Gaius Caesar and Pompey, in which, if the one had yielded a very little to the other, civil war would not have occurred. Because each indulged his own hatred, great commotion arose from a matter of no account. Many heresies have arisen in the Church merely from hatred of the clergy. So, we understand that this teaching does not refer to a person's own faults, but to the faults of others. When it says, “Love covers all offenses,” it means the faults of others. When these offenses happen, love overlooks, forgives, yields, and does not carry all matters to the extreme of the law’s justice.

Pulling It Together: If 1 Peter 4:8 or Proverbs 10:12 are thought to mean that love covers up one’s own sins, that would be a misinterpretation. We have already seen how Paul deals with the text (Col 3:12), so notice how James interprets the Proverb in the same way. “Whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:20). The transgressions that are cloaked or forgiven here are not one’s own. Rather, because we are determined to love as Christ loves, we overlook offenses against ourselves.

Think of how often the smallest spark of some perceived offense in a congregation is fanned into flame by someone who chooses to make the matter personal. That person begins to talk behind the back and even posts about the affront in social media in order to make the matter everyone’s business. Now it is thought that because others are also concerned, the petty behavior was justified. This is the moment when some people give up on the whole church, when it was the prideful act of an individual who took umbrage too far. This is not the way of Christ. Love overlooks the faults of others—real or imagined.

Prayer: Forgive me my trespasses, Lord, as I forgive the trespasses of others. 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/summaries.html Tue, 31 Aug 21 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Peter 2:4–6

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

But this is far distant from those praises of love which they recite from Paul, nor do they understand the word any more than the walls that bounce back their words. They also cite Peter in this verse: “Love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Pet 4:8). It is evident that Peter also speaks of love towards one's neighbor since he joins this passage to the precept that commands love for one another. It could never have come into the mind of any apostle that our love overcomes sin and death, that love is the propitiation by which God is reconciled, thereby excluding Christ as mediator, or that love is righteousness without Christ as mediator. For this love, if there would be any, would be a righteousness of the law, and not of the gospel that promises reconciliation and righteousness to us if we believe that the Father has been reconciled on account of Christ as propitiator, and that the merits of Christ are bestowed upon us. Accordingly, a little earlier Peter urges us to come to Christ so that we may be built upon Christ (1 Pet 2:4-5). And he adds, “He who believes in him will not be put to shame” (1 Pet 2:6). When God judges and convicts us, our love does not free us from shame. Nevertheless, faith in Christ liberates us despite these fears, because we know that for Christ's sake we are forgiven.

Pulling It Together: We must be careful not to build a doctrine of righteousness and salvation upon anything that we do. Such a house would surely fall, since it is founded on the limited and human instead of upon the infinite and divine. God commands us to do many things, including charity toward others and love for God. But these things, even though commanded by God, do not save. Only God saves. The Father has overcome sin and death through the work of his Son. That is a finished work; we are merely called to believe what God has done, not to add anything to his work in an effort to complete it in ourselves. If his work on the cross required our completion, he would not be the mediator between God and humanity since his work would not have been sufficient.

People seek to earn God’s favor because they feel the blush of sin. Though we should confess our sin and repent, we cannot earn God’s grace. That grace has already been earned for us by Jesus. When we believe what the love of God has wrought, the fear that the law delivers is quickly dispatched and then replaced with God’s forgiveness and peace, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Prayer: Loving Father, I offer you my sacrifice of praise while depending upon the final sacrifice of Jesus, my Savior. Amen.

Subscribe to Connections Magazine today. Connections features articles that connect Lutherans to the Word. Martin Luther’s Small Catechism provides the inspiration for confessional, biblical content, delivered in a stylish, readable design. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 30 Aug 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Ephesians 4:31–32

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Moreover, it is disgraceful for the adversaries to preach so much about love when they do not bestow love. What are they doing? They are tearing apart churches; they are writing laws in blood; they are proposing to the most clement prince, the emperor, that these should be published. They are slaughtering priests and other good men if they even intimate their dislike of some unmistakable abuse. These things are not consistent with speeches about love, which if the adversaries would follow, both church and the state would have peace. Disturbances would be stilled if the adversaries would not bitterly insist upon certain traditions that are useless for godliness and which are not observed even by those very persons who most earnestly defend them. They easily forgive themselves, yet do not forgive others, according to the poet Maenius: “I forgive myself.”

Pulling It Together: We should not worry ourselves over the actions of others toward us. Instead, we should be devoted to the gospel. This means that we will love those who hate and hurt us. Finally, it means that we must forgive those who trespass against us. While the rest of the world, even those in the church, demand much of us—a great deal of which is useless, as well as unfair and not reciprocated—we must nevertheless be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving. This is the way of Christ who loves and forgives us.

Prayer: Forgive me of my sins, Lord, so that I may forgive those who sin against me. Amen.

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.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 29 Aug 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Ephesians 4:1–3

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

The books of all the wise are full of these principles of fairness, namely, that in everyday life we should all make many allowances for the sake of mutual order. Paul frequently teaches this here and elsewhere. Therefore, the adversaries’ argument that the term "perfection" means that love justifies does not make sense, since Paul is speaking of unity and peace. Ambrose interprets this passage: “Just as a building is said to be perfect or entire when all its parts are fitly joined together with one another.”

Pulling It Together: God is able to do far more with the Church than we could possibly imagine (Eph 3:20). Knowing therefore, not only what God is capable of doing but is actually accomplishing in spite of us, we are to act in a manner that corresponds to the Church that God both intends to be and is creating. We are called to be humble, gentle, patient, and charitable toward one another despite our failings. Christians should be eager to act like Christ so that there is unity and peace in the Church, without imagining that we have done some great work that justifies us to God.

Prayer: Help me to truly love, Lord, as you love your Church. Amen.

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/summaries.html Sat, 28 Aug 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 15:1–6

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

For concord ends up being torn apart whenever the bishops impose heavy burdens upon the people or have no regard for their weakness. Dissensions also arise when the people judge the clergy’s conduct too severely or despise them because of a minor mistake, thereafter seeking different doctrine and clergy. On the other hand, perfection in Church fellowship is preserved when the strong bear with the weak—when the people have patience with their preachers, and when the bishops make some allowances for the weakness of the people.

Pulling It Together: During a committee meeting, a brother suddenly spoke strong words against his pastor. There was silence in the room. People did not know how to respond. The pastor knew what to say. Nothing. He understood that his brother was struggling with other issues, and that the outburst came at a moment of weakness. He vented because he had reached the moment when he could no longer hold it all in. Days later, the man stopped by the pastor’s office, just to chat. It was his way of showing that Christian fellowship was still important to him. Harmony often depends upon a quiet answer (Prov 15:1) instead of proving who is right. Sometimes, concord does not even depend upon a calm answer but rather, no answer at all. In that silence, a greater voice may be discovered: the voice that does not demand to name which one is right but instead, a united voice that glorifies the name of the Lord.

Prayer: Give me your peace, Lord, so that I may be gentle and quiet when necessary. Amen.

All God’s Critters is a fully reproducible Sunday School series designed with the particular needs of small churches, mission congregations, and house churches with 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.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 27 Aug 21 00:00:00 -0500

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John 15:12–13

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Paul is not speaking of personal perfection, but of the integrity common to the Church. He says that love is a bond or connection that holds the many members of the Church together, just as in all families and states, harmony is nourished by service to one another, and tranquility is retained by people overlooking and forgiving small mistakes among themselves. So Paul commands that there should be love in the Church in order that harmony may be preserved, bearing with the harsher manners of some as there is need, and overlooking small mistakes, lest the Church splinter into various schisms, and the hostilities, factions, and heresies that arise from such divisions.

Pulling It Together: Having understood that Christ alone is the satisfaction for our sins, we see love in a new light. “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19), not because we expect special favor from God. Knowing how much Christ loves the Church, we should want to hold together that for which he died and rose again. The fellowship of the Church is quickly divided when we do not bear with one another’s weaknesses (Col 3:13) and forgive them. Imagine how many of his disciples’ actions Jesus overlooked. Now think of how much he endures in your behavior. It is to your glory when you overlook an offense, and it preserves harmony in Christ’s Church.

Prayer: Help me do what you command, Lord, through the power of your Holy Spirit. Amen.

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.

Teacher's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 26 Aug 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Colossians 3:12–14

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

In the Confutation, the adversaries have also cited against us Colossians 3:14: “And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” They infer from this that love justifies because it renders men perfect. We could supply many replies about perfection but will simply give Paul’s meaning. Paul was clearly speaking of love towards one’s neighbor. We must not imagine that Paul would ascribe either justification or perfection to works of the Second Table instead of to those of the First. Even so, if love renders men perfect, there is then no need of Christ as propitiator, for faith apprehends Christ alone as propitiator. This, however, is far distant from the meaning of Paul, who never suffers Christ to be excluded as propitiator.

Pulling It Together: Paul consistently teaches that we are accepted on account of Christ and not on account of our love, or our works, or because we keep the law. For no one perfectly fulfills the law. Since he writes and teaches that there is no perfection in this life through our works, it must not be thought that Paul is speaking here of personal perfection. Because we cannot live up to the demands of the law, God sent his Son as satisfaction. Jesus, as both God and man, fulfilled the law for everyone. So, yes, we are instructed to love our neighbors, as the second great commandment teaches us (Mark 12:31). Yet we should never assume that love of neighbor, which we fulfill imperfectly, satisfies God’s law. Only Jesus has done this, so we must put our faith in him alone.

Prayer: Help me depend upon your righteousness, Lord, while your Spirit empowers me to love my neighbor. Amen.

Seasons of the Church Year introduces students to the seasons or cycles of the liturgical year as the Church reflects upon the story of Christ and our life of faith in this world. It was written for a 3rd-4th grade level, but is flexible enough to be used for most elementary-aged students.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 25 Aug 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 1:16–17

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

We are not ignorant of how distant this doctrine is from the judgment of reason and of the law. Nor are we unaware that the doctrine of the law concerning love makes a much greater show; for it is human wisdom. But we are not ashamed of the foolishness of the gospel. For the sake of Christ's glory we defend this, and beseech Christ, by his Holy Spirit, to aid us that we may be able to make this clear and manifest.

Pulling It Together: Everyone gets a trophy. That is the way of things in children’s sports these days. Nobody is a loser, so long as they join the team. People are divided on their opinions about this approach. Some people think children need to earn a trophy while others have the view that even if the team never wins, all should go home with a trophy because they made the effort. Brands of Christianity are like this children’s sports analogy. There are some who believe that only those whose religious efforts are successful should be rewarded with eternal life. Others believe that simply being on the team, being a believer in Jesus Christ, is what counts.

The wisdom of the world concludes that effort makes the difference. Only winners should be rewarded with eternal life. So, some believe that human righteousness makes the difference with God.

While we should press on for the prize of resurrection from the dead (Phil 3:14), Lutherans confess that this heavenly prize is apprehended through faith in Jesus Christ, not through their efforts. This is foolishness to the worldly mind, but to the spiritual mind, it is the power of God for salvation. “The righteous shall live by faith” in the righteousness of God instead of by trust in their own righteousness, though the world considers them losers.

Prayer: Jesus, thank you for saving me and giving me your righteousness so that I do not need to depend upon myself. Amen.

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.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 24 Aug 21 00:00:00 -0500

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2 Corinthians 3:12–18

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Our adversaries ascribe justification to love because they teach and require the righteousness of the law everywhere. We cannot deny that love is the highest work of the law. Human wisdom gazes at the law and seeks justification there. Consequently, the scholastic doctors, great and talented men, also proclaim this as the highest work of the law, and attribute justification to this work. Deceived by human wisdom, they did not look upon the uncovered face of Moses, but just like the Pharisees, philosophers, and Mohammedans they saw the veiled face of Moses. But we preach the foolishness of the gospel that reveals another righteousness, namely, that because of Christ as propitiator, we are accounted righteous when we believe that for Christ's sake God has been reconciled to us.

Pulling It Together: It makes sense that doing good deeds and being religious would cause God to love us and forgive us for our efforts. If God commands it, then there should be the reward of his favor. Yet, “The wisdom of this world is foolishness before God” (1 Cor 3:19, NASB). Perhaps it would be helpful to think about this matter on a more elemental level. If a child is commanded by his father to take out the trash, and he does this chore, should he expect the reward of his father’s love? No. His father already loves him. He is simply expected to do as his father commands. We see that God’s love is already disposed toward the world. That is why he sent his Son to fulfill the law and reconcile us to himself (John 3:16).

This is difficult for people to understand, because they think about the matter in terms of human wisdom and religion. We need to consider it from the divine perspective. After being in the presence of the divine majesty on the mountain, Moses’ face shone with the brilliance of God’s glory. When he descended to the Israelites, he veiled his shining face. So long as we look upon the law of Moses in this veiled, human fashion, the glory of God will be obscured. When people turn to the Lord instead of depending upon their own righteousness, the veil of the law is removed and the glory of the Lord is seen. This is foolishness to the religious but it is, nevertheless, the wisdom of God’s gospel. This glorious wisdom, for those who will look beyond the veil, is that the righteousness we could never achieve through our own wisdom and effort, God has accomplished through his Son and has freely given to those who believe such foolishness.

Prayer: Loving God of righteousness, help us see clearly by looking beyond the veil of the law to behold your glory. Amen.

Seasons of the Church Year introduces students to the seasons or cycles of the liturgical year as the Church reflects upon the story of Christ and our life of faith in this world. It was written for a 3rd-4th grade level, but is flexible enough to be used for most elementary-aged students.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 23 Aug 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Acts 16:30–31

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

They object that love is preferred to faith and hope since Paul says, “The greatest of these is love” (1 Cor 13:13). Now, it is reasonable that the greatest and chief virtue should justify. However, Paul speaks specifically in this passage of love towards one's neighbor, and indicates that love is the greatest, because it has most fruit. Faith and hope only deal with God; but love has infinite external duties toward people. Nevertheless, we grant to the adversaries that love towards God and our neighbor is the greatest virtue because the chief commandment is, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matt 22:37). But how do they infer from this that love justifies? The greatest virtue, they say, justifies. By no means. For as even the greatest or first law does not justify, so also the greatest virtue of the law does not justify. The virtue that justifies is the one that apprehends Christ, transmitting Christ's merits to us, by which we receive grace and peace from God. This virtue is faith. For as it has been often said, faith is not only knowledge, but rather a desire to receive or apprehend those things that are offered in the promise of Christ. This obedience towards God, this desire to receive the offered promise, is no less an act of worship than is love. God wants us to believe him and to receive blessings from him. This he declares to be true divine service.

Pulling It Together: God does not say, “Do this thing and you will be saved.” He could have said something like, “Do a cartwheel and you will be saved.” Of course, he said nothing so absurd, so let us think more civilly. He might have said, “Do 1,000 hours of community service and you will be saved.” He did not say anything like that either. So, let us consider the religious. He could have demanded perfect attendance at worship. But he did not command anything religious either. Instead, he wants us to believe that he has saved us without any works that we have done. For God saves sinners, not people who have proved that they are righteous without him. His only command for salvation is clearly stated in Acts 16:30-31: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

Prayer: Father, assure me of the plain gospel, that you love me in spite of myself. Amen.

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/summaries.html Sun, 22 Aug 21 00:00:00 -0500

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John 13:34–35

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

If there be no need of Christ, if by our love we can overcome death, if by our love, without Christ as propitiator, we have access to God, then let our adversaries remove the promise concerning Christ; let them abolish the gospel. The adversaries corrupt very many passages because they bring to them their own opinions. They do not derive the meaning from the passages themselves. What difficulty is there in this passage when we remove the imagined interpretation that the adversaries attach to it because they do not understand what justification is or how it occurs? Already being justified, the Corinthians had received many excellent gifts. In the beginning they glowed with zeal, as is generally the case. Then dissensions began to arise among them, and as Paul indicates, they began to dislike good teachers. Accordingly, Paul reproves them, recalling them to responsibilities of love. Although these are necessary, it would be foolish to imagine that works of the Second Table justify us, for they deal with people, not expressly with God. Justification is a transaction by God through which his wrath is appeased and our conscience is pacified before God. None of this comes about through works of the Second Table.

Pulling It Together: Yes! We should obey God by loving one another and doing acts of charity and other good works. Yet these actions will never conquer sin and death or provide access to God. Claiming that they accomplish such great effects is to call the good news of Jesus Christ ineffective. However, when we read the Scripture in context, we understand that God’s reconciling work is wholly sufficient. Basing a doctrine on a verse can mislead, as in the case in question. When we consider the entire unit of thought, we see that the Corinthians had already been justified by Christ and, as a result, had been eager to obey God. In time however, they listened to teachers who told them what they wanted to hear by tickling their ears with false doctrines (2 Tim 4:3, NASB) instead of teaching the whole counsel of Scripture. This is when good teachers must use the law to demonstrate that we cannot keep God’s commands. For, “the Law is a word of death, a doctrine of wrath, a light of sadness, which reveals sin and demands righteousness from us, which we cannot produce” (“Epistle for the Day of the Three Holy Kings,” Luther’s Works). Only then will people be driven back to the gospel, to the righteousness of Christ alone. When we comprehend that he first loved us, then we may rightly respond to his command to love one another.

Prayer: Thank you, God, for your law that accuses me, causing me to rely upon your Son instead of myself. Amen.

Beginning in 2016, Sola is adding a Bible Overview year to its Confirmation Series, with two ten-session booklets — one on the Old Testament and one on the New Testament. These books provide a step-by-step overview of the history and geography of the Scriptures, exploring the various time periods and sections of the Bible and how they connect to one another. The goal is to give students a sense for the over-arching story of Scripture, fulfilled in the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 21 Aug 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Exodus 20:13–17

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

The adversaries treat the matter preposterously, citing this one passage in which Paul teaches about fruits. Yet they omit very many other passages in which he discusses the mode of justification in a regular order. Besides, they always add a correction to the other passages that deal with faith, namely, that they ought to be understood as applying to fides formata. They add no correction that there is also need of the faith that understands we are accounted righteous for the sake of Christ as propitiator. As a result, they exclude Christ from justification and teach only a righteousness of the law. So, let us return to Paul.

No one can infer anything more from this text than that love is necessary. This we confess. Therefore, not to commit theft is also necessary. But this reasoning will not be correct if someone would desire to frame an argument like this: "Not to commit theft is necessary. Therefore, not to commit theft justifies." Justification is the approval of the entire person, not of a certain work. Therefore, this passage from Paul is not against justification by faith, so long as the adversaries do not add to it whatever their imaginations please. For he says, "I am nothing," not that love justifies. He declares that without faith, love is extinguished, however great it may have been. He does not say that love overcomes the terrors of sin and of death, that we can set our love against the wrath and judgment of God, that our love satisfies God's law, that without Christ as propitiator we have access to God because of our love, that by our love we receive the promised forgiveness of sins. Paul says nothing like this. He does not, therefore, think that love justifies, because we are justified only when we apprehend Christ as propitiator, and believe that for Christ's sake God is reconciled to us. Justification should not even be dreamed of without Christ as propitiator.

Pulling It Together: Faith is not formed by love or other good works. That is backwards thinking and contrary to Scripture. Rather, love is formed by faith. Faith in Christ compels us to love and to obey God. Therefore, faith also urges us to keep the other commandments, such as, “You shall not steal” (Exod 20:15). Yet there are people who do not steal, though they have no faith in Christ. Are they justified to God because they do not steal? No; religious and civil works do not justify. Only faith in Christ reconciles God by justifying sinners. Without faith, good deeds are of no account with God since works do not justify. That is Christ’s function, not ours. Therefore, once justified through faith, good works necessarily follow but they do not make payment for our sins or remove the terrors of sin and death. We should never imagine anything but Christ Jesus as the only satisfaction and payment for our sins.

Prayer: Lord, have mercy upon me, a sinner. Amen. 

In Part 2 of Sola Scriptura, "The Norm of Faith" study shows how an active view of the Word informs and guides our understanding of what Scripture says. In other words, it will talk about what the Bible means based on what it does. In terms of how we come to articulate our faith and our doctrinal teachings, to speak of Scripture as the "norm" of faith means that it is the standard against which our theology and proclamation are measured.

• Study Guide   • See also Sola Scriptura, Part 1: The Source of Faith

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 20 Aug 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Galatians 5:22–25

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Now we will reply to those passages that the adversaries use to prove that we are justified by love and works. They cite: “And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing” (1Cor 13:2). Here they exult, claiming that Paul testifies to the entire Church that faith alone does not justify.

We have shown above what we hold concerning love and works. But a reply is easy. This passage of Paul requires love. We require it also. For we have said above that renewal and beginning to fulfill the law must exist in us, according to the word: “I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts” (Jer 31:33). Anyone who casts away love will not keep faith, however great it seems, for he does not retain the Holy Spirit.

Paul is not treating the mode of justification in this passage. He is writing to those who have already been justified, urging them to bear good fruit lest they lose the Holy Spirit.

Pulling It Together: The Roman Confutation claimed that people are justified by adding love and other works to faith in Christ. Conversely, the Lutherans confessed that love and good works are a necessary response to faith in the saving work of Christ. Although the work of Christ on the cross is sufficient for salvation, the person who will not love as Christ loves, has become spiritually cold and lives according to the flesh again. That person has become nothing, no longer keeping in step with the Spirit and living by faith. For the Holy Spirit does not dwell where Christian love and other fruits of the Spirit are not present.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, help me remember my baptism with daily repentance and sorrow for sin, so that the new person in Christ will emerge in me more and more every day. Amen. 

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/summaries.html Thu, 19 Aug 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 4:22–5:1

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

We are speaking now of the righteousness by which we interact with God, not with men, and by which we apprehend grace and peace of conscience. The conscience however, cannot be pacified before God except by faith alone, because it is certain that God for Christ's sake is reconciled to us, according to Romans 5:1: “Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Pulling It Together: The assurance of God’s love for us is always disturbed by our works. As soon as we trust in an act of charity or devotion to God, our confidence is shattered by an unkind thought or lack of devotion. That is when we must think of Christ instead of ourselves. So long as our thoughts are on our acts of charity or ability to fulfill the law, we become anxious and our consciences will be troubled. Since, however, we are not reconciled to God by our works, or even our works added to Christ’s work, we must always turn our thoughts to Christ. When we remember that we are justified by faith in Christ and not faith in ourselves, we return to a place of quiet rest and the peace that surpasses all understanding (Phil 4:7).

Prayer: Quiet my heart, Lord, and strengthen my faith in you through the power of your indwelling Spirit. Amen. 

Subscribe to Connections Magazine today. Connections features articles that connect Lutherans to the Word. Martin Luther’s Small Catechism provides the inspiration for confessional, biblical content, delivered in a stylish, readable design. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 18 Aug 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Ephesians 2:13–18

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

We believe and teach that good works must necessarily be done. Nevertheless we give Christ his own honor. We believe and teach that by faith, for Christ's sake, we are accounted righteous before God. We are not accounted righteous because of works without Christ as mediator. We do not earn the forgiveness of sins, grace, and forgiveness by works, which cannot be set against the wrath and justice of God. Nor can they overcome the terrors of sin. The terrors of sin are overcome by faith alone. Only Christ is to be presented by faith as mediator against the wrath and judgment of God. If any one think differently, he does not give Christ due honor, who has been set forth that he might be the propitiator, that through him we might have access to the Father.

Pulling It Together: Polls differ as to how many Americans say that they believe in God, some as high as 80% or more. Other polls demonstrate that the most basic evidences of faith are a much lower percentage. So let us be clear. The faith that we profess is not a mere nod to God. As James says, even demons believe in God (James 2:19). Faith has feet. Real faith is put into action. It bears fruit. Real believers, not those who simply agree that there is a god, are slowly beginning to act like Jesus. First of all, they give him all the glory and honor that is his due. As it is his work that justifies us to God, we give him that honor. We do not believe that Jesus needs any assistance from us. Therefore, although works necessarily follow, or go hand in hand with faith, it is Christ who has saved us from sin and death. Our works neither save us nor give us any consolation that they do.

Christ alone is our peace. He has reconciled us to God, and did so without our help. As a result, we have access to God. There is no longer a wall between God and true believers. We are now in a corrected relationship and at peace with him because of Christ alone.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for tearing down the wall that had separated us from the Father. Amen.

The General Epistles offers a series of 12 Bible studies based on Hebrews, James, I & II Peter, I, II, & III John, and Jude. The geographical locations of Biblical characters can symbolically refer to places we find ourselves with respect to our faith. As we become more acquainted with our spiritual geography, we will better discern where God would have us go or what changes we need to make in order to serve Him better.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 17 Aug 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 8:31–33

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Our adversaries uphold these godless, unscriptural opinions concerning works. But to ascribe atonement to our works, to claim that our works merit the forgiveness of sins and grace, instead of being accounted righteous before God by faith in Christ as propitiator, what else is this than to deny Christ the honor of mediator and propitiator?

Pulling It Together: If you pay attention to the sports headlines, you will hear an odd assertion from time to time, especially during professional basketball season. A very talented player will either claim or a reporter will state that the athlete was a one-man team. The other four players seemed to make no difference. He carried the team on his back. Yet, as good as some players are, they cannot win the first game without the other members of the team. However, Christianity is not basketball.

Jesus accomplished what the rest of the team could never do. He atoned for the sins of the entire world. No one assisted him. Neither you nor I will be interviewed as one of his teammates who helped him conquer sin and death. We cannot add one work to his victory. Our works add nothing to the salvation he has won for those who believe. The honor belongs to Christ. It is God alone who justifies.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for saving me. Amen.

Examining Our Core Beliefs explains in straightforward terms the core of what we believe—from a biblical, theological, historical, and confessional point of view. A 30-page study guide is included in the back of the book.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 16 Aug 21 00:00:00 -0500

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John 4:7–10

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

So the world thinks that all works are a propitiation by which God is appeased, that they are a payment by which we are considered righteous. It does not believe that Christ is the propitiator; it does not believe that by faith we are freely accounted righteous for Christ's sake. Yet, since works cannot pacify the conscience, other works are continually chosen, new rites are performed, new vows made, and new orders of monks formed beyond the command of God, in order that some great work may be found to set against the wrath and judgment of God.

Pulling It Together: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.” (Matt 5:6) Note that Jesus did not say blessed are those who have dug a well and quenched their own thirst. The woman was already at the well, and yet, she was still parched. Multiple marriages had not satisfied her need for relationship. The religion of her fathers had not slaked her thirst. No matter what she did, she would remain thirsty. The fulfilling righteousness of God is available, but only to those who admit their thirst and their inability to satisfy themselves. If she had known, she would have admitted her need, and asked Jesus. Then he would have given her living water that never runs dry. Then she would be satisfied.

When my daughters were very young, they could not open the refrigerator or pour from a heavy container. But they could ask, “Daddy, may we have some apple juice?” We also, are unable to fabricate works of religion that meet our desperate need for righteousness. But we may ask Jesus, and he will satisfy our thirst.

Prayer: God of righteousness, I am thirsty for you; quench my thirst through Jesus Christ, my Lord. Amen.

Kinderbeten is a compelling story touching on the exercise of free religion, the religious wars in Europe, the roots of Evangelicalism, the supernatural, and more, all wrapped up in a religious revival which began not through a charismatic revivalist or any adult at all, but rather found it's origin with children aged four to fourteen. The children became pawns in a controversy between political and religious opponents. Indulge your curiosity and read the remarkable story about the King of Sweden and the 1707-08 Children's Revival in Silesia, a tale of hope and prayer.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 15 Aug 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Ephesians 2:4–10

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Anthony, Bernard, Dominicus, Franciscus, and other holy Fathers selected a certain kind of life either for the sake of study or other useful exercises. In the meantime, they believed that they were accounted righteous through faith, and that God was gracious to them for Christ's sake, not because of their spiritual exercises. But since then, the multitude has not imitated the faith of the Fathers, but their activities without faith, thinking that they might earn the forgiveness of sins, grace, and righteousness by such works. They did not believe that they received these freely because of Christ the propitiator.

Pulling It Together: Being a pastor or missionary is not a free ticket to heaven. While the work that such people do is important to the kingdom of Christ, it is only faith in Christ that opens the gates of heaven. A pastor may labor for a lifetime to swing those gates but they will not budge without faith. Only the righteous will enter that blessed rest. Now, that would keep us all out of heaven—except for the work of Christ. Those who have faith in him are assigned his righteousness. Without his righteousness, no one will pass through.

I received a text this morning. It was an electronic boarding pass for a flight home. My wife had purchased my ticket, and then had the airline send the boarding pass to my phone. Now, without this pass, I will never get home. More to the point, while I was busy doing pastoral work, my wife made sure I could get home. Once I get to the airport, I could argue all day about being a pastor and that I was busy doing the work of the kingdom. They still will not allow me on the flight. It is her work that will get me home. You were created for good works, and you should live a life of Christian service, but it is faith in the work of Christ on the cross that brings you home.

Prayer: Lord, empty me of trust in my efforts, and help me rely on you alone. Amen. 

Consider the Years

by Rev. Brad Hales

As the subtitle indicates, this Bible study was written for mature Christians. That is, it bears in mind the unique perspective of those who have seen many years in their relationship with God and may wonder how faith can speak anew to their daily lives. The study offers thirteen brief sessions on issues seniors must navigate, emphasizing how God's Word can bring strength and comfort in the unknown.

This study has been printed in a larger type-face than other Sola Bible studies. The questions offered for discussion focus on Scripture texts that address some particular concerns of older Christians.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 14 Aug 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for larger image

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1 Corinthians 11:26–30

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Thus the Lord's Supper was instituted in the Church so that through this sign we might remember the promises of Christ, faith would be strengthened in us, and we might publicly confess our faith and proclaim the benefits of Christ. 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). But our adversaries contend that the mass is a work that justifies us ex opere operato, and removes the guilt and obligation of punishment in those for whom it is celebrated, as Gabriel writes.

Pulling It Together: In Exposition of the Canon of the Mass (26:81), Gabriel Biel claimed that the mass atoned for the people’s sins, simply by their presence at the mass. For that matter, the priest who celebrated the mass, would have his sins expiated, even though he was in an unrepentant state—simply because he did the work. It required no faith whatsoever. Instead, it was believed that the ritual itself was the saving act.

But the Lutherans confessed that there was no grace to be derived from the work itself. Thus, the Lord’s Supper is not a work through which we receive forgiveness because we went through the motions. We must eat and drink in faith and with repentant spirits. Our mere presence at the table does not atone for our sins. We do not believe in either the work of the priest or in our own work of showing up. This would be an unworthy eating and drinking that brings condemnation rather than grace. Instead, we have faith in the true work that we remember in that holy meal: the work and word of Jesus Christ.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, for your word of presence in your body and blood. Amen. 

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/summaries.html Fri, 13 Aug 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for larger image

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Genesis 22:1–14

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Because no works calm the conscience, they contrived new works in addition to God's commands. The people of Israel had seen the prophets sacrificing on high places. The examples of the saints moved the minds of those who hoped by similar works to obtain grace as those saints obtained it. Therefore the people began to imitate this work with remarkable zeal, in order that by such a work they might earn the forgiveness of sins, grace, and righteousness. But the prophets had been sacrificing on high places, not so these works might merit the forgiveness of sins and grace, but because they taught on these places and, accordingly, presented there a testimony of their faith. The people had heard that Abraham had sacrificed his son. Therefore, in order to appease God by a most cruel and difficult work, they also put their sons to death. But Abraham did not sacrifice his son with the opinion that this work was a price and propitiatory work for the sake of which he was accounted righteous.

Pulling It Together: In 1920, the farmers and ranchers of a small town in southern Texas quit working. For one year, they all laid off work and built a brand new Lutheran Church. What a sacrifice! A year of wages for dozens of families was forfeited so that the next generation could worship the Lord God. Surely, some of those people thought, “How will we get by? How will we live?” That is when a word comes to the faithful: “The Lord will provide.”

Did they earn God’s favor and grace through a year of hard work? No. Did the sacrifice of their livelihood reconcile them to God? No. Did the sacrifice of praise in the new church building merit God’s forgiveness? No. But you can bet the people in the area heard about it and talked. Such a great testimony to the faith of a people does not go unnoticed—by people or by God. Yet their sacrifice did not merit God’s grace—nor do our sacrifices and service. For God has graciously provided a Lamb who takes away the sins of the world for those who have faith in him.

Prayer: Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, grant us peace. Amen. 

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/summaries.html Thu, 12 Aug 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for larger image

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Jeremiah 7:20–22

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

This godless opinion concerning works has always existed in the world. The Gentiles had sacrifices derived from the fathers. They imitated their works but did not keep their faith. Instead, they thought that the works were a propitiation and price by which God would be reconciled to them. The people in the law imitated sacrifices with the opinion that these works would appease God, so to say, ex opere operato. We see how earnestly the prophets rebuke the people about this opinion. “I do not reprove you for your sacrifices” (Psa 50:8). “I did not speak to your fathers or command them concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices” (Jer 7:22). Such passages do not condemn works, which God had certainly commanded as outward functions in the government, but they condemn the godless opinion that by these works people appeased the wrath of God, and thereby eliminated faith.

Pulling It Together: The working of the work does nothing to temper the Almighty. You could sacrifice a thousand burnt offerings and it would not pacify him. You could serve on every committee in your church and it would not justify you to God. What else could you try? Well, you could give every dollar that you earn this year to missions. But you have already surmised the correct answer. That, also, would not reconcile God.

Is God displeased with sacrifice, service, and offerings? Not necessarily. These works must be done in faith that God is reconciled by faith in the sacrifice of his Son instead of your works. We ought not serve, sacrifice, and give because we imagine that we can earn God’s favor through the things we do, even if done for him. Instead, we know that we are favored by him because of Christ. We do these other things because they are expressions of his kingdom, not because we suppose he is appeased by the work that we have done (ex opere operato).

Prayer: Direct my steps in wisdom, Lord, and help me walk in your counsels. Amen. 

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

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 11 Aug 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for larger image

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1 John 5:13–15

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

We condemn this godless opinion concerning works. First, it obscures the glory of Christ when people offer their works to God as a price and propitiation, an honor due to Christ alone. Second, they nevertheless do not find peace of conscience in these works. Instead, in true terror, they heap up works upon works, and eventually despair because they find no work sufficiently pure. The law always accuses and elicits wrath. Thirdly, such persons never attain the knowledge of God because they angrily flee from God’s judgment and affliction, never believing that they are heard. But faith assures us of the presence of God, being certain that God freely forgives and hears us.

Pulling It Together: God wants us to be confident of eternal life. He does not dangle salvation over our heads, tempting us and teasing us to work a little harder, or else. Instead, we are to believe in the great name of Jesus Christ, who died and rose and ascended so that we might do the same. He alone endured the cross and the shame (Heb 12:2) for our sin. We did nothing. And we do nothing. Christ alone is the satisfaction for our sin. We do not share the honor with him.

It sounds downright un-American but you have to stop believing in yourself. As long as you believe that you have some stake in your salvation, you will always be frightened that you have not been good enough, have not done enough, or that what you have done was not done with purity and charity. That terror can be relieved. You can have peace of conscience and certainty in God—as soon as you stop having faith in yourself. When, instead, you have faith alone in Christ alone, you will serve him with a glad and liberated heart. You will pray to him, knowing that you are both loved and heard—because of what Christ did, not because of what you have done.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for hearing my prayers and caring for me. Amen. 

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.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 10 Aug 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for larger image

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John 6:27–29

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Good works ought to follow faith. However, people use works in a far different way when they cannot believe with certainty that they are freely forgiven and have a reconciled God for Christ's sake. When they see the works of saints, they imagine in a human way that saints have earned the remission of sins and grace through these works. So they imitate them, thinking that through similar works they too merit the forgiveness of sins and grace. They believe that they appease the wrath of God and are counted as righteous through their own works.

Pulling It Together: “I promise that I’ll do better!” children declare to their parents when they have been caught in another transgression. When they grow up, they promise the same thing to their spouses. How much better we would fare if we truly believed that our parents cared for us, that our husbands or wives really loved us. So long as we believe that our familial or marital well-being depends upon ourselves, never depending upon the love of another, these relationships will suffer.

We carry the same baggage into religious affairs. So long as we think our relationship with God depends upon ourselves, it will also suffer. As long as we imagine that we make the difference with God, we will fail God—and ourselves. We should always depend upon the strength of God’s love for us when the expressions of our own love are weak.

When the people asked Jesus what work they should do in order to please God, his answer was plain and simple. Believe! That is the blessed work we should do for God. Other works will necessarily follow faith but when we fail in our efforts, as we certainly will, the only work that matters is that we still believe in God’s Son.

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

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 that 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.

Teacher's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 09 Aug 21 00:00:00 -0500

 

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Romans 4:9–12

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Paul also teaches about works in Romans 4:9–12, saying that Abraham did not receive circumcision in order that he might be justified. Being accounted righteous by faith, he had already been justified. Circumcision was added so that he might have a sign written in his body, reminding him to exercise his faith, to confess his faith before others, and by his testimony invite others to believe. “By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice” (Heb 11:4). Because he was righteous through faith, the sacrifice that he made was pleasing to God. His work did not merit the forgiveness of sins and grace. Yet, through the sacrifice, he exercised his faith and invited those who observed it to believe.

Pulling It Together: You were baptized before you ever thought to do a good deed. God put his seal on you first. So, baptism, like circumcision, is a sign that God gives Christ’s righteousness to sinners (Rom 5:8). Then, once you have faith in Christ, you will love him and keep his commandments (John 14:15). Your obedience does not make you righteous or cause your sins to be forgiven since you have already been justified to God through faith in Christ. Your faithful works confirm your faith in the fullness of God within you (Eph 3:19). Through your obedience to God’s commands, he increases your faith while calling others to believe (Luke 17:5).

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, that while I was still a sinner, you died for me. Amen.

Personalities of Faithpart 1, 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.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 08 Aug 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for larger image

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1 John 3:1–3

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Because faith makes us children of God, it also makes us co-heirs with Christ. Therefore, because our works do not merit justification, through which we are made children of God and co-heirs with Christ, we do not merit eternal life by our works. Faith obtains this because faith justifies us and has a reconciled God. Eternal life is given to the justified, according to Romans 8:30. “Those whom he justified he also glorified.” Paul commends to us (Eph 6:2) the commandment about honoring parents, mentioning the reward that is added to that commandment. He does not mean that obedience to parents justifies us before God, but that when it occurs in those who have been justified, it merits other great rewards. Yet God exercises his saints variously, often deferring the rewards of the righteousness of works in order that they may learn not to trust in their own righteousness, and may learn to seek the will of God rather than the rewards. This happened with Job, in Christ, and other saints. Many psalms teach this, consoling us against the happiness of the wicked. “Be not envious of wrongdoers” (Psa 37:1)! Christ says, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 5:10). By these praises of good works, believers are undoubtedly moved to do good works. Meanwhile, the doctrine of repentance is also proclaimed against the godless, whose works are wicked; and the wrath of God is communicated, by which he has threatened all who do not repent. Therefore we praise and require good works, showing many reasons why they ought to be done.

Pulling It Together: Garry Trudeau produced a popular series of cartoons in the 70s called I Have No Son. The father in the series seemed to disown his son for being an embarrassment, someone who did not think or act at all the same as himself. Sometimes this is the way humans treat their offspring. God is different.

Despite ourselves, the Father has called us his children. As his children, we try to honor God and please him by being obedient to his commandments. We are not always successful but God still loves us. He knows that one day—if only when days are finally ended—we will grow up into the likeness of his Son. In the meanwhile, when we do succeed at doing some good and appearing to have some of the family likeness and character, our good works do not earn us forgiveness of sins and justification. Indeed, it may seem like there is no reward at all for the good that we do. Sometimes, our lives are just as difficult as they ever were. So, we should always seek to do God’s will, instead of seeking rewards, no matter how tough life gets. Melancthon gives Christ and Job as examples of those who persevered under tremendous trials. There are plenty of examples of other saints who are models of Christian behavior.

Who knows? Perhaps your good works, done because of love for God instead of reward, are modeling the life of one more saintly child to someone who is watching you.

Prayer: May your will be done in my life today, Lord. Amen.

Living Faith, a Believer's Guide to Growing in Christ is a discipleship resource based on Martin Luther’s Small Catechism. This 12-part Bible study by Pastor Brack East is designed to help individuals grow more deeply into a living faith in Jesus, while interacting with other believers in a life-to-life setting of three or four people. Such settings around the Word of God have proven to be part of the workshop of the Holy Spirit, and Luther’s Small Catechism has stood the test of time as a reliable guide to growing in faith. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 07 Aug 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for larger image

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1 Corinthians 3:6–9

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

To disparage works such as the confession of doctrine, affliction, works of charity, and mortification of the flesh would be to disparage the outward government of Christ's kingdom on earth. Here we add a word concerning rewards and merits. We teach that rewards have been offered and promised for the works of believers. We teach that good works are meritorious—not for the forgiveness of sins, grace, or justification which are only obtained through faith, but for other physical and spiritual rewards in this life and the life to come. Paul says, “Each shall receive his wages according to his labor” (1 Cor 3:8). Therefore, different rewards will be given to different labors. But the forgiveness of sins is offered in the same way and equally, just as Christ is one and is offered freely to all who believe that their sins are forgiven because of Christ. Forgiveness of sins and justification are received only by faith, and not because of any works. Terrors of conscience make this evident, since none of our works can oppose God's wrath. Paul clearly states this: “Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand,” etc (Rom 5:1).

Pulling It Together: That God rewards one’s labors is certain but what he rewards to “fellow workers,” and when, is unknown. What is very certain, however, is that all who believe in Christ for forgiveness of sins, justification with God, and salvation, receive these blessings equally. People do not receive more forgiveness because they labored harder or did greater works of charity. The remission of sins is received by faith in Christ’s work, not by believing in our own works. The result of the right faith is peace with God. Is there really a need for any additional reward?

Prayer: What shall I give to you today, Lord, but to receive your gift of salvation? Amen.

Crossways is now available through Sola Publishing!

Sola Publishing is now the exclusive North American distributor of the Crossways Bible Studies written by Dr. Harry Wendt. These include The Divine Drama ®, See Through the Scriptures ®, Topical Short Courses, and the original Crossways ® series. Preserving the legacy of a ministry that has served the Gospel for over forty years, Sola is proud to reintroduce these courses to a new generation!

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 06 Aug 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for larger image

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1 Corinthians 16:1–4

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

David's labors in waging war and governing the nation are holy works, true sacrifices, godly battles to defend the people who had the Word of God against the devil, in order that the knowledge of God might not be entirely extinguished on earth. We think the same about every good work in the humblest job and in private life. Through these works Christ celebrates his victory over the devil, just as the distribution of alms by the Corinthians (1 Cor 16:1) was a holy work, a sacrifice, and battle of Christ against the devil, who is at work so that nothing may be done for the praise of God.

Pulling It Together: You may think that your little church does not contribute much to the kingdom. Never think that way. That is the same as saying that Christ does not contribute much to his own kingdom. For it is Christ who is at work in you and in your congregation. When your church gives to the local food pantry, Jesus celebrates another victory over the devil. When your congregation supports a missionary, Christ’s kingdom marches forward. When your church eats the bread and drinks the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he returns (1 Cor 11:26).

All of these things and more are the very power of God at work in your congregation—no matter the size. The same is true of little old you. You may consider yourself quite ordinary but what does that say about your Lord? Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you (2 Cor 13:5)? He is strong in you, despite all the weakness that you know about yourself. In fact, in these very weaknesses, Jesus celebrates his power through you. Where you and I fail, he succeeds for us. What a great victory it is each and every day when the devil points his finger at you and complains to God what a sinner you are, while the Father smiles over you, declaring once again that you are a saint because of your faith in his Son. Thus, day after day, week after week, Satan is defeated again and again in your life and your church.

Prayer: Use me today, Lord, for the advancement of your kingdom. Amen. 

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/summaries.html Thu, 05 Aug 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for larger image

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2 Corinthians 13:4–5

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Good works are to be done on account of God's command and for the exercise of faith, witness, and thanksgiving. For these reasons good works need to be done. However, they are done in the flesh that is not yet entirely renewed, that inhibits the movements of the Holy Spirit, imparting some of its uncleanness. Yet, because of faith in Christ, these are holy, divine works, sacrifices, and acts under the reign of Christ, displaying his kingdom to this world. For in these activities, he sanctifies hearts and represses the devil. In order to sustain the gospel among people, he openly opposes the kingdom of the devil with the confession of saints, and in our weakness, declares his power. The dangers, labors, and sermons of the Apostle Paul, Athanasius, Augustine, and other teachers of the Church, are holy works, are true sacrifices acceptable to God, struggles through which Christ repressed the devil and drove him away from those who believed.

Pulling It Together: You are not yet perfect. You are weak. The old nature still clings to you, making your works, however well-intentioned, seem poorly executed and blemished. And as long as that is all you see, the devil is happy. So, understand this also: the power of God is at work in you and it horrifies that devil. Though your works are imperfect, because they are done with faith in Christ, are accepted by God and holy. This must boggle the mind of Satan. Surely, he cries, “Foul!” How unfair it seems to him that we do not receive the penalty of our imperfection. Instead, even the labors of ordinary Christians subdue the devil because they are not done in the power of those persons but in the power of God.

“Jesus Christ is in you.” We know it is true but we get distracted by our own performance. That is why we must always bring back to the memory of faith that the power of God is real and at work in our lives—especially in our weaknesses. That is when the Lord is strongest in us (2Cor 12:9). So, the next time you try and seem to fail, rejoice that Christ reigns over sin, death, and the devil, that he turns your seeming failures into victories. Get your eyes off of yourself, and keep your sights fixed on Christ.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, help me walk by faith instead of by sight. Amen. 

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. 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/summaries.html Wed, 04 Aug 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for larger image

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2 Timothy 2:14–17a

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

But in just and sure cases, one or two explanations derived from the sources correct all things that seem to offend. This occurs in our current discourse. The rule that I have just expressed explains all the passages they have cited on law and works. We acknowledge that Scripture teaches in some places the law, and in other places the gospel, the free promise of the forgiveness of sins for Christ's sake. But our adversaries absolutely abolish the free promise when they deny that faith justifies, and teach that we receive forgiveness of sins and reconciliation because of our love and works. If the forgiveness of sins depends upon the condition of our works, it is totally uncertain and the promise would be abolished. Therefore, we refer godly minds to the consideration of the promises. We teach them about the free forgiveness of sins and about reconciliation, which occurs through faith in Christ. Then we add the doctrine of the law. It is necessary to handle these matters correctly, as Paul says in 2 Timothy 2:15. We must see what Scripture ascribes to the law and what it ascribes to the promises. For it praises works in such a way as not to remove the free promise.

Pulling It Together: “I promise you that we will go for ice cream after school.” That is a promise that is free of of conditions. The only thing you have to do, if one could call such a thing something that is done, is believe the promise—or not. However, if the parent picks up the child and goes home instead of to the ice cream parlor, the child might wonder aloud, “I thought we were going for ice cream.”

If the parent then stated that ice cream would only be given if homework and chores were done first, the child would be confused. The promise had been freely given; no conditions were attached. Worse, the child believed the parent, and that belief was dismantled because stipulations had been added to the unqualified promise.

God is no such Father. He has freely promised his merciful grace through Christ. The forgiveness of sins is certain because it depends upon the promise of God, not your deeds.

So, do your homework, take out the trash, and clean your room—or your adult versions of such duties. Do these things because you wish to please God. But do not depend upon them to make a promise sure when it is already certain. In this way, the Scriptures are rightly handled or divided, with law and gospel having their own function, and the promise of God remaining free in Christ Jesus.

Prayer: Lord, help me rightly handle the Scriptures, gently correct its opponents, yet avoid quarreling so that people around me are brought to a knowledge of the truth. Amen. 

Dwell In My Love!, unit 3 in the 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 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/summaries.html Tue, 03 Aug 21 00:00:00 -0500

 

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Matthew 11:28–30

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Reply to the Arguments of the Adversaries

Now, when the grounds of this case have been understood, namely, the distinction between the law and the promises or gospel, it will be easy to resolve the objections of the adversaries. They cite passages concerning the law and works, but omit passages concerning the promises. We reply to all opinions concerning the law that it cannot be observed without Christ, and that if civil works are done without Christ, they do not please God. Therefore, when works are commended, it is necessary to add that faith is required—that works are commended because of faith, that they are the fruits and testimonies of faith. Ambiguous and dangerous cases produce many and various solutions. For the judgment of the ancient poet is true: "An unjust cause, being in itself sick, requires skilfully applied remedies."

Pulling It Together: There is nothing ambiguous about the distinction between the law and the gospel. The law requires one to keep its commandments, rules, and rituals. The gospel requires one to believe that Jesus has fulfilled the law. Therefore, even when one obeys a commandment, it is done with faith in what Jesus has done. For even if we can practice the commandments sometimes, we cannot do so consistently and perfectly, which the law requires. The standards of the law are still in place, but because Jesus has fulfilled them, we now practice the law, however imperfectly, because of love instead of mere duty. More than that, we have come to understand that God does not love us because we keep the law. He loves us and accepts our efforts because we have faith in his Son. Anything we do, whether it be cutting the church lawn on Saturday or keeping the third commandment the next day, is a by-product of our faith in Christ. These things do not move God to accept us or love us. 

Prayer: Thank you for even loving me, through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen. 

Go and Tell, unit 2 in the 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 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/summaries.html Mon, 02 Aug 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Acts 2:36–39

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

From this it is evident that we are justified before God by faith alone since by faith alone we receive forgiveness of sins and reconciliation, reconciliation or justification being something promised because of Christ, not because of the law. Therefore it is received by faith alone, although, when the Holy Spirit is given, the keeping of the law follows.

Pulling It Together: Most of us have been a part of group projects in school. Three or four people are assigned to a team to complete an assignment. Many times, one person does all the work while the entire group gets the credit. Two things stand out in such cases. One, is the rather amazing faith that the group has in one person’s resolve to get the work accomplished. The other, is that the one person would rather the others not contribute because they would likely bring down the grade. That person knows that his or her work will be sufficient to earn a good mark. The rest of the group knows it too.

In this same way, our efforts play no part in the forgiveness of sins and justification before God. When we have faith, specifically when we become sorry for our sins, believe in Christ, and are baptized, we are forgiven our sins and receive the Holy Spirit. We are now justified before God because of our faith in Christ, yet we desire to please God by keeping his commandments. Still, we fulfill them imperfectly and place no trust in our law-keeping. To do so, would be to cheat Christ of the honor that he alone deserves. He is our forgiveness, justification, reconciliation. Christ alone has earned our good mark with God.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, give my family and me absolute trust in your promise. Amen. 

Come and See, unit 1 in the 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.

• Unit 1  • Unit 2  • Unit 3

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 01 Aug 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for larger image

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Psalm 46:1–11

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

The promise should always have the view that because of his promise, God wishes for Christ's sake, and not because of the law or our works, to be gracious and to justify. In this promise timid consciences ought to seek reconciliation and justification. By this promise they ought to sustain themselves and be confident that for Christ's sake, because of his promise, they have a gracious God. Thus works can never render a conscience pacified; only the promise can. If, therefore, justification and peace of conscience must be sought elsewhere than in love and works, love and works do not justify, although they are virtues and pertain to the righteousness of the law, in so far as they are a fulfilling of the law. To that degree, this obedience of the law justifies by the righteousness of the law. But this imperfect righteousness of the law is only accepted by God because of faith. Accordingly it does not justify, neither reconciling, nor regenerating, nor by itself making us acceptable before God.

Pulling It Together: Peace is a profound need in our world that is torn apart by war and terrorism. There is also the lack of peace caused by bad economic conditions. Yet the lack of peace that is most dire is spiritual. It is this peace that the Confessions address. The deepest need of the Christian—and of others, if they knew better—is peace of heart. This tranquility is only had by trusting in the promise of God. As soon as we begin to trust our religiosity, good works, morality, or virtue, peace of mind begins to slip away. Yet, when we remember that God wants to be gracious toward us and, in fact, is because of Christ’s reconciling work on the cross, the heart is quieted. Peace of mind is the great spiritual need of Christians, yet they rob themselves of it by trusting in their works and service. Works cannot justify us to God. These acts are only accepted by God if they are done with faith in Christ. Therefore, peace in the heart is discovered through faith, by trusting in the promise of God. Be still; have faith that God has been reconciled by Christ alone.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to be still and know that you are God. Amen. 

By the Will of God

A Nine-Session Bible Study on the Book of Ephesians

by Rev. Drs. Amy C. Little and Steven E. King

Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is one of the central books of the New Testament in that it lays out the solid foundation of Christ’s identity, what he has done for us, and what implications his grace has in our lives of faith. While the letter carries strong theological weight, it is also very gracious and supportive on a personal level. It reminds us that God alone is the sovereign actor in our salvation, choosing us in Christ before the foundation of the world. The book also shows us what this choice made by God means for how we live our lives.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 31 Jul 21 00:00:00 -0500

 

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8 Be vigilant so that no one manipulates you by philosophy and empty deception, according to human tradition, according to the rudimentary principles of the world, and not according to  Christ. 9 For in him dwells bodily the entire fullness of the divinity, 10 and you have been filled in him who is the head of all dominion and authority. (Colossians 2:8–10)

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Paul teaches this in Galatians 3:13, when he says, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us.” That is, the law condemns all men, but because sinless Christ has borne the punishment of sin and been made a victim for us, he has removed that right of the law to accuse and condemn those who believe in him. He is the propitiation for whose sake they are now accounted righteous. But since they are declared righteous, the law cannot accuse or condemn them, even though they have not actually satisfied the law. Paul writes to the same effect in Colossians 2:10. “You have come to fulness of life in him.” It is as though he were to say, “Although you are still far from the perfection of the law, the remnants of sin do not condemn you because for Christ's sake you have a sure and firm reconciliation—if you believe—even though sin still dwells in your flesh.

Pulling It Together: You are not whole because you have filled yourself. If you believe in Christ, you are whole and filled in him, by him, because of him. So far, and as far as this life allows, you will never be whole as a result of your religious works and moral behavior. You will fail as much or more than you succeed at these works because sin and the old nature cling to you. Nevertheless, you are reconciled to God because of the wholeness of Jesus Christ. Be sure of this; be confident in your faith in him. Christ alone is your fullness. He completes you—in spite of yourself.

Prayer: We praise and bless you for being our fullness, the one who completes us. Amen. 

Learning About Confession teaches the meaning of Confession and Forgiveness according to Luther's guidance in the Small Catechism. It is recommended for the Sixth Grade Level. Each week focuses on a specific Bible story that illustrates the theme, with additional references from Scripture and Luther's Small Catechism - Children's Version. With a healthy balance of Law and Gospel, lessons emphasize the connection between repentance and forgiveness, and how the promise of God’s forgiveness changes our lives.

Teacher's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 30 Jul 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for larger image• Index of Scripture graphics and posts

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Hebrews 11:4–6

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Therefore we cannot conclude that we are accounted righteous before God because of our fulfilling of the law. In order for the conscience to become tranquil, justification must be sought elsewhere. For we are not righteous before God as long as we flee from God's judgment and are angry with God. Therefore we must conclude that, being reconciled by faith, we are accounted righteous for Christ's sake, not because of law-keeping or our works. This elementary fulfilling of the law pleases God because of faith. Because of faith, there is no charge of our imperfect keeping of the law, even though the sight of our imperfection frightens us. So then, if justification must be sought elsewhere, our love and works cannot justify. We ought to regard the death and satisfaction of Christ far above our purity—indeed, far above the law itself. His propitiation is given to us so that we might be sure that because of this satisfaction, and not because of our fulfilling of the law, we have a gracious God.

Pulling It Together: It will always be impossible in this life to do anything in an altogether pure manner. However unfulfilled our efforts seem to us, they are accepted by and pleasing to God if they are done with faith in Christ. This means that we have no faith in the works themselves or in our doing of them. They are simply offerings to God. Rather, our faith is in the completed work of Christ. Because we have faith and are certain that Christ satisfied God’s righteous commandments, we can also be sure that his Father is gracious and merciful toward us. Because God sent his Son to fulfill the law and save us, we know that God loves us.

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

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/summaries.html Thu, 29 Jul 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 3:28–31

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Augustine says it well: “All the commandments of God are fulfilled when whatever is not done, is forgiven.” Therefore he requires faith even in good works, in order that we may believe that we please God for Christ's sake, and that even the works are not of themselves worthy and pleasing. And Jerome, speaking against the Pelagians, says: “Then, therefore, we are righteous when we confess that we are sinners, and that our righteousness consists not in our own merit, but in God's mercy.” Therefore, faith ought to be present in this rudimentary fulfillment of the law which is certain that for Christ's sake we have a reconciled God. For mercy cannot be apprehended unless by faith, as has been repeatedly said above. Therefore, when Paul says, “we uphold the law” (Rom 3:31), we ought to understand by this, not only that those regenerated by faith receive the Holy Spirit and have inclinations agreeing with God's law, but it is by far of the greatest importance that we also add this: that we ought to perceive that we are far distant from the perfection of the law.

Pulling It Together

We profess that the law ought to be kept. We also declare that it is kept because Christ has fulfilled it—we did not, nor can we. So we seek to please God by keeping his perfect law (Psa 19:7) even though we keep it imperfectly. However, Christ has kept it most fully and perfectly. When we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us (1 John 1:9) and reconcile us to God. In other words, Christ gives us his righteousness, since we cannot earn it for ourselves. In all this, we see that our righteousness cannot come by good works or keeping the law. Righteousness comes through faith in Christ who has fulfilled the law and accomplished that greatest of works, the work of the cross. We confess therefore, that he is our righteousness.

Prayer: Thank you, Jesus, for forgiving what I could not fulfill and, thereby, making me righteous in your righteousness. Amen. 

Learning About Confession teaches the meaning of Confession and Forgiveness according Luther's guidance in the Small Catechism. It is recommended for the Sixth Grade Level. Each week focuses on a specific Bible story that illustrates the theme, with additional references from Scripture and Luther's Small Catechism - Children's Version. With a healthy balance of Law and Gospel, lessons emphasize the connection between repentance and forgiveness, and how the promise of God’s forgiveness changes our lives.

Teacher's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 28 Jul 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Galatians 5:16–23

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

They are more than blind who do not perceive that wicked desires in the flesh are sins, of which Paul says, “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh” (Gal 5:17). The flesh distrusts God, trusting instead in worldly things. It seeks human aid in times of trouble, and contrary to God's will, flees from those afflictions that it ought to bear because of God's commands. It also doubts God's mercy. The Holy Spirit in our hearts contends with such dispositions in order to suppress and put them to death, and to produce new spiritual drives. We will collect more testimonies about this topic later, although they are obvious throughout the Scriptures and also in the holy Fathers.

Pulling It Together: From the moment we are born again, the battle begins. We are always at war within ourselves. The flesh resists the Spirit who has moved into our lives. So, as might be expected, the Spirit opposes the flesh and would go so far as to terminate those urges of the flesh that would lead us away from God. However, this is a slow, daily chore, so the Holy Spirit would do more than curb and kill. The Spirit brings forth new, better, and spiritual impulses in us so that we are slowly reworked into the new creation God is making. Even so, we begin to bear fruit of the Spirit, such as love, joy, peace, and self-control. In so doing, God has caused us to go deeper than we ever could have through law-keeping.

Prayer: Help me, Holy Spirit, to keep in step with you today. Amen. 

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).

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 27 Jul 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 7:14–19

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

What need is there of a long discussion? All Scripture, all the Church cries out that the law cannot be satisfied. Therefore this rudimentary fulfillment of the law does not please on its own account, but on account of faith in Christ. Otherwise the law always accuses us. For who loves or fears God sufficiently? Who bears with sufficient patience the afflictions imposed by God? Who does not frequently doubt whether human affairs are ruled by God's counsel or by chance? Who does not frequently doubt whether he is heard by God? Who is not frequently enraged because the wicked enjoy a better lot than the godly, because the wicked oppress the godly? Who satisfies his own calling? Who loves his neighbor as himself? Who is not tempted by lust? Accordingly, Paul says, “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do” (Rom 7:19). Likewise, “I of myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin” (Rom 7:25). Here he openly declares that he serves the law of sin. And David says, “Enter not into judgment with thy servant; for no man living is righteous before thee” (Psa 143:2). Here even a servant of God prays that judgment would be averted. Also, “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity” (Psa 32:2). Therefore, in our current weakness, there is always sin present that could be imputed. He says a little while later, “Therefore let every one who is godly offer prayer to thee” (Psa 32:6). Here he shows that even saints ought to seek forgiveness of sins.

Pulling It Together: Imagine the poor apostle, wanting to be godly but failing at the task. The things he set out to do, he was not able to perform. Conversely, the very things he wished to avoid were what he kept on doing. It is not hard to imagine, for this is the description of each and every one of us. Though we know this about ourselves, some of us would nonetheless imagine ourselves co-propitiators, a sort of tag team with Jesus. There is a style of wrestling where it is two against two, instead of one on one. Only two people wrestle at a time (at least that is the rule). When one of them gets in a tough spot and seems unlikely to prevail, he taps the hand of his partner, who then jumps into the ring and takes over the battle.

Jesus has won the battle. He does not need our help. We need his help. We cannot do what we determine to do, let alone what God commands. But Jesus has accomplished his mission. He has redeemed us. Our incompetent obedience and weak efforts add nothing to what Christ has done. Even if we were better at life than the Apostle Paul, our endeavors would still add nothing to our justification since Christ has already assigned his righteousness to us. It is finished. We may make the effort at doing some good because we wish to please and honor God. But be sure of this: it will never reconcile you to God. If you are like Paul, you probably will not accomplish what you planned at any rate.

Prayer: Though I fail and cannot trust myself, help me trust in you until that day. Amen.

Saints and Sinners: Volume 3

Encouragers of the Faith

A Seven-Session Bible Study on New Testament Characters

By Dr. Dan Lioy, PhD

All those who believe and trust in Jesus as their Savior are both saints and sinners. The same was true of the people in Holy Scripture.

By virtue of our baptism into Christ, we are made holy by his saving grace. This is not something we do on our own, but something that is imputed to us by Jesus. At the same time, we are plagued by that age-old sin that makes us want to be in control of our own lives. As those who are called by God to follow Jesus in obedient discipleship, we, like many before us, have been called to be witnesses to God's saving grace in Jesus Christ.

This study is the third in a series of Saints and Sinners from the New Testament who were used by God to begin to spread the Gospel among both Jews and Gentiles. May your study of God’s saints and sinners enrich your understanding of your life with Christ and encourage you in discipleship.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 26 Jul 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for larger image

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Acts 15:7–11

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

If they think that after they are regenerated they ought to be accepted on account of fulfilling the law, when would a conscience be certain that it pleased God, since we never satisfy the law? Accordingly, we must always go back to the promise, for by this our infirmity must be sustained. We must regard it as certain that we are accounted righteous for the sake of Christ, who is ever at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us (Rom 8:34). If any one thinks that he is righteous and accepted on account of his own fulfillment of the law, and not on account of Christ's promise, he dishonors this High Priest. It is incomprehensible that one could imagine that anyone is righteous before God if Christ is excluded as propitiator and mediator.

Pulling It Together: When people hear the gospel and believe, God cleanses their hearts and gives them the Holy Spirit. If we add works and the keeping of the law to the simple requirement of faith in Christ, we test God by seeking to undo what he has accomplished through Christ Jesus. Furthermore, it is a futile effort to gain righteousness through good works. I know when I have faith. How do I know when I have kept the law? Indeed, I cannot keep the law. No one can, and there is the problem. Thanks be to God that he has promised his grace and righteousness to those who have faith in Christ—not to those who have faith in themselves. No one is righteous before God unless it is Christ alone who does the justifying.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for keeping your promise even though I am undeserving. Amen. 

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/summaries.html Sun, 25 Jul 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for larger image

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Romans 3:20–26

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

First, Christ does not cease to be mediator after we have been renewed. They err who imagine that Christ has only merited a first grace, and that afterward we please God and earn eternal life by our fulfilling of the law. Christ remains mediator, and we ought always to be confident that because of him we have a reconciled God, even though we are unworthy. Paul clearly teaches this when he says, “I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me” (1 Cor 4:4). He knows that by faith he is accounted righteous for Christ's sake, as the passage declares, “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven” (Psa 32:1, Rom 4:7). But this absolution is always received by faith. Likewise, the imputation of the righteousness of the gospel comes from the promise. Therefore it is always received by faith, and it must always be regarded trustworthy that by faith we are accounted righteous because of Christ.

Pulling It Together: Original sin is a powerful thing; it holds humanity in its clutches with a grip so tight that no one can escape its deadly consequences. The entire human nature is altogether corrupt, as has previously been shown. So, we need God’s grace and goodness, regardless of any good works we have accomplished. God provides this grace by satisfying the demands of his law through his Son. He alone propitiates or satisfies the Father. Being God in the flesh, he earns this favor for the whole world. Therefore, we may be confident that Christ mediates or stands before the Judge to state to the heavenly court that our penalty has been paid in full.

The fine (Rom 6:23) has not been partially paid. Jesus did not make a down-payment. He is our complete redemption. We need add no other payment with good works, offerings, worship, or virtue. Nor can we. All we can and must do is receive this gospel gift in faith that the promise of our debt having been paid is really true. If we think we must add anything to Christ’s atonement, we both dishonor him and look rather foolish. It would be contempt of court, when the Judge declares that payment has been rendered, but we insist that it has not been paid. Indeed, this is contempt of Christ—and puts us right back into the grip of our prideful, disobedient, and original sin.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for saving me by grace. Amen.

 

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/summaries.html Sat, 24 Jul 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for larger image

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Acts 13:38–39

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Again, this fulfilling of the law, or obedience toward the law, is indeed righteousness when it is complete. However, it is limited and impure in us. Accordingly, it does not satisfy God on its own; nor is it accepted for its own sake. Although it is evident from those things which have been said above that justification does not only indicate the beginning of the renewal, but the reconciliation by which we are also accepted afterward. Nevertheless, it can now be seen much more clearly that rudimentary keeping of the law does not justify, because it is accepted only on account of faith. We must not trust that we are accounted righteous before God by our own perfection and fulfilling of the law, but rather on account of Christ.

Pulling It Together: We are not only unable to keep the law, but if we trust our works as righteousness, we will find that we have been idolatrous. We discount the work of Christ when we trust as righteousness our own incomplete and imperfect works. Also, we diminish the complete work of Christ when we think that we must add our own works to Christ’s in order to be considered righteous by God. This is blasphemy. Furthermore, it leads to despair, for the heart will never be at peace with God so long as it wonders if it has done enough good to counterbalance sin. Christ has already accomplished the atonement for our sin. Be satisfied with his perfect work. We should add our works as obedient thanks, not as an attempt to justify ourselves to God. He is already pleased with us through faith in his Son. Think how happy it makes him, that we trust in his grace alone. 

Prayer: Thank you God for the grace you give through your Son so that I am free and forgiven. Amen. 

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

The Spiritual Realms is a nine-session Bible Study series on Heaven and Hell and places beyond this world. Specifically, the study looks at the many “place names” that are found throughout Scripture, referring to spiritual realms of existence that underlie and comprise the universe God created. This Bible Study series is a challenging one, in that it explores realities of existence beyond what we know and experience everyday.

The study not only addresses matters of life, death, heaven, and hell, it steadfastly affirms that Jesus Christ is at the center of all these things. Our ultimate faith and hope rest in Christ’s death and resurrection for our sake. We live in faith by the biblical promise that: “God raised the Lord, and will also raise us up by his power.” (1 Cor 6:14) 

Free Educational Resources on the Afterlife

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 23 Jul 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for larger image

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Acts 2:36–39

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Now, let us reply to the objection that we stated above. The adversaries are right in thinking that love is the fulfilling of the law; and obedience to the law is certainly righteousness. But they make a mistake in thinking that we are justified by the law. Since we are not justified by the law, but receive forgiveness of sins and reconciliation through faith for Christ's sake, and not for the sake of love or the fulfilling of the law, it necessarily follows that we are justified by faith in Christ.

Pulling It Together: Love and other obedience to the law would indeed be considered as righteousness—if we kept the law. Because people did not keep the law, the promise of grace was given. This promise was also meant for those who were as yet distant (Acts 2:38-39). The promise is for us. For we too have been unable to keep the law. Thanks be to God that the promise is also for us.

It is well and good to point to the law, but to only consider the law—to take aim at it as a means of righteousness—is to miss the main issue, which is God’s grace toward us. However, the gospel turns us in the right direction, leading us away from a dependence on the law and our ability to keep it. It orients us to the promise of God’s grace toward sinners. Before we can keep even one bit of the law, there must be faith in Christ by whom we are reconciled to God. We must first obtain the forgiveness of sin and be empowered by the Holy Spirit before we love and otherwise keep the law. Otherwise, the keeping of the law is a futile religious endeavor.

Prayer: Thank you, Everlasting God, for building your Church on the foundation of your promise of grace, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

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

The Sola Online Worship Resource (SOWeR) 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/summaries.html Thu, 22 Jul 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for larger image

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Matthew 5:17–20

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

We are debating about a great subject that concerns the honor of Christ and where god-fearing minds may seek a sure and firm consolation—whether confidence is to be placed in Christ or in our works. Now, if trust is placed in our works, the honor of mediator and propitiator is appropriated from Christ. Yet in God's judgment, we will discover that such confidence was vain, and then consciences will rush into despair. If the forgiveness of sins and reconciliation do not occur freely for Christ's sake, but instead because of our love, no one will have forgiveness of sins unless he has fulfilled the entire law. For the law does not justify as long as it can accuse us. Justification is reconciliation for Christ's sake. Therefore it is clear that we are justified by faith because it is very certain that by faith alone the forgiveness of sins is received.

Pulling It Together: Take note of this sentence: “For the law does not justify as long as it can accuse us.” The purpose of the law is to teach people to live as God wills and, when they deviate, to accuse them of breaking the law. The law still accuses and condemns, as it should. Indeed, it will condemn everyone, for there is no one who can fulfill the law by keeping it perfectly—except Jesus. He kept the law and even fulfilled its penalty of death when he took upon himself the sins of the world (1Pet 2:24). So the law teaches us and accuses us but also compels us to rely upon the righteousness of Christ instead of our own. For everyone quickly understands that they cannot keep the whole law. We have lied, coveted, and dishonored our parents. We do not love God with our whole heart and soul and mind and strength. Breaking even one of these commandments just one time is to have failed to fulfill the whole law (James 2:10). At this point, the law accuses us of sin and condemns us with the penalty of death (Rom 6:23).

This is why we need a propitiator and mediator, someone who has fulfilled the law for us and stands before the Eternal Judge to show that the penalty for our sin has been paid. We must believe Jesus alone is this satisfaction for our sin. If we appropriate this function to ourselves, we are altogether lost and condemned—no matter how hard we work at being good and religious.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to see and confess my sin through your law, but also to see you, my Savior. Amen. 

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

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/summaries.html Wed, 21 Jul 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for larger image

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Luke 11:39–44

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Therefore, Jesus praises her entire worship by that by one statement, as often happens in the Scripture, so that we comprehend many things. Later we will speak at greater length regarding similar passages, such as Luke 11:41: “But give for alms those things which are within; and behold, everything is clean for you.” He requires not only alms, but first the righteousness of faith. In the same way, he says here, “Her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much,” that is, because she has truly worshiped me with faith and the deeds and signs of faith. He considers her entire worship but teaches that the forgiveness of sins is rightly received by faith, although love, confession, and other good fruits ought to follow. Therefore, he does not mean that these fruits are the cost or the necessary sacrifice that earns the forgiveness of sins that reconciles us to God.

Pulling It Together: What good is it to go to church on Sundays, bring an offering, be an usher, and serve on a committee, if the doing of these things is the whole of one’s religion? All of these things and more can be done without any faith in God. Jesus does not condemn such religious acts but teaches that, if they do not come from the heart, they are like plastic flowers covering a grave (Matt 23:27). The one whose religion is devoid of faith, is dead. Indeed, if worship and service do not spring from faith, all else that is done in the name of religion is superficial spiritualism. Consider this in light of the Pharisee and the sinful woman (Luke 7:36-50). The Pharisee was strictly religious in his deeds, even offering to God a percentage of his garden herbs. He thought that he kept the commandments but he neglected the first table. You could say that he loved his religious practice more than he loved God. The woman, however, did not keep the law very strictly at all, for she was considered a sinner for being ceremonially unclean. Yet for all of her lack of religious pretense, she was forgiven and reconciled to God. Why? Her faith made her clean. The result was that she worshiped Christ, the very thing that the Pharisee refused to do. In the same way, if we go to church and perform acts of service without faith, we do not worship at all—we merely serve self.

Prayer: Lord, increase my faith. Amen. 

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

The Sola Online Worship Resource (SOWeR) 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/summaries.html Tue, 20 Jul 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for larger image

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Luke 7:44–50

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Besides, synecdoche, the figure of speech by which we combine the cause and effects is well known. Christ used this sense, saying, “Her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much” (Luke 7:47). He interpreted himself by adding, “Your faith has saved you.” So he did not mean that the woman had merited the forgiveness of sins by that work of love. That is the reason he said, “Your faith has saved you.” But faith is that which freely perceives God's mercy on account of God's Word. Anyone who denies that this is faith, does not understand the meaning of faith. The narrative itself shows in this passage what it is that Jesus calls love. The woman came with belief in Christ that the forgiveness of sins should be sought in him. This is the highest worship of Christ. She could ascribe nothing greater to Christ. To seek the forgiveness of sins from him was to truly acknowledge him as the Messiah. Now, to think this way of Christ, to worship him, to embrace him, is truly to believe.

Furthermore, Christ used the word "love" not towards the woman, but against the Pharisee, because he was contrasting the entire worship of the Pharisee with the entire worship of the woman. He reproved the Pharisee because he did not acknowledge that he was the Messiah, although he rendered him the outward offices due to a guest and a great and holy man. He pointed to the woman and praised her worship, ointment, tears, and so forth, all of which were signs of faith and a confession, namely, that she sought the forgiveness of sins in Christ. It is not without reason that this was a great example indeed, that moved Christ to reprove the Pharisee, who was a wise and honorable man, but not a believer. He charged him with unrighteousness, and admonished him with the example of the woman. He demonstrated the Pharisee’s disgrace by contrasting with him an unlearned woman who believed God, while he, a doctor of the law, did not believe, nor did he acknowledge the Messiah or seek from him forgiveness of sins and salvation.

Pulling It Together: Faith in Christ freely obtains forgiveness of sins and delivers a person from sin and death. The result is love and worship. Faith in one’s religious works and moral excellence, however, is a deadly trap. It leads, not as one might expect, to death and condemnation. So, this story from the Gospel of Luke is a great example that contrasts the two types of people. One, it seems, is not a particularly religious person while the other is altogether religious. Yet, the nonreligious woman believes while the ultra-religious Pharisee does not believe. So, who is the one who would be forgiven—the one who thought that he had no sins to confess, or perhaps very few that he should bother to confess? Or would the one who sinned much but admitted her sins be the one who was forgiven? Of course, it is she who came to Jesus expecting it who received forgiveness, not the one who neither expected it nor even thought that he was a sinner who needed forgiveness.

This is a classic case of micromanagement. The Pharisee expended so much emotional energy on the woman and her sins, that he was distracted from his own. Perhaps, in his duplicity, he even hoped that Jesus would not notice his sins. The question for us is, which person in the story are we? Are we the micro-managers of sin who point out the sins of others, hoping our own sins might go unnoticed? Or are we those who confess our sins, expecting the forgiveness of a loving Savior?

Prayer: Thank you, Lord and Savior, for seeing my great sin and forgiving me nevertheless. 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/summaries.html Mon, 19 Jul 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for larger image

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Psalm 46:10–11

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

But some one may ask: Since we also profess that love is a work of the Holy Spirit, and since it is righteousness because it is the fulfilling of the law, why do we not teach that it justifies? To this we must reply that in the first place, it is certain that we do not receive forgiveness of sins either through or because of our love, but on account of Christ's, by faith alone. Faith alone looks upon the promise that overcomes the terrors of sin and death, and knows with certainty that God forgives because Christ has not died in vain. If any one doubts whether sins are forgiven, that person dishonors Christ by judging that his sin is greater or more effective than the death and promise of Christ, although Paul says, “Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Rom 5:20)—that is, mercy is more comprehensive than sin.

If any one thinks that he obtains the forgiveness of sins because he loves, he dishonors Christ and will discover in God's judgment that this confidence in his own righteousness is wicked and vain. Therefore it is essential that faith reconciles and justifies. And as we do not receive forgiveness of sins through other virtues of the law or on account of them—because of patience, chastity, obedience to magistrates, and so forth—nevertheless these virtues ought to follow. We do not receive forgiveness of sins because of love toward God, although it is necessary that this should follow faith.

Pulling It Together: The conscience is a restless thing. It is always busy trying to soothe itself. This never works since there is only one thing that brings peace. The absolute certainty that one’s sins are forgiven brings peace. This peace comes through the gracious work of Christ, not through our deeds, character, or virtue. “But what must I do?” the busy conscience demands. Nothing. Be still. Accept that God is in control. You cannot add anything but chaos with your virtuous busyness. Do you really think that you are able to do more than God? He has done it all at Calvary. Be still and know that God is God—and you are not.

Prayer: Lord and Reconciler, be a truly present help in times of trouble. 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 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/summaries.html Sun, 18 Jul 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for larger image

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Romans 4:13–16a

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

From these outcomes of faith the adversaries select one, namely, love, and teach that love justifies. Because of this it is obvious that they only teach the law. They do not teach that forgiveness of sins is first received through faith. They do not teach about Christ as Mediator, that on Christ's account we have a gracious God. They say these are because of our love. Yet, they do not and cannot say what the nature of this love is. They claim that they fulfill the law, although this glory belongs properly to Christ. They place confidence in their own works against the judgment of God by saying that they merit de condigno grace and eternal life. This self-assurance is absolutely impious and vain. For we cannot satisfy the law in this life because our sinful nature does not cease to bring forth wicked dispositions, even though the Spirit in us resists them.

Pulling It Together: If we endeavor to stand on our own two feet before God, to meet the demands of his law with our own righteousness and love, honest people will find themselves wanting. The very inclination to imagine that we can satisfy God’s holy demands is proof of our depravity. We cannot transcend ourselves by our own efforts; we are what we are. We are simply incapable of exceeding our limitations. We need assistance. Putting it in the vernacular: God knows, we need help. Though we try to keep the law, we will never pull it off on this side of eternity. Yet, if we insist upon depending on the law for our righteousness, or worse, of depending upon our own love and righteousness as a way to keep the law, then we discount faith altogether. We also invalidate the promise of God in our lives when we depend upon our own righteousness. For the law will always bring the accusations of both conscience and the devil, as well as the wrath of God. On the other hand, the love of God is abundantly available to those who will receive his grace by faith in God instead of trust in their own religious efforts.

Prayer: Take away all fear, Lord, and perfect me in your love. Amen.

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

  

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/summaries.html Sat, 17 Jul 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for larger image

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1 John 4:15–19

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Article 5: Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Again, we teach not only how the law can be observed, but also how God is pleased if anything is done, not because we render satisfaction to the law, but because we are in Christ, as we shall say a little later. It is obvious, therefore, that we require good works. We even add that it is impossible to separate love for God from faith, even though it be a small work. For it is through Christ that we come to the Father, and because we have received the forgiveness of sins we are now truly certain that we have a God—a God who cares for us. So we call upon him, give him thanks, fear him, and love him. “We love, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19), that is to say, because he gave his Son for us and forgave us our sins. As a result, he confirms that faith precedes and love follows. Likewise, the faith of which we speak exists in repentance, that is, it is conceived in the terrors of conscience that senses the wrath of God against our sins, and seeks the forgiveness of sins and to be freed from sin. In such terrors and other afflictions, this faith ought to grow and be strengthened. Therefore, it cannot exist in those who live according to the flesh, those who are delighted by their own lusts and obey them. Accordingly, Paul says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus...who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Rom 8:1, 4). So too, “We are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh—for if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live” (Rom 8:12-13). Thus, the faith that receives forgiveness of sins for a heart that is terrified and fleeing from sin, does not remain in those who obey their desires, nor does it coexist with mortal sin.

Pulling It Together: The law is kept in this way: first, God loves us. Then, while we are still ignorant of his love, our disobedience to God begins to unsettle and even frighten the conscience. Third, we hear of God’s great love for us. The gospel teaches us that God has redeemed sinners by sending his Son to save them by satisfying the demands of the law. Fourth, we confess that Jesus Christ is this saving Son of God. At this point, faith in a loving God confronts our fear of a wrathful God. Knowing that we are no longer condemned by the law, we have peace with God despite the weakness of our nature. Fifth, we begin to live in God and God begins to live in us. His love not only begins to grow in us, it is perfected in us—not because of anything we have done or do, but because this love is something he has done and is doing. Last, our love with its subsequent acts of obedience, however modest, is a response to his love. “We love because he first loved us” (1John 4:19).

Prayer: Loving Father, help me cling to Christ through faith and the power of your Holy Spirit. Amen.

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

The 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). 

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 16 Jul 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for larger image

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Matthew 15:17–20

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law

We confess that it is necessary for people to begin keeping the law and that it be continually observed more and more. At the same time we comprehend both spiritual movements and external good works. Therefore the adversaries falsely charge against us that our theologians do not teach good works. They not only require these, but also show how they can be done. The result convicts hypocrites, who by their own powers endeavor to fulfill the law, though they cannot accomplish what they attempt. For human nature is far too weak to be able in its own power to resist the devil, who holds as captives all who have not been freed through faith. There is need of the power of Christ to resist the devil. Since we know that because of Christ we are heard and have the promise, we may pray for the governance and defense of the Holy Spirit so that we may neither be deceived and then err, nor be impelled to undertake anything contrary to God's will. Just as Psalm 68:18 teaches, you have led captivity captive and have received gifts for man. For Christ has overcome the devil, and has given to us the promise and the Holy Spirit so that, by divine aid, we ourselves also may overcome. “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil” (1John 3:8).

Pulling It Together: People cannot keep the law of God as long as they have bad hearts—while they operate in their original, sinful nature. They may undertake to practice the law but these will only be lifeless, cold actions. Therefore, we do not begin to do good works and then receive a good heart from God. We must first receive the good heart. We must be reborn with an empowered nature. When people have been born again, God sends his Holy Spirit to live in them. The Spirit defends them from the devil, and empowers them to live within God’s will. This does not mean that they will suddenly keep God’s law with perfection, for although the old nature has been drowned in baptism, it still threatens to undo us. It does mean, however, that those who are first forgiven, regenerated, and filled with the Holy Spirit will not only begin to keep God’s law, they will then persevere in the power of the Spirit, observing God’s word and will more and more.

Prayer: Defend and deliver me, Holy Spirit, from all temptations and trickery of the devil so that I may keep your will on earth as it is kept in heaven. 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.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 15 Jul 21 00:00:00 -0500

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6 And on this mountain the Lord of hosts make for all peoples a feast of fat things, a feast of aged wines, of fat pieces full of marrow, of refined, well-aged wines. 7 And on this mountain he will destroy the face of the covering that is over all peoples, and the veil that is woven over all nations. 8 He will swallow up death forever, And the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces. And he will take away the reproach of his people from all the earth. For the Lord has spoken.

9 And it will be said on that day, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for him; we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” (Isaiah 25:6–9)

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law

But Christ was given for this purpose: that for his sake the forgiveness of sins and the Holy Spirit may be given to us to bring forth in us new and eternal life, and eternal righteousness. Therefore the law cannot be truly kept unless the Holy Spirit is received through faith. Accordingly, Paul says that the law is established by faith, not abolished, because the law can only then be thus kept when the Holy Spirit is given. Paul also teaches that the veil that covered the face of Moses cannot be removed except by faith in Christ (2Cor 3:15-16), by which the Holy Spirit is received. He says, “Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their minds; but when a man turns to the Lord the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” By “the veil,” Paul means the human opinion concerning the entire law, the Decalogue, and the ceremonies. In other words, hypocrites think that external and civil works satisfy the law of God, and that sacrifices and observances justify before God ex opere operato. But when this veil is removed from us, when we are freed from this error, God reveals to our hearts our unrighteousness and the heinousness of sin. Then, for the first time, we see that we are far from fulfilling the law. Only then do we understand how flesh, dwelling in security and indifference, does not fear God, and is not fully certain that we are favored by God, but imagines that men are born and die by chance. Then we see that we do not believe that God forgives and hears us. But when we hear the gospel and the forgiveness of sins, we are consoled by faith and receive the Holy Spirit so that now we are able to think correctly about God, and to fear and believe God, and so forth. It is plain from these facts that the law cannot be kept without Christ and the Holy Spirit.

Pulling It Together: Why did the Father send his Son to earth? He did this so that humanity would be redeemed. In other words, Jesus, the long-awaited Savior, came to save us from sin and death by justly forgiving our sins and giving us rebirth and his own eternal righteousness. This is something we could never do for ourselves through keeping the law. So, Jesus fulfilled the law and gave us his Spirit so that we could practice even the spirit of the law—the first table that commands us to love God. His Spirit produces true love for God in us so that we no longer seek to satisfy God through mere performance of good deeds. Rather, we live for God because we love him. We love him because his Son satisfied the law for us. All of this happens when we hear the gospel and believe what God has done for us through Christ. Only then does the Holy Spirit indwell us and produce the kind of love in us that desires to keep the whole law. We do not love him first and then receive his forgiveness as a reward. Rather, while we were still sinners, God first loved us, and sent his Son to die for us and for our sins (Rom 5:8). It is clear that the love of God for us is what produces love for God within us.

Prayer: Thank you, Jesus, for putting to death my old nature and giving me rebirth, a new nature, so that I may fear and love you in the power of your Spirit. Amen.

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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/summaries.html Wed, 14 Jul 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for larger image

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Deuteronomy 6:4–5

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Though civil works, that is, the outward works of the law, can be done, in a measure, without Christ and without the Holy Spirit, nevertheless it appears from what we have said that those things belonging specifically to the divine law, that is, the affections of the heart towards God that are commanded in the first table, cannot be rendered without the Holy Spirit. But our adversaries are fine theologians. They regard the second table and political works as though they care nothing for the first table, as though it were of no matter, or that they only require outward observances. They in no way consider the law that is eternal, and placed far above the sense and intellect of all creatures: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might” (Deut 6:5).

Pulling It Together: “The greatest of these is love” (1 Cor 13:13). Therefore, we must keep the whole law, the first commandments as well as the latter. We must not only honor our parents, and not lie or steal, we must also love the Lord our God with our whole selves—with all our hearts and with all our souls and with all our might. Yet, when trying to do so in our own strength, it becomes quickly evident that we cannot love God in this way. Eventually, even decent people give up trying to love God, or confuse loving God with works of the second table: not committing adultery, etc. Only those who have already been filled with God’s love keep pressing on (Phil 3:14) in spite of past failings. For the child who truly loves mother and father, who has their own loving character, will try to please them, regardless of previous failures.

People need the character of God in order to love him truly. That divine quality comes in the person of the Holy Spirit. Yet the Holy Spirit is not given until one has faith, believing in Christ and what he has done for us out of his Father’s great love for us (John 3:16). So we see that all does depend upon love—the Father’s love, not ours. When we have faith that the Father has loved us so much that he sent his Son to reconcile us to himself, we are regenerated so that we also try to practice the higher theology of the first table, loving God with our whole selves.

Prayer: I praise you God for the great love with which you have loved me. Amen.

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

The 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.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 13 Jul 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Galatians 3:10–14

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

These things cannot occur until we have been justified by faith, born again, and receive the Holy Spirit. This is because first, the law cannot be kept without Christ, and second, the law cannot be kept without the Holy Spirit. But the Holy Spirit is received by faith, according to the testimony of Paul, “That we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (Gal 3:14). Then too, how can the human heart love God while it thinks that he is terribly angry, and is oppressing us with temporal and perpetual calamities? But the law always accuses us, always shows that God is angry. God therefore, is not loved until we understand his mercy by faith. Not until then does he become someone we can love.

Pulling It Together: “Let me know how that works out for you,” some friends of mine remark whenever people say they are going to do something considered unlikely or even impossible. It is a sarcastic reply, meaning that they do not even have to mention later that they were unable to do what they said they were going to do. We might say the same to those who intend to keep the law by their own strength. Good luck with that; “let me know how that works out for you.” Soon enough, it will be discovered that the law was unable to be kept, while it constantly accused them of their inability.

Even if one is able to keep the law with some degree of perfection, the law is still not kept, because it has been undertaken as an effort of human will. It is not kept for the right reasons, since that person is relying on works of the law to be reconciled to God. Therefore, as Luther said, “In “keeping” the Law he does not keep it” (Luther’s Works, vol 26, 268). These people “remain under the curse.” (ibid)

Because redemption is through his blood, not our sweat, Christ saved us from this curse and from the accusations of the law. It is only by the grace of God, not our efforts, that we discover his mercy and love. We also find that we keep the law because Christ has fulfilled for us. When we believe in Christ, we receive his Holy Spirit, who helps us rely upon God despite our failings. The result is that we persevere at living godly lives but do not depend upon ourselves to be godly. Instead, we have faith in God’s rich grace, love, and mercy toward us.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, help me live a godly life today, through faith in the Son of God. Amen.

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

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.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 12 Jul 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for larger image

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Jeremiah 31:31–33

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Here the adversaries urge against us: “Keep the commandments” (Matt 19:17), and likewise, “The doers of the law who will be justified” (Rom 2:13), and many other similar things concerning the law and works. Before we reply to this, we must first declare what we believe concerning love and the fulfilling of the law.

It is written in the prophet, “I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts” (Jer 31:33). Paul says, “Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law” (Rom 3:31). Christ says, “If you would enter life, keep the commandments” (Matt 19:17). Likewise, “If I...have not love, I gain nothing” (1Cor 13:3). These and similar statements bear witness that the law ought to be begun in us, and be kept by us more and more. Now we do not speak of ceremonies, but of that law which commands the movements of the heart, namely, the Decalogue. Because faith brings the Holy Spirit and produces new life in hearts, it is necessary that it should produce spiritual movements in hearts. The prophet shows what these movements are when he says, “I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts” (Jer 31:33). Therefore, when we have been justified by faith and regenerated, we begin to fear and love God, to pray to him, to expect aid from him, to give thanks and praise him, and to obey him in afflictions. We begin also to love our neighbors, because our hearts have spiritual and holy movements.

Pulling It Together

Yes! We ought to keep the commandments. Our hearts urge us to do so, as do the Scriptures. The law is written upon our hearts and should be lived out. As Christians, we ought to be doing a much better job of keeping the law than we were previously able, particularly the spirit of the law, such as loving God and neighbor above all things. But this does not mean that we are to keep the old ceremonial law or any new versions of it, in order that we might be justified with God. Instead, because we have been justified by God’s grace through faith, the Spirit of Christ has given us new hearts, minds, and spirits so that we both desire to keep the law and are actually practicing it more and more in the Spirit.

Prayer: Thank you, Holy Spirit, for moving my heart to love. 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 disharmony 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/summaries.html Sun, 11 Jul 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for larger image

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Matthew 7:24–27

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

In order that the subject might be made quite clear, we have so far shown with sufficient fulness, using both testimonies of Scripture and arguments derived from Scripture, that by faith alone we obtain the forgiveness of sins for Christ's sake, and that by faith alone we are justified, that is, that unrighteous people are made righteous or regenerated. It can be easily judged how necessary the knowledge of this faith is because in this alone the office of Christ is recognized, by this alone we receive the benefits of Christ, and by this alone brings sure and firm consolation to pious minds. There needs to be doctrine in the Church from which the pious may receive the sure hope of salvation. For the adversaries give people bad advice when they teach them to doubt whether they obtain forgiveness of sins. How will such persons be sustained in death when they have heard nothing of this faith and believe that they ought to doubt whether they have received the forgiveness of sins? Besides, the gospel, that is, the promise that for Christ's sake sins are freely forgiven, must be retained in the Church of Christ. Those who teach nothing of this faith of which we speak altogether abolish the gospel. Yet the scholastics do not mention even a word concerning this faith. Our adversaries, following them, reject this faith. They do they see that, by rejecting this faith, they abolish the entire promise concerning the free forgiveness of sins and the righteousness of Christ.

Pulling It Together

Justification is no idle dream among Christians. The Church stands upon the promise of God in Christ Jesus. Otherwise, we have built the Church on sand. But the Church has built its house on the Rock (1Cor 10:4). Therefore, when the storms of life come, her people are sustained. This is why bishops, pastors, and doctors of the Church must faithfully teach the sure and certain hope of salvation in Christ alone. Even the creed speaks to this, saying that we believe in “the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.” There is no need to make people doubt. Moreover, there is nothing reasonable about them professing such things while, on the other hand, doubting those very things. Great will be the fall of anyone who trusts in anyone or anything other than Christ and his work on the cross.

Prayer: Rock and Redeemer, on you alone I stand. Amen.

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The 2019-20 Liturgical calendar for Year A charts the Scripture readings for each Sunday in the Church Year, with each Sunday printed in the proper liturgical color for easy reference. Sola Publishing recommends the use of the Revised Common Lectionary as found in the Lutheran Service Book (LSB) published by Concordia Publishing House, and makes use of this lectionary in its own Sola Online Worship eResource (SOWeR) website.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 10 Jul 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Galatians 5:1–6

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

We confess that love ought to follow faith, as Paul also says, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail, but faith working through love” (Gal 5:6). Yet we must not think on that account, that by confidence in this love or on account of this love, we receive the forgiveness of sins and reconciliation, just as we do not receive the forgiveness of sins because of other works that follow. The forgiveness of sins is received by faith alone because the promise cannot be received except by faith, in the right sense of the word. But true faith is that which assents to the promise. Scripture speaks of this faith. And because it receives the forgiveness of sins, and reconciles us to God, by this faith we are accounted righteous for Christ's sake before we love and do the works of the law, although love necessarily follows. This faith is not an idle knowledge, nor can it coexist with mortal sin, but it is a work of the Holy Spirit, whereby we are freed from death, and terrified minds are encouraged and given life. Because this faith alone receives the forgiveness of sins, and renders us acceptable to God, and brings the Holy Spirit, it could be more correctly called gratia gratum faciens, grace rendering one pleasing to God, than an effect that follows, that is, love.

Pulling It Together Faith happens when the heart is prompted by the Holy Spirit to believe that the promise of God is true. By faith, we take hold of the gospel with confident hope, becoming certain that Jesus died for the sin of the world. Because of faith, we are certain that it is Christ alone who makes a person acceptable to God. We do not take into account of any good deeds except the gracious work of Christ on the cross. As a result of his work, our sins are forgiven.

Faith is so certain of forgiveness that it liberates us from the law. We stop looking over our shoulders, worrying that our sins have put us in bad standing with God. The law is no longer a burden; instead, we are delighted to keep the spirit of the law for Christ’s sake. We practice love, patience, self-control, faithfulness, meekness, and mercy—not because we are saved by doing so but because we want to please God. Again, pleasing God does not mean that we expect him to forgive us because of our deeds. Rather, because we believe that he has already forgiven us, we are now free to live the Christ life with a confidence that is no longer in ourselves, but in Christ alone.

Prayer: Thank you, God, for setting me free from the fear of sin and death, 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 2016 Liturgical calendar charts the Scripture readings for each Sunday in the Church Year, with each Sunday printed in the proper liturgical color for easy reference. Sola Publishing recommends the use of the Revised Common Lectionary as found in the Lutheran Service Book (LSB) published by Concordia Publishing House, and makes use of this lectionary in its own Sola Online Worship eResource (SOWeR) website.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 09 Jul 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 5:1–5

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

It is truly amazing that the adversaries are in no way moved by so many passages of Scripture that clearly ascribe justification to faith, and indeed, deny it by ascribing it to works. Do they think this is repeated so often for no purpose? Do they think that these words fell inconsiderately from the Holy Spirit? But they have also devised sophistry so that they might elude them. They say that these passages of Scripture ought to be received as referring to a fides formata. That is, they do not ascribe justification to faith except on account of love. Indeed, they do not in any way ascribe justification to faith, but only to love, because they dream that faith can coexist with mortal sin. Where does this lead but to the abolition of the promise and a return to the law? If faith receives the forgiveness of sins on account of love, the forgiveness of sins will always be uncertain, because we never love as much as we should. We do not love unless our hearts are firmly convinced that the forgiveness of sins has been granted us. Therefore, as long as the adversaries require confidence in one's own love for the forgiveness of sins and justification, they altogether abolish the gospel concerning the free forgiveness of sins. Yet, at the same time, they neither render this love nor understand it, unless they believe that the forgiveness of sins is freely received.

Pulling It Together: The idea that faith only comes into existence when it is formed by love is contrary to Scripture. Faith comes first, as a free gift of God. Only then do virtues like love begin to develop. Therefore, love cannot form faith since love develops in the Christian life because of faith. We are not considering that easy kind of love that one feels, as a man has for a woman or parent has for a child. The love that faith develops exists when feelings lead the unjustified away from spiritual love. Faith then begins to give us an assurance and peace about our standing with God. This peace gives the Christian a spiritual endurance that perseveres through sufferings. Endurance leads to character development, a spiritual and Christian property. Hope is the result of this enduring character, despite any suffering that might produce negative feelings. The Christian hopes because of faith, not because of positive and loving emotions. This kind of love cannot produce faith. On the contrary, true spiritual love is formed by faith because it is after one has faith that the Holy Spirit pours God’s love into our hearts.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for dying for weak and ungodly me, and reconciling me by giving me your righteousness. Amen.

The enigmatic Disciple Jesus Loved has long intrigued readers of the Gospel of John. Why did he withhold his name? Did he leave clues in the Gospel to his identity? Does it matter? New Testament reasearchers have explored these questions with renewed energy. Unlike other books, The Mystery of the Beloved Disciple moves beyond their simple first names to find Lazarus, Martha, and Mary in sources outside the Bible, and the Beloved Disciple in the Talmud! Discovering who these people actually were informs our reading of the Gospel of John in powerful ways. The truth presented here will prove irrefutable.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 08 Jul 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for larger image

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2 Corinthians 12:7b–10

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

Augustine writes many things to the same effect against the Pelagians. In Of the Spirit and Letter he says: “The righteousness of the law, namely that the one who practices the righteousness which is based on the law shall live by it,’ is established so that when any one has recognized his weakness he may attain and keep and live in it, conciliating the Justifier not by his own strength nor by the letter of the law itself, but by faith. Now in a justified person, there is no right work by which the one who does it may live. Rather, justification is obtained by faith.” Here he clearly says that the Justifier is reconciled by faith, and that justification is obtained by faith. A little after: “By the law we fear God; by faith we hope in God. But grace is hidden from those fearing punishment. The soul laboring under this fear resorts to faith in God's mercy, so that God may give what he commands.” Here Augustine teaches that hearts are terrified by the law, but by faith they receive consolation. He also teaches us to receive mercy by faith before we attempt to fulfill the law. We will quote certain other passages shortly.

Pulling It Together: We often think of Paul’s mysterious “thorn” as a physical affliction. However, if we consider it a spiritual thorn, we may find some profit. Besides any physical difficulties, we all have another chronic problem. We are sinners. This is such an acute and debilitating disease that we have all found ourselves in the same position as Paul. Have you ever prayed three or more times, “Lord, help me stop sinning”? Perhaps you have even asked God to make you quit a particular sin. And did you stop? Generally, these thorns are not removed immediately. These thorny little gifts from God—whether spiritual or physical—are given to keep us humble and reliant upon his grace. Otherwise, we Pauls of the Church would be unbearable. We cannot fulfill the law’s demands, so we either try to make people believe we are better than we know ourselves to be, or we avail ourselves of God’s mercy and grace. Since we cannot keep the law by our deeds, we rely upon the grace of God by faith, and then, content in our weakness, allow God to remove our thorns. This is the only real strength in our lives: the power of Christ resting upon us despite our great failings.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, weak as I am to keep your law, work the power of your salvation in me. Amen.

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 07 Jul 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for larger image

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Colossians 2:11–14

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

Here and there, similar testimonies are found among the Fathers. Ambrose says in his letter to a certain Irenaeus, “Moreover, the world was subject to him by the law because, according to the command of the law, all are indicted, and yet, by the works of the law, no one is justified. In other words, because sin is perceived through the law but guilt is not discharged. The law seemed to have done injury by making all sinners but when the Lord Jesus Christ came, he forgave for all sin which no one could avoid, and by the shedding of his own blood, blotted out the bill that was held against us. This is what Paul says in Romans 5:20: ‘Law came in, to increase the trespass; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.’ Because after the whole world became subject, he took away the sin of the whole world, as John testified, saying, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’ (John 1:29) So because of this, let no one boast of works since none are justified by their deeds. Those who are righteous have it given to them because they are justified after baptism. Faith, therefore, is that which frees through the blood of Christ. ‘Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered’” (Psa 32:1). These are the words of Ambrose, and they clearly favor our doctrine. He denies justification by works, and attributes it to faith by which we are set free through the blood of Christ. Assemble into one heap all of the lecturers on the Sentences who are adorned with magnificent titles. For some are called angelic; others, subtle; and others indisputable. When all these have been read and reread, they will help us understand Paul far less than this one passage of Ambrose.

Pulling It Together: The bill is overdue. Ignoring it does not help a bit. It looms over you and you know that your service is about to be cut off. In the same way, our sin has put us in debt. The invoice has been sent by the law. Numerous overdue statements have arrived, though not for lack of trying to clear the debt. But the things we do, our good deeds and religion, do not satisfy the bill collector. We are dead in our trespasses and we know that we are about to be cut off—eternally. Our old nature, that sin nature that is in all of us from birth, needs to be reborn (John 3:3). Jesus blesses us with this rebirth, giving those who believe a new life.

Just as circumcision was the sign of God’s pledge of blessing to his people of old, Jesus made a new covenant in his blood. Baptism is a sign of that covenant. Now, neither circumcision nor baptism are things we do to ourselves. These signs are performed by God through the hands of others. In baptism, we are buried in the death of Jesus. The old nature is thereby put to death. The bill that hung over our heads is canceled. Our sins are forgiven; we are justified with God. All of this happens through faith—not by one thing that we do. Christ has done it all. Blessed are they who believe that their sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake.

Prayer: Lamb of God, thank you for being the sacrifice that settled the debt I owe. Amen.

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/summaries.html Tue, 06 Jul 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for larger image

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Isaiah 53:5–11

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

By his knowledge he will justify many (Isa 53:11). But what is the knowledge of Christ unless to know the benefits of Christ, those promises which he has sown throughout the world by the Gospel? To know these benefits properly and truly is to believe in Christ, to trust that what God has promised he will certainly fulfill for Christ's sake.

Scripture is filled with such testimonies. In some places it presents the law and in others the promises concerning Christ, and the forgiveness of sins, and the free acceptance of the sinner on Christ's account.

Pulling It Together: Jesus was pierced for our “transgressions.” He bore the discipline that was our due, eternal death. Though we strayed, he went willingly to slaughter, knowing that his death would mean our life—eternal life. “Out of the anguish of his soul,” he watched from the cross and saw our salvation. In dying, he satisfied the law of God and made us righteous. We can add nothing to this mighty act of God’s Servant. He has done it all and justified us to God.

Prayer: All we can offer you, Lord, is thank you. Amen. 

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.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 05 Jul 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for larger image

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Habakkuk 2:1–4

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

“The righteous shall live by his faith” (Hab 2:4). He first says that people are justified by faith, by which they believe that God is gracious. Then he adds that this same faith gives life because it produces peace and joy and eternal life in the heart.

Pulling It Together

William Temple said, “If we are traveling heavenward, we are already in heaven.” Our lives have already been transformed in a heavenly way. More than that, we are so assured of eternity with God that eternity has begun in this present life. Because faith in Christ completely reconciles us to God and so entirely assures us of eternal life, we already begin to enjoy the confident peace and joy of heaven.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, for your perfect peace. Amen.

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/summaries.html Sun, 04 Jul 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for larger image

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Acts 4:11–12

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

“This is the stone which was rejected by you builders, but which has become the head of the corner. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:11-12). But the name of Christ is apprehended only by faith. Therefore, we are saved by confidence in the name of Christ, and not by confidence in our works. For “the name” signifies here the cause which is mentioned by which which salvation is attained. And to call upon the name of Christ is to trust in the name of Christ as the cause or price by which we are saved. God “cleansed their hearts by faith” (Acts 15:9). Therefore, that faith of which the Apostles speak is not idle knowledge but the reality of receiving the Holy Spirit and justifying us.

Pulling It Together: The Rymans are a pretty decent bunch of folks. You should have met my grandfather. He was a great man in my book. But salvation is not available to me in the name of Fred Ryman, nor in the name of Ryman—the whole of my lineage. Salvation is only available in the name of Jesus Christ. There is no other name under heaven by which I can be saved. That also means that my salvation did not come about because Mark worked with Jesus, my works added to his.

It is only God in Christ who cleanses the hearts of humanity. This purifying happens when we have faith and confidence that Jesus has done this for us, not when we possess a mere knowledge of Church history. When we call on the name of the incarnate God, trusting in the blessed name of Jesus Christ, there is a powerful work of the Holy Spirit in us that justifies our hearts before God. Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of this trust and faith. Upon his name the salvation of the whole world is supported—the decent folks as well as those who are not so respectable.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, for making me part of your blessed family. Amen. 

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.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 03 Jul 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for larger image

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Acts 13:38–39

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

“Let it be known to you therefore, brethren, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him every one that believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses” (Acts 13:38-39). How could the office of Christ and justification be declared more clearly? The law, he says, did not justify. Consequently, Christ was given so that we may believe that we are justified for his sake. He plainly denies that the law justifies. Therefore, for Christ's sake we are accounted righteous when we believe that God, for his sake, has been reconciled to us.

Pulling It Together: Verse 39 of today’s Scripture reads in English as either justified” or “freed.” The older the translation, the more chance there is that it will read “justified.” It is a legal term that is, evidently, beyond the understanding of the typical modern reader. The 1611 and even the 1900 versions of the King James read “justified,” as does the 1901 American Standard Version. By the time we reach the middle of the 20th century, we already need the word “freed,” as in the 1952 Revised Standard Version. The 1995 New American Standard Bible and the 2001 English Standard Version mirror this translation.

The word translated as either justified” or “freed” means to declare someone righteous or free. This declaration or verdict does not depend upon the person’s deeds or merits; it depends upon the judge. The judge, in this case, God, states that the offense is forgiven; the person is legally declared righteous in the eyes of the court, or in the eyes of God. When one hears what Christ has done and believes in his merit and the worth of what he did to reconcile us to the Father, that person is justified or freed from sin and death. This happens because of Christ, for his sake, not for the sake of anything we do or have done.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, for setting me free from sin and death. Amen. 

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. 

Most of the hymns and other resources in ReClaim are part of Sola's Online Worship Electronic Resource. Check out all that is in SOWER here

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 02 Jul 21 00:00:00 -0500

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John 3:16–18

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

“But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God; who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13). “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life” (John 3:14-15). And a few verses later: “For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. He who believes in him is not condemned” (John 3:17-18).

Pulling It Together: If God expected us to save ourselves, we would be condemned before we begin. Even if we were capable of doing enough moral, civil, and religious works to cancel out our sins, we would still be sinners. It is our nature. Therefore, we cannot save ourselves. Nor will our good works make us righteous. Only God can do that to us and that is why the Father sent his Son into the world—to save sinners. How does that happen? He who believes in the Son is not condemned. In other words, the believer is justified with God and saved through faith. 

Prayer: Thank you, Jesus, for being the Word made flesh and bringing God’s grace to me. Amen. 

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.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 01 Jul 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for larger image

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Galatians 2:15–16

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

If one imagines that Paul used the phrase “faith justifies” without consideration, remember that he fortifies and supports this key phrase by a long discussion in the fourth chapter to the Romans, and repeats it in all his epistles. Thus he says, “Now to one who works, his wages are not reckoned as a gift but as his due. And to one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness” (Rom 4:4-5). As he clearly says here that faith itself is imputed as righteousness. Faith, therefore, is that thing which God declares to be righteousness, and Paul adds that it is imputed freely, adding that it would not be free imputation if it were owed because of works rendered. Therefore he even excludes the merit of moral works. For if justification before God were because of these, faith would not be imputed for righteousness without works. “We say that faith was reckoned to Abraham as righteousness” (Rom 4:9). Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God.” In other words, we have consciences that are tranquil and joyful before God. “For man believes with his heart and so is justified” (Rom 10:10). Here he declares that faith is the righteousness of the heart. “We have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ, and not by works of the law” (Gal 2:16). “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God—not because of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph 2:8-9).

Pulling It Together: Having been a devout Jew, a Hebrew among Hebrews and as to the law, a Pharisee (Phil 3:5), the Apostle Paul would never have let a phrase like “faith justifies” slip out unwittingly. Until Christ met him on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3-22), his life had been dedicated to keeping the law. In dramatic fashion, he learned how blind he had been. Because of the grace of God alone, certainly not by having done anything to deserve it, Paul received his eyesight again through the faith of another. Then with the disciples at Damascus, Paul learned that Christ is the saving Son of God. That God had imputed or assigned righteousness to an unrighteous man had been made quite clear to Paul. He was now determined to make it just as clear to others. So he writes the phrase “faith justifies” and similar constructions many times in his works. Melancthon provides several references from three epistles. The teaching that it is faith—not works—that justifies is no accident.

Prayer: Oh, Bright and Morning Star, thank you for shining your light upon us and making us see. Amen. 

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/summaries.html Wed, 30 Jun 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 3:21–28

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

Paul discusses this topic, especially in the Epistle to the Romans, declaring that when we believe that God is reconciled to us for Christ's sake that we are justified freely by faith. In the third chapter of Romans he maintains this proposition that contains the main point of the entire discussion: “For we hold that a man is justified by faith apart from works of law” (Rom 3:28). The adversaries interpret this as referring to Levitical ceremonies. However, Paul speaks not only of the ceremonies, but of the whole law. For he quotes afterward from the Decalogue: “You shall not covet” (Rom 7:7). If moral works could earn the forgiveness of sins and justification, there would also be no need for Christ and the promise—and all that Paul says about the promise would be overthrown. He would also have been wrong in writing this to the Ephesians: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God” (Eph 2:8). Similarly, Paul refers to Abraham and David (Rom 4:1, 6) who had the command of God concerning circumcision. Therefore, if any works justified, these works must have since it was commanded. Nevertheless, Augustine teaches correctly and at length in Of the Spirit and Letter that Paul speaks of the entire law. He states, “These matters, therefore having been considered and treated, according to the ability that the Lord has thought worthy to give us, we infer that man is not justified by the precepts of a good life, but by faith in Jesus Christ.”

Pulling It Together: The key phraseology of Paul is “through faith” or “by faith.” He mentions it 31 times. Not only Paul though, since James and Peter each use the phrase once, and the writer of Hebrews uses it 24 times. It is a critically important doctrine of the New Testament, as well as the Old Testament. Justification by faith, or forgiveness of sins through faith is not a new topic but it is one that is so hard to believe that much space, many writers, and even more years have been devoted to the topic. One’s principles and virtues and religious practices do not justify. Only faith in Jesus Christ justifies sinners. We should be thankful, since because of this oft-mentioned phrase we know that we are freely justified through faith or by faith in Jesus Christ. Otherwise, we would be lost, trying to make it on our own merits and abilities. There are not enough years to justify the likes of sinners like us. Only Christ will do.

Prayer: Gracious Redeemer, thank you for the gift of your salvation. Amen. 

The newest volume in the series, "Old Places, New Faces," The General Epistles offers a series of 12 Bible studies based on Hebrews, James, I & II Peter, I, II, & III John, and Jude. The geographical locations of Biblical characters can symbolically refer to places we find ourselves with respect to our faith. As we become more acquainted with our spiritual geography, we will better discern where God would have us go or what changes we need to make in order to serve Him better.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 29 Jun 21 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Corinthians 1:30–31

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

But since we receive forgiveness of sins and the Holy Spirit by faith alone, faith alone justifies, because those reconciled are accounted righteous and children of God, not on account of their own purity, but through mercy for Christ's sake, provided only that they apprehend this mercy by faith. Accordingly, Scripture testifies that by faith we are considered righteous (Rom 3:26). Therefore, we will add testimonies that clearly declare that faith is the very righteousness by which we are accounted righteous before God, not because it is a work that is in itself worthy, but because it receives the promise by which God has committed for Christ's sake that he wishes to be propitious to those believing in him, or because he knows that Christ of God has become for us wisdom, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption (1Cor 1:30).

Pulling It Together: Our lives come from God. Every good and perfect gift comes to us through the Father (James 1:17). Well, except salvation and righteousness; we must work for those. No! Heaven forbid! Every gift is just that: a gift—a gift from God. His mercy is a gift, apprehended, for lack of a better word, by faith alone. You either believe that God forgives you or you do not believe. There is nothing here in which we may take personal pride or boast (Rom 3:27). Jesus did it all. I have nothing to do with my righteousness. It too is a gift given to me by God. I am saved by God's grace alone. I know this only too well, from experience and from Scripture. 

Prayer: Holy God, Father of lights, give me more grace so that I may proclaim the excellencies of you who has called me out of darkness and into your marvelous light. Amen. 

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 28 Jun 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Revelation 3:20

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

Fourthly, forgiveness of sins is something promised for Christ's sake. Therefore, it cannot be received except by faith alone. For a promise cannot be received except by faith alone (Rom 4:16). “That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed,” as though he were to say: “If the matter were to depend upon our merits, the promise would be uncertain and useless, because we never could determine when we would have sufficient merit.” Experienced consciences can easily understand this. Accordingly, Paul says, “But the scripture consigned all things to sin, that what was promised to faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe” (Gal 3:22). He takes merit away from us, because he says that all are guilty and consigned under sin. Then he adds that the promise, namely, of the forgiveness of sins and of justification, is given, and adds how the promise may be received, namely, by faith. This reasoning, derived from the nature of a promise, is the chief reasoning in Paul, and is repeated often. Nothing can be devised or imagined whereby this argument of Paul can be overthrown. Therefore, faithful minds should not allow themselves to be forced from the conviction that we receive forgiveness of sins for Christ's sake, only through faith. In this they have a sure and firm consolation against the terrors of sin, and against eternal death, and against all the gates of hell.

Pulling It Together: I have promised to meet people for lunch today. Now, they may believe or disbelieve that promise but whether or not they believe, I will be at the restaurant. They do not need to do anything to make that happen. Lunch with me is both promised and guaranteed (...if God wills [James 4:15]). In the same way, forgiveness of sins is only promised and guaranteed because of what Jesus did, that is to say, for Christ's sake. There is no other way to receive forgiveness except to believe, to have faith, in what Jesus has done. There is no need to do anything about what has already been done.

Even if you had to do some things in order for the promise of forgiveness to apply to you, how would you know when you had done enough good? At any rate, merit has been taken away from us because we have been delivered over under sin. How much good can a sinner do in order to balance out his sin since even a single sin cannot be overcome with any amount of virtue? The issue is not so much that we sin, as it is that we are all sinners.

So Paul's oft-repeated argument is that the only thing we can do is trust God's promise. There is nothing else to do. Believe. Jesus stands at the door and knocks. Open the door, for he would dine with you today.

Prayer: Help me trust your word, Lord God, for it is all I truly have. Amen. 

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 27 Jun 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Acts 10:36–43

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

Thirdly, Peter says, “To him all the prophets bear witness that every one who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name” (Acts 10:43). How could this be said more clearly? We receive forgiveness of sins, he says, through his name, that is, for his sake. Therefore, not for the sake of our merits, not because of our contrition, attrition, love, worship, works. And he adds, “When we believe in him.” Therefore Peter also requires faith. For we cannot apprehend the name of Christ except by faith. Besides he cites the agreement of all the prophets, which actually cites the authority of the Church. We will speak on this topic again when we consider “Repentance.”

Pulling It Together: Melancthon may as well have said that he could quote Paul, Augustine, and the Fathers all day long, but see here! Peter too, and the prophets also, lend support for justification by faith. More than support, they insist upon faith. They add nothing else. We are forgiven our sins, justified, through the merits of Jesus Christ alone. Nothing that we add, though add we must for it shows our faith, reconciles us to God. The judge of the living and the dead is the only one with the just authority to say, “Justified!” This righteous judge in none other than Jesus Christ, the Lord of all. 

Prayer: Father, we give you thanks for the gift of salvation that is found only in your Son. Amen. 

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 26 Jun 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Hebrews 4:14–16

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

Secondly, it is certain that sins are forgiven for the sake of Christ, as propitiator, according to Romans 3:25: “whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood.” Moreover, Paul adds, “to be received by faith.” Therefore this atonement benefits us when we apprehend by faith the mercy promised in him and set it against the wrath and judgment of God. To the same effect it is written, “Since then we have a great high priest...let us then with confidence draw near” (Heb 4:14, 16). The Apostle pleads with us to approach God, not with confidence in our own merits, but with confidence in Christ as high priest. Therefore it requires faith.

Pulling It Together

Only the high priest could represent the people before God in the temple. But Jesus, the “great high priest,” represents us before the Father in heaven. We cannot represent ourselves. Instead, we rely upon Christ by faith. In doing so, we have confidence in him to draw near to God. There before the throne of justice, we receive mercy and grace instead of the judgment that had been our due. We discover this marvelous grace only because Christ Jesus mediates between his holy Father and us as the true propitiation or satisfaction for our sins. He brings no scapegoat to God for us (Lev 16:21-22). He is the scapegoat, the only offering for all our sins. This is our confession and we hold it fast through faith in Christ. 

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, give me grace to draw nearer to you today, not through any confidence in my own works but for your sake 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.

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 25 Jun 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 5:1–2

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

Likewise, Paul says, “Through him we have obtained access” (Rom 5:2), and adds, “by faith.” Thus, we are reconciled to the Father and receive forgiveness of sins when we are comforted with confidence in the mercy promised for Christ's sake. The adversaries regard Christ as mediator and propitiator because he has earned the habit of love. Therefore, they do not urge us to rely upon him as mediator now. Rather, as though Christ were altogether buried, they imagine that we have access through our own works and earn this disposition through them, and by this love come to God. Does this not to bury Christ altogether and remove the entire doctrine of faith? Paul, to the contrary, teaches that we have access, that is, reconciliation, through Christ. To show how this takes place, he adds that we have access by faith. Therefore, we receive forgiveness of sins by faith because of Christ. We cannot set our own love and our own works over against God's wrath.

Pulling It Together: Some people rely on religion as a way to gain peace or go to heaven—or rather, not go to hell. This puts the cart before the horse. Instead, they should be interested in being with God. When they have gained access to God, they will then gain heaven, for that is where God dwells in eternity. If they have gotten into his eternal presence, they will of course therefore, be in heaven. They will also have peace in their consciences and spirits, though not because they are going to heaven. They have this peace because they know that their sins have been forgiven. They know that their sins have been canceled because they believe the promise: that their “sins are forgiven freely for Christ's sake” (Eph 1:7). Only those who believe this, that their sins are remitted through faith in Christ alone, have true peace of conscience and spirit. To the degree that they rely even a little bit on their religion, their works, their morality, or their so-called goodness, to that degree, they lack peace. To that degree, they worry about heaven. But when they know that they have most certainly been forgiven of all their sins, they no longer worry about heaven because they know that they stand in his grace by faith, and rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I trust in you alone as the one who has negotiated my salvation. Amen. 

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 24 Jun 21 00:00:00 -0500

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2 Corinthians 5:17–21

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

It will then become easy to state the minor premise if we know how the remission of sins happens. The adversaries carelessly dispute whether the forgiveness of sins and the infusion of grace are the same change. Being idle men, they do not know what to answer. In the forgiveness of sins, the terrors in the heart about sin and eternal death must be overcome, as Paul testifies, “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 15:56-57). In other words, sin terrifies consciences through the law that reveals the wrath of God against sin. Yet we gain the victory through Christ. How? By faith, when we comfort ourselves with confidence in the mercy promised for Christ's sake. Thereby, we prove the minor proposition. The wrath of God cannot be appeased if we set against it our own works, because Christ has been set forth as the propitiator so that for his sake, we may become reconciled to the Father. But Christ is not taken hold of as a mediator except by faith. Therefore, by faith alone we obtain forgiveness of sins, when we comfort our hearts with confidence in the mercy promised for Christ's sake.

Pulling It Together: Søren Kierkegaard wrote in Sickness Unto Death that we acquire a new appreciation of ourselves when the self is viewed “directly in the sight of God.” When we see ourselves as God sees us, everything changes. And it is terrifying. So long as we are our own measure, everything seems right enough; we are barely troubled by our thoughts and actions. The only time we are bothered at all is when we have said or done something wrong and it has become public enough that it brings about uncomfortable consequences. We are then forced to measure ourselves by the views of others.

What a difference there is between our own standards and how others measure us. Still, when the trouble blows over, we fall back into a personal measurement of self. We seem good enough again. However, when God becomes the measure of a person, an absolute measure of our state is understood. “Getting God as a measure” is terrifying. We are backed up to the doorjamb of his holy righteousness and we discover that we do not measure up. The thought that makes sin so dreadfully alarming is that one no longer stands against his or her own measure but is reckoned by the measure of the Almighty.

When one realizes their true measurement against God's standards, eternal death now constantly looms nearby. So, how do we conquer eternal death? How might we even overcome the fear of it? We cannot, except by God's view of us being changed. We cannot, however, change the way he regards us though love and good works. We will never measure up. God's view of us is only altered when we are “in Christ.” When he sees us through the skin, so to speak, of his own Son, we measure up. This is nothing that we do; it has been done for us and the new measure is given to us freely.

This is the only way that we can ever be confident when being viewed “directly in the sight of God.” When we realize that, clothed in Christ as we are (Rom 13:14; Gal 3:27), God sees us as being in his Son, we have a sure and confident hope. So long as we attempt this through our own actions, our own measure, we remain uncertain, lacking confidence in God's mercy and love for us. But when we know that the Father is reconciled by the measure of the righteousness of his Son, then we who are by God's grace in Christ by faith are therefore justified by Christ.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for newness of life by bearing our sin and reconciling us to your Father. Amen. 

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

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 23 Jun 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Psalm 32:1–5

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

That We Obtain Remission of Sins by Faith Alone in Christ

We think that even the adversaries acknowledge that in justification the forgiveness of sins is necessary first. For we all are under sin. Therefore we reason as follows:

To receive the forgiveness of sins is to be justified, according to Psalm 32:1: “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven.” We receive the forgiveness of sins solely by faith in Christ, not through love, nor because of love or works, although love follows faith. Therefore we are justified by faith alone, understanding justification as the making of a righteous person from an unrighteous person—that one is regenerated.

Pulling It Together: It is easy to admit that everyone is a sinner, since we see the evidence in the news, in the lives of those we love, and certainly in our own lives. Scripture also plainly states that, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23). Because sin has caused a fall so great as to remove us from the presence of God's glory, our sin needs covered. Adam and Eve understood this and covered themselves with fig leaves after they sinned (Gen 3:7). Notice how Adam's and Eve's works were refused by God? They tried to cover their sins but even they understood that their figgy outfits were inadequate. So they hid themselves among the trees of the garden (Gen 3:8).

Try as we might, our own efforts are unequal to the task. It is God alone who is able to cover our sins. So, from the skins of the very animals Adam was charged to care for, God made them a more lasting covering (Gen 3:31). Justification is that blessed relationship with God that happens when one's sin is covered. It is the forgiving and covering of sins that only God can do for us. “Blessed is the one...whose sin is covered” (Psa 32:1).

Prayer: Help me, Lord, to do all I can to please you but rely upon you alone for the covering of my sin. Amen. 

Genesis "Old Places, New Faces" Series   Places have to do with geography. In the Bible, we find God's people in many different places, both physically and spiritually, in their relationship to the Creator and Savior. We, like them, journey through many lands in our Christian walk. We move from chaos to order, from Ur to Canaan, and from obedience to disobedience. As we become more acquainted with our spiritual geography, we will better discern where God would have us go or what changes we need to make in order to serve Him better.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 22 Jun 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 4:1–5

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

The particle “alone” offends some, although even Paul says, “For we hold that a man is justified by faith apart from works of law” (Rom 3:28). Again, “It is the gift of God — not because of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph 2:8b-9). Again, “They are justified by his grace as a gift” (Rom 3:24). If the exclusive “alone” displeases, let them remove from Paul also the exclusives “freely,” “apart from works,” “as a gift,” etc. For these also are exclusives. We do exclude the idea of merit. We do not, however, exclude the Word or Sacraments, as the adversaries falsely charge us. For we have said above that faith is conceived from the Word, and we honor the ministry of the Word in the highest degree. Love also and works must follow faith. Therefore, they are not excluded as things that follow faith. But confidence in the merit of love or in works is excluded in justification. And this we will clearly show.

Pulling It Together: Imagine a man condemned to spend the rest of his life in prison. One day, the word comes from the jailer that the president has pardoned his offense. It is too good to be true. Decades later, he dies, still sitting in prison. He never could believe the guard's report that a criminal like himself had been set free. After all, there had been no conditions, only the promise of the president. So, the man spent his remaining years in prison, working off his sentence and trying to become a good man. He was only freed from prison by his own death.

It seems incredible that one could be delivered from their eternal fate because they simply believe. Surely there must be more to Christianity than that. There must be rules and regulations, things to do and observe. If people are such wretched sinners, they must have to do something to become righteous and escape the consequences. Nevertheless, Lutherans confess that we are saved by God's grace alone, this happening through faith and not works of the law. 

Prayer: Help me believe your good word alone, Lord, instead of the religion that I would add. Amen. 

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: A 15-Week House-Church Model Resource & Session Book, 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/summaries.html Mon, 21 Jun 21 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Peter 1:3–5

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

But when we confess that faith justifies, perhaps some understand it as the beginning of justification or preparation for justification. But then it would not be faith itself through which we are accepted by God, but the works that follow faith. Accordingly, they would imagine that faith is highly praised because it is the beginning. The beginning is important because the beginning is half of everything, as they commonly say. It is just as if one would say that grammar makes the teachers of all arts, because grammar prepares for further arts—although in fact it is his own art that renders every one an artist. We do not believe this about faith, but we maintain that properly and truly, by faith itself, we are accounted righteous for Christ's sake, or are made acceptable to God. And because "to be justified" means that just persons are made out of unjust people, or born again, it also means that they are pronounced or accounted just. For Scripture speaks in both ways. Accordingly, we desire to first show this: that faith alone makes an unjust person into a just person, that one receives forgiveness of sins by faith alone.

Pulling It Together

What else do I need to do? Nothing. Christ has done it all. He has taken unrighteous sinners and assigned his own righteousness to their account. This is not the beginning of salvation, to which you must now add your own deeds to the work of Christ. He has done it all. Now, you will want to respond with all kinds of good deeds but remember that these do not justify you to God. Christ alone justifies you. He has at once converted you and made you righteous. You are born again to the Christ-life. All this happened when you believed in Christ when faith in him was kindled in a sinner's heart.

Prayer: Your righteousness is all I need, Lord. Amen. 

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 20 Jun 21 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Timothy 2:3–6

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

Now we will show that faith justifies. In the first place, readers must be reminded that just as it is necessary to maintain that Christ is mediator, it is necessary to defend that faith justifies. For how will Christ be mediator if in justification we do not use him as mediator, if we do not hold that we are accounted righteous on his account? But to believe is to trust in the merits of Christ, that God certainly wishes to be reconciled with us for his sake. Likewise, just as we ought to maintain that the promise of Christ is necessary apart from the law, it is also necessary to maintain that faith justifies. For the law cannot be performed unless the Holy Spirit is first received. It is necessary, therefore, to maintain that the promise of Christ is essential. Yet his promise cannot be received except with faith. Therefore, those who deny that faith justifies, set aside both Christ and the gospel by teaching nothing but the law.

Pulling It Together

Even our currency proclaims Christ alone. “In God we trust.” What is unwritten is that we do not trust in money or what it buys—or who does the buying. Yet when it comes to religion, we want to trust in the things we do, as though they can buy salvation. So we must be reminded that in order to receive salvation one must be reconciled to God and that this requires a go-between. Someone must have earned the status with God to stand between him and sinners, or lawbreakers. There is only one on whose account we may be reconciled with God. Christ alone bridges the gap without our having done a thing, apart from the law. This means that we believe in what Christ has done and not what we do. Even if we wanted to get right with God through keeping the law or doing good works, we could not do so without the help of the Holy Spirit. Yet the Spirit is not given except through faith and trust in Christ alone.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for not only paying the ransom for us all but for being that ransom. Amen.

 

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/summaries.html Sat, 19 Jun 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 10:13–17

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

Since we do not speak of such faith as an idle thought, but that which liberates from death and produces a new life in hearts, and is the work of the Holy Spirit, it does not coexist with mortal sin. Rather, as long as it is present, it produces good fruit, as we will address later. What can be said more simply and more clearly about the conversion of the wicked, or concerning the mode of regeneration? Having so great an array of writers, let them produce a single commentary upon the Sentences that speaks of the mode of regeneration. When they speak of the habit of love, they imagine that men merit it through works, just as the Anabaptists now teach. They do not teach that it is received through the Word. But God cannot be dealt with, he cannot be apprehended, except through the Word. Accordingly, justification occurs through the Word, just as Paul says that the gospel is, “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes,” (Rom 1:16) and that, “faith comes from what is heard” (Rom 10:17). From this, we confess that faith justifies because if justification occurs only through the Word, and the Word is apprehended only by faith, it follows that faith justifies. Yet there are other more important reasons. So far, we have said these things so that the nature of that faith we are talking about is understood and to explain how regeneration occurs.

Pulling It Together: Faith is not ineffectual—or as some insinuate, “pie in the sky.” Faith is a light, life, and force in a person that renews the heart, mind, and spirit (1 Thes 5:23). Faith makes new people of those who believe in Christ. Since it does these things, it does not coexist with willful sin, for how can light and darkness coexist (2 Cor 6:14)? Instead, faith produces good fruit. This kind of faith is received through the Word of God. This is why justification is received in the same way. Justification, the saving faith that reconciles God, comes by what is heard through the Word. One does not earn justifying faith; one receives it by the word of Christ.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for the light of your Word that illuminates the path of faith. Amen.

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/summaries.html Fri, 18 Jun 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Luke 24:45–49

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

That Faith in Christ Justifies

So that no one thinks that we are talking about an idle knowledge of the history, we will first explain how faith is received. Then we will show both that it justifies and how this ought to be understood. Last, we will explain the objections of the adversaries.

In the last chapter of Luke, Christ commands that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name (Luke 24:47). The gospel declares that all people are under sin and are subject to eternal wrath and death, yet for Christ's sake offers the forgiveness of sin and justification. These are received by faith. The preaching of repentance accuses us and frightens consciences with true and severe terrors. Surrounded by these accusations and terrors, hearts must receive consolation. This happens if they believe the promise of Christ, that on account of him we receive the forgiveness of sins. This faith that encourages and comforts despite these fears, receives forgiveness of sins, justifies, and gives life. Indeed, this consolation is a new and spiritual life. These things are plain and clear, can be understood by God-fearing people, and have testimonies of the Church. Yet nowhere can our adversaries say how the Holy Spirit is given. They imagine that the sacraments confer the Holy Spirit ex opere operato, without an upright movement in the recipient, as though the gift of the Holy Spirit were an idle matter.

Pulling It Together: Saving faith does not happen because one performs the right deeds or recites the correct formula or prayer. Nor does it come about all at once. First, the word of God accuses the conscience that it is corrupt. It does not charge us with being a little bit bad, for we are not and that would do us no good. We must be convicted that we are wretched and miserable sinners, sold out to sin. This must seriously concern us; we must be terrified of the consequences of our sin. Next, God's word offers us the consolation of hope, that because Christ offered himself to God as payment for our sin debt, those who believe or have faith in his death and resurrection are forgiven. Last, this faith encourages and comforts people through Christ's gift of the Holy Spirit. So, faith is an active trust in God; it is not doing or reciting religious things by those who believe in the history of Christianity but do not believe in Christ.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for suffering in my place that I too may be raised from the dead to live with and for you. Amen. 

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.

Other books in the "Old Place, New Faces" series.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 17 Jun 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Psalm 50:8–15

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

Therefore, the fathers too were not justified by the law, but through the promise and faith. It is astonishing that the adversaries diminish faith to such a degree, although they see that it is everywhere praised as an eminent service, as in Psalm 50:15: “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you.” God wishes himself to be known and worshiped in this way: that we receive benefits from him because of his mercy, not due to our merits. This is the richest consolation in all afflictions. But the adversaries abolish such consolations when they diminish and disparage faith by teaching that people only conduct themselves toward God by means of works and merits.

Pulling It Together: Daily sacrifices were performed at the temple in Jerusalem because God commanded them. Sacrifice was done as an outward expression of grateful dependence upon God. Note how David offered 1,000 bulls, 1,000 rams, and 1,000 lambs to the Lord. He did not do so to appease God. Rather, he made such a large offering in thanks to God for allowing Solomon to build the temple. He did not make the offering because God, who does not eat flesh anyway, was especially hungry that day. Was David's sacrifice rebuked? Are our works and ministries to the Lord not accepted? Of course not. God is pleased when we keep our obligations and do good works. However, when we imagine that these things mitigate or altogether appease God's righteous wrath concerning our sin, or think that God is now obligated to forgive us because we have balanced a bad deed with a good one, we do not glorify God. Instead, because of our lack of faith in him, and our misguided trust in our works, we are glorifying ourselves. Furthermore, by casting aside faith for works, we lose the benefit of God's comfort and peace. So long as we can do some good work, we might delude ourselves in thinking that God is reconciled. What happens though, when one is bedridden, awaiting death, and thinks an evil thought toward a reckless caregiver? What work will be done then to counter that sin? If only that person had faith in a merciful God instead of in self and religion. 

Prayer: Give me a thankful heart today, Lord, for all your blessings. Amen. 

Saints and Sinners
Volume 3: Encouragers of the Faith

A Seven-Session Bible Study on New Testament Characters

By Dr. Dan Lioy, PhD

All those who believe and trust in Jesus as their Savior are both saints and sinners. The same was true of the people in Holy Scripture.

By virtue of our baptism into Christ, we are made holy by his saving grace. This is not something we do on our own, but something that is imputed to us by Jesus. At the same time, we are plagued by that age-old sin that makes us want to be in control of our own lives. As those who are called by God to follow Jesus in obedient discipleship, we, like many before us, have been called to be witnesses to God's saving grace in Jesus Christ.

This study is the third in a series of Saints and Sinners from the New Testament who were used by God to begin to spread the Gospel among both Jews and Gentiles. May your study of God’s saints and sinners enrich your understanding of your life with Christ and encourage you in discipleship.

 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 16 Jun 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Psalm 130:1–8

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

Throughout the prophets and the psalms this worship, this latreia, is highly praised. Although the law does not teach the free forgiveness of sins, the Fathers knew the promise concerning the Messiah, that God would remit sins on account of the Christ. Therefore, since they understood that Christ would be the payment for our sins, they knew that our works are not a payment for so great a debt. Accordingly, they freely received mercy and forgiveness of sins by faith, just like the saints in the New Testament. Here belong those frequent repetitions about mercy and faith in the psalms and the prophets, such as, “If thou, O Lord, shouldst mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand?” (Psa 130:3) Here David confesses his sins yet does not recount his merits. He adds, “But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.” (Psa 130:4) Here he comforts himself by trusting in God's mercy, and he cites the promise: “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope.” (Psa 130:5) In other words, “I am sustained by this your promise because you have promised the forgiveness of sins.”

Pulling It Together: Even the saints of old understood the kind of worship that expected blessings from God. It may not have seemed like they understood anything but a quid pro quo religion. Yet the patriarchs and prophets did know about the coming Messiah and that he would take away the sins of the world. Isaiah 53:3-7 is a good example of this ancient knowledge. Though they made offerings as prescribed by the law, they knew that these offerings in themselves were insufficient payment for their sin debt. They understood that God's mercy was his motivation for his forgiveness of their sins. So we see that the saints in the Old Testament, like those in the New Testament, had faith in God's merciful forgiveness. They trusted in his promise because he gave his word.

Prayer: I praise you, O Lord, for although my sin is great, your mercy is far greater. Amen. 

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 that 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/summaries.html Tue, 15 Jun 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 6:21–24

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

Therefore, when speaking about justifying faith, we must keep in mind that these three things concur: the promise, that it is free, and that the merits of Christ are the payment and propitiation. The promise is received by faith since the word "free" excludes our merits, signifying that the benefit is offered only through mercy. The merits of Christ are the payment since there must be a certain propitiation for our sins. Scripture frequently implores mercy, and the holy Fathers often say that we are saved by mercy. Therefore, whenever mercy is mentioned, we must bear in mind that faith is required to receive the promise of mercy. Also, whenever we speak of faith, we want an object to be understood, namely, the promised mercy. For faith justifies and saves, not on the ground that it is a worthy work in itself, but only because it receives the promised mercy.

Pulling It Together: Justifying faith, properly understood, includes these three things. First, that a promise has been made. God has promised to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9) in order to reconcile the world to himself through Christ (2 Cor 5:19). Second, that the promise is freely given. There is no condition attached to God's promise. We need do nothing and can do nothing to make his promise come to pass. Our works will not hasten the fulfillment of the promise. God freely forgives, cleanses, and reconciles to himself without any assistance from us. We do not forgive ourselves, nor do we help God forgive. We do not cleanse ourselves from unrighteousness, nor do we help God do so. We do not propitiate ourselves, and we do not assist God in reconciliation. He is not only quite capable of doing these things, he has promised to do so freely—without our merits. Third, these things are accomplished through Christ's merits. He has paid the price for our transgressions. Because the penalty for sin is death (Rom 6:23), Jesus Christ gave his own life on the cross in payment for our debt. We did not help him pay this debt in any way. Nor can we offer to pay after the tab has been settled. All we can do—or need do—is thankfully receive what has been freely offered and paid for through God's great mercy.

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, thank you for setting me free from sin and death, and for giving me your free gift of eternal life. Amen.

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 that 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/summaries.html Mon, 14 Jun 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 4:15–16

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

Faith does not merely acknowledge the history but assents to the promise. Paul plainly declares this when he says, “That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed” (Rom 4:16). For he understands that the promise cannot be received except by faith. This is why he places them together as things that belong to one another, connecting promise and faith. It is easy to determine what faith is if we consider this article in the Creed: “the forgiveness of sins.” So it is not enough to believe that Christ was born, suffered, and was raised again unless we also add the article that is the purpose of the story: “the forgiveness of sins.” To this article the rest must be related, namely, that because of Christ and not because of our merits, forgiveness of sins is given to us. Why was there a need for Christ to be offered for our sins if we could earn satisfaction for our sins through our own merits?

Pulling It Together: If a promise is made, faith—not work—is required. This is true in human relations and it is no less true in the relationship between the human and the divine. If I promise my children that we will go on vacation later in the year, they must hope with faith in me until it comes to pass. More to the point, if I promise that I love them and will not hold faults over their heads and use those mistakes against them in the future, even if they remember their mistakes, they must have faith that their father will keep his word. Indeed, they would never entertain such faith unless I had made that promise.

Just so, faith is required of us because God has made us a promise. He has pledged to forgive us all our sins because Christ satisfied the law's penalty for our trespasses. God has promised to forgive us our debts because his Son paid the price through the cross. Because he promised, faith is required; we must believe what he promised. Nor is it of any use to simply know the story of how God has accomplished this in Christ. We must have faith in his promise.

Imagine my children reminiscing after their father is in the grave. One child might say, “Remember that story about Dad promising to take us to the beach those summers? Do you know what I discovered? He and Mom really did go. I wish we had actually believed him so we could have gone too.” Then imagine the other child saying, “I wish we hadn't spent all of our summers working to earn money for vacations when we could have enjoyed the ones they wanted to give us.”

Prayer: I believe, Lord. Help my unbelief. Amen.

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 that 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/summaries.html Sun, 13 Jun 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 12:1–2

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

And the difference between this faith and the righteousness of the law is easily discerned. Faith is the latreia that receives the benefits offered by God. The righteousness of the law is the latreia that offers to God our merits. By faith God wishes to be worshiped in this way: that we receive from him those things that he promises and offers.

Pulling It TogetherLatreia is the Greek word translated in the ESV as “divine service,” “divine worship,” “service of worship,” or “service” (Rom 9:4; 12:1; Heb 9:1, 6; John 16:2). It can also be translated simply as “worship.” Earthly righteousness or doing works of the law is a service that offers moral, civil, and religious deeds to God. We should certainly offer our whole selves to God (Rom 12:1). Yet, to imagine that this appeases God's wrath or earns justification and salvation is self-deception. Heavenly righteousness or faith does not offer anything to God but instead, receives merit from God because of Christ's offering on the cross. Having received God's mercy, forgiveness, justification, and sanctification, we ought to respond in obedience for his gifts. However, our obedience should never be construed as something that earns favor with God. Instead, because of the mercies of God that we receive through faith, we should be moved to offer our very selves—our entire lives—to God.

Prayer: Fill me with the power of your Spirit so that I may offer my whole self to you today. Amen. 

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 that 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/summaries.html Sat, 12 Jun 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 5:1–2

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

What Is Justifying Grace?

The adversaries pretend that faith is only historical knowledge, and therefore teach that it can coexist with mortal sin. The result is that they say nothing about faith, by which Paul so frequently says that men are justified, since those who are accounted righteous before God do not live in mortal sin. But that faith which justifies is not merely a knowledge of history; it is an embrace of the promise of God, in which the forgiveness of sins and justification are freely offered because of Christ. Just so that no one may imagine that faith is simply knowledge, we will add further: it is to desire and to receive the offered promise of the forgiveness of sins and of justification.

Pulling It Together: Even the devils believe in Christ, if by belief we mean mere knowledge (James 2:19). Knowing stories about Jesus is not faith. Faith is a matter of the heart over the head. Faith trusts that God loves me even when I think that he cannot. Faith believes the promise of God even when I know I have failed to deserve his gift. Faith joyfully receives the grace of God, forgiveness, justification, and salvation because of Christ's merits, not because of my own deeds. My mind wonders if I have brought enough to merit these great gifts. Indeed, my mind knows that I have not done enough. But God's Spirit testifies to my heart that I am nonetheless his child (Rom 8:16), so my heart is comforted and remains confident, peaceful, and full of hope in the grace and glory of God.

Prayer: Come and reign over me and in me in spite of me, Holy Spirit. Amen. 

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 11 Jun 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Philippians 3:8–9

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

Accordingly, this particular faith (by which a person believes that individual sins are forgiven because of Christ, and that on account of him, God is reconciled and propitious) obtains forgiveness of sins and justifies us. And because in repentance, that is in a terrified conscience, faith comforts and encourages hearts, regenerates us and brings the Holy Spirit so that then we are able to fulfill God's law—specifically, to love God, truly fear God, really be confident that God hears prayer, obey God in all afflictions, kill concupiscence, etc. So, because faith freely receives the forgiveness of sins and sets Christ as the mediator and propitiator against God's wrath, it does not present our merits or our love. This faith is the true knowledge of Christ, making use of the benefits of Christ; it regenerates hearts and precedes the fulfilling of the law. Not a syllable about this faith exists in the doctrine of our adversaries. Therefore we find fault with them, both because they teach only the righteousness of the law, and because they do not teach the righteousness of the gospel, which proclaims the righteousness of faith in Christ.

Pulling It Together: Ironically, so-called personal faith does not rely upon personal works but upon the person of Christ. It is solely because of him that God is reconciled and made favorable toward us. We are forgiven and made righteous because of Christ alone. We confess this to be true; we believe it is so, therefore we do not work to make it happen. Instead, we have faith that God in Christ has made it to be true. This same faith in Christ conveys his Spirit who compels us to believe all the more. He changes our natural inclinations so that we are enabled to keep the law of God—to pray to a Father whom we now believe genuinely loves us and cares for us, and to love and worship him more each day no matter what each day brings. This faith in Christ precedes good works because it is the true knowledge of him upon whom all righteousness and righteous deeds depend. 

Prayer: Help me depend more upon you than myself, Lord, and believe that your righteousness is at work within me. Amen. 

Teach Us to Pray is an eight-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.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 10 Jun 21 00:00:00 -0500

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2 Corinthians 3:4–5

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

Since justification happens through a free promise, it follows that we cannot justify ourselves. Otherwise, why would there be a need to promise? For since the promise cannot be received except by faith, the gospel—inherently the promise of the forgiveness of sins and of justification for Christ's sake—proclaims the righteousness of faith in Christ, which the law does not teach. Nor is this the righteousness of the law. For the law requires works and perfection from us. But for Christ's sake, the gospel freely offers reconciliation to we who have been defeated by sin and death. This reconciliation is received not by works, but by faith alone. Such faith does not bring confidence in one's own merits to God, but only trust in the promise, or the mercy promised in Christ.

Pulling It Together: How misleading—and even rude—it would be to invite people to a party and then demand that they serve the guests in order to stay. Imagine a boy asking a girl out on a date and then telling her that she had to pay for the movie in order to remain his friend. That is essentially the scene we paint of God when we add the requirement of works to justification and salvation. God is perfectly within his rights to demand anything of us. He might have required that we must perfectly recite the Athanasian Creed in order to get into heaven. He could have demanded perfect attendance at church. He could have made the performance of things obligatory as he did under the old covenant. Instead, he has given us a promise through a new covenant in Christ. This covenant only requires that we believe the promise, that we believe that it is God who makes us holy through the perfect, reconciling work of our Lord. It may be difficult to believe that we do not have to do anything to earn our salvation, but that is nonetheless, the one thing that is required. Believe.

Prayer: Lord, help me today to remember that you are my sufficiency and grace. Amen.

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/summaries.html Wed, 09 Jun 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 4:7–14

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

Since people cannot fulfill the law of God by their own strength, and all are under sin, subject to eternal wrath and death, they cannot be freed by the law from sin and be justified. Yet the promise of the remission of sins and of justification has been given us for Christ's sake, who was given for us in order that he might make satisfaction for the sins of the world, having been appointed as mediator and propitiator. This promise is not dependent on our merits but freely offers the remission of sins and justification as Paul says, “But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace” (Rom 11:6). And elsewhere, “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from law” (Rom 3:21). In other words, the remission of sins is freely given. Nor does reconciliation depend upon our merits. If the forgiveness of sins depended upon our merits, and reconciliation were from the law, it would be useless. Since we cannot fulfill the law, it would also follow that we would never obtain the promise of reconciliation. Thus Paul reasons, “If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void” (Rom 4:14). For if the promise required the condition of our merits and the law that we never fulfill, it would follow that the promise would be useless.

Pulling It Together: Circumcision was a seal or sign of Abraham's faith in God's promise. It was not a requirement for earning God's grace. Rather, it was a sign that Abraham believed what God promised. Even so, the promise of God's complete forgiveness is for those who believe his promise, not for those who have been circumcised or have in any other way become virtuous enough to receive God's gift. His priceless gift is freely given because of what his Son accomplished—not because of our achievements. First, we cannot achieve righteousness by keeping the law. It simply is not possible, as has been demonstrated earlier. Peter came to the same conclusion (Acts 15:10). Second, if God's grace is freely given, how is it that some say it must be earned, that people must somehow merit God's forgiveness? If one has to earn God's grace through works, then his grace is not grace at all. Furthermore, since we cannot even love God with our whole heart and soul and mind and strength (Mark 12:30), we cannot keep the law at all. For whoever thinks he has kept the law but has failed in even one part of it, is guilty of breaking all of the law (James 2:10). So if meriting God's favor is based on our works, one easily sees that a promise of grace is altogether useless, since no one would ever be the recipient of that promise.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for giving me your grace in spite of myself. Amen. 

Subscribe to Connections Magazine today. Connections features articles that connect Lutherans to the Word. Martin Luther’s Small Catechism provides the inspiration for confessional, biblical content, delivered in a stylish, readable design. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 08 Jun 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Genesis 3:8–10

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

Lastly, it was very foolish for our adversaries to write that men who are under eternal wrath deserve the remission of sins by an act of love that springs from their mind since it is impossible to love God, unless the forgiveness of sins is first received by faith. For the heart that truly feels that God is angry cannot love God unless God's reconciliation is confirmed. As long as he terrifies us and seems to be casting us into eternal death, human nature is not able to take such courage so as to love a wrathful, judging, and punishing God. It is easy for idle people to imagine fantasies concerning love—such as a person guilty of mortal sin being able to love God above all things—because they do not understand what the wrath or judgment of God is. But in the agony and conflicts of conscience, the conscience experiences the emptiness of such philosophical speculations. Paul says, “For the law brings wrath” (Rom 4:15). He does not say that by the law men earn the remission of sins. For the law always accuses and terrifies consciences. Therefore it does not justify, because the conscience terrified by the law flees from the judgment of God. Those who trust that by the law, by their own works, they merit the remission of sins, are therefore mistaken. It is sufficient for now for us to have said these things that the adversaries teach about the righteousness of reason or of the law. For after a while, when we will declare our belief concerning the righteousness of faith, the subject itself will compel us to cite more testimonies that will also be of service in overthrowing the errors of the adversaries that we have critiqued so far.

Pulling It Together: The law is always accusing us of wrongdoing. That is the law's job. Furthermore, we know that the law is right. In ourselves, we have no leg to stand on. The law has us dead to rights. Knowing that we have sinned against God, like Adam and Eve, we hide behind trees. God's response about our sin has made us fearful from the beginning. Adam and Eve were no longer interested in walking with God in the garden. Instead, their sin caused them to want to get as far away from him as possible. This law that drives us away from God will not suddenly draw us toward him. So, how can this law, the doing of things, somehow make us right with God when it is always telling us the exact opposite? It cannot. It does not, no matter how much we may wish it otherwise.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for covering my sin and helping me to walk with you again. Amen. 

The Ten Commandments book is a ten-week unit, Confirmation workbook 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/summaries.html Mon, 07 Jun 21 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Samuel 16:6–7

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

The flesh certainly does not love God if the carnal mind is belligerent toward him. If it cannot be subject to the law of God, it cannot love him. If the carnal mind is hostile toward God, the flesh sins, even when we do external civil works. If it cannot be subject to the law of God, it certainly sins even when, according to human judgment, it possesses deeds that are excellent and worthy of praise. The adversaries consider only the precepts of the Second Table which contain civil righteousness that reason understands. Content with this, they imagine that they satisfy the law of God. In the meanwhile, they do not see the First Table that commands that we love God, that we declare as true that God is angry with sin, that we truly fear God, and that we declare as certain that God hears prayer. But the human heart without the Holy Spirit either in security despises God's judgment, or in punishment flees from and hates God when he judges. So, it does not obey the First Table. Since contempt of God, and doubt concerning the Word of God, and about the threats and promises, are inherent to human nature, people truly sin even when they do virtuous works without the Holy Spirit because they do them with a wicked heart. According to Romans 14:23, “whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” Such persons perform their works with contempt of God, just as Epicurus does not believe that God cares for him, or that he is regarded or heard by God. This contempt corrupts works that are seemingly virtuous because God judges the heart.

Pulling It Together: God is concerned, though not primarily so, with the things that we do. The external matters such as are found in the second table of the law are there—in second place—for a reason. Keeping the Sabbath or the Lord's Day should not be your focus, as it is not God's primary interest in you. Honoring parents, murder, adultery, theft, lying, and coveting are all external matters that are of secondary importance. For if you keep the first table—that which is internal or of the heart—you will surely keep the second table, which is an external work. Since God looks at the heart, we ought to concern ourselves primarily with loving him with our whole self. Then the other eight commandments will be kept as well. This is why Jesus could say, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15) Though some people can keep the second table, they are still in sin if they do not keep the first. For only the person who has received God's grace by being filled with his Spirit is able to keep the first table. That person is absolved of sin for Christ's sake.

Prayer: Lord, help me love you with my whole self today. Amen. 

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/summaries.html Sun, 06 Jun 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Isaiah 64:4–6

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

Jesus said, “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). He also said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” So, if it is necessary to be born again of the Holy Spirit, the righteousness of reason cannot justify us before God and does not fulfill the law. Paul writes, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23); that is, they are destitute of the wisdom and righteousness of God that acknowledges and glorifies God. Paul also writes, “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, indeed it cannot; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom 8:7-8). These testimonies are so plain that, to employ the words of Augustine that he used in this case, they do not need a sharp mind, but only an attentive hearer.

Pulling It Together: The words of Jesus are enough. If it is Jesus who makes us free, how dare we try to make ourselves free through works of the law? So some say, “Yes, he sets you free but you must add works to remain free.” This is the righteousness of reason, the fleshly, earthly righteousness that satisfies some parts of the law but cannot keep it all. Yet, even if all of the law could be kept perfectly, as has been written earlier, without the grace of God, these civil and religious works would be filthy rags (Isa 64:6) and rubbish (Phil 3:8). Who then could imagine the following two things? First, who could imagine that there is a God who loves sinners so much that he would send his Son to set them free from their bondage to sin and death? Second, who would want to imagine that people could do a better job of liberation than God?

Prayer: Oh, Son of God, thank you for setting us free from this sin that we have been in for so long. Amen. 

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/summaries.html Sat, 05 Jun 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Galatians 2:15–21

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

We have testimonies for our belief from the Fathers as well as the Scriptures. Augustine contends at great length against the Pelagians that grace is not given because of our merits. In On Nature and Grace he says, “If natural ability through the free will suffice both for learning to know how one ought to live and for living aright, then Christ has died in vain and then the offense of the Cross is made void. Why should I not cry out here too? Yes, I will cry out and with Christian grief will chide them: “You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace” (Gal 5:4; cf. 2:21). “For, being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law, that every one who has faith may be justified” (Rom 10:3-4).

Pulling It Together: Lutherans teach that Christians should do good works. However, they also confess that these works do not earn God's grace and save them from sin and death. Even if they were able to choose righteousness instead of sin as the Pelagians claim, and to do so perfectly and completely (which is ludicrous in and of itself) this would be altogether insufficient. Our good works, however fine they may seem to us, amount to nothing in the balance of justification and salvation. People are not justified by works of the law—either civil or religious. The only way a person is considered righteous by God—the only way—is through faith in Jesus Christ. If there is any other way to be justified, then Christ died for no reason. Lutherans, along with Scripture and the Church Fathers, confess that Christ is the end and fulfillment of the law with its required acts of righteousness, so that those who believe in Christ, or have faith, may be numbered by God among the righteous. 

Prayer: Heavenly Father, give me a complete confidence in your Son so that I never rely upon myself. Amen. 

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/summaries.html Fri, 04 Jun 21 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Timothy 1:12–15

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

It is also both false and dishonoring of Christ to teach that men do not sin who do the commandments of God without grace.

Pulling It Together

An external religion does not earn the grace of God. Therefore, anyone merely keeping appearances, even if they strive to keep the commandments, is still in sin. Such people, as fine and decent as they may be, are trusting their own efforts. Anyone can keep some of the law some of the time, particularly the so-called second table of the law. But without the Holy Spirit and grace in our hearts, we will never keep the first table. We will never love God with our whole hearts unless we have faith through God's grace. Furthermore, when the Spirit of grace is within us, we then come to understand that we cannot keep the law nearly so perfectly as we once imagined. We understand what poor sinners we really are and that it is impossible to be saved without faith in the merits of Christ. Augustine wrote plainly of this matter in Of the Spirit and the Letter: “Man is not justified by the precepts of a good life, but by faith in Jesus Christ.” That person greatly dishonors the Lord who thinks he makes himself sinless and holy when “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1Tim 1:15).

Prayer: Increase my faith, Lord, and save me from myself. Amen. 

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/summaries.html Thu, 03 Jun 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Jeremiah 17:5–7

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

It is also false that reason, by its own strength, is able to love God above all things and fulfill God's law. It cannot truly fear God, be truly confident that God hears prayer, be willing to obey God in death and other trials, or to not covet what belongs to others, etc. However, reason can produce civil works.

Pulling It Together: The first use of the law is social in nature, for it creates boundaries and consequences for those who do wrong. This is as far as reason or earthly righteousness goes. By itself, it can never create true love for God. It can create in a person the observance of religious duties that are often confused with true love of God. For example, the righteousness of reason can make a person mumble the Lord's Prayer without ever actually expecting a loving Father to be actively listening and desiring to answer that person's other prayers during the course of a day. Earthly righteousness might cause a person to take their children to church—because it is “the right thing to do.” But when tragedy or trial comes their way, does reason alone sustain them? As often as not, people will then turn away from the church to some other activity.

God's grace is required in order to really love him and keep his law. This is always the case but it is obvious when life gets difficult. If a person has been depending on their own external works of righteousness, their religion will begin to suffer under stress. When people rely upon their own strength, they will turn away from the Lord. But the person of faith will continue to place their confidence in God. When their own social and religious activities do not bring about anticipated results and life becomes difficult, the person of faith still loves God and walks in his ways.

Prayer: Thank you, Holy Spirit, for sustaining me with your grace. Amen. 

Family Matters is a nine-session Bible study that focuses on the first generations of God's people—Abraham and his descendants. It looks at how God's covenant promise sustained them as they navigated family relationships.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 02 Jun 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Psalm 51:1–10

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

It is also false that people are accounted righteous before God because of the righteousness of reason.

Pulling It Together: Just as people are not forgiven of their sins because of civil deeds and religious works, these works also will never make them righteous before the holy God. Their works and their external piety, no matter how fine, will never make them holy on the inside. This is why David asked God to do it; David could not. “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me” (Psa 51:10). God must do for us what we can never do for ourselves. Only the holy God can make us clean, pure, holy, righteous. We will never stand before God, or be righteous, unless he does it for us. This certainly makes the admonition of Jesus more bearable: “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 5:20). For all of our effort to keep the commandments and the Sermon on the Mount, we will only discover that we cannot. We may come close or match their external righteousness, but the only way our righteousness will exceed that of the religious crowd is if God makes us righteous within. The righteousness of reason (external, earthly righteousness) will not change us on the inside and therefore, make us righteous before God (Matt 23:27). God does this for us “through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe” (Rom 3:22).

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for sending your Son, Jesus Christ, the salvation of the world. Amen. 

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/summaries.html Tue, 01 Jun 21 00:00:00 -0500

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1 John 1:8–9

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

So it is false that we earn forgiveness of sins by our works.

Pulling It Together: There is an earthly righteousness that comes from human work and ability. Keeping the commandments, being a good citizen, exercising control over what is said, and minding one's own affairs with diligence and humility are examples of this kind of righteousness. The world would be a far better place if we all worked diligently at this earthly righteousness. Yet keeping the commandments, however perfectly, does not earn one anything but a fuller enjoyment of life (Lev 18:5). Applying the commandments to every part of life will only make for a blessed life here on earth. Earthly righteousness will never earn or merit the forgiveness of sins. Fine and decent people remain troubled about their standing before God because they know in their hearts that they are sinners. Even if they smiled at everyone and had a polite greeting, they know that they thought poorly of some. Even if they gave regularly to the local food pantry, they know that there was always more they could have done. And this is just the point. How can we ever know if we have done enough good?

So, we try to be more religious, hoping that the nagging accusations in our consciences will go away. We pile on more works, only now they are religious acts. These too, like other earthly kinds of righteousness, are fine and add to the enjoyment of life. But they will not earn the forgiveness of sins. The person who has 40 years of perfect attendance at Sunday School and worship, is still condemned by the sins he has committed. He will find no forgiveness of sins through his perfect attendance, even if he has a certificate and lapel pin to display for his lifetime effort. Imagine someone actually saying to God, “But, Lord! Lord! I have a shiny pin so I should enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 7:21-23).

There is, however, another kind of righteousness. It is not an earthly righteousness. This righteousness is heavenly and full of grace and forgiveness. It does not come from our hard work or the keeping of the commandments. Heavenly righteousness is the free gift and work of God. So, you should understand by now that even if you have an external, earthly righteousness, you must also have a righteousness that is higher and internal. Only the righteousness that is given by the work of God in Christ will free you from sin and an evil, accusing, nagging conscience. Only the righteousness of Christ graciously given to you will allow you peace of mind and lead you out of death into eternal life.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for the sweet peace and fellowship of your Spirit that I enjoy because of your grace. Amen. 

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/summaries.html Mon, 31 May 21 00:00:00 -0500

Galatians 3:23–26         Search by Scripture

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

God requires the righteousness of reason. Because of his commandment, the honorable works that the Decalog commands must necessarily be performed. According to Galatians 3:24: “So that the law was our custodian.” Likewise, “The law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient” (1Tim 1:9). For God wants those who are carnal to be restrained by civil discipline, and to maintain this, he has given laws, letters, doctrine, magistrates, penalties. This righteousness of reason, by its own strength, can work to a certain extent, although it is often overcome by natural weakness and by the devil goading it to obvious crimes. We cheerfully assign this righteousness of reason the praises that are due it (since this corrupt nature has no greater good). Aristotle rightly says, “Neither the evening star nor the morning star is more beautiful than righteousness, and God also honors it with bodily rewards.” Nevertheless, it ought not to be praised with reproach to Christ.

Pulling It Together: The law is a good thing. It teaches us how to interact with God and with each other. The law also provides necessary restraint on the uncivil elements of society so that good order may be maintained. This works—up to a point. We understand that more laws, attorneys, judges, and punishments do not make a better society. Better citizens make a better society. The law keeps us in check until something better comes along. Knowing that we have a system of law in place would never cause us to disparage public education and other programs for the improvement of the citizenry. We would hope education has an effect and the law is not necessary. We would anticipate that some, at least, would become good citizens upon whom the law was never enforced because they saw the good reason of keeping the law.

In Christ Jesus, something far better than a program of education has arrived. Before faith in Christ came, the law instructed us, but we are no longer under the law's tutelage. That kind of righteousness has been fulfilled in Christ, who through faith has made us good citizens of his kingdom.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for bringing me into the family and kingdom of your Son. Amen. 

The Spiritual Realms

A Bible Study on Heaven and Hell and Places Beyond this World

By Rev. Steven E. King

"We believe in God the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen." (Nicene Creed)

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 Corinthians 6:14)

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 30 May 21 00:00:00 -0500

Matthew 7:25–27       Index by Scripture

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

Therefore, the adversaries teach nothing but the righteousness of reason, or certainly of the law. Just like the Jews, they look upon the veiled face of Moses. As secure hypocrites who think that they satisfy the law, they excite presumption and empty confidence in works and have contempt for the grace of Christ. They drive timid consciences to despair, which while laboring with doubt can never experience what faith is, and how efficacious it is. Ultimately, they utterly despair.

Pulling It Together: The foolish person builds a house on sand. This should make me wonder about that beach house I have always wanted. Trying to live by the law is like owning a beach house. It sure looks pretty some days. The rest of the time it is a lot of work and is prone to being washed away in the next storm.

The wise person builds on the rock—or, if you will, the Rock (1Cor 10:4). She lives a life of faith in Jesus Christ. Believing in Jesus is the only sure foundation for life. Though the storms will come, the house of faith in Christ will not be washed away. The winds will blow and beat against that house, yet it will not fall, because Christ is its secure foundation.

So long as one tries to be Christian by doing things, her life will be knocked down in the end. How can she be confident in the things she does? “Surely,” she thinks, “I have failed to do enough to make God happy with my life.” But the one who is a Christian by virtue of the work Christ has done for her can be confident until the end. Whenever she wonders if she has done enough or been good enough, she thinks, “Of course, I haven't done enough or been good enough. Thank God that Christ has done it for me!” His grace is beyond sufficient (2Cor 12:9). It is a rock to build a life upon.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for being my rock and sure foundation. Amen.

Ambidextrous Christianity

A "Two-Handed" Approach to the Life of Faith

Nine-Session Bible Study by the Rev. Chris Brekke

Martin Luther was a champion of “dialectic” or “paradoxical” thinking — the idea that two truths sometimes need to be kept in tension. For example, as you drive your car down the highway, you have to be able to turn both left and right. The same is true in our Christian lives. We trust that the truth of God’s Word teaches us how to steer wisely. But it is a dialectical “two-handed” approach to our faith journey that helps us as Christ’s followers to navigate life without going into the ditches on either side.

In this nine-session Bible Study, we look at nine key questions of faith and life, letting our Lord direct us in steering on 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 may present us with.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 29 May 21 00:00:00 -0500

Titus 3:4–7         Index by Scripture

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

So as not to appear to agree with the Pelagians, they make a distinction between due merit (meritum congrui) and complete merit (meritum condigni). For, if God necessarily gives grace for due merit, it is no longer due merit, but a true duty and complete merit. They do not understand what they are saying. Once this habit of love is present, they imagine that people are able to acquire merit (de condigno). Yet they tell us to doubt whether there is even a habit present. How then, do they know whether they acquire merit partially (de congruo) or fully (de condigno)? This whole matter was fabricated by idle men who did not know how the forgiveness of sins occurs or how, in the judgment of God and through terrors of conscience, trust in works is driven out of us. Secure hypocrites always judge that they fully acquire merit (de condigno), whether the habit is present or not, because men naturally trust in their own righteousness. But terrified consciences waver and hesitate. Then they seek and accumulate other works in order to find peace. Such consciences never think that they acquire enough merit (de condigno), and they rush into despair unless they hear, in addition to the doctrine of the law, the gospel about unmerited forgiveness of sins and the righteousness of faith.

Pulling It Together: Where do these ideas come from, except from the minds of those who have turned from the clear teaching of Scripture to their own speculations? Why would one wonder whether they had fully earned God's grace? If it must be earned, is it grace? Wondering about such things is an indication that one does not understand the ways of God at all. It is not necessary to navigate the fine line between heresies such as Pelgianism (that there is no original sin and therefore one is able to be good) and conjectures about preceding (or provenient) habits of grace. Lutherans teach that one is not saved through either half or full measures of merit that are calculated on religious and self-righteous works. Rather, we are altogether saved—not partially but completely—by God's doing, not ours. He did so because of his mercy, not because one has developed a habit that deserves God's further grace. He saved us through the regeneration and renewal of his Spirit who is poured out on us so richly through Christ that we need not wonder if we have enough grace. Grace is not accumulated by the person but extravagantly gifted by God. Of course there is meritum condigni. How could there be anything but complete merit since it is God who gives it so freely? How could there be anything but meritum congrui or partial grace if one were trying to earn God's favor? In that case, just to be clear, there would only be worthless religion (Matt 7:21-23) and no grace at all—since it cannot be earned. 

Prayer: Thank you, God, for saving me so completely. Amen. 

Lord, Teach Us to Pray

by Kent Groethe and Steve King

Discover the  Joy of Talking to God ...
Lord, Teach Us to Pray is a eight-session curriculum on prayer intended for youth. Based on the themes of the Lord’s Prayer, it uses a Bible Study format, with each lesson including multiple Scripture texts along with the related section of Luther’s Small Catechism. 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.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 28 May 21 00:00:00 -0500

Psalm 139:23–24           Index By Scripture

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

So as not to pass by Christ altogether, the adversaries require a knowledge of the history of Christ, and attribute him with giving us, as they say, prima gratia, "first grace," which they understand as a habit that disposes us to more readily love God. Yet what they ascribe to this habit is of little importance because they imagine that the acts of the will are of the same kind before and after this habit. They imagine that the will can love God but that this habit stimulates it to do so more cheerfully. They ask us to first merit this habit by preceding merits; then they tell us to earn an increase of this habit and eternal life through works of the law. Hence they bury Christ, so that men do not use Christ as as a mediator and believe that because of him they freely receive remission of sins and reconciliation. Rather, they dream that by their own fulfillment of the law they merit the remission of sins and are accounted righteous before God. Nevertheless, the law is never satisfied, since reason does nothing except certain civilized acts, while neither fearing God, nor truly believing that he cares. Although they speak of this habit, without the righteousness of faith, people cannot love God or even understood what the love of God is.

Pulling It Together: The Reformers were answering challenges from a church that really believed it was their own works that earned them eternal life. Take that in for a moment. It is a little difficult to conceive of today, as we have benefited for five centuries from the Lutheran Confession. But in the early sixteenth century, the church believed that knowing the story of Jesus was only the beginning of the Christian religion. Somehow, knowing about him gave one the disposition to please God. This adjustment of human nature, it was taught, would allow people to perform increasing acts of piety and devotion that would earn them favor, forgiveness, and righteousness with God. In the meanwhile, they do not avail themselves of Christ's merits, for he was only the beginning of religion. They have become the next step in their supposed salvation. All of this happens, they imagine, by virtue of their own religious works. All the while, they fail to keep the first commandment. For without the righteousness given by God through faith, people will never love him with their whole heart. Evidence of this is the anxiety they will feel the next time they sin. “What do I need to do to fix my sin?” they will worry, not knowing that their sin has already been fixed—and not by any work of their own. 

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for knowing me and leading me in the everlasting way. Amen. 

Speaking for Christ: Everyday Evangelism through the Promise of Forgiveness

by Rev. Hugh Brewer and the Rev. Dr. Steven E. King

"Speaking for Christ" is a Bible study on evangelism and what it means to share the message of Jesus in our everyday life. It approaches the subject by focusing on how God uses us to be his ambassadors and drives to the heart of the reason Jesus came into the world, to reconcile the world to himself through the proclamation of repentance and forgiveness of sins.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 27 May 21 00:00:00 -0500

Galatians 6:14–16         Index by Scripture

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

In this opinion, there are many great and pernicious errors that would be tedious to enumerate. Let the discreet reader consider only this: If this is Christian righteousness, what difference is there between philosophy and the doctrine of Christ? If we earn the remission of sins by these deceitful acts, of what benefit is Christ? If we can be justified by reason and the works of reason, of what need is Christ or regeneration? These opinions have caused the matter to come the point that many ridicule us because we teach that something other than philosophic righteousness must be sought. We have heard that some have set aside the gospel, and instead of a sermon, explain the ethics of Aristotle. Indeed, such men did not err if those things that the adversaries defend are true. For Aristotle wrote so learnedly about civil morals that nothing further concerning this is necessary. We see books in which certain sayings of Christ are compared with the sayings of Socrates, Zeno, and others, as though Christ had come for the purpose of delivering certain laws through which we might merit the remission of sins, as though we did not receive this freely because of his merits. Therefore, if we receive the doctrine of the adversaries—that by works of reason we earn remission of sins and justification—there will be no difference between philosophic—or certainly pharisaic—and Christian righteousness.

Pulling It Together: Do not suppose that Melancthon will not list some other errors as he develops this Article. By saying, "consider only this," he causes us to clearly see the main error that the Lutherans' opponents make. Their error was equating human philosophy with the work of God in Christ. If Christianity is simply another philosophy, then Christ and the cross offer no distinctive benefit to sinners. If one may earn a righteous standing before God through reason and philosophy, then why did God need to send his Son? If we may be justified with God by earning grace through reason then why do we hear that God gives grace freely? The error of the opponents reduces Christianity to pharisaism—one that makes a new law to keep, a law of reason and philosophy. But the Lutheran boast is in Christ and his cross alone, foolishness to the world but the very wisdom of God.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me trust in your work on the cross instead of my works and reason. Amen. 

The 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.

• Unit 1   • Unit 2   • Unit 3

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 26 May 21 00:00:00 -0500

1 Corinthians 3:18–23        Index by Scripture

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

Here, having followed the philosophers, the scholastics teach only a righteousness of reason, namely civil works, and furthermore, concoct that reason without the Holy Spirit is able to love God above all things. So long as the human mind is at ease and does not feel the wrath or judgment of God, it can imagine that it wants to love God and that it wishes to do good for God's sake. In this manner, the scholastics teach that people merit the remission of sins by doing what is in them, that is, when reason grieves over sin, elicits an act of love to God, or wishes to do good. Since this opinion flatters people, it has produced and multiplied many services in the Church like monastic vows and abuses of the mass. With this opinion, in the course of time, one act of worship or observance and another has been devised. In order that they might nourish and increase confidence in such works, they have affirmed that God necessarily gives grace to those doing these works, not by the necessity of constraint but of immutability.

Pulling It Together

The whole problem of the scholastics, as it is with the world's philosophers, is that they believed that people are capable of being good. As a result, people who think this way, lull themselves into a state of calm, imagining that everything will be fine so long as they are good enough or religious enough or somehow balance the books against their debt of sin. But people are not good. Yes, it pains us to hear it but it is helpful to know it or to be reminded. Luther teaches that God “does not regard or consider anything in us as good. And in this way we are already good as long as we recognize nothing as good except God’s good and our own good as evil, for he who is wise in this way with God is truly a wise and good man. For he knows that nothing is good outside of God and that in God everything is good. As Christ says: 'The kingdom of God is within you' (Luke 17:21). It is as if He were saying: 'Outside of you is exile. Outside of you is everything which is seen and touched, but within you is everything which is believed only by faith'” (Luther's Works, Vol. 25, p. 383). Do you see that it is only God at work within you that brings about any real good in your life? And if it is God who is doing it, it is not you who does these good works, but instead the Spirit who is at work within you. How then would we imagine that we must do good works before God would offer us his grace? If there is anything immutable about God, it is that he offers his grace freely to all (Titus 2:11).

Prayer: Holy Spirit, work in me your will today. Amen. 

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.

Volume 1  • Volume 1 Leader's Guide  • Volume 2  • Volume 2 Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 25 May 21 00:00:00 -0500

Mark 12:28–31.      Index by Scripture

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

Of these two parts, the adversaries choose the law because human reason naturally understands the law in some way (since it has the same judgment divinely written in the mind). They seek the remission of sins and justification through the law. But the Decalogue requires not only outward civil works that reason can to some degree produce; it also requires other works that are placed far above reason, namely, to truly fear God, to truly love God, to truly call upon God, to be truly convinced that God hears us, and to expect his aid in death and in all afflictions. Finally, it requires obedience to God in death and all afflictions so that we may not flee from these or refuse them when God imposes them.

Pulling It Together: Some things come to us naturally. For example, we can look at the beauty and complexity of nature and understand that there must be a creator. Yet, we do not instinctively know who the creator is, let alone begin to truly and completely love God (Deut 6:5; Mark 12:30). When we learn who God is, we quickly discover that we cannot keep his law. Yet there are some who insist that people can somehow work off the fine that has been levied for their sins (Rom 6:23). Those who opposed the Reformers believed that human effort could appease the wrath of God. To be fair, there are some things the law requires that we are completely capable of fulfilling (James 2:10). However, we cannot pick and choose the ceremonies and other requirements of the law that we determine are necessary; we are obligated to keep the entire law (Gal 5:3). If one is to depend upon the law, the whole law must be kept (James 2:10). Yet we must admit that even the first commandment eludes us—since we have other idols and do not love God with our whole heart and mind and strength. Nor do we trust him. A solid proof of this assertion is our seeking to satisfy his righteous law by our own works, instead of depending upon God.

Prayer: Blessed are you, Father, for quieting the unrest of my soul and setting my spirit free. Amen.

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.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 24 May 21 00:00:00 -0500

Galatians 3:21–23          Index by Scripture

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

All Scripture ought to be divided into these two main topics: the law and the promises. In some places Scriptures present the Law, while in others the promise concerning Christ, either when it promises that Christ will come and for his sake offers the remission of sins, justification, and eternal life, or in the gospel, after he appeared, Christ himself promises the remission of sins, justification, and eternal life. Furthermore, in this discussion, by “law” we designate the Ten Commandments, wherever they are found in the Scriptures. At present, we will not say anything about the ceremonial and judicial laws of Moses.

Pulling It Together: The defense of the doctrine of justification begins with a definition of terms. The revelation of God is understood easily by seeing it in its simplest functions. The Old Testament presents God's commandments. Further refining the definitions, the present discourse will be dealing with the law in terms of the root of all scriptural law: the ten commandments. The New Testament, on the other hand, though it does deal with law just as the Old Testament shows God's grace, more generally handles God's promises or grace that answers the law. Without acknowledging these definitions, it is unlikely that one will readily understand that people are imprisoned under law of God and liberated by the grace of Christ. Grace, faith, and justification must always be considered in contrast to the law and the commandments.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, for setting me free from sin and death. Amen. 

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/summaries.html Sun, 23 May 21 00:00:00 -0500

Romans 5:1–2      Click here for Scripture Index

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification

In the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and, below, in the Twentieth Article, they condemn us, for teaching that people obtain remission of sins freely for Christ's sake, through faith in Christ, instead of by their own merits. They condemn us both for denying that people obtain remission of sins because of their own merits, and for affirming that through faith, men obtain remission of sins, and through faith in Christ are justified. This controversy addresses the chief topic of Christian doctrine which, rightly understood, illumines and magnifies the honor of Christ and brings necessary and abundant consolation to devout consciences. So we ask His Imperial Majesty to hear us with forbearance in regard to matters of such importance. For since the adversaries do not understand what remission of sins, faith, grace, or righteousness are, they woefully corrupt this topic and obscure the glory and benefits of Christ, robbing devout consciences of the consolations offered in Christ. Yet, that we may strengthen the position of our Confession and remove the charges which the adversaries raise against us, certain things must be set forth in the beginning so that the sources of both kinds of doctrine—that of our adversaries and our own—may be known.

Pulling It Together: We begin to handle a long Article with this reading, much longer than Article 2, “Concerning Original Sin.” This is the foremost of the chief articles for the Lutherans. Justification touches every other article and doctrine in the Augsburg Confession and its Defense. This could be seen in the conclusion of Article 3, Concerning Christ. Although it was noted that there was no disagreement between the Lutherans and their opponents on the doctrine of the dual nature of Christ, there was a note of what was to come in the following, lengthy Article. For it is not enough that one understands that Christ is both human and divine; one must also comprehend the benefits of his two-fold nature. One of those benefits is justification. Because Christ was qualified and just to offer a sacrifice for humanity, people may now be declared innocent of their sins, or justified with God. This happens through faith, not by a system of religious actions. As a result, “we have peace with God.” This peace of mind occurs because one never has to worry if the right thing has been done to appease God's wrath. Christ satisfied God's righteous requirement—a thing that no one else could ever do no matter how much effort is expended (Acts 15:10).

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for the peace that comes through your righteousness. Amen. 

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/summaries.html Sat, 22 May 21 00:00:00 -0500

John 20:24–28       Click here for Index by Scripture

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Christ

Our adversaries approve of the Third Article, in which we confess that there are two natures in Christ, that the Word assumed a human nature into the unity of his person; and that this same Christ suffered and died to reconcile the Father to us; and that he was raised again to reign, and to justify and sanctify believers, and so forth, as stated in the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed.

Pulling It Together: Even a doubter like Thomas understood that Jesus is both God and man. Jesus Christ is God incarnate, or in the flesh. Thomas said that he would not believe Jesus was raised from the dead unless he saw him in the flesh. Knowing he had been crucified, had died, and was buried, Thomas said he would never believe unless he verified it was the same man by seeing the nail marks in his hands and by placing his hand in the spear wound in Jesus' side. Eight days later, Jesus gave Thomas the opportunity to touch his wounds. It is not clear whether Thomas actually touched Jesus' hands and side but we know Thomas' response was, “My Lord and my God!” The resurrected body of Christ caused the famous doubter to believe in divine flesh. Those who opposed the Lutherans also believed in the dual nature of Christ. There was no disagreement between the scholastics in the church and the Reformers concerning this article. However, there was much difference on the further matters of justification and sanctification through Christ. These matters are defended in the next Article.

Prayer: Help me believe, Lord, what is written of you in the volume of the book. Amen. 

Who is Jesus? An Introductory Bible Study

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

• Student Workbook   • Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 21 May 21 00:00:00 -0500

1 Peter 3:14–16.  Click here for Scripture Index 

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Original Sin 

We think that this will satisfy His Imperial Majesty concerning the puerile and trivial sophistry used by our adversaries to pervert this article. For we know that we rightly believe and are in concord with Christ's catholic church. If the adversaries will renew this controversy, there will be no lack among us of those who will reply, defending the truth. For on this subject there are a great many times when our adversaries do not understand what they say. They often contradict themselves and do not explain correctly and logically that which is essential to original sin, or what they call defects. At this point, we have been disinclined to analyze their arguments with overly much refinement. Instead, we thought it worthwhile only to note with conventional and familiar words the belief of the holy Fathers, which we also follow.

Pulling It Together: Melancthon cut to the heart of the issue in this closing paragraph of his article defending the doctrine of original sin. The issue was truth. The Lutherans were convinced that they correctly believed. They had good reasons to believe this since both Scripture and the Church Fathers supported their position. With this in mind, Melancthon made it clear that there would be many who would defend the truth of what original sin is, if their opponents pressed the issue. This was an important matter of faith, needing a fearless defense. For if people do not understand their depraved and damnable nature how will they understand the hope that God offers in Christ? They must first become aware of human unrighteousness, that all fall short of God's glory (Rom 3:23). Furthermore, they must know that no one will be justified by doing works of the law (Rom 3:20; Psa 14:1; Eccles 7:20). Only then, may the righteousness of God be given through faith in Jesus Christ (Rom 3:22). This is foundational. It is no wonder that the Lutherans defended the doctrine of original sin at length.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for ascribing your perfect righteousness to me, an undeserving sinner from my birth. Amen. 

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

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.

More from the Versatile Budget Series

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 20 May 21 00:00:00 -0500

Genesis 3:14–19  Search by Scripture Verse

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Original Sin 

The scholastics rationalize both sin and punishment when they teach that people can fulfill the commandments of God by their own strength. Yet in Genesis, the punishment that is imposed because of original sin is described otherwise. Human nature is subjected there, not only to death and other physical problems, but also to the kingdom of the devil. It is there that this fearful sentence is proclaimed: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed” (Gen 3:15). The defects and the concupiscence are both punishment and sin. In a correct understanding, death and other physical maladies, and the dominion of the devil are punishments. For human nature has been enslaved and held captive by the devil, who provokes it with evil opinions and errors, and instigates all manner of sins. Just as the devil cannot be conquered except by the aid of Christ, we cannot free ourselves from that slavery by our own strength. Even the history of the world shows the great power of the devil's kingdom. The world is full of blasphemies against God and of unrighteous teaching, and the devil keeps tethered in these bonds those who are wise and righteous in the sight of the world. In other persons, grosser vices manifest themselves. But since Christ was given to us to remove both these sins and punishments, and to destroy the kingdom of the devil, sin, and death, the benefits of Christ cannot be recognized unless we understand our evil. For this reason, our preachers have diligently taught about these subjects, having delivered nothing novel. Instead, they have set forth Holy Scripture and the judgments of the holy Fathers.

Pulling It Together: Sin is a far more serious problem than most people realize or want to admit. In our day (at least in much of European and American societies), many people seem to think that if they ignore sin or call it something other than evil that it will go away. With such rationalizations, they imagine that there will also be no consequence for their thoughts and actions. This is largely a cultural issue. In ever-increasing ways, it is culture that informs us about what is wrong. Whereas this misinformation has certainly bled over into today's church, the problem at the time of the Reformation was more obviously religious. There were two problems regarding sin that the Reformers addressed. One, as already mentioned, the church no longer regarded sinful nature, the defects and inclination toward evil, as sin. Two, the church taught that both these inclinations and the things that they did admit to be sin could be countered by their own actions.

The teaching of Scripture however, even in its opening chapters, shows that because of the original sin of Adam's and Eve's disobedience, humanity is enslaved to sin, death, and the dominion of Satan. There is nothing people can do to free themselves from these consequences of human nature. The Lutherans confessed that only Christ can set us free from the bonds of sin, death, and the devil. Furthermore, they insisted that Christ's benefits could not be comprehended without a proper understanding of human depravity. There was nothing new or different in their doctrines, for these were the instructions of both the Bible and the Church Fathers.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, for delivering me from this bondage to sin and death. Amen. 

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

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

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 19 May 21 00:00:00 -0500

Colossians 3:5–10

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Original Sin 

But if the adversaries will contend that the fomes is an adiaphoron, not only many passages of Scripture but the entire Church will contradict them. Even though perfect agreement may not be reached, who ever dared to say that these matters were adiaphora, namely: to doubt God's wrath, God's grace, or God's Word, to be angry at the judgments of God, to be provoked because God does not immediately deliver one from afflictions, to murmur because the wicked enjoy a better fortune than the upright, to be urged on by wrath, lust, the desire for glory, wealth, and so forth? And yet godly men, as appear in the Psalms and the prophets, acknowledge these things in themselves. But in the schools they have borrowed notions from philosophy, that natural passions make us neither good nor evil, neither deserving of praise nor blame. They postulate that nothing is sin unless it is voluntary. These notions were expressed among philosophers with respect to civil righteousness, but not with respect to God's judgment. With no discretion they add the opinion that human nature is not evil. In its proper place we do not disagree with this but it is not right to twist it into an excuse of original sin. Nevertheless, these notions are read in the works of scholastics, who inappropriately mingle philosophy and social ethics with the gospel. Nor were these matters only disputed in the schools, but as usually occurs, were carried from the schools to the people. And these persuasions prevailed and suppressed the knowledge of Christ's grace by nourishing confidence in human strength. This is why Luther, wishing to declare the magnitude of original sin and of human infirmity, taught that these remnants of original sin in human nature are not in their substance adiaphora, but that they require the grace of Christ so that they will not be imputed against us, and, likewise, the Holy Spirit for their mortification.

Pulling It Together: As we have seen, part of the confutation or refutation of the Augsburg Confession was a disagreement with the Lutherans about what has been called, up until now, concupiscence. Today, Melancthon names it with the Latin word, fomes. This is just another way to say evil inclination. The Lutherans contended that this inclination is itself part of our nature. Furthermore, they insisted that this was not a matter of indifference, or adiaphoron. Not only do the Scriptures teach otherwise, so do the Church Fathers. Even if people do not act upon these fomes or lusts, even the inclination and desire being present both indicates and is a sinful nature. A sinful nature is not holy or righteous. It is sinful, no matter how we try to whitewash the tomb of this body of flesh (Rom 7:24). We sense the evils that are just under the skin, such as valuing money and all other securities more highly than God, so that trusting this fleshly security, we imagine that God's wrath against sin is not as serious as it truly is. We come to the point where we no longer call sin what it is: sin. And in doing so, we imagine we have beguiled God with our nonsensical notions, when we have only fooled ourselves.

If the people believe, as they were being (and still are being) taught, that their natural inclination toward evil is not in itself sin, that this is a matter of no concern, then why should they trust in God's grace? Or if it is thought that once baptized, this sinful disposition supposedly disappears or does not matter, then what chance is there of Christians putting to death their worldly impulses? So, Luther took a stand where people had begun to lose a sense of their need for God and his grace. He rightly taught that concupiscence or fomes is also sin. He only followed the teachings of the Fathers and the Apostles. For Paul, writing to Christians, said, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you... On account of these the wrath of God is coming” (Col 3:5-6).

Prayer: Lord, by your grace, help me mortify in myself that which is displeasing and sinful in your sight. Amen. 

 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 18 May 21 00:00:00 -0500

Matthew 5:27–30

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Original Sin 

But they contend that concupiscence is a punishment, and not a sin, while Luther maintains that it is sin. It has been cited above that Augustine defines original sin in connection with concupiscence. If there is anything wrong with this explanation, let them quarrel with Augustine. Besides Paul says, “I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet” (Rom 7:7). He also says, “I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members” (Rom 7:23). These testimonies cannot be overthrown by sophistry. For they clearly call concupiscence sin, which nevertheless, is not imputed to those who are in Christ, even though by nature it is a matter worthy of death if it is not forgiven. This, beyond all controversy, is what the Fathers believed. For in a long discussion, Augustine refutes the opinion of those who thought that concupiscence in people is not a fault, but an adiaphoron, such as the color of the body or ill health is said to be an adiaphoron.

Pulling It Together: It was not only those who penned the confutation who did not consider concupiscence, lust or the inclination and desire to sin, an actual sin in and of itself. Other Reformers thought the same thing. They used the word sin only with regards to a thing done. The Lutherans spoke in those terms too, but they were careful to note that original sin deals not only with what people do, but with the human nature that causes them to sin. Jesus also cut to the point, calling human nature itself sinful. One need not transgress by physical action to have committed a sin. Just thinking about the sin is itself a sin (Matt 5:28). Jesus sees the sin but the Lutherans' adversaries did not see lust as sin or a flaw in nature that is deserving of death and condemnation. They called it adiaphoron, something that is neutral, that one could be indifferent about, that made no more difference than the color of ones' skin. However, this was clearly not the position of Scripture, Jesus, or of the Church Fathers. Nor was it the view of the Lutherans, who along with Scripture, Jesus, and the Fathers, were not neutral toward concupiscence. They called it a sin that deserved death and damnation—unless it is forgiven by God for Christ's sake.

Prayer: Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Amen.

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/summaries.html Mon, 17 May 21 00:00:00 -0500

Ezekiel 36:25–27

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Original Sin 

Here our adversaries complain against Luther because he wrote that, "Original sin remains after baptism." They add that this article was justly condemned by Leo X. But His Imperial Majesty will find a clear slander at this point. For our adversaries know in what sense Luther intended his remark that original sin remains after baptism. He has always written that baptism removes the guilt of original sin, although the “material,” of the sin, as they call it, remains, that is, concupiscence. He even added reference to the material that the Holy Spirit, given through baptism, begins to kill concupiscence by creating new desires in people. Augustine also speaks in the same way: “Sin is remitted in baptism, not in such a manner that it no longer exists, but so that it is not imputed.” Here he confesses openly that sin exists, in the sense that it remains, although it is not imputed. This view was so agreeable to those who succeeded him that it was cited in the Decrees. In Against Julian, Augustine says, “The Law, which is in the members, has been annulled by spiritual regeneration, and remains in the mortal flesh. It has been annulled because the guilt has been remitted in the Sacrament, by which believers are born again; but it remains, because it produces desires, against which believers struggle.” Our adversaries know that this is what Luther believes and teaches. Since they cannot renounce the message, they pervert his words instead, in order to crush an innocent man with their ruse.

Pulling It Together: It is too easy to protest against Leo and the Catholics, or against Luther and the Lutherans. That would be misdirection if what we mean to do determines what the Scripture teaches us with regard to original sin. We have discovered that we are born with a nature full of unrighteousness. God gives us the sacrament of baptism to cleanse us from our sinful nature. He cleanses us with his word of promise in the water but he does even more cleansing. In baptism, he gives us a new heart; he begins to create in us a clean heart or spirit. In other words, with baptism, God begins to move in us, urging us toward his will. We contend with sinful desires long after baptism but the Holy Spirit helps us in our struggle. The God within us now gives us right desires and the strength to overcome—even if that strong desire is to ask his forgiveness when we fall in the fight. 

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for forgiving me and for giving me a new heart for you. Amen. 

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.

More from the Versatile Budget Series

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 16 May 21 00:00:00 -0500

Psalm 116:12–13

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Original Sin 

Therefore, we do not handle original sin any differently than Scripture or the Church catholic. We have cleansed from corruptions and restored to light the most important declarations of Scripture and of the Fathers that had been obscured by the sophistical disputes of modern theologians. For it is clear from the subject itself that modern theologians have not noticed what the Fathers meant when they spoke of this defect. Knowledge of original sin is necessary because the magnitude of the grace of Christ cannot be understood unless our sickness is recognized. The entire righteousness of humans is absolute hypocrisy before God unless we acknowledge that our heart is naturally destitute of love, fear, and confidence in God. For this reason the prophet says, “For after I had turned away I repented; and after I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh” (Jer 31:19). Likewise, “I said in my haste, all men are liars,” that is, not thinking correctly concerning God (Psa 116:11).

Pulling It Together: This lengthy response to the confutation (and there is a good deal yet to go) is all to show that the Lutherans taught the same thing about original sin as the Scripture and the Church. Yet they wanted to be specific about what the lack of original righteousness means, since it had become more a matter of academic debate than something readily understood in the churches. This special treatment was necessary not only as an answer to their adversaries. They taught the same thing in the Lutheran churches so that their people could truly know their need of and have a desire for Christ. The inexpressibly great treasure of divine favor and grace that the gospel offers is lost to people who do not comprehend their need of God. As Christ says, “Those who are well have no need of a physician” (Matt 9:12; Mark 2:17). We must first understand that we are all miserable sinners who are in a state of disgrace with God. The Spirit will not force someone to drink who believes there is no thirst. Thanks be to God that when the need is appreciated and grace is believed, there is nothing for us to do but drink deeply and call upon the name of the Lord.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for doing everything necessary to save me from my original nature. Amen. 

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 a 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/summaries.html Sat, 15 May 21 00:00:00 -0500

May 15, 2021

1 Corinthians 2:14–16

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Original Sin 

These views also agree with Scripture. Paul sometimes expressly regards it as a defect. “The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1Cor 2:14). Elsewhere, he sees concupiscence “at work in our members to bear fruit for death” (Rom 7:5). We could cite more passages relating to both parts of our definition but the matter is so obvious that there is no need of further evidence. Besides, the intelligent reader will be able to easily determine that being without the fear of God and without faith are more than actual guilt. They are abiding defects in our unrevived nature.

Pulling It Together

We too often consider sin something we do. It is more than what we do; sin is the reason we do the things we know to be sinful. We sin because we are full of sin. This is what Charles Wesley referred to in his hymn, “Jesus, Lover of My Soul,” when he wrote, “I am all unrighteousness.” The doctrine of original sin points out both the defect in and the very inclination of our nature. The doctrine does not state that we are born sinning but that we are born in sin (Psa 51:5). It does not take us long to get around to sinning but this is not what the doctrine teaches is wrong with us even at birth. As such, the doctrine also instructs us why everyone sins and so, why everyone is in need of the Savior. Borrowing from Wesley's hymn again: In God there is plenteous grace to be found—grace to cover all our sin. Our helpless souls hang on God alone for help. He is not only willing to save us; he has saved us entirely and renewed our minds, our natures. We are now capable to both love God and desire the good.

Prayer: Revive and enlighten my mind today so that I may love you with a thankful heart. Amen.