Sola Publishing News and Feedback http://dev.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/feed.html News, devotions and feedback blog for Sola Publishing en-us Concerning Confession and Satisfaction - part 32 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 28 Feb 24 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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Colossians 2:9–10

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

Observe what follows. If the punishments of purgatory are satisfactions, or rather “satispassions,” or if satisfactions are a redemption of the punishments of purgatory, do these passages also give the commandment that souls are to be punished in purgatory? Since this must result from the opinions of the adversaries, these passages should be interpreted in a new way. “Bear fruit that befits repentance,” and “Repent,” would mean, “Suffer the punishments of purgatory after this life.”

Pulling It Together: Jesus Christ is so completely holy and meritorious before the Father that he is holy and worthy for me. God is so pleased with his Son that he is well-pleased with those who believe in him. Christ is sufficient for you; you need nothing else but faith in him.

Compare a few translations of Colossians 2:10 to see how others have tried to express this sufficiency. “And ye are complete in him” (KJV). “You have come to fulness in him” (RSV). “In Him you have been made complete” (NASB). The Greek word used in the New Testament means to be completely filled, in the sense of being supplied with all you need. So, in Christ, we have all we need; we are well-supplied, full, complete. Nothing needs to be added to the fulness we have in Christ. 

There is no need for any satisfaction but Christ. And as there is not need for satisfactions, there is no need to invent a place for the purging of sin. Christ has sufficiently, nay, completely, accomplished this cleansing on the cross.

Prayer: Make me mature in faith toward you, O Lord, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. Amen. 

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

• Student Workbook   • Leader's Guide

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Concerning Confession and Satisfaction - part 31 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 27 Feb 24 00:00:00 +0000 Online jigsaw

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John 3:16–18

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

Thirdly, indulgences remit these satisfactions, as taught in the chapter, “Penitence and Remission,” beginning with the words, “Since from this...” But indulgences do not free us from commands like, “Repent” and, “Bear fruit that befits repentance.” Therefore it is obvious that these passages of Scripture have been wickedly distorted to apply to canonical satisfactions.

Pulling It Together: If one may buy off the need for the satisfaction, what then really, is the point—that if we have enough money, we may buy God’s remission of temporal punishments? Even if that were true (and it is not), obeying God’s commands would still be required. So, all of these passages, such as Jesus’ own word: “repent,” have been twisted to maintain a religion that weakens the relationship with God. Weakened, because it dashes our hopes. If we have no hope in the Father to forgive, the Son to justify, and the Spirit to give life, then we certainly will have no hope in ourselves—in our good works and devotion. We know better. We know we are poor and wretched sinners. All hope is lost unless we take Christ at his word. “Whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

Prayer: Help me to keep turning to your grace, Lord. Amen. 

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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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Concerning Confession and Satisfaction - part 30 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 26 Feb 24 00:00:00 +0000 Online jigsaw

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John 3:16–17

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

Secondly, the adversaries write that if any one goes to confession but refuses to undertake satisfactions, he does not sin, but will pay the penalties in purgatory. Now the following passages are, without argument, commandments pertaining to this life. “Repent.” “Bear fruit that befits repentance.” “Yield your members to righteousness for sanctification.” These cannot be distorted into satisfactions which one is permitted to refuse, for one is not permitted to refuse God’s commands.

Pulling It Together: When Scripture tells us to repent it is not speaking of something one may do beyond this life. All that goes with repentance is to be done in this life. For “it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment” (Heb 9:27). It will be too late for obedience then. Besides, all of this has been based upon a faulty premise, that assumption being that we can earn forgiveness through acts of penitence. This cannot be done in the afterlife any more than it can be done in this life. It is impossible to merit the remission of sins. To say otherwise is to disregard Christ who died for the sin of the world. It is faith, belief in Jesus Christ as Savior, that saves (John 20:31). Repentance—in this life—is surely commanded, but it is faith in Jesus Christ that justifies and saves to eternal life.

Prayer: Help me, Holy Spirit, to believe. Amen. 

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

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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Concerning Confession and Satisfaction - part 29 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 25 Feb 24 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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2 Corinthians 5:6–7

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

Many arguments can also be collected to show that these passages of Scripture do not pertain in any way to scholastic satisfactions. These men imagine that satisfactions are works that are not due; but Scripture, in these passages, requires works that are due. For this word of Christ, “repent,” is a word of command.

Pulling It Together: Good works are mandatory. But they do not appease the wrath of God against sin. Repentance is required, as it is commanded by Christ (Matt 4:17). Yet again, this requirement does not make one righteous, justify a person to God, or save to eternal life. Likewise, we are mandated to keep the Ten Commandments but keeping the commandments, even if we could perfectly do so, can not, do not, and will never satisfy God. We can make no satisfaction through repentance, good works, or acts of devotion that will atone for our sins. Only Christ can satisfy or atone for sin; and he has done so for the sins of the world. So, while works are required, we must constantly remember that they do not satisfy. This is an edge that is difficult for many to walk—because it means walking in faith alone.

Prayer: Dear Lord God, help me to trust in Christ alone. Amen. 

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

The 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.

More from the Versatile Budget Series

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Concerning Confession and Satisfaction - part 28 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 24 Feb 24 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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Romans 6:19–23

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

We also say that this is the meaning of John when he says, “Bear fruit that befits repentance” (Matt 3:8), and of Paul when he says, “Yield your members to righteousness for sanctification” (Rom 6:19). He likewise says, “Present your bodies as a living sacrifice” (Rom 12:1). When Christ says, “Repent” (Matt 4:17), he is certainly speaking of whole repentance, of the entire newness of life and its fruits. He does not speak of those hypocritical satisfactions which the scholastics imagine avail for paying off the punishment of purgatory or other punishments when those satisfactions are made by those who are in mortal sin.

Pulling It Together: We are either slaves to the devil, sin, and death, or to God, righteousness, and life. Whichever we are bonded to will determine the fruit we get. The fruit or the wages of sin is death. The fruit or wages of righteousness is life—eternal life. Be careful! This righteousness is not your own. We have observed many times in these writings that we have no righteousness of our own (Phil 3:9). That is why the apostle declares that eternal life is a free gift, given by the one who is righteous.

Because Christians have been given life, they can be fruit-bearing trees. But this fruit is nothing that they do. Quite the opposite, it is something that is done in them because they have been given life. Observe how a tree produces fruit. It happens because it is designed to bear fruit and because rain falls and sun shines. Just so, Christians are designed to bear good fruit through the life-giving agency of the Holy Spirit.

So we say that there is nothing to offer God for our sins, if we could, that would satisfy him. However, Christ the Righteous has offered himself for us and satisfied God. His righteousness and eternal life are bestowed on those who believe. Since they are now alive, they are able to bear good fruit. Clearly, this fruit is not an offering for sin, since an unforgiven, dead “tree” cannot bear fruit. Good fruit is the result of having been forgiven and made alive.

Prayer: Help me, Holy Spirit, to bear good fruit. Amen. 

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

The biblical focus in The Adventures of Paul, a five-session VBS book, is on the life of the Apostle Paul, with lessons from the Book of Acts. Here Scripture tells the story of serious man named Saul, who worked to silence Christianity — until the risen Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus and changed his life. With his new name Paul, this one who had persecuted the Church went on to become one of the greatest apostles.

Sola’s Versatile Budget Series is a simple and flexible educational Vacation Bible School curriculum designed especially for small churches, house churches, and mission congregations. The flexible format works well for groups with limited budgets, or in situations where the ages and number of students may vary from session to session. Unlike more elaborate and expensive VBS kits, this book is meant to serve as an “all-in-one” teacher’s resource. The worksheets and handouts it contains can be reproduced according to local needs. Each book in the Versatile Budget Series focuses on a particular character from the Bible, bringing together several stories on a common theme. Resources and ideas are provided for gathering time, music, activities, games, and refreshments — allowing just a few adult leaders to host a week of Vacation Bible School.

More from the Versatile Budget Series

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Concerning Confession and Satisfaction - part 27 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 23 Feb 24 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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Romans 8:12–13

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

But let us return to the main point. The Scriptures cited by the adversaries speak in no way of canonical satisfactions or of these opinions of the scholastics, since it is evident that the latter were only recently invented. Therefore it is pure deception when they distort Scripture to suit their own opinions. We say that good fruits, good works in every kind of life, ought to follow repentance, that is, conversion or regeneration. There can be no true conversion or contrition where mortification of the flesh and good fruits do not follow. True terrors, true griefs of the mind, do not allow the body to indulge in sensual pleasures, and true faith is not ungrateful to God, neither does it despise his commandments. In a word, there is no inward repentance unless it also produces outward mortification of the flesh.

Pulling It Together: We are indebted to God in Christ to no longer live in the sin for which he died. This does not mean that we no longer sin, for as long as we are in the flesh of this mortal body, there is sin and death. Therefore, we are to live by the Spirit, even if it seems in fits and starts. When we do sin, we ask for and receive God’s forgiveness. We turn to Christ for justification to God. We do not depend upon our works and devotion for putting to death our sins, or mortifying our deeds of the body. We instead, depend upon God’s grace through Christ and his sacraments (Rom 6:4). So we confess that we are not perfect—yet are perfectly forgiven. Therefore, we attempt to do God’s will, but not in order to be saved. Rather, we seek to do his will because he has already saved us by dying for our sins while we were still sinners (Rom 5:8). The truest and best mortification of sin is when a sinner believes, yet again, in the one who died for sin.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for loving poor 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.

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.

More from the Versatile Budget Series

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Concerning Confession and Satisfaction - part 26 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 22 Feb 24 00:00:00 +0000 Click for original image

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Philippians 4:5b–7

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

We have said these things not because we doubt our Confession. For we know that it is true, godly, and useful to godly consciences. But it is likely that there are many in many places who waver concerning matters of no light importance, yet do not hear teachers able to lead their consciences to peace.

Pulling It Together: The only one who is able to heal you, restore your soul, and give you peace, is near you right now. He is “at hand.” So there is no need for anxiety. Make your requests; God is listening. He has promised to hear you, so you are enabled to pray with full assurance, resting in God’s promises to love and care for you. Even when it feels like God is not near and they cannot understand why he even would be, people of faith trust in his presence and providence. Their hearts and minds are kept in Christ, despite momentary appearances. They are at rest through faith in Christ, even when they have been less than faithful, knowing that God’s promises are based on his righteousness instead of their own.

Prayer: Help me, O Lord, to always remember your nearness. Amen. 

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

The biblical focus of 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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Concerning Confession and Satisfaction - part 25 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 21 Feb 24 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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John 14:27

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction

We are not saying that you ought to fear God’s judgment. For those in the hierarchy imagine that they can easily provide against this, since they hold the keys. Of course, they can open heaven for themselves whenever they wish. We are talking about the judgments of men and the silent desires of all nations, which at this time, require that these matters be investigated and decided in such a manner that god-fearing minds may be healed and freed from doubt. Being wise, you can easily determine what will take place if at any time this hatred against you should explode. But by this favor of healing doubting consciences, you will be able to bind to yourself all nations, since all sane people regard it as the highest and most important matter.

Pulling It Together

Political and civil peace would be nice. Family peace would be a true blessing for many people. And of course, better finances and health would afford to many a certain peace of mind. Yet, even with all of these kinds of peace, we will still be troubled unless there is a deeper peace: peace with God. This is the very peace that Jesus has promised—a peace that is not like the world gives but instead, peace that comes from having faith that Christ alone reconciles us with God. So we are very careful to never attach to forgiveness satisfactions such as good deeds or acts of devotion. These works will not appease the conscience for long, let alone appease God. Nothing but Christ’s finished work (John 19:30) soothes and heals doubting and troubled consciences.

Prayer: Lord, help me to always depend upon and 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 biblical focus of The Adventures of Paul, a five-session VBS book, is the life of the Apostle Paul, using lessons from the Book of Acts. Here Scripture tells the story of serious man named Saul who worked to silence Christianity—until the risen Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus and changed his life. With his new name Paul, this one who had persecuted the Church went on to become one of the greatest apostles. 

The price of the book includes permission to reproduce the worksheets and handouts for local use. For smaller churches in a "one-room schoolhouse" setting, only one book is necessary. For churches with multiple grade levels and individual classes, we suggest that each teacher have a copy of the curriculum book.

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Concerning Confession and Satisfaction - part 24 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 20 Feb 24 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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Matthew 14:28–33

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

There are many good people for whom this doubt is more bitter than death. You do not sufficiently consider how important religion is, if you think that good people are anxious for slight reason when they begin to doubt doctrine. This doubt can have no other effect than producing a most bitter of hatred against those who ought to heal consciences, but instead, make themselves an obstacle to understanding the subject.

Pulling It Together: When I was a boy, I learned to carry a full cup of coffee to my father. I walked through the kitchen, down the carpeted hallway, and in to the living room, then handed it to him without having spilled a drop. I learned to do this by not looking at the coffee in the cup. Instead, I looked away from myself to a point where I was headed. When my father came in to sight, I then kept my eyes on him. This allowed me to walk naturally and evenly, which in turn, kept the cup of coffee level.

Doubt comes when we lose sight of the end or the object of our faith. Peter walked on the water but when his focus shifted to the wind and then the water, instead of the one who beckoned him, he was as good as sunk. How can I walk on water with this wind blowing? Peter probably thought. Whenever the object of our faith becomes something we will do or something we will believe, we will sink every time. For we will have come to believe in, or have faith in, ourselves instead of Jesus. 

We must, therefore, always be ready to call sinking and stumbling people back to the object of faith. Look! There is the hand of Jesus. Take it and know the calming of the storm.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for saving 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.

Connections Magazine 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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Concerning Confession and Satisfaction - part 23 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 19 Feb 24 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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Jude 20–23

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

You are mistaken if you think that churches should be retained only by force and arms. Men ask to be taught concerning religion. How many do you suppose there are, not only in Germany, but also in England, Spain, France, Italy, and finally even in the city of Rome, who are beginning to doubt because they see that controversies have arisen concerning subjects of the greatest importance. How many of them are silently indignant because you refuse to investigate these subjects, and rightly judge such weighty matters? For you do not rescue wavering consciences; instead, you simply command us be overthrown and annihilated by arms.

Pulling It Together: People doubt from time to time. Jesus said, “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt 26:41). It is unrealistic to think that everyone will always be strong in faith. So it is up to those who are strong in the faith to bear with the weak (Rom 15:1) and have mercy on the doubting. This is especially the case when things happen in church and society that run counter to expectations, to the way things have always been thought and done. At such times, people will naturally question and even doubt. This is not the moment to toss the lambs to the wolves. Instead, they should be the more carefully shepherded, so that, by God’s grace, they may be snatched from the fire, and spared to eternal life.

Prayer: Jesus, keep me in your love and mercy. 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 & The Foolish is a nine-session Bible study that focuses on Jesus' "people parables" — or what might 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.

Leader's Guide

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Concerning Confession and Satisfaction - part 22 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 18 Feb 24 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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Matthew 24:9–14

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction

It was your duty, Campegius, in accordance with your wisdom and in regard to matters of such importance, to have taken care that they should write nothing which might seem to diminish respect for the Roman See, either now or in the future. If the Roman See judges it right that all nations should acknowledge her as mistress of the faith, then she ought to take pains that those with learning and integrity investigate religious matters. For what will the world think if the writing of the adversaries is ever brought to light? What will posterity judge concerning these critical judicial investigations?

You see, Campegius, these are the last times, in which Christ predicted that there would be the greatest danger to religion. You, therefore, who ought to sit, as it were, in the watchtower and moderate religious concerns, should in these times employ unusual wisdom and diligence. There are many signs which, unless you heed them, threaten a change to the Roman state.

Pulling It Together: Life is hard enough without those in authority leading people astray. Scripture teaches us to have faith in Christ for forgiveness and justification. So then, when religious leaders say that people have to pay for at least some of their sins, if not the sum of their sins, people can become confused, or even indifferent to the faith. This can happen for many reasons, but it should never happen because church leaders teach that something more than faith in Christ is necessary for salvation. That sort of distortion of the basics of the Christian faith often leads to moral decay and the breakdown of society. This then, is the time for patient endurance (Heb 10:36), steadfast faith, and keeping true to the gospel of our Lord.

Prayer: Keep me in your Name, 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.

Aimed at Sunday School teachers, helpers, and coordinators, this book provides an overview of the whole Sunday Schoolhouse series. In addition to laying out the structure of a Sunday School program for pastors, coordinators and superintendents, it contains basic information for teachers and helpers on using the curricula, conducting class sessions, and creating a disciplined teaching environment. It also includes a number of ideas on incorporating into the classroom, including: story-telling, drama, memory work, and creative activities. (The same Leader’s Manual can be used for all three years of the curriculum cycle.)

See a flyer with a description of this series HERE.

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Concerning Confession and Satisfaction - part 21 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 17 Feb 24 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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2 Timothy 2:15–18

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

We hope that these aspersions will make little headway among good people. God will not long endure such impudence and wickedness. Nor did the Pope of Rome do well for his own dignity by using such patrons, because he has entrusted a matter of the greatest importance to the judgment of these sophists. For since we include in our Confession almost the sum of the entire Christian doctrine, judges should have been appointed, whose learning and faith would have been more approved than that of these sophists who have written this Confutation, to make a declaration concerning matters so important, so many, and so varied.

Pulling It Together: Misrepresentation of Holy Scripture will upset the faith of some, those who have itching ears (2 Tim 4:3), but also those who have not learned the faith. Such deception even leads people into lives of ungodliness. Therefore, the Church needs more sound teaching by those who are able to correctly handle the Word of God, those who put forward the power of God at work in us. Of course, this demands approved ministers—approved of God—who will stand for the truth.

The highest truth in Scripture is Christ, who is truth itself (John 14:6). But there are many in the Church who point away from Christ. They insist that people ought to cover their own sins, either by no longer calling sin sinful, or by teaching them that they can make their own satisfaction for sin through acts of devotion and other works. Such things have “the appearance of godliness” (2 Tim 3:5) but deny the power of Christ to forgive sin, justify people to God, and save sinners for eternal life. 

Prayer: Make me a worker of the Word, O Lord. Amen. 

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

Introduce young students to the Church through this five-week series titled Welcome to Church. Click here for the Table of Contents and a sample session.

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Concerning Confession and Satisfaction - part 20 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 16 Feb 24 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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2 Timothy 4:1–4

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

May God rout these godless sophists who so wickedly distort God’s Word to fit their vain dreams! What good person is not moved by such deception? Christ says, “Repent”; the apostles preach repentance; therefore eternal punishments are compensated by the punishments of purgatory; therefore the keys have the power to remit part of the punishments of purgatory; therefore satisfactions redeem the punishments of purgatory! Who taught these asses such logic? Yet this is neither logic nor sophistry, but cunning trickery. Accordingly, they appeal to the expression “repent” in such a way that, when the inexperienced hear such a passage cited against us, they may derive the opinion that we entirely deny repentance. By these tricks they endeavor to alienate minds and inflame hatred, so that the naive may cry out against us, insisting that infectious heretics who disapprove of repentance should be removed from their midst.

Pulling It Together: It is important for us to keep the faith (2 Tim 4:7)—both in the sense continuing to believe in God, and in remaining true to the Word of God. Yet there are not a few who want pastors and teachers who will tell them what they want to hear, instead of what God wants them to hear. When the pastor preaches, “Repent,” many insist that they have not sinned, for sin is no longer sin. Never mind purgatory; since they imagine that they have not sinned, they think they need no forgiveness at all.

So now we must battle on two fronts. One front says God does not forgive sin unless it is compensated for or purged by the punishments of purgatory. The other front says they have not sinned and so, do not require God’s forgiveness. What is the Christian to do when faced with two battlefronts? Be ready at all times to preach and teach the word, patiently reproving, rebuking, and exhorting, whether people want to hear it or not.

Prayer: Open my ears, my eyes, and my heart to your word, O Lord. Amen. 

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

Experiencing Real Living guides the student in God's Word and nurtures key elements of faith. A picture diagram at the the beginning of each chapter assists the student in "seeing" the topic clearly. The series can be used to cover the over-arching biblical themes of creation, fall and redemption, or as a 12-week overview of the themes of the Catechism. It would serve especially well for leading an adult confirmation program. The volume is spiral bound for ease in use. 

Teacher's Guide

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Concerning Confession and Satisfaction - part 19 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 15 Feb 24 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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Jeremiah 33:14–16

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

They quote such passages as the following. “Bear fruit that befits repentance” (Matt 3:8). “Yield your members to righteousness for sanctification” (Rom 6:19). Christ preaches repentance: “Repent” (Matt 4:17). Christ commands the apostles to preach repentance (Luke 24:47). Peter preaches repentance (Acts 2:38). Then they cite certain passages of the Fathers and the canons, and conclude that satisfactions in the Church are not to be abolished, though this is contrary to the plain gospel and the decrees of the Councils and Fathers, that even that those who have been absolved by the priest should carry out the prescribed repentance, following the declaration of Paul, “...who gave himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2:14).

Pulling It Together: Christians should do good works. It has already been stated here, more than a few times, that genuine faith is shown in its works. This is an entirely different matter than saying that forgiveness happens because of those works. Even the passages quoted above prove this out. “Bear fruit that befits repentance,” does not demand the fruit as a prerequisite for forgiveness. Rather because one has faith in God’s forgiveness, there ought to be works appropriate to repentance. Surrendering oneself to righteousness should be understood as surrendering to God—who is our righteousness (Jer 33:16). Again, Christ and the apostles preached repentance, yet did not make works a requirement for forgiveness—as though our works could satisfy or appease God. God is satisfied by Christ alone, who is the perfect work of God, and our only righteousness (Phil 3:9).

Prayer: Thank you, God, for making good on your promise, saving me through your righteous Branch, Jesus Christ the 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.

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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Concerning Confession and Satisfaction - part 18 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 14 Feb 24 00:00:00 +0000

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Romans 5:6–8

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

But the gloss on the canons testifies at various places that these observances were instituted for the sake of church discipline. Let us see how they prove these figments of theirs in the Confutation, that they had the presumption to thrust upon His Imperial Majesty. They cite many passages from the Scriptures in order to impose upon the inexperienced the idea that this subject had authority from the Scriptures, though it was unknown even in the time of Lombard.

Pulling It Together: The canons are the system of laws that the medieval church had produced to regulate its authority and maintain its organization and order. It is easy to see how satisfactions would have been part of this system, for in some cases, such as have been mentioned already, some proof of repentance would be necessary in extreme instances, while in others, these satisfactions might serve as an example to the rest of the Church. But to then mandate that a system of regular satisfactions is required for all, and insist that this church law is biblical, is fabrication.

Lutherans confess with Scripture that sinners are justified before God—that is, absolved of all sins and condemnation, without any worth or work of their own—through God’s pure grace. His grace is granted to sinners because of the sole merit of Christ’s suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension. It is his obedience alone that is accounted to us for righteousness through faith in him.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for your obedience to the will of your Father. Amen. 

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The Wise & The Foolish is a nine-session Bible study that focuses entirely on Jesus' "people parables"—what might be descirbed as Discipleship Parables. These are the character stories that focus on the nature of discipleship and what it means to be a wise and faithful follower of Jesus. 

Leader's Guide

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Concerning Confession and Satisfaction - part 17 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 13 Feb 24 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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Romans 8:3–5

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction

The scholastics saw that there were satisfactions in the Church, but did not notice that these exhibitions had been instituted as an example and to test those who desired to be received by the Church. They did not see that it was a discipline, and an entirely secular matter. Then they superstitiously imagined that these satisfactions availed, not for discipline before the Church, but for appeasing God. And just as in other places, where they frequently and with great ineptness confound spiritual and civil matters, they do the same with regard to satisfactions.

Pulling It Together: In the worldly kingdom, there are many disciplines we might bring to bear in order to make things more civil and orderly. Requiring certain satisfactions can even make folks feel better for a time. But in the kingdom of Christ, which is spiritual, any satisfaction we can make, any righteous deed we can perform, is of no consequence. In Christ’s kingdom, it is his righteousness that matters. Christ has satisfied God; therefore, what remains for us is to have faith in him, which produces peace, not just for a time, but for eternity. 

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for satisfying the requirements of the law for me. Amen. 

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

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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Concerning Confession and Satisfaction - part 16 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 12 Feb 24 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger iimage

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2 Peter 1:19–21

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

This entire matter is fictitious, and recently fabricated without the authority of Scripture or the old writers of the Church. Not even Lombard speaks of satisfactions in this way.

Pulling It Together: We do well to appeal to the highest authority. The academics of scholastic theology turned to Peter Lombard, who wrote the standard medieval texts on theology, as their authority. The Reformers knew his writings and used them to advantage. They recognized that Lombard did not talk about satisfactions in the way their opponents disputed. More importantly, they saw no support for this in Scripture, nor did the Church Fathers write about satisfactions as a general discipline of the Church. When the darkness of the world challenges, we do well to pay closest attention to the light of the Word of God.

Prayer: Rise, O Morning Star, in my heart. 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.

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

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Concerning Confession and Satisfaction - part 15 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 11 Feb 24 00:00:00 +0000

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Zechariah 9:11–12

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

Our opponents acknowledge that satisfactions are of no profit for the remission of guilt, yet they imagine that satisfactions redeem from the penalty of purgatory or other punishments. They teach that in the remission of sins, God cancels the guilt, yet, because divine justice must punish sin, he commutes eternal punishment into temporal punishment. They further add that a part of this temporal punishment is remitted by the power of the keys, but that the rest is redeemed by means of satisfactions. But it can not be understood what punishments are remitted by the power of the keys, unless they say that part of the punishments of purgatory is remitted. Then it would follow that satisfactions are only punishments that redeem from purgatory. They say that these satisfactions work even though rendered by those who have relapsed into mortal sin, as if those who are in mortal sin could appease the divine displeasure.

Pulling It Together: Guilt and punishment alike are borne by God in Christ alone. We are set free from all bondage—from waterless pits to the depths of hell—because God promised to do so. Those who believe will be saved (Acts 16:31; Rom 3:22). Nowhere does the Scripture put this impossible burden on us. What a pitiless God we believe in if we imagine that we must buy our way out of the pit. So we confess that God is our hope and stronghold; we turn to him alone for rescue from sin and death.

Prayer: Help me to ever trust in you, 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.

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 box of 100 customized with your church name, address, and website. 

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Concerning Confession and Satisfaction - part 14 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 10 Feb 24 00:00:00 +0000 https://www.solapublishing.com/sola-scriptura-part-2:-the-norm-of-faith-leader's-guide-_A-7035

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1 John 4:9–10

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

The doctrine concerning faith must be retained, that by faith we obtain remission of sins for Christ's sake—not for the sake of our works that precede or follow. This is why we have especially discussed the question of satisfactions, because in submitting to them the righteousness of faith is obscured, and people think that they obtain forgiveness of sins for the sake of these works. This error is assisted by many sayings that are current in the schools, such as their definition of “satisfaction”: that it is done to appease the divine displeasure.

Pulling It Together: It bears repeating: our love, devotion, good works, and religious activities do not satisfy God’s justice. Only God’s Son propitiates, appeases, or satisfies God’s just demand for holiness. Through faith in Christ, we are credited with righteous (Rom 4:24; 2 Cor 5:21; Gal 3:6; Phil 3:9). We are given the righteous of Christ through faith in him (Rom 3:22). Our love for each other and for God is not a saving devotion. Real love, saving love, is that God loved us before we ever had a thought for him, and sent his Son to be the perfect and final satisfaction for our sins—and not only for ours, but for the sins of the entire world (1 John 2:2).

Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, for satisfying your Father’s righteous demands so that I may enjoy your company forever. Amen. 

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

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

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Concerning Confession and Satisfaction - part 13 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 09 Feb 24 00:00:00 +0000

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1 Corinthians 6:19–20

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

Yet now that the custom has become obsolete, the term “satisfaction” still remains, along with a trace of the custom of prescribing in confession certain satisfactions, which they define as works that are not due. We call them canonical satisfactions. We maintain that canonical satisfactions, just like enumeration, are not necessary by divine law for the forgiveness of sins, just as those ancient exhibitions of satisfactions in public repentance were not necessary by divine law for the forgiveness of sins.

Pulling It Together: Recently, a car rental company called, wanting to know when I was going to pay the bill on a transaction from over a month ago. I let them know that the company had paid that bill, informing them of the transaction details. Their claim on me was satisfied. Take note, however, it was nothing that I did to meet their demand for payment. Someone else did it; someone else paid the debt. Indeed, because the bill had already been paid, there was no debt at all.

We may get calls from our consciences, telling us that because we are sinners that we have a bill to pay. That just is not the case at all. Christ has already paid the debt in full. Our consciences, and the devil to boot, have no further claim on us.

Prayer: Thank you, God, for satisfying my debt, through Jesus Christ the 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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Concerning Confession and Satisfaction - part 12 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 08 Feb 24 00:00:00 +0000 https://www.solapublishing.com/sola-scriptura-part-2:-the-norm-of-faith-leader's-guide-_A-7035

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Colossians 3:1–3

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

The Fathers did not believe that people deserve the forgiveness of sins through such practices or such works. Nevertheless, these spectacles usually lead astray the unwitting to think that by these works they merit the forgiveness of sins before God. But if anyone believes this, he has a Jewish or heathen faith, for even the heathen had certain expiations for sins by which they imagined they were reconciled to God.

Pulling It Together: God’s justice requires the punishment of sin. We either take the punishment or pay the penalty. However, we cannot make restitution. We can neither keep from sinning, nor pay the penalty of that sin (Rom 6:23). All said, we can make no satisfaction for our sins. In other words, we cannot meet the demands of God’s law (Acts 15:10), and therefore, his justice. We must die, for that is the penalty of sin. Jesus Christ, however, has kept God’s law and met his requirements for justice. Those sinners who believe in Christ for forgiveness and eternal life, are no longer condemned by the law.

This means that Jesus Christ’s satisfaction of God’s righteous requirements was so perfect that the law can make no more demands on those who believe in him. There is no longer any more condemnation (Rom 8:1). Let us be clear about this matter. If you commit murder, the law will require your life. Subsequently, you are killed by lethal injection. What can the law require of you now? Nothing. You are dead. Just so, when you were baptized, you were put to death and buried with Christ (Rom 6:4; Col 2:12). You died (Col 3:3), so what satisfaction can the law require of you now? 

Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, for giving me new life 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 (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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Concerning Confession and Satisfaction - part 11 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 07 Feb 24 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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Isaiah 1:18

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

The word “satisfaction” is left over from this rite of public repentance. The holy Fathers were unwilling to receive the fallen or the disreputable unless their repentance had been first examined and exhibited publicly, as far as it was possible. There seem to have been many reasons for this. To chastise those who had fallen served as an example, just as the gloss on the decrees admonishes. It was also improper to immediately admit notorious men to communion. These customs have long since grown obsolete. Nor is it necessary to restore them since they are not necessary for the forgiveness of sins before God.

Pulling It Together: It may be useful, in terms of order in the church, to in some cases make certain people show that they are truly repentant. It is too easy for wolves to steal in among the sheep, so when some people have been dishonorable or have wandered away from the faith, but now want to be part of the church, it might be a good thing to hold them accountable for awhile. This could serve to safeguard the flock. We do this when calling new pastors. Not only are efforts made to hear a potential pastor preach, but candidacy requirements such as education must be met, references are called, and even criminal backgrounds are checked. Accountability is a good thing, but are these things needed in order for God to forgive sins? Absolutely not. It doesn’t matter how far you have fallen, how disrespectable you are, or if you are downright notorious (Gal 1:23); God cleanses the worst of sinners (1 Tim 1:15).

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for loving me 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.

The Sola Online Worship Resource (SOWeR) includes hundreds of hymns and songs for use in worship, organized by season and theme, available in full score, lead sheets, image files, and text only. These include popular hymns and songs, as well as new hymns from the lectionary texts and 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, graphics, 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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Concerning Confession and Satisfaction - part 10 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 06 Feb 24 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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Revelation 7:13–14

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

Authors in the Church mention confession, but they speak of the rite of public repentance, not about an enumeration of secret offenses. The fallen or notorious were not received without specific satisfactions. They made confession to the presbyters so that satisfactions could be prescribed to them according to the measure of their offenses. But this is not the same as the enumeration that we are disputing. This confession was made, not because the forgiveness of sins before God could not occur without it, but because satisfactions could not be prescribed unless the kind of offense was first known. For different offenses had different rules.

Pulling It Together: Be very careful that you do not trust in your sorrow for sins. Your remorse does not merit God’s forgiveness. Being sorry—even though you go on at length about your specific regrets—does not repair your sinful condition or your broken fellowship with God. So, now you have to be even more careful that you do not place your trust in yourself, since the natural inclination is to try to make some satisfaction or atonement for your sins. But Christ has already accomplished that; and this is why faith is necessary. God does not favor you because of your remorse or because of your acts of penance. God favors you because you believe that he is gravely displeased with your sins, yet you have faith in Christ to absolve you of all your sin. God favors us because we have faith that the blood of Christ alone whitens our robes—that he cleanses us, covers our sin, and justifies us. 

Prayer: Thank you, Holy God, for counting me among the faithful, for Christ’s sake. Amen. 

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

The Sola 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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Concerning Confession and Satisfaction - part 9 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 05 Feb 24 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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Hosea 14:1

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

What our opponents have expressed in the Confutation, namely, that a full confession is necessary for salvation, is certainly most false. For this is impossible. And what snares they cast upon the conscience when they require a full confession! For when will conscience be sure that the confession is complete?

Pulling It Together: This Lutheran confession comes from experience. Yet it also comes from Scripture. Luther, in particular, was tortured by guilt, and would therefore wear out his confessor with hours of lists of specific sins. After leaving confession, he would remember yet another sin and rush back to add that one to the list. He doubted his salvation, believing that God was still angry with him over some as-yet-unconfessed offense. Eventually, he came to realize that one can never confess all sins. But he also realized something more important: this brand of confession is a human invention, not called for in Scripture. Scripture requires turning to the Lord in sorrow for sin—and faith in God to forgive. 

Prayer: I believe in your love and forgiveness, Lord, for I believe in you. Amen. 

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This book and the one on The New Testament would be good individual studies for adults too. 

Sola offers 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.

OT Leader's Guide  • NT Leader's Guide

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Concerning Confession and Satisfaction - part 8 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 04 Feb 24 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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Isaiah 43:25

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

Our adversaries will condemn many of the most generally accepted teachers if they claim that an enumeration of offenses is necessary in confession according to divine law. We approve of confession, and allow that some examination is beneficial in order to better instruct people. However, the matter must be controlled so that snares are not cast upon consciences, which will never be tranquil if they think that they cannot obtain the forgiveness of sins unless this precise enumeration is made.

Pulling It Together: Scripture does not teach that we must go to a confessor with a list of all our sins. Nevertheless, confession can be good, if seasoned with grace. When used with concern for the care of souls, specific confession may benefit people. Yet, God’s grace must always be offered, particularly when persons imagine that they must list every single offense in order to be forgiven. Of course, this can never be done; there will always be some lingering sin, forgotten until it is too late for confession. Then confession becomes a human law that imprisons souls. So, the penitent must always be reminded of God’s grace. For God has promised to not remember our sins. He does so for Christ’s sake, not because of our ability to recall lengthy lists of sins.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord God, for declaring me righteous, 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.

Sola offers 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.

Leader's Guide

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Concerning Confession and Satisfaction - part 7 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 03 Feb 24 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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Philippians 1:27

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

Perhaps some one may also cite James. “Confess your faults one to another” (James 5:16). But the reference there is not to a confession that is to be made to the priests. The reference is to general confession, concerning the reconciliation of believers with each other. For it commands that the confession be mutual.

Pulling It Together: We have been born again to the image of Christ. Therefore, the Holy Spirit is causing us to grow up into new people who share the mind of Christ. This maturing ought to cause us to labor with one another for the gospel—not strive against each other. So, we must often, because this old nature continues to assail us in the flesh, confess our sins against each other, to each other. Furthermore, we must forgive one another. Scripture calls for a reciprocal admission of wrongs, as needed, as well as for mutual forgiveness. Why? Otherwise, we get bogged down in bad feelings; we focus on ourselves. Confession and forgiveness are necessary so that we can move on together with the business of the Church: the proclamation of the truth of that gospel which produces faith.

Prayer: Grant me the grace to forgive, Lord—and to say that I am sorry. Amen. 

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

Leader's Guide

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Concerning Confession and Satisfaction - part 6 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 02 Feb 24 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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Romans 9:30–33

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

Such is the following confession, “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in thy sight, so that thou art justified in thy sentence and blameless in thy judgment” (Psa 51:4). We might say: I confess that I am a sinner, and have merited eternal wrath. I cannot set my righteousness or merits against your wrath. So, I declare that you are just when you condemn and punish us. I declare that you are exonerated when hypocrites judge you to be unjust in punishing them or in condemning those who deserve condemnation. Yes, our merits cannot oppose your judgment. Nevertheless, we will be justified when you justify us, if through your mercy, you account us righteous.

Pulling It Together: Anyone who wants to achieve righteousness or justification with God through religious devotion, doing good deeds, or by other things they imagine gain them merit with God, will be dreadfully unsuccessful. They will find disappointment in this life and in the life to come. For in this life, all but the most arrogant will be tormented by doubt and guilt. The proud may rarely doubt themselves, and even get to the point that they do not listen to their troubled consciences anymore. Everyone else will doubt that their devotion and their works merit the desired results, since they know they are as sinful as ever. They know that God is just in condemning them, and even punishing them.

Yet there are people who have never pursued such righteousness but have attained it in spite of themselves. Their success, where so many others have failed, was due to faith. They believed that God forgave them—and this faith was accounted to them as righteousness. In God’s immeasurable mercy, they are lifted up by Christ to peace on earth and the promise of heaven. Those who pursue a righteousness based on works instead of faith, will always find Christ to be a stumbling block. He is in an obstacle to their works-righteousness on earth, and will be their dreaded disgrace at the gates of heaven.

Prayer: I have sinned against you, O God, and ask forgiveness for the sake of Christ Jesus, my Savior. Amen. 

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Sola VBS Series

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

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Concerning Confession and Satisfaction - part 5 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 01 Feb 24 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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Deuteronomy 4:29–31

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

But let us dismiss such matters as these. The Psalms mention confession at different times, such as, “I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’; then thou didst forgive the guilt of my sin” (Psa 32:5). Such confession of sin, which is made to God, is itself contrition. For when confession is made to God, it must be made with the heart and not with the voice alone, as is made on the stage by actors. Therefore, such confession is contrition. Feeling God’s wrath, we confess that God is justly angry, and that he cannot be appeased by our works. Nevertheless, we seek mercy because of God’s promise.

Pulling It Together: We are in bondage to sin, just as the ancient Israelites were enslaved to the Egyptians, Assyrians, and Babylonians. We can no more free ourselves than they could. Yet we can appeal to God’s mercy, based upon both his promise and his character. The first commandment reminds us that God rescues his people from bondage. “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery” (Exod 20:2). His word also makes promises that we may rely upon. He will not forget his covenant, so we may have faith in the merciful God.

Therefore, we depend upon his forgiveness of, and freedom from, sin. Does this mean that you will not sin? No. It means that when you do sin, you need not remain imprisoned by guilt. So you should not seek a human remedy through such things as good works. Instead, you should confess your sin with soul and voice, assured of God’s forgiveness for Christ’s sake—the divine remedy. For he is the Lord our God, who brought us out of the land of sin, and out of the bondsman’s house.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, that though I am a disobedient sinner, you love and forgive me, 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 biblical focus in the five-session Moses and the Great Escape VBS book is found in the Old Testament book of Exodus. God has a grand plan for humankind—a plan he enacts through the Hebrew people. He created Moses to be instrumental in this plan.

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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Concerning Confession and Satisfaction – part 4 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 31 Jan 24 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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Ephesians 5:25–33

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

It is ridiculous to use here the saying of Solomon, “Know well the condition of your flocks” (Prov 27:23). Solomon is not talking about confession, but is giving a domestic principle to the head of a family, that he should use what is his own, and abstain from that of another. He commands him to diligently care for his own property, yet in such a way that his mind is not so occupied with the increase of his resources that he does not disregard the fear of God, or faith, or attention to God’s Word. Through a fantastic metamorphosis, our adversaries transform passages of Scripture to mean whatever they please. To “know” here means with them to hear confessions; “conditions” does not mean the outward life, but the secrets of conscience; and “flocks” means people. The interpretation is assuredly neat, and is worthy of those who despise language. But if any one desires, by similitude, to transfer a principle from a head of a household to a pastor of a church, he should certainly interpret “condition” as applying to the outward life. This analogy would be more consistent.

Pulling It Together: Always interpret Scripture in the plainest sense, using the clear meaning of the words. If a parable is being used, we might allow our minds to wonder what Jesus meant—until he tells us plainly. We see in his parables (and in other places in Scripture, eg: Eph 5:31–32) that allegory is used in Scripture. Still, the plain sense of the words should first be considered, and secondly, as has already been stated, Scripture should be allowed to interpret Scripture. In other words, we should not bring a preconceived notion to the Bible and then pursue some verse to back up that human idea. We see how Jesus told his disciples the meaning of parables. Paul does the same in the above-cited passage, telling us that Genesis 2:24 is an allegory of Christ and the Church, in which Christ is the head of that household. Even in such examples, the plain sense is clear—for Scripture immediately tells us the meaning.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for sanctifying the Church in your word. Amen. 

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Five VBS Class Posters & Five Sticker Sheets

These glossy full-color 11"x 17" posters with the title "Welcome to VBS!" are designed for use in recording attendance for Vacation Bible School.  Five posters are included in each set, along with five color sticker sheets.  Days are numbered 1-5, to correspond to the standard weekday VBS schedule.

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Concerning Confession and Satisfaction – part 3 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 30 Jan 24 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger graphic

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Micah 7:18–19

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

But in reference to the enumeration of sins in confession, we have said above that we do not consider this necessary by divine right. Some object, saying that a judge ought to investigate a case before pronouncing sentence. Their objection does not pertain in any way to this subject, because the ministry of absolution is about favor or grace, not legal process or law. Ministers in the Church have the command to remit sins; they do not have the command to investigate secret sins. Indeed, they absolve of sins which we do not remember. Therefore, absolution—the voice of the gospel forgiving sins and consoling consciences—does not require official examination.

Pulling It Together: God is the Judge from whom no secrets are hidden. Yet he is Judge of a different kind of court than we may have experienced. In his court, he has called ministers of the gospel to an office of grace. For those who desire an acquittal of their sins, through faith in Jesus Christ, grace is the judgment. It need go no further than their confession and their faith that God forgives: Lord, I am a sinner; have mercy on me for Jesus’ sake. The minister is only charged with declaring the entire forgiveness of all their sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. This is the very voice of Christ forgiving all sins—thoughts, words, and deeds, known and unknown, remembered and forgotten—through faith in the same Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. 

Prayer: I trust in your faithfulness, O Lord. Amen. 

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

Mary, Martha & Many Faithful Women is a five-session VBS book designed especially for small churches, house churches, and mission congregations with a limited budget or in situations where the ages and number of students may vary from session to session. This resource includes worksheets and handouts that may be reproduced, Resources and ideas are provided for gathering time, music, activities, games, and refreshments — allowing just a few adult leaders to host a week of Vacation Bible School.

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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Concerning Confession and Satisfaction – part 2 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 29 Jan 24 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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Revelation 3:7

“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens.

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

For we also retain confession, especially because of absolution being the word of God which the power of the keys declares to individuals by divine authority. It would therefore be wicked to remove private absolution from the Church. If there are any who despise private absolution, they understand neither the forgiveness of sins nor the power of the keys.

Pulling It Together: The Greek word that we transliterate as “angel,” literally means “messenger.” This can either be a heavenly or a human delegate, sent by God to declare his message. Thus, it is proper to consider the angels of the seven churches in Revelation as the pastors of those churches. Pastors are the ones called and sent by God to proclaim his message. They are given the keys of the kingdom, that “whatever [they] bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever [they] loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matt 16:19). These messengers, these pastors (these angels, if you will permit me to say so) speak the very words of the holy and true one, who has the key of David. These are the words of forgiveness—or indeed, the refusal of forgiveness. These messengers open the gates of heaven, and shut them as well.

We therefore, keep both corporate and private confession in our churches, and encourage our people to make frequent use of the former, but also the latter, when necessary. By doing so, they not only confess their sins, but hear the words of absolution. We need to be regularly assured by God through his messengers that we are forgiven, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. 

Prayer: Holy Spirit, help me to hear what you say to 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 biblical focus of The Adventures of Paul, a five-session VBS book, is the life of the Apostle Paul, using lessons from the Book of Acts. Here Scripture tells the story of serious man named Saul who worked to silence Christianity—until the risen Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus and changed his life. With his new name Paul, this one who had persecuted the Church went on to become one of the greatest apostles. 

The price of the book includes permission to reproduce the worksheets and handouts for local use. For smaller churches in a "one-room schoolhouse" setting, only one book is necessary. For churches with multiple grade levels and individual classes, we suggest that each teacher have a copy of the curriculum book.

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Concerning Confession and Satisfaction – part 1 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 28 Jan 24 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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Isaiah 38:16–19

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession and Satisfaction 

Good people can easily determine the greatest importance of preserving the true doctrine concerning the above-mentioned parts, namely contrition and faith. Therefore, we have focused more on the clarification of these topics, and have presented nothing as yet concerning confession and satisfaction.

Pulling It Together: In the time of the Reformation, Europe was beset by indulgence sellers. An indulgence was a certificate purchased with either prayers, good works, or money, that claimed to reduce the amount of one’s time spent in Purgatory. According to Roman Catholic doctrine, Purgatory is where believers go after death, but before they may go to heaven. It is an intermediate location where one is purged of sin and made fit for heaven. There are two errors here.

First, Christ makes us suitable for heaven. Through his death, resurrection, and ascension, he justifies all those who have faith in him (Phil 3:9; Rom 3:22). He makes us entirely righteous on his account, for we have nothing righteous in our account (Rom 3:10; Eccl 7:20). We “were bought with a price” (1 Cor 6:20). There is no partial payment or matching contribution to which we must add our contributions over time—or outside of time in a Purgatory—in order to bring God’s share up to full.

Second, we do not pay anything for this righteousness of God, as if we had anything of merit to offer. His righteousness and salvation is given to us freely. These are a gift, given by grace through faith (Rom 5:16; 6:23).

Therefore, when when confess our sins to God, we do so, knowing that Christ Jesus has made complete satisfaction or atonement for our sins. Having faith in Christ our Lord, we are very confident that God has put our sins “behind his back”—that we are wholly forgiven on his account, or as we say, for Christ’s sake.

Prayer: Thank you, God, for the free gifts of forgiveness, righteousness, and salvation through Jesus Christ the 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 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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Concerning Repentance – part 75 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 27 Jan 24 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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Acts 20:18–21

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

Ambrose also speaks well about repentance: “Therefore it is proper for us to believe that we are to both repent and be pardoned, but to expect pardon through faith, like it would obtain it from a written contract. Again, “It is faith that covers our sins.”

So, there is material in the Fathers, not only about contrition and works, but also concerning faith. But since the adversaries understand neither the nature of repentance nor the language of the Fathers, they select passages concerning only a part of repentance, namely works. Since they do not understand the statements made elsewhere concerning faith, they exclude them.

Pulling It Together: Of what use is repentance, if it is merely being sorry for sins and then doing something good? People will remain in guilt, knowing that they are never good enough to merit forgiveness. That kind of repentance focuses on self and our guilt, not on God and his peace. So, faith must always be joined to confession. We must believe that, for Christ’s sake, we are forgiven all of our sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Strictly speaking, good works should not be considered in repentance; for good works come after repentance. We must believe the words of absolution before we can do good works. Once we have believed in the promise, or had faith in Christ, repentance is finished. Now is the time for good works—because God desires them, not because they are required for forgiveness.

In summary, repentance consists of these two parts. One, we must acknowledge through confession that we have sinned. Two, we must then have faith that the Father forgives us because of his Son.

Prayer: Help me to faithfully serve you, Lord, because I do not need to worry about your love and forgiveness. 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.

David: Hero of God is a five session VBS series 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.

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Concerning Repentance – part 74 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 26 Jan 24 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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Isaiah 53:5–6, 11–12

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

For Tertullian writes: “He invites to salvation with an offer, and even an oath. In saying, ‘I live,’ he wants to be believed. Oh! blessed are we for whose sake God swears. Oh, most miserable are we if we do not believe the Lord—even though he swears.” Faith is to be confident that God freely forgives us for the sake of Christ, because of his own promise, not because of our works, contrition, confession, or satisfactions. For if faith relies upon these works, it immediately doubts, because the frightened conscience sees that these works are unworthy.

Pulling It Together: Because the guiltless and incarnate God died for our iniquities, bearing upon himself the sin of the world, he carried our sins to the grave. Because he lives, having been raised from the dead, those who have faith in him will also live (2 Tim 2:11). This is the promise of God. It is not dependent upon us—upon our devotion, good works, pietism, or any other atonement we might offer. For that is the point: we cannot make any satisfaction that merits God’s forgiveness. So we have faith in Christ alone, believing God’s promise that we are thereby justified to him. This faith brings righteousness, healing, peace, and eternal life for those who believe that Christ gave himself for us (Gal 2:20).

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for giving me your righteousness through the wounds of your only Son, Jesus Christ the 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.

Brave Queen Esther focuses on the story of a young Jewish girl named Esther, who was raised by her older cousin Mordecai after the death of her parents. Set in a time when people of faith were suspect in the eyes of the surrounding culture, the story illustrates the values of integrity and honesty. It shows how being faithful to God, caring for one another, and standing up for what we believe, can help us through times of fear and doubt.

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Concerning Repentance – part 73 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 25 Jan 24 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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Ezekiel 33:10–13

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

Tertullian speaks excellently about faith, dwelling upon the oath in the prophet: “As I live, says the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live” (Ezek 33:11). In swearing that he does not wish the death of a sinner, God shows that faith is required so that we may believe him and be firmly confident that he forgives us. The authority of the divine promises, by itself, ought to be great in our estimation. Still, this promise has also been confirmed by an oath. Therefore, if any one is not confident that he is forgiven, he denies that God has sworn what is true. A more horrible blasphemy cannot be imagined. 

Pulling It Together: Should you try not to sin? Certainly; but your ability or inability has nothing to do with forgiveness. Should you be sorry when you sin, and seek to do better? Absolutely, yet again, this has nothing to do with forgiveness of sin. Your righteousness will not deliver you from your transgressions. How can the Scripture be any more clear? Our sorrow, devotion, love, and good works are not part of the justification equation. “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Tim 1:15). Now, you either have faith that he does this, or you believe that he needs your assistance. What is written? Jesus saves! Do you believe?

Prayer: Lord, help me to truly repent by having faith 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.

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

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Concerning Repentance – part 72 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 24 Jan 24 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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Romans 4:20–5:1

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

Therefore, we have enumerated the doctrine of faith among the parts of repentance so that it might be more apparent. For those statements requiring contrition or good works, yet make no mention of justifying faith, are obviously dangerous. Prudence may justly be desired from those who have collected these centos of the Sentences and decrees. Since the Fathers speak of repentance in some places concerning one part, and in other places concerning another part, it would have been better to select and combine their judgments not only concerning one part but concerning both, contrition and faith.

Pulling It Together: Faith must always be in the forefront because it makes us think of Christ. Even sorrow, though necessary but, because it naturally causes us to try to settle our own sins, must never be considered alone. Sorrow alone, makes us think of ourselves, instead of Christ. Sorrow by itself, leads to attempts at personal atonement, which always end in failure—either through inability or because of self-righteousness. Faith must be joined to contrition, or we will end up in a system of religion every time. Faith in Christ’s atonement for us must be added to our contrition for there to be that true repentance which yields peace in the conscience.

Prayer: Though it is natural to doubt sometimes, O Lord, help me to keep the faith in and through Jesus. Amen. 

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

The Sola 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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Concerning Repentance – part 71 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 23 Jan 24 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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Psalm 143:1–2

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

We have said why we specify contrition and faith as the two parts of repentance. We have done this more readily because many expressions from the Fathers concerning repentance are published, but which are cited in a mutilated form, that the adversaries have distorted in order to put faith out of sight. For example, repentance is to grieve over past sins, and to not commit sins again that would be lamented. Again, repentance is a kind of retribution of him who grieves by punishing himself for what he is sorry for having committed. No mention is made of faith in these statements, nor in their interpretations do the scholastics add anything about faith.

Pulling It Together: Let us be reasonable. Were we to depend upon our own righteousness and faithfulness, who could survive the wrath of God? They are deluded and arrogant persons who really believe that they are capable of remitting their own sins, and further, to get to a stage of life in which they do not sin any more. Indeed, there is a term for such people: self-righteous. But these persons are not righteous at all. They are sinners of the worst kind: offenders who imagine that they can pay the ultimate fine by committing a greater offense—by thumbing their nose at the Judge of the high court of heaven.

So we confess our complete incapability to save ourselves, to cover our sins, to be faithful, or righteous. We ask for God’s mercy, and expect that he will answer our prayers. We cast ourselves wholly upon the Father’s love. Thanks be to God, who delivers poor sinners like us through Jesus Christ the Lord! Our faith is in him alone. 

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for your faithfulness to forgive. Amen. 

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

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Concerning Repentance – part 70 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 22 Jan 24 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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Ephesians 4:20–25

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

Now we are glad for all good people to consider this topic of repentance so that they may decide whether we or the adversaries have taught those things which are more godly and beneficial to consciences. These conflicts in the Church do not please us; so if we did not have important and necessary reasons for dissenting from the adversaries we would happily be silent. But since they condemn the unmistakable truth, it is not right for us to abandon a cause which is not our own, but is that of Christ and the Church.

Pulling It Together: This is not an obscure teaching; it is quite clear. We cannot, with any honesty to God or conscience, deny that we are all sinners and completely incapable of being righteous before God in this life, let alone sharing his holy fellowship in the life to come. Someone better make us holy and righteous or we are in eternal trouble. We have faith that Jesus was sent by his Father to accomplish this very thing. Christ makes righteous those who believe in him (Phil 3:9). He is our only hope and peace. To teach otherwise would be the worst lie. So we urge all people to take off their old rags—the original, human nature—and put on the new self which is the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom 13:14). Be renewed in the spirit of your minds. Believe; have faith in God.

Prayer: Lord God, help me to remember that I am baptized, am dead to sin, and have been raised to live a new life. Amen. 

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Be the unique "you" Jesus is calling you to be. Seek, discover, and incorporate the Lord's call into all of life...family, work, neighborhood, world, and the gathering of believers. Discover how the Lord equips with His Spirit and power so that you can be the "church" in action. Custom Designed – Reflection Guide is a practical and interactive spiritual journal integrating Scripture, teaching, personal reflection exercises, conversation, and prayer.

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Concerning Repentance – part 69 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 21 Jan 24 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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Romans 10:8–11

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

Consciences do nothing from faith if they are always doubting whether they have forgiveness. How can they call upon God with doubt; how can they be confident that they are heard? Therefore, their entire life is without God and without the true worship of God. This is what Paul says, “Whatever does not proceed from faith is sin” (Rom 14:23). Because they are constantly occupied with this doubt, they never experience what faith is, and eventually rush into despair. Such is the doctrine of the adversaries, the doctrine of the law, the annulling of the gospel, the doctrine of despair.

Pulling It Together: It is not possible for someone to have a peaceful conscience, if they doubt that God is gracious toward them. No matter how hard they try to do right and be religious, they still question whether they have forgiveness of sins. Thus, never knowing by faith that God loves and forgives because of Christ—not because of our deeds and devotion—they die in doubt, without confidence in God and his forgiveness. This is a religious life of despair—all because Christ and the gospel have been suppressed. The result is that people are led into irresistible sorrow because of tortured consciences.

This is the inevitable result of a religious system of works. So we confess the word that is near us—in our mouths and in our hearts—since we have come to believe that God loved us so much that he sent his only Son to die for us. We believe this, and believing, are justified to God and saved—not because of our devotion, nor by works, but by faith that God in Christ has accomplished what we can never do.

Prayer: Father, I believe in your Son, and rely upon him alone for the remission of sin, so that I may live in you and not be put to shame. Amen. 

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

OT Leader's Guide
NT Leader's Guide

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Concerning Repentance – part 68 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 20 Jan 24 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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James 1:6–8

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

Lastly, when will conscience be pacified if we receive forgiveness of sins on the ground that we love, or that we do the works of the law? For the law will always accuse us because we never satisfy God's law. It is just as Paul says: “For the law brings wrath” (Rom 4:15). Chrysostom asks concerning repentance, “When are we made sure that our sins are remitted us?” The adversaries also, in their Sentences, ask about the same subject. This cannot be explained nor consciences be stilled unless they know that it is God’s command and the very gospel that they should be firmly confident and not doubt that their sins are freely forgiven for Christs sake. If any one doubts, he charges the divine promise with falsehood, as John says (1 John 5:10). We teach that this certainty of faith is required in the gospel, but the adversaries leave consciences uncertain and wavering.

Pulling It Together: James is speaking to the topic of receiving wisdom from God in this passage of Scripture. However, the same exhortation may be applied to anything one asks of God. Ask in faith. Believe! Otherwise, one’s prayers, be they requests for wisdom or forgiveness, must fall on the ears of a deaf or faithless god. The Father is faithful to do as we ask within his will in his Son’s name (John 14:13). To disbelieve that he will forgive, which is most certainly within his will, is not only to doubt; it also calls God a liar, for whoever does not believe God, calls him a liar (1 John 5:10).

So, here is the answer to Chrysostom’s question: “When are we made sure that our sins are remitted us?” We are certain God will do as he promises when we ask with faith in Christ Jesus. If we ask with doubt, instead of faith, we should not expect that we will receive anything from the Lord, since we are double-minded, unstable in all our ways (James 1:7–8).

Prayer: Give me faith in you, Lord, in increasing supply. 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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Concerning Repentance – part 67 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 19 Jan 24 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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John 15:1–5

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

Therefore, we reject these pharisaic opinions of the adversaries, namely, that we do not receive by faith the forgiveness of sins, but that it ought to be earned by our love and works, that our love and our works must oppose the wrath of God. This doctrine is not of the gospel, but of the law, which feigns that people are justified by the law before being reconciled through Christ to God. Christ says, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5); likewise, “I am the vine, you are the branches.” But the adversaries contrive that we are branches, not of Christ, but of Moses. For they wish to be justified by the law, and to offer their love and works to God before they are reconciled to God through Christ, before they are branches of Christ.

Pulling It Together: How can I keep the law without Christ’s help? I cannot, for I will either not do it at all, do it imperfectly, or as likely as not, do it with an impure devotion. This was the very thing that the Pharisees did when they put their law-keeping on display—if only by pointing out to others their improper practices. So, I must admit that, if justification depended upon my devotion and my deeds, I would be in at least as bad a place as the ancient Pharisees. I will not quarrel with him, as they did, pointing to some righteous deed when it is obvious I do not love God with my whole heart. Instead, I will simply keep following him, despite my sins. And what does following him mean, except that when I see my works and my devotion wanting, that I stay by his side, continuing to believe in him when I am all-too-aware of my lack. I must conclude that following him is an act of the faith God has given me. In the end, this is all that matters: that I abide in Christ, and he in me. This is following; this is faith in Christ; and in this is salvation. 

Prayer: Jesus, keep me near. 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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Concerning Repentance – part 66 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 18 Jan 24 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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Hebrews 9:13–15

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

We would cite more verses if they were not obvious to every godly reader of the Scriptures. We do not wish to be too long-winded, so that this case may be more readily seen through. There is no doubt that Paul’s position is what we are defending: that by faith we receive the forgiveness of sins for Christ’s sake, and that we should stand against God’s wrath with faith in Christ as mediator, not with our works. It should not disturb godly minds, even though the adversaries find fault with the teachings of Paul, for nothing is stated so simply that it cannot be distorted by nitpicking. We know that what we have stated is the true and genuine meaning of Paul, and that this belief brings sure comfort to godly consciences, without which no one can stand before God’s judgment.

Pulling It Together: Cleansing from sins has always been necessary to God. Atonement has been required since the earliest days of Judaism (Lev 16:14–16). Even the first sin needed covering with death (Gen 3:21). This is not only Paul’s position; it is the teaching of all Scripture. But we no longer make animal sacrifice to God to atone for our sins. Since the old covenant is ended, how is this covering and cleansing received?

Jesus has negotiated a new covenant that promises, not only the forgiveness of sins but, eternal life. The new covenant still requires sacrifice, yet Jesus made that sacrifice once to atone for the sin of all people (Heb 9:26). We receive God’s forgiveness of sin because of what Christ did, not for the sake of our own deeds. Knowing that “it is finished” (John 19:30), brings peace to troubled consciences. Therefore, we confess that faith in Christ Jesus is the only way (John 14:6) for sinners to stand before the coming judgment of God. For it is only by the blood of Christ that poor sinners are promised the inheritance of saints (Col 1:12), those for whom atonement has been made.

Prayer: I have faith in your covering for my sin, Lord, as all my deeds are worthless rags. 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 Listening Bible: Letters from Jesus in the Written Word, by Glen S.R. Carlson, helps you take time to LISTEN to what Jesus is saying to you from Romans to Jude (softcover; 692 pages). 

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Concerning Repentance – part 65 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 17 Jan 24 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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Matthew 5:13–16

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

Therefore we must accept the forgiveness of sins by faith before we do the works of the law, although, as we stated above, love does follow faith, because those who are born-again receive the Holy Spirit, and accordingly begin to keep the law.

Pulling It Together: Either we are justified and made righteous by Christ or we must be made holy and forgiven in some other way. If we believe that we must keep the law in order to be forgiven by God, then we are saying that justification, righteousness, and forgiveness are not matters over which Christ has any power. We would be saying that these are things we must work out with human will and power—that eternal life is our own hands and that Christ died for no reason. But we confess the very opposite.

This is not say that we do not believe in doing good works. We should do good works so that God is honored and glorified in our lives. However, let it be clearly stated: we do not believe that our good works justify us, make us righteous, or merit God’s forgiveness—let alone save us to life eternal. As has been said before, we are to do good works because the Spirit motivates believers to do these things. Our devotion and deeds do not make us righteous but they are the result of having been made righteous for Christ’s sake.

Prayer: Make me salt and light, Lord Jesus, so that your Father is glorified. 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 has certificates for all your services (Baptism, Baptismal Sponsor, First Communion, Confirmation, Marriage, and Membership). Sola Certificates are printed in color on heavyweight parchment paper, with a matching envelope to go with each certificate. The traditional 'half-sheet' size is perfect for inclusion in a picture album or scrapbook.

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Concerning Repentance – part 64 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 16 Jan 24 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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Galatians 3:22–24

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

Therefore it is necessary for contrite persons to apprehend by faith the promise that sins are remitted for Christ’s sake, and to be confident that freely for Christ’s sake they have a reconciled Father. This is the meaning of Paul where he says, “That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed” (Rom 4:16). And, “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). In other words, all are under sin and can not be freed except by faith laying hold of the promise of the forgiveness of sins.

Pulling It Together: The law incarcerates; it does not free. Only faith in Christ frees us from captivity to sin and death. Yet thank God for the law, for without its accusations, we would never know our need for salvation and God’s grace. If there is only the law, however, we would know our need but have no solution. For without faith, our cell will stay locked up tightly and there will be no hope for release.

Then we hear the promise of remission of sins and deliverance from this prison. When we believe, faith takes hold of the key who is Christ Jesus, and discovers freedom and forgiveness. Having then been justified by faith in Christ, our cell is unlocked and we are set free from sin, death, and the devil. The law can no longer restrain us, so long as we keep our faith in the promise of the forgiveness of sins.

Prayer: Help me to remember, Father, that I am baptized into the death of your Son, and have been freed to live a new life by faith in the same Lord 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.

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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Concerning Repentance – part 63 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 15 Jan 24 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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Ephesians 6:14–20

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

For these reasons Paul contends that we are not justified by the law. He sets the promise of the forgiveness of sins against the law. This promise is granted for Christ’s sake, and he teaches that we freely receive the remission of sins for Christ’s sake. Paul calls us away from the law to this promise. He bids us to look upon this promise, which would certainly be useless if we are justified by the law before we are justified through the promise, or if we obtain the remission of sins on account of our own righteousness. But it is clear that the promise was given to us and Christ was given to us for the very reason that we cannot do the works of the law. Therefore it is necessary that we are reconciled by the promise before we do the works of the law. This promise, however, is only received by faith.

Pulling It Together: Believe the promise of the gospel; it is the truth. Know that Christ’s own righteousness has been granted to you as protection against sin and death. Walk in the peace of Christ, that you be comforted and assured in spiritual battle. Hold fast with faith to Christ and the promise so that all the attacks of evil are frustrated. Trust in your salvation and in the word of God that defeats the evil one. Persevere in prayer for all, that the mystery of the gospel may be proclaimed and believed. And what is this mystery but that Christ has died for all people so that in believing, they may be saved to eternal life. The promise of this mystery, this gospel, is not granted because we have kept the law, but is freely given for the sake of Christ who has fulfilled the law and outfitted us to withstand the forces of evil.

Prayer: Help me to stand firm in the truth through your righteousness, my Lord 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.

Custom Designed presents guided questions, ancient wisdom, and insightful diagrams for understanding your unique individuality, recognizing God’s guiding hand, and even grappling with two of life’s more practical yet significant questions: “Who am I?” and “What am I to do?”

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Concerning Repentance – part 62 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 14 Jan 24 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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2 Corinthians 3:12–16

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

Therefore the teaching of the adversaries that people obtain the remission of sins by their contrition and love, and trust in their own contrition and love, is merely a doctrine of the law. Furthermore, it is misunderstood, just as the Jews looked upon the veiled face of Moses. For let us imagine that love is present, let us imagine that works are present, yet neither love nor works can be a propitiation for sin. They cannot oppose the wrath and judgment of God, according to Psalm 143:2: “Enter not into judgment with thy servant; for no man living is righteous before thee.” Nor should the honor of Christ to be transferred to our works.

Pulling It Together: We cannot read the law with veiled hearts and expect to find the grace of God. All we sense is God’s displeasure. So, we cannot expect the law to come to our rescue. All it will ever do is accuse and condemn, for that is what it was made to do. But when we hear the Scripture with the mind of Christ, we know nothing but grace and peace. We believe that our heavenly Father loves us better than the best father on earth. We are assured by the Holy Spirit that he forgives us because of what his only begotten Son accomplished at Calvary. Knowing this, how could we presume to take his place? Expecting that our own contrition and devotion is required is the same as saying, Step aside, Christ. You made a valiant effort on the cross but it didn’t work. So, I will have to do what you failed to do, and save myself. “God forbid” (Rom 6:15) that we would be so arrogant. Let us then turn to the Lord, instead of to ourselves, so that the veil is removed and, beholding the glory of the Lord, we see clearly and finally that he is our only propitiation.

Prayer: Open my eyes, Lord, that I may behold the beauty of your glory. Amen.

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

    

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

• Unit 1   • Unit 2   • Unit 3

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Concerning Repentance – part 61 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 13 Jan 24 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

Index

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Romans 3:19–22

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

Indeed, it is a reproach to Christ and a repeal of the gospel to believe that we obtain the forgiveness of sins because of the law, or in any other way than by faith in Christ. We spoke of this earlier in the article Concerning Justification, where we declared why we confess that men are justified by faith, not by love.

Pulling It Together: The law shows us who we really are: human beings in need of a savior. This is why the Father sent his Son, who redeemed us from sin and death. What an insult it is when people insist on saving themselves. Think for a moment how silly it would be for a person to look in the mirror and say, “You’ve been so good lately; I forgive you.” That is the picture of a sick, self-absorbed being. We cannot forgive ourselves, so we must turn to Christ, whom we confess provides the only way of salvation. Our works will never save us. But thanks be to God for Jesus Christ, in whom is all righteousness—even yours.

Prayer: Forgive me, Lord, a poor sinner who loves you. Amen.

In Prayer as Joy, Prayer as StruggleBraaten explores many types of prayer, including thanksgiving, confession, praise, wrestling, petition, intercession, listening, and hope. He also explores what it means when the answer to prayer is "no" and how we experience prayer in times of doubt. In each chapter, he uses and extended biblical example of prayer and also provides the text of prayers we can use in our own practice. For all who seek joy in prayer, even as we struggle, Braaten offers an engaging personal and pastoral reflection on the ways we pray.

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Concerning Repentance – part 60 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 12 Jan 24 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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1 Corinthians 1:18-21

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

We, on the other hand, call consciences away from the law to the gospel, and from confidence in their own works to confidence in the promise and Christ. For the gospel presents Christ to us, and promises the forgiveness of sins freely for Christ’s sake. This promise bids us to trust that for Christ’s sake we are reconciled to the Father, not because of our own contrition or love. For there is no other mediator or propitiator than Christ. Nor can we do the works of the law unless we have first been reconciled through Christ. Even if we could do anything, we must believe that we obtain the remission of sins because of Christ, the mediator and propitiator, not because of these works.

Pulling It Together: We preach and confess that Christ died for our sins and saves all those who believe (1 Cor 1:21). The world responds, “What kind of babbling is this” (Acts 17:18)? We seem foolish to sophisticated religion but we are wise in Christ (1 Cor 4:10). “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor 1:18).

Religion contends that there must be something a person has to do in order to be forgiven. Laws must be kept, rituals observed. Indeed. We concede to religion’s point, and say that Jesus Christ has done all this, even dying for the sins of all people. He has accomplished everything required by the law. The incarnate God has done this for us, so that believing, we may be saved.

“Foolishness!” religion cries, and redoubles its efforts. Still, being fools for Christ sake (1 Cor 4:10), we rest and trust in the work of God, believing his promise that we receive forgiveness of sins, justification, and eternal life, not because of anything that we do but, because of Christ. Only his work on the cross is the atonement for our sins, and he alone our intermediary with God.  

Prayer: Though the world calls it babbling, provoke me, O God, to confess the truth of Jesus and the resurrection. Amen.

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

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Concerning Repentance – part 59 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 11 Jan 24 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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Romans 1:1–7

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

Thirdly, the adversaries say that sin is forgiven because a person with attrition or contrition elicits an act of love toward God, and by this act merits the receipt of the remission of sins. This is nothing but teaching the law, blotting out the gospel, and abolishing the promise of Christ. They only require the law and our works—because the law demands love. Besides, they teach us to be confident that we obtain forgiveness of sins because of contrition and love. What else is this than to put confidence in our works, not in the Word and promise of God concerning Christ? But if the law is sufficient for obtaining the remission of sins, what need is there of the gospel? What need is there of Christ if we obtain forgiveness of sins because of our own work?

Pulling It Together: Faith arouses good works, but it is faith in Christ that receives forgiveness. Although God certainly wills that we speak and do good, our salvation does not depend upon such goodness. Salvation depends upon Christ alone. Jesus tells us that the work of God is to believe in him (John 6:29). So faith is the thing that we must always return to—especially when we think that we are wretched sinners. Too often, we think we must try harder, do better, or give up more, when the fact is, Christ has done it all. Your works will not make one whit of difference, for Christ has already saved and justified you. Believe in him—not yourself. This “obedience of faith” is the true work of God. 

Prayer: Help me do the work of God by having faith in you, Lord Jesus. Amen.

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

The Wise & The Foolish is a nine-session Bible study that focuses entirely on Jesus' "people parables"—what might be descirbed as Discipleship Parables. These are the character stories that focus on the nature of discipleship and what it means to be a wise and faithful follower of Jesus. 

Leader's Guide

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Concerning Repentance – part 58 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 10 Jan 24 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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Luke 5:18–24

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

Let them know that saints have believed this since the beginning of the world. For Peter clearly cites the consensus of the prophets. The writings of the apostles testify that they believe the same thing. Nor are testimonies of the Fathers wanting. Bernard says the same thing in words that are in no way obscure: “First of all, it is necessary to believe that you cannot have the remission of sins except by the indulgence of God. Then you must also believe that sins are forgiven through him. This is the testimony which the Holy Spirit asserts in your heart, saying: ‘Your sins are forgiven you.’ For thus the apostle judges that man is justified freely through faith.

Pulling It Together: It was common in Jesus’ time for people to think their physical ailments and disabilities were the result of their sins (John 9:2). Imagine the paralyzed man being carried on a cot to Jesus. His friends brought him so that he might be healed. In fact, it was the faith of the man’s friends that Jesus found notable, but Jesus responded to a more urgent need. When he saw their faith, he said to the man, “Your sins are forgiven you.”

This man had done no religious deeds or good works. Indeed, he probably thought himself to be a sinner. Yet Jesus rewarded the faith of his friends by forgiving the man and healing him of his paralysis. That man was not given the chance to do anything to try and merit forgiveness. All he could do was believe that he was forgiven and healed. He might just as well have continued to lay there on the cot, disbelieving what had happened.

This is the stricken state of all people. When Jesus says, “Your sins are forgiven you,” we either believe in him, rising and walking—or disbelieve, remaining paralyzed by lack of faith.

Prayer: Give me faith in you, Lord, so that I may rise and walk in newness of life. Amen. 

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

A Thirty-Day Walk through Luther's Small Catechism is a devotional book that follows the sections of Martin Luther's Small Catechism, and is designed for daily reflection on the Scriptures and the faith that we believe. Guiding the reader through a journey of Law to Gospel, the devotions are meant to show readers not only their need for grace, but where that grace is found in Jesus Christ. The book is not only meant as a basic daily devotional and prayer resource, it also serves as a brief overview of the themes of the Catechism.

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Concerning Repentance – part 57 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 09 Jan 24 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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1 Thessalonians 2:13

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

Let us not hesitate then, to use this declaration of Peter that cites the consensus of the prophets, and rebuts ever so many legions of commentators on the Sentences. The testimony of the Holy Spirit is added to this utterance of Peter. For the text says, “While Peter was still saying this, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word” (Acts 10:44). Therefore, let pious consciences know that God commands them to believe that they are freely forgiven for Christ’s sake, and not for the sake of their works. Furthermore, let them sustain themselves with this command of God against despair and against the terrors of sin and of death.

Pulling It Together: We must be sure to believe in the word of God, not the words of men. The testimony of men reasons that we must do good things to appease an angry God. The word of God, however, tells us that we are freely forgiven by the God who loved us so much that he sent his only Son to save a world of lost sinners. This justification of sinners is done for Christ’s sake, not because of any supposed goodness of our own (Isa 64:6). We are made righteousness by Christ, not by religion.

Therefore we must also be sure to believe that the Holy Spirit is at work in us through the word that we believe. Do not despair. Though you are not the kind of person you want to be (Phil 3:12), press on in faith. The Spirit of Christ is at work in you, sinner, fitting you for the kingdom in spite of yourself. 

Prayer: Help me, O God, to confess my faith in you, through Jesus Christ 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.

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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Concerning Repentance – part 56 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 08 Jan 24 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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2 Timothy 3:16–17

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

But they have authors of reputation, Scotus, Biel, and the like, as well as passages of the Fathers which are cited in a mutilated form in the decrees. Certainly, if their testimonies are to be counted, they win, for there is a multitude of trifling experts on the Sentences, who, as though they had conspired, defend these figments about the merit of attrition and of works, and other things which we have addressed above. Lest anyone be moved by the mass of citations, there is no great weight in the testimonies of the later writers, who did not produce original thoughts, but only compiled the writers before them, transferring these opinions from one book to another. They have exercised no judgment, but like petty officials have silently and without comprehension approved the errors of their superiors.

Pulling It Together: In C. S. Lewis’ poem, “As the Ruin Falls,” he writes, “a scholar’s parrot may talk Greek.” People may sound authoritative; indeed, some birds may seem so. But by their singing, one may determine what sort of birds these authorities are. Do they whistle works and human philosophy, or do they sing of Christ and the work of God? This is why we insist upon the phrase, “sola Scriptura”—Scripture alone. By this we mean that Scripture is the basis of truth and doctrine. Our ideas and philosophies, as well as the multitude of authorities who bombard us daily, must be subjugated by the word, “It is written” (Matt 4:4; Rom 1:17; etc.). What Scripture says about a matter must always caution and correct cultural righteousness. It does not matter if it is church, state, or society, claiming authoritative status. God’s Word is our final authority. 

Prayer: Train me in righteousness through 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.

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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Concerning Repentance – part 55 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 07 Jan 24 00:00:00 +0000

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1 Corinthians 15:55–58

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

But the bull of Leo openly condemns this article, “Concerning Repentance,” and the adversaries condemn it in the Confutation. From these, it is apparent what sort of a church we must judge these men to be. By their decrees they censure the doctrine that we obtain the forgiveness of sins through faith—not because of our works but on account of Christ. Further, they also give the command to abolish this teaching by force and the sword, and by every kind of cruelty to put to death good people who have this belief.

Pulling It Together: The doctrine of justification by faith is one for which people have given their lives. Luther himself, knowing that his life would be forfeit, declared that his conscience was captive to the Word of God, not to the doctrines of men. Today, we face a challenge of a similar sort that may yet bring about a second reformation of the Church. In Luther’s day, the reformers protested a works righteousness. In today's Western world, though a righteousness of works persists, we face a cultural righteousness, in which our doctrine of the authority of Scripture would be abolished by any means. Indeed, as in the time of the Reformation, this threat comes from both government and parts of the established churches in our lands.

We too, know what sort of people confront the Church today. It may yet be that some of us will give their lives for the truth. Nevertheless, the victory is God’s, not culture’s. So, like the reformers, the apostles, our Lord himself, and those brothers and sisters who have gladly lived and died for the truth in our own time, let us “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord [our] labor is not in vain.”

Prayer: Thank you, God, for giving me victory over sin, death, and the devil—not through any work of my own but on account of Jesus Christ the Lord. Amen. 

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Learning About Confession - Teacher's Guide guides leaders in teaching the meaning of Confession and Forgiveness according Luther's guidance in the Small Catechism. The student book, Learning About Confession 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.

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Concerning Repentance – part 54 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 06 Jan 24 00:00:00 +0000

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Isaiah 40:28–31

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance – part 54

Our adversaries cry out that they are the Church and are following the consensus of the Church. Yet Peter cites here that the consensus of the Church is in favor of our position: “To him all the prophets bear witness that every one who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name” (Acts 10:43). Surely the consensus of the prophets should be judged as the consensus of the whole Church. We do not concede to the pope or to the church the power to make decrees against this consensus of the prophets.

Pulling It Together: Isaiah tells us that “whoever believes will not be in haste (Isa 28:16). Those who believe will wait upon the Lord for righteousness. Therefore, they will “not be put to shame” (Isa 49:23). Isaiah and all the prophets teach us what the apostles also proclaim. We are saved, forgiven, and made righteous through faith in God’s Christ. There is no other way (John 14:6); there is no shortcut. It does not sway us that some denomination or popular pastor says otherwise. Their opinions can not alter our confession that righteousness and eternal life come through faith in Jesus Christ alone, since the prophets and the apostles, with united voice, declare the same. 

Prayer: Everlasting God, strengthen me so that I may not faint in 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.

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.

Leader's Guide

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Concerning Repentance – part 53 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 05 Jan 24 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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Acts 10:42–43

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

Peter cites from Isaiah 49:23 and 28:16: “He who believes in him will not be put to shame” (1 Pet 2:6). Therefore it is necessary that hypocrites be confounded, since they are confident that they receive the remission of sins because of their own works, and not because of Christ. Peter also 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). It could not be expressed more clearly when he says, “through his name,” and he adds, “every one who believes in him.” Therefore, we receive the forgiveness of sins only through the name of Christ, that is, for Christ’s sake, and not because of any merits and works of our own. This occurs when we believe that our sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake.

Pulling It Together: The whole of Scripture proclaims that forgiveness of sins is received only through faith in Christ. Those who suppose that God forgives their sins because they are good people, are led astray by their vain imaginings. Our sins are covered in the name of Christ, that is, because we believe in his offering for sin. This is what is meant by, “for Christ’s sake.” We are forgiven because of Christ, because of his redemptive work. It would be the height of vanity to imagine that we could add anything to the blessed work he has already accomplished.

Prayer: Give me the courage, O Lord, to proclaim your salvation. 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.

My New Bible is a five-session study for use in Sunday School at the presentation of the Holy Scriptures to elementary students. It introduces them to the layout and contents of their new Bible, shows them how to identify books and find verses, and gives them an overview of the major parts of Scripture.

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Concerning Repentance – part 52 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 04 Jan 24 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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Romans 4:1–8

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance

For a terrified conscience cannot confront God’s wrath with works or love. It finally finds peace when it apprehends Christ as mediator, and believes the promises given for his sake. For those who dream that hearts become pacified without faith in Christ, do not understand what the forgiveness of sins is, or how it comes to us.

Pulling It Together: Everyone acknowledges that, “You can’t take it with you.” Common sense wisdom understands that our works have no eternal value. So why do some try to stack them up as having merit with God? Belief in God’s promises is what counts as righteousness.

You may be a very fine person but your decency and civic virtue will never afford you peace. For you know yourself far better than do those who think they know you. You know you are a sinner; and you know just how great a sinner you really are. You have come to realize that all your decency and hard work and virtuous deeds do not add up to anything of eternal value. They have not and never can purchase redemption and forgiveness. You sense it deep in your spirit. And it troubles your soul.

Our souls come to know peace when they have been quieted by Christ. When we take Christ at his word: that just as he does not count our so-called goodness for us, he does not count our sins against us. Instead, he covers the sins of all who believe—not of all who work harder. He forgives us and makes us righteous for the sake of what he has done—not because of what we do.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, for your free gifts of salvation and forgiveness. Amen. 

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

A Reading and Discussion of the Augsburg Confession is written in easy-to-understand language but is a challenging study series based on assigned readings from the Book of Concord and related Scripture texts. Each study is comprised of eight sessions, plus an optional introductory session, each presented in a question and discussion format. Click here to see the Table of Contents and a sample session.

Leader's Guide

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Concerning Repentance – part 51 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 03 Jan 24 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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Romans 3:21–25

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

Secondly, we think that our opponents will acknowledge that the forgiveness of sins is either a part of repentance, or the conclusion, or to speak in their manner, the terminus ad quem. Therefore that by which the remission of sins is received is correctly added to the parts of repentance. It is very certain, even though all the gates of hell contradict us, that the forgiveness of sins cannot be received except by faith alone, which believes that sins are remitted for Christ's sake, according to Romans 3:25: “...whom God put forward as an expiation by his blood, to be received by faith.” Likewise: “Through him we have obtained access to this grace” (Rom 5:2), etc.

Pulling It Together: The forgiveness of sins is received—not earned. Now a sizeable portion of the Church thinks otherwise. Yet this is clearly what Scripture teaches us. Forgiveness is received by faith. The Word of God offers us no other options; faith receives the remission of sins. The Spirit of God bears witness to this within our own spirits. When we try to earn God’s forgiveness, we wonder if we have done enough or well enough. We worry if our works have satisfied God. Consequently, there is no peace of mind, no security. But when we believe, when we receive in faith him whom God has put forward as the only satisfaction or atonement for sin, there is both forgiveness and peace of mind. 

Prayer: Help me trust you, Lord, for righteousness, forgiveness, and salvation. Amen. 

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

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

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Concerning Repentance – part 50 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 02 Jan 24 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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1 John 5:9–12

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

Since absolution is the promise of the forgiveness of sins, it necessarily requires faith. We do see how he who does not believe it may be said to receive absolution. And what else is the refusal to believe the absolution but to call God a liar? If the heart doubts, it regards God’s promises as uncertain and of no account. Accordingly, it is written, “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” (1 John 5:10).

Pulling It Together

When God promises a thing, it is as certain as the sun rising in the east. When God says that he forgives your sins because of Christ, you may believe it to be quite definite. If you cannot believe God’s promise then you may as well insist that the sun will rise in the west tomorrow morning. For if you cannot believe that which is most sure, how certain is anything else that has been taken for granted up until now?

But God is not a liar, no matter whether we believe him or disbelieve. The wise person believes his promise. So, when God says he forgives you for Christ’s sake, and without your assistance, it would be best for you to have faith in his promise. It is certain and it is for your good. Furthermore, what sort of person would presume to call God a liar?

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for eternal life in 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 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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Concerning Repentance – part 49 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 01 Jan 24 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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Genesis 17:15–18

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance

Furthermore, we ask the adversaries, to begin with, whether receiving absolution is a part of repentance, or not. If they try to make a subtle distinction that separates it from confession, we do not see of what benefit confession is without absolution. However, if they do not separate the receiving of absolution from confession, then it is necessary for them to hold that faith is a part of repentance, as absolution is not received except by faith. That absolution is not received except by faith can be proved from Paul, who teaches that the promise cannot be received except by faith (Rom 4:16).

Pulling It Together: Promises are laughable words, unless received with faith. Abraham and Sarai were promised a son in their advanced old age. Abraham laughed; he laughed so hard that he fell to the ground. This was no chuckle at a joke; he roared with laughter—at God and his promise. Worse, in his disbelief, Abraham promoted his own idea to God. Bless this thing that I have done instead. Through lack of faith, Ishmael was born, and because of our lack of faith, all manner of our ideas are also kicked upstairs. Indeed, religion with all of its works, is elevated as faith.

But faith believes, “Your sins are forgiven.” Disbelief laughs at these words of promise, and says, Do this, do that, and then, perhaps, you may yet be forgiven. So, we see that faith is very necessary to absolution. Without faith, we never come to a place of forgiveness. Instead we laugh at God and busy ourselves with religious works, hoping that we may garner our own salvation.

Prayer: I trust in your promises, Lord; help me believe. 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 Apostles' Creed book is a ten-week unit, with one session on the Trinity and three sessions on each article of the Creed. The Bible Study lessons in the Creed unit of the Sola Confirmation Series provide an overview of creation-redemption themes in Scripture, driving toward the promise of God at work in our present lives. Click here to see the introductory pages and a sample of session one.

• Student Workbook   • Leader's Guide

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Concerning Repentance – part 48 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 31 Dec 23 00:00:00 +0000

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John 3:16–18

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance

When the adversaries speak of faith, and say that it precedes repentance, they do not mean that faith which justifies, but a general faith that believes God exists, that punishments threaten the wicked, etc. We require, in addition to that kind of faith, that each one believe his sins are forgiven. Concerning this special faith we are disputing, we place it in opposition to the opinion that bids us to trust in the opus operatum of contrition, confession, satisfactions, and so forth, instead of in the promise of Christ. That faith follows terrors in such a way as to overcome them and pacify the conscience. We ascribe justification and regeneration to this faith because it frees from terrors, and brings not only peace and joy to the heart, but also new life. We maintain that this faith is truly necessary for the forgiveness of sins, and accordingly place it among the parts of repentance. The Church of Christ believes as we do, though our adversaries contradict us.

Pulling It Together: We cannot place our trust in works wrought (opus operatum) by ourselves. Surely, this is evident to everyone. Who among us has been found faithful—even to his own intentions? We fail ourselves time and time again. We know this to be true about ourselves, though we may try to hide the fact. When we are so incapable of keeping our own resolutions, how should we expect to find ourselves capable of keeping the commandments? Yet, even if we could, this is not God’s answer to the problem of sin. Our religious and moral aptitude is not the solution; Christ is.

So we must do more than believe in the existence of God. We must believe that God loved us to such a great extent that he sent his only Son into the world to give us eternal life. Christ did not come to condemn us, but instead, to save us. Believe; have faith in him.

Prayer: Give me ever-increasing faith in you, Lord. Amen. 

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The Sacraments is a ten-week study, including sessions on Baptism, Communion, and the Office of the Keys. The Bible Study lessons in the Sacraments unit of the Sola Confirmation Series emphasize the connection between Old and New Testaments, by drawing on sacramental themes foreshadowed in familiar Old Testament stories, and how the promises of God "for you" are expressed and fulfilled in Christ.

• Student Workbook   • Leader's Guide

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Concerning Repentance – part 47 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 30 Dec 23 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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Matthew 11:28–30

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

As the adversaries expressly condemn our statement that people obtain the remission of sins by faith, we shall add a few proofs from which it will be understood that the forgiveness of sins is not obtained ex opere operato because of contrition, but through that special faith by which people believe that sins are forgiven. For this is the main subject which we contend over with our adversaries, and which we believe all Christians must understand. Since it is clear that we have spoken sufficiently already about this topic, we shall now be briefer. For the doctrines of repentance and justification are very closely related.

Pulling It Together: Being sorry for our sin does not merit forgiveness. You probably heard a retort something like this at some point in your life: “Sorry doesn’t fix what you broke.” Sin breaks our relationship with God and being sorry about it is not enough to effect repairs. It is a good start but it is insufficient. So, the typical response is to try to placate God through offerings, changed lives, or other forms of devotion. We soon see the error of our ways. The harder we try to change, be good, and make God happy with us, the more we see that we cannot accomplish our goals. We continue to sin in thought, word, and deed; and we do so by those things we have done as well as things we should have done.

So, the sooner we give up our religious scruples, the better our chances of not driving ourselves crazy, along with everyone around us. Instead of working so hard to be good enough for God, carrying on our shoulders the burdens of sin, contrition, and a variety of religious anxieties and fears, let us trust Christ to satisfy God. His yoke is so easy: believe in him instead of yourself and your fastidious religious practices. Have faith in Christ, and you will find rest for your soul.

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

• Student Workbook   • Leader's Guide

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Concerning Repentance – part 46 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 29 Dec 23 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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Matthew 3:4–8

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

From all these verses, godly readers will easily see that we assign to repentance those parts which properly belong to it in conversion, or regeneration, and the remission of sin. Worthy fruits and punishments follow regeneration and the remission of sin. We have mentioned these two parts, so that the faith which we require in repentance will be better seen. The faith that the gospel proclaims can be better understood when it is contrasted with contrition and mortification.

Pulling It Together: Repentance, as has been stated here multiple times, is in two parts: sorrow about sin, and faith in the one who forgives sin. Sometimes, there is punishment for sin even though there has been forgiveness. Yet this punishment is not part of repentance; it is simply, either a consequence of sin or a blessed gift from God to aid one in not sinning. There should also be fruit of repentance, as John the Baptizer said to the Pharisees. “Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.” Again, this fruit is not repentance, otherwise John would have said, “Bear fruit so that you may repent,” or even “Bear the fruit of repentance.” Instead, we are to bear fruit that is an indication that we have truly repented.

These are important distinctions. Faith is different than sorrow or contrition. It is also different from devotion or works of penance. Faith stands apart, believing in the Redeemer whether there is an abundance or a scarcity of fruit. Yet there should be fruit in keeping with repentance nonetheless. This fruit follows repentance. It is not a third part of repentance for the understandable reason that God wants us to have faith in him, not in ourselves (Rom 3:27).

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for redeeming me, a poor sinner. Amen. 

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

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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Concerning Repentance – part 45 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 28 Dec 23 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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Luke 7:36–38, 48–50

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

Nor are special punishments always added, but contrition and faith always exist in repentance. In Luke 7:37–38, a woman who was a sinner came weeping to Christ. Contrition is recognized in these tears. Afterward she hears the absolution. “Your sins are forgiven” (Luke 7:48). “Your faith hath saved you; go in peace” (Luke 7:50). The faith that encouraged and consoled her is the second part of repentance.

Pulling It Together: In this passage, we see two kinds of sinners. One is dull in spirit, self-absorbed, and very capable of seeing the sin in others but unable to see it in himself. The second is overcome with sorrow over her sin. This contrition is the first step in repentance.

Later, Jesus speaks a word that would be shockingly unintelligible to the first sort of sinner, but to the second, it is the word of life. “Your sins are forgiven.” These words of forgiveness must be believed. There is no peace with God or with self until Christ’s word is taken to heart in faith. The dull in spirit will say such things as, “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mark 2:7) or “Ah! Then we must do some work such as washing the feet of Christ to be forgiven.” Yet it was not her devotion that merited forgiveness. Rather, it was her faith, just as Jesus said. “Your faith has saved you.”

When sinners have faith in the forgiving God—instead of in their acts of devotion or other penitential works—they will, like the woman in our story, “go in peace.”

Prayer: Lord God, give me such grace that I may be truly sorry for my sin, but also truly believe that you forgive. 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.

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

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Concerning Repentance – part 44 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 27 Dec 23 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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2 Samuel 12:13–14

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

Just so, David is reproved by Nathan, and, terrified. He says, “I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Sam 12:13). This is contrition. Afterward he hears the absolution. “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die” (ibid). This voice encourages David, and by faith sustains, justifies, and quickens him. Here a punishment is also added (2 Sam 12:14), but this punishment does not merit the remission of sins.

Pulling It Together: There are three important things to notice in these two verses. When David was brought up short by the knowledge of his secret sin, he was contrite and confessed his sin. After his confession, the prophet Nathan spoke words of forgiveness from the Lord. Notice how David has done nothing but confess his sin. He has made no restitution or offering, in order to pay for his sin. The Lord freely offered forgiveness. Now, David must believe that God would forgive him of such great offense, for his sin was not only against Bathsheba, but against her husband Uriah. Indeed it was a sin against the people of Israel, for David was their king. More importantly, it was a sin against God, as David said, “I have sinned against the Lord.” God forgives even such a great sin as this, but David must believe.

So far, we see that there is contrition and remission—confession and forgiveness. Yet there is a third thing to bear in mind. After David was forgiven, the consequence of his sin remained. The child born of his sin with Bathsheba, would die. This was not a payment for sin, as we see that his sin had already been forgiven. We must be very careful here, for when we consider the consequence of sin a payment for that sin, we have already lost faith in the God who forgives us for his own sake. 

Prayer: Forgive me of my secret sins, O Lord. Amen. 

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

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, 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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Concerning Repentance – part 43 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 26 Dec 23 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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Genesis 3:6–8

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

The lives of the saints also reveal these two parts. After his sin, Adam was reprimanded and became terrified. This was contrition. Afterward God promised grace, and spoke of a future seed which would destroy the kingdom of the devil, death, and sin. Here God offered the forgiveness of sins. These are the chief parts. Though punishment is added afterward, this punishment does not merit the forgiveness of sin. We shall deal with this kind of punishment later.

Pulling It Together: After we take the tantalizing fruit of sin, a frightening self-consciousness overwhelms us. All we want to do is cover our sin and hide from God. This terror is contrition; and it is not enough. Hiding from God does not deal with sin. Furthermore, we cannot cover our own sin. Our attempts to do so, wither like day-old fig leaves. Only God can cover our sin, as he did in the garden. But we need something more permanent than animal skins (Gen 3:21). We must be covered in the permanence of Christ’s own skin (Rom 3:14; Gal 3:27). This covering in grace is the second, needful part of repentance. Without faith in the forgiving grace of God, we remain in terror and hiding.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for giving me faith in your Son who has destroyed sin and death forever. Amen. 

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

Faith Webbing is a deep, purposeful intergenerational approach to connecting youth to faith through a congregation. Its premise is to intentionally identify relationship voids in young peoples’ lives and then to fill those voids with members from within the congregation. For some youth, there might not be a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, older sibling, or younger sibling in their life. With Faith Webbing youth develop scores of long-term surrogate church family relationships of all ages.

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Concerning Repentance – part 42 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 25 Dec 23 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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Genesis 3:14–15

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

The two principal works of God in men are to terrify and to justify, and quicken those who have been terrified. These two works are distributed throughout the Scripture. The one part is the law that exposes, admonishes, and condemns sins. The other part is the gospel: the promise of grace bestowed in Christ. This promise is constantly repeated in the whole of Scripture, first having been delivered to Adam, then to the patriarchs, then still more clearly proclaimed by the prophets, and lastly, preached and set forth among the Jews by Christ, and broadcast over the entire world by the apostles. For all the saints were justified by faith in this promise, and not by their own attrition or contrition.

Pulling It Together: The promise, though veiled, goes all the way back to Genesis. That very first sin demanded the declaration of a Savior from the loving God. For from those tragic bites of forbidden fruit—the overreaching of a divine boundary—comes the most tragic boundary of all. Through sin, death comes to us all (Rom 6:23). We cannot circumvent this boundary. Our fear of God (attrition) will never keep us from sin and death. Nor will love of God (contrition) cause the first person to escape the boundary of death. Though these will never save us, we must fear and love God, but we must also trust him. We may take to heart the response of Adam and Eve, who having just gravely sinned, understood the promise, believing with faith in the salvation to come. Even Adam and Eve, though contrite, had faith in God’s promise.

Prayer: God, give me faith in your gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus. Amen. 

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

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

Leader's Guide

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Concerning Repentance – part 41 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 24 Dec 23 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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1 John 4:15–17

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

“For the LORD will...be wroth...to do his deed—strange is his deed! and to work his work—alien is his work!” (Isa 28:21). He calls it the strange work of the Lord when God terrifies, because to quicken and console is God’s own work. But God terrifies, he says, for this reason, namely, that there may be a place for consolation and quickening, because hearts that are secure and do not feel the wrath of God, loathe consolation. In this manner Scripture is accustomed to join these two, the terrors and the consolation, in order to teach that in repentance there are these chief members, contrition and faith, that console and justify. We do not see how the nature of repentance can be presented more clearly and simply.

Pulling It Together: How strange it must seem to a child, for the parent who loves to also seem so angry. For the threat of an oncoming car does not concern the unknowing child who is chasing a ball into the street. But the parent’s yelling terrifies the child. How could my dad be so upset with me? I’m just playing. Yet we easily see from a mature perspective that mothers and fathers were not angry but instead, very loving when they yelled at their children. Their “wrath” was meant to keep children from tragedy. Afterward, children enjoy their parents’ love, even when they have done something wrong, for they have become accustomed to forgiveness. They have faith in this strange love that yells and then consoles. 

Prayer: Help me, O Father, to cling with faith to 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.

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

• Unit 1   • Unit 2   • Unit 3

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Concerning Repentance – part 40 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 23 Dec 23 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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1 Samuel 2:2–6

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

“The LORD kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up” (1 Sam 2:6). One of these signifies contrition; by the other is meant faith.

Pulling It Together: The prayer of Hannah agrees with Moses’ teaching about the Almighty. God kills and makes alive; he wounds and he heals; and there is no one that can deliver out of his hand” (Deut 32:39). Life and death are in God’s hands. And there is nothing that we can do to deliver ourselves from the grave. The foolish harden their hearts to this fact of life. But the wise are contrite. They “talk no more so very proudly” (1 Sam 2:3) and are humble before the one who lays all people low in that grave place of rest, but also raises up to newness of life.

So again, we see that the first part of repentance is contrition before God but the second is faith. Christians put their whole trust in God, who not only ushers them to the grave but raises them up at the coming of the Lord (1 Thes 4:13–18).

Prayer: I confess that my life and death are in your hands, O God, as is my eternal life, through Jesus Christ the Lord in whom I have put my trust. 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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Concerning Repentance – part 39 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 22 Dec 23 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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Psalm 119:25–28

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

What need is there to cite many testimonies since they are obvious throughout the Scriptures? “The Lord has chastened me sorely, but he has not given me over to death” (Psa 118:18). “My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to thy word” (Psa 119:28)! Contrition is contained in the first part here, while in the second, it clearly describes how we are revived in contrition, namely, by the Word of God which offers grace, sustaining and quickening hearts.

Pulling It Together

Our ways lead us to certain death. They are low and dusty, clinging to the world and sin. Yet, God is always calling us to the way of life. This begins to happen when our souls melt away in sorrow because of a knowledge of sin. But this is only the beginning, for if contrition was all there was to repentance, we would be left with no hope, no peace, no life. Thus, the second part of repentance is faith in the promise of God’s Word which strengthens and even quickens the penitent. There we find grace, forgiveness, and renewal of the heart, which allow us to continue walking in the way of life.

Prayer: Search me, O God, and know my heart. Try me and know my thoughts. See if there is any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! 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.

Written in 1521, Martin Luther's Commentary on the Magnificat is a spiritual classic with a timeless message: soli deo gloria — to God alone be the glory. Johann Sebastian Bach wrote his musical masterpiece, Magnificat, during his first year as Kantor of the Church of St. Thomas in Leipzig. Luther and Bach on the Magnificat interprets the timeless message of the Magnificat in a unique and inspirational word and music study experience that can be enjoyed year after year by individuals and congregations alike.

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Concerning Repentance – part 38 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 21 Dec 23 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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Romans 7:24–8:2

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

Then, in Colossians 2:14, it is said that Christ “canceled the bond which stood against us with its legal demands.” Here also there are two parts, the bond and the cancellation of the bond. The bond is conscience, convicting and condemning us. The law, moreover, is the word which reproves and condemns sins. Therefore, this voice which says, “I have sinned against the Lord,” as David says (2 Sam 12:13), is the bond. The wicked and self-satisfied do not say this seriously, for they do not see, they do not read the sentence of the law written in the heart. This sentence is only perceived in sincere griefs and terrors. Therefore the bond that condemns us is contrition itself. To cancel the bond is to expunge this sentence which declares that we are condemned, and engraves the sentence by which we know that we have been freed from this condemnation. Faith is the new sentence that overturns the former sentence, and gives peace and life to the heart.

Pulling It Together

We ae in bondage to the flesh: these bodies of death with their natural inclinations that serve the law. We are bound by nature to sin “in thought, word, and deed.” Try as we might, we cannot free ourselves. Who can deliver us? Indeed, who but Christ who has already freed us from the bond or condemnation of the law. Though we are caught in our offenses and the tickets have been written, the judge declares that we are no longer condemned if we are in Christ Jesus. It is difficult to conceive in the flesh that this is true. But with the mind of the spirit, that is, by faith, we confess that Christ has set us free from the law of sin and death. By faith in the new testament, the old bond is overturned and abolished.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, lead me in continual repentance, and fortify my faith 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 Essential Bible (100 pages) is a readable, easy-to-understand summary of all the major stories in both the Old and New Testaments.  A helpful overview for pastors, seminary professors, Bible study leaders, confirmation instructors, Sunday School teachers, and parents, this book serves as an invaluable tool for teaching about the most important people and events in the scriptures.  The Essential Bible puts readers on a fast track to Biblical literacy. 

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Concerning Repentance – part 37 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 20 Dec 23 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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Habakkuk 2:1–4

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

So, what we ordinarily call contrition, Paul names as the putting off of the body of sins which, because in these griefs the natural desire is purged away. And quickening should not to be understood as a Platonic fancy, but as consolation that truly sustains the life that is escaping in contrition. There are therefore, two parts here: contrition and faith. For as conscience cannot be pacified except by faith, therefore faith alone quickens, according to the declaration, “The righteous shall live by his faith” (Hab 2:4; Rom 1:17).

Pulling It Together

It is the height of arrogance for someone to think that justification occurs through the human acts of contrition, devotion, or other acts of love or good works. Of course, all but the most hard-hearted, stiff-necked, and puffed up egos are sorry when they sin. This grief begins to drive away the natural inclination, simply because that person begins to be concerned about the consequences of sin. But a concerned, or even a terrified conscience, cannot evoke peace with God, because contrition alone will always leave one in doubt about their relationship with God. Have I been sorry enough? Was I really contrite or was I just afraid of hell? Do I truly love God? Have I done the requisite good deeds to satisfy God for my sins? These are just a few of the questions that plague the troubled conscience.

So, the troubled conscience should ask this one question: Do I believe that Christ died for my sin? If we believe this, then we also believe that it is Christ alone who was raised for our justification, to make us right with God (Rom 4:25). This is why faith is necessary for repentance to occur. Faith believes that Christ makes sinners righteous before God. Faith does not believe that sinners make themselves righteous or justified before the Almighty. So those whom God has made righteous will live by their faith, while those who imagine they are responsible for their righteousness will remain in terror.

Prayer: Forgive me, God, and cleanse me of my sin, 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.

All God's Critters, Unit 4: New Testament is a Sunday School Resource Book for Preschool & Kindergarten. 

Unit 4 completes a full year of lessons 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. 

Unit 1   Unit 2   Unit 3   Unit 4

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Concerning Repentance – part 36 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 19 Dec 23 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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Romans 6:2–4, 11

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

When describing conversion or renewal, Paul almost everywhere assigns these two parts: mortification and quickening, as in Colossians: “In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of flesh.” Then, “in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God” (Col 2:11–12). There are two parts here. One is putting off the body of sins; the other is being raised through faith. These words, mortification, quickening, putting off the body of sins, raised, are not to be understood in a Platonic way, concerning a feigned change. Mortification means true terrors, like those of the dying, which nature could not suffer unless it were supported by faith.

Pulling It Together: Paul speaks plainly about these two parts of repentance. He writes that we are dead to sin, this taking place through our baptism. Then, even though we are sorry for our sin, we know that we are forgiven and shall rise again with Christ. Through this faith, we obtain consolation and life over and over again. For according to Paul, faith in Christ is meant to bring consolation and peace to troubled consciences. “Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom 5:1). Since, being justified by faith, we have peace, it follows that there is first terror and anxiety in the conscience. Thus, we confess that contrition and faith must go side by side.

Prayer: Help me believe, Lord, that I am dead to sin, through my baptism into Christ’s death. 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 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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Concerning Repentance – part 35 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 18 Dec 23 00:00:00 +0000

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Mark 1:14–15

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

There are here, therefore, these two chief parts: contrition and faith. Christ says, “Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15) In the first part, he convicts of sins; in the latter he consoles us, and shows the forgiveness of sins. For to believe the gospel is not that general belief which demons also have, but in the proper sense, to believe that the forgiveness of sins has been granted for Christ’s sake. For this is revealed in the gospel. You see also here that the two parts are connected: contrition when sins are rebuked, and faith, when it is said, “Believe in the gospel.” If any one should say here that Christ also includes the fruits of repentance or the entire new life, we shall not dissent. For this satisfies us, that contrition and faith are named as the chief parts.

Pulling It Together: It is not enough to only believe the history of the gospel. One must have faith in the one who is the incarnate gospel. One must trust in Christ for the remission of sins. James tells us that even the demons believed and were afraid (James 2:19). But faith does more than fear; it also loves and trusts God. We confess then, that because we fear, love, and trust God, we repent by first, being sorry for our sins, and then, having faith that God will forgive us for Christ’s sake. This is the promise of the gospel.

Prayer: I believe in your promise of forgiveness through Jesus Christ, and place all my trust in you, Lord. Amen. 

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For centuries, the apostle Paul's letters have instructed Christians in the faith. His epistles teach us right theology, remind us repeatedly of the centraility of the good news of God's grace expressed best in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and relentlessly encourage us to follow and serve our God with passion. The Letters of Paul in Sola's "Old Places, New Faces" series 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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Concerning Repentance – part 34 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 17 Dec 23 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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Hebrews 9:11–15

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

Because the Confutation condemns us for having assigned these two parts to repentance, we must show that Scripture expresses these as the chief parts in repentance or conversion. Christ says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt 11:28). There are two parts here. The labor and the burden signify the contrition, anxiety, and terrors of sin and of death, while coming to Christ is believing that sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake. When we believe, the Holy Spirit quickens our hearts through the Word of Christ.

Pulling It Together: To think of repentance in terms of contrition alone is to act in accordance with the law. This is unstable ground since it depends so much upon the person who is sorry for their sin. Whereas a truly contrite person is heartily sorry for their sin, how does one know the degree of their sorrow? So, Lutherans confess that faith must be added to contrition so that one may be at peace before God. We teach that there is a new covenant, not based upon sacrifices (Exod 24:8) but, founded upon the blood of Christ. We have faith that Christ’s sacrifice for the sins of the world is what satisfies God. Thus we are no longer sorry, then offering sacrifices and other works of the law. Rather, we are sorry and then have faith in Christ.

Prayer: Thank you, eternal Spirit, for the promise of a heavenly inheritance through faith in the mediator of the new covenant. Amen. 

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Acts in Sola's "Old Places, New Faces" series is a twelve lesson study that 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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Concerning Repentance – part 33 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 16 Dec 23 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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2 Chronicles 7:11–14

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

Meanwhile this faith is nourished in many ways during temptations, through the declarations of the gospel and the use of the sacraments. For these are signs of the new testament, signs of the forgiveness of sins. Therefore, they offer the remission of sins, as the words of the Lord’s Supper clearly testify. This is my body, which is given for you. This is the cup of the new testament (Matt 26:26–28). Thus faith is conceived and strengthened through absolution, through the hearing of the gospel, through the use of the sacraments, so that it may not succumb while it struggles with the terrors of sin and death. This method of repentance is plain and clear, and increases the worth of the power of the keys and of the sacraments. It illumines the benefit of Christ, and teaches us to avail ourselves of Christ as mediator and propitiator.

Pulling It Together

God has always been ready to forgive. Proof of his willingness is the ways he has provided for people to turn to him in faith. He has given us the Scripture so that in the reading and hearing of his Word, we may be strengthened in faith. He also uses the singing of the Scriptures in the liturgy of worship to not only sustain us in the moment but, because the tunes and the words linger, he brings his promises back to our memories throughout the week. The Holy Spirit also uses sermons to bring people to faith and fortify the faith of others. Holy Communion also strengthens us and keeps us in his grace. And prior to Holy Communion, we are afforded the opportunity to confess our sins with faith that God will forgive and are assured of his forgiveness through the words of absolution. God gives us all these ways, while we are struggling with sin, to turn to him in faith and be forgiven. Each of them involves two things that together are rightly considered true repentance: contrition and faith in the one who forgives.

Prayer: Help me to turn from sin, Lord, and seek you in prayer. Amen. 

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John in Sola's "Old Places, New Faces" series is a twelve lesson study that explores 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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Concerning Repentance – part 32 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 15 Dec 23 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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Luke 10:10–16

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

Because God truly quickens through the Word, the keys really remit sins before God, according to this verse: “He who hears you hears me” (Luke 10:16). Therefore the voice of the one absolving must be believed as though it were a voice from heaven. Absolution may properly be called a sacrament of repentance, as the more learned scholastic theologians also say.

Pulling It Together

Here is one of the surest and most obvious ways that the Lord’s Prayer is answered. We pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” As God wishes to forgive sinners for Christ’s sake, he sends pastors to call them to repentance, who then speak to them the words of absolution. There! See it? God’s will was done on earth, as it is in heaven. Our sins are truly remitted, canceled, and forgiven on earth through the absolution so that they are also canceled before God in heaven. Your pastor is a messenger sent by God. Believe that you are truly forgiven in heaven when you hear such words as these on earth: “I therefore declare to you the entire forgiveness of our sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

Prayer: Keep me in faith, Lord, that I may believe in your mercy and grace until that Day. 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.

Luke in Sola's "Old Places, New Faces" series is a twelve lesson study that will take you from a night in Jerusalem to the day of Pentecost. This small group Bible study looks at the old places from the New Testament stories and gives relevant and faith-stimulating messages for new faces — today's believers.

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Concerning Repentance – part 31 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 14 Dec 23 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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Romans 10:13–17

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

The power of the keys administers and presents the gospel through absolution, which is the true voice of the gospel. Thus we also include absolution when we speak of faith, because “faith comes from what is heard”, as Paul says (Rom 10:17). For when the gospel and the absolution are heard, the conscience is encouraged and receives consolation.

Pulling It Together: The promise of divine grace is received through hearing the gospel. This hearing occurs in many ways. It is received through the reading and singing of the Scripture, both individually and corporately. It happens in both sacraments, when the gospel is presented—to those receiving as well as to those who affirm their own faith, as happens at baptism. The gospel is heard during preaching and when the Holy Spirit brings it to mind, especially when the conscience has been fearful because of sin. This remembrance also occurs when Christ’s words of forgiveness are spoken privately through a confessor, and corporately in the absolution. This is how the power of the keys delivers the gospel. For when we hear that we have received the entire forgiveness of our sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, we have heard the very gospel, are at peace with God, and our faith is strengthened. 

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for your word of grace, delivered to us in the power of your Spirit. Amen. 

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

Mark in Sola's "Old Places, New Faces" series is a twelve lesson study that will take you from the stormy Sea of Galillee to the empty tomb. This small group Bible study looks at the old places from the New Testament stories and gives relevant and faith-stimulating messages for new faces — today's believers.

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Concerning Repentance – part 30 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 13 Dec 23 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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Ephesians 2:18; 3:11–12

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

Nor is love present before reconciliation has been accomplished through faith. For the law is not performed without Christ, according to this verse: “Through him we have obtained access to this grace” (Rom 5:2). This faith grows gradually and throughout the entire life, struggles with sin in order to overcome sin and death. But love follows faith, as we have said above. So filial fear can be clearly defined as an anxiety connected with faith, where faith consoles and sustains the anxious heart. Servile fear, however, has no faith to sustain the anxious heart.

Pulling It Together

We cannot fear, love, and trust God without faith. In other words, we cannot keep even the first of the commandments without faith, let alone the rest of the law. So, in this life, where we are tested by various temptations, we must do more than be sorry for our sins. We must have faith in a forgiving Father. For without faith, there is only fear of God’s wrath. The result is doubt of the Father’s love. Because we have faith in God, we are enabled by his Spirit to do more than fear; we also love and trust him. Indeed, we grow in faith because we have been given admittance to the Father. One has confidence of this filial access only through faith. Our works will never give us such confidence. Human love or devotion will never attain it, for this bold assurance is a gift granted by the Holy Spirit through faith. Believers have been made citizens in God’s kingdom but they are given more than citizenship. They are given family status. So we confess that through faith, we may confidently approach our Father with fear, love, and trust that he forgives.

Prayer: Thank you, God, for giving me faith to fear you, but to also love and trust you. Amen. 

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Matthew in Sola's "Old Places, New Faces" series is a twelve lesson study that will take you from Egypt to the ends of the earth. This small group Bible study looks at the old places from the New Testament stories and gives relevant and faith-stimulating messages for new faces — today's believers.

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Concerning Repentance – part 29 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 12 Dec 23 00:00:00 +0000

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Romans 5:1–2

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

This faith cheers, sustains, and quickens the contrite, according to this verse: “Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God” (Rom 5:1). This faith obtains the forgiveness of sins. This faith justifies before God, as the same passage testifies: “We are justified by faith.” This faith shows the distinction between the contrition of Judas and Peter, of Saul and of David. The contrition of Judas and Saul did not help because there was no faith added to apprehend the forgiveness of sins conferred as a gift for Christ’s sake. Accordingly, the contrition of David and Peter availed, because faith was added to sorrow so that the forgiveness of sins given for Christ’s sake was apprehended.

Pulling It Together: The witless child who does not believe his parents got him a birthday present, will never enjoy the gift. Perhaps he was sorry for having been a disobedient child but just could not accept that his parents loved him nonetheless. This was the state of Saul and Judas. They were disobedient but God still loved them. The gift of forgiveness was available even for them. But they could not believe, and lacking faith, they did not grasp the gift. Faith must be added to contrition, or repentance will never avail itself of the remission of sins. But for the one who believes, God justifies that person because of faith in him and his free gift of forgiveness for Christ’s sake.

Prayer: Lord, increase my faith. Amen. 

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The Minor Prophets in Sola's "Old Places, New Faces" series is a twelve lesson study that peeks at each of the dozen books we call the minor prophets, books that are often forgotten or neglected. Yet, their messages are deeply relevant for today's believer. The prophetical books contain God's call upon His followers of every century. These exhortations are either calls to positive actions that honor God or warnings to stop attitudes and behaviors that dishonor Him. As we rediscover these profound words, we will be reminded of what it means to follow and obey God, as well as be challenged to live a life that glorifies God in greater and more significant ways.

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Concerning Repentance – part 28 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 11 Dec 23 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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Hebrews 10:39–11:2

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

Therefore, we add faith in Christ as the second part of repentance so that during these terrors, the gospel of Christ is presented to consciences. For in his gospel the forgiveness of sins is freely promised through Christ. Therefore, they ought to believe that their sins are freely forgiven for Christ’s sake.

Pulling It Together

If repentance is only a matter of sorrow for sin, then human nature tries to appease God. But we cannot appease God by any means. We cannot do enough good works to appease God. Nor are we able to love God sufficiently or in a manner that might appease him. At any rate, appeasement is not our business, since none of this has anything to do with our love. It is not that we loved God, but that he loved us and because of his great love, sent his Son to be the propitiation or the appeasement for our sins (1 John 4:10). Appeasement is God’s business—not ours.

So, yes, we must be sorry for our sin but then, we must turn to God in faith that he forgives us because Christ Jesus is the sacrifice for our sins. Thus, we confess that we are forgiven for Christ’s sake. God has taken care of our sins. Have a little faith. 

Prayer: Give me faith, O Lord, that I may be confident of my hope in you. Amen. 

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Psalms in Sola's "Old Places, New Faces" series is 12 studies that make Bible stories come alive for today's Christian by Rev. Kent Groethe. This small group Bible study looks at the old places from the Old Testament stories and gives relevant and faith-stimulating messages for new faces — today's believers.

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Concerning Repentance – part 27 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 10 Dec 23 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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Galatians 2:19–21

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

Amidst these terrors, the conscience senses the wrath of God against sin, which is unknown to secure people who walk according to the flesh. It sees its depravity, and genuinely grieves that it has sinned. The conscience then flees from the dreadful wrath of God, because human nature cannot endure it unless sustained by the Word of God. This is why Paul says, “For I through the law died to the law” (Gal 2:19). For the law only accuses and terrifies consciences. In these terrors our adversaries say nothing of faith. They only present the Word that convicts of sin. When this alone is taught, it is the doctrine of the law, not of the gospel. They say that people earn grace through these griefs and terrors, provided they love God. But how will they love God if they are truly terrified, having sensed his terrible and inexpressible wrath? What do they teach other than despair when they only present the law during these terrors?

Pulling It Together

How does one know if repentance comes from a pure heart? Perhaps that person does not truly love God, but merely fears hell. Indeed, it is very likely that a person is terrified of damnation and wants to turn to God with sorrow for sin, yet in the next moment, doubts that genuine repentance has occurred because the fear remains. Such people are mired in feelings, and they will never escape them unless they hear the gospel. In the gospel, one moves from feelings to faith. Feelings are certainly real, and they never go away. What persons are able to doubt the reality of fear, anxiety, and guilt when they feel these emotions after having sinned? But what of peace and hope? These joys of the Spirit will never be known until one moves from feelings to faith.

As long as we live in this flesh, we will experience all of these feelings. For the law will never cease to accuse us of sin. But the person of faith has died to the law. The law has no legal power in the kingdom of God’s Son. So the person of faith senses the law’s accusation but is able to proclaim, “I am dead to the law, for I have been crucified with Christ in my baptism!” Christ now lives in that person. This is why the law holds no sway in the heart of faith. Thus, genuine repentance requires faith be added to contrition.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, grant to me full confidence in your forgiveness, through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen. 

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Numbers and Deuteronomy in Sola's "Old Places, New Faces" series is an adult Bible study that uses the geographical locations of Biblical characters to symbolically refer to places we find ourselves with respect to our faith. The Bible is not only intended to give the reader knowledge about events and people in the past, but through these events and people, inspire greater faith.

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Concerning Repentance – part 26 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 09 Dec 23 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger imiage

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Isaiah 38:14–15

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

Scripture speaks of these terrors, as in Psalm 38:4, 8: “For my iniquities have gone over my head; they weigh like a burden too heavy for me.... I am utterly spent and crushed; I groan because of the tumult of my heart.” And, “Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am languishing; O LORD, heal me, for my bones are troubled. My soul also is sorely troubled. But thou, O LORD—how long” (Psa 6:2–3)? Also, “I said, In the noontide of my days I must depart; I am consigned to the gates of Sheol for the rest of my years.... I cry for help until morning; like a lion he breaks all my bones; from day to night thou dost bring me to an end” (Isa 38:10, 13).

Pulling It Together: We are very weak. Jesus reminds us of this fact of human nature. “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt 26:41). Though we may want to do good and to please God by doing his will, we fail. And we fail miserably. If we were honest, we would agree with David, that our guilt is deep; it has risen over our heads. We are drowning in sin. The willing spirit therefore, chirps and moans before God. We look to his mercy, for there is not much that we can do in this flesh but walk humbly before God all our years.

This is the first step in repentance. When one admits this humbled condition and confesses the guilt of sin, then contrition has occurred. This contrition may arise either from fear or love, but finally, it should come from both fear and love. For we should fear and love God above all things. Yet one is not repentant if only contrite, since we are not only to fear and love God, but to also trust him above all things. As has been said here, this trust, or faith, is the second step in repentance. Being sorry for sin is not enough. Trying harder is not the answer either. We must come to trust God with a confident faith, that he cares for helpless, weak sinners such as ourselves, and is himself the answer to our problem, our help in these years of trouble, and the one who sustains us (Psa 54:4).

Prayer: Deliver me from this flesh, O Lord, and sustain me with your Spirit. Amen. 

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

Other books in the "Old Place, New Faces" series

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Concerning Repentance – part 25 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 08 Dec 23 00:00:00 +0000 Online jigsaw

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Luke 24:45–48

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

We remove from contrition those idle and infinite discussions, as to when we grieve because of the love of God, and when because of the fear of punishment. But we say that contrition is the true terror of conscience that perceives God is angry with sin, and that grieves that it has sinned. This contrition takes place when sins are censured by the Word of God. For the sum of the preaching of the gospel is to convict of sin, to offer the forgiveness of sins and righteousness for Christ’s sake, to give the Holy Spirit and eternal life, and to lead regenerated people to do good works. Christ summarizes the gospel in this way when he says “that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations” (Luke 24:47).

Pulling It Together: It is easy enough to get caught up in useless babbling about when contrition takes place, or whether sorrow stems from the correct attitude. Simply stated, contrition is when a person, because of love or fear, stops defending sin and confesses it instead. But repentance has not yet occurred, for contrition is only the beginning of true penitence. Since we confess that one should fear, love, and trust God, faith in his forgiveness must follow sorrow. We do not only have faith in God’s forgiveness, but also trust that he has granted the Holy Spirit who will renew us and lead us to delight in his will and to walk in his ways.

Prayer: Forgive me, a poor sinner, and grant me the power and guidance of your Holy Spirit. Amen. 

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Genesis in Sola's "Old Places, New Faces" series is twelve studies that make Bible stories come alive for today's Christian. 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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Concerning Repentance – part 24 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 07 Dec 23 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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Proverbs 32:5

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

In order to deliver pious consciences from these labyrinths of the scholastics, we have ascribed these two parts to repentance: contrition and faith. If any one desires to add fruits worthy of repentance, or a change of the entire life and character for the better as a third part, we will not resist.

Pulling It Together

As good works follow true repentance or conversion, the Lutherans did not quibble on this point. Their position was that contrition and faith cannot be removed from repentance, leaving only the good works. This removes Christ from repentance, since penitence would only involve the devotion of the penitent—or worse, their money. Repentance begins with a heart that is moved toward God’s mercy and then has faith that he forgives for Christ’s sake. As has been said here many times, good works will surely follow. Does this make good works necessary for repentance to occur? We confess that in true repentance, good works will necessarily follow. 

Prayer: I acknowledge to you my many sins, Lord, and rejoice in 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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Concerning Repentance – part 23 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 06 Dec 23 00:00:00 +0000

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John 2:13–16

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

XI. That in reserved cases, not only canonical punishment, but also the guilt ought to be reserved in the case of one who is truly converted.

Pulling It Together

At the time of the Reformation, part of the concern was that people were instructed in certain cases, they could purchase their pardon. In these reserved cases, persons had only to go through the motions of confession, but without either contrition or faith in God to forgive. All they had to do was pay a willing confessor to absolve them. This makes the Church of God a market place, where people no longer not only buy and sell sacrificial animals, but instead purchase the sacrifice itself. Their purchasing power would become the power of absolution.

The Lutherans, on the other hand, confessed that the power of the keys was the authority of Christ spoken by any confessor, and dependent upon two things: contrition and faith. First, a person had to actually be sorry for sin, not merely go through the motions, ex opere operato. Second, that person must have faith that God forgives for Christ’s sake, not because enough money was in-hand to leverage forgiveness. 

Prayer: Give me faith, O Lord, to trust in your forgiveness. Amen. 

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The Sola Online Worship eResource (SOWeR) is a lectionary-based resource site for Scripture lessons, lectionary inserts, children's bulletins, devotionals, text studies, prayers, hymn-planning, and much more! There are subscription levels for every congregation size. 

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Concerning Repentance – part 22 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 05 Dec 23 00:00:00 +0000

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Ephesians 1:7–10

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

X. That the power of the keys frees our souls from purgatory through indulgences.

Pulling It Together

On March 31, 1515, Pope Leo X issued an indulgence that promised to forgive the temporal punishments of sins for anyone who purchased that certificate. These indulgences were especially attractive purchases, even to the poor, because it was thought that if enough indulgences could be acquired, people could free themselves—or even others—from the sins that kept people in purgatory.

The fault with indulgences lies not only in who it is that forgives sin, but in what this forgiveness costs. God’s gracious forgiveness is a gift to those who believe in the one who redeemed them with the price of his own life (1 Cor 6:20; Gal 3:13). Forgiveness is not something we may purchase at any price. The power of the keys is the authority of Christ who eternally showers his forgiveness on us at the cost of his blood, not the authority of the Church to temporally forgive with the price of a coin. The remission of sins and eternal life without a purgatory are granted to those who believe in the riches of Christ. We have redemption, not through our purchasing power but, through the riches of his grace.

Prayer: Thank you for redeeming me, Lord, and for forgiving me through your grace. Amen. 

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

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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Concerning Repentance – part 21 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 04 Dec 23 00:00:00 +0000

Index

 Click for audio of today’s devotion.

Romans 3:21–28

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

IX. That receiving the sacrament of repentance obtains grace ex opere operato, without a right attitude on the part of the recipient—without faith in Christ.

Pulling It Together

Everything depends upon faith in Christ. Going to church, doing good works, being president of Council, having perfect attendance, teaching Sunday School, and even knowing all three of the ecumenical creeds (yes, even the Athanasian Creed) by heart mean nothing without faith. Simply doing the deed (ex opere operato: by the work worked) does not bring grace. Only faith in Christ apprehends grace (Eph 2:8–9). So we confess that the righteousness and grace of God has been given apart from works of the law. People are justified by God’s grace through faith in Christ, not by doing works. Works are evidence of one’s faith but they do not merit grace.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for your grace to me, a poor sinner. Amen. 

Learning the Apostles' Creed teaches the Apostles' Creed according to the pattern of Luther's Small Catechism, and is recommended for the Fourth Grade Level.

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Concerning Repentance – part 20 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 03 Dec 23 00:00:00 +0000

Index

 Click for audio of today’s devotion.

2 Corinthians 5:20b–6:1

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

VIII. That canonical satisfactions are necessary for redeeming the punishment of purgatory, or that they profit as a payment to blot out guilt. Uninformed people understand it in this way.

Pulling It Together

The uneducated persons mentioned in this eighth statement in the list of false teachings are the very ones teaching those doctrines. Melancthon referred to them as “uninformed” since they relegated believers to a purgatory. Because it was taught in the schools that satisfactions are made to apply only to the punishment—instead of Christ being the satisfaction for sin—there had to be a place in the schoolmen’s minds where believers went when they died but had not yet paid the entire debt of their sins.

The Lutherans however, confessed that everything hinges on Christ. He bore our sin on the cross (1 Pet 2:24) so that we would be made “the righteousness of God.” This free gift of God (Rom 6:23) does not depend upon our righteousness or our satisfactions for sins. Our devotion and good works are not the point. Righteousness and salvation are not about our love, but instead, rest completely in God having loved the world so much that he sent his Son to be the propitiation for sin (1 John 4:10). God in Christ has reconciled us to himself. Do not receive his grace vainly by now trying to make satisfactions for your sins.

Prayer: Dear Lord and Savior of the world, move me to know your great love and be at peace in you. Amen. 

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

• Unit 1   • Unit 2   • Unit 3

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Concerning Repentance – part 19 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 02 Dec 23 00:00:00 +0000

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Psalm 38:1–4

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

VII. That the enumeration of sins in confession, which the adversaries teach, is necessary according to divine right.

Pulling It Together

There are surely some specific sins that we ought to confess so that we are honest before God, hear absolution of that specific, troublesome sin, and thereby, know God’s peace. But it is not necessary to name every sin in order to be fully forgiven. We have to admit that our sins are great in number, that they have gone over our heads as if if we were drowning in our iniquities. Who could confess such a volume of transgressions? There would be no end to confession.

We are given salvation and a good conscience before God through baptism (1 Pet 3:21). So, we have the assurance of God’s forgiveness in general confession, since we believe that Christ has died for our sins (John 3:16; 8:24). We have redemption and the forgiveness of sins through him; indeed, we have been given citizenship in his kingdom (Col 1:13–14). If you believe that Jesus is the one sent down from heaven to save us from our sins, you have eternal life (John 6:47). So, we confess that one does not need to name all sins in order to make Christ’s saving work effective. We are saved through God’s grace by faith in Christ, not by our exhaustive cataloging of sins.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, for drawing me out of this abyss. Amen. 

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Learning About Confession - Teacher's Guide guides leaders in teaching the meaning of Confession and Forgiveness according Luther's guidance in the Small Catechism. The student book, Learning About Confession 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.

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Concerning Repentance – part 18 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 01 Dec 23 00:00:00 +0000

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John 8:21–24

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

VI. That sins are not remitted before God by the power of the keys, but that the power of the keys has been instituted to change eternal punishments to temporal punishments, to impose certain satisfactions upon consciences, to institute new acts of worship, and to obligate consciences to such satisfactions and acts of worship.

Pulling It Together

Luther wrote many letters to pastors who were facing various problems in their churches. Some of those difficulties were caused by their peoples’ consciences being troubled by obligations imposed upon them by the church in Rome. Rather than urging them to deal specifically with those issues, Luther urged these pastors to get to the heart of the issue, that which caused the confusion. He wrote to John Gulden, pastor of St. Peter’s Church in Weida, Thuringia, who argued publicly with fellow clergy who disagreed with him about ceremonies: “I beg you to give first place in your preaching to those things which are of greatest weight, namely that you urge faith and love upon your hearers” (Letters of Spiritual Counsel, Regent College Publishing, Vancouver, 1960, 295). He wrote to the entire clergy of Luebeck about the gradual introduction of reform by focusing on the basic principles of the faith. “Put first and foremost what is fundamental in our teaching, the doctrine concerning our justification... Reform of impious rites will come of itself when what is fundamental in our teaching, being effectively presented, has taken root in pious hearts” (ibid. 296).

So today, we ought to be teaching our people that God forgives sins for Christ’s sake, not because we perform certain rituals. We must teach that people may have peace of conscience through faith in Christ’s work. When they hear Christ speak in the absolution, they are to take him at his word, believing with absolute certainty that they are truly forgiven for Christ’s sake, that there is nothing they need add to his promise. In the mercy of almighty God, Jesus Christ was given to die for us, and for his sake God forgives us all our sins.

If we do not teach this with clarity and passion, our people may believe instead, that there is something else they must do to appease God, and so, they will never have peace with him. They must come to believe that Jesus has died for their sins, or there is the very great danger that they will die in their sins. This is fundamental and must have first place in our preaching so that the reform of hearts and churches may gradually take hold. 

Prayer: Lord, be merciful to me, a poor sinner. Amen. 

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

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

Subscribe today.

For information on congregational/group orders, click HERE.

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Concerning Repentance – part 17 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 30 Nov 23 00:00:00 +0000

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Mark 16:19

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

V. That the power of the keys is beneficial for the forgiveness of sins before the Church, but not before God.

Pulling It Together

The power of the keys binds things in heaven, not just on earth. When a “door” is unlocked or locked on earth in the name of Christ, it is done in heaven too. Whatever is bound or locked on earth is also bound or locked in heaven. This happens because it is not by the authority of the pastor that absolution or the forgiveness of sins is conferred. The Church is not the authority here either. If we think of absolution as something bestowed by the Church, there will be no end of confusion. Lutherans confess that the pastor and the Church absolve sin under the authority of Christ. It is God’s voice you hear when your pastor pronounces absolution. Your pastor is speaking with God’s authority and by his command. And so, it is bound on earth—and in heaven.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for locking the gates of hell. 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)

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Concerning Repentance – part 16 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 29 Nov 23 00:00:00 +0000

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Romans 4:20–25

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

IV. That we obtain remission of sins because of contrition, not by faith in Christ.

Pulling It Together

Contrition is also insufficient to merit the forgiveness of sins. Being sorry for sin (attrition) and then doing something that would balance the scale of one’s righteousness before God (contrition), each or together exclude the merits of Christ. We cannot balance the scales; and we need not balance them. The scales are already balanced by Jesus. He has earned righteousness and remission of sin for us, since we cannot (Rom 8:3). Nevertheless, God has called us to lead holy lives. Christ “has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace” (2 Tim 1:9, NIV). It is by faith that we are counted as righteous before God. So we confess that our holiness, our works of contrition, is insufficient for the remission of sins, while faith in Christ merits forgiveness of sin by “the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe” (Rom 3:22).

Prayer: When I doubt, Lord, help me trust in your promises. 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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Concerning Repentance – part 15 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 28 Nov 23 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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Psalm 38:18–22

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

III. To blot out sin, disgust of the iniquity is sufficient.

Pulling It Together

It is not enough to be sorry for our sin. Nor is it sufficient to do good. For we cannot assist ourselves. Instead, we must avail ourselves of the mercy of God in Christ Jesus. He is the only one who can help us. He alone is our salvation. Penance—acts of devotion, service, and even worship—is not sufficient for the remission of sin. Only death blots out sin. “For one who has died has been set free from sin” (Rom 6:7). Thanks be to God “that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death” (Rom 6:3) and therefore, have been set free from sin and death. “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his” (Rom 6:5).

Prayer: O Lord of my salvation, I confess my iniquity and trust in your mercy and forgiveness. 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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Concerning Repentance – part 14 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 27 Nov 23 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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Romans 4:4–5

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

II. That we deserve grace because of attrition.

Pulling It Together

Although we should certainly “fear, love, and trust God” (Small Catechism), these things, including the fear of God (attrition), do not earn grace. Grace is freely conferred by God to those who are then expected to fear, love, and trust him. God’s freely given grace is not had by our works or by our state of mind or heart. We do not first give him our time, talents, money—or even our fear, love, and trust—and then receive his grace. That would be grace paid for services rendered. Instead, through no merit of our own, we are given his grace because of the merits of Christ alone. So we confess what is written, that though our works are filthy rags (Isa 64:6), if we believe in Christ, we are justified and our faith is credited to us as righteousness. 

Prayer: Gracious Father, give me the heart of Abraham, so that I may trust in you alone for righteousness and salvation. 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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Concerning Repentance – part 13 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 26 Nov 23 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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2 Corinthians 12:9–10

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

For the following teachings are clearly false and foreign not only to Holy Scripture, but also to the Church Fathers:

I. That from the divine covenant we deserve grace from good works done without grace.

Pulling It Together

You cannot reason or work your way into God’s grace. God’s grace is a free gift (Eph 2:8), something that is given by him for you. It is not something that you earn, either by reason of decision or by doing good works. The poor in spirit receive the kingdom of heaven (Matt 5:3), not those who are wise and industrious. God does not command us to work for his grace. Instead, he liberally bestows his grace and expects his children to offer themselves totally to him (Rom 12:1). We are to do this, not to be saved or be considered righteous, but so that the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22–23) will be manifested in our lives through the Holy Spirit, and bring God the glory. His grace is sufficient for us; God does not need our assistance. This frees us to live by the Spirit, content with the righteousness of Christ alone.

Prayer: Thank you, Almighty God, for paying the price for my weakness. Amen. 

Receive 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) 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. 

"SOWeR is the first place I go every week to start thinking about my sermon." —Pastor William Maki, Zion Lutheran Church, St. Marys, OH

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Concerning Repentance – part 12 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 25 Nov 23 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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John 11:23–26

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

In a word, the subject of satisfactions is infinite, so we cannot enumerate all things. But laying beneath these scandalous doctrines of devils, the doctrine of the righteousness of faith in Christ and the benefit of Christ is buried. Therefore, all good people understand that the doctrine of the sophists and canonists concerning repentance has been censured for a useful and godly purpose.

Pulling It Together

Since the consequence of sin is death (Rom 6:23), it is no wonder there is the felt need to confess all sins. Perhaps, we might imagine, if we could confess them all, we might overcome death. But no one is likely to list all of their sins, any more than they are able to cheat death. Even if all sins could be named, original sin remains and so, death will come to us all. But there is a way to cheat eternal and spiritual death. It will not happen because we have confessed all our sins or are able to make some satisfaction for them. Eternal death is cheated because we confess Christ, who has overcome sin, death, and the devil, satisfying God through his one sacrifice (Heb 11:14). He alone is the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in him, even though dying in this life, will rise to everlasting life through faith in the Son of God. 

Prayer: Give me faith in the eternal promise, through Jesus Christ, the Lord of life. Amen. 

Receive 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)

A separate Leader's Guide is available. 

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Concerning Repentance – part 11 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 24 Nov 23 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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Ephesians 1:7–8

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

The third act remains, concerning satisfactions, which contains the most confused discussions. They imagine that eternal punishments are commuted to punishments of purgatory, and teach that a part of these is forgiven by the power of the keys, and part is to be redeemed by means of satisfactions. They further add that satisfactions ought to be works of supererogation consisting of the most foolish observances such as pilgrimages, rosaries, or similar observances that do not have the command of God. Then, just as they redeem purgatory by means of satisfactions, a scheme of redeeming satisfactions was devised that was most abundant in revenue. They sell indulgences, which they construe as remissions of satisfactions. This revenue is not only collected from the living, but more amply from the dead. Nor do they redeem the satisfactions of the dead only with indulgences, but also by the sacrifice of the Mass.

Pulling It Together

“We confess that we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves” (Brief Order for Confession and Forgiveness). Christ alone has redeemed us from sin. He has ransomed or freed us from this subjugation. Our redemption is not had by payments of money or by works that satisfy God. He has been appeased or propitiated by the blood of his own dear Son. His blood is the payment, and his sacrifice the work, that sets us free. “In the mercy of almighty God, Jesus Christ was given to die for [us], and for his sake God forgives [us] all [our] sins” (ibid). “According to the riches of his grace,” and for the sake of his Son, Jesus Christ, God has mercy on us, so that his holy name is glorified. If we were redeemed by our own payments or works of satisfaction, we could boast in ourselves. But it is by grace that we have been saved through faith, so that no one may boast (Eph 2:8–9) except “in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Gal 6:14).

Prayer: Thank you, Almighty God, for setting me free 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.

        

    

The Sola Confirmation Series is a basic work-book style Confirmation curriculum composed of five books. 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. Click HERE to download a pdf sheet describing the program, including an outline of session topics.

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Concerning Repentance – part 10 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 23 Nov 23 00:00:00 +0000

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Psalm 34:17–19

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

These things occur in the first act. What occurs when they come to confession? What a work there is in the endless enumeration of sins—in great part devoted to those against human traditions! In order that good minds may be even more tortured by these means, they falsely assert that this enumeration is by divine commandment. While they demand this enumeration under the pretext of divine right, they speak coldly concerning absolution, which actually is of divine right. They falsely assert that the Sacrament itself confers grace ex opere operato, without a good disposition on the part of the recipient. No mention is made of faith apprehending the absolution and consoling the conscience. This is really what is generally called “departing before the mysteries.”

Pulling It Together

The first step in repentance is being contrite. God does not desire sacrifices from us, in order to appease him (Psa 51:16). This offering has already been accomplished by Jesus (Heb 10:12). What God desires is broken hearts that are sorry for sins (Psa 51:17). Then he wants our faith—trust that he really does forgive us for Christ’s sake.

Godly minds understand that this cannot be accomplished through sacrifices, works of devotion, endless itemization of sins, or ritual observances. Forgiveness is apprehended through faith, through total trust that Christ alone has delivered us from all our sins (Gal 1:3–4). The faithful add nothing to what Christ has already finished. They are at peace before the mystery of God, knowing that Christ has fully accomplished what they cannot. So we confess that contrition and then faith are required for true absolution. 

Prayer: Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me as I humble myself in confession before your holiness. Amen. 

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

        

The Sola Confirmation Series is a basic work-book style Confirmation curriculum composed of five books. 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.  Click HERE to download a pdf sheet describing the program, including an outline of session topics.

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Concerning Repentance – part 9 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 22 Nov 23 00:00:00 +0000

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Colossians 1:21–23

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

Here we appeal to the judgment of all good and wise people. They will undoubtedly confess that our adversaries’ writings are very confused and intricate. Nevertheless the most important subject is at stake, the chief topic of the gospel: the remission of sins. This entire doctrine of our opponents concerning these questions that we have reviewed is full of errors and hypocrisy. It obscures the benefit of Christ, the power of the keys, and the righteousness of faith.

Pulling It Together

There is nothing confusing about the gospel when it is heard with the ears of faith. We confess that Christ has killed our sinful old nature through his own death on the cross, so that we are reborn by faith in him. This is why he is able to present us holy and blameless to God. He does this; we do not. We must only “continue in the faith.” In this way, we have the certainty that we have been reconciled to God through Christ. We have this certainty in no other way. It will never come through works of love, devotion, religion, or law. For that would be faith in ourselves. But because we have faith in Christ, we have a hope that does not disappoint (Rom 5:5). 

Prayer: Spirit of God, keep me ever faithful; 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.

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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Concerning Repentance – part 8 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 21 Nov 23 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

Click above for larger graphic.  • Photo  • Index of Scripture graphics and posts by Scripture reference 

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Psalm 145:8–9

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

When can a terrified conscience be able to decide whether it fears God for his own sake, or is fleeing from eternal punishments—especially in those serious, true, and great terrors which are described in the Psalms and the prophets, and which are certainly experienced by those who are truly converted? These great causes may be defined in letters and terms but in fact, they are not as distinguishable as these cunning sophists imagine.

Pulling It Together: Our anxieties about sin may sometimes be managed on the surface with words and semantics, but when the test is applied in the heart, these matters turn out differently. For the conscience cannot be fooled, nor will it find peace with God by spinning words. There is nothing to be done when the conscience is troubled other than to trust in and appeal to God’s mercy. His mercy is not decided by our love and devotion. Nor does he determine to not be gracious to us because we are simply frightened of wrath, damnation, and hell. This is easily understood when we finally come to believe that we are not in any way responsible for God’s actions. His favor toward us does not occur because we either love him or fear his punishment. His favor arrives because we be believe his word, that he is graciously disposed to us for Christ’s sake. We are able to repent and know with certainty that God forgives us when we have faith that God’s mercy depends upon Christ alone. This faith in Christ is what brings peace to troubled consciences. 

Prayer: Holy Spirit, enlarge my vision 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.

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

Teacher's Guide

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Concerning Repentance – part 7 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 20 Nov 23 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

Index

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Psalm 103:8–13

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

What follows is still more complex. They teach that we earn grace by contrition. When then, did Saul and Judas and similar persons who were dreadfully contrite not obtain grace. If one asks, the answer must in cited according to faith and the gospel, that Judas did not believe or support himself with the gospel and promise of Christ. Faith shows the distinction between the contrition of Judas and of Peter. But our antagonists take their answer from the law, that Judas did not love God, but feared the punishments. 

Pulling It Together

Look to the Word. What is written? How far does God say that he hurls our offenses? “As far as the east is from the west,” is how far he removes our sins from us. This occurs in that moment that we believe the Lord is merciful and gracious to us. If, in absolution however, we think, “Oh, there is that one additional sin that I haven’t purged or confessed,” we question the Lord’s mercy. Our faith is then in ourselves instead of the one who loves us as a father. For he is indeed, the Father who loves us so constantly and with such abundant compassion that the mountains are not high enough to measure the height of his love. The horizons cannot tell the full and true measure of how far our transgressions have been removed. Believe; have faith in your Father.

Prayer: Blessed are you, O Lord, for you are my redemption. Amen.

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

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

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Concerning Repentance – part 6 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 19 Nov 23 00:00:00 +0000

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John 20:21–23

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

Some suppose that the power of the keys does not remit guilt, but simply commutes eternal punishments to temporal ones. Then the most beneficial power of the keys would be the ministry of wrath and punishments, instead of life and the Spirit. Those more cautious imagine that by the power of the keys sins are remitted before the Church but not before God. This also is a pernicious error. For if the power of the keys does not console us before God, what then, will pacify the conscience?

Pulling It Together

The “power of the keys” is the clear charge of Christ to preach the gospel (Mark 16:15), to remit and retain sins, and to administer the sacraments. By “remit,” we mean “to forgive,” and by “retain,” we mean “to withhold forgiveness.” So, in our more modern versions of the New Testament, we use the word “forgive,” instead of “remit,” which is used in the Vulgate, Tyndale, and King James versions. Yet, in the more archaic phrase, “the remission of sins,” is an understanding of forgiveness that will give us reassuring peace with God.

“Remission” and “remit” are English words we get from the Latin, which literally mean to “send back” “or send away.” Appropriate translations of the biblical Greek are of course, “forgiven,” but also “release” or even “hurl.” We have the sense of this in the English word “missile,” constructed from the same Latin word. In the power of the keys, we hear Christ hurling our sins away as if by a missile launch.

There is no better news than the news of remission. When cancer patients hear that the disease is in remission, they are finally at peace. The cancer has been sent back, hurled away, canceled. This is what happens when Christ remits our sins. Through the power of the keys, we hear Christ says to us that our sins have been hurled away and canceled. We are completely forgiven and in remission. We are at peace with God. 

Prayer: Thank you, God, for canceling my sin; through Christ the Lord. Amen.

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

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

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Concerning Repentance – part 5 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 18 Nov 23 00:00:00 +0000

Index

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Psalm 6:1–4

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

Let any one of our opponents come forward and tell us when the forgiveness of sins takes place. O good God, what darkness there is! They wonder whether it is in attrition or in contrition that forgiveness of sins occurs. If it happens because of contrition, what need is there of absolution? What does the power of the keys effect if sins have already been forgiven? They labor here even more, wickedly reducing the power of the keys.

Pulling It Together

Around the time of the Reformation, there was endless quibbling in the Church about how and when things happened. In this case, the debate was about whether the remission of sins occurred as a result of attrition or contrition. Did forgiveness happen when persons were sorry because they feared God (attrition) or because they loved God (contrition)?

We should both fear and love God. So, let us simplify the argument over attrition or contrition by simply speaking of repentance. Repentance happens when the Holy Spirit uses the Word of God to convict us of sin. Because we fear and love God, we are led by his Spirit to turn away from sin or to repent, and to request God’s forgiveness. But it does not end there.

We must also trust him. “We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.” (Small Catechism) Repentance can easily become a work of the flesh that simply tries harder to be good. So we confess that faith must be added so that the gospel may be put to its proper use. Faith permits us to depend upon God alone. Hear the great power in the Keys! You ask God’s forgiveness and hear his forgiveness announced to you in the name of the Holy Trinity. What did you do to obtain that forgiveness?

You feared. You loved. And you trusted. 

Prayer: Holy Spirit, allow me at the last to trust in Christ alone. Amen.

All God’s Critters (unit 1 of 3) is a Sunday School series designed for young students in Preschool and Kindergarten. Lessons are based on storytelling, rhyme, and pictures, and are suitable for participation by non-readers. The flexible lesson plans introduce the youngest believers to the importance and truth of God’s Word. Each lesson includes the story of the day written in a simplified manner so that young children may understand an important truth about God and what it means for us to be God’s children.

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

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Concerning Repentance – part 4 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 17 Nov 23 00:00:00 +0000

Index

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1 Peter 1:1–2

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

Before we come to the defense of our position, we must first say that all good men of every rank, including theologians, undoubtedly confess that the doctrine of repentance was very confused before the writings of Luther appeared. The commentaries on the Sentences are available as example of the endless questions which the theologians were never able to explain satisfactorily. The people were unable to comprehend the sum of the matter, or what things were required in repentance, or where to seek peace of conscience.

Pulling It Together

Peace is only found in the grace of God. This is why Peter says, “May grace and peace be multiplied to you.” Who does this math? We are entirely unable to extend God’s grace to ourselves, let alone multiply his grace. We cannot create a lasting peace of mind; nor can we cause it to increase in ourselves. But God can and does. So Peter says, “May [it] be...” This is something done to us, or for us; it is not something we do for ourselves, or even in cooperation with God. God alone is the author of grace and peace. If we are looking for peace anywhere other than in the grace of God, we are looking in the wrong place.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for choosing, redeeming, and sanctifying me. Amen.

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

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Concerning Repentance – part 3 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 16 Nov 23 00:00:00 +0000

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2 Corinthians 7:9–10

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

We therefore beseech you, O Charles, most invincible Emperor, to patiently and diligently hear and examine this most important subject, which contains the chief topic of the gospel, and the true knowledge of Christ, and the true worship of God. For all good men will discover that, especially on this subject, we have taught things that are true, godly, salutary, and necessary for the whole Church of Christ. They will determine that the writings of our theologians have added much light to the gospel, and have corrected many harmful errors which, through the opinions of the scholastics and canonists, had clouded the doctrine of repentance.

Pulling It Together

The doctrine of faith is no small matter, for true repentance depends upon faith. Repentance needs faith to believe that God is so merciful toward us that our sins have been forgiven for Christ’s sake. Otherwise, we begin to imagine that our own love and religious works are what make the difference, are what cause God to actually forgive. There must be no mystery here; our confession should be clear.

We believe that we have rest or peace with God through righteousness. This is not a righteousness of our own. Righteousness is imputed or ascribed to us, not by any merit of our own but by the grace of God because of what Christ has accomplished. Christ has overcome sin—our sin. The good confession relies upon Christ through faith that God forgives us for his sake.

Our teaching is a happy and peaceful doctrine because it removes all doubt about whether one is forgiven or if the promise of salvation is certain. It never wonders if it has done enough good to balance out the bad. For the doctrine of faith does not depend upon our works, our goodness, or our love. It depends upon God in Christ. So we confess that repentance is a godly grief about sin that causes one to return to God with faith that he freely forgives for the sake of Christ.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for removing the sin and the guilt, through your blessed Son. 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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Concerning Repentance – part 2 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 15 Nov 23 00:00:00 +0000

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Acts 3:18–21

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

What are we to do here, O Charles, most invincible Emperor? The very voice of the Gospel is this: that by faith we obtain the forgiveness of sins. The writers of the Confutation condemn the voice of the gospel, so we can in no way assent to the Confutation. We cannot condemn the voice of the gospel, so beneficial and abounding in consolation. What else is the denial that we obtain forgiveness of sins by faith than to scorn the blood and death of Christ?

Pulling It Together

What are we to do but to turn again and again to Christ? The heart of this turning, this repentance, is faith. We believe that in turning from our sins to Christ, those sins are blotted out. In this turning from sin, we are turning from the trust of self. We do not simply turn from sin; we turn to Christ. We put our whole trust in him alone. He is the one who erases sin. Do we try harder to live a godly life? Most certainly. But our trust is that God makes us righteous, that he forgives us for Christ’s sake—not because we have added our own goodness and faithful deeds to repentance in order to earn his mercy. There is nothing for us to do here but to have faith in the benefits of God in Christ alone.

Prayer: Grant me life in your eternal kingdom, O God, through the death and resurrection of your Son, Jesus Christ the Lord. Amen.

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

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Concerning Repentance – part 1 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 14 Nov 23 00:00:00 +0000

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Psalm 51:7–17

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

They approve the first part the twelfth article where we explain that those who have fallen after baptism may obtain forgiveness of sins at whatever time, and as often as, they are converted. They condemn the second part, in which we say that the parts of repentance are contrition and faith. They deny that faith is the second part of repentance.

Pulling It Together

God creates clean hearts within us. This happens when we are first, stricken in our consciences, and then, have faith that God will forgive us and make us righteous for Christ’s sake. We are not penitent, but then left wanting for righteousness. We confess that God upholds us and restores to us the joy of salvation. Therefore, we do not busy ourselves with earning favor with God through acts of righteousness. Rather, God forgives us and renews righteous spirits in us. We believe that he does this because of what Christ Jesus has done for us, not because of what we do for him. This requires nothing less than faith.

Prayer: I will declare your praise, O Lord, for you have delivered me from all my iniquities. Amen.

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

• Unit 1   • Unit 2   • Unit 3

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Concerning Confession – part 8 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 13 Nov 23 00:00:00 +0000

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Isaiah 44:22–23

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession 

Good pastors know it is advantageous to examine inexperienced persons. But we do not wish to sanction the torture of the Summists. Despite what they have done, it would have been less intolerable if they had added one word concerning faith to comfort and encourage consciences. There is not a syllable about the faith which obtains the forgiveness of sins in their great a mass of regulations, glosses, summaries, and books of confession. Christ is nowhere in their writings. They only list sins. The greater part is occupied with sins against human traditions, and this is most vain. This doctrine has forced many god-fearing minds to despair. They were not able to find peace because they believed that divine law made an enumeration of sins necessary, while experiencing that this was impossible. There are other faults of no less consequence inherent in our opponents’ doctrine concerning penitence, which we will now recount.

Pulling It Together

Confession must lead to Christ—not to more and more confession. Christ is the focus, not ourselves. Therefore forgiveness must be the outcome of confession, not the tyranny of a guilty conscience. God has covered our sin like a deep fog covers the landscape. He has erased our iniquities. All he asks is that you return to him instead of returning to your sinning—or to the memories of your sins. Confess your sin with an eye on Christ, not an anxious glance for yet another sin to confess. Give thanks for his grace and forgiveness; then live in peace with God. Look to the redeemer, not to the sinner or his sins.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, that you have made me righteous through your grace, not by meticulous acts of religion. Amen.

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

• Unit 1   • Unit 2   • Unit 3

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Concerning Confession – part 7 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 12 Nov 23 00:00:00 +0000

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Psalm 40:11–13

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession 

What tragedies the questions about who is one’s own priest excite among the pastors and brothers, who are then by no means brothers when they are fighting about jurisdiction of confessions! Therefore, we believe that, according to divine law, the enumeration of sins is not necessary. This view also pleased Panormitanus and many other experts on the law. We do not wish to impose necessity upon the consciences of our people by the regulation omnis utriusque, which we judge, just as we do other human traditions, that they are not acts of worship necessary for justification. This regulation commands that we confess all sins—an impossible matter. It is evident, however, that most sins we neither remember nor understand. “Who can discern his errors?” (Psa 19:12).

Pulling It Together

Only a foolish or crazed person would undertake the task of counting the hairs on his head. There are too many to count. Yet we imagine that we can enumerate our sins when we have more sin than hair? This is an impossible undertaking. Do not bother God, let alone yourself, with endless lists of sins. The Holy Spirit will lay on your heart what needs confessing. Though it feels like your sin is piled higher than the mountains, God is merciful. He has delivered you from your sin and forgives you. Count on God, not on your ability to recount. 

Prayer: Deliver me, O Lord, from all my iniquities. Amen.

Come and See - Word of Life Series is a resource for those looking to develop small groups built around the Word of God. This model of small-group ministry is an excellent tool for evangelism since it is rooted in prayer and Scripture. Its primary focus is to empower those who believe in Jesus Christ to be comfortable sharing their faith and inviting others to experience a transformed life in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

• Unit 1   • Unit 2   • Unit 3

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Concerning Confession – part 6 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 11 Nov 23 00:00:00 +0000

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Revelation 22:11–13

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession 

The whole Church throughout Europe knows that consciences have been ensnared by this point of the regulation that commands that all sins be confessed. The text itself is less disadvantageous than what the Summists added later, who even collected the particulars of the sins. What labyrinths and great tortures for the best minds! Yet, the licentious and profane were in no way moved by these instruments of terror.

Pulling It Together

Luther writes in The Bondage of the Will, “But when the works and power of God are unknown, I do not know God himself, and when God is unknown, I cannot worship, praise, thank, and serve God, since I do not know how much I ought to attribute to myself and how much to God. It therefore behooves us to be very certain about the distinction between God’s power and our own, God’s work and our own, if we want to live a godly life.”

The imposition of rules and regulations will change no heart. The Holy Spirit changes hearts by drawing people near to the crucified Christ (John 12:32). It is God who calls us to himself. Just as surely, instead of acknowledging God, the impious and debased, moved only by their desires, are eventually delivered over completely to their depravity (Rom 1:28). They will be moved more and more toward self and sin, by self and Satan. But they will never be moved to love God because of Church regulations. 

Prayer: Draw me nearer to you, blessed Lord. Amen.

"Outcome-Based Youth Ministry" is a list of faith skills that we are prepared to build into young people. These faith skills will equip youth with the necessary tools to live out their personal calling in life. Learn how to make this happen in your congregation with What's In Your Bag.

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Concerning Confession – part 5 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 10 Nov 23 00:00:00 +0000

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1 Corinthians 10:12–13

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession 

Concerning the enumeration of sins in confession, we teach people in such a way as not to ensnare their consciences. There is an advantage to accustom inexperienced people to enumerate some things so that they may be more easily taught, but we are discussing here what is necessary according to divine law. So, the adversaries ought not to cite for us the regulation Omnis Utriusque. We know this rule, so they should instead show us in the divine law that an enumeration of sins is necessary for obtaining forgiveness.

Pulling It Together

As has been stated before, our focus should be Christ, not our sins. One can spend so much time in introspection and the endless recounting of sin that Christ is lost in the shuffle. Let us, as needed, name those specific sins that have ensnared us so that we may be instructed how to escape (1 Cor 10:13). But may we be content to confess that we are sinners—indeed, poor, miserable sinners—so that we may focus on the one who has saved us from our sins. May Christ be the focus of confession, not our sins which, as always, slyly tempt us to concentrate overly much upon ourselves. 

Prayer: Lord, let me see you more clearly. Amen.

The Norm of Faith, part two of Sola Scriptura, 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.

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Concerning Confession – part 4 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 09 Nov 23 00:00:00 +0000

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1 Corinthians 11:27–29

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession 

A fixed time is not prescribed because all are not ready in the same way at the same time. If everyone were to come at the same time, they could not be heard and instructed in order. The old canons and the Fathers do not appoint a fixed time. The canon speaks only thus: “If any enter the Church and are found never to commune, let them be admonished. If they do not commune, let them come to repentance. If they commune, let them not be expelled. If they fail to do so, let them be excommunicated. Paul says, “For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself” (1 Cor 11:29). Accordingly, our pastors do not force those who are not qualified to use the Sacraments.

Pulling It Together

Confession precedes Holy Communion. We are to earnestly confess our sins and hear the words of absolution before receiving Christ. We are also to rightly consider the Sacrament, that it is the “true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ under the bread and wine” (Small Catechism). If we commune without doing these things, we invite judgment. Therefore, we teach people, preparing them for the feast of Christ, including confession which must attend the Supper. But we do not force people to commune if they are not ready. God’s grace is not a matter of legislation.

Prayer: Search me, O God, and know my heart and see if there is any wicked way in me. Amen.

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

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Concerning Confession – part 3 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 08 Nov 23 00:00:00 +0000

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Acts 2:42–43

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession 

With respect to the time, certainly most of the people in our churches use the Sacraments, absolution and the Lord’s Supper, many times a year. Our teachers speak about the worth and fruits of the Sacraments in such a way as to invite the people to use them frequently. Our theologians have written many things on this subject in such a manner that the adversaries, if they are good men, will undoubtedly approve and praise. We also excommunicate the openly wicked and despisers of the Sacraments. These things are done both according to the gospel and the old canons. 

Pulling It Together

As Christ is known to us in the breaking of the bread (Luke 24:25), the early Church assembled to know Christ in his Supper, the Apostles’ teaching, prayer, and fellowship. We encourage our people to break bread, to receive the grace of God through Christ’s body and blood, on each Lord’s Day (Acts 20:7) but there is no rule among us as to frequency. When Christians come to understand the great value of Holy Communion, they will desire it more and more, as is happening in many of our churches today.

The earliest Lutherans also put people out of the church when they despised the Sacraments by their open wickedness. Those who lived in obvious vices, fornication, adultery, and so forth, deride and make a mockery of God’s grace. So they were denied the fellowship of grace according to ancient and biblical practice (1 Cor 5:11-13).

Prayer: Sovereign Lord, order my priorities and my days according to your word. Amen.

Sola First Communion Certificates are printed in color on heavyweight parchment paper, with a matching envelope to go with each certificate. The traditional 'half-sheet' size is perfect for inclusion in a picture album or scrapbook.

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Concerning Confession – part 2 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 07 Nov 23 00:00:00 +0000

Index

1 John 1:7-10

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession 

It is well known that we have so explained and extolled the benefit of absolution and the power of the keys that many distressed consciences have derived consolation from our teaching. They have heard that it is the command of God—indeed, the very voice of the gospel—that we should believe the absolution, and consider it certain that the forgiveness of sins is freely granted to us for Christ's sake; and that we should trust that by this faith we are truly reconciled to God. This teaching has encouraged many godly minds, and in the beginning brought Luther the highest commendation from all good men, since it establishes a sure and firm consolation for consciences. Previously the whole power of absolution had been suppressed by doctrines concerning works, since the sophists and monks taught nothing of faith and free forgiveness.

Pulling It Together

Confession and absolution provide persons of faith with the regular assurance that their sins are forgiven because of what Christ has accomplished for them. When they hear the words of absolution, “By [Christ’s] authority, I therefore declare to you the entire forgiveness of all your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” it is not the pastor they hear. They hear a voice from heaven since the pastor speaks in the name of God. Confession and absolution direct them away from trust in their own works, which would leave them with nothing but the despair of troubled consciences. In the absolution, the voice of God leads them out of darkness and into the full light of God’s forgiveness, reconciliation, and righteousness.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, give me a believing heart, that trusts in your forgiveness of all my sins. Amen.

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

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Concerning Confession – part 1 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 06 Nov 23 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

• Index

  Click for a recording of today’s lesson.

Proverbs 28:13-14

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession 

The eleventh article on retaining absolution in the Church is approved. But they add a correction in reference to confession, that the regulation Omnis Utriusque be observed—that annual confession be made, and though all sins cannot be enumerated, diligence should be employed so that they are recollected, and those which can be recalled, be recounted. We will speak at greater length later about this entire matter, when we will explain our full opinion concerning repentance.

Pulling It Together

People recoil at the idea of fearing God because they believe that God loves them. “Why should I fear someone who loves me?” they might ask. Yet Scripture tells us that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Psa 111:10). That “we should fear, love, and trust in God above all things” is also repeated throughout the Small Catechism. Obviously, fearing God is a matter of great importance. We should fear God, but why?

Our sins hold us back from fellowship with God because we know that, though God loves us, we have displeased him. As a result of this fear, we confess those sins that have separated us from divine fellowship, in the hope that somehow God would forgive the likes of poor sinners like us. Confession leads us to an understanding of his love and forgiveness. We are then, able to love and trust the God who loves us. So we should not harden our hearts but instead, “fear, love, and trust in God above all things.” 

Prayer: Help me to trust you with my transgressions, loving Lord. Amen.

Learning About Confession - Teacher's Guide guides leaders in teaching the meaning of Confession and Forgiveness according Luther's guidance in the Small Catechism. The student book, Learning About Confession 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.

Student's Book

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Concerning the Holy Supper – part 4 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 05 Nov 23 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

• Index 

  Click for a recording of today’s lesson.

Luke 22:19-20

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Holy Supper 

We have cited these testimonies, not to prompt a discussion here on the subject, for His Imperial Majesty does not disapprove of this article, but so that all who read them may clearly perceive that we defend the doctrine received by the entire Church: that in the Lord’s Supper the body and blood of Christ are truly and substantially present, and are truly offered with those things that are seen, bread and wine. We speak of the presence of the living Christ, for we know that, "death no longer has dominion over him” (Rom 6:9).

Pulling It Together

Holy Communion is not something that we do; it is something that God does for us. It is not an act or ritual that we perform; it is an activity of God that we receive. We eat and drink bread and wine but we receive body and blood. We are given Christ himself. This is important to understand. Grace comes to us in Holy Communion because God comes to us. “This is my body, which is given for you.” In this giving of himself, his body and blood, we become his body and by this grace, share in his eternal glory.

Prayer: Help me, Holy Spirit, to remember all the benefits of your grace. Amen.

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

Leader's Guide

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Concerning the Holy Supper – part 3 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 04 Nov 23 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

Index

  Click for a recording of today’s lesson.

John 6:47-57

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Holy Supper 

There is a long exposition of Cyril on John 15, in which he teaches that Christ is bodily offered to us in the Supper. He says, “Nevertheless, we do not deny that we are spiritually joined to Christ by true faith and sincere love. But we entirely deny that we have no mode of connection with him according to the flesh. This would be altogether foreign to the sacred Scriptures. For who has doubted that Christ is in this manner a vine, and we the branches, deriving life for ourselves from him? Hear Paul saying that we are all one body in Christ. Although we are many, we are nevertheless, one in him, for we all partake of that one bread (Rom 12:5; 1 Cor 10:17; Gal 3:28). Does he think perhaps that the virtue of the mystical benediction is unknown to us? Since this is in us, does it not also cause Christ to dwell in us bodily by the communication of Christ’s flesh?” A little later Cyril writes, “Therefore we must consider that Christ is in us not only according to the habit, which we call love, but also by natural participation,” etc.

Pulling It Together

Faith is the theme of our discussion. We have been talking about Holy Communion, Baptism, the Church, justification, and other matters but in all of these topics, we are actually considering faith. We believe that God justifies us for Christ’s sake, that the Church is the body of Christ, that our original nature is buried in Christ’s death through the water and word of Holy Baptism, and that Christ gives us more grace (James 4:6) through the true food of his flesh and the true drink of his blood. These are all matters of faith. For who would confess such things could be, unless God himself had revealed them? Specific to our present topic of Holy Communion, whoever believes that Christ Jesus is the bread of life, has eternal life. We confess with the Scripture, with Christ’s very words, that when we receive the bread and wine of the Holy Supper, we truly partake of the substance and life of Christ’s flesh and blood. “For,” Jesus said, “my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.” We believe with faith, and confess this to be true.

Prayer: I believe, Lord Jesus; I believe in the bread of life; I believe in you. Amen.

Faith Webbing is a deep, purposeful intergenerational approach to connecting youth to faith through a congregation. Its premise is to intentionally identify relationship voids in young peoples’ lives and then to fill those voids with members from within the congregation. For some youth, there might not be a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, older sibling, or younger sibling in their life. With Faith Webbing youth develop scores of long-term surrogate church family relationships of all ages.

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Concerning the Holy Supper – part 2 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 03 Nov 23 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

• Index

  Click for a recording of today’s lesson.

Matthew 26:26-28

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Holy Supper 

We know that not only the Roman Church affirms the bodily presence of Christ, but the Greek Church also has come to believe and continues to believe the same. For their canon of the Mass testifies to this where the priest clearly prays that the bread may be changed and become the very body of Christ. Vulgarius, who seems to us to be a reasonable writer, clearly says that bread is not merely figurative but is truly changed into flesh.

Pulling It Together

Jesus called the bread that he broke and gave to his disciples to eat, “my body.” He said of the cup, “This is my blood.” This is what we believe. We do not fuss overly much with the “how” and the “when,” but we are very much concerned with the “why.” The reason we believe is because Jesus said the bread is his body. He said the wine is his blood. This is his word that we take on faith in the one who said it, like we believe the rest of his word. We believe it because Jesus says it is so, because he gives his word. And in his promise is the pouring out of forgiveness for our sins.

Prayer: Lord, increase my faith. 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 which illustrates the theme, with additional references from Scripture andLuther's Small Catechism - Children's Version. Lessons emphasize the sacramental promise of the forgiveness of sins conveyed to us in the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. This booklet was designed to be used as a Sunday School unit, or for classes to prepare students for their First Communion.

Teacher's Guide

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Concerning the Holy Supper – part 1 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 02 Nov 23 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

•  Index

  Click for a recording of today’s lesson.

1 Corinthians 10:15-17

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Holy Supper 

The Tenth Article has been approved, in which we confess that we believe, that the body and blood of Christ are truly and substantially present in the Lord’s Supper, and are truly offered to those who receive the Sacrament with those things that are seen: bread and wine. We constantly defend this belief, having carefully examined and considered the subject. Since Paul says that the bread is “a participation in the body of Christ” (1 Cor. 10:16), it would follow, if the Lord’s body was not truly present, that the bread is not a participation in the body but only in the spirit of Christ.

Pulling It Together

This participation, as the Revised and English Standard versions translate the word, is a fellowship or, as the King James Version phrases it, a communion. The Holy Supper is a communion in the body and the blood of Christ. So, we have come to understand that he shares with us the gift and the grace of his real presence. Christ Jesus does not offer us a metaphor; he gives us his true body and blood. We are not sharing something merely spiritual in Holy Communion. Because the Lord is truly present in his supper, we receive him—not a memory, not a figure of speech, but Christ himself.

Prayer: Thank you, God my High Priest, for offering yourself as sacrifice for my sin. Amen.

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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Concerning Baptism – part 4 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 01 Nov 23 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

Index

Titus 2:11-15

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Baptism 

As it is clear that God approves of the baptism of little children, the Anabaptists believe wickedly in condemning the baptism of these children. That God approves of the baptism of little children is shown by God giving the Holy Spirit to those who were baptized as children. For if this baptism is in vain, the Holy Spirit would be given to none, no one would be saved, and eventually there would be no Church. This reason, even taken alone, can sufficiently establish good and godly minds against the godless and fanatical opinions of the Anabaptists.

Pulling It Together

God gives authority to people to speak and act in his name through Holy Baptism. The pastor seems to be the one using the water, and if that were all the pastor did then that would be all there was to see. But because the pastor baptizes in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, there is something to believe too. We see the pastor but it is God who acts. It is a blessed thing that pastors do in baptism but be sure of this: it is really God who is at work through his ministers. God is the baptizer. The Holy Spirit is given in baptism because the Holy Spirit is the giver. Salvation comes through baptism because Christ the Savior is the baptizer. The Church is built and established because the Father of us all forgives and grants new life in his kingdom. This is the grace of God that we confess concerning baptism.

Prayer: I will bless you, O Lord, and forget none of your benefits. 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 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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Concerning Baptism – part 3 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 31 Oct 23 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

• Index

  Click for a recording of today’s lesson.

Matthew 19:25-26

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Baptism 

Baptism does not, however, pertain to those who are outside of Christ’s Church, where there is neither Word nor Sacraments, because the kingdom of Christ exists only with the Word and Sacraments. Therefore it is necessary to baptize little children so that the promise of salvation may be applied to them, according to Christ’s command to baptize all nations (Matt 28:19). Just as salvation is offered here to all, so baptism is offered to all—to men, women, children, and infants. It clearly follows, therefore, that infants are to be baptized, because salvation is offered through baptism.

Pulling It Together

The universal grace and promise of the gospel is just that: universal. It is not applied to everyone except some persons. There are those however, who insist that a person must understand what is being offered before they are baptized and therefore, little children are not to be baptized because they do not comprehend God’s grace. Yet, those people would not withhold baptism from someone who is mentally challenged. Though people with learning or intellectual disabilities may not understand the grace of God or be able to recount what Jesus has done for them, baptism is not withheld from them. Salvation is possible through God’s powerful grace, not through our intellectual capacity. Therefore, we confess that since salvation is offered through baptism, our Christian duty is to do as Christ instructs us: to offer his promise of salvation “to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15), “to everyone” (Mark 16:15, NLT).

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for making possible the impossibility of my salvation. Amen.

Baptized: Marked for Living is a series of meditations developed in an attempt to use the Lenten season as a time for reflection upon who we are as God's covenant children in baptism and how we are to live as people forever marked with the cross of Christ. Using symbols appropriate to the theme, each person or family is shown how to create a "home altar" as the centerpiece of their Lenten baptismal journey.

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Concerning Baptism – part 2 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 30 Oct 23 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

Index

  Click for a recording of today’s lesson.

Mark 10:13-16

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Baptism 

Since the gospel is taught among us purely and diligently, we have also received by God’s favor this fruit, that in our Churches no Anabaptists have arisen because the people have been fortified by God’s Word against the wicked and seditious sect of these robbers. We condemn quite a number of errors of the Anabaptists, but we also condemn that they dispute that the baptism of little children is profitable. For it is very certain that the promise of salvation pertains also to little children.

Pulling It Together

The divine promises of grace and of the Holy Spirit do not belong to the old alone, as if Jesus, who loved little ones, would have them wait for his promises. Jesus welcomes and freely offers the kingdom to all, regardless of age. See how even infants rejoice in the love of their parents. They smile and coo with such obvious delight that only cold and uncaring parents would deny them their love and attention. God does not ignore our children, denying them his gifts until some age of so-called awareness—as if the omnipotent God is unable to make babies coo and delight in his love. God does not depend upon our awareness but instead, upon his awareness of our need for grace. Thank God that his kingdom belongs to little children.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for extending your grace to all. 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 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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Concerning Baptism – part 1 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 29 Oct 23 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

Index

  Click for a recording of today’s lesson.

Acts 16:30-33

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Baptism 

The Ninth Article has been approved, in which we confess that Baptism is necessary to salvation, and that children are to be baptized, and that the baptism of children is not in vain, but is necessary and effective for salvation.

Pulling It Together: As has been stated here before, baptism is mere water unless the word of God is added to that water. Baptism is effective for salvation only when the word of promise is added to the water. So it is at the moment of baptism and so it is throughout life. A person must be nurtured by the word of God at all points in life. When a child, or anyone else in a household or family, is baptized, the will of God, the promise of God’s salvation, is realized. The work of salvation continues if the word abides with the water through faith. We affirm God’s word and salvation each time we give thanks that we are baptized. 

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, that I am baptized. 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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Concerning the Church – part 34 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 28 Oct 23 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

Index

  Click for a recording of today’s lesson.

Romans 13:1-7

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Church 

Christ has warned us in his parables about the Church that when offended by the private vices of priests or people, we should not instigate schisms as the Donatists wickedly did. We consider those who have incited schisms to be altogether seditious because they denied that priests are permitted to hold possessions and property. The holding of property is a civil ordinance. It is as lawful for Christians to use civil ordinances as they use the air, light, food, and drink. Just as the order of the world and fixed movements of the heavenly bodies are truly ordinances of God and are preserved by him, so lawful governments are truly God’s ordinances, and are preserved and defended by him against the devil.

Pulling It Together

It is important for us to distinguish between the two kingdoms—the kingdom of God and worldly kingdoms. Both Church and State are under God’s authority but they serve different ends. The State is used by God to provide order in civic matters. God uses his Church to bring about a different kind of order. The Church’s job is to bring the peace of Christ into the world by proclaiming the gospel of grace and forgiveness. Both of these kingdoms work together for the common good under divine authority. So the Church does not exercise legal authority and the State does not legislate in affairs of the kingdom. May the Church be about the work of the gospel while they pray for peace, pay their taxes, vote, and trust in God. 

Prayer: Bless and guide, O Lord, those you have placed in authority over me. 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 who have discovered how simple, flexible, and useful SOWeR is for worship planning and sermon preparation. 

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Concerning the Church – part 33 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 27 Oct 23 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

• Index

  Click for a recording of today’s lesson.

Matthew 28:18-20

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Church 

The entire Eighth Article has been approved, in which we confess that hypocrites and wicked persons have been mingled with the Church, and that the Sacraments are efficacious even though administered by wicked ministers, because ministers act in the place of Christ, and do not represent themselves. Jesus said, “He who hears you hears me” (Luke 10:16). Impious teachers are to be deserted because they are antichrists who no longer act in the place of Christ. Again Christ says, “Beware of false prophets” (Matt 7:15). And Paul, “If any one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed” (Gal 1:9).

Pulling It Together

Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions urge us to be not only wary of false teachers and ministers, but to have nothing to do with them. Remove them from the churches or if need be, get out of their congregations. Their words are not to be trusted. But the sacramental ministry that they have done in the name of Christ is still effective. If you were baptized by a minister who does not believe or no longer believes in Christ, your baptism is still effective because that minister did not baptize you. God baptized you. You were baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit—not in the name of Reverend Whatshisname. Remember that you are baptized by God, so the work of God in Christ remains, whether done at the hand of a pious minister or not. Your sins are forgiven because the sinless Christ baptized you, not because you were baptized by a sinless minister of Christ. 

Prayer: Help me to remember my baptism, Lord. Amen.

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

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Concerning the Church – part 32 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 26 Oct 23 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

Click above for larger graphic.  • Index of Scripture graphics and posts by Scripture reference 

  Click for a recording of today’s lesson.

Mark 14:22-24

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Church 

See how religious our adversaries are? They require uniform human observances for the unity of the Church, though they themselves have changed the ordinance of Christ in the use of the Supper—which was certainly a universal ordinance before. But if universal ordinances are so necessary, why do they alter the ordinance of Christ’s Supper, which is not human, but divine? We will have more to say later about this entire controversy.

Pulling It Together

The words of Christ spoken over the bread and wine insure the promise of grace to those who believe. When we speak his word over the elements, he is truly present in them. It is his body and his blood that we eat and drink; otherwise we have no life within us (John 6:53). The Lord is our portion (Lam 3:24). So, we see that Christ is both comprehended and apprehended through hearing with faith. This is what Christ instituted and what we ought to celebrate as often as we eat this bread and drink this cup. For this sacrament is divinely established and cannot be overruled by human authority. Human ordinances, however, may be changed or practiced differently in different places without injury to faith or unity in the Church. 

Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, for making yourself present 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 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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Concerning the Church – part 31 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 25 Oct 23 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

Index

  Click for a recording of today’s lesson.

Matthew 15:1-9

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Church 

Many similar examples may be gathered from the histories, in which it appears that differences in human observances do not injure the unity of faith. Still, what need is there of discussion? The adversaries do not understand the righteousness of faith and the kingdom of Christ at all, if they consider as necessary the uniformity of practices in food, days, clothing, and the like—things that do not have the command of God.

Pulling It Together: I like to sing the “Kyrie” in worship. For that matter, I love to sing the entire liturgy, including the intonation of the Psalm. Some of our churches do not sing the liturgy; they speak the words. Now, if I considered my musical preference to be a commandment instead of a tradition, I could cause a great deal of confusion and harm. The crucial thing here is not my preference but instead, that God is worshiped in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). Otherwise, a danger looms: that my preferences, traditions, and practices become what I worship. 

Prayer: Help me to hear your command and obey you, Lord. Amen.

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

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Concerning the Church – part 30 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 24 Oct 23 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

• Index

  Click for a recording of today’s lesson.

Galatians 2:4-5

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Church 

Some in the East who were called Audians, after the author of the doctrine, contended that because of this apostolic decree, the Passover should be observed with the Jews. In refuting them, Epiphanius praises the decree, saying that it contains nothing which deviates from the faith or rule of the Church. He faults the Audians because they misinterpret the expression. He interprets it in the sense in which we do, because the apostles did not consider what time the Passover should be observed to be of any importance. Yet for the sake of harmony they wished the rest to follow the example of some prominent brethren had been converted from the Jews and observed their custom. The apostles wisely admonished the reader neither to remove the liberty of the gospel nor to impose necessity upon consciences, by adding that they should not be troubled even though there should be an error in calculation.

Pulling It Together

The truth of the gospel is that righteousness and salvation come through faith in Christ. This is the word that sets us free (John 8:32). When we begin to be enamored with customs, rituals, dates, and other external and human practices, we are in danger. We will have begun our travels back across the wilderness to Egypt. When we add to faith, such as many modern-day Audians insist, that certain practices must also be kept, then our bondage is complete. Furthermore, we would be enslaving others with our insistence. Let us not yield to such teachings for even a moment, so that the truth and freedom of the gospel may be preserved for ourselves and for others.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to hear you among the competing voices. 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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Concerning the Church – part 29 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 23 Oct 23 00:00:00 +0000 Click for jigsaw puzzle.

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1 Corinthians 2:2 

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass 

All Levitical sacrifices may be sorted under one of these groups. The Law titled certain sacrifices as propitiatory because of their significance or similarity. These sacrifices did not merit the forgiveness of sins before God, but did on the basis of the righteousness of the Law, so that those for whom they were made might not be excluded from the community. Therefore they were called atoning sacrifices for sin and burnt offerings for trespasses. The eucharistic sacrifices were food offerings, drink offerings, thanksgivings, first fruits, and tithes.

Pulling It Together: Our concern is what a propitiatory or atoning sacrifice is for Christians. For that matter, what is an atoning sacrifice for anyone during this Christian era? There is just one: Christ crucified. Every other sacrifice is not one that atones or reconciles God to sinners. We may render the sacrifice of praise, but it does not atone. We may offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, tithes, time, our very selves, but these will never satisfy God. Any sacrifice that we make can not make us righteous before God. Only “Christ and him crucified” satisfies God and justifies believers.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for dying so that I may live. Amen.

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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Concerning the Church – part 28 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 22 Oct 23 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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1 Timothy 4:1-5

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Church 

Paul even calls such opinions “doctrines of demons” (1 Tim 4:1). The will and advice of the apostles should therefore be derived from their writings, not simply their example. They observed certain days so that the people would know when to assemble, not because this observance was necessary for justification. They also observed certain other rites and orders of lessons when they assembled. The people retained some of the customs of the Patriarchs, which the apostles adapted to the history of the gospel, such as the Passover and Pentecost, so that they might pass down to posterity the memory of the most important subjects through both example and teaching. But if these things were handed down as necessary for justification, why then did the bishops change them in many ways? If they were matters of divine right, it would be unlawful for a human authority to alter them.

Pulling It Together

There is nothing wrong with celibacy or fasting or many other disciplines. Even in marriage, abstinence can be a good thing, if the couple agrees together to abstain for some spiritual purpose (1 Cor 7:5). The problem occurs when it is said that such things secure salvation or that justification comes by doing or not doing certain things. Beware when practices in the Church begin to bear weight on a person’s conscience. If one person crosses herself at the mention of the Trinity but another does not, it must not be taught that one is right and the other wrong, or that everyone must have the same practice. We should never burden the consciences of those who have come to know the truth and believe in Christ. We do so when we insist that they do or not do external things that have no bearing upon justification. 

Prayer: Lord, give me a thankful heart for all of the good things you have given. Amen.

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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Concerning the Church – part 27 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 21 Oct 23 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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From the Word: 5 One person regards one day over another, while another considers every day the same. Each should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 The one who esteems the day, observes it to the Lord.  The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, for he gives God thanks; while the one who does not eat, abstains in honor of the Lord, and thanks God. (Romans 14:5-6)

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

"Concerning the Church" – part 27

The adversaries say that universal traditions are to be observed because they are supposed to have been handed down by the apostles. What religious men they are! They wish to retain apostolic rites but they do not wish to keep apostolic doctrine. These rites must be judged just as the apostles judged in their writings. For the apostles did not wish us to believe that we are justified through such rites, that such rites are necessary for righteousness before God. The apostles did not want to impose such a burden upon consciences, nor to associate righteousness and sin with the observance of days, food, and the like.

Pulling It Together

If others wish to abstain from certain foods on certain days, that is between those people and the Lord. Do not let them convince you that abstinence is a matter of righteousness. If a congregation thinks that they must celebrate The Feast of the Confession of St. Peter, pray that their observance is blessed. But do not consider for even a moment that every church must celebrate that day in order for its members to be reconciled to God. If your congregation has decided to read the Holy Gospel from the center of the sanctuary on the Lord’s Day, rejoice as you do so that Christ is in your midst. But do not imagine that justification depends upon all churches reading the Gospel in that manner. Rituals can be helpful to some but a millstone to others. If these externals are championed as essential acts in appeasing God, then the internal or spiritual gift of God is diminished among us. Grace is often lost through religion.

Prayer: Help me to pursue what makes for peace and for building up your people, Lord. Amen.

Adversity is all around us. There is no getting around it. Sometimes we cause our own adversity; other times bad things just happen to us. No matter what it is that we are going through, we are never alone. There is someone who is always by our side through thick and thin. In Bumps and Bruises: Make It Through Alive, we talk about the problem that we have and the solution to that problem: Jesus Christ. We will also discuss some tips on how to get through adversity, and the tools that God gives us. 

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Concerning the Church – part 26 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 20 Oct 23 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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Revelation 1:1-3

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Church 

But there is no need to cite many testimonies, since they are obvious throughout the Scriptures. We have referenced much of it in the latter articles of our Confession. In a while, we will need to repeat the point that must be decided in this controversy: whether human traditions are acts of worship that are necessary for righteousness before God. There we will discuss this matter more fully.

Pulling It Together

“It is written.” This was a favorite saying of the prophets, the evangelists, the apostles, and Jesus. Sometimes it is phrased as a question: “What is written?” They use this expression almost 100 times to point to the truth of what is stated in the Scriptures. Oh, that we would be content with what Scripture says, instead of going beyond what is written (1 Cor 4:6) by depending upon our traditions, old sayings, and pronouncements. These things swell the head but do nothing for the heart. We may even feel like we have won an argument but at the end of that disputation, the question remains. “What is written?” This is how we must decide all controversies. 

Prayer: Speak through your Scripture, Lord, for your servant listens. 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

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Concerning the Church – part 25 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 19 Oct 23 00:00:00 +0000 Click for larger image

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2 Thessalonians 3:16-18

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Church 

Paul means that the righteousness of the heart is a spiritual thing that quickens hearts. It is evident that human traditions do not quicken hearts. They are not effects of the Holy Spirit like love of one’s neighbor, chastity, and so forth. Nor are human traditions instruments through which God moves hearts to believe, as are the divinely given Word and Sacraments. Rather, these human practices do not pertain to the heart, and perish with the using. So we must not believe that they are necessary for righteousness before God. Paul speaks to the same effect, writing, “For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom 14:17).

Pulling It Together

External is not eternal. These outward things will never secure everlasting life. Furthermore, they will never give us peace. The heart must be changed by God for these things to be ours. Righteousness, peace, and the hope of salvation are all matters of the heart. Such spiritual things are effected by the Spirit of God and by his means, not by the things that we do or the disciplines and ceremonies that we keep. The hope of salvation is not aroused because one uses the correct Bible reading plan or worship style. The righteousness of the heart is not activated because of any human custom. God alone gives us grace, faith, peace, hope, and all good inner or spiritual things.

Prayer: Thank you, Holy Spirit, for being at work in me, in spite of me. Amen.

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

Leader's Guide

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Concerning the Church – part 24 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 18 Oct 23 00:00:00 +0000

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Colossians 2:16-23

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Church 

Paul clearly teaches this to the Colossians: “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a sabbath. These are only a shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ” (Col 2:16-17). Likewise, “If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the universe, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world? Why do you submit to regulations, ‘Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch’ (referring to things which all perish as they are used), according to human precepts and doctrines? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting rigor of devotion and self-abasement...” (Col 2:20-23).

Pulling It Together

How heartbreaking it would be to run in a race, and to run so swiftly that you won the race, only to find out that you had been disqualified because of a false start or a lane violation. Paul warns us to not let anyone disqualify us. This can happen when we comply with their insistence upon religious practices. We know that we should follow Jesus, not things, but we can be tricked all too easily. We can put our faith in having the right shoes, new running clothes, a different starting stance, another coach, some other track. Christians do not run with concern for such externals. Nor are we distracted by trying to be faster than those around us. We run the race (2 Tim 4:7) by keeping our eyes on Christ, “the finisher of our faith” (Heb 12:2, KJV). Even when it seems like we are running without style, speed, or applause, we press on toward the prize (Phil 3:14). Christ himself is our victory that comes through faith—not through particular human practices, devotions, or ceremonies. 

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for the gift of faith. 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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Concerning the Church – part 23 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 17 Oct 23 00:00:00 +0000

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Galatians 5:1-6

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Church 

Now we are not discussing the question whether there is advantage to observe them for the sake of order or bodily profit. Another matter is being considered: whether the observances of human traditions are acts of worship necessary for righteousness before God. This is the point to be judged in this controversy, and when this is decided, it can then be judged whether the true unity of the Church depends upon human traditions being the same everywhere. If human traditions are not acts of worship necessary for righteousness before God, it also follows that people can be righteous and children of God if they do not have traditions that are in use elsewhere. For instance, if the style of German clothing is not worship of God necessary for righteousness before him, it follows that people can be righteous and children of God and the Church of Christ, even though they wear French clothing.

Pulling It Together

I have convictions about what service book I wish to use and what style and order of worship I prefer, and even which half-dozen translations of the Bible I favor. If I dare to make those things qualifications for your righteousness and salvation, please take me to task. When such matters—and there are a host of others—of indifference to justification are considered necessary for church unity, then true worship is harmed. Indeed, idolatry has set in when we venerate these human preferences and traditions. If we give way to these things as the new law in the church, then we have submitted ourselves again to slavery. We will have fallen from grace, having shown that we have no desire for God’s grace, but instead a slavish insistence on our preferences and traditions becoming the observances and ceremonies used by everyone.

Prayer: Help me to worship you, Almighty God, in spirit and in truth, for Christ’s sake. 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 and reproducible  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.

• Unit 1  • Unit 2  • Unit 3  • Unit 4

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Concerning the Church – part 22 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 16 Oct 23 00:00:00 +0000

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John 20:24–26

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Church 

Just as the differences in length of day and night does not injure the unity of the Church, so we believe that the true unity of the Church is not injured by different rites instituted by men. However, it is pleasing to us that universal rites are observed for the sake of order. So, in our churches we willingly observe the order of the Mass, the Lord’s Day, and other more important feast days. We embrace the profitable and ancient ordinances with a very grateful mind, especially since they contain a discipline that is profitable for the instruction and training of people and those who are uneducated.

Pulling It Together

I once went to a church where you had to use two service books plus music and text from other service books printed in the bulletin in order to follow the service. I felt like a juggler. In my opinion, it did not promote good order. However, the true unity of the church was not damaged by their choice of liturgical sources. The Church is that gathering of saints where the Gospel is correctly taught and the Sacraments are rightly administered. As I tried to determine which service book to use next, I was certain that the other worshipers shared my faith and desired the means of grace as much as I did. And there—right there—is the true church. There is the truest order and real peace, for there—in the midst of we who had gathered around his Word and Sacraments—Jesus came and stood among us. 

Prayer: Lord, do not just give me peace; be my peace. Amen.

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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Concerning the Church – part 21 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 15 Oct 23 00:00:00 +0000

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Mark 7:5-8

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Church 

Our reasons for presenting this article were not trivial, for it is obvious that many foolish opinions concerning traditions had crept into the Church. Some thought that human traditions were necessary services for earning justification. Subsequently, they disputed how it came to pass that God was worshiped with such variety, as though these observances were actually acts of worship, rather than outward and political ordinances, pertaining in no respect to righteousness of the heart or the worship of God. These vary in one way or another, according to the circumstances, for certain probable reasons. Likewise some churches have excommunicated others because of traditions, such as the observance of Easter, icons, and the like. Therefore the unlearned have supposed that faith, or the righteousness of the heart before God, cannot exist without these observances. There are many foolish writings by the summists and others concerning this matter.

Pulling It Together

We are not big on excommunication these days. But we still do a pretty fair job of driving people out of our churches. A good deal of this happens because of the reason given in this seventh article of the Apology, or defense, of the Augsburg Confession. We shut out people because of our particular legalisms. “Do it our way or hit the highway” could be the mission statement of some churches. Those churches, usually unwittingly, have turned a previous pastor’s way of doing things into a tradition, which then became a rule. The Pharisees and the scribes expected Jesus’ disciples to follow their traditions and found fault with them for not doing so. So the question some of our pastors and church councils would do well to consider is, “Are we following our own traditions or are we following Jesus?”

Prayer: Help me to leave the traditions of people, Lord, and hold fast to you. Amen.

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

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Concerning the Church – part 20 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 14 Oct 23 00:00:00 +0000

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Ephesians 4:4-6

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Church 

Our opponents also condemn the part of the seventh article where we said, “For there to be true unity in the Church, it is enough to agree on the doctrine of the Gospel and the administration of the Sacraments. It is not necessary that human traditions like rites or ceremonies, that are institutions of men, should be the same everywhere.” They distinguish here between universal and particular rites, approving our article if it is understood as particular rites, disapproving concerning if as universal rites.

We do not sufficiently understand what they mean. We are speaking of true, spiritual unity, without which faith nor righteousness of heart before God can exist. For this unity, we say that similarity of human rites, whether universal or particular, is not necessary. The righteousness of faith is not bound to certain traditions, as the righteousness of the law was bound to the Mosaic ceremonies, because this righteousness of the heart is a matter that quickens the heart. Human traditions, whether they be universal or particular, contribute nothing to this quickening. They are not formed by the Holy Spirit, as are chastity, patience, the fear of God, love of one’s neighbor, and the works of love.

Pulling It Together

Do you believe in God? Do you confess Christ as Lord? Do you believe his gospel? Do you acknowledge that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and buried? Do you confess that he descended into hell but that even death and hell could not hold him since he rose from the dead on the third day? Do you further believe that he ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, and will return to judge the living and the dead? Do you believe in the Holy Spirit and the fellowship of all God’s people, whom he has made righteous so that they may belong to his holy Church? Then you must also believe in the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and everlasting life.

If you believe these things, we agree that there is "one body"—no matter the particular manner of our ceremonies. These human traditions do not have to be the same for us to enjoy “the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph 4:3).

Prayer: Help us to focus on you, Lord. Amen.

Learning the Apostles' Creed teaches the Apostles' Creed according to the pattern of Luther's Small Catechism, and is recommended for the Fourth Grade Level.

Leader's Guide

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Concerning the Church – part 19 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 13 Oct 23 00:00:00 +0000

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Mark 16:15-16

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Church 

We have spoken with sufficient clearness about this matter in the Confession, where we condemn the Donatists and Wyclifites, who thought that men sinned when they received the Sacraments from the unworthy in the Church. That seemed to be sufficient at the time for our description of the Church. Neither do we see how it should be described otherwise than we have described it when the Church, properly termed, is called the body of Christ. For it is unmistakable that the wicked belong to the kingdom and body of the devil, who impels and holds them captive. These things are clearer than the light of noonday. However, if our adversaries continue to pervert them, we will not hesitate to reply at greater length.

Pulling It Together

The effectiveness of the sacraments depends upon Christ. Were you baptized in a stream or at a font, at the hands of a priest or a pastor, by a saint or a sinner? These things do not make a baptism valid. The quantity or flow of water does not make the difference. Nor does the moral character of the minister make the difference. Christ makes the difference. What matters is the promise of Christ that attends the water. “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:16).

The same is true of Holy Communion. The moral character of the person distributing the bread and wine is not what makes the elements Christ’s body and blood. This grace is afforded us by the word of Christ, not the moral fiber of the minister. “This is my body.” Did the minister say those words? No; Christ said them, as well as these: “This cup is the new covenant in my blood.” No matter who the minister belongs to, Christ or the devil, the sacraments belong to Christ, for it is his word that makes them effective means of grace in the Church.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for your promises. Amen.

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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Concerning the Church – part 18 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 12 Oct 23 00:00:00 +0000

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Galatians 4:13-14

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Church 

Therefore we assert, according to the Scriptures, that the Church is the congregation of saints who truly believe the gospel of Christ, and have the Holy Spirit. Still, we confess that in this life, many hypocrites and wicked people are mingled with the saints. They have the fellowship of outward marks, are members of the Church according to the fellowship of these marks, and therefore bear offices in the Church. When the Sacraments are administered by the unworthy, it does not diminish their efficacy, since their call in the Church makes them representatives of Christ, not themselves. Christ testifies to this: “He who hears you hears me” (Luke 10:16). When they offer the Word of God and the Sacraments, they do so in the role and place of Christ. Christ’s words teach us to not be offended by the unworthiness of ministers.

Pulling It Together

Every pastor who presides over Holy Communion is a sinner. Some are worse sinners than others. Some do not even believe in Christ or the Word of God. Yet when we receive Holy Communion from their hands, we should not think of the sinner that stands before us. We should consider that person as the Galatians received Paul—as a messenger sent from God and more, as Jesus Christ. It is Christ who gives his body and blood for you. The pastor is just the messenger and agent of Christ. It is Christ’s words that make the bread and wine a sacrament. On the Lord’s Day, we hear, “Take and eat”; “Drink.” Is it the pastor speaking those words, or Christ? It makes a difference. 

Prayer: Speak, Lord, and your servant will listen. 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 which illustrates the theme, with additional references from Scripture and Luther's Small Catechism - Children's Version. Lessons emphasize the sacramental promise of the forgiveness of sins conveyed to us in the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. This booklet was designed to be used as a Sunday School unit, or for classes to prepare students for their First Communion.

Teacher's Guide

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Concerning the Church – part 17 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 11 Oct 23 00:00:00 +0000

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Romans 1:15-17

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Church 

If we defined the Church in this way, perhaps we would have fairer judges. Many extravagant and wicked writings exist concerning the power of the Pope of Rome, for which no one has ever been incriminated. We alone are blamed because we proclaim the goodness of Christ, that we obtain forgiveness of sins by faith in Christ instead of through ceremonies devised by the pope. Christ, the prophets, and the apostles define the Church much differently than a papal kingdom. Neither should we transfer to the popes what rightly belongs to the true Church, namely, that they are pillars of the truth, that they do not err. How many of them care for the gospel, or consider it worth reading? Many publicly ridicule all religions, or if they approve anything, they endorse only such things as are in harmony with human reason, regarding the rest as mythological, like the tragedies of the poets.

Pulling It Together

It is the duty of pastors to preach the gospel. It is each church’s obligation to make sure that they do. Yet, it is more than a duty; it is a joyful compulsion. What greater delight is there than to proclaim the mercy of God in Christ? Behold how culture has overtaken some pulpits. Civic and religious politics are the theme of many sermons. Now the law of the land is proclaimed as “truth,” instead of the law of God. Let us teach God’s law, and preach Christ crucified, that people are saved from sin and death through faith in Christ. Churches change, as do human hearts, when pastors delight in the pure proclamation of Christ. Yet, you may be certain of ridicule if you do so preach and teach. Paradoxically, your largest body of detractors may be others who call themselves a church. 

Prayer: Strengthen and embolden your Church, Lord. Amen.

The Creator has revealed to us the Trinitarian nature of the name of God in “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” This six-week study explores what it means to “not take the name of the LORD your God in vain,” while at the same time trusting the promise in Christ that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Leader's Guide

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Concerning the Church – part 16 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 10 Oct 23 00:00:00 +0000

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Acts 2:32-36

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Church 

Perhaps our adversaries require that the Church be defined as the supreme outward monarchy of the whole world, in which the Roman pontiff must have unquestioned power which no one is permitted to dispute or censure. He may frame articles of faith, abolish the Scriptures according to his pleasure, appoint rites of worship and sacrifices, decree such laws as he may wish, and dispense and exempt from whatever laws he may wish—divine, canonical, or civil. The emperor and all kings receive from him the power and right to hold their kingdoms, according to the command of Christ since the Father has subjected all things to him. It must be understood that this right has been transferred to the pope. Therefore the pope must be lord of the whole world, of all the kingdoms of the world, and of all things private and public. He must have absolute power in temporal and spiritual things—of both swords, the spiritual and temporal. Besides, this definition, not of the Church of Christ, but of the papal kingdom, has as its authors not only the canonists, but also Daniel (Dan 11:36-39).

Pulling It Together

The prophet Daniel presented the Antichrist along similar lines as this sarcastic paragraph from the Confessions. There is no ruler of rulers but Christ. The Lord has not transferred his power and authority to any other. He still sits at the right hand of the Father. He who emptied himself (Phil 2:7) is exalted above all others. The one who took the form of a servant, rules over all. He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords (Rev 19:16). There is no other power in the political or religious realms that is so high and lifted up—though they may pretend to be as powerful. Jesus is still and will always be both Lord and Christ, as he has not yielded the authority that the Father has given to him alone.

Prayer: I bow to you, O Christ, for you alone are the Lord. Amen.

The Adventures of Martin Luther is a simple musical drama was written for youth to tell the story of Martin Luther's adventures, including his testimony before the Emperor at the Diet of Worms and what was happening in Wittenberg during Luther's exile at Wartburg Castle. Released by Sola Publishing as part of the celebration of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation in 2017, the drama serves as a fun and interesting way for young people to enter into the story of Martin Luther, acting out some key moments in his life. The script allows for many participants, using accessible language and easy-to-learn songs based on familiar hymn tunes. Costume and prop notes are included, to help those in charge of the production.

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Concerning the Church – part 15 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 09 Oct 23 00:00:00 +0000

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Matthew 10:16-18

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Church 

Just as the Church has the promise that it will always have the Holy Spirit, it also has the warning that there will be ungodly teachers and wolves. However, a proper understanding of the Church is those who have the Holy Spirit. Though wolves and ungodly teachers may be widespread in the Church, they are not, properly speaking, the kingdom of Christ. Nicholas of Lyra testified to this, saying, “The Church does not consist of men with respect to power, or ecclesiastical or secular dignity, because many princes and archbishops and others of lower rank have been found to have apostatized from the faith. Therefore, the Church consists of those persons in whom there is a true knowledge and confession of faith and truth.” What have we said in our Confession that is different from what Lyra says here?

Pulling It Together

The world is not the only habitation of wolves. There are plenty of faithless clerics too. So beware! We should not expect everyone in a collar or alb to represent the kingdom of God. Every preacher in a pulpit does not necessarily proclaim the Word of God. Indeed, not every congregation is of the kingdom of Christ. So be wise in the Scripture, that you may discern who it is that confesses the truth. The Church is a people of truth—who trust in the revelation of Holy Scripture, and who confess faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Prayer: Help me testify the truth, Lord, by bearing witness to you. Amen.

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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Concerning the Church – part 14 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 08 Oct 23 00:00:00 +0000

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John 6:28-29

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Church 

The writings of the holy Fathers testify that sometimes they too built stubble upon the foundation, but that this did not overthrow their faith. Most of the errors that our adversaries defend however, do overthrow faith, such as their condemnation of the article in which we confess that the forgiveness of sins is received by faith. Similarly, it is a plain and pernicious error when the adversaries teach that people earn the forgiveness of sins by love for God, prior to grace. This too, removes Christ as the foundation. Likewise, why would there be need of faith if the sacraments justify ex opere operato, without a good disposition on the part of the one using them?

Pulling It Together

We must not replace Christ with works, offices, masses, or anything else. These things do not save; Christ alone saves and justifies. Yet he does not do this without faith, as faith alone receives God’s gracious gift. The forgiveness of sins is received through faith in Christ. God’s grace is received through faith even in the sacrament of Holy Communion. Grace is not received because we have mindlessly marched to the altar and taken bread and wine. We receive his body and blood through faith, remembering what he has done for us, and thus, partake in his grace. Faith in Christ is required in everything pertaining to salvation (2 Tim 3:15; Rom 3:25). The person who does not consider faith to be necessary has lost Christ, replacing him with trust in human deeds. The only work that matters is to believe in Christ Jesus, which is itself a gift from God. 

Prayer: I believe, Lord; help my unbelief. 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.” Experiencing Life Together is a 15-week house-church curriculum is 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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Concerning the Church – part 13 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 07 Oct 23 00:00:00 +0000

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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.

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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Concerning the Church – part 12 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 06 Oct 23 00:00:00 +0000

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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.

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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Concerning the Church – part 11 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 05 Oct 23 00:00:00 +0000

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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.

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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Concerning the Church – part 10 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 04 Oct 23 00:00:00 +0000

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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.

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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Concerning the Church – part 9 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 03 Oct 23 00:00:00 +0000

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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.

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:

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

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Concerning the Church – part 8 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 02 Oct 23 00:00:00 +0000 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.

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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Concerning the Church – part 7 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 01 Oct 23 00:00:00 +0000

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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.

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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Concerning the Church – part 6 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 30 Sep 23 00:00:00 +0000 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.

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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Concerning the Church – part 5 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 29 Sep 23 00:00:00 +0000 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.

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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Concerning the Church – part 4 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 28 Sep 23 00:00:00 +0000 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.

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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Concerning the Church – part 3 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 27 Sep 23 00:00:00 +0000 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.

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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Concerning the Church – part 2 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 26 Sep 23 00:00:00 +0000 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.

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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Concerning the Church – part 1 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 25 Sep 23 00:00:00 +0000 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.

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 15 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 24 Sep 23 00:00:00 +0000 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.

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 15 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 23 Sep 23 00:00:00 +0000 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.

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 158 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 22 Sep 23 00:00:00 +0000 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.

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 157 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 21 Sep 23 00:00:00 +0000 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.

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 156 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 20 Sep 23 00:00:00 +0000 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.

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 155 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 19 Sep 23 00:00:00 +0000 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.

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 154 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 18 Sep 23 00:00:00 +0000 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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 153 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 17 Sep 23 00:00:00 +0000 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.

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 152 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 16 Sep 23 00:00:00 +0000 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.

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 151 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 15 Sep 23 00:00:00 +0000

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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.

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 150 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 14 Sep 23 00:00:00 +0000 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.

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 149 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 13 Sep 23 00:00:00 +0000 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.

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 148 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 12 Sep 23 00:00:00 +0000 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.

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 147 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 11 Sep 23 00:00:00 +0000 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.

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 146 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 10 Sep 23 00:00:00 +0000

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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, “In this way, 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.

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 145 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 09 Sep 23 00:00:00 +0000 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.

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 144 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 08 Sep 23 00:00:00 +0000

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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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 143 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 07 Sep 23 00:00:00 +0000 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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 142 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 06 Sep 23 00:00:00 +0000

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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.

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 141 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 05 Sep 23 00:00:00 +0000 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.

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 140 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 04 Sep 23 00:00:00 +0000 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.

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 139 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 03 Sep 23 00:00:00 +0000 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.

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 138 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 02 Sep 23 00:00:00 +0000 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.

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 137 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 01 Sep 23 00:00:00 +0000 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.

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 136 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 31 Aug 23 00:00:00 +0000

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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.

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 135 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 30 Aug 23 00:00:00 +0000

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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.

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 134 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 29 Aug 23 00:00:00 +0000 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.

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 133 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 28 Aug 23 00:00:00 +0000 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.

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 132 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 27 Aug 23 00:00:00 +0000 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.

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 131 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 26 Aug 23 00:00:00 +0000 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. 

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 130 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 25 Aug 23 00:00:00 +0000 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. 

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 129 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 24 Aug 23 00:00:00 +0000 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. 

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 128 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 23 Aug 23 00:00:00 +0000 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. 

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 127 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 22 Aug 23 00:00:00 +0000 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. 

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 126 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 21 Aug 23 00:00:00 +0000 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. 

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 125 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 20 Aug 23 00:00:00 +0000

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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. 

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 124 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 19 Aug 23 00:00:00 +0000 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. 

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 123 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 18 Aug 23 00:00:00 +0000 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 trust 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. 

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 122 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 17 Aug 23 00:00:00 +0000

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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.  

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 121 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 16 Aug 23 00:00:00 +0000 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. 

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 120 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 15 Aug 23 00:00:00 +0000

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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. 

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 119 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 14 Aug 23 00:00:00 +0000 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. 

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 118 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 13 Aug 23 00:00:00 +0000 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. 

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 117 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 12 Aug 23 00:00:00 +0000 Online jigsaw

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My apologies for a very noisy recording done at Panera Bread.

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. 

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 116 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 11 Aug 23 00:00:00 +0000 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. 

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 115 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 10 Aug 23 00:00:00 +0000 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. 

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 114 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 09 Aug 23 00:00:00 +0000

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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. 

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 113 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 08 Aug 23 00:00:00 +0000

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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. 

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 112 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 07 Aug 23 00:00:00 +0000 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. 

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law - part 111 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 06 Aug 23 00:00:00 +0000

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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. 

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law - part 110 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 05 Aug 23 00:00:00 +0000 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. 

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law - part 109 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 04 Aug 23 00:00:00 +0000 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. 

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 108 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 03 Aug 23 00:00:00 +0000 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. 

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law - part 107 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 02 Aug 23 00:00:00 +0000 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. 

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law - part 106 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 01 Aug 23 00:00:00 +0000 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. 

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 105 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 31 Jul 23 00:00:00 +0000 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. 

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 104 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 30 Jul 23 00:00:00 +0000 Online jigsaw

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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. 

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 103 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 29 Jul 23 00:00:00 +0000 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. 

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 102 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 28 Jul 23 00:00:00 +0000 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. 

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 101 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 27 Jul 23 00:00:00 +0000 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. 

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 100 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 26 Jul 23 00:00:00 +0000 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. 

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 99 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 25 Jul 23 00:00:00 +0000 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. 

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 98 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 24 Jul 23 00:00:00 +0000 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. 

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 97 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 23 Jul 23 00:00:00 +0000 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. 

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 96 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 22 Jul 23 00:00:00 +0000 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. 

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 95 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 21 Jul 23 00:00:00 +0000

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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. 

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 94 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 20 Jul 23 00:00:00 +0000 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. 

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 93 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 19 Jul 23 00:00:00 +0000 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. 

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

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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 92 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 18 Jul 23 00:00:00 +0000 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. 

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 91 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 17 Jul 23 00:00:00 +0000 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. 

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 90 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 16 Jul 23 00:00:00 +0000 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. 

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 89 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 15 Jul 23 00:00:00 +0000 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. 

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 88 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 14 Jul 23 00:00:00 +0000 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. 

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 87 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 13 Jul 23 00:00:00 +0000 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. 

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 86 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 12 Jul 23 00:00:00 +0000 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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 85 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 11 Jul 23 00:00:00 +0000 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. 

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 84 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 10 Jul 23 00:00:00 +0000

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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. 

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 83 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 09 Jul 23 00:00:00 +0000 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. 

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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 82 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 08 Jul 23 00:00:00 +0000

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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. 

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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 81 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 07 Jul 23 00:00:00 +0000 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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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 80 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 06 Jul 23 00:00:00 +0000 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. 

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Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 79 http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 05 Jul 23 00:00:00 +0000 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 opin