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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Concerning the Invocation of Saints part 31

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Matthew 18:21–22

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Invocation of Saints 

Examples of mercy are also beneficial, as when we see Peter’s denial forgiven, Cyprian forgiven for having been a sorcerer, Augustine experiencing the power of faith in sickness and steadily affirming that God truly hears the prayers of believers. It is profitable to teach examples such as these, which speak of either faith, or fear, or the administration of the state.

Pulling It Together

The mercy of God knows no bounds. He even forgives us when we are unfaithful to him (2 Tim 2:13), as we see in his forgiveness of Peter’s denials (Luke 22:54–62). He forgives in extreme situations like this but he also forgives us as often as we come to him in repentance. Many rabbis taught that we should forgive each other as many as three times, so Peter, in a moment of magnanimity, suggests to Jesus that his disciples ought to forgive people seven times. Jesus responds that real forgiveness ought to be 77 times, or as the King James puts it, “seventy times seven,” or 490 times. It is not the specific quantity that is at issue for Jesus; he is teaching, by saying 77 times, that our forgiveness should have no terminus, just as we may expect from God. We must forgive one another even as we have been forgiven (Matt 6:12).

This is the type of example from the lives of the saints that we declare is profitable for teaching in the Church. For these examples teach us more about the greatness of our God than of the character of the saints. 

Prayer: Forgive me of my sins, Lord, even as I forgive those who sin against me. Amen.

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This is Most Certainly True! is a six-chapter mid-week Lenten Series features monologues from Martin Luther himself, based on his writings in the Large Catechism. Luther explains eloquently and simply what each part of the catechism means for us as believers and ends it with an affirmation of certainty: "This is most certainly true!"

Luther's thoughts have been transformed here into dramatic monologues so that we might hear and meditate on the foundations of our Christian faith. In addition to a sample worship service outline, there are hymns suggestions for each monologue and opening dialogues for worship based on the parts of the Small Catechism.


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