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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
The Smalcald Articles – part 35

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1 Corinthians 11:23–26

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

Our papists, however, cite such human opinions so that people will believe in their horrible, blasphemous, and cursed traffic in masses for souls in purgatory, etc. But they will never substantiate these things with Augustine. Now, when they have abolished their traffic in masses for purgatory, of which Augustine never dreamed, we will then discuss with them whether statements Augustine made without support of Scripture are to be admitted, and whether the dead are to be remembered at the Eucharist.

Pulling It Together: See where human reason takes you without the Word of God? One invention demands another until you have a system of traditions that cannot be supported from the Scripture. God’s Word tells us that he forgives the sin of those who have faith in his Son. Further, God is just to do so, because of Jesus’ perfect sacrifice for the world. Now, enter human reason. Surely, Christ must be sacrificed again and again because I sin again and again. Now that the death of Christ has been so trivialized, it opens the door to the idea of our own works paying the price of sin. Well, what if we have not done enough good to counter the bad? Does one go to heaven or hell? Scripture is clear; human reason, not so much. So, purgatory is invented. Here one may continue to pay the price until all one’s sins have been purged. Now, the sacrifice of the Mass is ready to offer extra help to those languishing in purgatory. Special masses are held in remembrance of loved ones.

None of this is supported in Scripture. Christ died once for everyone, and this grace is apprehended through faith alone. Without faith in Christ, one will continue to live apart from God in an eternity called hell. With faith in his Christ, one will live in eternal fellowship with God in heaven. We are kept in his grace through the body and blood of Jesus in the Sacrament. And, indeed, a remembrance is to be held every time the Sacrament is celebrated. “Do this in remembrance of me.”

Prayer: Lord, make my eating and drinking be a proclamation of your death to those I love. Amen.

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

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

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