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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
The Smalcald Articles – part 70

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1 Corinthians 11:27–30

From the Confessions: The Smalcald Articles 

6. Again, if one wishes to go to the Sacrament, there is no need of an intention to do good, but it is sufficient if there is no wicked intention to commit sin, since human nature is entirely good and the Sacrament so able to produce its result.

Pulling It Together

You will recall that we are dealing with theological errors that Luther refuted in his “Smalcald Articles.” We have seen that these errors were largely due to being in conflict with the chief article: “That Jesus Christ, our God and Lord, died for our sins, and was raised again for our justification.” These benefits are received by faith, otherwise it is not Christ’s dying and rising that makes the difference. We continue.

Like all things, faith must be worked in, else the Word is not present. The Word and its promises may be spoken throughout the service of worship but if it is not heard with ears of faith, the forgiveness of sins is withheld. The Word is not a magical incantation that is effective whether you wish it to be or not. It must be received with faith; otherwise, the wine is simply wine, and the bread merely bread, and the one who eats and drinks, only an unforgiven sinner who would have duped God.

Because faith is present, there is an intention to cease from sin and do good. We come to the altar, asking the Lord’s forgiveness of our sins, not his permission to persist at sinning. Be careful though, lest you begin to think that your good works and morality are why you are forgiven. You are forgiven through faith in Christ alone. But that faith — real faith — desires to do God’s will. True faith is not present if the intention is to remain faithless.

Prayer: Help me examine myself so that I may earnestly eat and drink. Amen.

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