From the Word: 1 And when the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. 2 And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them. 3 And another angel came and stood over the altar, having a golden censer; and much incense was given to him to add to the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne. 4 And the smoke of the incense with the prayers of the saints went up before God out of the angel’s hand. 5 And the angel took the censer and filled it with the fire of the altar, and cast it upon the earth. And there followed thunder and booms and lightning and an earthquake. (Revelation 8:1–5)
From the Confessions: The Small Catechism
The Third Article
I 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
What does this mean?
I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to him; but the Holy Spirit has called me through the Gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, and sanctified and preserved me in the true faith. In the same way, he calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and preserves it in unity with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. In this Christian church, he daily forgives abundantly all my sins and the sins of all believers; and at the last day, he will raise me and all the dead and will grant everlasting life to me and to all who believe in Christ. This is most certainly true!
*or “holy Christian Church” (“catholic” here refers to the fellowship of all believing Christians)
Pulling It Together: Frightful things are looming. Judgment is coming. “But rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20). Though God’s judgment on each person is approaching, there is hope for those who believe in Christ. The prayers of all his saints—those of the whole Christian church—are still heard by our Almighty Father. Though judgment is certain, God preserves us in the true faith. We are still able to worship him and pray, working out our salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12). We will also be upheld by him in the judgment.
Yet why, we may ask, would a just and holy God do such a thing? He does so only because we are united with Christ. This is the blessed communion of saints: those who are united with Christ. Being wholly united and communing with the Spirit through Word and Sacrament, and prayer and worship, no terror is able to overcome anyone whom the Father has chosen to reveal the Son (Luke 10:22).
Prayer: Restore to me, Lord, the joy of your salvation. Amen.
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The Basics of the Christian Faith is an edition of the catechism that is aimed at seekers, visitors, and those that may not come from a Lutheran background. It is recommended for use in outreach, as a visitor welcome gift, or in new member packets.
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