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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
The Small Catechism – part 176

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From the Word: 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called in one hope of your calling— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in all. (Ephesians 4:4–6)

From the Confessions: The Small Catechism

The Fifth Petition

And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.

What does this mean?

We pray in this petition that our heavenly Father would not hold our sins against us and deny our prayers because of them. We know we have not earned, nor do we deserve, those things for which we pray. But we ask that he would grant us all things through grace, even though we sin every day and deserve nothing but punishment. And so we, too, will heartily forgive, and gladly do good to those who sin against us.

Pulling It Together: The unity of the church begins and ends with God. Her unity is the Spirit’s work—not yours or mine. Christ’s Spirit unites the church. There is but one body of Christ, not many bodies, and we are brought into the one body through baptism. Now, you may say that there are many kinds of churches and even different modes of baptism. Granted, but there is one Head of the body into whom we are all baptized. He is our unity—not our church names or rituals. God holds us all together, just as surely as he holds together the whole creation (Col 1:17). Though we cannot destroy his unity, we should be “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit” (Eph 6:3). That begins with the word of forgiveness that we daily and weekly pray we will give.

Prayer: Lord God, give me your courageous humility so that I may forgive. Amen.

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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 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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