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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope – part 21

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James 1:21

From the Confessions: Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope 

Furthermore, the ministry of the New Testament is not bound to places and persons like the Levitical priesthood is, but is broadcast throughout the whole world. It exists where God gives his gifts, apostles, prophets, pastors, and teachers. Nor is this ministry sound because of the authority of any person, but because of the Word given by Christ.

This is how most of the holy Fathers (such as Origen, Cyprian, Augustine, Hilary, and Bede) interpret the phrase, “on this rock”—not as referring to the person of Peter. Chrysostom says “on this rock,” not “on Peter,” because Christ built his church not on the man, but on the faith of Peter. But what was his faith other than, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”? Hilary says, “The Father revealed to Peter that he should say, ‘You are the Son of the living God.’ Therefore the church is built on this rock of confession; this faith is the foundation of the church.”

Pulling It Together: Churches would be better off if they focused on the Word in the pews, rather than the person in the pulpit. The one doing the teaching adds nothing to the Word or the office. The one preaching and teaching does not make the difference. The Holy Spirit at work in the Word is what matters. So, as the power does not lie in the preacher in the pulpit, neither does it reside in one who would be over all preachers—unless that one is Christ.

What matters is that the Word is preached and that there are hearts who hear and believe that Word. Let us cling to the Word of God, to Christ. It is our good confession of faith in him that matters, that saves souls.

Prayer: Help my focus go beyond the pulpit, Lord, to the Word that is preached. Amen.

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The Sacraments is one of four books in the Sola Confirmation Series and serves as a simple and practical resource for teaching the biblical Word of God according to the traditional pattern of Martin Luther’s Small Catechism. Each book in the series may be used as the basis for a “come as you are” small group Bible study, as a student book for home school or independent study programs, or as a classroom tool and homework resource as part of an existing confirmation program. 

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