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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
The Small Catechism – part 173

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From the Word: 8 Take care that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward. 9 Everyone who oversteps and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. The one abiding in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. (2 John 8–9)

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: One may believe in Christ, a sort of historical or even biblical knowledge of him, but still, not believe on him. Believing in him may require nothing more than one would by believing in anyone or anything else. But believing on him means you trust what he says. Now, when Jesus says, do not do this, or do that, you trust him to mean what he says. When Jesus says to repent, you take him at his word. When he promises to forgive you, you count on his word to be true.

We know what he has said to us through the Scripture. There is nothing else. There are many who will tell you the Bible is an ever-changing document, some of it to be believed in ancient times, but that it does not apply to modern folks like us. This is overstepping (2 John 9). The Apostle Paul warns us about going beyond what is written (1 Cor 4:6), which is tantamount to what John says about abiding in Christ’s teaching or doctrine. In fact, it comes down to believing on your words instead of the words of God.

Therefore, believe what God tells you in the Bible. And if he says, “repent,” turn from your sins and believe in his forgiveness of your sins through Christ Jesus.

Prayer: Give me courage, Lord, to take a good look at myself and see if there is some way I am not keeping in step with your word. 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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