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Romans 5:1–2

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

What Is Justifying Grace?

The adversaries pretend that faith is only historical knowledge, and therefore teach that it can coexist with mortal sin. The result is that they say nothing about faith, by which Paul so frequently says that men are justified, since those who are accounted righteous before God do not live in mortal sin. But that faith which justifies is not merely a knowledge of history; it is an embrace of the promise of God, in which the forgiveness of sins and justification are freely offered because of Christ. Just so that no one may imagine that faith is simply knowledge, we will add further: it is to desire and to receive the offered promise of the forgiveness of sins and of justification.

Pulling It Together: Even the devils believe in Christ, if by belief we mean mere knowledge (James 2:19). Knowing stories about Jesus is not faith. Faith is a matter of the heart over the head. Faith trusts that God loves me even when I think that he cannot. Faith believes the promise of God even when I know I have failed to deserve his gift. Faith joyfully receives the grace of God, forgiveness, justification, and salvation because of Christ's merits, not because of my own deeds. My mind wonders if I have brought enough to merit these great gifts. Indeed, my mind knows that I have not done enough. But God's Spirit testifies to my heart that I am nonetheless his child (Rom 8:16), so my heart is comforted and remains confident, peaceful, and full of hope in the grace and glory of God.

Prayer: Come and reign over me and in me in spite of me, Holy Spirit. Amen. 

Winning, Losing, Loving: The Gospel in the Old Testament is an overview of Old Testament Scripture, tracing themes of chosenness, sin, and grace throughout the early books of the Bible. These cycles of sin and redemption point forward toward God's ultimate act of redemption in Jesus Christ.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 11 Jun 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Philippians 3:8–9

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

Accordingly, this particular faith (by which a person believes that individual sins are forgiven because of Christ, and that on account of him, God is reconciled and propitious) obtains forgiveness of sins and justifies us. And because in repentance, that is in a terrified conscience, faith comforts and encourages hearts, regenerates us and brings the Holy Spirit so that then we are able to fulfill God's law—specifically, to love God, truly fear God, really be confident that God hears prayer, obey God in all afflictions, kill concupiscence, etc. So, because faith freely receives the forgiveness of sins and sets Christ as the mediator and propitiator against God's wrath, it does not present our merits or our love. This faith is the true knowledge of Christ, making use of the benefits of Christ; it regenerates hearts and precedes the fulfilling of the law. Not a syllable about this faith exists in the doctrine of our adversaries. Therefore we find fault with them, both because they teach only the righteousness of the law, and because they do not teach the righteousness of the gospel, which proclaims the righteousness of faith in Christ.

Pulling It Together: Ironically, so-called personal faith does not rely upon personal works but upon the person of Christ. It is solely because of him that God is reconciled and made favorable toward us. We are forgiven and made righteous because of Christ alone. We confess this to be true; we believe it is so, therefore we do not work to make it happen. Instead, we have faith that God in Christ has made it to be true. This same faith in Christ conveys his Spirit who compels us to believe all the more. He changes our natural inclinations so that we are enabled to keep the law of God—to pray to a Father whom we now believe genuinely loves us and cares for us, and to love and worship him more each day no matter what each day brings. This faith in Christ precedes good works because it is the true knowledge of him upon whom all righteousness and righteous deeds depend. 

Prayer: Help me depend more upon you than myself, Lord, and believe that your righteousness is at work within me. Amen. 

Teach Us to Pray is an eight-lesson curriculum based around Luther's Small Catechism.  Each lesson has a Bible study connected to the article of the Lord's Prayer covered. A section entitled "About Prayer"  teaches students helpful items about a solid prayer life and a prayer assignment for the coming week.  A major goal of this material is to help kids experience prayer and practice it in a variety of ways. This book could be used as part of a larger Confirmation series, or as a "pre-confirmation" Sunday School series for Jr. High and Middle School youth.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 10 Jun 21 00:00:00 -0500

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2 Corinthians 3:4–5

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

Since justification happens through a free promise, it follows that we cannot justify ourselves. Otherwise, why would there be a need to promise? For since the promise cannot be received except by faith, the gospel—inherently the promise of the forgiveness of sins and of justification for Christ's sake—proclaims the righteousness of faith in Christ, which the law does not teach. Nor is this the righteousness of the law. For the law requires works and perfection from us. But for Christ's sake, the gospel freely offers reconciliation to we who have been defeated by sin and death. This reconciliation is received not by works, but by faith alone. Such faith does not bring confidence in one's own merits to God, but only trust in the promise, or the mercy promised in Christ.

Pulling It Together: How misleading—and even rude—it would be to invite people to a party and then demand that they serve the guests in order to stay. Imagine a boy asking a girl out on a date and then telling her that she had to pay for the movie in order to remain his friend. That is essentially the scene we paint of God when we add the requirement of works to justification and salvation. God is perfectly within his rights to demand anything of us. He might have required that we must perfectly recite the Athanasian Creed in order to get into heaven. He could have demanded perfect attendance at church. He could have made the performance of things obligatory as he did under the old covenant. Instead, he has given us a promise through a new covenant in Christ. This covenant only requires that we believe the promise, that we believe that it is God who makes us holy through the perfect, reconciling work of our Lord. It may be difficult to believe that we do not have to do anything to earn our salvation, but that is nonetheless, the one thing that is required. Believe.

Prayer: Lord, help me today to remember that you are my sufficiency and grace. Amen.

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.” Experience Life Together: Experiencing House-Church Ministry, by Rev. Tom Hilpert, 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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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 09 Jun 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 4:7–14

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

Since people cannot fulfill the law of God by their own strength, and all are under sin, subject to eternal wrath and death, they cannot be freed by the law from sin and be justified. Yet the promise of the remission of sins and of justification has been given us for Christ's sake, who was given for us in order that he might make satisfaction for the sins of the world, having been appointed as mediator and propitiator. This promise is not dependent on our merits but freely offers the remission of sins and justification as Paul says, “But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace” (Rom 11:6). And elsewhere, “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from law” (Rom 3:21). In other words, the remission of sins is freely given. Nor does reconciliation depend upon our merits. If the forgiveness of sins depended upon our merits, and reconciliation were from the law, it would be useless. Since we cannot fulfill the law, it would also follow that we would never obtain the promise of reconciliation. Thus Paul reasons, “If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void” (Rom 4:14). For if the promise required the condition of our merits and the law that we never fulfill, it would follow that the promise would be useless.

Pulling It Together: Circumcision was a seal or sign of Abraham's faith in God's promise. It was not a requirement for earning God's grace. Rather, it was a sign that Abraham believed what God promised. Even so, the promise of God's complete forgiveness is for those who believe his promise, not for those who have been circumcised or have in any other way become virtuous enough to receive God's gift. His priceless gift is freely given because of what his Son accomplished—not because of our achievements. First, we cannot achieve righteousness by keeping the law. It simply is not possible, as has been demonstrated earlier. Peter came to the same conclusion (Acts 15:10). Second, if God's grace is freely given, how is it that some say it must be earned, that people must somehow merit God's forgiveness? If one has to earn God's grace through works, then his grace is not grace at all. Furthermore, since we cannot even love God with our whole heart and soul and mind and strength (Mark 12:30), we cannot keep the law at all. For whoever thinks he has kept the law but has failed in even one part of it, is guilty of breaking all of the law (James 2:10). So if meriting God's favor is based on our works, one easily sees that a promise of grace is altogether useless, since no one would ever be the recipient of that promise.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for giving me your grace in spite of myself. Amen. 

Subscribe to Connections Magazine today. Connections features articles that connect Lutherans to the Word. Martin Luther’s Small Catechism provides the inspiration for confessional, biblical content, delivered in a stylish, readable design. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 08 Jun 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Genesis 3:8–10

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

Lastly, it was very foolish for our adversaries to write that men who are under eternal wrath deserve the remission of sins by an act of love that springs from their mind since it is impossible to love God, unless the forgiveness of sins is first received by faith. For the heart that truly feels that God is angry cannot love God unless God's reconciliation is confirmed. As long as he terrifies us and seems to be casting us into eternal death, human nature is not able to take such courage so as to love a wrathful, judging, and punishing God. It is easy for idle people to imagine fantasies concerning love—such as a person guilty of mortal sin being able to love God above all things—because they do not understand what the wrath or judgment of God is. But in the agony and conflicts of conscience, the conscience experiences the emptiness of such philosophical speculations. Paul says, “For the law brings wrath” (Rom 4:15). He does not say that by the law men earn the remission of sins. For the law always accuses and terrifies consciences. Therefore it does not justify, because the conscience terrified by the law flees from the judgment of God. Those who trust that by the law, by their own works, they merit the remission of sins, are therefore mistaken. It is sufficient for now for us to have said these things that the adversaries teach about the righteousness of reason or of the law. For after a while, when we will declare our belief concerning the righteousness of faith, the subject itself will compel us to cite more testimonies that will also be of service in overthrowing the errors of the adversaries that we have critiqued so far.

Pulling It Together: The law is always accusing us of wrongdoing. That is the law's job. Furthermore, we know that the law is right. In ourselves, we have no leg to stand on. The law has us dead to rights. Knowing that we have sinned against God, like Adam and Eve, we hide behind trees. God's response about our sin has made us fearful from the beginning. Adam and Eve were no longer interested in walking with God in the garden. Instead, their sin caused them to want to get as far away from him as possible. This law that drives us away from God will not suddenly draw us toward him. So, how can this law, the doing of things, somehow make us right with God when it is always telling us the exact opposite? It cannot. It does not, no matter how much we may wish it otherwise.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for covering my sin and helping me to walk with you again. Amen. 

The Ten Commandments book is a ten-week unit, Confirmation workbook which includes one session on each of the Commandments. The Scripture focus in the Ten Commandment series is on Moses and the Exodus Cycle, with Bible Study lessons taken primarily from the Pentateuch.

• Student Workbook   • Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 07 Jun 21 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Samuel 16:6–7

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

The flesh certainly does not love God if the carnal mind is belligerent toward him. If it cannot be subject to the law of God, it cannot love him. If the carnal mind is hostile toward God, the flesh sins, even when we do external civil works. If it cannot be subject to the law of God, it certainly sins even when, according to human judgment, it possesses deeds that are excellent and worthy of praise. The adversaries consider only the precepts of the Second Table which contain civil righteousness that reason understands. Content with this, they imagine that they satisfy the law of God. In the meanwhile, they do not see the First Table that commands that we love God, that we declare as true that God is angry with sin, that we truly fear God, and that we declare as certain that God hears prayer. But the human heart without the Holy Spirit either in security despises God's judgment, or in punishment flees from and hates God when he judges. So, it does not obey the First Table. Since contempt of God, and doubt concerning the Word of God, and about the threats and promises, are inherent to human nature, people truly sin even when they do virtuous works without the Holy Spirit because they do them with a wicked heart. According to Romans 14:23, “whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” Such persons perform their works with contempt of God, just as Epicurus does not believe that God cares for him, or that he is regarded or heard by God. This contempt corrupts works that are seemingly virtuous because God judges the heart.

Pulling It Together: God is concerned, though not primarily so, with the things that we do. The external matters such as are found in the second table of the law are there—in second place—for a reason. Keeping the Sabbath or the Lord's Day should not be your focus, as it is not God's primary interest in you. Honoring parents, murder, adultery, theft, lying, and coveting are all external matters that are of secondary importance. For if you keep the first table—that which is internal or of the heart—you will surely keep the second table, which is an external work. Since God looks at the heart, we ought to concern ourselves primarily with loving him with our whole self. Then the other eight commandments will be kept as well. This is why Jesus could say, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15) Though some people can keep the second table, they are still in sin if they do not keep the first. For only the person who has received God's grace by being filled with his Spirit is able to keep the first table. That person is absolved of sin for Christ's sake.

Prayer: Lord, help me love you with my whole self today. Amen. 

Full-Color Catechism Posters (Set of Seven)  These glossy full-color 11"x 17" posters feature the main texts from the six parts of Luther's Small Catechism and are designed for use in homes and churches to help children memorize these important and timeless words. Posters include: Holy Baptism, The Lord's Prayer, The Ten Commandments (standard), The Ten Commandments (simplified),The Apostles' Creed, Holy Communion, and Confession & Forgiveness. Each poster features a picture of "Luther's Small Cat" and matches the colors of the corresponding booklet from Sola's Luther's Small Cat Series.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 06 Jun 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Isaiah 64:4–6

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

Jesus said, “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). He also said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” So, if it is necessary to be born again of the Holy Spirit, the righteousness of reason cannot justify us before God and does not fulfill the law. Paul writes, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23); that is, they are destitute of the wisdom and righteousness of God that acknowledges and glorifies God. Paul also writes, “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, indeed it cannot; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom 8:7-8). These testimonies are so plain that, to employ the words of Augustine that he used in this case, they do not need a sharp mind, but only an attentive hearer.

Pulling It Together: The words of Jesus are enough. If it is Jesus who makes us free, how dare we try to make ourselves free through works of the law? So some say, “Yes, he sets you free but you must add works to remain free.” This is the righteousness of reason, the fleshly, earthly righteousness that satisfies some parts of the law but cannot keep it all. Yet, even if all of the law could be kept perfectly, as has been written earlier, without the grace of God, these civil and religious works would be filthy rags (Isa 64:6) and rubbish (Phil 3:8). Who then could imagine the following two things? First, who could imagine that there is a God who loves sinners so much that he would send his Son to set them free from their bondage to sin and death? Second, who would want to imagine that people could do a better job of liberation than God?

Prayer: Oh, Son of God, thank you for setting us free from this sin that we have been in for so long. Amen. 

Luther's Small Cat Discovers: The Seasons of the Church Year is written for 4th grade level students. This book takes students through the church year, accompanied by Luther’s Small Cat — a character who is just as inquisitive and precocious as the students. May your journey through the church year bring you closer to Christ, who walks through each moment of life alongside you.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 05 Jun 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Galatians 2:15–21

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

We have testimonies for our belief from the Fathers as well as the Scriptures. Augustine contends at great length against the Pelagians that grace is not given because of our merits. In On Nature and Grace he says, “If natural ability through the free will suffice both for learning to know how one ought to live and for living aright, then Christ has died in vain and then the offense of the Cross is made void. Why should I not cry out here too? Yes, I will cry out and with Christian grief will chide them: “You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace” (Gal 5:4; cf. 2:21). “For, being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law, that every one who has faith may be justified” (Rom 10:3-4).

Pulling It Together: Lutherans teach that Christians should do good works. However, they also confess that these works do not earn God's grace and save them from sin and death. Even if they were able to choose righteousness instead of sin as the Pelagians claim, and to do so perfectly and completely (which is ludicrous in and of itself) this would be altogether insufficient. Our good works, however fine they may seem to us, amount to nothing in the balance of justification and salvation. People are not justified by works of the law—either civil or religious. The only way a person is considered righteous by God—the only way—is through faith in Jesus Christ. If there is any other way to be justified, then Christ died for no reason. Lutherans, along with Scripture and the Church Fathers, confess that Christ is the end and fulfillment of the law with its required acts of righteousness, so that those who believe in Christ, or have faith, may be numbered by God among the righteous. 

Prayer: Heavenly Father, give me a complete confidence in your Son so that I never rely upon myself. Amen. 

Luther's Small Cat Series from Sola Publishing is a graded elementary-aged Sunday School curriculum based on the sections of the Small Catechism, with each lesson focusing on an applicable story from the Bible. This easy-to-use workbook-style curriculum, allows kids to have a keepsake of the memory piece they master for the year.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 04 Jun 21 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Timothy 1:12–15

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

It is also both false and dishonoring of Christ to teach that men do not sin who do the commandments of God without grace.

Pulling It Together

An external religion does not earn the grace of God. Therefore, anyone merely keeping appearances, even if they strive to keep the commandments, is still in sin. Such people, as fine and decent as they may be, are trusting their own efforts. Anyone can keep some of the law some of the time, particularly the so-called second table of the law. But without the Holy Spirit and grace in our hearts, we will never keep the first table. We will never love God with our whole hearts unless we have faith through God's grace. Furthermore, when the Spirit of grace is within us, we then come to understand that we cannot keep the law nearly so perfectly as we once imagined. We understand what poor sinners we really are and that it is impossible to be saved without faith in the merits of Christ. Augustine wrote plainly of this matter in Of the Spirit and the Letter: “Man is not justified by the precepts of a good life, but by faith in Jesus Christ.” That person greatly dishonors the Lord who thinks he makes himself sinless and holy when “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1Tim 1:15).

Prayer: Increase my faith, Lord, and save me from myself. Amen. 

Why Did Jesus Have to Die? is a six-week Bible Study that examines the most profound event of salvation history — the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ — exploring from a biblical perspective what is known as the doctrine of the Atonement.

Participant's Book    • Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 03 Jun 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Jeremiah 17:5–7

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

It is also false that reason, by its own strength, is able to love God above all things and fulfill God's law. It cannot truly fear God, be truly confident that God hears prayer, be willing to obey God in death and other trials, or to not covet what belongs to others, etc. However, reason can produce civil works.

Pulling It Together: The first use of the law is social in nature, for it creates boundaries and consequences for those who do wrong. This is as far as reason or earthly righteousness goes. By itself, it can never create true love for God. It can create in a person the observance of religious duties that are often confused with true love of God. For example, the righteousness of reason can make a person mumble the Lord's Prayer without ever actually expecting a loving Father to be actively listening and desiring to answer that person's other prayers during the course of a day. Earthly righteousness might cause a person to take their children to church—because it is “the right thing to do.” But when tragedy or trial comes their way, does reason alone sustain them? As often as not, people will then turn away from the church to some other activity.

God's grace is required in order to really love him and keep his law. This is always the case but it is obvious when life gets difficult. If a person has been depending on their own external works of righteousness, their religion will begin to suffer under stress. When people rely upon their own strength, they will turn away from the Lord. But the person of faith will continue to place their confidence in God. When their own social and religious activities do not bring about anticipated results and life becomes difficult, the person of faith still loves God and walks in his ways.

Prayer: Thank you, Holy Spirit, for sustaining me with your grace. Amen. 

Family Matters is a nine-session Bible study that focuses on the first generations of God's people—Abraham and his descendants. It looks at how God's covenant promise sustained them as they navigated family relationships.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 02 Jun 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Psalm 51:1–10

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

It is also false that people are accounted righteous before God because of the righteousness of reason.

Pulling It Together: Just as people are not forgiven of their sins because of civil deeds and religious works, these works also will never make them righteous before the holy God. Their works and their external piety, no matter how fine, will never make them holy on the inside. This is why David asked God to do it; David could not. “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me” (Psa 51:10). God must do for us what we can never do for ourselves. Only the holy God can make us clean, pure, holy, righteous. We will never stand before God, or be righteous, unless he does it for us. This certainly makes the admonition of Jesus more bearable: “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 5:20). For all of our effort to keep the commandments and the Sermon on the Mount, we will only discover that we cannot. We may come close or match their external righteousness, but the only way our righteousness will exceed that of the religious crowd is if God makes us righteous within. The righteousness of reason (external, earthly righteousness) will not change us on the inside and therefore, make us righteous before God (Matt 23:27). God does this for us “through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe” (Rom 3:22).

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for sending your Son, Jesus Christ, the salvation of the world. Amen. 

Come, Worship the Lord (Sola Music Series, Vol I) The Sola Music Series offers simple collections of easy-to-play worship music, including new songs and arrangements of old favorites. Based in a confessional theology and a respect for the historical and sacramental liturgy, these resources do not require a high level of musical expertise. Written in a simple and straight-forward style, these songs are intended for congregations that would like to explore a less formal musical style in worship, while still maintaining the integrity of the traditional order of worship. Such music would fit into what is sometimes referred to as "contemporary" or "blended" worship, without necessarily requiring a full band of experienced musicians and singers to lead the songs. Providing lead sheets for guitar and vocals, along with full scores for piano, Sola Publishing grants to those who purchase this volume the permission to reproduce words and music of the songs within for local congregational use. This book includes music from "The Holy Cross Setting" available with a SOWeR subscription.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 01 Jun 21 00:00:00 -0500

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1 John 1:8–9

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

So it is false that we earn forgiveness of sins by our works.

Pulling It Together: There is an earthly righteousness that comes from human work and ability. Keeping the commandments, being a good citizen, exercising control over what is said, and minding one's own affairs with diligence and humility are examples of this kind of righteousness. The world would be a far better place if we all worked diligently at this earthly righteousness. Yet keeping the commandments, however perfectly, does not earn one anything but a fuller enjoyment of life (Lev 18:5). Applying the commandments to every part of life will only make for a blessed life here on earth. Earthly righteousness will never earn or merit the forgiveness of sins. Fine and decent people remain troubled about their standing before God because they know in their hearts that they are sinners. Even if they smiled at everyone and had a polite greeting, they know that they thought poorly of some. Even if they gave regularly to the local food pantry, they know that there was always more they could have done. And this is just the point. How can we ever know if we have done enough good?

So, we try to be more religious, hoping that the nagging accusations in our consciences will go away. We pile on more works, only now they are religious acts. These too, like other earthly kinds of righteousness, are fine and add to the enjoyment of life. But they will not earn the forgiveness of sins. The person who has 40 years of perfect attendance at Sunday School and worship, is still condemned by the sins he has committed. He will find no forgiveness of sins through his perfect attendance, even if he has a certificate and lapel pin to display for his lifetime effort. Imagine someone actually saying to God, “But, Lord! Lord! I have a shiny pin so I should enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 7:21-23).

There is, however, another kind of righteousness. It is not an earthly righteousness. This righteousness is heavenly and full of grace and forgiveness. It does not come from our hard work or the keeping of the commandments. Heavenly righteousness is the free gift and work of God. So, you should understand by now that even if you have an external, earthly righteousness, you must also have a righteousness that is higher and internal. Only the righteousness that is given by the work of God in Christ will free you from sin and an evil, accusing, nagging conscience. Only the righteousness of Christ graciously given to you will allow you peace of mind and lead you out of death into eternal life.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for the sweet peace and fellowship of your Spirit that I enjoy because of your grace. Amen. 

The Sola Confirmation Series, written by the Rev. Steven E. King, is work-book style Confirmation curriculum. It is designed to serve 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 can 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. 

The Ten Commandments book is a ten-week unit, which includes one session on each of the Commandments. The Scripture focus in the Ten Commandment series is on Moses and the Exodus Cycle, with Bible Study lessons taken primarily from the Pentateuch.

• Student Workbook   • Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 31 May 21 00:00:00 -0500

Galatians 3:23–26         Search by Scripture

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

God requires the righteousness of reason. Because of his commandment, the honorable works that the Decalog commands must necessarily be performed. According to Galatians 3:24: “So that the law was our custodian.” Likewise, “The law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient” (1Tim 1:9). For God wants those who are carnal to be restrained by civil discipline, and to maintain this, he has given laws, letters, doctrine, magistrates, penalties. This righteousness of reason, by its own strength, can work to a certain extent, although it is often overcome by natural weakness and by the devil goading it to obvious crimes. We cheerfully assign this righteousness of reason the praises that are due it (since this corrupt nature has no greater good). Aristotle rightly says, “Neither the evening star nor the morning star is more beautiful than righteousness, and God also honors it with bodily rewards.” Nevertheless, it ought not to be praised with reproach to Christ.

Pulling It Together: The law is a good thing. It teaches us how to interact with God and with each other. The law also provides necessary restraint on the uncivil elements of society so that good order may be maintained. This works—up to a point. We understand that more laws, attorneys, judges, and punishments do not make a better society. Better citizens make a better society. The law keeps us in check until something better comes along. Knowing that we have a system of law in place would never cause us to disparage public education and other programs for the improvement of the citizenry. We would hope education has an effect and the law is not necessary. We would anticipate that some, at least, would become good citizens upon whom the law was never enforced because they saw the good reason of keeping the law.

In Christ Jesus, something far better than a program of education has arrived. Before faith in Christ came, the law instructed us, but we are no longer under the law's tutelage. That kind of righteousness has been fulfilled in Christ, who through faith has made us good citizens of his kingdom.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for bringing me into the family and kingdom of your Son. Amen. 

The Spiritual Realms

A Bible Study on Heaven and Hell and Places Beyond this World

By Rev. Steven E. King

"We believe in God the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen." (Nicene Creed)

The Spiritual Realms is a nine-session Bible Study series on Heaven and Hell and places beyond this world. Specifically, the study looks at the many “place names” that are found throughout Scripture, referring to spiritual realms of existence that underlie and comprise the universe God created. This Bible Study series is a challenging one, in that it explores realities of existence beyond what we know and experience everyday.

The study not only addresses matters of life, death, heaven and hell, it steadfastly affirms that Jesus Christ is at the center of all these things. Our ultimate faith and hope rest in Christ’s death and resurrection for our sake. We live in faith by the biblical promise that: “God raised the Lord, and will also raise us up by his power.” (1 Corinthians 6:14)

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 30 May 21 00:00:00 -0500

Matthew 7:25–27       Index by Scripture

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

Therefore, the adversaries teach nothing but the righteousness of reason, or certainly of the law. Just like the Jews, they look upon the veiled face of Moses. As secure hypocrites who think that they satisfy the law, they excite presumption and empty confidence in works and have contempt for the grace of Christ. They drive timid consciences to despair, which while laboring with doubt can never experience what faith is, and how efficacious it is. Ultimately, they utterly despair.

Pulling It Together: The foolish person builds a house on sand. This should make me wonder about that beach house I have always wanted. Trying to live by the law is like owning a beach house. It sure looks pretty some days. The rest of the time it is a lot of work and is prone to being washed away in the next storm.

The wise person builds on the rock—or, if you will, the Rock (1Cor 10:4). She lives a life of faith in Jesus Christ. Believing in Jesus is the only sure foundation for life. Though the storms will come, the house of faith in Christ will not be washed away. The winds will blow and beat against that house, yet it will not fall, because Christ is its secure foundation.

So long as one tries to be Christian by doing things, her life will be knocked down in the end. How can she be confident in the things she does? “Surely,” she thinks, “I have failed to do enough to make God happy with my life.” But the one who is a Christian by virtue of the work Christ has done for her can be confident until the end. Whenever she wonders if she has done enough or been good enough, she thinks, “Of course, I haven't done enough or been good enough. Thank God that Christ has done it for me!” His grace is beyond sufficient (2Cor 12:9). It is a rock to build a life upon.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for being my rock and sure foundation. Amen.

Ambidextrous Christianity

A "Two-Handed" Approach to the Life of Faith

Nine-Session Bible Study by the Rev. Chris Brekke

Martin Luther was a champion of “dialectic” or “paradoxical” thinking — the idea that two truths sometimes need to be kept in tension. For example, as you drive your car down the highway, you have to be able to turn both left and right. The same is true in our Christian lives. We trust that the truth of God’s Word teaches us how to steer wisely. But it is a dialectical “two-handed” approach to our faith journey that helps us as Christ’s followers to navigate life without going into the ditches on either side.

In this nine-session Bible Study, we look at nine key questions of faith and life, letting our Lord direct us in steering on the narrow path of faith. In studying God's Word with other believers, we seek to grow in our ability to move forward in our journey together, no matter what the road may present us with.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 29 May 21 00:00:00 -0500

Titus 3:4–7         Index by Scripture

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

So as not to appear to agree with the Pelagians, they make a distinction between due merit (meritum congrui) and complete merit (meritum condigni). For, if God necessarily gives grace for due merit, it is no longer due merit, but a true duty and complete merit. They do not understand what they are saying. Once this habit of love is present, they imagine that people are able to acquire merit (de condigno). Yet they tell us to doubt whether there is even a habit present. How then, do they know whether they acquire merit partially (de congruo) or fully (de condigno)? This whole matter was fabricated by idle men who did not know how the forgiveness of sins occurs or how, in the judgment of God and through terrors of conscience, trust in works is driven out of us. Secure hypocrites always judge that they fully acquire merit (de condigno), whether the habit is present or not, because men naturally trust in their own righteousness. But terrified consciences waver and hesitate. Then they seek and accumulate other works in order to find peace. Such consciences never think that they acquire enough merit (de condigno), and they rush into despair unless they hear, in addition to the doctrine of the law, the gospel about unmerited forgiveness of sins and the righteousness of faith.

Pulling It Together: Where do these ideas come from, except from the minds of those who have turned from the clear teaching of Scripture to their own speculations? Why would one wonder whether they had fully earned God's grace? If it must be earned, is it grace? Wondering about such things is an indication that one does not understand the ways of God at all. It is not necessary to navigate the fine line between heresies such as Pelgianism (that there is no original sin and therefore one is able to be good) and conjectures about preceding (or provenient) habits of grace. Lutherans teach that one is not saved through either half or full measures of merit that are calculated on religious and self-righteous works. Rather, we are altogether saved—not partially but completely—by God's doing, not ours. He did so because of his mercy, not because one has developed a habit that deserves God's further grace. He saved us through the regeneration and renewal of his Spirit who is poured out on us so richly through Christ that we need not wonder if we have enough grace. Grace is not accumulated by the person but extravagantly gifted by God. Of course there is meritum condigni. How could there be anything but complete merit since it is God who gives it so freely? How could there be anything but meritum congrui or partial grace if one were trying to earn God's favor? In that case, just to be clear, there would only be worthless religion (Matt 7:21-23) and no grace at all—since it cannot be earned. 

Prayer: Thank you, God, for saving me so completely. Amen. 

Lord, Teach Us to Pray

by Kent Groethe and Steve King

Discover the  Joy of Talking to God ...
Lord, Teach Us to Pray is a eight-session curriculum on prayer intended for youth. Based on the themes of the Lord’s Prayer, it uses a Bible Study format, with each lesson including multiple Scripture texts along with the related section of Luther’s Small Catechism. A section entitled “About Prayer” teaches students helpful items about a solid prayer life and a prayer assignment for the coming week. A major goal of this material is to help kids experience prayer, and practice it in a variety of ways.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 28 May 21 00:00:00 -0500

Psalm 139:23–24           Index By Scripture

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

So as not to pass by Christ altogether, the adversaries require a knowledge of the history of Christ, and attribute him with giving us, as they say, prima gratia, "first grace," which they understand as a habit that disposes us to more readily love God. Yet what they ascribe to this habit is of little importance because they imagine that the acts of the will are of the same kind before and after this habit. They imagine that the will can love God but that this habit stimulates it to do so more cheerfully. They ask us to first merit this habit by preceding merits; then they tell us to earn an increase of this habit and eternal life through works of the law. Hence they bury Christ, so that men do not use Christ as as a mediator and believe that because of him they freely receive remission of sins and reconciliation. Rather, they dream that by their own fulfillment of the law they merit the remission of sins and are accounted righteous before God. Nevertheless, the law is never satisfied, since reason does nothing except certain civilized acts, while neither fearing God, nor truly believing that he cares. Although they speak of this habit, without the righteousness of faith, people cannot love God or even understood what the love of God is.

Pulling It Together: The Reformers were answering challenges from a church that really believed it was their own works that earned them eternal life. Take that in for a moment. It is a little difficult to conceive of today, as we have benefited for five centuries from the Lutheran Confession. But in the early sixteenth century, the church believed that knowing the story of Jesus was only the beginning of the Christian religion. Somehow, knowing about him gave one the disposition to please God. This adjustment of human nature, it was taught, would allow people to perform increasing acts of piety and devotion that would earn them favor, forgiveness, and righteousness with God. In the meanwhile, they do not avail themselves of Christ's merits, for he was only the beginning of religion. They have become the next step in their supposed salvation. All of this happens, they imagine, by virtue of their own religious works. All the while, they fail to keep the first commandment. For without the righteousness given by God through faith, people will never love him with their whole heart. Evidence of this is the anxiety they will feel the next time they sin. “What do I need to do to fix my sin?” they will worry, not knowing that their sin has already been fixed—and not by any work of their own. 

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for knowing me and leading me in the everlasting way. Amen. 

Speaking for Christ: Everyday Evangelism through the Promise of Forgiveness

by Rev. Hugh Brewer and the Rev. Dr. Steven E. King

"Speaking for Christ" is a Bible study on evangelism and what it means to share the message of Jesus in our everyday life. It approaches the subject by focusing on how God uses us to be his ambassadors and drives to the heart of the reason Jesus came into the world, to reconcile the world to himself through the proclamation of repentance and forgiveness of sins.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 27 May 21 00:00:00 -0500

Galatians 6:14–16         Index by Scripture

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

In this opinion, there are many great and pernicious errors that would be tedious to enumerate. Let the discreet reader consider only this: If this is Christian righteousness, what difference is there between philosophy and the doctrine of Christ? If we earn the remission of sins by these deceitful acts, of what benefit is Christ? If we can be justified by reason and the works of reason, of what need is Christ or regeneration? These opinions have caused the matter to come the point that many ridicule us because we teach that something other than philosophic righteousness must be sought. We have heard that some have set aside the gospel, and instead of a sermon, explain the ethics of Aristotle. Indeed, such men did not err if those things that the adversaries defend are true. For Aristotle wrote so learnedly about civil morals that nothing further concerning this is necessary. We see books in which certain sayings of Christ are compared with the sayings of Socrates, Zeno, and others, as though Christ had come for the purpose of delivering certain laws through which we might merit the remission of sins, as though we did not receive this freely because of his merits. Therefore, if we receive the doctrine of the adversaries—that by works of reason we earn remission of sins and justification—there will be no difference between philosophic—or certainly pharisaic—and Christian righteousness.

Pulling It Together: Do not suppose that Melancthon will not list some other errors as he develops this Article. By saying, "consider only this," he causes us to clearly see the main error that the Lutherans' opponents make. Their error was equating human philosophy with the work of God in Christ. If Christianity is simply another philosophy, then Christ and the cross offer no distinctive benefit to sinners. If one may earn a righteous standing before God through reason and philosophy, then why did God need to send his Son? If we may be justified with God by earning grace through reason then why do we hear that God gives grace freely? The error of the opponents reduces Christianity to pharisaism—one that makes a new law to keep, a law of reason and philosophy. But the Lutheran boast is in Christ and his cross alone, foolishness to the world but the very wisdom of God.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me trust in your work on the cross instead of my works and reason. Amen. 

The Word of Life Series is a resource for those looking to develop small groups built around the Word of God. This model of small-group ministry is an excellent tool for evangelism since it is rooted in prayer and Scripture. Its primary focus is to empower those who believe in Jesus Christ, to be comfortable sharing their faith and inviting others to experience a transformed life in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

• Unit 1   • Unit 2   • Unit 3

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 26 May 21 00:00:00 -0500

1 Corinthians 3:18–23        Index by Scripture

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

Here, having followed the philosophers, the scholastics teach only a righteousness of reason, namely civil works, and furthermore, concoct that reason without the Holy Spirit is able to love God above all things. So long as the human mind is at ease and does not feel the wrath or judgment of God, it can imagine that it wants to love God and that it wishes to do good for God's sake. In this manner, the scholastics teach that people merit the remission of sins by doing what is in them, that is, when reason grieves over sin, elicits an act of love to God, or wishes to do good. Since this opinion flatters people, it has produced and multiplied many services in the Church like monastic vows and abuses of the mass. With this opinion, in the course of time, one act of worship or observance and another has been devised. In order that they might nourish and increase confidence in such works, they have affirmed that God necessarily gives grace to those doing these works, not by the necessity of constraint but of immutability.

Pulling It Together

The whole problem of the scholastics, as it is with the world's philosophers, is that they believed that people are capable of being good. As a result, people who think this way, lull themselves into a state of calm, imagining that everything will be fine so long as they are good enough or religious enough or somehow balance the books against their debt of sin. But people are not good. Yes, it pains us to hear it but it is helpful to know it or to be reminded. Luther teaches that God “does not regard or consider anything in us as good. And in this way we are already good as long as we recognize nothing as good except God’s good and our own good as evil, for he who is wise in this way with God is truly a wise and good man. For he knows that nothing is good outside of God and that in God everything is good. As Christ says: 'The kingdom of God is within you' (Luke 17:21). It is as if He were saying: 'Outside of you is exile. Outside of you is everything which is seen and touched, but within you is everything which is believed only by faith'” (Luther's Works, Vol. 25, p. 383). Do you see that it is only God at work within you that brings about any real good in your life? And if it is God who is doing it, it is not you who does these good works, but instead the Spirit who is at work within you. How then would we imagine that we must do good works before God would offer us his grace? If there is anything immutable about God, it is that he offers his grace freely to all (Titus 2:11).

Prayer: Holy Spirit, work in me your will today. Amen. 

The goal of Personalities of Faith, a ten-session Bible study for youth, is to encourage young people to commit themselves to follow Jesus in discipleship by becoming "personalities of faith". Using biblical examples of people who have followed—or failed to follow—God's call, participants will be prepared to better follow the Lord in their own lives.

Volume 1  • Volume 1 Leader's Guide  • Volume 2  • Volume 2 Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 25 May 21 00:00:00 -0500

Mark 12:28–31.      Index by Scripture

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

Of these two parts, the adversaries choose the law because human reason naturally understands the law in some way (since it has the same judgment divinely written in the mind). They seek the remission of sins and justification through the law. But the Decalogue requires not only outward civil works that reason can to some degree produce; it also requires other works that are placed far above reason, namely, to truly fear God, to truly love God, to truly call upon God, to be truly convinced that God hears us, and to expect his aid in death and in all afflictions. Finally, it requires obedience to God in death and all afflictions so that we may not flee from these or refuse them when God imposes them.

Pulling It Together: Some things come to us naturally. For example, we can look at the beauty and complexity of nature and understand that there must be a creator. Yet, we do not instinctively know who the creator is, let alone begin to truly and completely love God (Deut 6:5; Mark 12:30). When we learn who God is, we quickly discover that we cannot keep his law. Yet there are some who insist that people can somehow work off the fine that has been levied for their sins (Rom 6:23). Those who opposed the Reformers believed that human effort could appease the wrath of God. To be fair, there are some things the law requires that we are completely capable of fulfilling (James 2:10). However, we cannot pick and choose the ceremonies and other requirements of the law that we determine are necessary; we are obligated to keep the entire law (Gal 5:3). If one is to depend upon the law, the whole law must be kept (James 2:10). Yet we must admit that even the first commandment eludes us—since we have other idols and do not love God with our whole heart and mind and strength. Nor do we trust him. A solid proof of this assertion is our seeking to satisfy his righteous law by our own works, instead of depending upon God.

Prayer: Blessed are you, Father, for quieting the unrest of my soul and setting my spirit free. Amen.

A Reading and Discussion of the Augsburg Confession is a more challenging study series based on assigned readings from the Book of Concord and related Scripture texts. Each study is comprised of eight sessions, plus an optional introductory session, presented in a question and discussion format. The Leader's Guide that accompanies this study is a resource for those facilitating group discussion or may serve as a reader's commentary for those who are studying the Book of Concord on their own.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 24 May 21 00:00:00 -0500

Galatians 3:21–23          Index by Scripture

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification 

All Scripture ought to be divided into these two main topics: the law and the promises. In some places Scriptures present the Law, while in others the promise concerning Christ, either when it promises that Christ will come and for his sake offers the remission of sins, justification, and eternal life, or in the gospel, after he appeared, Christ himself promises the remission of sins, justification, and eternal life. Furthermore, in this discussion, by “law” we designate the Ten Commandments, wherever they are found in the Scriptures. At present, we will not say anything about the ceremonial and judicial laws of Moses.

Pulling It Together: The defense of the doctrine of justification begins with a definition of terms. The revelation of God is understood easily by seeing it in its simplest functions. The Old Testament presents God's commandments. Further refining the definitions, the present discourse will be dealing with the law in terms of the root of all scriptural law: the ten commandments. The New Testament, on the other hand, though it does deal with law just as the Old Testament shows God's grace, more generally handles God's promises or grace that answers the law. Without acknowledging these definitions, it is unlikely that one will readily understand that people are imprisoned under law of God and liberated by the grace of Christ. Grace, faith, and justification must always be considered in contrast to the law and the commandments.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, for setting me free from sin and death. Amen. 

The Sola Confirmation Series, written by the Rev. Steven E. King, is basic work-book style Confirmation curriculum. It is designed to serve 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 can 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. 

The Ten Commandments book is a ten-week unit, which includes one session on each of the Commandments. The Scripture focus in the Ten Commandment series is on Moses and the Exodus Cycle, with Bible Study lessons taken primarily from the Pentateuch.

Student Workbook   • Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 23 May 21 00:00:00 -0500

Romans 5:1–2      Click here for Scripture Index

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Justification

In the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and, below, in the Twentieth Article, they condemn us, for teaching that people obtain remission of sins freely for Christ's sake, through faith in Christ, instead of by their own merits. They condemn us both for denying that people obtain remission of sins because of their own merits, and for affirming that through faith, men obtain remission of sins, and through faith in Christ are justified. This controversy addresses the chief topic of Christian doctrine which, rightly understood, illumines and magnifies the honor of Christ and brings necessary and abundant consolation to devout consciences. So we ask His Imperial Majesty to hear us with forbearance in regard to matters of such importance. For since the adversaries do not understand what remission of sins, faith, grace, or righteousness are, they woefully corrupt this topic and obscure the glory and benefits of Christ, robbing devout consciences of the consolations offered in Christ. Yet, that we may strengthen the position of our Confession and remove the charges which the adversaries raise against us, certain things must be set forth in the beginning so that the sources of both kinds of doctrine—that of our adversaries and our own—may be known.

Pulling It Together: We begin to handle a long Article with this reading, much longer than Article 2, “Concerning Original Sin.” This is the foremost of the chief articles for the Lutherans. Justification touches every other article and doctrine in the Augsburg Confession and its Defense. This could be seen in the conclusion of Article 3, Concerning Christ. Although it was noted that there was no disagreement between the Lutherans and their opponents on the doctrine of the dual nature of Christ, there was a note of what was to come in the following, lengthy Article. For it is not enough that one understands that Christ is both human and divine; one must also comprehend the benefits of his two-fold nature. One of those benefits is justification. Because Christ was qualified and just to offer a sacrifice for humanity, people may now be declared innocent of their sins, or justified with God. This happens through faith, not by a system of religious actions. As a result, “we have peace with God.” This peace of mind occurs because one never has to worry if the right thing has been done to appease God's wrath. Christ satisfied God's righteous requirement—a thing that no one else could ever do no matter how much effort is expended (Acts 15:10).

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for the peace that comes through your righteousness. Amen. 

Reading and Discussion of Luther's Catechisms is a more challenging study series based on assigned readings from the Book of Concord and related Scripture texts. Each study is comprised of eight sessions, plus an optional introductory session, presented in a question and discussion format. 

Student Workbook   • Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 22 May 21 00:00:00 -0500

John 20:24–28       Click here for Index by Scripture

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Christ

Our adversaries approve of the Third Article, in which we confess that there are two natures in Christ, that the Word assumed a human nature into the unity of his person; and that this same Christ suffered and died to reconcile the Father to us; and that he was raised again to reign, and to justify and sanctify believers, and so forth, as stated in the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed.

Pulling It Together: Even a doubter like Thomas understood that Jesus is both God and man. Jesus Christ is God incarnate, or in the flesh. Thomas said that he would not believe Jesus was raised from the dead unless he saw him in the flesh. Knowing he had been crucified, had died, and was buried, Thomas said he would never believe unless he verified it was the same man by seeing the nail marks in his hands and by placing his hand in the spear wound in Jesus' side. Eight days later, Jesus gave Thomas the opportunity to touch his wounds. It is not clear whether Thomas actually touched Jesus' hands and side but we know Thomas' response was, “My Lord and my God!” The resurrected body of Christ caused the famous doubter to believe in divine flesh. Those who opposed the Lutherans also believed in the dual nature of Christ. There was no disagreement between the scholastics in the church and the Reformers concerning this article. However, there was much difference on the further matters of justification and sanctification through Christ. These matters are defended in the next Article.

Prayer: Help me believe, Lord, what is written of you in the volume of the book. Amen. 

Who is Jesus? An Introductory Bible Study

It is only in God’s Word that we find what God has to say about himself, and what he has chosen to reveal to us in Jesus Christ. This five-session study, written by the Rev. Roy Beutel, is meant to serve as an introduction to what the Bible says about Jesus Christ — who he is and what it means to trust in him as Savior and Lord. The study would work well for introducing people to Bible Study, for those new to the Christian faith, or for those who want a refresher on the basics of our faith in Christ.

• Student Workbook   • Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 21 May 21 00:00:00 -0500

1 Peter 3:14–16.  Click here for Scripture Index 

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Original Sin 

We think that this will satisfy His Imperial Majesty concerning the puerile and trivial sophistry used by our adversaries to pervert this article. For we know that we rightly believe and are in concord with Christ's catholic church. If the adversaries will renew this controversy, there will be no lack among us of those who will reply, defending the truth. For on this subject there are a great many times when our adversaries do not understand what they say. They often contradict themselves and do not explain correctly and logically that which is essential to original sin, or what they call defects. At this point, we have been disinclined to analyze their arguments with overly much refinement. Instead, we thought it worthwhile only to note with conventional and familiar words the belief of the holy Fathers, which we also follow.

Pulling It Together: Melancthon cut to the heart of the issue in this closing paragraph of his article defending the doctrine of original sin. The issue was truth. The Lutherans were convinced that they correctly believed. They had good reasons to believe this since both Scripture and the Church Fathers supported their position. With this in mind, Melancthon made it clear that there would be many who would defend the truth of what original sin is, if their opponents pressed the issue. This was an important matter of faith, needing a fearless defense. For if people do not understand their depraved and damnable nature how will they understand the hope that God offers in Christ? They must first become aware of human unrighteousness, that all fall short of God's glory (Rom 3:23). Furthermore, they must know that no one will be justified by doing works of the law (Rom 3:20; Psa 14:1; Eccles 7:20). Only then, may the righteousness of God be given through faith in Jesus Christ (Rom 3:22). This is foundational. It is no wonder that the Lutherans defended the doctrine of original sin at length.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for ascribing your perfect righteousness to me, an undeserving sinner from my birth. Amen. 

David: Hero of God is a five-session VBS program that features one of the most famous people in Scripture. The Books of 1 and 2 Samuel tell the story of a young Israelite shepherd named David, who was chosen by God to be king. The biblical story shows how God can work through an ordinary person to do great things, illustrating the themes of faith, courage, compassion, and leadership. 

Sola’s Versatile Budget Series is a simple and flexible educational Vacation Bible School curriculum designed especially for small churches, house churches, and mission congregations. The flexible format works well for groups with limited budgets, or in situations where the ages and number of students may vary from session to session. Unlike more elaborate and expensive VBS kits, this book is meant to serve as an “all-in-one” teacher’s resource. The worksheets and handouts it contains can be reproduced according to local needs. Each book in the Versatile Budget Series focuses on a particular character from the Bible, bringing together several stories on a common theme. Resources and ideas are provided for gathering time, music, activities, games, and refreshments — allowing just a few adult leaders to host a week of Vacation Bible School.

More from the Versatile Budget Series

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 20 May 21 00:00:00 -0500

Genesis 3:14–19  Search by Scripture Verse

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Original Sin 

The scholastics rationalize both sin and punishment when they teach that people can fulfill the commandments of God by their own strength. Yet in Genesis, the punishment that is imposed because of original sin is described otherwise. Human nature is subjected there, not only to death and other physical problems, but also to the kingdom of the devil. It is there that this fearful sentence is proclaimed: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed” (Gen 3:15). The defects and the concupiscence are both punishment and sin. In a correct understanding, death and other physical maladies, and the dominion of the devil are punishments. For human nature has been enslaved and held captive by the devil, who provokes it with evil opinions and errors, and instigates all manner of sins. Just as the devil cannot be conquered except by the aid of Christ, we cannot free ourselves from that slavery by our own strength. Even the history of the world shows the great power of the devil's kingdom. The world is full of blasphemies against God and of unrighteous teaching, and the devil keeps tethered in these bonds those who are wise and righteous in the sight of the world. In other persons, grosser vices manifest themselves. But since Christ was given to us to remove both these sins and punishments, and to destroy the kingdom of the devil, sin, and death, the benefits of Christ cannot be recognized unless we understand our evil. For this reason, our preachers have diligently taught about these subjects, having delivered nothing novel. Instead, they have set forth Holy Scripture and the judgments of the holy Fathers.

Pulling It Together: Sin is a far more serious problem than most people realize or want to admit. In our day (at least in much of European and American societies), many people seem to think that if they ignore sin or call it something other than evil that it will go away. With such rationalizations, they imagine that there will also be no consequence for their thoughts and actions. This is largely a cultural issue. In ever-increasing ways, it is culture that informs us about what is wrong. Whereas this misinformation has certainly bled over into today's church, the problem at the time of the Reformation was more obviously religious. There were two problems regarding sin that the Reformers addressed. One, as already mentioned, the church no longer regarded sinful nature, the defects and inclination toward evil, as sin. Two, the church taught that both these inclinations and the things that they did admit to be sin could be countered by their own actions.

The teaching of Scripture however, even in its opening chapters, shows that because of the original sin of Adam's and Eve's disobedience, humanity is enslaved to sin, death, and the dominion of Satan. There is nothing people can do to free themselves from these consequences of human nature. The Lutherans confessed that only Christ can set us free from the bonds of sin, death, and the devil. Furthermore, they insisted that Christ's benefits could not be comprehended without a proper understanding of human depravity. There was nothing new or different in their doctrines, for these were the instructions of both the Bible and the Church Fathers.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, for delivering me from this bondage to sin and death. Amen. 

The biblical focus in this five-session VBS series, Rebekah & Her Family, comes from the Book of Genesis. God's hand is seen at work throughout the story — from Rebekah’s being chosen as a bride for Isaac, through the birth and lives of their twin sons, Esau and Jacob.  The story illustrates how God remains faithful to his promise, despite our sin, and that God's power can actually change our lives!

Sola’s Versatile Budget Series is a simple and flexible educational Vacation Bible School curriculum designed especially for small churches, house churches, and mission congregations. The flexible format works well for groups with limited budgets, or in situations where the ages and number of students may vary from session to session. Unlike more elaborate and expensive VBS kits, this book is meant to serve as an “all-in-one” teacher’s resource. The worksheets and handouts it contains can be reproduced according to local needs. Each book in the Versatile Budget Series focuses on a particular character from the Bible, bringing together several stories on a common theme. Resources and ideas are provided for gathering time, music, activities, games, and refreshments — allowing just a few adult leaders to host a week of Vacation Bible School.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 19 May 21 00:00:00 -0500

Colossians 3:5–10

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Original Sin 

But if the adversaries will contend that the fomes is an adiaphoron, not only many passages of Scripture but the entire Church will contradict them. Even though perfect agreement may not be reached, who ever dared to say that these matters were adiaphora, namely: to doubt God's wrath, God's grace, or God's Word, to be angry at the judgments of God, to be provoked because God does not immediately deliver one from afflictions, to murmur because the wicked enjoy a better fortune than the upright, to be urged on by wrath, lust, the desire for glory, wealth, and so forth? And yet godly men, as appear in the Psalms and the prophets, acknowledge these things in themselves. But in the schools they have borrowed notions from philosophy, that natural passions make us neither good nor evil, neither deserving of praise nor blame. They postulate that nothing is sin unless it is voluntary. These notions were expressed among philosophers with respect to civil righteousness, but not with respect to God's judgment. With no discretion they add the opinion that human nature is not evil. In its proper place we do not disagree with this but it is not right to twist it into an excuse of original sin. Nevertheless, these notions are read in the works of scholastics, who inappropriately mingle philosophy and social ethics with the gospel. Nor were these matters only disputed in the schools, but as usually occurs, were carried from the schools to the people. And these persuasions prevailed and suppressed the knowledge of Christ's grace by nourishing confidence in human strength. This is why Luther, wishing to declare the magnitude of original sin and of human infirmity, taught that these remnants of original sin in human nature are not in their substance adiaphora, but that they require the grace of Christ so that they will not be imputed against us, and, likewise, the Holy Spirit for their mortification.

Pulling It Together: As we have seen, part of the confutation or refutation of the Augsburg Confession was a disagreement with the Lutherans about what has been called, up until now, concupiscence. Today, Melancthon names it with the Latin word, fomes. This is just another way to say evil inclination. The Lutherans contended that this inclination is itself part of our nature. Furthermore, they insisted that this was not a matter of indifference, or adiaphoron. Not only do the Scriptures teach otherwise, so do the Church Fathers. Even if people do not act upon these fomes or lusts, even the inclination and desire being present both indicates and is a sinful nature. A sinful nature is not holy or righteous. It is sinful, no matter how we try to whitewash the tomb of this body of flesh (Rom 7:24). We sense the evils that are just under the skin, such as valuing money and all other securities more highly than God, so that trusting this fleshly security, we imagine that God's wrath against sin is not as serious as it truly is. We come to the point where we no longer call sin what it is: sin. And in doing so, we imagine we have beguiled God with our nonsensical notions, when we have only fooled ourselves.

If the people believe, as they were being (and still are being) taught, that their natural inclination toward evil is not in itself sin, that this is a matter of no concern, then why should they trust in God's grace? Or if it is thought that once baptized, this sinful disposition supposedly disappears or does not matter, then what chance is there of Christians putting to death their worldly impulses? So, Luther took a stand where people had begun to lose a sense of their need for God and his grace. He rightly taught that concupiscence or fomes is also sin. He only followed the teachings of the Fathers and the Apostles. For Paul, writing to Christians, said, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you... On account of these the wrath of God is coming” (Col 3:5-6).

Prayer: Lord, by your grace, help me mortify in myself that which is displeasing and sinful in your sight. Amen. 

 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 18 May 21 00:00:00 -0500

Matthew 5:27–30

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Original Sin 

But they contend that concupiscence is a punishment, and not a sin, while Luther maintains that it is sin. It has been cited above that Augustine defines original sin in connection with concupiscence. If there is anything wrong with this explanation, let them quarrel with Augustine. Besides Paul says, “I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet” (Rom 7:7). He also says, “I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members” (Rom 7:23). These testimonies cannot be overthrown by sophistry. For they clearly call concupiscence sin, which nevertheless, is not imputed to those who are in Christ, even though by nature it is a matter worthy of death if it is not forgiven. This, beyond all controversy, is what the Fathers believed. For in a long discussion, Augustine refutes the opinion of those who thought that concupiscence in people is not a fault, but an adiaphoron, such as the color of the body or ill health is said to be an adiaphoron.

Pulling It Together: It was not only those who penned the confutation who did not consider concupiscence, lust or the inclination and desire to sin, an actual sin in and of itself. Other Reformers thought the same thing. They used the word sin only with regards to a thing done. The Lutherans spoke in those terms too, but they were careful to note that original sin deals not only with what people do, but with the human nature that causes them to sin. Jesus also cut to the point, calling human nature itself sinful. One need not transgress by physical action to have committed a sin. Just thinking about the sin is itself a sin (Matt 5:28). Jesus sees the sin but the Lutherans' adversaries did not see lust as sin or a flaw in nature that is deserving of death and condemnation. They called it adiaphoron, something that is neutral, that one could be indifferent about, that made no more difference than the color of ones' skin. However, this was clearly not the position of Scripture, Jesus, or of the Church Fathers. Nor was it the view of the Lutherans, who along with Scripture, Jesus, and the Fathers, were not neutral toward concupiscence. They called it a sin that deserved death and damnation—unless it is forgiven by God for Christ's sake.

Prayer: Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Amen.

The biblical focus in this five-session VBS book, Moses and the Great Escape, is found in the Old Testament book of Exodus. God has a grand plan for humankind — a plan he enacts through the Hebrew people. He created Moses to be instrumental in this plan.

Sola’s Versatile Budget Series is a simple and flexible educational Vacation Bible School curriculum designed especially for small churches, house churches, and mission congregations. The flexible format works well for groups with limited budgets, or in situations where the ages and number of students may vary from session to session. Unlike more elaborate and expensive VBS kits, this book is meant to serve as an “all-in-one” teacher’s resource. The worksheets and handouts it contains can be reproduced according to local needs. Each book in the Versatile Budget Series focuses on a particular character from the Bible, bringing together several stories on a common theme. Resources and ideas are provided for gathering time, music, activities, games, and refreshments — allowing just a few adult leaders to host a week of Vacation Bible School.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 17 May 21 00:00:00 -0500

Ezekiel 36:25–27

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Original Sin 

Here our adversaries complain against Luther because he wrote that, "Original sin remains after baptism." They add that this article was justly condemned by Leo X. But His Imperial Majesty will find a clear slander at this point. For our adversaries know in what sense Luther intended his remark that original sin remains after baptism. He has always written that baptism removes the guilt of original sin, although the “material,” of the sin, as they call it, remains, that is, concupiscence. He even added reference to the material that the Holy Spirit, given through baptism, begins to kill concupiscence by creating new desires in people. Augustine also speaks in the same way: “Sin is remitted in baptism, not in such a manner that it no longer exists, but so that it is not imputed.” Here he confesses openly that sin exists, in the sense that it remains, although it is not imputed. This view was so agreeable to those who succeeded him that it was cited in the Decrees. In Against Julian, Augustine says, “The Law, which is in the members, has been annulled by spiritual regeneration, and remains in the mortal flesh. It has been annulled because the guilt has been remitted in the Sacrament, by which believers are born again; but it remains, because it produces desires, against which believers struggle.” Our adversaries know that this is what Luther believes and teaches. Since they cannot renounce the message, they pervert his words instead, in order to crush an innocent man with their ruse.

Pulling It Together: It is too easy to protest against Leo and the Catholics, or against Luther and the Lutherans. That would be misdirection if what we mean to do determines what the Scripture teaches us with regard to original sin. We have discovered that we are born with a nature full of unrighteousness. God gives us the sacrament of baptism to cleanse us from our sinful nature. He cleanses us with his word of promise in the water but he does even more cleansing. In baptism, he gives us a new heart; he begins to create in us a clean heart or spirit. In other words, with baptism, God begins to move in us, urging us toward his will. We contend with sinful desires long after baptism but the Holy Spirit helps us in our struggle. The God within us now gives us right desires and the strength to overcome—even if that strong desire is to ask his forgiveness when we fall in the fight. 

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for forgiving me and for giving me a new heart for you. Amen. 

The biblical focus of Mary, Martha & Many Faithful Women, a five-session VBS book is found in the gospels. Through the eyes of sisters, Mary and Martha, we get a look at the ministry of Jesus. We see him as both human and as God. Along with some of Jesus' other female friends, we follow Jesus to the cross where he suffered a horrendous death to pay the price for our sins. From the darkness of the cross, we join the women at the tomb with Mary Magdalene as the mystery and victory of Easter morning unfold.

Sola’s Versatile Budget Series is a simple and flexible educational Vacation Bible School curriculum designed especially for small churches, house churches, and mission congregations. The flexible format works well for groups with limited budgets, or in situations where the ages and number of students may vary from session to session. Unlike more elaborate and expensive VBS kits, this book is meant to serve as an “all-in-one” teacher’s resource. The worksheets and handouts it contains can be reproduced according to local needs. Each book in the Versatile Budget Series focuses on a particular character from the Bible, bringing together several stories on a common theme. Resources and ideas are provided for gathering time, music, activities, games, and refreshments — allowing just a few adult leaders to host a week of Vacation Bible School.

More from the Versatile Budget Series

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 16 May 21 00:00:00 -0500

Psalm 116:12–13

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Original Sin 

Therefore, we do not handle original sin any differently than Scripture or the Church catholic. We have cleansed from corruptions and restored to light the most important declarations of Scripture and of the Fathers that had been obscured by the sophistical disputes of modern theologians. For it is clear from the subject itself that modern theologians have not noticed what the Fathers meant when they spoke of this defect. Knowledge of original sin is necessary because the magnitude of the grace of Christ cannot be understood unless our sickness is recognized. The entire righteousness of humans is absolute hypocrisy before God unless we acknowledge that our heart is naturally destitute of love, fear, and confidence in God. For this reason the prophet says, “For after I had turned away I repented; and after I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh” (Jer 31:19). Likewise, “I said in my haste, all men are liars,” that is, not thinking correctly concerning God (Psa 116:11).

Pulling It Together: This lengthy response to the confutation (and there is a good deal yet to go) is all to show that the Lutherans taught the same thing about original sin as the Scripture and the Church. Yet they wanted to be specific about what the lack of original righteousness means, since it had become more a matter of academic debate than something readily understood in the churches. This special treatment was necessary not only as an answer to their adversaries. They taught the same thing in the Lutheran churches so that their people could truly know their need of and have a desire for Christ. The inexpressibly great treasure of divine favor and grace that the gospel offers is lost to people who do not comprehend their need of God. As Christ says, “Those who are well have no need of a physician” (Matt 9:12; Mark 2:17). We must first understand that we are all miserable sinners who are in a state of disgrace with God. The Spirit will not force someone to drink who believes there is no thirst. Thanks be to God that when the need is appreciated and grace is believed, there is nothing for us to do but drink deeply and call upon the name of the Lord.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for doing everything necessary to save me from my original nature. Amen. 

The biblical focus of The Adventures of Paul, a five-session VBS book, is the life of the Apostle Paul, using lessons from the Book of Acts. Here Scripture tells the story of a serious man named Saul who worked to silence Christianity—until the risen Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus and changed his life. With his new name Paul, this one who had persecuted the Church went on to become one of the greatest apostles. 

The price of the book includes permission to reproduce the worksheets and handouts for local use. For smaller churches in a "one-room schoolhouse" setting, only one book is necessary. For churches with multiple grade levels and individual classes, we suggest that each teacher have a copy of the curriculum book.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 15 May 21 00:00:00 -0500

May 15, 2021

1 Corinthians 2:14–16

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Original Sin 

These views also agree with Scripture. Paul sometimes expressly regards it as a defect. “The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1Cor 2:14). Elsewhere, he sees concupiscence “at work in our members to bear fruit for death” (Rom 7:5). We could cite more passages relating to both parts of our definition but the matter is so obvious that there is no need of further evidence. Besides, the intelligent reader will be able to easily determine that being without the fear of God and without faith are more than actual guilt. They are abiding defects in our unrevived nature.

Pulling It Together

We too often consider sin something we do. It is more than what we do; sin is the reason we do the things we know to be sinful. We sin because we are full of sin. This is what Charles Wesley referred to in his hymn, “Jesus, Lover of My Soul,” when he wrote, “I am all unrighteousness.” The doctrine of original sin points out both the defect in and the very inclination of our nature. The doctrine does not state that we are born sinning but that we are born in sin (Psa 51:5). It does not take us long to get around to sinning but this is not what the doctrine teaches is wrong with us even at birth. As such, the doctrine also instructs us why everyone sins and so, why everyone is in need of the Savior. Borrowing from Wesley's hymn again: In God there is plenteous grace to be found—grace to cover all our sin. Our helpless souls hang on God alone for help. He is not only willing to save us; he has saved us entirely and renewed our minds, our natures. We are now capable to both love God and desire the good.

Prayer: Revive and enlighten my mind today so that I may love you with a thankful heart. Amen. 

Connections Magazine features articles that connect Lutherans to the Word. Martin Luther’s Small Catechism provides the inspiration for confessional, biblical content, delivered in a stylish, readable design.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 14 May 21 00:00:00 -0500

Matthew 6:25–33

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Original Sin 

Therefore, we have correctly expressed both defects in our description of original sin: not being able to believe, fear, and love God, and concupiscence, which seeks carnal things contrary to God's Word. That is, it seeks not only the pleasure of the body, but also carnal wisdom and righteousness, trusting in these as good things while despising God.

Not only the ancient theologians, but also the more recent ones—at least the wiser ones among them— teach the same thing about original sin, namely, these defects that I have listed and concupiscence. Aquinas writes, “Original sin is the loss of original righteousness, and with this an inordinate disposition of the parts of the soul. Therefore it is not pure loss, but a corrupted temperament.” Bonaventure says: “When the question is asked, 'What is original sin?' the correct answer is that it is unchecked concupiscence. The correct answer is also that it is want of the necessary righteousness. In either of these answers, the other is included.” Hugo has the same opinion, saying that original sin is ignorance in the mind and concupiscence in the flesh. He indicates that when we are born, we have an ignorance of God—unbelief, distrust, contempt, and hatred of God. When he mentions ignorance, he includes all of these.

Pulling It Together: Original sin is the inability to seek God and his righteousness. What we are left with is the inordinate ability to seek after the things of the flesh. We are naturally anxious about having the basic things of life, and having them in plenty. God wants these things for us too, and he provides them. But because it is in our nature to not trust God, we scramble after these lesser things. Instead of trusting God for our basic needs, they become excessive desires that rule our time and energies.

Being so ruled, we believe ourselves to be the providers of all good things. Why should our powers be relegated to food and drink, to clothing and shelter? Surely, the sin of origin whispers, you can also create great wisdom to guide your lives, and a moral code that is as good or even better than having a god. This is nothing more than the love of self and the hatred of God. Our depravity does more than ask, “Who needs God?” We insist.

Yet, God comes to us when we are in this state. While we were buried in our self-centered sin, Jesus died for us (Rom 5:8). The Spirit of Christ speaks to this condition, showing us that we are dead in our sins and transgressions (Eph 2:1). He calls us beyond the deadly ignorance that has fooled us into believing that we provide for our lives. He demands that we live under God's rule and righteousness, trusting him instead of ourselves, not only for these lesser things but also for righteousness and salvation. 

Prayer: Help me to trust in you, Good Shepherd, to guide me to all good and needful things. Amen. 

The Wise & The Foolish is a nine-session Bible study that focuses on Jesus' "people parables" — or what might be described as discipleship parables. These are the character stories that focus on the nature of discipleship and what it means to be a wise and faithful follower of Jesus.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 13 May 21 00:00:00 -0500

Ephesians 4:20–24

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Original Sin 

This is the substance of the definition found in the writings of Augustine, who usually defines original sin as concupiscence. He means that concupiscence replaced the loss of righteousness. Because our diseased nature cannot fear and love God and believe in God, it seeks and loves carnal things instead. It either scorns God's judgment when self-satisfied, or hates it when terrified. So, Augustine includes both the defect and the grievous habit that takes the place of righteousness. However, concupiscence is not only a physical corruption, but also an evil turning with the higher powers toward carnal things. Those who ascribe to the human condition a concupiscence that is not entirely destroyed by the Holy Spirit and simultaneously, a love for God above all things do not comprehend what they are claiming.

Pulling It Together: The original sinful nature that we are all born with must be drowned in baptism (Rom 6:3). Thereafter, since the flesh is so comfortable in its old clothing, there must follow a daily and even a continual putting off of that old self. We must put on the new self that is created in the image or likeness of God. The new self of the inner person, not that old person you are on the outside, is being renewed each day (2 Cor 4:16). Through faith, we put off the old and put on the new, reminded by the Holy Spirit of what happened in baptism. This renewal of the mind stands in stark contrast to the way we once lived. Now, instead of evil desires, we have a hunger and thirst for righteousness that is satisfied in Christ (Matt 5:6). As long as we are in this flesh, we are not yet perfect (Phil 3:12). So, we must constantly renew our minds through faith. That we even have this new desire, is an indication that the Spirit of God is at work within us.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, remind me to rely upon your righteousness as I strive to live today in a newness of life. Amen. 

SEED: Sola's Electronic Education Database
Building on the pattern and format of Sola's Sunday Schoolhouse curriculum series, Sola Publishing has added an online resource component to its education materials. This new web-based resource provides teachers with tools to build a Sunday School program and lead classes, with original resources printed in full color!

 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 12 May 21 00:00:00 -0500

Colossians 3:5–10

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Original Sin 

Irenaeus and Ambrose interpreted the image of God in that way, the latter saying many things to this effect, but especially: “That soul is not in the image of God in whom God is not always present.” Paul shows in the Epistles that the image of God is the knowledge of God, righteousness, and truth (Eph 5:9; Col 3:10). Peter Lombard was not afraid to state that original righteousness is the very likeness of God implanted in people by God. These opinions of the ancients that we reference do not disagree in any way with Augustine's interpretation of the image of God.

So when the ancient definition is that sin is the lack of righteousness, it not only denies obedience of the low human powers (that people are corrupt in body and the basest and lowest faculties), but also denies the knowledge of God, confidence in God, the fear and love of God—or certainly the power to produce these affections (any light in the heart that creates a love and desire for such concerns). Even the theologians teach in their schools that these are not produced without certain gifts and the assistance of grace. In order that the matter may be understood, we call these gifts the knowledge of God, and fear and confidence in God.

It is clear from these facts that the ancient definition says precisely the same thing that we state about human nature, by denying fear and confidence toward God—not only the acts, but also the gifts and power to produce these acts (not only that we are unable to do or achieve any perfectly good work but that we do not have a good heart toward God, one that truly loves God).

Pulling It Together: Some background may be helpful. The Church Fathers were those whose theological writings were most influential in the early Church. Irenaeus (early first century) and Ambrose (late fourth century) were two of those fathers of the Church. The former was a second-generation student of the Apostle John, having learned from John's disciple, Polycarp. Irenaeus was a bishop and respected apologist (defender of the faith), writing at length against heresies, especially against Gnosticism Ambrose was also a bishop of the Church. His writings refuted Arianism and influenced Augustine. It is no wonder that Augustine's interpretation agreed with Irenaeus and Ambrose, particularly the latter.

Not only did these two Church Fathers consider the image of God to be his nature, even Lombard, who was one of the scholastics whom the Lutherans cared little for (and this is putting it mildly), clearly stated the same. The ancient teaching of the Church about the “image” or “likeness of God” is certain. Its definition of sin is just as definite. Sin is a lack of righteousness and even the desire or ability to achieve anything perfectly good with regard to God. Therefore, the image of God that was in the creation of Adam and Eve was the “original righteousness” of a fearing, loving, and trusting knowledge of God. These, along with the power to live a life that reflects God's image, were stamped upon their being. That likeness of God, because of Adam's sin, is no longer part of human nature.

This is why Paul teaches us to put off the old self, the person created in Adam's image. We are charged with putting on the new self, the one recreated, reborn in God's image. By his grace, we have been given the likeness or nature of God and therefore, are now enabled to desire and to do good toward God and one another because of the love of God that has been revived in us through faith in Jesus Christ. 

Prayer: Enable whatever I do today, Father, in word or deed, to be done in the name of my Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. 

Introduce young students to the Church through this five-week series titled Welcome to Church. Click here for the Table of Contents and a sample session.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 11 May 21 00:00:00 -0500

Genesis 1:26–27

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Original Sin 

These were the reasons why we mentioned concupiscence in our definition of original sin, and denied that man's natural ability could fear and trust in God. We wished to indicate that original sin also contains these conditions: ignorance of God, contempt for God, being destitute of the fear of God and trust in him, and inability to love God. These are the chief flaws in human nature, conflicting especially with the first table of the Decalogue.

We have said nothing novel. The ancient definition, properly understood, expresses precisely the same thing: "Original sin is the absence of original righteousness" (a lack of the first purity and righteousness in Paradise). But what is righteousness? The scholastics wrangle about philosophical questions but do not explain what original righteousness is. In the Scriptures, righteousness comprises not only the second table of the Decalogue (regarding good works in serving people), but the first table too, concerning the fear of God, faith, and the love of God. Therefore original righteousness was to include not only an even adjustment of the body, but also these gifts: a quite certain knowledge of God, fear of and confidence in him, or at least the righteousness and power to yield these affections to him. (For the greatest feature in that noble first creature was a bright light in the heart to know God.) Scripture testifies to this, saying that, “God created man in his own image” (Gen 1:27). What else can this mean other than people were given a wisdom and righteousness that comprehended God, and in which God was reflected, that is, they were given the gifts of the knowledge of God, the fear of God, confidence in God, and so forth?

Pulling It Together: Melancthon probably did not expect push-back on the doctrine of original sin, and so, he provided an article of a few sentences in the Augsburg Confession. As the Lutherans' opponents wished to quibble, Melancthon furnished them a far lengthier defense to chew on. In doing so, he makes two points. The first is that the quibblers have done little more than pick, failing to provide their own definition of original sin. The second point is that the Lutheran definition, which he provides with a variety of illustrations and explanations, is actually the ancient definition of the Church. The Lutherans are doing nothing novel here, that should be distrusted.

He simply states the definition and then, provides a fuller explanation. Original sin is the complete lack of the original righteousness that was given humanity. It was originally within the nature of people to know God and to fear and love and trust him. Furthermore, it was natural that people would be like him, reflecting certain qualities of God, because they were made “in his image.” This noble nature is now lacking in people. Lutherans confess that lack in human nature to be original sin. This means that people, in and of themselves, do not know God. Furthermore, they cannot fear, love, and trust in God through either the natural power or inclinations with which they are born.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for causing me to be born again with your Spirit, for giving me a nature that longs for you. Amen. 

Experiencing Real Living guides the student in God's Word and nurtures key elements of faith. A picture diagram at the the beginning of each chapter assists the student in "seeing" the topic clearly. The series can be used to cover the over-arching biblical themes of creation, fall and redemption, or as a 12-week overview of the themes of the Catechism. It would serve especially well for leading an adult confirmation program. The volume is spiral bound for ease in use.

Teacher's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 10 May 21 00:00:00 -0500

Psalm 14:1–3

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Original Sin 

If by nature, people are able to love God above all things by their own strength, as the scholastics confidently affirm, then what is original sin? What need is there of the grace of Christ if we can be justified by our own powers of righteousness? What is the need of the Holy Spirit if human strength can, by itself, love God above all things and fulfill God's commandments? Is there anyone who cannot see what preposterous thoughts our adversaries entertain? They acknowledge the lighter diseases in the nature of man but not the more severe. Yet Scripture admonishes us of these everywhere, and the prophets constantly complain (Psa 5:9; 13:1-6; 14:1-3; 36:1; 140:3) of carnal security, of the contempt of God, of hatred toward God, and of similar faults that are born with us. For Scripture clearly says that all these things are not blown at us, but that we are born with them. But after the scholastics polluted Christian doctrine with philosophy concerning the perfection of nature (the so-called light of reason), and ascribed to free will and resultant acts more than was sufficient, and taught that men are justified before God by philosophic or civil righteousness (which we also confess to be subject to reason and in a measure, within our power), they could not see the inner impurity of human nature. For this cannot be determined except by the Word of God, which the scholastics do not frequently employ in their discussions.

Pulling It Together: By means of reason, one may understand that without the doctrine of original sin, God must be considered rather foolish. Why would he send his Son to redeem people who were capable of redeeming themselves? Why would Christ then send the Helper when humanity needed no assistance? Scripture teaches, however, the extreme nature of our malady. We are lost altogether and cannot reason our way to God. Nor are we able to work our way into grace and righteousness. We are born in this condition; it is our nature—and in our nature. There is, therefore, nothing that any of us can do, by natural powers, to justify ourselves. We are all corrupt; no one does good because no one is able to do good. This is evident in Scripture, which the Lutherans charged that their opponents rarely used.

Prayer: Lord, help me hear you in your Word. Amen. 

Saints and Sinners

Volume 1: Witnesses to the Faith

A Seven-Session Bible Study on New Testament Characters

By Dr. Dan Lioy, PhD

All those who believe and trust in Jesus as their Savior are both saints and sinners. The same was true of the people in Holy Scripture.

By virtue of our baptism into Christ, we are made holy by his saving grace. This is not something we do on our own, but something that is imputed to us by Jesus. At the same time, we are plagued by that age-old sin that makes us want to be in control of our own lives. As those who are called by God to follow Jesus in obedient discipleship, we, like many before us, have been called to be witness to God's saving grace in Jesus Christ.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 09 May 21 00:00:00 -0500

Psalm 1:1–2

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Original Sin 

We have not only used the term concupiscence but have also said that the fear of God and faith are wanting. This was added because the scholastic teachers also, not sufficiently understanding the definition of original sin that they received from the Fathers, lessen the sin of origin. They contend that the fomes (or inclination to sin) is a blemished quality of the body, and with their typical ineptness, ask whether this defect was derived from an infection in the fruit or from the breath of the serpent, and whether it can be cured with medicine. With such questions they have suppressed the main point. Therefore, when they speak of the sin of origin, they do not mention the more serious faults of human nature like ignorance of God, contempt for God, having no fear and trust in God, hatred of God's judgment, flight from God (as from a tyrant) when he judges, anger toward God, despair of grace, and putting one's trust in fleeting things like money, property, friends, etc. The scholastics do not notice these symptoms though they are completely contrary to the Law of God. In fact, they ascribe to human nature an unimpaired strength for loving God above all things and for fulfilling his commandments “according to the substance of the act.” They fail to recognize that they are saying things that are contradictory to one another. For what else is it, if in one's own strength, one is able to love God above all things, and to fulfill his commandments, than to have original righteousness?

Pulling It Together: The Lutherans used the same terminology as the scholastics, at least when speaking of original sin, but they meant something else than the scholastics seemed to be saying. Scholasticism was a school of critical thinking in medieval universities that valued artful argument above all things. The better the inference to logic, the truer they considered the matter. Thus, the inference was made that if original sin was simply a disease then a medical treatment could be the answer. This approach strangles the voice of Scripture. It relegates the real point and problem to a place of silence. If artful reasoning is to be depended upon, then we may expect to end up anywhere. Indeed, the scholastics failed to recognize that they had reasoned themselves into a corner by inferring that human nature was capable, by itself, to love God and keep his commandments. By their reasoning, original sin had become a sort of original righteousness.

This would not stand with the Lutherans. Sin could not, of course, be righteousness. Nor was original sin to be understood as some malady that people could conquer with a little more industry. Not only did the symptoms point to something more pernicious, so did the Scripture. And the Word of God—not artful reasoning— was always to be their final authority.

Prayer: O Lord my God, bless my meditation in your word today. Amen. 

You Can Understand the Old Testament: Its Message and Its Meaning by Dr. James C. Bangsund is an introduction to, and overview of, the Old Testament, exploring its meaning and its message. The book begins with the sometimes contentious question of why (and whether) the Old Testament is "old," and then moves into introductions to each of its major sections. Individual overviews and discussions of each book of the Old Testament are provided along with helpful maps, tables, and charts, as well as complete indexes of subject matter, biblical texts cited, and Hebrew words noted in the discussion. The book is aimed at students of the Bible, whether members of church congregations, pastors, or students in college or seminary.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 08 May 21 00:00:00 -0500

Ephesians 2:1–5

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Original Sin 

Some contend that original sin is not a corruption in human nature, but only bondage, or a condition of mortality (not an innate evil nature, but only a blemish or imposed burden) that those descended from Adam suffer because of the guilt of another (namely, Adam's sin), instead of any depravity of their own. They add that no one is condemned to eternal death on account of original sin, just as those born of a bond-woman are slaves and bear this condition without any natural blemish, but because of the circumstances of their mother (while they are born without fault of their own and therefore, original sin is not an innate evil, but just a defect and burden that we bear since Adam, but that we are not on that account personally in sin and inherited disgrace). To show that this impious opinion is displeasing to us, we mentioned "concupiscence," and with the best intention, explained it with the term "diseases," that "the nature of men is born corrupt and full of faults." The entire person, not a part, in his entire nature is born in sin as with a hereditary disease.

Pulling It Together: We discover that we are sinners from a very early age. Every one of us is known to walk in sin, and so, Scripture teaches that we are dead in our trespasses. This corruption of human nature skips no one. It is not as though this were some habit that every soul ever born learned from others. Everyone is born with a sinful nature and therefore, inherits the same condemnation as all others naturally born. Because of original sin, we are—every one of us—children who deserve the wrath of God. We not only have the inclination to sin, we are corrupt from the start, born in sin. This does not mean that we are headed toward a life of sin; it means that we are already living in sin.

But God being rich in mercy, and loving humanity with a great love, sent his Son to save us from our sinful birth. This is why Jesus tells us that we must be born again (John 3:3). We must be reborn with a new nature, one that is alive instead of already dead. In Christ alone, by the grace of God, we are saved from the old life of sin and reborn to new life.

Prayer: Thank you, God, for giving me new birth into a living hope through Christ’s resurrection from the dead. Amen. 

One For All is a nine-session Bible study that explores the center of the Christian faith by focusing on the unique and exclusive promise of Jesus. It examines not only the claims that Christ made about himself in Scripture but the claim that the Lord makes on our lives as well. By focusing on the Gospel message of salvation in Christ alone, the study seeks to show how God makes us a part of His mission to the whole world, and how "the love of Christ urges us on because we are convinced that one has died for all."

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 07 May 21 00:00:00 -0500

1 Corinthians 3:18–21

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Original Sin 

We will show later more fully that our description agrees with the usual and ancient definition. First, we must show our design in preferring to use these words. In their schools, the adversaries confess that "the material," as they call it, "of original sin is concupiscence." So, in framing the definition, concupiscence should not be omitted, especially now, when some philosophize about original sin in a manner unbecoming teachers of religion. They speak about this natural, wicked desire in terms of heathen philosophy rather than according to God's Word, or Holy Scripture.

Pulling It Together: One of the slogans of the Reformation was (and continues to be) “Sola Scriptura.” Those Latin words mean “Scripture alone.” The idea behind that motto is that the Bible, the written word of God, may be relied upon as a sufficient guide and last word on truth. This is why the Lutherans returned to the Bible over and over again as documentation for what they taught. This was the custom of the prophets and apostles too. They wrote 80 times between the books of Joshua and 1 Peter, “It is written.” This was ample explanation for a variety of positions.

This will be the insistence of the Lutherans too. What is written in the Bible? They were not interested in philosophy so much as they were in what the Bible had to say on a matter. What Aristotle or Plato had to say was always subordinate to the Word of God. Even the Church Fathers were reliable only in as much as they agreed with Scripture. A proper understanding of original sin, therefore, will rely upon “sola Scriptura” as the final word.

Prayer: Lord, let me live today by what is written in your Word. Amen. 

A Latin phrase meaning “Scripture Alone,” Sola Scriptura is one of the traditional Lutheran slogans used since the time of the Reformation. It expresses our confession that Scripture is “the only rule and norm according to which all doctrines and teachers alike must be appraised and judged.” Using the familiar phrase as its title, Sola Scriptura is a new, advanced-level Bible Study in a two-part series, of six chapters each, on the functional authority of Scripture. For those who would like to cover the topic in detail, there is enough material to cover one chapter in two sessions, making each part a 12-week study.

Part 1  • Pt 1 Leader's Guide  • Part 2  • Pt 2 Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 06 May 21 00:00:00 -0500

Colossians 3:4–6

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Original Sin

It is quite evident that such subtleties have originated in the schools, not in the council of the Emperor. But although this sophistry can be very easily refuted; yet, in order that all decent folk may understand that we teach nothing absurd on this matter, we ask that the German Confession be examined first. This will free us from the suspicion of novelty. For there it is written: Weiter wird gelehrt, dass nach dem Fall Adams alle Menschen, so natuerlich geboren werden, in Suenden empfangen und geboren werden, das ist, dass sie alle von Mutterleibe an voll boeser Lueste und Neigung sind, keine wahre Gottesfurcht, keinen wahren Glauben an Gott von Natur haben koennen. (It is further taught that since the Fall of Adam all men who are naturally born are conceived and born in sin, i.e., that from their mother's womb, they all are full of evil desire and inclination, and can have by nature no true fear of God, no true faith in God.) This passage testifies that we deny to those conceived according to carnal nature not only the acts of fearing and trusting in God but also the power or gifts to do so. For we say that those naturally born have concupiscence and cannot produce true fear and trust in God. What fault can be found in this? Indeed, we imagine that we have sufficiently vindicated ourselves to respectable people. For in this sense the Latin passage denies the power to human nature—even to infants. Specifically, it denies the gifts and power to produce fear and trust in God. In adults, beyond this innate evil disposition of the heart, it also denies the acts. So when we cite concupiscence, we mean not only the acts or fruits but the constant inclination of our nature that does not cease as long as we are not born anew through the Spirit and faith.

Pulling It Together: A young family lives across my street and yesterday, the little boy brought their heavy trash can down the driveway to the street. His father was already teaching this seven- or eight-year-old some family responsibility. He will probably grow up, being able to care for his own family, providing all the good they need, including properly teaching his own children. We are quite capable of doing some good in this world, once taught to do so.

Yet Lutherans teach that original sin is a lack of power to do good because of a proclivity for evil. By good, we mean a righteousness of life that excludes sin. In our natural beings, we lack the power of such good. We may learn to take out the trash but even the finer acts of our lives are polluted with sin (Isa 64:5–6). This sinful nature is inherited, part of the basic human constitution. It skips no one.

More to the point, though we may learn to do some basic, good things, we are born incapable—and remain unable—of fearing, loving, and trusting God. Therefore, throughout life, we scramble after our lusts. The unceasing disposition to fulfill these natural desires remains in us until we are reborn through the work of God's Spirit and faith (John 3:5–7).

Prayer: Holy Father, set my heart and mind on the things above, not on the things of this earth. Amen. 

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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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 05 May 21 00:00:00 -0500

Psalm 51:3–5

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Original Sin 

The adversaries approve of the second article concerning original sin, but in such a way that they, nevertheless, criticize the definition of original sin, which we incidentally mentioned. Right away, His Imperial Majesty will discover that the writers of the Confutation were lacking not only in judgment but also in honesty. Where we simply desired to examine those things which original sin includes, they framed a discriminatory interpretation by craftily distorting a statement that has nothing in it which in itself is wrong. As a result, they say that to be without the fear of God and without faith is actual guilt. Therefore they deny that it is original guilt.

Pulling It Together: Lutherans teach that original sin is actual sin, not merely the inclination to sin. The result is that we are naturally without the fear of God, without trust in God, and with all the lusts of this life. Lutherans do not say that original sin is these specific things, but that these things are sinful outcomes and evidences of the corruption that is within us from the outset. The sins we commit indicate a deeper problem. The very first sin one commits points to that deeper, original corruption of being. Original sin is not a specific sin such as not fearing God, or not trusting in him, or desiring unlawful things. It is not the commission of a particular sin but the depraved condition, the diseased state of the natural person, that is itself sin.

Therefore, “we confess that we are in bondage to sin.” Our depravity is not just in the thinking, saying, and doing of wrong things; nor is it only in leaving them undone. We are enslaved to such behavior from the start because we are “brought forth in iniquity”—all of us. This corruption of our nature is hereditary (Rom 5:12).

Prayer: Thank you, God, for meeting my sin and guilt with your boundless mercy and grace. Amen. 

Sola Scriptura: The Norm of Faith is a study about how the Word informs and guides our understanding of what Scripture says. In other words, what the Bible means based on what it does. In terms of how we come to articulate our faith and our doctrinal teachings, to speak of Scripture as the "norm" of faith means that it is the standard against which our theology and proclamation are measured.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 04 May 21 00:00:00 -0500

Matthew 28:17–20

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning God

Our adversaries approve of the First Article of our Confession, in which we declare that we believe and teach that there is one divine essence, undivided, etc., and that nevertheless, there are three distinct persons, of the same divine essence, and coeternal: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We have always taught and defended this article. We believe that it has sure and firm testimonies in Holy Scripture that cannot be overthrown. We constantly assert that those who think otherwise are outside of the Church of Christ; they are idolaters and insult God.

Pulling It Together: The Church in Rome believed the same thing about God's nature that Lutherans believed. Yet, as we shall soon see, there was much in the Lutheran Confession at Augsburg that they found disagreeable. It is good that we may live together in unity (Psa 133:1) on this Article.

Jesus declared that his followers are to go into all the world, baptizing and teaching. He said that they are to do so in the name. The word “name” is singular—not only in English but in the original Greek as well. Although they are to go in the singular name, three names are given: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Christians are to go into the world in the one name of the three. Lutherans and Roman Catholics confess that this is God. We believe from Scripture that the name of God given by Jesus is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. From these verses in Matthew and from many other evidences in Scripture, we believe that God is Trinity, one divine essence of three persons. 

Prayer: Help me believe the mystery that your Word affirms, Lord. Amen. 

This pocket edition of Luther's Small Catechism includes quotations from the English Standard Versions (ESV) of Scripture, and the traditional ICET liturgical texts (as used in the Lutheran Book of Worship). The primary verses of Scripture, Creed, and Prayers are printed in italics; Luther’s explanations are printed in plain text. Luther’s explanations are formatted with a mid-sentence break, to highlight contrasting phrases and to aid in memorization.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 03 May 21 00:00:00 -0500

Colossians 2:1–7

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

From the Preface

We commend our cause to Christ, who in time will judge these controversies. We pray he will look upon the afflicted and scattered churches, and bring them back to godly and perpetual concord. So, if the known and clear truth is trampled underfoot, we will resign this cause to God and Christ in heaven, the Father of orphans and the Judge of widows and of all the forsaken, who we know will rightly judge and pass sentence upon this cause. Lord Jesus Christ, it is your holy gospel; it is your cause. Look upon the many troubled hearts and consciences, and maintain and strengthen in your truth your churches and little flocks who suffer anxiety and distress from the devil. Confound all hypocrisy and lies, and grant peace and unity, so that your glory may advance, and your kingdom, strong against all the gates of hell, may continually grow and increase.

Pulling It Together: The Church in Rome replied to the Lutheran's Augsburg Confession with what is called the Confutation. However, the Lutherans were not permitted to have a copy or to know what was contained therein, except that they agree to three things. They must not publish it, or reply to it, and must agree with it wholesale and unseen. They could not accept those conditions and relied upon notes taken at a public reading of the Confutation. Later, Melancthon also saw a copy and finished the Lutheran Defense that would never be accepted by the emperor. It seemed the Romanists had won the day. Nevertheless, the Defense of the Augsburg Confession was enthusiastically received by the Lutherans, further strengthening their beliefs. Since they had been rooted and built up in Christ and established in the faith, what could they do but trust in God and continue walking in the Lord?

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, give me strength through your Word that I may continue to walk with you in thanksgiving. Amen. 

This "Thank You" card by Ad Crucem includes 1 Corinthians 1:4. The 5"x7" card is printed on premium paper at a G7 and Green Certified USA facility. Each card is protected with a plastic sleeve and includes a bookmark, gift tag, and envelope.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 02 May 21 00:00:00 -0500

Colossians 4:6

From the Confessions: The Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Power of Bishops – Conclusion

These are the chief articles that are considered controversial. Although we might have spoken of more abuses, we have set forth the chief points in order to avoid undue length. The rest may be readily judged in relation to these. There have been many complaints about indulgences, pilgrimages, and the abuse of excommunications. The parishes have been troubled in many ways by the dealers in indulgences. Pastors and monks have disputed continuously about parish authority, the hearing of confessions, funerals, sermons on special occasions, and countless other matters. We have passed over issues of this sort so that the chief points, having been briefly set forth, might be readily understood. Nothing has been said or cited to the reproach of anyone. Only those things that we thought were necessary to mention have been enumerated so that it might be understood that we have received no doctrine or ceremonies that are against Scripture or the Church. For it is clear that we have been diligent to prevent new and ungodly doctrines from creeping into our churches.

We desire to present the above articles in accordance with the edict of Your Imperial Majesty, in order to present our Confession and allow people to see a summary of the doctrines of our teachers. If there is something that anyone might desire in this Confession, we are ready, if God is willing, to present fuller information according to the Scriptures.

Your Imperial Majesty’s most humble, obedient servants,

John, Duke of Saxony, elector
George, Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach
Ernest, Duke of Lüneburg
Philip, Landgrave of Hesse
John Frederick, Duke of Saxony
Francis, Duke of Lüneburg
Wolfgang, Prince of Anhalt
The Mayor and Council of Nuremberg
The Mayor and Council of Reutlingen

Pulling It Together: There can be endless debate on religious and political topics. 500 years ago, the Lutherans were embroiled in both. It was the Emperor who ordered the Lutherans to set forth their differences with the Church in Rome. He did so to promote order in the empire since their protest had gathered support and shaken society. In order to stay on-task, the Lutherans answered the summon with compact clarity of purpose. In all these articles, the Lutherans kept to the principal point that people are saved by the grace of God through faith alone (Eph 2:8). All of these articles have reflected on that chief point. Though they could have listed more of their concerns, they kept them contained to these seven articles on abuses. They gave a ready answer for the hope within them (1Pet 3:15) with gracious restraint (Col 4:6), always giving God the glory for his grace through Christ our Lord.

Prayer: Lord, create in me a sincere heart, a respectful tongue, and a ready answer for the hope within me. Amen. 

The Sola Online Worship Resource (SOWeR) includes hundreds of hymns and songs for use in worship, organized by season and theme, available in full score, lead sheets, image files, and text only. These include popular hymns and songs, as well as new hymns from the lectionary texts and set to familiar tunes.

SOWeR is a lectionary-based web resource for Scripture lessons, lectionary inserts, children's bulletins, devotionals, text studies, prayers, hymn-planning, graphics, and much more! Join the hundreds of congregations that have discovered how simple, flexible, and useful SOWeR is for worship planning and sermon preparation. This brochure will answer more questions about SOWeR. Call 1-888-887-9840 to order a yearly subscription. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 01 May 21 00:00:00 -0500

Acts 5:27–29

From the Confessions: The Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Power of Bishops

Bishops might easily encourage people's obedience if they would not insist upon traditions that cannot be kept with a good conscience. They command celibacy, admitting no one to the ministry unless they swear that they will teach this doctrine. Our churches do not ask that the bishops restore concord at the expense of their honor, though this would be proper for good pastors to do. They ask only that they would relax unfair burdens that are new and have been received contrary to the custom of the Church. There may once have been good reason for some of these ordinances, yet they are not suitable to this time. However, it is obvious that some ordinances were the wrong idea. So it would be fitting of the bishops to correct them now, since such a modification would not disturb the unity of the Church. Many human traditions have been changed in process of time, as the Canons themselves show. If it is impossible to obtain a moderation of those rules that cannot be kept without sin, we are bound to follow the apostolic rule that commands us to “obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

Peter forbids bishops to be lords, and to be domineering over the churches (1Pet 5:3). While it is not our intent to take authority from the bishops, we do ask that they allow the gospel to be purely taught, that they relax those few observances that cannot be kept without sin. If they will not make this concession, let them imagine how they will give account to God for obstinately furnishing a cause for schism.

Pulling It Together: The Lutherans would not back down when it came to the unmistakable teaching of the gospel. The keeping of rules would never do—not when it was said that by doing so, God's grace could be earned. What difference did it make that the Church said so? God says otherwise. Scripture is clear. The grace of God is a thing given to people without their having lifted a finger to merit divine favor. Keeping man-made promises adds nothing to the promises of God. The regulations of bishops is an insult to Christ who abolished the law of commandments declared in ordinances (Eph 2:15). So the Lutherans asked only that the aim of the gospel be considered when it came to traditions and regulations in the churches. When a tradition could not be observed without offending the Christian conscience, they made it clear that their churches would obey God instead of that tradition of men. They also made it known that they saw an approaching division that could be avoided by removing the veneer of deceitful traditions, and returning to the pure teaching of the gospel. 

Prayer: Lord Jesus, make the pure word of your gospel come alive in me. Amen. 

The Sola Online Worship Resource (SOWeR) also includes bulletin templates. There are word processing templates for both communion and non-communion services. There are also templates for Sola, LBW, and Reclaim service settings. SOWeR is a lectionary-based web resource for Scripture lessons, lectionary inserts, children's bulletins, devotionals, text studies, prayers, hymn-planning, and much more! Join the hundreds of congregations that have discovered how simple, flexible, and useful SOWeR is for worship planning and sermon preparation. This brochure will answer more questions about SOWeR. Call 1-888-887-9840 to order a yearly subscription. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 30 Apr 21 00:00:00 -0500

Index of Scripture graphics

  Click for a recording of today's Sola Devotion.

1 Corinthians 10:23–30

From the Confessions: The Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Power of Bishops

The Apostles taught that one should abstain from blood (Acts 15:20) but who observes that tradition now? They who do not keep that teaching, do not sin. Not even the Apostles wished to burden consciences with such bondage, only forbidding it for a time, to avoid offense. For in this decree, as always, we must consider the aim of the Gospel.

Scarcely any Canons are kept with exactness, and many go out of use each day even among those who are the most zealous advocates of traditions. Consciences cannot be helped unless this moderation is observed: that we may keep Church rules without considering them necessary, and even if these traditions are disregarded, no harm is done to consciences.

Pulling It Together: Legalism demands that we keep as law even those things that were never intended to be law. Ancient customary matters of hair, dress, jewelry, food, drink, and other minutia become the focus for some people. “Do this! Don't do that!” preoccupies their attentions and energies. This is not the goal of the gospel. Jesus nor the apostles ever intended for a new set of laws to replace the Mosaic law. Though we may keep some rule so that the conscience of another is not injured, our own conscience should be free from offense. Christ has set us free from the keeping of endless rules and regulations (Gal 5:1–12). Now we are freed to turn our attention to God, waiting with hope and giving thanks for all things.

Prayer: Holy God, I give you thanks for all of the good things you have provided for me. Amen. 


The Sola Online Worship Resource (SOWeR) also includes liturgies and services for your use. There are ready-to-copy settings for Holy Communion, services, services of the Word, Vespers, occasional services, funerals, and seasonal services. SOWeR is a lectionary-based web resource for Scripture lessons, lectionary inserts, children's bulletins, devotionals, text studies, prayers, hymn-planning, and much more! Join the hundreds of congregations who have discovered how simple, flexible, and useful SOWeR is for worship planning and sermon preparation. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 29 Apr 21 00:00:00 -0500

• Index of Scripture graphics

  Click for a recording of today's Sola Devotion.

Romans 1:16–17

From the Confessions: The Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Power of Bishops

There are dumfounding debates concerning alteration of the law, ceremonies of the New Testament, and changing the Sabbath day. All of these have sprung from the false belief that the Church should have services like the Jewish Levitical ones, and that Christ commissioned the apostles and bishops to devise new ceremonies of legalism that are necessary for salvation. These errors crept into the Church when the righteousness of faith was not clearly taught. Some contend that keeping the Lord's Day is not God's command but ought to be treated as though it were a divine order, going so far as to dictate how much work is lawful on the Lord's Day. What else are such debates than the entrapment of consciences? For although they try to modify the traditions, there can never be any real change as long as the opinion continues that they are necessary. Indeed, this opinion will always persist where the righteousness of faith and Christian liberty are unknown.

Pulling It Together: It is no wonder that people think one has to do something to make God happy. This is the way with religion. We imagine that God must be appeased and that religious people must do the pacifying. But Christianity is very different. Though we have driven God to righteous outrage, he has appeased himself. God gave himself as the sacrifice for the sin of the world. Scripture tells us that no more sacrifice is necessary (Heb 10:14). Yet, how could we think this was even possible? If God has made the perfect sacrifice, do we then presume to come after him with ceremonies and laws that will complete his “attempt” to satisfy his own requirements? There is, of course, nothing for us to add. No new laws or ceremonies will satisfy God and make the satisfier righteous before him. Why is this the case? This is so because God has already done it; he has satisfied not only his own holy and just requirements but he has also made righteous those who could never satisfy his demands. This is the good news, that God has graciously and powerfully provided “salvation to everyone who believes.” We should not be ashamed of this gospel difference. God has done the doing, and there is nothing we need to do but live by faith in the righteousness given to us by God.

Prayer: Lord, help me to live by the faith that your righteousness is all I need. Amen. 


The Sola Online Worship Resource is a lectionary-based web resource for Scripture lessons, lectionary inserts, children's bulletins, devotionals, text studies, prayers, hymn-planning, and much more! Join the hundreds of congregations who have discovered how simple, flexible, and useful SOWeR is for worship planning and sermon preparation. 

"SOWeR is the first place I go every week to start thinking about my sermon." —Pastor William Maki, Zion Lutheran Church, St. Marys, OH

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 28 Apr 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Hebrews 10:19-25

From the Confessions: The Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Power of Bishops

It is the same with the Lord's Day, Easter, Pentecost, and other holy days and rituals. Those who think that it was by the authority of the Church that the observance of the Sabbath was changed to the Lord's Day are mistaken. Scripture has abolished the Sabbath day, teaching that since the Gospel has been revealed, all the ceremonies of Moses may be eliminated. Still, because it was necessary to appoint a certain day for the people to know when to assemble, the Church designated the Lord's Day for this purpose. This was done with the additional reason that people would have an example of Christian liberty, and might understand that keeping the Sabbath or any other day is not necessary.

Pulling It Together: The Large Catechism regards the Sabbath as “an entirely external matter, like the other regulations of the Old Testament associated with particular customs, persons, times, and places.” Christ has set us free from these kinds of regulations. One day is no better than any other. The day on which Christ arose is a wonderful choice for gathering together and for resting from our usual labors. But does the Lord's Day replace the Sabbath as a Christian commandment? It does not. We ought to be worshiping daily but we observe the Lord's Day as a time when we may assemble together for mutual edification (Rom 14:19), hearing and talking with each other about God's Word, receiving the sacraments, praying, singing, and otherwise praising God and giving thanks together. It is surely God's intention that we do so, since the pattern has long been with God's people, the apostles taught us to assemble, and the early Church observed their teaching. Yet, it is no longer a law, since Christ satisfied the demands of the law for us.

None of these things are done among us because we believe that in doing them, or by doing them on the right day, we are keeping the law and therefore, being made righteous with God. Instead, we freely gather together because we are thankful to God for his gifts and righteous presence in our lives. As the great Day of our Lord approaches, we should be together as much as possible so that we are encouraged in the faith and moved to love and other good works for Christ's sake.

Prayer: Lord, as the Day draws near, help me hold fast the confession of my hope in you. Amen. 


Reading and Discussion of Luther's Catechisms is a more challenging study series based on assigned readings from the Book of Concord and related Scripture texts. Each study is comprised of eight sessions, plus an optional introductory session, each presented in a question and discussion format. 

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 27 Apr 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 11:1–6

From the Confessions: The Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Power of Bishops

Then how are we to think of Sunday and similar rituals in the Church? We answer that bishops or pastors may make ordinances so that there is order in the Church. However, these regulations may not be said to merit grace or make satisfaction for sins, or that consciences be bound to consider them as necessary services, or to think that it is a sin to break them if they offend no one. So Paul ordains that women should cover their heads in the congregation (1 Cor 11:5) and that people speak one at a time in the church (1 Cor 14:30), etc.

The churches should keep such rules for the sake of love and peace, so long as no one offends another. In this way, all things are done in the churches with order and without confusion (1 Cor 14:40; cf. Phil 2:14). Yet consciences should not be burdened to think that these regulations are required for salvation, or to judge that they sin when they break them without giving offense to others. For no one will say that a woman sins by going out in public with her head uncovered, if no one is offended.

Pulling It Together: In our congregations, we have constitutions that are meant to provide for good order. These constitutions are lengthy lists of rules for how a church operates so that things are done in a fair and uniform manner. My congregation's constitution states that the Church Council will provide an annual review of the membership roster. The first two years that I was pastor there, the Council did not address this task. Did they fall from grace? Of course not. Last year, they carefully reviewed the roster and even made some calls, asking folks to return to worship and the life of the church. Bravo! But did their work on the Council make satisfaction for their sins? Certainly not. Did their pastor threaten their salvation those first two years if they did not review the roster? Obviously not, since he is still their pastor.

It is perfectly fitting for a congregation to develop rules for how things are done in the church. And it is perfectly wrong to say that one earns God's grace by keeping those rules. God's grace is never received “on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace” (Rom 11:6).

Prayer: Lord, help me trust in you alone for salvation. Amen. 


Schoolhouse for Year C

Sola Publishing’s Sunday Schoolhouse series is a flexible Sunday School curriculum focusing on the priority of God’s Word. The emphasis in the series is on teaching Bible stories, with multiple presentations of the story built in to each lesson. The “one room schoolhouse” approach allows for children of varying ages and grade levels to meet together. The Sunday Schoolhouse series is designed with the particular needs of small churches, mission congregations, and house churches in mind. See a flyer with a description of this series HERE.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 26 Apr 21 00:00:00 -0500

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2 Timothy 3:1–9

From the Confessions: The Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Power of Bishops

If bishops have the right to to ensnare consciences by burdening churches with infinite traditions, why does Scripture so often prohibit to make, and to listen to, traditions? Why does it call them "doctrines of devils" (1Tim 4:1)? Did the Holy Spirit warn of these things in vain?

Since it is in opposition to the Gospel to make ordinances as necessary for meriting grace, it follows that it is not lawful for any bishop to institute or demand such services. For it is necessary that the doctrine of Christian liberty be preserved in the churches, namely, that the bondage of the Law is not necessary to justification, as the apostle writes: “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Gal 5:1). It is necessary that the chief article of the gospel be preserved, that we receive grace freely through faith in Christ, not from certain observances or acts of worship devised by people.

Pulling It Together: There are some who sin by having faith in the things that they do. There are others who are not content with this but must have a following, leading others astray from a knowledge of the truth. This should not be a strange revelation, for the Word expressly warns us that this will occur. People will leave the faith, leave Christ, following deceitful spirits. The most deceitful spirit is self, that being righteous is something you do. Righteousness is given to us through faith in Christ. So, there is nothing more deceitful than the doctrine that says that the grace of God through faith is inadequate. “Shoulder this yoke; do that service, or your faith will not be enough!” some insist. Though service will come with God's guidance, it is not necessary for salvation or to be deserving of God's grace. It only shows that you have faith (James 2:18). God's grace is free to all; we need not shoulder the yoke of new services to acquire his blessing. Jesus said that his yoke is light and restful (Matt 11:30). Believe. Have faith—in Christ—not in yourself, in your keeping of rules and regulations that Christ has already satisfied in the cross. 

Prayer: Help me be faithful to you, Lord, and show me how to be of service to you today. Amen. 


Combining the message of salvation in Christ with personal witness, this booklet uses John 3:16 as the model for telling the message of Jesus. The Gospel in Miniature is a Lutheran guide for evangelism. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 25 Apr 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Matthew 15:10–20

From the Confessions: The Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Power of Bishops

Where did the bishops obtain the right to lay these traditions upon the Church and ensnare consciences when Peter forbids putting a yoke upon the neck of the disciples (Acts 15:10), and Paul says that the power given him was for edification, not destruction (2 Cor 13:10)? Why, therefore, do they increase sins with these traditions?

There are clear testimonies in Scripture that prohibit the creation of traditions that have the intent of meriting grace or are necessary for salvation. Paul says, “Let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a sabbath. If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the universe, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world? Why do you submit to regulations, 'Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch' (referring to things which all perish as they are used), according to human precepts and doctrines” (Col 2:16-22)? Also, in Titus 1:13-14 he openly forbids traditions: “Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, instead of giving heed to Jewish myths or to commands of men who reject the truth.” Christ himself says of those who require human traditions: “Let them alone; they are blind guides” (Matt 15:14). He rejects such services, saying “Every plant which my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up” (Matt 15:13).

Pulling It Together: The Church has no need of more rules and traditions. The law which is in place through the Scripture is more than sufficient to make people aware of their sinful condition. The grace of God that answers the law with finality needs no contrived grace of people, even if they are bishops who concoct such practices. Bishops have no right to burden the Church with obligations of false righteousness, for these increase sin, burdening people with their new laws instead of trusting the merit of Christ alone.

This was not a novel position by the Lutherans; it had always been the clear declaration of Scripture. So, they were compelled by the Word of God to insist that regulations and ceremonies that pretended to promise God's grace were doing the opposite. Jesus forewarned the Church about human traditions, as did Paul. The Lutherans were simply being faithful to the teaching of Christ and his apostles. What else could they do but take a firm stand on the grace of God that comes through faith in Christ alone?

Prayer: Holy Spirit, keep me in God's grace today, for the sake of Christ my Lord. Amen. 


By What Authority is a book that confronts churches who no longer believe their own message. It is about the end of traditional Christianity as practiced in modern times—not a futuristic end, but an end already accomplished, or partially accomplished, in a majority of countries, cities, and churches. Strange as it seems, many Christians haven't noticed. But others were so concerned they've gathered in these pages the wisdom of alert pastors, theologians, laity, young seminarians, and evangelicals. They all have a story to tell you in their own voices. and it's a story so urgent and timely it opens your eyes in ways few might imagine. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 24 Apr 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Colossians 2:16–19

From the Confessions: The Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Power of Bishops

Again, the authors of traditions act contrary to the command of God when they teach it is sinful to disregard traditions about foods, days, and such things. They burden the Church with bondage to the law, as if, in order to merit justification, there ought to be a Levitical service which God had supposedly committed to the Apostles and bishops. Some have written that this is what occurred, and popes seem to be misled in some measure by the law of Moses. So they make it mortal sin to do manual labor on holy days when it offends no one, to omit the canonical hours, to eat certain foods that supposedly defile the conscience. They teach that fasting appeases God, and that in a reserved case, sin cannot be forgiven except by the authority of him who reserved it, when even the Canons speak only of maintaining the penalty, yet not the guilt.

Pulling It Together: The issue for the Lutherans was not whether one should, for example, fast during Lent or observe a service of worship beyond the Lord's Day. Their protest was that it was being taught by the Church that such deeds settled the matter of our sin with God. What is more difficult: to set up a new system of works that Church folks must do in order to be righteous before God, or to have a wholehearted trust in God? The former is not only difficult; it is impossible. Any system of law is impossible to keep (Acts 15:10). The latter is even more difficult, though it requires no effort on our part. As challenging as simple faith may be, it is far more beneficial to the soul. It is hard to believe that God really forgives poor sinners like us simply because he loves us. Yet we are called to believe exactly this: that because of his great mercy, he gives his grace to all. Who in his wildest imaginings could have conceived such a thing? And so, we devise ways to conciliate God when he has already reconciled himself. It is understandable. Nevertheless, the Lutherans like the once legalistic apostle, warned against systems of service that claim we earn our way to God. They taught that the Church must hold fast with faith to the Head, to Christ alone. Then, the body, the Church, is brought in tow.

Prayer: Lord, help me seek the things that are above, putting my trust in you while I remain here on earth. Amen. 


Examining Our Core Beliefs explains in straight-forward terms the core of what we believe—from a biblical, theological, historical, and confessional point of view. A 30-page study guide is included in the back of the book.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 23 Apr 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Galatians 3:1–3

From the Confessions: The Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Power of Bishops

If bishops have any other power or jurisdiction in the hearing and judging of certain cases such as matrimony or tithes, they have this authority by human right. When bishops fail in their duties, princes are bound even against their will to dispense justice to their subjects for the maintenance of peace. Additionally, it is disputed whether bishops, or pastors, have the right to introduce ceremonies in the Church, to make laws concerning meats, holy days, and grades—that is, orders of ministers, etc. Those who give this right to the bishops refer to the testimony of John: “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth” (John 16:12-13). They also refer to the example of the Apostles, who commanded to abstain from blood and from things strangled (Acts 15:29). They refer to the Sabbath day as having been changed into the Lord's Day, which they see as being contrary to the Decalog. There is no example in which they make more fuss than that concerning the changing of the Sabbath day. They say that the Church's power is so great that it can even dispense with one of the Ten Commandments.

Concerning this question, Lutherans teach that bishops have no authority to decree anything against the gospel. Canon Law teaches the same thing (Dist. IX). It is against Scripture to establish or require the observance of any traditions, if the point of the observance is making satisfaction for sins, or earning grace and righteousness. When we endeavor to merit justification by such observances, Christ's merit suffers injury. It is clear that because of trust in traditions, they have greatly increased in the Church. The doctrine of faith and the righteousness of faith have meanwhile been restrained. Gradually more holy days have been created, more fasts appointed, new ceremonies and services in honor of saints instituted—all because the authors of such things thought that by these works they were earning grace. Therefore, the Penitential Canons increased, of which we still see some traces in the satisfactions.

Pulling It Together

No bishop or pastor should create any tradition that promises people God's grace. Nor should the people be threatened with God's disfavor when they do not obey these human inventions. Yet this is precisely what happened in the Church leading up to the Reformation. When we insist that man-made ceremonies and rules reconcile God and justify sinners, we not only mislead people, we belittle the saving work of Christ's death. One modern illustration will make this clear. Some preachers these days promise their followers that God will bless them financially if they will send in an offering of a particular amount of money. This is often called a seed gift. If one plants the seed, they say, God will grow the plant. In other words, if a donation of the right amount is given, God will be pleased to multiply it back to the giver. People then give, trusting that this earns God's favor to the degree that he will now prosper them. This is bad enough, though I am unaware of any of these preachers threatening people's souls if they do not give. Yet the Church at the time of the Reformation was telling people if they did not keep certain ceremonies, which by the way, brought in vast sums to the Church, that their souls were in danger. Obviously, this was and remains today a successful strategy for raising lots of money. Yet, bilking people is the least troublesome concern here. What is far worse is that people are taught to trust these strategies for God's favor and salvation.

Lutherans teach that God's mercy and grace comes only through faith in Christ's work on the cross. We receive God's grace freely through faith, not through works of the flesh. Therefore, Lutherans also teach that bishops—pastors—have no right to promise God's grace through any means other than what God himself has ordained and instituted in Scripture. 

Prayer: Help me, God, to fully trust in Christ Jesus, who alone can save me. Amen. 


Some of the best-known instances of Jesus' teaching come in what we know as his parables. Through these teaching-stories, Jesus describes the experience of faith in the kingdom of God. The Wise & the Foolish is a Bible study that focuses entirely on Jesus' "people parables"—or what might better be descirbed as discipleship parables. These are the character stories that focus on the nature of discipleship and what it means to be a wise and faithful follower of Jesus. This nine-session Bible study is intended for use by women's and men's groups, or for other small group fellowships gathering around the Word of God.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 22 Apr 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Galatians 1:6–10

From the Confessions: The Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Power of Bishops

If bishops have any secular power, they do not possess it by virtue of being bishops commissioned by the Gospel, but by human law received from kings and emperors for the civil administration of their properties. This, however, is not the office of the gospel.

Therefore, when the question concerns the power of bishops, civil authority must be distinguished from that of the Church. Again, according to the Gospel, by divine right, there belongs to the bishops, those to whom has been committed the ministry of the Word and the Sacraments, no power except to forgive sins, to judge doctrine, to reject doctrines contrary to the gospel, and to exclude from the communion of the Church ungodly people, whose wickedness is evident. This is done simply by the Word, without human force. By necessity and by divine right, congregations must obey bishops as the gospel teaches: “He who hears you hears me” (Luke 10:16). However, when they teach or ordain anything contrary to the gospel, then congregations are commanded by God not to obey. “Beware of false prophets” (Matt 7:15). “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed” (Gal 1:8). “For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth” (2Cor 13:8). The power which the Lord has given bishops is “for building up and not for tearing down” (2 Cor 13:10). Canon Laws command the same (Part II, Question 7, Priests and Sheep). Augustine also write in the Letter Against Petilian: “Neither must we submit to Catholic bishops if they chance to err, or hold anything contrary to the Canonical Scriptures of God.”

Pulling It Together: The jurisdictions of Church and State must be kept separate. If a bishop has secular power, it was conferred by the government, not by divine agency. The Church does not give such power to any bishop, for that is not a function of the gospel. According to Scripture, beyond preaching and teaching the Word of God and administering the Sacraments, the office of bishop includes these powers: forgiving sins, judging doctrine, rejecting heresy, and excluding the ungodly from the communion of the Church. In these matters, congregations are to obey God through the bishop. If a bishop strays from the gospel, congregations are charged by God not to obey that bishop, obeying instead the gospel that bishops are commissioned to keep for the building up of Christ's Church. 

Prayer: Lord, keep me steadfast in your Word today and all days. Amen. 


A Reading and Discussion of the Augsburg Confession is a more challenging study series based on assigned readings from the Book of Concord and related Scripture texts. Each study is comprised of eight sessions, plus an optional introductory session, presented in a question and discussion format. The Leader's Guide that accompanies this study is a resource for those facilitating group discussion, or may serve as a reader's commentary for those who are studying the Book of Concord on their own.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 21 Apr 21 00:00:00 -0500

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John 18:33–36

From the Confessions: The Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Power of Bishops

Therefore, the powers of the Church and secular government must not be confused. The power of the Church has its own commission to teach the gospel and to administer the Sacraments. Let it not occupy the office of another, nor switch the kingdoms of this world, nor abolish the laws of civil rulers, nor get rid of lawful obedience, nor interfere with judgments concerning civil ordinances or contracts. Let it not dictate laws to civil rulers concerning the order of the Commonwealth. As Christ says, “My kingship is not of this world” (John 18:36) and “who made me a judge or divider over you” (Luke 12:14)? Paul also says, “But our commonwealth is in heaven” (Phil 3:20) and “the weapons of our warfare are not worldly but have divine power to destroy strongholds” (2Cor 10:4).

This is how our teachers separate the duties of these two powers, insisting that both be honored and acknowledged as gifts and blessings of God.

Pulling It Together: Perhaps a bishop would desire to rule in secular matters so that justice and fairness would be certain. He might also think that if he made the laws, then God's will would be accomplished. But this is not the way of Christ's Church. Instead, the Church prays that God's will would be done (Matt 6:10). We do not make his will happen; God does. Some might say that this spiritual approach accomplishes little, if anything. Better, they say, to enter the political arena and get things done. In God's truth, these things are better left to the secular authorities that God has ordained. The Church has been charged with other matters: to preach the Word, administer the Sacraments, and pray. Though it may not feel like it, these have been and continue to be the instruments of greatest effect. More good is accomplished by the Church faithfully and sincerely praying our Lord's prayer than we can imagine. Powers are kept at bay and the kingdom of Christ is advanced every time we pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Prayer: Heavenly Father, make your name holy in my life and advance your kingdom, making your will to be fulfilled here on earth like it is in heaven. Amen. 



Lord, Teach Us to Pray is a eight-session curriculum on prayer intended for youth. Based on the themes of the Lord’s Prayer, it uses a Bible Study format, with each lesson including multiple Scripture texts along with the related section of Luther’s Small Catechism. A section entitled “About Prayer” teaches students helpful items about a solid prayer life and a prayer assignment for the coming week. A major goal of this material is to help kids experience prayer, and practice it in a variety of ways. 

Teacher's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 20 Apr 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Mark 16:15–16

From the Confessions: The Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Power of Bishops

Lutherans teach that, according to the gospel, the power of the keys, or of the bishops, is the commandment to preach the Gospel, to remit and retain sins, and to administer the sacraments. For with this commandment Christ sends forth his apostles. “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (John 20:21, 23). “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15).

This power of the keys is exercised only by teaching or preaching the gospel and administering the sacraments to many or to individuals according to their calling. By this power, eternal things—not bodily things—are granted, such as eternal righteousness, the Holy Spirit, and eternal life. These things come only by the ministry of the Word and Sacraments, as Paul says. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel: it is the power of God for salvation to every one who has faith” (Rom 1:16). Therefore, since this power of the Church grants eternal things, and is exercised only by the ministry of the Word, the Church does not interfere in civil government any more than the art of singing interferes with civil government. For secular authorities deal with affairs that are different than those that pertain to the gospel. Civil authorities do not defend souls but, using the sword and social control, it defends body and property against demonstrable injuries, restraining people in order to preserve civil justice and peace.

Pulling It Together: The power of the keys is as clear as the plain commissioning of the gospel. Preach! Inherent to the proclamation of the gospel is the administration of God's grace through his sacraments. In both Holy Baptism and Holy Communion, God's grace is demonstrated in physical ways that encourage and sustain the Church. His grace is present since these gifts declare and deliver his mercy and forgiveness. The sacraments, and therefore, the message of God's forgiveness, are the pure proclamation of God's Word. In these things is the true power of God on earth. Why then, would a bishop wish to water down the Church's authority with secular governance? The Church is commissioned with the proclamation of God's forgiveness and eternal life so that people may know Christ's peace forever. Secular authority controls people so that there is civil peace during our brief time on earth. Lutherans confess that God has ordained these powers, both spiritual and secular, the power of the keys and of government, to operate independently so that people may know both spiritual and temporal peace. 


Brave Queen Esther focuses on the story of a young Jewish girl named Esther, who was raised by her older cousin Mordecai after the death of her parents. Set in a time when people of faith were suspect in the eyes of the surrounding culture, the story illustrates the values of integrity and honesty. It shows how being faithful to God, caring for one another, and standing up for what we believe, can help us through times of fear and doubt.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 19 Apr 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Luke 20:19–26

From the Confessions: The Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Power of Bishops

There has been great controversy concerning the power of bishops, in which some have gracelessly confused Church and secular powers. Great wars and uprisings have resulted from this error, while the bishops, emboldened by the power of the Keys, have instituted new kinds of worship and burdened consciences with reservation of absolution and forced excommunication. They have also attempted to transfer the kingdoms of this world and to take the empire from the emperor. These wrongs have long since been rebuked in the Church by learned and godly men. This is why our teachers were obligated for the sake of people's consciences to explain the difference between the power of the Church and the power of the sword. They have taught that because of God's commandment, both are to be honored and respected as the chief blessings of God on earth.

Pulling It Together: The Scripture gives the Church and its pastors the power to preach the Word of God, to administer the sacraments, and to remit and retain sins. This gives the Church great authority but restrains it from exercising any rightful power in civil affairs. Put in plain terms, the Church has power in spiritual matters. The State is left to deal with all else. Both Church and State overreach when they enter into the affairs of the other. When the Church, for example, usurps the office of secular government and wields it to control people, they have overstepped the boundaries of Scripture. The Church has no right to wield civil powers in an effort to conform people's consciences and actions. The Spirit of God does this, using the authority of his Word to do so. The Church has been given great spiritual power and has no need to employ earthly force in its affairs. So, Lutherans confess that God has provided both spiritual and governmental authorities, and that both are to be respected within their spheres of influence. 

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me this day and always to yield my heart to you while living peacefully with my neighbors. Amen. 


This edition of the Luther's Small Catechism is specifically designed to go with the Sola Confimation Series. The 2010 Sola/ReClaim Edition* is a faithful word-for-word translation from Luther's German Catechism. It also includes the section on the Office of the Keys, added later to Luther's Catechism.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 18 Apr 21 00:00:00 -0500

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James 1:1–4

From the Confessions: The Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows

There are examples recorded of men forsaking marriage and the administration of the Commonwealth by hiding themselves in monasteries. They call this fleeing from the world to seek a kind of life more pleasing to God. They did not understand that God should to be served by obeying commandments that God has given instead of commandments invented by people. The good and perfect kind of life is one that is commanded by God. It is necessary to warn men about these things.

In earlier times, Gerson rebuked the error of the monks concerning perfection. He declared that it was a new assertion in his day to claim that the monastic life was a state of perfection.

There are many ungodly opinions inherent in the vows, namely, that they justify, that they constitute Christian perfection, that they keep the counsels and commandments, that they have works of supererogation. Since they are false and empty, monastic vows are null and void.

Pulling It Together: God's will is that we would perform our normal duties of life faithfully and sincerely. In other words, we must not run from life, hoping that a deal we make with God will somehow make us perfect. The love of God is perfected in us by keeping the word, by keeping the faith, by steadfastly believing in the Lord Jesus Christ (1 John 2:5). Christians do not fear damnation, and therefore have no reason to flee our responsibilities. We may continue being parents, teachers, government officials, or any other calling of life without fear of judgment. Though these good vocations come with all the trials inherent to life, we are to remain steadfast, believing that God has called us to faithfulness, despite these trials. We are not called to perform any extra works that promise perfection and grace. These are empty promises. For all who call on the name of the Lord, despite our situations in life, will be saved (Rom 10:13) .

Prayer: Lord, help me consider trials a joy because they cause me to turn to you instead of fleeing from life. Amen. 


The Sola Music Series offers simple collections of easy-to-play worship music, including new songs and arrangements of old favorites. Based in a confessional theology and a respect for the historical and sacramental liturgy, these resources do not require a high level of musical expertise. Written in a simple and straight-forward style, these songs are intended for congregations that would like to explore a less formal musical style in worship, while still maintaining the integrity of the traditional order of worship. Such music would fit into what is sometimes referred to as "contemporary" or "blended" worship, without necessarily requiring a full band of experienced musicians and singers to lead the songs. Providing lead sheets for guitar and vocals, along with full scores for piano, Sola Publishing grants to those who purchase this volume the permission to reproduce words and music of the songs within for local congregational use.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 17 Apr 21 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Timothy 4:1–5

From the Confessions: The Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows

The teachings and the true service of God are concealed when men hear that only monks are in a state of perfection. For Christian perfection consists in fearing God with the whole heart, and yet to have great faith in him, trusting that for Christ's sake we have a God who has been reconciled, and are able to ask of God and to expect his help in all things that are to be done, according to each person's calling. Meanwhile, each person is able to see to his own calling, being diligent in outward good works. True perfection and service of God are in these things. They do not exist in celibacy, or in begging, or in dark apparel. However, the people conceive many corrupting opinions from the false accolades of monastic life. They hear celibacy praised beyond measure; therefore their consciences are troubled because they are married. When they hear that only beggar monks are perfect, they believe that they, themselves, sin by keeping their possessions and doing business. They hear that it is a simply the advice of the gospel to not to seek revenge, so some are not afraid to take revenge in private life since they hear that it is only counsel instead of a commandment. Others believe that a Christian cannot rightly hold a civil office or be a magistrate.

Pulling It Together: What is there to do when the advice one gets at Church is in conflict with the gospel? First of all, we should not be surprised. Scripture warns us that there will be deceitful spirits and that there will be factions in the Church so that we may know what is true (1Cor 11:19). Paul specifically names those who will “forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods" (1Tim 4:3). Yet, people are misled even more by saying that such abstentions will earn righteousness and grace and reconcile God. Second, our response should be to continue doing what God has called us to do. In whatever calling of life God has placed you, do it with all your heart as if you were doing that job for the Lord (Col 3:23). Leaving job and family for some isolated place, removed from the cares of the world, is not God's answer. Indeed, he calls us to go into the world with the gospel (Matt 28:19-20). But whatever you do, do not think it earns you God's grace. He gives his grace freely to all those who fear and love him, no matter their station in life.

Prayer: Father, help me to know the truth of your Word. Amen.


Many Gifts, One Lord considers grace in relation to the gifts of the Holy Spirit in order to show that the grace of God is free to flow with all those gifts without causing division and disharmoney in the body of Christ. It is interesting that we really never seem to tire of gifts. Sad to say many go through life not even aware that they have specific gifts; which could not only be a blessing to themselves but to others. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 16 Apr 21 00:00:00 -0500

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1 John 2:1–6

From the Confessions: The Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows

It cannot be denied that the monks have taught that they were justified and merited forgiveness of sins by their vows and observances. Yet they invented even greater absurdities, saying that they could give others a share in their works. If anyone should be inclined to enlarge on these things with malicious intent, more could be cited that even monks are ashamed of now. Beyond this, they persuaded men that the services they fabricated produced a state of Christian perfection. What can be made of this than assigning justification to works? It is no small sin in the Church to put before the people a service devised by humans and without the commandment of God, and to teach that such service justifies. For the righteousness of faith, which ought to be the chief teaching in the Church, is obscured when these wonderful, “angelic” forms of worship, with their display of poverty, humility, and celibacy, are put on stage.

Pulling It Together: Christ is the sole player in our perfection. He has made satisfaction and atonement for our sins. We can add nothing to his perfect work on the cross. So, perfection consists in keeping the faith despite one's lot in life. We are called to keep his commandments, not ones that we construct. He commands us to follow him, to believe, to keep the faith where we live, not in some special location apart from real life. When we do this, we keep his word, and the love of God is perfected in us. So, we can see that anyone may follow Christ. Mothers, fathers, children, civil servants, teachers, doctors, attorneys, police, and all other people may follow our Lord in faith without leaving their calling in life. There is no more perfect service to God than to follow him where you are.

Prayer: Help me to follow you faithfully today, Lord, for your sake. Amen. 


Be the unique "you" Jesus is calling you to be. Seek, discover, and incorporate the Lord's call into all of life...family, work, neighborhood, world, and the gathering of believers. Discover how the Lord equips with His Spirit and power so that you can be the "church" in action. Custom Designed – Reflection Guide is a practical and interactive spiritual journal integrating Scripture, teaching, personal reflection exercises, conversation, and prayer.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 15 Apr 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Galatians 5:1–6

From the Confessions: The Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows

But it is obvious that monks have taught that their services make satisfaction for sins—that they merit justifying grace. What else is this than to diminish the glory of Christ and to obscure and deny the righteousness of faith? Therefore the vows commonly taken have been godless, and consequently, are void. For a vow taken against the commandment of God, is not valid. Even the Canon says that no vow should bind men to wickedness. Paul says, “You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace” (Gal 5:4). Therefore, those who want to be justified by their vows are cut off from Christ and they fall from grace. For those who ascribe justification to vows attribute to their own works that which properly belongs to the glory of Christ.

Pulling It Together: To say that one may do something—anything—that could earn God's grace is an insult to the gospel of our Lord. The Lutherans pointed out this fallacy in the monasticism practiced at the time of the Reformation. Paul exposed the same sort of wickedness in his time when he taught against the slavery of circumcision, of the alleged necessity of keeping the law in order to enjoy God’s mercy and grace. However, there are the same claims made by human institutions in our own day. These also revile the good news of Christ. For there is nothing we might do, from merely thinking good thoughts to keeping strict religious practices, that makes God love us. He loves us for Christ's sake. Period. He imputes to us the righteousness of Christ because he chooses to do so, not because we make it happen. This is what Lutherans confess: that we are saved by faith through the grace of God alone. Nothing else must ever be added.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, open my eyes to the truth of your word alone. Amen. 


Letters to a Young Christian is a ten-session Bible Study iIn the biblical letters of First and Second Timothy. It is recommended for high school youth groups as well as for Sunday School classes with young adults, focusing on the Word of God at work in our modern lives. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 14 Apr 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 8:1–4

From the Confessions: The Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows

Finally, even though the violation of a vow might be condemned, it does not follow that the marriages of these persons must be dissolved. Augustine denies that they ought to be dissolved in Marriage Matters, and although others disagreed, his authority is not lightly to be esteemed. Although God's command concerning marriage delivers many from their vows, yet our teachers introduce another argument concerning vows to show that they are void. For every service of God chosen by men to earn justification and grace but that is not ordained and commanded by God, is wicked. Christ says, “In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men” (Matt 15:9). Paul teaches everywhere that righteousness is not to be sought in ceremonies and acts of worship that are devised by men, but that righteousness comes by faith to those who believe that they are received of God through grace for Christ's sake.

Pulling It Together: The Lutherans believed that marriages could not be annulled by monastic vows. Indeed, the opposite is the case: marriage vows annul monastic obligations. Nearly a thousand years earlier, Augustine came to the same conclusion. Yet this is not the chief reason why monasticism should be overturned. If a contract is entered into because of false promises, that agreement is invalid. This was the case with monasticism, for that vow was based upon earning God's grace through an austere lifestyle. This is plainly a gilded assurance, for we cannot do anything that merits God's favor. Even if a service is truly rendered unto God, yet while imagining that the religious service acquires righteousness with God, that act of worship is in vain. God is not gracious to us because we are good folks, go to church, feed the poor, forfeit all our worldly goods, or enter a religious vocation. God freely acquits us of our sin through faith in him to do so. He forgives us for Christ's sake alone—not by our religious practices, no matter how strict or sincere they may be. Since there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ, there is no need to earn his forgiveness, even if we were able to do so.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for not giving me what I deserve, but instead granting me mercy because of your immeasurable love. Amen. 


In Harmony with the Word is an eight-session Bible Study focusing on Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, from Matthew 5-7. It is written at an introductory level, to be led by a lay leader or pastor in a small-group question and discussion format. The study would serve as an excellent resource for monthly women's group meetings, or in an informal small-group setting.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 13 Apr 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Matthew 19:10–12

From the Confessions: The Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows

Second, why do our opponents magnify the vow when they have nothing to say about whether it is possible, freely obligated, and chosen spontaneously and deliberately? It is well-known to what extent people have the power to remain celibate for their whole lives, and how few there are who have taken the vow spontaneously and deliberately. Young women and men, before they are able to judge for themselves, are persuaded, and sometimes even induced, to take the vow. Consequently, it is not fair to insist so rigorously on their pledge, since it is against the nature of a vow to take it without spontaneity and deliberation.

Most canonical laws cancel vows made before the age of fifteen, for before that age there does not seem sufficient ability to make a decision that affects an entire life. Another Canon acknowledges human weakness more by forbidding a vow before the age of eighteen. But which of these two Canons should we adopt? The majority have an excuse for leaving the monasteries, because they have taken the vows before reaching these ages.

Pulling It Together: When the Apostle Paul was a grown man, able to make decisions as to whether or not to be married, he seems to have chosen to remain unmarried so that his time could be devoted to the kingdom of God (1 Cor 7:6-7). Some people seem suited for single life. Nevertheless, they must adopt it for themselves; it cannot be forced upon them. Those who had taken oaths prematurely could be released from their obligations. Church laws made concession for this if they had made their oathes before being either 15 or 18 years of age. As this was the case for most people in monasteries, they were pressured to remain obligated, so as to keep the monastic system in place. The Lutherans were more concerned for the individual than the institution, insisting that only those who were able and willing to do so should remain in a state of sexual abstention. This is consistent with the teaching of Christ, who said, "Not everyone can receive this saying... Let the one who is able to receive this receive it" (Matt 19:11-12).

Prayer: Lord, help me to keep those vows that I have made to you, so that you may be glorified in my life. Amen. 


Connections Magazine features articles that connect Lutherans to the Word. Martin Luther's Small Catechism provides inspiration for confessional, biblical content, delivered in a stylish, readable design. Subscribe today.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 12 Apr 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Ecclesiastes 5:1–7

From the Confessions: The Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows

Now, if the obligation of vows could never be changed for any reason whatever, the popes would never have granted dispensations. For no one may annul an obligation that is founded on God's law. That is why popes have wisely decided that leniency is to be observed in this obligation, and therefore we read that many times they have released people from vows. The King of Aragon, who was called back from the monastery, is well known, and there are also examples in our own times. Now, if dispensations have been granted for the sake of securing temporal interests, it is far more proper that they be granted for the benefit of distressed souls.

Pulling It Together: The practice of religion can be insincere and downright hypocritical. Even our devotion can be disingenuous when it is focused on self instead of God. So we should watch our step and guard our words. Church is not only a place of ceremony, duty, and ministry; it is where the Word of God is taught. So we should be careful to listen instead of speaking bold and reckless words, for it is difficult to break a promise. Nonetheless, some promises must be broken. When God's word and order are at stake, promises should be reconsidered in the light of God's law. They ought to have been thought through in accordance with the Lord's teaching at the start, but better late than never. In terms of monastic vows, even popes have understood that these vows must sometimes be rescinded. Lutherans do not take vows lightly, but we consider first and foremost the state of a person's soul, since this is God's concern. It is sometimes a benefit to the human soul to release someone from a promise, even if he thought he had made his vow to God. With one's mouth, many may be led into sin, so we should not make hasty promises. When those promises must be broken and we confess our sin, God is faithful and just to forgive (1John 1:9).

Prayer: Merciful God, grant to me today the grace of being quick to listen and slow to speak. Amen. 


A Listening Bible: Letters from Jesus in the Written Word, by Glen S.R. Carlson, helps you take time to LISTEN to what Jesus is saying to you from Romans to Jude (softcover; 692 pages). 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 11 Apr 21 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Corinthians 7:1–5

From the Confessions: The Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows

First, concerning marriage, Lutherans teach that it is lawful for those who are not suited for celibacy to marry, since vows cannot annul God's order and commandment. “Because of the temptation to immorality,” the commandment of God is that “each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband” (1 Cor 7:2). It is the commandment, as well as the creation and order of God, that moves those to marry who are not excepted by a singular work of God, according to the text: “It is not good that the man should be alone” (Gen 2:18). Therefore, those who obey the command and order of God do not sin.

What objection can be raised to this? People may praise the obligation of a vow as much as they wish, yet they cannot annul the commandment of God. The Canons teach that vows are not binding against the decision of the Pope. How much less binding then are vows that are against the commandments of God.

Pulling It Together: The Lutherans at Wittenberg allowed those under vows to marry. Some had been placed under monastic orders by their families, and others by their own ignorance. Not only was the temptation toward immorality very great when celibacy was the duty of those who were not suited for that lifestyle, but the very order of God's creation and command were broken by these vows. Since the garden, God's order has been that man should not be alone. The Apostle Paul teaches that each person should marry, and in so doing, avoid sin. Who could object to that motivation? We might respect people who are called to such a lifestyle, as it gives them very much time for ministry and even contemplation. Yet, when this vow becomes compulsion and a striving against God's order and authority, human traditions are no longer valid. 

Prayer: I rejoice with gladness and give glory to you, O Lord, for the marriage of the Lamb is coming. Amen. 


Sola has certificates for all your services (Baptism, Baptismal Sponsor, First Communion, Confirmation, Marriage, and Membership). Sola Certificates are printed in color on heavyweight parchment paper, with a matching envelope to go with each certificate. The traditional 'half-sheet' size is perfect for inclusion in a picture album or scrapbook.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 10 Apr 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Philippians 3:12–21

From the Confessions: The Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows

People were made to believe that monasticism was even better than baptism, that it was more meritorious than other vocations such as magistrates and pastors who serve their calling in accordance with God's commands, without any man-made services. These things cannot be denied, for they are written in their own books. Furthermore, a person who had been ensnared by a monastery learned little of Christ. Once monasteries were schools of theology and other subjects profitable to the Church, where pastors and bishops were educated. This is no longer the case. It is needless to rehearse what is known to all. Formerly they came together to learn; now they pretend that it is a kind of life instituted to earn grace and righteousness. They even preach that it is a state of perfection, putting it far above all other vocations ordained of God. We have explained this without hateful misrepresentation, so that our position may be understood.

Pulling It Together: The Apostle Paul admits that he is not perfect, but struggling against his flesh (Rom 7:15). He presses on toward the goal of completeness, in spite of his imperfect state (Phil 3:14). This is a life that shares in Christ's love (Matt 5:48) and suffering and resurrection (Phil 3:10). It is the life that celebrates the death of the old person in Christ's own death through baptism. In this way, we become like him in his death (Phil 3:10). He had no confidence in the flesh (Phil 3:3) and by this, he lists human associations and religious zeal. Yet these are the very things the Church taught would produce human perfection. The apostle trusted in Christ alone for perfect righteousness—that he would be found in Christ, not having a righteousness of his own but “that which comes through faith in Christ.” The things we do are worse than rubbish (Phil 3:8), especially when we expect them to garner any worth with God. Lutherans confess that what Christ has done for us is of such surpassing value that we are declared righteous by our faith in him alone.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to live in your righteousness today, and so, press on toward the goal even when I fail and fall flat. Amen. 


Views of Baptism is written for a range of readers including the parent or sponsor about to baptize a child, the adult who wants to understand baptism more fully, and the professional teacher or preacher who needs the truth about baptism stated simply but backed by careful research. This books explores three views of baptism: the individual-centered view, the means-of-grace view, and the Roman Catholic view. It includes a description of how Christian baptism came to us in stages from its Jewish roots. A question and answer section addresses specific matters often raised when people contemplate baptism.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 09 Apr 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Matthew 5:33–37

From the Confessions: The Augsburg Confession

Concerning Monastic Vows

What is taught by Lutherans concerning monastic vows is better appreciated by remembering what has been the state of the monasteries, and how things were done each day in those monasteries contrary to the Canons. In Augustine's time the monasteries were voluntary. Later, when Church discipline was corrupted, monastic vows were established for the purpose of restoring discipline, as if it were a prison.

Besides vows, many other traditions were gradually created and laid upon many before the lawful age. Though they were of sufficient age, they were unable to judge their own abilities and entered monastic life through ignorance. Once ensnared, they were compelled to remain even though the Canons could have freed some. This was more often the case in nunneries than monasteries, even though more consideration should have been afforded the weaker sex. This hardship displeased many good people before now, seeing that boys and girls were thrown into convents to keep them alive. They saw the regrettable results of this system—the scandals, and burdening of consciences. They were grieved that the authority of the Canons was utterly despised and ignored. It is well known that even more considerate monks were displeased with the persuasion added to these evils in former times. They were taught that monastic vows were equal to baptism, earning forgiveness of sins and righteousness with God. They added that the monastic life merited even greater things, because it kept not only the commandments but also the counsel of the gospels.

Pulling It Together: The ancient teaching is that we should not make false promises. The teaching of Christ goes further: “Do not take an oath at all.” The monastic system of the Church was based upon making just such an oath—often for others, instead of by the person being bound by the promise. Children who could not be cared for by a family, were taken to monasteries and there they were compelled to stay even after they had reached an age when they might make a different choice for themselves. This was bad enough, but it was not the key issue.

The idea that one could earn favor with God permeated the Church. Monastic vows was one more example of this doctrine of works. The monastic life had become a means of grace rivaling baptism. By keeping this vow, it was thought that one would earn saving worth with God. Conversely, by breaking the oath, one's salvation was considered uncertain. By this alone were people deceived and ensnared. But the greater trap was in believing that they could earn God's grace at all. Again, one cannot earn what is freely given by God (Eph 2:8). When one lives by his own promise instead of the promises of God, he has lost the correct focus. One becomes absorbed with himself and the promise once made, instead of God and his promises. But to believe in God and live by his promises is a life of forgiveness and grace.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me speak the truth and live by your promises. Amen. 

 


Custom Designed presents guided questions, ancient wisdom, and insightful diagrams for understanding your unique individuality, recognizing God’s guiding hand, and even grappling with two of life’s more practical yet significant questions: “Who am I?” and “What am I to do?”

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 08 Apr 21 00:00:00 -0500

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2 Timothy 1:8–14

From the Confessions: The Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Distinction of Meats

Nevertheless, Lutherans have retained many traditions that are conducive to good order in the Church, such as the Order of Lessons in the Mass and the chief holy days. People are informed, however, that such observances do not make them righteous before God, and that it is not a sin if they are omitted without causing offense. Such liberty in human ceremonies was not unknown to the Fathers. In the East they kept Easter at another time than at Rome. Because of this diversity, the Romans accused the Eastern Church of schism, though they were admonished by others that such customs do not need to be everywhere alike. Irenaeus says: “Diversity concerning fasting does not destroy the harmony of faith.” This kind of diversity does not violate the unity of the Church, as Pope Gregory suggests in Dist. XII. In the Tripartite History, Book 9, many examples of different ceremonies are collected, and the following statement is made: It was not the mind of the Apostles to enact rules concerning holy days, but to teach faith and love.

Pulling It Together: Lutheran worship is well-known for being traditional, often in form but always in terms of those things that contribute to good order. The Lectionary and the celebration of major feast days are only two examples given in the Article. Our people are taught that these things are helpful, though not required, and certainly not necessary for justification with God. Therefore, some freedom of customs must be allowed. This is nothing unique to Lutherans; it has been the way of Christianity since the early Church. So while Lutherans confess the righteousness of faith alone, they nevertheless keep those practices that are a benefit to the Church. This is a sound formula that promotes the standard of faith and love in Christ's Church.

Prayer: My Savior, help me be faithful in the Church you have built. Amen. 


    

The Sola "Word of Life" Series is a resource for those looking to develop small groups built around the Word of God. This model of small-group ministry is an excellent tool for evangelism since it is rooted in prayer and Scripture. Its primary focus is to empower those who believe in Jesus Christ to be comfortable sharing their faith and inviting others to experience a transformed life in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Meant for use in Small Group gathering, each of the six sessions in each book is based on a primary Scripture text, with intentional time for reflection. There are questions, prayer, faith sharing, and mini-evangelism case-studies. The series would be helpful for those involved in starting a Bible study fellowship, house church, or mission congregation. They may also be used by established congregations to aid in establishing a small group ministry.

• Unit 1   • Unit 2   • Unit 3

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 07 Apr 21 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Corinthians 9:24–27

From the Confessions: The Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Distinction of Meats

Our teachers are accused of opposing bodily discipline, as Jovinian did. But the opposite is true, as may be learned in the writings of our teachers. As concerning the cross, they have always taught that it is fitting for Christians to bear afflictions. For being crucified with Christ is genuine, devout, and sincere self-denial.

Additionally, they teach that every Christian should bring the flesh under control through fasting and other disciplines. In this way, they might overcome temptation to sin. Yet they do not teach that we earn grace or make satisfaction for sins through such efforts. Bodily discipline ought to be urged at all times—not only on a few predetermined days. Christ commands, “But take heed to yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life.” (Luke 21:34) He also teaches that some temptations are only dealt with by prayer and fasting. (Matt 17:21) Paul says, “I pommel my body and subdue it.” (1Cor 9:27) He clearly shows that he was disciplining his body in order to bring it under control, not to merit forgiveness of sins but to prepare it for spiritual things and for the fulfilling of his calling. Therefore, we do not condemn fasting in and of itself, but instead the traditions that imperil the conscience by demanding the honoring of certain days and foods as necessary to the Christian life.

Pulling It Together: In the fourth century, Jovinian, a one-time monk and ascetic (one who practiced severe self-discipline), wrote against celibacy and some other monastic traditions. Indeed, he praised the virtues of marriage and was therefore branded a heretic. Some called him the precursor of Luther and other Reformers. It is easy to see why Lutherans were lumped into his supposedly heretical category. Yet it is an unfair criticism since Lutherans taught bodily discipline. Prayer and fasting were staples of Lutheran exhortation. The difference was, as it always was for the Lutherans, that they did not regard discipline of the flesh and other Church traditions as necessary for salvation. They taught that such works did not earn favor with God, confessing instead that God's favor is promised to those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Prayer: Help me, Lord, to live this day in such a manner that brings you glory. Amen. 

Receive these daily Sola Devotions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

In Prayer as Joy, Prayer as StruggleBraaten explores many types of prayer, including thanksgiving, confession, praise, wrestling, petition, intercession, listening, and hope. He also explores what it means when the answer to prayer is "no" and how we experience prayer in times of doubt. In each chapter, he uses and extended biblical example of prayer and also provides the text of prayers we can use in our own practice. For all who seek joy in prayer, even as we struggle, Braaten offers an engaging personal and pastoral reflection on the ways we pray.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 06 Apr 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Acts 16:25–31

From the Confessions: The Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Distinction of Meats

So, the Lutherans have taught that we cannot merit grace or be justified by the observance of human traditions, and that we must not think of such observances as necessary acts of worship. They supply these evidences from Scripture. Christ defended the Apostles who had not observed the usual tradition (Matt 15:3) that pertained to a matter not unlawful, but indifferent, yet had a certain affinity with the purifications of the Law. He added, “In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men” (Matt. 15:9). Therefore, he does not consider them obligatory. Then he adds that it is “not what goes into the mouth defiles a man, but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man” (Matt. 15:10). Paul teaches, “The kingdom of God is not food and drink” (Rom. 14:17). “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a sabbath” (Col. 2:16). If you are dead with Christ from the principles of the world, why are you subject to regulations like, “Touch not, taste not, handle not!” as though you are living in the world? Peter says, “Now therefore why do you make trial of God by putting a yoke upon the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we shall be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will” (Acts 15:10). Here Peter forbids the burdening of consciences with many rituals, either of Moses or of others. Paul calls the prohibition of meats a doctrine of devils (1 Tim. 4:1, 3), for it is against the Gospel to establish or to do such works for the purpose of earning grace, or to suppose that without such acts Christianity could not exist.

Pulling It Together: The position of the Lutherans is based on Scripture. Our Lord guarded the right of his disciples to disregard religious traditions. Paul vigorously taught against the notion that the kingdom of God was based on food and drink, or certain holy days or ceremonies. How we interact with the physical has nothing to do with the spiritual life. We have died with Christ in God (Col 3:3); how dare we now seek to be alive through performing human traditions? Peter says that we try God's patience when we demand the keeping of traditions. These practices worry and bind the conscience that Christ would reassure and liberate. Paul calls these obligations the devil's doctrines. God's grace cannot be earned or increased by keeping Church customs. So, Lutherans confess that we are saved by the grace of Christ alone, as the Scriptures teach. We add nothing to this: belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Prayer: Father, console my heart with the plain good news: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.” Amen. 


By What Authority is a book that confronts churches who no longer believe their own message. The book shows how Christians have departed from the biblical faith, and what can be done about it.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 05 Apr 21 00:00:00 -0500

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2 Corinthians 11:1–6

From the Confessions: The Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Distinction of Meats

Lutherans have not taught about these things harshly or with a dislike of the ecclesiastical office, as some contend. Because of a misunderstanding of Church traditions, there was great need to warn the churches of these errors. For the Gospel compels us to teach the doctrine of grace and the righteousness of faith in the churches. These principal doctrines cannot be understood if people think that they earn grace by observances of their own choice.

Pulling It Together: The Lord insists that we teach his Word with patience and clarity. We must take a firm stand on matters of doctrine, for people's souls hang in the balance. Such was the case for the Lutherans in Wittenberg. God had reminded them of his grace and they would have been derelict in their calling had they simply gone on teaching religious traditions as the way to keep the Christian faith. Their churches were being deceived by traditions, imagining that they could somehow merit what can never be earned. God's grace is given—never attained by the things we do or how we do them. Saving righteousness is given through faith in Christ. Teaching this doctrine was hardly insurrection; it was faithful reformation of the Church that the Lutherans loved.

Prayer: Lord, keep me steadfast in your Word. Amen. 


The Wise & The Foolish is a nine-session Bible study that focuses entirely on Jesus' "people parables"—what might be described as Discipleship Parables. These are the character stories that focus on the nature of discipleship and what it means to be a wise and faithful follower of Jesus. 

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 04 Apr 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Micah 6:6–8

From the Confessions: The Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Distinction of Meats

Thirdly, traditions have brought great danger to consciences, for it was impossible to keep all of the traditions, yet people believed them to be necessary acts of worship. Gerson writes that many fell into despair, and that some even took their own lives, knowing that they were unable to satisfy these demands, while never hearing anything about the comfort of the righteousness of faith and grace. We see that the summists and theologians conclude that moderation is needed so as to ease consciences, yet they do not sufficiently unshackle, sometimes constraining consciences even more. They have been so occupied with understanding these traditions, that schools and sermons have no leisure to touch upon Scripture, and find the more profitable teachings like faith, the cross, and hope. This is why Gerson and some other theologians have criticized these strivings after traditions for keeping attention from a better kind of doctrine. Augustine also forbids that people's consciences should be burdened with such traditions, and prudently advises Januarius that they are of no consequence.

Pulling It Together: “They can't see the forest for the trees” is a saying that could easily be applied to the Church. What difference does it really make whether the Bible is carried into the sanctuary in just the right manner, so long as the Word of God is read? Who cares if the pastor is robed according to someone's rules, as long as the law and grace of God is proclaimed so that consciences are warned and comforted? Does it really matter that one keeps the Commemorations of Augustine or Luther? These are matters of indifference that the Church still affords too much time and energy.

Our attentions are to be given to weightier concerns (Matt 23:23) that are more profitable to what truly matters to God. How can people know that God loves them when they fear for their souls because they failed in some particular tradition? If they worry that they have forgotten to confess a particular sin, is their focus now upon themselves or upon the one who forgives sin? There are too many trees in the way of our view of God.

When traditions keep us from seeing anything other than our ability to keep them, those traditions have failed us. Too often these trees prevent us from seeing the things that benefit us, such as grace, faith, the cross of Christ, and the hope that we have in him alone, but will never have in the keeping of traditions. 

Prayer: Lord, let me see you so that I may follow you. Amen. 


A Thirty-Day Walk through Luther's Small Catechism is a devotional book that follows the sections of Martin Luther's Small Catechism, and is designed for daily reflection on the Scriptures and the faith that we believe. Guiding the reader through a journey of Law to Gospel, the devotions are meant to show readers not only their need for grace, but where that grace is found in Jesus Christ. The book is not only meant as a basic daily devotional and prayer resource, it also serves as a brief overview of the themes of the Catechism.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 03 Apr 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Matthew 15:1–9

From the Confessions: The Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Distinction of Meats

Secondly, these traditions have obscured the commandments of God, because they have been placed far above God's commands. Christianity has come to be wholly considered as people having a spiritual and perfect life through the correct observances of certain holy days, rites, fasts, and liturgical clothing. Meanwhile the commandments and callings of God are without honor: that the mother bears and looks after her children, that the father provides for and rightly raises them, that the prince governs the commonwealth. These are considered worldly and imperfect works, far below those glittering traditions. This error greatly torments devout consciences which are grieved that they are held in an imperfect state of life like marriage, the office of magistrate, or other civil work. On the other hand, they esteem the monks and their kind, falsely imagining that the traditions of such men are more acceptable to God.

Pulling It Together: The kingdom of God is not in the doing of things but in believing what has been done. There is nothing wrong, of course, with following God's law and keeping his commandments. Christians keep God's commands but they do not believe that religious acts elicit God's mercy. God loves us with a perfect love. It is not something that we arouse in him. He is love (1 John 4:8), therefore he loves us. The reason that we love him and each other is because he first loved us (1 John 4:19). There is nothing that we can do to make him love us more or less. So Lutherans confess that traditions of the Church ought not to be our focus, nor should we esteem those who keep those traditions as better than other Christians. Instead, we are to faithfully and thankfully attend to the callings to which God has called each of us, and believe that we are doing the highest good in raising families and looking to the needs of others. Still, these are not the things that save but instead, they are the responses of people who believe that, because of God's great love, they are saved by faith in Christ alone.

Prayer: Lord, help me fulfill my calling in life for your sake. Amen. 


Come, Worship the Lord (Sola Music Series, Vol I) The Sola Music Series offers simple collections of easy-to-play worship music, including new songs and arrangements of old favorites. Based in a confessional theology and a respect for the historical and sacramental liturgy, these resources do not require a high level of musical expertise. Written in a simple and straight-forward style, these songs are intended for congregations that would like to explore a less formal musical style in worship, while still maintaining the integrity of the traditional order of worship. Such music would fit into what is sometimes referred to as "contemporary" or "blended" worship, without necessarily requiring a full band of experienced musicians and singers to lead the songs. Providing lead sheets for guitar and vocals, along with full scores for piano, Sola Publishing grants to those who purchase this volume the permission to reproduce words and music of the songs within for local congregational use. This book includes music from "The Holy Cross Setting" available with a SOWeR subscription.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 02 Apr 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 14:14–19

From the Confessions: The Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Distinction of Meats

It has been the general view of the people and those teaching in the churches, that making Distinctions of Meats and similar traditions of men are works that earn grace—that these works are able to make satisfactions for sins. Therefore, new ceremonies, orders, holy days, and fasts were established daily. The teachers in the churches demanded these works as a service necessary to merit grace, greatly terrifying people's consciences if they failed to perform any of these things. This view of traditions has caused much damage in the Church.

First, the doctrine of grace and of the righteousness of faith has been rendered unclear. This is the chief part of the Gospel, and ought to stand out as the most prominent in the Church, in order that the merit of Christ may be well known, and that faith which believes that sins are forgiven for Christ's sake be exalted far above works. This is why Paul also lays the greatest emphasis on this article, laying aside the Law and human traditions, in order to show that Christian righteousness is something other than such works—in other words, faith which believes that sins are freely forgiven for Christ's sake. But this doctrine of Paul has been almost wholly suppressed by traditions, which have produced the opinion that by making distinctions in meats and similar services, we earn grace and righteousness. In teaching repentance, faith was not mentioned. Instead only works of satisfaction were prescribed as repentance.

Pulling It Together: The phrase “distinction of meats” is only one aspect of what this article is dealing with, and includes a variety of abuses resulting from human traditions that would supersede the grace of God. The Lutherans insisted that they were under no such obligation to satisfy God since we are not forgiven by our works but instead, for Christ's sake alone. Justification with God is through faith in Christ's work, never by religious deeds. Religious distinctions obscure the doctrine of grace by faith. Therefore, Lutherans confess that righteousness is a free gift of God through faith in Christ, not from the keeping of human laws. 

Prayer: Increase my faith in you, Lord, for your sake. Amen.


For centuries, the Apostle Paul's letters have instructed Christians in the faith. His epistles teach us right theology, remind us repeatedly of the centraility of the good news of God's grace expressed best in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and relentlessly encourage us to follow and serve our God with passion. The Letters of Paul looks at all but one of Paul's 13 epistles and seeks to get at the heart of each one so that his message may inspire new hope, faith, and love in us today.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 01 Apr 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Psalm 19:12–13

From the Confessions: The Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession

Lutherans teach that an enumeration of sins is not necessary, that consciences not be burdened with anxiety by trying to tally all sins. It is impossible to recount all sins, as the psalmist insists: “But who can discern his errors” (Psa 19:12)? Jeremiah also asserts: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately corrupt; who can understand it” (Jer 17:9)? If no sins were forgiven except those recited, consciences would never find peace, for there are very many sins that they neither realize nor remember. The ancient writers also declare that an enumeration is not necessary. Chrysostom is quoted in the Decrees: “I do not say to you, Make a display of yourself nor accuse yourself before others; but be persuaded by the prophet who said, 'Commit your way to the LORD' (Psa 37:5). Confess your sins in prayer before God, the true Judge. Confess your sins with the memory of your conscience, not with the tongue.” The Gloss (Decretum, Concerning Confession) admits that Confession is of human origin; it is not commanded by Scripture but instead, ordained by the Church. Nevertheless, because of the great benefit of absolution, and because it is otherwise useful to the conscience, Confession is retained among us. 

Pulling It Together: No one can remember or even be aware of all of his sins, so the sort of confession that demands a litany of every last sin is hopeless. Trying to do so will produce a miserable person, overburdened under the weight of both his sins and the Church's demands. Moreover, the ancient Church never required this kind of confession to begin with. Therefore, Lutherans use confession to console the guilty conscience. When sinners hear the words of absolution, their minds turn from sin to Christ. They are so overjoyed that God forgives them that their focus goes outward and no longer inward. They praise God for his mercy instead of worrying that they have forgotten some other sin for which this imaginary, angry god of theirs will hold them accountable. We confess that the Lord is merciful and eager to forgive sinners. Therefore, it is enough that one confesses he is a sinner, and perhaps names some specific sin that haunts his conscience. Having confessed in this manner, his heart is ready to hear the comforting words of forgiveness from our Lord. This is why Lutherans have retained confession in their churches: so that Christians may believe the words, “Almighty God, in his mercy, has given his Son to die for us and, for his sake, forgives us all our sins.”

Prayer: Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Amen. 


Learning About Confession - Teacher's Guide guides leaders in teaching the meaning of Confession and Forgiveness according Luther's guidance in the Small Catechism. The student book, Learning About Confession is recommended for the Sixth Grade Level. Each week focuses on a specific Bible story that illustrates the theme, with additional references from Scripture and Luther's Small Catechism - Children's Version. With a healthy balance of Law and Gospel, lessons emphasize the connection between repentance and forgiveness, and how the promise of God’s forgiveness changes our lives.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 31 Mar 21 00:00:00 -0500

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John 20:21-23

From the Confessions: The Augsburg Confession

Concerning Confession

Lutherans have not abolished confession in their churches since it is not fitting to give the body of the Lord unless people have been examined and absolved. Our people are carefully taught about faith in the absolution, where formerly there was great silence. They are taught that they should highly value absolution, it being the voice of God, and pronounced by his command. The power and the beauty of the Keys is taught, reminding Christians of the great consolation it brings to anxious consciences. We also instruct that God requires faith to believe this absolution as the voice of heaven, and that only by faith in Christ does one truly obtain and receive the forgiveness of sins. Until now, penance was liberally applied, while faith and the merit of Christ and the righteousness of faith was never mentioned. On this point, our churches cannot be blamed. Even those who disagree with us concede that the doctrine concerning repentance has been made very clear by our teachers.

Pulling It Together: From the beginning, confession was considered necessary by the Lutherans. Both the Small and Large Catechisms of Luther provide instruction about how to make confession. We teach that people must confess their sins before receiving Holy Communion. And they must be forgiven. While the word of absolution or forgiveness is spoken by bishops and pastors, it is God who forgives. The pastor speaks for God as taught by Jesus (John 20:22-23), reminding poor sinners that God hears their confession and forgives them. They must trust that this word of absolution comes from God. No works of penance or satisfaction are required. Faith in the final work of Christ's sacrifice for sin is sufficient. In this way, Lutherans teach people to focus upon Christ, not upon themselves, their sins, or their efforts to satisfy God.

Prayer: Increase, O Lord, my faith in your forgiveness and love of sinners. Amen.


Learning About Confession teaches the meaning of Confession and Forgiveness according to Luther's guidance in the Small Catechism. It is recommended for the Sixth Grade Level. Each week focuses on a specific Bible story that illustrates the theme, with additional references from Scripture and Luther's Small Catechism - Children's Version. With a healthy balance of Law and Gospel, lessons emphasize the connection between repentance and forgiveness, and how the promise of God’s forgiveness changes our lives.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 30 Mar 21 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Corinthians 11:33-34

From the Confessions: The Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass

Since the Mass is a Sacrament for those present, we celebrate it each holy day, and also on other days when worshipers gather. This is not a new custom in the Church, for the Fathers before Gregory make no mention of any private Mass. Yet they speak very much of the common Mass, or the Communion. Chrysostom says that the priest stands at the altar, inviting some to the Communion and keeping back others. The ancient Canons show that one priest administered the Mass to the other priests and deacons. The Nicene Canon states, “Let the deacons after the priests, according to their order, receive the Holy Communion from the bishop or another priest.” Paul commands us concerning the Communion: “My brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another” (1Cor 11:33).

In the Mass we follow the example of the Church, taken from the Scripture and the Fathers. So we are confident that it cannot be condemned, especially since public ceremonies, for the most part are retained. Only the number of Masses has been reduced because of many serious abuses. In former times, even in those churches most frequented, the Mass was not celebrated every day. The Tripartite History (Book 9, ch 33) shows that in Alexandria, every Wednesday and Friday the Scriptures were read, and the doctors expounded upon them, and all things were done except the solemn rite of Communion.

Pulling It Together: Holy Communion is a benefit for those gathered. It is not to be served to those who are not present or to unbelievers or the dead. When the Church gathers for worship, Communion is celebrated with proper order. Communion is not a potluck that feeds the belly. It is a means of grace in which people are assured that they receive the forgiveness of sins. Lutherans follow the ancient practices of the Church, as indicated by Scripture and the early Church Fathers, so that the focus of Communion is retained on holy days. 

Prayer: Help me focus on what you have done and continue to do for me, Lord, not on what I do for you. Amen. 


My New Bible is a five-session study for use in Sunday School at the presentation of the Holy Scriptures to elementary students. It introduces them to the layout and contents of their new Bible, shows them how to identify books and find verses, and gives them an overview of the major parts of Scripture

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 29 Mar 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Luke 22:14-20

From the Confessions: The Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass

Scripture also teaches that we are justified before God through faith in Christ, when we believe that our sins are forgiven for Christ's sake. Scripture does not allow that the Mass takes away the sins of the living and the dead by the outward act, as this would mean that justification results from the work of Masses, instead of by faith.

Instead, Christ commands us, “Do this in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19) Therefore, Lutherans confess that the Mass was instituted so that the faith of those who use the Sacrament would remember what benefits they receive through Christ, and as a result, that their anxious consciences be encouraged and comforted. For to remember Christ is to remember his benefits—that they are truly offered to us. It is not enough to simply remember the history, for the Jews and the ungodly can remember. The Mass is to be used to this end: that the Sacrament (Communion) be administered to them that have need of consolation, as Ambrose says: “Because I always sin, I am always bound to take the medicine.” Therefore this Sacrament requires faith, and without faith, it is used in vain.

Pulling It Together: When you approach the altar, you ought to ask, “What am I doing here?” The answer, of course, is that your Lord has called you to his table. You might think that you are unworthy to eat from his hand. Nevertheless, he has called you—commanded you. Take. Eat. As often as you do, you remember that he gave his body and that you must receive this grace by faith in Christ alone. He then commands, take and drink—all of you. Then you may remember that Jesus shed his blood, not only for the whole world, but also for you, the one now drinking who knows that he is undeserving.

The Sacrament is not about us; it is all about the one who has called us to eat and drink. The one who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29) gives us himself and commands us to receive him. We do this partaking by remembering what he did, surely, but also by believing that this meal has the greatest value. In it is God's grace and mercy, the forgiveness of sins, for you. There is the comforting remembrance: that you are forgiven through the grace of God alone, and not by anything that you bring to the table—as if you had anything of value to offer. 

Prayer: Thank you, God, for providing the true bread of heaven, your Son, Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen. 


Crossways International is now a part of Sola Publishing.

The original Crossways® series is our most comprehensive course, designed for adults and mature youth who want to work through the Scriptures in detail. The series leads students on an unforgettable journey through all 66 books of the Bible, as well as the Apocrypha. The Crossways® series is usually taught over a two-year period, with 30 units studied each year. The course may be done as a whole, or individually in six sections of ten units each.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 28 Mar 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Hebrews 10:8-14

From the Confessions: The Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass

The demand for Private Masses has greatly increased because of the thought that Christ, by his passion, made satisfaction only for original sin, and had instituted the Mass as an offering to be made for daily sins. The result is the common opinion that the Mass takes away the sins of the living and the dead by the outward act. Then it was disputed whether one Mass said for many was worth as much as private Masses for individuals. This brought about innumerable Masses whereby people wished to obtain from God all that they needed. Meanwhile, faith in Christ, and true worship were forgotten.

Our teachers have warned that these opinions depart from the Holy Scriptures and also diminish the glory of the passion of Christ. His passion was an offering and satisfaction, not for original guilt only, but also for all other sins, as it is written, “We have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Heb 10:10) It is also written, “For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.” (Heb 10:14) It is an unprecedented innovation in the Church to teach that by his death Christ made satisfaction only for original sin and not for all other sin also. May everyone understand that this error has been rebuked for good reason.

Pulling It Together: It was believed that the Mass was an additional sacrifice that atoned for people's sins—indeed, not just the sins of the living but the dead as well. Because the Church had come to accept that Christ's death only atoned for Original Sin, daily sins were not covered by his death. New Masses, it was thought, needed to be said for these sins—whether ordinary or mortal. It was further questioned whether corporate or individual Masses might be more efficacious. This resulted in Private Masses being purchased by persons for individual redemption. The real consequence, however, was that the focus of worship was no longer faith in Christ but instead, trust in the work of the Mass done at a person's behest.

As this belief is philosophical, not scriptural, Lutherans confess that the Mass is a Sacrament for all sin, and for public usage. Holy Communion does not belong to those who can afford it, but to the whole Church. This was not only the ancient practice of the Church Fathers but that of the Church in Apostolic times. Then and now, the one offering of Christ alone sanctifies and redeems poor sinners from both original and subsequent sin.   

Prayer: I thank and praise you, Lord, for your precious gift of grace. Amen. 


This booklet teaches the meaning of Holy Communion according to the pattern of Luther's Small Catechism and is recommended for the Fifth Grade Level. Each week focuses on a specific Bible story that illustrates the theme, with additional references from Scripture and Luther's Small Catechism - Children's Version. Lessons emphasize the sacramental promise of the forgiveness of sins conveyed to us in the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. This booklet was designed to be used as a Sunday School unit, or for classes to prepare students for their First Communion.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 27 Mar 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Acts 8:18-23

From the Confessions: The Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass

The bishops were not ignorant of these abuses, and if they had corrected them, there would now be less discord. By their own collusion, they permitted many corruptions to creep into the Church. Now, when it is too late, they complain of the troubles of the Church, when this disturbance developed simply because of abuses that were so apparent that they could no longer be suffered. There have been great dissensions concerning the Mass—the Sacrament. Perhaps the world is being punished for tolerating these sacrileges of the Mass in the churches for so many centuries by the very men who were both able and obligated to correct them. For in the Ten Commandments it is written, “The LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain” (Exod 20:7). But since the beginning of the world, nothing that God ever ordained seems to have been so abused for the sake of revenue as the Mass.

Pulling It Together: It is bad enough when people who know better turn a blind eye to the truth. It is worse when they do so for financial reward. This was a leading problem facing the Church, not only at the time of the Reformation but for hundreds of years prior to the reform efforts of the Lutherans. Doctrine should be rightly taught and for the right reason. The Church's pastors are called to teach the pure Word of God, no matter how difficult due to either current social convention or long-standing neglect of error in the Church itself. They must do so without coercion or profit. Purchasing the Sacrament for personal merit with God is an erroneous handling of God's Word, but urging others to do so, when one knows better, is reprehensible. Invoking the name of the Lord for false practice and profit was a deliberate misuse of the second commandment. The Reformers would tolerate this obvious abuse of the Sacrament no longer, and exhorted the rest of the Church to cease merchandising the gift of God.

Prayer: Lord God, correct the false intents of my heart and make me guiltless through your righteousness. Amen. 


This booklet teaches the Ten Commandments according to the pattern of Luther's Small Catechism and is recommended for the Third Grade Level. Each week focuses on a specific Bible story that illustrates the theme, with additional references from Scripture and Luther's Small Catechism - Children's Version. Lessons emphasize a Lutheran understanding of God's Word as both Law and Gospel, calling for faithful obedience and showing the need for Christ's forgiveness and grace.

Teacher's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 26 Mar 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Ephesians 2:4-7

From the Confessions: The Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass

It is evident that for a long time it has been the public and grave complaint of upright people that the Mass has been profaned by using it for financial gain. It is well known how widespread this abuse is in the churches, as Masses are said for fees or stipends for the privileged, and how many celebrate them contrary to the Canons by doing so privately. Paul admonishes those who deal unworthily with the Eucharist when he says, “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord” (1Cor 11:27). Therefore, when our priests were reproved concerning this sin, Private Masses were discontinued among us, as scarcely any Private Masses were celebrated except for the sake of profit.

Pulling It Together: The Mass, or Holy Communion, was being bought and sold in the days of the Reformation. It was thought that one could purchase a Mass to be said for himself as a way of earning some merit with God. Further, the Mass had come to such a sad place that priests were hired to say Masses for the dead, that God's wrath toward them would be appeased. Since the grace of God is a gift, freely given because of his immeasurably kind mercy toward us, private Masses were discontinued by the Lutherans. Lutherans administer the means of grace without cost to all believers, for that price has been paid by Christ alone through his death (1Cor 6:20; 7:23) for the whole world (John 3:16).

Prayer: Thank you, Jesus, for paying the price for my sin, through your death. Amen. 


Examining Our Core Beliefs explains in straightforward terms, the core of what we believe—from a biblical, theological, historical, and confessional point of view. A 30-page study guide is included in the back of the book. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 25 Mar 21 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Corinthians 11:27-32

From the Confessions: The Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Mass

Our churches are falsely accused of abolishing the Mass. The Mass is maintained among us and celebrated with the highest reverence. Nearly all of the usual ceremonies are also preserved, other than that the parts sung in Latin are interspersed here and there with German hymns. These have been added to teach the people. Ceremonies are needed so that the uneducated be taught what they need to know about Christ. Paul commanded, as does human law, that the church employ a language understood by the people (1Cor 14:2-9). The people, as many as are able, partake of the Sacrament together. This increases the reverence and devotion of public worship. For none are admitted except they are examined first. The people are also taught about the dignity and use of the Sacrament that it brings great consolation to anxious consciences so that they may learn to believe God and to expect and ask of him all good things. In this respect, they are also instructed about other and false teachings concerning the Sacrament. Such use of the Sacrament in worship pleases God and nourishes true devotion toward God. Therefore, it does not appear that the Mass is celebrated more devoutly among our adversaries than among us.

Pulling It Together: Lutherans celebrate Holy Communion often—many of our churches communing each Lord's Day. We do so with order and reverence, beginning with the acknowledgment that we all sin (1John 1:8-9), then continuing with self-examination and confession of our sins. After this preparation, we hear the word of the Lord: that he entirely forgives us of all our sins. After prayer, hymns, reading of Scripture, and the proclamation of God's Word, Holy Communion is received by all who desire God's grace. This pleases God, for it is his will that we receive his grace in necessary proportion (Eph 4:7). And we sinners need his grace very much indeed.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for giving your power to make me a child of God. Amen. 


Learning About Communion teaches the meaning of Holy Communion according to the pattern of Luther's Small Catechism, and is recommended for the Fifth Grade Level. Each week focuses on a specific Bible story that illustrates the theme, with additional references from Scripture and Luther's Small Catechism - Children's Version. Lessons emphasize the sacramental promise of the forgiveness of sins conveyed to us in the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. This booklet was designed to be used as a Sunday School unit, or for classes to prepare students for their First Communion.

Teacher's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 24 Mar 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Genesis 2:18, 21-24

From the Confessions: The Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests

There has been common complaint concerning the examples of priests who were not virtuous. This is why Pope Pius is reported to have said that there were certain causes why marriage was taken away from priests, but that there were far weightier ones why it ought to be given back, as Platina writes. Since our priests wished to avoid these open scandals, they married and taught that it was lawful for them to do so. Paul says that to avoid fornication, every man should have his own wife, and that it is better to marry than to burn. (1Cor 7:2, 9) Christ says that all men cannot receive this saying, where he teaches that not all men are fit to lead a single life (Matt. 19:11), for God created man for procreation. (Gen 1:28) It is not in a man's power, without an uncommon gift and work of God, to alter this intent of creation. Many have confessed that no good, honest, chaste life, no Christian, sincere, upright conduct has resulted in the attempt; but instead, alarming, fearful unrest and torment of conscience has been felt by many until the end. Therefore, those who are not fit to lead a single life ought to marry. For no man's law, no vow, can annul the commandment and ordinance of God. For these reasons, our clergy teach that it is lawful for them to marry.

Priests were married men in the ancient Church. Paul says that a bishop should be the husband of one wife. (1Tim 3:2) In Germany, four hundred years ago for the first time, priests were forcefully compelled to lead a celibate life. These priests put up such resistance that the Archbishop of Mainz, when about to publish the Pope's decree concerning this matter, was almost killed in the uproar raised by those enraged priests. Not only were marriages forbidden for the future, but also existing marriages were forcibly ended, contrary to all divine and human laws, contrary even to the Canons themselves, made not only by Popes, but by notable Synods. God-fearing and intelligent people in high station are also known to have frequently expressed misgivings that enforced celibacy and social control of marriage (which God himself has instituted) has never produced good results, but has brought on many great and evil vices and much iniquity. Seeing that, as the world is aging and man's nature is gradually growing weaker, it is well to ensure that no more vices steal into Germany.

God ordained marriage to be a correction of human infirmity. The Canons themselves say that the old disciplines ought to sometimes be relaxed in latter times because of the weakness of men. We wish it were relaxed also in this matter. It should be expected that the churches will one day lack pastors if marriage continues to be forbidden.

While the commandment of God is in force, and since the custom of the Church is well known, and because impure celibacy causes many scandals, adulteries, and other crimes deserving the punishments of just magistrates, it is incredible that in nothing is more cruelty exercised than in the forbidding of marriage to priests. God has given his commandment to honor marriage. By the laws of all well-ordered commonwealths—even among the heathen—marriage is most highly honored. But now, priests are cruelly put to death, contrary to the intent of the Canons, for no other reason than marriage. Paul calls it a doctrine of devils that forbids marriage (1Tim 4:3). This is easily understood when the law against marriage is enforced with such penalties. But as no law of man can annul the commandment of God, so neither can it be accomplished by vows. Therefore, Cyprian counsels that women who are not able keep the chastity that they have promised, should marry. “But if they be unwilling or unable to persevere, it is better for them to marry than to fall into the fire by their lusts. They should certainly give no offense to their brethren and sisters.” (Book I, Epistle XI) Even the Canons show some leniency toward those who have taken vows before the proper age, as has generally been the case.

Pulling It Together: Desiring to be free of the scandal of unchaste priests, Melancthon and the other Lutherans took wives. Luther held out until his brothers had all married. Then, he too took a wife, a former nun by the name of Katherine. She became everything God intended in marriage. She was in all ways Luther's helpmate and better half (Gen 2:18, 24).

The Lutherans knew that legislating celibacy as a cure for impropriety did not address the real nature of the transgressions of impious priests, nor had it been shown to yield the expected results. More importantly, enforced celibacy is man's answer, not God's. The Lord's intention and institution is marriage. If one wishes to remain unmarried so that the focus of hours and energies is ministry, one may certainly do so, but not under compulsion and not by vow. Later, if it is discerned that one is not fit for single life, one may marry with God's blessing.

Prayer: Lord of love, thank you for your gift of marriage. Amen. 


Marriage - As Christ Loved Us is a set of card, bookmark, gift tag, and envelope. (Limited Quantities in Stock)

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 23 Mar 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Matthew 26:26-28

From the Confessions: The Augsburg Confession

Concerning Both Kinds in the Sacrament

In our churches, the laity are given both elements in the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, because the Lord has commanded, “Drink of it, all of you.” (Matt 26:27) If someone says that this only applied to Christ's disciples or to priests, Paul offers an example (1Cor 11:27) in which it appears that the whole congregation received both kinds. This usage has long been the pattern in the Church. Cyprian (Epistle 57.2) and Jerome bear witness that this was the practice in the Church, Jerome writing, “The priests administer the Eucharist, and distribute the blood of Christ to the people.” Pope Gelasius commanded that the Sacrament not be divided (dist. 2, Concerning Consecration). Only relatively recent custom divides the usage. It is not known when or by whose authority, it was changed, although Cardinal Cusanus mentions the time when it was approved. It is evident that any custom introduced against the commandments of God must not be allowed, as the Canons witness (dist. III., cap. Veritate, and the following chapters). Nevertheless, this custom has been received, not only against the Scripture, but also against the old Canons and the ancient practice of the Church. Therefore, if any preferred to receive both kinds of the Sacrament, they ought not to have been compelled to offend their consciences by doing otherwise. Since the division of the Sacrament does not agree with Christ's own institution, we have discontinued the procession of the Sacrament.

Pulling It Together: The command of Christ is clear: all Christians—not simply the clergy—should drink the cup of our Lord. He does not deny his body and blood to anyone who would receive him by faith. This has been the practice of the Church from the time of the institution of the Supper by our Lord. When we begin to change the plain meaning of God's Word or remove words that offend us, we offend God and are condemned by the very words we omit. We might reason that the blood is surely present in the Lord's body, and that therefore the bread is sufficient for the laity. This misses the point; it is not our place to argue what Christ has instituted. So, Lutherans take a stand with the Scripture and with Christ, offering both bread and wine to all the faithful.

Prayer: Thank you, Jesus, for giving me all of you. Amen. 


The Sacraments is a ten-week study, including sessions on Baptism, Communion, and the Office of the Keys. The Bible Study lessons in The Sacraments series emphasize the connection between Old and New Testaments, by drawing on sacramental themes foreshadowed in familiar Old Testament stories, and how the promises of God "for you" are expressed and fulfilled in Christ.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 22 Mar 21 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Corinthians 16:13-14

From the Confessions: The Augsburg Confession

Corrected Abuses

Our churches do not object to any article of the faith in the Church catholic. We have only eliminated some abuses that are new, and which have been mistakenly accepted by the corruption of the times. These are counter to the intent of the Canons, and so, we pray that Your Imperial Majesty would graciously hear both what has been changed, and the reasons why the people were not compelled to observe those abuses against their conscience. Your Imperial Majesty should not believe those who have spread slander among the people in order to stir up hatred against us. Having already provoked the minds of good people, they now strive to cause disorder. Your Imperial Majesty will undoubtedly find that our doctrine and ceremonies are not so intolerable as these ungodly and malicious men represent. Besides, the truth cannot be gathered from common rumors or the insults of enemies. Still, it may readily be determined that nothing would better maintain the dignity of ceremonies, nor nurture reverence and pious devotion among the people more than if the ceremonies were observed rightly in the churches.

Pulling It Together: Melancthon was ready to list the abuses that had crept into the Church over the years. But first, he emphasized again that Lutherans were part of that great communion of saints of the Church catholic since apostolic times. But corruptions had begun to creep into the Church. Reform was badly needed so that people's hearts could again be comforted by the mercy of God in Christ. As these reforms began, they were met with the harshest criticism: that the reformers were heretics. Hatred based on rumor and slander was stirred up against the Lutherans. Even still, facing the great power of both religion and government, the Lutherans made their stand. Exercising virtues of Christian maturity, they remained strong in the face of great power, ready to state with conviction the articles that lie ahead. 

Prayer: Help me stand your ground, Lord, so that your name will be glorified in all the earth. Amen. 


The English Standard Version Pew Bible containing the Old and New Testament is an affordable durable Bible, designed for regular church use. Hardcover black with black print.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 21 Mar 21 00:00:00 -0500

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1 Corinthians 1:10-13

From the Confessions: The Chief Articles of Faith in the Augsburg Confession

Conclusion of Part One

This is a fairly comprehensive account of the doctrine preached and taught in our congregations. As can be seen, there is nothing that varies from the Scriptures, or from the Church catholic, or from the Church of Rome as known from its writers. This being the case, they judge harshly who insist that our teachers should be regarded as heretics. There is, however, disagreement on certain abuses, which have crept into the Church without proper authority. Yet even in these, if there were some difference, there should be gentleness on the part of bishops to bear with us by reason of the Confession which we have now reviewed. Even the Canons are not so severe as to demand the same rites everywhere. The rites of all churches have never been the same at any time, although, among us, in large part, the ancient rites are diligently observed. It is a false and malicious charge that all the ceremonies and traditions have been abolished in our churches. Still, it has been a common complaint that some abuses were connected with the ordinary rites. Those that could be approved with a good conscience have been corrected to some extent.

Pulling It Together: Before going on Melancthon offered a closing summary of the Augsburg Confession up to this point. He restated what was said earlier in the articles, that Lutheran doctrine is based firmly upon the Scripture. Since it has been shown that the Church Fathers also agreed with their teachings, it must be noted that the Wittenbergers were also in accord with the whole Church. The Church in Rome should note that the principal differences between it and the Church in Wittenberg were over matters of tradition and ceremony. These issues should be handled with Christian kindness and love, as befits brothers in the faith. The Lutherans had already shown their willingness and desire to correct some of these, as far as the Word of God and conscience had allowed.

The emphasis of the Confession remains upon Christ rather than tradition, in the authority of God instead of human invention. The Lutherans have shown in their Confession thus far that they did not object to any article of faith that the Church had believed since its earliest days. Their protests were against newer practices and teachings that had crept into usage without the authority of Scripture. These will be treated one-by-one, as we move toward the conclusion of the Augsburg Confession.

Prayer: Hold me, Lord; embrace and keep me from all missteps and forgive me of my sins. Amen. 


Sola Publishing - “Faith Group” Video Bible Studies'

Lost and Found - Lost in Ourselves and Found in Christ

by As We Go Ministries, Inc

Christians often think or speak of "the lost" as those who do not know or believe in God. The Bible, however, shows how easy it is for all people, believers or not, to get lost from God by getting caught up in ourselves and our own agendas.

Martin Luther, following St. Augustine, described the sinner as incurvatus in se, as "curved in on oneself." Looking to ourselves for righteousness or spiritual peace will lead us only into pride or despair. It takes the external word of the Gospel to draw us into a saving relationship with God in Christ.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 20 Mar 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 8:31-34

From the Confessions: The Chief Articles of Faith in the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Worship of the Saints

Concerning the worship of saints, Lutherans teach that the saints of old should be remembered so that we may imitate their faith and good works, as is our calling. This is similar to the Emperor following the example of David by defending the empire from Turkish invasion. For both are kings. But the Scripture does not teach the invocation of saints, nor to ask the help of saints. It declares that we have Christ alone as Mediator, Atonement, High Priest, and Intercessor (1Tim 2:5-6). We are to pray to him who has promised that he will hear our prayer. He approves as highest worship that we call upon him in all of our afflictions. “If any one does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous,” etc (1 John 2:1).

Pulling It Together: Lutherans encourage an old tradition: imitate those who imitate Christ (1Cor 4:16; 11:1). We hold up the lives of the saints as models of faith to be followed. But we do not venerate the saints or pray to them. Scripture exhorts us to pray to God, for he is the one who both wants to hear our prayers and is able and willing to answer them. He graciously gives us all good things (Rom 8:32), interceding before his Father on our behalf (Rom 7:26; 8:34; Heb 7:25). Since God is for us, who could possibly prevail against us? For that matter, who could secure for us anything more than the one who sits at the right hand of his Father? Besides this, both Scripture and our doctrine of justification by faith forbid the work of any other to eclipse the honor that belongs to Christ alone. 

Prayer: You alone are God, so to you I lift up my prayers, giving thanks that you both hear and are eager to dispense your mercy and grace. Amen. 


Kinderbeten is a compelling story touching on the exercise of free religion, the religious wars in Europe, the roots of Evangelicalism, the supernatural, and more, all wrapped up in a religious revival which began not through a charismatic revivalist or any adult at all, but rather found it's origin with children aged four to fourteen. The children became pawns in a controversy between political and religious opponents. Indulge your curiosity and read the remarkable story about the King of Sweden and the 1707-08 Children's Revival in Silesia, a tale of hope and prayer.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 19 Mar 21 00:00:00 -0500

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John 15:1-5

From the Confessions: The Chief Articles of Faith in the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Good Works 

Therefore, it may be readily seen that this doctrine ought not to be rejected for prohibiting good works, but should be commended because it shows how we are enabled to do good works. For without faith, human nature can not do the works of the First or of the Second Commandment. Without faith, we do not call upon God, expect anything from God, or bear the cross, but instead we seek and trust our own labors. Consequently, as there is no faith and trust in God, lusts and human inclinations rule the heart. This is the reason Christ said, “Apart from me you can do nothing,” (John 15:5) and the Church sings:

Lacking Thy divine favor,
There is nothing found in man,
Naught in him is harmless.

Pulling It Together: The doctrine of justification by faith does not rule out doing good works. Rather, it shows us how we are able to do good works. Left to our own devices, we would not even do the beginning of the commandments. We would not love God with our whole hearts, nor our neighbors as ourselves. We might try to be religious, but after enough failing in this endeavor, we would give up—or worse, become self-righteous in our devout behavior. We would either despair of our inability or become conceited by our aptitude for the task. Either way, we would do so without God's help, neither caring for, nor expecting God's assistance. Without faith, works become a trap. With the Spirit's help, we abide in the Vine who is Christ and little by little bear more and more fruit for him. This happens without our exertions but instead, because we are connected to the source of life. Though we fail often, we continue to abide because we trust in him, not in our produce. 

Prayer: Live through me, Lord, so that I may be productive in your kingdom. Amen. 


A Reading and Discussion of the Augsburg Confession is written in easy-to-understand language but is a challenging study series based on assigned readings from the Book of Concord and related Scripture texts. Each study is comprised of eight sessions, plus an optional introductory session, each presented in a question and discussion format. Click here to see the Table of Contents and a sample session.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 18 Mar 21 00:00:00 -0500

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James 2:14-22

From the Confessions: The Chief Articles of Faith in the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Good Works 

We teach that it is necessary to do good works because it is the will of God—not that we should trust them to earn God's grace. Forgiveness of sins is only received through faith with nothing else added. When faith is received through the Holy Spirit, hearts are renewed and given new affections, so that we want to do good works. Ambrose says, “Faith is the mother of a good will and right doing.” Without the Holy Spirit, our efforts are full of ungodly motivations, and our hearts are too weak to do works which are good in God's sight. In any case, our works are in the power of the devil who moves people to a variety of sins, to ungodly opinions, and even to open crimes. We see this in the philosophers, who tried to live upright lives but could not succeed, descending into public sins. This is the life of those without faith and the Holy Spirit, who govern themselves only by their own strength.

Pulling It Together: Faith is completed or fulfilled in our good works. One may say that she believes in God but if she left her brother hungry or threadbare would anyone suspect she was a member of the family of God? This is not a living faith. Living faith produces good works. In the end, the two are inseparable. One cannot claim to have faith, and another claim to have works. Faith is demonstrated by works. But we must be very careful to understand that these good works have earned us no favor in God's sight. He simply expects people of faith to bear good fruit so that his name will be honored and praised by people everywhere (Psa 48:10).

Prayer: May our lives bring you thanks and praise, O Lord our God. Amen. 


Announce the good news with boldness and joy to your family and friends with this Easter Triptych - Christ is Risen! This card, bookmark, gift tag, and envelope package proclaims the truth of Easter, that Christ has accomplished your salvation!

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 17 Mar 21 00:00:00 -0500

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John 3:16-17

From the Confessions: The Chief Articles of Faith in the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Good Works 

Now those who know that they have a Father who is gracious toward them through Christ, truly know God. Since they recognize that God cares for them, they call upon him, knowing that they are not like the heathen who do not have a loving Father. Because devils and the ungodly are not able to believe this article concerning the forgiveness of sins, they regard God as an enemy, hate him, do not call upon him, and expect no good from him. Augustine also teaches that, instead of that sort of knowledge that even the ungodly possess, faith is accepted in the Scriptures as that confidence in God which consoles and encourages the terrified conscience.

Pulling It Together: Lutherans teach that God loves all people. Indeed, he loves us so much that he sent his own Son to bring eternal life to everyone who believes in the Son (John 3:16). His limitless love brings peace and comfort, even to the souls of those who know that they are sinners. As a result, believers are able to call upon God as a loving Father, one who cares about their troubles and forgives their sins. God is no longer regarded as a wrathful enemy, as those think who do not believe in God as Father. This faith in God is not produced by believing that there is a god (James1:19) but by trusting in the only God who loves and forgives. This is the true, biblical faith that yields comfort and support to all, where once there was worry and fear.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for loving me with an everlasting love. Amen. 


We live in a culture in which "knowing" is frequently associated with an accumulation of details and facts. But what is the meaning of "knowing" in the terms of a close relationship with our heavenly Father? The objective of this The Ultimate Intimacy is learning that knowing the Father is not so much about details and facts as it is realizing the various ways the Lord has to make himself known to us in a personal way. The result is that each day and moment become a marvelous, mysterious adventure of experiencing his great love for us.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 16 Mar 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Philippians 3:1-11

From the Confessions: The Chief Articles of Faith in the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Good Works 

Until now, consciences were plagued with the doctrine of works because they did not hear the consolation from the gospel. Conscience drove some into the desert or into monasteries, hoping to earn grace through monastic life. Some devised other works as a way to earn God's grace and make satisfaction for their sins. Therefore, there was a great need to revive teaching the doctrine of faith in Christ, so that anxious consciences would not be without consolation but that they might know that grace, forgiveness of sins, and justification are obtained only by faith in Christ.

The term "faith" does not mean a mere knowledge of history, which even the ungodly and the devil know. Faith believes, not merely the history but also, the effect of the history—namely, this article: the forgiveness of sins. In other words, that we have grace, righteousness, and forgiveness of sins through Christ.

Pulling It Together

Our works are always questionable. Does one do enough, for the right reason, and so forth? Therefore, the conscience cannot be consoled as it will debate with itself as to whether one has become good enough for God. However one may try, she will never be good enough. The balance over against one's sin will always leave a person lacking in the reconciliation of the perfectly righteous God. Still, many try to gain some confidence with God by their own efforts. They devise plans to satisfy an angry God, not believing that God loves them and sent his own Son to satisfy their great deficiency.

So we must redouble our efforts to teach the doctrine of justification by faith in Christ alone. This is the article that consoles the troubled conscience. Yet, we must go beyond head knowledge and teach Christians to completely trust God. Grace, righteousness, and the forgiveness of sins is given to us freely through Christ. Lutherans confess this divine gift and do not compel the Church to satisfy God in any other way than to believe the gospel. Everything we would do to earn God's grace is rubbish, refuse, and dung. 

Prayer: Lord, help me to trust in you alone so that I might gain Christ and his righteousness. Amen. 


Personalities of Faith is a ten-session Bible study for youth. The goal of the series is to encourage young people to commit themselves to follow Jesus in discipleship by becoming "personalities of faith." By showing biblical examples of people who have followed—or failed to follow—God's call, participants will be prepared to better follow the Lord in their own lives.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 15 Mar 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Romans 15:8-13

From the Confessions: The Chief Articles of Faith in the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Good Works 

Although this doctrine is scorned by the inexperienced, nevertheless God-fearing and anxious consciences find that it brings the greatest consolation, since the conscience cannot find rest through any works, but only through faith, when it takes the sure ground that for Christ's sake one has a reconciled God. For example, Paul teaches, “Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Rom 5:1) This doctrine should be applied to the struggle of the terrified conscience. Indeed, it can not be understood apart from that struggle. Therefore, inexperienced and worldly people judge poorly concerning this matter, imagining that Christian righteousness is nothing but civil and philosophical goodness.

Pulling It Together

This paragraph in the Confession considers two things: that being good will not bring peace to the restless heart, and that what does console is trust in God's promise of mercy through Jesus Christ. Some disagree, saying that works must be added to faith or God is not reconciled. Scripture says otherwise but consider that those who try the route of good deeds find that their hearts are still afraid. They wonder if God forgives all of their sins if they do not perform enough of the right kinds of acts. They are troubled, questioning if their salvation is guaranteed when they continue to sin, perhaps doing so by feeling proud of their deeds?

When one tries to reconcile God through good works, the conscience still trembles. One must put aside trust in self, and trust in Christ alone for righteousness before God. Nowhere in Scripture does it tell us to turn to ourselves and find peace. Nowhere are we instructed that by trying harder and doing better that we will then know peace and hope. Christ alone is the hope of all people, his reconciling sacrifice only being received by faith. 

Prayer: Increase my hope, Lord, for I trust in you alone. Amen. 


The Spiritual Realms: A Bible Study on Heaven and Hell and Places Beyond this World

By Rev. Steven E. King

"We believe in God the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen." (Nicene Creed)

The Spiritual Realms is a nine-session Bible Study series on Heaven and Hell and places beyond this world. Specifically, the study looks at the many “place names” that are found throughout Scripture, referring to spiritual realms of existence that underlie and comprise the universe God created. This Bible Study series is a challenging one, in that it explores realities of existence beyond what we know and experience every day.

The study not only addresses matters of life, death, heaven and hell, it steadfastly affirms that Jesus Christ is at the center of all these things. Our ultimate faith and hope rest in Christ’s death and resurrection for our sake. We live in faith by the biblical promise that: “God raised the Lord, and will also raise us up by his power.” (1 Corinthians 6:14)

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 14 Mar 21 00:00:00 -0600 Click for larger image

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Acts 15:5-11

From the Confessions: The Chief Articles of Faith in the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Good Works 

Paul addresses the doctrine concerning faith everywhere in his writings. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God,” etc. (Eph 2:8)

No one may argue that a new interpretation of Paul has been invented by us, since this entire matter is supported by the testimonies of the Fathers. Augustine, in many volumes, defends grace and the righteousness of faith, over against the merits of works. Ambrose, in his De Vocatione Gentium, and elsewhere, teaches the same. For in De Vocatione Gentium he says, “Redemption by the blood of Christ would become of little value, neither would the preeminence of man's works be superseded by the mercy of God, if justification, which is wrought through grace, were due to the merits going before, so as to be, not the free gift of a donor, but the reward due to the laborer.”

Pulling It Together

The doctrine of justification by faith is not a Lutheran innovation. We are not alone in our understanding of the Scripture. Even in the earliest days of the Church, it was taught by the Apostles Peter and Paul that we should not burden people with religious expectations so that they might be saved. It is sufficient for salvation that one believes the word of the gospel. This means that we are not saved by religious works, rituals, or good deeds—but by God's grace alone. The Church Fathers agree with the apostles, as they should. Although The Calling of the Gentiles is now known to be written by another in Ambrose's name, this ancient work that was received by the Church testifies to the doctrine of faith alone. Augustine does the same in The Spirit and the Letter, as well as many of his other writings. Lutherans are hardly alone in the long history of the Church when they insist that people everywhere are justified with God by faith alone.

Prayer: Father, thank you for the grace of your Son, delivered to my heart by your Spirit. Amen. 

A Latin phrase meaning “Scripture Alone,” Sola Scriptura is one of the traditional Lutheran slogans used since the time of the Reformation. It expresses our confession that Scripture is “the only rule and norm according to which all doctrines and teachers alike must be appraised and judged.” Using the familiar phrase as its title, Sola Scriptura is a new, advanced-level Bible Study in a two-part series, of six chapters each, on the functional authority of Scripture. For those who would like to cover the topic in detail, there is enough material to cover one chapter in two sessions, making each part a 12-week study.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 13 Mar 21 00:00:00 -0600

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John 14:1-6

From the Confessions: The Chief Articles of Faith in the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Good Works 

Since the doctrine concerning faith, which ought to be the chief teaching of the Church, has been neglected so long, as it must be admitted that there has been a great silence in sermons about the righteousness of faith, while only a doctrine of works was preached in the churches, our teachers have instructed the churches concerning faith as follows:

First, that our works cannot appease God or earn forgiveness of sins, grace, and justification. We obtain this only by faith when we believe that we are received into favor for Christ's sake, who alone is our Mediator and propitiation (1Tim 2:5) in order that the Father may be reconciled through him. Therefore, whoever believes that he earns grace through his works, despises the merit and grace of Christ, and seeks a way to God without Christ—by human strength, even though Christ said of himself: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6).

Pulling It Together: Faith trusts in Christ alone for salvation. This must be preached in all the churches since it is the teaching of Scripture and because this doctrine consoles Christians (Rom 5:1). When one tries to satisfy God and conscience through works and virtues, both are disappointed. The Apostle Paul plainly teaches: "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast" (Eph 2:8-9). If anyone would boast in works, let him boast in the work of Christ (1 Cor 1:31; 2 Cor 10:17). Human effort will always fall short of that which satisfies God, and that one thing that satisfies God is the work of his Son. So, let us have faith in the way of God who is Christ alone.

Prayer: Thank you, God, for saving me, for I am unable to save myself. Amen. 


Saints and Sinners Volume 1: Witnesses to the Faith

A Seven-Session Bible Study on New Testament Characters

By Dr. Dan Lioy, PhD

All those who believe and trust in Jesus as their Savior are both saints and sinners. The same was true of the people in Holy Scripture.

By virtue of our baptism into Christ, we are made holy by his saving grace. This is not something we do on our own, but something that is imputed to us by Jesus. At the same time, we are plagued by that age-old sin that makes us want to be in control of our own lives. As those who are called by God to follow Jesus in obedient discipleship, we, like many before us, have been called to be witnesses to God's saving grace in Jesus Christ.

This seven-session study is the first in a three-part series on Saints and Sinners in the New Testament who were powerful witnesses to the faith in Christ. May this study of saints and sinners enrich your understanding of life with Christ and encourage you in discipleship. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 12 Mar 21 00:00:00 -0600

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Matthew 5:14-16

From the Confessions: The Chief Articles of Faith in the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Good Works 

Our teachers are falsely accused of forbidding good works. Yet their published writings on the Ten Commandments and other writings establish that they have purposelessly taught well about this topic as it relates to daily life and its duties, that all are to be occupied in pleasing God. Previously, little had been taught on this matter. Childish and unnecessary matters, such as particular holy days, fasts, religious orders, pilgrimages, the honoring of saints, the use of rosaries, monasticism, and such dominated sermons. Since our adversaries have been admonished on these matters, they are now unlearning them, and do not preach such unprofitable topics like they once did. They now speak of faith, when before there had been silence on this theme. They are teaching that we are justified not by works only, but by both faith and works. This new stance is more tolerable than the former and affords more comfort than their previous teachings.

Pulling It Together: The Lutheran emphasis on justification by faith alone was attacked by those who insisted on being cleared of their sins by religious acts alone. Those who insisted that God's favor was earned instead of freely given through the merits of Christ's cross claimed Lutherans taught that good works are unnecessary. That was hardly the case. To be sure, Lutherans taught that good works were not required for salvation; God's grace alone justifies without a person adding a single virtuous act. Nevertheless, as good works flow out of pure faith, the Christian does good works to bring God glory but not to earn his grace.

As a result of the firm Lutheran stance on this chief article, the rest of the church began to understand the need for faith, though they did not teach that faith alone justifies. In those churches, faith and works were combined as necessary for grace. This view may bring more comfort to a beleaguered conscience than simply trying and failing to be a good person, but unassailable peace comes to those who hope in Christ alone.

Prayer: Whatever good you assist me in doing, Lord, may it bring you glory. Amen. 


Consider the Years: A Thirteen-Session Bible Study for Mature Christians

by Rev. Brad Hales

As the subtitle indicates, this Bible study was written for mature Christians. That is, it bears in mind the unique perspective of those who have seen many years in their relationship with God and may wonder how faith can speak anew to their daily lives. The study offers thirteen brief sessions on issues seniors must navigate, emphasizing how God's Word can bring strength and comfort in the unknown.

This study has been printed in a larger typeface than other Sola Bible studies. The questions offered for discussion focus on Scripture texts that address some particular concerns of older Christians.

 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 11 Mar 21 00:00:00 -0600

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Romans 1:18-25

From the Confessions: The Chief Articles of Faith in the Augsburg Confession

The Cause of Sin

Lutherans teach that God created and preserves every good thing. The cause of sin however, is the will of the devil and those people who, without the help of the Holy Spirit, are determined to turn from God. They rely on their sinful nature, as Christ said of the devil: “He speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).

Pulling It Together: God did not determine that there would be sin and evil in the world. Nevertheless, it is within his will that we may sin. God did not create evil. Rather he created all things good. In the beginning, when he spoke creation into existence, he concluded that, “It was very good” (Gen 1:31). Yet, because of our human nature, we easily turn away from God, intent on having things our way. It is our wills that resolve to not do good; and this we call sin. Further, we are enticed to do the wrong thing, the sinful thing, by the father of lies and disobedience, the devil (John 8:44). Without the aid of God's Spirit, we are hell-bent (Gen 6:5).

Prayer: Lord, help me to choose the good for your sake. Amen. 


Connections Magazine features articles that connect Lutherans to the Word. Martin Luther's Small Catechism provides inspiration for confessional, biblical content, delivered in a stylish, readable design. Subscribe today.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 10 Mar 21 00:00:00 -0600

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1 Corinthians 2:14-16

From the Confessions: The Chief Articles of Faith in the Augsburg Confession

Free Will

Concerning free will, Lutherans teach that people have liberty to choose civil righteousness and those things subject to general reason. But without the Holy Spirit, one has no power to achieve the righteousness of God, that is, spiritual righteousness, since “the natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God.” (1 Cor. 2:14) This righteousness happens in the heart when the Holy Spirit is received through the Word. These things are said in as many words by Augustine in his Hypognosticon, Book III: “We grant that all men have a free will, free, inasmuch as it has the judgment of reason; not that it is thereby capable, without God, either to begin, or, at least, to complete aught in things pertaining to God, but only in works of this life, whether good or evil. 'Good' I call those works which spring from the good in nature, such as, willing to labor in the field, to eat and drink, to have a friend, to clothe oneself, to build a house, to marry a wife, to raise cattle, to learn diverse useful arts, or whatsoever good pertains to this life. For all of these things are not without dependence on the providence of God; yea, of Him and through Him they are and have their being. 'Evil' I call such works as willing to worship an idol, to commit murder, etc.”

Lutherans reject the Pelagians and others who teach that we are able to love God above all things and keep his commandments by the power of human nature alone, without the grace of the Holy Spirit. Although our nature is able to do the outward work, (to keep the hands from theft and murder,) it cannot initiate the inward motions, such as the fear of God, trust in God, chastity, patience, etc.

Pulling It Together: Suppose a person decided to look for a new job today. Does he have the freedom of will to choose this pursuit? Yes, he does. With natural, human reason he is able to discern that he is not happy with his current occupation and choose one that is better suited to him. But suppose that someone decided that today is the day he will become righteous. Is he able to choose the righteousness of God without the aid of the Spirit? No, he is not. He cannot, for this is not something within the realm of human reason. He does not comprehend that he needs a righteousness outside of himself. Logic will never bring him to this conclusion. This righteousness is comprehended “through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.” (Rom 3:22) Even this faith is “a gift from God.” (Eph 2:8) A person is incapable of bestowing the gift of faith upon oneself. We cannot choose this ultimate good of faith and the righteousness of God that comes by faith alone.

This is precisely why we are determined to make a case for our being good without the aid of God. The Pelagians teach this, saying that when people are born that they are without sin. They further instruct that if folks just work hard enough, have strong enough wills, that they can continue through life without sin. To make matters even worse, they say that this can be accomplished without the help of God. Lutherans reject such ideas, noting that our works are so much rubbish, unable to attain to the righteousness of God. (Phil 3:8)

Instead, Lutherans confess that they are entirely dependent upon God's grace from start to finish. We love and fear God by the activity of God's Spirit, not because we choose to do so. We are made right with God by his grace, not by our decisions or efforts. We may be good citizens of earth, but will never be fit for the kingdom of God until we become people of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. (1Cor 2:14-15)

Prayer: Holy Spirit, help me believe and do those things which bring you glory. Amen. 


Speaking for Christ: Everyday Evangelism through the Promise of Forgiveness

by Rev. Hugh Brewer and the Rev. Dr. Steven E. King

"Speaking for Christ" is a Bible study on evangelism and what it means to share the message of Jesus in our everyday life. It approaches the subject by focusing on how God uses us to be his ambassadors and drives to the heart of the reason Jesus came into the world, to reconcile the world to himself through the proclamation of repentance and forgiveness of sins.

The study spotlights Scripture passages related to what Lutherans call "The Office of the Keys" — that is, the power Jesus gave his disciples to announce the forgiveness of sins in his name. This is a calling and authority Christ has granted to the whole church and it is foundational to the saving message of the Gospel itself.

 

 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 09 Mar 21 00:00:00 -0600

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1 Corinthians 15:50-57

From the Confessions: The Chief Articles of Faith in the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Christ's Return for Judgment

Lutherans also teach that on the Last Day (John 6:40) of the world, Christ will appear for judgment, and will raise all the dead. He will give eternal life and everlasting joys to the faithful and elect, but will condemn unbelievers and the demons to the hell of eternal punishment.

They condemn the fanatics, who think that those condemned with the demons will not suffer punishment. They also condemn those who are now spreading certain Jewish opinions, that before the resurrection of the dead the godly shall take possession of a kingdom of the world, the ungodly being conquered.

Pulling It Together

Again, the theme of the Reformers in Wittenberg was faith. The standard of salvation and eternal life for Lutherans is always faith in God, not the lack of it nor of a reward for good works. On the Day of the Lord, Christ will return to judge both the living and all who have ever lived. Believers will be set apart for the eternal joys of heaven with God. Unbelievers will be condemned to an eternity of torment and separation from God. Only those who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved from this damnation (Joel 2:32).

Contrary to what was being taught by some in the days of Luther (and is now being taught among even some Lutherans), Lutheran Christians do not believe that unbelievers will be saved along with the righteous. They also do not teach that an earthly, Christian kingdom will be established before Christ's return. The Lord's “kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36).

Prayer: Praise and honor is due to you, O Lord, for your just judgments. Amen. 


Come, Lord Jesus answers the many questions that arise when modern readers look into the book of Revelation. In this book readers will come to understand the first-century context in which Revelation was written—and readers will join the holy choir in looking forward to the fulfillment of God's plan, offering our own invitation: "Come, Lord Jesus."

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 08 Mar 21 00:00:00 -0600

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Romans 13:1-7

From the Confessions: The Chief Articles of Faith in the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Civic Government

Concerning civic or secular government, the Lutherans teach that lawful civil ordinances are good works of God, and that it is right for Christians to hold a public office, to sit as judges, to judge matters by imperial and other existing laws, to award just punishments, to engage in just wars, to serve as soldiers, to make legal contracts, to hold property, to make an oath when required by the magistrates, to marry, and to be given in marriage.

They condemn the Anabaptists who forbid these civic offices to Christians. Christian perfection is the fear of God, and true faith, so they also reject those who teach that sanctification happens through such things as forsaking government offices. For the gospel teaches an eternal righteousness of the heart. The gospel does not destroy the state or the family, but demands that they be preserved as ordinances of God, and that charity be practiced in such ordinances. As a result, Christians are obligated to obey their own magistrates and laws except when commanded to sin. In such cases, they ought to obey God rather than men. (Acts 5:29)

Pulling It Together

Scripture urges us to pray for those who rule over us. (1Tim 2:1-3) God has instituted good government. It is his servant for our good. The laws of the land, in so much as they agree with the Word of God, are to be obeyed. So that such laws are made and carried out in harmony with divine law, Christians are permitted to be involved in civic affairs. When required by law, they may swear to tell the truth, make contracts, be in the military, and hold public offices.

The gospel and the Church of Christ work in cooperation with all that God has established. Even so, there are some denominations that teach their people to have no involvement in government, that such refusals safeguard sanctification. But Lutheran Christians teach that Christian perfection does not come from doing (or not doing) any human work. Our righteousness has nothing to do with our works, but with what Christ has done for us on the cross.

Prayer: Bless, O Lord, our public servants, the government, and all those who protect us. Uphold and strengthen them in every good deed. Amen. 


Experiencing Real Living guides the student in God's Word and nurtures key elements of faith. A picture diagram at the beginning of each chapter assists the student in "seeing" the topic clearly. The series can be used to cover the overarching biblical themes of creation, fall and redemption, or as a 12-week overview of the themes of the Catechism. It would serve especially well for leading an adult confirmation program. The volume is spiral bound for ease in use.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 07 Mar 21 00:00:00 -0600

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Galatians 4:8-11

From the Confessions: The Chief Articles of Faith in the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Church Traditions.

Concerning traditions in the Church, they teach that those should be observed which may be observed without sin, and which are profitable for peace and good order in the Church, such as certain holy days, festivals, and the like.

Nevertheless, people are informed that consciences should not to be burdened by these traditions, as if such observances were necessary for salvation.

They are also instructed that human traditions instituted to appease God, to earn grace, and to make satisfaction for sins, are opposed to the gospel and the teaching of faith. Therefore vows and traditions concerning food, days, and so forth, that are observed to earn grace and to make satisfaction for sins, are useless and contrary to the gospel.

Pulling It Together: The Church calendar is filled with special days for worship. March 7 is a feast day for Saints Perpetua and Felicity. Hardly any Lutheran congregations know of this festival, let alone gather to worship on the occasion. (In case you're wondering, they were two Christian martyrs who lived in the early church in Africa. Theirs is a story that is very interesting and inspiring!)
Still, we observe many special days that we have found beneficial to our faith, such as the commemoration of the Baptism of Our Lord or Good Friday. On the first occasion, we dress the altar in white; on the latter we use black. Suppose it were taught that Christians must observe these days by being in a service of worship. Now imagine that each festival must be celebrated by the pastor wearing a chasuble of the correct color for the church year. Speculate further that on these days, one must fast or make a special effort to feed the poor. Each of those things might be beneficial in the teaching of the gospel, but to make them a law of salvation rejects Christ. Keeping certain days, eating (or not eating), making the sign of the cross, remembering one's baptism at the font, and a host of other traditions and ceremonies are just that: traditions. Each of these traditions may be helpful but to demand them for salvation or as ways to earn God's favor is harmful.

The human heart must constantly be reminded that Christ is the end of the law (Rom 10:4). There are “profitable” things that we retain, such as fasting during Lent, but to make fasting during this season a law and obligation is contrary to the gospel. Because there were so many holy days, Luther once quipped that he wished there were no festivals other than Sundays. It is no burden for a pastor to officiate at one more service, or to preach the gospel at yet another assembly. But when those days, foods, and other traditions take the focus off of Christ and make of them new laws to win God's favor, they become “weak and beggarly” (Gal 3:9, RSV) customs that are not profitable for the people of God.

Prayer: Keep me free this day as I remember the gospel, for you are God who brought us out of the house of slavery. Amen. 


Not My Will, But Yours: A Bible Study on the Bound Will explores the theme of human bondage seen throughout Scripture. From the Old Testament examples of people held in slavery whom God came to set free, to the New Testament examples of Jesus healing illnesses and casting out demons, we witness the Lord’s power of deliverance. Ultimately, all these stories point to the greatest act of God’s redemption in the cross, where Christ rescued us from our captivity to the powers of sin, death, and the devil.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 06 Mar 21 00:00:00 -0600

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Ephesians 4:11-16

From the Confessions: The Chief Articles of Faith in the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Ecclesiastical Order

Of Ecclesiastical Order they teach that no one should publicly teach in the Church or administer the Sacraments unless he be regularly called.

Pulling It Together

The Lutherans did not profess that ordination was a sacrament. That would make of the office something of merit that demanded God's grace. They did however, believe that God had established the office of ministry by calling some to be pastors and teachers, and others to fulfill various duties of orderly ministry as they were called by God. God does not call all to these responsibilities, as some of the more radical wings of the Reformation taught. He calls “some” (Eph 4:11) so that the whole Body of Christ may be equipped for ministry, each to his own calling. This Article forbids anyone not duly called by God and the Church to the office of ordained ministry to exercise God-given authority to preach and administer the Sacraments. In so doing, Article 14 seeks to maintain good order in the Church of Christ. 

Prayer: Father, establish your Church according to your Word so that she may be rightly ordered to bring you glory. Amen. 


The Minor Prophets in Sola's "Old Places, New Faces" series is a twelve lesson study that peeks at each of the dozen books we call the minor prophets, books that are often forgotten or neglected. Yet, their messages are deeply relevant for today's believers. The prophetical books contain God's call upon His followers of every century. These exhortations are either calls to positive actions that honor God or warnings to stop attitudes and behaviors that dishonor Him. As we rediscover these profound words, we will be reminded of what it means to follow and obey God, as well as be challenged to live a life that glorifies God in greater and more significant ways.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 05 Mar 21 00:00:00 -0600

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1 Corinthians 11:23–26

From the Confessions: The Chief Articles of Faith in the Augsburg Confession

Of the Use of the Sacraments.

Of the Use of the Sacraments they teach that the Sacraments were ordained, not only to be marks of profession among men, but rather to be signs and testimonies of the will of God toward us, instituted to awaken and confirm faith in those who use them. Wherefore we must so use the Sacraments that faith be added to believe the promises which are offered and set forth through the Sacraments.

They therefore condemn those who teach that the Sacraments justify by the outward act, and who do not teach that, in the use of the Sacraments, faith which believes that sins are forgiven, is required.

Pulling It Together

In the first two centuries of the Church, it was rumored that Christians were cannibals since when they met on their Lord's Day, they ate his flesh and drank his blood. This notion was corrected by explanations of the Gospel given by Justin Martyr and other defenders of the faith. These days, many are well aware of what Christians do when they gather, though they likely still do not understand Holy Communion.

When we “eat this bread and drink the cup,” we declare our Lord's death among ourselves. It is a way that we recall what he did for us in dying for our sins. We remember that he established this holy meal as way to remember not only what he did, but also to look forward to the day when we will eat and drink with him again at the marriage supper of the Lamb in heaven (Rev 19:9). Yet, Holy Communion is more than profession of our faith.

We confess whenever we eat and drink that Christ is truly present in the bread and wine. Therefore, the gift of Christ's Body and Blood may only be received in faith. It is not mere religious observance. Instead, it is God working through his Supper to enliven and establish our faith through continued grace. For from his fullness we continue to receive grace upon grace (John 1:16).

Prayer: Holy God, increase your grace in me for the sake of your Son. Amen. 


Sola First Communion Certificates are printed in color on heavyweight parchment paper, with a matching envelope to go with each certificate. The traditional 'half-sheet' size is perfect for inclusion in a picture album or scrapbook.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 04 Mar 21 00:00:00 -0600

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Colossians 1:9-14

From the Confessions: The Chief Articles of Faith in the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance

Of Repentance they teach that for those who have fallen after Baptism there is remission of sins whenever they are converted and that the Church ought to impart absolution to those thus returning to repentance. Now, repentance consists properly of these two parts: One is contrition, that is, terrors smiting the conscience through the knowledge of sin; the other is faith, which is born of the Gospel, or of absolution, and believes that for Christ's sake, sins are forgiven, comforts the conscience, and delivers it from terrors. Then good works are bound to follow, which are the fruits of repentance.

They condemn the Anabaptists, who deny that those once justified can lose the Holy Ghost. Also those who contend that some may attain to such perfection in this life that they cannot sin.

The Novatians also are condemned, who would not absolve such as had fallen after Baptism, though they returned to repentance.

They also are rejected who do not teach that remission of sins comes through faith but command us to merit grace through satisfactions of our own.

Pulling It Together

Some people in the church thought (and currently think) that if someone lapsed in their faith but repented that they were now beyond forgiveness. Others thought it impossible to fall from grace. Others believed that they could become perfect in this life, never sinning again. An elderly woman in a small North Carolina town came close to this kind of perfection in her pastor's eyes. When she insisted that she no longer sinned, the pastor realized she was not so perfect after all. Still others believed that the only way one's sins could be canceled was to somehow work them off.

Lutherans reject all of those positions since they hold fast to God's grace alone. If one falls into sin and even refuses to believe for a time but by the grace of God repents of this grievous sin, we profess that person is not only forgivable but forgiven, and freely announce to him the forgiveness his sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. We do not impose upon them any acts whereby they either prove or earn their contrition. When such a person is absolved, peace occupies his heart, and good works are sure to follow. We confess that God's grace is freely available to sinners both before and after baptism, and should be just as freely declared to all repentant persons.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I will always be a sinner for I can never seem to free myself from its clutches, so instead, I entrust the care of my soul to your mercy and grace. Amen. 


SOWeR, the Sola Online Worship eResource, is a lectionary-based subscription program that helps pastors and congregations plan for worship. Lectionary Scripture inserts, plain text (RTF) files of the readings and prayers for easy copying and pasting, color and monochrome bulletin art, reproducible children’s bulletins & puzzles, worship planning pages, Prayers of the Church, devotionals formatted for copying on bulletin blanks, text studies, gospel word search puzzles, PowerPoint Templates, and more are provided for each Sunday and Major Feast. The SOWeR subscription also gives access to bulletin templates, additional and new liturgies and services, hymns and music, as well as original hymn texts based on the Lectionary and set to familiar tunes. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 03 Mar 21 00:00:00 -0600

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James 5:13-20

From the Confessions: The Chief Articles of Faith in the Augsburg Confession

Of Confession 

Of Confession they teach that Private Absolution ought to be retained in the churches, although in confession an enumeration of all sins is not necessary. For it is impossible according to the Psalm: Who can understand his errors? Ps. 19:12.

Pulling It Together: Forty years ago, a few friends teased another friend about several of his quirks. They got under his skin, and he blurted out, “Well, I'm just glad Jesus died for all of my sins!” That was a quick exchange that got to the point and silenced his friends. We all have too many sins to remember, let alone confess them all. It cannot be done. Luther tried and wore out his confessor with his efforts, leaving confession with less peace than when he started. Still, the Lutherans declared that private confession should be practiced in the church. We would do well to take it more seriously today.

Confession can be good for the soul. Generally, this is the case when a particular, perhaps difficult sin needs to be confronted squarely so that one might be healed. Repeated sin weighs on a person's conscience and eventually the whole person; it can sometimes lead to illness (Deut 28:58-62) and in such cases, confession is God's way that leads to forgiveness and health. That said, the Lutheran focus is always on declaring God's grace. We direct the Christian conscience to the mercy of God instead of proscribing methods for satisfying God. Routine recitation of countless sins becomes an effort to win God's favor. God already favors believers, so they should be reminded of his grace. In confession, this happens in private and public Absolution, when God silences the law by announcing his forgiveness to poor sinners like us.

Prayer: Thank you, God, for forgiving me of all my sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. 


In Prayer as Joy, Prayer as StruggleBraaten explores many types of prayer, including thanksgiving, confession, praise, wrestling, petition, intercession, listening, and hope. He also explores what it means when the answer to prayer is "no" and how we experience prayer in times of doubt. In each chapter, he uses an extended biblical example of prayer and also provides the text of prayers we can use in our own practice. For all who seek joy in prayer, even as we struggle, Braaten offers an engaging personal and pastoral reflection on the ways we pray.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 02 Mar 21 00:00:00 -0600

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John 6:50–59

From the Confessions: The Chief Articles of Faith in the Augsburg Confession

Of the Lord's Supper

Of the Supper of the Lord they teach that the Body and Blood of Christ are truly present, and are distributed to those who eat the Supper of the Lord; and they reject those that teach otherwise.

Pulling It Together

Though there are volumes that could be written about the Lord's Supper, this article concerns itself with making one statement. That statement is in response, again, to Lutherans being identified by Eck with those Reformers who taught that the elements of Holy Communion are merely representative of Christ's body and blood. What Melancthon sought to make clear with this confession is that Lutherans believe Christ is truly present in the sacrament. To press the point further, Christ's true body and blood are really in the elements of bread and wine. In Holy Communion there are not just bread and wine but also the body of blood of Jesus Christ. Though these remind us of Christ's death, they are more than mere symbols that arouse a thankful memory. The doctrine of the real presence of Christ will be covered in the articles that lie ahead of us. For now, in the tenth article, the Lutherans only and plainly confess that Christ's body and blood are truly present in his supper. His body and blood are also conveyed as true food and true drink to those who receive the sacrament. Those who receive the bread and wine really partake of the body and blood of Christ. Those who taught differently, were rejected by the Lutherans.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, for being truly present to me in your Supper. Amen. 


Learning About Communion teaches the meaning of Holy Communion according to the pattern of Luther's Small Catechism, and is recommended for the Fifth Grade Level. Each week focuses on a specific Bible story that illustrates the theme, with additional references from Scripture and Luther's Small Catechism - Children's Version. Lessons emphasize the sacramental promise of the forgiveness of sins conveyed to us in the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. This booklet was designed to be used as a Sunday School unit, or for classes to prepare students for their First Communion.

Teacher's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 01 Mar 21 00:00:00 -0600

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1 Peter 3:18–22

From the Confessions: The Chief Articles of Faith in the Augsburg Confession

Of Baptism

Of Baptism they teach that it is necessary to salvation, and that through Baptism is offered the grace of God, and that children are to be baptized who, being offered to God through Baptism are received into God's grace.

They condemn the Anabaptists, who reject the baptism of children, and say that children are saved without Baptism.

Pulling It Together

Lutherans confess that baptism is “necessary for salvation.” Because Johann Eck, a German defender of Roman Catholicism, tried to lump Lutherans in with more radical players in the Reformation such as the Anabaptists who did not believe in the baptism of children, Melancthon asserted that Lutherans also believed children were to be recipients of God's grace along with adults. As there is no way to receive God's grace without baptism, strictly speaking from Scripture, they condemned the idea that children—or anyone else—received grace without baptism.

This is the thrust behind the doctrine of the baptism of children. Just as Scripture does not give an example of children being baptized (outside of entire households being baptized and that in such cases children may have been included [Acts 16:33]), there is no teaching against it. There is teaching however, to baptize and that baptism saves (1Pet 3:21). So, we confess what the Scripture does say: baptism is needful for salvation.

Prayer: Thank you, God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for saving me according to your mercy. Amen. 


Views of Baptism is written for a range of readers including the parent or sponsor about to baptize a child, the adult who wants to understand baptism more fully, and the professional teacher or preacher who needs the truth about baptism stated simply but backed by careful research. This book explores three views of baptism: the individual-centered view, the means-of-grace view, and the Roman Catholic view. It includes a description of how Christian baptism came to us in stages from its Jewish roots. A question and answer section addresses specific matters often raised when people contemplate baptism.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 28 Feb 21 00:00:00 -0600

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From the Word: 1 Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples 2 saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, 3 so do and observe whatever they order, but not the works they do. For they say, but do not act. 4 Yes, they bundle backbreaking burdens, and set them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with their finger. 5 For they do all their works to be seen by other people. They make their phylacteries broad, and lengthen their tassels, 6 and love the highest position at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, 7 and greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called Rabbi by the people. 8 But do not ye called Rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 And do not call anyone on earth your father, for you have one Father who is in heaven. 10 Neither be called teachers, for you have one Teacher, the Christ. (Matthew 23:1–10)

From the Confessions: The Chief Articles of Faith in the Augsburg Confession

What the Church Is

Although the Church properly is the congregation of saints and true believers, nevertheless, since in this life many hypocrites and evil persons are mingled therewith, it is lawful to use Sacraments administered by evil men, according to the saying of Christ: The Scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat, etc. (Matt 23:2). Both the Sacraments and Word are effectual by reason of the institution and commandment of Christ, notwithstanding they be administered by evil men.

They condemn the Donatists, and such like, who denied it to be lawful to use the ministry of evil men in the Church, and who thought the ministry of evil men to be unprofitable and of none effect.

Pulling It Together: Today's reading from the Confessions underscores both justification by the grace of God alone (Article IV), and the means of grace (Article VII) mentioned before. The Confessions make it clear that God offers his grace without the assistance of perfect people. He accomplishes this through the preaching of the gospel and his word of promise in water, wine, and bread. The Church is that assembly where God perfectly bestows his grace, not a place where holy men do it for him. Just as God does not need, nor does he use, a person's virtues to bring her to saving faith, he does not require so-called "good" people to deliver his grace or make it valid in a congregation. As grace does not depend upon perfect people to preach and administer the sacraments, imperfect and even evil men cannot nullify the promise of God.

The Donatist controversy mentioned in this article is a case in point. Followers of Bishop Donatus insisted that the sacraments, especially baptisms, administered by those who had bowed to persecution and had seemed to deny the faith were now invalid. This would mean that God's grace depended upon sinless humans. But we confess that it is the Spirit who is the administrator of God's grace. Though the church and its officers be ever so imperfect, as pastors are sinners along with the rest, God's grace is not restrained. Our eyes must be ever upon the giver of grace, not the pastor who speaks the words of God's promise. It is God who washed us, gave his body, and shed his blood—not a pastor. It is the Spirit who speaks the Word of Christ to human hearts—not the one in the pulpit. So, Lutherans confess that the holy, catholic Church is that assembly where the gospel and the sacraments are rightly handled, however imperfect the bishop or pastor be who preaches and presides.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for baptizing me and keeping me in your grace. Amen. 

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. 

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 27 Feb 21 00:00:00 -0600

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From the Word: 25 Husbands, love your wives even as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 in order to sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 to present to himself a glorious church, without stain or blemish or any such thing, so that she would be holy and unblemished. (Ephesians 5:25–27)

From the Confessions: The Chief Articles of Faith in the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Church

Lutherans also teach that the one holy Church will continue forever. The Church is the congregation of saints, in which the gospel is rightly taught and the sacraments are rightly administered.

For there to be true unity in the Church, it is enough to agree on the doctrine of the Gospel and the administration of the Sacraments. It is not necessary that human traditions like rites or ceremonies, that are institutions of men, should be the same everywhere. For Paul teaches, “One faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of all,” etc. (Eph 4:5-6)

Pulling It Together

The Lutherans may have seemed suspect to the Church in Rome because of their belief in justification by faith alone. Perhaps they were perceived as a group intent on destroying the Church. It was quite the opposite. Still, it begs the question: How would one go about destroying what Christ said he would build (Matt 16:18)? The Church has never been in our hands. We should rather think that because of Christ's word, the Church will “continue forever”—in spite of us. So, it becomes important for us to understand what the Church truly is.

Building on the confession of “the communion of saints” in the creed, and that God imputes righteousness through faith (Article IV), Melancthon is emboldened to state that the Church is a “congregation of saints.” The Church is that assembly of all those whom Christ has made righteousness through his grace alone. Again, the Church is not in our hands. He makes his people saints without their assistance. But Church is not merely an assembly. Though we may do other things under the banner of “The Church,” we are not really the Church unless two things occur. The gospel must be correctly taught to the congregation of saints and the sacraments must be rightly administered. We confess that where these two “outward marks” are faithfully observed is the holy, catholic Church.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, for making me one with you in your Body, the Church. Amen. 

Pastor Kent Groethe's study of the Book of Acts, Acts - Old Places, New Facesfocuses on the life of the early church as a model for church life today. The message and power of the church today needs to be revitalized and renewed by the power of God's Spirit, just as it was in the early church.

Other books in the "Old Place, New Faces" series

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 26 Feb 21 00:00:00 -0600

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From the Word: 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious, being sexual immorality, impurity, wantonness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostilities, strife, jealousy, fits of fury, selfishness, discord, factions, 21 envyings, drunkenness, intemperance, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you previously, that they who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 And those who are of Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its inclinations and cravings.

25 If we live by the Spirit, let us likewise walk with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become proud, provoking one another, envying one another. (Galatians 5:18–25)

From the Confessions: The Chief Articles of Faith in the Augsburg Confession

Concerning New Obedience

Also, they teach that this faith is bound to bring forth good fruits, and that it is necessary to do good works commanded by God, because of God's will, but that we should not rely on those works to merit justification before God. For remission of sins and justification is apprehended by faith, as also the voice of Christ attests: "When ye shall have done all these things, say: We are unprofitable servants" (Luke 17:10). The same is also taught by the Fathers. For Ambrose says: It is ordained of God that he who believes in Christ is saved, freely receiving the remission of sins, without works, by faith alone.

Pulling It Together: The Augsburg Confession clearly states that works are excluded from justification. Nothing is needed for our justification before God except the work of his Son Jesus Christ on the cross (Gal 2:16; Eph 2:8–9; Rom 3:28; 4:5). Nevertheless, the Lutherans also wished it to be known that justification by faith did not negate the command of God for his people to do good works. However, these acts of charity and obedience are a result of faith—not a requirement for justification. Those who have faith must be obedient to God and therefore they will do good works. They can do no other, for real faith is a living faith, full of the fruit of the Spirit. Those who are enlivened by faith, live by the Spirit and so, they will also keep in step with the Spirit who is the author of all good.

Prayer: O God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, open my heart and my hands, that I may willingly do good and bring you glory. Amen. 

The Cross and the Crown is an eight-session study in Lutheran Basics, using the word "sola" to get the big picture right: that salvation is all God's doing.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 25 Feb 21 00:00:00 -0600

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From the Word: 5 For Moses writes that the man who does the righteousness of the law shall live by doing so. 6 But the righteousness of faith says this: “Do not say not in your heart, ‘Who shall ascend into heaven?’—that is, to bring Christ down—7 “or, ‘Who shall descend into the abyss?’”—that is, to bring Christ up from the dead. 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth, and in your heart—that is, the word of faith that we preach. 9 For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord is Lord of all, blessing all who call upon him. 13 For, “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how will they believe in him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? 15 And how will they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

16 But not all have obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:5–17)

From the Confessions: The Chief Articles of Faith in the Augsburg Confession

Of the Ministry

That we may obtain this faith, the Ministry of Teaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments was instituted. For through the Word and Sacraments, as through instruments, the Holy Ghost is given, who works faith; where and when it pleases God, in them that hear the Gospel, to wit, that God, not for our own merits, but for Christ's sake, justifies those who believe that they are received into grace for Christ's sake.

They condemn the Anabaptists and others who think that the Holy Ghost comes to men without the external Word, through their own preparations and works.

Pulling It Together: The faith that justifies always springs from the word of God. Real faith does not happen because one decides to believe or because one disciplines herself to be a holy person, or as the result of any other personal or religious preparation. I speak here of an actual faith, the kind that puts no hope at all in one's efforts. Faith is effected by the Spirit, who always does so in concert with the word. He never brings faith apart from the word—though we often hear of people claiming that he has done so. Without God revealing what faith is and in whom to have faith, our beliefs are spread across the spectrum, from silly to sublime and all to no eternal good. Yet when the Spirit works in his word through baptism, communion, and preaching, people are brought to faith apart from any efforts or virtues of their own. We confess that this is the way God has determined to bring people to saving faith: by the Holy Spirit working through the Word for Christ's sake.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, fill me with wisdom and grace from your word so that Christ is always glorified in me. Amen. 

Baptism – Dove and Shell    A card, bookmark, gift tag, and envelope set that proclaims the truth of Baptism: Word and Water are a sacrament to wash away our sins. This set is a keepsake that will remind the recipient of their baptism, and provide the comfort of assurance of salvation for all who believe in the finished work of Jesus Christ.

Sola carries an assortment of greeting cards.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 24 Feb 21 00:00:00 -0600

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Romans 3:21-31

From the Confessions: The Chief Articles of Faith in the Augsburg Confession

Of Justification.

Also they teach that men cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits, or works, but are freely justified for Christ's sake, through faith, when they believe that they are received into favor, and that their sins are forgiven for Christ's sake, who, by His death, has made satisfaction for our sins. This faith God imputes for righteousness in His sight (Romans 3 and 4).

Pulling It Together

It sounds as though a sixteenth century Lutheran wrote the words but they were penned by the Apostle Paul and inspired by the Holy Spirit in the first century. “For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law” (Rom 3:28). There is no mingling of the two. Justification—God regarding a person good, righteous, holy—does not happen because once one has faith, she adds works. Works have nothing to do with justification. It is a gift from God, initiated by his grace, received by faith in Christ's work on the cross, and attributed to believers apart from any work or merit other than those of Christ. The satisfaction for sins—justification—was done on the cross. It does not depend upon the actions of sinners like us. Indeed, when we confess justification through faith (Eph 2:8-9), we are saying, in effect, that when God looks at poor sinners like us, he sees Christ who died for sinners. Those same sinners are now credited with the righteousness of Jesus Christ, and thus, they are saints in the truest sense of the word. They are saints by God's doing, not their own.

Prayer: Gracious God, help me this day to do your will out of gratefulness for your great salvation through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen. 

A Reading and Discussion of the Augsburg Confession is written in easy-to-understand language but is a challenging study series based on assigned readings from the Book of Concord and related Scripture texts. Each study is comprised of eight sessions, plus an optional introductory session, each presented in a question and discussion format. Click here to see the Table of Contents and a sample session.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 23 Feb 21 00:00:00 -0600

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John 20:30-31

From the Confessions: The Chief Articles of Faith in the Augsburg Confession

Article III: Of the Son of God.

Also they teach that the Word, that is, the Son of God, did assume the human nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin Mary, so that there are two natures, the divine and the human, inseparably enjoined in one Person, one Christ, true God and true man, who was born of the Virgin Mary, truly suffered, was crucified, dead, and buried, that He might reconcile the Father unto us, and be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for all actual sins of men.

He also descended into hell, and truly rose again the third day; afterward He ascended into heaven that He might sit on the right hand of the Father, and forever reign and have dominion over all creatures, and sanctify them that believe in Him, by sending the Holy Ghost into their hearts, to rule, comfort, and quicken them, and to defend them against the devil and the power of sin.

The same Christ shall openly come again to judge the quick and the dead, etc., according to the Apostles' Creed.

Pulling It Together

Here we see treated many of the details about the second Person of the Trinity that we covered in our devotions on the three ecumenical creeds. To be as certain as they could be that the Church in Rome understood that the Lutherans were orthodox, they continued to confess key doctrines at Augsburg. So far, there are none where they would disagree. There is nothing about the Son here but what is common among orthodox churches.

By the powerful conception of the Spirit, the Son took human form in the womb of the virgin. While taking human form, the Son maintained his divinity and as such, we say that the Son now has a dual nature. These are indivisible, one person with a dual nature or hypostasis, a shared existence. This God-man suffered, was crucified, died, and was buried. In doing so, he righted our relationship to God. He accomplished this by reconciling both our inherent, original sin, as well as all our subsequent sins.

After doing this great work of redemption, Jesus descended into hell. In rising from the dead, it should be noted that Jesus is no longer in hell either. He has conquered for us, not only sin and death but also hell itself. After this, he ascended to heaven where he took his rightful place with the Father, reigning over all of creation. From this position of authority, Christ also separates himself in holiness all those who believe. He does this by sending his own Holy Spirit into the lives of believers to bring new life, peace, governance, and protection against the power of sin and the devil.

As though this was not enough, the work of Christ does not end with these great accomplishments. He is returning to this world. When he does, he will do so openly, in the sight of all. No one will miss his great appearance when he will judge in righteousness both those alive and all who ever lived. All of this is concisely confessed in the Apostles' Creed.

Prayer: Lord, help me stand still before your presence, leading a life of quiet confidence in your grace, through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen. 

Who is Jesus? is a five-session study, meant to serve as an introduction to what the Bible says about Jesus Christ—who he is and what it means to trust in him as Savior and Lord.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 22 Feb 21 00:00:00 -0600

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Galatians 3:21-27

From the Confessions: The Chief Articles of Faith in the Augsburg Confession

Of Original Sin

Also they teach that since the fall of Adam all men begotten in the natural way are born with sin, that is, without the fear of God, without trust in God, and with concupiscence; and that this disease, or vice of origin, is truly sin, even now condemning and bringing eternal death upon those not born again through Baptism and the Holy Ghost.

They condemn the Pelagians and others who deny that original depravity is sin, and who, to obscure the glory of Christ's merit and benefits, argue that man can be justified before God by his own strength and reason.

Pulling It Together

The Lutherans of old wanted to make it clear at Augsburg that they were sinners. Indeed, they wished it understood that they believed all people since Adam (Rom 5:12) were in this condition from the very beginning of their lives. Otherwise, some might somehow live a perfectly sinless life, if only for a short time, before dying and therefore, have no need for a Savior. Why then would it be said that Jesus had died for the whole world when some had been sinless? There is no hope of this ever happening—no matter how precious some may think they or a family member might be. Sin has imprisoned us all (Gal 3:22); no one is free of its hold, even from the moment of birth. Thus, a rebirth is required. Indeed, a death (or baptism) and a rebirth, a resurrection to a newness of life (Rom 6:4) is needed.

Lutherans today, also wish to make it clear that they are sinners, captive to sin from the outset. We can do nothing to set ourselves free. We need a Savior; we need Christ, whom the Father sent to die for us and for our redemption. There are ancient and modern followers of Pelagius who taught and teach there was no need for the Father to have sent his Son, that humans are quite capable of moral perfection through the exertion of their own wills. They dismiss the need for God's grace. We confess the exact opposite: that we are poor and wretched sinners from the start, dead in our trespasses and denied the kingdom of heaven unless born again of the water and the Spirit. (John 3:3-5)

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, I praise you, the only one sent from the Father to save the world—and even me. Amen. 

The Sola Electronic Education Database 

Can be used at church, or accessed at home by families of subscribing congregations!

Sola Publishing has added an online resource component to its education materials called SEED: the Sola Electronic Education Database. This new subscription-based resource provides teachers with tools to build a Sunday School program and lead classes, with original resources printed in full color! The year's curriculum provides a full Bible overview — from Genesis to Revelation — with a collection of online media for each lesson, including artwork, video presentations, teaching ideas, crafts, and more! 

https://www.solapublishing.com/about-seed

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 21 Feb 21 00:00:00 -0600

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2 Corinthians 13:11-14

From the Confessions: The Chief Articles of Faith in the Augsburg Confession

Article I: Of God.

Our Churches, with common consent, do teach that the decree of the Council of Nicaea concerning the Unity of the Divine Essence and concerning the Three Persons, is true and to be believed without any doubting; that is to say, there is one Divine Essence which is called and which is God: eternal, without body, without parts, of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness, the Maker and Preserver of all things, visible and invisible; and yet there are three Persons, of the same essence and power, who also are coeternal, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. And the term "person" they use as the Fathers have used it, to signify, not a part or quality in another, but that which subsists of itself.

They condemn all heresies which have sprung up against this article, as the Manichaeans, who assumed two principles, one Good and the other Evil: also the Valentinians, Arians, Eunomians, Mohammedans, and all such. They condemn also the Samosatenes, old and new, who, contending that there is but one Person, sophistically and impiously argue that the Word and the Holy Ghost are not distinct Persons, but that "Word" signifies a spoken word, and "Spirit" signifies motion created in things.

Pulling It Together

Because it is central to the Christian faith, the doctrine of God will continually be treated. It is covered in the creeds so that we know who God truly is and are therefore not led astray after false gods. The Confession offered at the Diet of Augsburg was designed to show that the Lutheran churches were doctrinally sound, orthodox, of the Church catholic. Orthodoxy begins with a right understanding of God. Having provided straightforward examples about the nature of God in the first paragraph, the Lutherans then showed their understanding by providing heretical models of what God is not.

The Lutherans, like the Roman Catholics, did not follow the teachings of Mani, a gnostic who claimed special knowledge outside of Scripture about what he considered the two eternals of light and dark, therefore dismissing what the Bible teaches about a creator, as well as the incarnate God. Neither did they espouse the teachings of Valentinus, who taught that unbelievers perished but that basic believers would have a lower level of salvation, while those believers who had received his special knowledge would receive a higher level of salvation. The Lutherans also dismissed outright any group who did not hold the three, distinguishable Persons of the Godhead as true. Therefore, the Lutherans considered heretical the Arians, since they taught that Christ was a created being, the Eunomians who could make no sense of the Trinity, the monotheistic Mohammedans, and any other group who did not profess the Trinity. The Lutherans were confessing at Augsburg that they believed of God what the Scriptures say, regardless of whether they could reason their way to the doctrine.

Prayer: Most gracious God, who raised your Church through the pure witness of your word, continue to enlighten her in that same word of truth through Jesus Christ her Lord. Amen. 

I Am Who I Am is a six-week study that explores what it means to “not take the name of the LORD your God in vain” (Exod 20:7), while at the same time trusting the promise in Christ that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21).

Leader's 'Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 20 Feb 21 00:00:00 -0600

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From the Word: 13 And who is he who can harm you if you are zealous for that which is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, blessed are you. Do not fear them, nor be troubled, 15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to give a defense to each person who asks you for a reason about the hope that is in you. Yet do so with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better, if that should be the will of God, that you suffer for doing good rather than for doing evil. (1 Peter 3:13-17)

From the Confessions: sections ten and eleven of the Preface to the Augsburg Confession

...we, with the Princes and friends aforesaid, here before Your Imperial Majesty, our most clement Lord are prepared to confer amicably concerning all possible ways and means, in order that we may come together, as far as this may be honorably done, and, the matter between us on both sides being peacefully discussed without offensive strife, the dissension, by God’s help, may be done away and brought back to one true accordant religion; for as we all are under one Christ and do battle under Him, we ought to confess the one Christ, after the tenor of Your Imperial Majesty’s edict, and everything ought to be conducted according to the truth of God; and this it is what, with most fervent prayers, we entreat of God.

Pulling It Together

Luther had been declared an outlaw by the emperor in 1521 at the Diet (or assembly) of Worms. Though his teachings were now forbidden in the empire, the teachings of Luther and other Wittenberg reformers were sent throughout the parishes of Saxony for a systematic reformation of the church. These teachings, of course, were challenged by Roman Catholic theologians who placed the Wittenberg reformers in the same grouping as unorthodox critics of the church. This gave the effect of making the Wittenberg contingent appear outside the church catholic. Philip Melancthon, Luther’s colleague at Wittenberg, drafted a defense of the Wittenbergers’ orthodoxy, drawing from a number of other documents by the reformers. This confession, or testimony, was adopted by nine German dukes, princes, and mayors, and presented to the emperor at Augsburg in 1530.

The Emperor Charles had called the Diet of Augsburg in an effort to have a unified Christian empire meet the threat of the expanding Ottoman Empire. That these documents were to be presented by all of the electors, princes, municipalities, and estates attests to the political aspiration of the diet. That there would be unity in understanding the one true faith was the hope of The Augsburg Confession.

Christians ought to hope for unity, beginning to do so by considering how they agree on matters of the faith. After all, they are called to fellowship together in Jesus Christ our Lord (1Cor 1:9-10). Christians are also to be ready to defend the faith (1 Per 3:15), even if it is in confessing it to one another. Yet, they are to do so with gentleness and with respect. To that end, it may be very helpful in our time to imagine that we are giving our defense to an emperor.

Prayer: Help me to honor you, Jesus, as Lord in my heart, my words, my life. Amen. 

Of One Mind and Purpose is a six-session study examines the unique way in which the Bible describes being united in Christ. It explains how God’s Word can either divide people or bring them together in faith, showing how the relationship we have with one another in the Church comes through Christ alone.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 19 Feb 21 00:00:00 -0600

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Revelation 20:11–15

From the Confessions: The Athanasian Creed

He will come again to judge the living and the dead. At his coming all people shall rise bodily to give an account of their own deeds. Those who have done good will enter eternal life, those who have done evil will enter eternal fire. This is the catholic faith. One cannot be saved without believing this firmly and faithfully.

Pulling It Together

There is a lot being confessed in the closing of the Athanasian Creed. At first blush, it might seem to some that a salvation of works is being advocated. That interpretation would contradict the rest of the creed. “He suffered death for our salvation.” We did not suffer, nor have we done anything to merit our own redemption. It is the free gift of God (Rom 6:23). The Scriptures say so, as do the creeds. So, it cannot be, and is not, what the ancient Church confessed.

We are saved by the grace of God (Eph 2:8) but will still give an account of our lives (Rom 14:12). Do we think that all will bow the knee to Christ but us? Everyone will stand before the judgment seat of God. There will be no more finger-pointing and blaming of others. Each will bear his own load (Gal 6:5). Everyone is expected to follow Jesus, and that means a denying of self, of taking up the cross. There is no other way to follow Jesus. Therefore, when Jesus returns, he will repay each according to what he has done—whether or not he has borne his cross (Matt 16:27). All of this denying and taking up is not to prove you are deserving of salvation. It does however, show that you are a follower of Christ. Jesus said, “He who abides in me bears much fruit.” (John 15:5)

So in the end, at Christ's coming, “every one must stand on his own feet; his own personal faith is demanded, he will give an account for himself...” (The Babylonian Captivity of the Church, Luther’s Works, vol 36, p 49) Those who followed Jesus will, of course, have done some good, been forgiven for their sin, and “will enter eternal life,” their names having been written in the book of life (Rev 20:15). Those who did not believe will have committed the worst evil of all and will enter that place of eternal denial, regret, and fire (Rev 20:14). This is the belief of the whole Church and the faith that we confess.

Prayer: Lord, help me follow you, die in you, and live in you forever. Amen. 

From Death to Life examines what happens when people die. In this book, the words of the Holy Bible, and others like Martin Luther, will speak to you, tell you the truth, and give you words of comfort, so that you too can have the sure and steadfast anchor of the soul.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 18 Feb 21 00:00:00 -0600

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From the Word: 1 First of all, therefore, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, thanksgivings, be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. 3 This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4who would have all people be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5For there is one God and one mediator between God and people, a man, Christ Jesus, 6who gave himself as a ransom for all, the testimony at the proper time. (1 Timothy 2:1–6)

From the Confessions: The Athanasian Creed

He suffered death for our salvation. He descended into hell and rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

Pulling It Together

Because the Athanasian Creed expressly states the unity of Christ's two natures, it is appropriate to think again on who it is who died for us, and rose, and ascended. When the Word became flesh (John 1:14), he did not do so for a time—namely for about 33 years. Jesus remains both God and man; he retains this dual nature and it is important that he does.

When Jesus rose from the dead, he still had a body. “Touch me,” he said to his disciples (Luke 24:39). Christ is still both God and man even after the ascension, as it teaches us in Scripture. It is not a spirit who mediates between God and man. It is the one who is both God and man who mediates for us, “the man Christ Jesus” (1Tim 2:5).

The Small Catechism also—even though teaching from the Apostles' Creed that does not deal explicitly with the dual nature—teaches us that the ascended Christ is “true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary.”

Why is this all so important? It is important because you are human. Jesus conquered sin, death, and even hell—as a man, so that these things have no power over people of faith. Because the man Christ Jesus rose from the dead, you too will rise (Rom 6:5). Likewise, because the man Christ Jesus ascended, you too also will ascend. It is no stunning achievement that God went up into heaven. That humans may now do so, is predicated on a human being there, to begin with, and that man we confess is God, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Prayer: Give me the strength and courage and peace to live a life pleasing in the sight of God my Savior. Amen. 

The Sola Online Worship eResource (SOWeR) provides so many resources that it is hard to list them all. One of those resources is a section of bulletin templates that subscribers may use along with SOWeR's color and monochrome artwork to easily create beautiful and useful bulletins. Templates are provided for basic Communion and non-communion services, Ash Wednesday service, midweek Lenten services, LBW Communion and non-communion services for each setting, Reclaim Communion and non-communion services for each setting, and Sola Holy Cross Communion and non-communion service settings.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 17 Feb 21 00:00:00 -0600

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From the Word: 1 Corinthians 4:1–6

From the Confessions: The Athanasian Creed

Although he is God and man, he is not divided, but is one Christ. He is united because God has taken humanity into himself; he does not transform deity into humanity. He is completely one in the unity of his person, without confusing his natures. For as the rational soul and body are one person, so the one Christ is God and man.

Pulling It Together

How can we begin to understand through human reasoning the dual nature of Christ? We cannot wrap our minds around it, though perhaps a little more easily than we can think on the Trinity itself. Jesus is man and divinity at once. This is what Scripture attests and we would do well to leave it there. So, what does the Word say? What is written?

“The Word became flesh” (John 1:14). “In [Christ] the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” (Col 2:9). “Though he was in the form of God...born in the likeness of men” (Phil 2:7). “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same...” (Heb 2:14).

The Son of God took human body but remained God. His divinity remained though he was clothed in flesh. He did not set aside his divinity to become a man for a time. He was and is both divine and human. He is forever God and man, sitting at the Father's right hand and reigning triumphant over sin and death. There is not a part of him that is human and another part that is God, as though he were oil and water in the same glass. His two natures are completely unified in the one person, Jesus Christ. Jesus is a whole person like us, having a body, soul, and spirit. Yet, at the same time, he is the divine Word of God, or Logos (John 1:1). He is not two beings, a god and a man somehow in a kind of symbiosis. Nor is he some kind of compound or complex organism, made by the joining of two beings, but no longer quite human or divine as a the result. We confess that he is God and man, undivided, one Christ. 

Prayer: Fill me with your grace, O God, that throughout this day I may delight in your praise through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen. 

This edition of Luther's Small Catechism is specifically designed to go with the Sola Confirmation Series. The 2010 Sola/ReClaim Edition* is a faithful word-for-word translation from Luther's German Catechism. It also includes the section on the Office of the Keys, added later to Luther's Catechism.

This pocket edition features quotations from the English Standard Version (ESV) of Scripture, and the traditional ICET liturgical texts (as used in the Lutheran Book of Worship). The primary verses of Scripture, Creed, and Prayers are printed in italics; Luther’s explanations are printed in plain text. Luther’s explanations are formatted with a mid-sentence break, to highlight contrasting phrases and to aid in memorization.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 16 Feb 21 00:00:00 -0600

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Colossians 2:8–15

From the Confessions: The Athanasian Creed

It is necessary for eternal salvation that one also faithfully believe that Jesus Christ became flesh. For this is the true faith that we believe and confess: That our Lord Jesus Christ, God's Son, is both God and man. He is God, begotten before all worlds from the being of the Father, and he is man, born in the world from the being of his mother—existing fully as God, and fully as man with a rational soul and a human body; equal to the Father in divinity, subordinate to the Father in humanity.

Pulling It Together

The issue of the Athanasian Creed is not only that we rightly understand the Trinity of God but that we correctly understand the dual nature of Jesus Christ. If one believes that a man named Jesus died for her outside of an ancient city thousands of years ago, but believes that he was simply a man, then it profits her nothing. For no man can die for another and it pay his sin debt (Rom 6:23) to God. It is necessary to believe that the man Jesus was God in the flesh—otherwise you miss the point of it all.

Because Jesus was conceived by the Spirit, not by a man, he was able to live a perfect life, never sinning as we do. Nor was he corrupted by original sin, passed on to the rest of us through Adam's transgression (Rom 5:12). Therefore, being perfectly guiltless, he became an acceptable sacrifice to God for the sins of the world. His human blood was necessary for redemption, as the shedding of innocent blood is required by the law for the forgiveness of sin (Heb 9:22). Because he is God Jesus was able to redeem the sin of everyone (not just his own, which was unnecessary at any rate since he was sinless), so long as he satisfied his law too. Being both man and God, he satisfied the demand of the law and his desire for grace toward us. Though he was fully God, Jesus being fully human too, submitted to the will of his Father (Matt 6:10; Luke 22:42), dying for us as only he could do.

Prayer: Thank you, God, for canceling my record of debt, nailing it to the cross. Amen. 

Sola’s Confirmation workbook, The Lord's Prayer, is designed to be a small group Bible study, 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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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 15 Feb 21 00:00:00 -0600

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1 Corinthians 1:18–21

From the Confessions: The Athanasian Creed

The Father was neither made nor created nor begotten; the Son was neither made nor created, but was alone begotten of the Father; the Spirit was neither made nor created, but is proceeding from the Father and the Son. Thus there is one Father, not three fathers; one Son, not three sons; one Holy Spirit, not three spirits. And in this Trinity, no one is before or after, greater or less than the other; but all three persons are in themselves, coeternal and coequal; and so we must worship the Trinity in unity and the One God in three persons. Whoever wants to be saved should think thus about the Trinity.

Pulling It Together: Notice how the creed repeats itself. As Paul says, repetition is good for us (Phil 3:1). We need to hear the difficult teachings many times before we begin to understand. So we hear again that each of the three Persons of the Trinity are uncreated. This time, it is refined a bit, just to be sure we do not mistake the meaning. There are not three fathers, or three sons, or three spirits. There is one of each and those three are one God. Next, we hear a very valuable, direct statement in the creed. No doubt this statement is present because people wondered about “begottenness” and procession. Did these words in the Nicene Creed indicate that the Father was first and the Son and the Spirit came after him? The Athanasian Creed makes it very clear: “in this Trinity none is before or after other.” But is the Father somehow greater than his Son, the Spirit less than the Father and Son from whom he proceeds? “None is greater or less than another.” The oneness of the Trinity is to be worshiped because this is God. And each of the three in the Unity is to be worshiped, for each is God.

The final sentence for our consideration today is surely in reference to those who hold to the heresies that the creed addresses. Certainly, God alone will judge persons but they would be wise to know who God is if they would depend upon him. It is not that one must say “amen” to the Athanasian Creed in order to be saved. Faith in the God whom the creed names, however—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—is very necessary to salvation.

Prayer: Lord of heaven and earth, enlighten my understanding of you. Amen.

All those who believe and trust in Jesus as their Savior are both saints and sinners. The same was true of the people in Holy Scripture.

By virtue of our baptism into Christ, we are made holy by his saving grace. This is not something we do on our own, but something that is imputed to us by Jesus. At the same time, we are plagued by that age-old sin that makes us want to be in control of our own lives. As those who are called by God to follow Jesus in obedient discipleship, we, like many before us, have been called to be witnesses to God's saving grace in Jesus Christ.

This seven-session study is the first in a three-part series on Saints and Sinners in the New Testament who were powerful witnesses to the faith in Christ. May this study of saints and sinners enrich your understanding of life with Christ and encourage you in discipleship.  https://www.solapublishing.com/saints-and-sinners-vol.-1-participant-_A-5010

 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 14 Feb 21 00:00:00 -0600

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Romans 11:33–36

From the Confessions: The Athanasian Creed

For the Father is one person, the Son is another, and the Spirit still another. But the deity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is one, equal in glory, coeternal in majesty. What the Father is, the Son is, and so is the Holy Spirit. Uncreated is the Father; uncreated is the Son; uncreated is the Spirit. The Father is infinite; the Son is infinite; the Holy Spirit is infinite. Eternal is the Father; eternal is the Son; eternal is the Spirit. And yet there are not three eternal beings, but one who is eternal; as there are not three uncreated and unlimited beings, but one who is uncreated and unlimited. Almighty is the Father; almighty is the Son; almighty is the Spirit; and yet there are not three almighty beings, but one who is almighty. Thus the Father is God; the Son is God; the Holy Spirit is God. And yet there are not three gods, but one God. Thus the Father is Lord; the Son is Lord; the Holy Spirit is Lord. And yet there are not three lords, but one Lord. As Christian truth compels us to acknowledge each distinct person as God and Lord, so catholic religion forbids us to say that there are three gods or lords.

Pulling It Together: When reading the Bible, it is easy enough to see that there is a personal God called the Father. He interacts with people in many of the same ways that we do. Again, it is easy to regard Jesus as a person when reading the gospels, but it takes a more careful reading to notice that he is God, on the level of the Father, even though he tells us that he is. On first reading, one may not notice that the Holy Spirit is also the personal God. Once one has noticed that each is honored as Lord, that all three are regarded as personal, and that each Person is called God, it may take still longer before we notice that there is only one God.

Once we have seen this, we struggle. How can it be that there are three Persons but only one God? We try to make sense of it through human and earthly analogies but of course, all of them fall short of the glory who is God. We try to make sense of it, using reason alone. But reason cannot make sense of the Triune God. Nevertheless, when we read the Scripture, we learn that the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are each uncreated, infinite, and eternal, and each is the almighty Lord God. Further, we are taught by the Word itself that what one is, so is the other and that all three are one. It is not that they are so similar that it seems like they are one. They are one God. Yet they are three Persons.

As we confess the three, distinct persons of the one God, let us also admit our limitations. Being merely human, we cannot fully understand God. We have been given a divine gift, a revelation from God of who he is. In Scripture, he has revealed himself to us, but in ways that we cannot fully grasp. This is to be expected. Who could fathom the depths of divinity, and the divine still be God? Though acknowledging that we cannot fully comprehend, we may still believe what the Lord has revealed of himself.

Prayer: Open my mind and my heart, Lord, that I may believe through the Scripture what I cannot fully comprehend. Amen. 

Since Lent is quickly approaching... 

Will You Betray Me? is a five-part drama series focuses on “betrayal” as a central theme. Written in a direct and edgy style, the monologues feature biblical characters that (knowingly or unknowingly) contributed to the betrayal and death of Jesus.  

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 13 Feb 21 00:00:00 -0600

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John 14:6–13

From the Confessions: The Athanasian Creed

Now this is the catholic faith: we worship one God in trinity and the Trinity in unity, neither confusing the persons nor dividing the divine being.

Pulling It Together

The faith of the whole Church is based in whom we believe. We cannot know what to believe until we know who commands our belief. It stands to reason that we will never follow Jesus until we know it is Jesus whom we follow. Jesus said, “whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do” (John 14:12). This is the catholic faith, that we know Christ, and in knowing him, know the Father who sent him (John 14:7), and the Spirit whom they sent. All right doctrine springs from this, so it is essential to correct faith that we rightly understand the Trinity of God.

We do not worship the Father alone, for in worshiping him, we also glorify the Son and the Holy Spirit. We do not worship only Christ or Spirit, for the one is of the other—even though they are distinct from one another. They are different Persons but the same substance—the same Godness. The Son is the same form (Phil 2:6) of being as the Father and the Spirit. He is the exact likeness of God (Col 1:15). Each Person of the Trinity is the one, pre-existent God. They cannot be separated in their Godness, their God-essence, though we know them in their Persons.

The more one tries to explain the mystery of the Trinity, the more dangerous the explanations can become. The conciseness of the Athanasian Creed is therefore very helpful. We confess God as the Trinity of One. Though three Persons, God is the same substance or essence or divine form of being. 

Prayer: Help us believe in the one who, without your grace, is beyond believing. Lord, help us believe in you. Amen. 

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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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 12 Feb 21 00:00:00 -0600

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John 20:24–29

From the Confessions: The Athanasian Creed

Whoever wants to be saved should above all cling to the catholic faith. Whoever does not guard it whole and inviolable will doubtless perish eternally.

Pulling It Together

One may not take the Bible in hand and come up with any set of assertions and doctrines that suit a fancy. There is far too much of that going around today. The latest theological craze attracts the spiritually distracted like deer to headlights. The more glaring and wilder, the better. What difference does it make, since they will likely be chasing a new idea within the month? If you would be saved, you must confess what the Church has confessed for ages. The faith that the Church has affirmed is saving faith. Otherwise, it is a fashion, a trend that will not stand the test of time—or eternity.

Furthermore, one may not take bits of the faith to heart and discard the parts that seem too difficult or disagreeable. One may not say that Trinity is a hard doctrine and because it does not make sense, chuck it out. Of course, it is difficult; it is about God. God is not reasonable. He is inscrutable but that does not make him unbelievable. What does his revelation of himself teach you—no matter how hard the saying? That is what you must believe with your whole heart.

The faith that the Church throughout history has believed is what you must believe—and the whole of it—or else risk salvation.

Prayer: Save me, Lord, and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise. Amen. 

We Still Believe is a Bible study resource reflecting on key themes in the biblical Lutheran doctrine that are at risk in the Church today. It is offered in the hope that it will inspire individuals and congregations to examine the core beliefs of traditional Lutheranism and how these beliefs apply to our own present context. Written in a question and discussion style by Pastor Steven King, the participant's book includes an introduction to and copy of the faith statement known as the Common Confession.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 11 Feb 21 00:00:00 -0600

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Luke 24:44–45

From the Confessions: The Athanasian Creed

Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith. Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt, he shall perish everlastingly.

And the catholic faith is this, that we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; Neither confounding the Persons nor dividing the Substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is all one: the glory equal, the majesty coeternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Ghost uncreated. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet they are not three Eternals, but one Eternal. As there are not three Uncreated nor three Incomprehensibles, but one Uncreated and one Incomprehensible. So likewise the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, and the Holy Ghost almighty. And yet they are not three Almighties, but one Almighty. So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods, but one God. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not three Lords, but one Lord. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by Himself to be God and Lord, So are we forbidden by the catholic religion to say, there be three Gods or three Lords.

The Father is made of none: neither created nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone; not made, nor created, but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son: neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts. And in this Trinity none is before or after other; none is greater or less than another; But the whole three Persons are coeternal together, and coequal: so that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshiped. He, therefore, that will be saved must thus think of the Trinity.

Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting salvation that he also believe faithfully in the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the right faith is, that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man; God of the Substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and Man of the substance of His mother, born in the world; Perfect God and perfect Man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting. Equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, and inferior to the Father as touching His manhood; Who, although He be God and Man, yet He is not two, but one Christ: One, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking the manhood into God; One altogether; not by confusion of Substance, but by unity of Person. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and Man are one Christ; Who suffered for our salvation; descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead; He ascended into heaven; He sitteth on the right hand of the Father, God Almighty; from whence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead. At whose coming, all men shall rise again with their bodies, and shall give an account of their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting; and they that have done evil, into everlasting fire.

This is the catholic faith; which except a man believe faithfully and firmly, he cannot be saved.

Pulling It Together: The Athanasian Creed is so named because Athanasius of Alexandria (296-373AD) had been considered its author. That is not the case, though it is uncertain who wrote the creed. What is certain is that the Church catholic believes what the Athanasian Creed says first, about the Trinity and then more specifically, about Christ. These statements are provided in a systematic manner, providing the Church with a more developed understanding of the Trinity than we get in either the Apostles' or the Nicene Creeds. This doctrine of the Trinity and its persons rightly understood and believed, is necessary for salvation, as we will see as we look into this creed over the next week or so.

Prayer: Blessed Holy Trinity, open my mind to understand the Scripture. Amen.

Portraits of Jesus is a nine-session Bible study that explores the "I AM" statements given to us by Jesus himself. In comparing Jesus' words with related Scripture in both the Old and New Testaments, the study provides a well-rounded look at the center of our faith in Christ.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 10 Feb 21 00:00:00 -0600

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1 John 5:10–13

From the Confessions: The Nicene Creed

“the life of the world to come”

Pulling It Together

We confess that there is an eternal life prepared for God's people in heaven. Everlasting life is a free gift from God (Rom 6:23). Jesus was sent by his Father so that we might not perish but by believing in what Jesus has done for us, live with him forever (John 3:16). There is nothing else that the believer wants more than this unceasing time with God. We may hope to see a departed family member in heaven, but for the true believer, there is no greater longing than to be with God. The only way to have either in the life to come is to know God here first (John 17:3).

This is critical, for there are many who will say that they were Christians or believed in God or were good people, and somehow, therefore, deserve to be in heaven. Such people will be disappointed because they will not be given what they never wanted to begin with. What God offers in the life to come is himself. Those who did not desire him here will not want him there either. “Do not be deceived. God is not mocked” (Gal 6:7). Only through wholehearted belief in God's promises, bought and paid for by Christ's death and resurrection, and guaranteed by his Spirit, may one hope to receive the inheritance of eternal life in heaven with God.

This eternal life to come is what Christians confess—because it is promised by Jesus.

Prayer: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, I praise and thank you for everything you have done to make an eternal home for me with you in heaven. Amen. 

Three Keys to What Lutherans Believe is a three-session introduction to themes in Lutheran theology. By focusing on key biblical concepts, it demonstrates the primary themes that Lutherans emphasize in thinking about the Christian faith and the teachings of Scripture. The study may be particularly suited to new member classes, adult baptismal or confirmation instruction, or for use with young adults. For use in shorter sessions, leaders may choose to divide each lesson into two parts to create a six-week study.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 09 Feb 21 00:00:00 -0600

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1 Corinthians 15:12–19

From the Confessions: The Nicene Creed

“I look for the resurrection of the dead.”

Pulling It Together

The confession of resurrection is as important as that of the divinity of Christ or of creation or of any other item in our creed. Without the resurrection, the rest of the creed falls apart. No wonder it is attacked. We confess the resurrection of Christ, saying in the second article, “and the third day He rose again.” Now we are adding that we believe in our own resurrection. We must believe in our own resurrection or we nullify the resurrection of our Lord. Paul is logical when he says that if the dead are not raised, then even Christ is not raised. Luther helps us look at it in another logical but spiritual way, saying that because we are the Body of Christ and Christ the Head, one may not be raised without the other. If the Head is raised, so goes the Body, and vice versa. “If we were not going to rise from the dead, it would follow that Christ also had not risen from the dead. But since Christ is risen from the dead, as we preach and believe, it follows that we must also rise from the dead” (Luther’s Works, vol. 58, p 103).

Therefore, just as in all else, it also follows that Jesus rose from the dead for our sake. He did not rise from the dead for his own sake but so that we might be raised from the dead. He came down from heaven to earth for our sake, became incarnate for our sake, suffered for our sake, was crucified and died and was buried for our sake, and was resurrected for our sake. All these things he did for us and for our salvation.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for giving me the hope of resurrection from the dead. Amen.

Combining the message of salvation in Christ with personal witness, The Gospel in Miniature is a Lutheran guide for evangelism. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 08 Feb 21 00:00:00 -0600

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Ephesians 4:1–6

From the Confessions

The Nicene Creed: “I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins.”

Pulling It Together

The “one baptism” into which we are baptized is Christ's baptism. His baptism is our own; it is why he was baptized: to fulfill all righteousness—even ours. Jesus was not baptized for his own benefit; he was baptized for our sake. Because we were baptized into Christ Jesus, we were baptized into his death (Rom 6:3). This is how we are now dead to sin. Just as Jesus brought the sin of the world to bear on the cross, he brought the sin of every sinner to the water. He did not bring his own sin to the Jordan, for he was sinless. Jesus bore your sin and mine and the sin of every sinner who has lived and will ever live, and washed it away in baptism. Whoever believes in Jesus and is baptized into his death has this remission of sins. For that was the purpose of his baptism. Therefore, we confess that the baptism of Christ into which we are baptized is the only baptism of any effect on sins.

Prayer: Lord, help me always remember that I am baptized into your death and am therefore alive with you forever. Amen.

Learning About Baptism teaches the meaning of Holy Baptism according to the pattern of Luther's Small Catechism, and is recommended for the First Grade Level. Each week focuses on a specific Bible story that illustrates the theme, with additional references from Scripture and Luther's Small Catechism - Children's Version. Lessons focus on Baptism as a promise from God, emphasizing the power of God's Word in the Sacrament to create faith and repentance in our daily life.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 07 Feb 21 00:00:00 -0600

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Galatians 6:11–18

From the Confessions

The Nicene Creed: “And I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.”

Pulling It Together

We believe in the Church established by God, not a church established by Luther (as if Luther ever started a church). Nor do we believe in the churches or denominations begun by any other parties. The Church of God is first, catholic, including other assemblies so long as they are apostolic. “We believe one, holy, catholic church in all ages, from the beginning of the world until the end of the world” (Luther’s Works, vol 2, p 228). “The Israel of God” spans the Old Testament and the New; it is comprised of Jews and Gentiles, so long as they are in Christ (Gal 3:28).

We confess a Church united in its apostolic doctrines and practices, one that is orthodox, rightly teaching the Word and observing the sacraments. Though it gathers behind a variety of signage, it assembles under the banner of Christ. The Church is apostolic in that it has what the Church has had since the time of the apostles: a right devotion to Christ's Word. “Where the Word is not, even though the titles and the office are there, the church is not, because God is not there either” (ibid. p 229).

As to this catholic and apostolic Church, we believe in only one such Church and that it is holy. Though there be many denominations, so long as they are in Christ, they are in his one Church. They are a holy people, a kingly priesthood of all believers called and gathered by God to proclaim the excellencies of Jesus Christ (1 Pet 2:9-10). This is the Church in which we confess to believe.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for baptizing me into Christ's death, thereby killing my old nature, and making me fit for your Church on earth and in heaven. Amen.

The Sola Online Worship eResource (SOWeR) provides so many resources that it is hard to list them all. One of those resources is a growing section of liturgies and services that subscribers may use. These are ready-to-print service booklets like the Sola Scriptura Setting (a spoken liturgy for Holy Communion). 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 06 Feb 21 00:00:00 -0600

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2 Samuel 23:1–4

From the Confessions

The Nicene Creed: “who spake by the Prophets...”

Pulling It Together

Luther teaches (Luther’s Works, vol 15, p 275) us that in his last words, David spoke of the Holy Trinity, that there were three Speakers talking by him or through him. Moved by the Spirit of the Lord, the God of Israel, and the Rock of Israel, David was inspired to allude to a matter that he likely did not fully comprehend. Nevertheless, the Holy Spirit, as part of the Three, spoke through David—and through all of the prophets too. No word of prophecy, understood or not, came through anyone without the inspiration of God's Spirit (2 Pet 1:21). “All Scripture is inspired by God” (2 Tim 3:16, RSV). It is breathed out by God, and blown into the prophet. This is the work of the Spirit of God, the one whose very name is used to forge the word “inspire.” Jesus ascribes to the Spirit even his own ministry of proclamation (Luke 4:18). By the Spirit's anointing, all of the prophets taught what they breathed in from God. By the same Spirit, we confess what we have received by the prophets and the apostles and the Lord himself.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, inspire me to confess the word of Christ and his apostles and prophets. Amen.

This link gives you eight weeks of free samples from the many resources provided for each Sunday of the church year. These resources are provided for each Sunday in the lectionary as well as by entire seasons. They include worship planning pages, lesson inserts, prayers, text studies, hymn suggestions cross-referenced in five Lutheran hymnals, puzzles, children's bulletins, editable bulletin templates for various settings of the liturgy, preformatted, copy-ready liturgies, inserts, and orders of worship for regular and occasional services, simplified hymn music for piano and guitar, as well as original hymn lyrics based on the gospel readings for specific Sundays, that are set to familiar hymn tunes.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 05 Feb 21 00:00:00 -0600

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Genesis 1:26–28

From the Confessions

The Nicene Creed: “who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified...”

Pulling It Together: The Holy Spirit, like the Son and the Father, is by nature the eternal God. He is uncreated, existing from all eternity. He is an entirely different person from the Father and the Son, but he is not a different God than them. Instead, he is altogether equal to them in an undivided, eternal substance. That is what the faith teaches from the Holy Scriptures. We are not coming up with some strange, new interpretation of the Scripture but simply confessing what the Word of God says about the Holy Spirit.

As God, the Holy Spirit, along with the Father and the Son, is worshiped and honored by the one, true Church everywhere throughout time. This is the basic fabric of our faith; it is the skeleton of our creeds. Without all three persons of the Trinity, the cloth is rent, the structure does not hold together. The Scriptures teach the plurality of the One God since the time of Moses. We simply confess what has always been held by the Israel of God. (Gal 6:16)

Prayer: Help me, Holy Spirit, not so much to comprehend as to believe and confess your word, so that I may in time, by your gracious will, come to understand the incomprehensible. Amen. 

I Am Who I Am is a six-week study that explores what it means to “not take the name of the LORD your God in vain” (Exod 20:7), while at the same time trusting the promise in Christ that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21).

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 04 Feb 21 00:00:00 -0600 Click for online jigsaw.

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John 15:26–27

From the Confessions: The Nicene Creed

“Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son...”

Pulling It Together: The so-called procession of the Son from the Father, and the Spirit from the Father and the Son, has nothing to do with hierarchy within the Trinity. Confessing that the persons of the Trinity proceed from each other is in part simply saying that they are one. The Holy Spirit has equal share in glory with the Son, as well as the Father. Together, they are one God. Each is deity; and they are together one divinity, for they come from each other.

We are also confessing what the Scripture states clearly. Jesus said, “For I proceeded forth and came from God” (John 8:42, KJV). So we understand that the Son proceeds from the Father. Later, John writes, “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me” (John 15:26, KJV). The Spirit proceeds from the Father and is sent by the Son. We do not bicker over the words “proceeds” and “sent.” Instead, “We maintain...that there is a plurality in God characterized by an undivided essence and an inseparable unity” (Luther’s Works, vol 2, p 227). The Spirit was not birthed, but proceeds from the Father and the Son in eternity, even as Jesus comes from the Father in eternity. Though one proceeds from another, they are undivided in their essence; they are inseparably one. In Luther's words again: “The Son is from the Father, the Holy Spirit is from both, and nevertheless it is one God” (“Sermon for the Sunday in Christmastide”). This we believe and confess.

Prayer: Thank you, Jesus, for sending your Spirit to help us in this earthly life. Amen.

The Power of Lent is a series of lenten dramas pairing two characters each week from the story of Jesus' Passion; bearing witness to what they saw, heard, and felt. Each pair of biblical characters reflects upon a similar theme for the week, showing how the same events brought about very different reactions to Jesus and his identity.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 03 Feb 21 00:00:00 -0600

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2 Corinthians 3:12–18

From the Confessions: The Nicene Creed

“And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life...”

Pulling It Together: We have considered the Holy Ghost, or Spirit, in the Apostles' Creed. A few more words about God's Spirit are added to the Nicene Creed. He is called Lord. Too often, the Holy Spirit is thought of in a disembodied manner. No wonder, when we think of ghost and spirit the way we do. We think of him little better, if at all, when we reckon him to be merely a heavenly force. The Holy Spirit is as personal as Jesus and as relational as the Father. God's Spirit is somebody. He is the third person of the Trinity. He is rightly called Lord, since he is just as much our master and benefactor as the Father and the Son.

The Nicene Creed also calls the Holy Spirit the Giver of Life. Scripture speaks of all three persons of the Trinity creating life. The Spirit gave life to Jesus in the womb of Mary. It is Christ's Spirit within us that produces newness of life. He is indeed the Lord and Giver of Life. But all this is meant to say, between the lines, that the Spirit is a person, one of three persons we confess as God.

Prayer: Bless you, Lord Christ, for sending the Spirit Lord to indwell us and give us new life. Amen.

Did you know about the free stuff? Here are dozens of free Sunday School resources from Sola Publishing that include games, crafts, and projects. These resources are tied to Sola's three-year Sunday Schoolhouse Series.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 02 Feb 21 00:00:00 -0600

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Isaiah 9:2–7 

From the Confessions: The Nicene Creed

“whose kingdom shall have no end.”

Pulling It Together

Since God himself is eternal, his kingdom also remains forever. Within any kingdom, including God's heavenly kingdom, are its citizens, the king's subjects. The citizens of the kingdom of heaven are both angelic and human. So they too will have no end, since they dwell in an eternal kingdom. That is the logic of the matter. Then there is the promise. A child was born, a son was given. He is the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. His kingdom, his government, will never end; it will only increase forever. We know that all of this has been done by God for us and to his glory. Because we have been set free from sin by our great Prince, we have been sanctified and justified (1 Cor 6:11) and are being renewed day by day (2 Cor 4:16) to the end result that we have eternal life in the kingdom of Christ Jesus our Lord.

Prayer: Thank you, God, for the free gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus my Lord. Amen.

In Harmony with the Word is an eight-session Bible Study that focuses on Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, from Matthew 5-7. It is written at an introductory level, to be led by a lay leader or pastor in a small-group question and discussion format. The study would serve as an excellent resource for monthly women's group meetings or in an informal small-group setting.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 01 Feb 21 00:00:00 -0600

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2 Corinthians 5:16–21

From the Confessions: The Nicene Creed

“...and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man, and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again with glory to judge the quick and the dead.”

Pulling It Together

Again, we see the additional statement that Christ did all that he did “for us.” Though it is mentioned here only in regards to crucifixion, earlier it is stated that the reason he came down from heaven was for us. We cannot expect to say it in every instance in the creed but it can be said here. He was born for us. He became man for us. He was crucified for us. He suffered for us. He was buried for us. He rose from the dead for us. He ascended to the right hand of the Father for us. And he will come again in power and great glory for us. When he returns, he will judge the dead as well as the living. This too, we confess he will do for us. For though we too will be judged, we will be found righteous by virtue of Christ having become sin for us. For our sake, Christ switched positions with sinners, so that they would be new creations, reconciled to God.

Prayer: I praise you, Lord Jesus, for all you have done for us. Help me to understand just how great a thing it was that you accomplished in your life, death, resurrection, and ascension. And help me to live the new life you have given me, by being your ambassador to others. Amen.

Sola’s Confirmation workbook, The Lord's Prayer, is designed to be a small group Bible study, 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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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 31 Jan 21 00:00:00 -0600 Click for larger image

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Matthew 10:34–39

From the Confessions

The Nicene Creed: “by whom all things were made; who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man, and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried”

Pulling It Together: We have covered most of this in our look at the Apostles' Creed. However, there is something new here. Note the words, “who for us men, and for our salvation.” The only God, existing as Father, Son, and Spirit, sent himself into this world he created (John 3:16) and he did so for our sake (2 Cor 5:21). He did not come to earth on vacation as a Greek god would or to wreak mayhem as a Norse god might. The Son of God became the Son of Man for our benefit, and did so simply because of his Father's great love for us. He came to earth on a mission. It was not to make earth a better or nicer place, or even to bring peace (Matt 10:34). He came to earth for our salvation.

We confess this in the Nicene Creed, and it is good that we do so; otherwise we would be creating all sorts of reasons that Jesus came among us, mostly driven by whatever social agenda we might be impelled by this year. The creed pulls us back to reality, to God, to Christ's mission. Jesus did not come to make us feel good, to give us more stuff, or to fulfill our dreams. He came to save us, to bring us into a corrected and eternal relationship with God. Our confession calls us back to this reality.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord God, for saving the world. Amen.


Check out Sola’s Confirmation workbook, The Sacraments, designed to be a small group Bible study, student book for home school or independent study programs, or as a classroom tool and homework resource as part of an existing confirmation program.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 30 Jan 21 00:00:00 -0600 Click for larger image

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Colossians 1:15–20

From the Confessions

The Nicene Creed: “begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father.”

Pulling It Together

Here we see a straightforward denial of the Arian heresy: Jesus is “not made.” If there was any uncertainty about the definition of the word begotten, here is the clarification: “not made.” The Son of God is not a created being, like angels or humans. To better understand the relationship of the Father and the Son, we say that Jesus is begotten of the Father. This is not the same thing as being born. The Son of Man was born; the Son of God was not born. The Son of God simply is. He is eternal, existing before all creation. We confess that Jesus is begotten of the heavenly Father so it is understood that he had no earthly father and that there is an eternal relationship between the Father and the Son.

We also claim in this confession, that the Son is of one substance with the Father. The Spirit, the Son, and the Father are one substance or essence, yet three persons. So, we confess and assert with strong voice and faith that Jesus, being of that same, one substance with the Father and Spirit, is God of God, true God of true God.

Prayer: Thank you for creating all things, Lord, and for recreating me. Amen.


Pilate's Investigation is a five-part series designed for use during Lent. Each of the dramas feature Pontius Pilate, seeking to learn the identity of the mysterious figure who has been brought to him for judgment. Scripture texts are assigned for each of the dramas, along with notes for the actors.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 29 Jan 21 00:00:00 -0600 Click for larger image

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John 5:15-18

From the Confessions: The Nicene Creed: Very God of very God...

Pulling It Together

These days, we say, “true God of true God,” and rightly so, since “very” used to be used as truly or true. The Latin word from which we derive the English word “very” is verus which means “true.” We still think this way, even if we do not realize we do so. If we say something is very blue, we mean it is truly blue. Just so, when we confess that Jesus is very God, we mean that he is the true God. And when we say that he is true God of true God, we simply mean that he is truest of true, the highest form of he who is verily God.

In responding to the Arian heresy, these superlatives were important. There is, of course, no other God to be truer than, so “true God of true God” emphasizes the doctrine that Jesus is not a created being but is truly God.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to hear your word and believe. Amen.


SOWeR, the Sola Online Worship eResource, is a lectionary-based subscription program that helps pastors and congregations plan for worship, with Scripture Inserts, readings and prayers for easy copying and pasting for each Sunday of the year. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 28 Jan 21 00:00:00 -0600 Click for larger image

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Revelation 21:22–25

From the Confessions: The Nicene Creed

Light of Light

Pulling It Together

“God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). He is the source of the light, thus we say that he is the light. The light that is God is generated by his glory. This speaks to his holiness, since there can be no darkness or evil in his light.

Jesus is not a reflection of this light. He is the light. He is the “true light” (John 1:9). He is that “joyous light of glory” whom we confess as God. As he is by definition, “God of God,” he is by description, “Light of Light.” The psalmist declares that God is such bright light that in his light we are able to see light. The normal light of day is as darkness in the glory of God. Jesus shows us the light of God, not by reflecting his light but by being the light—by being God, who is light. Thus, we confess that Jesus is Light of Light.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, bring your light to bear on the darkness in my life. Amen.


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Of One Mind and Purpose is a six-session study examines the unique way in which the Bible describes being united in Christ. It explains how God’s Word can either divide people or bring them together in faith, showing how the relationship we have with one another in the Church comes through Christ alone.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 27 Jan 21 00:00:00 -0600 Click for larger image

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Philippians 2:5–11

From the Confessions: The Nicene Creed

God of God

Pulling It Together: Jesus has always been God. This did not happen when he was born of the virgin, or when he died on the cross, or when he rose from the dead, or when he ascended to the Father. He has always been and always will be God. Jesus is God, as the Father and the Spirit are God, and they are together God. He is the very essence of what it is to be God. He is the pith of divinity.

Though the Son of God was born of a woman and became for us the Son of Man, he remained God. We say that he is God incarnate, or God in the flesh. Though he became a man, he remained wholly God. Just as he has never ceased being God, he never began to be God. He has always been God with the Father and Holy Spirit. Together, they are God and Jesus is God of this Triune God.

Prayer: Jesus, I bow before you, my Lord and my God. Amen.


The Power of Lent is a series of lenten dramas pairing two characters each week from the story of Jesus' Passion; bearing witness to what they saw, heard, and felt. Each pair of biblical characters reflects upon a similar theme for the week, showing how the same events brought about very different reactions to Jesus and his identity.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 26 Jan 21 00:00:00 -0600 Click for larger image

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John 1:1–4, 14–18

From the Confessions: The Nicene Creed: And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds...

Pulling It Together

In response to the Arians again, the Nicene Creed specifies that the Son of God is begotten of the Father before all worlds—before anything was created. In other words, the Son is eternal, as John testifies in his gospel. The Son of God is not a created being, even one of a higher nature than man, but instead is himself the Creator. John testifies to this also. All things were made by him—and he is not a made being. He has simply been, existing with the Father and the Holy Spirit since, as we say, the beginning. This means that God has always been, existing from all eternity. We confess that Jesus is this God, who lives and reigns with his Father and the Holy Spirit—forever one God. Amen.

Prayer: Word made flesh, help me grow in your grace. Amen.


We Still Believe is a Bible study resource reflecting on key themes in biblical Lutheran doctrine that are at risk in the Church today. It is offered in the hope that it will inspire individuals and congregations to examine the core beliefs of traditional Lutheranism and how these beliefs apply to our own present context. Written in a question and discussion style by Pastor Steven King, the participant's book includes an introduction to and copy of the faith statement known as the Common Confession.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 25 Jan 21 00:00:00 -0600 Click for larger image

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1 Corinthians 8:4–6

From the Confessions: The Nicene Creed

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

Pulling It Together

In the Nicene Creed, we confess one more thing about the Father than we do in the Apostles' Creed. We already profess that the Father is Maker of heaven and earth but now we say more specifically that he is Creator of all things—those things both visible and invisible, the things we know about and those we do not. The creeds call the Father the creative force, yet we read that the Spirit also was that hovering Creator in the beginning, and Jesus was the creating Logos, or Word of God. Though the Father is called Creator in the creed, the Triune God is Creator, since the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are the very image of each other.

It is this one God whom we confess is the creator of everything. There is nothing created, whether seen or unseen, that was not made by him. Nothing existed on its own; God brought it all into being. The invisible Father created the visible order as well as those things as yet unseen by us. It is through him that we and all things exist, so we confess he is Maker of all things visible and invisible.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for my existence. Amen.


This pocket edition of the Luther's Small Catechism is specifically designed to go with the Sola Confimation Series. The 2010 Sola/ReClaim Edition* is a faithful word-for-word translation from Luther's German Catechism. It also includes the section on the Office of the Keys, added later to Luther's Catechism.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 24 Jan 21 00:00:00 -0600 Click for larger image

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John 14:8–11

From the Confessions: The Nicene Creed

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father; by whom all things were made; who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man, and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again with glory to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified; who spake by the Prophets. And I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

Pulling It Together

The Nicene Creed originated from a need to confront a certain false teaching, or heresy, head-on by concisely and correctly teaching what the Scripture says about Jesus Christ. The churches of the time were taking sides—either with a popular bishop named Arius, or with those who stood against his teaching. The contentious doctrine that Arius made popular was that Jesus was created like the rest of us. He allowed that Jesus was better and higher than we, but created all the same. Some accounts say that Arius' insistence on this at the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, made Bishop Nicholas (of old Saint Nick fame) so angry that he struck Arius, knocking him to the ground. The decision of the Council was that Arius was wrong and that any who sided with Arianism would be excommunicated from the Church and run out of the empire.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help us believe that you are in the Father and the Father is in you. Amen. 


God's Reluctant Leaders is a nine-session Bible Study focuses on the stories of three biblical characters: Jonah, Gideon, and Moses. Sessions explore how God works to create faith within those whom He calls to serve His mission. The study is written at an introductory level, to be led by a lay leader or pastor in a small-group question and discussion format. It would serve as an excellent resource for monthly women's group meetings, or in an informal small-group setting.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 23 Jan 21 00:00:00 -0600 Click for larger image

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John 14:1–4  

  Click for a recording of today's lesson.

From the Confessions: The Apostles’ Creed

“The Life Everlasting”

Pulling It Together

We spend our lives waiting on things to happen. As children, we were known to ask, “Are we there yet?” We could not wait for birthdays, Christmas, and vacations. They seemed never to arrive. Nonetheless, we hoped for them. We waited with confidence for them to arrive. When they finally did arrive, they were over much too fast.

It seems that we spend these earthly lives waiting for Jesus to return and take us to this eternal home. He said that he was going to prepare a place for us, a place in his Father's house—a permanent home in heaven—then return for us so that we would be with him forever. This is the hope of the Christian: to be with the Lord forever. When that day comes, with its goodness, joy, and glory, it will not come and go like a child's long awaited birthday party or an adult's all-too-short vacation. It will never end.

We confess that there is an everlasting life, that Christ died and rose to secure our place with him there, and that he is returning for us to be with him forever in his Father's house. Whoever believes in the Son has this eternal life (John 3:36) for it is the will of the Father that Christ raise up the believer on the last day (John 6:40). This we believe and confess. His will be done.

Prayer: Come quickly, Lord Jesus. Amen. 


CLICK HERE for FREE Educational Resources on the Afterlife. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 22 Jan 21 00:00:00 -0600

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1 Thessalonians 4:13–18

From the Confessions: The Apostles’ Creed

“The Resurrection of the Body”

Pulling It Together

Put a Christian in the ground and she will rise again just as her Lord rose from the dead. She will rise because her Lord rose (Rom 6:5). It is not just the body, in terms of skin and bone and muscle and organ, but as Luther said, “the whole man through and through” that will rise (Luther’s Works, vol 30, p 118). A few centuries ago, we used to say that we “believe in the resurrection of the flesh.” That older language puts a finer point on our confession. Christ has redeemed everything we might consider corrupt, so the flesh, though it undergo decay or be consumed by fire, will be raised by the power of God. Reason says that this cannot be. No matter; reason will be raised right along with the rest of our flesh. The whole person—body, soul, and spirit (1Thes 5:23)—will be raised.

Resurrection is a mystery. It is difficult to comprehend how it will be or can be, but we confess our belief that in the flash of an instant, we will be changed. We will be made otherwise, altered, glorified. The perishable flesh will be clothed in the imperishable glory of God so that we may always be with the Lord. When this new and immortal being is put upon us, we will enjoy God's eternal fellowship since sickness and death will no longer affect us, nor will grief or pain or anything else that our flesh once endured. All of this is the victory that only Christ could obtain for us. It is ours by faith in God, whom we confess will raise us from the dead.

Prayer: Thank you, God, for giving us the victory through Jesus Christ. Amen. 


The Small Cat series is a comprehensive way to teach the Catechism to all of your children. There is a workbook and leader's guide for each of grades one through six, along with other complimentary resources. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 21 Jan 21 00:00:00 -0600

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1 John 1:5–10

From the Confessions: The Apostles’ Creed

“The Forgiveness of Sins”

Pulling It Together

Everywhere we turn, there are two things before us: sin (and lots of it) and forgiveness of sins. That we sin is perhaps the clearest indicator of our humanness. That God forgives our sins is the one of greatest expressions of his divinity. When we confess that there is forgiveness of sins, we are admitting that we are sinners and claiming that the Lord is merciful and gracious toward us.

Let us be clear, however: the forgiveness of sins is available to those who admit their condition, their need of a Savior, and the truth that the Father sent his Son into the world to accomplish this very thing once and for all (Heb 10:10). If we deny our sins, we deny the truth and are the worst sort of liars. We are fooling no one else but ourselves, stumbling through life in dark denial, if we say we have not sinned.

But if we acknowledge our sins, then God is not only faithful to forgive, he is just in doing so. He is righteous in his forgiveness (as opposed to that kind of bad parent who always lets their kid off the hook) since this is the very reason he sent his Son among us. When we walk in the light, Jesus' blood cleanses us from our sins. Now this walking in light is not walking without sin, as some will say it is. It is quite the opposite. Walking in the light is a living honestly before God, not hiding our sins from him as Eve and Adam tried to do, but coming out from the bushes and into the open before him. This is where God forgives; he does not forgive us in the bushes.

We believe in the forgiveness of sins so much that we are bold to announce with the authority of Jesus Christ the forgiveness of sins to repentant sinners. So, as you go through this life, you will sin by what you say and neglect to say, and by what you do and refuse to do. You will sin in thought, word, and deed. Yet, by the power of the Holy Spirit within you, you will remember, sometimes even as you are sinning, that the Father sent a Savior. Do not run for the bushes. Do not deny. Confess! For we believe in the forgiveness of sins.

Prayer: Help me walk in the light as you are in the light, Lord. Amen. 


Learning About Confession teaches the meaning of Confession and Forgiveness according Luther's guidance in the Small Catechism. It is recommended for the Sixth Grade Level. 

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 20 Jan 21 00:00:00 -0600 Click for larger image

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Hebrews 11:1–12:2

From the Confessions: The Apostles’ Creed

“...the communion of saints...”

Pulling It Together

The Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11 makes us consider all of those saints who have gone before us. Certainly this is no exhaustive list. After all, chapter 12 opens with a great cloud of witnesses, a stadium of spectators cheering on the Church throughout time as it runs the race (1Tim 4:7). All of God's elect in that historic Church are saints, people who are set apart for God's own purposes. We are of this communion, not because of the fine things we have done but, because Christ Jesus died to make us holy and acceptable (Rom 12:1) to God. The result of his sacrifice is a communion, a working together of the members of the Body of Christ for his glory. We are led and compelled in word and sacrament to be this fellowship of faithful people.

Community is not a solo event. It takes many saints to make a communion. The New Testament makes mention of the saints at Jerusalem, Lydda, Achaia, Ephesus, Philippi, Colossus, saints in individual households including Caesar's household, as well as saints who were in prison. All of these saints and more are part of the great communion of saints that we confess to believe. We too, are part of this great communion through faith in God's grace.

Prayer: Give me the strength, Lord, to persevere and to keep your Name until the end, as all of your faithful saints have done. Amen. 


Connections Magazine features articles that connect Lutherans to the Word. Martin Luther's Small Catechism provides inspiration for confessional, biblical content, delivered in a stylish, readable design.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 19 Jan 21 00:00:00 -0600 Click for larger image

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Matthew 16:13–20

From the Confessions: The Apostles’ Creed

“The holy catholic Church.”

Pulling It Together

We confess three things in this phrase. Let us consider them in reverse order. First, we confess that God has constructed himself a Church. Jesus told Peter that he would build his Church and that the gates of hell would not prevail against it (Mark 16:18). Despite everything the devil has thrown against and continues to throw against the Church, it still stands and will remain until that Day when everything is transformed. God's people will assemble in worship, fellowship, and study, and there is nothing that the devil can do to put an end to the Church that Jesus has built.

We confess a catholic Church. Used in the creed, catholic means general or universal, especially in the sense of a people who hold to orthodox or correct doctrine. When saying the creed, we claim that there is a such a Church, free from heresy and in possession of a faith that stretches back to the time of Christ and his Apostles.

We also confess that this Church Christ built is holy. Now, take one look around you on Sunday mornings and you might beg to differ. That perspective, however, would hardly be from God's viewpoint. The Father looks through the lens of a cross, an empty tomb, an ascended Savior. He sees the catholic Church as being washed in the blood of Jesus Christ. The Church is holy because of her Savior, not because of her deeds, or lack thereof.

Luther liked to say that we believe in the “holy Christian Church.” He thought it said as much as universal without being confusing. The hymnal of my boyhood (Service Book and Hymnal, 1958) had us saying “holy Christian Church.” These days, some of us say “catholic” again, instead of "Christian." Regardless, all Christians, whether Lutheran or otherwise, ought to confess with joy what Christ has done by building himself a Body that is righteous, right teaching, holy, and lasting.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for calling people from all parts of the earth, and from the past, present, and future to be the Church of your promise. Amen. 


Introduce young students to the Church through this five-week series titled Welcome to Church. Click here for the Table of Contents and a sample session.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 18 Jan 21 00:00:00 -0600

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Ephesians 1:1–14

From the Confessions: The Apostles’ Creed

“I believe in the Holy Spirit.”

Pulling It Together: Christians believe that the Lord our God is one God yet three persons, or Trinity. We have named the first two persons of the Trinity who is God. The first is the Father. The second is Jesus Christ his only Son. The third is the Spirit of God whom we call the Holy Spirit, or sometimes speaking archaically, the Holy Ghost.

The Spirit hovered over the chaotic deep, bringing creation in the beginning. He overshadowed Mary, causing the virgin to be with the child Jesus (re: January 8, 2015). The Spirit reminds us of the things Jesus taught, as well as other parts of Scripture. He teaches us. He intercedes for us in prayer when words fail to come. He moves in hearts of Christians so that unity in a congregation that might otherwise dissolve is fulfilled for God's glory. He brings hope, encouragement, peace, and joy. He also helps us in times of trial and weakness. When we imagine that God cannot possibly love poor sinners like us, the Holy Spirit reminds us of God's love and sacrifice—that eternal life and peace do not depend upon our worth or our works. In short, this Holy Spirit of God whom we confess in the Apostles' Creed brings our attention back to Jesus at every turn. He is the guarantee of everything Jesus promised.

Prayer: Jesus, thank you for sending your Father's Spirit to help us keep faith in you. Amen. 


Since Lent is fast approaching... 

Will You Betray Me?” is a five-part drama series focuses on “betrayal” as a central theme. Written in a direct and edgy style, the monologues feature biblical characters that (knowingly or unknowingly) contributed to the betrayal and death of Jesus.  

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 17 Jan 21 00:00:00 -0600 Click for larger image

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1 Peter 4:1–7

From the Confessions: The Apostles’ Creed

“From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead” or “He will come again to judge the living and the dead.”

Pulling It Together

We confess that Jesus ascended to his Father and that as Lord of of heaven and earth, he is appointed to be the judge of both the living and the dead (Acts 10:42). When he returns from heaven on that Day, all will be required to give an account of their lives. Even the dead will be called to testify about their lives, whether they were righteous or not. Anyone who thinks about this should be terrified—but not the Christian.

Everyone who believes in Jesus receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” (Acts 10:43). More than forgiveness, in his mercy and grace, the righteous judge of all creation does not even charge our sins to us. He does so justly because he has paid the debt of our sin and transferred his own blessed righteousness to our poor estates. He is both just and justifier of those who have faith in him (Rom 3:26).

Jesus is coming soon to judge all who have lived—whether they are alive or dead when he returns. The Christian should be careful to live faithfully but not trust in his own righteousness. Nor should she fear just because she is not the person she wants to be or imagines God wants her to be. Instead, she should trust that Christ's own righteousness is hers by faith. Though God will judge all, the Christian is clothed in Christ, and looks just like Jesus in the eyes of the judge.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus Christ, for judging the world justly and mercifully. Amen. 


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.

Customized Pocket Catechisms

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 16 Jan 21 00:00:00 -0600 Click for larger image

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1 Thessalonians 4:13–18

From the Confessions: The Apostles’ Creed

He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty.

Pulling It Together: Christ was not raised from the dead and ascended to the Father so that he would escape from death and this earth. He rose and ascended so that we could join him. If we have died with Christ through faith in him, we too will not only be raised from the dead but will ascend to the Lord (1 Thes 4:17).

We need not be concerned over our future. It is secure in Christ, so we are freed and empowered to live the risen and ascended life now. We already walk in newness of life and we should already be living the ascended life as well. William Temple said, “If we are traveling heavenward, we are already in heaven.” Prayer and worship are part of walking in a heavenly manner. Christianity is more than looking forward to eternal life; we must also make the most of this life for Christ's sake.

Christ died and rose and ascended so that we would live such lives as bring him glory and honor. Then, after this earthly life is over, we will see what glory truly is, for we will see him at the right hand of the Father. We will look upon him face-to-face and share his glory (Rom 8:17). All this Christ accomplished when he ascended to his Father's right hand.

Prayer: We long to see you in glory, Lord, even so, help us live gloriously now. Amen.


Baptized: Marked for Living is a series of meditations developed in an attempt to use the Lenten season as a time for reflection upon who we are as God's covenant children in baptism and how we are to live as people forever marked with the cross of Christ. Using symbols appropriate to the theme, each person or family is shown how to create a "home altar" as the centerpiece of their Lenten baptismal journey.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 15 Jan 21 00:00:00 -0600 Click for larger image

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Genesis 45:25–28

From the Confessions: The Apostles' Creed

“The third day He rose again from the dead.”

Pulling It Together

Poor Jacob had lived all those years believing his son Joseph to be dead. Then his other sons told their father that his son lived and was the ruler over all of Egypt. Only after hearing Joseph's words recounted and seeing the wagons loaded with good things did Jacob believe his son was really alive. It must have seemed as though Joseph had been resurrected from the dead.

Though Jesus died and had been in the tomb two days, we confess that on the third day he rose from the dead. By this great event, he has delivered blessings too abundant for wagons to convey. Sin and death and hell are vanquished and in their places are his righteousness, eternal life, and the everlasting joy of heaven. 

Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, for rising so that we may live in newness of life with you. Amen. 


SOWeR, the Sola Online Worship eResource, is a lectionary-based subscription program that helps pastors and congregations plan for worship. Lectionary Scripture inserts, plain text (RTF) files of the readings and prayers for easy copying and pasting, color and monochrome bulletin art, reproducible children’s bulletins & puzzles, worship planning pages, Prayers of the Church, devotionals formatted for copying on bulletin blanks, text studies, gospel word search puzzles, PowerPoint Templates, and more are provided for each Sunday and Major Feast. The SOWeR subscription also gives access to bulletin templates, additional and new liturgies and services, hymns and music, as well as original hymn texts based on the Lectionary and set to familiar tunes. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 14 Jan 21 00:00:00 -0600

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Ephesians 4:1–10

From the Confessions: The Apostles' Creed

“He descended into hell.”

Pulling It Together

The Scriptures attest to this event. Peter teaches that Christ “went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison” (1 Pet 3:19). Paul writes, "He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in [the cross]" (Col 2:15). In Scripture, rulers and authorities and principalities do not refer only to human leaders but angelic beings too (Rom 8:38). Paul also speaks of Jesus descending into the “lower regions of the earth” (Eph 4:9). Graves are only slightly lower than the ground we walk upon. The lower regions are elsewhere—"lower."

Nevertheless, the very idea that Christ descended into hell is resisted by many in the church. They are horrified at the thought of Jesus being in the place of the damned. We should, however, find great comfort and hope that Jesus descended into hell. We celebrate the Ascension; we should observe the “Descension” too. Jesus Christ did descend into hell but it could not hold him. He is Lord over all of creation and this is testimony of that lordship. Hell could not hold him any more than the grave. "This means that he is King and Lord over all that is God’s in heaven, earth, and hell. Hence he can help me and all believers against all troubles and against every adversary and foe." (Luther’s Works, vol 43, p 27) Jesus is Lord over everything, including hell, and being such a great Lord, he is able to protect us from its torments.

"In this Creed the burial and Christ’s descent into hell are distinguished as two different articles, and we believe simply that the entire person, God and human being, descended to hell after his burial, conquered the devil, destroyed the power of hell, and took from the devil all his power" (The Formula of Concord, The Solid Declaration, Art. IX).

It should therefore, comfort instead of trouble us when we confess that Jesus “descended into hell.” The doctrine of descent must be as much a part of our faith as Christ's suffering, crucifixion, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension. For without the descent into hell and Christ's exit from the “lower regions,” Christ would not have so completely conquered sin and death. “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1Cor 15:57).

Prayer: Thank you, Jesus, for overcoming sin and death and even hell for me. Amen. 


SOWeR, the Sola Online Worship eResource, is a lectionary-based subscription program that helps pastors and congregations plan for worship. Lectionary Scripture Inserts, plain text (RTF) files of the readings and prayers for easy copying and pasting, color and monochrome bulletin art, reproducible children’s bulletins & puzzles, worship planning pages, Prayers of the Church, devotionals formatted for copying on bulletin blanks, text studies, gospel wordearch puzzles, PowerPoint Templates, and more are provided for each Sunday and Major Feast. The SOWeR subscription also gives access to bulletin templates, additional and new liturgies and services, hymns and music, as well as original hymn texts based on the Lectionary and set to familiar tunes. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 13 Jan 21 00:00:00 -0600

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John 19:38–42

From the Confessions: The Apostles' Creed

“and buried.”

Pulling It Together

The way you know a person is really dead is if he ends up getting buried. Jesus died. That is why they buried him. We confess with the Scriptures that Jesus was so truly dead that they buried him. This means that they spent the short time yet available to them to prepare the body before burial. His lifeless body was taken down from the cross and made ready for the grave by rubbing the body with spices and wrapping it in cloths. Using these spices would have covered the stench of expected decay. Having taken the time to prepare the corpse is another sign that Jesus was dead—so very dead that they embalmed him and laid him to rest. 

We confess that Jesus died and was buried because he would soon rise from the dead. When he walks from the tomb and greets Mary three days hence, we can say that this Christ who now lives, had been dead and laid in a tomb. First, however painful it is to say, we must admit that Jesus suffered, was crucified, truly died, and was buried. 

Prayer: Lord of life, having been baptized into your death, we give you thanks that we now face our own graves with the expectation of the life to come. Amen.


Check out Sola’s Confirmation workbook, The Apostles' Creed, designed to be a small group Bible study, student book for home school or independent study programs, or as a classroom tool and homework resource as part of an existing confirmation program.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 12 Jan 21 00:00:00 -0600 Click for larger image

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John 19:28–37

From the Confessions: The Apostles' Creed

“Died”

Pulling It Together

If Jesus had not died, he would have had no need of resurrection. Without resurrection, our faith is futile (1Cor 15:14). This devotional series and all preaching would be in vain without Christ's death and resurrection. Our faith also hinges on this, as much as the resurrection, because without his truly dying, there would have been no sacrifice for the sin of the world (1John 2:2). 

Scripture testifies that Jesus did die as a result of the crucifixion. Luther puts a blunt edge on this point. He admits that we might idiomatically say that believers do not die, but instead sleep in the Lord (1 Thes 4:13). Jesus, however, actually died. He did not “sleep,” either in the bosom of Abraham or his Father. He just died. “Note particularly that he does not say: Since you believe that Christ fell asleep. He rather speaks more sternly of Christ’s death than ours and says: Since we believe that Christ died. But of us he says that we do not die, but only fall asleep. He calls our death not a death, but a sleep, and Christ’s death he calls a real death. Thus he attributes to the death of Christ such exceeding power that by comparison we should consider our death a sleep” (Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, vol 51, pp. 233–234).

Christ's death was tragic, horrible, and quite real. But without his dying, Christ would never have risen, conquering sin and death for us all. Thanks be to God who gave us this victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1Cor 15:57), whom we first confess truly died. 

Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, that at the end of my life on earth, I will simply fall asleep in you because you truly died for me. Amen. 


"From Death to Life" examines what happens when people die. In this book, the words of the Holy Bible and others like Martin Luther, will speak to you, tell you the truth, and give you words of comfort, so that you too can have the sure and steadfast anchor of the soul.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 11 Jan 21 00:00:00 -0600 Click for online jigsaw.

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John 19:16–27

From the Confessions: The Apostles' Creed

“Was Crucified”

Pulling It Together: All of Jesus' ministry looks toward the crucifixion. He tells his disciples over and over that this is why he came to earth. Sometimes it is a veiled announcement (John 2:19); other times it is straightforward (Matt 20:18-19). His life pointed toward crucifixion, an event that Jesus declared would redeem the world (Mark 10:45).

A hanging produces immediate death. Compared to crucifixion, hanging is merciful. Crucifixion is meant to make a person suffer. It is a gruesome, slow, painful, and public death. The victim was tied or nailed to a wooden crossbeam and left hanging upon it to slowly die from suffocation. If a person was crucified on a simple cross (a pole or crux simplex) with hands tied over the head, the suffering was over within an hour or so. Being crucified with outstretched arms meant a much slower death—and someone who wanted the suffering to linger. It was literally excruciating (from the Latin word excruciatus meaning “from the cross”).

Jesus suffered for our sin to the point of enduring the most painful and humiliating death known to the people of his time. We confess that Christ suffered in our place, redeeming us from the curse of the law (Gal 3:13) by dying the cursed death of crucifixion (Deut 21:23).

Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, for dying for me. Amen. 


Reading and Discussion of Luther's Catechisms is a more challenging study series based on assigned readings from the Book of Concord and related Scripture texts. Each study is comprised of eight sessions, plus an optional introductory session, each presented in a question and discussion format. 

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 10 Jan 21 00:00:00 -0600 Click for larger image

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Matthew 26:24–31

From the Confessions: The Apostles' Creed

“Suffered under Pontius Pilate”

Pulling It Together

Pilate, as governor of the Roman province of Judea, presided over the trial of Jesus Christ. The trial, a sham, complete with trumped-up charges, an all-too-literal whipping boy, and a villain set free, would see Jesus spit upon, humiliated, scourged, a crown of thorns pressed into his scalp, and finally crucified as a common criminal. When we say that Jesus suffered under Pilate, we do not mean to say that Pilate’s own hand beat him, whipped him, and crucified him. We mean all that Jesus suffered was received under Pilate's governance. But more than that, we mean he really and truly suffered. His suffering was not a sham.

Did he have to suffer? No. With a word, he could have had 20,000 angels come to his defense (Matt 26:53). He suffered willingly. An innocent man—the sinless Son of Man—wrongly suffered, but not needlessly. It did us an eternity of good. So, we confess that for our sin and for the sin of the whole world, “Christ bore his suffering on the cross and thereby transformed all suffering and every cross into a blessing” (Luther’s Works, vol 43, p 27).

Prayer: Thank you, Jesus, for willingly suffering for my sin. Amen. 


"Why Did Jesus Have to Die?" examines the most profound event of salvation history—the crucifixion of Jesus Christ—exploring from a biblical perspective what is known as the doctrine of the Atonement. This six-week Bible Study would be particularly appropriate during the season of Lent.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 09 Jan 21 00:00:00 -0600 Click for larger image

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Matthew 1:18–25

From the Confessions: The Apostles' Creed

“Born of the Virgin Mary”

Pulling It Together

The divinity of Jesus is seen in the Spirit of God causing Mary to be pregnant. He came over her and overshadowed her. There was nothing physical in the act. The Spirit of God simply caused her to be carrying Christ. The result is that Jesus had no sin from the start of his earthly life. The original sin of humankind (Rom 5:12-19) never touched Christ, who being born of a virgin had no earthly father. And so, we confess that Jesus is both divine and human—conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of a woman.

As God, Jesus is just in paying the debt for our sins in order to bring us into a corrected relationship with God (Col 1:19-20). Being God incarnate—both divine and human at once—Jesus was able to restore our favor with God by procuring a pardon, or peace, through the blood of his sacrifice.

That he is human is vital. As man, Jesus knew what it is like to be human and tempted (Heb 4:15), yet he did not sin. Because he lives forever, he is able mediate for us, poor sinners that we are, representing us to the righteous judge of heaven.

Prayer: Thank you, Jesus, for becoming a man and while also fully God, paying the price for my sin. Amen. 


Mary, Martha & Many Faithful Women is a five-session VBS book designed especially for small churches, house churches, and mission congregations with a limited budget or in situations where the ages and number of students may vary from session to session. This resource includes worksheets and handouts that may be reproduced, Resources and ideas are provided for gathering time, music, activities, games, and refreshments — allowing just a few adult leaders to host a week of Vacation Bible School.

There are more titles in Sola’s Versatile Budget Series.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 08 Jan 21 00:00:00 -0600

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John 6:54–63

From the Ecumenical Creeds: The Apostles' Creed

“He was conceived by the Holy Spirit.”

Pulling It Together

Even in the conception of Jesus in the womb of Mary, we see that human works had no play. Mary did nothing. Joseph surely did nothing. The poor man was very likely stunned at the news of Mary's pregnancy. Jesus was formed in the uterus of Mary by divine agency alone. The power of the Most High God overshadowed her and that was that (Luke 1:35). This we confess to believe, as unreasonable or difficult as it may seem to some. And in this doctrine, we are professing that Jesus is at once God and man. For Mary carried the child while the Spirit of God did the conceiving.

"We must note this well, for we see here that our works are impotent. Christ our Lord is neither your work nor mine, but He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. I had no hand in this. I did not carve Him out of wood or bake Him with dough. He is God’s and Mary’s Son. I contributed nothing. And yet He says: 'He who believes in Me has eternal life; he shall have it.' Thus we will not reconcile God or be justified by our good works, but only by our faith in Him" (Luther’s Works, vol 23, p 108).

Prayer: Thank you, God, for giving me what I could never gain, eternal life in your Son. Amen.


"Three Keys to What Lutherans Believe" is a three-session introduction to themes in Lutheran theology. By focusing on key biblical concepts, it demonstrates the primary themes that Lutherans emphasize in thinking about the Christian faith and the teachings of Scripture. The study may be particularly suited to new member classes, adult baptismal or confirmation instruction, or for use with young adults. For use in shorter sessions, leaders may choose to divide each lesson into two parts to create a six-week study.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 07 Jan 21 00:00:00 -0600 Click for larger image

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2 Thessalonians 2:14–17

From the Confessions: The Ecumenical Creeds

The Apostles' Creed — “Our Lord”

Pulling It Together

A lord is one with authority over another. He has the power to exert his authority, and likely will do so. He is master and absolute ruler of all under his dominion. In one sense, this is the meaning of “our Lord.” He is the one who is our ruler and authority. We do as he says. We must be obedient to his rules for this is the same as being dutiful and faithful to him.

Lord is also the word used over and over in the Scripture for God. Kyrios (the Greek word for “Lord”) indicates that God is being referenced. It is used over 700 times in the New Testament, usually when referring to Jesus Christ. So, our confession of him as “our Lord” holds double significance. He is not only our authority, master, and ruler; he is God. It is one thing to concede that a person holds sway over you. It is an altogether bigger deal to recognize that this Lord of us is God. Yet, he is a gracious Lord and not at all cruel. He loves us with the greatest love, giving us through the covenant and his sacrifice, everlasting comfort and the hope of redemption. This is who we confess to be “our Lord.”

Prayer: Our poor souls cry out to you in trust, for you are our Lord. Amen.


Portraits of Jesus is a nine-session Bible study that explores the "I AM" statements given to us by Jesus himself. In comparing Jesus' words with related Scripture in both the Old and New Testaments, the study provides a well-rounded look at the center of our faith in Christ.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 06 Jan 21 00:00:00 -0600 Click for larger image

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1 John 4:9–15

From the Confessions: The Apostles' Creed

“His only Son”

Pulling It Together

Some of the early creeds (for example the Old Roman Creed) state “only begotten Son” instead of “only Son,” as we find in later versions of the Apostles' Creed. I was taught a variation of the creed in catechism class a few score years ago different than was in the service book we used even then (Service Book and Hymnal, 1958). The wording there is the same as we see in other modern service books: “His only Son.” It is still difficult for me to simply say “His only Son” when saying the Apostles' Creed. Unless I am looking at the words, I will usually sneak “begotten” into my confession. There is some controversy about which is the proper usage but I think we are confessing the same thing, whether we slip in “begotten” or not. As Luther says, we should “with simple faith follow the Word, which so teaches us about these things [and] and avoid arguments” (Luther’s Works, vol 12, p 53).

We believe that Jesus Christ is the only one who is “eternally begotten of the Father,” as we profess in the Nicene Creed. He is “God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God,” yet at the same time man. He is God in the flesh. This is the point that the creed is making about“only Son.” He is God incarnate. He is utterly unique in that he is man and yet not created. He “is in His very nature true and eternal God” (ibid, vol 22, p 25), yet a son to Mary. He is eternal God but sent into the world in person to be its Savior.

“This is certainly not a fiction of men that this man born of Mary is said to be God and to be begotten of the Father from eternity. The Scriptures alone teach this. We should, therefore, believe it as an article handed over and shown to us by the Divinity...” (ibid, vol 12, p 53).

Prayer: Help me love you and believe in you, Jesus, with my whole heart. Amen.


Who is Jesus? is a five-session study, meant to serve as an introduction to what the Bible says about Jesus Christ—who he is and what it means to trust in him as Savior and Lord.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 05 Jan 21 00:00:00 -0600 Click for larger image

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John 10:22–39

From the Confessions: The Apostles Creed 

“And in Jesus Christ” 

Pulling It Together

The conjunction “and” is important. It is not used for word flow alone; nor is it used as merely an “also,” as if to say: Additionally, we believe in Jesus Christ. It is an intensifier. We believe in God—the Father who is God, and the Son who is God, and the Spirit who is God. We do not believe in the Father alone as God; for his Son and Spirit are God with him. They are God, and they are one. 

This is why Jesus said, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). Those who heard Jesus make this statement knew exactly what he meant. It made them furious enough to try to stone him to death, since he was saying that he was God. When we say that we believe in Jesus Christ, we are first saying we believe him to be God. 

“Jesus” means “savior”; “Christ” means “anointed one.” The name Jesus Christ conveys the unity who he is: anointed savior, or chosen savior. He is the chosen one, the Anointed One of God. Jesus of Nazareth, a man, is the prophesied Messiah (the Greek Christos means Messiah). So, in the creed, we profess that it is God himself who saves us from sin and death, and our confession is that Jesus is this saving Messiah and therefore, God. 

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for keeping your promise to save me. Amen.


Who is Jesus? is a five-session study, meant to serve as an introduction to what the Bible says about Jesus Christ—who he is and what it means to trust in him as Savior and Lord.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 04 Jan 21 00:00:00 -0600

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Genesis 1:1–31

From the Confessions: The Apostles' Creed

“Maker of heaven and earth”

Pulling It Together: Here, the Apostles' Creed echoes the opening words of Scripture, that all things were created by the word of God. Genesis tells us creation was spoken into existence. “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light” (Gen 1:3). John says that creation happened through the agency of the Word of God, not just the word of God. There is nothing that has been made apart from his Word (John 1:3). In other words, the living Word—the Son—is creator. But you respond, “I thought the Father was Maker of heaven and earth.” He is; so is the Son and the Holy Spirit. God is creator, and God is at once, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

We confess with the writer of Hebrews that we believe these things by faith. “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God” (Heb 11:3). We believe God is creator of all things, that he is Trinity, and that he exists, all by faith. We do not scramble to prove these matters—as though we could do so. We are content to believe. Augustine wrote, “We are speaking of God; what marvel, if you do not comprehend? For if you comprehend, He is not God” (Sermons on the New Testament, Sermon 67, ¶ 5).

So, in these few, opening words of the creed, we see the Trinity expressed even before God is named as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Prayer: Father, help me have faith even when I do not fully comprehend. Amen.


The Creator has revealed to us the Trinitarian nature of the name of God in “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” This six-week study explores what it means to “not take the name of the LORD your God in vain,” while at the same time trusting the promise in Christ that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 03 Jan 21 00:00:00 -0600 Click for larger image

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From the Word: 7 Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or which person among you, if his son asks him for a loaf of bread, will give him a stone— 10 or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father—the one in heaven—give good things to those who ask him. (Matthew 7:7-11)

From the Confessions: The Apostles' Creed

“...the Father Almighty...”

Pulling It Together: Though the Apostles’ Creed was not written by the Apostles, we consider it apostolic because it teaches their chief doctrines, often doing so with the very words of Scripture. It begins with the doctrine of “God the Father,” who is so named 18 times in the New Testament. “God Almighty” is used nine times in both testaments. The creed combines these attributes, calling God the “Father Almighty.”

Luther called the Apostles’ Creed the “children’s Creed,” perhaps because it is simple enough for children to learn but also surely, because it first puts forth a belief in the almighty God as our Father. As such, even children understand that God is both stern and loving. So, the creed teaches and reminds the child in all of us that God deals with us through both law and gospel. The Father commands us and extends grace to us when we are disobedient.

It is no wonder then, that we profess the creed at baptisms and affirmations of faith. In baptism, we are called by God the almighty Father to live a new life. We leave behind the old ways of earning divine favor. Now, we seek to keep the Father’s commandments but believe in a forgiving Father just the same. We learn to give thanks to him “always and for everything,” (Eph 5:20) for in both law and gospel he has given good gifts to his children. As the Almighty, he commands; as Father, he gives us his grace.

Prayer: Help me pray, Father, with the trust of a child. Amen.


Sola Baptism Certificates are printed in color on heavyweight parchment paper with matching envelopes. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 02 Jan 21 00:00:00 -0600  

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From the Word: Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one. (Deuteronomy 6:4)

From the Confessions: The Ecumenical Creeds, The Apostles’ Creed, part 2

“I believe in one God...”

Pulling It Together

The Shema (meaning “hear” or “obey”) states that God is one God: “Hear, O Israel, the LORD, the LORD is one” (Deut 6:4). However, the English translation obscures much in this verse. Were we to translate the verse literally it would read: Hear, O Israel, YHWH, our Gods, YHWH is one.

God’s name is YHWH (written without vowels in Hebrew) which is pronounced Yahweh or somewhat archaically, Jehovah. We do not know the exact pronunciation of God’s name. Hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus, this uncertainty led to a substitution of YHWH in Scripture with the word Adonai, meaning “Lord,” an effort to keep from mispronouncing, and perhaps therefore, taking God’s name in vain. We capitalize LORD (and sometimes GOD) to indicate where this substitution occurs in the Old Testament.

The Shema states that the LORD, Yahweh, is “one Gods.” Here is a mystery that Christians should readily understand, for in the New Testament, we read that God is named as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Luther advises, “Here it is written that the one Lord (a name which is given to no one in the Scriptures except to the real, single God...) is our Elohim or “Gods,” to indicate that God is single in substance and yet the three Persons are distinguishable, as has been said” (Luther's Works, vol 34, pp 225–226).

When we say that we “believe in one God,” as the Apostles' Creed plainly outlines, we name the one God as Father, Son, and Spirit.

Prayer: Increase my faith in you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. Amen.


Learning the Apostles' Creed teaches the Apostles' Creed according to the pattern of Luther's Small Catechism, and is recommended for the Fourth Grade Level.

Teacher's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 01 Jan 21 00:00:00 -0600 Click for jigsaw puzzle.

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From the Word: Immediately the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, “I believe. Help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)

From the Confessions: The Ecumenical Creeds, The Apostles’ Creed

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
     creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
     He was conceived by the Holy Spirit
      and born of the virgin Mary.
     He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
      was crucified, died, and was buried;
     He descended into hell.
     On the third day he rose again.
     He ascended into heaven,
      and is seated at the right hand of the Father,
     He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

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

Pulling It Together: Our word “creed” comes from the Latin “credo,” which means, “I believe.” When we say a creed, we are concisely confessing what we believe.

We confess the orthodox, ancient teachings of the Apostles using three principal creeds, the first of which is the Apostles’ Creed. (The other two creeds are the Nicene and the Athanasian creeds, each which seeks to spell out more clearly the who and how of the Trinity.) The earliest mention of this creed by name is in a letter from the late-fourth century, probably written by Ambrose, the Archbishop of Milan. This indicates that the creed had already been in use for some time, at least in some form. The form of the Apostles’ Creed we use today is based on an older, shorter version called The Old Roman Creed, from a half-century earlier:

I believe in God the Father Almighty.
And in Jesus Christ his only-begotten Son our Lord,
who was born of the Holy Ghost and the Virgin Mary;
crucified under Pontius Pilate, and buried;
the third day he rose from the dead;
he ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of the Father;
from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
And in the Holy Ghost;
the holy Church;
the forgiveness of sins;
the resurrection of the body;
the life everlasting.

The Apostles’ Creed is divided in three sections comprising the name of God: the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit. God is what (or rather, who) we believe. Using this ancient creed, we first confess a distillation of Scripture, and what the Athanasian Creed later says of God: that he is “Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity” (line 27).

This teaching is difficult to believe by way of our limited reasoning. Therefore, we confess what the Scripture teaches, and with the father of the boy with the unclean spirit, say, “I believe; help my unbelief!”

Prayer: Father, may your Spirit testify with my spirit the truth of your Word, through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.

Prayer: Father, may your Spirit testify with my spirit the truth of your Word, through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen. 

Check out Sola’s Confirmation workbook, The Apostle’s Creed, designed to be a small group Bible study, student book for home school or independent study programs, or as a classroom tool and homework resource as part of an existing confirmation program.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 31 Dec 20 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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From the Word: You keep in perfect peace the mind established because of trust in you. (Isaiah 26:3)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Fourth Commandment

Honor your father and your mother, (that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.)

If we allowed ourselves to be persuaded that these works are pleasing to God and have so rich a reward, we would be inundated with blessings, and have what our hearts desire. But God’s word and command are lightly esteemed, as though some babbler had spoken. Let us see whether you are the person to challenge him. How difficult do you think it will be for him to reward you? You will fare much better with divine favor, peace, and happiness than with his displeasure and with disaster.

Pulling It Together: Let us be clear; Luther is not saying that God rewards our works and obedience with salvation. God grants salvation through faith in his grace alone (Eph 2:8–9). However, there are rewards in this life for our obedience. Instead of trusting God though, we try to create our own rewards. We skirt around actually honoring our parents and otherwise obeying God. Instead of obeying him, we do things we think will get us riches and easy life. This kind of reasoning asserts that we are wiser than our Father. In contrast, the person of faith fully trusts God for all good will have a firm mind, one at peace with God, and content with little or much (Phil 4:12).

Prayer: I trust you, Lord; help me to trust you still more. Amen.

Receive these Sola Devotions in weekday emails. Click here to fill out a quick and secure subscription form. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 30 Dec 20 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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From the Word: 53 Each went away to his own house 8:1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 At dawn he returned to the temple. All the people came to him and he sat down and taught them.

3 The scribes and the Pharisees led in a woman caught in adultery, and surrounded her. 4 They said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. 5 Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So then, what do you say?” 6 And they said this to test him so that they might have an accusation against him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground. 7 Then when they continued asking him, he stood up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be first to cast a stone at her.” 8 And again he stooped down, and wrote with his finger on the ground. 9 But when they heard this, they exited one by one, beginning with the eldest, until Jesus was left alone with the woman standing there. 10 And Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no man condemn you?” 11 And she answered, “No man, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Then neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no longer.” (John 7:53–8:11)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Fourth Commandment

Honor your father and your mother, (that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.)

The one who is obedient, willing and ready to serve, and cheerfully honors those to whom it is due, knows that he pleases God and will receive joy and happiness in reward. On the other hand, if he will not do so out of love, but despises and resists authority, or rebels, let him know that he will have no favor or blessing. If he hopes to gain a gold coin through his betrayal, he will lose ten times as much elsewhere. He will become quarry of the hangman, perish by war, pestilence, and famine, experience no good in his own children, or suffer injury, injustice, and violence at the hands of his employees, neighbors, or even strangers and tyrants. What we seek and deserve comes back home and repays us.

Pulling It Together: This section of John’s gospel is not in the earliest manuscripts. The story intrigues me, nonetheless. We wonder what Jesus wrote in the dirt. I like to imagine it was the name of a woman each of the accusers had secretly committed adultery with, if only in their lustful thoughts (Matt 5:28). There are two main points to the story. One, all of us are sinners. Two, God forgives our sins for Christ’s sake.

You may not have honored your parents the way you should have. Perhaps you are now paying the price for that dishonor. Confess it and be forgiven, then get on with your life and sin no more. Honor your parents now, if only their memories.

Prayer: Help me to honor my parents, Lord, and everyone else placed in authority over me. Amen.

Receive these Sola Devotions in weekday emails. Click here to fill out a quick and secure subscription form. 

Your support of Sola Publishing enables Sola to benefit future generations of Lutherans by continuing to produce resources that reflect the integrity of the Scriptures as the Word of God, from the perspective of the historical Lutheran Confessions.

Click the "Donate" button above to make a secure, one-time or recurring donation. Or mail checks made out to "Sola Publishing" to:

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Questions? Please call toll free: 888-887-9840.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 29 Dec 20 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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From the Word: Blessed is the one who reads the words of the prophecy, and they who hear and observe what is written in it. For the time is near. (Revelation 1:3)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Fourth Commandment

Honor your father and your mother, (that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.)

The same may be said about obedience to civil government, which, as we have said, is included in the estate of fatherhood and extends farthest of all relations. Here, the father is not one of a single family, but of as many people as there are inhabitants, citizens, or subjects. Through them, as through our parents, God gives us food, house and home, protection, and security. Since they carry this name and title honorably, as their highest dignity, it is our duty to honor them and regard them as a prized treasure, a precious jewel on this earth.

Pulling It Together: To be sure, the precise meaning of today’s verse is that one who reads the Revelation to the church is blessed. The church is also blessed if they listen and obey. This means that John was stacking up the Revelation alongside the rest of Scripture. The Word, including the last book of the Bible, is to be read and obeyed. It almost goes without saying that this also includes the commandments, the fourth right along with the other nine. Blessed is the one who knows the Fourth Commandment well enough to recite it, and obey it with its far-reaching implications.

Prayer: Make me a good citizen, Lord—one fit for your kingdom. Amen.

Receive these Sola Devotions in weekday emails. Click here to fill out a quick and secure subscription form. 

Your support of Sola Publishing enables Sola to benefit future generations of Lutherans by continuing to produce resources that reflect the integrity of the Scriptures as the Word of God, from the perspective of the historical Lutheran Confessions.

Click the "Donate" button above to make a secure, one-time or recurring donation. Or mail checks made out to "Sola Publishing" to:

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Questions? Please call toll free: 888-887-9840.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 28 Dec 20 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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From the Word: 5 And whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, 6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe on me to stumble, it would be an advantage to him to have a great millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. (Matthew 18:5–6)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Fourth Commandment

Honor your father and your mother, (that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.)

Whoever will not be persuaded by this and inclined to godliness, we hand over to the hangman and to the reaper. Therefore, let everyone who allows advice remember that God is not be taken casually. It is God who speaks to you and he demands obedience. If you obey him, you are his dear child. But if you despise the commandment, then shame, misery, and grief are your reward.

Pulling It Together: There is more to being persuaded than for a child to believe the Fourth Commandment. Another side of the persuasion is adults teaching it to the little ones. Without it, they are lost, and the one who should have taught them the Lord’s way, is the one responsible for that child’s loss. Teach them while you have them.

Prayer: Give me the mettle to fulfill my responsibilities to you, Lord. Amen.

Receive these Sola Devotions in weekday emails. Click here to fill out a quick and secure subscription form. 

Your support of Sola Publishing enables Sola to benefit future generations of Lutherans by continuing to produce resources that reflect the integrity of the Scriptures as the Word of God, from the perspective of the historical Lutheran Confessions.

Click the "Donate" button above to make a secure, one-time or recurring donation. Or mail checks made out to "Sola Publishing" to:

Sola Publishing
PO Box 855
Graham, NC 27253

Questions? Please call toll free: 888-887-9840.

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Merry Christmas! http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 25 Dec 20 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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  Click for a recording of the Christmas story from Luke 2.

Now it came to pass in those days, a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be enrolled. This was the first census made when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to register themselves, every one to his own city. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to enroll himself with Mary, his betrothed, who was great with child. And while they were there it happened that the days were fulfilled for her to give birth. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were shepherds in the same country abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord was standing by them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they feared a great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this is the sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is delighted.”

15 And it followed that when the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem to see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us." 16 And they went with haste and found both Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the matter that was told to them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard marveled at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary stored up each of these things, pondering them in her heart.

20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, just as it was spoken to them.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 24 Dec 20 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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From the Word: 22 And I saw no temple within, for the Lord God the Almighty, and the Lamb, are its temple. 23 And the city has no need of the sun, nor the moon, to shine upon it, for the glory of God has illuminated it, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24 And the nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. 25 Its gates will never be shut by day—for there will be no night there. 26 And they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it. 27 But nothing unclean will enter into it, nor one who acts with shame or deceit, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life. (Revelation 21:22–27)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Fourth Commandment

Honor your father and your mother, (that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.)

You have everything good here: protection and defense in the Lord, a joyful conscience, and still more, a gracious God who will reward you a hundredfold. If you are devout and obedient, you are a true nobleman. But if you are not, you will have nothing but the wrath and displeasure of God. There will be no peace in your heart, and sooner or later, you will suffer all kinds of trouble and hardship.

Pulling It Together: One must walk in God’s light; you cannot invent your own. He is the way, so we must walk in his truth. There are certainly many of those who would spin God’s truth into their own brand of truth. But we are not interested in what amounts to a lie, for that leads to darkness, or is itself darkness. So, we must focus on what God says, and be careful to do that. We must not twist his words and say that for this reason or another, we do not need to honor our parents, or for that matter, anyone set above us. We cannot expect God to bless us with peace in the heart and a good conscience, let alone the other good things that come from his hand, if we skew or altogether ignore the commands that establish his blessings.  

Prayer: Give me the courage and strength, Lord, to walk in your light. Amen.

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Subscribe to Connections Magazine. Connections features articles that connect Lutherans to the Word. Martin Luther’s Small Catechism provides the inspiration for confessional, biblical content, delivered in a stylish, readable design. 

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The Christmas Story http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 24 Dec 20 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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  Click for a recording of the Christmas story from Luke 2.

Now it came to pass in those days, a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be enrolled. This was the first census made when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to register themselves, every one to his own city. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to enrol himself with Mary, his betrothed, who was great with child. And while they were there it happened that the days were fulfilled for her to give birth. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were shepherds in the same country abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord was standing by them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they feared a great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this is the sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is delighted.”

15 And it followed that when the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem to see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us." 16 And they went with haste and found both Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the matter that was told to them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard marveled at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary stored up each of these things, pondering them in her heart.

20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, just as it was spoken to them.

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Merry Christmas! http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 24 Dec 20 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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  Click for a recording of the Christmas story from Luke 2.

Now it came to pass in those days, a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be enrolled. This was the first census made when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to register themselves, every one to his own city. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to enrol himself with Mary, his betrothed, who was great with child. And while they were there it happened that the days were fulfilled for her to give birth. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were shepherds in the same country abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord was standing by them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they feared a great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this is the sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is delighted.”

15 And it followed that when the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem to see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us." 16 And they went with haste and found both Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the matter that was told to them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard marveled at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary stored up each of these things, pondering them in her heart.

20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, just as it was spoken to them.

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Merry Christmas! http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 24 Dec 20 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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  Click for a recording of the Christmas story from Luke 2.

Now it came to pass in those days, a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be enrolled. This was the first census made when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to register themselves, every one to his own city. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to enrol himself with Mary, his betrothed, who was great with child. And while they were there it happened that the days were fulfilled for her to give birth. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were shepherds in the same country abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord was standing by them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they feared a great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this is the sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is delighted.”

15 And it followed that when the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem to see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us." 16 And they went with haste and found both Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the matter that was told to them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard marveled at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary stored up each of these things, pondering them in her heart.

20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, just as it was spoken to them.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 23 Dec 20 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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From the Word: 9 Then came one of the seven angels who had taken hold of the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues. And he spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10 And he transported me in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the consecrated city Jerusalem descending out of heaven from God, 11 having the glory of God. Its luminance was like a precious gem, as jasper, shining like crystal. (Revelation 21:9–11)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Fourth Commandment

Honor your father and your mother, (that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.)

Additionally, you have the promise that you will prosper and fare well in all good. How can you lead a more blessed or a holier life as far as your works are concerned? For in the sight of God, faith is what really makes a person holy. Faith alone serves God, but our works serve people.

Pulling It Together: Would you do things to brighten your standing with God? Then you would simply shine with your own dim, human qualities. The Christian, however, reflects a divine glory; it is God at work within us that stands us up before him like lampstands (Rev 1:12), glowing with a light not our own (Matt 5:14–16).
            Instead, you should do your good works for others, for your neighbor. Do your holy, neighborly work first in the home, then outside of it. These are the folks who need your shining deeds. As Luther said, “God doesn’t need your good works, but your neighbor does.”

Prayer: Cause your church to shine, Lord. Amen.

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Living Faith, a Believer's Guide to Growing in Christ is a discipleship resource based on Martin Luther’s Small Catechism. This 12-part Bible study by Pastor Brack East is designed to help individuals grow more deeply into a living faith in Jesus, while interacting with other believers in a life-to-life setting of three or four people. Such settings around the Word of God have proven to be part of the workshop of the Holy Spirit, and Luther’s Small Catechism has stood the test of time as a reliable guide to growing in faith. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 22 Dec 20 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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From the Word: And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne; and scrolls were opened. Then another scroll was opened, which is the one of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the scrolls, according to what they had done. (Revelation 20:12)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Fourth Commandment

Honor your father and your mother, (that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.)

If this truth could be impressed upon the poor people, a servant girl would dance and praise and thank God. With her tidy work, for which she receives support and wages, she would obtain a treasure greater than those acquired by any who are regarded as great saints. Is it not an excellent assertion to know and say that, “Doing my daily chores is better than all the piety and abstinence of monks”?

Pulling It Together: When the scroll of life is opened, what will it say about you? How will it record your response to the great commandment? Will you have loved the Lord your God so much as to believe in him and take him at his word? Will you have loved your neighbor as yourself? Will the scroll show that you even knew your neighbor, or at least your closest neighbors? They are, of course, your parents and family and workmates. If you have loved God and those neighbors, the scroll of life will record that you lived a godly life, for what more can be asked of a soul than to keep the great commandment?

Prayer: Help me to get my house in order, Lord. Amen.

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A primer (pronounced PRIH-mur) is a small introductory book on a subject, often for beginners. Primers were once a standard part of every child’s education. Typically, they contained many quotations from the Bible and moral lessons as well, and the text was accompanied by numerous woodcut illustrations. This primer on marriage, by Pastor Wendy Berthelsen, contains color, woodcut initials throughout, and serves as a nice devotional resource.

A Marriage Primer may be handed out by congregations to couples preparing for marriage, or as a gift to go along with presenting a marriage certificate. For individuals, it would also make a good small gift for a wedding or shower. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 21 Dec 20 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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From the Word: 5 The rest of the dead were not resurrected until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is the one who has a share in the first resurrection. Over these, the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and will reign with him a thousand years. (Revelation 20:5–6)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Fourth Commandment

Honor your father and your mother, (that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.)

Now, what a child owes to father and mother, all who are embraced in the household owe as well. Therefore servants should be careful not only to obey their masters and mistresses, but also to honor them as their own fathers and mothers. They should do everything that they know is expected of them, not from compulsion and with reluctance, but with pleasure and joy for the cause just mentioned, namely, that it is God’s command and is pleasing to him above all other works. Therefore, they should even be willing to pay their own wages and be glad that they have masters and mistresses so they may have joyful consciences and know how to do truly golden works. These works have been neglected and despised up until now. Instead, everybody ran in the devil’s name to monasteries, on pilgrimages, and after indulgences, with personal loss and with a bad conscience.

Pulling It Together: Faith embraces its vocation because it is freed to do so, because it trusts in another. The one who has faith, trusts in God instead of his or her own talents, work ethic, labor, or cunning. Trusting in God, these people are free to also trust that God will care for them in the ways he has established. Children are liberated by faith to honor their parents because they trust in the God who commands their respect. Servants and employees are freed to honor those they work for because they too, trust in God, and so, work for the Lord, not people (Col 3:23). Those who have been resurrected in Christ through faith are blessed in all things, including their vocations.

Prayer: Give me an industrious and conscientious spirit that would work hard for you, Lord. 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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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 18 Dec 20 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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From the Word: Shall the axe boast over the one who hews with it? Shall the saw magnify itself over the one who wields it? As if a club should wield those who lift it up, or a staff should lift up those who are not wood. (Isaiah 10:15)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Fourth Commandment

Honor your father and your mother, (that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.)

More is to be said in regards to this commandment about various kinds of obedience due to those in authority, those who must command and govern. All authority flows and spreads from the authority of parents. Where a father is unable by himself to instruct his rebellious child, he employs a schoolmaster to teach him. If he is too weak, he enlists the aid of his friends and neighbors. If he dies, he delegates and confers his authority and responsibility to others who are appointed for the purpose. Likewise, he must have servants under himself to manage the household, so that all whom we call masters are in the place of parents and must derive their power and authority to govern from them. They are all called fathers in the Scriptures, because those in government perform the functions of a father, and should have a paternal heart toward their people. From antiquity, the Romans and other nations called the masters and mistresses of the household patres- and matres-familiae, that is, housefathers and housemothers. They called their national rulers and overlords patres patriae, that is, fathers of the entire country. It is a great shame to us who would be Christians who do not speak this way of those who rule, or at least, who do not esteem and honor them as such.

Pulling It Together: Should the created vaunt themselves over the Creator? This logic follows downward. Next to the Father come father and mother, those whom God has put in charge. Shall children put themselves over those who brought them into this world, who have nourished and nurtured them? Shall students boast of greater knowledge than their teacher? Shall employees make themselves the boss of the employer? None of this makes sense, nor does it work.

Prayer: Help me to know my place, Lord. Amen.

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How to be a Disciple is a six-part series of dramas featuring the first twelve disciples, each exploring a piece of the discipleship puzzle. The disciples are placed in a light-hearted contemporary setting, helping listeners to get a sense for the down-to-earth interplay between personalities. The progression of the series is meant to provide the larger picture of what discipleship means. (Two to five characters per drama.)

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 17 Dec 20 00:00:00 -0600 Click for jigsaw puzzle.

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From the Word: 25 Jesus answered them, “I told you and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness of me. 26 But you do not believe because you are not of my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life; and they shall never die; and no one shall snatch them from my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them from the Father’s hand.” (John 10:25-28)

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

One may ascertain from their spirit an unheard of cruelty, which up until now they have plainly expressed toward faithful people. We have heard in this assembly when opinions concerning our Confession were expressed, that a reverend father said in the imperial senate that no plan seemed better to him than to make a reply written in blood to the Confession which we had presented written in ink. Could Phalaris say anything more cruel? Some princes have also regarded this expression as unworthy to be spoken in such a meeting. So, although the adversaries claim for themselves the name of the Church, we know that the Church of Christ is with those who teach the Gospel of Christ. It is not with those who defend wicked opinions that are contrary to the Gospel. The Lord says, “My sheep hear my voice” (John 10:27).

Pulling It Together: There is nothing more cruel than to claim that faith does not save. Declaring that a Christian’s deeds are required for justification and salvation both denies Christ and leaves the believer in despair. So let us proclaim Christ, since there is nothing to be done about this bondage to sin than to be led out of Egypt. We are not called to stay in the house of slavery, working harder to free ourselves. We distance ourselves from the taskmaster and learn the ways of the Lord in the wilderness. Faith follows the voice of the Good Shepherd into the wild where it too is proved like the Lord was tested. Jesus was tempted to trust in false promises and works but he prevailed each time with the claim of faith: “It is written” (Matt 4:1-11). We too must hear his voice in the Word, trusting his promise instead of our works. 

Prayer: Lord, increase my faith in you alone. Amen.

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Developed and used by Pastor Fred Baltz in his church in Galena, Illinois, The Invitation Project is a congregational resource book describing how a parish can host an “invite-able” event. Using a practical, step-by-step “how to” approach, this book provides guidance, organization, and ideas, not simply to promote a single program of outreach, but to develop and inspire the overall outreach efforts of the congregation. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 16 Dec 20 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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From the Word: 13 Yet the people have not returned to him who struck them, nor have they sought the Lord of hosts. 14 Therefore the Lord will cut off head and tail from Israel, branch and stalk, in a single day. 15 The head is the elder and the honorable man; and the prophet who teaches lies is the tail. (Isaiah 9:13–15)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Fourth Commandment

Honor your father and your mother, (that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.)

I say all of this so that it may be fully emphasized to the young. For no one believes how necessary this commandment is, which has not been esteemed and taught under the papacy. These are plain, easy words, and everyone thinks they know them already. Therefore, they pass them over lightly, focusing on other things, and fail to see and believe that God is greatly offended if this commandment is disregarded, or what a pleasing and precious work they do if they do obey it.

Pulling It Together: If you will not do your job, it will be taken from you. Parenting is important, especially godly parenting. There is no difference between the old leaders of Israel, the leaders of our churches today, or those entrusted with that paramount task of raising children. If they will not do their work as God commands, they will be removed. If parents will not raise their children, someone else will take the responsibility from them. God help the children.

Prayer: Lord, help the parents in your church to raise godly children. Amen.

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A Latin phrase meaning “Scripture Alone,” Sola Scriptura is one of the traditional Lutheran slogans used since the time of the Reformation. It expresses our confession that Scripture is “the only rule and norm according to which all doctrines and teachers alike must be appraised and judged.” Using the familiar phrase as its title, Sola Scriptura is an advanced-level Bible Study in a two-part series, of six chapters each, on the functional authority of Scripture. For those who would like to cover the topic in detail, there is enough material to cover one chapter in two sessions, making each part a 12-week study.

Part 1 Leader's Guide  •  Part 2 Participant Book  •  Part 2 Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 15 Dec 20 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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From the Word: For you have broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff for his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as on the day of Midian. (Isaiah 9:4)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Fourth Commandment

Honor your father and your mother, (that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.)

However, the godly and obedient have this blessing: that they live long in peaceful quietness, and see their children’s children to the third and fourth generation. Experience also teaches that there are honorable, old families who fare well and have many children. Certainly, they owe this to the fact that some of them were brought up well and honored their parents. On the other hand, it is written of the wicked: “May his posterity be cut off; may his name be blotted out in the second generation!” (Psa 109:13). So, heed well how important a matter obedience is in God’s sight, since he so highly esteems it, is so greatly pleased with it, rewards it so richly, and besides, enforces punishment so rigorously on those who will not obey.

Pulling It Together: Why does God promise such a great blessing as long life? How does it work out that his promise may come to pass? He does so by delivering the faithful from sin and its consequences. When you obey your boss, instead of frittering away the hours, you are given both paycheck and years of employment. When you obey your parents, you are rewarded with their pleasure and kindness. When you obey God, he too is pleased and rewards you as he will. He breaks in on your life with great light like that of Gideon’s attack on the day of Midian (Judg 7:20). The Light of the World (John 8:12) breaks through, overwhelming sin, and the darkness of death cannot prevail.

Prayer: Break through, Lord, and deliver me into your light. Amen.

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Telling Their Stories: Encounters with Jesus is seven dramatic monologues that focus on the cross. Each is written from the perspective of a biblical character who participated in the Passion of our Lord. The resource is meant to be used as a Lenten monologue series or as character readings for a group study.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 14 Dec 20 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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From the Word: …and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise up! Pray, that you do not enter into a state of temptation.”  (Luke 22:46)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Fourth Commandment

Honor your father and your mother, (that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.)

If, therefore, you will not obey father and mother and submit to their discipline, then obey the hangman. If you will not obey him, then submit to the reaper, death. For on this God insists emphatically. If you obey him, rendering love and service, he will reward you abundantly with all good. If you offend him, he will send upon you both the hangman and death.

Why are so many lawbreakers hanged each day, or beheaded, or broken upon the wheel, if not because of disobedience? Since they will not submit to a kind upbringing, they bring upon themselves the disastrous and grievous punishment of God that we behold. It seldom happens that such wicked people die a natural or timely death.

Pulling It Together: Looming heartbreak had brought the disciples to the point of collapse, and so naturally, they were dead to the world when Jesus returned to them. We think poorly of the disciples because, instead of praying as Jesus asked, they were sleeping. Yet, consider Judas; at least Peter and the other disciples were with Jesus. Judas had gone for the executioners. One has to wonder how Judas was raised—and if he honored his mother and father.

Prayer: Lead me out of temptation, Lord. Amen.

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Got a Question? is a devotional book by Pastor Chris Brekke that bases each devotional on a simple question — eighty in all — including Life questions, God questions, and Faith questions. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 11 Dec 20 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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From the Word: But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you, and guard you against the evil one. (2 Thessalonians 3:3)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Fourth Commandment

Honor your father and your mother, (that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.)

Here, then, is the fruit and the reward for whoever observes this commandment. They will be blessed with happy days, fortune, and prosperity. On the other hand, the punishment for the disobedient is that they will perish sooner and never possess joy in life. For to have long life in the sense of the Scriptures, is not only to become old, but to have everything that relates to long life—health, spouse  and children, livelihood, peace, good government, etc.—without which this life can neither be cheerfully enjoyed nor long endured.

Pulling It Together: These traditions that we have learned from our parents (if only our parents in the church)—keeping the commandments, prayerfully reading the Scriptures, confessing the faith, attending to the sacrament of Holy Communion etc.—are a great and lifelong blessing. Through these, God is faithful to strengthen us and give us confident courage in the face of evil and temptation and sin, and finally, in the absence of our own strength and abilities, to guard us against these things. This is long life, and happy and prosperous days: to spend however many we are allotted on earth in the presence of our Lord so that we are fitted for a glorious life that is not only long, but eternal.

Prayer: Thank you for this life, Lord, and for the eternal life that is promised through life in you. Amen.

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By What Authority is a book that confronts churches who no longer believe their own message. It is about the end of traditional Christianity as practiced in modern times—not a futuristic end, but an end already accomplished, or partially accomplished, in a majority of countries, cities, and churches. Strange as it seems, many Christians haven't noticed. But others were so concerned they've gathered in these pages the wisdom of alert pastors, theologians, laity, young seminarians, and evangelicals. They all have a story to tell you in their own voices. and it's a story so urgent and timely it opens your eyes in ways few might imagine. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 10 Dec 20 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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Ephesians 3:8-12

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

We have shown the sources in this case, so far as can be done here, and have explained the objections of our opponents. Good people will easily judge these things, if they will remember, as often as a passage concerning love or works is cited, that the law cannot be observed without Christ and that we cannot be justified by the law, but through the gospel, the promise of the grace promised in Christ. We hope, however brief this discussion has been, that it will be profitable to good people for strengthening faith, teaching, and comforting consciences. For we know that what we have said is in harmony with the prophetic and apostolic Scriptures, with the holy Fathers, Ambrose, Augustine, and very many others, and with the whole Church of Christ, which certainly confesses that Christ is propitiator and justifier.

Pulling It Together: It is easy for us to confuse the plain sense of things. Sometimes we need someone to come in to our midst and cut to the chase. What is the point that underlies everything we do? What is the central thought that lies behind all of our thinking? The Apostle Paul was chosen by God for this very task. So Paul did not proclaim the traditions of religion. Instead, he taught the “unsearchable riches of Christ,” who is the source of all true doctrine. These are matters which we cannot come to by our own reasoning. A revelation from God is required. Therefore, God chose someone steeped in the old ways to declare the plain and central truth of the gospel.

Paul asserts that the plain, central thought is always Christ alone. He must be at the core and forefront of our thinking too. For when we understand who Christ is, that he is our mediator before the Father, our justification and salvation, we then begin to comprehend with the holy Catholic Church that we cannot be these things. If we do not have faith in Christ alone, there is no communion of saints, no forgiveness of sins, no resurrection of the body, and no life everlasting. When we have faith in him, instead of faith in ourselves and our traditions, then the riches of Christ are ours. It is only for Christ’s sake that the Father lavishes his love and grace on us (1 John 3:1; Eph 1:7-8). That is the plain sense of the gospel. 

Prayer: I thank you, Father, for your love and grace that is poured out to me in Christ Jesus. Amen.

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The English Standard Version Pew Bible containing the Old and New Testament is an affordable durable Bible, designed for regular church use. Hardcover black with black print.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 09 Dec 20 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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From the Word: And one called out to another, and said: “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts. The whole earth is full of his glory.” (Isaiah 6:3)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Fourth Commandment

Honor your father and your mother, (that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.)

Over and above all this, there is another weighty reason that should motivate us to keep this commandment. God has attached to this commandment a temporal promise, saying: “that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.”

Here you can see how serious God is in respect to this commandment. He declares that it is not only pleasing, delightful, and joyful to him, but also that the commandment is for our prosperity and promotes our greatest good, in that we may have a pleasant and agreeable life, furnished with every good thing. Therefore, St. Paul also emphasizes this commandment and rejoices in it when he says, “This is the first commandment with a promise: that it may be well with you, and you may live long in the land” (Eph. 6:2-3). Though the rest of the commandments also have promise contained in them, in no other commandment is it so plainly and explicitly stated.

Pulling It Together: Most of us have encountered a willful child whom we conjectured would either not live a long life or would be the death of his parents. There is more to being an obedient child than civil order. Obedient children actually please God. We can easily enough sense the Father’s pleasure when the divine Son was obedient to him in all things (Phil 2:7-8; Heb 5:8). Because of his obedience, the Father granted wondrous things to the Son (Heb 2:9-11). 

May God do the same for his earthly sons and daughters? As the entire earth, and the all else besides, is full of the glory of God, is it not within his rights and power to make and keep promises to us regarding the earth?

Prayer: Hallowed by thy name. Amen.

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A Reading and Discussion of the Augsburg Confession is written in easy-to-understand language but is a challenging study series based on assigned readings from the Book of Concord and related Scripture texts. Each study is comprised of eight sessions, plus an optional introductory session, each presented in a question and discussion format. Click here to see the Table of Contents and a sample session.

Leader's Guide 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 08 Dec 20 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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From the Word: 12 But we ask you, siblings, to acknowledge those who labor among you, and direct you in the Lord, and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them highly in love for their work. Be at peace among yourselves. (1 Thessalonians 5:12–13)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Fourth Commandment

Honor your father and your mother, (that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.)

God knows very well the perverseness of the world. Therefore, he rebukes and insists through the commandments that everyone consider what their parents have done for them. They will discover that they have body and life from them, and been fed and raised when otherwise they would have perished a hundred times in their own filth. Therefore, the old saying of the wise is trustworthy. Deo, parentibus et magistris non potest satis gratiae rependi. That is, to God, to parents, and to teachers, we can never render sufficient gratitude and compensation. He who regards and considers this will bestow all honor on his parents, indeed, without compulsion, and regard them as those through whom God has done him all good.

Pulling It Together: These verses urge us to honor those who do the principal work of ministry in congregations. But it is good counsel to think of our parents along these lines too. Acknowledge your mother and father for the labors they perform for you, and for their leading you in the Lord, and for that matter, for every time they scold you. Give them the highest honor since they do these things because they love you.

Prayer: Give me the humility, Lord, to accept rebuke. Amen.

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We Still Believe is a Bible study resource reflecting on key themes in biblical Lutheran doctrine that are at risk in the Church today. It is offered in the hope that it will inspire individuals and congregations to examine the core beliefs of traditional Lutheranism and how these beliefs apply to our own present context. Written in a question and discussion style by Pastor Steven King, the participant's book includes an introduction to and copy of the faith statement known as the Common Confession.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 07 Dec 20 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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From the Word: And so, for lack of knowledge, my people go into captivity. Their noblemen hunger, and their multitude is parched with thirst. (Isaiah 5:13)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Fourth Commandment

Honor your father and your mother, (that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.)

We garner our initial knowledge of the Lord in the home. There, we learn how to honor our parents, and in so learning, we learn that we are not the center of all things. There are those of higher station who have responsibility for us. We are to respect them, and even esteem them because of their vocation. God has given them this standing for our good, so for our own good, we should honor them. Without them and our respect of them, we lose our truest selves by forgetting where we came from, disregarding the source of all our earthly welfare. Without this knowledge, this appreciation, we are hard-pressed to recognize God, let alone honor him, even when he reveals himself in preaching and Scripture.

Pulling It Together: We garner our initial knowledge of the Lord in the home. There, we learn how to honor our parents, and in so learning, we learn that we are not the center of all things. There are those of higher station who have responsibility for us. We are to respect them, and even esteem them because of their vocation. God has given them this standing for our good, so for our own good, we should honor them. Without them and our respect of them, we lose our truest selves by forgetting where we came from, forgetting the source of all our earthly welfare. Without this knowledge, this appreciation, we are hard-pressed to recognize God, let alone honor him, even when he reveals himself in preaching and Scripture.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, give me a trust in you that allows me to honor my parents. Amen.

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Will You Betray Me? is a five-part drama series focuses on “betrayal” as a central theme. Written in a direct and edgy style, the monologues feature biblical characters that (knowingly or unknowingly) contributed to the betrayal and death of Jesus.  

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 04 Dec 20 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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From the Word: For Jerusalem has stumbled, and Judah has fallen because their speech and their deeds are against the Lord, defying his glorious presence. (Isaiah 3:8)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Fourth Commandment

Honor your father and your mother, (that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.)

After the sublime worship of God described in the previous commandments, this is the highest work we can do. Giving alms and every other good work toward our neighbor are not equal to keeping this commandment. For God has lifted the estate of parents to the highest place, indeed, assigning it his own standing on earth. This will and pleasure of God ought to be a sufficient reason and incentive for us to do what we can, cheerfully and with good will.

Pulling It Together: The people of God rebelled against his authority, largely because they were disrespectful to their elders (Isa 3:5b). When this happens, society is ripped apart to the extent that even God cannot heal their wounds (Isa 3:7). Those who learn in the home to fear the Lord, have already understand that recognizing earthly authority is tantamount to respecting the divine will. This perception should provide us with sufficient reason to honor our parents. 

Prayer: Holy Spirit, awaken within me honor for my parents. Amen.

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Fulfilled In Him is a five-part Lenten drama series, focusing on five pairs of characters — one from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament — who demonstrate in their witness the fulfillment of God's promise. Presented with a kind of before-and-after perspective, the pairing of characters examines how Christ is the key to Scripture — "the founder and perfecter of our faith."

Other Lenten Dramas

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 03 Dec 20 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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From the Word: O house of Jacob, come and let us walk in the light of the Lord. (Isaiah 2:5)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Fourth Commandment

Honor your father and your mother, (that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.)

Now this, I say should be the primary and most important consideration urging us to keep this commandment. Even if we had no father and mother, because of the commandment, we should wish that God would set up wood and stone before us that we might call father and mother. Since he has given us living parents, how much more should we gladly honor and obey them. Why? Because we know it is so highly pleasing to the divine Majesty and all angels, and vexes all devils.

Pulling It Together: Being obedient does not always make sense to us. This was especially the case when we were children. My father drove me crazy with his demands and discipline. He makes more sense to me now, some 50 years later. This is the Lord’s way; though we can reason no sense of it with our childish brains, we are to obey father and mother. Perhaps, sometimes they do not have our best interests in mind. Nonetheless, obedience itself is in our best interests. Being obedient to our parents is a way of walking in the Lord’s light; it shows us how we may trust and obey him. Even when reason fails us, when following Jesus makes no sense at all, the obedience of following will later yield an understanding that was lacking in the moment.

Prayer: Give me faith to follow you, Lord, walking in your light when my understanding is dim. Amen.

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Here is a free, one-year Bible reading plan you may print out for yourself or for your entire congregation. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 02 Dec 20 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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Acts 2:37-38

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Free Will 

This distinction has not been invented by us but is clearly taught in Scripture. Augustine also covers it, and recently William of Paris dealt with it well. Yet it has been wickedly suppressed by those who have imagined that people are able to obey God’s Law without the Holy Spirit, that instead, the Holy Spirit is given because obedient people are considered meritorious.

Pulling It Together: When the Sword of the Lord (Heb 4:12), his Word, delivers the cutting law of God, people understand that there is nothing they can do to be saved. The young man in Matthew 19 had been keeping the commandments his whole life, or so he claimed, but still knew something was lacking. So he asked Jesus, “What good deed must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus swung the law-edge of the sword at him so that he would be able to see his great need.

When people are able to see their need, they cry out, “What shall we do?” And here is the “follow me” that Jesus extended to the young man. “Repent and be baptized...in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” So we readily see that there is some civic good that we might do but, in the words of Charles Wesley, we are “all unrighteousness” (from “Jesus, Lover of My Soul). All that is left to us is to repent and be baptized. To such meek souls, the Holy Spirit is given—not earned. Through his power alone, we are enabled to follow Jesus, to be his disciples. 

Prayer: Forgive me, Lord, and give me grace to follow you anew. Amen.

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The Sola Confirmation Series is a basic work-book style Confirmation curriculum, designed to serve 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 can 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. 

The Lord's Prayer workbook is a ten-week unit, which includes one session on the Introduction, each of the Petitions, and the Conclusion. The Scripture focus in the Lord's Prayer series is on the Parables of Jesus, with Bible Study lessons taken from the Gospels.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 01 Dec 20 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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Matthew 25:44–46

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

When Paul says, “He will render to every one according to his works,” we are to understand not only the outward work, but all righteousness or unrighteousness. So, “Glory...for every one who does good,” namely, for the righteous. “You gave me food,” is cited as the fruit and evidence of the righteousness of the heart and of faith. Therefore, eternal life is given to righteousness. In this way Scripture embraces both the righteousness of the heart and its fruits. It often names the fruits, so that the inexperienced may better understand, and to signify that a new life and rebirth are required instead of hypocrisy. This rebirth happens by faith with repentance.

Pulling It Together: Yes, God wants our good works, but he earnestly desires our hearts. Works that are done with an unbelieving, faithless heart are not good works; they are hypocritical. It is not those who do some good deeds in their own power who are given eternal life. Rather, those who put their faith in Christ will do good deeds because of the power of his Spirit within them. Only when works flow from faith in him are they good and righteous deeds. Because the believing heart is deemed righteous, the deeds that stem from that believing, righteous heart are also considered righteous. This is why Jesus says that the righteous will go into everlasting life (Matt 25:46).

Prayer: Holy Spirit, move me to do good that glorifies God and helps my neighbor, for the sake of Christ. Amen.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 30 Nov 20 00:00:00 -0600 Click for online jigsaw.

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2 Peter 1:3–11

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Good Works 

The adversaries also add testimonies to their own condemnation, and it is worth while to recite several of them. They quote 2 Peter 1:10: “Be the more zealous to confirm your call and election,” etc. Now you see, reader, that our opponents have not wasted labor in learning logic, for they have learned the art of inferring from the Scriptures whatever pleases them. “Make your calling sure by good works” becomes “works merit the forgiveness of sins.” By this manner of reasoning, one would proclaim to a person sentenced to death, but whose punishment has been canceled: “The judge commands that you abstain hereafter from taking that which belongs to another. By doing so, you have merited the pardon of the penalty, because you are now abstaining from taking what belongs to another.” Arguing in this way makes a cause out of the effect.

Pulling It Together: The Holy Spirit calls us to faith through the Word (Rom 10:17), and thereby grants us eternal life. The promises of God have already been gifted through belief in the promise. To this—to that faith which apprehended the promise—we are to add the qualities of faith. If we do not, we will forget that we have been forgiven. So we must practice the qualities of faith, not so that we will be forgiven but, so that we will never forget that we have already been forgiven. We remember that we have been forgiven our sins through faith in Christ because we are now living a new life, growing stronger in our faith in Christ Jesus day by day.

Prayer: Let me appreciate your gift of eternal life, Lord, by living in eternity today. Amen.

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The Sola Online Worship Resource (SOWeR) also includes liturgies and services for your use. There are ready-to-copy settings for Holy Communion, services, services of the Word, Vespers, occasional services, funerals, and seasonal services. SOWeR is a lectionary-based web resource for Scripture lessons, lectionary inserts, children's bulletins, devotionals, text studies, prayers, hymn-planning, and much more! Join the hundreds of congregations who have discovered how simple, flexible, and useful SOWeR is for worship planning and sermon preparation. This brochure will answer more questions about SOWeR. Call 1-888-887-9840 to order a yearly subscription. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 27 Nov 20 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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From the Word: 6 In that day, there shall be no sunlight nor luminaries—but a haze. 7 It will be a singular day, known to the Lord—not day and not night. Yet it will transpire, that at the evening hour there will be light. (Zechariah 14:6–7)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Fourth Commandment

Honor your father and your mother, (that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.)

On the other hand, when they are obstinate and will not do what they should unless they are severely disciplined, they anger both God and their parents. They deprive themselves of this treasure and joy of conscience, and store up for themselves only misfortune. That is the course of the world now, as everyone complains. Young and old are both altogether self-indulgent and disobedient, having no reverence nor sense of honor, doing nothing except when driven to it by blows. Instead, they perpetrate behind each other's back whatever wrong and slander they can. Therefore, God punishes them so that they sink into all kinds of suffering and misery. As a rule, the parents too, are ignorant, and as they have lived, so live their children after them. One fool trains another.

Pulling It Together: Frankly, things look practically dark. It is difficult to look at the world and think otherwise. Look at all the young people out there who did not learn enough sense from their parents, sometimes simply because their parents did not have much of that item in stock themselves. Society is going crazily out of control, and it seems like the church is trying to match step. As much as I do not want to admit it, things are going to get worse before they get better; but they are going to get better—much better. Just as the world goes completely dark, the Light will return. Until that everlasting day when the Lord will be our light (Isa 60:19; Rev 21:23), we have only to hope in him, keeping his Word—and believing his promises when we cannot.

Prayer: Joyous Light of Glory, come into this dark world of mine, and give me your hope and peace. Amen.

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Living Faith, a Believer's Guide to Growing in Christ is a discipleship resource based on Martin Luther’s Small Catechism. This 12-part Bible study by Pastor Brack East is designed to help individuals grow more deeply into a living faith in Jesus, while interacting with other believers in a life-to-life setting of three or four people. Such settings around the Word of God have proven to be part of the workshop of the Holy Spirit, and Luther’s Small Catechism has stood the test of time as a reliable guide to growing in faith. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 26 Nov 20 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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From the Word: 15 Having heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and your love for all the saints, 16 for this reason I do not cease giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers: 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your heart enlightened that you may know what is the hope of his calling, what are the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints… (Ephesians 1:15–18)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Fourth Commandment

Honor your father and your mother, (that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.)

Therefore, I repeat that I would be very glad if people would open their eyes and ears, and take this to heart, so that they are not again led astray from the pure Word of God to the lying vanities of the devil. Then, all would be well. Parents would have more joy, love, friendship, and concord in their houses, and thereby, their children could captivate their parents’ hearts.

Pulling It Together: True holiness and enlightenment is that which receives its righteousness and revelation from the living Christ, rather than trying to squeeze piety and secrets from the dead husk of works and religion. These only come to us through faith in God’s grace. But how are we to live in this grace? A homespun analogy may help. We are never not the offspring of our mothers and fathers, yet we are nevertheless, to remain obedient in their homes. So too, the baptized are always children of the Father; they did nothing to deserve that; it is their birthright. But they are to obey his commandments nonetheless. Doing so does not generate salvation, but does bring immeasurable contentment to both God and Christ’s church.

Prayer: Enliven me to keep your Word, Father, so that I might bring a smile to your face. Amen.

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The Sola Online Worship Resource (SOWeR) also includes bulletin templates. There are word processing templates for both communion and non-communion services. There are also templates for Sola, LBW, and Reclaim service settings. SOWeR is a lectionary-based web resource for Scripture lessons, lectionary inserts, children's bulletins, devotionals, text studies, prayers, hymn-planning, and much more! Join the hundreds of congregations who have discovered how simple, flexible, and useful SOWeR is for worship planning and sermon preparation. This brochure will answer more questions about SOWeR. Call 1-888-887-9840 to order a yearly subscription. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 25 Nov 20 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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From the Word: 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ in the heavens, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world to be holy and unblemished before him. 5 In love, he bound us for adoption into himself through Jesus Christ, according to the good intention of his will, 6 to the praise of the glory of his grace, which he conferred on us in the Beloved. 7 In him, we have our redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our sins, according to the riches of his grace 8 which he showered upon us in all wisdom and discernment, 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good will which he displayed in him 10 as a design for the fullness of time, to hold together all things in him—the things in the heavens and the things upon the earth. (Ephesians 1:3–10)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Fourth Commandment

Honor your father and your mother, (that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.)

The heart, then, should leap and melt for joy when going to work and keeping the commandments, saying, “Lo, this is better than all holiness of the Carthusians, even though they kill themselves fasting and praying upon their knees without ceasing.” For here, you have a sure text and a divine testimony that God has commanded this; but concerning the other, he has not commanded a word. Because the devil has greatly deceived us with a false holiness about the glamour of our own works, it is the plight and miserable blindness of the world that no one believes these things.

Pulling It Together: We are the workmanship of God, and have been created in Christ for good works (Eph 2:10). Though God’s grace saves us through faith in Christ Jesus, we are nonetheless, expected to bear fruit, to do good works, to honor the Father’s will, to keep the commandments, and so forth. There is much confusion in this area, some thinking that we must do good works in order to be saved, while others vainly imagine that we do not have to do them at all. In fact, God commands us to do good works, and we honor his will in doing so. These deeds do not save us (Eph 2:8–9) but are instead, evidence of his favor, a gift already determined and imparted through Christ. Parents teach their children well when they instruct them to obey the commandments of the Father who has chosen us to be adopted into his holy family.  

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for all of the heavenly blessings you have given us in Christ Jesus, your Son. Amen.

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A primer (pronounced PRIH-mur) is a small introductory book on a subject, often for beginners. Primers were once a standard part of every child’s education. Typically, they contained many quotations from the Bible and moral lessons as well, and the text was accompanied by numerous woodcut illustrations. This primer on marriage, by Pastor Wendy Berthelsen, contains color, woodcut initials throughout, and serves as a nice devotional resource.

A Marriage Primer may be handed out by congregations to couples preparing for marriage, or as a gift to go along with presenting a marriage certificate. For individuals, it would also make a good small gift for a wedding or shower. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 24 Nov 20 00:00:00 -0600 Click for online jigsaw.

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From the Word: 10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a wise, master builder, I laid a foundation; and another is building upon it. But let each one be careful how he builds upon it, 11 for no one can lay another foundation than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 3:10–11)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Fourth Commandment

Honor your father and your mother, (that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.)

Oh, what a high price would all the Carthusians, monks, and nuns pay, if in all their religious observances they could bring into God’s presence a single work done by obeying this commandment. They would then be able to face him and say with joyful hearts: “Now I know that this work is well pleasing to you.” Where will these poor, wretched persons hide when, in the sight of God and all the world, they must blush with shame before a young child who has lived according to this commandment, when they have to confess that with their whole life they are not worthy to give that child a drink of water? And it serves them right for their devilish distortion of God’s commandment, treading it under foot as they vainly afflict themselves with works of their own design. Moreover, they have only scorn and defeat for their reward.

Pulling It Together: “I will give up heating this year for God! He will respect me for that sacrifice and grant me entrance at heaven’s gates.” As some old friends of mine used to say mockingly, “Let me know how that works out for you.” When we invent religious schemes that have nothing to do with God’s will and command, we are, in fact, mocking him. Is not his word enough for us? Do we refuse to believe his promises? Is Christ an insufficient Savior? Let our life of faith begin with what the Lord commands and wills, and may we build upon it with more of the same. This is precisely what we should be doing in the home, starting our children off on the right foot by teaching them the commandments. If we do not, they are likely to invent some novel enthusiasm that is nothing more than the old bowing down to their own images.

Prayer: Lift our eyes to you, Lord, and save us from ourselves. Amen.

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A primer (pronounced PRIH-mur) is a small introductory book on a subject, often for beginners. Primers were once a standard part of every child’s education. Typically, they contained many quotations from the Bible and moral lessons as well, and the text was accompanied by numerous woodcut illustrations. This primer on marriage, by Pastor Wendy Berthelsen, contains color, woodcut initials throughout, and serves as a nice devotional resource.

A Marriage Primer may be handed out by congregations to couples preparing for marriage, or as a gift to go along with presenting a marriage certificate. For individuals, it would also make a good small gift for a wedding or shower. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 23 Nov 20 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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From the Word: 15 And they were also bringing their babies to him, that he might touch them. But when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 16 Yet Jesus called them to him, saying, “Allow the little children to come to me, and do not prevent them, for to such belong the kingdom of God. 17 Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a young child will not enter it.” (Luke 18:15–17)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Fourth Commandment

Honor your father and your mother, (that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.)

Therefore, you should wholeheartedly rejoice and thank God that he has chosen you and made you worthy to do a work that is so precious and pleasing to him. Although it might be regarded as humble and despised, see that you esteem it as great and precious, not on account of your worthiness, but because it is comprehended and contained in a jewel and sanctuary, namely, the Word and commandment of God.

Pulling It Together: Mothers and fathers are given a great honor; let them rise to the responsibility of that honor. Let them teach their children the commandments and the whole Word of God in such a way that those children consider his orders and promises as the finest things in life. Let them bring their children to Jesus in this way, and God will heap upon them even greater distinction; those children will regard their own parents’ directives and oaths as quite similar to those of God himself.

Prayer: May your kingdom come, Lord, into the lives of the children in my life. Amen.

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Alphabet Soup is a four-unit (seven lessons each) Sunday School series designed for young students in Preschool and Kindergarten. Lessons are based on storytelling, rhyme, and pictures, and are suitable for participation by non-readers. The flexible lesson plans introduce the youngest believers to the importance and truth of God’s Word. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 20 Nov 20 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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From the Word: 5 And the beast was given a mouth speaking incredible things and blasphemies; and it was permitted to exercise authority for forty-two months. 6 And it opened its mouth with profanities against God, to blaspheme his name and his tabernacle, those who dwell in heaven. 7 And it was allowed to make war on the saints, and to overcome them. It was granted authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation, 8 and all who dwell on the earth will worship him, those whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain. 9 If anyone has an ear, let him hear: 10 If anyone is for captivity, into captivity he goes. If anyone kills with the sword, by the sword he must be killed. Here must be the steadfastness and the faith of the saints. (Revelation 13:5–10)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Fourth Commandment

Honor your father and your mother, (that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.)

Let everyone come together, boasting of their many great, painful, and difficult works. We will see whether they can produce a single thing that is greater and nobler than obedience to father and mother, to whom God has appointed and commanded obedience next to his own majesty. If God’s Word and will are primary and are being observed, nothing should be esteemed higher than the will and word of one’s parents, so long as they too, are obedient to God and not opposed to the preceding commandments.

Pulling It Together: Those who depend upon their works instead of their hope and faith in the great work of Christ Jesus have already bowed to the beast. In doing so, they have knelt before the dragon who has waged and won his war by convincing them of their own religious powers. If anyone is to depend upon his religious devotion, to the worm he will go. This calls for the steadfast faith of Christ’s followers. We must depend upon him by believing his Word and keeping his commandments, no matter what the devil and his world throw at us. As has been said so often, this begins in the home where God has given us parents from whom to learn obedience to him.

Prayer: Help me to learn your lessons, Lord. 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.

Use the Small Catechism as an outreach tool with a Customized 100-pack.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 19 Nov 20 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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From the Word: And the dragon was infuriated with the woman, and went away to make war with the rest of her offspring, those who keep the commandments of God, and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood upon the beach of the sea. (Revelation 12:17)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Fourth Commandment

Honor your father and your mother, (that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.)

Therefore, let us learn at last, for God’s sake, to teach our young to put all other things out of sight, observing first this commandment. If they wish to serve God with truly good works, they must do what is pleasing to their fathers and mothers, or to those to whom they are subject in their place. Every child who knows and does this has, in the first place, this great consolation in his heart, that he may joyfully say: “Behold, this work is well pleasing to my God in heaven; this I know for certain.”

Pulling It Together: It is not easy to be a child. Nor is it easy to be followers of Christ, his church. One may, at first, imagine the difficulty lies in keeping the commandments—for who can do so with the slightest measure of perfection? No, the trouble here is that the devil makes war against those who keep the commandments, on those who believe in the Son. That old dragon tried to conquer him, but failed miserably. In his outrage, he strikes out through the millennia at the next, most likely target: the church. They too will conquer the dragon, not by their own powers but “by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony” (Rev 12:11). And all the while, those Christ followers, the children of the church, will return again and again to the commandments and to their great confession (Matt 16:16), knowing his peace in their hearts because, through it all, they have kept his commandment (1 John 3:23). They have believed in him and loved one another. And where did they learn to do so but at home, whether in the family home or in the quarters of the church itself?

Prayer: Prepare me for the battle, Lord. Amen.

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A Reading and Discussion of the Augsburg Confession is a more challenging study series based on assigned readings from the Book of Concord and related Scripture texts. Each study is comprised of eight sessions, plus an optional introductory session, presented in a question and discussion format. The Leader's Guide that accompanies this study is a resource for those facilitating group discussion, or may serve as a reader's commentary for those who are studying the Book of Concord on their own.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 18 Nov 20 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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From the Word: 16 And Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 16:16–17)

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: I do not believe in God by way of my reason, decision, determination, or strength. I come to God through God. It would be quite impossible to come to God by way of my own understanding, for if God had not revealed himself to me, how could I ever know who God is? Nor can I make a decision for him; but his Spirit works in me through the gospel. For it is not flesh and blood, human determination or strength, that brings forth the good confession. It is instead, his gracious will that we should know him, and confess him through faith (Phil 2:13). This is what Scripture tells us. It may defy our reason; and that is the point.

Prayer: Thank you for revealing yourself and calling me through your Son. Amen.

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The Spiritual Realms is a nine-session Bible Study series on Heaven and Hell and places beyond this world. Specifically, the study looks at the many “place names” that are found throughout Scripture, referring to spiritual realms of existence that underlie and comprise the universe God created. This Bible Study series is a challenging one, in that it explores realities of existence beyond what we know and experience everyday.

The study not only addresses matters of life, death, heaven and hell, it steadfastly affirms that Jesus Christ is at the center of all these things. Our ultimate faith and hope rest in Christ’s death and resurrection for our sake. We live in faith by the biblical promise that: “God raised the Lord, and will also raise us up by his power” (1 Cor 6:14).

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 17 Nov 20 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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From the Word: 27 As he was saying these things, a certain woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts upon which you nursed.” 28 But he said, “Blessed rather are they who hear the word of God and keep it.” (Luke 11:27–28)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Fourth Commandment

Honor your father and your mother, (that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.)

In this manner, we would have had godly children, properly taught, reared in true blessedness, and kept at home in obedience to their parents and in their service. People would have had blessing and joy from the spectacle. However, it was not tolerated for God’s commandment to be taught with care and diligence. It was neglected and trampled underfoot so that a child could not take it to heart. Meanwhile they gaped at the plans we devised, without once giving honor to God.

Pulling It Together: How ironic that we consider the Fourth Commandment while reading today’s gospel lesson. A woman in the crowd seeks to honor the mother of Jesus, and Jesus improves upon her blessing in a way that some might think dishonors Mary. He does her no dishonor but carries the blessing to the top, to his Father in heaven, whose name is to be hallowed among us. Truly, it is those who have been taught his Word and obeyed it who will be a blessing, not only to their heavenly Father but, to their earthly parents too.

Prayer: Help me, Father, to listen to you today. Amen.

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I Am Who I Am is a six-week study that explores what it means to “not take the name of the LORD your God in vain” (Exod 20:7), while at the same time trusting the promise in Christ that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21).

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 16 Nov 20 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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From the Word: The one who is not with me is against me, and the one who does not gather with me scatters. (Luke 11:23)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Fourth Commandment

Honor your father and your mother, (that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.)

“What God commands must be far nobler than everything that we may devise ourselves. Because there is no higher or finer teacher to be found than God, there can be no better teaching than his. He teaches fully what we should do if we wish to perform truly good works, and by commanding them, he confirms that they please him. If then, it is God who commands this, and since no one can devise anything better, I will never improve upon it.”

Pulling It Together: We cannot imagine how something could be so; the Lord surely did not mean it that way. Perhaps it was just a man writing down his own thoughts that came to be considered The Holy Bible. It must be the way I imagine it, one reasons, defying “what is written” (Luke 10:26). Luther said that reason is the devil’s whore. We are wise in our own estimations (Proverbs 3:7; Romans 12:6), but the one who is truly astute, gathers wisdom from the Lord. Are you with Christ Jesus? If so, then your reason is aligned with faith, with the revelation of God in his Word.

Prayer: Teach me, Lord Jesus, that I may know all wisdom in you. Amen.

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The Cross and the Crown is an eight session study in Lutheran Basics, using the word "sola" to get the big picture right: that salvation is all God's doing.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 13 Nov 20 00:00:00 -0600 Click for online jigsaw.

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Romans 9:30-32a

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

So when mercy is spoken of, faith in the promise must be added. This faith produces sure hope because it relies upon the Word and command of God. If hope relied upon works, then it would be very uncertain because works cannot pacify the conscience, as has been frequently said above. This faith makes a distinction between those who are saved, and those who are not. Faith makes the distinction between the worthy and the unworthy because eternal life has been promised to the justified, and faith justifies.

Pulling It Together: Why did the gentiles come to a state of righteousness when the Jews worked hard at it but never arrived? Why did the gentiles attain righteousness when they did not even try? The answer is mercy. God’s mercy brought them to a state of righteousness. The gentiles did not believe in a system of religious works that made them righteous. They believed that God made them righteous through Christ. They had faith in God instead of themselves.

As long as people depend in themselves, and trust in their works, peace in the conscience will be fleeting. Their horizon will be filled with the lack of good works, failed efforts, and sin. The result will always be troubled consciences. However, those who trust God for righteousness through Christ, will see their own lack of good works but look to Christ’s work on the cross for salvation. They will notice their failures but depend on Christ’s victory over sin and death (1 Cor 15:57). They will confess their sins but see beyond them to the Savior. Their horizon is heaven; and it filled with confident hope in God’s mercy.

Prayer: Merciful God, give me a sure hope in Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen. 

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A Latin phrase meaning “Scripture Alone,” Sola Scriptura is one of the traditional Lutheran slogans used since the time of the Reformation. It expresses our confession that Scripture is “the only rule and norm according to which all doctrines and teachers alike must be appraised and judged.” Using the familiar phrase as its title, Sola Scriptura is a new, advanced-level Bible Study in a two-part series, of six chapters each, on the functional authority of Scripture. For those who would like to cover the topic in detail, there is enough material to cover one chapter in two sessions, making each part a 12-week study.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 12 Nov 20 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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From the Word: 25 And behold, an authority in the law stood up and put him on trial saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to obtain eternal life?” 26 And he said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you interpret it?” 27 And answering he said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind—and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” (Luke 10:25–28)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Fourth Commandment

Honor your father and your mother, (that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.)

Secondly, take note of how great, good, and holy a work is assigned to children, yet regrettably, one that is utterly neglected and ignored. No one perceives that God has commanded it, or that it is a holy, divine word and doctrine. For if we had regarded it as such, everyone could have concluded that those who live according to these words must be holy men. There would have been no need to invent monasticism or spiritual orders, for every child would have lived by this commandment. Each could have directed his conscience to God and said, “If I am to do good and holy works, I know of none better than to render all honor and obedience to my parents, because God himself has commanded it.”

Pulling It Together: Even Jesus obeyed the commandment to honor his earthly parents, as well as his heavenly Father. Honoring one’s parents is an extension of the greatest commandment: to love your neighbor as yourself. The closest neighbors you have are your mother and father. Love them. Cherish them. You are doubly commanded to do so, and in the doing, you love and honor both neighbor and God.

Prayer: Help me to honor my parents, Lord, and live. Amen.

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Views of Baptism is written for a range of readers including the parent or sponsor about to baptize a child, the adult who wants to understand baptism more fully, and the professional teacher or preacher who needs the truth about baptism stated simply but backed by careful research. This books explores three views of baptism: the individual-centered view, the means-of-grace view, and the Roman Catholic view. It includes a description of how Christian baptism came to us in stages from its Jewish roots. A question and answer section addresses specific matters often raised when people contemplate baptism.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 11 Nov 20 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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From the Word: And many nations shall come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, and he will teach us his ways, and we will walk in his paths.” For the law shall go forth from Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. (Micah 4:2)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Fourth Commandment

Honor your father and your mother, (that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.)

Learn first, then, what this commandment requires concerning honor to parents. We are to respect them and esteem them above all things as the most precious treasure on earth. Our words with them should be regulated, not speaking to them harshly, condescendingly, or defiantly. We should yield to them and be silent, even if they go too far. We must also make an effort to honor them with our actions and possessions. We are to serve, help, and provide for them when they are old, sick, infirm, or poor, and do all this not only gladly, but with humility and reverence, as if doing it in God’s sight. Those who properly regard their parents will not allow them to suffer want or hunger, but will place them above themselves and by their sides, and will share with them whatever they possess.

Pulling It Together: Feeling angry, arrogant, rebellious? Would you vent your frustrations on the Lord using insolent words? Of course not; you should not do so with your parents either because God has given them a place of honor next to himself. You should speak to your parents and care for them as you would God himself. This is not your natural way of doing things but it is God’s way. His word commands our respect, not only of himself but also of those whom he has put over us as his primary representatives to us on earth. They are his messengers for our good, and we should esteem them so. We are given this command in our early years so that we may begin to walk in the ways of the Lord, and learn to obey all of his commandments. 

Prayer: Help me to learn your ways, Lord. Amen.

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By the Will of God is an eight part sermon series on Ephesians that follows the summer lectionary, year B. It uses the Brobston Telemetry Method of Preaching which is an easy way to capture the hearts and minds of listeners and draw them into the Good News of Jesus Christ.Use this series to focus on the will of God in our lives. It is also a great resource to give to lay-preachers in congregations where supply pastors are unavailable to fill in when the pastor goes on vacation. Each week there is a description of the bible passage, an image to build from, a section called "going deeper" which digs into the lesson even further, and some questions to use if you decide to discuss the sermon in a Bible Study or other forum.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 10 Nov 20 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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From the Word: And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. Pray, therefore, to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Luke 10:2)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Fourth Commandment

Honor your father and your mother, (that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.)

Therefore, we must teach young people that they should regard their parents as God’s agents. They must learn that however lowly, poor, frail, or odd they may be, they are nevertheless the father and mother given to them by God. They are not to be divested of honor because of their conduct or their failings. Therefore, we are not to regard their persons, whatever they may be, but of the will of God who has created and ordained them to be our parents. In other respects, we are undeniably alike in the eyes of God, but there must be among us a kind of inequality and so, some structured distinctions. God commands you to specifically obey me as your father, and recognize my authority.

Pulling It Together: The harvest begins at home. Knowing how the kingdom's laborers will be limited, God orders matters efficiently from the outset. There are two workers assigned to each of us so that we may each be properly gathered into his harvest. This works out to varying degrees of success, depending upon how well we are obedient to our responsibilities. Nevertheless, God has ordered it so that we may be brought into his harvest. We begin to learn to listen to God by listening to and obeying our parents, those laborers whom God has provided in the home fields.

Prayer: Lord, help me listen to my parents, and hear them wherever this day may take me. Amen.

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A Discussion of Living Religions is a brief introduction to major world religions that takes a conversational approach as a group of friends talk together about what it is they believe. Each has a chance to speak for themselves about how they understand the fundamentals of reality and faith.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 09 Nov 20 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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From the Word: 59 And he said to another, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, allow me to first go and bury my father.” 60 But he said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead; but you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:59–60)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Fourth Commandment

Honor your father and your mother, (that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.)

It is a far greater thing to honor people than to love them. Honor requires love, modesty, humility, and deference, as though toward a majesty hidden within. It obliges not only that we address them kindly and reverently, but above all, that we show how we esteem them so highly, through actions of the heart and body. We must demonstrate that we give them the highest status next to God. Anyone who is to be truly honored in the heart must be actually regarded as high and great.

Pulling It Together: We should regard our parents with the greatest respect, for this is our duty before God. Whether we like them or not, or even if they do not treat us well, they are to be honored because God commands us to do so. Yet be clear, though we are to honor them so highly that we regard them as being next to God, we are not to place them above him, nor equal to him. The demands of honoring God may sometimes seem to interfere with our understanding of honoring mother and father. The obligations of his kingdom sometimes outweigh the needs of family. Yet, even those things may be accomplished while honoring our parents. We show our respect to our earthly parents by honoring first and foremost the heavenly parent who commands us to honor them.

Prayer: Give me a heart for my parents, Lord, and the actions to match my heart. Amen.

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This booklet provides a suggested list of Bible verses, prayers, and familiar worship texts assigned to various age levels, recommended for use along with Sola Publishing’s Sunday Schoolhouse curriculum series. The order of texts matches the suggested grade levels in Luther’s Small Cat Series: elementary-aged curriculum on Martin Luther’s Small Catechism, also available from Sola Publishing. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 06 Nov 20 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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From the Word: It happened, as they were departing from him, that Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah"—not knowing what he said. (Luke 9:33)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Fourth Commandment

Honor your father and your mother, (that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.)

God has given the estate of fatherhood and motherhood this special distinction above all lower estates. He does not simply command us to love our parents, but to honor them. With respect to brothers, sisters, and our neighbors in general, he commands nothing higher than that we love them. He distinguishes father and mother above all other persons upon earth, placing them at his side.

Pulling It Together: Peter failed to recognize what was happening in this singular event that showed him the glory of Christ Jesus. Not only did Jesus shine with heavenly splendor, but a voice spoke from the overshadowing cloud, saying that the Son was distinguished above law and prophets. “Listen to him” (Luke 9:35). The gospel holds a special distinction and should be heeded, for that is the deeper meaning of the word “listen.” So that we may learn this transfiguring lesson, God gives us a unique earthly relationship. Mother and father are to be listened to, heeded, obeyed. In honoring them so, we learn to value a distinction that may begin to show us his own glory.

Prayer: Show me a glimpse of your glory, Lord, through my parents—if only in my memory of them. Amen.

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Luther's Small Cat Discovers: The Seasons of the Church Year is written for 4th grade level students. This book takes students through the church year, accompanied by Luther’s Small Cat — a character who is just as inquisitive and precocious as the students. May your journey through the church year bring you closer to Christ, who walks through each moment of life alongside you.

Teacher's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 05 Nov 20 00:00:00 -0600 Click for online jigsaw.

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From the Word: And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” And answering, Peter said, “The Christ of God.” (Luke 9:20)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Fourth Commandment

Honor your father and your mother, (that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.)

Thus far, we have learned the first three commandments, which relate to God. First, we should fear, love, and trust in him with our whole hearts throughout our lives. Second, we must not misuse his holy name as a prop for falsehood or any evil reason, but employ it in the praise of God and for the profit and salvation of our neighbor, as well as ourselves. Thirdly, when at rest on holy days, we should devote ourselves to God’s Word, so that our actions and entire lives are ordered according to it. The other seven follow and relate to our neighbor. The first and greatest is, “Honor your father and your mother.”

Pulling It Together: We have seen what Peter would do if left to his own reason. Religion (Matt 17:4) and abandonment (Luke 22:54-62) are the outcomes. Left to our own judgments, we would do the same. But Peter was saved from himself because he listened to the word of Jesus. Being led by the Spirit, his good confession rooted him again in the will of God instead of in his own reason. We too, must be grounded and ordered by the Word, and by daily trust in God. Our confession, one profession or another, tells us what we believe about God. We will see that through our faith in God and his Christ, we begin to learn an obedient fear, love, and trust of our heavenly Father by first honoring our earthly parents.

Prayer: Bless my parents, Lord, or their memory, in the living of my life for you. Amen.

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The Life of Martin Luther is written in honor of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. This nine-session adult study takes participants through the circumstances and events of the life of Martin Luther as it reflects on the biblical themes underlying the Lutheran Reformation.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 04 Nov 20 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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From the Word: But the centurion was more convinced by the pilot and the owner of the ship, than by what Paul said. (Acts 27:11)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Third Commandment

Even if no other interest or need sends us, everyone should be impelled to the Word because it drives away the devil and puts him in his place. Besides, in doing so, we keep this commandment, and that is more pleasing to God than any work of hypocrisy, however brilliant.

Pulling It Together: You may think that Paul’s warning to the centurion was not inspired. Yet, see how it finds its way into Luke’s account, into the Scripture? There is great danger in not paying attention to biblical counsel. God’s Word gives us safe passage through the storm, and often enough helps us avoid the storm altogether. But first, we must hear the Word and believe it. We must also understand his Word; that is why God gives us pastors and teachers (Eph 4:11). This too, is good reason for attending to the Lord’s Day. Even so, there is far better cause to do so than safety and ease. God commands it, and keeping a divine command is always wise.

Prayer: Give me the wisdom to listen to your Word, Lord. Amen.

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Learning the Lord's Prayer teaches the Lord's Prayer according to the pattern of Luther's Small Catechism, and is recommended for the Second Grade Level. Each week focuses on a specific Bible story which illustrates the theme, with additional references from Scripture and Luther's Small Catechism - Children's Version

Teacher's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 03 Nov 20 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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From the Word: Now as Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed him, for they were all waiting for him. (Luke 8:40)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Third Commandment

Yet, when we seriously contemplate, hear, and use the Word, it is so effective that it is never without fruit. It always awakens new understanding, pleasure, and devoutness, and cleanses the heart, producing pure thoughts. For these words are not inoperative or dead, but creative and living.

Pulling It Together: Does it seem to you that some time has passed since you have heard from the Lord? Or, on the other hand, does it seem like it was only moments ago that God spoke? Either way, be like the crowds in Capernaum. Maybe they wanted more healings or food. Then again, because Capernaum was central to Jesus’ ministry and he would have been well known there, perhaps they were anxiously expecting the return of their rabbi. Maybe they just wanted to see him and hear from again.

So it begs the question: do we eagerly anticipate a meeting with the Lord? Have we set aside at least one time in the day, or even in the week, when we go out to meet him, to hear a word with a listening ear and a hungry heart? Is there such genuine pleasure in our friendship (John 15:15) that we cannot wait for him to speak to us again? 

Prayer: Open my arms, Holy Spirit, my ears, my mind, and my truest heart to Christ Jesus. Amen.

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The Sola Confirmation Series, written by the Rev. Steven E. King, is basic work-book style Confirmation curriculum. It is designed to serve 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 can 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. 

The Ten Commandments book is a ten-week unit, which includes one session on each of the Commandments. The Scripture focus in the Ten Commandment series is on Moses and the Exodus Cycle, with Bible Study lessons taken primarily from the Pentateuch.

• Student Workbook   • Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 02 Nov 20 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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From the Word: And about eight days after these sayings, it came to pass that he took Peter and John and James with him, and went up into the mountain to pray. (Luke 9:28)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Third Commandment

Let me tell you that even though you know the Word perfectly and have mastered all things, you are still daily in the dominion of the devil, who neither day nor night ceases to steal upon you unawares, kindling in your heart unbelief and wicked thoughts against all the commandments. Therefore, you must always have God’s Word in your heart, upon your lips, and in your ears. For where the heart is idle, and the Word is not heard, he breaks in and has done the damage before we are aware.

Pulling It Together: Who was hounded by the devil more than Jesus? Now ask yourself: who has ever prayed more? Knowing the need, Jesus modeled the life of prayer to his disciples. He showed them how to take the time to pray. He showed them how prayer is vital in taking up our crosses and following him (Luke 9:23). Be certain of it; prayer is much more than making known your requests to the Father. We must listen to God too. And what more objective way may we hear him than in his Word. Make the time to pray in this way, not only asking your Father for all good things, but listening to him in his good and holy Word. We need to do so every bit as much and more as Jesus. Follow him.

Prayer: Open my ears and my heart, Lord, to hear your Word in my prayers. Amen.

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The Lord's Prayer workbook is a ten-week unit, which includes one session on the Introduction, each of the Petitions, and the Conclusion. The Scripture focus in the Lord's Prayer series is on the Parables of Jesus, with Bible Study lessons taken from the Gospels.

The Sola Confirmation Series is a basic workbook style Confirmation curriculum, designed to serve 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 can 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. 

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 30 Oct 20 00:00:00 -0500 Online jigsaw

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From the Word: 11 Then after three months we set sail in a ship of Alexandria that had wintered in the island, whose sign was the Twin Brothers. 12 And docking at Syracuse, we stayed there three days. 13 We unmoored from there and arrived at Rhegium. And after one day a south wind sprang up, and we came to Puteoli on the second day. 14 We found brothers there, and were asked to tarry with them seven days. And so we came to Rome. 15 And the brothers there, when they heard of us, came to meet us from as far as the Forum of Appius and the Three Taverns. On visiting them, Paul thanked God, and took courage. (Acts 28:11–15)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Third Commandment

Likewise, you should rebuke those smug spirits who, after hearing a sermon or two, find it boring and stupid, thinking that they know it all, and need no more instruction. That is a sin that was previously considered among the mortal sins, and was called acidia — lethargy or satiety — a malignant, dangerous plague with which the devil entrances and deceives the hearts of many so that he may take us by surprise and covertly remove God’s Word from us.

Pulling It Together: Look at all the trouble that Paul and Luke went to just to preach the gospel. This is the great mission of the church, and they undertook it with passion. We should receive the proclaimed gospel with a matched passion, a hunger and thirst for righteousness (Matt 5:6) that is quenched only with the gospel. The most excellent rebuke to those who do not take the gospel and its proclamation seriously, is for them to see you rejoicing in the gospel and growing in faith.

Prayer: Increase your Spirit in me, Lord, that I may look forward to preaching. Amen.

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Learning About Baptism teaches the meaning of Holy Baptism according to the pattern of Luther's Small Catechism, and is recommended for the First Grade Level. Each week focuses on a specific Bible story which illustrates the theme, with additional references from Scripture and Luther's Small Catechism - Children's Version. Lessons focus on Baptism as a promise from God, emphasizing the power of God's Word in the Sacrament to create faith and repentance in our daily life.

Teacher's Guide

 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 29 Oct 20 00:00:00 -0500 Online jigsaw

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From the Word: 30 And the sailors were seeking to escape from the ship, and had lowered the boat into the sea, a deception, as it were, intending to extend anchors from the bow. 31 Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, “Unless these men abide in the ship, you cannot be saved.” (Acts 27:30-31)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Third Commandment

Know, then, that you must be concerned not only about hearing the Word but also about learning and remembering it. Do not think that this is optional, of no great importance. This is the commandment of God, who will require of you how you have heard, learned, and honored his Word.

Pulling It Together: Troubles come and troubles go, but we must abide in the ship. We hear the Word on the Lord’s Day, but we should remember it and keep it throughout the week. We must abide in the ark of God’s Word. How can we be saved from the storms of life and death, unless we stay in the ship? Like the psalmist, may we meditate on God’s Word throughout the day. Stay in the ship of God’s Word from Sunday through Saturday, and thereby, sanctify the entire week to yourself.

Prayer: Oh, Lord, how I love your Word. Amen.

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The Smalcald Articles are often considered Luther's theological Last Will and Testament. Written in easy-to-understand language, this study is presented in a discussion formation with assigned readings from the Scriptures and the Book of Concord. Included in the study is a shorter work by Philip Melanchton called "The Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope." 

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 28 Oct 20 00:00:00 -0500 Online jigsaw

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From the Word: For they sow the wind, and they will reap the whirlwind. The standing grain has no ear; it will bear no grain. If it should yield, strangers will swallow it. (Hosea 8:7)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Third Commandment

It was once the prevailing opinion that you had properly hallowed Sunday when you had heard a mass or the gospel read. Yet no one cared for God’s Word, as no one taught it either. Now, while we have God’s Word, we still fail to correct the abuse, for we endure preaching and admonishment, but listen without urgency and concern. 

Pulling It Together: Hosea’s agricultural imagery depicts the results of idolatry. It is the same as sowing your seed in the wind. The outcome is more wind, or if the seed blows to other properties, they will eat the grain. The Third Commandment would have us guard against a specific kind of idolatrous abuse. Our religious devotion can become a fanaticism that we depend upon instead of the grace of God. If we sow the seed of going to church but fail to turn our ears to the Lord, we have been sowing to the wind. If we depend upon devotional readings and rituals but do not attend to the preaching of God’s Word, that too, is idolatry, and the result is spiritual stubble, straw that is blown away in the whirlwinds of life.

Prayer: Give me ears, Lord, and a heart to hear you. Amen.

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The Great Search is a Christmas program that tells the story of those faithful travelers who made the journey to Bethlehem that very first Christmas. With the help of modern inventions, the magi, shepherds, and angels go on a Great Search to find the Christchild. This program can easily be adapted for large or smaller congregations. The congregation participates in the program through the singing of Christmas carols.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 27 Oct 20 00:00:00 -0500 Online jigsaw

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From the Word: 15 We are Jews by nature, and not from Gentile sinners. 16 Yet, knowing that a person is not justified from works of the law, but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we believed on Christ Jesus that we might be justified by faith in Christ, and not by works of the law, for no flesh will be justified by works of the law. 17 But if, seeking to be justified in Christ, we too were revealed as sinners, is Christ a servant of sin? May it never be so! 18 For if I rebuild those things that I leveled, I prove myself an overstepper. (Galatians 2:16-18)

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

What else is this than to transfer the glory of Christ to our works, when we seek to please God because of our works instead of because of Christ? This also robs Christ of the glory of being the mediator, who is mediator perpetually, and not merely in the beginning of justification. Paul also says that if one who is justified in Christ later seeks righteousness elsewhere, he calls Christ “an agent of sin” (Gal 2:17) because he does not fully justify. The adversaries are quite absurd when they teach that good works merit grace de condigno, as though when the conscience is terrified after justification, as is often the case, grace must be sought through a good work, and not by faith in Christ.

Pulling It Together: Those who consider themselves Christian would confess that Christ saves. But the later actions of some betray a different belief than what they confess. Because they still sin, as everyone does, they begin to seek their salvation and forgiveness by doing something that they hope will appease God, whom they imagine must be angry with them. Because their consciences are troubled, they seek peace and reassurance in their own virtue instead of in Christ. But there is never lasting peace of mind for those who trust in the need to add their own deeds to what Christ has already fully accomplished.

The holy, catholic, Christian Church teaches, preaches, and confesses that we are saved by God’s grace through Christ our propitiator. We cannot be redeemed by our efforts to appease him. We demonstrated earlier that even Jerome said, “We are righteous when we confess that we are sinners, and that our righteousness consists not in our own merit, but in God's mercy.” Either Christ has saved us or he has not.

Prayer: Increase my faith in you, Lord, so that I will not depend upon myself. Amen. 

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Why Did Jesus Have to Die? examines the most profound event of salvation history—the crucifixion of Jesus Christ—exploring from a biblical perspective what is known as the doctrine of the Atonement. This six-week Bible Study would be particularly appropriate during the season of Lent.

Leader's Guide

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Connections Magazine http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 27 Oct 20 00:00:00 -0500

Sample Connections Magazine: Epub version 

 

 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 26 Oct 20 00:00:00 -0500 Online jigsaw

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From the Word: But why do you call me, Lord, Lord, and not do what I say? (Luke 6:46)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Third Commandment

This commandment is disobeyed not only by those who grossly abuse and desecrate the holy day because of their greed or frivolity, neglecting to hear God’s Word or lying in taverns, dead drunk as swine. It is also broken by another crowd who listen to God’s Word as if it were any other trifle, only coming to preaching out of habit, then going their way, and at the end of the year knowing as little of the Word as at the beginning.

Pulling It Together: “There’s the rub!” as Shakespeare had Hamlet say. What is the origin of this famous saying? Believe it or not; it comes from bowling. To be precise, it originates in lawn bowling. A “rub” is anything in the grass that impedes or alters the progress of the ball as it rolls toward its target. Shakespeare might have had Jesus say, Why don’t you do as I say? There’s the rub!

Now, in terms of the Third Commandment, there are many rubs. The goal of the commandment is communion with God and his people through hearing the Word proclaimed. A rub is anything that gets in the way of that — from sporting events to sleeping in to working to any of the lame excuses we hear people make, and that we also sometimes make. A Third Commandment rub can even be showing up for church, but failing to listen to Jesus who is Lord of the Sabbath (Luke 6:5). You would have completely missed the point of being there.

Prayer: Help me, Holy Spirit, to hear your Word so that you make my life an orchard. Amen.

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One For All is a nine-session Bible study explores the center of the Christian faith by focusing on the unique and exclusive promise of Jesus. It examines not only the claims that Christ made about himself in Scripture, but the claim that the Lord makes on our lives as well. By focusing on the Gospel message of salvation in Christ alone, the study seeks to show how God makes us a part of His mission to the whole world, and how "the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all."

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 23 Oct 20 00:00:00 -0500 Online jigsaw

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From the Word: 2 And the Lord answered me and said, “Write the vision, and make it plain upon tablets, that he may run while reading it. 3 For the vision still awaits the appointed time; it pants to the end, but will not deceive. Though it seems to plod, wait for it because it will surely come. It will not delay.

4 “Behold, his soul is puffed up, it is not upright in him; but the righteous will live by his faith.” (Habakkuk 2:2-4)

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

The adversaries speak of obedience to the law; they do not speak of obedience to the gospel. Yet we cannot obey the law unless we have been reborn through the gospel. Nor can we love God unless the we have received the forgiveness of sins. As long as we think that he is angry with us, human nature flees from his wrath and judgment. Some may prevaricate that if it is faith that wishes those things that are offered in the promise, then the properties of faith and hope seem to be confused, because hope is that which expects promised things. To this we reply that these dispositions cannot in reality be severed, in the manner that they are divided by idle speculations in the schools. For in the Epistle to the Hebrews faith is also defined as the “assurance of things hoped for” (Heb 11:1). Yet if anyone still desires a distinction to be made, we say that the object of hope is properly a future event, but that faith is concerned with future and present things, receiving in the present the forgiveness of sins that the promise offers.

Pulling It Together: If you would be righteous, you must live by faith (Hab 2:4; Rom 1:17; Gal 3:11; Heb 10:38). For if you imagine that you can be righteous by being virtuous and religious, then you are misguided by conceit. Righteousness is a characteristic of God alone that he shares with or imputes to those who have faith in his righteousness. Righteousness only comes to us from God, by believing in the good news of Jesus Christ’s redeeming work on the cross. Righteousness is not something acquired through obedience to the law; it is something that God freely gives to those who believe the gospel. Then, because we have received his forgiveness, love, and righteousness by believing what God promised, we have a sure and certain hope, a guaranteed inheritance, an eternity determined by God “before the foundation of the world” (Eph 1:4) for those who have preserved their souls through faith. 

Prayer: My eyes are turned to you, Lord God, and in you I take refuge. Amen. 

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Saints and Sinners, Witnesses to the Faith, is the first in a three-volume series on saints and sinners in the New Testament who were powerful witnesses to faith in Christ. May this study of saints and sinners enrich your understanding of life with Christ and encourage you in discipleship.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 22 Oct 20 00:00:00 -0500 Online jigsaw

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From the Word: And he said to them, “The Son of man is lord of the Sabbath.” (Luke 6:5)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Third Commandment

Since so much depends upon God’s Word that no holy day can be sanctified without it, we must know that God insists upon a strict observance of this commandment, and will punish all who despise his Word and are not willing to hear and learn it, especially at the time appointed for the purpose.

Pulling It Together: Laws are not established as mere prohibition, but as protection and benefit for the people. This is the case with divine law as well as human. Though the command is exacting, the Third Commandment is for the benefit of God’s people. God has appointed a day of rest on which we may hear his word, his promises, his forgiveness, and all his benefits. This day has been prearranged as the time when all of God’s people come together to have their faith in him increased. We have every other day for work, and hopefully, for individual time in prayer. But let us come together on the Lord’s Day, as commanded, going “from faith to faith” (Rom 1:17) as the communion of saints. Those who despise the commandment will not escape punishment, nor will they find faith an easy thing.

Prayer: O Lord, help me love your Word and not despise your commandments. Amen.

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Family Matters is a nine-session Bible study that focuses on the first generations of God's people—Abraham and his descendants. It looks at how God's covenant promise sustained them as they navigated family relationships.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 21 Oct 20 00:00:00 -0500 Online jigsaw

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From the Word: 1 And the Lord said to me, “Go again, love a woman loved by a husband, and an adulteress, even as the Lord loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods, and love cakes of raisins.” 2 So I bought her for fifteen pieces of silver, and a homer of barley, and a half-homer of barley. 3 And I said to her, “You will abide as mine for many days; you will not act unfaithfully, and you will not be any man’s wife. So will I also be toward you." 4 For the children of Israel will abide many days without king, and without prince, and without sacrifice, and without pillar, and without ephod or household idols. 5 Afterward the children of Israel will return and seek the Lord their God, and David their king, and will come with fear to the Lord and to his goodness in the latter days. (Hosea 3:1–5)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Third Commandment

Take note, therefore, that the force and the power of this commandment do not lie not in the resting, but in the sanctifying, so that a specific holy exercise belongs to this day. Other works and occupations are not properly called holy exercises, unless the person is first holy. But here something is to be done by which the person is made holy. This is accomplished, as we have heard, by the agency of God’s Word alone. Fixed places, times, people, and the entire external order of worship are appointed and designed so that God’s Word may operate publicly.

Pulling It Together: What do you have to do in order to become holy? Nothing but follow him who makes one holy. We are called to follow him so we may be present for his great blessings. We are not called to be a fickle Gomer, but to renew our love for God each Lord’s Day. That renewal is simply presence; God does all the rest through his Word. Sanctify the Lord’s Day to yourself, and see how he is sanctifying you through the power of his Word. Through worship, God acts upon us, calling us to faith in Christ Jesus. This is the intended effect of the Third Commandment in these latter days.

Prayer: Give me such faith, O Lord, that I may abide with you always. Amen.

Receive these Sola Devotions in weekday emails. Click here to fill out a quick and secure subscription form. 

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.

You may customize your catechism with church name, address, and website.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 20 Oct 20 00:00:00 -0500 Online jigsaw

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From the Word: 20 And seeing their faith, he said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” 21 And the scribes and the Pharisees began to debate, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Luke 5:20–21)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Third Commandment

On the other hand, any practice or work that is done without God’s Word is unholy before God, no matter how brilliant and shiny it seems, even though it is buried in relics, such as the fictitious spiritual orders who know nothing of God’s Word, instead, seeking holiness in their own works.

Pulling It Together: What greater words are these, spoken by God himself? The promise, “You are forgiven,” is received by God’s grace through faith alone. Without faith, they are rejected—on the Lord’s day, or any other. These words, received by a heart that trusts in God, hallow any day of the week. The shining promise of God’s most blessed will is bestowed without any good work than faith in the word of God.

Prayer: Give me such faith in you, Lord, that I am forgiven of all my sins. Amen.

Receive these Sola Devotions in weekday emails. Click here to fill out a quick and secure subscription form. 

All God's Critters is a Sunday School series designed for young students in Preschool and Kindergarten. Lessons are based on storytelling, rhyme, and pictures, and are suitable for participation by non-readers. The flexible lesson plans introduce the youngest believers to the importance and truth of God’s Word. Each lesson includes the story of the day written in a simplified manner so that young children may understand an important truth about God and what it means for us to be God’s children. The curriculum is fully reproducible and is designed with the particular needs of small churches, mission congregations, and house churches in mind. Check out some sample pages by clicking HERE.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 19 Oct 20 00:00:00 -0500 Online jigsaw

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From the Word: And now I entrust you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and grant you an inheritance among all the sanctified. (Acts 20:32)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Third Commandment

Therefore, I continually say that all our life and work, if it is to be pleasing to God or holy, must be ordered according to God’s Word. Where this is done, this commandment is in force and being fulfilled.

Pulling It Together: God’s word, the gospel, is the very power of salvation. This is how God bequests the eternal inheritance of the saints. He constructs a Christian through the word of his grace—in other words, through the righteousness of Christ. He builds a saint by grace, through faith in the builder, not in the constructed. If our lives are so ordered, always oriented to the Builder and his grace, then we are being built well. Like a contractor’s building plans, we too must be constructed according to the correct plan, according to the Word of God. This is why we come together on the Lord’s Day, to hear his word of grace, to be built together according to divine plan.

Prayer: Order my life, Father, according to your word of grace. Amen.

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The Spiritual Realms is a nine-session Bible Study series on Heaven and Hell and places beyond this world. Specifically, the study looks at the many “place names” that are found throughout Scripture, referring to spiritual realms of existence that underlie and comprise the universe God created. This Bible Study series is a challenging one, in that it explores realities of existence beyond what we know and experience everyday.

The study not only addresses matters of life, death, heaven, and hell, it steadfastly affirms that Jesus Christ is at the center of all these things. Our ultimate faith and hope rest in Christ’s death and resurrection for our sake. We live in faith by the biblical promise that: “God raised the Lord, and will also raise us up by his power.” (1 Cor 6:14) 

Leader's Guide is available. 

Free Educational Resources on the Afterlife

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 16 Oct 20 00:00:00 -0500 Online jigsaw

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From the Word: 31 And he traveled to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and was teaching them on the Sabbath day. 32 And they were astonished at his teaching, for his word was with authority. (Luke 4:31–32)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Third Commandment

For the Word of God is the sanctuary above all sanctuaries, indeed, the only one that we Christians know and have. For though we had the bones of all the saints, or all holy and consecrated garments upon the pile, it would still not help us in any way. Those are dead things, unable to sanctify anyone. But God’s Word is the treasure which sanctifies everything, and by which even all the saints themselves were sanctified. At whatever hour God’s Word is taught, preached, heard, read or meditated upon, there the person, day, and work are sanctified, not because of the external work, but because of the Word, which makes saints of us all.

Pulling It Together: Everywhere Jesus traveled, he healed people, and fed them, but also taught them in the synagogues, as well as on the mountains and plains. Never once did he complain that all those people ever wanted out of him was his word. No, he lamented that they only came out to him to get their bellies filled (John 6:26). Are we not very much the same sort of people? We cry out, Lord, make us well, help us get better jobs, or move our bosses to give us raises, and things of this sort. But do we cry out, “Teach me!”? Do we ask him to open our minds to understand the Scriptures (Luke 24:45)? Do we long for every day to be a holy day, one in which we may read, and pray, and be taught by the Spirit of God? Oh, that God’s people would hunger for his Word. That is where they would find a sanctuary of grace and peace—not in the things of the world, or frankly, of religion.

Whom we elect to the oval office or the house or senate will not give us peace. Whom our congregations call as their next pastors will not provide sanctuary for our hearts. We must find our way to the Word, so that we sanctify the present day to ourselves. Let it begin this Lord’s Day, and continue on each successive holy day. For indeed, we should hear Christ Jesus through his Word every day, so that each day may be hallowed, and so that we may have Christ’s peace.

Prayer: Teach me, Lord. Amen.

Receive these Sola Devotions in weekday emails. Click here to fill out a quick and secure subscription form. 

The Spiritual Realms is a nine-session Bible Study series on Heaven and Hell and places beyond this world. Specifically, the study looks at the many “place names” that are found throughout Scripture, that refer to spiritual realms of existence that underlie and comprise the universe God created. This Bible Study series is a challenging one, in that it explores realities of existence beyond what we know and experience everyday.

The study not only addresses matters of life, death, heaven and hell, it steadfastly affirms that Jesus Christ is at the center of all these things. Our ultimate faith and hope rest in Christ’s death and resurrection for our sake. We live in faith by the biblical promise that: “God raised the Lord, and will also raise us up by his power” (1 Cor 6:14).

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 15 Oct 20 00:00:00 -0500 Online jigsaw

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From the Word: And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. (Luke 4:16)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Third Commandment

Whenever this is observed and practiced, a true holy day is being kept. Otherwise, it cannot be considered a Christian holy day. Non-Christians can also cease from work and be idle, just like an entire swarm of our clergy who stand daily in the churches, singing and ringing bells but not sanctifying the holy day, because they do not preach or practice God’s Word, but teach and live contrary to it.

Pulling It Together: Great blessing awaits those who have developed the practice of going to worship on the Lord’s Day. But if they attend church only to go through the motions, not truly involved in the what is happening, then are they sanctifying the day to themselves? However, if their hearts are moved by the words of Scripture when the cantor or pastor sings the liturgy, if they name in those same hearts someone in need as the litany is prayed, then they are holying the day. If they hang on the day’s readings as the lector reads the Old and New Testaments, and perhaps go so far as considering how the two readings are related, then they are truly observing the day as holy. If they reflect on the Psalter as they respond, and sing the hymns while actually thinking about the words, then they are hallowing the day to themselves. Then, if they hear the gospel, and the pastor proclaims it to an attentive ear, the Spirit will have a soul to bless, and one that will, no doubt, be a blessing to others.

Prayer: Bless me, Lord, with your word, and help me to hear and keep what is written in it, for the time is near. Amen.

Receive these Sola Devotions in weekday emails. Click here to fill out a quick and secure subscription form. 

Three Keys to What Lutherans Believe is a three-session introduction to themes in Lutheran theology. By focusing on key biblical concepts, it demonstrates the primary themes that Lutherans emphasize in thinking about the Christian faith and the teachings of Scripture. The study may be particularly suited to new member classes, adult baptismal or confirmation instruction, or for use with young adults. For use in shorter sessions, leaders may choose to divide each lesson into two parts to create a six-week study.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 14 Oct 20 00:00:00 -0500 Online jigsaw

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From the Word: And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not be sustained by bread alone.’” (Luke 4:4)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Third Commandment

Indeed, we Christians should keep every day as a holy day, and be occupied with nothing but holy pursuits—that is, be engaged daily with God’s Word, and carry it in our hearts and upon our lips. But as has been said, we do not at all have times of leisure, so we should devote some time each week caring for the young, and at least a day for the congregation. Then we may focus on these pursuits alone, especially urging the Ten Commandments, the Creed, and the Lord’s Prayer, directing our whole life and being according to God’s Word.

Pulling It Together: We spend our days working for the food to feed ourselves and our families, struggling for higher position, and trying to keep illness and death at bay. These were the very temptations that faced Jesus in the wilderness. But food, power, and health will not sustain us forever. We should remind ourselves daily that it is God who cares for us, even if we cannot. We should rest at least one day in seven, and spend that time focused on the one who preserves us through life—and when this life is over.

Prayer: Break thou the Bread of Life, dear Lord, to me. Amen.

Click here to fill out a quick and secure subscription form so that you may receive these weekday Sola Devotions by email. 

The English Standard Version (ESV) Super Giant Print Bible with a black, TruTone cover features the full ESV text in large, 17 point type that is very easy to read. The Bible includes full-color reference maps, a center rule between columns to guide the reader's eye, and a black card for use behind each page to improve readability by increasing paper opacity.

(TruTone, black cover with black print, 2,512 pages; 8 x 11)

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 13 Oct 20 00:00:00 -0500 Online jigsaw

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From the Word: 12 But when Gallio was governor of Achaia, the Jews came together against Paul and brought him before the judgment seat, 13 saying, “This man is enticing people to worship God contrary to the law.” (Acts 18:12–13)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Third Commandment

How then, does this sanctifying happen? It does not materialize because we sit behind the stove and do no external work, or deck ourselves with garlands and put on our best clothes, but as has been said, when we occupy ourselves with God’s Word and apply ourselves in it.

Pulling It Together: Be persuaded by the testimony of Scripture to worship God as he commands, not as the civil law or cultural conscience dictate. In other words, if local, state, or federal law change to the degree of demanding that you must not worship on the Lord’s Day, you have but one option, Christian. Worship! Be absorbed with and strengthened by the Word. Find a way to strengthen others as well (Acts 18:23). If cultural correctness maligns you for your intolerance, recognize its prejudice for what it is. Remember that a larger power is at work in your life, and do as God commands.

Then, there are the lighter but presently, more persuasive opponents to the Third Commandment. Because Christians have submitted to inducements like the lake, the beach, the mountains, sporting events, and additional income (to name a few), they will fall under the heavier hand of culture and statute. Despite such temptations and demands, those who fear, love, and trust the Lord above all else, will therefore, be occupied together in his Word on the Lord’s Day.

Prayer: Give me courage and strength, Lord, then give me more, so that I may obey your Word. Amen.

Receive these daily Sola Devotions Monday through Friday by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

The purpose of Epistles, A Guide to Reading the Scriptures is twofold: to encourage Christians to read God’s Word on a regular basis, and to help the reader slow down and concentrate on each chapter of the epistles before moving on to the next.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 12 Oct 20 00:00:00 -0500 Online jigsaw

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From the Word: For if you keep silent at this time, then relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you are not come to the kingdom for an occasion like this? (Esther 4:14)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Third Commandment

Accordingly, when asked what the commandment, you shall sanctify the holy day, means, answer, “Sanctifying the holy day is the same as keeping it holy.” But what is meant by keeping it holy? Nothing else than being occupied in holy words, works, and life. The day needs no sanctification for itself, for God created it holy. He wants it to be holy to you. Therefore, it becomes holy or unholy on your account, as you occupy the day with holy or unholy things.

Pulling It Together: Why are you in the kingdom but to be a subject, doing your king’s bidding? But what is his will? you may wonder. He has made this matter obvious, though the details may seem unclear. So one must begin with what is known. The King has given his commandments; there is the starting place. Moving forward requires the same beginning. Who knows whether you were called into the kingdom for some special purpose, like Esther, or whether you are to fear, love, and trust in God so much that you do things like keeping the Lord’s Day holy to yourself? Furthermore, who knows what wonders God’s Spirit performs through you? You may never know what your keeping the commandments has caused to happen in the lives of others. Esther could not know but did what was before her at any rate, and her people were saved. God may do much the same through you. Regardless, he has commanded you to keep the day holy.

Prayer: Lord, give me all the courage, strength, and determination to do what you command. Amen.

Receive these daily Sola Devotions Monday through Friday by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

Sola's Sunday Schoolhouse offers Christmas programs for each year of the program. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 09 Oct 20 00:00:00 -0500 Click for online jigsaw.

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From the Word: 10 But the brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. Upon arriving, they went into the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now these were more noble than those in Thessalonica. They received the word with interest, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. (Acts 17:10–11)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Third Commandment

This is the straightforward meaning of the commandment: since we observe holidays, or holy days, these observances should be devoted to hearing God’s Word. The special function of this day should be the ministry of the Word for the young and the poor. However, the observance should not be so strictly interpreted as to forbid incidental, unavoidable work.

Pulling It Together: Would you be ignoble? Ignore the Scriptures. Would you be honorable? Attend to the weekly service to hear the word of God read and expounded. Would you be nobler still? Be so interested in the word that you read it every day. Every day becomes a holiday when it is lived in God’s Word. But you say that you are not that interested, yet on the other hand you wish you were. Ah, then, I have a cure. Begin to read each day in an orderly fashion. Read a chapter from the Gospel of John each day, for example. Soon enough, the Holy Spirit will kindle in you a hunger for Scripture, and a greater nobility.

Prayer: Increase in me, Lord, a hunger and thirst for the pure milk of your word. Amen.

Receive these daily Sola Devotions Monday through Friday by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

A Prophet Foretold the Messiah is a downloadable PDF Christmas Pageant that focuses on the biblical story of the nativity, told in poetic verse. Using this approach not only helps young people to read the text itself, but the rhyme and meter help to aid in memory and recall.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 08 Oct 20 00:00:00 -0500 Online jigsaw puzzle

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From the Word: But about midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. (Acts 16:25)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Third Commandment

But this is not so constrained to a certain time, I say, as with the Jews, that it had to be observed on this or that exact day. In itself, one day is no better than another. To be sure, we should worship daily. However, since the people cannot be in attendance daily, there should be at least one day a week set apart. Since from olden days Sunday has been appointed for this purpose, we also should continue doing so, in order that everything is done in harmonious order, and no one creates disorder by unnecessary innovation.

Pulling It Together: Christians worship, not only when commanded, but when there is need. Are you a sinner in need of forgiveness? Worship. Are you thankful? Worship. Would you hear God’s will, or just need to hear from him? Worship. Is there a special situation in your life that requires God’s help? Worship. Do not wait until the next Sunday. Worship. If there is no opportunity at your church today, spend some additional time with God in prayer. I do not mean simply talking to him. Listen as well, not just sitting there with all of the day’s concerns flooding heart and mind. Open his Word and listen. Perhaps even sing a hymn or Scripture song. Make some glad melody in your heart (Eph 5:19). Worship. Today.

Prayer: Help me, Lord, to worship in spirit and in truth. Amen.

Receive these daily Sola Devotions Monday through Friday by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

C Is for Christmas — A group of children get together to put on a Christmas program for their church and can’t decide whether to present a program about Christmas hymns, symbolic ornaments for the Church’s Christmas tree, or the meaning of Christmas. Rather than argue about it, they decide to do all three. This delightful Christmas program is written to include all ages in Sunday School and is a downloadable PDF. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 07 Oct 20 00:00:00 -0500 Click for online jigsaw puzzle.

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From the Word: 22 And the crowd banded together against them, and the magistrates tore their garments off them, and ordered them be beaten with rods. 23 And when they had subjected them to many blows, they threw them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them securely. 24 Having received such a command, he put them in the inner prison, and fastened their feet in the stocks. (Acts 16:22–24)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Third Commandment

Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.

Secondly, and most especially, take the time and the freedom to attend divine service on such days of rest (since we can get no other opportunity), coming together to hear and discuss God’s Word, and then to praise God in song and prayer.

Pulling It Together: On their way to worship, Paul and Silas were hounded by a slave fortune-teller, whom they healed of demonic possession, essentially cutting of a flow of money to her owners. For this, they had Paul and Silas beaten and imprisoned. This was madness: order and kindness roughly cast aside for gain. Yet, is this not the way of things? And do we not do this very thing ourselves?

Paul and Silas, as well as other Christians in the New Testament, continually went to worship in spite of the harsh treatment they might receive, just as their Lord did (Luke 4:28-29). In our own times, we hear of devout believers who forfeit employment because they refuse to work on the Lord’s Day. What keeps us from the Table, the pulpit, and Christian fellowship—from following Christ Jesus? Do we love something more than God, more than keeping his commandment?

“He who loves his life loses it; and he who hates his life in this world will safeguard it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, let him follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him” (John 12:25–26).

Prayer: Help me follow you, Lord, despite the appeals of the world. Amen.

Receive these daily Sola Devotions Monday through Friday by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

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.

Get a 100-pack customized with your Church name and website printed on the back cover.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 06 Oct 20 00:00:00 -0500 Click for online jigsaw puzzle.

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From the Word: 13 And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to a riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer. And we sat down, and spoke to the women who had met. 14 One who listened to us, a woman named Lydia, a trader in purple goods from the city of Thyatira, was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to regard the things that were spoken by Paul. (Acts 16:13–14)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Third Commandment

Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.

In order to grasp a simple Christian meaning of what God requires in this commandment, note that we keep holy days not for the sake of intelligent and scholarly Christians. They have no need of them. We observe them, firstly, for bodily reasons and needs. Nature teaches and obliges the working people, who have been attending to their work and trades the week long, should rest for a day and be refreshed.

Pulling It Together: Take a break. Find respite from the hubbub every day, if you can. It is a great way to honor the First Commandment, to put the Lord first in your day. But certainly take a break on the Lord’s Day. Get yourself to worship. Do not go to the lake to rest. That is not enough rest; furthermore, it puts recreation above God. You are not a nature worshiper. Do not go off to a child’s sporting event instead of worship; that puts your child before God. Yet, if you do find yourself away from where you are normally in the Lord’s house where others hear the Word and worship together, then find a way to worship anyway. Find a way to hear the Word of the Lord. In doing so, you sanctify to yourself the day of rest.

Prayer: Lord, give me the courage to honor your day. Amen.

Receive these daily Sola Devotions Monday through Friday by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

All God’s Critters is a Sunday School series designed for young students in Preschool and Kindergarten. Lessons are based on storytelling, rhyme, and pictures, and are suitable for participation by non-readers. The flexible lesson plans introduce the youngest believers to the importance and truth of God’s Word. Each lesson includes the story of the day written in a simplified manner so that young children may understand an important truth about God and what it means for us to be God’s children.

The All God’s Critters curriculum is fully reproducible and is designed with the particular needs of small churches, mission congregations, and house churches in mind. Check out some sample pages by clicking here.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 05 Oct 20 00:00:00 -0500 Click for online jigsaw.

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From the Word: 1 Do not allow your heart to be distressed. Believe in God; trust in me also. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, I would have told you, for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and will take you to myself, so that where I am, you may be also. 4 And you know the way where I am going. 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How are we to know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through me.” (John 14:1-6)

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

The first mode of justification that they teach is that people merit grace by good works both de congruo and de condigno. This mode is a doctrine of reason, because reason, not seeing the uncleanness of the heart, thinks that it pleases God if it performs good works. For this reason, people in great peril constantly devise other works and other acts of worship to counter the terrors of conscience. The heathen and the Israelites sacrificed human victims, and undertook many other painful works in order to appease God's wrath. Later, orders of monks were devised, and these vied with each other in the severity of their observances to cancel the terrors of conscience and God's wrath. This mode of justification can be understood because it is reasonable, and can be performed to a certain extent because it is occupied with outward works. So the canonists have distorted the Church ordinances that were enacted by the Fathers for a far different purpose: social tranquility and a certain order in the Church—not that by these works we should seek righteousness. They have also distorted the Sacraments in the same way, especially the Mass, through which they seek righteousness, grace, and salvation ex opere operato.

Pulling It Together: It is not the severity of our religious observances or the long list of our good works over a lifetime that makes us fit and worthy for the kingdom of God. Rather, it is the measure of God’s regard for us and therefore, the one great work he accomplished in a few days that make all the difference. Indeed, he has made the only difference. We can add nothing to his finished work (John 19:30). He is the way—not us. He is the truth—not our imagined theories of grace and salvation through works performed. He is the life. And the one who would live forever in his Father’s house does so through Christ alone.

Prayer: I long for the home you have prepared for me, Lord Jesus, so that I may live with you always. Amen. 

Receive these daily Sola Devotions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

Why Did Jesus Have to Die? examines the most profound event of salvation history—the crucifixion of Jesus Christ—exploring from a biblical perspective what is known as the doctrine of the Atonement. This six-week Bible Study would be particularly appropriate during the season of Lent.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 02 Oct 20 00:00:00 -0500 Click for online jigsaw.

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From the Word: Therefore, my judgment is that we do not unnecessarily trouble those among the Gentiles who are turning to God. (Acts 15:19)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Third Commandment

Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.

Therefore, in its larger sense, this commandment does not concern us Christians. It is an altogether external matter, like other ordinances of the Old Testament that were attached to particular customs, persons, times, and places, but from which we have now been made free through Christ.

Pulling It Together: What is the aim of the gospel? That question will guide you in determining if something is a matter of the spirit or a religious observance. As regards the Third Commandment, can a member of the altar guild set up Holy Communion on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, or must it be done on Friday, and set upon the table for two days until Sunday morning? And so as to not offend those Christians who think of this commandment in terms of Sunday, the Lord’s Day, may they set out the elements on Sunday morning, or must it be done on Saturday so that no work is done on the Lord’s Day?

What do these concerns have to do with the gospel? The Lord’s Table is spread so that believers may receive his grace, not so that they have the opportunity to jump through religious hoops. What is the aim of the gospel? Let that question guide you.

Prayer: Focus me, Lord. Amen.

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The Proverbs 31 Woman is a nine-session study that gives a realistic look into the lives of a number of biblical women, both from the Old and New Testaments. Each chapter is based on a specific theme from Proverbs 31, and looks at how it was exemplified in that woman's life story.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 01 Oct 20 00:00:00 -0500 Click for online jigsaw puzzle.

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From the Word: 10 Now then, why do you test God by setting a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, even as they will. (Acts 15:10–11)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Third Commandment

Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.

The term “holy day” is rendered from the Hebrew word “Sabbath,” which properly means to rest, that is, to abstain from labor. So, when we say “stop working,” we are literally sanctifying a Sabbath. Now, in the Old Testament, God set apart the seventh day, appointing it for rest, and commanded that it should be regarded as holy above all other days. In regards to external observance, this commandment was given to the Jews alone, so that they would abstain from hard work, and rest, that both man and beast might recuperate, and not be debilitated by unending labor. However, they observed the commandment too narrowly. They so grossly abused it that they maligned Christ, and would not endure him doing those works that they themselves were accustomed to do on that day, as we read in the Gospel. It was as though the commandment is fulfilled by doing no manual work of any kind. This was not the meaning of the commandment, but, as we shall hear, it means that we should sanctify the holy day or day of rest.

Pulling It Together: When we read the law, much less try to keep it, we must also hear the word of grace. The commandments do us no good without God’s grace. What good does it do us if we do not murder, but hate the person anyway? What good is it to keep to our own beds, but truly desire to be in others? Grace must pervade the law, so that we keep it in the right spirit. Furthermore, grace is necessary so that the law does not become unbearable. If the commandments are merely things we have to do, we will come to hate them because we know our hearts. We recognize that we really do wish that guy was dead, or that his wife just might be more than desirable to the eyes. So, if that is who we really are, what good is keeping the letter of the law? What good does it do us, in the end? It does us no good, because our hearts were undone from the start. So again, we must observe the commandments with our hearts always trusting in God’s grace, so that we are not overwhelmed by the bent of our natures.

Prayer: Keep me true, Lord, and save me, by the grace of Jesus. Amen.

Receive these daily Sola Devotions Monday through Friday by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

Who is Jesus? is a five-session Bible study, meant to serve as an introduction to what the Bible says about Jesus Christ—who he is and what it means to trust in him as Savior and Lord.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 30 Sep 20 00:00:00 -0500 Click for online jigsaw puzzle.

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From the Word: 21 And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, and to Iconium, and to Antioch, 22 confirming the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that through many troubles we must enter into the kingdom of God. (Acts 14:21–22)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Second Commandment

You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

This type of training spreads its roots in the heart so that the young fear God more than sticks and paddles. I say this simply, for the sake of the young, so that it may penetrate their minds, because since we are preaching to children, we must also babble with them. So, we have prevented the abuse and have taught the right use of the divine name, which consists not only in words, but also in practice and life. In this way, we may know that God is well pleased with the right use of his name, and will richly reward it, just as he will terribly punish its abuse.

Pulling It Together: Find a way! Speak their language while proclaiming the word of truth. Teach in different ways. Get through to them, especially as pertains to these first commandments. For how one should revere God will permeate the rest of life. Setting early a tone of fear, love, and trust will serve young disciples in their old age (Prov 22:6). This is the way to strengthen and confirm the hearts and minds of our young: spend much time with them, not only drilling, but living the catechism.

Prayer: Open the minds of our young, Lord, that they may believe and understand. Amen.

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The Faith of St. Paul: Transformative Gift of Divine Power by Roy A. Harrisville III provides a fresh perspective on the letters of St. Paul by presenting the apostle's concept of faith as a transformative gift of divine power.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 29 Sep 20 00:00:00 -0500 Click for online jigsaw puzzle.

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From the Word: I put on righteousness, and it covered me. (Job 29:14)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Second Commandment

You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

We may raise our youth in the fear and honor of God through childlike and playful methods, so that the First and Second Commandments are well observed and in constant practice. Then some good might take root, springing up and bearing fruit, and people grow up whom an entire land might relish and enjoy. This would be the best way to raise children, so long as they are trained with kindness and delight. Those who must be forced with rods and blows will not mature into a good breed, and at best, will act godly no longer than while the rod is on their back.

Pulling It Together: This is what The Small Catechism does; it teaches us to put on the only righteousness that is effective. It instructs us to fear, love, and trust in God, who alone is our righteousness. This is the essence of the first two commandments: learning to take God as his reputation, his name, promises we may. In so doing, we find ourselves covered in his righteousness, instead of human or religious devotion. Raising our children in this godly discipline makes good neighbors, people whom others may depend upon—all because they have learned to depend upon God.

Prayer: Cover me, Lord. Amen.

Receive these daily Sola Devotions Monday through Friday by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

The Sola Online Worship Resource (SOWeR) includes a limited selection of music for use in worship, drawing primarily upon texts and music in the public domain, along with biblical texts set to familiar tunes. SOWeR is a lectionary-based web resource for Scripture lessons, lectionary inserts, children's bulletins, devotionals, text studies, prayers, hymn-planning, and much more! Join the hundreds of congregations who have discovered how simple, flexible, and useful SOWeR is for worship planning and sermon preparation. This brochure will answer more questions about SOWeR. Call 1-888-887-9840 to order a yearly subscription. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 28 Sep 20 00:00:00 -0500 Click for online jigsaw puzzle.

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From the Word: 27 “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life; and they shall never die; and no one shall snatch them from my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them from the Father’s hand.” (John 10:27–29)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Second Commandment

You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

This is the basis of the practice of children crossing themselves when they see or hear anything monstrous or terrible, and exclaiming, “Lord God, protect us!” “Help, dear Lord Jesus!” and so on. In the same fashion, if any one meets with unexpected good fortune, however trivial, he says, “God be praised and thanked!” “God has granted this to me!" etc. Formerly, children were accustomed to fast and pray to St. Nicholas and other saints. Even this would be more pleasing and acceptable to God than all monasticism and Carthusian piety.

Pulling It Together: We do well to entrust ourselves to God. He is faithful to strengthen us and protect us from evil (2 Thes 3:3). He is faithful to so in this life and save us for the life to come (Rom 10:13). We only need to call upon him, to esteeming the name of the Lord God so highly that it is always on our lips, praising his holy name, petitioning his kingdom to come among us, his will be accomplished in the church, requesting every needful thing, asking for his forgiveness, and his assistance against temptation and evil. Call out to him; he will do it for Christ’s sake.

Prayer: Lead me out from temptations, Lord, and deliver me from evil. Amen. 

Receive these daily Sola Devotions Monday through Friday by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

The Sola Online Worship Resource (SOWeR) also includes bulletin templates. There are word processing templates for both communion and non-communion services. There are also templates for Sola, LBW, and Reclaim service settings. SOWeR is a lectionary-based web resource for Scripture lessons, lectionary inserts, children's bulletins, devotionals, text studies, prayers, hymn-planning, and much more! Join the hundreds of congregations who have discovered how simple, flexible, and useful SOWeR is for worship planning and sermon preparation. This brochure will answer more questions about SOWeR. Call 1-888-887-9840 to order a yearly subscription. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 25 Sep 20 00:00:00 -0500 Click for online jigsaw.

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From the Word: 25 For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the end, he will stand upon the earth. 26 Then, after my flesh is destroyed, I will, in my flesh, see God. (Job 19:25-26)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Second Commandment

You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

For this reason, it is also useful that we form the habit of daily entrusting ourselves to God—soul and body, spouse, children, employees, and all that we have—for every need that may occur. This is why the blessing and thanksgiving at meals, and other prayers, both morning and evening, have originated and remain in use.

Pulling It Together: Poor Job was tormented by his friends, shunned by his family, and was of the opinion that God was after him. Did he simply complain about his plight? Was he reduced to whining about his tribulations? He did complain, but he also confessed. He commended himself to God. He believed that in the end, when all else was dead and gone, it was God who would stand upon the earth. He also professed that this life is not the sum of existence, that after his death and subsequent decay he, in a resurrected body, would see God. So, even in the midst of the greatest difficulties of life, God’s name should be in our mouths, confessing what we know to be true, and entrusting ourselves to his care.

Prayer: I trust you, Father, to care for me and those whom I love, regardless of all that life throws at us. Amen.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 24 Sep 20 00:00:00 -0500 Click for online jigsaw.

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From the Word: Jesus answered, “It was not because this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God would be manifested in him.” (John 9:3)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Second Commandment

You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

This is a blessed and beneficial discipline, and very effective against the devil, who is always around us, lying in wait to bring us into sin and shame, calamity and trouble. But he is disinclined to hear God’s name, and cannot long remain where it is spoken and called upon from the heart. Indeed, many a terrible and shocking calamity would befall us if God did not preserve us by our calling upon his name. I have tried it myself, and learned from experience that sudden and great calamity was often immediately averted and removed by calling upon God. To confound the devil, I say, we should keep his holy name in our mouths, so that he may not be able to injure us as he desires.

Pulling It Together: There is no easier way for the works of God to be demonstrated in our lives than by our calling upon the Father. See the different ways we pray it is so. May your name be holy among us. May your will be done. Meet our needs, Father. Forgive us of our sins. Help us forgive our neighbors. Lead us out of temptations. Rescue us from evil in the holy name of Our Father. In all these ways, as we pray these seven petitions that Jesus taught us, God is invoked and his power is displayed in his church.

Prayer: Help me to pray, Holy Spirit. Amen.

Receive these daily Sola Devotions Monday through Friday by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

The purpose of Epistles, A Guide to Reading the Scriptures is twofold: to encourage Christians to read God’s Word on a regular basis, and to help the reader slow down and concentrate on each chapter of the epistles before moving on to the next.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 23 Sep 20 00:00:00 -0500 Click for jigsaw puzzle.

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From the Word: 21 On a scheduled day, Herod dressed in royal attire, and sat on the throne, and made a speech to them. 22 And the assembly shouted, “The voice of a god, and not of a man!” 23 And immediately, an angel of the Lord fatally struck him, because he did not give God the glory. And he was consumed by worms, and expired.

24 But the word of God grew and multiplied. (Acts 12:21–24)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Second Commandment

You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

On the other hand, children should be constantly urged and encouraged to honor God’s name, and keep it upon their lips in all situations and experiences. Truly honoring his name means imploring it for all consolation, and expecting to be heard. Accordingly, as we have heard above, first, the heart through faith gives God the honor due him, and then the lips do so in confession.

Pulling It Together: In this example of Herod, we may quickly observe what is important to God. Herod was full of himself, wanting people to hear his words. When the people, wanting government welfare, wrongly honored him with the appellation of a god, he accepted their praise. Elsewhere in the Scripture, we see people correct this misappropriation of the honor due to God alone (Acts 10:26; Rev 19:10, 22:8-9). Herod was dealt a fatal blow, and his words died with him. But God’s word, and therefore, the honor due his name, will endure forever (Isa 40:8; 1 Pet 1:25). 

Prayer: Grant me the wisdom, O God, and the courage to give you the glory always. Amen.

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Speaking for Christ is a Bible study on evangelism and what it means to share the message of Jesus in our everyday life. It approaches the subject by focusing on how God uses us to be his ambassadors, and drives to the heart of the reason Jesus came into the world: to reconcile the world to himself through the proclamation of repentance and forgiveness of sins.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 22 Sep 20 00:00:00 -0500 Click for online jigsaw.

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From the Word: Will you speak unjustly for God, and speak deceitfully for him? (Job 13:7)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Second Commandment

You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

Therefore, I counsel and urge, as I have before, that by means of warning and threat, restraint and punishment, children be trained early to shun dishonesty, and especially to avoid the use of God’s name to support a lie. If they are allowed to do as they please, no good will result. It is evident that the world is worse than it has ever been. There is no government, no obedience, no fidelity, and no faith, but only willful, unbridled people, whom teaching and rebuke do not improve. All this is God’s wrath and punishment for such headstrong contempt of this commandment.

Pulling It Together: Some people, those relying on their own old nature, cannot bear to hear God’s word, let alone understand it (John 8:43). They will not listen, because they are not of God; they do not have a new nature. So, they will invent whatever suits their narrative, and often try to make their views more appealing by swearing, or otherwise, wrongly using God’s name. The practice begins at a very young age. So, it must be rooted out early and often. Children must be taught, for it is not in their natures, to use God’s name correctly. This may best be done by not putting words in his mouth. Better to let God speak for himself—and listen to him. I know no better and more objective way to listen to God than to be often in The Holy Bible.

Prayer: Help me to hear you, Father, and obey. Amen.

Receive these daily Sola Devotions Monday through Friday by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

The Sola Confirmation Series, written by the Rev. Dr. Steven E. King, is a work-book style Confirmation curriculum. It is designed to serve 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 can 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. 

The Ten Commandments book is a ten-week unit, which includes one session on each of the Commandments. The Scripture focus is on Moses and the Exodus Cycle, with Bible Study lessons taken primarily from the Pentateuch.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 21 Sep 20 00:00:00 -0500 Click for online jigsaw.

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From the Word: 31 So Jesus said to those Jews who had believed him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples. 32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31–32)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Second Commandment

You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

If one party swears falsely, his sentence is that he will not escape punishment. Though it may be deferred a long time, he will not succeed. All that he might gain from perjury will slip out of his hands, and never be enjoyed. I have seen this in cases of those who lied in their marriage vows, never having a happy hour or a healthful day, until they perished miserably in body, soul, and possessions.

Pulling It Together: The disciples of Jesus were first called Christians in Antioch (Acts 11:26b). Some say that this means “little Christs.” If so—if Christians are those who would imitate him—their lying would immediately bring dishonor to the name of the God whom they follow. After all, their words and actions are to be spoken and done in his name. Now, we would be telling the truth indeed if we testified that Christians sometimes lie, especially if we are testifying about ourselves. So, what is a “little Christ,” a Christ imitator, to do?

Being a Christian does not mean you are perfect, that you keep the commandments without failure. It does, however, mean that when you have failed in commandments two through ten, you return to the First Commandment. You admit that God is God, that neither you nor your sin is greater than he is, and then, you continue in his word. By still believing in him, despite yourself, and trusting in his promises, you demonstrate—at least to yourself—that you are truly Christ’s disciple. Understanding this simple truth can set you free from the guilt of Satan’s accusations. Abiding in that truth who is the Truth will set you free, not only from guilt, but from sin and death and the devil to boot. For the Truth is greater than all your lies.  

Prayer: Holy Spirit, help me to continue in your word. Amen.

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Teach Us to Pray is an eight lesson curriculum based around Luther's Small Catechism.  Each lesson has a Bible study connected to the article of the Lord's Prayer covered. A section entitled "About Prayer"  teaches students helpful items about a solid prayer life and a prayer assignment for the coming week.  A major goal of this material is to help kids experience prayer and practice it in a variety of ways. This book could be used as part of a larger Confirmation series, or as a "pre-confirmation" Sunday School series for Jr. High and Middle School youth.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 18 Sep 20 00:00:00 -0500

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From the Word: All the prophets bear witness to him, that through his name everyone who believes on him receives forgiveness of sins. (Acts 10:43)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Second Commandment

You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

Here you have an explanation of the essence of the entire commandment. With this understanding, the question that has troubled many teachers is easily solved: why swearing is prohibited in the gospel when Christ, St. Paul, and other saints often swore. In brief, here is the explanation. We are not to swear in support of evil, that is, of falsehood, and where there is no need or use. Yet, we should swear for the support of good, and for the advantage of our neighbor. It is a truly good work by which God is praised, truth and justice are established, falsehood is refuted, peace is made among people, obedience is rendered, and quarrels are settled. In this way, God himself interposes and separates between right and wrong, and good and evil.

Pulling It Together: The worst way to take God’s name in vain, is to say or believe that favor from God is received in one’s own name, by his own reputation—in other words, by the merits of what he does. To stake your forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life on religious devotion, good deeds, or anything other than Christ alone, is to claim God’s promises on your own will, on your own reputation. It makes these matters an equation of Christ plus something else: Christ + religious devotion, Christ + good deeds. This is not the gospel. The gospel says Christ alone is the sum of forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life. To swear something else as truth and gospel, is false and evil. You are free to assert truth to be true; only swear to the greatest truth, and you will have used God’s name properly. 

Prayer: I believe in you alone, Lord , for all good. Amen.

Receive these daily Sola Devotions Monday through Friday by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

Learning the Lord's Prayer teaches the Lord's Prayer according to the pattern of Luther's Small Catechism, and is recommended for the Second Grade Level. Each week focuses on a specific Bible story which illustrates the theme, with additional references from Scripture and Luther's Small Catechism – Children's Version

Teacher's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 17 Sep 20 00:00:00 -0500 Click for online jigsaw.

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From the Word: If anyone’s will is to do his will, he will know whether the teaching is of God, or that I speak from myself. (John 7:17)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Second Commandment

You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

Because using the holy name for falsehood or wickedness is forbidden here, it is a natural inference, on the other hand, that we are commanded to employ it for truth and for all good, as when one swears truly when there is need and demand. This is also the case when there is right teaching, and when the Name is invoked in trouble, or praised and thanked in prosperity, etc. We comprehend all of this summarily in the directive: “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me (Psa 50:15 RSV). All of this uses his name in the service of truth, employing it in a devout manner. Thus, God’s name is hallowed, as we pray in the Lord’s Prayer.

Pulling It Together: Jesus uses the Name in a doubly devout manner. Not only does he teach what his Father sent him to teach, he gives God the credit too. Jesus’ teaching depended on the reputation of the one who sent him. We are enabled to believe right teaching, Christ's word, when the Spirit gives us the faith to do so. Because true faith is based in the divine word alone, the Father’s will is done. It is accomplished when we believe based upon his name, his reputation. This faith, itself given by God, “holies” the Name. The highest and best use of the Name is to believe him.

Prayer: Give me such faith, O Lord, that I may believe in you. Amen.

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The Letters of Paul looks at all but one of Paul's thirteen epistles and seeks to get at the heart of each one so that his message can inspire new hope, faith, and love in us today.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 16 Sep 20 00:00:00 -0500 Click for online jigsaw.

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From the Word: And why do you not pardon my transgression, and take away my iniquity? For now I will lie down in the dust, and you will seek me, but I will not be. (Job 7:21)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Second Commandment

You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

Besides this, you must also know how to use the name of God correctly. For when saying, “You shall not take the name of the Lord, your God, in vain,” he would have us understand at the same time that his name is to be used properly. For it has been revealed and given to us for the very purpose of being of constant use and profit.

Pulling It Together: Jesus taught us in the Fifth Petition of his prayer to trust in God for forgiveness of our sins. Human nature reasons that our suffering is caused by God no longer loving us, and that there must be a reason for the loss of his care. We think it must be because of some unconfessed, or even unforgiven, sin. The Spirit of God comforts our spirits, helping us to believe that it is God’s will to (Third Petition) forgive (Fifth Petition) and that we may properly call upon the name of the Lord for forgiveness. Furthermore, we are to know that we are forgiven of all our sins (Third Article), through Christ.

Forgiveness does not alleviate human suffering. Yet, the promise of the Father’s pardon allows us better reason, the knowledge that God does take away our iniquity, and that at the end of our suffering, when we are laid in the dust, he will indeed see us, for we will be when we are raised on that last day (Job 19:25–27).

Prayer: Place in my heart a love of your name, that I may use it as you intend. Amen.

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Sola has certificates for your congregation's celebrations. They are printed in color on heavyweight parchment paper, and come with with envelopes. Editable PDF versions are also available. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 15 Sep 20 00:00:00 -0500 Click for online jigsaw

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From the Word: It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no advantage. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit, and are life. (John 6:63)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Second Commandment

You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

So, you now understand what it is to take God’s name in vain. To reiterate, it is either simply to lie and to use God’s name for something that is not so, or to curse, swear, trick, and in short, to practice any kind of wickedness.

Pulling It Together: Why is it that God is so concerned with words, that we speak the truth and use his name, his reputation, with care? Words, true words, create life. They create faith in Christ Jesus, which leads to eternal life. Lies lead to death. Misuse of God’s name, using it for personal gain and evil, leads to the ultimate loss. Hearing the truth, however, leads to faith, revivifying spirit and bringing life (Rom 10:17).

Prayer: Help me listen, Father, more than I speak. Amen.

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Living Faith, a Believer's Guide to Growing in Christ is a discipleship resource based on Martin Luther’s Small Catechism. This 12-part Bible study by Pastor Brack East is designed to help individuals grow more deeply into a living faith in Jesus, while interacting with other believers in a life-to-life setting of three or four people. Such settings around the Word of God have proven to be part of the workshop of the Holy Spirit, and Luther’s Small Catechism has stood the test of time as a reliable guide to growing in faith. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 14 Sep 20 00:00:00 -0500 Click for jigsaw.

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From the Word: So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up, And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it increased. (Acts 9:31)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Second Commandment

You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

Therefore, our young people should, above all things, have this commandment strongly enforced upon them. They should be trained to hold this and the First Commandment in high regard. Whenever they transgress, we must be after them at once with the rod, confronting them with the commandment, and constantly impressing it upon them, so as to bring them up not merely with discipline, but also in the fear and reverence of God.

Pulling It Together: Fear is a good thing. But we say that we do not want our children growing up, fearing the Lord. We want them to fear hot stoves, bad influences, and other harmful things, but not to fear taking the Lord’s name in vain, or to keep the Lord’s Day holy, let alone keeping the rest of the commandments. But this is what it is to fear God: to be mindful of keeping God’s statutes. In fact, keeping his commandments means we love him. Teaching our children to fear God does not mean they will grow up not loving and trusting him. In fact, the opposite is true. If you have a hard time wrapping your mind around this, consider children raised as hellions, and how they love their parents when they have become adults. Or consider the congregation without discipline, and without genuine, godly fear. Stand by; the rod will be taken them too, soon enough. 

Prayer: Make me a good neighbor to children, Lord. Amen.

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The season of Advent is not only a time of preparation for Christmas, it is a time to consider God's long-term plans and how God has promised that he will intervene in the lives of his people, and the world itself, on the coming Day of the Lord. Prophecy Fulfilled is a four week Bible Study about the Old Testament prophecies of our Lord's Advent, showing how these prophetic words were fulfilled not only in the coming of Christ over 2,000 years ago, but how they also point ahead to the return of Christ in his Second Coming.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 11 Sep 20 00:00:00 -0500 Click for jigsaw.

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From the Word: For this is the will of my Father: that everyone who beholds the Son, and believes in him, has eternal life. And I will resurrect him on the last day. (John 6:40)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Second Commandment

You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

This is the common course of the world, which, like a great storm, has flooded all lands. Consequently, we have our just deserts: pandemics, wars, famines, fires, floods, wayward spouses and children and employees, and abuses of every sort. Where else would so much misery come from? It is a great mercy that the earth still bears and sustains us.

Pulling It Together: Everywhere one turns, there are lies and deception. In the modern age, we call it spinning the truth, and thereby, we even lie about lying. People claim to no longer lie, but to simply spin the truth. But if the truth is spun on its axis, it comes out on the other side: a lie. Therefore, they get what they deserve, the whole world spun on its axis. Everything comes out wrong, backwards and upside down. Instead of peace, there is war; instead of health, disease; instead of life, death. So, they seek easy answers, some truth that will make things better, even if they have to spin it to turn things their way. Yet, their attempts will never turn out the way they want. There is only One who satisfies, One who gives life, peace, and contentment—even in a topsy-turvy world.

Still, people want what they want: their idea of peace, not Christ’s, free food and drink instead of the Bread of Life and Living Water, their will be done instead of God’s, their truth instead of the Truth that will set them free (John 8:32). In other words, they want a lie, even one gilded with religious overtones. But we are called to believe in Jesus Christ who is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6), whether things go our way or not. Then like Job of Uz, and Saul of Tarsus, when life is turned upside down, our orientation remains true. We must depend upon God, not things. Luther said it this way: “His goodwill should be greater comfort to us than all his gifts, for God is immeasurably greater than all his gifts.” We need not lie in order to gain, for if we have God, we have enough—we have everything.

Prayer: Give me the strength, Lord, to labor for true food that endures to eternal life. Amen.

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Sola’s Confirmation workbook, The Lord's Prayer, is designed to be a small group Bible study, student book for home school or independent study programs, or as a classroom tool and homework resource as part of an existing confirmation program.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 10 Sep 20 00:00:00 -0500 Click for jigsaw.

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From the Word: 20 Then Job stood up and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell down upon the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” 22 In all this, Job did not sin or charge God with wrongdoing. (Job 1:20–22)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Second Commandment

You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

We all have naturally within us this handsome virtue, that whenever we have done wrong, we like to cover it over and gild our disgrace so that no one may know or notice. No one is so arrogant that he boasts to all the world of the wickedness he has perpetrated. Everyone wishes to act in secret, without anyone being aware of what they do. But when anyone is accused, the name of God is dragged into the affair to make wickedness look like godliness, and shame like honor. 

Pulling It Together: Wickedness exists because people want things their way. They want what belongs to another, or they want but will not work. They want their own will to be done, not, “Thy will be done.” The will of the Lord may be difficult, but it is always good. It may not be what we want, but what he wants for us is always best. There are greater things at work in our lives, that require one greater than us to direct them. This is chiefly why so many would usurp the authority of God: they do not trust him. So, they manipulate things to go their own way but then, when things go awry, they blame it on God, or on their neighbor, or on anyone but themselves.

Job did not manipulate matters, nor did he blame God when things did not go as he would have liked. He blessed the Lord in spite of tragedy. Disaster and heartbreak caused him to trust God all the more. His response to the difficulties of life was worship.

Prayer: Compose my spirit, Lord, that I may find joy and peace in you alone. Amen.

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In Harmony with the Word is an eight-session Bible Study focusing on Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, from Matthew 5-7. It is written at an introductory level, to be led by a lay leader or pastor in a small-group question and discussion format. The study would serve as an excellent resource for monthly women's group meetings, or in an informal small-group setting.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 09 Sep 20 00:00:00 -0500 Click for jigsaw puzzle.

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From the Word: And the priest’s heart was glad, and he took the ephod, and the teraphim, and the idol, and went away into the midst of the people. (Judges 18:20)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Second Commandment

You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

Sadly, it is now a common tragedy around the world that there are as few who do not use the name of God for purposes of lying and all wickedness as there are those who trust with their heart in God alone.

Pulling It Together: Have you ever noticed in the Old Testament the convention of capitalizing (or using “small caps”) the word “Lord,” or sometimes “God”? These indicate a place where the consonantal name of God, YHWH, commonly spelled Yahweh in English, has been replaced in the ancient texts with the Hebrew words for Lord or God. This was done because the name was considered so sacred that it should not be pronounced. I believe it may also have been done out of pastoral concern that someone, even in reading the Scripture aloud in the synagogue, may take the Name in vain.

It is a far piece down the road to ruin—from a people who fear and love God so reverently that will not say his name at all, to whole societies that use some version of his name so casually as to cuss or otherwise swear to clinch a deal. And they are glad to do it in the name of God, so long as they get what they desire. This is what the whole company did in today’s larger story (Judges 18:16–31). Micah did what seemed good enough to him, setting up idols in the place of the Lord. The Levite, who should have served the Lord, served Micah through those idols. The 600 Danites stole priest and idols, to set up a cult in Laish. All this was done in the name of religion, loosely, in the name of God. God would suffer the sullying of his name only so long, and finally, judge them all, delivering his power into captivity and giving his people over to the sword (Psalm 78:61–62).

Prayer: Keep my feet, O God, on your straight and narrow path, through Jesus Christ. Amen.

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John is the fourth book in the "Old Places, New Faces" series. Twelve studies explore the profound metaphors of the Gospel of John. This study guide will make the story of Christ alive and relevant for today's readers.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 08 Sep 20 00:00:00 -0500 Click for a jigsaw.

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From the Word: 1 And Saul consented to his murder. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem; and they were all—except the apostles—scattered about the regions of Judea and Samaria. 2 Yet devout men gathered Stephen, and made great lamentation over him. 3 But Saul devastated the church. Entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and delivered them to prison. (Acts 8:1–3)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Second Commandment

You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

For this reason also, God has added a solemn threat to this commandment: “The Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.” That is, no one who violates this commandment will be overlooked or left unpunished. As little as God will leave one unpunished if he turns his heart from him, just as little will he allow his name to be employed for dressing up a lie.

Pulling It Together: Some of the things that are done in God’s name are appalling. Name-calling, threats, imprisonment, and murder are bad enough but when they are done under the cover of religion, these things are contemptible. Be careful what you say and do on behalf of God. He will not have his name sullied by anyone.

Prayer: Make me thoughtful, Lord, and careful with your reputation. Amen.

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Journey Through the Bible is a twenty-session series written by Tony Stoutenburg, intended as a video study guide for watching the made-for-television miniseries, "The Bible" — a ten-part video available on DVD and Blueray. (Note: For those who do not have access to “The Bible” Miniseries, it is certainly possible to substitute other videos or clips to tell the same stories. The classroom portion of this book also can be used as a stand-alone, 10-session study.)

Alternating between classroom discussion and video viewing sessions, the goal is to visually expose students to the stories of the full Biblical narrative across the Old and New Testaments. The curriculum is a