Sola Publishing News and Feedback http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/feed.html News, devotions and feedback blog for Sola Publishing en-us Cain or Abel? http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 25 Jun 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

10 By this it may be seen who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not do right is not of God, nor he who does not love his brother. 
11 For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, 12 and not be like Cain who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous.

1 John 3:10–12, RSV

From Luther

What offense had godly Abel committed against his brother to be so hated? He had regarded that brother as the first-born, had done him all honor and loved him as became a brother. He was easily satisfied, desiring simply the grace of God. He prayed for the future seed, for the salvation and happiness of his parents, his brother and the entire human race. How could Cain be so unmerciful and inhuman to murder his own flesh and blood?

The answer is found in the fact that the devil had filled Cain’s heart with pride and vanity over his birthright. He considered himself a man of distinction, whilst his brother was nothing. His heart is devoid of true brotherly love. He cannot endure God’s manifest favor toward his brother, and will not be moved by the injunction to humble himself and seek God’s grace. Anger and envy possess him so that he cannot tolerate his brother alive. He becomes a murderer, and then goes his way as if he had done right. This is what John means when he says that Cain had no other cause for his crime than that his works were evil and his brother’s righteous.

Similarly that obedient daughter of Saint Cain, the world, hates the Christians; and for no other reason than the latter’s love and goodness of heart. In this man Cain is pictured the world in its true characteristic colors; in him its true spirit stands reflected. On the other hand that poor, abject Abel well represents the obscure little brotherhood, the Church of Christ. She must yield to Cain, the lord, the distinction of being everything before God. He feels important in his imagined dignity and thinks that God cannot but favor and accept his offering rather than that of his brother.

Meanwhile pious Abel goes his way, meekly suffering his brother’s contempt. He yields him the honor and beholds no consolation for himself aside from the pure mercy and goodness of God. He believes in God and in such faith he performs his sacrifice as a confession of his gratitude.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, p. 227.

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The Only and True Light http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 24 Jun 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came for testimony, to bear witness to the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness to the light.

John 1:6–8, RSV

From Luther

O, what necessary repetition! First of all to show that this Light is not simply a man, but God himself; for the evangelist greatly desires to preach the divinity of Christ in all his words. If John, the great saint, be not that Light, but only a witness of it, then this Light must be something far different from everything that is holy, whether it be man or angel. If holiness could make such a light, it would have made one of John. In the second place, such a repetition is necessary to resist wicked preachers, who do not bear witness of Christ, the Light, but of themselves. All who preach the doctrines of men make man the light, lead men away from God to themselves, and set themselves up as the true Light, as the pope and his followers have done. He is, therefore, the Antichrist, that is, he is against Christ, the true Light.

This gospel text desires only to testify of Christ and lead men to him, who is the true Light, which lighteth every man coming into the world. Therefore these words, “He was not the Light,” are truly worthy to be capitalized and to be well remembered against the men who set themselves up as the light and give to men doctrines and laws of their own fabrication. They pretend to enlighten men, but lead them with themselves into the depths of hell; for they do not teach faith and are not willing to teach it. Who does not preach the gospel to you, him reject and refuse to hear. But he preaches the gospel who teaches you to believe and trust in Christ, the eternal Light. Therefore beware of everything told you which does not agree with the gospel, as for example eating and drinking, which are necessary for your body, but by no means to your salvation. For this purpose nothing is necessary or of use to you except this Light.

O, these abominable doctrines of men, which are now so prevalent and which have almost banished this Light! They all wish to be this Light themselves, but not to be witnesses of it. They advocate their own fancies, but are silent about this Light, or teach it in a way so as to preach themselves along with it. This is worse than to be entirely silent.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 225–26.

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Our Rock and Anchor http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 23 Jun 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 

John 3:16, RSV

From Luther

With these words Jesus leads us directly into the Father’s heart, that we may see and know that it was the great and wonderful counsel of God, resolved from eternity, that we should receive help through his Son. All had to be fulfilled, that God’s truth might stand, even as he had promised in the Scriptures. It is thus apparent that God does not intend to cast us out, and to condemn us on account of our sins, but that he wills that we should attain to eternal grace and life for the sake of the Saviour and Mediator, if we fear his wrath on account of our sins, and keep in mind this eternal divine life.

The Holy Spirit teaches everywhere that we do not possess the Father except through a mediator, and he will not allow us to approach the Father without one. Let us thank the Father for ordering it as he has and placing between us one who is God and equal with God, and also man, on a level with man; for we are human and he is God. Where God and man oppose each other, man meets with instant destruction, for he cannot stand against God. God has intervened by placing as mediator one who is alike true God and true man. Through him we are to come to the Father; with the price we can pay nothing is accomplished.

If there were another way to heaven, Jesus would doubtless have made it known to us. Therefore let us cling to the words, firmly pilot our hearts along this way and keep within it. If I had the merits of all the saints, the sanctity and purity of all virgins, and the piety of St. Peter besides, still I would not give a fig for all I call my own. I must have another foundation on which to build, namely, the words: God has given his Son, that whosoever believeth in him, whom the Father sent out of love, shall be saved. Let us fearlessly plant ourselves on these words, which neither Satan, hell, nor death can overthrow. Come what will, let us say: Here is God’s Word; that is my rock and anchor; to that I cling and that abides; and where that abides, there I abide also. God cannot lie.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 224–25.

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The Hope of Glory http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 22 Jun 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God; 20 for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of him who subjected it in hope; 21 because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now; 23 and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. 

Romans 8:19–25, RSV

From Luther

Paul uses forcible language here. Creation is aware, he says, not only of its future deliverance from the bondage of corruption, but of its future grandeur. It hopes for the speedy coming of its glory, and waits with the eagerness of a maiden for the dance. Seeing the splendor reserved for itself, it groans and travails unceasingly. Similarly, we Christians groan and intensely desire to have done at once with the Turks, the Pope and the tyrannical world. Who would not weary of witnessing the present knavery, ungodliness and blasphemy against Christ and his gospel, even as Lot wearied of the ungodliness he beheld in Sodom? Thus Paul says that creation groaneth and travaileth while waiting for the revelation and the glorious liberty of the children of God.

He declares creation to be weary of present conditions of servitude, and as eager for liberation as a mother for deliverance in the hour of anguish. Truly it is with spiritual sight, with apostolic vision, that Paul discerns this fact in regard to creation. He turns away from this world, oblivious to the joys and sufferings of earthly life, and boasts alone of the future, eternal life, unseen and unexperienced. Thus he administers real and effectual comfort to Christians, pointing them to a future life for themselves and all created things after this sinful life shall have an end.

Therefore, believers in Christ are to be confident of eternal glory, and with sighs and groans to implore the Lord God to hasten the blessed day of the realization of their hopes. For so Christ has taught us to pray in the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy kingdom come.” Our faith is not to be exercised for the attainment of earthly riches; we are not baptized unto the present life, nor do we receive the gospel as ministering to our temporal good; these things are to point us to yonder eternal life. God grant the speedy coming of the glad day of our redemption, when we shall realize all these blessings, of which we now hear and in which we believe through the Word.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 223–24.

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Christ's Peace http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 21 Jun 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

John 14:27, RSV

From Luther

This is bidding them a friendly good-night. Christ was willing and able to speak with his disciples in the most loving manner. I must away, he says, and cannot speak much more with you; let it be well with you. That is my last farewell. Ye shall suffer no hurt, nor want because of my departure. I will richly repay you, for ye shall have from me the best that you can wish, namely, that in my Father you have a merciful God, whose thoughts toward you are those of a father’s heart and love. In me you shall have a good, faithful Saviour, who will not forsake you in any need and will defend you against the devil, the world, and all wickedness, and will in addition send you the Holy Spirit, who shall so rule your hearts that you find in me true comfort, peace, and joy.

My peace is not given as the world gives peace. The world bases its peace only on transient things, as possessions, power, honor, friendship of men. When these are gone, then peace, confidence, and courage are gone. Though it were in the power of the world to give and preserve all these, yet it has not, nor can it have, true eternal peace, so that a heart enjoys God’s favor and is certain of his grace and of everlasting life. But since this is not the world’s peace, the holy cross is laid upon it; measured by reason and by our feelings, it means no peace, but dissensions, anguish, fear, and trembling. Christ says, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world;” this is to be your peace.

Thus Christ has assured and satisfied his Church with peace that abides in the midst of tribulation and temptation. Therefore, when the heart is oppressed, in anguish and terrified, as if a fugitive before God, this peace must be fixed by faith in the Word of Christ, that it may say: I know that I have God’s pledge and the witness of the Holy Spirit that he wants to be my Father and is not angry with me, but assures me of peace and all good through Christ, his Son.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 222–23.

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If You Love Me http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 20 Jun 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you. 

John 14:15–17, RSV

From Luther

Keep his Word or commandment — that is what the soul must do who loves Christ, who understands and appreciates what he gets from Christ. No one is a Christian unless he keeps Christ’s Word; and no one can keep it unless he first loves God. Where this love is not, all amounts to nothing, do as we will. If one were to take all the swords in the world in his hands, he would not bring a single heretic to the faith. The people may appear to accept the Word, but in their hearts there is no faith. Hence, he who wishes to be a true bishop arranges all his administrations to the end that he may win souls and develop a delight in God’s Word and a love for it.

How does one acquire love? The human heart is so false that it cannot love unless it first sees the benefit of loving. No man can bring this love into the heart. Therefore God gave us his Son, graciously poured out his greatest treasures and sunk and drowned all our sins and filth in the great ocean of his love, so that this great love and blessing must draw man to love and be ready to fulfil the divine commandments with a willing heart. In no other way can the heart love or have any love; it must be assured that it was first loved. Now man cannot do this; therefore Christ comes and takes the heart captive and says: Learn to know me. I am Christ, who placed myself in your misery to drown your sins in my righteousness. This knowledge softens your heart, so that you must turn to him.

This loyalty to Christ’s kingdom is now considered a simple thing by the presumptuous and inexperienced spirits who deem themselves so holy and so strong in the faith as to be able easily to do what they hear, and who think that the Word of God is something that is obeyed as soon as it is heard. But experience teaches how difficult it is to keep this Word, for the holy cross has been laid upon it. The Church upon earth must strive and contend with weakness, poverty, misery, fear, death, shame and disgrace, and our flesh and old nature prefer that which is easy and agreeable. But the Christian will love Christ, his Word and his kingdom more than all things of the earth.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 220–21.

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Leave http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 19 Jun 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.

Genesis 2:24, RSV

From Luther

This sentence of Adam is prophetic. For as yet there was no father or mother; nor consequently were there any children. Through the Holy Spirit Adam prophesies of that married life, which should be in the world, and predictively describes the separate dwelling of man and wife, and the separate domestic authorities and governments of the several families in all ages; that each family should have its own habitation, authority, and rule. Even heathen nations have discovered that there is nothing more appropriate for man, nor beneficial for kingdoms, than this oneness of the life of married persons.

Christ applies these words of Adam as a common rule or law for our marriages since the loss of original innocence. If Adam had remained in his original innocency, the children born to him would have married and, leaving the table and dwelling-place of their parents, would have had their own trees under which they would have lived separate from their parents. They would have come from time to time to their father Adam, sung a hymn, spoken gloriously of God, called upon him, and then returned to their own homes.

Though all other things are now changed, yet this close bond between married persons still remains firm; so that a man would leave his father and mother much sooner than he would leave his wife. Where we find the contrary, for married persons are found to leave and forsake each other, all this is not only contrary to the present divine command by the mouth of Adam, but such things are awful signs of that horrible corruption, which has come upon man through sin.

This “leaving father and mother,” however, is not to be understood as a command that the children of Adam, when married, should have nothing more to do with their parents. It only enjoins the children when married to have their own home. We often find that children are compelled to support their parents, when worn down with age. Had paradise and all its innocency continued, the state of life would have been inconceivably more exalted and blessed than our present fallen and sinful condition. Yet even then this same command would have been obeyed. The husband, through love of his wife, would have chosen his homestead with her, and would have left his father and mother for that purpose.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 219–20.

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Woman http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 18 Jun 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

21 So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh; 22 and the rib which the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” 

Genesis 2:21–23, RSV

From Luther

This name which Adam gives to the woman contains in it a wonderful and sweet description of marriage, in which, as the lawyers express it, “The woman shines in the rays of her husband.” For whatever the husband possesses, is possessed and held by the wife also. Not only is all their wealth possessed by them in common, but their children also, their food, their bed and their habitation. Their wishes are also equal. So that the husband differs from the wife in no other thing than in sex. In every other respect, the woman is really a man. In a word the woman, as Paul remarks in his instructions to Timothy, is man-formed and man-made by her very origin; for Paul says to Timothy, Adam was first formed, then Eve from the man, and not the man from the woman.

Of this communion of all things in marriage we still possess some feeble remnants, though miserable indeed they be when compared with what they were in their original state. For even now the wife, if she be but an honorable, modest, and godly woman, participates in all the cares, wishes, desires, purposes, duties, and actions of her husband. And it was for this end indeed that she was created in the beginning, and for this end was called “woman,” that she might differ in sex only from the father of the family, since she was taken from man.

Although this name can apply in its strictest and fullest sense only to Eve, who, alone of all women, was created thus out of man, yet our Lord applies the whole sentence of Adam to all wives when he says that man and wife are one flesh. Although, therefore, the wife be not made of thy flesh and thy bones, yet, because she is thy wife, she is as much the mistress of the house, as thou art the master thereof, except that by the law of God, which was brought in after the fall, the woman is made subject to the man. That is the woman’s punishment, as are many other troubles also which come short of the glories of paradise. Had the innocency continued, the government of the man and the woman would have been equal and the same. Now the sweat of the brow rests upon the man; and the wife is commanded to be subject to her husband.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 218–19.

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Bless http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 17 Jun 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

8 Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love of the brethren, a tender heart and a humble mind. 9 Do not return evil for evil or reviling for reviling; but on the contrary bless, for to this you have been called, that you may obtain a blessing.

1 Peter 3:8–9, RSV

From Luther

Wonderful and glorious fact, that God has decreed and appropriated to you this blessing whereby all the riches of his grace and everything good are yours! And that he will abundantly give you his Spirit to remain with you, blessing body and soul, if only you hold fast his grace and do not allow yourselves to be deprived of it. What price would you not gladly pay for this blessing, were it purchasable, instead of being freely given, without any merit, and were you privileged to buy the assurance of heart which would say, “I know I am a child of God, who has received me into his grace, and I live in the sure hope that I will be eternally blessed and saved.” Think, what a vast difference God makes between you and others because you are a Christian. He has appointed you to be an heir of everlasting grace and blessing and of eternal life. But they who are not Christians — what have they but a terrible sentence like a weight about their necks? The sentence pronouncing them children of the curse and of eternal condemnation.

If men would take this to heart, it would be easy by teaching and persuasion to win them to friendship and kindness toward their fellow men; to induce them not to return evil or reviling from a motive of revenge, but when their own privileges and protection and the punishment of evil cannot be obtained, quietly and peaceably to suffer injury rather than lose their eternal comfort and joy. Christians have excellent reason and a powerful motive for being patient and not revengeful or bitter in the fact that they are so richly blessed of God and given that great glory whereof they cannot be deprived, nor suffer its loss, if only they abide in it. Only see that you keep a quiet conscience and a loving heart, not allowing yourself, on account of the devil and wicked men, to be disturbed and deprived of your good conscience, your peaceful heart and your God-given blessing.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 217–18.

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The Dawn of Glory http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 16 Jun 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

18 I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God

Romans 8:18–19, RSV

From Luther

Just as we Christians endure many kinds of injustice and consequently sigh for and implore help and deliverance in the Lord’s prayer, so do the creatures sigh. Although they have not human utterance, yet they have speech intelligible to God and the Holy Spirit, who mark the creatures’ sighs over their unjust abuse by the ungodly.

Nowhere else in the Holy Scriptures do we find anything like Paul’s declaration here concerning the earnest expectation and waiting of the creatures for the revelation or manifestation of the children of God; which waiting the apostle characterizes as a sighing in eager desire for man’s redemption. The sun, the moon, the stars, the heavens and earth, the bread we eat, the water or wine we drink, the cattle and sheep, in short, all things that minister to our comfort, cry out in accusation against the world, because they are subject to vanity and must suffer with Christ and his brethren. The accusing cry is beyond human power to express, for God’s created things are innumerable. Rightly was it said from the pulpit in former times that on the last day all creatures will utter an accusing cry against the ungodly who have shown them abuse here on earth, and will call them tyrants to whom they were unjustly subjected.

Paul presents this example of the creatures for the comfort of Christians. You are not alone in your tribulation and your complaint of injustice; the whole creation suffers with you and cries out against its subjection to the wicked world. This is the explanation of Paul’s wonderful declaration concerning the “earnest expectation of the creature.” The creature continually regards the end of service, and freedom from slavery to the ungodly. This will not take place before the revealing of the sons of God. Therefore the whole creation cries: “Oh, for a speedy end of this calamity, and the dawning of glory for the children of God!”

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 216–17.

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Delusions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 15 Jun 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

O men, how long shall my honor suffer shame? How long will you love vain words, and seek after lies? 

Psalm 4:2

From Luther

To have vanity is not the greatest of evils, for every man is vain, and there is nothing new under the sun, and though it be an evil, it is bearable. For there is not one saint that does not hope, trust, desire, fear, love and hate, more or less, in a way and manner that he ought not. But this body of sin and death, these laws of sin, these vanities, he ought to hate, not to love, nor take pleasure in them. To use the comfort and help of a creature is not sin, nor wrong; but to love them and rest in them alone, and from a love of them, not to trust in God, is an ungodly sin.

Hence, nothing more pestilential and destructive can be taught a Christian than moral philosophy and the decrees of men, if they be so set before him as to make him believe that he can walk in and by them so as to please God. For by such instruction it will come to pass that, relying on this wisdom, he will judge, condemn, and persecute whatever he sees is against him, and will thereby reject the cross of Christ and utterly despise the way of God, which is in its best and most prosperous state when we are following, as through a desert and wilderness, Christ in a pillar of fire.

But all these things are better understood by experience in time of suffering and adversity than they can possibly be described in words, or imagined by the heart. If the affections and thoughts of men are without faith in God, they are without the Word of God; if they are without the Word of God, they are without truth. Thus all things which are without faith are vanities and lies; for faith is truth by the Word of truth in which it believes and to which it cleaves by believing. The true meaning of this verse then is, that all are ungodly idolaters and polluters of the glory of God who under any tribulation draw back from faith, hope and love, to a confidence and comfort in created things.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 214–15.

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Just Passing Through http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 14 Jun 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

11 Beloved, I beseech you as aliens and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh that wage war against your soul. 12 Maintain good conduct among the Gentiles, so that in case they speak against you as wrongdoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

1 Peter 2:11–12, RSV

From Luther

Peter admonishes Christians to Christlike lives and works in view of the fact that they are called to great glory, having become through Christ a royal priesthood, a people of God and citizens of heaven. He would have them occupy this temporal world as guests, striving after another and eternal kingdom; that is, to abstain from all carnal lusts and maintain a blameless walk, a life of good works. The apostle assigns two reasons for such self-denial: first, that we may not, through carnal, lustful habits, lose the spiritual and eternal; second, that God’s name and the glory we have in Christ may not be slandered among our heathen adversaries, but rather, because of our good works, be honored.

When Peter admonishes to “abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul,” he implies that if we do not resist carnal inclinations, we shall lose our priceless eternal inheritance. To be a stranger on earth, striving after another and better life, is inconsistent with living in fleshly lusts as if one’s sole intent were to remain in the world forever. If you would have the things of one life, Peter says, you must forsake the things of the other. If you forget your fatherland and lie drunken in this carnal life, as does the heathen world in living in unbelief and without hope of eternal life, you will never reach yonder existence. It is necessary to strive if we are to withstand the lusts of the flesh; for these war against the soul—against faith and the good conscience of man. If lust triumphs, our hold on the Spirit and on faith is lost. If you would not be defeated, you must valiantly contend against carnal inclinations and maintain your spiritual, eternal good. Our own welfare demands the conquest.

But God’s honor also calls for it. God’s honor is affected by our manner of life here on earth. We are to avoid giving occasion for our enemies to open their mouths in calumniation of God’s name and his Word. Rather must we magnify the name of God by our confession and general conduct, and thus win others, who shall with us confess and honor him. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 213–14.

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A Revelation http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 13 Jun 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

20 The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for the man there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh; 22 and the rib which the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” 24 Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh. 

Genesis 2:20–24, RSV

From Luther

As Adam was pure and holy the words of Adam may rightly be said to be divine words or the voice of God, for God spoke through him. All the words and the works of Adam in that state of innocency are divine, and therefore may truly be said to be the words and works of God. Eve is presented to Adam by God himself. And just in the same manner as the will of God is prepared to institute marriage, so Adam is prepared to receive Eve with all pleasure and holiness when brought unto him. So even now the affection of the intended husband toward his betrothed spouse is of a particular and elevated kind.

It is worthy of our greatest wonder and admiration that Adam, the moment he cast his eye on Eve, knew her to be a creature formed out of himself. He immediately said, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh.” These are not the words of an ignorant one, nor of one who was a sinner; nor of one who was ignorant of the works and creation of God. They are the words of one righteous, wise and full of the Holy Spirit; of that Holy Spirit who reveals to the world, before ignorant of such high and holy wisdom, that God is the efficient cause of marriage and that the final cause of marriage is that the wife might be unto her husband a civil, moral and domestic habitation and cohabitation. This knowledge comes not from the five senses and reason merely. It is a revelation of the Holy Spirit.

That word “now” in this sentence most beautifully expresses the glad surprise and exulting joy of a noble spirit which had been seeking this delightful companion of life; a companionship full, not only of love, but of holiness. As if Adam had said, This woman is at length what and all I want. With her I desire to live, and with her to obey the will of God in the propagation of posterity.

Now, however, this true purity, innocence and holiness are lost. There still remains, indeed, a feeling of joy and affection in the intended husband toward his spouse; but it is impure and corrupt on account of sin. The affection of Adam, however, was most pure, most holy and grateful to God.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 212–13.

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Prayer in Love http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 12 Jun 22 00:00:00 -0500

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From the Word

9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruits of righteousness which come through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. 

Philippians 1:8–11, RSV

From Luther

Paul says he thanks God for the fellowship of the Philippians in the gospel, and offers prayer in their behalf. It should be the joy of a Christian heart to see multitudes accept the offer of mercy, and praise and thank God with him. This desire for the participation of others in the gospel promotes the spirit of prayer. The Christian cannot be a misanthrope, wholly unconcerned whether his fellows believe or not. He should be interested in all men and unceasingly long and pray for their salvation; for the sanctification of God’s name, the coming of his kingdom, the fulfilment of his will; and for the exposure everywhere of the devil’s deceptions, the suppression of his murderous power over poor souls and the restraint of his authority.

This prayer should be the sincere, earnest outflow of the true Christian’s heart. Paul’s words indicate that his praise and prayer were inspired by a fervent spirit. He speaks in a way worthy of an apostle. He renders praise and prayer with keenest pleasure. He rejoices in his heart that he has somewhere a little band of Christians who love the gospel and with whom he may rejoice; that he may thank God for them and pray in their behalf. Was there not much more reason that all who had heard the gospel should rejoice and thank Paul in heart and expression for it, praying God in his behalf, should rejoice that they became worthy of the apostle’s favor, were delivered from their blindness and had now received from him the light transferring them from sin and death into the grace of God and eternal life?

But Paul does not wait for them to take the initiative, as they ought to have done to declare their joy and their gratitude to him. In his first utterance he pours out the joy of his heart, fervently thanking God for them. Well might they have blushed, and reproached themselves, when they received the epistle beginning with these words. Well might they have said: “We should not have permitted him to speak in this way; it was our place first to show him gratitude and joy.”

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 211–12.

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Journey on in Joy http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 11 Jun 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.

Psalm 55:12, RSV

From Luther

Let not your burden rest upon yourselves; for ye cannot bear it, and must finally perish beneath its weight. Confident and full of joy, cast it upon God, and say: Heavenly Father, thou art my Lord and God, who didst create me and hast redeemed me through thy Son. Now, thou hast committed to me and laid upon me this office or work; things do not go as well as I would like. There is so much to oppress and worry, that I can find neither counsel nor help. Therefore I commend everything to thee. Do thou supply counsel and help, and be thou, thyself, everything in these things. Such prayer is pleasing to God, as he tells us to throw upon him all anxiety as to the issue and what we shall accomplish.

No heathen, philosopher or jurist, if he have not God’s Word, can throw his care and complaint upon God. When trouble arises, he begins to murmur and argue against God and his government, as though God’s rule merited criticism. But such men receive their deserts when God permits their calculations and hopes to fail and lets the reverse prevail. They spend their lives in many vain, useless cares and projects and in the course of their experience must learn and confess that many a time the very opposite of their judgment is the truth.

The Christian has the rare faculty, above all other people on earth, of knowing where to place his cares. He commits his troubles to God and proceeds with vigor against all that opposes. In time of danger and in the hour of death, when, with all his worrying, he cannot discover where he is or whither he is journeying, he must, with eyes, senses and thoughts closed to the world, surrender himself in faith and confidence to God and cast himself upon his hand and protection, and say: God has permitted me to live until this hour without my solicitude. He has given me his beloved Son as a treasure and sure pledge of eternal life. Therefore, my dear soul, journey on in joy. Thou hast a faithful Father and Saviour, who has taken thee into his own hand, and will preserve thee.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 209–10.

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Open Ears http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 10 Jun 22 00:00:00 -0500

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From the Word

10 For “He that would love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking guile; 11 let him turn away from evil and do right; let him seek peace and pursue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those that do evil.” 

1 Peter 3:10–12, RSV

From Luther

Inscribe this verse upon your heart in firm faith and see if it does not bring you peace and blessings. Try to believe that God sits above, sleepless and with his vigilant eye ever upon you. With watchful vision he beholds the righteous as they suffer violence and wrong. Why will you complain and become discouraged by reason of the harm and grief you experience, when the gracious eyes of God, the true Judge, are upon you with the intent to help you? All the wealth of the world would I give, if I could, to purchase that watchful care, or rather obtain the requisite faith; for surely the lack is not in God’s regarding, but in our faith.

More than this, God’s ears are open to the prayers of the righteous. As he looks upon you with gracious winning eyes, so also are his ears alert even to the faintest sound. He hears your complaint, your sighing and prayer, and hears them willingly and with pleasure; as soon as you open your mouth, your prayer is heard and answered.

But the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. God’s eyes are upon the righteous, but he sees also the others. In this case he beholds not with a friendly look or gracious countenance, but with a displeased and wrathful face. When a man is angry the forehead frowns, the nostrils dilate and the eyes flash. Such a manifestation of anger we are to understand when the Scripture here refers to “the face of the Lord.” On the contrary it illustrates the pleased and gracious aspect of God by “the eyes of the Lord.”

What is the effect of “the face of the Lord” upon evildoers? According to the words of the Psalm, it is “to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.” This is a terrible sentence before which a heart may well be prostrate as from a thunderbolt. Ungodly hearts would be appalled were they not so hardened in despising God’s Word. Verily it is no jest with God. In contrast, the righteous, because they have feared God and abode in their piety, shall, even here upon earth, live to see blessing and prosperity upon their children’s children.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 208–09.

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Christ in You http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 09 Jun 22 00:00:00 -0500

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From the Word

3 Beloved, being very eager to write to you of our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. 4 For admission has been secretly gained by some who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly persons who pervert the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. 

Jude 3–4, RSV

From Luther

The reason I wish to write unto you, says Jude, is that you may continue in the faith which you have heard. There are already preachers at hand which advocate other doctrines than that faith; by these the people are gently and unsuspectingly led astray from the true way. Upon these false teachers the sentence of judgment, he says, has already been pronounced long ago, namely, that they are condemned.

We now understand this quite well, since we have learned that no one can become righteous or be justified (before God) by his own works, but through faith in Christ alone; that he must rely upon the work of Christ as the chief good and only support. Then after faith is present, whatever man does should be done for the benefit of his neighbor. The grace of God, which holds Christ before us, that is offered and given unto us through the gospel with all that he has, these men use only for leading impure lives. They call themselves Christians, praise the gospel, but live in wantonness, in eating and drinking. They boast that they are not in a secular, but in a spiritual state, and on that account claim all good, honor and luxury.

The denying of the Lord God is not with the mouth, for they confess that God is Lord; but they deny Christ in their deeds and works, considering him not as their Lord, but being their own lords unto themselves. For when they preach that fasts, pilgrimages, church institutions (ceremonies), chastity (celibacy), obedience (to the rules of ecclesiastical orders) poverty and the like are the way to salvation, they lead people astray. They say nothing about Christ, as though he were not needed and his work of redemption of no value. Thus they deny Christ, who has bought them with his own blood. They know not that our salvation is founded upon faith and love. They are offended when we reject their works and preach that Christ alone must help us with his works.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 207–08.

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Spirit Fall http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 08 Jun 22 00:00:00 -0500

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From the Word

44 While Peter was still saying this, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. 45 And the believers from among the circumcised who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, 47 “Can any one forbid water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days. 

Acts 10:44–48, RSV

From Luther

From this we should learn what is the office of the Holy Spirit in the Church, and how or by what means he is received in the heart and works there. It is through preaching Jesus Christ the Lord. The gospel is the message which God would have preached world-wide, declaring to every individual that since no man can be made righteous through the law, but must rather become more unrighteous, God sent his own beloved Son to shed his blood and die for our sins, from which we could not be released by our own effort. It is not enough simply that Christ be preached; the Word must be believed. Therefore, God sends the Holy Spirit to impress the preaching upon the heart, to make it inhere and live therein. Without doubt Christ accomplished all, enabling us to become, through him, lords over all things. But the treasure lies in a heap; it is not everywhere distributed and applied. Before we can enjoy it, the Holy Spirit comes and communicates it to the heart, enabling us to believe and say, “I too am one who shall have the blessing.” Now, with the belief that God has come to our rescue and given us his priceless blessing, inevitably the human heart must be filled with joy and gratitude to God, and exultingly cry: “Dear Father, since it is thy will to manifest inexpressible love and fidelity toward me, I will love thee sincerely, and willingly do what is pleasing to thee.”

But in one sense know that all is not accomplished when the Holy Spirit is received. The possessor of the Spirit is not made entirely perfect and pure in all respects at once. We do not preach the doctrine that the Spirit’s office is one of complete accomplishment, but rather that it is progressive. The Christian must, in some measure, still feel sin in his heart and experience the terrors of death; he is affected by whatever affects other sinners. But he is supported by the Holy Spirit, who consoles and strengthens him till the work is fully accomplished. As long as we live in the flesh, we cannot attain such a degree of perfection as to be wholly free from weakness and faults. The pious Christian is still flesh and blood, but he strives to resist evil lusts and all other sins.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 206–07.

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The Precondition of Kindness http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 07 Jun 22 00:00:00 -0500

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From the Word

5 By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death; and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was attested as having pleased God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please him. For whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Hebrews 11:5–6, RSV

From Luther

It is the nature of faith to expect all good from God, and to rely only on him. From this faith man knows God, how good and gracious he is, and by reason of such knowledge his heart becomes so tender and merciful that he wishes cheerfully to do to every one what he has experienced from God. Therefore he goes forth in acts of love and serves his neighbor with his whole heart, with his body and soul, with his means and honor, with his life and spirit, and makes him partake of all he has, just as God did to him. Therefore he does not look after the healthy, the high, the strong, the rich, the noble, the holy persons who do not need his care; but he looks after the sick, the weak, the poor, the despised, the sinful, to whom he can be of benefit, and among whom he can exercise his tender heart, and do to them as God has done to him.

But the nature of unbelief is that it does not expect any good from God. The heart is blinded so that it neither feels nor knows how good and gracious God is. Out of this blindness follows further that the heart becomes so hard, obdurate and unmerciful that the man has no desire to do any kindness to his fellow man. As he is insensible to the goodness of God, he takes no pleasure in doing good to his neighbor. Consequently it follows that he does not look after the sick, poor and despised, to whom he could and should be helpful and profitable; he sees only the high, rich and influential, from whom he himself may receive advantage, gain, pleasure and honor. Where unbelief reigns man is absorbed by vanities, seeks them and does not rest until he has acquired them, and after he possesses them he feeds and fattens on them as the swine, and finds his sole happiness in them. He never inquires how his heart stands with his God and what he possesses in God and may expect from him; his belly is his God; if he cannot get what he wants he thinks things are all going wrong. From this then follows the other sin, that he forgets to exercise love toward his neighbor. Thus we see that it is impossible to love, where no faith exists, and impossible to believe, where there is no love. Both must go together.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 204–05.

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The Inner Person http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 06 Jun 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

19 “There was a rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, full of sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table; moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried; 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes, and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy upon me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in anguish in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ 27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house, 28 for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if some one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.’ ” 

Luke 16:19–31, RSV

From Luther

We must not view the rich man according to his outward conduct; for he is in sheep’s clothing, his life glitters and shines beautifully, while he tactfully conceals the wolf. The text does not accuse him of adultery, of murder or robbery, or of anything that the world would censure. He had been as honorable and respectful in his life as that Pharisee who fasted twice a week and was not as other men. Had he committed glaring sins, the gospel would have mentioned them, since it examines him so minutely as to describe even the purple robe he wore and the food he ate, which are only external matters, and God does not judge according to them. Hence he must have led an outwardly exemplary life.

But we must look into his heart and judge his spirit. The gospel has penetrating eyes and looks deep into the secret recesses of the soul, reproves the works which reason cannot reprove and looks not at the sheep’s clothing, but at the true fruit of the tree to learn whether it is good or not. If we judge this rich man according to the fruits of faith, we will find a heart of unbelief. The gospel chastises him because he fares sumptuously every day and clothes himself so richly. He is not punished because he indulged in sumptuous fare and fine clothes; many saints, kings and queens in ancient times wore costly apparel; but because his heart was attached to them, sought them, trusted in them, and found in them all his joy and pleasure. He made them in fact his idols.

Where faith is, there is no anxiety for fine clothing and sumptuous living; there is no longing for riches, honor, pleasure and all that is not God himself. But there is a seeking and striving for God, the highest good. It is the same to the man of faith whether his food be dainty or plain, whether his clothing be fine or homespun. Though they even do wear costly clothes, possess great influence and honor, they esteem none of these things, but are forced to them, or come to them by accident, or they are compelled to use them in the service of others.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 203–04.

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Beware http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 05 Jun 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

As we have said before, so now I say again, If any one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed

Galatians 1:9, RSV

From Luther

God often in this life lays hold upon leaders of sects who blaspheme and slander him with their false doctrines. He inflicts upon them unusual punishments for the sake of warning others. All men must admit that God can have no pleasure in their doctrine, since he visits them with special marks of his displeasure, destroying them with severer punishment than ordinary befalls offenders.

History records that John the evangelist had as contemporary a heretic named Cerinthus, who first arose in opposition to the apostolic doctrine and in blasphemy against the Lord Jesus with the claim that Jesus is not God. This blasphemy spread to such an extent that John saw himself compelled to supplement the work of the other evangelists with this gospel, whose distinct purpose it is to defend and maintain the deity of Christ against Cerinthus and his rabble. Having on a certain occasion gone to a public bath with some of his disciples, John became aware that Cerinthus and his rabble were also there. Without hesitation he told his disciples to be up and away, and not abide among the blasphemers. The disciples followed his advice and departed. Immediately after their departure the building collapsed, and Cerinthus and his followers perished.

We also read concerning the heretic Arius, the chief foe of his time to the dogma of the deity of Christ. The injury done to the cause of Christ by this man occupied the Church for four centuries after his death; and to-day his heresy has not been entirely rooted out. With an oath Arius had impressed the emperor and his counsellors with the righteousness of his doctrine. The emperor commanded Alexander, the bishop, to restore him to the priestly office. The bishop resolved to seek help from God, where alone it is found in all things relating to God’s honor. He prayed all night long that God should preserve his name and honor, and Christendom against the heretics. In a pompous procession the following day Arius suddenly became ill, withdrew, and died. Thus we see that God has preserved this doctrine against the devil and his blasphemers, and he shall preserve it in the future, that we may believe in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 202–03.

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Harmony http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 04 Jun 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; never be conceited.

Romans 12:16, RSV

From Luther

Harmony is the imperative virtue for the Christian Church. Before other virtues can be manifest, there must first be concord and unity of heart among all. It is impossible that outward circumstances of human life be always the same; much dissimilarity in person, station, and occupation is inevitable. To this very unlikeness and to the natural depravity of flesh and blood is due the discord and disagreement of men in this world. Let one become conscious of personal superiority in point of uprightness, learning, skill or natural ability, or let him become aware of his loftier station in life, and he immediately grows self-complacent, thinks himself better than his fellows, demands honor and recognition from all men, is unwilling to yield or to serve an inferior and thinks himself entitled to such right and privilege because of his superiority and virtue.

This matter of harmony is the first and most necessary commandment enjoined by the doctrine of faith; this virtue is the first fruit which faith is to effect among Christians, who are called in one faith and one baptism. It is to be the beginning of their Christian love. For true faith necessarily creates in all believers the spirit that reasons: “We are all called by one Word, one baptism and Holy Spirit, to the same salvation; we are alike heirs of the grace and blessings of God. Although one has more and greater gifts than another, he is not on that account better before God. By grace alone, without any merit of ours, we are pleasing to God. Before him none can boast of himself.”

When one imagines himself better than his fellows, desiring to exalt and glorify himself above others, he is really no longer a Christian, because he is no longer in that unity of mind and faith essential to Christians. Christ with his grace is always the same, and cannot be divided or apportioned within himself. So long as unity of faith and oneness of mind survive, the true Church of God abides, notwithstanding there may be some weakness in other points. Of this fact the devil is well aware; hence his hostility to Christian unity. Christians should, therefore, be all the more careful to cherish the virtue of harmony, both in the Church and in secular government.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 201–02.

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Anger Management http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 03 Jun 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

For “He that would love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking guile."

1 Peter 3:10, RSV

From Luther

This injunction really applies to doctrine, meaning that we are to abide by the true Word of God and not to allow ourselves to be seduced by false teaching. On account of the faith and confession for which men are called Christians, they must suffer much; they are endangered, hated, persecuted, oppressed, and harrassed by the whole world. Christians might easily believe that they have cause to return evil, and being mortals of flesh and blood, they are inevitably moved to be angry and to curse, or to deny their confession and doctrine and with unbelievers to join the false church with its idolatrous teaching. According to the nature of flesh and blood they fret because they are compelled to witness the prosperity of the world in its ungodly life and wickedness, how it despises and persecutes them with pride and indolence. But they are not to allow themselves to be easily provoked; they should strive to keep wrong, displeasure, vexations and worry outside their inner life.

When one is prompted to anger and to complain about injury and wrong, in his impatience and irritation he cannot speak fairly concerning the matter of offense, but invariably exaggerates. The individual that suffers a single adverse word immediately proceeds to abuse and slander his opponent. An angry heart knows no moderation, but makes of a splinter, or even a mote, a great beam, or fans a tiny spark into a volcano of flame, by retaliating with reviling and cursing. If possible, he would even murder the offender and commit a greater wrong than he has suffered.

Thus Peter admonishes you to restrain your tongues, to curb them, lest they suddenly get beyond your control and you sin in wicked words, doing twice as much injury as you have received. Guard your lips that you utter no guile or falsehood through your anger, and that it may not calumniate, abuse and slander your neighbor in violation of the eighth commandment. Such conduct is, before God and man, unbecoming a Christian and leads to that most disgraceful vice of slander, which God supremely hates. Therefore be all the more diligent to do good, that your heart may retain its honor and joy.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 199–200.

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Like God http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 02 Jun 22 00:00:00 -0500

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From the Word

1 See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Beloved, we are God’s children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 And every one who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. 

1 John 3:1–3, RSV

From Luther

When our Lord Jesus Christ comes with his beloved angels and we are drawn up into the clouds to meet him in the air, he will bring to God’s children a glory consistent with their name. They will be far more splendidly arrayed than were the children of the world in their lifetime, who went about in purple and velvet and ornaments of gold, as the rich man, in silk. Then shall they wear their own livery and shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Such is the wonderful glory of the revelation, that the radiant beauty of poor Lazarus, who had lain in wretchedness at the rich man’s gate, surpasses all expectation.

The hope of this wonderful glory is ours, and that of all creation with us, for creation is to be purified and renewed for our sakes. Then will we be impressed with the grandeur of the sun, the majesty of the trees, and the beauty of the flowers. Having so much in prospect, we should, in the buoyancy of our hope, attach little importance to the slight suffering that may be our earthly lot. What is it compared with the glory to be revealed in us? Doubtless in yonder life we shall reproach ourselves with the thought: “How foolish I was! I am unworthy to be called the child of God, for I esteemed myself all too highly on earth and placed too little value upon this surpassing glory and happiness. Were I still in the world and with the knowledge I now have of the heavenly glory, I would, were it possible, suffer a thousand years of imprisonment, or endure illness, persecution or other misfortunes. Now I am truly convinced that all the sufferings of the world are nothing, measured by the glory to be manifested in the children of God.”

Here on earth men as a rule are dishonorable and wicked and obey not the will of the Lord God as it is done in heaven; but the day will come when only righteousness and holiness shall dwell on the earth — none but godly, righteous souls.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 198–99.

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Suffering http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 01 Jun 22 00:00:00 -0500

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From the Word

I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us

Romans 8:18, RSV

From Luther

Notice how Paul turns his back to the world and his face to the future revelation, as if seeing no suffering anywhere, but all joy. “Even if it does go ill with us,” he would argue, “what indeed is our suffering in comparison with the unspeakable joy and glory to be revealed in us? It is too insignificant to be compared and unworthy to be called suffering.” We fail to realize the truth of these words because we do not see with our bodily eyes the supreme glory awaiting us, because we fail to grasp fully the fact that we shall never die, but shall have a body that cannot suffer, nor be ill. If one could conceive the nature of this reward, he would be compelled to say: “Were it possible for me to suffer ten deaths, by fire or flood, that would be nothing in comparison with the future life of glory.” What is temporal suffering, however protracted, contrasted with eternal life? It is not worthy to be called suffering or to be esteemed meritorious.

In this light Paul regards suffering, and he admonishes Christians to look upon it in a similar manner. Then shall they find the infinite beyond all comparison with the finite. The suffering of the world is always to be counted as nothing, measured by the glorious and eternal possessions yet to be ours. If you essay to be a joint heir with the Lord Jesus Christ and do not suffer with him, to be his brother and are not like unto him, Christ certainly will not at the last day acknowledge you as a brother and fellow-heir. Rather he will ask where are your crown of thorns, your cross, the nails and scourge; whether you have been, as he and his followers ever have from the beginning of time, an abomination to the world. If you cannot qualify in this respect, he cannot regard you as his brother. In short, we must all suffer with the Son of God and be made like unto him, or we shall not be exalted with him in glory.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 197–98.

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The Importance of Sanity http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 31 May 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

The end of all things is at hand; therefore keep sane and sober for your prayers.

1 Peter 4:7, RSV

From Luther

We have in the holy Scriptures and in the Creed sufficient information concerning the Holy Trinity, and all that is necessary for the instruction of ordinary Christians. That the simple Christian may recognize that there is but one divine essence and one God, who is tri-personal, a special work, peculiar to himself, is ascribed to each person. To the Father we ascribe the work of creation; to the Son the work of redemption; to the Holy Spirit the power to forgive sins, to gladden, to strengthen, to transport from death to life eternal.

The thought is not that the Father alone is Creator, the Son alone Redeemer, and the Holy Ghost alone Sanctifier. The creation and preservation of the universe, atonement for sin and its forgiveness, resurrection from the dead, and the gift of eternal life — all these are operations of the one Divine Majesty as such. Yet the Father is especially emphasized in the work of creation, which proceeds originally from him as the first person; the Son is emphasized in the redemption he has accomplished in his own person; and the Holy Spirit in the special work of sanctification, which is both his mission and revelation. Such distinction is made for the purpose of affording Christians the unqualified assurance that there is but one God and yet three persons in one divine essence — truths which the sainted fathers have faithfully gathered from the writings of Moses, the prophets, and the apostles, and which they have maintained against all heretics.

This faith has descended to us by inheritance, and by his power God has maintained it in the Church, against sects and adversaries, unto the present time. So we must abide by it in its simplicity and not attempt to be wise. Such articles of faith appear utterly foolish to reason. Paul aptly calls the gospel foolish preaching wherewith God saves such souls as do not depend on their own wisdom, but simply believe in the Word. Those who will follow reason in the things dealt with in these articles, and will reject the Word, shall be defeated and destroyed in their wisdom.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 195–96.

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One Divine Majesty http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 30 May 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” 

Matthew 28:19–20, RSV

From Luther

We have in the holy Scriptures and in the Creed sufficient information concerning the Holy Trinity, and all that is necessary for the instruction of ordinary Christians. That the simple Christian may recognize that there is but one divine essence and one God, who is tri-personal, a special work, peculiar to himself, is ascribed to each person. To the Father we ascribe the work of creation; to the Son the work of redemption; to the Holy Spirit the power to forgive sins, to gladden, to strengthen, to transport from death to life eternal.

The thought is not that the Father alone is Creator, the Son alone Redeemer, and the Holy Ghost alone Sanctifier. The creation and preservation of the universe, atonement for sin and its forgiveness, resurrection from the dead, and the gift of eternal life — all these are operations of the one Divine Majesty as such. Yet the Father is especially emphasized in the work of creation, which proceeds originally from him as the first person; the Son is emphasized in the redemption he has accomplished in his own person; and the Holy Spirit in the special work of sanctification, which is both his mission and revelation. Such distinction is made for the purpose of affording Christians the unqualified assurance that there is but one God and yet three persons in one divine essence — truths which the sainted fathers have faithfully gathered from the writings of Moses, the prophets, and the apostles, and which they have maintained against all heretics.

This faith has descended to us by inheritance, and by his power God has maintained it in the Church, against sects and adversaries, unto the present time. So we must abide by it in its simplicity and not attempt to be wise. Such articles of faith appear utterly foolish to reason. Paul aptly calls the gospel foolish preaching wherewith God saves such souls as do not depend on their own wisdom, but simply believe in the Word. Those who will follow reason in the things dealt with in these articles, and will reject the Word, shall be defeated and destroyed in their wisdom.

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Be Watchful http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 29 May 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some one to devour.

1 Peter 5:8, RSV

From Luther

Since you are a people called to contend with this powerful spirit, which is more intent on seizing your souls than is the wolf of seizing the sheep, it is essential that you should take thought how to withstand him. Resistance is effected only through faith and prayer. But soberness and vigilance are necessary to enable one to pray. With gormandizers and drunkards reason is dethroned and they are rendered incapable of respecting anything, or of performing any good work. The ability to pray and call upon God has been taken from them, and the devil overcomes and devours them at his will.

The diligence in prayer which characterized Christians of the primitive Church, even while undergoing great persecution, is apparent to us. They were more than willing to assemble daily for prayer, not only morning and evening, but also at certain other appointed hours; and frequently they watched and prayed entire nights. Their habit of devotion morning, evening and at all times is commendable. With the cessation of this practice in the congregations, there succeeded the wretched order of monks, who pretended to do the praying for others. We still retain from the ancient custom the observance of morning and evening prayers in schools for children. But the same practice should obtain in every Christian family. Every father is under obligation to train up his children to pray at least at the beginning and the close of day, commending to God every exigency of this earthly life, that God’s wrath may be averted, and deserved punishment withheld.

Under such conditions, we would be properly instructed and not have to be subjected to intolerable oppression and to prohibitions relative to eating, drinking, and dressing, being guided by nature’s demands and our own honor and pleasure. Yet we would not be inordinate and brutish in these things, nor shamefully dethrone reason. Drunkenness is a sin and a shame to any man, and would be even were there neither God, nor commandment; much less can it be tolerated among Christians. There is more virtue in this respect among the heathen and Turks. Our characters ought to be so noble as to give no chance of offense at our conduct, that the name of God be not defamed, but glorified.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 193–94.

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The Spirit's Work http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 28 May 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. 

Acts 2:1–4, RSV

From Luther

When God was about to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt, he permitted them to celebrate the Feast of the Passover on the night of their departure, and commanded them on every annual recurrence of the season to observe the same feast in commemoration of their liberation from bondage and their departure from Egypt. Fifty days later, in their journey through the wilderness, they arrived at Mount Sinai. There God gave them the law through Moses, and there they were commanded to observe annually, in commemoration of that giving of the law, the fiftieth day after the Feast of the Passover. Hence the name “Feast of Pentecost,” the word “Pentecost” coming from the Greek “Pentecoste,” or fiftieth day. So when the day of Pentecost was now “fully come”—when the Jews had properly commemorated the giving of the law of God on Mount Sinai—the Holy Spirit came, in accordance with Christ’s promise, and gave them a new law. We now celebrate this feast, not because of the old historical event, but because of the new one—the sending of the Holy Spirit.

The occasion of the Jewish observance was the giving of the literal law; but it is ours to celebrate the giving of the spiritual law. There is the written law, commanded of God and composed of written words. It is called “written” or “literal” because it goes no farther and does not enter the heart. With dead hearts men could not sincerely observe the commandments of God. Were every individual left to do as he pleased, uninfluenced by fear, not one would be found choosing to be controlled by the law. As long as the law consists merely of written words, it can make no one righteous, can enter no heart.

The spiritual law is not written with pen and ink, nor uttered by lips as Moses read from the tables of stone. We learn that the Holy Spirit descended from heaven and filled all the assembled multitude, and there appeared on each of them parting, fiery tongues and they preached so unlike they were wont to do that all men were filled with amazement. The Spirit came pouring into their hearts, making them different beings, making them creatures who loved and willingly obeyed God. This change was simply the manifestation of the Spirit himself, his work in the heart.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 192–93.

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The Guide http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 27 May 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

John 16:13, RSV

From Luther

When the Holy Spirit comes he will enlighten your hearts, so that you will understand the truth, and will call to remembrance all things. But our doctors and highly learned men have made use of these words in a most frivolous manner and said that it was necessary to have something more than the Scriptures, that one ought also to hear what the councils and the pope decree. They endeavor to prove in this way that Christ says: Because he has not told them all things, it follows that he told them to the councils, popes, and bishops.

Now look at these fools, what they say. To whom does Christ speak? Without doubt to the apostles. Therefore, if Christ is not to lie, his Word must have been fulfilled at the time that the Holy Spirit came. The Holy Spirit must have said everything to the apostles and accomplished everything that the Lord here refers to, and, of course, led them into all the truth. Christ gives to understand that soon the Holy Spirit would tell and explain to them all things, and that afterwards the apostles should carry out everything, and through them should be made known to the world what they have learned from the Holy Spirit. But according to the councils and popes it depends upon what they say, teach, and command, even to the end of the world.

If what the councils teach be the truth, that one is to wear the tonsure, and the cap, and live a life of celibacy, then the apostles never came to the truth, since none of them ever entered a cloister, nor kept any of those foolish laws. Christ must have indeed betrayed us in this, when he said the Holy Spirit should guide us into all truth, when in reality he wished to teach us how we were to become priests and monks and not to eat meat on certain days, and like foolish things. To hear such things is exasperating and it should grieve our hearts to see how shamefully the people act against the precious Word of God, and that they make the Holy Spirit a liar. Should not this single passage be powerful enough against the pope and the councils, even if we had no other in the Scriptures?

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 191–92.

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The Freed Heart http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 26 May 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me.

John 14:1, RSV

From Luther

I notice, says Jesus, that my departure [spoken of in the preceding chapter] makes you sad and causes anxiety. But there is no need of fear, I shall come again; before that time, however, you will see many things happen to me, at which you will be grieved. They will crucify and miserably misuse me; but let it not disturb you, there will soon be a change for the better. So is the Father’s will.

Here you can see how affectionately and faithfully the Lord Jesus deals with his dear disciples. He does not leave them comfortless, although he will be separated from them that very night and leave them in great danger, fear and terror. For the first misfortune experienced in tribulation is that not only is the body affected, but the heart is frightened and grieved. Since it is impossible to change flesh and blood, the Lord is especially eager that the heart be free and unmolested. He who in times of distress has a good conscience and a joyful heart is already more than half relieved of his troubles. Consequently Christ says: Be careful, that such suffering remain in the body, and by no means allow it to affect the heart.

As Christians, he would say, you are not like those who do not know God’s Word and who do not believe. You are much affected on account of my death, but what ye believe of God, ye ought also believe of me. None of you fear that God will die, or that he will be cast down from his throne. Why then should you fear on my account? Let death, the world, and the devil be as angry as they please, they will find nothing in me; for I am God. This believe and your hearts will be quieted and even find comfort in my death. For when death and I grapple with one another, death will be overcome; this shall be to your benefit. At present here on earth I am regarded as a poor, miserable, powerless man; but after I shall be lifted up, I will draw all men unto me. But just as the disciples could not understand such comfort, so we do not understand it, when grief comes over us. We are immediately seized with fear, impatience, and despair, and no one can persuade us that our sadness shall be turned to joy.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 189–90.

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The Schoolmaster http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 25 May 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

25 “These things I have spoken to you, while I am still with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

John 14:25–26, RSV

From Luther

Note well this text, how Christ here binds the Holy Spirit to his Word, and fixes his limit and measure, so that the Spirit may not go further than his Word. He shall remind you of everything which I have said, publishing it further through you. Thereby he shows that in the future nothing else shall be taught in all Christendom through the Holy Spirit than what the apostles had heard from Christ, but which they did not understand until the Holy Spirit had taught them. So the teaching may always proceed from the mouth of Christ, then be transmitted from one mouth to another, and yet always remain the Word of Christ. The Holy Spirit is thus the schoolmaster who teaches these things and brings them to remembrance.

It is shown here that this Word precedes, or must be spoken beforehand, and afterwards the Holy Spirit works through the Word. One must not reverse the order and dream of a Holy Spirit who works without the Word and before the Word, but one who comes with and through the Word and goes no further than the Word goes. The example of the apostles shows also how Christ rules his Church in her weakness; the Holy Spirit does not dwell in Christians at all times, nor so soon as they have heard the Word does he come with such power and effectiveness as to enable them to believe it all and rightly to understand and grasp it. Although the apostles are so far advanced as to hear Christ’s Word willingly and to have begun to believe, yet even they cannot take these words of comfort to heart until the Holy Spirit teaches them after the departure of Christ.

So it is at present. We hear God’s Word, which is in fact the preaching of the Holy Spirit, who is at all times present with it, but it does not always reach the heart at once and is accepted by faith; even in those who are moved by the Holy Spirit and gladly receive the Word, it does not at once bear fruit. Therefore it must come to this: in need and danger we look about and sigh for comfort; then the Holy Spirit can perform his office of teaching the heart and bringing to remembrance the Word preached.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 188–89.

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The House Companion http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 24 May 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?

1 Corinthians 3:16, RSV

From Luther

What a glorious, noble, loving, and precious guest and house companion man receives, God the Father and the Son and certainly with them also the Holy Spirit. This is certainly a sublime, beautiful promise, and one of the precious and exceeding great promises granted unto us poor, miserable sinners, that we through them should become partakers of the divine nature, and should be so highly honored as not only to be loved of God through Christ Jesus and to enjoy his favor and grace, but should even have the Lord himself dwelling completely in us.

Where else should God dwell? Those self-constituted saints, in their own estimation excellent, high and great, are much too proud, much too high, wise and holy. They have passed up through and far above heaven, so that they could not be his habitation upon earth, although they boast of being the only Church and people of God. Though they appear in all the pomp and glory and ornament of their self-made holiness, yet God does not do them the honor to look at them. He is found in the humble huts of the poor and despised, who fear and believe the Word of Christ and would gladly become Christians, but who feel that they are very unholy and unworthy sinners. “They are a temple of the living God.”

These things are accomplished in this way: in addition to the grace by which a man begins to believe and to hold fast to the Word, God also rules in man through his divine power and agency, so that he constantly grows more and more enlightened, becomes richer and stronger in spiritual understanding and wisdom, and better fitted to understand all matters of doctrine and practice. He further makes daily progress in life and good works, becomes eventually a kind, gentle, patient man, ready to serve every one with doctrine, advice, comfort, and gifts; is useful to God and man; through him and because of him men and countries are benefited; in short, he is a man through whom God speaks, in whom he lives and works. His tongue is God’s tongue, his hand is God’s hand, and his word is God’s Word. His doctrine and confession as a Christian are not of men, but of Christ, whose Word he has and holds.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 187–88.

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Where God Dwells http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 23 May 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

Jesus answered him, “If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.

John 14:23, RSV

From Luther

What mockery it must have been to the ears of the Jewish saints and priests and Pharisees when they heard the words that declare how God will make his habitation only with those who hear the words of this man! They were only a little handful of timid, poor, despised people. As if God did not have a better and more glorious habitation, becoming his majesty, in the saints and superior persons who were the bright lights and the eminent ones among God’s people, in the holy city of Jerusalem! And the glorious temple and divine worship—did not the Scriptures call them the holy city and dwelling place of God, the chosen place where he would rest and that forever? Of this they boasted very haughtily, and claimed that their kingdom, their priesthood and divine worship, should never fail.

But here Christ ignores all these things as if he were totally indifferent to them, and utters the remarkable saying that the place of his own and his Father’s abode—their habitation and their Church—is where a Christian is found, who keeps his Word. Thus he discards the old habitation of Judaism and the temple of Jerusalem and builds a new, holy, glorious Church and house of God, which is not Jerusalem or Judaism, but is spread abroad throughout the whole world, without distinction of person, place, or custom. Jews, Gentiles, priests or laymen — it matters not. This house of God is not of stone or wood, made by the hand of man, but newly created of God himself, namely a people that love Christ and keep his Word. Christ binds the Church to his Word and makes the distinguishing mark by which must be measured the teaching, the preaching, and rule of conduct. You have the warrant that God dwells therein and speaks and acts through that Church.

Observe now what a worthy being that man is who is a Christian, or who, as Christ says, keeps Christ’s Word. A wonderful man is he upon earth, who is of more value in the eyes of God than heaven and earth; he is a light and saviour of the world, in whom God is all in all, and who in God is able to do all things. But to the world he is hidden and unknown.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 186–87.

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Do Not Despair http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 22 May 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

“I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you."

John 14:18, RSV

From Luther

We see many pious hearts that are always sad and downcast, tormenting and alarming themselves with their own thoughts, and being on the verge of despair because of the temptations of the devil. Where, say the world and our own flesh, do you find under these circumstances the Holy Spirit whom you Christians laud so much? A Christian should be wise here and not judge things according to his own thoughts and feelings; he should keep to the Word and the comfort of the preaching which the Holy Spirit gives to all poor and distressed hearts and consciences. God does not desire you to be sad or alarmed, but joyful and comforted with the certain promise of his grace, which the Holy Spirit offers you.

Of this promise and comfort to allay our feelings and fears, Christ assures us in the words, “I will not leave you comfortless.” The word translated “comfortless” literally means “orphans.” By the use of the word Christ would intimate the condition of the Church. In the eyes of the world, and even in our own estimation, she has not the appearance of a prosperous and well-ordered organization; rather she is a scattered group of poor, miserable orphans without leader, protection or help upon earth. Misery and fears grow upon one under the influence of the devil’s power, when he pierces the heart with his bitter, poisonous, and murderous thrusts. Then the heart feels that it is not only forsaken by all men, but also by God himself. So it altogether loses Christ and sees no end to its misery. To be left thus, to feel that all things have conspired to leave us comfortless and helpless, is to be left orphans indeed.

As Christ has told his Christians beforehand of suffering, so also does he wish to give them this comfort and consolation beforehand, and desires to teach us not to despair because of suffering, but only to hold to his Word, even if it does seem that help is being too long delayed. He reminds us of the promise that he will not leave us in misery, but will come to us, and desires that we should accord him the highest honor due to God, by holding him to be true and faithful.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 184–85.

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Teaching Our Hearts to Believe http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 21 May 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

But when the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me

John 15:26, RSV

From Luther

We have often heard that the gospel is the proclamation that no man can become just by means of the law; that God has sent his dear Son to shed his blood and die, since men cannot by their own power and works cancel their sins and get rid of them. But though I hear this preaching, I do not at once believe it. Therefore God adds his Holy Spirit, who impresses this preaching upon the heart, so that it abides there and lives. It is a faithful saying that Christ has accomplished everything, has removed sin and overcome every enemy, so that through him we are lords over all things. But the treasure lies in one pile; it is not yet distributed, nor invested. The Holy Spirit must come and teach our hearts to believe. When we feel that God has thus helped us and given us the treasure, everything goes well, and man’s heart rejoices in God. When the Holy Spirit has impressed upon the heart that God is kind and gracious toward it, it believes that God can no more be angry, and it grows so happy and so bold that, for God’s sake, it performs and suffers all things possible.

In this way you are to become acquainted with the Holy Spirit. You know to what purpose he is given and what his office is, namely, to invest the treasure — Christ and all he has; the Holy Spirit will enfold him in your heart so that he may be your own. But in all this we ought to exercise sense and understanding that a man receiving the Holy Spirit is not at once perfect, insensible to sin and pure in all respects. We do not preach that the Holy Spirit has completed and finished his work, but that he has only begun it and is now constantly engaged in it. Consequently you will not find a man who is without sin and sorrow, and full of righteousness and joy, and who serves everybody freely. The Scriptures indeed tell us that the office of the Holy Spirit is to redeem from sin and fear; but that does not say that this is altogether accomplished. The Christian at times feels his sin and the fear of death, but he has a helper, the Holy Spirit, who comforts and strengthens him.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 183–84.

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The True Church of Christ http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 20 May 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 “I have said all this to you to keep you from falling away. 2 They will put you out of the synagogues; indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. 3 And they will do this because they have not known the Father, nor me. 

John 16:1–4, RSV

From Luther

Christ tells what moves those who oppose the gospel to such hatred and persecution of Christians as to excommunicate them and even attempt to kill them. It is because they preach concerning Christ, whom they themselves do not know. That they do not know Christ is true without a doubt. Their own deeds prove it. They are blind and without the true knowledge of God and of Christ, opposing God and his Son with their acts of ban and murder under the very appearance and with the boast of thereby serving God. But Christ strengthens and comforts his own people that they fear not harsh judgment, nor are intimidated from preaching and confession, but say to their adversaries: “We must obey God rather than man.”

Here Christ also fixes the standard of judgment and points out the difference between the true and the false Church. The Church is not to be judged by name and external appearance. Human reason cannot furnish the necessary qualifications for the true Church. The actual test is in ascertaining who have the real knowledge of Christ and who have not. What does it mean to know Christ and the Father? The papists boast of such a knowledge, as the Jews boasted of being able to recognize the Messiah. But an intellectual knowledge of God is not sufficient. He who wishes to know God truly must know him in the Word and promises which the Scriptures set forth about Christ, that Christ is the Son of God, sent by the Father as a sacrifice and ransom for the sins of the world; that he might appease the wrath of God and effect reconciliation for us, redeeming us from sin and death and securing for us righteousness and everlasting life. Whenever, therefore, we have the knowledge of Christ, we must cease boasting and trusting in self-righteousness and in works. If Christ alone shall bear my sins I cannot at the same time atone for them by my own works and by my own pretended worthiness. This teaching points out the true Christ and the real knowledge of him. He who thus knows Christ, knows the Father also. This knowledge is the article of faith by which we become Christians, and is the foundation of our salvation.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 182–83.

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Suffering http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 19 May 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. 

John 16:20, RSV

From Luther

This is said to all Christians, for every Christian must have temptations, trials, anxieties, adversities, sorrows, come what may. Therefore Christ mentions here no particular sorrow, nor trial, he simply says they shall weep, lament and be sorrowful, for the Christian has many persecutions. Some suffer loss of goods; there are others whose character suffers ignominy and scorn; some are drowned, others are burned; one perishes in this manner and another in that; it is the lot of the Christian constantly to suffer misfortune and adversity. This is the rod with which they are chastised. This is their court color by which the Christian is recognized, and if he wants to be a Christian, he dare not be ashamed of his livery.

No one need lay his cross upon himself, as some foolish persons have done and are still doing. They even court prison and death, saying: Since Christ of his own free will entered death, I will follow him in his example, as he commanded us to do. Such people do not understand divine things, they think they will suddenly enter death with Christ, whom they have never learned to know except in words. Thus was Peter also disposed, but he stood before Christ like a rabbit before one beating a drum. The old Adam lacks courage under the cross. The new man, however, can persevere through grace. Pious persons have no aim of their own in suffering, but if it be God’s will they bear good fruit like a tree planted by the streams of water. This is pleasing to God, since all presumption and show are condemned. He who battles heroically will receive joy for his suffering, the eternal in place of the temporal.

But why does God permit his own to be persecuted and hounded? In order to subdue the free will, that it may not seek an expedient in works; all serves to the end that we should accustom ourselves to build alone upon Christ, and to depend upon no other work, upon no other creature, whether in heaven or upon earth. But on this account we must suffer much. We must not only suffer shame and persecution, but the world rejoices at our great misfortunes. But this comfort we have that their joy shall not last long, and our sorrow shall be turned into eternal joy.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 181–82.

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The Implanted Word http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 18 May 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

Therefore put away all filthiness and rank growth of wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls

James 1:21, RSV

From Luther

By filthiness, James means the impure life of the world—indulgence, voluptuousness, and knavery of every sort. These things, he says, should be far from you Christians who enjoy blessings so great and glorious. Could you rightly recognize and appreciate these blessings, you would regard all worldly pursuits and pleasures mere filth in comparison. Nor is this overdrawn; they are such when contrasted with the good and perfect heavenly gifts and treasures. You have the Word, says James, a Word which is yours, not by your own fancy or effort, but which God gave you and implanted in you by grace. It has free course, is preached, read and sung among you. It is of the utmost importance to receive it, to make profitable use of it, to handle it with meekness that we may hold it fast and not allow it to be effaced by anger under persecution or by the allurements of worldly lusts.

Meekness and patience are necessary to enable us to triumph over the devil and the world. Without them we shall not be able to hold fast the Word in our strife against those evil forces. We must fight and contend against sin, but if we essay to cool our wrath by grasping the devil and his followers by the hair and wreaking vengeance upon them, we will accomplish nothing and may thereby lose our treasure, the beloved Word. Therefore lay hold of the Word planted or grafted within you, that you may be able to retain it and have it bring forth its fruits in yourself. You have the Word; it is able to save you if you but steadfastly cling to it. Why then need you take any account of the world, and anything it may do? What injury can it render, what help even can it offer, as long as you hold the treasure of the Word?

The Word is implanted within you in a way to give you the certain comfort and sure hope of your salvation. Be careful not to permit yourselves to be wrested from it by the wrath or the filth of the world. Take heed to accept in purity and to maintain with patience the Word so graciously and richly given you by God without effort or merit on your part. Those, who are without the Word in their endeavor to attain heaven, accomplish nothing.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 179–80.

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The Spirit of a Lifetime http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 17 May 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

Then the LORD said, “My spirit shall not abide in man for ever, for he is flesh, but his days shall be a hundred and twenty years.” 

Genesis 6:3, RSV

From Luther

These are the words of a father who disinherits his son, for God simply fixes a hundred and twenty years as the time in which opportunity is granted for repentance. He threatens, should it not be improved, that his Spirit shall no longer reprove and strive, which means that henceforth he will not give his Word to men, since all teaching is in vain. This word pertains properly to the office of the ministry. For every preacher or servant of the Word is a man of strife and judgment, and is constrained, by reason of his office, to chide whatever is vicious, without considering the person or office of his hearer. When Jeremiah does this zealously, he incurs not only hate, but also the gravest dangers. For this reason Elijah is called by Ahab the godless king of Israel, the disturber of Israel.

When Noah, whom Peter calls a “preacher of righteousness,” and his ancestors had preached nearly a thousand years, and yet the world continued to degenerate more and more, they announced God’s decision to an ungrateful world and disclosed this as his thought: Why should I preach forever and permit my heralds to cry in vain? The more messengers I send, the longer I defer my wrath,—the worse they become. It is therefore necessary for preaching to cease, and for retribution to begin. I shall not permit my Spirit, that is, my Word, to bear witness forever. I am constrained to punish their sins. Man is flesh and is opposed to me. He continues in his carnal state, mocks at the Word, persecutes and hates my Spirit in the patriarchs, and the story is told to deaf ears.

This proclamation contains a public complaint, made by the Spirit through the patriarchs; but the flesh remained true to its nature. They despised faithful exhortation in their presumption and carnal security. God shows that he is displeased with the perversity of men, nevertheless, as a father would spare his son, but is compelled by his wickedness to be severe, so the Lord says, I do not gladly destroy the human race. I shall grant them one hundred and twenty years in which they may come to themselves, and during which I shall exercise mercy.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 178–79.

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The Witness http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 16 May 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

And the Spirit is the witness, because the Spirit is the truth.

1 John 5:7, RSV

From Luther

John employs the word “witness” in connection with the thought of preaching; it is a word which he frequently uses. In the beginning of his gospel, where he speaks of John the Baptist, he says, “The same came for a witness, that he might bear witness of the light.” So in the use of the words “witness” or “bearing witness,” we are to understand simply the public preaching of God’s Word. Christ says, that the Holy Spirit shall bear witness of him; that is, it shall publicly fill the ministerial office. This is God’s own witness to his Son.

This witness, Christ himself ordains, shall ever go forth, and remain in the Church. To this end Christ himself called and gave the Holy Spirit to the apostles and their successors, ministers, preachers, and teachers. For the sake of the uninstructed masses and the constantly rising young who, as yet in ignorance of the Word, need admonition — for the sake of these, the Spirit must bear public witness or administer the preaching office that they, too, may learn to know the grace of God manifest and given us through Christ, and that God’s wondrous works may be publicly recognized and extolled by us in opposition to the devil and the world.

Wherever such witness is borne, there certainly will be some fruit; the witness never fails of effect. Some surely will be reached; some will accept and believe it. Since it is the witness of the Holy Spirit, he will be effective, producing in us that to which John refers when he says we are the children of God, and have the victory and eternal life. The Word and faith are vitally related. They are inseparable. Without faith, preaching will be fruitless; and faith has origin in the Word alone. Therefore, we should gladly handle and hear the Word. Where it is, there is also the Holy Spirit; and where the Spirit is, there must be at least some believers. If you have already heard the Word and obtained faith, it will always continue to strengthen you as you hear it. For the Spirit, as Christ says, breathes where he will, and touches hearts when and where he knows them to be receptive.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 177–78.

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Asking Properly http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 15 May 22 00:00:00 -0500

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From the Word

In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.

John 16:23, RSV

From Luther

The Lord points out five things necessary to constitute true prayer. The first is God’s promise, which is the chief thing and is the foundation and power of all prayers. He promises that it shall be given if we ask. He promises that we may be sure of being heard in prayer; he even censures the disciples for being lazy and not having prayed. It is truly a great shame to us Christians that God should upbraid us for our slothfulness in prayer.

The second requisite in true prayer is faith. We must believe that the promise is true, and must not doubt that God will give what he promises. The words of promise require faith — a firm, undoubting confidence that God’s promise is true. Such faith and definite assurance the Holy Spirit must impart; without the Holy Spirit surely no prayer will be offered.

The third requisite of true prayer is that one must name something definitely for which he prays, as for strong faith, love, peace, and for the comfort of his neighbor. One must actually set forth petitions as in the Lord’s Prayer.

The fourth element in prayer is, that we must earnestly desire that the petition be granted, which is nothing but asking. It is an intercession of the Spirit that cannot be uttered. When Zacchaeus sought to see the Lord, he did not feel how strongly his heart wished that Christ might speak with him and come into his house.

The fifth requisite of prayer is that we ask in the name of Christ. This is nothing more than that we come before God in the faith of Christ and comfort ourselves with the sure confidence that he is our Mediator, through whom all things are given to us and without whom we merit nothing but wrath and disgrace. We pray aright in Christ’s name, when we thus trust in him that we will be received and heard for his sake and not for our own.
All these five requisites may be complied with in the heart without any utterance of the mouth. But oral prayer is necessary to kindle and encourage prayer inwardly in the heart. We must not specify to God the time, place, person, and measure, but leave all that to his own free will and cling only to asking.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 176–77.

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The Offense of the Gospel http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 14 May 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

They will put you out of the synagogues; indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God.

John 16:2, RSV

From Luther

Christ pointed out clearly enough what would happen to his disciples as a result of their preaching. He mentions two sources of opposition to the gospel, than which none could be stronger: one that the preacher should be excommunicated and put to death; the other that the persecutors would regard this as rendering a service to God. He said that the Holy Spirit should testify of him and that they also should bear witness; and he assures them that their testimony shall not be effaced by this rage and persecution of the world. He gives them this assurance beforehand for the purpose that they may know and be prepared against these same abuses.

It is strange and almost incredible to hear that not only the world shall oppose, with its bitter hatred and rage, Christ, the Son of God and its Saviour, but that also the apostles themselves must be offended at such judgment of the world. Who could ever conceive that Christ and his gospel should be received in this manner among his own people, to whom he had been promised by God, and from whom they were to expect nothing but that which is good, which they also received from him? But here we are told that the gospel is a teaching which, according to human judgment, gives nothing but offense,—a thing unworthy to be heard or tolerated.

The kingdom of Christ on earth shall so come that it must be apparent to all that it is not an earthly kingdom after the manner of men. But the world shall refuse to recognize its nature. It shall not be called the kingdom of Christ or of God, but a destruction and subversion of all good government, both spiritual and temporal. It is well-nigh inconceivable that the Son of God should be so received by those who are called the people of God. For Christ speaks here not of open, malicious, wicked knaves and godless men, but of those who are regarded as the most eminent, the wisest, the most holy, even the servants of God. Who would ever think that God would introduce Christ’s kingdom upon earth in this way, establish his Word in all places and gather his Church.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 174–75.

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The Sign of a Christian http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 13 May 22 00:00:00 -0500

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From the Word

17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” 

Mark 16:17–18, RSV

From Luther

How shall we proceed here that we may preserve the truth of this passage? The Lord says all these signs shall accompany them. Now we know that the apostles did not present all the signs, and if the passage shall stand literally, then few believers will be cleared and few saints be entitled to heaven; for these signs, one and all, have not accompanied them, though they have had power to work signs, and have exhibited some of them. These words, therefore, do not refer to the Church as a whole, but to persons separately. If there is a Christian who has faith, he shall have power to do these accompanying miracles, and they shall follow him. Christ says, “He that believeth on me, the works that I shall do, shall he do also.” The Lord has given Christians power also against the unclean spirits. There was once a patriarch in the wilderness, who, when he met a serpent, took it in both hands and tore it in two, saying, What a fine thing it is to have a clear and guiltless conscience. So, where there is a Christian, there is still the power to work these signs if it is necessary.

But no one should attempt to exercise this power if it is not necessary. The apostles did not always exercise it, but only made use of it to prove the Word of God, to confirm it by miracles. “They went forth and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the Word with signs following.” Since the gospel has now been spread abroad, and made known to all the world, there is no need of working miracles as in the apostles’ time. Then let no one without pressing need undertake to work wonders. I know not what I shall say about those who venture to do signs where they are not necessary. I know that it is a dangerous undertaking. The devil, indeed, lets himself be driven out, but he does not intend to suffer for it; he allows it only that he may strengthen the sign-worker in such error. I would not like to trust him. But wherever a Christian dies in Christ with cheerful heart, Satan has been truly cast out and deprived of his power and kingdom.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 173–74.

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The Mission of Faith http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 12 May 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

And he said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation.

Mark 16:15, RSV

From Luther

He that would preach the gospel must cast aside all works supposed to make one just, and allow nothing to remain but faith; I must believe that God, without any merit of mine and regardless of all works, has granted me his grace and eternal life. Therefore we must preach in a way that the glory and praise will be given to God and not to ourselves. Now there is no greater glory and praise that we can give to God than to confess that out of pure grace and mercy he takes away from us sin, death and hell, and that he gives his beloved Son and all his treasures to us.

Faith compels no one to accept the gospel, but leaves its acceptance free to every one and makes it a personal matter. Thus you see that the pope errs and does the people injustice when he ventures to drive them to faith by force. The Lord commanded the disciples to do nothing more than preach the gospel. This the disciples also did; they preached the gospel and left its acceptance to those who would take it. They did not say: Believe, or I will put you to death.

A question arises as to the words, “Go ye into all the world,” how it is to be understood, since the apostles certainly did not visit all the world? Their preaching went out into all the world, although it has not yet come into all the world. This going out has been begun and continues, although it is not yet completed; the gospel will be preached farther and wider until the judgment day. When this preaching shall have reached all parts of the world, and shall have been everywhere heard, then will the message be complete and its mission accomplished; then will the last day also be at hand.

The preaching of this message may be likened to a stone thrown into the water, producing ripples which circle outward from it, the waves rolling on and on, one driving the other, till they come to shore. The preaching was begun by the apostles, and it constantly goes forward, is pushed on farther and farther by the preachers, driven hither and thither into the world, always being made known by those who never heard it before, although it be arrested in the midst of its course and is condemned as heresy.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 172–73.

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Knowing Christ http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 11 May 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. 

2 Peter 3:18, RSV

From Luther

What is it to know Christ but to look upon him as a gift and as an example? A gift given by God that becomes your own; so that when you see and hear him suffering or doing anything, you may not doubt that Christ himself in such suffering and works is yours, upon which you may depend as though you yourself had done them, and as though you yourself were Christ. This is what it means to know Christ aright: that he with all he has, out of pure divine goodness has been given unto us, that he has rendered satisfaction, obtained salvation and eternal life for us, and that all this is through him and for his sake, bestowed upon us without our merit.

If in this way you have Christ as the foundation and chief treasure of your salvation, then follows the other part of laying hold of him as your example, that you give yourself to the service of your neighbor as he has given himself for you. Then faith and love will be exercised, God’s commandment will be fulfilled, and man becomes happy and fearless to do and to suffer any and everything. Christ as a gift nourishes your faith and makes you a Christian; but Christ as an example moves you to do good works; these do not make you a Christian, but they go forth from you who have already become Christians. The pope, however, has changed this entirely; for he commands: If you would be saved, you must pray the rosary, fast, become a Carthusian, buy indulgences, build churches, and do innumerable things, not one of which Christ ever commanded. The worst of all is that when they have practiced such works, which benefit neither God, nor the world, for a time, they boast of them and say: I have fasted so many Fridays with bread and water, I have spent so many years in the cloister, I hope God will not leave me unrewarded for such service, but will on that account give me heaven. That certainly is denying Christ, and a terrible blasphemy of the great and unsurpassable grace of God manifested toward us in his Son, Jesus Christ. The true knowledge of Christ is to know why he came, and how we may appropriate him to ourselves.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 171–72.

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Two Kingdoms http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 10 May 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.

Romans 13:1–2, RSV

From Luther

We must understand that we have two kinds of authority: the secular that punishes with the sword, and the spiritual that exercises its office with the Word and by means of preaching. The secular power is ordained of God, as Paul clearly and beautifully declares to the Romans. Since there are few who heed the gospel, and most people remain rogues and knaves, they use the gospel for their own licentious liberty and wantonness; hence it is necessary to have a civil government, which we would not need if all men were Christian and evangelical. God has ordained and designed it, in order that the godly may live in peace; he has established the secular sword to the end that the public peace may be preserved, the wicked punished, and the just protected. On this account we must pay to the government rent and taxes and revenue by which it may be supported and administer its office.

In the gospel we find an entirely different, a spiritual government, one that exists alone in the Word, by which sinners are convicted and the gospel proclaimed to the terrified and alarmed consciences. When the bishops and their officials want to put one under the ban the transgression is published to the whole congregation, otherwise their ban would not be noticed, and the messengers would be shown the door. The secular government should see to it, whenever the clerical authority overreaches its sphere to the injury of souls, that it be restrained, and bishops and their officials be not permitted to excommunicate from the Church any one without his knowledge and will, whenever it pleases them.

It does not concern God very much as to how the secular government uses its power, for he is concerned only about the soul, and with this the secular power has nothing to do. It has received power to rule over the body and over property. Whether we govern well or not does not determine our salvation. But it were a matter of great concern if the spiritual authority were to say, Do this, and thou shalt be saved; omit this, and thou shalt be eternally lost, as though at certain times we must not eat eggs and meat and butter, but oil and fish. With Peter we must obey God rather than men.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 169–70.

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Hidden Strength http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 09 May 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

As for the man who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not for disputes over opinions. 

Romans 14:1, RSV

From Luther

Some are found who know the gospel, but are offended at their own manner of life. They have a desire to walk in godliness, but they feel that they make no progress. They begin to despair and think that with them all is lost because they do not feel the strength they ought to have. They also earnestly desire Christ to be strong in them and manifest himself in mighty deeds. But in this God designs to humble us, that we may see and feel what feeble creatures we are, what wretched, lost, and condemned men, if Christ had not come and helped us.

But thereby we have no furlough to continue for all time in weakness, for we do not preach that any should be weak, but that we should know the weakness of Christians and bear with it. Christ did not hang upon the cross that he might appear as a murderer and evildoer, but that we might learn how deeply strength lies hidden under weakness, and might learn to know God’s strength in weakness. Thus our weakness is not to be praised, as though we should abide in it, but rather must we learn not to think that those who are weak are not Christians, nor yet despair when we feel our own weakness. Therefore it behooves us to know our own weaknesses and ever to seek to wax stronger, for Christ must not suffer always, nor remain in the grave, but must come forth again and live.

Hence, let no one say that to remain in ignorance is the true course and condition. It is only a beginning, out of which we must grow day by day, giving heed only that we turn not away and despair when we are weak, as though all were lost. Rather must we continue to exercise ourselves till we wax stronger and stronger, and endure and bear the weakness until God helps and takes it away. Hence, even though you see your neighbor so weak that he stumbles, think not that he is beyond hope. God will not have one judge another and be pleased with himself, in as much as we are all sinners, but that one bear the infirmity of the other. Christ also pleased not himself, hence we are to do as he did.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 168–69.

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Christians by Birth http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 08 May 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures. 

James 1:18, RSV

From Luther

The best thing Christ has sent us from on high is sonship. He brought us forth, made us his children, or heirs. We are truly called children born of God. But how are we born? Through “the word of truth,” or the true Word. By this statement James makes a far-reaching thrust at all factions and sects. They also have a word and boast much of their doctrine, but theirs is not the Word of truth whereby men are made children of God. But we have a Word whereby, as we are assured, God makes us his beloved children and justifies us, if we believe in that Word. He justifies us not through works or laws. The Christian must derive his sonship from his birth. The disciples of Moses, and all work-mongers, would effect it by commandments, extorting a work here and a work there, effecting nothing.

The children of God, John tells us, are they who believe on the name of Christ; who sincerely cling to the Word. They are children who cleave to the message that through Christ God forgives their sins and receives them into his favor; who adhere to this promise in all temptations, afflictions, and trouble. The Word here on earth is the jewel which secures sonship. Since God has so greatly blessed you as to make you his own begotten children, shall he not also give you every other good?

Whence do we derive sonship? Not from your own will, not from your own powers or efforts. Were it so, I and other monks surely should have obtained it, independently of the Word; it would have been ours through the numerous works we performed in our monastic life. It is secured, says James, “of his will.” It never entered into the thought of man that we should in this way be made children of God. The idea did not grow in our gardens; it did not spring up in our wells. It came down from above, “from the Father of lights,” by Word and Spirit revealed to us and given into our hearts through the agency of the apostles and their successors, by whom the Word has been transmitted to us. Hence we did not secure it by our efforts or merits. Of his fatherly will and good pleasure was it conferred upon us; of pure grace and mercy he gave it.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 167–68.

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Resurrection Blessings http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 07 May 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

Every good endowment and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 

James 1:17, RSV

From Luther

We shall designate the “good gifts” the blessings we enjoy here in this life; the “perfect gifts” those awaiting us in the life to come. In the words “good gifts” and “perfect gifts,” the apostle comprehends all our blessings, those we have already received in the present life and those to be ours in the life to come. I will not now speak particularly of earthly, transient, and changeable blessings, such as temporal goods, honor, a healthy body, and others. There are many individuals who would give thousands of dollars to have the sight of both eyes. So much do they prize the blessing of sight, they would willingly suffer a year’s illness or endure other great inconveniences to obtain it.

But we shall speak now particularly of the blessings we have in Christ’s resurrection, a subject appropriate to this Paschal season. God has begun the work of edifying us, of building us up, and will constitute us his own children, his heirs. The great, glorious gifts of the resurrection are these: the gospel, holy Baptism, the power of the Holy Spirit, and comfort in all adversity. What is a slight injury or the loss of some temporal blessing in comparison with these? What reason has any man to murmur and to rage when such divine blessings are his, even here in this life, blessings which none can take away or abridge? If you are called on to renounce money, possessions, honor, and men’s favor, remember you have a treasure more precious than all the honors and all the possessions of the world. When you see one living in great splendor, in pleasure and presumption, following his own inclinations, think: I have divine grace enabling me to know God’s will and the work he would have me do, and all in heaven and earth is mine.

But these do not represent the consummation of resurrection blessings. We must yet await the real, the perfect gifts. God has only commenced to work in us; he will not leave us in this state. If we continue in faith, God will bring us to the real, the eternal blessings, called “perfect gifts,” the possession of which excludes error, stumbling, anger, and any sin whatever. Look to this future life, when assailed by the world and enticed to anger or evil lust.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 165–67.

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Clinging Faith http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 06 May 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.

1 John 5:4, RSV

From Luther

It is, indeed, saying very much for the Christian faith to attribute to it such power over the devil and the world — a power transcending all human ability. It requires an agency greater and higher than human strength to triumph over the devil, especially in the perplexing conflicts of conscience, when he vexes and tortures the heart with terror of God’s wrath in the attempt to drive us to despair. At such times all our works must immediately sink out of sight, leaving no help or victory except the faith that clings to the word of Christ the Lord, believing that, for the sake of his beloved Son, God will be merciful and will not condemn us for our sins and unworthiness, if we believe in him. Such faith as this stands fast and gains the victory; neither the devil, nor the gates of hell can prevail against it.

The same is true in all temptations. Before we can resist and overcome, we must have faith to believe that through Christ we have remission of sins and the favor of God; that God gives us help and strength to enable us to stand in the conflict and successfully resist the devil, the world, the flesh, and death; that we obtain the victory by the divine power of the Holy Spirit, lacking whose help we all would be far too weak to win. Without faith, we are under the power of the devil and sin, being subject to them by natural birth. We can be liberated in no other way than through faith in Christ.

The faith which believes Jesus is the Son of God is the true, triumphant sort. It is an invincible power wrought in the hearts of Christians by the Holy Spirit. It is a sure knowledge, that does not gaze and vacillate hither and thither according to its own thoughts. It apprehends God in Christ the Son sent from heaven, through whom God reveals his will and his love and transfers us from sin to grace, from death to a new, eternal life; a refuge and trust that relies, not upon its own merit and worthiness, but upon Christ the Son of God, and in his might and power battles against the world and the devil. It is a living, active power, ever followed by victories and other appropriate fruits.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 164–65.

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Election http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 05 May 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

Romans 11:33, RSV

From Luther

These words show Christians that these sublime and divine mysteries — God’s actual divine essence and his will, administration and works — are absolutely beyond all human thought, human understanding or wisdom; that they are and ever will be incomprehensible, inscrutable, and altogether hidden to human reason. When reason presumptuously undertakes to solve, to teach and explain these matters, the result is worthless, yea, utter darkness and deception. If anything is to be ascertained, it must be through revelation alone; that is, the Word of God, which was sent from heaven.

We do not apply these words of Paul to the question of divine predestination—who will be saved and who will not. For into these things God would not have us curiously inquire. He has not given us any special revelation in regard to them, but refers all men here to the words of the gospel. By them they are to be guided. He would have them hear and learn the gospel, and believing in it they shall be saved. Therein have all the saints found comfort and assurance in regard to their election to eternal life; not in any special revelation in regard to their predestination, but in faith in Christ.

Paul speaks here of the marvelous ruling of God in the Church, according to which they who have the name and honor of being the people of God — the people of Israel — are rejected on account of their unbelief. On the other hand, those who formerly were not God’s people, but were unbelieving, are now become the true Church in the sight of God and are saved, since they have received the gospel and believe in Christ. Consequently it was on account of their own unbelief that the former were rejected. Such are God’s unsearchable judgments and ways past finding out. By “judgments” is meant that which is right or wrong, what pleases and what does not please him. By “his ways” is meant that which he will manifest unto men and how he will deal with them. These things men cannot and would not search out by their own intellect, and therefore should never oppose their judgments or speculations to God. It is not for them to say what is right or wrong, whether an act or ruling is divine.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 163–64.

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Apprehended through Faith http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 04 May 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

33 O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! 34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” 35 “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” 36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory for ever. Amen. 

Romans 11:33–36, RSV

From Luther

Sublime are the thoughts and counsel of God, transcending by far the mind and comprehension of man, yea, of all creatures, when he so richly pours forth his goodness, and out of pure grace and mercy elects, as beneficiaries of that goodness, the poor, and wretched, and unworthy, who are concluded under sin — that is, those who acknowledge themselves guilty before God and deserving of everlasting wrath and perdition; when he does all this that they might know him in his real divine essence, and the sentiment of his heart — that through his Son he will give all who believe everlasting life. And, again, that they might know how he will reject those who, in pride and security, boast of their own gifts, that they are called the people of God in preference to all other nations; who boast that they have special promises; who think that God will acknowledge no nation on earth but themselves as his people and his Church. He will reject them on account of their unbelief, in which they are fettered by the pride and imagination of their own wisdom and holiness.

This is that rich, inexpressible, divine wisdom and knowledge which they possess who believe in Christ, and by which they are enabled to look into the depths and see what the purposes and thoughts of the divine heart are. True, in their weakness they cannot fully reach it; they can only apprehend it in the revealed Word by faith, as in a glass or image. It cannot be apprehended or comprehended otherwise.

Though the world will not do it, we will firmly believe that God is a true God and Lord, wise, just, gracious, whose riches and depth are ineffable. We will glorify him with our whole heart, as he ought justly to be praised and glorified by every creature, for the wonderful government of his Church, through his Word and revelation. He is to be glorified because he manifests such unutterable goodness to all who are in sin and under God’s wrath that he translates them, though they are unworthy, from the power of death and hell into the kingdom of eternal grace and life, if they will only seek grace and believe on Christ, his Son.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 162–63.

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The Poor Man http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 03 May 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

But there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city. Yet no one remembered that poor man.

Ecclesiastes 9:15, RSV

From Luther

Wherever we turn our eyes we see, in all conditions of life, a flood of terrible examples of ingratitude for the precious gospel. We see how kings, princes and lords quarrel and fight, envy and hate one another, oppressing their own people and destroying their own countries; they tax themselves with not so much as a single Christian thought about ameliorating the wretchedness of Germany. The noblemen rake and rend, robbing whom they can, prince or otherwise, and especially the poor Church. Townsmen and farmers are extremely avaricious, extortionate and treacherous; they fearlessly perpetrate every sort of insolence and wickedness, and without shame and punishment. The earth cries to heaven, unable longer to tolerate its oppression.

But why multiply words? It is in vain so far as the world is concerned; no admonition will avail. The world remains the devil’s own. Notwithstanding the world’s refusal to be influenced by the recognition of God’s goodness, and in spite of the fact that we are obliged daily to see, hear and suffer the world’s increasing ungratefulness the longer it stands, we must not allow ourselves to be led into error; for we will be unable to change it. We must preach against the evil of ingratitude wherever possible, severely censuring it, and faithfully admonish all men to guard against it. Although compelled to live among the ungrateful, we are not for that reason to fall into error, nor to cease from doing good.

But if your good works are wrought with the object of securing the thanks and applause of the world, your reward will justly be that of him who crushes with his teeth the hollow nut only to defile his mouth. If, when you meet with ingratitude, you angrily wish to pull down mountains, and resolve to give up doing good, you are no longer a Christian. You injure yourself and accomplish nothing. Let the God-fearing Christians give evidence of their willingness to hear the Word of God. Let them show by their lives a consciousness of the great blessing conferred by those from whom they received the gospel. Let their hearts and lips ever be ready with the happy declaration: “God be praised.” Such manifestation of gratitude assuredly must result when we comprehend what God has given us.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 160–62.

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The Shepherd Calls http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 02 May 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

John 10:11, RSV

From Luther

“The good shepherd layeth down his life for the sheep.” In this one virtue the Lord comprehends and exemplifies all others in the beautiful parable of the sheep. The sheep has this trait above all other animals, that it soon recognizes the shepherd’s voice and will follow no one but him. Though it cannot help and keep and heal itself, nor guard against the wolf, yet it always knows enough to keep close to the shepherd and look to him for help. Christ uses this trait of the animal as an illustration in explaining that he is the good Shepherd. In this manner he shows plainly what his kingdom is and in what it consists. It is to protect the sheep, that is, poor, needy, wretched men who realize that there is no other help or counsel for them. The kingdom of Christ is to be concerned about the weak, the sick, the broken, who need to be helped. This is a comforting declaration.

“A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench.” The bruised reeds are the poor, tender consciences, which are easily distracted. But God deals gently with them. The smoking flax (dimly burning wick) he does not wholly quench, but lights it and trims it again and again. When a Christian is not only weak and infirm, but when he falls into such great temptations as to deny the gospel, as Peter when he denied Christ, even then you are not to cast him away, as though he no longer belonged to this kingdom. You must not rob Christ of this characteristic, that in his kingdom abounding grace and mercy alone prevail, and that his kingdom is wholly one of consolation, and that he is a comforting, friendly shepherd, who tenderly invites, and would induce all men to come unto him. All this is effected through the gospel alone, by means of which we are to strengthen the weak and heal the sick. It will give full consolation to all, so that no one, no matter how great a sinner he has been, need despair.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 159–60.

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Sure Hope http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 01 May 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

So that the law was our custodian until Christ came, that we might be justified by faith.

Galatians 3:24, RSV

From Luther

There are two divine proclamations which came from heaven. One is, “Thou shalt not kill, commit adultery, steal” and the like, and adds the threat that all who transgress these commandments shall die. Though they may compel a man outwardly to appear godly before men, inwardly the heart is left at enmity with the law. The other proclamation is that of the gospel. It tells us how we may meet the demands of the law. It does not drive nor threaten, but kindly invites us, Come, I will show you where you may find what you need to make you godly. Here is the Lord Jesus; he will give it you.

The two proclamations are as opposite to one another as taking and giving, and this distinction must ever be observed. With these two God has ever ruled the world, and still rules it. The law must be declared to coarse and rude persons, who are not influenced by the gospel, until they are driven to acknowledge their imperfections and are humbled. When this has been accomplished, the gospel is to be applied. There are other proclamations besides these two, which have been invented to frighten men’s consciences, but they are not from heaven and are mere human prattle. The proclamations of law and gospel are not of men, but of Christ, who sent them forth and put them into the heart of the apostles and their successors so that they understood them, and then into their mouths so that they spake and declared them.

If you believe that Christ died to save you from all evil, and you hold fast to that Word, you will find it so certain and sure that no creature can overthrow it. It is the power of God, and can and will save all who believe it. You will find refuge in the Word and attain everlasting, peace, joy and life. You will be a participant in all the power that is in the Word, which is so deeply hidden that none but they who believe realize that it is so effective and that it accomplishes such great things.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 158–59.

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The Risen Life http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 30 Apr 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 If then ye were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are upon the earth. 3 For ye died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, shall be manifested, then shall ye also with him be manifested in glory. 5 Put to death therefore your members which are upon the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry;

Colossians 3:1–5, RSV

From Luther

Here is comfort for Christians in this earthly life, where their resurrection seems untrue to the world and to their own perceptions, though they receive the doctrine of Christ and apprehend him by faith; where they must contend with sin and infirmities and besides are subject to much affliction and adversity; and where consequently they are extremely sensible of death and terror when they should experience joy and life. In this verse Paul comforts them, showing where to seek and surely apprehend their life. Be of good cheer, he would say, for ye are dead to the worldly life. This life ye must renounce, but in so doing ye make a precious exchange. Dying unto the world is a blessed experience, for which ye will obtain a life far more glorious. Ye are now through Christ’s death redeemed from sin and from death eternal and are made imperishable. Upon you is conferred everlasting glory. But this risen life ye cannot yet perceive in yourselves; ye have it in Christ through faith.

Christ is spoken of as “our life.” This life is certain, though still unrevealed to you, insured to you beyond the power of any one to deprive you of it. By faith in Christ’s life, are ye to be preserved and to obtain victory over the terrors and torments of sin, death and the devil, until that life shall be revealed in you and made manifest to men. In Christ ye surely possess eternal life. Nothing is lacking to a perfect realization except that the veil whereby it is hidden as long as we are in mortal flesh and blood is yet to be removed. Then will eternal life be revealed. Then all worldly, terrestrial things, all sin and death, will be abolished. In every Christian shall be manifest only glory. Christians, believing in Christ and knowing him risen, should comfort themselves with the expectation of living with him in eternal glory.

Saints must, therefore, by a vigorous and unceasing warfare subdue their sinful lusts if they would not lose God’s grace and their faith. To retain the Spirit and the incipient divine life, the Christian must contend with himself. Positive mortification is necessary. And this is the way to mortify sin: it must be perceived with serious displeasure and repented of; and through faith Christ’s forgiveness must be sought and found.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 157–58.

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Faith Is the Victory http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 29 Apr 22 00:00:00 -0500

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From the Word

4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 

1 John 5:4–5, RSV

From Luther

He who is born of God overcomes the world, John declares. Verily, this is a significant and forcible assertion which the Holy Spirit makes. It represents a tremendous power, a great work. The child of God must attempt and accomplish great things. The birth effected through the Word and faith makes men true sovereigns, above all earthly rulers. It gives them power even to overcome the world, something impossible to any Roman or Turkish potentate. They effect not their victory by physical force or temporal power, but by the spiritual birth through faith.

In order to understand the nature of the spiritual victory and how it is effected, we must know what John means by the term “world.” The reference is not to dominion over territory, to property, or money. He implies the existence of two kingdoms. By the heavenly kingdom we must understand not only spiritual life and godly people, but the Lord and Regent of that kingdom — Christ with his angels, and his saints, both living and dead. The kingdom of the world represents not only the earthly life with its worldly interests, but particularly its lord and regent — the devil and his angels, all unchristian, godless, wicked people on earth. So John means by “world” the devil and his whole earthly dominion.

The workings of these two kingdoms are plainly evident, though the leaders are not visible to mortal eyes. Christ rules effectually in his own power through the Word and the Holy Spirit in the hearts of believers, through the angels who guard his followers, and through his people themselves who exercise authority over one another in loving service, each teaching, comforting and admonishing a noble band of godly, obedient, chaste, benevolent souls. The nature of the devil’s kingdom is easily apparent. This kingdom is simply a huge booth filled with faithless, shameless, wicked individuals, impelled by their god to every sort of disobedience and contempt of God and his Word; to false doctrine, the practice of wantonness, vice, and wickedness.

These two kingdoms are opposed. Christians are brought into the conflict to hold the field against God’s enemies, whose rule is one of falsehood and murder; they must contend with the enemy’s servants, factions, spirits, and wicked individuals, in an effort to restrain evil and promote good. Christians must know how to meet and successfully resist the enemy, how to carry the field unto victory and hold it.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 155–57.

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Fellowship with the Weak http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 28 Apr 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

For many are called, but few are chosen.

Matthew 22:14, RSV

From Luther

Note what took place in Jerusalem, when the gospel was first heard. It is said, there were in the city at the feast of the Passover eleven hundred thousand men. How many were converted? When Peter stood up and preached, they made a mockery of it and considered the apostles drunken fools. After the apostles had preached the gospel a long time, they gathered together three thousand men and women. But what were they among so many? No one could discern that the gosped had accomplished anything. No change was seen, and scarcely any one knew that there were Christians there. Hence the gospel must not be measured by the multitude that hear, but by the small company that receive it. They appear as nothing, they are despised and persecuted, and yet God secretly works in them.

There is another thing that hinders the free movement of the gospel, namely, the infirmities of the believers. Thus Peter was filled with faith and the Holy Spirit, yet he stumbled and fell — he and all that were with him — when he walked not according to the gospel, so that Paul had to reprove him openly. Mark had journeyed with Paul, but afterward fell away and withdrew from him. Again, Paul and Barnabas strove together, and there arose a sharp contention between them. And before this, we read in the Gospels how often the apostles erred in weigthy matters, though they were the best of Christians.

These infirmities of Christians darken the gospel most of all, so that men who deem themselves wise and learned stumble and are offended in them. Few there are who can well reconcile these things so as to take no offense. It was thus even with the disciples. At first when Christ wrought great and excellent works, and gained great honors, they remained steadfast. The common people clung to him, because they saw that with great power he wrought such excellent works, and walked so as to be irreproachable. But when his sufferings began, they all turned away and forsook him. Why was this? Because they considered him not the strong, but a weak Christ. Therefore to bear with the weak Christ is the highest wisdom on earth, which is known to very few men.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 154–55.

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The Gentle Rebuke of the Greatest Sin http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 27 Apr 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

9 Now when he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. 10 She went and told those who had been with him, as they mourned and wept. 11 But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it. 12 After this he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. 13 And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them. 14 Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they sat at table; and he upbraided them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. 

Mark 16:9–14, RSV

From Luther

Christ upbraids the disciples with their unbelief and hardness of heart. He does not reject them, nor deal too severely with them, but reproves them. It is not an insignificant matter that the Lord rebuked his disciples; for unbelief is the greatest sin that can be named. Christ tells them the cause of their unbelief when he says that their hearts are hardened, still he deals mildly and gently with them. This is told us for our comfort, lest we despair, when, lacking in faith, we doubt, stumble and fall. It is to help us to rise again, to strengthen our faith and lift up our hearts to God, that we may grasp and hold fast the confidence of God, who does not deal severely with us, but can indeed bear with us and overlook much. If we believe him to be a merciful God, he will be found merciful and thus shows himself to us; but a bad conscience and an unbelieving heart have no such trust in God, but flee from him. So should we also deal with our neighbor. If we see him fall from the faith, or err and sin, we should not strengthen him in his wickedness, nor justify his cause, but admonish him and in meekness reprove his faults, yet not hold enmity, nor turn our love from him.

But let no one think that the apostles were altogether unbelieving; they believed what was written in the law and the prophets. There was a faith there, but they did not yet believe all things. Faith is a thing that always grows. Therefore the Lord shows wherein they lacked in faith; it was that they did not believe the resurrection of Christ from the dead. I hold that they believed that they had a gracious God, but this was not enough; they must believe also the resurrection of Christ. Thus the Lord upbraided them with their unbelief and said that in spite of all they had seen, they were not believing, they still lacked a certain article of faith, that on the resurrection. We should therefore expose and reprove what is wrong, but exercise truth and love toward everybody. We see that even the apostles were lacking in the chief things, yet they were corner stones, the foundation and the very best part of Christendom.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 153–54.

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Known by the Shepherd http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 26 Apr 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

 I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me

John 10:14, RSV

From Luther

Christ here gives us the criterion by which we are to distinguish the true Church, or people of God, from that which has the name and reputation, but in truth is not the Church. The Church neither is, nor ought to be a society which must be organized with an external government, like the Jewish people under the law of Moses. It is not governed and preserved by outward human power; much less is it bound to a succession or government of bishops, as the papacy claims. It is a spiritual assembly, which hears the shepherd and believes in him, and is governed by him through the Holy Spirit. It is outwardly recognized by this alone, that it has his Word, the preaching of the gospel, and his sacraments. Inwardly it is known to him alone, as in turn it also knows him by faith and clings to him when it hears his Word, regardless of the fact that it may neither maintain, nor even know anything of that outward Jewish or papistical government, and may be scattered here and there in the world without any organized external government, as it was in the time of Christ and the apostles, who, apart from and in opposition to the regular power of the whole priesthood, believed in Christ and confessed him.

If you really wish to know what a Christian is you must not look to the law of Moses, the government of the pope, nor the life and sanctity of any man, however holy. A Christian is not one who leads a strict, severe, hermit life; nothing that is in us or can be done by us, makes a Christian. This alone, that one knows this Man, regards him and trusts him as he wishes to be considered, namely, the good Shepherd, who lays down his life for the sheep and knows them. This knowledge is nothing else than faith, which arises from the ministry of the Word, which consists not of our own thoughts, nor does it come from men, but it was brought from heaven and was revealed by Christ himself. In this way and in no other does a man become a Christian. The Word and our faith must always come together. Here we have this comfort, that if any one knows Christ in this way, he is already known by him and certainly is one of his.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 152–53.

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Believing through the Spirit http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 25 Apr 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

Every one who believes that Jesus is the Christ is a child of God, and every one who loves the parent loves the child.

1 John 5:1, RSV

From Luther

Though John’s language is plain and simple, yet in the ears of men generally it is unusual and unintelligible. What, according to the world’s construction, is implied by the statement, “born of God?” To the world there is no birth but physical. Hence such doctrine as our text sets forth will ever be strange, unintelligible, incomprehensible, to all but Christians. But these speak with new tongues, as Christ says they shall, for they are taught and enlightened by the Holy Spirit.

When the Scriptures speak of being born of God, it is not in a human sense; the reference is not to the conditions of our temporal lives, but to those exalted ones of a future existence. To say we must be born of God is equivalent to saying that if a man is to be redeemed from sin and eternal death, to enter into the kingdom of God and into happiness, his physical birth will not suffice; all that nature, reason, free will and human endeavor may afford is inadequate. Physical, indeed, answers for everything in the way of temporal possession and achievement, every desirable and exalted thing of earth; but all such possession and achievement serves only the physical existence; it is swept away by death, to which event it is ever subject.

Hence there becomes necessary a new and different birth. The demand is for a divine birth, a birth in which parentage is wholly of God; a birth signifying the operation of God’s divine power in man, a power achieving something beyond the attainment of his natural capacities and effecting in him new understanding and a new heart. The process is this: when the individual hears the gospel message of Christ — a message revealed and proclaimed, not by the wisdom and will of man, but through the Holy Spirit — and sincerely believes it, he is justly recognized as conceived and born of God. Through that faith, for the sake of his Son, God accepts us as his children, pleasing to him and heirs of eternal life; and the Holy Spirit will be sent into our hearts.

This doctrine condemns those arrogant teachers who presumptuously expect to be justified before God by their own merits and works. The Scriptures clearly teach the very reverse. It is sheer human effort, and not being born of God.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 150–51.

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Raised to New Life http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 24 Apr 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 

Colossians 3:1–4, RSV

From Luther

How is a dead man profited, however much life may be preached to him, if that preaching does not make him alive? Of what use is it to preach righteousness to a sinner, if he remain in sin? or to an erring, factious individual, if he forsake not his error and his darkness? Even so, it is not only useless but detrimental, even pernicious in effect, to listen to the glorious, comforting and saving doctrine of the resurrection, if the heart has no experience of its truth; if it means naught but a sound in the ears, a transitory word upon the tongue, with no more effect upon the hearer than if he had never heard.

According to the text, this nobly wrought and precious resurrection of Christ must essentially be, not an idle tale of fancy, futile as a dead hewn stone, or a painted paper image, but a powerful energy working in us a resurrection through faith — an experience which he calls being risen with Christ; in other words, it is dying unto sin, being snatched from the power of death and hell and having life and happiness in Christ. If ye, Paul says, have apprehended by faith the resurrection of Christ and have received its power and consolation, and so are risen with him, that resurrection will surely be manifest in you; you will feel its power, will be conscious of its working within you. The doctrine will be something more than words; it will be truth and life. For those who do not thus apprehend the resurrection, Christ is not yet risen, although his rising is none the less a fact; for there is not within them the power represented by the words “being risen with Christ,” the power which renders them truly dead and risen men.

The apostle, then, in this text is not referring to the future resurrection of the body, but to the spiritual rising which entails the former. He regards as one fact the resurrection of the Lord Christ, who brought his body again from the grave and entered into life eternal, and the resurrection of ourselves, who, by virtue of his rising, shall likewise be raised: the soul, from a trivial and guilty life shall rise into a true, divine and happy existence; from this sinful and mortal body shall rise out of the grave an immortal, glorious one.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 149–50.

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An Everlasting Covenant http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 23 Apr 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David. 

Isaiah 55:3, RSV

From Luther

The prophet has reference to the promise made to David in the seventh chapter of second Samuel. In the preceding verses of the chapter, Isaiah most tenderly entreats and invites the whole world to receive the promises of salvation, for thereby shall the poor, the wretched and the afflicted obtain the great treasures of joy and salvation. Immediately following the verse quoted, he speaks of the Messiah, the promised seed of David, as given to the Levites for a “witness,” — a preacher sent by God — and for a “leader and commander to the people.” The thought is of a king and ruler differing from Moses and his priests and exponents of the law; a ruler differing from every other lord and king, from David and all worldly rulers whatever, subjecting everything to himself. Not that this leader should set up a new temporal government, or extend Jewish authority among the Gentiles, but that Jews and Gentiles should receive him and believe in him, and obtain the fulfilment of that promise he here terms a covenant of the sure mercies of David. This covenant God enters into and keeps, a divine, sure covenant; through Christ shall be given whatever blessings God’s mercy shall bestow, with remission of sins, redemption from death, and life eternal.

Now, if the Christ of this covenant is true man, and, as the promise to David is, of David’s flesh and blood; and if he is to bring eternal mercy, he must likewise be God, such gift being in the province and power of God alone. This being true, he cannot remain in death, although he may suffer death by reason of his human nature; he must of his own power rise from the dead. Only so can he raise others and give them everlasting life; only so can he truly be called eternal King of grace, righteousness and life, according to the sure promise of God. Whenever the Scriptures speak of Christ’s eternal kingdom, and of everlasting grace, they point out this article of the resurrection of Christ. God has promised to give us Christ, him who was to sit at his right hand — that is, to have the omnipotent, divine power possible only to an eternal Lord and King — and at the same time to have his kingdom on earth.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 148–49.

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Believing the Judgment http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 22 Apr 22 00:00:00 -0500

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From the Word

8 And when he comes, he will convince the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. 

John 16:8–11, RSV

From Luther

The word “judgment” means the decision between two parties at variance to decide which is right or wrong. It embraces two elements, aid and punishment, that the innocent party be acquitted and helped to his rights; that the guilty be condemned and punished. The word, however, is generally used for the latter element, the legal sentence of condemnation and its consequence. In this sense Christ uses it here and he intends to indicate that when the Holy Spirit shall pursue the two themes of his preaching and shall reprove the world of sin and righteousness, it will not receive it, nor be willing to be reproved, nor be moved to allow the righteousness of Christ to be offered to it. It will set itself against this teaching and reproving of the Holy Spirit, and condemn and persecute it. Then arises the conflict, and one judgment runs contrary to the other.

But Christ says that the Holy Spirit shall retain the superior judgment and shall prevail in his reproving of the world until the last day. In consequence of this Christians get into straits, the cross and persecution begin. Because the kingdom of Christ is not of this world, but spiritual and invisible, the power and might which the world has are directed against the Church by condemning, persecuting and torturing with sword and fire and other means. The world is also incited by the bitter hatred of the devil against Christ, who seeks to blot out and exterminate the Church. Against this hatred of judgment Christ gives comfort. The devil is already judged and the sentence of condemnation has already been pronounced upon him; the only thing wanting is its execution, that the punishment be inflicted upon him in eternal fire.

This judgment proceeds by power and might of the Lord Christ, sitting at the right hand of the Father; it is publicly proclaimed by the office of preaching, that the prince of the world with all his adherents is already under final condemnation and shall accomplish nothing against Christ. He must let him remain the Lord, under whose feet he shall eternally lie and suffer his head to be trodden upon. Christ makes his enemies his footstool. No one believes this except Christians, who take the Lord’s Word for truth and know his power and kingdom.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 146–48.

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The Righteousness of Christians http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 21 Apr 22 00:00:00 -0500

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From the Word

8 And when he comes, he will convince the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more.

John 16:8–10, RSV

From Luther

The world is reproved not only because it has sin, but also because it does not know what righteousness is, and how to become pious. The righteousness of which he speaks here does not consist in observing civil or imperial laws and in doing what reason teaches, but the righteousness which is valid before God, or which he regards as righteousness. He says, “Because I go to the Father, and ye see me no more.” To the world this is strange and ridiculous language. “Because I go to the Father,” embraces the whole work of our redemption and salvation, for which God’s Son was sent from heaven, and which he performed for us and still performs until the end, namely, his passion, death and resurrection, and his whole reign in the Church. This going to the Father signifies nothing else than that he offers himself as a sacrifice by the shedding of his blood and by his death to pay for sin; afterwards he triumphs in his resurrection and brings sin, death and hell into subjection to himself, and is seated at the right hand of the Father, where he reigns invisibly over all things in heaven and earth, and gathers and extends his Church by the preaching of the gospel; as an external mediator and high priest he intercedes with the Father for those who believe, because they still have weaknesses and sins remaining in them, and gives the power and strength of the Holy Spirit to overcome sin, the devil and death.

This is the righteousness of Christians before God, that Christ goes to the Father, that is, suffers and rises for us, and thereby reconciles us to the Father, so that for his sake we have forgiveness of sin, and grace. This is the righteousness of another, for which we have done nothing and have merited nothing, freely given and appropriated to us to be our righteousness, whereby we please God and are his dear children and heirs. This freely bestowed righteousness comes by faith alone. It cannot be apprehended otherwise than with the heart, which clings to the departure of Christ and firmly believes that for his sake it has forgiveness and redemption from sin and death. This righteousness is not an external thing, but a hidden treasure, not seen with eyes nor comprehended by our senses.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 145–46.

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Contending for the Sheep http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 20 Apr 22 00:00:00 -0500

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From the Word

1 The word of the LORD came to me: 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord GOD: Ho, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep?

Ezekiel 34:1–2, RSV

From Luther

To be a shepherd is not to exercise great pomp and glory; but it is a service one is wont to render another, as a servant in a household, who does all in his power to please his master freely and without restraint, and is in all other respects faithful. Thus Christ did all in harmony with his office and his name. When he was here on earth he carefully tended his sheep and provided them with everything needful for body and soul, with good and honest teaching and deeds of mercy. Good shepherds are like the good Shepherd Christ, who tends the sheep, goes before them, cares for those who are sick; who does not flee when the wolves come, but “who giveth his life for the sheep.”

It is not enough that we preach correctly, which the hireling can also do; but we must watch over the sheep, that the wolves, the false teachers, may not break in, and we must contend for the sheep against the wolves with the Word of God, even to the sacrifice of our lives. Such are good shepherds, of whom few are found. They are the righteous apostles and preachers, who are but the mouthpieces of Christ, through whom Christ preaches. The hirelings do not care for the sheep, receive temporal wages, riches and honor and feed themselves. They are good to a certain extent, and Christ also preaches through them, but they are not true to the sheep. This may be seen in our shepherds to-day who almost entirely subvert their office. In times past the princes gave the bishops and priests great treasures, besides land and people, so that pious bishops did not want to accept the office, they even fled from it; but that is entirely changed at present and there is a running and racing after the best bishoprics. The greatest rush is for the offices which afford the best livings. They seek their own, not the things of Christ. This is a lamentable and miserable state of things. Thus Paul also warns the elders at Ephesus: Take heed unto yourselves and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers. I know, after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 144–45.

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Be Certain http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 19 Apr 22 00:00:00 -0500

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From the Word

10 As each has received a gift, employ it for one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who utters oracles of God; whoever renders service, as one who renders it by the strength which God supplies; in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. 

1 Peter 4:10–11, RSV

From Luther

It is necessary that both preachers and hearers take heed to doctrine and have clear, unmistakable evidence that what they embrace is really the true Word of God revealed from heaven; the doctrine given to the holy and primitive fathers, prophets and apostles; the doctrine Christ himself confirmed and commanded to be taught. We are not permitted to employ the teachings dictated by any man’s pleasure or fancy. We are not allowed to adapt the Word to mere human knowledge and reason. We are not to trifle with the Scriptures, to juggle with the Word of God, as if it would admit of being explained to suit the people; of being twisted, distended and patched to effect peace and agreement among men. There would then be no sure, permanent foundation whereon the conscience might rely.

Still it is not enough that the office and commandment be God-appointed. We ministers should be conscious—and the people should be taught—that efficacy of office is not of human effort, but is God’s power and work. That which the office was designed to accomplish is not effective by virtue of our speech or action, but by virtue of God’s commandment and appointment. He it is who orders; and himself will effectively operate through that office which is obedient to his command. In baptism, the Lord’s Supper and absolution we are not to be concerned about the person administering the sacraments or pronouncing absolution,—who he is, how righteous, how holy, how worthy. Worthiness or unworthiness of either administering or receiving hand effects nothing; all the virtue lies in God’s command and ordinance.

The motive for all Christian effort is named in the words, “that in all things God may be glorified.” No one may seek or ascribe to himself power and honor because of his office or gifts. Power and glory belongs only to God. God himself calls his Church, rules, sanctifies and preserves it through his Word and his Spirit. To this end he bestows on us his gifts. All is done purely of grace, wholly for the sake of his beloved Son, Christ the Lord. Therefore, in return for the favor and ineffable goodness bestowed upon us regardless of our merits, we ought to thank and praise God, directing all our efforts to the recognition and glory of his name.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 143–44.

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No Trifling Matter http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 18 Apr 22 00:00:00 -0500

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From the Word

As they were saying this, Jesus himself stood among them.

Luke 24:36, RSV

From Luther

The disciples are gathered together in seclusion. They are afraid of the Jews and are in danger of their lives; they are fearful and faint-hearted and afraid of sin and death. Had they been strong and courageous, they would not have thus crept into a corner; later, when the Holy Spirit came, strengthened and comforted them, they were made so courageous that they stepped forth and preached publicly without fear. This is written for us, that we might learn that the gospel of Christ’s resurrection comforts only the faint-hearted. They are the poor, conscience-stricken ones, whose sins lie heavily upon them, who feel faint at heart, are loth to die and are well-nigh startled by the sound of a rustling leaf. To these contrite, poor, and needy souls the gospel offers comfort, to them it is a sweet savor.

This is also learned from the nature of the gospel, for the gospel is a message and a testimony, which declares how the Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead, that he might remove sin, death and all evil from all who believe in him. If I recognize him as such a Saviour, I have heard the gospel aright, and he has in truth revealed himself to me. If now the gospel teaches naught but that Christ has overcome sin and death by his resurrection, then we must indeed confess that it can be of service to none save those who feel sin and death. They who do not feel their sin, and are not dismayed, nor see their infirmities, profit not a whit by it, nor do they delight in it. Though they hear the gospel, it has no effect upon them, except that they learn the words, and speak of what they have heard. They do not treasure them in their hearts, and receive neither comfort nor joy from them.

It were well, if the gospel could be preached only where faint-hearted and conscience-stricken ones are found. But this cannot be, and for this reason it bears so little fruit. The fault is not in the gospel, but in the hearers. They hear it, but they do not feel their own affliction and misery, nor have they ever tried to feel it.

Hence none need marvel if the gospel does not everywhere bring forth fruit.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 141–42.

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The Mind of Faith http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 17 Apr 22 00:00:00 -0500

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From the Word

26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. 

Luke 24:26–27, RSV

From Luther

The Evangelist states that their heart burned within them while he opened to them the Scriptures, and the gospel following says that Christ opened their minds to understand the Scripture. Here is the point: Moses certainly writes concerning Christ, and Christ is found in the books of Moses; but it is necessary not only to read, but also to understand what is said. Therefore the Bible is a book that must not only be read and preached, but it also requires the true interpreter, that is, the revelation of the Holy Spirit. Not a single article of faith has ever been preached that was not more than once attacked and denied by heretics, though they read the same Scriptures that we have.

This revelation, therefore, requires pupils of the right kind, who are willing to learn and to be instructed, like these pious and simple-minded disciples, not wise and puffed up minds and self-made masters who reach beyond the very heavens with their knowledge. This is a doctrine that makes our wisdom foolishness and blinds our reason, before it can be believed and understood; for it is not born of man’s reason, like other sciences and arts, which have sprung from reason and can be grasped by means of reason. All heresies from the beginning have had their origin here; both Jews and Gentiles, and the Turks at present, grow foolishly violent in regard to our doctrine, because it does not agree with reason and human wisdom. Only pious, simple-minded people can grasp and understand it—they who say: “God hath said it, therefore I believe it.” Christ himself thanks the Father with a joyful heart that he hides these things from the wise and understanding and reveals them unto babes.

Thus poor, ignorant women came to the sepulcher without considering that the tomb was covered with a heavy stone; yet these foolish persons are the first to whom Christ reveals his resurrection and calls to be his preachers and witnesses. So he gives these disciples a knowledge of the Scriptures which all the learned scribes did not possess, so that now they view Moses with different eyes, and are forced to confess: I have read and heard this before, but never understood it.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 140–41.

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Dear Brothers http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 16 Apr 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

Jesus said to her, “Do not hold me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” 

John 20:17, RSV

From Luther

The apostles were crouching behind barred doors, discouraged and cowed, as sheep without a shepherd, and troubled in conscience. Peter had denied his Lord with an oath, and the others had all fled and proved themselves disloyal. That was, indeed, a fall so deep and terrible that they might well think they would never be forgiven for denying the Son of God, and so shamefully forsaking their dear Lord and faithful Saviour. How could it ever enter their hearts that Christ would send such an affectionate greeting and such a kind good morning to them, and would not only forgive everything, but also call them dear brethren?

Consider what these words contain and offer. Go, my dear sister, and tell the denying and disloyal disciples that they are called and shall be my dear brethren. Is not this placing us with Christ into the complete tenure and inheritance of heaven and of everything Christ has? Rich and blessed indeed must be the brethren and sisters who can boast of this Brother, not now hanging on the cross, nor lying in the grave under the power of death, but a mighty Lord over sin, death, hell and the devil.

But who is he that has instituted this brotherhood? The only Son of God and almighty Lord of all creatures, so that on his own account he did not need to endure suffering and death. I have done all this, he tells us, for your sake as your dear Brother, who could not bear to see you eternally separated from God by the devil, sin and death, and miserably perish; hence I stepped into your place and took your misery upon myself, gave my body and life for you that you might be delivered; I have now risen again to proclaim and impart to you this victory and deliverance, and to receive you into my brotherhood, that you might possess and enjoy with me all that I have and hold. Thus you see, it is not enough for Christ that the historical fact has occurred, and that on his part everything is accomplished; he infuses it into us and creates a brotherhood from it, so that it may become the common possession of us all. He has done this not for himself and his own sake, but as our brother and for our good alone.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 139–40.

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Peace http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 15 Apr 22 00:00:00 -0500

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From the Word

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

John 20:19, RSV

From Luther

Jesus finds his disciples sitting in fear and terror both from without because of the Jews and from within because of their consciences. They were slow of heart to believe what they had heard from the women and from some of the disciples, that he had risen from the dead. While they were talking about it with sad hearts, Christ appears and hails them with his friendly greeting, “Peace be unto you,” which means a wish for everything that is good.

The peace of Christ is hidden from our eyes and senses and is different from that which the world seeks. It is not a visible or tangible peace, consisting of bodily feeling, but an inner and spiritual peace, consisting of faith, which grasps and holds to nothing save what it hears in our text, namely, the gracious words of Christ, which he speaks to all frightened and troubled souls. A Christian, therefore, is contented and satisfied with having Christ as his friend and in him a gracious God who desires his constant welfare, even though, materially speaking, he has no peace in the world, but constant strife and contention. At another place Jesus says, “These things have I spoken unto you, that ye might have peace. In the world ye have tribulation.”

The disciples were not troubled by any one, yet their hearts were all aflutter, and were neither at rest nor at peace. While they are thus in fear and terror, the Lord brings them peace, not by removing any danger, but by quieting their hearts. The wickedness of the Jews is neither removed nor changed; they are as full of hatred and rage as before. Without there is no change whatever, but the disciples are changed within; they have become courageous and bold, and the hatred of the Jews is now of little concern to them. This is the true peace which is able to calm the heart even in the midst of trouble. It is well called a peace “which passeth all understanding;” it is abiding and invincible as long as the heart clings to Christ; for thereby it is certain that it has a merciful God and the forgiveness of sins.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 138–39.

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My Father and Your Father http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 14 Apr 22 00:00:00 -0500

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From the Word

16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rab-boni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not hold me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”

John 20:16–17, RSV

From Luther

There are two things concerning the Lord’s resurrection that we ought to know and understand. First, the history which relates the events as they occurred, together with the different circumstances under which he revealed himself alive in various manifestations; so that we might have a sure record and testimony of everything as a foundation and support of our faith, inasmuch as this article of faith on the resurrection is the chief one upon which our salvation is finally based, and without which all others would be useless and entirely fruitless.

The second point, that is the more important and necessary, on account of which the narrative has been recorded and preached, is the power, benefit and comfort of the joyous resurrection of the Lord. Concerning this Paul and all the apostles and the entire Scriptures teach and preach richly and gloriously; but most gloriously of all did Christ the Lord himself preach, when he manifested himself first of all to the women. This is the first sermon our Lord delivered after his resurrection, and without doubt also the most comforting one. It was spoken first of all to his beloved Mary Magdalene, and through her also to his disciples after their deep woe, grief and sorrow caused by his departure and death, that he might comfort and gladden them by his resurrection.

But her joy is no higher than the mere bodily pleasure of having her Lord alive again as she had him before; she clung only to the fact of his return and thought that he would again be with them, eat and drink with them, preach and do miracles as he had done before. He does not permit himself to be touched, however, because he wants her to stand still and listen and learn what she does not know, namely: I am not risen to walk and remain with you bodily and temporally, but that I may ascend to my Father. It is not here that I intend to dwell and abide; but I would have you believe that I go to the Father, where I will rule and reign with him eternally, and whither I will also bring you out of your death and sorrow. There you shall have me tangibly, and you shall rejoice forever in eternal communion with me and the Father.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 136–37.

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On the Third Day http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 13 Apr 22 00:00:00 -0500

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From the Word

3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures

1 Corinthians 15:3–4, RSV

From Luther

Here we must remember the custom of the Hebrews, for according to the Jewish reckoning the day began in the evening and lasted until the evening of the next day, as the first chapter of Genesis says: “And there was evening and there was morning, one day,” “a second day,” “a third day,” and so forth. Thus the first and greatest Sabbath began on the evening of the day when Christ was crucified, that is to say, at the time of sunset on Friday. In addition to this the Jews had seven full days which they celebrated, and all of which they called sabbaths. On these days they ate only wafers and unleavened bread, for which reason they are called the days of unleavened bread. Christ rose before sunrise.

How can we say then that he rose on the third day, since he lay in the grave only one day and two nights? According to the Jewish calculation it was only a day and one half; how shall we then persist in believing there were three days? To this we reply that he was in the state of death for at least a part of three days. For he died at about three o’clock on Friday and consequently was dead for about three hours on the first day. After that night he lay in the grave all day, which is the true Sabbath. On the third day, which we commemorate now, he rose from the dead and so remained in the state of death a part of this day, just as when we say that something occurred on Easter day, although it happens in the evening, only a portion of the day. In this sense Paul and the Evangelists say that he rose on the third day.

For this period and no longer Christ was to lie in the grave, so that we might suppose that his body remained naturally uncorrupted and that decomposition had not yet set in. He came forth from the grave so soon that we might presume that corruption had not yet taken place according to the course of nature; for a corpse can lie no longer than three days before it begins to decompose. Therefore Christ was to rise on the third day, before he saw corruption.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 135–36.

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Mercy, Not Merit http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 12 Apr 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” 

Matthew 28:10, RSV

From Luther

These are the first words they heard from Christ after his resurrection from the dead, by which he confirmed all the former utterances and loving deeds he showed them, namely, that his resurrection avails in our behalf who believe, so that he anticipates and calls Christians his brethren, who believe it, and yet they do not, like the apostles, witness his resurrection. The risen Christ does not wait until we ask or call on him to become his brethren. Can we here speak of merit, by which we deserve anything? What did the apostles merit? Peter denied his Lord three times; the other disciples fled from him; they tarried with him like a rabbit does with her young. He should have called them deserters, betrayers, reprobates, anything but brethren. Therefore this word is sent to them through the women out of pure grace and mercy, as the apostles at the time keenly experienced, and we experience also when we are mired in our sins, temptations and condemnation.

These are words full of comfort that Christ receives desperate villains, as you and I are, and calls us his brethren. Is Christ really our brother, then indeed what more do we need? Brothers according to the flesh enjoy the same possessions, have the same father, the one inheritance; so we enjoy with Christ the same possessions, have in common one Father and one inheritance. He who has a part of this spiritual inheritance has it all.

If I believe on Christ, I become partaker with him of all his possessions. I obtain eternal righteousness, eternal wisdom, eternal strength, and become a lord and reign over all. The stomach will no longer hunger, sins will not oppress, I will no more fear death, nor be terror-stricken by Satan, but will be like Christ the Lord himself. The title of being Christ’s brethren is so high that the heart of man cannot understand it. The Holy Spirit must bestow this grace.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 134–35.

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Freedom through Word and Sacraments http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 11 Apr 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

27 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. 28 Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. 31 But if we judged ourselves truly, we should not be judged. 

1 Corinthians 11:27–31, RSV

From Luther

Let me say in regard to the Lord’s Supper that when we have received it we ought to give heed to love, and in this way assure ourselves that we have received the sacrament profitably, and at the same time furnish evidence to others; we should not always continue to come and still be unchanged. Therefore we must turn from our devotions and thoughts to our conduct toward our neighbor, and examine ourselves in this mirror with all seriousness. The sacrament is to act upon us so that we may be transformed and become different people. For God’s word and work do not intend to be idle, but are bound to produce great things, to wit, to set us free from sin, death and the devil, and every kind of fear, and make us servants even of the least among men on earth, and this without the slightest complaint on our part, rejoicing rather to find some one in need of our help, and fearing only lest after receiving so much we may not apply it at all.

When the Lord’s Supper fails to produce this result there is reason to fear it has wrought injury. Nevertheless, even if the result is not great, we are not to reject those who are imperfect and weak, but those that are indolent and insolent, who imagine that they have done enough when they have partaken of the sacrament. A change must take place in you, and there must be evidence of it, then you will be able to perceive through the symbol that God is with you, and your faith will grow sure and strong. For you can easily feel whether you have grown more joyous and bold than you were before. Formerly the world seemed too narrow for us when we heard of death and thought of sin. If you feel different it is not because of your own strength, for in the past you could not do it. Thus you can discover whether the Lord’s Supper is producing any fruit in your own life. If you experience nothing, go to God and tell him of your shortcomings and troubles; we must all do the same thing as long as we live, for not one of us is perfect.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 133–34.

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The Word of Salvation http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 10 Apr 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.

1 Corinthians 10:16–17, RSV

From Luther

While we live on earth we must bear with one another, as Christ also bore with us, seeing that none of us are perfect. Christ has shown this to us not only by his own example and by his Word, but he has also pictured it to us in the form of the Sacrament of the Altar, namely, by means of the bread and the wine. We believe that the true body and blood of Christ is under the bread and wine. Here we see one thing and believe another, which describes faith. For when we hear the Word and receive the Lord’s Supper we have merely a word and an act, yet by it we embrace life and every treasure, even God himself. Likewise love is pictured in these signs and elements. First of all in the bread. As long as the grains of wheat are in a pile before they are ground, each is a body separate for itself, and is not mingled with the others; but when they are ground they all become one body. The same thing takes place with the wine. As long as the berries are not crushed each retains its own form, but when they are crushed they all flow together and become one drink. You cannot say, this is the flour from this grain, or this is a drop from that berry; for each has entered the form of the other, and thus was formed one bread and one drink.

We receive the Lord by the faith of the Word which the soul consumes and enjoys. In this way my neighbor receives me; I give him my goods, body, and life and all that I have, and let him consume and use it in his want. Likewise, I also need my neighbor; I too am poor and afflicted, and suffer him to help and serve me in turn. Thus we are woven one into another, helping one another even as Christ helps us. Therefore when you have received the Lord’s Supper, you must be diligent to increase love, aid your neighbor in distress, and lend him a helping hand when he suffers affliction and requires assistance. When you fail to do this, you are not a Christian, or at best only a very weak one.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 130–31.

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Bread for Your Neighbor http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 09 Apr 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.

1 Corinthians 10:16–17, RSV

From Luther

While we live on earth we must bear with one another, as Christ also bore with us, seeing that none of us are perfect. Christ has shown this to us not only by his own example and by his Word, but he has also pictured it to us in the form of the Sacrament of the Altar, namely, by means of the bread and the wine. We believe that the true body and blood of Christ is under the bread and wine. Here we see one thing and believe another, which describes faith. For when we hear the Word and receive the Lord’s Supper we have merely a word and an act, yet by it we embrace life and every treasure, even God himself. Likewise love is pictured in these signs and elements. First of all in the bread. As long as the grains of wheat are in a pile before they are ground, each is a body separate for itself, and is not mingled with the others; but when they are ground they all become one body. The same thing takes place with the wine. As long as the berries are not crushed each retains its own form, but when they are crushed they all flow together and become one drink. You cannot say, this is the flour from this grain, or this is a drop from that berry; for each has entered the form of the other, and thus was formed one bread and one drink.

We receive the Lord by the faith of the Word which the soul consumes and enjoys. In this way my neighbor receives me; I give him my goods, body, and life and all that I have, and let him consume and use it in his want. Likewise, I also need my neighbor; I too am poor and afflicted, and suffer him to help and serve me in turn. Thus we are woven one into another, helping one another even as Christ helps us. Therefore when you have received the Lord’s Supper, you must be diligent to increase love, aid your neighbor in distress, and lend him a helping hand when he suffers affliction and requires assistance. When you fail to do this, you are not a Christian, or at best only a very weak one.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 130–31.

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Enduring Witness http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 08 Apr 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

20 For what credit is it, if when you do wrong and are beaten for it you take it patiently? But if when you do right and suffer for it you take it patiently, you have God’s approval. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

1 Peter 2:20–21, RSV

From Luther

When the individual accepts Christ and begins to profess his faith in words and life, invariably the world, that eternal enemy of Christ and faithfully obedient servant of the devil, will be dissatisfied. The world regards it contemptible, disgraceful, to live any life but one pleasing to itself, to do and speak aught but as it desires. Its rage is excited toward the Christian and it proceeds to persecute, to torture, even to murder him when possible. We often hear the wiseacres and scoffers say that Christ could have enjoyed peace had he so desired. The same may be said of Christians; they could have peace and pleasure if they would but take advice and conform to the world.

What are we to do? It is a fact that to maintain and obey the truth is to stir up wrath and hatred. Even the heathen assert as much. But the fault lies not with the advocate of truth but with its rejecters. Is the truth not to be preached at all? Must we be silent and permit all mankind to go direct to hell? Who could or would heap upon himself the guilt of such negligence? The godly Christian, who looks for eternal life after the present one and who aims to help others to the same happy goal, assuredly must act the part he professes, must assert his belief and show the world how it travels the broad road to hell and eternal death. But to do so is to antagonize the world and incur the displeasure of the devil.

Since there is no escaping the fact that he who would confess Christ and make the world better must in return for his service and benefactions heap upon himself the enmity of the devil and his adherents, we must remember that it is incumbent upon us to have patience when the world manifests its bitterest, most hateful enmity toward our doctrine and toward our very lives; when it reviles and slanders and persecutes us to the utmost for our principles. Peter here admonishes and persuades Christians unto patience under these circumstances, and at the same time seeks to comfort them with tender and impressive words. If you would be a Christian, then be not so terribly alarmed and so extremely impatient at the torments of the world and the devil.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 129–30.

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A Testimony http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 07 Apr 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

1 Corinthians 11:23–25, RSV (cf: Matthew 26:26–28; Mark. 14:22–24; Luke 22:19, 20)

From Luther

These are the words which neither our opponents, nor Satan are able to deny; on them we must stand. Let them make whatever comments they please; we have the clear Word of God, saying, the bread is Christ’s body given for us; and the cup is his blood shed for us. This he bids us do in remembrance of him; but the pope commands that it be not done. They say, we are only erring laymen, we do not understand, nor are we able to explain the words. But we reply, It is for us to explain just as much as it is for them; for we are commanded to believe in Christ, to confess our faith, and to keep all the commandments of God, just as well as they are. How then are we to believe without knowing and understanding the Word? I must know the words if I am to believe; for how can I believe without words?

This is how you can stop their mouths and bring them to silence. My faith must be as good as yours, therefore I must have and must know the Word as well as you. These words are certainly clear enough; and there is no one so stupid that he cannot understand what is meant by, “Take, drink ye all of it; this cup is the New Testament in my blood.” Unless they prove to us that drinking here signifies something different from what all the world understands by the term, we shall adhere to the interpretation that we are all to drink of the cup. Let them bring forward what they please, customs or councils, we reply, God is older and greater than all things.

Thus you see how we are to understand the words of the institution of the Lord’s Supper, and firmly hold to them. In them all the virtue is centered, we all must know them, understand them, and cling to them in faith. When you wish to go to the Lord’s Supper listen to the words spoken and be assured that they contain the whole treasure on which you are to rely. They are really spoken to you. My body is given, my blood is shed, Christ declares. Why? For the remission of sins. This is what strikes you, that your sins may be forgiven.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 128–29.

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A Fresh Lump http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 06 Apr 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and of a kind that is not found even among pagans; for a man is living with his father’s wife. 2 And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. 3 For though absent in body I am present in spirit, and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment 4 in the name of the Lord Jesus on the man who has done such a thing. When you are assembled, and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 6 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed.

1 Corinthians 5:1–7, RSV

From Luther

Leaven is a common figure with the apostle, one he uses frequently, almost proverbially. Christ also gives us a Scripture parable of the leaven. It is the nature of leaven that a small quantity mixed with a lump of dough will pervade and fill the whole lump until its own acid nature has been imparted to it. This Paul makes a figure of spiritual things in doctrine and life. In the Epistle to the Galatians, he makes it more especially typify false doctrine. For the introduction of an error in an article of faith will soon work injury to the whole and result in the loss of Christ. Such innovation will pursue its course with destructive sweep until even the uncontaminated part becomes worthless; the once pure mass is wholly corrupted.

But in this text he has reference more particularly to an erroneous idea concerning life and conduct. Here it is likewise true that, once the flesh be allowed any license, and liberty be abused, and that under the name of the gospel, there is introduced a leaven which will speedily corrupt faith and conscience, and continue its work until Christ and the gospel are lost. Such would have been the fate of the Corinthians had not Paul saved them from it by this epistle, admonishing and urging them to purge out the leaven of license; for they had begun to practice great wantonness, and had given rise to sects and factions which tended to subvert the one gospel and the one faith.

Nor may we in our works and in our daily life tolerate the yielding to the wantonness of the flesh and at the same time boast the gospel of Christ, as did the Corinthians, who stirred up among themselves divisions and disorder, even to the extent of one marrying his stepmother. In such matters as these, Paul says, a little leaven leavens and ruins the whole lump—the entire Christian life. These two things are not consistent with each other: to hold to the Christian faith and to live after the wantonness of the flesh in sins and vices condemned by conscience. Paul elsewhere warns, “Be not deceived, neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor drunkards, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 126–27.

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Drinking the Word http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 05 Apr 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 I want you to know, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 and all ate the same supernatural food 4 and all drank the same supernatural drink. For they drank from the supernatural Rock which followed them, and the Rock was Christ.

1 Corinthians 10:1–4, RSV

From Luther

Among us one element (bread) alone is not to be offered to the communicant; he who wants the Lord’s Supper should receive the whole of it. We have preached and practiced this long enough and cannot assume that there should be any one unable to understand it; yet if there be one so dense, or claiming to be so weak that he cannot grasp the true meaning of it, we will excuse him; it is just as well that he remain away. For any one to hear God’s Word so long, to have himself coddled like a child, and after all to continue saying, I do not understand, is not a good sign. For it is impossible for you to hear so long and still be unenlightened; since then you remain blind it is better for you not to receive the Lord’s Supper. If you cannot grasp the Word that is plain, clear and certain, you can not grasp the sacrament; for the sacrament would be nothing, if there were no Word.

Moreover this Word has now resounded again and again throughout the world, so that even they who oppose it know it. These, however, are not weak but obdurate and hardened; they set their heads against the doctrine which they hear us prove from the Scriptures with such clearness that they are unable to reply or establish the contrary. Therefore it is out of the question for us any longer to yield or to endure them, since they defy us and maintain as their right what they teach and practice. We wish to receive both elements in the Lord’s Supper, just because they wish to prevent us from having them. The thought of causing offense no longer applies to them. The Roman bishops have forbidden both elements as contrary to God’s ordinance and command. If now we wish to confess Christ we must receive both elements, so that the people may know that we are Christians and abide by the Word of God. When we go to the Lord’s Supper people can see who they are that have heard the gospel; they can observe whether we lead Christian lives. So this is a distinct mark whereby we are recognized, whereby we also confess the name of God and show that we are not ashamed of his Word.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 125–26.

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Expatriates http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 04 Apr 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

20 But our commonwealth is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power which enables him even to subject all things to himself. 

Philippians 3:20–21, RSV

From Luther

We who are baptized and believe in Christ do not base our works and our hope on the righteousness of this temporal life. Through faith in Christ, we have a righteousness that holds in heaven. It abides in Christ alone; otherwise it would avail naught before God. Our whole concern is to be eternally in Christ; to have our earthly existence culminate in yonder life when Christ shall come and change this life into another, altogether new, pure, holy and like unto his own. Therefore we are no longer citizens on earth. The baptized Christian is born a citizen of heaven through baptism. We should be mindful of this fact and walk here as if native there. We are to console ourselves with the fact that God thus accepts us and will transplant us there. Meanwhile we must await the coming again of the Saviour, who is to bring from heaven to us eternal righteousness, life, honor and glory.

With the believers in Christ, who have their righteousness in him, there should follow in this life on earth the fruits of upright living in obedience to God. These fruits constitute the good works acceptable to God, which being works of faith and wrought in Christ will be rewarded in the life to come. While we walk in the faith of his righteousness, God has patience with the poor, frail righteousness of this earthly life. He honors our human holiness by supporting and protecting it during the time we live on earth; just as we honor our corrupt, filthy bodies, adorning them with beautiful, costly garments and golden ornaments. Because God would confer eternal life upon man, he patiently endures the filthy righteousness of this life until the last day, and until the number is complete. When the time shall be fulfilled, the number completed, God will suddenly bring the world with its governments and conditions of life to an end; he will utterly abolish earthly righteousness, destroying physical appetites and all else. Yet for the sake of Christians, to whom eternal life is appointed, all these must be perpetuated until the last saint is born and has attained life everlasting. For God regards not the world nor has need of it, except for the sake of his Christians.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 124–25.

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Call on Him http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 03 Apr 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

6 “Seek the LORD while he may be found, call upon him while he is near; 7 let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 

Isaiah 55:6–7, RSV

From Luther

Think not that you will find the Lord when he has once gone, though you traverse the world. But while he is near, you may seek and find him. For many years, while still in my cloister, I experienced the meaning of such disappointment. I sought God with great toil and with severe mortification of the body, fasting, watching, singing and praying. In this way I shamefully wasted my time and found not the Lord. No, God does not permit us to find him thus.

To find him, go to the Creed and the Ten Commandments. They will tell you. Regulate your life by them. Be helped by the Lord’s Prayer. Begin with yourself; then pray for the Church. Let it be your desire that God’s name be everywhere sanctified and that your life conform to his will. For the study and practice of these precepts will leave you no opportunity to do evil. God’s Word will soon teach you to sanctify his name, to extend his kingdom, to do your neighbor no injury in mind, body, or estate. Surely we ought supremely to thank God for the great blessings of his nearness to us. We have his presence in our homes. He is with us at our board, by our couch—anywhere we desire him. He offers us all assistance and grants all we may ask. So gracious a guest should indeed receive our high esteem.

There is too much slumbering everywhere in Germany. We cannot perceive how it is possible to preserve the gospel and fill the pulpits for ten years longer. No one for a moment thinks how God has signally, richly and graciously blessed us; how we are in possession of actual paradise, if we only recognized the fact. Yet we shamefully, ungratefully and unreasonably reject the kingdom; as if it were not enough for us to overstep the ten commandments in our disobedience, but must even trample under foot the mercy God offers in the gospel. Then why should we be surprised if he send down wrath upon us? Jerusalem and in fact the entire Jewish nation sinned unceasingly against all God’s commandments, and when he proclaimed grace and offered forgiveness of sins, they trampled upon his mercy. Should Christ not revenge himself when they shamed and mocked his precious blood?

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 123–24.

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Believing the Unbelievable http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 02 Apr 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death; and he was not found, because God had taken him.

Hebrews 11:5, RSV

From Luther

As among us we find many to whom such things are considered absurd, and not sufficiently worthy of faith, so there is no doubt that this account was deemed ridiculous by most people. For that reason these things have by divine authority been committed to writing and recorded for the saints and the faithful, that they might read, understand, believe and heed them. They present to our sight a manifest triumph over death and sin, and afford us a sure comfort in Enoch’s victory over the law, and the wrath and judgment of God. To the godly nothing can yield more grace and joy than these antediluvian records. What facts could inspire more wonder and admiration than that a man, born of flesh and blood, as we are, and defiled as we are by sin and corruption, so obtained the victory over death as not to die at all! Christ himself is a man, and righteous, yet our sins caused him to suffer the bitterest of all deaths; but he is delivered on the third day, and lifts himself unto life eternal. In Enoch is the singular fact that he died not at all, but was caught up, without death intervening, to the life spiritual and eternal.

This fact makes the narrative under consideration so memorable that God intended to use it for the purpose of setting before the old, primeval world the hope of a better life. Likewise, to the second world, which had the law, God gave the example of Elijah, who also was taken up into heaven and translated by the Lord before the very eyes of his own servant Elisha. We are now in the New Covenant, in a third world, as it were. We have Christ himself, our great deliverer, as our glorious example, who ascended into the heavens, taking with him many of his saints.

It was God’s will to establish in every age a testimonial of the resurrection of the dead, that he might allure our minds from this corrupt and in many ways wretched life, in which we gladly serve God as long as it shall please him by the faithful performance of all public and private duties, and especially by instructing others in holiness and in the knowledge of God. Here we have “no certain dwelling place.” Christ has gone to prepare a place for us.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 121–22.

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Taken Up http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 01 Apr 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

From the Word

Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.

Genesis 5:24, RSV

From Luther

For a man to walk with God is not to flee into a desert, or to conceal himself in some corner, but to go forth in his vocation, and to set himself against the iniquity and malice of Satan and the world, and to confess the seed of the woman; to condemn the religion and pursuits of the world, and to preach, through Christ, another life after this. This is the manner of life led for three hundred years by the greatest prophet and high priest of his generation. Moses, therefore, deservedly extols Enoch as a disciple of greatest eminence, taught and trained by many patriarchal masters, and so equipped with the Holy Spirit that he was the prophet of prophets and the saint of saints in that primeval world.

It was the will of God that he should be an example to the whole world in verifying and showing the comfort of the faith in the future life. He is to preach the life beyond this present life; to teach concerning the seed to come, concerning the serpent’s head that is to be bruised and the kingdom of Satan that is to be destroyed. Such was the preaching of Enoch, who was, nevertheless, a husband and the father of a family; who had a wife and children, who governed his household, and procured his subsistence by the labor of his own hands. This godly man lived, after the birth of Methuselah, 300 years in the truest religion, in faith, in patience, and in the midst of a thousand crosses, all of which he endured and overcame by faith in the blessed seed.

Enoch’s walking with God signifies that he was in this life a faithful witness of eternal life to be gained after this life through the promised seed. Inasmuch as Enoch constantly preached this doctrine, God verified and fulfilled this preaching in the patriarch himself, that we might fully and surely believe it; in that Enoch, a man like ourselves, born of flesh and blood, as we also are, of the seed of Adam, was taken up into heaven by God, and now lives the life of God, that is, an eternal life.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 120–21.

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The Rock http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 31 Mar 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 I want you to know, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 and all ate the same supernatural food 4 and all drank the same supernatural drink. For they drank from the supernatural Rock which followed them, and the Rock was Christ. 

1 Corinthians 10:1–4, RSV

From Luther

Christ has been typified by various signs and objects in the Old Testament, and the rock is one of them. Note first, that the material rock spoken of had a place independently of man’s labors and far from man’s domain, in the wilderness. So Christ is a truly insignificant object in the world, disregarded and unnoticed, nor is he indebted to human labor. Water flowing from the rock is contrary to nature; it is purely miraculous. The water typifies the quickening spirit of God, who proceeds from the condemned, crucified and dead Christ. Thus life is drawn from death, and this by the power of God. Christ’s death is our life, and if we would live we must die with him.

Moses strikes the rock at the command of God and points to it, thus prefiguring the ministerial office which by word of mouth strikes from the spiritual rock the Spirit. For God will give his Spirit to none without the instrumentality of the Word and the ministerial office instituted by him for this purpose, adding the command that nothing be preached but Christ. Had not Moses obeyed the command of God to smite the rock with his rod, no water would ever have flowed from it. His rod represents the rod of the mouth of which Isaiah speaks: “He shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth; and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.”

By this statement about the rock the apostle makes all the figures and signs granted to the people of Israel by the Word of God refer to Christ; for where the Word of God is, there Christ is. All the words and promises of God are concerning Christ. Christ himself makes the serpent of Moses refer to himself. We may truly say that the Israelites looked upon the same serpent we behold, for they saw the spiritual serpent that followed them, or Christ on the cross. The beholding was believing in the Word of God, with the serpent for a sign, even as their spiritual drinking was believing in the Word of God with the rock for a sign. We may say the same concerning the cloud. The children of Israel walked under the same cloud that shadows us; they walked under the spiritual cloud that followed them—Christ.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 119–20.

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Our Boast http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 30 Mar 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

21b But whatever any one dares to boast of—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast of that. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I.

2 Corinthians 11:21b–22, RSV

From Luther

In whatever the false apostles can boast, Paul says, I can likewise glory. Here we are shown what is the ground of the false apostles’ boasting; their outward respectability — being of Abraham’s seed, children of Israel, Christ’s preachers. In these they think far to excel the Corinthians, claiming their doctrine and works to be of greater weight because they have Moses and the prophets for their teachers. But they failed to perceive that their boast is in mere externals, that render no one righteous or better before God. Names are of no consequence; they only make a fine show and serve to seduce the simple-minded. Paul boasts of his origin and yet derides his boasting, calling it fool’s work. His object is to destroy the boasting of the false prophets, that the people might not be deceived. Note how, even in Paul’s time, great men erred concerning the true sense of the gospel, and many noble preachers would have estimated Christian life by a merely external appearance and name. The true spiritual preachers must have been few. Should it be strange, then, that in our time sincere preachers are not numerous, and that the majority of ministers riot in what they themselves seem and do? It cannot and will not be otherwise. The thievish drones, which are prone to riot, let them riot! We will resist to the utmost of our power, commending the matter to God, who doubtless will grant us sufficient honor and profit, both temporal and eternal, though we must labor gratuitously, receiving injury and derision as our reward. Our adversaries will not long continue their persecutions, for, as Paul says just preceding our text, they will eventually receive their deserts.

Paul boasts of certain temporal afflictions in which he excels the false apostles, who suffer nothing for the sake either of the Word or of souls, but only boast of name and person. Among the afflictions he names having been a night and a day in the deep. Of other afflictions affecting not his own person, but distressing others, he mentions two: he is weak, if another is weak, and burns, if another is offended. Thereby he plainly portrays the ardor of his heart — the defects and sorrows of others pain him as his own.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 117–18.

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Faithful Dependence http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 29 Mar 22 00:00:00 -0500

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From the Word

42 And he commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that he is the one ordained by God to be judge of the living and the dead. 43 To him all the prophets bear witness that every one who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” 

Acts 10:42–43, RSV

From Luther

This verse constitutes the principal theme of one of Peter’s sermons. It is one of the greatest in the writings of the apostles. It contains the vital element of the gospel message, teaching how we may appropriate its blessings, how obtain what it offers, namely, by faith; faith lays hold of what is offered us in the gospel. The message is preached that we may receive and retain it. Through the Word the blessing is pronounced our own—it is offered or given us; but by faith we receive it, make it our own, permit it to work in us.

This power and work in us is called by Peter “remission of sins.” This is the blessing conferred through the preaching of the doctrine of Christ, or articles of faith, particularly the article of the resurrection. The meaning of the new message of comfort, the new declaration, is that Christ, through his resurrection, has in himself conquered our sin and death, has turned away the wrath of God and procured grace and salvation; that he has commanded forgiveness to be preached unto us, desiring us to believe that he gives it and confidently to receive it through faith.

Faith must be of such a character as to apprehend and hold fast the truth Peter declares in this verse. It must say, “In his name.” That is, it must ascribe to Christ alone the entire agency, merit and power responsible for remission of sins; must believe we have forgiveness, not through our own worthiness, but for Christ’s sake alone; must believe that by virtue of Christ’s resurrection we obtain remission of sins, every namable element not from Christ being completely excluded, and the honor given to him alone. The efficacy of Christ’s death and blood alone God would have preached in all the world and accepted by mankind. Therein he rejects the boasting of the Jews and of all aspirers to holiness through their own works, teaching them that they cannot obtain his favor through the law, or by their own efforts. In Christ’s name alone is remission of sins received, and that through faith. We ought to be ashamed to doubt or question the fact of forgiveness of sins and justification before God through Christ alone, to which all Scripture testifies.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 116–17.

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Just Condemnation http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 28 Mar 22 00:00:00 -0500

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From the Word

8 And when he comes, he will convince the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me.

John 16:8–9, RSV

From Luther

This is the sin of the world that it does not believe in Christ. Not that there is no sin of the world besides this; but that this is the real chief sin, which condemns the whole world though it could be charged with no other sin. Thus this preaching of conviction is to begin if people are to be brought to a right knowledge and to salvation. The first thing shall be this, that it makes all men sinners, because they do not believe in Christ. Hence God’s wrath is declared and the judgment of eternal death is pronounced upon those who in the sight of the world are irreproachable, who even strive with earnestness to live according to the law, or the ten commandments. How is this? Is it sin to live according to the ten commandments? Surely not; but these are not kept. The world recognizes only public, external sins, such as murder, adultery, robbery and what the jurists call and punish as crime. But God’s law demands not merely outward form and compliance; it goes to the heart and demands its perfect obedience. Therefore it also judges man not only by his outward walk and conduct, but by the depths of his heart. The world does not know nor see the true offenses, such as contempt of God, impurity of the heart, and disobedience to God’s will, which things are and remain in all men who are not sanctified by Christ.

Because no man fulfils the commandments and can be without sin before God, God resolved to send his Son into the world that he might become a sacrifice for us and make satisfaction for our sins by the shedding of his blood in death, and take away from us the wrath of God, which no creature could reconcile, bring forgiveness of sins and bestow upon us the Holy Spirit, so that we might obtain all this, begin to become new men, and come out of sin and death to righteousness and eternal life. This God has now done and has commanded us to preach it through the gospel. He demands of all men repentance and faith. He that believes this preaching has by this faith forgiveness of sins and is in the grace of God. But if they will not accept this Saviour by faith, they are justly condemned in their sins.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 115–16.

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Hold Fast http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 27 Mar 22 00:00:00 -0500

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From the Word

“A little while, and you will see me no more; again a little while, and you will see me.” 

John 16:16, RSV

From Luther

“A little while,” Christ says, “and ye shall not see me,” for I shall be taken prisoner and they shall deliver me to death. But it will not last long, and during this short time ye shall be sorrowful, but only remain steadfast in me and follow me. Three days I will be in the grave; the world will rejoice as though it had gained a victory, and ye shall be sorrowful and shall weep and lament. Again a little while, and ye shall se me,” that is, on the third day I will rise again; then ye shall rejoice and your joy no man shall take from you; this will not be a joy of only three days, like the joy of the world, but an eternal joy.

An example is here given us which we should diligently take to heart; in suffering, anxiety and distress, we should also remember to be strong and to rejoice because Christ will rise again. We know that this has come to pass; but the disciples did not know what he meant by the resurrection, hence they were so sad and sorrowful. They heard, indeed, that they should see him, but they did not understand what it was, nor how it should come to pass. To such an extent had sadness and sorrow overcome them that they quite despaired.

But since they were unable to understand it, why does Christ relate it or why is it written? In order that we should not despair but hold fast to the Word, assured that it is indeed thus, and not otherwise, even though it seems to be different. We should take to heart and firmly hold fast to these words and keep them in mind when in sorrow and distress; it will not last long, and then we shall also have more constant joy, for as Christ and his elect had their “little while,” so you and I and every one will have his “little while.” Pilate and Herod will not crucify you, but in the same manner as the devil used them, so he will also use your persecutors. When your trials come, you must not immediately think how you are to be delivered out of them. God will help you in due time. Only wait. It is only for a little while, he will not delay long.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 113–14.

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Confess and Believe http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 26 Mar 22 00:00:00 -0500

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From the Word

8 But what does it say? The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart (that is, the word of faith which we preach); 9 because, if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For man believes with his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved.

Romans 10:8–10, RSV

From Luther

Let it be said concerning confession that everything ought to be free, so that each person attends without restraint, of his own accord. But what ought one to confess? Here is where our preachers in the past have pounded a great deal into us by means of the five senses, the seven deadly sins, the ten commandments and the like, thereby perplexing our consciences. But it should be that you first of all feel that which weighs you down, and the sins that pain you most and burden your conscience. These you ought to declare and confess to your brother. You need not search long nor seek all kinds of sins; just take the ones that come to your mind, and say, This is how frail I am and how I have fallen; this is where I crave consolation and counsel. For confession ought to be brief. If you recall something that you have forgotten, it is not to trouble you; for you made confession, not as a good work, nor because you were compelled, but in order to be comforted by the word of absolution. Moreover, you can easily confess to God in secret what was forgotten, or you can hear the absolution for it during the communion service.

We are therefore not to worry, even if sins have been forgotten; though forgotten they are still forgiven; for God looks not to the excellence or completeness of your confession, but to his Word and how you believe it. So also the absolution does not state that some sins are forgiven and others not; it is a free proclamation declaring that God is merciful to you. But if God is merciful to you all your sins must be blotted out. Therefore hold fast to the absolution alone and not to your confession; whether or not you have forgotten anything makes no difference; to the extent that you believe you are forgiven. Therefore confession and absolution must be carefully distinguished, that you give attention chiefly to the absolution, and that you attend confession not to do a good work, thinking that because of this good work your sins are forgiven. We are to go only because we there hear God’s Word and by it receive consolation. This is confessing in the right way.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 112–13.

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Good for the Soul http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 25 Mar 22 00:00:00 -0500

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From the Word

1 Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man to whom the LORD imputes no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. 3 When I declared not my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. 5 I acknowledged my sin to thee, and I did not hide my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”; then thou didst forgive the guilt of my sin.

Psalm 32:1–5, RSV

From Luther

The first kind of confession is that which is made to God and teaches us that we are all alike wicked sinners. If any one have special grace, let him thank God and refrain from boasting. Has any one fallen into sin, it is because of his flesh and blood, nor has any fallen so low but that another who now stands may fall even lower. This kind of confession is so highly necessary that it dare not cease for a moment, but must constitute the entire life of a Christian, so that without ceasing he praises the grace of God and reproaches his own life in his presence.

The second confession is that made to our neighbor, and is called the confession springing from love, as the former is called confession springing from faith. Of this confession we read, “Confess your faults one to another.” This kind of confession like the former is necessary and commanded; for God will be merciful to no one, nor forgive his sins, unless he also forgive his neighbor. Besides, faith cannot be true unless it produces this fruit, that you forgive your neighbor, and that you ask for forgiveness; otherwise a man dare not appear before God. If this fruit is absent, faith and the first kind of confession are not honest.

The third kind of confession is that ordered by the pope, which is privately spoken into the ears of the priest when sins are enumerated. This confession is not commanded of God; the pope has forced the people to it and consciences have been troubled and tortured in a manner that is pitiful and distressing. Hence we say of private confession, that no one is compelled to observe it. Still it is a commendable and good thing. When you go to private confession do not give heed so much to what you do, as to what the minister says, that in God’s stead he proclaims to you the forgiveness of sins. The word which he speaks is not his, but God’s Word; and God will keep it as surely as if he had spoken it himself. This is the way God has placed his Word into every corner of the world. Therefore you ought not to despise it, but receive it with heartfelt desire in true faith.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 111–12.

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Consider Him http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 24 Mar 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26 Let us have no self-conceit, no provoking of one another, no envy of one another. 

Galatians 5:22–26, RSV

Frpm Luther

When your heart is established in Christ, and you are an enemy of sin, out of love and not out of fear of punishment, Christ’s suffering should be an example for your whole life, and you should meditate on the same in this way. If a day of sorrow or sickness weighs you down, think how trifling that is compared with the thorns and nails of Christ. If you must do or leave undone what is distasteful to you, think how Christ was led hither and thither, bound a captive. Does pride attack you, think how your Lord was mocked and disgraced with murderers. Do unchastity and lust thrust themselves against you, think how bitter it was for Christ to have his tender flesh torn, pierced and beaten again and again. Do hatred and envy war against you, or do you seek vengeance, remember how Christ, who had more reason to seek revenge, prayed for you and all his enemies with tears and cries. If trouble or whatever adversity of body or soul afflict you, strengthen your heart and say: Ah, why should I not also suffer a little, since my Lord sweat blood in the garden because of anxiety and grief? That would be a lazy, disgraceful servant who would wish to lie in his bed while his lord was compelled to battle with the pangs of death.

One can thus find in Christ strength and comfort against all vice and bad habits. This is the right observance of Christ’s passion and the fruit of his suffering, and he who exercises himself thus in the same does better than by hearing the whole Passion or reading all masses. They are called true Christians who incorporate the life and name of Christ into their own life. For Christ’s passion must be dealt with not in words and a show, but in our lives and in truth. Paul admonishes: “Consider him who endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.” And Peter says: “Forasmuch as Christ has suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind; for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin.”

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 110–11.

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Faith over Feelings http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 23 Mar 22 00:00:00 -0500

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21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin; no guile was found on his lips. 

1 Peter 2:21–22, RSV

From Luther

The atonement is the chief, the most exalted article of Christian doctrine. Faith alone apprehends it as the highest good, the greatest blessing of our salvation, and recognizes that we cannot, by our works or our sufferings, do or merit anything to atone for sin. The manner in which this subject is Scripturally presented prohibits us from adding to it anything of human origin. But so the accursed popedom has done in the teaching of its pillars and supporters, the monks, who regard the sufferings of Christ merely as an example for us. This is a doctrine not found in the Word of God, but is one of their own trivial, self-selected, self-devised, and false human teachings.

They have carried their untruthful, worthless inventions to the extent of claiming for the saints not only sufficient acquired merit for their own salvation, but a large accumulated surplus available for others, which they have bequeathed to the pope, thus furnishing him with an abundant treasury. Through indulgences the pope is to distribute this excess, these superfluous merits, as he feels disposed, at the same time dipping out for himself and his own fat swine the riches of the world; indeed, the ecclesiasts distribute their own merits and works. Oh, shameful abomination, that in the temple of God and in the Christian Church must be taught things which make wholly insignificant the sufferings and death of Christ! Gracious God! what can be said for human merit, for superfluity of human merit, when not one saint on earth has, with all his pains, suffered enough to cancel his own obligations, much less to be entitled to the honor of making his sufferings avail anything before God’s judgment seat, by way of remuneration or satisfaction for the mortal sins of others in the face of divine wrath?

The theme of Christ’s passion must far outrank every other. His sufferings are like pure and precious gold, compared to which ours is nothing. No one but Christ has suffered for the sins of another. The saint ought to be ashamed to boast of his sufferings in comparison with those of Christ, and ought to rejoice in the privilege of being partaker of the divine plan, of sharing as far as he can, and thus be found in the footsteps of Christ.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 107–08.

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For You http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 22 Mar 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin; no guile was found on his lips. 

1 Peter 2:21–22, RSV

From Luther

The atonement is the chief, the most exalted article of Christian doctrine. Faith alone apprehends it as the highest good, the greatest blessing of our salvation, and recognizes that we cannot, by our works or our sufferings, do or merit anything to atone for sin. The manner in which this subject is Scripturally presented prohibits us from adding to it anything of human origin. But so the accursed popedom has done in the teaching of its pillars and supporters, the monks, who regard the sufferings of Christ merely as an example for us. This is a doctrine not found in the Word of God, but is one of their own trivial, self-selected, self-devised, and false human teachings.

They have carried their untruthful, worthless inventions to the extent of claiming for the saints not only sufficient acquired merit for their own salvation, but a large accumulated surplus available for others, which they have bequeathed to the pope, thus furnishing him with an abundant treasury. Through indulgences the pope is to distribute this excess, these superfluous merits, as he feels disposed, at the same time dipping out for himself and his own fat swine the riches of the world; indeed, the ecclesiasts distribute their own merits and works. Oh, shameful abomination, that in the temple of God and in the Christian Church must be taught things which make wholly insignificant the sufferings and death of Christ! Gracious God! what can be said for human merit, for superfluity of human merit, when not one saint on earth has, with all his pains, suffered enough to cancel his own obligations, much less to be entitled to the honor of making his sufferings avail anything before God’s judgment seat, by way of remuneration or satisfaction for the mortal sins of others in the face of divine wrath?

The theme of Christ’s passion must far outrank every other. His sufferings are like pure and precious gold, compared to which ours is nothing. No one but Christ has suffered for the sins of another. The saint ought to be ashamed to boast of his sufferings in comparison with those of Christ, and ought to rejoice in the privilege of being partaker of the divine plan, of sharing as far as he can, and thus be found in the footsteps of Christ.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 107–08.

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The Light of Men http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 21 Mar 22 00:00:00 -0500

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From the Word

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God; 3 all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men.

John 1:1–4, RSV

From Luther

Just as we interpret the words of Christ, when he says, “I am the life,” so also should we interpret these words, and say nothing philosophically of the life of the creatures in God; on the contrary, we should consider how God lives in us and makes us partakers of his life, so that we live through him, of him, and in him. For it cannot be denied that through him natural life also exists, which even unbelievers have from him. Natural life is a part of eternal life, its beginning, but on account of death it has an end, because it does not acknowledge and honor him from whom it comes; sin cuts it off so that it must die forever. On the other hand, those who believe in him, and acknowledge him from whom they have their being, shall never die; but this natural life of theirs will be extended into eternal life, so that they will never taste death. “He that believeth in me, though he die, yet shall he live.” These and similar passages are well understood when we rightly learn to know Christ, how he overcame death and has brought us to life.

When the evangelist says, “In him was life,” and not, “In him is life,” as though he spoke of things past, the words must not be taken to mean the time before creation, or the time of the beginning; but they must be referred to the time of Christ’s life or sojourn upon earth, when the Word of God appeared to men and among men; for the evangelist proposes to write about Christ and that life in which he accomplished all things necessary for our life.

The words of the evangelist therefore simply refer to the sojourn of Christ on earth. Whoever will disregard the life and sojourn of Christ on earth, and will wish to find him in some other way than as he now sits in heaven, will always fail. He must look for him as he was and sojourned on earth, and he will then find life. Here Christ was made our life, light, and salvation. “In him was life,” not that he is not our life now, but that he does not now do that which he then did.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 106–07.

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A Thorn in the Flesh http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 20 Mar 22 00:00:00 -0500

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From the Word

7 And to keep me from being too elated by the abundance of revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to harass me, to keep me from being too elated. 8 Three times I besought the Lord about this, that it should leave me; 9 but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong. 

2 Corinthians 12:7–10, RSV

From Luther

And must this mighty apostle, O merciful God, be subject to trials lest he exalt himself because of his great revelations? Then how should others, how should such infirm beings as we, be free from self-exaltation? The thorn stands for something painful and afflicting. In “a thorn of the flesh” the thought is not of an instrumentality whereby the flesh stings, but of something that stings the flesh. The Greek text impels us to think of a thorn for the flesh. We may imagine Paul as saying: “As a clog to a dog’s neck, as a ring in a bear’s nose, a bit in a horse’s mouth, or a gag in the mouth of a swine, so is my thorn a clog to my body lest I exalt myself.”

Paul himself explains the nature of the clog, or thorn. He calls it “a messenger of Satan,” a devil, to “buffet” him, or to jog him. Hence a spiritual trial cannot be meant. The explanation appeals to me that the persecutions and sufferings, which the apostle recounts, constitute the devil’s flaying. Thus his meaning would be: I have received great revelations, for which reason the clog is bound to the dog; that is, the many dangers and misfortunes with which the angel of the devil buffets and humiliates my body will make me forget to exalt myself. They are the thorn in my flesh, or upon my body; for God will not permit it to come upon my soul.

The text seems to imply some peculiar work of the devil upon Paul’s body, for it says, the thorn, or clog, is the messenger which Satan employs to beat his body; also that the apostle thrice, diligently but unavailingly, besought the Lord to remove it. I do not imagine him praying for the cessation of persecutions in a spirit of unwillingness to suffer them. But since he does not specify the affliction, we must let it remain a secret, a distress only known to himself. It is enough for us to know that while God had given him great revelations, revelations beyond human ken, he also bound the clog to him — gave him a thorn for his body — to prevent the exaltation of himself; and the knowledge of the buffetings and flaying caused by this clog, or devil, are likewise beyond human ken.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 105–06.

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You Crucified Him http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 19 Mar 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth. 

Isaiah 53:4–7, RSV

From Luther

Some reflect upon the sufferings of Christ in such way as to become angry at the Jews, sing and lament about poor Judas, and are then satisfied. Such is not a meditation on the sufferings of Christ, but on the wickedness of Judas and the Jews. Others have pointed out the different fruits springing from a consideration of Christ’s passion. The saying is ascribed to Albertus, that to think once, and that only superficially, of the sufferings of Christ is better than to fast a whole year or to pray the Psalter every day. Some people thus blindly follow him and act contrary to the true fruits of Christ’s passion; for they seek therein their own selfish interests. A third class so sympathize with Christ as to weep and lament for him because he was so innocent, like the women who followed Christ from Jerusalem, whom he rebuked, telling them they had better weep for themselves and their children.

They meditate aright on the passion of Christ, who so view Christ as to become terror-stricken in heart at the sight, and their conscience at once sinks in despair. This terror-stricken feeling should spring forth, so that you see the severe wrath and the unchangeable earnestness of God in regard to sin and sinners, in that he was unwilling that his only and dearly beloved Son should set sinners free unless he paid this costly ransom for them. There must be an earnestness here that is inexpressible and unbearable, that a person so immeasureably great goes to meet, and suffers and dies for it. If you reflect that God’s Son, the eternal wisdom of the Father, himself suffers, you will indeed be terror-stricken; and the more you reflect, the deeper will be the impression. You must really believe and never doubt in the least that you are the one who thus martyred Christ. For your sins most surely did it. Thus Peter struck and terrified the Jews, when he said to them all in common, “Him have ye crucified,” so that three thousand were terror-stricken the same day and trembling cried to the apostles: “O beloved brethren, what shall we do?” Where man does not come to this point, the sufferings of Christ have become of no true benefit to him.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 104–05.

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Holding Faith http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 18 Mar 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

Truly, truly, I say to you, if any one keeps my word, he will never see death.

John 8:51, RSV

From Luther

By these words Christ breaks entirely with the Jews in that he ascribes such virtue to his teaching that it becomes a powerful emperor over Satan, death, and sin, to give and sustain eternal life. Here see, how divine wisdom and human reason are in conflict with one another. How can a human being grasp the thought, that a corporeal, an oral word should redeem forever from death? But let blindness run its course. Christ is speaking here not of the word of the law, but of the gospel, which is a discourse about Christ, who died for our sins. For God did not wish to impart Christ to the world in any other way; he had to embody him in the Word and thus distribute him, and present him to everybody; otherwise Christ would have existed for himself alone and remained unknown to us; he would have thus died for himself. But when the Word places Christ before us, it places us before one who has triumphed over death, sin, and Satan. Therefore he who grasps and retains Christ has eternal deliverance from death. Consequently it is a Word of life, and it is true that whosoever keeps the Word shall never see death.

From this we may well understand what Christ meant by the word “keep;” it is not such keeping as one keeps the law by good works; for this word of Christ must be kept in the heart by faith and not by good works. The Jews rage fearfully against Christ, that Abraham and the prophets are dead; they know nothing of what it is to “keep,” to “die,” or to “live.” And to “keep” is not said in vain; for there is a conflict and battle when sin bites, death presses and hell faces us; then we are to be in earnest in holding firmly to the Word and let nothing separate us from it. Thus you see how Christ answers the Jews and praises his own teachings. You say, my Word is of the devil, and wish to sink it to the bottom of perdition; on the contrary I say to you that it has divine power in it, and I exalt it higher than the heaven of heavens, and above all creatures.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 103–04.

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Our Only Hope http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 17 Mar 22 00:00:00 -0500

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From the Word

For this is the will of my Father, that every one who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” 

John 6:40, RSV

From Luther

With these words Christ declares the Father’s will, namely, that we come to Christ, see him and believe in him, that we may not be cast out and lost. It is the Father’s will that we attain unto eternal life. Therefore the will of the Father is that all who are given to Christ should be saved through Christ in eternity. These are significant words, since faith in Christ is sufficient for the attainment of eternal life. He does not say, Thou shalt fast and pray and do this and that, but, If thou wilt believe in the Son, thou shalt be saved; and this is the Father’s will.

But are we not to do any good works? Yes, they are to follow faith, for faith must have good works; but eternal life is not attained by good works, since it is impossible to keep the law. No saint was ever found on earth who has loved God with his whole heart and his fellow man as himself. Therefore God has not said, I should be the one to give life to myself or keep myself. To give life and keep it depends on two things, namely, seeing and believing. These words are easily said, but no one knows what faith means. It is a grand art and doctrine from which no saint has ever graduated or was able to fathom, unless he was steeped in despair, or cast into throes of external danger and death. The power and effect of faith are especially seen in temptations, when sin, death, devil, and hell are overcome. Nor are these weak enemies; they bring out perspiration, weaken our limbs, and make heaven and earth cramped. When the devil and death come, no one can help except only the person who has said, I am he who shall sustain thee. Under such conditions we learn what faith is.

He adds, “and I will raise him up at the last day,” to refute the foolish understanding of the flesh. That the carnal sense may not here be applied, as though eternal life would be given without physical death, he tells us before that they will indeed die, but will not lose eternal life, as they shall be raised again at the last day.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 101–02.

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Imitators of God http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 16 Mar 22 00:00:00 -0500

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From the Word

1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. 

Ephesians 5:1–2, RSV

From Luther

Paul admonishes us to be followers of the Father, as beloved children. He employs the most endearing terms — “dear children” — to persuade us with the Father’s love to love even as we are loved. What manner of love has God manifested toward us? Not simply that love in which he gives temporal support to us unworthy beings in common with all the wicked on earth; that he permits his sun to rise on the just and the unjust and sends rain on the grateful and the ungrateful. Not only thus did God love us; but he has given his Son for us. In addition to showering upon us both temporal and eternal blessings he has given his own self with all he is, with all he has, with all he does. He who despises such glow of love, which fills all heaven and earth and is beyond all power to comprehend; he who does not permit this love to kindle and incite in him love for his neighbor, whether enemy or friend, is not likely ever to become godly or loving by such measures as laws or commandments, instruction, constraint, or compulsion.

“Walk in love,” the apostle counsels. He would have our external life all love. But not the world’s love is to be our pattern, which seeks only its own advantage, and loves only so long as it is the gainer thereby; we must love even as Christ loved, who sought neither pleasure, nor gain from us, but gave himself for us — gave himself as a sacrifice and offering to reconcile God unto ourselves, so that he should be our God and we his children. Thus are we to give, or even surrender our goods, whether friends claim them or enemies. We are to be ready to give our lives for both friends and enemies and must be occupied with the thought how we may serve others, and how life and property can be made to minister to them in this life, and this because we know that Christ is ours and has given us all things. All sacrifices are powerless but that of Christ himself; he is the sweet-smelling savor. This sacrifice is pleasing to God. He gladly accepts it and would have us believe that it is an acceptable offering in our stead.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 100–01.

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All Things http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 15 Mar 22 00:00:00 -0500

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

[God] he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven other persons, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly

2 Peter 2:5, RSV

From Luther

It is appalling that the whole human race except eight persons is destroyed, in view of the fact that this was truly the golden age; for succeeding ages do not equal the old world in glory, greatness, and majesty. And if God visited with destruction his own perfect creation and the very glory of the human race, we have just cause for fear. In inflicting this punishment, God followed his own peculiar way. Whatever is most exalted he particularly overthrows and humiliates. He did not spare the sublimest creatures—the angels—, nor the kings ruling his people, nor the first-born of all times. But the more highly they were blessed with gifts, the more sternly he punished them when they began to misuse his gifts.

As God, who is by nature most kind, cannot refrain from gracing and showering us with various gifts, so we cannot refrain from priding ourselves upon these gifts and flaunting them. Wretched is our life when we lack the gifts of God, but twice wretched is it when we have them; for they tend to make us doubly wicked. Such is the corruption of original sin, though all but believers are either unaware of its existence or regard it a trivial thing. How property inflates pride, though it occupies relatively the lowest place among blessings! The rich, be they noblemen or peasants, deem other people as flies. To an even greater extent are the higher gifts abused—wisdom and righteousness. This was the sin of the primeval world. Among Cain’s descendants were good and wise men, who, nevertheless, were wicked before God, for they prided themselves upon their gifts and despised God, the author.

The old world was guilty, not only of sin against the second table of the commandments, but most of all of sin against the first by making a fine, but deceptive and false show of wisdom, godliness, and religion. As a result of the ungodliness in opposition to the first table there followed that moral corruption of which Moses speaks, that people polluted themselves with all sorts of lusts and afterward filled the world with oppression and bloodshed. Because the ungodly world had trampled both tables under foot, God came to judge it, who is a consuming fire and a jealous God.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 99–100.

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Another Son http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 14 Mar 22 00:00:00 -0500

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From the Word

And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and called his name Seth, for she said, “God has appointed for me another child instead of Abel, for Cain slew him.”

Genesis 4:25, RSV

From Luther

Seth is derived from a Hebrew verb which signifies, “he placed,” or “he established,” and was intended to show that this son would be the foundation on which the promise concerning Christ would rest, even though many other sons should be born unto the parents. Eve does not give him an exalted name, such as “Cain,” but one signifying that the posterity of Seth should never be suppressed or destroyed. The Cainites are left under a curse without any promise whatever, and they have only so much mercy as they receive from the generation of the righteous as beggars, not as heirs.

Eve is highly to be praised as a most holy woman, full of faith and charity, because in the person of her son Seth she so nobly lauds the true Church, paying no regard whatever to the generation of the Cainites. She does not say, I have gotten another son in the place of Cain. She prefers the slain Abel to Cain, though Cain was the first-born. Praise is due not only to her faith but to her eminent obedience; for she is not only not offended at the judgment of God concerning righteous Abel, but she also changes her own judgment concerning God. When Abel was born she despised him, and magnified Cain as the first-born, and as the possessor, as she thought, of the promise. Now she acts quite to the contrary. As if she had said: After God’s acceptance of him and of his offering, I had placed all my hopes on my son Abel, because he was righteous; but his wicked brother slew him. But now God hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel. She does not indulge her maternal affection for Cain. She does not excuse or lessen his sin; but she herself excommunicates him, already excommunicated of God.

In Seth, then, we have a new generation, which arises from and comes to pass in accordance with the great original promise, that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent’s head. Appropriately the name Seth is bestowed, so that Eve may felicitate herself upon the fact that this seed is established, and safe from overthrow.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 98–99.

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Who Do You Trust? http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 13 Mar 22 00:00:00 -0600

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From the Word

23 Lamech said to his wives: “Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; you wives of Lamech, hearken to what I say: I have slain a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me. 24 If Cain is avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy-sevenfold.” 

Genesis 4:23–24, RSV

From Luther

Here Lamech sets himself above his father Cain, making it appear that he had a more righteous cause for the murder he had committed, and fortifying himself against those inclined to avenge the murder perpetrated by him. For the words of the text are not the words of the Lord, but the words of Lamech himself. It is very probable that the patriarch Adam died about this time; and there is no doubt that Lamech seized this opportunity of transferring the whole government of the world at that time to himself, that he might have all things under his own rule.

Lamech is, therefore, an example of this world, and Moses points to him to show what kind of a heart, will, and wisdom the children of this world have. They gather riches, follow their pleasures, increase their power, and then abuse all these things by their tyranny, making use of them against the true Church, whose members they persecute and slay. In the midst of all these mighty sins, they fear not, but are proud and secure, saying, “What can the righteous do?” “Our lips are our own: who is lord over us?” Thus the true Church has ever Satan as its great enemy, as Christ also says, “that the devil was a murderer from the beginning.” The Scriptures declare throughout concerning the true Church, that the wicked are ever shedding its blood.

In this manner the Church was vexed with the cross and persecutions from the very beginning of the world until God, compelled by the wickedness of man, destroyed the whole world by the flood. So also, when the measure of Pharaoh’s malice was full, he was drowned with all his host in the Red Sea. So also, when the malice of the Gentile nations was full, they were all uprooted and destroyed by Moses and Joshua. In the same manner later when the Jews raged against the gospel, they were so utterly destroyed that not one stone was left upon another in Jerusalem. Thus also Christ expressly testifies against them “that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, son of Barachias.”

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 96–97.

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East of Eden http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 12 Mar 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

Then Cain went away from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

Genesis 4:16, RSV

From Luther

Moses leaves it to the thoughtful reader to reflect how miserable and full of tears this departure of Cain from his father’s house must have been. His godly parents had already lost their son Abel; and now, at the command of God, the other son departs from them into banishment, loaded with divine curses, on account of his sin—the very son whom his parents had hoped to be the only heir of the promise. But they obey the command of God and cast out their son.

Adam and Eve had learned by their own experience in paradise that it was no light sin to depart from the command of God; therefore they thought: Our sin in paradise has been punished with death, and with an infinite number of other calamities into which we have been thrown since we were driven out of paradise. Now that our son has committed so atrocious a sin, it behooves us not to resist the will of God and his righteous judgment, however bitter we feel them to be.

This departure from his home was, I have no doubt, most bitter also to Cain himself. For he was compelled to leave, not only the common home, his dear parents and their protection, but his hereditary right of primogeniture, the prerogative of the kingdom and of the priesthood, and the communion of the Church. Hence we have the expression in the text, that Cain went out from the presence of the Lord. “The presence” or “face of the Lord” are all those things and means by which the Lord makes himself known to us. Thus the face of the Lord, under the Old Testament, was the pillar of fire, the cloud, the mercy seat and the like. Under the New Testament, the face of the Lord is baptism, the Lord’s Supper, the ministry of the Word. For by these things, as by visible signs, the Lord makes himself known to us, and shows that he is with us, that he cares for us and favors us. Cain “went out” to where there was no “face of God,” no visible sign by which he could derive the consolation that God was present with his favor. A wretched departure full of tears.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 95–96.

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Uncovenanted Mercy http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 11 Mar 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the WOrd

15 Then the LORD said to him, “Not so! If any one slays Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the LORD put a mark on Cain, lest any who came upon him should kill him.

Genesis 4:15, RSV

From Luther

God deprives Cain of all the divine blessings, both spiritual and civil. He mitigates that sentence by commanding that no one shall slay Cain. But he does not promise that all men shall surely obey his command. Therefore Cain, though possessing this promise in reference to his body, is still a fugitive and wanderer. God left him in a life of uncertainty, doubt and restless wandering, and did no more than protect his life by a command and threat which might restrain the wicked from killing him, on account of the certain awful punishment which would follow such destruction of the murderer. But a promise that he should not be murdered was withheld. The Scriptures are quite silent concerning the number of the years of Cain, and say nothing about the day of his birth or the day of his death. He perished, together with his whole generation. Only a few of his generation are excepted, who were saved by the uncovenanted mercy of God.

The question is here usually asked, to what persons could the words of Cain possibly apply, when he says, “Every one that findeth me shall slay me,” when it is evident that besides Adam and Eve and their few daughters, no human beings were in existence. I would reply that they bear witness to the fact that we see the wicked “flee when no man pursueth.” They imagine various perils where none really exist. Just as we see it in the case of murderers at the present, who are filled with fears where all is safe, who can remain quiet nowhere, and who imagine death to be present everywhere.

The words of the text cannot be referred exclusively to the fears within Cain, for he had sisters, and perhaps he greatly dreaded that sister whom he married, lest she should take vengeance on him for the murder of her brother. Moreover, Cain had perhaps a vague apprehension of a long life, and he saw that many more sons were born of Adam. He therefore feared the whole posterity of Adam. It greatly increased these fears that Adam had left him nothing more than his stray mercy.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 94–95.

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Unthwarted http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 10 Mar 22 00:00:00 -0600

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From the Word

10 And the LORD said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. 11 And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.

Genesis 4:10–11, RSV

From Luther

We should mark as particularly worthy of note the discrimination exercised by the Holy Spirit. When the penalty for his sin was inflicted upon Adam, a curse was placed, not upon the person of Adam, but only upon the earth; and even this curse was not absolute, but qualified. The expression is: “Cursed is the ground for thy sake;” and in Rom. 8:20 we read: “The creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly.” The earth, inasmuch as it bore guilty man, became involved in the curse as his instrument, just as the sword, gold and other objects are cursed for the reason that men make them the instrument of sin. The Holy Spirit discriminates between the earth and Adam. He diverts the curse to the earth, but saves the person.

In this instance the Holy Spirit curses the person of Cain. Why is this? Is it because the sin of Cain, as a murderer, was greater than the sin of Adam and Eve? Not so. But because Adam was the root from whose flesh and loins Christ, that blessed seed, should be born. It is this seed that was spared. For the sake of this seed, the fruit of the loins of Adam, the curse is transferred from the person of Adam to the earth. Thus, Adam bears the curse of the earth, but his person is not cursed; from his posterity Christ was to be born.

Cain, since he fell by his sin, must suffer the curse being inflicted upon his person. He hears it said to him, “Cursed art thou,” that we might understand that he was cut off from the glory of the promised seed, and condemned never to have in his posterity that seed through which the blessing should come. Thus Cain was cast out from the stupendous glory of the promised seed. Abel was slain; therefore there could be no posterity from him. But Adam was ordained to serve God by further procreation. In Adam alone, after Cain’s rejection, the hope of the blessed seed rested until Seth was born unto him.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 93–94.

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A Proper Response http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 09 Mar 22 00:00:00 -0600

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From the Word

8 Cain said to Abel his brother, “Let us go out to the field.” And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel, and killed him. 9 Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” 

Genesis 4:8–9, RSV

From Luther

Cain thinks he has made an effectual excuse for himself by saying that he is not his brother’s keeper. But does he not confess by the very word “brother,” which he takes upon his lips, that he ought to be his keeper? Is not that equal to accusing himself, and will not the fact that Abel is nowhere in evidence arouse the suspicion in the minds of his parents that he has been murdered? Just so also Adam excuses himself in paradise, and lays the blame on Eve. But the excuse of Cain is far more stupid; for while he excuses his sin he doubles it, whereas the frank confession of sin finds mercy and appeases wrath. All liars and hypocrites imitate Cain their father by either denying their sin or excusing it. Hence they cannot find pardon for their sins.

But let us survey the order in which sins follow each other and increase. First Cain sins by presumption and unbelief, priding himself on the privilege of his birthright. He takes it for granted that he shall be accepted of God on the ground of his own merit. Upon the pride and self-glorification follow envy and hatred of his brother, whom he sees preferred to himself by an unmistakable sign from heaven. Upon this envy and hatred follow hypocrisy and lying. Though he designs to murder his brother, he accosts him in a friendly manner and thereby throws him off his guard. Hypocrisy is followed by murder. Murder is followed by the excusing of his sin. And the last stage is despair, which is the fall from heaven to hell.

Moses took special pains in the preparation of this account to serve as a witness against all hypocrites, and as a chronicle containing a graphic description of their character and ire aroused by Satan against God, his Word and his Church. It was not enough of this murderer that he killed his brother, but he added the further sin of becoming indignant and wrathful when God inquired of him concerning his brother. He is indignant that he should be called to an account concerning the matter at all. His reply is the language of one who resists and hates God.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 92–93.

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The Blessed Dead http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 08 Mar 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

8 Cain said to Abel his brother, “Let us go out to the field.” And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel, and killed him. 9 Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” 10 And the LORD said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.

Genesis 4:8–10, RSV

From Luther

There is clearly pointed out to us here the truth of the resurrection of the dead. This element of doctrine and of hope is found in the fact that the Lord inquires concerning the dead Abel. God thereby declares himself to be the God of Abel, although now dead. Upon this passage we may establish the incontrovertible principle that, if there were no one to care for us after this life, Abel would not have been inquired for after he was slain. But God inquires after Abel even when he had been taken from this life; he has no desire to forget him; he retains the remembrance of him; God, therefore, is the God of the dead. My meaning is that even the dead, as we see here, still live in the memory of God who cares for them, and saves them in another life beyond and different from this corporal life in which saints suffer affliction.

This passage, therefore, is most worthy of our attention. A towering fact this, that Abel, though dead, was living and canonized in another life, more effectually and truly than those whom the pope ever canonized. The death of Abel was indeed horrible; he did not suffer death without excruciating torment, nor without many tears. Yet it was a blessed death, for now he lives a more blessed life than he did before. This bodily life of ours is lived in sin, and is ever in danger of death. But that other life is eternal and perfectly free from trials and troubles, both of the body and of the soul.

God inquires not after the sheep and oxen that are slain, but he does inquire after the men that are slain. Therefore men possess the hope of a resurrection. They have a God who brings them back from the death of the body unto eternal life, a God who inquires after their blood as a most precious thing. This is the glory of the human race obtained for it by the seed of the woman, which bruised the serpent’s head. For God, in answer to Abel’s faith in the promised seed, required the blood of the dead, and proved thereby to be his God still.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 90–91.

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The Acceptable Time http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 07 Mar 22 00:00:00 -0600

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From the Word

1 Working together with him, then, we entreat you not to accept the grace of God in vain. 2 For he says, "At the acceptable time I have listened to you, and helped you on the day of salvation.” Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

2 Corinthians 6:1–2, RSV

From Luther

These words portray the riches of salvation, wherever the gospel abounds; nothing but grace and help; no wrath, no punishment. Indeed, the apostle here employs words of unutterable meaning. He tells us that it is an acceptable time, as the Hebrew expresses it. Our way of putting it would be: This is a gracious time, a time when God turns away his wrath and is moved only by love and benevolence toward us and is pleased to do us good. All our sins are forgotten; he takes no notice of the sins of the past, nor of those of the present. We are in a realm of mercy, where are only forgiveness and reconciliation. The heavens are now open. This is the golden year when man is denied nothing. Whatsoever thou shalt desire and ask for, thou shalt surely receive. Be not neglectful: ask while the acceptable time continues.

Paul also declares that it is a day of blessing, “a day of salvation.” It is a day of help, wherein we are not only acceptable and assured of God’s favor and good will toward us, but we experience, even as we have been assured, that God really does help us. He verifies his assurance, for his beneficence gives testimony that our prayers are heard. We call it a happy day, a blessed day, a day of abundance; for these two truths are inseparably related, namely, that God is favorable toward us, and that his kindness is proof of his favor. God’s favor toward us is revealed in the first clause, which speaks of an acceptable time; that he extends help to us is revealed in the second clause, telling of a blessed day of succor. Both these facts are to be apprehended by faith and in good conscience; for a superficial judgment would lead to the view that this period of blessing is rather an accursed period of wrath and disfavor. Words like these, of a spiritual meaning, must be understood in the light of the Holy Spirit; thus shall we find that these two glorious, beautiful expressions refer to the gospel dispensation and are intended to magnify all the treasures and the riches of the kingdom of Christ. May we take heed and accept the gospel with fear and gratitude.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 89–90.

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The Office of Disgrace http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 06 Mar 22 00:00:00 -0600

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From the Word

48 The Jews answered him, “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?” 49 Jesus answered, “I have not a demon; but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me.

John 8:48–49, RSV

From Luther

“Thou art a Samaritan” sounds worse among the Jews than any crime. In these words Christ teaches us the fate that awaits us Christians and his Word; both our life and doctrine must be condemned and reviled, and that by the foremost, wisest and greatest of earth. Thus one learns to know the corrupt tree by its fruits, as under the pretense of being good, they are so bitter, angry, impatient, cruel and mad as to condemn and pass sentence, when one touches them at their tender spot and rejects their ideas and ways.

Christ here abandons his life to shame and dishonor, is silent and suffers them to call him a Samaritan, while he takes pains to defend his doctrine. For the doctrine is not ours, but God’s. I should stake all I have and suffer all they do, that the honor of God and of his Word may not be injured. For if I perish, no great harm is done; but if I let God’s Word perish, and remain silent, I do harm to God and the whole world. Although I cannot close their mouths, nor prevent their wickedness, nevertheless I shall not keep silent, nor act as if they were right. Although they do me injustice, yet it remains right before God. Christ says, “I have not a devil,” that is, my doctrine is not the devil’s lies; but “I honor my Father,” that is, I preach in my doctrine the grace of God, through which he is to be praised, loved and honored by believers. For the evangelical office of the ministry is nothing but glorifying God.

When Christ says, “Ye dishonor me,” he implies that the Father’s and his honor are the same, as he and the Father are one God. Yet along with this he would also teach that if the office of the ministry, which God honors, is to be duly praised, then it must suffer disgrace. Thus we will do to our princes and priests; when they attack our manner of life, we should suffer it and show love for hatred, good for evil; but when they attack our doctrine, God’s honor is attacked, then love and patience should cease and we should not keep silent. Although the whole world reviles and dishonors us, we are assured that God will honor us, and will punish and judge the world.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 88–89.

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The Pious Pastor http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 05 Mar 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

45 But, because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. 46 Which of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? 47 He who is of God hears the words of God; the reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.” 

John 8:45–47, RSV

From Luther

This gospel teaches how persons become more hardened and furious, the more one teaches them, and lovingly urges them to do their duty. Christ asks them here in a very loving way for a reason why they still disbelieve, since they can find fault neither with his life, nor with his teaching. His life is blameless; for he challenges them with the words, “Which of you convinceth me of sin?” His teaching is also blameless; for he adds, “If I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?” Thus Christ lives as he teaches.

Every preacher should prove that he possesses, first, a blameless life, by which he can defy his enemies and no one may have occasion to slander his teachings; secondly, that he possesses the pure doctrine, so that he may not mislead those who follow him. Thus he will be right and firm on both sides; with his good life against his enemies, who look much more at his life than at his doctrine, and despise the doctrine for the sake of the life; with his doctrine among his friends, who have much more respect for his doctrine than for the kind of life he leads, and will bear with his life for the sake of his teaching.

It is indeed true that no one lives so perfect a life as to be without sin before God. Therefore it is sufficient that we be blameless in the eyes of the people. But his doctrine must be so good and pure as to stand, not only before man, but also before God. Therefore every pious pastor may well ask, Who among you can find fault with my life? Among you, I say, who are men, but before God I am a sinner. Thus Moses boasts that he took nothing from the people and did them no injustice. Thus Samuel, Jeremiah, and Hezekiah rightly boasted of their blameless life before the people to stop the mouths of blasphemers. But Christ does not thus speak of his doctrine, but says, “If I tell you the truth.” For one must be assured that his doctrine is right before God and that it is the truth, and accordingly care not how it is judged by the people. The Jews have no ground for their unbelief; therefore Christ pronounces judgment upon them.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 87–88.

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All the More Reason http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 04 Mar 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. 3 But fornication and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is fitting among saints. 

Ephesians 5:1–3, RSV

From Luther

In naming uncleanness in addition to fornication, the reference is to all sensual affections in distinction from wedded love. They are too unsavory for Paul to mention, though in the first chapter of Romans he finds it expedient to speak of them without disguise. However, also wedded love must be characterized by moderation among Christians. While there is a conjugal duty to be required by necessity, it is for the very purpose of avoiding unchastity and uncleanness. The ideal and perfect condition would be cohabitation with the sole view to procreation; however, that is too high for attainment by all.

Paul declares that the sin which he indicates should not even be named of the Ephesians. Unquestionably among Christians there will always be some infirm one to fall; but we must labor diligently, correcting, amending, and restraining. We must not allow the offense to go unchallenged, but curtail and remedy it. An occasional fall among Christians must be borne with as long as right prevails in general and such things are neither tolerated nor taught, but reproved and amended. Paul counsels the Galatians that the brethren restore the fallen in a spirit of meekness; and he blames the Corinthians for not reproving those who sin. I make this point for the sake of those who, as soon as they observe that all Christians are not perfectly holy, imagine there is no such thing as a Christian and think the gospel is impotent and fruitless.

The writer of the epistle assigns the reason why it does not sound well to hear such things about Christians,—because they are saints and it behooves saints to be chaste and moderate, to practice and teach these virtues. He calls Christians “saints” notwithstanding that in this life they are clothed with sinful flesh and blood. Doubtless the term is not applied in consequence of their good works, but because of the holy blood of Christ. For Paul says, “But ye were washed, but ye were sanctified, but ye were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.” Being holy, we should manifest our holiness by our deeds. Though we are still weak, yet we ought duly to strive to become chaste and free from covetousness, to the glory and honor of God and the edifying of unbelievers.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 85–86.

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The Strong Man http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 03 Mar 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

Now he was casting out a demon that was dumb; when the demon had gone out, the dumb man spoke, and the people marveled.

Luke 11:14, RSV

From Luther

The dumb, deaf, blind, and demon-possessed man represents all the children of Adam, who through the flesh are possessed of Satan in original sin, so that they must be his slaves and do according to his will. Hence they are also blind, that is, they do not see God. They are deaf, for they do not hear God’s Word, and are not obedient or submissive to it. They are also dumb, for they do not give him one word of thanks or praise, nor do they preach and proclaim Christ and the grace of God. But they are all too talkative about the teachings of the devil and the opinions of men. In these things they see only too well and are wiser than the children of light in their undertakings, opinions, and desires. In these things they hear with both ears and readily accept the suggestions of flesh and blood. Therefore whatever we do, in word and deed, as to body and soul, is of the devil, whether it be externally good or bad, and must be redeemed through the work of God. When we are in his kingdom, we acknowledge him, see, hear and follow him, praise and proclaim his name. All this takes place through the Spirit of God in his Word, which casts out the devil and his kingdom.

But when the stronger man, the Gospel, comes, peace flees, and he rages like a madman, for he resents being condemned, unmasked, punished and publicly branded. He gathers up his armor, the powerful, wise, rich and holy people, and sets them all to attacking God’s Word, as we see in the persecution of the teachers of the gospel. Such rage and persecution signify that the devil retires very unwillingly and raves in his whole body; as he acts in the body and its members when he must depart, so he also behaves in the whole world, resisting with all his power when he is to give place to the gospel; but it is all in vain, he must be expelled. A stronger one, that is, Christ, comes and overpowers him and takes away his whole armor, that is, he converts some of those same persecutors, and to that extent makes him weaker and his own kingdom stronger. He divides the spoil, too, by using for various offices, graces, and works in Christendom those whom he converts.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 84–85.

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Suffering Fools http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 02 Mar 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

19 For you gladly bear with fools, being wise yourselves! 20 For you bear it if a man makes slaves of you, or preys upon you, or takes advantage of you, or puts on airs, or strikes you in the face.

2 Corinthians 11:19–20, RSV

From Luther

Paul delivers a masterly stroke when with the same words he praises and rebukes the Corinthians. His commendation of their patience is in reality reproof. He means to say: I have preached the gospel to you at my own expense and jeopardy. By my labor you have attained to its blessing. You have done nothing for me in return, I have been no tax upon you. Now, upon my departure, others come and captivate you, and seek honor and profit from my labor. They boast as though the accomplishments were all theirs. Of these you become the disciples and pupils. Their preaching you accept, while mine becomes odious. My case is that of the bee which labors to gather honey and then come the idle drones and earthworms and consume the sweet which they have not gathered.

You can suffer these false prophets though they be fools and teach you foolishness. In this you display wisdom and patience. But you do not suffer me, who taught you true wisdom. You can permit them to make servants of you, to be your lords and to order you to do their bidding. But I, who have made myself your servant, served you without profit to myself, that you might be lords with Christ, must now be ignored and all my labors lost. You suffer yourselves to be devoured; for you abundantly bestow your property upon them. But I have never enjoyed aught of yours. All my service has been without recompense, that ye might become rich in Christ.

You suffer the false teachers to take from you beyond your consent, to exalt themselves above you, to esteem themselves better than you and me, and to exercise their arrogance over you. But you deal not so with me, who have sacrificed my own substance, and have taken from others, that I might bring the gospel to you. They reproach you publicly, smite you in the face, put you to shame and abuse you with insolent words. But my patience with you, my parental tenderness, is remembered no more.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 83–84.

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The Cleansed Conscience http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 01 Mar 22 00:00:00 -0600

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From the Word

13 For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a heifer sanctifies for the purification of the flesh, 14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify your conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

Hebrews 9:13–14, RSV

From Luther

Christ sacrificed not goats, nor calves, nor birds; not bread, nor blood, nor flesh, as did Aaron and his descendants. He offered his own body and blood, and the manner of the sacrifice was spiritual, for it was offered through the Holy Spirit. Though the body and blood of Christ were visible like any other material object, the fact that he offered them as a sacrifice was not apparent. It was not a visible sacrifice as in the case of those offered at the hands of Aaron. Christ offered himself in heart before God. His sacrifice was perceptible to no mortal. Therefore, his bodily flesh and blood became a spiritual sacrifice.

In the new order, the tabernacle or house is spiritual; for it is heaven, or the presence of God. Christ hung upon a cross; he was not offered in a temple. He was offered before the eyes of God, and there he still abides. The cross is an altar in a spiritual sense. The material cross was indeed visible, but none knew it as Christ’s altar. His prayer, his sprinkled blood, were all spiritual, for it was all wrought through his spirit.

The fruit and blessing of his office and sacrifice, the forgiveness of sins and our justification, are likewise spiritual. In the Old Covenant, the priest with his sacrifices and sprinklings of blood effected merely an external absolution, or pardon. It rendered no one inwardly holy and just before God. Something more than that was necessary to secure real forgiveness. With the priesthood of Christ there is true spiritual remission, sanctification and absolution. These avail before God, whether we be outwardly excommunicated or not. Christ’s blood has obtained for us pardon forever acceptable to God. He will forgive us our sins for the sake of that blood as long as its power shall last and its intercession for grace in our behalf shall continue, which is forever.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 82–83.

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Don't Neglect It http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 28 Feb 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

20 So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 6:1 Working together with him, then, we entreat you not to accept the grace of God in vain.

2 Corinthians 5:20–6:1, RSV

From Luther 

The apostle’s purpose in beseeching his co-laborers is to prevent them from despising the external Word as something inessential or sufficiently well known to them. Though God is able to effect everything without the instrumentality of the external Word, working inwardly by his Spirit, this is not his way of doing. He uses preachers and co-workers to accomplish his purpose through the Word when and where he pleases. Since preachers, therefore, have the office, name and honor of fellow-workers with God, no one must consider himself too learned or too holy to ignore or despise the most inferior preaching, especially as he knows not when the hour may come wherein God will perform his work in him through preachers.

Paul wishes also to show the danger of neglecting the grace of God. He boldly declares here that the preaching of the gospel is not an eternal, continuous and permanent mode of instruction, but rather a passing shower, which hastens on. What it strikes, it strikes; what it misses, it misses. It does not return, nor does it stand still. The sun and heat follow and dry it up. Experience shows that in no part of the world has the gospel remained pure beyond the length of a man’s memory. When its pioneers were gone, the light disappeared; factions, spirits, and false teachers immediately followed.

Moses announced that the children of Israel would corrupt themselves after his death, and the book of Judges sufficiently testifies that such was really the case. King Joash did right as long as the high priest Jehoiada lived, but after the latter’s death, it was soon ended. Soon after the time of Christ and his apostles the world was filled with seditious preachers and false teachers. Therefore to receive the grace of God in vain is nothing less than to hear the pure Word of God, and yet remain listless and irresponsive. Ungrateful for the Word and unappreciative of it, we merit its loss. Such were the guests bidden to the supper, but who refused to come, and, going about their own business, provoked the master’s anger until he swore they should not taste his supper.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 79–80.

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More and More http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 27 Feb 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

Finally, brethren, we beseech and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you learned from us how you ought to live and to please God, just as you are doing, you do so more and more.

1 Thessalonians 4:1, RSV

From Luther

This text is an earnest admonition enjoining upon us an increasing degree of perfection in the doctrines we have received. It is incumbent upon every evangelical teacher to give this exhortation, and all Christians should render a willing and not a compulsory service. Obedience is due from those who have received the Spirit; but those who are not inclined to render a willing service, we must leave to themselves.

Paul places much value upon the gift of knowing how “to walk and to please God.” In the world this gift is as rare as it is great. Though it has been offered to the whole world and has been proclaimed, still there is need of further exhortation with reference to it, and Paul is diligent in administering it. The trouble with us is that we are in danger of becoming indolent and negligent, forgetful and ungrateful.

It was a fact reflecting much credit on the Thessalonians in contrast to the Corinthians and the Galatians that they continued upright in doctrine and true in the knowledge of faith, but they seemed to be deficient in two important features in Christian life, namely, chastity and honesty. Unchastity is a sin against oneself and is destructive of the fruits of faith. Fraud in business is a sin against our neighbor and is likewise destructive of faith and charity.

Though these sins are less pernicious than the gross offenses in error of doctrine and faith, yet God will certainly punish them, if they are not repented of and renounced. Paul threatens such sins with the wrath of God lest any one imagine the kingdom of Christ one which will tolerate such offenses with impunity. These sins do not come within the limits of Christian liberty and privilege, nor does God treat the offender with indulgence. He will more vigorously punish these sins among Christians than among the heathen. Those who sin through infirmity, suffer themselves to be reproved, and repent at once, the kingdom of Christ treats with pity and forbearance. While God bears with the sinner, he would have us perceive our errors, strive to mend our lives and abound more and more in righteousness.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 78–79.

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The Beginning of Salvation http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 26 Feb 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

20 Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. 21 And when the LORD smelled the pleasing odor, the LORD said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I ever again destroy every living creature as I have done. 22 While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” 

Genesis 8:20–22, RSV

From Luther

Man without the Holy Spirit and without grace can do nothing but sin, and thus unhaltingly he goes forward from sin to sin. When in addition he will not endure sound doctrine but rejects the word of salvation and resists the Holy Spirit, he becomes an enemy of God, blasphemes the Holy Spirit and simply follows the evil desires of his heart. Witnesses of this are the examples of the prophets, Christ and the apostles, the primeval world under Noah as teacher, and also the examples of our adversaries to-day, who cannot be convinced by anything that they are in error, that they sin, that their worship is ungodly.

But we must distinguish between the theological and the civil standpoints. God approves also the rule of the ungodly; he honors and rewards virtue also among the ungodly, but only in regard to the things of this life and things grasped by a reason which is upright from the civil standpoint; whereas the future life is not embraced in such reward. His approval is not with regard to the future life. We believe that man without the Holy Spirit is altogether corrupt before God, though he may stand adorned with all heathen virtues, as moderation, liberality, love of country, parents and children, courage and humanity. The declarations of the Holy Scriptures prove the same thing. The statement in the fourteenth Psalm is sweeping enough when it says, “The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy; there is none that doeth good; no, not one. Paul says, “God hath concluded them all in unbelief.” Christ says, “Without me ye can do nothing.”

We are therefore to hold fast the doctrine which lays before us our sin and condemnation. This knowledge of our sin is the beginning of salvation; we must absolutely despair of ourselves and give glory for righteousness to God alone. When this has been fixed in our hearts, the foundation of our salvation is largely laid, inasmuch as subsequently clear testimonies are given that God will not cast away the sinner, that is, one who recognizes his sin and desires to come to his senses and thirsts after righteousness and the remission of sin through Christ.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 77–78.

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The Unbelieving Heart http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 25 Feb 22 00:00:00 -0600

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From the Word

24 “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a man, he passes through waterless places seeking rest; and finding none he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ 25 And when he comes he finds it swept and put in order. 26 Then he goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first.” 

Luke 11:24–26, RSV

From Luther

This means as much as to say, “The devil never takes a vacation,” and “The devil never sleeps,” for he is seeking how he may devour man. Dry places are not the hearts of the ungodly, for in such he rests and dwells like a mighty tyrant; but there are dry and waste places here and there in the country where no people live, as forests and wildernesses. To these he flees in wicked rage because he is driven out. You will remember that the devil found Christ in the wilderness. In Judæa there is not much water, hence we read that it contains many arid wastes. In other countries as our own, which are well watered, the devils stay in rivers and lakes, and there sometimes drowns those who bathe or sail upon them.

That he comes again and finds the house swept and garnished signifies that the man is sanctified and adorned with beautiful spiritual gifts, and that the evil spirit clearly sees that he can do nothing there with his familiar tricks, for he is too well known. Thus when the worship of idols was driven from the heathen, he never attacked the world with that device again. What did he do then? He tried something else, went out, took with him seven spirits, more evil than himself, and entered in with them and dwelt there, and the last state of that man was worse than the first. When Christ had become known in the world and the devil’s former kingdom with its idol worship had been destroyed, he adopted another plan and attacked us with heresy and introduced and established the papacy, in which Christ was entirely forgotten, and men became worse heathen under the name of Christ than before he was preached. Such also was the lot of the Jews after the destruction of Jerusalem, and of the Greeks under the Turks. And so all will fare who at first hear the Word of God and afterwards become secure and weary of it. Therefore it is necessary to watch, as the apostle admonishes: “Be sober, be watchful; your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” Wherever he overthrows faith, he easily restores again all former vices.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 75–76.

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Crumbs of Faith http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 24 Feb 22 00:00:00 -0600

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From the Word

21 And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and cried, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely possessed by a demon.” 23 But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying after us.” 24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 26 And he answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 27 She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 28 Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly. 

Matthew 15:21–28, RSV

From Luther

The woman follows Christ into the home. There she received her last mortal blow. Christ presents her in a bad light; she is a condemned and outcast person, who is not to be reckoned among God’s chosen ones. That is an eternally unanswerable reply, to which no one can give a satisfactory answer. Yet she does not despair, but concedes that she is a dog and desires no more than a dog is entitled to, namely, that she may eat the crumbs that fall from the table of the Lord. Is not that a masterly stroke as a reply? She catches Christ with his own words. Where will Christ now take refuge? He is caught. Therefore Christ now completely opens his heart to her and yields to her will, so that she is now no more a dog, but even a child of Israel.

All this is written for our comfort and instruction, that we may know how deeply God conceals his grace before our face, and that we may not estimate him according to our feelings and thinking, but strictly according to his Word. All his answers indeed sound like no, but they are not no, they remain undecided and pending. For he does not say, I will not hear thee, but is silent and passive, and says neither yes nor no. He does not say she is not of the house of Israel; but he is sent only to the house of Israel. He does not say, Thou art a dog, one should not give thee of the children’s bread; but it is not meet to take the children’s bread and cast it to the dogs, leaving it undecided whether she is a dog or not. Yet all those trials of her faith sounded more like no than yes; but there was more yea in them than nay; ay, there is only yes in them, but it is very deep and very concealed, while there appears to be nothing but no. Whoever understands the actions of this poor woman and catches God in his own judgment, says, Lord, it is true I am a sinner and not worthy of thy grace; but still thou hast promised sinners forgiveness, and thou art not come to call the righteous, but “to save sinners.” Surely, then must God according to his own judgment have mercy upon us.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 74–75.

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The Same Submission http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 22 Feb 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Galatians 5:13–14, RSV

From Luther

How can love for our neighbor be the fulfilment of the law when we are required to love God supremely, even above our neighbor? Christ answers the question when he tells us that the second commandment is like unto the first. He makes love to God and love to our neighbor the same love. The reason for this is, first: God, having no need of our works and benefactions for himself, bids us to do for our neighbor what we would do for God. He asks for himself only our faith and our recognition of him as God. The object of proclaiming his honor and rendering him praise and thanks here on earth is that our neighbor may be converted and brought into fellowship with God. Such service is called the love of God, and is performed out of love to God; but it is exercised for the benefit of our neighbor only.

The second reason why God makes love to our neighbor an obligation equal to love to himself is: God has made worldly wisdom foolish, desiring henceforth to be loved amid crosses and afflictions. Paul says: “Seeing that in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom knew not God, it was God’s good pleasure through the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” Therefore he submitted himself unto death and misery upon the cross, and imposed the same submission upon all his disciples. They who refused to love him before when he bestowed upon them food and drink, blessing and honor, must now love him in hunger and sorrow, in adversity and disgrace. All works of love, then, must be directed to our wretched needy neighbors. In these lowly ones we are to find and love God, in them we are to serve and honor him, and thus only can we do it. The commandment to love God is wholly merged in that to love our neighbors. Christ laid aside his divinity and took upon himself the form of a servant for the very purpose of bringing down and centering upon our neighbor the love we extend to himself. Yet we leave the Lord to lie here in his humiliation while we gaze open-mouthed into heaven and make great pretentions to love and serve God.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 72–73.

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Our Promise http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 21 Feb 22 00:00:00 -0600

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From the Word

5 Then the devil took him to the holy city, and set him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, ‘He will give his angels charge of you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” 7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’”

Matthew 4:5–7, RSV

From Luther

Here Satan held before Christ want and need where there was neither, but where there were already good means by which to descend from the temple without such a newly devised and unnecessary way of descending. Satan here quotes from the Psalter that God commanded the angels to protect the children of God and to carry them on their hands. But Satan like a rogue and cheat fails to quote what follows. The Psalm reads: “For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.” The protection of the angels does not reach farther, according to the command of God, than the ways in which God has commanded us to walk. When we walk in these ways of God, his angels take care of us. But the devil omits to quote “the ways of God” and interprets and applies the protection of the angels to all things, also to that which God has not commanded; then we tempt God. That this temptation was for the purpose of tempting and trying God, the answer of Christ clearly proves, when he says, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

We find many foolhardy people, who risk and endanger the body and life, their property and honor, without any need of doing so, as those who wilfully enter into battle or jump into the water, or gamble for money, or in other ways venture into danger. Good swimmers are likely to drown and good climbers likely to fall. In spiritual matters this temptation is powerful when one has to do with the nourishment, not of the body, but of the soul. Here God holds before us the person and the way, by which the soul can be forever nourished in the richest manner possible, namely, by Christ, the Saviour. But everybody seeks another way to help his soul. The real guilty ones are those who would be saved through their own work; these the devil sets conspicuously on the top of the temple. He persuades them through the Scriptures to believe that the angels will protect them in their way and that their works and faith are pleasing to God. They do not care how falsely they explain the Scriptures.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 70–71.

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Spiritual Sustenance http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 20 Feb 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And he fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterward he was hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” 

Matthew 4:1–4, RSV

From Luther

The tempter attacked Christ with the cares of food for the body and with unbelief in the goodness of God, as if he would say: Trust in God and wait patiently until a roasted fowl flies into your mouth; do you now say that you have a God who cares for you; where is now your heavenly Father, who has charge of you? It seems to me he leaves you in a fine condition; eat now and drink from your faith, let us see how you will satisfy your hunger, when you have stones for bread. What a fine Son of God you are! How fatherly he is disposed toward you in that he fails to send you a slice of bread and permits you to be so poor and needy; do you now continue to believe that you are his son and that he is your father? With like thoughts he truly attacks all the children of God. And Christ surely felt this temptation, for he was no stock, nor stone, although he was and remained pure and without sin, as we cannot.

That Satan attacks with the cares for daily food or with unbelief and avarice, Christ’s answer proves in that he says, “Man shall not live by bread alone.” As if he said, Thou wilt direct me to bread alone and dost treat me as though I thought of nothing but the sustenance of the body. This temptation is very common also among pious people, and they especially feel it keenly who have children and a family, and have nothing to eat. Here we should consider Christ’s work and example, who suffered want forty days and forty nights, and finally was not forsaken, but was ministered to by angels.

Behold how Christ resists this temptation of bread. He sees nothing but stones and what is uneatable, then he clings to the Word of God, strengthens himself by it and strikes the devil to the ground with it. All Christians should lay hold of this saying when they see that there is lack and want, and courage fails. What if the whole world were full of bread; man does not live by bread alone; more than that is needed for life, namely, the Word of God.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 69–70.

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Ask http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 19 Feb 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

As he drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging; and hearing a multitude going by, he inquired what this meant. They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” And he cried, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And Jesus stopped, and commanded him to be brought to him; and when he came near, he asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me receive my sight.” And Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.”

Luke 18:35–42, RSV

From Luther

The blind man hears that Christ was passing by; he had also heard of him before, that Jesus of Nazareth was a kind man, and that he helped every one who called on him. His faith and confidence in Christ grew out of his hearing, so he did not doubt but that Christ would help him. But such faith he could not have possessed had he not heard and known of Christ; for faith does not come except by hearing.

We see here how Christ encourages us, both by his works and words. First by his works in that he sympathizes so strongly with the blind man and makes it clear how pleasing faith is to him, so that Christ is at once absorbed with interest in the man, stops and does what the blind man desires in his faith. In the second place, Christ praises faith in words, and says: “Thy faith hath made thee whole;” he casts the honor of the miracle from himself and attributes it to the faith of the blind man. Thus faith is granted what it asks and is besides our great honor before God.

This blind man represents the spiritually blind, the state of every man born of Adam, who neither sees, nor knows the kingdom of God; but it is of grace that he feels and knows his blindness and would gladly be delivered from it. They are saintly sinners who feel their faults and sigh for grace. He sits among the teachers of the law and desires help. The people pass him by and let him sit, that is, the people of the law make a great noise and are heard among the teachers of good works; they go before Christ and Christ follows them. But when he heard Christ, that is, when a heart hears the gospel in faith, it calls and cries, and has no rest until it comes to Christ. Those who would silence and scold him are the teachers of works, who wish to quiet the doctrine and cry of faith; but they stir the heart the more. After he received his sight, all his work and life are only honor and praise to God; he follows Christ with joy, so that the whole world wonders and is thereby made better.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 68–69.

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A Patient Lent http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 18 Feb 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin; no guile was found on his lips. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he trusted to him who judges justly. 

1 Peter 2:21–23, RSV

From Luther

“Did not Christ revile when he called the scribes and Pharisees hypocrites, murderers, serpents, a generation of vipers?” Oh yes, in this we would gladly follow Christ’s example. It is much easier than to be patient. We would need no master to help us in this. But a distinction must be made here. Reviling, or pronouncing execrations and threats, is of two kinds. In one case it is official and pronounced by God; in the other without authority and comes from man. It was one of the duties of Christ’s office on earth, and one now incumbent upon those called to bear that office after him, to assert the truth and censure the evil. Such a course is essential to the honor of God and the salvation of souls. Official chastisement is a work of divine, Christian love. It is a parental duty imposed of God, who has implanted in the parent nature intense love for the child; at the same time, if parents are godly and have proper affection for their children, they will not connive at, nor let pass unpunished their disobedience. So every one may and should reprove when official duty or his neighbor’s case requires; it serves to reform the subject. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”

It was love and sincerity of heart which prompted Christ in his office to censure and reprove. His motive was to turn the transgressors from their blindness and malice, and to rescue them from perdition. But having fulfilled his official duties, and the hour of his suffering having arrived, he suffered patiently, permitting his enemies to heap upon him all possible evil in return for his manifested love and blessing. Instead of angrily reviling and execrating while suspended from the cross, he prayed, “Father, forgive them.” It was, indeed, a heart of unfathomable love that, in the midst of extreme suffering, had compassion on its persecutors and blessed them in greater measure than parent can bless child, or one individual bless another. We have here a perfect and inimitable example of patience of the most exalted kind. In it we may behold as in a glass what we have yet to learn of calm endurance.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 67–68.

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Fasting http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 17 Feb 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

16 And when Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on him; 17 and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” 4:1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

Matthew 3:16–4:1, RSV

From Luther

Jesus was led up of the Spirit into the wilderness, that he might there fast and be tempted; but no one should imitate Christ’s example of his own choice and make it a selfish and arbitrary fasting; but instead wait for the Spirit, who will send him enough fastings and temptations. For whoever, without being led by the Spirit, wantonly resorts to the danger of hunger or any other temptation, when it is truly a blessing of God that he can eat and drink and have other comforts, tempts God. We should not seek want and temptation, they will surely come of themselves; we ought to act honestly, and always do our best. The text reads: Jesus was led up of the Spirit into the wilderness; and not: Jesus himself chose to go up into the wilderness. “As many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.” God gives his blessings that we may use them with thanksgiving, and not that we let them lie idle, and thus tempt him; for he wishes us to fast by the Spirit or by a need which we cannot avoid.

This narrative is written both for our instruction and admonition. For instruction that we should know how Christ has served and helped us by his fasting, hunger, temptation, and victory; also that whosoever believes on Christ shall never suffer need, and that temptation shall never harm him, but that we shall have enough in the midst of want and be safe in the midst of temptation; because his Lord and Head triumphed over all these in his behalf, and of this he is assured. “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

This is written for our admonition, that we may in the light of his example also cheerfully suffer want and temptation for the service of God and the good of our neighbor, like Christ did for us, as often as necessity requires it, which is surely accomplished if we learn and confess God’s Word. But we have practiced fasting as a good work, not to bring our flesh into subjection, but as a meritorious work before God to atone for sins and obtain grace. This has made our fasting a stench, a blasphemy, and a disgrace.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 65–66.

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The Mystery Revealed http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 16 Feb 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

31 And taking the twelve, he said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written of the Son of man by the prophets will be accomplished. 32 For he will be delivered to the Gentiles, and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon; 33 they will scourge him and kill him, and on the third day he will rise.” 34 But they understood none of these things; this saying was hid from them, and they did not grasp what was said. 

Luke 18:31–34, RSV

From Luther

The disciples “understood none of these things.” That is as much as to say: Reason, flesh and blood, cannot understand, nor grasp that the Scriptures should say how the Son of man must be crucified; much less does reason understand that this is Christ’s will and that he does it cheerfully; for it does not believe that it is necessary for him to suffer for us; it will deal directly with God through its own good works. God must reveal it in their hearts by his Spirit more than is proclaimed by words into their ears. Even those to whom the Spirit reveals it in their hearts believe it with difficulty and must struggle with it. Such a great and wonderful thing it is that the Son of man died the death of the cross willingly and cheerfully to fulfil the Scriptures for our welfare; it is a mystery and remains a mystery.

From this it follows how foolish they act who teach that the people should patiently bear their sufferings and death to atone for their sins and obtain grace, and pretend that if they suffer willingly all their sins will be forgiven them. Such persons only mislead the people, for they bury out of sight Christ and his death, upon whom our comfort is founded, and bring the people to a false confidence in their own suffering and death. This is the worst of all things a man can experience at the end of his life, and by it he is led direct into perdition. But learn to say: Whose death! Whose patience! My death is nothing. Christ’s suffering is my consolation, upon it I rely for the forgiveness of my sins; but my own death I will suffer to the praise and honor of my God freely and gratuitously, and for the advantage and profit of my neighbor, and in no way whatever depend upon it to avail anything in my own behalf before God.

As Christ now offered himself for us, we should also follow the example of love, and offer ourselves for the welfare of our neighbor, with all we have. We have spoken sufficiently on other occasions that Christ is to be preached in these two ways; but it is talk that no one desires to understand, for “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit.”

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 64–65.

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Owe Your Neighbor http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 15 Feb 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.

Romans 13:8, RSV

From Luther

Innumerable are the books and doctrines produced for the direction of man’s conduct. There is still no limit to the making of books and laws. These laws and doctrines would be tolerated and received with more favor, if they were founded upon and administered according to the great law of love. Of love’s higher authority we find many illustrations in the Scriptures. Christ makes particular mention of this matter when he refers to David and his companions eating the holy show-bread. Though a certain law prohibited all but the priests from partaking of this holy food, Love was empress here, and free. Love was over the Law, subjecting it to herself. The Law had to yield for the time being, had to become invalid, when David suffered hunger.

Had the priest been disposed to refuse David the holy bread, had he blindly insisted on honoring the prohibition of the Law and failed to perceive the authority of Love, had he denied this food to him who hungered, what would have been the result? So far as the priest’s assistance went, David would have had to perish with hunger, and the priest would have been guilty of murder for the sake of the Law. Here, indeed, the most strenuous right would have been the most strenuous wrong. Moreover, on examining the heart of the priest, you would find the abomination of making sin where there is no sin, and a matter of conscience where there is no occasion for it. In connection with this same incident, Christ teaches that we are to do good to our neighbor on the Sabbath, to administer as necessity demands, whatever the Sabbath restrictions of the Law. For when a brother’s need calls, Love is authority and the Law of the Sabbath is void.

Were laws conceived and administered in love, the number of laws would matter little. Though one might not know all of them, he would learn from the one or two, of which he had knowledge, the principle of love taught in all; and though he were to know all laws, he might not discover the principle of love any more readily than he would in one. No greater wrong, calamity and wretchedness is possible on earth than the teaching and enforcing of laws without love. “Love is the fulfilling of the Law.”

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 63–64.

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The Love of Neighbor http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 14 Feb 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Romans 13:9, RSV

From Luther

Love being the chief element of all law, it comprehends all commandments. Its one concern is to be useful and not harmful to man. Love is the chief virtue, the fountain of all virtues. Love gives food and drink; it clothes, comforts, persuades, relieves and rescues. What shall we say of it, for behold, he who loves gives himself, body and soul, property and honor, all his powers internal and external, for his needy neighbor’s benefit, whether it be friend or enemy; he withholds nothing wherewith he may serve another. There is no virtue like love; there can be no special work assigned it as in the case of limited virtues, such as chastity, mercy, patience, meekness and the like. Love does all things. It will suffer in life and in death, in every condition, and that even for its enemies. Paul may well say that all other commandments are briefly comprehended in this saying, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”

This commandment presents the standard by which we are to measure our love. It is an excellent model and holds up a truly living example, “thyself.” It is a better model than any example the saints have set. The saints are dead and their deeds are past, but this example ever lives. Every one must admit a consciousness of his own love for himself; of the careful nourishment of his body with food, raiment and all good things; of his fleeing from death and avoiding evil. This is self-love; something we are conscious of in ourselves. What, then, is the teaching of the commandment? To do to another as you do to yourself; to value his body and his life equally with your own body and life. How could God have pointed you to an example dearer, more pleasing, and more to the purpose than this example—the deep instinct of your own nature? The depth of your character is measured by the writing of this commandment in your heart. How will you fare with God if you do not love your neighbor? With this commandment written within your heart, your conscience will condemn you. Your whole conduct will be an example witnessing against you.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 62–63.

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Clang http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 13 Feb 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal... 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 

1 Corinthians 13:1, 7, RSV

From Luther

Observe how small the word “love” and how easily uttered! Who would have thought to find so much precious virtue and power ascribed by Paul to this one excellence as counterpart of so much that is evil? This is, I imagine, magnifying love, painting love. It is a better discourse on virtue and vice than are the heathen writings. The model the apostle presents should justly shame the false teachers, who talk much of love but in whom not one of the virtues he mentions is found.

Every quality of love mentioned by him means false teachers buffeted and assaulted. Whenever he signifies love and characterizes her powers, he invariably makes a thrust at the same time at those who are deficient in any of them. We may well, then, as he describes the several features, add the comment, “But you do very differently.” It is passing strange that the teachers devoid of love should possess such love as Paul mentions here, namely, speaking with tongues, prophesying, understanding mysteries; that they should have faith, should bestow their goods and suffer themselves to be burned. For we have seen what abominations ensue where love is lacking; such individuals are proud, envious, impatient, false, suspicious, malicious, disinclined to service, selfish, ambitious. How can it consistently be claimed that people of this stamp can through faith remove mountains, give their bodies to be burned, prophesy and the like? It is precisely as I have stated. Paul presents an impossible proposition, implying that since they are devoid of love, they do not really possess those gifts, but merely assume the name and appearance. And in order to divest them of those he admits for the sake of argument that they are what in reality they are not.

Paul’s purpose is to silence and humble haughty Christians, especially teachers and preachers. The gospel gives much knowledge of God and of Christ, and conveys many wonderful gifts. Some have the gift of speaking, some of teaching, some of Scripture exposition, some of ruling, and so on. But there are to be found few indeed who make the right use of such gifts and knowledge, who humble themselves to serve others, according to the dictates of love.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 60–61.

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Entrusting http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 12 Feb 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin; no guile was found on his lips. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he trusted to him who judges justly. 

1 Peter 2:21–23, RSV

From Luther

The apostle had just been saying that Christ reviled not, nor thought of revenge, but rather manifested love and good will toward his virulent enemies. How could Christ approve such malice? Truly he could not endorse it. Nor could he commend his enemies for putting him to death upon the cross without a cause. If I suffer innocently and am unjustly treated, I am not to justify the ill treatment and strengthen the enemy in his sins; for, so doing, I would approve his conduct and assume the guilt attributed. I must not cease to confess the truth and maintain my innocence, both in heart and with my lips. But if men will not accept my word, my heart must tell me I have suffered injustice. Rather should I endure ten deaths, could my enemies inflict them, than to condemn myself in violation of conscience.

But what are we to do? If we do not justify our enemies when they make us suffer, they will even do worse things to us; for they desire the name and the credit, in the eyes of the world, of having done right by us; they would have it thought that they do God great service by murdering us. Now, who is to judge and decide the question? Peter declares that Christ committed the matter to him who judges righteously. How should he do otherwise? There was for him no judge on earth. He was compelled to commit the matter to that righteous judge, his heavenly Father. Well he knew that such sins and blasphemies could not go unpunished. The sentence was already passed, the sword sharpened, the angels given orders for the overthrow of Jerusalem. Previous to his sufferings, on his way to Jerusalem, as he beheld the city, he announced its coming doom and wept over it.

As Christ did, so should we conduct ourselves in our sufferings; not approving or assenting to whatever may be heaped upon us, but yet not seeking revenge. We are to commit the matter to God who will judge aright. We cannot maintain our rights before the world; therefore we must commit our cause to God, who judges righteously and who will not allow calumniation of his Word and persecution of believers to pass unpunished. Why, then, should I be impatient or desire revenge?

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 59–60.

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The Purge http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 11 Feb 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

6 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed. 

1 Corinthians 5:6–7, RSV

From Luther

If we are to be a new, sweet lump, we must purge out the old leaven. A nature renewed by faith and Christianity will not admit of our living as we did when devoid of faith and in sin, under the influence of an evil conscience. Note the apostle’s peculiar words. He enjoins purging out the old leaven, assigning as a reason, that ye are a new and unleavened lump. By a new unleavened lump he means that faith which clings to Christ and believes in the forgiveness of sin through him; but how shall we explain the fact that he bids them purge out the old leaven that they may be a new lump, when at the same time he admits them to be unleavened and a new lump? How can these Christians be unleavened, when they have yet to purge out the old leaven?

This is an instance of the Pauline and apostolic way of speaking concerning Christians and the kingdom of Christ; it tells us what the condition really is. It is a discipline wherein a new, Christian life is entered upon through faith in Christ, the true Passover; hence, Easter is celebrated with sweet, unleavened bread. But at the same time something of the old life remains, which must be swept out, or purged away. However, this latter is not imputed, because faith and Christ are there, constantly toiling and striving thoroughly to purge out whatever uncleanness remains. Through faith we have Christ and his purity perfectly conferred upon ourselves, and we are thus regarded pure; yet in our own personal nature we are not immediately and wholly pure, without sin and weakness. Much of the old leaven still remains, but it will be forgiven, not be imputed to us, if only we continue in faith and are occupied with purging out that remaining impurity.

This is Christ’s thought when he says to his disciples, “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you,” and in the same connection he declares that the branches in him must be purged that they may bring forth fruit. To Peter he says, “He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit; and ye are clean, but not all.” By faith a Christian lays hold of the purity of Christ; it brings the Holy Spirit, who enables man to withstand and subdue sin.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 58–59.

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You Must http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 10 Feb 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience, forbearing one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

Colossians 3:12–13, RSV

From Luther

Observe the tender and sacred style of the apostle’s admonition. He does not drive us with the law, but persuades by reminding us of the ineffable grace of God. He calls us the “elect of God,” “holy,” and “beloved.” He desires to call forth in us the fruits of faith, wishing to have them yielded in a willing, cheerful and happy spirit. The individual who truly believes that he is beloved, holy and elect before God, will consider how he may sustain his honor and titles, and how he must conduct himself to be worthy of them. He will love God with a fervor that will enable him to do or omit, or suffer all things, and will ever think that he is not doing enough.
Paul here speaks of that sincere and whole-souled mercy, characteristic of a father or mother who witness the distress of their child for which they would readily expose their lives or give up all their possessions. The Christian heart and mind is constantly devoted to merciful deeds with an ardor so intense as to make him unaware that he is doing good and compassionate acts.

Paul condemns also the works and arbitrary rules of hypocritical saints, whose severity will not permit them to associate with sinners, and who exercise no mercy, but administer perpetual reproach, censure, criticism, blame and bluster. They are unable to endure imperfections in any, though they themselves are sinners and many are infirm. Christians reject none, and will bear with all. They are as sincerely interested in sinners as they are in themselves. They pray for them, teach, admonish, persuade, do all in their power to reclaim them. The virtues mentioned in the text become us better in the sight of God than pearls, precious stones, silk and gold become us in the eyes of the world. So Christ dealt with the adulteress, brought her to repentance and with gracious words suffered her to depart. So God in Christ has dealt with us and ever deals.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 56–57.

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The Faith of Another http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 09 Feb 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

10 When Jesus heard him, he marveled, and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such faith. 11 I tell you, many will come from east and west and sit at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, 12 while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.”13 And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; be it done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment.

Matthew 8:10–13, RSV

From Luther

This heathen is so fully satisfied with Christ’s word, that he does not even desire his presence nor deem himself worthy of it. Therefore also his servant was healed in that hour by the power of his faith. Since the occasion is offered, we must say a little about alien faith and its power. Many are interested in this subject on account of the little children who are baptized and are saved not by their own, but by the faith of others; just as this servant was healed not by his own, but by the faith of his master.

First we must let the foundation stand firm and sure that nobody will be saved by the faith or righteousness of another, but only by his own; neither will anybody be condemned for the unbelief and sins of another, but for his own. “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” What then becomes of the young children, seeing they have not reason and are not able to believe for themselves.

We conclude and declare that in baptism the children themselves believe and have their own faith, which God effects in them through the sponsors, when in the faith of the Christian Church they intercede for them and bring them to baptism. This is what we call the power of alien faith, not that anybody can be saved by it, but that through it as an intercession and aid he can obtain from God his own faith, by which he is saved. If I am to live, I myself must be born, and nobody can be born for me to enable me to live; but mother and midwife can by their life aid me in birth and enable me to live. Nobody can go to heaven for me; but he can assist me, can teach, preach, govern, pray and obtain faith from God for me, through which I can go to heaven. The centurion was not healed of the palsy of his servant, but he brought it about that his servant was restored to health. So children are not baptized in the faith of the sponsors or the Church, but the faith of the sponsors gains faith for them, in which they are baptized and believe for themselves.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 55–56.

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Noticing the Heart of Jesus http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 08 Feb 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

And taking the twelve, he said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written of the Son of man by the prophets will be accomplished.

Luke 18:31, RSV

From Luther

Christ spoke these words on his way to Jerusalem at the time of the Easter festivities before he finished his passion, when his disciples least expected to witness his sufferings, but instead anticipated a joyful occasion at the Feast of the Passover. He spoke them that his disciples might later grow stronger in their faith, when they recalled the fact that he had told them before, that he had voluntarily offered himself as a sacrifice, and that he was not crucified by the power or strategy of his enemies, the Jews. Long before this Isaiah had prophesied that Christ would voluntarily and cheerfully give himself as a sacrifice. The angel also on Easter morning admonishes the women to call to mind what he here says, in order that they might be assured and the more firmly believe that he suffered willingly on our behalf.

The true foundation of a thorough understanding of Christ’s passion is when we not only consider his sufferings, but also his heart and will in those sufferings; for all they who view his sufferings so as not to see his will and heart in them are more terrified than they rejoice on account of them. Where one sees Christ’s will and heart in his passion, it brings true comfort, assurance and pleasure in Christ. Thus the psalmist praises this will of God and of Christ, when he says: “I delight to do thy will, O my God.” The apostle in the Epistle to the Hebrews says: “By which will we have been sanctified.” It does not say, Through the suffering and blood of Christ, which is also true; but through the will of God and of Christ. They were both of one will to sanctify us through the blood of Christ.

In this gospel he shows us this will to suffer, when he first announced that he would go up to Jerusalem and allow them to crucify him; as if he had said, Look into my heart and see that I do all willingly, freely and cheerfully, in order that it may not terrify nor shock you, when you shall see it, and think that I do it reluctantly, and must do it; that I am forsaken and the power of the Jews forces me to it.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 54–55.

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Whatever http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 07 Feb 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, and sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. 

Colossians 3:16–17, RSV

From Luther

The works of Christians are not circumscribed by name, time, or place. Whatever Christians do is good; whenever done it is timely; wherever wrought it is appropriate. So Paul names no work. He makes no distinction, but concludes all works to be good, whether it be eating or drinking, speaking or keeping silence, waking or sleeping, going or staying, being idle or otherwise. All acts are eminently worthy because done in the name of the Lord Jesus. Such is Paul’s teaching here. And our works are wrought in the name of the Lord Jesus when we by faith hold fast the fact that Christ is in us and we in him, in the sense that we no longer labor, but he lives and works in us.

The expression “in the name of God” or “Lord Jesus” is frequently uttered falsely and in sheer hypocrisy. Teachers of false doctrine habitually offer their commodities in the name of God. They even come in the name of Christ, as he himself foretells. To speak and work sincerely and earnestly in Jesus’ name, the heart must necessarily accord with the utterance of the mouth. As the lips declare in the name of God, so must the heart confidently, with firm faith, hold that God directs and performs the work. No Christian should undertake to do any deed in his own ability and directed by his own judgment. Rather let him be assured that God works with him and through him.

Such an attitude will result in praise and thanks to God as one to whom are due all honor and praise for every good thing. Thus Paul teaches and also Peter. Immediately after declaring that we are to work according to the ability which God gives, Peter adds that “in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.” He who undertakes anything in his own ability, however much he may glorify God with his lips, lies and deceives. Thankfulness is the only duty we can perform unto God; and this is not to be rendered of ourselves, but through our Mediator, Jesus. Without him none can come to the Father and none will be accepted.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 53–54.

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A Mystery http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 06 Feb 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

9 And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant, 10 he said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God; but for others they are in parables, so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.

Luke 8:9–10, RSV

From Luther

A “mystery” is a hidden secret that is not known; and the “mysteries of the kingdom of God” are the things in the kingdom of God, as for example Christ with all his grace, which he manifests to us. He who knows Christ aright understands what God’s kingdom is and what is in it. It is called a mystery because it is spiritual and secret, and it remains so where the spirit does not reveal it. For although there are many who see and hear it, yet they do not understand it. There are many who preach and hear Christ, how he offered himself for us; but all that is only upon their tongue and not in their heart; for they themselves do not believe it; they do not experience it.

Therefore Christ says: “Unto you it is given;” the Spirit gives it to you that you not only hear and see it, but acknowledge and hear it with your heart. It is no longer a mystery to you. But others, who hear it as well as you and have no faith in their heart, see and understand it not. To them it is a mystery and will continue to be unknown to them, and all that they hear is only like one hearing a parable or a dark saying. Christ therefore spake to the people in parables, that they might understand each according to his ability. He spake to them in parables because they did not understand. The parables served to interest and get a hold on coarse and rough people. Although they do not understand them, yet later they may be taught and learn to know. Parables are naturally pleasing to the common people, and they easily remember them, since they are taken from common, everyday affairs, in the midst of which the people live.

But these parables are of the nature that no one can understand them, they may grasp and hear them as often as they will, unless the Spirit makes them known and reveals them. Not that they shall preach that we shall not understand them, but it naturally follows that whenever the Spirit does not reveal them, no one understands them. God conceals and reveals to whom he will and whom he had in mind from eternity.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 51–52.

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Equality of Believers http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 05 Feb 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body which seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and those parts of the body which we think less honorable we invest with the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior part, 25 that there may be no discord in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.

1 Corinthians 12:20–25, RSV

From Luther

Thus we see that hand and eye, regardless of their superior office, labor carefully to clothe and adorn the less honorable members. They make the best use of their own distinction to remove the dishonor and shame of the inferior members. However unequal the capacities and distinction of the individual members of the body, they are equal in that they are all parts of the same body. The eye cannot claim any better place in the body than the least distinguished member has. Nor can it boast greater authority over the body than any other member enjoys. And this it does not essay to do. It grants all members equal participation in the body. Likewise, all Christians, whether strong in faith or weak, perfect or defective, share equally in Christ and are equal in Christendom. Each may appropriate the whole Christ to himself. I may boast as much in Christ as Peter. Nor do I envy Peter because he is a more distinguished member of the Christian Church than I. On the other hand, he does not despise me for being a less honored member. I am a part of the same body to which he belongs, and I possess Christ as well as he does.

The self-righteous are unable to concede this equality. They must stir up sects and distinctions among Christians. Priests aspire to be better than laymen; monks better than priests; virgins than wives. The diligent in praying and fasting would be better than the laborer; and they who lead austere lives, more righteous than they of ordinary life. This is the work of the devil, and productive of every form of evil. Under such conditions faith and love are subverted. The unlearned are deluded, and led away from faith to works and orders. Inequality is everywhere. The ecclesiasts desire to sit in high places, to receive all honor, to have their feet kissed, and will honor and respect none but themselves. All this is opposed to Christ’s doctrine in our text. In the members we daily bear about with us, God has described the law of love in a forcible manner. The Christian should act in a way to profit not himself but others, and have a sincere interest in them.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. 1915. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern.

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No Doubt http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 04 Feb 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

14 Take what belongs to you, and go; I choose to give to this last as I give to you. 15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ 16 So the last will be first, and the first last.” 

Matthew 20:14–16, RSV

From Luther

The two words “last” and “first” must be considered from two viewpoints. The first before men are the last before God, and the last in the eyes of men are first in the eyes of God. On the contrary, the first before God are the last before men; and those whom God esteems as the last are considered by men to be the first. This gospel does not speak of first and last in a common, ordinary sense; but it means those who imagine they are the first or the last in the eyes of God; the words ascend very high and apply to the better classes of people; they terrify the greatest of saints. Behold, how Saul fell! How God permitted David to fall! How Peter had to fall! Why is it that so many sects have arisen? No doubt, because they were self-secure and without fear, considering themselves the first. Hence they must become the last.

The substance of this gospel is that no mortal is so high, nor will ever ascend so high, as to have no occasion to fear that he may become the very lowest. On the other hand, no mortal lies so low as not to have the hope extended him that he may become the highest; because here all human merit is abolished and God’s goodness alone is praised, and it is decreed as on a festive occasion that the first shall be last and the last first. In that he says, “the first shall be the last,” he strips thee of all thy presumption and forbids thee to exalt thyself above the lowest outcast, even if thou wert like Abraham, David, Peter or Paul. On the other hand, in that he says, “the last shall be first,” he checks thee against all doubting, and forbids thee to humble thyself below any saint, even if thou wert Pilate, Herod, Sodom and Gomorrah. For just as we have no reason to be presumptuous, so we have no cause to doubt; but the golden mean is here confirmed and fortified by this gospel, so that we look not upon the penny but the goodness of the householder, who is the same and alike to high and low, to the first and the last, to saints and sinners, and no one can boast nor comfort himself nor presume more than another.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. 1915. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern.

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The Greatest http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 03 Feb 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood. 13 So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. 

1 Corinthians 13:12–13, RSV

From Luther

Paul’s statement that love is greater than faith and hope is intended as an expression of the permanence, or eternal duration of love. Faith, being limited as to time in comparison with love, ranks beneath it for the reason of this temporary duration. With the same right I might say that the kingdom of Christ is greater upon earth than was Christ. Thereby I do not mean that the Church in itself is better and of higher rank than Christ, but merely that it covers a greater part of the earth than he compassed; for he was here but three years, and those he spent in a limited sphere, whereas his kingdom has been from the beginning and is coextensive with the earth. In this sense, love is longer and broader than either faith or hope. Faith deals with God merely in the heart and in this life, whereas the relations of love both to God and the whole world are eternal. Nevertheless, as Christ is immeasurably better and higher and more precious than the Christian Church, although we behold him moving within smaller limits and as a mere individual, so is faith better, higher and more precious than love, though its duration is limited and it has God alone for its object.

Paul’s purpose in thus extolling love is to deal a blow to false teachers and to bring to naught their boasts about faith and other gifts when love is lacking. He means to say: If ye possess not love (charity), which abides forever, all else of which you boast being perishable, ye will perish with it. While the Word of God and spiritual gifts are eternal, yet the external office and proclamation of the Word, and likewise the employment of gifts in their variety, shall have an end, and thus your glory and pride shall become as ashes. So then faith justifies through the Word and produces love. But while both Word and faith shall pass away, righteousness and love, which they effect, abide forever; just as a building erected by the aid of scaffolding remains after the scaffolding has been removed. Love gives and blesses the neighbor, as a result of faith, and it shall never be done away.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. 1915. I. Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern.

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True Faith http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 02 Feb 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him; and behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And he stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

Matthew 8:1–3, RSV

From Luther

This leper would not have been so bold as to come to the Lord and ask to be cleansed, if he had not trusted and expected with his whole heart that Christ would be kind and gracious, and would cleanse him. Because he was a leper, he had reason to be timid. Moreover the law forbids lepers to mingle with the people. Nevertheless he approaches, regardless of law and people, and of the purity and holiness of Christ.

Here behold the attitude of faith toward Christ: it sets before itself absolutely nothing but the pure goodness and free grace of Christ, without seeking and bringing any merit. Here it certainly cannot be said that the leper merited by his purity to approach Christ, to speak to him and to invoke his help. Nay, just because he feels his impurity and unworthiness, he approaches all the more and looks only upon the goodness of Christ. This is true faith, a living confidence in the goodness of God. The heart that does this has true faith; the heart that does it not has not true faith, as they do who do not keep in sight the goodness of God and that alone, but first look around for their own works, in order to be worthy of God’s grace and to merit it. These never make bold to call upon God earnestly or draw near to him.

This confidence of faith, or knowledge of the goodness of Christ, would never have originated in this leper by virtue of his own reason, if he had not first heard a good report about Christ, how kind, gracious and merciful he is, ready to help, comfort and counsel every one that comes to him. Such a report must undoubtedly have come to his ears, and from this fame he derived courage, and interpreted the report to his own advantage; he applied this goodness to his own need. His faith therefore did not grow out of his reason, but out of the report he heard of Christ, as Paul says: “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” This is the gospel that is the beginning, middle, and end of everything good and of all salvation.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. 1915. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern.

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Run to Win http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 01 Feb 22 00:00:00 -0600

Photo: Tim Hipps, U.S. Army IMCOM Public Affairs

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. 24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 Well, I do not run aimlessly, I do not box as one beating the air; 27 but I pommel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. 

1 Corinthians 9:23–27, RSV

From Luther

Paul here presents a forcible simile in the running of a race, or the strife for the prize. Many run without obtaining the object of their pursuit. But we should not run in vain. To follow Christ faithfully does not simply mean to run. We must run to some purpose. To believe that we are running in Christ’s course will not suffice; we must lay hold of eternal life. “He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”Running is hindered in two

ways. First, by insolence. When our faith is not exercised and we are indolent in good works, our progress is hindered and the prize is not attained. While men sleep the enemy sows tares. Secondly, when individuals pursue their aim at full speed, but are deluded by phantoms, they miss their aim and rush to ruin, or run up against fearful obstacles. Hence the race is hindered when a false goal is set up, or the true one removed.

The goal is removed when the Word of God is falsified and creations of the human mind are preached under the name of God’s Word. These things come about when we are not careful to keep the unity of the spirit, and when each one follows his own ideas because he prefers his own conceit. Paul calls love the unity of the spirit, and admonishes to keep the unity of the spirit in the bonds of peace.

He who in the Christian contest seeks his own glory and profit, who finds in the Word and Spirit of God occasion for his own praise and advantage, cannot expect to win. He is wholly entangled, and bound hand and foot. Under such conditions false and indolent Christians run indeed a merry race; but God’s Word and ways are merely a pretense, because they subserve their own interests and glory. They never make a serious attempt, nor do they ever hit the mark. So run, that ye may obtain

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. 1915. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern.

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Look There http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 31 Jan 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

49 And he said to them, “How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” 50 And they did not understand the saying which he spoke to them. 

Luke 2:49–50, RSV

From Luther

This should close the mouths of vain babblers who exalt the holy Virgin Mary and other saints, as if these knew everything and could not err; for you can see here how they do err and falter, not only in this that they seek Christ and know not where to find him until they accidentally come to the temple, but also that they could not understand these words with which he censured their ignorance, when he was compelled to say to them: “Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” The evangelist has pointed this out with great diligence, in order that men should not give evidence to such falsehoods as ignorant, inexperienced and conceited teachers of work-righteousness present in exalting the saints, even setting them up as idols.

Examples like this are useful and necessary to show us that even the saints, who are the children of God, and highly favored above others, still have weaknesses so that they frequently err and blunder, yea, retain many faults, at times even commit great sins; yet, not intentionally and willfully, but from weakness and ignorance, as we see again and again in the lives of the apostles. This happens in order that we may learn not to trust nor depend on any man, but to cling to the Word of God only; and in order that we may find comfort in such examples and not be led to despair, although we may be weak and ignorant.

In this gospel you have a strong example with which to overthrow the common cry both of the false saints and of the great critics, which they still keep up, and by which, contrary to the Word of God, they continue to reproach us with the writings and teachings of the fathers and the decrees of the Church and the councils. In this they desire to mislead us concerning the Scriptures and the true place to which Christ himself points and where he can surely be found; in order that what happened to Mary and Joseph may happen also to us, namely, that we seek Christ everywhere and yet find him nowhere except where he is to be found, namely, in the Scriptures.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 44–45.

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Freely Given Gifts http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 30 Jan 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

5 As he entered Caperna-um, a centurion came forward to him, beseeching him 6 and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, in terrible distress.” 7 And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” 8 But the centurion answered him, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 10 When Jesus heard him, he marveled, and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.

Matthew 8:5–10, RSV

From Luther

This saying of Christ has been discussed with solicitude, lest it should imply that Christ did not speak truly, or that the mother of God and the apostles were inferior to this centurion. Although I might say that Christ is speaking of the people of Israel, among whom he had preached and to whom he had come, and therefore his mother and his disciples were excluded, because they traveled with him and came with him to the people of Israel in his preaching, nevertheless I will abide by the words of the Lord and take them as they stand.

First, it is against no article of belief that this faith of the centurion was without a parallel among the apostles or the mother of God. When no article of faith openly contradicts the words of Christ, they are to be taken literally, are not to be adapted and bent by our interpretation, neither for the sake of any saint or angel, nor of God himself. For his Word is the truth above all saints and angels. Such interpretation and adaptation spring from a carnal mind to estimate the saints of God not according to God’s grace, but according to their person, and greatness, which is contrary to God, who estimates quite differently, according to his gifts alone. God frequently does through inferior saints what he does not do through great saints. He concealed himself from his mother, when he was twelve years old, and suffered her to be in ignorance and error. On Easter Sunday he showed himself to Mary Magdalene, before he showed himself to his mother and the apostles. He spoke to the Samaritan woman, and to the woman taken in adultery, more kindly than he spoke to his mother. When Peter fell and denied him, the thief on the cross stood firm in his faith.

By these and similar wonders he shows that he will not have his Spirit in his saints limited by us, and that we are not to judge according to the person. He wills to bestow his gifts freely, according to his pleasure, not to our opinion. The purpose of all this is to prevent men from being presumptuous toward others and from elevating one saint above another, thus creating divisions. All are to be equal in the grace of God, however unequal they are in gifts.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 43–44.

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Proud of the Gospel http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 29 Jan 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

21 To my shame, I must say, we were too weak for that! But whatever any one dares to boast of—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast of that. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. 23 Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death.

2 Corinthians 11:21–23, RSV

From Luther

Paul acknowledges that he had to become a fool, something for which he had no desire, by reason of the necessity laid upon him to praise himself. The false apostles, as false spirits habitually do, delivered great, fine, splendid speeches to the multitudes in their vainglorious attempt to raise themselves above Paul, and to make him and his doctrine contemptible and insignificant. Paul was little concerned that he should personally be lightly esteemed and the false apostles highly honored, but he could not bear to have the gospel perish in that way and his Corinthian converts seduced. Therefore he exerts himself to the utmost, at the risk of becoming a fool by his boasting. But in his strong spiritual wisdom, he glories in a masterly way, and skillfully puts to shame the boasts of the false apostles. He shows them that he can glory in the very things in which they glory, and even more. At the same time he declares himself a fool for glorying. He wears the foolscap, that those coarse fools might have a mirror to behold themselves. This is wisely making foolishness minister to the good of the neighbor and to the honor of the gospel. To the just, even folly is wisdom, just as all things are pure and holy unto him.

Paul deals the false apostles a strong blow when he shows them to be ignorant of the grounds in which a true Christian seeks his glory. He teaches them that a Christian glories in the things of which other men are ashamed — in the cross and in his sufferings. The main point of the lesson is that in a preacher or a teacher no vice is more injurious and venomous than vainglory. The ministry is ordained to have as its aim the glory of God and its promotion, and the ministers must, for God’s glory, suffer reproach and shame. The world will not endure the Word. For him who seeks his own honor in preaching, it is impossible to remain in the right path and preach the pure gospel. Consequently he avoids striving for God’s honor; he must preach what pleases the people, what brings honor to himself and magnifies his skill and wisdom.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 42–43.

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Favor the Lowly http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 28 Jan 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; never be conceited.

Romans 12:14–16, RSV

From Luther

Paul speaks of the temporal affairs of men, teaching mutual appreciation of one another’s calling and character, offices and works, and that none is to esteem himself better than another because of these. The shoemaker’s apprentice has the same Christ as the prince or the king; the woman, the same as the man. While there are various occupations and external distinctions among men, there is but one faith and one Spirit.

But this doctrine of Paul has long been dishonored. Princes, nobles, the rich and the powerful, reflect themselves in themselves, thinking they are the only men on earth. Even among their own ranks one aspires to be more exalted, more noble and upright, than another. Their notions and opinions are almost as diverse as the clouds of heaven. They are not of the same mind in external distinctions. One does not esteem another’s condition and occupation as significant and as honorable as his own. True, there must be the various earthly stations, characters and employments; but it is heathenish, unchristian and worldly for one to entertain the absurd idea that God regards a certain individual a better Christian than another upon the contemptible grounds of his temporal station, and not to perceive that in God’s sight these conditions make no difference. God treats men alike. He gives his Word and his Spirit to the lowly as well as to the high. “High things” have their place and they are not pernicious. But to “mind” them, to be absorbed in them with the whole heart, to be puffed up with conceit because of our relation to them, enjoying them to the disadvantage of the less favored—that is heathenish.

Where would the wealthy and the powerful be if there were no poor and humble? As the feet support the body, so the low support the high. The higher class, then, should conduct themselves toward the lowly as the body holds itself with relation to the feet; not “minding” or regarding their lofty station, but conforming to and recognizing with favor the station of the lowly. Christ conducted himself with humility. He did not deny his own exaltation, but neither was he haughty toward us by reason of it. He did not despise us, but stooped to our wretched condition and raised us by means of his own exalted condition.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 40–41.

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The Marriage Will http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 27 Jan 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 On the third day there was a marriage at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; 2 Jesus also was invited to the marriage, with his disciples.

John 2:1–2, RSV

From Luther

It is indeed a high honor paid to married life for Christ himself to attend this marriage, together with his mother and his disciples. His mother is present as the one arranging the wedding, the parties married being apparently her poor relatives or neighbors, and she being compelled to act as the bride’s mother; so, of course, it was nothing more than a wedding, and in no way a display.

The second honor is his giving good wine for the humble marriage by means of a great miracle, making himself the bride’s chief cup-bearer; it may be too that he had no money or jewel to give as a wedding present. He never did such honor to the life or doings of the Pharisees; for by this miracle he confirms marriage as the work and institution of God. No matter how common or how lowly it appears in the eyes of men, God none the less acknowledges his own work and loves it.

Since then marriage has the foundation and consolation that it is instituted by God and that God loves it, and that Christ himself so honors and comforts it, every one ought to prize and esteem it; the heart ought to be glad that it is surely the state which God loves, and cheerfully endure every burden in it, even though the burdens be ten times heavier than they are. For this reason there is so much care and unpleasantness in married life to the outward man, because everything that is God’s word and work, if it is to be blessed at all, must be distasteful, bitter and burdensome to the outward man.

Marriage is a state that cultivates and exercises faith in God and love to our neighbor by means of manifold cares, labors, unpleasantness, crosses and all kinds of adversities that are to follow everything that is God’s word and work.

Christ also shows that he is not displeased with a marriage feast, nor with the things which belong to a wedding, such as adornments, cheerfulness, eating and drinking, according to the usage and custom of the country. God is not concerned about such external things, if it be in moderation, and faith and love reign.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 39–40.

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Love Your Neighbor http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 26 Jan 22 00:00:00 -0600

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From the Word

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?

Matthew 5:43–46, RSV

From Luther

You may say, shall evil go unpunished? What would be the result were all evil to be tolerated and covered up? Would it not encourage the wicked in their wickedness until life would not be safe to any one? It is truly the office of civil government and also of the father of every family to show anger against every evil, and to punish and restrain it. Every pastor and preacher, yes, every good Christian, is commissioned to admonish and censure when he sees a neighbor committing sin, just as one brother in a family should admonish another. But to be angry with evil and to inflict official punishment is a different thing from being filled with hatred and revenge, or holding ill will and be unforgiving.

Is it not inconsistent with the character of love to be angry and to reprove a neighbor when he is observed to sin; much rather love desires his improvement. Parents correct with a rod a disobedient and obstinate child, but do not cast it out and become enemies to it because of that disobedience. Their object is only to reform the child. So you may censure your brother when he sins, and manifest your displeasure and indignation, that he may perceive and confess his wrongdoing, but his obstinacy does not justify you in becoming his enemy, or in entertaining ill will toward him. He who truly loves will be distressed at a beloved neighbor wickedly trespassing against God and himself, but will not turn pale with hatred and revenge. True, when fervor and admonition fail to effect any reform, the sincere-hearted Christian must separate himself from his obstinate neighbor and regard him as a heathen; but he must not become his neighbor’s enemy, nor wish him evil.

Anger and censure prompted by sincere love are very different from the wrath, hatred and revengefulness of the world, which seeks only its own interests and is unwilling to tolerate any opposition to its pleasure. True love is moved to anger when a neighbor’s good demands it. Though not insensible to evil and not approving of it, it is yet able to tolerate, to forgive and cover all wrongs against itself, and it leaves untried no expedient that may make a neighbor better. Sincere love makes a distinction between the evil and the person; it is unfriendly to the former, but kind to the latter.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 38–39.

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Wheat and Weeds http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 25 Jan 22 00:00:00 -0600

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From the Word

26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. 27 And the servants of the householder came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then has it weeds?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29 But he said, ‘No; lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’ ” 

Matthew 13:26–30, RSV

From Luther

We should not marvel nor be terrified if there spring up among us many different false teachings and false faiths. Satan is constantly among the children of God. These words teach us how we should conduct ourselves toward these heretics and false teachers. We are not to uproot nor destroy them. The servants who are able to distinguish the tares from the wheat must indeed be very spiritual, but even then he says publicly, “Let both grow together.” We have to do here with God’s Word alone; for in this matter he who errs to-day may find the truth to-morrow. Who knows when the Word of God may touch his heart? But if he be burned at the stake, or otherwise destroyed, it is assured that he can never find the truth; the Word of God is snatched from him and he must be lost, who otherwise might have been saved. Hence the Lord says, the wheat will also be uprooted if we weed out the tares, which is something awful in the eyes of God and never to be justified.

From this observe what furious and raging people we have been these many years, in that we desired to force others to believe; the Turks with the sword, heretics with fire, the Jews with death, and thus root out the tares by our own power, as if we were the ones who could reign over hearts and spirits, and make them pious and right, which God’s Word alone must do. By such murder we separate the people from the Word, so that it cannot possibly work upon them, and we thus bring with one stroke a double murder upon ourselves, in that we murder the body for time and the soul for eternity, and afterwards say we did God a service by our actions, and wish to merit something special in heaven.

Therefore this passage should in all reason terrify the grand inquisitors and murderers of the people, even where they are brazen-faced, and should have to deal with true heretics. But at present they burn the true saints and are themselves heretics. What is that but rooting up the wheat, and pretending to exterminate the tares, like insane people? But it is apparent that they are themselves tares and evil seed, having fallen from the faith and trusting in their works.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 36–37.

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Many Functions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 24 Jan 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

3 For by the grace given to me I bid every one among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith which God has assigned him. 4 For as in one body we have many members, and all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

Romans 12:3–5, RSV

From Luther

This apt and beautiful simile clearly teaches the equality of all Christians; that one common faith should satisfy all; that gifts are not to be regarded as making one better, happier and more righteous than another, in the eyes of God. All the members perform certain functions of the body because they are members of it; and no member has its place through its own efforts or its own merits. It was born a member, before the exercise of office was possible. It acts by virtue of being a member; it does not become a member by virtue of its action. It derives its existence and all its powers from the body, regardless of its own exertions. The body, however, exercises its members as occasion requires. The eye has not attained its place because of its power of seeing—not because it has merited its office as an organ of sight for the body. In the very beginning it derived its very existence and its peculiar functions of sight from the body. It cannot therefore boast in the slightest degree that by its independent power of seeing it has deserved its place as an eye. It has the honor and right of its position solely through its birth, not because of any effort on its part.

Similarly, no Christian can boast that his own efforts have made him a member of Christ, with other Christians, in the common faith. Nor can he by any work constitute himself a Christian. He performs good works by virtue of having become a Christian, in the new birth, through faith, regardless of any merit of his own. It is evident, then, that good works do not make a Christian, but Christians bring forth good works. The fruit does not make the tree, but the tree produces the fruit. Effect does not produce cause, but cause produces effect. Now, if good works do not make a Christian, do not secure the grace of God and blot out our sins, they do not merit heaven. One cannot secure it by his works, but by being a member of Christ; an experience effected through faith in the Word of God. None but a Christian can enjoy heaven.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 35–36.

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Failure http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 23 Jan 22 00:00:00 -0600

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From the Word

41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom; 43 and when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, 44 but supposing him to be in the company they went a day’s journey, and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintances; 45 and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions; 47 and all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 And when they saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been looking for you anxiously.” 49 And he said to them, “How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”

Luke 2:41–49, RSV

From Luther

All things belong to the Father. He gave us the creatures to use in our earthly life according to our best understanding. One thing he reserved for himself, which is called holy and God’s own, and which we are to receive from him in a special manner. This is his holy Word, through which he rules the hearts and consciences, and makes holy and saves us. Hence Christ is in his Father’s business, when he speaks to us through his Word and by means of it leads us to the Father.

He reproves his parents because they had erred and had sought him among earthly and human affairs, among friends and acquaintances. He will not permit himself to be found in anything outside of his Word. He does not wish to be worldly, nor in that which is worldly, but in that which is his Father’s, as he always manifested from his birth through his entire life. He was in the world, but he did not conform to the world. To Pilate he said: “My kingdom is not of this world.” He waits alone on that which is his Father’s, i. e., the Word. Faith has no other foundation to stand on. Hence, the wisdom, thoughts and hopes of the mother of Christ and of Joseph must fail while they were seeking him in other places. For they did not seek him as they ought, but as flesh and blood do, which always gropes after other comfort than that of the Word; for it always wants what it can see and feel, and acquire by meditation and reason.

God permits them to fail in order that they may learn that all comfort not based on the Word, but on flesh and blood, on men and all other creatures, must inevitably fail. Here everything must be abandoned: friends, acquaintances, the whole city of Jerusalem, and everything belonging to these and to men; for all this neither gives, nor aids comfort, until the Lord is sought in the temple, since he is in that which is his Father’s. There he can truly be found and the heart is made to rejoice, otherwise it would have to remain without the least comfort.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 34–35.

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Prophecy http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 22 Jan 22 00:00:00 -0600

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From the Word

6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; he who teaches, in his teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who contributes, in liberality; he who gives aid, with zeal; he who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. 

Romans 12:6–8, RSV

From Luther

Prophecy is of two kinds: one is the foretelling of future events, a gift or power possessed by all the prophets under the Old Testament dispensation, and by the apostles; the other is the explanation of the Scriptures. Now, the gospel being the last prophetic message to be delivered previous to the time of judgment, and to predict the events of that period, I presume Paul had reference here simply to that form of prophecy which is the explanation of the Scriptures. This form is common, ever prevails, and is profitable to Christians; the other form is rare. When he says prophecy must be according to the proportion of faith, it is plain enough that he does not refer to the foretelling of future events.

Paul does not attach so much importance to the prediction of future events. Such predictions, though they may gratify the curiosity of men concerning the fate of kings, princes and others of prominence in the world, are unnecessary prophecies under the New Testament dispensation. They neither teach the Christian faith, nor contribute to its strength. Hence this form of prophecy may be regarded among the least of God’s gifts. Nay, it sometimes proceeds from the devil. But the ability to explain the Scriptures is the noblest, the best prophetic gift. The Old Testament prophets derived their title to the name chiefly from leading the people of their day in the way of faith by explaining the divine Word. These things had much more to do with their title than the fact of their making occasional predictions concerning earthly kings and temporal affairs. The faith whereto their prophecies conformed is perpetual.

It is of much significance that Paul recognizes faith as the controlling judge and rule in all matters of doctrine and prophecy. To faith everything must bow. By faith must all doctrines be judged and held. You see whom Paul would make doctors of the Scriptures—men of faith and no others. These should be the judges of all doctrines. Faith is and must be lord over all teachers. Popes, councils and all the world, with their doctrines, must yield authority to the most insignificant Christian with faith, and his decision of their doctrines and laws is to be accepted. It is inconsistent to reject the judgment of him whom God himself teaches.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 33–34.

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Content with the Gospel http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 21 Jan 22 00:00:00 -0600

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From the Word

51 And he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man. 

Luke 2:50–52, RSV

From Luther

Some inquisitive people who are not satisfied with the information given in the Scriptures have desired to know what Christ did in his childhood, and have received their reward for their curiosity. Some fool or knave has fabricated a legendary book on the childhood of Christ, and has not been afraid to write down his lies and frauds, relating how Christ went to school and a great deal of absurd and blasphemous tomfoolery. Thus with his lies he jests at the expense of the Lord, whom all the angels adore and fear, and before whom all creatures tremble, so that this rascal would have deserved to have a millstone hanged about his neck and to have been sunk in the depths of the sea, because he did not esteem the Lord of all more than to make him an object of his buffoonery.

Christ never went to school, for no schools like ours existed at that time. He did not even have an elementary education. The Jews marveled, saying: “How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?” Yet they were astonished at his wisdom. They thought it strange that a layman and the son of a carpenter should have such great knowledge, having never studied. Therefore they were offended in him and thought that he must be possessed of an evil spirit. Let us then be satisfied with the narrative of the gospel, which tells us enough of his childhood. Luke writes that he “increased in wisdom and stature.” Later on he writes that he was subject to his parents. What else should he have related? He was brought up like other children, with the exception that, as some children excel others in ability, Christ was an extraordinary, clever child. Thus no more could be written concerning him than is recorded by Luke. The time for performing miracles had not yet come.

Some are perplexed by the words of Luke according to which Christ, although he was God, “increased in wisdom and stature.” We must understand the words of Luke as applying simply to the human nature of Christ, which was an instrument and temple of the Godhead. As he grew in stature his reason developed, and with the development of his reason he became stronger in the Spirit and filled with wisdom before God, in himself and before men.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 31–32.

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Love Is Not Vengeful http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 20 Jan 22 00:00:00 -0600

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From the Word

Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses. Proverbs 10:12, RSV

From Luther

Where hatred and enmity dwell in the heart, they must inevitably stir up strife and bring misfortune. Animosity cannot restrain itself. It either bursts out in pernicious language, clandestinely uttered against the object of enmity, or it openly demeans itself in a manner indicating its ill will. Hence follow reveling, cursing, quarreling and fighting, and, when wholly unrestrained, cruelty and murder. Hatred has but one desire, namely, that every one be an enemy to his neighbor and speak the worst about him, and if he hears aught in his neighbor’s favor, he puts upon it the very worst construction with the result that the other is embittered and in turn comes to hate, curse and revile. Thus the fire burns until only discord and mischief can obtain.

On the other hand love is virtue pure and precious. It neither utters, nor thinks any evil of its neighbor. It rather covers sin; not one sin, nor two, but a “multitude of sins.” Love has no desire to reflect itself in a neighbor’s sins and maliciously rejoice in them. It conducts itself as having neither seen, nor heard them. If they cannot be overlooked, it readily forgives, and as far as possible mends matters. Where nothing else can be done, it endures the sins of a neighbor without stirring up strife and making a bad matter worse. Where people dwell together there will be mutual transgressions; it cannot be otherwise. No one will always do what is pleasing to others, and each is liable to commit open wrong. Since men must live together in their respective stations of life, he who would live peaceably must so control himself as to be able to bear with others, to overlook their imperfections, to cover their transgressions and thus avert further resulting evil.

Now if you would live as a Christian and enjoy peace in the world, you must make every effort to restrain your anger and not to give way to revenge. You must suppress these passions, subduing your hatred by love, and be able to overlook and bear, even though you have to suffer great pain and injustice. So doing you will develop a noble character fitted to accomplish much good through patience and humility, to allay and abolish enmity and strife, and thereby to reform and convert others.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 30–31.

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Worship for Christ's Sake http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 19 Jan 22 00:00:00 -0600

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From the Word

36 And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanu-el, of the tribe of Asher; she was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years from her virginity, 37 and as a widow till she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 And coming up at that very hour she gave thanks to God, and spoke of him to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. 

Luke 2:36–38, RSV

From Luther

Anna lived with a husband seven years, and at this time was a widow of eighty-four years. The number seven is commonly taken to signify our temporal life, because all time is measured by the seven days of the week, which is the first and best standard for the measurement of time. God first created days and appointed seven of them as a definite period of time. Of weeks were made months, and of months years, into which our whole life is divided. These seven years therefore signify the whole course of the temporal life and conduct of the saints of old.

Paul explains that a husband signifies the law. As a woman is bound to her husband while he liveth, so all are bound to the law who live under it. Now the law has been given to no people on earth except this Anna, the Jewish people, who were entrusted with the oracles of God. Therefore Anna, who lived seven years with her husband, signifies the people of Israel under the law, in their outward conduct and temporal life.

According to Luke the Holy Spirit shows that this saintly Anna, the holy people of old, was not simply under the law and a bond-servant; she also walked in the freedom of faith and the Spirit. This is signified by the many years of her widowhood, meaning the spiritual life of faith led by the saints of old. For the widowhood signifies freedom from the law. Thus the life under the law and the life of faith existed side by side. As to their souls, the believers of old were justified without the works of the law, alone by faith, and in this respect they were truly widows; but as to their bodies and external conduct, they were subject to the law. They did not believe that they were justified by works, but having been justified by faith, they kept the law voluntarily, cheerfully and to the glory of God. He who lives in this manner may also do the works of the law, for Christ and the apostles also have kept the law. These are the people who at the same time live seven years with a husband and about four score years without a husband, who at the same time are free from the law and yet under the law.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 29–30.

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Dealing with Trouble http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 18 Jan 22 00:00:00 -0600

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From the Word

41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom; 43 and when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, 44 but supposing him to be in the company they went a day’s journey, and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintances; 45 and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking him.

Luke 2:41–45, RSV

From Luther

Here you see what Mary experienced. Although she is the mother of a child in whom she might have gloried before all mothers, yet you perceive how God deprived her of all happiness. She had reason to fear that God was angry with her and would no longer have her to be the mother of his Son. Only those who have passed through similar experiences will understand what she suffered. Therefore we should apply this example to ourselves, for it was not recorded for her sake, but for our benefit. We should profit by her example and be prepared to bear our sorrow, should a like affliction of losing Christ befall us.

When God vouchsafes to us a strong faith and a firm trust in him, so that we are assured that he is our gracious God and we can depend upon him, then we are in paradise. But when God permits our hearts to be discouraged and we believe he takes from us Christ our Lord; when our conscience feels that we have lost him and amidst trembling and despair our confidence is gone, then we are truly in misery and distress. Even if we are not conscious of any special sin, yet in such a condition we tremble and doubt whether God still cares for us; just as Mary here doubts and knows not whether God still deems her worthy to be the mother of his Son. Only strong minds can endure such temptations, and there are not many people whom God tests to this degree.

God does this especially to guard his children against a twofold danger. First, being strong in their own mind and arrogant, they might ultimately depend upon themselves and believe they are able to accomplish everything in their own strength and become presumptuous and overconfident. Secondly, he wants to give us an example. For if we had no examples of saints who passed through the same experiences we should be unable to bear our trials and would imagine that we alone are thus afflicted. But when we see that Mary and other saints have also suffered we are comforted; for their example shows us that we should patiently wait until God strengthens us.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 27–28.

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The Offense of Faith http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 17 Jan 22 00:00:00 -0600

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From the Word

33 And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him; 34 and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed.” 

Luke 2:33–35, RSV

From Luther

Why does not Simeon say this to the father also? Because Jesus was her own child, and all that happened to him naturally happened also to her and caused her real pain. Simeon perhaps also addressed Mary alone for the reason that Joseph was not to live until the time of the suffering of Christ, which the mother would experience alone; and in addition to all this sorrow she was to be a poor and lonely widow, and Christ was to suffer as a poor orphan. Mary lived in all the three states of virginity, of matrimony, and of widowhood, the latter being the most pitiable, without any protection or aid. A virgin has her parents, a wife her husband, but the widow is alone.

Simeon declares that Christ is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel. Christ, however, is not the cause of the fall, but the presumption of the Jews is the cause. Christ came to be a light and Saviour of all the world, so that all might be justified and saved by faith in him. If this is to be brought about, all other righteousness in ourselves, sought outside of Christ with works, must be rejected. The Jews would not hear of this. Thus they take offense at faith, fall deeper into unbelief and become hardened in their own righteousness, so that they even persecuted with all their might all who believed. All who would be saved by their own righteousness do the same thing. They depend upon their works, and when faith in Christ is demanded they stumble and fall.

Christ had been promised only to the people of Israel by the prophets; and these had announced that many among that people would fall away on account of their self-righteousness. This is indeed a terrible example to us Gentiles, to whom nothing has been promised, but out of pure grace we have unexpectedly been brought into the Kingdom and have risen through Christ. The example of Israel’s fall should touch our hearts, that we may not also fall, or perhaps fall more grievously than the Jews and Turks, being seduced by Antichrist and bearing the name of Christ to the dishonor of God and to our own injury.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 26–27.

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Sober Judgment http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 16 Jan 22 00:00:00 -0600

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From the Word

1 I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. 3 For by the grace given to me I bid every one among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith which God has assigned him.

Romans 12:1–3, RSV

From Luther

We must be careful to follow neither the customs of the world nor our own reason or plausible theories. We must constantly subdue our disposition and control our will, not obeying the dictates of reason and desire. We are always to conduct ourselves in a manner unlike the way of the world. Thus we shall be daily changed or renewed in our minds. That is, we come each day to place greater value on the things condemned by the world. The mind of the world is altogether unlike the Christian’s mind. It not only continues unchanged and unrenewed in its old disposition, but is obdurate and extremely stubborn.

God’s will is ever good and perfect, ever gracious; but it is not at all times so regarded of men. Indeed, human reason imagines it to be evil, unfriendly, abominable, because what reason esteems highest, best and holiest, God’s will regards as nothing, as worthy of death. Therefore, Christian experience must come to the rescue and decide. It must feel and prove, must test and ascertain, whether he is prompted by a sincere and gracious will. He who perseveres and learns to know himself in this way will go forward in his experience, finding God’s will so gracious and pleasing that he would not exchange it for all the world’s wealth. He will discover that acceptance of God’s will affords him more happiness, even in poverty, disgrace and adversity, than is the lot of any worldling in the midst of earthly honors and pleasures. He will finally arrive at a degree of perfection making him inclined to exchange life for death, and with Paul to desire to depart that sin may no more live in him, and that the will of God may be done perfectly in himself in every relation. Paul, however, does not consider the Christian absolutely free from sin. Where transformation and renewal are necessary, something of the old and sinful nature ever remains. This is not imputed to Christians, because they daily endeavor to effect transformation and renovation.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 25–26.

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Appearances http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 15 Jan 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

33 And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him; 34 and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed.” 

Luke 2:33–35, RSV

From Luther

This blessing means nothing except that he wished them happiness and joy, honor and all prosperity. This blessing seems to be a useless and trivial matter, for people generally do this and wish each other all that is good. But to bless Christ and his parents is a great and exceptional deed, for the reason that Christ and our nature are entirely opposed to each other. Christ condemns all that the world elects, gives us the cross to bear and to suffer all evil, deprives the world of its pleasures, possessions and honors, and teaches that men deal in those things which are altogether foolish and sinful. Then they begin to blaspheme and persecute Christ and his disciples; the whole world is full of those who curse him and wish him all evil, disgrace and misfortune, and there are only a few who really bless him.

There are indeed some who praise him, because he does what they desire and leaves them as they are. When, however, he begins to be Christ to them and they are required to forsake their works and to let him alone dwell within them, they flee and blaspheme. There are also some who believe that, if they were to see the infant Christ with his mother before them, as did Simeon, they would also joyously bless him. But they would certainly stumble at his childhood, poverty and contemptible appearance. They prove it by disregarding, hating and persecuting such poverty and humble appearance in Christ’s members, although they might still find Christ, their head, among them daily. If they then shun the cross and hate its contemptible appearance, they would certainly do the same thing if they were to see him with their eyes. But Simeon was of a different mind. Outward appearance did not cause him to stumble, and therefore he does not bless Christ alone, but also his father and mother.

Thus, in blessing the child, Simeon as a preacher and lover of the cross and an enemy of the world, gives a remarkable example of exalting and honoring Christ, who was then despised, cursed and rejected in his own person. He is even now treated in the same manner in his members, who for his sake endure poverty, disgrace, death and ignominy; yet no one will come to their relief, receive and bless them.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 24–25.

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Acceptable Sacrifice http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 14 Jan 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

2 Like newborn babes, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation; 3 for you have tasted the kindness of the Lord. 4 Come to him, to that living stone, rejected by men but in God’s sight chosen and precious; 5 and like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 2:2–5, RSV

From Luther

The whole world regards the priest’s office—his service and his dignity—as representing the acme of nobility and exaltation; and so it truly is. If any one would be a priest and exalted before God, let him set about the work of offering up his body to God; in other words, let him be humble, let him be nothing in the eyes of the world.

I will let every man decide for himself the difference between the outward priesthood of dazzling character and the internal, spiritual priesthood. The first is confined to a very few individuals; the second Christians commonly share. One was ordained of men, independently of the Word of God; the other was established through the Word, irrespective of human devices. In that, the skin is besmeared with material oil; in this, the heart is internally anointed with the Holy Spirit. That applauds and extols its works; this proclaims and magnifies the grace of God, and his glory. In fact, the two priesthoods accord about as well as Christ and Barabbas, as light and darkness, as God and the world. The Christian priesthood will not admit of appointment. The priest is not made. He must be born a priest and inherit his office. I refer to the new birth—the birth of water and the spirit. Thus all Christians become priests, children of God and co-heirs with Christ the Most High Priest.

Men generally consider the title of priest glorious and honorable; but the duties and the sacrifices of the office are rarely acceptable. The Christian priesthood costs life, property, honor, friends and all worldly things; all this is to be endured, not for the profit of oneself, but for the benefit of his neighbor and for the honor and glory of God. For so Christ offered up his body. This priesthood is glorious. The suffering and work of Christ is to be viewed as grace bestowed on us, a blessing conferred, requiring the exercise of faith and our acceptance of the salvation offered; then also, as an example for us to follow. We are to offer up ourselves for our neighbor’s benefit and for the honor of God. He who so does is a Christian. This is what Peter calls offering sacrifices acceptable to God by Christ.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 22–23.

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Faith in His Word http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 13 Jan 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 And inspired by the Spirit he came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the law, 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, 29 “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word; 30 for mine eyes have seen thy salvation 31 which thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to thy people Israel.” 33 And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him

Luke 2:25–33, RSV

From Luther

What are the marvelous things spoken of him? They are the things of which Simeon had spoken immediately before, when in the temple he took the child Jesus upon his arms, saying: “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word; for mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.” They marveled that this aged and holy man stood there before them in the temple, took the child in his arms and spoke of him so exultingly, calling him the light of the world, a Saviour of all nations, a glory of all the people of Israel.

It must indeed excite wonder that such things were proclaimed openly by Simeon in that public and sacred place with reference to that poor and insignificant child, whose mother was so humble and lowly and whose father Joseph was not wealthy. How could such a child be considered the Saviour of all men, the light of the Gentiles, and the glory and honor of all Israel? At present, after we have had so many proofs of Christ’s greatness, these words no longer seem so wonderful; but then, when nothing as yet was known of Jesus, they were indeed marvelous. Joseph and Mary believed them nevertheless, and on that very account they marveled. If they had not believed them, the words of Simeon would have appeared insignificant to them and not at all wonderful.

If Joseph and Mary had judged according to the outward appearances, they would have considered Christ no more than any other poor child. But they disregard the outward appearance and cling to the words of Simeon with a firm faith, therefore they marvel at his speech. Thus we must also disregard all the senses when contemplating the works of God, and only cling to his words, that our eyes and our senses may not offend us. The fact that they marveled at the words of Simeon is also to teach us that the Word of God is never preached in vain. The Word of God must produce results, even if there are only a few who believe it. There are always some who receive it with joy and admiration.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 21–22.

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Bless http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 12 Jan 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; never be conceited. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 No, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. 

Romans 12:14–21, RSV

From Luther

The apostle reminds us that we are to conduct ourselves in a Christian manner toward our persecutors, who, to a great extent, are to blame for the distress of the saints. It is well to observe that we are not merely advised, but commanded, to love our enemies, to do them good and to speak well of them; such is the fruit of the Spirit. To “bless” our persecutors means to desire only good for them in body and soul. It is inconsistent for a Christian to curse even his most bitter enemy or an evildoer; for he is commanded to bear the gospel upon his lips. The dove did not bring a poisonous branch or a thistle sprig to Noah in the ark; she brought an olive leaf in her mouth. So the gospel is simply a gracious, blessed, glad and healing word. It brings only blessing and grace to the whole world. No curse, only pure lips of blessing and not of cursing. If they curse they are not the lips of a Christian.

It is necessary, however, to distinguish between cursing and censuring or reproving. Reproof and punishment greatly differ from cursing and malediction. To curse means to invoke evil, while censuring carries the thought of displeasure at existing evil, and an effort to remove it. In fact, cursing and censuring are opposed to each other. Christ himself censured, or reproved. He called the Jews a generation of vipers, children of the devil, hypocrites, blind dolts, liars and the like. He did not curse them to perpetuate their evils; he rather desired the evils removed.

But the strong argument is urged that the saints of the Scriptures not only censured, but cursed. Jacob cursed his sons, Reuben, Simon and Levi. A great part of the Law of Moses is made up of curses. What shall we say to these things? We answer: Without the Spirit’s direction, no one can rightly understand and imitate such examples of cursing. When the devil, through his followers, resists and obstructs the Word of God—the channel of blessing—the blessing is impeded, and in God’s sight a curse rests upon the blessing. Then it is the office of faith to come out with a curse, desiring the removal of the obstruction that God’s blessing may be unhindered.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 20–21.

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Kept in Humble Faith http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 11 Jan 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom; 43 and when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, 44 but supposing him to be in the company they went a day’s journey, and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintances; 45 and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions; 47 and all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 And when they saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been looking for you anxiously.” 49 And he said to them, “How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” 50 And they did not understand the saying which he spoke to them. 51 And he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. 
52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man. 

Luke 2:41–52, RSV

From Luther

The holy Virgin was a real martyr for three days, and these days were harder for her than was the external pain of martyrdom to other saints. She had had such anxiety on her Son’s account that she could not have suffered any more bitter pain. For that is the greatest torture and woe, when the heart is attacked and tortured. That is only half-suffering when the body alone is afflicted, but when the heart is compelled to endure suffering, only great and noble spirits, with special grace and strength, are able to endure it. But why does God permit these afflictions to come upon his loved ones?

First, that he may guard his own against presumption; that great saints, who have received special grace and gifts from God, may not presume to depend upon themselves. For if they should at all times be strong in spirit and experience only joy and pleasure, they might finally fall into the fatal pride of the devil, which despises God and trusts in self. Thus God keeps them in humility, so that they do not become proud and carnally secure in regard to their faith and holiness, as Peter did, when he boasted his willingness to lay down his life for Christ.

Secondly, God permits his saints to suffer these trials as an example to others, to alarm the carnally secure and to comfort the timid and alarmed. The wicked and impenitent may learn from this how to amend their ways, keep themselves from sin, since they can see that God deals even with the saints in a way to produce anxiety. Such examples are intended to serve as a means of comfort to alarmed and anxious consciences, when they see that God has not only attacked them, but also the most exalted saints and permitted them to suffer the same trials and anxieties.

Thirdly, God does this that he may teach his saints to prepare themselves to find Christ and keep him. Mary and Joseph sought the child Jesus for three days without finding him either in Jerusalem or among their friends and acquaintances, until they came to the temple where he sat among the teachers and where the Scriptures and God’s Word are studied.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 18–19.

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Living Sacrifice http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 10 Jan 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. 

Romans 12:1–2, RSV

From Luther

Paul is preaching to those Christians already godly by faith, who are not to be restrained by commandment, but to be admonished. The object is to secure voluntary renunciation of their sinful nature. A preacher of grace persuades and incites by calling attention to the goodness and mercy of God. The latter does not desire works prompted by an unwilling spirit, nor service that is not the expression of a cheerful heart. He desires that a joyous and willing spirit shall incite to his service.

Paul makes use of three words, “living,” “holy,” “acceptable,” to teach that the sacrifices of the Old Testament are repealed. They consisted of bullocks, sheep and goats. The life of these was not spared. They were slain, burned and consumed. But the New Testament sacrifice is a wonderful offering. Though slain, it still lives.
The word “living” has reference to spiritual and not to temporal life. He who keeps his body in subjection and mortifies its lusts does not live to the world; he does not lead the life of the world. The Christian is bodily in the world, but he does not live after the flesh. Such a life is, before God, eternal and a true, living sacrifice. None of the Old Testament sacrifices were “holy,” except in an external and temporal sense, but the living sacrifice is holy before God, is designed for the service of God and employed in his honor. They who render this living, holy sacrifice are happy and assured of their acceptance with God.

This our reasonable service is rightly called a spiritual service of the heart, performed in the faith and knowledge of God. Paul rejects all service not performed in faith as entirely unreasonable, even if it has the appearance of spiritual life and of great holiness.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 17–18.

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Indebted to Love http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 09 Jan 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

8 Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. 

Romans 13:8, RSV

Legal obligations make us debtors to men, as, for example, when one individual has a claim upon another for debt. The duties and tribute, the obedience and honor we owe to political government are also of this legal character. Though personally these things are not essential to the Christian—they do not justify him or make him righteous—yet, because he must live here on earth, he is under obligation, so far as outward conduct is concerned, to put himself on a level with other men in these things, and generally help maintain temporal order and peace. Christ paid tribute money as a debt, notwithstanding he had told Peter he was under no obligation to do so.

Another obligation is love, when a Christian voluntarily makes himself a servant of all men. Paul says: “Though I was free from all men, I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.” This is not a requirement of human laws; no one who fails in this duty is censured or punished for neglect of the obligation to submit to and serve a fellow man. This fact is very apparent. Let one have wealth, and as long as he refrains from appropriating his neighbor’s goods, sullying his honor or injuring his person, he is, in the eyes of the law, righteous. Laws made for restraint of the outward conduct are directed only against evil works, which they prohibit and punish. Good works are left to voluntary performance. Civil law does not extort them by threats and punishments, but commends and rewards them, as does the Law of Moses.

Paul would teach Christians so to conduct themselves toward men and civil authority as to give no occasion for complaint. He would not have them fail to satisfy the claims of legal obligation, but rather to go beyond its requirements, making themselves debtors voluntarily to those who have no claim on them.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 16–17.

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Evidence of Faith http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 08 Jan 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

8 Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. 

Romans 13:8–10, RSV

From Luther

We must properly distinguish between faith and love. Faith deals with the heart and love with works. Faith removes our sins, renders us acceptable, justifies us. Being accepted and justified in person, we have love imparted to us by the Holy Spirit, and we delight in doing good. It is the nature of the law to attack our person and demand good works; and it will not cease its demands until it gains its purpose. We cannot do good works without the spirit of love. The law constrains us to know our imperfections, and to recognize the necessity of becoming altogether different individuals, so that we may satisfy the law. The law does not exact so much of the heart as it does of works; in fact, it demands nothing but works and ignores the heart. It causes the individual to see that he must become an entirely different person. But faith, when it comes, creates a nature capable of accomplishing the works which the law demands.

It cannot in every case be said that faith fulfils the law. It, however, prepares the way and enables us to fulfil its demands. The law constrains us—teaches us that we must be changed before we can accomplish its works; it makes us conscious of our inability to fulfil it. On the other hand, love and works do not change or justify us. Our love and our works are evidence of justification and of a change, since these are impossible until the individual is free from sin and made righteous.

This explanation is given to enable us to perceive the true nature of the law, of faith and of love; to ascribe to each its own mission; and rightly to understand the Scripture declarations in their harmonious relations, namely, that while faith justifies, it does not fulfil the law, and that while love does not justify, it does fulfil the law.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 15–16.

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The Twofold Effect of the Gospel http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 07 Jan 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. 

Isaiah 60:1, RSV

From Luther

We learn from our text what the gospel is, and what is its message. It is the coming of light, the rising of divine glory. It speaks only of divine glory, divine honor and fame. It exalts only the work of God—his goodness and grace toward us. It teaches the necessity of our receiving God’s work for us, his grace and goodness, even God himself, if we would secure salvation. The gospel produces in us a twofold effect. First, it rejects our natural reason, our human light. Had we within ourselves light instead of darkness, it would not be necessary for God to send the light to rise upon us. This text forcibly expels and severely condemns all natural wisdom, all human reason; these are absolute darkness, therefore it is necessary for the light to come. So we should guard against all human doctrines and the conceits of reason as darkness, rejected and condemned of God; we should awake and arise to behold this light, and follow it alone.

The gospel casts down all the glory and pride of our own works. We cannot draw comfort nor derive honor from them. If there were in us anything worthy of honor and glory, the divine honor and glory would rise in us to no purpose. Men may, it is true, have their own nature and their self-righteousness, and from these derive temporal honor, praise and glory before their fellows as though they were no sinners. But before God they are sinful, destitute of glory and unable to boast of possessing him and his blessings.

No one can be saved unless he have within himself the glory of God and be able to comfort himself solely with God and his blessings and to glory in these. So the gospel condemns all our efforts and exalts only the goodness and the grace of God, and therefore God himself. It permits us to console ourselves only with him and to glory in no other.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 14–15.

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To Know Christ http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 06 Jan 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, 2 “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East, and have come to worship him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it is written by the prophet: 6 ‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will govern my people Israel.’ ” 

Matthew 2:1–6, RSV

From Luther

How these wise men could see in this star a sign that unmistakably signified a new-born king, I do not know. Perhaps they read in their histories and chronicles that aforetime the birth of other kings had been signified in the heavens by a star. They knew very well that the Jews were the chosen people of God, who were and had been especially favored of God above all other people. As this was such a beautiful star they likely thought that God had given this people a new king. Perhaps they knew all by divine revelation.

At first these wise men did not regard this king as God, but took him for a temporal king. They came to Jerusalem, the capital city, hoping to find him amid the splendor of the king’s palace. For the star, which they saw over the country of the Jews at their home in the east, must have disappeared as they did not see it on their journey until they proceeded from Jerusalem to Bethlehem. So they also worshiped him after the manner of those eastern countries and not as though they considered him God. They did not concern themselves about what this king would be in the future, or what would happen to him. They only ask where he is to be found.

But, my dear hearer, it does not matter much whether you know all about the arts of nature and the wisdom of the world. Be satisfied with what your experience and common sense teach you. It is enough for you to know that in the summer other work must be done than in the winter; that you know how to attend to your farm, stock, home and children. Beyond this think only how you may know Christ. He will teach you how you may know yourself, who you are, and what power lieth in you. Then you will know God and yourself, which the masters of the arts of nature and the wisdom of this world do not learn.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 13–14.

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The Rising of the Light http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 05 Jan 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. 2 For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you. 3 And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. (Isaiah 60:1–3, RSV)

From Luther

We have frequently spoken of the little word glory. It means honor, brightness, splendor. The gospel is simply a grand report, a message, having its origin in a glorious reality; it is not a mere empty proclamation. A glorious being is to be compared to a sun or a light. The sun is a fountain of light, and its luster is its glory, the diffusion, the distinction of that light.

The gospel is God’s glory and our light. It is our light in that it is the medium whereby his work is proclaimed, extolled, recognized and honored throughout the whole world. The gospel is not the actual brightness of the light, nor is it the light itself. It is the rising of the brightness, the approaching of the light. It is simply a manifestation of the light and brightness which existed from eternity. “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” The light did not arise, nor was it openly manifested, except through the gospel. Therefore the gospel is an expression of divine brightness and glory.

It is called gospel—good message—because it reveals and proclaims divine blessings, divine glory, and divine honor or brightness. What is the brightness but the great and glorious riches of his goodness and grace poured out upon us? How has grace appeared? Through the preaching of the gospel. The light and the glory are God himself. Christ says, “I am the light.” It is plain that Isaiah is not here speaking of the rising of Christ in the sense of his coming birth. He refers to the rising of the gospel after Christ’s ascension. Through the gospel Christ is spiritually risen and glorified in the hearts of believers, bringing them salvation.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 12–13.

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Through Faith http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 04 Jan 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

23 Now before faith came, we were confined under the law, kept under restraint until faith should be revealed. 24 So that the law was our custodian until Christ came, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a custodian; 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. 

Galatians 3:23–29, RSV

From Luther

He who is under the law and works unwillingly is a servant. But whosoever has faith and works cheerfully is a child; for he has received the Spirit of God through Christ. Now, the apostle names Christ, referring to the faith that believes and abides in Jesus Christ. No other faith is effective, no other faith is the right faith, let one believe in God as one will. Some there are, particularly among our modern high schoolmen, who say: Forgiveness of sins and justification depend altogether on the divine imputation of grace; God’s imputation is sufficient. He to whom God does not reckon sin, is justified; he to whom God reckons sin, is not justified.

Were their theory true the entire New Testament would be of no significance. Christ would have labored foolishly and to no purpose in suffering for sin. God would have unnecessarily wrought mere mockery and deception; for he might easily without Christ’s suffering have forgiven sins. Then, too, a faith other than faith in Christ might have justified and saved—a faith relying on God’s gracious mercy not to impute sin. In contrast to this deplorable theory and abominable error, it is the apostles practice to speak always of faith in Jesus Christ, and he makes mention of Jesus Christ with a frequency surprising to one unacquainted with the important doctrine of faith in him. Hence our learned university doctors no longer know Christ. They do not recognize the need of him and his benefits, nor understand the character of the gospel and the New Testament. They imagine Christ to be a mere Moses—a teacher who institutes laws and commandments showing how men may be righteous and lead a faultless life. Then they proceed with free will and the workings of human nature, designing thereby to fit themselves for grace, and basely storm heaven.

Let us guard against the hellish poison of this false doctrine and not lose Christ, the consoling Saviour. Grace is given us gratuitously—without cost to ourselves—and yet the gift to us did cost another much and was obtained with a priceless, an infinite treasure—the Son of God himself. It is supremely essential to possess him who has accomplished the purchase for us. Nor is it possible to obtain grace otherwise than through him.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 10–12.

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He Is Written http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 03 Jan 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature, upholding the universe by his word of power. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has obtained is more excellent than theirs. 5 For to what angel did God ever say, “Thou art my Son, today I have begotten thee”? 

Hebrews 1:1–5, RSV

From Luther

These words are a quotation from the second Psalm. We see that the reference here is plainly to Christ, against whom the Jews raged with Pilate, Herod and the chief priests. To Christ God says, “Thou art my Son.” The Jews endeavor to evade this passage of the apostle. Unable to deny that the Psalm refers to a coming king and an anointed one, they assert that the allusion is to David, who was also a Christ. For they designate all kings “Messiahs” or “Christs,” that is, anointed ones. But their interpretation will not hold. David never inherited the heathen, nor did the kingdom extend to the uttermost parts of the earth, as recorded of the king mentioned in the Psalm. To no man is it anywhere said in the Scriptures, “Thou art my Son.”

Even when the Jews admit that the allusion of the Psalm is to the Messiah, they resort to two evasions. They maintain that he is yet to come, that Jesus Christ is not the Messiah; and that although called the son of God, he is not God. How shall we reply to them? In the first place we have the testimony of experience that Jesus is he of whom the Psalm speaks; in Christ the prophecy is fulfilled and has become history. He was persecuted by kings and rulers. They sought to destroy him and only brought derision upon themselves in the attempt. They were themselves destroyed, as the Psalm says. Throughout the world Christ is recognized as Lord. No king, before or since, has ruled or can rule in equal extent. The apostle’s reasoning, based on the fact that nowhere is it said to any angel, much less to any man, “Thou art my Son,” sufficiently proves that Christ is God. He must be particularly God’s Son, having a relation not shared by men and angels. That God does not include him among other sons but especially distinguishes him, indicates his superiority. He cannot be superior to angels without being true God, for angels are the highest order of beings. The apostle lays so much stress upon Scriptural authority that we are under no obligations to accept anything the Bible does not assert. Be certain you have full Scripture authority for all you accept. In all things not found in the Scriptures, ask as does the apostle here, “When did God ever assert it?”

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 9–10.

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The Gift of God http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 02 Jan 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

1 And you he made alive, when you were dead through the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among these we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of body and mind, and so we were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God— 9 not because of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. 

Ephesians 2:1-10, RSV

From Luther

God does not condemn or save any individual on account of his works. This is not the fault of our works, but of our nature. The person, nature and entire existence are corrupt in us because of Adam’s fall. Therefore no work can be good in us, until our nature and personal life is changed and renewed. The tree is not good, therefore the fruits are bad. No one can become righteous by works or laws; all works and efforts to become righteous and be saved are in vain as long as the nature and the person are not renewed. God will have us clearly understand that the fault lies entirely in the state of our nature, that its birth and origin are corrupt and sinful. This is original sin, or the sin of the nature, or the sin of the person, the real, chief sin. If this sin did not exist there would be no actual sin. This sin is not committed like other sins; but it exists, lives, and commits all other sins, it is the essential sin, that sins not for an hour or a season, but wherever the person is and as long as he lives.

God looks at this sin of the nature alone. This can be eradicated by no law, by no punishment; the grace of God alone, which makes the nature pure and new, must purge it away. The law only makes it manifest and teaches how to recognize it, but does not save from it; the law only restrains the hand or member, it cannot restrain the person and nature from being sinful. Just as little as it lies in one’s power to be born and to receive natural existence, so little does it lie in his power to be without sin or to escape from it. He who created us must take it away. Therefore he first gives the law, by which man recognizes this sin and thirsts for grace; then he also gives the gospel and saves him.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 8–9.

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The Mark of God http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 01 Jan 22 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it they made known the saying which had been told them concerning this child; 18 and all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. 21 And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. 

Luke 2:15–21, RSV

From Luther

Circumcision was an external mark of God’s people, by which they were distinguished from other nations. God has never left his people without a mark or a sign, by which the world may know where his people are to be found. The Jews were known by circumcision, that was their divine mark. Our mark is baptism and the body of Christ. Where there is baptism, there are Christians, be they where they will in the world.

All this is immeasurably above and contrary to reason. If Abraham had followed reason he would not have believed that it was God who demanded circumcision. To our (natural) eyes it is such a foolish thing that there can scarcely be anything more absurd. The Jews had to endure great infamy and disgrace on account of it. But such are all God’s works and commandments, in order that haughty reason, which would be clever and wise, may be put to shame, may surrender its self-conceit and submit to God, and believe that whatver he appoints is most useful, honorable and wise. Thus we have baptism in the New Testament in order that we should cling to it in faith and believe that we are thereby cleansed from sin and saved. So the works and words of God are contrary to reason, and this, in turn, is contrary to God and recoils at the signs that are spoken against. In all this God seeks to bring man’s reason into captivity and make it subject to divine truth.

It was customary to give the child its name in circumcision, as we see here and in the case of John the Baptist. His name is rightly called Jesus, that is, Saviour; “for he shall save his people from their sins.” This comes to pass through faith, so that the naming of children signifies that by faith they have a name and are known to God. We are called Christians from him, are God’s children and have the superabundant riches of his goodness, that our hearts may be free, joyous, peaceable and unterrified.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 7–8.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 31 Dec 21 00:00:00 -0600

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Ephesians 2:19-21

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Church 

We are not dreaming of a Platonic state, as some maliciously assert, but we teach that this Church does exist, comprised of truly believing and righteous people scattered throughout the whole world. And we add the marks: the pure doctrine of the gospel and the sacraments. This Church is properly the pillar of the truth (1 Tim 3:15) because it retains the pure gospel and what Paul calls the “foundation” (1 Cor 3:11), the true knowledge of Christ and faith. There are obviously many weak persons in the Church who build upon the foundation with stubble that will perish, that is, with useless opinions. Nevertheless, because they do not overthrow the foundation, they are both forgiven and also corrected. 

Pulling It Together

You will find the Church wherever two or more are gathered in the name of Jesus (Matt 18:20), that is with faith in him, teaching the gospel, and administering the sacraments. Christ is the cornerstone of the Church, and the teachings of the prophets and the apostles are its foundation (Eph 2:20). The sign in front of the building is not proof, nor are its articles of incorporation. The Holy Scriptures are its charter and constitution. Faithful people are its structure. This holy temple, the Church, is the work of God’s Spirit. Therefore, the Church is primarily spiritual and theological, not physical, organizational, or historical. It is a living temple and all people with faith in Christ are its living stones (1 Pet 2:5).

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for making me a member of your household, through your Son Jesus Christ. Amen.

Introduce young students to the Church through this five-week series titled Welcome to Church. There are no student books necessary; all print resources needed to prepare and run a class session are included and are copy-ready. Each lesson includes background information for the teacher on the session theme and Bible lesson, as well as a step-by-step class session plan, ideas for welcome, prayers, Bible rhymes, activities and projects, as well as reproducible coloring pages and worksheets. The price of the book includes permission to reproduce pages for local use.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Thu, 30 Dec 21 00:00:00 -0600

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Matthew 13:47-50

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Church – part 12

The parables of Christ clearly agree. “The good seed means the sons of the kingdom; the weeds are the sons of the evil one” (Matt 13:38). The field, he says, is the world, not the Church. Thus John speaks concerning the whole race of the Jews, and says that it will come to pass that the true Church will be separated from that people. Therefore, this passage is more against the adversaries than in their favor as it shows that the true and spiritual people will be separated from the physical people. Christ also speaks of the outward appearance of the Church when he says, “the kingdom of heaven is like a net” (Matt 13:47) or like “ten maidens” (Matt 25:1). He teaches that the Church has been obscured by a multitude of evils, so that this stumbling-block will not offend the faithful, and so that they may know that the Word and Sacraments are efficacious even when administered by ungodly people. Though these godless people have the fellowship of outward signs, he teaches that they are nevertheless not the true kingdom of Christ or members of Christ, since they are members of the kingdom of the devil.

Pulling It Together: Many kinds of people are drawn to the Church, but not all are members of the Church. Some have an outward appearance of belonging, yet that does not make them true members of the spiritual kingdom of Christ. They may hold office, being on a committee or even being a pastor or a bishop. Still, these offices do not determine who is of the true kingdom.

It is easy to become discouraged by such people, and to even wonder if their ministry achieves a good and holy outcome. We should remember a few things when we are receiving Word and Sacrament from such unholy ministers. First, Jesus and his apostles warned us that there would be weeds mixed within the wheat until the harvest (Matt 13:24-30). Second, God is able to speak through simpletons and open the mouths of asses (Num 22:28). Third, it is not the holiness of the person that makes a Sacrament effective; it is God’s word and promise that brings about the desired result. 

Prayer: Help me, Lord Jesus, to be faithful even if there are faithless people in your Church. 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 Wed, 29 Dec 21 00:00:00 -0600

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John 18:33-37

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Church 

But why is there need for more words about a matter that is quite clear? If the Church, which is truly the kingdom of Christ, is distinguished from the kingdom of the devil, it follows necessarily that the wicked are not the Church since they are in the kingdom of the devil. Yet they are mingled with the Church, and hold offices in the Church in this life because the kingdom of Christ has not yet been revealed. Just because the revelation has not yet arrived does not make the wicked the kingdom of Christ. For that which he quickens by his Spirit is always the kingdom, whether it is revealed or is hidden beneath the cross, just as Christ is the same Christ now that he has been glorified as when he was afflicted.

Pulling It Together

Jesus was clear on this matter when he was brought before Pilate. His kingdom is not of this world. It is not temporal but instead, spiritual. So we should expect that while his spiritual kingdom also exists physically and organizationally on this side of eternity, that there will be people associated with the Church who hold office in it, who even do good in the name of Christ (Matt 7:21-23), yet who are not members of the true Church. The real Church, the spiritual kingdom of Christ, is comprised of those who listen to the voice of Christ, and thus, believe in him. These are the people of faith, who do not rely upon great works of devotion and service. Instead, they trust in Christ alone for their citizenship in his kingdom. 

Prayer: Lord, do not allow my service for the Church to get in the way of my faith in you. 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 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.

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.

Click HERE to see the table of contents and a sample session of this study.

To view the Leader Guide click HERE.

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

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1 John 3:2-7

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Church 

According to the gospel, therefore, only those who receive this promise of the Spirit are the people. Besides, the Church is the kingdom of Christ, distinguished from the kingdom of the devil. Furthermore, it is certain that the wicked are in the power of the devil, and members of the kingdom of the devil, as Paul teaches, when he says that the devil “is now at work in the sons of disobedience” (Eph 2:2). The Pharisees certainly had outward fellowship with the Church, that is with the saints among the people of the law, since they held office, sacrificed, and taught. Christ says to them, “You are of your father the devil” (John 8:44). Therefore, the Church, which is truly the kingdom of Christ is, properly speaking, the congregation of the saints. The wicked are ruled by the devil, and are his captives; they are not ruled by the Spirit of Christ.

Pulling It Together

As worshipers come forward for Holy Communion, many pause at the baptismal font, place their fingers in the water, and make the sign of the cross on their forehead. They are physically remembering that they are baptized into Christ. In their journey to the altar to receive God’s grace, they remind themselves that, though they are sinners in need of forgiveness, they are also the saints of God in Christ. They are sorry for their sins, and desire to receive both pardon and the power of righteousness. They are making a clean break from sin, trusting in Christ for a reconciled God. These people do not make a practice of sin, yet admit that they are still sinners who need God’s grace. There is more to righteousness than doing holy things. True righteousness is absolute dependence upon Christ alone for holiness through justification to God. This is the holy catholic Church: those who hope in Christ for the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.

Prayer: Take away my sin, Lord, and fortify my faith in you. Amen.

Interactive PDF Certificates for Baptism, Rite of Confirmation, and First Communion. You get all three for one price. Simply download the files, choose the certificate you want to use, type in the name, date, and church information, then print on your color printer. Save files to your desktop and re-use over and over again. 

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

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Galatians 3:24-29

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Church 

Likewise, what difference will there be between the people of the law and the Church if the Church is an outward organization? Paul distinguishes the Church from the people of the law in that the Church is a spiritual people. It has not been distinguished from the heathen by civil rites, but that it is the true people of God, regenerated by the Holy Spirit. The people of the law, born of the flesh, had promises concerning physical things, government, etc, in addition to the promise of Christ. Because of these promises, even the wicked among them were called the people of God, because God had separated their offspring from other nations by certain outward ordinances and promises. Nevertheless, these wicked people did not please God. But the Gospel does not bring a mere shadow of eternal things; it brings the eternal things themselves: the Holy Spirit and righteousness, by which we are righteous before God.

Pulling It Together

All those who by nature were born Jews, or Abraham’s seed, were given the law so that they might be an example to the nations of how God would have people live. Sinners were to be restrained by the law through civil discipline, penalties, teachings, and ceremonies. So it is plain to see that the law was a moral guardian and instructor, used by God until the Messiah came. Christ came so that people would be justified by faith in him, not through law keeping. All nations may be children of God through faith, so there is no longer a difference between Jews and other people. Indeed, all believers are spiritual Jews. Since Christ’s kingdom is a spiritual kingdom, if people are Christ’s, they are Abraham’s offspring. As such, every true Christian is a partaker of eternal blessings, even while here on earth. They enjoy eternal peace, eternal life, and the Holy Spirit because they have received a righteousness from God that is now their guardian until being completely saved in the world to come.

Prayer: Help me remember, Holy Spirit, that I am baptized into Christ. Amen.

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 Sun, 26 Dec 21 00:00:00 -0600 Click for larger image

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1 Corinthians 12:4-11

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Church 

Jerome says, “The sinner, therefore, who has been soiled with any blotch cannot be called a member of the Church of Christ, neither can he be said to be subject to Christ.” Although hypocrites and wicked people are members of this true Church according to outward religious ceremony, it is necessary to define the Church according that which is the living body of Christ, that which is in name and in fact the Church. And for this there are many reasons.

It is necessary to understand the main thing that makes us members, that is, living members of the Church. If we define the Church as only an outward organization of both the godly and wicked, people will not understand that the kingdom of Christ is righteousness of heart and the gift of the Holy Spirit. They will suppose that it is only the outward observance of certain forms of worship and ceremonies.

Pulling It Together

The Body of Christ is not an organization that merely goes through the motions of ceremonies. The Church has gifts in the heart, namely, the Holy Spirit and faith. The kingdom of Christ is not only physical and organizational, it is chiefly spiritual. Therefore Christ rules inwardly, strengthening and comforting hearts, and imparting the Holy Spirit and various spiritual gifts. These gifts are given for the common good of the fellowship of the Church. All true members of this blessed communion of saints are ministers and priests (1 Pet 2:9). So God has given each of them gifts of the Spirit, to each member according to God’s will, so that the whole Body of Christ serves and is being served. Members of the kingdom of Christ do not go through the motions; they serve with the entire variety of gifts as God empowers them.

Prayer: Invest in me of your Spirit, Lord, so that I might serve you in your Church. Amen.

The Sola Online Worship Resource (SOWeR) includes a hundreds of selections 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 Sat, 25 Dec 21 00:00:00 -0600

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Proverbs 12:5-7

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Church

It says “the Church catholic” so that we will not understand the Church to be an outward government of certain nations, but rather, people scattered throughout the whole world who agree concerning the gospel, and have the same Christ, the same Holy Spirit, and the same Sacraments, whether or not they have the same human traditions. The gloss in the Decrees says, “The Church in its wide sense includes both the godly and the wicked, yet the wicked are in the Church only in name, not in fact. But the godly are in the Church both in fact and in name.” The Fathers write to this effect in many passages.

Pulling It Together

The “house of the righteous,” the Church, is infiltrated by the wicked. Sometimes, they seem petty, though they are aggravating and ungodly. They bring their counsel, imagining that they are dropping pearls of wisdom on the Council table. Their intentions may be fine, but their counsel is far from the Word of God. Others hope to ensnare the righteous in evil schemes. Everyone involved in their congregation has known such people. We wonder why they really come to church. God’s will is that such people may be among us for the time being so that it will become plain who demonstrates genuine faith (1 Cor 11:19). The time is coming, however, when the ungodly will no longer stand with the faithful. Only the house of the righteous will stand before God on that glorious Day.

Prayer: Purify my thoughts, Lord, and cleanse my deeds with your righteousness. Amen.

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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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Fri, 24 Dec 21 00:00:00 -0600 Click for larger image

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Ephesians 5:25–27

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Church – part 6

This article has been presented for a necessary reason. We see the infinite dangers which threaten the destruction of the Church. Within herself is an infinite multitude of the wicked who oppress the Church. Therefore, in order that we may not despair, the Creed provides us with certain consolations in this article. The Church will remain, however great the multitude of the wicked may be. And Christ will continue to supply those gifts that he has promised to the Church: forgiveness of sins, answer to prayer, and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Pulling It Together

The article of the catholic or universal Church is comforting and necessary. When we perceive the threat to the Church—a threat that exists both from within and without—we can be led to despair of her continued existence. Yet we confess that Christ has established his Church and will present her in glorious splendor on that Day. In the meanwhile, the Church will continue to enjoy the other promises that we confess and hope for in the Creed: the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and everlasting life. 

Prayer: Though all the world should threaten your Church, Lord, I trust in your promises. 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 Thu, 23 Dec 21 00:00:00 -0600 Click for larger image

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Philippians 2:12-16a

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Church 

The Church is also defined by the article in the Creed that teaches us to believe that there is “one holy catholic Church.” The wicked indeed are not a holy Church. “The communion of saints” that follows, seems to be added in order to explain what “church” signifies, namely, the congregation of saints who share the fellowship of the same gospel or doctrine, and of the same Holy Spirit who renews, sanctifies, and governs their hearts.

Pulling It Together: We believe in the Church. This is the congregation of those who believe in Christ. They are spread throughout the ages—past, present, and future. As such, the Church is also here now. It is that fellowship of souls whom God’s Spirit is regenerating and sanctifying. There are wolves among the flock of Christ (Matt 7:15, 10:16) but they are not in the flock. They are not sheep but are only masquerading among the sheep. They are not the people of God’s pasture (Psa 95:7) because they do not believe. The true Church holds fast to the word of life, the gospel of Jesus Christ, and as such, is being led by the Holy Spirit through this present wilderness of sin and death, always back to faith and life in Christ Jesus.

Prayer: Bring me always, Holy Spirit, back to faith in Christ. Amen.

The Sola Online Worship Resource is a lectionary-based web resource for Scripture lessons, lectionary inserts, children's bulletins, devotionals, text studies, prayers, worship 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, 22 Dec 21 00:00:00 -0600 Click for larger image

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Titus 3:4-7

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Church 

So we wonder why they have found fault with our description that speaks of living members. We have said nothing new. Paul has defined the Church in precisely the same way, saying that it should be cleansed in order to be holy. He adds the outward marks of the Word and Sacraments, saying, “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Eph 5:25-27). We stated this in our Confession with almost the same wording.

Pulling It Together

The true Church consists of the righteous who enjoy Christ’s fellowship through faith and the Holy Spirit. So we must be careful to confess that sinful people, such as ourselves, become righteous and holy only through the grace of God. They do not become righteous by their own works but instead, are cleansed by the promise of God’s Word in Holy Baptism. The Holy Spirit regenerates and renews them, so that they are fit for the kingdom. Members of the Body of Christ are justified to God and sanctified by the gracious agency of God, not by their religious deeds and moral character. Being justified by his grace, the Church enjoys the hope of eternal life promised in the gospel to those who believe.

Prayer: Wash me, Lord, and I shall be whiter than snow. 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 Tue, 21 Dec 21 00:00:00 -0600 Click for larger image

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Ephesians 1:15-23

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Church 

For Paul also predicts that Antichrist will sit in the temple of God, that he will rule and bear office in the Church (2 Thess 2:4). But the Church is not only the fellowship of outward objects and rites, like other governments. It is chiefly a fellowship of faith and of the Holy Spirit in people’s hearts. Nevertheless, this fellowship has outward marks so that it can be recognized, namely, the pure doctrine of the gospel, and the administration of the Sacraments in accordance with the Gospel of Christ. This Church alone is called the Body of Christ, which Christ renews, sanctifies, and governs by his Spirit, as Paul testifies, saying, “He has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fulness of him who fills all in all” (Eph 1:22-23). Hence, those in whom Christ does not act are not members of Christ. Our adversaries also acknowledge that the wicked are dead members of the Church.

Pulling It Together

We deplore the condition of some church bodies, that they have abandoned the Word of God for culturally correct beliefs. Yet, we should not complain overly much since we know that God is sovereign. We should expect apostasy of all kinds, for these things are but the foreshadowing of a larger evil, when the one who rules the Church will be the very embodiment of evil. While we should even be able to predict these outward defections of faith, we ought to also give thanks to God that he is always refining and sanctifying the true Church, the Church of his Spirit. These members of the Body of Christ have enlightened eyes of the heart (Eph 1:18), are growing in faith and love (2 Thess 1:3), and enjoy certain hope in a rich and glorious inheritance among the saints. Indeed, this hope of glory (Col 1:27) is already realized as Christ within and among us through faith—the truest measure of the members of Christ. 

Prayer: Open the eyes of my heart, Lord. 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 Mon, 20 Dec 21 00:00:00 -0600 Click for larger image

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Matthew 26:26-28

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Church 

The saying is surely true that there is no remedy against the attacks of a slanderer. Nothing can be spoken with such care that it can escape criticism. For this reason we have added the eighth article, lest any one imagine that we separate the wicked and hypocrites from the outward fellowship of the Church, or that we deny efficacy to Sacraments administered by hypocrites or wicked men. So there is no need here of a long defense against this slander. The eighth article is sufficient to acquit us. We grant that in this life hypocrites and wicked men have been mingled with the Church, that they are members of the Church according to the outward signs of the Church’s fellowship, namely, Word, confession, and Sacraments. This is especially so if they have not been excommunicated. Neither are the Sacraments without efficacy if they are administered by wicked men. We may also rightly use Sacraments administered by wicked men.

Pulling It Together

In this life, the Church is a place where people of all kinds assemble. There will be those who believe and even those who come for other reasons. Some people attend church because they were raised to do so. They give no thought to faith; it is simply the right thing to do. There are people in churches who do not believe in Christ but use the church as a means of advancing their own agendas. Of course, such people are not the one, true Church which is composed of those who believe in Christ.

There are even pastors in the Church who do not believe. This is difficult to conceive of, but nonetheless true. They administer the Sacraments, bringing guilt upon themselves. Nevertheless, this does not diminish the effectiveness of the Sacraments in any way since these wicked pastors are not the ones who make the Sacraments valid. Baptism and Communion are efficacious because of the Word of God. It is God’s promise that makes the Sacraments effective, not the one dispensing those Sacraments. These words, “Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins,” together with the eating and drinking, are the chief thing in the Sacrament. Those who believe Christ’s words have what they say and declare, namely, the forgiveness of sins.

Prayer: Forgive me of my own faithlessness, Lord, and strengthen me to believe your words of promise. 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 Sun, 19 Dec 21 00:00:00 -0600 Click for larger image

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Matthew 22:9–14

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Church 

The seventh article of our Confession, in which we stated that the Church is the congregation of saints, has been condemned by the authors of the Confutation. They have added a long essay, that the wicked are not to be separated from the Church since John compared the Church to a threshing-floor on which wheat and chaff are heaped together (Matt 3:12), and Christ compared it to a net in which there are both good and bad fishes (Matt 13:47).

Pulling It Together

It is true that different kinds of people attend services of the Church. Nearly 40 years ago, a half dozen people from a local cult attended my church, trying to get people to follow their false god. Were those people members of the Body of Christ simply because they were in the assembly that day? Sensible people readily see that this is not the case. The Body of our Lord is comprised of those who have received the grace of Christ, the forgiveness of sins, reconciliation to God, and everlasting life. While many gather together like so much wheat and chaff on the threshing floor, God’s sifting fork is in his hand (Matt 3:12). He will separate the righteous from the unrighteous and gather the true Church to himself in eternity.

May many, both wheat and chaff, assemble this Lord’s Day so that they might hear the gospel and believe. Let them take to heart two truths. God is ready to regenerate chaff, changing us into wheat through the baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire (Matt 3:11). Yet, God is also judge and will one day clear the Church of chaff, “burning it with unquenchable fire” (Matt 3:12). “Many are called but few are chosen” (Matt 22:14).

Prayer: Separate the chaff from my life, Lord, through the fire of your Spirit. Amen.

St. John's Churches: A Parable of Faithful Discipleship is a twelve session story invites disciples to explore and discern God's will for mission and ministry. Written in parable form, this funny, engaging story follows the ministry of Pastor Jeff Mutton as he dreams the big dream of a creative, vital ministry to the community in which St. John's serves. Each session can be used as opening devotions for church council meetings, discipleship training sessions, or a visioning team. The humorous story encourages listeners to dream the big dream of God's plan for mission in their context. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 18 Dec 21 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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1 Timothy 1:15-19a

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Augustine says, “The question is, where is the Church? What, therefore, are we to do? Are we to seek it in our own words or in the words of its Head, our Lord Jesus Christ? I think that we ought to seek it in the words of him who is Truth, and who knows his own Body best.” Therefore the judgments of our adversaries will not disturb us since they defend human opinions contrary to the gospel, contrary to the authority of the holy Fathers, who have written in the Church, and contrary to the testimonies of godly minds.

Pulling It Together: Jesus did not come into the world to teach sinners how to save themselves. “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” We call him Savior, for he alone is the one who saves sinners. That is the truth, for he is the Truth (John 14:6). There will always be those who say we must do this or that in order to be reconciled to God and saved to life eternal. But there is only one who has the words of eternal life (John 6:68). Let us turn to him for the truth, for he is the Way to eternal life. Christ Jesus is the only God, the King of the Ages. He is the Life; to whom could we go but to him? Hold fast with faith, believing in Christ alone for eternal life.

Prayer: Unto you alone, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. Amen.

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 Fri, 17 Dec 21 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.

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 Thu, 16 Dec 21 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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John 20:19-23

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Now in this assembly, the authors of the Confutation have condemned with clear words the confession that faith is a part of repentance, by which we obtain forgiveness of sins, overcome the terrors of sin, and the conscience knows peace. Who does not see that this article—that by faith we obtain the forgiveness of sins—is most true, certain, and necessary for all Christians? Who in future generations, hearing that such a doctrine has been condemned, would guess that the authors of the condemnation had any knowledge of Christ?

Pulling It Together

The disciples were in hiding, very likely imagining that they were next, that the authorities would come for them too. They had crucified the Lord; what would they do to his followers? There would have been nothing the disciples could have done to alleviate their anxiety. The best they could do was be together, hiding behind locked doors. This is when Jesus comes to those of faith. He gathers with us in the midst of our fears, and speaks words of promise. “Peace be with you.” Faith believes his word and is revived.

Prayer: Breathe on me, O Breath of God, that I may do your will. 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 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 Wed, 15 Dec 21 00:00:00 -0600 Click for online jigsaw.

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Matthew 16:15-19

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

May faithful minds not be troubled by all those who condemn our teaching. Our opponents’ spirit can be easily judged since in some doctrines they have condemned truth that is so clear and plain that their godlessness openly appears. The bull of Leo X condemned a very necessary teaching, which all Christians should hold and believe, namely, that we ought to trust that we have been absolved because of Christ’s word, not because of our contrition. “Whatever you bind on earth” etc. (Matt 16:19).

Pulling It Together: Who do you say that Jesus is? If your confession is that he is “the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” you are blessed. God has revealed to you truth so deep that all of human reason cannot plumb. The mind alone cannot fathom that God forgives our sins for the sake of Christ alone. Surely, it is thought, there must be something we must do. This is the seed of religion and heresy, for faith knows that we can do nothing. We confess that Christ has done it all, that we are saved by his one work on the cross, not by our deeds. This is how one Christian is able to absolve another—not by the accumulation of religious works, but simply and clearly through confident faith in the finished work of Christ.

Prayer: I confess, Lord Jesus, that you are the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Amen.

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, 14 Dec 21 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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Galatians 4:9-11

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Moreover, Scripture has predicted that the righteousness of faith would be obscured in this way by human traditions and the doctrine of works. Therefore, Paul often complains (Gal 4:9; 5:7; Col 2:8, 16-17; 1 Tim 4:2-3) that even at that time there were those who, instead of the righteousness of faith, taught that men were reconciled to God and justified by their own works and own acts of worship, and not by faith for Christ’s sake. By nature, people think that God ought to be appeased by works.

Reason only sees a righteousness of the law, understanding it in a civic sense. Accordingly, there have always existed in the world some who have only taught this carnal righteousness, to the exclusion of the righteousness of faith. Such teachers will always exist. The same happened among the people of Israel. The greater part of the people thought that they merited remission of sins by their works, accumulating sacrifices and acts of worship. The prophets, contrary to and in condemnation of this opinion, taught the righteousness of faith. The occurrences among the people of Israel are illustrations of those things which would occur in the Church.

Pulling It Together: It is human nature to imagine that we can buy our way out of problems. The person caught speeding, therefore, pays the court to keep the offense off the books so that insurance rates will not increase. So, when we sin, we naturally think that we can cover our offenses with good works and sacrifices. There is only one sacrifice that satisfies the Father. Our task, if we may call it a task, is to trust Christ, who is our sacrifice (Heb 10:10). There is nothing we can do; there is no buying out the judge. We are guilty. Yet if we know God, indeed, if we have been known by God, we need not go back to the old ways of paying for our sins. For Christ has paid the price for our sin (1 Cor 6:20)—once and for all (1 Pet 3:18).

Prayer: Knowing you, O Word of Truth, help me to trust in your forgiveness of sin. Amen.

Not My Will, But Yours is a six-week study that explores the topic of the “free will” from a biblical perspective, looking at what Scripture has to say about the bondage of the human will, and how Jesus Christ has come to deliver us from ourselves.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 13 Dec 21 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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2 Timothy 2:8–13

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

The Scriptures, the holy Fathers, and the judgments of all the godly everywhere reply. Though popes, or some theologians, and monks in the Church have taught us to seek remission of sins, grace, and righteousness through our own works, and to invent new forms of worship which have obscured the office of Christ, and have made out of Christ not a propitiator and justifier, but only a legislator, nevertheless the knowledge of Christ has always remained with some faithful people.

Pulling It Together: Let us continue to keep Christ at the center of all things. The promised Messiah, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin from the lineage of kings, suffered, was crucified and buried for our sins. That is the condition in which we would remain if Christ stayed in the tomb. Because he rose from the dead, we who are baptized into his death (Rom 6:3) will also rise with him to new life. The Scripture and even the creeds profess the work of Christ as central to salvation, and make no mention of our own works saving us. He is our justification and salvation (Rom 4:25). Though we fail him and continue to sin—for as long as we are in this mortal flesh, sin will continue—he remains faithful. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). So let us keep good works out of the matter of justification and salvation, keeping our faith in Christ alone.

Prayer: Help me to keep faith in you, faithful God, until the last day. 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 Sun, 12 Dec 21 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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1 John 4:7-10

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Their influence should not seem so great that it would be unlawful to differ with their arguments when many obvious errors found among them, such as being able to love God above all things by purely natural powers. Although it is clearly false, this teaching has produced many other errors.

Pulling It Together: The ability to love God is not something that we are born with or that we can develop on our own with this fallen nature of ours. In order to love God, one must first be born again. Everyone who believes in Christ Jesus is reborn by the will of God. Then they are empowered to love God and neighbor, since whoever truly loves has first been born of God and knows God. Love does not spring from the human heart but from the heart of God, since he is love. Real love has nothing to do with our loving God, and everything to do with God having loved us so much that he sent his Son to be the atonement for our sins. This power to love is received by faith, “for love is from God.”

Prayer: Thank you, God, for loving me so that I could know the joy of loving you. Amen.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 11 Dec 21 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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Mark 7:6-8

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

We should not expect that the Roman Church agrees with everything that the pope, or cardinals, or bishops, or some of the theologians, or monks approve. For it is clear that to most of the pontiffs, their own authority is of greater concern than the Gospel of Christ. It widely known that most of them are openly Epicureans. It is also unmistakable that the theologians have mingled more of philosophy with Christian doctrine than was sufficient.

Pulling It Together: Jesus rebuked the Pharisees because they valued their own traditions more than God’s commandments. We must be careful to evaluate those things that we believe and do, whether we are following our own opinions or the Word of God. A classic example of this is when we hear people (or ourselves) say things like, “I don’t know what they Bible says but what I think is...” Another dangerous instance is when we interpret Scripture through the lens of philosophy or culture. The gospel is always primary, as Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Christ himself is the lens of interpretation and practice.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, help me hear and obey, through Jesus 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 Fri, 10 Dec 21 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.

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 Thu, 09 Dec 21 00:00:00 -0600

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Ephesians 6:13-17

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

The knowledge of this faith is necessary to Christians, for it brings the most abundant consolation in all afflictions, and displays to us the work of Christ. Those who deny that people are justified by faith, deny that Christ is mediator and propitiator, and repudiate the promise of grace and the gospel. They teach a doctrine of justification that is inferred either from reason or the law.

Pulling It Together: Whenever your conscience assails you, take up the shield of faith. When you doubt your salvation, take up that shield. Every time the law accuses you of wrongdoing or unholy thoughts, immediately grab that shield. Take it in hand and as you repent of your sins, remember that you are not saved because of a lack of doubts or because you always do good and think well of others. As you hold tightly to that shield, think, “I am saved by faith in Christ alone.” Lift up the shield of faith in Christ every time the devil attacks. Do not trust your thinking and your doing. Trust Christ, who is your shield. Faith in Christ will extinguish every fiery assault of the evil one.

Prayer: Lord, help me to always hold on to you. 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 Wed, 08 Dec 21 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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1 Peter 1:3-9

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

That faith which does not manifest itself in confession is not firm. Thus other good works please God because of faith, as the prayers of the Church ask that all things may be accepted for Christ’s sake. They likewise ask all things for Christ’s sake. It is obvious that the close of all prayers adds this clause: “through Christ our Lord.” Accordingly, we conclude that we are justified before God, reconciled to him, and reborn by faith that in repentance apprehends the promise of grace, truly enlivens the frightened mind, and is convinced that God is reconciled and propitious to us for Christ’s sake. Through this faith, Peter says that we are are “guarded...for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Pet 1:5).

Pulling It Together: Justification, righteousness, and salvation are not only received by faith, these things are preserved for us to the end of time. It is faith that vindicates us in this life and gives us hope of the life to come. “The salvation of our souls” is believed because of faith in Christ. We even trust God for all good things in this life by virtue of Christ alone. This is why we always pray, “in Christ’s name.” These promises of God’s grace cannot be trusted to our good works. Yet, through faith in Christ and his work, we hope, believe, and endure all things (1 Cor 13:7).

Prayer: Almighty God, keep me in faith, through Christ our Lord. 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 Tue, 07 Dec 21 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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Matthew 7:21-23

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

They corrupt many other passages in the schools because they do not teach the righteousness of faith. The scholastics understand faith as a mere knowledge of the history or of dogmas. They do not understand that faith is the virtue which apprehends the promise of grace and righteousness, and quickens hearts terrorized by sin and death. When Paul says, “For man believes with his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved” (Rom 10:1), we think that the adversaries will acknowledge here that confession justifies or saves, not ex opere operato, but only because of faith in the heart. Paul says that confession saves, in order to make clear what sort of faith obtains eternal life, namely firm and active faith.

Pulling It Together: If we teach that one should have faith, yet we do not believe, will our understanding of the teaching save us? If we come to the waters of baptism but have no faith in God’s promise, thinking it is simply the proper custom, will we be saved? If we go to church, feed the hungry, and buy coats and mittens for the poor, but have no faith in the God who calls us to do such things, do those good works save? What good will these customs and deeds do us when we are in hospital beds, anxious about death? When our sins find us out and terrify our consciences, our good works will not bring us peace. Good works cannot be trusted but Jesus can be trusted for peace now, and later, for eternal life. We must take Jesus at his word and have faith in his promise of grace. Failing to do so, is the supreme work of lawlessness. Trusting in our works is the evidence of that sin of sins.

Prayer: I believe that you are the way in to the kingdom of heaven, Lord Jesus. Amen.

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 Mon, 06 Dec 21 00:00:00 -0600 Click for larger image

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Galatians 3:10-14

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

In the schools the boast is also made that our good deeds work by virtue of Christ’s passion. Well said! But why say nothing about faith? For Christ is a propitiation, as Paul says, “through faith” (Rom 3:25). When timid consciences are comforted by faith, and are convinced that our sins have been blotted out by the death of Christ, and that God has been reconciled to us on account of Christ’s suffering, then indeed, the suffering of Christ is a benefit to us. If the doctrine concerning faith is omitted, it is vain to claim that works benefit us by virtue of Christ’s passion.

Pulling It Together

Jesus satisfied God’s requirement of keeping the law perfectly. Moreover, he paid the penalty for the sins of those who cannot keep the commandments. In other words, he paid the price for us all, since none of us can keep the law. Those who rely upon their law keeping are “under a curse” because they cannot continue to fulfill God’s law. People who trust in their religiosity will never be righteous and justified to God. Instead, we must trust Christ who bore the curse of the law for us. Yet while we try to keep the law, as we should, but fail, the law will accuse us of not measuring up and our consciences can become terrified of the curse. So we must always trust in Christ who suffered and died to fulfill the law (Matt 5:17), for, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

Prayer: Thank you, Jesus, for redeeming me from the curse of the law. 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.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 05 Dec 21 00:00:00 -0600 Click for larger image

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Titus 2:11-14

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

They have taken certain sayings of the old writers, established statements as it were, and twisted them by their interpretations. They boast in the schools that good works please God because of grace, and that confidence must be put in his grace. But they distort grace by saying that it is an inclination to love God, as though the ancients meant to say that we ought to trust in our love, though without doubt, we experience how small and how impure that inclination is. It is strange that they bid us to trust in this love, since they teach us that we are not able to know whether it is even present. Why do they not set forth the grace and mercy of God toward us? As often as mention is made of this, they ought to add faith. For the promise of God’s mercy, reconciliation, and love toward us is not apprehended unless by faith. Then, since faith apprehends grace, they would be right in saying that we must trust in grace and that good works please because of grace.

Pulling It Together

The living grace of God is Jesus Christ. There is no salvation available to us without this grace. There is no grace without Jesus Christ. There is no grace without God. Grace and salvation have nothing to do with our deeds or our habits or inclinations to love God and neighbor. Should we do good? Should we love? Certainly, for because grace has appeared in Jesus Christ, it now trains us to do these things and to renounce the devil and sin. This happens because of grace but it is not grace itself. If grace is born from our own love, we would be a hopeless people. Because we understand that grace and righteousness are free gifts from God (Rom 5:17), and not our pitiful attempts to do good and to be righteous, we confess that Christ alone is our blessed hope. He is the hope that will not fail us. 

Prayer: Come quickly, Lord Jesus! Amen.

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 Sat, 04 Dec 21 00:00:00 -0600

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Isaiah 64:6-8

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

So this is no small matter that we argue with the adversaries. We are not looking for useless nuances when we find fault with those who teach that we merit eternal life by works, excluding faith that apprehends Christ as mediator. There is not a syllable in the scholastics concerning this faith which believes that the Father is favorably disposed to us for Christ’s sake. Everywhere they maintain that we are accepted and righteous because of our works, wrought either from reason, or at least by the inclination of that love about which they speak.

Pulling It Together: We cannot reason our way to righteousness. Who has been able to determine, “I shall be a good person?” and been successful in the enterprise? More importantly, even if one was able to be so good, would that goodness be acceptable to God? No, for the prophet tells us that our good deeds are like filthy rags to God unless we call upon the name of the Lord (Isaiah 64:6-7). Our reason cannot create new life; a better or spiritual attitude will not do it; nor will exhausting effort make us righteous before the Almighty. Yet, the person of faith is taken in God’s own hands and shaped into a new person. God smashes us to the potter’s wheel and makes of us whom he wills. The work is the Lord’s which he accomplishes in people who have put their trust in him instead of themselves.

Prayer: Smash me, Lord, and make of me what you will. 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, 03 Dec 21 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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Romans 1:1-6

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

We condemn the teaching of the adversaries that understands such passages of Scripture in either a philosophical or a Jewish manner, and so abolishes the righteousness of faith, and excludes Christ as mediator. From these passages they infer that works merit grace, sometimes de congruo, and when love is added, de condigno. They claim that works justify, and because they are righteousness they are worthy of eternal life. This error plainly abolishes the righteousness of faith, which believes that we have access to God for Christ’s sake, not because of our works, and that through Christ, as priest and mediator, we are led to the Father, and have a reconciled Father, as has been sufficiently said above. The doctrine concerning the righteousness of faith is not to be neglected in the Church of Christ, because without it the office of Christ cannot be comprehended. The doctrine of justification that is left is only a doctrine of the law. So we should cling to the gospel and the teaching of the promise which is granted for Christ’s sake.

Pulling It Together: There is a difference between justification and sanctification. Justification is that obedience to the gospel that hears and believes and trusts God’s promise. Sanctification is the obedience that results from such faith. The former saves; the latter does not. Faith hears and believes and is therefore justified to God. Then the Holy Spirit goes to work in the believer, producing the fruit of faith, good works and upright character. It is a false sanctification or holiness that imagines people can bear good fruit through their own efforts, without faith and the resulting power of the Holy Spirit. Such personal holiness or law-keeping gives no credit to Christ, while faith always clings to Christ, believing in the promise of a Savior instead of depending upon works and personal holiness. 

Prayer: Holy Spirit, stir up in me the fruit of faith. Amen.

Not everyone likes bread sticks. They are fine for appetizers, but it's nice to have some selection. Add in some onion rings, BBQ wings, cheese curds, veggies...and then you've got something! Faith Apptizers is a sampler platter of Biblical Christianity. With an assortment of styles and topics, offering both a challenge and a chuckle, it intends to awaken your days with faith. These 286 devotions are arranged Biblically, from Genesis to Revelation. Like the good God behind our good book, they will work both the mind and heart, sometimes comforting the afflicted and sometimes afflicting the comfortable. Open up and taste one; then pass 'em around.

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

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Romans 5:1–5

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

No sane person can judge otherwise. We are not trying to be subtle by segregating the fruits from the righteousness of the heart. If the adversaries would only have acknowledged that the fruits please God because of faith, because of Christ as mediator, and that by themselves they are not worthy of grace and of eternal life.

Pulling It Together: Lasting peace with God comes through faith. Our deeds can make us feel good for a while but that feeling is not only false, it does not last. However, when faith in Christ justifies us to God, then we know a confident peace that enables us to stand before God. We rejoice, knowing that he cares for us and hears our prayers in this life, and we have real hope in the life to come. The Holy Spirit and God’s love are given to us, indeed, poured into us so that the character of good fruit is grown in us by God. Faith in Christ promises and accomplishes all of these things: hope, character, the fruit of the Spirit, and works that please God.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, for dying for me, and rising from the dead so that I may live. Amen.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 01 Dec 21 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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The Mark of God http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 01 Dec 21 00:00:00 -0600

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it they made known the saying which had been told them concerning this child; 18 and all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. 21 And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. 

Luke 2:15–21, RSV

Circumcision was an external mark of God’s people, by which they were distinguished from other nations. God has never left his people without a mark or a sign, by which the world may know where his people are to be found. The Jews were known by circumcision, that was their divine mark. Our mark is baptism and the body of Christ. Where there is baptism, there are Christians, be they where they will in the world.

All this is immeasurably above and contrary to reason. If Abraham had followed reason he would not have believed that it was God who demanded circumcision. To our (natural) eyes it is such a foolish thing that there can scarcely be anything more absurd. The Jews had to endure great infamy and disgrace on account of it. But such are all God’s works and commandments, in order that haughty reason, which would be clever and wise, may be put to shame, may surrender its self-conceit and submit to God, and believe that whatver he appoints is most useful, honorable and wise. Thus we have baptism in the New Testament in order that we should cling to it in faith and believe that we are thereby cleansed from sin and saved. So the works and words of God are contrary to reason, and this, in turn, is contrary to God and recoils at the signs that are spoken against. In all this God seeks to bring man’s reason into captivity and make it subject to divine truth.

It was customary to give the child its name in circumcision, as we see here and in the case of John the Baptist. His name is rightly called Jesus, that is, Saviour; “for he shall save his people from their sins.” This comes to pass through faith, so that the naming of children signifies that by faith they have a name and are known to God. We are called Christians from him, are God’s children and have the superabundant riches of his goodness, that our hearts may be free, joyous, peaceable and unterrified.

Martin Luther and John Sander, Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year (Rock Island, IL: Augustana Book Concern, 1915), 7–8.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Tue, 30 Nov 21 00:00:00 -0600

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Genesis 4:3–5

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Whenever the law and works are mentioned, we must know that Christ is not to be excluded as mediator. For he is the end of the law, just as Jesus himself says, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). As we have said above, all passages concerning works can be judged by this rule. Therefore, when eternal life is granted to works, it is granted to those who have been justified, since no one can do good works except those who are justified, who are led by the Spirit of Christ. Good works do not please God without faith in Christ as mediator. “Without faith it is impossible to please him.” (Heb 11:6).

Pulling It Together

Be careful that you do not expect God to favor you on the merits of your offerings or works or religious activity. God only has regard for such things when they are done with faith in him. Our instinct, however, is to trust in our works. At harvest time, Cain brought an offering of grain. There is nothing wrong with offerings of grain; we see God accepting them throughout the Old Testament. There was, however, a problem with the one making the offering. That is why God did not accept either Cain’s offering or even Cain himself (Gen 4:5). This disregard for Cain suggests that God did not answer the prayers that accompanied Cain’s offering.

Abel is remembered differently. He is not noted for bringing a superior kind of offering, his being animal instead of grain. The writer of Hebrews tells us that Abel’s offering was accepted by God because it was given with faith in God (Heb 11:4). Abel had faith in God. Cain trusted his offering.

Prayer: O Lord, I trust in you. Amen.

The Sola Online Worship Resource is a lectionary-based web resource for Scripture lessons, lectionary inserts, children's bulletins, devotionals, text studies, prayers, worship 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, 29 Nov 21 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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Hebrews 11:17-18

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

But the adversaries urge that it is the prerogative of good works to merit eternal life, because Paul says, “He will render to every man according to his works” (Rom 2:6). Likewise, “Glory and honor and peace for every one who does good” (Rom 2:10). “Those who have done good shall come to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment” (John 5:29). “I was hungry and you gave me food,” and so forth (Matt 25:35). In these and all similar passages in which works are praised in the Scriptures, it is necessary to understand faith of the heart along with the outward works, for Scripture does not speak hypocrisy, but of the righteousness of the heart along with its fruits.

Pulling It Together: Works must always flow from a heart of faith. Abraham did not make an offering of his only son, Isaac, as a mere work. Nor did he expect that God would honor the work itself. Notice how his offering was given in faith. Without faith, his deed would have been unacceptable. Faith comes first and is then completed by works (James 2:22). Without faith, works are incomplete, for God first requires a righteousness of the heart. Only then are works received. Indeed, in the example of Abraham, the work was not required. Faith by itself, yet willing to do the work, was sufficient. God honored Abraham’s faith, and without it, even if the deed had been added, his offering would have been unacceptable.

Prayer: Accept my faith in you, Lord, even when my works are wanting. Amen.

The Sola Online Worship Electronic Resource (SOWeR) includes a database of hundreds of hymns and songs for use in worship. Search for titles, themes, or categories; then open individual pages that feature author data, plain-text lyrics, full-score hymn inserts, and simplified lead sheets for accompanists. Hymn numbers are provided for LBW/WOV and ReClaim hymnals. The database also includes original lyrics written by Sola authors, that may be sung to familiar hymn 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 Sun, 28 Nov 21 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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Romans 10:1-4

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Therefore, although the fulfilling of the law merits a reward because rewards properly pertain to the law, we ought to be mindful of the gospel, which freely offers justification for Christ’s sake. We neither keep the law, nor can keep it, until we have been reconciled to God, justified, and reborn. Keeping the law will not please God, unless we are first accepted on account of faith. Because people are accepted because of faith, the initial fulfilling of the law pleases God and has a reward in this life and after this life. Many other remarks concerning the term “reward” might be made here, that are derived from the nature of the law. Because they are so extensive, it must be explained in another connection.

Pulling It Together: We must remain aware of a dangerous temptation as we try to keep the law. As we observe the law, we can be enticed to think too highly of ourselves. If we see ourselves as living an upright life, we may forget about Christ’s benefits. Instead of trusting in Christ’s righteousness as our own, we might begin to trust our own righteousness. Of course, this is not righteousness (Isa 64:6); it is only doing what God expects of his people. Yet, keeping the law does not please God unless done in faith. Observing the law with faith in Christ has an added benefit, since it keeps our minds on Christ and his righteousness, instead of being misled into thoughts about being rewarded for religious and moral lives. The law will never save us, but Christ, who is the end of the law of righteousness, becomes the righteousness of all who believe. 

Prayer: O God, I trust in your righteousness, through Jesus Christ the Lord. Amen.

The Sola Online Worship Electronic 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 Sat, 27 Nov 21 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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Malachi 3:10-12

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Whenever merit is mentioned, the adversaries immediately transfer the matter from other rewards to justification, even though the gospel freely offers justification on account of Christ’s merits, not because of our own. The merits of Christ are communicated to us by faith. But works and afflictions merit other rewards, not justification, as a reward is offered for the works in these passages. “He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully” (2 Cor 9:6). The measure of the reward is clearly connected with the measure of the work. “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land” (Exod 20:12).Here the law also offers a reward to a certain work. 

Pulling It Together: Test God and determine whether he will bless you. Do the things that you are commanded and see if he will not pour out his blessings. But never expect him to justify you for the things you do. He blesses the just and the unjust alike (Matt 5:45) but he is only justified to those who have been made righteous through faith in Christ. These are two entirely different matters. God rewards us in this life with the things we need. He often blesses us with more than we need, sometimes because we have earned them. We ought to be thankful for the favors of God in this life. However, the righteousness required for the life to come is something we can never earn (Rom 3:28). God freely bestows this grace upon those who cannot earn it, indeed, upon those sinners who do not deserve his grace (Rom 5:8). He does so, only through faith in Jesus Christ, for all who believe (Rom 3:22). 

Prayer: Forgive me, Lord, a sinner, yet one who believes. Amen.

The Sola Online Worship Electronic Resource (SOWeR) includes a database of hundreds of hymns and songs for use in worship. Search for titles, themes, or categories; then open individual pages that feature author data, plain-text lyrics, full-score hymn inserts, and simplified lead sheets for accompanists. Hymn numbers are provided for LBW/WOV and ReClaim hymnals. The database also includes original lyrics written by Sola authors, that may be sung to familiar hymn 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 Fri, 26 Nov 21 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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Philippians 3:14-16

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

We also confess what we have often testified, that although justification and eternal life pertain to faith, nevertheless good works merit other bodily and spiritual rewards and degrees of rewards, according to 1 Cor. 3:8, “Each will receive his wages according to his labor.” The righteousness of the Gospel, dealing with the promise of grace, freely receives justification and rebirth. But the keeping of the law, which follows faith, has to do with the law, for which a reward is offered and is due, not freely, but according to our works. Those who merit this are justified before they keep the law. They have first been moved into the kingdom of God’s Son (Col 1:13), as Paul says, and made joint-heirs with Christ (Rom 8:17).

Pulling It Together: The issue here—and always—is Christ. Let us not think so much about rewards, but instead, about the reward. We must press on toward the real goal. That goal is not rewards but the reward of being with Christ in heaven. He is the “upward call”; it is not rewards for the works that we have done. We must hold true to the path of faith in Christ, through which we have attained justification with his Father. May we keep our minds upon Christ (Col 3:1-4) who has saved us because of his mercy, not because of the things that we have done (Titus 3:5). 

Prayer: Gracious God, help me keep my eyes on the prize of your upward calling in Christ Jesus. 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 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 Thu, 25 Nov 21 00:00:00 -0600 Click for online jigsaw.

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2 Peter 1:1-4

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

The strong hear the mention of penalties and rewards in one way, and the weak hear it in another way, since the weak labor for the sake of their own advantage. Yet the proclamation of rewards and punishments is necessary. In the preaching of punishments the wrath of God is revealed; this pertains to the preaching of repentance. In the preaching of rewards, grace is set forth. When referring to good works, Scripture often mentions faith, in order to include the righteousness of the heart with the other fruits. So it sometimes offers grace along with other rewards, as in Isaiah 58:8-9, and frequently in other places in the prophets.

Pulling It Together: We belong to Christ because of faith. This belonging means that we are his servants. So, we are to do his will and bidding. It also means that we receive his gifts and rewards, if he should choose to grant them to us. By his divine power, he has indeed, granted us all things necessary for us to share his nature. By belonging to Christ through faith, we have escaped the decay of our original natures. While the knowledge of God’s wrath about sin is always present—even as sin is ever present—we do not lose hope. Our hope is immovable because our hope is in Christ and his precious promises. If we were to hope in our good works, it would be a precarious hope, at best. Our hope, however, is based on a knowledge of God and Jesus Christ our Lord, who have multiplied to us both peace and grace.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for giving me a faith in you that puts me in equal standing with the apostles. 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.

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

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2 Timothy 4:7-8

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Here belongs what Paul says, “Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me” (2 Tim 4:8). For the crown is due to the justified because of the promise. Saints should know this promise, not that they may labor for their own profit, since they ought to labor for the glory of God. They should know that God’s will is to aid, deliver, and protect them so that they will not despair in afflictions.

Pulling It Together

The Lord has fought the fight. He has gone before us and has won the long battle. He is with us and will never leave us or forsake us. Therefore, we should not fear, despair, or be dismayed (Deut 31:8). This is how we may finish our own race, fighting on to the finish. We live by faith (2 Cor 5:7) in the one who is already victor over the conflict. Take heart! Keep the faith. The battle is the Lord’s (2 Chr 20:15). He is victorious over sin and death, and will reward you with the crown of his righteousness.

Prayer: Give me your peace, Lord. Amen.

The Upper Room is a six-part drama and sermon series for use during the weeks of Lent, in midweek or Sunday morning services. The stories in this series seek to focus our hearts and minds on the last days of Jesus, drawing us into a greater spiritual maturity that recognizes the blessings and responsibilities of this life of faith, as we walk with our Lord on the path to the cross.

Scripture texts are assigned for each of the weeks, along with a brief sermon reflection based on the theme. A sample order of service is provided.

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

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1 Corinthians 6:9-11

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Stop, reader; you have not the whole of this sorites. For certain “sacraments” of this transference must be added, as when the hood is placed upon the dead. The blessings of Christ and the righteousness of faith have been obscured by these summations. We are not agitating an idle argument concerning the term “reward.” If the adversaries will confess that we are accounted righteous by faith because of Christ, and that good works please God because of faith, we will not debate much more about the term “reward.” We admit that eternal life is a reward because it is something due on account of the promise, but not because of our merits. We have shown above that justification is properly a promised gift of God. The promise of eternal life has been added to this gift, as testified: “Those whom he justified he also glorified" (Rom 8:30).

Pulling It Together

Some orders of monks placed their hoods upon dead bodies, indicating that their good works were transferred to the account of the deceased. But if the living cannot trust that their own works justify, how are the dead to know that the works of others have done so? Is the troubled conscience ever to find rest? Yes, there is a righteousness that we can trust. To know this incomparable peace, one must turn away from human arguments and traditions, and rely upon Scripture alone.

We confess that the unrighteous will never inherit the kingdom of God. We further admit that we were counted among the unrighteous until that day when we were washed in the blood of Jesus (1 John 1:7). We have obtained eternal life because of his righteousness, not by our good works or those of others. So, we see that it is the righteousness of Christ that is transferred to us because we have faith in him. Only when we confess this truth of Scripture, will our hearts and minds will be kept in peace (Phil 4:7).

Prayer: Help me to depend upon you alone, Lord, for righteousness and eternal life. Amen.

In Part 2 of Sola Scriptura, "The Norm of Faith" study shows how anactive view of the Word informs and guides our understanding of what Scripture says. In other words, it will talk about 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.

• Study Guide   • See also Sola Scriptura, Part 1: The Source of Faith

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 22 Nov 21 00:00:00 -0600 Click for jigsaw puzzle.

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Romans 14:8-12

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Our adversaries not only ascribe to works a worthiness of grace and eternal life, they also falsely state that they have superfluous merits that they can grant to others for justification, as when monks sell the merits of their orders to others. They heap up these incongruous conclusions in the manner of Chrysippus wherever the word “reward” is heard. For example, it is called a reward; therefore we have works as a price for which a reward is due; therefore works please by themselves, and not for the sake of Christ as mediator; and since one has more merits than another, therefore some have superfluous merits; those who merit them can bestow their merits upon others.

Pulling It Together

Chrysippus was a Greek philosopher who championed propositional logic. If this was the case, then the result would logically be something else. This if-then logic was applied to the term “reward.” If there is a reward, then there must be a price for the reward. Not only was this logic carried in the wrong direction, it was carried to absurd conclusions. The opponents’ conclusions were, that if one pays for his own reward, he might pay more than is due. Therefore, the credit must be transferable to others. This is an argument from human logic instead of from the mind of God. Scripture says that each person is accountable to God. So, the logic of God in Scripture runs as follows. The wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23); since all have sinned, all will die; but Christ has overcome sin and death, and gives his victory as a reward to all who believe (1 Cor 15:57). 

Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, for paying the debt that I can never pay. 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.

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 Sun, 21 Nov 21 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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Psalm 130:1-8

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

This logic is altogether new. We hear the term “reward,” and are therefore to infer that there is no need of Christ as mediator, or of faith having access to God for Christ’s sake instead of because of our works? Who does not see that this is a befuddled assumption? We do not argue about the term “reward.” Our dispute is whether good works are of themselves worthy of grace and of eternal life, or whether they please God only because of the faith that apprehends Christ as mediator.

Pulling It Together: There is nothing worthy of forgiveness and the resurrection of the body to everlasting life, save the work of Christ. Imagining otherwise does great damage to Scripture and to troubled hearts and minds. The Word of God does not tell us to depend upon ourselves. Rather it teaches that we have a mediator in Jesus Christ. He is the one who stands between us and the Father, for we cannot stand on our own (Psa 130:3). Further, our own consciences warn us that this is faulty thinking. No matter how much good work we do, we know that it is never enough to merit the reward of heaven. We are always left wondering if we have done enough.

So, it is good that we believe in God instead of ourselves. We 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. Nowhere do we confess to believe in ourselves or to trust in our works.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for sustaining me through your Word, and through the promise of your forgiveness. 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 Sat, 20 Nov 21 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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Matthew 20:1-10

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

But they are not fair judges since they omit the word “gift.” They also exclude the principal part of the entire matter. Instead, they select the word “reward,” and interpret it in a manner that does injury to both Scripture and the very use of language. They surmise that because it is called a reward, our works ought to be the price for which eternal life is due. These works, they contend, are worthy of grace and life eternal, and do not stand in need of mercy, or of Christ as mediator, or of faith.

Pulling It Together: Eternal life is a reward from God that is based on something very important: his promise. It is not based upon how much work we have done. God rewards our faith in him, not our trust in the things we do. We are justified before God because Christ is always our mediator. He alone has set the record straight. He declares us justified through our trust in his righteousness. Nowhere are we taught that Christ comes to us saying, “I tried to get you off the hook, but you are going to have to pay this fine first—and also do some community service.” Christ does not need our help. We need his help. We are always in need of his mercy and grace, the very things he promises to those who believe.

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for including me as an heir of eternal life, through your Son Jesus Christ. 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, 19 Nov 21 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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Luke 6:20-23

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Afterwards works merit other bodily and spiritual rewards because they please God on account of faith. There will be distinctions in the glory of the saints. But here the adversaries reply that eternal life is called a reward, and that it is therefore merited de condigno by good works. We reply briefly and plainly. Paul calls eternal life a gift (Rom 6:23), because the righteousness conferred for Christ's sake at the same time makes us sons of God and fellow heirs of Christ. John says, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life” (John 3:36). Augustine says, as also do very many others who follow him, “God crowns His gifts in us.” It is written elsewhere, “Your reward is great in heaven” (Luke 6:23). If these passages seem to our adversaries to be in conflict, they may explain them.

Pulling It Together: “Blessed are the poor,” Jesus says in Luke’s Sermon on the Plain (Luke 6:20). In Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount, he says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit” (Matt 5:3). You might wonder how there is blessing in poverty. Only when we admit our impoverished spiritual condition, may the kingdom become our possession. When we confess our sin and turn to the father, he enriches us with the righteousness of his Son. Jesus fills us with his Spirit, and we become rich in that which matters most. Our spirits are prospered. All of this is a free gift and reward to those poor people who believe in Christ for the riches of justification, righteousness, and salvation.

Prayer: Give me a longing, Lord, for the reward of heaven. 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 Thu, 18 Nov 21 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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1 Peter 1:3-9

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Just as justification pertains to faith, so eternal life also pertains to faith. Peter says, “As the outcome of your faith you obtain the salvation of your souls” (1 Pet 1:9). Our adversaries confess that the justified are children of God and fellow heirs with Christ.

Pulling It Together: Faith is the means of justification, righteousness, and salvation. Only faith keeps our souls at peace before God. Our good deeds will never give us rest. If peace of mind were left to our works and religious ceremony, we would always be scrambling to the next deed and ritual. The things we do never provide confident assurance of rightness with God. However, because of faith, we may sit at the feet of Jesus, assured that we have a justified God in this life.

Faith is also the means by which our salvation is maintained “forever and ever.” We do nothing to eternally preserve our lives. What could we possibly do to attain such a feat? Yet just as we have faith in God to justify in this earthly life, we have faith in him to preserve us to life eternal. This living hope in resurrection and of an inheritance of all that heaven offers also strengthens and sustains faith when we face trials that test our faith in this life.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, for giving me the hope of everlasting life with you. Amen. 

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).

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

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2 Corinthians 5:1-7

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

This rebirth is, as it were, the beginning of eternal life, as Paul says, “But if Christ is in you, although your bodies are dead because of sin, your spirits are alive because of righteousness” (Rom 8:10). “Here indeed we groan, and long to put on our heavenly dwelling, so that by putting it on we may not be found naked” (2 Cor 5:2-3). The sincere reader can judge from these statements that we certainly require good works, since we teach that this faith arises in repentance, and in repentance ought continually to increase. If repentance and faith grow together in repentance, there is Christian and spiritual perfection. God-fearing people are better able to understood this teaching than those things taught by the adversaries concerning contemplation or perfection.

Pulling It Together: We are reborn with a purpose. But let us be clear; the purpose does not precede or cause rebirth. That purpose is the result of our being newly created (2 Cor 5:17), for we are “created in Christ for good works” (Eph 2:10). However, draped in these coats of flesh, it is difficult for us to perfectly walk in God’s ways. Therefore, we groan while we are still burdened by the flesh. We want to be clothed in Christ, with his perfection. So, we repent of our deeds of the flesh and begin to do works of righteousness. This process progresses with many sighs and groans until God finishes what he began (Phil 1:6). Yet, we never trust in these good works, as though they make us perfect. We live by faith, trusting in Christ, not in works of the flesh.

Prayer: Help me to never give up, Lord, and to always trust in you. Amen. 

Interactive PDF Certificates for Baptism, Rite of Confirmation, and First Communion. You get all three for one price. Simply download the files, choose the certificate you want to use, type in the name, date, and church information and print on your color printer. Save files to your computer and re-use over and over again! 

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

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Romans 8:29-30

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

While we are being encouraged and comforted in the midst of terrors, other spiritual inclinations increase: hope and the knowledge, fear, and love of God. We are renewed, as Paul says, in the knowledge of God (Col 3:10) and, “beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness” (2 Cor 3:18). That is, we receive the true knowledge of God, so that we truly fear him, truly trust that he cares for us, and that we are heard by him.

Pulling It Together: What will be the result in the future life for the way we have lived the present life? Left on our own, sin and death are terrifying. Without the comfort and encouragement of God’s word, all one may do is worry, fear, despair, or try to dismiss the thought. Even Christians wrestle with these thoughts. When we sin against God “in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone,” we might worry sometimes that we have pushed God too far this time. When have not loved God “with our whole heart,” we can be tempted to wonder if he really loves us. When we “have not loved our neighbors as ourselves,” we can question whether God hears our prayers.

Through such tests of faith, we grow in faith. In fear of God, we face our sins. Confessing our sins, we find that God does indeed love and forgive us. So, our hope is emboldened, and the knowledge of God’s true nature increases. Beholding this glorious nature of God, we begin to shine a bit more, as Moses did when he came down from Mt. Sinai (Exod 34:29). God slowly transforms us until finally, on that great Day, he will complete in us the work that he has begun (Phil 1:6).

Prayer: Thank you, Father, for loving me, through Jesus Christ, your Son and my 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).

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Mon, 15 Nov 21 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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Hebrews 10:22-25

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

We are reborn and receive the Holy Spirit for the very end that the new life may produce new works, new dispositions, the fear and love of God, hatred of lust, and so forth. This faith we speak of arises in repentance, and ought to become deep-rooted and grow in the midst of good works, temptations, and dangers, so that we may be more and more firmly persuaded that God for Christ's sake cares for us, forgives us, hears us. This is not learned without many great struggles. How often conscience is aroused and provokes us to despair when it displays our sins, either old or new, or the impurity of our nature! This handwriting is not blotted out without a great struggle, in which experience testifies what a difficult matter faith is.

Pulling It Together: We should recognize in ourselves that we are disposed to fall back into old ways. But we should also consider that others are just like us. They, like we, need encouragement to live the life of faith. As the great Day of Christ’s return draws ever nearer, we should promote love and good works in others. People get worn out from their vocations, their everyday lives, and even the troubles of the church. It should not be a surprise to us that many people even need encouragement to be in worship. The temptation to forsake the assembly is ever-present, and for many has become a habit. But how else will they be lifted above the troubles and temptations of this life unless they draw near to God with faith to receive his Word and Sacraments? How else will they be excited to love and good works unless they gather with a room full of sinners and see that faith is alive in people just like themselves?

Prayer: Lord, lift me when I fall, so that I might encourage someone’s faith 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.

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

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Romans 8:12-15

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Here the adversaries will cry out again that there is no need of good works if they do not merit eternal life. We have refuted this pretense above. Of course, it is necessary to do good works. We say that eternal life has been promised to the justified but those who walk according to the flesh retain neither faith nor righteousness. We are justified for this very purpose, that being righteous, we may begin to do good works and to obey God’s law.

Pulling It Together: Good works are evidence that a person has been justified. For the Spirit who produces good works only indwells the justified. Those who have been reborn begin to do good works freely, in the power of God, not because they fear God, temporal punishment, or eternal damnation. Good works are not something Christians owe in order to pay off a debt of righteousness. This would be living in the flesh and in fear. Those who are reborn in Christ, live according to the Spirit, believing that the Father loves and forgives them. As his children, we begin to act like his children, not because of troubled consciences but because of the impulse of the Spirit.

Prayer: Father, move me with your Spirit to love Christ by keeping his commandments. 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 Sat, 13 Nov 21 00:00:00 -0600

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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. 

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 Fri, 12 Nov 21 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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Romans 10:13–17

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

These thoughts exert the mind, so we will briefly reply. It is necessary to firmly hold that we are saved by mercy so that hope may be certain, and so that there may be a prior distinction between those who obtain and those who do not obtain salvation. Unless it is qualified, this expression seems absurd. In civil courts and in human judgment, a right or a debt is certain, and mercy is uncertain. The matter is different with respect to God’s judgment. Here, mercy has God’s clear, certain promise and command. Strictly speaking, the gospel is the command to believe that God is merciful toward us for Christ’s sake. “For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. He who believes in him is not condemned...” (John 3:17-18).

Pulling It Together: What came first, the chicken or the egg? Some love to deliberate over such things; these questions wear out other people. For them, it is enough to know that we are saved through faith in Christ. Yet here, there is a clue for those who need to know the causes of things. The order of progression toward salvation is clear in Paul. One is saved through faith by grace (Eph 2:8). Faith in the promise precedes salvation. God’s grace comes before it all. Those who hear the gospel and believe with faith in Christ are those who are saved. All of this comes from the gracious hand of God.

Prayer: Thank you, God, for all those you have sent to me with the good news of your salvation. Amen. 

Receive these Sola Devotions in weekday emails. Click here to fill out a quick and secure subscription form. 

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 Thu, 11 Nov 21 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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Ephesians 1:13-14

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Let us, therefore, hold fast to the Church’s confession that we are saved by mercy. Some may think, “If we are to be saved by mercy, hope will be uncertain, if in those who obtain salvation nothing precedes it by which they may be distinguished from those who do not obtain it.” We must give them a satisfactory answer, since the scholastics, moved by this reasoning seem to have devised the term meritum condigni.

Pulling It Together: If there must be something observed before one is able to hope in God’s mercy, there is such evidence. Faith is the antecedent. That is the difference between those who will receive God’s mercy and those who will not. The preceding factor is not condignity, an imagined worthiness because of good works. The difference that precedes salvation is easy to determine. That distinguishing feature is belief in the one who saves. Those who hear the gospel and believe in Christ are those who receive God’s mercy and are saved.

Prayer: Loving Father, thank you for guaranteeing my salvation through belief in Christ and the seal of his Spirit. Amen. 

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 Wed, 10 Nov 21 00:00:00 -0600

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Luke 17:7-10

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

It is clearly a juvenile fallacy to interpret “unprofitable servant” as meaning that works are worthless to God but are profitable to us. Christ is speaking of a profit that would make God a debtor of grace to us, though it is out of place here to discuss what is profitable or unprofitable. “Unprofitable” servants means “insufficient,” because no one fears, loves, and trusts God as much as he ought. But let us be done with these cold quibbles of the adversaries which sound minds will easily judge when they are brought to the light. They think they have found a flaw in words that are very plain and clear. But everyone can see that this passage condemns confidence in our own works.

Pulling It Together: Our works earn us nothing. This is a clear teaching, made even clearer by understanding that the word translated as “servant” in so many English translations, literally means “slave.” This is humanity’s condition; we are not mere servants, in today’s understanding of someone who is paid for their service. We are indentured servants, slaves to sin and death, and we can never earn our freedom. No matter how much work we do, that labor is simply what is demanded of a slave. The slave’s work does not make the master indebted to the slave.

Either the master sets us free—and death and the devil are not going to do that—or someone pays our debt and sets free. This is precisely what Christ has done for us. He has paid our debt and liberated us, declaring, “No longer do I call you slaves” (John 15:15 NASB). If we are no longer indentured, to whom do we owe the debt? Indeed, if there is no longer a debt to be repaid, since Christ has paid it (Col 2:14), why would we even imagine a debt is to be requited? We not only condemn confidence in works, the whole notion of paying an already-paid debt is unreasonable.

Prayer: Thank you, God, for paying my sin debt, nailing it to the cross of Christ. Amen.  

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 Tue, 09 Nov 21 00:00:00 -0600 Online jigsaw

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James 4:6–10

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Ambrose says it well: “Grace is to be acknowledged; but nature must not be disregarded.” We must trust in the promise of grace, not in our own nature. But the adversaries act in accordance with their custom, and distort the judgments about faith which have been given in support of faith. We leave these thorny points to the schools.

Pulling It Together: Our nature wants to do it all, and only hopes that God will give us his grace. That is the wrong inclination. Do not trust in your efforts; do not trust the old self-reliant nature that thinks God cannot achieve justification but you can attain it if you only work at it enough. The old nature believes that if one loves enough, is joyous all the time, at peace, patient and kind toward others, is good, faithful, and self-controlled, that person will have earned God’s grace. It is the ultimate pride to think that God cannot do a thing but you can.

But the new nature of those reborn in Christ relies upon God’s grace despite our inability to produce the fruit of the Spirit. We confess that this fruit does not come from us but instead, as the term itself makes clear, comes from the Spirit. These are not the fruit of the Christian; they are the fruit of the Spirit. Because we cannot depend upon our being fruitful to merit God’s grace, we should depend upon him—for his grace is already abundantly present. Then, when he produces his fruit in our lives, we may simply be humble and thankful that God has done what we could never do.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, help me depend upon you to bear your fruit in my life. Amen. 

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 Mon, 08 Nov 21 00:00:00 -0600

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2 Thessalonians 2:13-17

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

But if they mean to argue from analogous statements—When you have done all things, do not trust in your works, and when you have believed all things, do not trust in the divine promise—there is no connection. They are not analogous, as the causes and objects of confidence in the former proposition are not the same as the latter. In the former, confidence is in our own works. In the latter, confidence is in the divine promise. Christ condemns confidence in our works; he does not condemn confidence in his promise. He does not wish us to despair of God's grace and mercy. He accuses our works as unworthy, but does not accuse the promise which freely offers mercy.

Pulling It Together: If a man was swimming in the ocean and began to drown, he would be quite correct to not trust his own efforts to save himself. But he would yell with his last breath to the lifeguard. The lifeguard is trained and dependable to save drowning swimmers. Think how the struggling swimmer’s hopes would buoy him up as he saw the lifeguard swimming toward him.

Would we now take a perfectly understandable comparison and turn it on itself? When you have swam your best but are about to drown, do not trust your swimming skills. Likewise, though you believe the lifeguard is there to save you, you cannot trust him either. It would be a special kind of madness to think like this. We immediately see through the bad analogy.

Just as a lifeguard may be trusted to save drowning swimmers, God may be trusted to save poor sinners. We are right to not trust in our religious skills and our good deeds. But we would be very wrong to not trust the promise of God.

Prayer: Lord, keep me steadfast in the word of your promise. 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 Sun, 07 Nov 21 00:00:00 -0500 Online jigsaw

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Titus 3:4-7

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Faith saves because it apprehends mercy and the promise of grace, even though our works are unworthy. Knowing this, their argument does not offend us: “When we have believed all things, say, ‘We are unworthy servants.’” Understanding that our works are worthless, we declare with the entire Church that we are saved by mercy.

Pulling It Together: There is faith and there is the fruit of faith. Faith ought to have results in this life, not just the result of an eternal life to come. For we pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” But those results—the fruit of our faith, our participation in the will of God—are not payments to God. We are not defraying a debt to God by slowly working it off in this life. That is not the way God’s economy works, as the Father has already paid the debt through his Son because our pitiful works could never amount to salvation. To insist on working off an already paid debt, cheats God by refusing his great gift. He has freely given us salvation through his mercy and loving kindness in Christ. He has also regenerated us to live the life of faith. In this new life, we continue to rely on Christ for salvation while we bear the fruit of faith through the power of his Holy Spirit. So, none of this is done in our own power or righteousness. God has done—and continues to do—it all.

Prayer: Help me to bear fruit for your kingdom, Lord, but depend upon you alone for salvation. 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.

Teacher's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 06 Nov 21 00:00:00 -0500 Online jigsaw

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Psalm 79:8–9

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Although these absurdities do not deserve a refutation, nevertheless we will reply to them in a few words. The antistrophe is defective. First, the adversaries are deceived in regard to the term “faith.” If it means a knowledge of history that the wicked and devils also have, our opponents would be correct in arguing that faith is unprofitable when they say, "When we have believed all things, say, ‘We are unworthy servants.’" But we are not speaking of knowledge of history. We are talking about confidence in the promise and mercy of God. This confidence in his promise confesses that we are unworthy servants. Indeed, the confession that our works are unprofitable is the very voice of faith, as demonstrated in the example of Daniel that we already cited above. “We do not present our supplications before thee on the ground of our righteousness, but on the ground of thy great mercy” (Dan 9:18).

Pulling It Together: God forgives us for the sake of his name. His reputation is at stake, so he will keep his promise. This is easy to understand. God does not require our works of righteousness, for that would mean that he forgives for our sake, because of the things we have done, because we have a righteous name to honor. Our works are unprofitable and unnecessary for salvation, forgiveness, and justification because God’s word is sufficient. He has promised to forgive for his own sake, because of his name.

A person might know that this is what Christians believe, but that knowledge does not merit justification. A person might not feel forgiven, and so, do an abundance of good works, hoping that God will forgive them because of their deeds. Yet those deeds will not earn forgiveness. Knowledge and deeds are both useless for salvation, since they cannot earn God’s grace. God’s word of promise is all that matters; you either believe him or you do not. Faith takes hold of God’s promise, believing that we are freely forgiven and justified for his name’s sake, for Christ’s sake. Faith adds nothing to the promise; it takes God at his word.

Prayer: When my iniquities prevail against me, Lord, help me to trust your promise of atonement. 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 Fri, 05 Nov 21 00:00:00 -0500 Online jigsaw

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John 15:14-17

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

The teaching of Christ also applies here. “So you also, when you have done all that is commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty’” (Luke 17:10). These words clearly declare that God saves because of mercy and his promise, not that it is due because of the value of our works. At this point our opponents wonderfully play with the words of Christ, making an antistrophe and turning it against us. Daring to speak over the words of Christ, they declare that if we have believed all things, we are unworthy servants. Then they add that works are of no profit to God, but are profitable to us. See how the adolescent study of sophistry delights the adversaries.

Pulling It Together: Behold, what importance some people place in their works. They value deeds so thoroughly that they distort the words of Christ. When he downplays works, they exalt them. While he promotes the Father’s mercy, they degrade it by adding as a requirement of grace what Christ says is mere duty. The keeping of the commandments, including Christ’s command to love one another (John 15:12), is simply living out Christian discipleship. This is what it looks like to be a Christian. It shows that one is rightly related to Christ, that one is his friend, chosen by him to live a life of faith instead of mere servanthood.

Beware of anything that comes between you and faith in Christ. If you find yourself thinking how fine a Christian you are because of your great love, you are exalting your works over Christ. If you discover that your conscience is dependent upon keeping the law, you are not availing yourself of a greater peace of mind—that peace of God that surpasses all understanding (Phil 4:7).

Prayer: Thank you, Jesus, for choosing me to be your friend. Amen. 

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 Thu, 04 Nov 21 00:00:00 -0500 Online jigsaw

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John 10:7-9

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

We also wonder what our adversaries do in prayer, if indeed, the profane men ever ask anything of God. If they declare that they are worthy because they have love and good works, and ask for grace as if they had earned it, then they pray precisely like the Pharisee in Luke 18:11, who says, “I am not like other men.” He who prays for grace without relying upon God's mercy, dishonors Christ, who intercedes for us as our High Priest. Therefore, prayer relies upon God's mercy when we believe that we are heard for the sake of Christ, the High Priest, as he himself says, “ If you ask anything of the Father, he will give it to you in my name” (John 16:23). He says, “In my name,” because without this High Priest we cannot approach the Father.

Pulling It Together: If we come to God, expecting that we deserve his grace, then we are thieves of grace. When we think that we have earned God’s mercy and may therefore demand it, we rob God of the glory that belongs to him alone. We need a mediator, someone to go between us and God. Christ alone has earned this authority by ransoming himself for all people (1 Tim 2:5-6). If we imagine that we have attained such a high position, we steal the grace that the Father would freely give us through the Son whom he loves (Eph 1:6). We must therefore, always pray through Christ, expecting nothing because of ourselves or because of our deeds, yet expecting all good things of the Father because of his Son.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for making a way to the Father of grace. Amen. 

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 Wed, 03 Nov 21 00:00:00 -0500 Online jigsaw

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Daniel 9:15-19

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Jonah also says, “Those who regard vanities abandon their own mercy” (Jonah 2:9, Vulgate). All confidence is vain, except confidence in mercy. Mercy delivers us; our own merits, our own efforts, do not. Accordingly, Daniel also prays, “For we do not present our supplications before thee on the ground of our righteousness, but on the ground of thy great mercy. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, give heed and act; delay not, for thy own sake, O my God, because thy city and thy people are called by thy name” (Dan 9:18-19). So Daniel teaches us to take hold of mercy when we pray, that is, to trust in God's mercy, not in our own merits before him.

Pulling It Together: The First Commandment teaches us that God is faithful to deliver his people. “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery” (Exod 20:2). When we confess our sin, God may also be depended upon to bring us out of our bondage to sin (1 John 1:9). We either admit our condition or remain in subjugation. The Hebrews might have stayed behind; and we too may remain enslaved to sin. So, we confess that we are in bondage. Further, we confess that we cannot free ourselves. Just as the Hebrews could not escape from their Egyptian overlords without God’s help, we cannot free ourselves from our masters: sin and death.

As God delivered the Hebrews through the Red Sea, he brings us safely through the waters of baptism. They wandered in the wilderness and finally arrived in the promised land. We move through this life and at long last, arrive at the gates of heaven. All of this is accomplished because God has promised and, in his great mercy, keeps his covenant. We take hold of his promises by faith, not by the bitter labors of “heavy burdens” and “hard service” (Exod 1:14). When God’s people depend upon their hard work, they are enslaved. Yet, when they do not depend upon their own efforts, but trust in God to do the necessary work, they are liberated from their slavery to sin and death. They are freed to live in the new kingdom, and never again regard Egypt.

Prayer: Though my efforts are unworthy, Lord, save me according to your great mercy. 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 Tue, 02 Nov 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Luke 11:2–4

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

“I feared all my works” (Job 9:28, Vulgate). “If I wash myself with snow, and cleanse my hands with lye, yet thou wilt plunge me into a pit” (Job 9:30). “Who can say, ‘I have made my heart clean; I am pure from my sin’?” (Prov 20:9). “ If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). In the Lord's Prayer the saints ask for the forgiveness of sins, so even the saints have sins. “He will by no means clear the guilty” (Num 14:18; Exod 34:7). “The Lord your God is a devouring fire” (Deut 4:24). Zechariah also says, “Be silent, all flesh, before the Lord” (Zech 2:13). “All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it” (Isa 40:6). In other words, the flesh and the righteousness of the flesh cannot endure the judgment of God. 

Pulling It Together: Our sin leaves us indebted to God. This is why Jesus tells us to pray, “Forgive us our sins.” Matthew uses the word “debt” (Matt 6:12), making it clear that we owe God for our moral failure. No one is exempt; all people owe God. But we cannot pay our debt. Our sin nature, our natural being, cannot stand before the glory of God. We cannot work off our debt either, since the righteousness of the flesh will not endure God’s judgment (Rom 3:20). If anything, we should fear and distrust what we consider our good works. Without faith in Christ, these good works will burn with all the other “bad works” that we have done. We cannot cleanse ourselves. All we can do is avail ourselves of the mercy of God, praying, “Forgive us.”

Prayer: Father, thank you for hearing me when I pray, and forgiving me when I ask. Amen. 

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 Mon, 01 Nov 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Hebrews 10:19–23

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 113

Scripture also often emphasizes the same. “Enter not into judgment with thy servant; for no man living is righteous before thee” (Psa 143:2). This passage absolutely denies the glory of righteousness, even to all saints and servants of God, if God does not forgive but judges and convicts their hearts. When David boasts in other places of his righteousness, he speaks of his cause against the persecutors of God's Word. He does not speak of his personal purity. He asks that the cause and glory of God be defended, as in Psalm 7:8: “Judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness and according to the integrity that is in me.” Likewise, in Psalm 130:3, he says that if God recorded our sins no one could endure God's judgment. “If thou, O Lord, shouldst mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand?”

Pulling It Together: Pour some dirt into a cup of water and find out how many people will drink? Just so, we are not palatable; each person is just some good mixed in with the bad. We are each an undrinkable cup. Everyone sins. Even the deeds we do that others consider good, are of no estimation before the Holy God. For we are not good if we are sometimes bad. Therefore, we cannot stand before God’s glory—unless he makes us holy. Unless the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us, we will never endure his glory.

Thanks be to God, that when we admit the bad within us, turning to the Lord, asking his forgiveness, believing that Christ Jesus died for our sins, he makes us good. This is not accomplished in any part by the good deeds we may do, nor by the intentions of the heart—even those that we rarely accomplish. So, we cannot make ourselves good; it is only God who can make someone righteous. He makes sinners gloriously righteous by giving them Christ’s righteousness. He forgives their sins and considers them completely righteous and holy for Christ’s sake, not ours. He is the only way (John 14:6) to the Father. There is no back door. Yet, through Christ, we may enter into the presence of God with confidence. Washed by his pure water, we may draw near with the full assurance of faith in Christ.

Prayer: Help me to hold fast the confession of my hope, Jesus Christ the Lord. Amen. 

All of the Sola Sunday Schoolhouse materials for Year C may be found here. They include reproducible sheets of Bible lesson, pictures, drama, worksheets, and a Christmas program. This is the Schoolhouse unit subtitled "Stories from the Beginning," covering Bible stories from the first half of the Old Testament, from Genesis through Joshua.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 31 Oct 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for online jigsaw.

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Hebrews 4:14-16

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

The subject is well known and has a great many clear testimonies in Scripture and in the Church Fathers, all declaring with one voice that, even though we have good works, yet in these very works, we need mercy. Depending upon God’s mercy, faith cheers and consoles us. Therefore, the adversaries teach erroneously when they exalt merits, adding nothing about this faith that apprehends mercy. As we have said before, the promise and faith must cooperate since the promise is not apprehended unless by faith. So we say again that the promised mercy requires faith, and cannot be apprehended without faith. Therefore we justly find fault with the doctrine of meritum condigni since it teaches nothing about justifying faith. Furthermore, it obscures the glory and office of Christ as mediator. We should not be regarded as teaching anything new in this matter, since the Church Fathers have so clearly handed down the doctrine that even in good works we need mercy.

Pulling It Together: We cannot make any offering for sin that produces mercy and forgiveness. Our virtue will not do it, nor will religious works, the right disposition, or remorse. Yet there is still hope in the mercy of God, since our great High Priest has made the one offering that makes the difference. No other sacrifice affords God’s grace. Because his grace is only taken hold of through faith, we are able to confess with the Scripture that we may confidently draw near to the cross and receive the promised grace of God. If grace was to be apprehended through our own means, we could never have such bold confidence. It is faith in Christ that transports us to the cross, that blessed place of hope where our sins were carried and buried by Jesus Christ our Savior.

Prayer: I give you the honor and glory, Lord, and place all my hope in you. 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 Sat, 30 Oct 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Proverbs 28:13-14

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 111

Fourth, the entire Church confesses that eternal life is attained through mercy. Speaking of the works that saints do after being justified, Augustine says in On Grace and Free Will, “God leads us to eternal life not by our merits, but according to His mercy.” In book nine of his Confessions, he writes, “Woe to the life of man, however much it may be worthy of praise, if it be judged with mercy removed.” In his treatise On the Lord’s Prayer Cyprian says, “Lest any one should flatter himself that he is innocent, and by exalting himself, should perish the more deeply, he is instructed and taught that he sins daily, in that he is bidden to entreat daily for his sins.”

Pulling It Together: Everybody sins. Anyone who claims otherwise, is kidding himself (1 John 1:8) but God is not fooled. We were born into sin (Psa 51:5); it invades all of life. What can be done about this condition that pervades us? Nothing. There is nothing that you can do except hope in a merciful God. Without his mercy, there is only judgment and death (Heb 9:27).

We may hide our sin from others but we cannot hide from God, who is not only merciful but righteous and just. It is a foolish person who, having no fear of God, hardens his heart and does not forsake his sin. But the wise person trembles before the Almighty, and admits his sin. Because he believes that he may depend upon God’s mercy, he does not despair by taking matters into his own useless hands. He relies completely on the only one who is willing, able, and just to do something about his sinful life (1 John 1:9). He confesses his sin and obtains God’s mercy.

This is all we can do, though we really are not doing a thing. We are only admitting our sin and leaving it with God to handle. In this confession, we will have done everything needful for peace with our merciful God.

Prayer: Loving Father, help me to truly confess my sins—not in the length of the list but in the range of my trust in your mercy. 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 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 Fri, 29 Oct 21 00:00:00 -0500 Online jigsaw

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Hebrews 6:17-20

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Third, how will the conscience know when a work has been done through this inclination of love so that it is assured it has merited grace de condigno? This distinction, that people merit at one time de congruo and at another time de condigno, was devised to elude the Scriptures. As we have already said, the intention of the one who works does not distinguish the kinds of merit. In their security, hypocrites simply think their works are worthy, and that for this reason they are accounted righteous. Yet, terrified consciences doubt concerning all works, and for this reason are continually seeking other works. For this is what it means to merit de congruo: to doubt and to work without faith until despair takes place. In a word, all that the adversaries teach in regard to this matter is full of errors and dangers.

Pulling It Together: Some people have faith in their works. They believe that there are certain things they can do to earn God’s grace. This imagined acquisition of grace is called condignity or de condigno. It betrays a lack of faith in the finished work of Christ, trusting instead, that God will dignify human works with the grace of forgiveness and righteousness. There are others, sometimes those same people, who doubt the merit of condignity (as they should) and grasp at any good work in the hope that God will offer his grace in return. This is the so-called merit of congruity or de congruo, in which people hope that their efforts will bring them into harmony with God.

How can either condignity or congruity offer hope to the despairing soul? They cannot. Only Christ offers hope that is so sure and steadfast that it is an anchor for the soul. If our anchor is in self, the winds of doubt will drag us across the ocean to shipwreck. But when our hope is in Christ, the anchor holds.

Prayer: Give me faith to trust in you, Lord, my Rock and the anchor of my soul. Amen. 

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 Thu, 28 Oct 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for online jigsaw.

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Mark 14:32-38; 1 Kings 19:11-13

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Second, the doctrine of the adversaries leaves consciences in doubt. Because the law always accuses us, even in good works, consciences can never be pacified. “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit” (Gal 5:17). Therefore, if a conscience believes that it must please God by the sake of its own work, instead of for Christ's sake, how will it have peace without faith? If hope springs from merits, what work will the conscience find that may firmly be relied upon as worthy of eternal life? Paul speaks against these doubts. “Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom 5:1). We ought to be firmly convinced that righteousness and eternal life are granted us for Christ's sake. Paul also says of Abraham that, “In hope he believed against hope” (Rom 4:18).

Pulling It Together: The spirit is compelled to have faith in God but the flesh is weak. It is hard to stay awake and watchful against the accusations of the law. It is easy enough, however, to fall asleep, dreaming that there must be some way that we might please God and avert his wrath. So, we must remain alert, listening carefully beneath the roar of the law’s accusations. The law thunders and quakes against the conscience. The fiery judgment of God leaves us unsettled and trembling. But listen; there is also the sound of a low whisper, calling us to stand before the Lord. It is the Spirit of the Lord coming to us through the gospel. Although he convicts us of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8), he does so with the hope of forgiveness. He calls us to the exit of our cave of doubts, awakening us to the reality of God’s mercy and grace, through Jesus Christ the Lord.

Prayer: Lead me, Lord, by your Spirit so that I am not controlled by the flesh. Amen. 

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 Wed, 27 Oct 21 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. 

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 Tue, 26 Oct 21 00:00:00 -0500 Online jigsaw

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1 Timothy 2:3-6

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law – part 107

It is also clear that we cannot observe the law without the aid of Christ, as he himself tells us. “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). So before we are able to observe the law, our hearts must be born again by faith. Therefore, it is understandable why we find fault with the doctrine of the adversaries concerning meritum condigni. The decision is very easy, since they do not mention faith or that we please God by faith for Christ's sake. Rather, they imagine that good works, done because of an inclination to love, constitute a righteousness worthy by itself to please God, and earn eternal life with no need of Christ as mediator.

Pulling It Together: There is no good thing that we can do, or even a lifetime’s collection of good works, that God would dignify as a righteousness worthy of eternal life. If that were so, why would he have sent his Son to be the satisfaction or propitiation for our sin? Why would God require faith in Christ if we could earn our own salvation? We need Christ; we cannot save ourselves. There is only one God and Savior (Titus 2:13; Jude 25) and he needs no assistance from us. He has paid the penalty for our sin, ransoming us from death (Mark 10:45). Jesus has negotiated or mediated the price that we could never pay, so that we could come to a knowledge of the truth and be set free (John 8:32) from sin and death. All of this happens without our help, but not without faith in Christ.

Prayer: Thank you, Jesus, for completely saving me so that I may have faith in you and not worry if there is something that I must still do to inherit eternal life. Amen. 

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 Mon, 25 Oct 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for online jigsaw.

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Hebrews 12:28-29

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

These things are also plain, that we overcome the terrors of sin and death by faith, not by love, since our love and fulfilling of the law cannot stand against the wrath of God. Paul says that we we have access to God by faith in Christ (Rom 5:2). We stress this statement so frequently because of its clarity. It shows most plainly the state of our whole case, and when carefully considered, teaches abundantly about this whole matter, bringing consolation to well-disposed minds. Accordingly, it is advantageous to have it at hand and in sight, not only so that we may be able to use it against the doctrine of our adversaries, who teach that we come to God not by faith, but by love and merits, without Christ as mediator, but also so that we may cheer ourselves and exercise faith when fear assails us.

Pulling It Together: True faith in Christ is not shaken for long, since it remembers the source and object of its faith. Faith does not seek to appease an angry God but instead, recalls that God graciously forgives sins for Christ’s sake. Because of our trust in God, we are able to worship him without fear. We are consoled by the gospel that teaches us of a loving Father. Because God has imputed Christ’s righteousness to us, we are not destroyed by his “consuming fire”; we are cleansed by it instead. Our works and dispositions do not make us clean or righteous. Christ alone makes us righteous and enables us to stand before him with reverence and awe, offering him acceptable worship (Rom 5:2). 

Prayer: Lord Jesus, cleanse me with your shed blood so that I may offer you acceptable worship. 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.

Teacher's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 24 Oct 21 00:00:00 -0500 Onlilne jigsaw

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Hebrews 10:38-11:1

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

We hope that it can be sufficiently understood from these statements what faith is, and that we are compelled to hold that we are justified, reconciled, and regenerated by faith, if indeed, we wish to teach the righteousness of the gospel, and not of the law. Those who teach that we are justified by love teach the righteousness of the law, and do not instruct us to avail ourselves of Christ as mediator in justification.

Pulling It Together: Faith is not a mere intellectual understanding of God. Many people believe there is a God but they neither know who he is nor put their trust in him. Faith is not a decision to be religious. It is not head knowledge, and it is not the will to love God. These are by-products of faith. Faith is a complete trust in God even when the mind cannot comprehend, or when the will desires something other than God. One cannot trust in God if faith is of our own construction, merely human reason or will. Faith believes in Christ, not self.

Faith takes hold of God’s promises and will not let go—even when the mind cannot fathom God’s promises, even when the will cannot fully comply with the law. When the doubting mind and the weak, human will (Mark 14:38) leave us feeling guilty, faith still believes. Faith is a wholesale trust in God for justification, forgiveness of sins, rebirth, and eternal life. It takes no stock in self, but trusts in Christ alone. For if faith was a matter of reason and the will, no one could be assured of God’s promises; no one could have steadfast conviction in things unseen. God is the source of our faith, not us—not our reason or our will—so faith leaves our justification in his hands.

Prayer: Keep me steadfast, O Lord, in your word of promise. Amen. 

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Live from the First Century is based on the Christmas Story from the Gospel of Luke. This children's program takes the form of a first century newscast, reporting on events in Bethlehem. The script includes a number of character parts, with each scene featuring a Christmas carol sung by the children. Permission is granted to reproduce the script for local congregational use.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 23 Oct 21 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 Fri, 22 Oct 21 00:00:00 -0500 Online jigsaw

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Romans 4:15-22

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

This faith gives God the honor that is his own by receiving the promises. It obeys him just as Paul says, “No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God” (Rom 4:20). Thus the worship and divine service of the gospel is to receive gifts from God, while the worship of the law is to offer our gifts to God. We can offer nothing to God unless we have first been reconciled and born again. This teaching brings the greatest consolation since the chief worship of the gospel is to desire to receive forgiveness of sins, grace, and righteousness. Christ says of this worship, “For this is the will of my Father, that every one who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life” (John 6:40). And the Father says, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him” (Matt 17:5).

Pulling It Together: Hope believes even when the situation appears hopeless. Abraham was confronted with an utterly hopeless situation. His son, who seemed to be the beginning of God’s guarantee of offspring, was to be sacrificed to God. Notice how bleak worship is when it is we who bring the gifts. Still, in that darkest, most desperate moment, the patriarch believed even when hope itself seemed hopeless. As the father was about to slaughter the son of promise, God spared Isaac’s life. Abraham’s worship was brought to life when God provided the sacrifice that Abraham never could. Even so, God has provided in his own Son the sacrifice that we could never offer. In God’s gift to the world is grace, forgiveness, and righteousness. Worship is truly worship when we receive these gifts from God through faith, even when our sins cause us to question if hope itself is hopeless.

Prayer: Help me to grow strong in faith, God, and give you the glory. Amen. 

Receive these Sola Devotions in weekday emails. Click here to fill out a quick and secure subscription form. 

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 Thu, 21 Oct 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for online jigsaw.

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1 John 3:23-24

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

The righteousness of Christ is given to us through faith, so faith is righteousness in us by imputation. We are made acceptable to God because of the imputation and ordinance of God, as Paul says, “Faith is reckoned as righteousness” (Rom 4:3-5). Because of certain critics, we must speak technically: faith is truly righteousness because it is obedience to the gospel. Obviously, obedience to the command of a superior is plainly and truly a form of distributive justice. This obedience to the gospel is reckoned for righteousness, so that, only because we apprehend Christ as propitiator, are good works or obedience to the law pleasing. For we do not satisfy the law, but for Christ's sake this is forgiven us, as Paul says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:1).

Pulling It Together: If you are looking for something that you must do, some righteous work that gains eternal life, there is only one thing necessary. Believe in Christ (John 6:29). That is God’s commandment: believe. The Apostle John teaches us that this is God’s greatest commandment, that belief in Christ is the same thing as loving “the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matt 22:37). The next time you think that you surely do not love God with your whole heart, ponder this. Despite your sin, indeed, even if you consider yourself the worst of sinners (1 Tim 1:15), do you still believe in Christ? Do you still take hold of him as the means of forgiveness? Then you have kept God’s greatest commandment. There is nothing else to do but believe in Christ. Through this faith, God makes you truly righteous by instilling the righteousness of Christ in you. This is why you cannot be condemned (Rom 8:1): Christ with all of his righteousness now abides in you because you have kept God’s greatest commandment by believing in the name of his Son. 

Prayer: Father, grow my faith in your Son and my love for all people. 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.

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 Wed, 20 Oct 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for jigsaw puzzle.

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1 Peter 2:22-24

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

In this passage, justify is utilized in a legal sense, meaning to acquit a guilty person and declare him righteous—yet, on account of the righteousness of another, namely Christ’s, which is conveyed to us by faith. Since in this passage, our righteousness is the imputation of the righteousness of another, we must speak here of righteousness in a different manner than a philosophical or judicial inquiry about the righteousness of one's own work, which certainly is in the will. Accordingly, Paul says, “He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom, our righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Cor 1:30). “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor 5:21).

Pulling It Together: Jesus took our sin upon himself and died with it on the cross. When our sin was transferred to Christ, his righteousness was assigned to us through faith in him. There was nothing that the disciples could do on that horrible, yet blessed day, but watch. Jesus did it all, bearing the guilt and blame of everyone, justifying all who believe (Acts 13:39). Jesus paid the price of our sin so that we would receive the benefit of his righteousness. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:21). Like his first disciples, we can do nothing to assist in our justification. We cannot clear our own names but we can take the name of Jesus Christ, given to us in baptism and apprehended through faith (Gal 3:26-27).

Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, for bearing my sin on the cross, becoming my righteousness. 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.

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 Tue, 19 Oct 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for online jigsaw.

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2 Timothy 3:14–15

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

A sophist may object that righteousness is in the will, and therefore cannot be ascribed to faith, which is in the intellect. A reply is easy, since even the scholastics acknowledge that the will commands the intellect to assent to the Word of God. We also say quite clearly: The terrors of sin and death are not only thoughts of the intellect but also horrible turbulence of the will fleeing God's judgment. Even so, faith is not only knowledge in the intellect, but also confidence in the will. It desires to receive what the promise offers, namely, reconciliation and forgiveness of sins. Scripture uses the term "faith" this way as Paul testifies in the following sentence. “Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God” (Rom 5:1).

Pulling It Together: We cannot reason our way to God or become justified before him because we have come to some intellectual understanding of divinity. Our sinful natures alone, as well as subsequent sins, have alienated us from God. Some try to deny this, but they know better since they cannot escape the fear of sin and death. So, what are we to do in order to be justified? The answer is: nothing. We cannot do a thing about our damned situation. There is however, someone who has done something about our condition, and the credit for what he has accomplished has been transferred to our account. When we admit our sinful condition, and desire to receive God’s forgiveness and to be reconciled to him, we may enjoy peace with, instead of the fear of, God. This happens when we believe the testimony of Scripture and have faith in the saving work of Jesus Christ. This is why we confess that people are justified to God through faith alone.

Prayer: Almighty God, increase my faith, through Christ Jesus, my Lord and Savior. 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.

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 Mon, 18 Oct 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for jigsaw puzzle.

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Mark 1:21-24

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Let any one of our adversaries come forward who can teach us about this love, how he himself loves God. They do not at all understand what they say; they only echo, like the walls of a house, the little word "love," without understanding it. Their doctrine is so confused and obscure. It not only transfers the glory of Christ to human works, but also leads consciences either to presumption or to despair. Our doctrine, we hope, is readily understood by pious minds, and brings godly and salutary consolation to terrified consciences. For as the adversaries quibble that many wicked men and devils also believe, we have already frequently said that we speak of faith in Christ—of faith in the forgiveness of sins, faith that truly and heartily assents to the promise of grace. This does not happen without a great struggle in human hearts. Sensible people can easily judge that the faith which believes that we are cared for by God, and that we are forgiven and heard by him, is a matter beyond our nature. For the human mind, in its own power, does not believe this about God. Therefore, neither wicked people nor devils can have this faith that we are discussing.

Pulling It Together: Surveys are often filled out by a person who marks the box, “Christian.” Often what this means is that the person thinks there is a God. In the public mind, believing there is a God is synonymous with being a Christian. But this is a far cry from faith, from believing in God. Christians not only believe there is a God, they believe that he sent his Son to redeem them, to forgive them of their sins. They believe that God loves them and cares for them.

What devils have faith that God forgives their sins because of Christ? What demons believe that God loves and cares for them? They may know that Jesus is the Holy One of God but they lack faith. Theirs is mere intellectual assent. To know something is not the same thing as having faith. Faith believes even when it cannot fathom a matter. Who can understand that Jesus forgives them completely when they are such outrageous sinners? Yet this is precisely what we believe, because we have faith in his word. We believe that we are wholly forgiven without deed or charity of our own to balance the scale. This is beyond the ability of human nature to comprehend. Still, this is what we are asked to believe and trust.

People who only believe there must be a God, do not have faith in Christ. Devils know that God exists, but they too have no faith in him. But people who trust in Christ instead of themselves, who trust in his work on the cross instead of in religion, are the people of true faith—not an intellectual nod but a real trust in God. When it seems impossible to think that the Father cares for a sinner like you, trust in God. Do not trust in your good deeds to compensate for your sins, for they do not. People of faith believe that Christ has delivered them from all of their sins and has reconciled them to his Father.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for giving me faith in you. Amen. 

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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.

Leader's Guide

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 17 Oct 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for online jigsaw.

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Romans 15:8-13

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

In regard to their doctrine of justification, consciences are left in uncertainty. If they must believe that they have a reconciled God because they love and observe the law, they will always doubt whether they have a reconciled God. They either do not feel this love, as the adversaries acknowledge, or certainly feel this love is too little. Frequently they feel angry at the judgment of God who oppresses human nature with many terrible evils, with troubles of this life, the terrors of eternal wrath, and so forth. So, when will the conscience be at rest; when will it be pacified? In such doubt and terror, when will it love God? What else is the doctrine of the law than a doctrine of despair?

Pulling It Together: Christ came to the law keepers first, to show the truth of God’s promises. God fulfilled those promises in the Messiah by fulfilling the law for them, something which they could not accomplish (Acts 15:10). Second, Christ came to display God’s mercy to those who had no concern for the law. The Gentiles did not find peace through conversion to law keeping. The demands of the law are no reason for joy since no one can fulfill the law. Rather, their joy and peace abounded through belief in the Son of God. The hope of the Gentiles was full through the power of the Holy Spirit, who was given to them by faith. Nowhere are loving actions or observation of the law required for this joy, peace, and hope. These are endowments that come to us through faith in Christ, not by keeping the law or through love and religious ceremony. So, we see that God’s mercy is shown to the law keeper as well as those who have no concern for religion. We confess that joy, peace, and hope are available to all because of God’s mercy—but only through faith. 

Prayer: Fill me with joy, peace, and hope through believing in you, Lord Jesus. Amen. 

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Remind your family and friends of the hope that they have in Christ. A variety of beautiful greeting cards are available from Sola Publishing. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 16 Oct 21 00:00:00 -0500 Online jigsaw

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John 5:21-24

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

The adversaries deprive the Church of great blessings when they condemn and try to blur the doctrine of the righteousness of faith. Therefore, let all well-disposed minds beware of consenting to their godless counsels. For they make no mention of Christ in justification, how we ought to set him against the wrath of God, as though, indeed, we were able to overcome the wrath of God by love, or to love an angry God.

Pulling It Together: What a blessing it is to be assured of eternity. Jesus gave us this assurance by saying that whoever believes his word and in the one who sent him has eternal life. Were we to think that eternity depended upon us, on our works canceling out our sins, we would never be confident. We would always wonder if God were angry with us, then conceive of some greater deed that we might do to appease him. But when we believe that Christ is the one who satisfies God, who has made him “well pleased” (Matt 3:17) by canceling our debt of sin (Col 2:14), then our hearts are set at joyful rest. Then we seek to please God for the sheer sake of honoring him. We no longer try to heap up deed after deed in the effort to gain an angry God’s favor. We rely instead, on that one work of a loving God, who in Christ has finished the work of our reconciliation to himself (John 19:30).

Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, for raising me from spiritual death and for giving me the hope of resurrection. 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, 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 Fri, 15 Oct 21 00:00:00 -0500 Online jigsaw

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Matthew 11:28-30

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

The glory of Christ becomes more brilliant when we teach people to avail themselves of him as mediator and propitiator. Faithful consciences see that the most abundant consolation is offered to them in this doctrine. We learn to believe and fully trust that we have a reconciled Father for Christ's sake, not because of our own righteousness, but because Christ also helps us to observe the law.

Pulling It Together: What a burden it is to fulfill the law on our own. Who can keep the law? Is there anyone who can satisfy the demands of the law? Yes, there is one who can and did so for the world. Jesus Christ fulfilled all righteousness, and he did it as the mediator between us and God. Jesus reconciled us to God, becoming righteousness for us. When we trust in his propitiation or satisfaction of the law, our yoke becomes light. We are aided by his righteousness, aiming at keeping the law because of love for him instead of from fear of God’s wrath. When Christ is our mediator and propitiator, we find rest for our souls—not in our own righteousness but in the righteousness that has been given to us by God in Christ.

When you fail to keep the commandments, remind yourself that Christ is your righteousness—not your ability to perfectly fulfill the law’s requirements. Depend upon him and your yoke will be light, for he has carried the load.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to trust in you. Amen. 

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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 Thu, 14 Oct 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Luke 24:44-45

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

These things are so simple, so evident that we marvel that the rage of the adversaries is so great as to call them into doubt. The proof is manifest, that since we are justified before God by the promise instead of the law, it is necessary to ascribe justification to faith. What argument can oppose this proof, unless some one wishes to altogether abolish the gospel and Christ?

Pulling It Together: Sometimes, even the simplest things are spun into complexities, the clearest teaching of Christ turned to sophistry, the clarity of orthodoxy twisted to heresy. This usually happens when something other than God’s Word becomes one’s authority. When feelings, tradition, religion, or culture are allowed to interpret Scripture, the strangest interpretations result. But when Scripture is our authoritative word, we stay truer to God’s will. So, let us bring the Word of God to bear on Scripture, allowing Scripture to interpret itself. For whenever some other sensibility begins to hold sway over the Word—whether personal feelings or the infamous saying, “We’ve never done it that way before”—we may be sure that we are about to lead ourselves astray.

Prayer: Help me listen, Lord, and truly hear your Word. 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, 13 Oct 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for jigsaw puzzle.

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Hebrews 3:1-6

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

If any one has considered these foundations—that we are not justified by the law because human nature cannot observe the law of God and cannot love God, but that we are justified by the promise, through which reconciliation, righteousness, and eternal life have been promised for Christ's sake—he will easily understand that justification must necessarily be ascribed to faith. One need only reflect upon the fact that Christ has not been promised, revealed, born, suffered, and raised again in vain. The promise of grace in Christ, made from the beginning of the world, apart from and beyond the law, is not in vain. The promise is received by faith, as 1 John 5:10-11 says: “He who does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne to his Son. And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who has not the Son of God has not life.” Christ says, “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). Paul writes, “Through him we have obtained access to this grace,” (Rom 5:2) to which he adds, “by faith.”The promise of the forgiveness of sins and of righteousness is received by faith. We are not justified before God by reason or by the law.

Pulling It Together: We are made children of God through his grace. We were not born to his house but have been reborn and adopted by his merciful will (Eph 1:5). Therefore we have hope, hope not in the things we do, but in the things that have been accomplished by the Son of God who is faithful over his Father’s house. It is Christ who has made us to be his house, his family, the household of faith (Gal 6:10). We hold this hopeful confidence only through faith in him. For as soon as we begin to put our confidence in our reason or in works of the law, we will falter, hope will fade, our confidence will wane.

Who is there who pins the hope of eternity on self? That is a foolish person, blind to both experience and Scripture. We cannot hope in ourselves. Why else would God have promised us hope in another—“a man of God’s own choosing”? Why else was Christ revealed in the Word, born of a woman, suffered under Pilate, crucified, died, buried, and raised again from death and hell? God did all these things through his Son because they were needful. He gave us his Son by grace because we were not worthy of his house by our own virtues. We are justified, however, by faith in the merit of Christ Jesus. It is through Christ alone that “we rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Rom 5:2).

Prayer: Fill me with hopeful confidence, Holy Spirit, through faith in the Son of the Father. Amen. 

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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 Tue, 12 Oct 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for online jigsaw.

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1 Corinthians 15:51-57

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Our eyes are to be turned far away from human reason, far away from Moses, and turned to Christ. We are to believe that Christ was given for us so that we may be accounted righteous because of him. We never satisfy the law in the flesh. Therefore, we are not accounted righteous because of the law, but on account of Christ, because his merits are granted to us if we believe in him.

Pulling It Together: I never understood why the rules of baseball allow a pinch runner. A coach is allowed to substitute a faster runner and remove the slower runner from the game. That does not seem fair. But if life, in the eternal sense, was fair, we would all die and that would be the end of the matter (Rom 6:23) because we have all sinned, and death is the punishment for sin (Rom 3:23). For all of our effort, we fall short of the glory of God. No matter how hard we try to keep it, we do not fulfill the law.

God must appreciate baseball, or at least the pinch runner rule. For he has substituted for all of us a more skillful keeper of the law. Jesus has come in to the game and that has changed the outcome. He has won the game of life for the whole world. The series has been decided.

That may not seem fair. Thanks be to God that he is more interested in the victory than in our sense of fairness. We may keep our eyes focused on the law, or even on how we can be good people. But then, we will miss the mystery of life. Death has been vanquished in a pinch, in the twinkling of an eye. “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 

Prayer: Thank you, Lord of life, for your victory over sin and death. Amen. 

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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 Mon, 11 Oct 21 00:00:00 -0500 Online jigsaw

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Romans 8:1-4

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

From this foundation it is easy to determine why we ascribe justification to faith, not to love, though love follows faith because love is the keeping of the law. But Paul teaches that we are justified not by the law, but by the promise which is only received by faith. For we cannot come to God without Christ as mediator, nor do we receive forgiveness of sins because of our love, but because of Christ.

The law constantly accuses us, and therefore, always shows us an angry God. We are not able to love God while he is angry. Therefore, we must first apprehend the promise by faith—that for Christ's sake the Father is reconciled and forgives. Afterward, we begin to observe the law.

Pulling It Together: Jesus warned keepers of the law that the wrath of God was coming (Matt 3:7). The Pharisees already did not like Jesus, and this did not make them any happier. They wanted to be admired by men and favored by God because they played by a strict adherence to the rules. Yet, for all of their legalism, their spirits were not right. This can only occur when one’s basic nature has been changed through rebirth (Matt 3:3). One is only born again through belief in the promise of God, when one has faith in Christ instead of faith in one’s display of religion. Ironically, it is faith that exonerates—not law keeping. Because Christ has paid the penalty of the law in full, it remains for us to believe what he has accomplished. There is nothing for us to do but trust in the one who has stepped between us and the law, Christ our mediator. We cannot work around the law but we may have faith in the Son of God who fulfilled the law’s requirements for us.

Prayer: Thank you, Jesus, for taking away the law’s condemnation and for setting me free from sin and death. Amen. 

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

Subscribe today. For information on congregational/group orders, click HERE.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sun, 10 Oct 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for online jigsaw.

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Genesis 15:1-6

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

This faith is credited as righteousness before God (Rom 4:3-5). When the heart is cheered and quickened by faith in this manner, it receives the Holy Spirit, who renews us so that we are able to observe the law and love God and his Word. We are enabled to be submissive to God in afflictions so that we are able to be chaste, love our neighbor, and so forth. Even though these works are far from the perfection of the law, they please God because of faith by which we are accounted righteous, because we believe that we have a reconciled God for Christ's sake. These things are plain, in harmony with the gospel, and can be understood by persons of sound mind.

Pulling It Together: “Look toward heaven.” When we look to ourselves, we tend to get in trouble. Initially, Abram believed God’s promise of a son. But after a while, he took his eyes off of God and his promise. Goaded by Sarai, his wife, Abram took the matter of having a son into his own hands, contributing to the biggest dysfunctional family since Adam and Eve (Gen 16:1-5). Nearly 15 years later, the Lord reminded Abram of his covenant (Gen 17:1-2). Making him wait was also a reminder of who is in control. “Look toward heaven.”

God promises us in our baptism to make us heirs of the covenant (Gal 3:29). Though we may wait a long time, longer perhaps than Abram waited, we too are blessed. We have received the Spirit of promise by faith, by believing the word of God (Gal 3:2). Let us not turn back to the flesh, taking matters into our own hands through works of the law (Gal 3:3). “Look toward heaven.” God is still in control; he keeps his promise.

Prayer: Give me a complete confidence in you, Lord, so that I may live for you. Amen. 

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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 Sat, 09 Oct 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for online jigsaw.

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Philippians 3:1-3

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Therefore, Paul also says that righteousness is not of the law but of the promise, in which the Father has promised that he wishes to forgive, that he wishes to be reconciled for Christ's sake. This promise, however, is received by faith alone, as Paul testifies in Romans 4:13. Faith alone receives forgiveness of sins, justifies, and regenerates. Then love and other good fruits follow. As we have already said, we teach that people are justified when the conscience, terrified by the preaching of repentance, is encouraged and believes that for Christ's sake it has a reconciled God.

Pulling It Together: It is good to be reminded and to have the point driven home again and again. For we are easily led astray, imagining that we must do something to reconcile God, since we imagine he must be angry about our sins. But God has done it all. He has put to death our old natures through Christ’s crucifixion. He has regenerated us through his resurrection. “It is finished” (John 19:30). We receive this finished work of Christ through faith, no matter what others may insist, no matter what our own consciences imagine. All our confidence, all our hope, is in Christ alone.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for the grace to live in your righteousness instead of my own. 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.

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 Fri, 08 Oct 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for online jigsaw.

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1 Corinthians 15:1-3

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

But let us consider that the gospel has not been given to the world in vain. Christ was not promised, revealed, born, suffered, and raised in vain. Those who reflect upon this will readily understand that we are not justified by reason or the law. Thus, we are obligated to differ with the adversaries about justification. For the gospel shows another mode: it compels us to avail ourselves of Christ for justification. The gospel teaches that we have access to God through Christ by faith, that we ought to set him as mediator and propitiator against God's wrath. It teaches that forgiveness of sins, reconciliation, and triumph over the terrors of sin and of death are received by faith in Christ.

Pulling It Together: We inherit the kingdom through faith, just as an orphan receives a new family. When a child is adopted, she must follow her new family through the orphanage doors. It must be confusing. The orphanage has always been her home, the director her parent, the other orphans her brothers and sisters. She must now leave that world behind; and she must do so in faith. Who could believe that someone wants her as his own child? Yet that is precisely what is called for: belief, trust, faith.

We too have been called to walk across a threshold, to leave behind the hopeless realm of sin and death. To do so, we must have faith in Christ’s call to follow him. Once we do, our faith in, and even our works for God are not in vain. For our hope in the gospel, our holding fast to the Word, is a true and certain hope.

Prayer: Help me stand fast upon your word, Lord. Amen. 

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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 Thu, 07 Oct 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for online jigsaw.

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Romans 5:8–11

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

It is easy for a Christian to appraise each mode because both modes exclude Christ and are therefore to be rejected. The first teaches that our works are a satisfaction for sin, so the impiety is obvious. The second contains much that is injurious. It does not teach us to trust in Christ when we are born again. It does not teach that justification is the forgiveness of sins. It does not teach that we attain the forgiveness of sins before we love, but falsely expresses that we rouse in ourselves the act of love so that we merit forgiveness of sins. Nor does it teach that we overcome the terrors of sin and death by faith in Christ. It falsely claims that people come to God by their own fulfilling of the law, without Christ as propitiator. Finally, it imagines that this keeping of the law without Christ as propitiator is a righteousness worthy of grace and eternal life, though even in saints only a weak and feeble fulfilling of the law occurs.

Pulling It Together: The word “atonement” translated in Romans 5:11 in the Geneva and King James versions is abandoned in subsequent New Testament translations. From the American Standard Version (1901) through the English Standard Version (2001), the word “reconciliation” is used. Either word works but the newer word, it may be suspected, is used because English speaking cultures have forgotten what atonement means and so, it has fallen out of use. For the time being, we still use reconciliation because we understand it to mean that two parties have come to terms. When people are no longer enemies and have become friends again, they are reconciled.

When William Tyndale translated the New Testament (1526), he created the word “attonment” to express what Christ did for us. Jesus at-oned us to God. He became the at-one-ment that made us friends of God (John 15:15), instead of his enemies. This was accomplished, not through our own works but, solely through the work of Christ. The Greek word (καταλλαγ?) literally means “down upon another.” The doctrine of justification that we confess rests upon this one, central point: that our sins have fallen upon Jesus Christ instead of ourselves. We receive this atoning grace of God through faith in Christ’s merit.

Prayer: Keep me in faith, Lord, depending upon your atonement. 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.

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 Wed, 06 Oct 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for online jigsaw.

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Ephesians 1:3-6 

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Another mode of justification is handed down by the scholastic theologians in which they teach that we are righteous through the habit of love which is infused by God. They teach that, aided by this habit, we observe the law of God outwardly and inwardly, and that this fulfilling of the law is worthy of grace and of eternal life. This teaching is plainly a doctrine of the law since it is true that the law says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might,” (Deut 6:5) and, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev 19:18). Therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

Pulling It Together: God wants us to live lives that reflect his own holiness and are in keeping with the regeneration that comes to us through faith. Yet neither the inclination nor the fulfilling of the law makes us worthy of his grace or of eternal life. First, we cannot fulfill the law’s demands. For who loves the Lord with a whole heart? Second, even if we could fulfill the law’s demands, our personal holiness does not merit God’s grace. He gives his grace freely (Eph 1:6) and it is by his free gift of grace that we are justified (Rom 3:24). So, yes, love the Lord your God and your neighbor too, as best as you are able through the power of God at work within you. Always remember when you fail to do so, it is also his power that calls you back to dependence upon his grace and forgiveness. 

Prayer: Help me to live a righteous life, Lord, while I depend upon you for righteousness. Amen. 

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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 Tue, 05 Oct 21 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 Mon, 04 Oct 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for online jigsaw.

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Romans 11:5-6

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

So far, we have reviewed the principal passages that the adversaries cite against us in order to show that faith does not justify, that we earn forgiveness of sins and grace by our works. We hope that we have shown clearly enough to godly consciences that these passages are not opposed to our doctrine and that the adversaries wickedly distort the Scriptures to their opinions. Most of the passages they cite have been garbled. They omit the clearest passages concerning faith, only selecting from the Scriptures passages concerning works, distorting even those. Everywhere they add human opinions to the words of Scripture. They teach the law in such a manner as to suppress the Gospel of Christ. For the entire doctrine of the adversaries is, in part, derived from human reason, and is, in part, a doctrine of the law, not of the gospel. For they teach two modes of justification, the one being derived from reason and the other from the law, not from the gospel or the promise of Christ.

Pulling It Together: The Scriptures are very clear. It is by the grace of God that we believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are God’s children because he has chosen us, not because we have chosen him. We are his because he has called us faithful and righteous by virtue of his Son, not because we have been either faithful or righteous. It is by grace alone that we stand before God with hope in Christ. Were we to hope in ourselves—in our moral works and religious ceremony—we would be altogether hopeless and lost. Knowing that we are chosen by God’s grace, we confess, as does Paul, that we cannot be saved by works. If we were also saved by works, then God’s grace would not be grace at all. At best, it would be a partial gift, one that we would have to add something to in order to make it effective. Thanks be to God that his gift is completely effective through the work of Christ, and needs no work of our own to complete his sufficient grace.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for saving me without any help from me. 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.

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 Sun, 03 Oct 21 00:00:00 -0500

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John 1:9-13

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law

Lastly, readers are reminded that the adversaries give the worst advice to godly consciences when they teach that forgiveness of sins is earned by works, because the conscience that seeks the forgiveness of sins through works cannot be confident that the work will satisfy God. It is always tormented and continually devises other works and other acts of worship until it finally despairs. This course is described by Paul in Romans 4:5 where he proves that the promise of righteousness is not obtained by our works since we could never affirm that we had a reconciled God. For the law always accuses. Therefore the promise would be in vain and uncertain. He concludes that the promise of the forgiveness of sins and righteousness is received by faith, not through works. This is the true, simple, and genuine meaning of Paul. It offers the greatest consolation to godly consciences, and shows the glory of Christ, who was surely given to us so that we may have grace, righteousness, and peace through him.

Pulling It Together: How may we know that we are forgiven of our sins, reborn, and are now children of God? Can this be determined because one has always lived correctly? Who has accomplished such a great feat but Christ alone? The conscience that depends upon morality and religious ceremony will always be troubled. For as soon as it imagines that it is right with God, it does some wrong or thinks an evil thought. It then begins to seek some other work to make itself right with God again. Works are an uncertain and false avenue to righteousness before God. Yet there is an altogether sure way to know that one has been made righteous with God, since God himself has provided that one way. All who receive Jesus Christ, the Light of the World, are given the right to be the children of God. This is not accomplished through the will and industry of human nature. It is apprehended solely through faith in the Christ of God.

Prayer: O Word of God incarnate, I praise you for the radiance of the Living Word, and long to see you face to face. 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 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 Sat, 02 Oct 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for online jigsaw.

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John 15:5–8

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Yet Peter says that hearts are purified by faith (Acts 15:9). When this entire passage is examined, it presents a meaning that harmonizes with the rest of Scripture—that if hearts are cleansed, and then alms are added outwardly, that is, all the works of love, they are then entirely clean, within and without. Why is the entire discourse not given? There are many parts of the argument, some which command faith, and others works. An honest reader would not pick out the commands concerning works and omit the passages about faith.

Pulling It Together: We are to produce fruit in keeping with repentance (Matt 3:8; Luke 3:8). Yet we do not pin our hope of salvation upon these works. The old hymn by Edward Mote says, “Our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness.” To that we might add that we trust in nothing more. The fruits of repentance show that we have faith (James 2:18). All the while, we must trust in God for salvation through Christ alone, and in his Holy Spirit for the sap that produces the fruit.

Prayer: May your will be done in me, Lord, so that my life may yield the fruit of your love. 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.

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 Fri, 01 Oct 21 00:00:00 -0500

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John 13:4–10

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

The adversaries misuse the universal particle “all.” Christ adds this conclusion to both clauses. All things will be clean to you if you are clean within and outwardly give alms. He indicates that outward cleanness is to be referred to works commanded by God instead of to human traditions such as the washings were at that time, or in our own time, the daily sprinkling of water, the clothing of monks, the distinctions of food, and similar acts of ostentation. But the adversaries distort the meaning by sophistically transferring the universal particle to only one part: "All things will be clean to those having given alms."

Pulling It Together: All things are clean to you if you are clean within and without, bathed on the inside and the outside, washed in faith and in action. Indeed, if you have been cleansed within by God, then your outward works will spring from that cleanness. Those works do not cleanse since one is already clean. The person who is clean does not do things in order to become clean. This would be like a person who steps from the shower in order to wash the hands. That person’s hands are already clean, yet their fear of germs drives them to wash again and again, though they are already clean.

If you have been cleansed by the word of Christ (John 15:3), you are already clean. You do not need to do things to become clean. Instead, because you are clean, you do clean works. As we go through life doing good works in Christ’s name, we must remember that he has already cleansed us within. Our good works do not make us clean, so they should not be done with that intention. Daily repentance and dependence upon God through faith in Christ keeps us clean. 

Prayer: Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, Lord, and cleanse me from my sin. 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.

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 Thu, 30 Sep 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for jigsaw puzzle.

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Matthew 23:25-26

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

When this passage is considered in context, it shows that faith is required. Christ rebukes the Pharisees for thinking that they are cleansed before God and justified by frequent ablutions. Just so, some Pope or another said that water sprinkled with salt sanctifies and cleanses people, and the gloss says that it cleanses from minor sins. These were also the opinions of the Pharisees. Christ reproved this counterfeit cleansing, teaching instead a double cleanness: one internal, the other external. He admonished them to be cleansed inwardly, and added concerning outward cleanness, “Give for alms those things which are within; and behold, everything is clean for you.”

Pulling It Together: If you are not clean on the inside, your outside will never be clean, despite regular religious washings. These outward ceremonies do not cleanse the person who is unclean within. How does one cleanse the inside? One cannot. Instead, you must call out to God for cleansing. “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Psa 51:10). This happens when one has faith in God instead of in ceremonies and other works. He is the only one who can cleanse the inside. “I will cleanse them from all the guilt of their sin against me” (Jer 33:8). When the inside is clean, your works will spring from faith instead of a desire to be cleansed by your actions. Then, everything is clean for you. 

Prayer: Wash me, O Lord, and I will be whiter than snow. Amen. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Wed, 29 Sep 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for online jigsaw.

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Luke 11:37-41

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Luke 11:41 is also cited in a mutilated form. “But give for alms those things which are within; and behold, everything is clean for you.” Our opponents have callous ears. Therefore, we must state time and again that the Gospel of Christ must be added to the preaching of the law, that good works please God because of Christ. Yet, they exclude Christ, teaching everywhere that justification is earned by works of the law.

Pulling It Together: Common sense informs us that giving from the heart means one expects to gain nothing from the gift. When one gives from within, out of the righteousness of faith, it blesses the needy while honoring and pleasing God. God does not want us to give because we think that by giving we have earned his favor and merited forgiveness of sin. Rather, because we have faith in the justification that Christ earned for us, we may then give cheerfully, giving thanks for God’s own great gift to us in his Son. 

Prayer: Cleanse me with your Spirit, God, so that I may be truly clean. 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.

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 Tue, 28 Sep 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for online jigsaw.

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Titus 3:4-8

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

The address of Tobit, regarded as a whole, “Be mindful of the Lord, thy God, all thy days” (Tobit 4:5), and later, “Bless the Lord, thy God, always, and desire of Him that thy ways be directed” (Tobit 4:19), shows that faith is required before alms. These activities properly belong to that faith of which we speak, that believes God is reconciled because of his mercy, and that wishes to be justified, sanctified, and governed by God. But our adversaries, ingenious men, choose mangled sentences in order to deceive those who are unskilled. Then they attach something from their own opinions. Entire passages are to be considered, because according to the common practice, it is unbecoming to judge or reply to any single clause unless the entire law is considered. Passages, when considered in context, frequently produce their own interpretation.

Pulling It Together: If we only read part of verse 8, we may end up believing good works are the point, that we must “be careful to devote [ourselves] to good works” (Titus 3:8). Yet, if we read the context of that partial verse, we discover that it is not our works that save us. “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy” (Titus 3:5). Having been redeemed, we are now to produce fruit that is in keeping with people who have believed in Christ. There is no opinion here; the passage interprets itself. We must be mindful to always interpret a passage with the text that surrounds that verse. 

Prayer: Open my mind, Lord, that I may understand your Word. 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.

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 Mon, 27 Sep 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for online jigsaw.

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John 8:31-32

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

God is pleased by those alms that follow reconciliation or justification—not those that precede. Therefore, almsgiving does not free from sin and death ex opere operato. Rather, as we have said above concerning repentance—that we ought to embrace faith and its fruits—so here we must say concerning alms, that it is the entire newness of life saves. The giving of alms is an exercise of that faith which receives the forgivenesss of sins and overcomes death while it exercises itself more and more and becomes stronger through these exercises of faith. We also grant that alms earn many blessings from God, such as the lessening of punishments, and a defense against the dangers of sins and of death, as we have said a little before concerning repentance in general.

Pulling It Together: Our works are not good works—they do not please God—unless they are done in faith. They are not good works, no matter how fine they may seem to us, if they are done expecting some favor from God merely because of the deed that has been done. Works, such as giving to the needy, please God because they are done by believers. Yet, these acts cannot overcome death, hell, the devil, and sin, or provide peace for the troubled conscience. These only occur through faith in Christ.

Yet the exercise of faith, the doing of good works, will increase faith. Jesus teaches that those who obey his commands (John 15:14) and live in his word (John 8:31) are those friends of his who are set free from sin, death, and the devil. So, true faith motivates good works, and those good works make faith stronger while fortifying the peace we enjoy in Christ Jesus.  

Prayer: Help me, O Lord, to continue in your word until my last breath. 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.

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 Sun, 26 Sep 21 00:00:00 -0500

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Hebrews 13:15-16

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Even the statement in Tobit 4:11 ought to be understood in the same way. “Alms free from every sin and from death.” We will not say that this is hyperbole, though it ought to be understood in this way so that Christ is not robbed of glory. For it is his prerogative to free from sin and death. We must come back to the rule that without Christ the teaching of the law is unprofitable.

Pulling It Together: Those who trust in Christ ought to sacrifice. We no longer sacrifice animals as was done under the Old Covenant. Instead, because Christ is the once-for-all sacrifice for sin (Heb 10:14), those living under the New Covenant are to offer sacrifices of praise to God and good works for their neighbors. These sacrifices do not save, justify, or take away sins. Christ has already done that for us and for the world. Nevertheless, our sacrifices please God if they are done in faith, believing that Christ alone is the atonement for our sins, and that we offer the sacrifices of worship and good works only to please him.

Prayer: Lord, open my lips to give you thanks and sing your praise. 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.

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. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions http://www.solapublishing.com/news_feedback/summaries.html Sat, 25 Sep 21 00:00:00 -0500 Click for online jigsaw.

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John 3:16-21

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law 

Yet Christ often connects the promise of the forgiveness of sins to good works. He does not mean that good works are a satisfaction, for they follow reconciliation, but he connects the promise and work for two other reasons. One is because good fruits must necessarily follow. Therefore he reminds us that if good fruits do not follow, the repentance is hypocritical and feigned. The other reason is because we have need of external signs of so great a promise. A fearful conscience needs manifold consolation. Baptism and the Lord's Supper are signs that continually admonish, cheer, and encourage despairing minds to believe the more firmly that their sins are forgiven. The same promise is written and portrayed in good works, so that these works may admonish us to believe more firmly. Those who do not produce good works are not aroused to believe but despise these promises. Yet, the faithful embrace them and rejoice that they have signs and testimonies of so great a promise. Accordingly, they exercise themselves in these signs and testimonies. Just as the Lord's Supper does not justify us ex opere operato, without faith, so alms do not justify us without faith, ex opere operato.

Pulling It Together: The Father sent his Son into the world to save sinners from the condemnation of sin and death. When people have faith in God’s sacrifice for their sin, they are saved, justified, and reborn. Having been born again, they become citizens of God’s kingdom (John 3:3). They now live in this world as though in the heavenly kingdom. They are to act differently than other people of this world. Though they will never keep the law and do good works perfectly in this life, they are to try since they are now citizens of the new kingdom. These efforts, however, do not save and justify, for God has already granted them rebirth through faith in Christ. These works—and the unflagging desire to please God—are a sign that he has begun something in us and will accomplish it on that great day (Phil 1:6).

Prayer: Heavenly Father, finish in me what you began, through the power of Christ’s Spirit. Amen. 

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