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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
The Large Catechism – part 80

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From the Word: All the prophets bear witness to him, that through his name everyone who believes on him receives forgiveness of sins. (Acts 10:43)

From the ConfessionsThe Large Catechism, The Ten Commandments

The Second Commandment

You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

Here you have an explanation of the essence of the entire commandment. With this understanding, the question that has troubled many teachers is easily solved: why swearing is prohibited in the gospel when Christ, St. Paul, and other saints often swore. In brief, here is the explanation. We are not to swear in support of evil, that is, of falsehood, and where there is no need or use. Yet, we should swear for the support of good, and for the advantage of our neighbor. It is a truly good work by which God is praised, truth and justice are established, falsehood is refuted, peace is made among people, obedience is rendered, and quarrels are settled. In this way, God himself interposes and separates between right and wrong, and good and evil.

Pulling It Together: The worst way to take God’s name in vain, is to say or believe that favor from God is received in one’s own name, by his own reputation—in other words, by the merits of what he does. To stake your forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life on religious devotion, good deeds, or anything other than Christ alone, is to claim God’s promises on your own will, on your own reputation. It makes these matters an equation of Christ plus something else: Christ + religious devotion, Christ + good deeds. This is not the gospel. The gospel says Christ alone is the sum of forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life. To swear something else as truth and gospel, is false and evil. You are free to assert truth to be true; only swear to the greatest truth, and you will have used God’s name properly. 

Prayer: I believe in you alone, Lord , for all good. Amen.

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Learning the Lord's Prayer teaches the Lord's Prayer according to the pattern of Luther's Small Catechism, and is recommended for the Second Grade Level. Each week focuses on a specific Bible story which illustrates the theme, with additional references from Scripture and Luther's Small Catechism – Children's Version

Teacher's Guide

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