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From the Confessions: The Augsburg Confession
Concerning the Power of Bishops
Therefore, the powers of the Church and secular government must not be confused. The power of the Church has its own commission to teach the gospel and to administer the Sacraments. Let it not occupy the office of another, nor switch the kingdoms of this world, nor abolish the laws of civil rulers, nor get rid of lawful obedience, nor interfere with judgments concerning civil ordinances or contracts. Let it not dictate laws to civil rulers concerning the order of the Commonwealth. As Christ says, “My kingship is not of this world” (John 18:36) and “who made me a judge or divider over you” (Luke 12:14)? Paul also says, “But our commonwealth is in heaven” (Phil 3:20) and “the weapons of our warfare are not worldly but have divine power to destroy strongholds” (2Cor 10:4).
This is how our teachers separate the duties of these two powers, insisting that both be honored and acknowledged as gifts and blessings of God.
Pulling It Together: Perhaps a bishop would desire to rule in secular matters so that justice and fairness would be certain. He might also think that if he made the laws, then God's will would be accomplished. But this is not the way of Christ's Church. Instead, the Church prays that God's will would be done (Matt 6:10). We do not make his will happen; God does. Some might say that this spiritual approach accomplishes little, if anything. Better, they say, to enter the political arena and get things done. In God's truth, these things are better left to the secular authorities that God has ordained. The Church has been charged with other matters: to preach the Word, administer the Sacraments, and pray. Though it may not feel like it, these have been and continue to be the instruments of greatest effect. More good is accomplished by the Church faithfully and sincerely praying our Lord's prayer than we can imagine. Powers are kept at bay and the kingdom of Christ is advanced every time we pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
Prayer: Heavenly Father, make your name holy in my life and advance your kingdom, making your will to be fulfilled here on earth like it is in heaven. Amen.
Lord, Teach Us to Pray is a eight-session curriculum on prayer intended for youth. Based on the themes of the Lord’s Prayer, it uses a Bible Study format, with each lesson including multiple Scripture texts along with the related section of Luther’s Small Catechism. A section entitled “About Prayer” teaches students helpful items about a solid prayer life and a prayer assignment for the coming week. A major goal of this material is to help kids experience prayer, and practice it in a variety of ways.
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