From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Love and the Fulfilling of the Law
Because no works calm the conscience, they contrived new works in addition to God's commands. The people of Israel had seen the prophets sacrificing on high places. The examples of the saints moved the minds of those who hoped by similar works to obtain grace as those saints obtained it. Therefore the people began to imitate this work with remarkable zeal, in order that by such a work they might earn the forgiveness of sins, grace, and righteousness. But the prophets had been sacrificing on high places, not so these works might merit the forgiveness of sins and grace, but because they taught on these places and, accordingly, presented there a testimony of their faith. The people had heard that Abraham had sacrificed his son. Therefore, in order to appease God by a most cruel and difficult work, they also put their sons to death. But Abraham did not sacrifice his son with the opinion that this work was a price and propitiatory work for the sake of which he was accounted righteous.
Pulling It Together: In 1920, the farmers and ranchers of a small town in southern Texas quit working. For one year, they all laid off work and built a brand new Lutheran Church. What a sacrifice! A year of wages for dozens of families was forfeited so that the next generation could worship the Lord God. Surely, some of those people thought, “How will we get by? How will we live?” That is when a word comes to the faithful: “The Lord will provide.”
Did they earn God’s favor and grace through a year of hard work? No. Did the sacrifice of their livelihood reconcile them to God? No. Did the sacrifice of praise in the new church building merit God’s forgiveness? No. But you can bet the people in the area heard about it and talked. Such a great testimony to the faith of a people does not go unnoticed—by people or by God. Yet their sacrifice did not merit God’s grace—nor do our sacrifices and service. For God has graciously provided a Lamb who takes away the sins of the world for those who have faith in him.
Prayer: Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, grant us peace. Amen.
The kind of church we see in the New Testament is different from what most modern people imagine when they think of “going to church.” Experience Life Together: Experiencing House-Church Ministry, by Rev. Tom Hilpert, is a 15-week house-church curriculum designed for pastors, lay leaders, and churches interested in getting a taste for what church in the home is really like. Whether referred to as a house-church, organic church, alternative church, or cell church, this material applies well to any group that wants to experience Christian worship in the context of a small group meeting within the homes of the participants.