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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Concerning Human Traditions in the Church – part 23

Photograph by Bruce Shaw  • Index of posts

Galatians 5:1–7

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Human Traditions in the Church 

Nor do bishops have the authority to institute rites as though they justified or were necessary for justification. In the apostolic challenge, “Why do you make trial of God” (Acts 15:10), Peter declares that laying this burden on the Church is a great sin. Paul forbids the Galatians to submit to bondage again (Gal 5:1). The ceremonies of the law were necessary for a time. But the will of the apostles is that liberty remain in the Church, so that no services of the law or traditions be considered necessary. For if people think that these services merit justification, or are necessary for justification, the righteousness of faith is obscured.

Pulling It Together: Christ alone has the authority to institute rites in the Church that justify, reconcile, and forgive. Why is it though, that the Church or its bishops cannot establish these ceremonies? Rites that promise the grace of God depend upon the Word of God. Since God alone can make these gracious promises, he alone has the authority to institute rites that convey his grace. Christ has done this in Baptism and Holy Communion. All other rites are human institutions that do not have the authority to establish the rite, or the power to fulfill the promise.

Prayer: Help me to run the race well, Lord, depending upon you until the finish line. Amen.

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

Teacher's Guide

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