From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning the Mass
In their Confutation our opponents make a big deal about the desolation of churches, namely, that the altars stand unadorned, without candles and images. They regard these trifles as the beauty of the churches. It is a far different desolation that Daniel means (Dan 11:31; 12:11): ignorance of the gospel.
Pulling It Together
The desolating sacrilege that Daniel referred to in chapters 11 and 12 are not about decorations, ceremony, and other external matters. God is instead, teaching us internal, spiritual matters through Daniel’s prophecy: to keep faith, to keep the true religion, not replacing it with paganism or anything else. This is always the danger in God’s Church. Those who seek to do the Lord’s will, those who would obey God rather than man (Acts 5:29), are under attack by people and the devil. This attack is more often than not, subtle. The teaching of traditions and ceremonies and the works one must do in order to be right with God are an ongoing way that God-fearing folks are led away from Christ. When they begin to trust in their own works instead of having faith in Christ’s work, the desolation has begun. This is the great sacrilege: that we place our confidence in things rather than in God. The beauty of the Bride of Christ, the Church, is not her adornment but her heart. Christ must ever be her heart, else the desolation is complete.
Prayer: Give me your pure heart, O Lord, that I may see you ever before me. Amen.
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Reading and Discussion of Luther's Catechisms 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, each presented in a question and discussion format.