This Bible study examines Augsburg Confession article XXIV. The Mass.
Therefore God was not concerned about the circumcision, but about the humiliation of proud nature and reason. 4. So we also have baptism in the New Testament, in order that we should be buried in the water, and believe that we are thereby cleansed from sins and saved; also, that Christ’s body \ is in the bread of the altar; also, that we worship the crucified man as Lord and God. All this is immeasurably far above, and contrary to, reason. So the works and words of God are all contrary to reason, and this, in turn, is also contrary to God and recoils at the sign that is spoken against. Before men it was a very foolish speech, when Noah built the ark and said, the world would be flooded. So Lot must needs have been a fool, when he said, Sodom and Gomorrah would perish. Moses and Aaron were fools before King Pharaoh. In short, God’s Word and his preachers must be fools, as St. Paul says, 1 Cor. 1, 21. In all this God seeks nothing but this humility, that man bring his reason into captivity and be subject to divine truth. Abraham and his seed received the foolish rite of circumcision, in order that by it they should give glory to God and suffer him alone to be wise. (Luther’s Church Postil, V. 1.1, #3-4, p. 309-310).
For they, having rejected and being unable to understand the Ten Commandments, preach much about the grace of Christ, yet they strengthen and comfort only those who remain in their sins, telling them not to fear and be terrified by sins, since they are all removed by Christ. They see and yet they let the people go on in their public sins, without any renewal or reformation of their lives. Thus it becomes quite evident that they truly fail to understand the faith and Christ, and thereby abrogate both when they preach about it. How can he speak lightly about the works of the Holy Spirit in the first table—about comfort, grace, forgiveness of sins—who does not heed or practice the works of the Holy Spirit in the second table, which he can understand and experience, while he has never attempted or experienced those of the first table? Therefore it is certain that they neither have nor understand Christ or the Holy Spirit, and their talk is nothing but froth on the tongue, and they are as already said, true Nestoriuses and Eutycheses, who confess or teach Christ in the premise, in the substance, and yet deny him in the conclusion or idiomata; that is, they teach Christ and yet destroy him through their teaching. (Luther’s Works, v.41, p.147)
This Bible study examines Augsburg Confession article XXIII. The Marriage of Priests.
Quiz #14 (blue sheet): Quiz-14-for-Dec-22-Augsburg-Confession-Article-23.pdf
Overhead 1: AC-articles-22-23.pdf
Overhead 2: Cardinal-Sarah.pdf
Overhead 3: 1-Corinthians-7.pdf
Here then we have these two, the faith and the Gospel, that these and nothing else are to be preached throughout Christendom. Let us now see who are to be the preachers and who the learners. The preachers are to be angels, that is, God’s messengers, who are to lead a heavenly life, are to be constantly engaged with God’s Word that they under no circumstances preach the doctrine of men. It is a most incongruous thing to be God’s messenger and not to further God’s message. Angelus means a messenger, and Luke calls him God’s messenger (Angelus Domini)….
55. There is no more terrible plague, misfortune or cause for distress upon earth than a preacher who does not preach God’s Word; of whom, alas, the world today is full; and yet they think they are pious and do good when indeed their whole work is nothing but murdering souls, blaspheming God and setting up idolatry, so that it would be much better for them if they were robbers, murderers, and the worst scoundrels, for then they would know that they are doing wickedly. But now they go along under spiritual names and show, as priest, bishop, pope, and are at the same time ravening wolves in sheeps’ clothing, and it would be well if no one ever heard their preaching. 56. The learners are shepherds, poor people out in the fields. (Luther’s Church Postil, V. 1.1, #54-56, p. 153-154).
O THOU Who art great and highly to be praised: Spread abroad the faith of Thy Church into all realms, to the end, that as in all its degrees Thou art acknowledged to be GOD, Thou mayest also be praised in the united devotion of her members; receive of Thy mercy, her prayers, and in the midst of the tempests of this world, be Thou her watchful Pilot, so that we may by Thy mercy enter that City which Thou hast founded for ever and ever, and may be received therein, and may tell within its towers Thy marvelous works; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. (Oremus, 1925, p.68).
He lies in the manger. Notice here that nothing but Christ is to be preached throughout the whole world. What is the manger but the congregations of Christians in the churches to hear the preaching? We are the beasts before this manger; and Christ is laid before us upon whom we are to feed our souls. Whosoever goes to hear the preaching, goes to this manger; but it must be the preaching of Christ. Not all mangers have Christ neither do all sermons teach the true faith. There was but one manger in Bethlehem in which this treasure lay, and besides it was an empty and despised manger in which there was no fodder. Therefore the preaching of the Gospel is divorced from all other things, it has and teaches nothing besides Christ; should anything else be taught, then it is no more the manger of Christ, but the manger of war horses full of temporal things and of fodder for the body. , 51. But in order to show that Christ in swaddling clothes represents the faith in the Old Testaments, we will here give several examples…” (Luther’s Church Postil, V. 1.1, #50-51, p. 151-152).
Picture: The hand-carved wooden altar of Historic Trinity Evangelical Lutheran dates from 1896.
In the second place it is pointed out by the fact that Christ was born at midnight, by which he indicates that all the world is in darkness as to its future and that Christ cannot be known by mere reason, but that knowledge concerning him must be revealed from heaven.
38. In the third place, it is shown by the light that shined around the shepherds, which teaches that here there must be an entirely different light than that of human reason. Moreover, when St. Luke says, Gloria Dei, the glory of God, shone around them, he calls that light a brightness, or the glory of God, Why does he say that? In order to call attention to the mystery and reveal the character of the Gospel. For while the Gospel is a heavenly light that teaches nothing more than Christ, in whom God’s grace is given to us and all human merit is entirely cast aside, it exalts only the glory of God, so that henceforth no one may be able to boast of his own power; but must give God the glory, that it is of his love and goodness alone that we are saved through Christ. (Luther’s Church Postil, V. 1.1, #36-38, p. 147-148).
Picture: Noah’s Ark resting on a hill as the waters of the deep break forth.
O CHRIST, the Word of the Father, by Whom all things were created: Keep, we beseech Thee, Thy Church gathered together from the various nations of the Gentiles: that while we love Thee with a pure heart, we may come to the joys of Thine eternal Kingdom; Who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. (Oremus, 1925, p.67-68).
Now it is clear that nature could not have discovered such a doctrine, nor could all the ingenuity, reason and wisdom of the world have thought it out. Who would be able to discover by means of his own efforts, that faith in Christ makes us one with Christ and gives us for our own all that is Christ’s? Who would be able to discover that no works are of any value except those intended to benefit our neighbor? Nature teaches no more than that which is wrought by the law. Therefore it falls back upon its own work, so that this one thinks he fulfills the commandment by founding some institution or order, that one by fasting, this one by the kind of clothes he wears, that one by going on pilgrimages; this one in this manner, that one in that manner; and yet all their works are worthless, for no one is helped by them. Such is the case at the present time in which the whole world is blinded and is going astray through the doctrines and works of men, so that faith and love along with the Gospel have perished.
36. Therefore the Gospel properly apprehended, is a supernatural sermon and light which makes known Christ only. This is pointed out first of all by the fact that it was not a man that made it known to others, but that an angel came down from heaven and made known to the shepherds the birth of Jesus, while no human being knew anything about it. (Luther’s Church Postil, V. 1.1, #35-36, p. 147)
Picture: This side of the baptismal font depicts Psalm 42, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.” We are satisfied with our Lord’s baptismal provisions. When downcast, we hope in God!