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A SHORT EXPOSITION of Dr. MARTIN LUTHER’S SMALL CATECHISM.

In the translation authorized by the Evangelical Lutheran Synodical Conference of North America.

Copyright, 1912, by CONCORDIA PUBLISHING HOUSE, St. Louis, Mo.
(Now in Public Domain)

ENCHIRIDION.

The Small Catechism of Dr. MARTIN LUTHER.

FOR PASTORS AND PREACHERS.

PREFACE.

MARTIN LUTHER TO ALL FAITHFUL, PIOUS PASTORS AND PREACHERS: GRACE, MERCY, AND PEACE IN CHRIST JESUS, OUR LORD!

The deplorable destitution which I recently observed, during a visitation of the churches, has impelled and constrained me to prepare this Catechism or Christian Doctrine in such a small and simple form. Alas, what manifold misery I beheld! The common people, especially in the villages, know nothing at all of Christian doctrine; and many pastors are quite unfit and incompetent to teach. Yet all are called Christians, have been baptized, and enjoy the use of the Sacraments, although they know neither the Lord’s Prayer, nor the Creed, nor the Ten Commandments, and live like the poor brutes and irrational swine. Still they have, now that the Gospel has come, learned to abuse all liberty in a masterly manner.

O ye bishops! how will ye ever render account to Christ for having so shamefully neglected the people, and having never for a moment exercised your office! May the judgment not overtake you! You command communion in one kind, and urge your human ordinances; but never ask, in the meantime, whether the people know the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed, the Ten Commandments, or any part of God’s Word. Woe, woe unto you everlastingly! Therefore I entreat you all, for God’s sake, my dear brethren who are pastors and preachers, to devote yourselves heartily to your office, and have pity upon the people who are committed to your charge. Help us to inculcate the Catechism upon them, especially upon the young. Let those who are not able to do better take these tables and forms and set them word for word before the people, in the manner following:

First, the minister should above all things avoid the use of different texts and forms of the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed, the Sacraments, etc. Let him adopt one form and adhere to it, using it one year as the other; for young and ignorant people must be taught one certain text and form, and will easily become confused if we teach thus to-day and otherwise next year, as if we thought of making improvements. In this way all effort and labor will be lost. This our honored fathers well understood, who all used the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed, the Ten Commandments in one and the same manner. Therefore we also should so teach these forms to the young and inexperienced as not to change a syllable, nor set them forth and recite them one year differently from the other.

Hence, choose whatever form you think best, and adhere to it forever. When you preach among the learned and judicious, you may show your art, and set these things forth with as many flourishes, and turn them as skillfully as you wish; but among the young adhere to one and the same fixed form and manner, and teach them, first of all, the text of the Ten Commandments, the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, etc., so that they can say it after you word for word, and commit it to memory. But those who are unwilling to learn it should be told that they deny Christ and are no Christians; neither should they be admitted to the Sacrament, accepted as sponsors at baptism, nor be accorded the exercise of Christian liberty; but they are simply to be remanded to the pope and his officials, yea, to the devil himself. Parents and employers should also refuse them meat and drink, and give them to understand that the prince will drive such rude fellows from the country. For although we cannot and should not force anyone to believe, yet we should lead and urge the masses to perceive what those consider right and wrong among whom they live and find their sustenance. Whoever would live in a city and enjoy its privileges, should know and observe its laws, whether he believe or be at heart a rogue or knave.

Secondly, when they have well learned the text, teach them the sense also, that they may know what it means. Again take the form of these tables or some other short fixed form of your choice, and adhere to it without the change of a single syllable, as was said of the text; and take your time to it; for it is not necessary to take up all the parts at once, but take one after the other. When they well understand the First Commandment, proceed to the Second, and thus continue; otherwise, they will be overburdened, and be able to retain nothing well.

Thirdly, after you have taught them this short Catechism, take up the Large Catechism, and impart to them a richer and fuller knowledge; dwell on each Commandment, Petition, and Part, with its various works, uses, benefits, dangers, and harm, as you may find these abundantly pointed out in many books treating of these subjects; and especially give most attention to the Commandment or Part which is most neglected among your people. For example, the Seventh Commandment, which forbids stealing, you must particularly enforce among mechanics and merchants, and also among farmers and servants; for among such people all kinds of unfaithfulness and thieving are frequent. Again, you must urge the Fourth Commandment among children and the common people, that they may be quiet, faithful, obedient, peaceable, always adducing frequent examples from the Scriptures to show how God punished or blessed such persons.

Especially should you here urge civil rulers and parents to govern well and educate children for service in schools, showing them their duty in this regard, and the greatness of their sin if they neglect it; for by such neglect they overthrow and destroy both the kingdom of God and that of this world, and show themselves to be the worst foes both of God and man. Dwell on the great harm they do if they will not help to educate children for the ministry, clerkships, and other offices, etc., and on the terrible punishment God will visit upon them for it. It is necessary to preach of these things; for parents and rulers sin unspeakably in them, and the devil has a horrible object in view.

Lastly, since the people are freed from the tyranny of the pope, they no longer desire to go to the Sacrament but despise it. It is necessary to be urgent on this point, remembering, however, that we are to force no one to believe, or to receive the Sacrament, nor to fix any law, time, or place for it, but so to preach that they will be urged of their own accord, without our law, and will, as it were, compel us pastors to administer the Sacrament. This is done by telling them that if a person does not seek nor desire the Lord’s Supper at least some four times a year, it is to be feared that he despises the Sacrament and is not a Christian, just as he is not a Christian who refuses to believe or to hear the Gospel. For Christ did not say, Omit this, or, Despise this; but, “This do ye, as oft as ye drink it,” etc. Truly, He wants it done, and by no means neglected or despised. “This do ye,” is His command.

Whoever does not highly prize the Sacrament, thus shows that he has no sin, no flesh, no devil, no world, no death, no danger, no hell; that is, he does not believe that they exist, although he is in them over head and ears, and is doubly the devil’s. On the other hand, he needs no grace, life, Paradise, heaven, Christ, God, nor anything good; for if he believed that he has so much that is evil, and needs so much that is good, he would not thus neglect the Sacraments, by which such evil is remedied and so much good is bestowed. Neither would it be necessary to force him to the Sacrament by any law, but he would hasten to it of his own accord, and constrain himself, and compel you to administer it to him.

Therefore you need not make any law in this matter, as the pope does; only set forth clearly the benefit and harm, the necessity and use, the danger and blessing, connected with this Sacrament, and the people will come of themselves, without your compulsion. But if they do not come, let them alone, telling them that they are of the devil, as they do not regard nor feel their great need and God’s gracious help. Should you, however, fail to urge this matter, or make a law or a bane of it, it is your fault if they despise the Sacrament. How could they be otherwise than slothful if you sleep and keep silence? Therefore look to it, ye pastors and preachers; our office is a different thing now from what it was under the pope; it has now become earnest and salutary. Hence it involves much more trouble and labor, danger and trial, and secures but little reward and gratitude in the world. But Christ Himself will be our reward if we labor faithfully. To this end may the Father of all grace help us, to whom be praise and thanks in eternity, through Christ, our Lord! Amen.

The Ten Commandments,

AS THE HEAD OF THE FAMILY SHOULD TEACH THEM IN ALL SIMPLICITY TO HIS HOUSEHOLD.

The First Commandment.

Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

What does this mean? Answer:

We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.

The Second Commandment.

Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord, thy God, in vain.

What does this mean? Answer:

We should fear and love God that we may not curse, swear, use witchcraft, lie, or deceive by His name, but call upon it in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks.

The Third Commandment.

Thou shalt sanctify the holy-day.

What does this mean? Answer:

We should fear and love God that we may not despise preaching and His Word, but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it.

The Fourth Commandment.

Thou shalt honor thy father and thy mother, that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.

What does this mean? Answer:

We should fear and love God that we may not despise our parents and masters, nor provoke them to anger, but give them honor, serve and obey them, and hold them in love and esteem.

The Fifth Commandment.

Thou shalt not kill.

What does this mean? Answer:

We should fear and love God that we may not hurt nor harm our neighbor in his body, but help and befriend him in every bodily need.

The Sixth Commandment.

Thou shalt not commit adultery.

What does this mean? Answer:

We should fear and love God that we may lead a chaste and decent life in word and deed, and each love and honor his spouse.

The Seventh Commandment.

Thou shalt not steal.

What does this mean? Answer:

We should fear and love God that we may not take our neighbor’s money or goods, nor get them by false ware or dealing, but help him to improve and protect his property and business.

The Eighth Commandment.

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

What does this mean? Answer:

We should fear and love God that we may not deceitfully belie, betray, slander, nor defame our neighbor, but defend him, speak well of him, and put the best construction on everything.

The Ninth Commandment.

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house.

What does this mean? Answer:

We should fear and love God that we may not craftily seek to get our neighbor’s inheritance or house, nor obtain it by a show of right, but help and be of service to him in keeping it.

The Tenth Commandment.

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his man-servant, nor his maid-servant, nor his cattle, nor anything that is thy neighbor’s.

What does this mean? Answer:

We should fear and love God that we may not estrange, force, or entice away from our neighbor his wife, servants, or cattle, but urge them to stay and do their duty.

What does God say of all these Commandments? Answer:

He says thus: I the Lord, thy God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me, and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.

What does this mean? Answer:

God threatens to punish all that transgress these Commandments. Therefore we should fear His wrath, and not act contrary to them. But He promises grace and every blessing to all that keep these Commandments. Therefore we should also love and trust in Him, and willingly do according to His Commandments.

The Creed,

AS THE HEAD OF THE FAMILY SHOULD TEACH IT IN ALL SIMPLICITY TO HIS HOUSEHOLD.

The First Article.

OF CREATION.

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.

What does this mean? Answer:

I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members, my reason and all my senses, and still preserves them; also clothing and shoes, meat and drink, house and home, wife and children, fields, cattle, and all my goods; that He richly and daily provides me with all that I need to support this body and life; that He defends me against all danger, and guards and protects me from all evil; and all this purely out of fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me; for all which it is my duty to thank and praise, to serve and obey Him. This is most certainly true.

The Second Article.

OF REDEMPTION.

And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into hell; the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

What does this mean? Answer:

I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord, who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death, that I may be His own, and live under Him in His kingdom, and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, even as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity. This is most certainly true.

The Third Article.

OF SANCTIFICATION.

I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen.

What does this mean? Answer:

I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith; even as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith: in which Christian Church He daily and richly forgives all sins to me and all believers, and will at the last day raise up me and all the dead, and give unto me and all believers in Christ eternal life. This is most certainly true.

The Lord’s Prayer,

AS THE HEAD OP THE FAMILY SHOULD TEACH IT IN ALL SIMPLICITY TO HIS HOUSEHOLD.

Our Father who art in heaven.

What does this mean? Answer:

God would by these words tenderly invite us to believe that He is our true Father, and that we are His true children, so that we may with all boldness and confidence ask Him as dear children ask their dear father.

The First Petition.

Hallowed be Thy name.

What does this mean? Answer:

God’s name is indeed holy in itself, but we pray in this petition that it may be holy among us also.

How is this done? Answer:

When the Word of God is taught in its truth and purity, and we as the children of God also lead a holy life according to it. This grant us, dear Father in heaven. But he that teaches and lives otherwise than God’s Word teaches, profanes the name of God among us. From this preserve us, Heavenly Father.

The Second Petition.

Thy kingdom come.

What does this mean? Answer:

The kingdom of God comes indeed without our prayer, of itself; but we pray in this petition that it may come unto us also.

How is this done? Answer:

When our Heavenly Father gives us His Holy Spirit, so that by His grace we believe His holy Word and lead a godly life, here in time and hereafter in eternity.

The Third Petition.

Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

What does this mean? Answer:

The good and gracious will of God is done indeed without our prayer; but we pray in this petition that it may be done among us also.

How is this done? Answer:

When God breaks and hinders every evil counsel and will which would not let us hallow God’s name nor let His kingdom come, such as the will of the devil, the world, and our flesh, but strengthens and preserves us steadfast in His Word and faith unto our end. This is His gracious and good will.

The Fourth Petition.

Give us this day our daily bread.

What does this mean? Answer:

God gives daily bread indeed without our prayer, also to all the wicked; but we pray in this petition that He would lead us to know it, and to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving.

What, then, is meant by daily bread? Answer:

Everything that belongs to the support and wants of the body, such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, field, cattle, money, goods, a pious spouse, pious children, pious servants, pious and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, discipline, honor, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like.

What does this mean? Answer:

We pray in this petition, as the sum of all, that our Father in heaven would deliver us from every evil of body and soul, property and honor, and finally, when our last hour has come, grant us a blessed end, and graciously take us from this vale of tears to Himself in heaven.

Amen.

What does this mean? Answer:

That I should be certain that these petitions are acceptable to our Father in heaven, and heard; for He Himself has commanded us so to pray and has promised to hear us. Amen, Amen, that is, yea, yea, it shall be so.

The Sacrament of Holy Baptism,

AS THE HEAD OF THE FAMILY SHOULD TEACH IT IN ALL SIMPLICITY TO HIS HOUSEHOLD.

FIRST.

What is Baptism? Answer:

Baptism is not simple water only, but it is the water comprehended in God’s command and connected with God’s word.

Which is that word of God? Answer:

Christ, our Lord, says in the last chapter of Matthew: Go ye and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

SECONDLY.

What does Baptism give or profit? Answer:

It works forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare.

Which are such words and promises of God? Answer:

Christ, our Lord, says in the last chapter of Mark: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

THIRDLY.

How can water do such great things? Answer:

It is not the water indeed that does them, but the word of God which is in and with the water, and faith which trusts such word of God in the water. For without the word of God the water is simple water, and no baptism. But with the word of God it is a baptism, that is, a gracious water of life and a washing of regeneration in the Holy Ghost, as St. Paul says, Titus, chapter third:

By the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ, our Savior, that, being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful saying.

FOURTHLY.

What does such baptizing with water signify? Answer:

It signifies that the old Adam in us should, by daily contrition and repentance, be drowned and die with all sins and evil lusts and, again, a new man daily come forth and arise, who shall live before God in righteousness and purity forever.

Where is this written? Answer:

St. Paul says, Romans, chapter sixth: We are buried with Christ by baptism into death, that, like as He was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

The Office of the Keys,

AS THE HEAD OF THE FAMILY SHOULD TEACH IT IN ALL SIMPLICITY TO HIS HOUSEHOLD.

What is the Office of the Keys? Answer:

It is the peculiar church power which Christ has given to His Church on earth to forgive the sins of penitent sinners unto them, but to retain the sins of the impenitent as long as they do not repent.

Where is this written? Answer:

Thus writes the holy Evangelist John, chapter twentieth:

The Lord Jesus breathed on His disciples, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained.

What do you believe according to these words? Answer:

I believe that when the called ministers of Christ deal with us by His divine command, especially when they exclude manifest and impenitent sinners from the Christian congregation, and, again, when they absolve those who repent of their sins and are willing to amend, this is as valid and certain, in heaven also, as if Christ, our dear Lord, dealt with us Himself.

How the Unlearned Should be Taught to Confess.

What is Confession? Answer:

Confession embraces two parts: one is that we confess our sins; the other, that we receive absolution, or forgiveness, from the confessor,* as from God Himself, and in no wise doubt, but firmly believe, that by it our sins are forgiven before God in heaven.

  • or pastor.

What sins should we confess? Answer:

Before God we should plead guilty of all sins, even of those which we do not know, as we do in the Lord’s Prayer; but before the confessor we should confess those sins only which we know and feel in our hearts.

Which are these? Answer:

Here consider your station according to the Ten Commandments, whether you are a father, mother, son, daughter, master, mistress, servant; whether you have been disobedient, unfaithful, slothful; whether you have grieved any person by word or deed; whether you have stolen, neglected, or wasted aught, or done other injury.

Pray, give me a brief form of confession. Answer:

Say to the confessor, Reverend and dear Sir, I beseech you to hear my confession, and pronounce forgiveness to me, for God’s sake.

Proceed!

I, a poor sinner, confess myself before God guilty of all sins. Especially do I confess before you that I am a servant, etc., but, alas! I serve my master unfaithfully; for in this and in that I have not done what they commanded me; I have provoked them to anger and profane words, have been negligent and have not prevented injury, have been immodest in words and deeds, have quarreled with my equals, have murmured and used profane words against my mistress, etc, For all this I am sorry, and implore grace; I promise amendment.

A master or mistress may say:

Especially do I confess before you that I have not faithfully trained my children and household to the glory of God; I have used profane language, set a bad example by indecent words and deeds, have done my neighbor harm and spoken evil of him, have overcharged and given false ware and short measure; and whatever else he has done against God’s Commandments and his station, etc.

But if anyone does not find himself burdened with such or greater sins, he should not trouble himself on that account, nor seek or invent other sins, and thus make confession a torture, but simply mention one or two that you know, after this manner: Especially do I confess that I have once been profane; I have once used improper words; I have once neglected this or that, etc. Let that suffice.

But if you are conscious of none at all, which, however, is scarcely possible, then mention none in particular, but receive absolution upon the General Confession which you make before God to the confessor.

Then shall the confessor say:

God be merciful to thee, and strengthen thy faith. Amen.

Furthermore:

Dost thou believe that my forgiveness is God’s forgiveness?

Yes, I believe.

Then he shall say:

Be it unto thee as thou believest. And I, by the command of our Lord Jesus Christ, forgive thee thy sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Depart in peace.

Those, however, whose conscience is heavily burdened, or who are troubled and tempted, the confessor will know how to comfort and incite to faith with more passages of Scripture. This is designed merely to be a general form of confession for the unlearned.

The Sacrament of the Altar,

AS THE HEAD OF THE FAMILY SHOULD TEACH IT IN ALL SIMPLICITY TO HIS HOUSEHOLD.

What is the Sacrament of the Altar? Answer:

It is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, under the bread and wine, for us Christians to eat and to drink, instituted by Christ Himself.

Where is this written? Answer:

The holy Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and St. Paul, write thus:

Our Lord Jesus Christ, the same night in which He was betrayed, took bread; and when He had given thanks, He brake it, and gave it to His disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body, which is given for you. This do in remembrance of me.

After the same manner also He took the cup, when He had supped, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Take, drink ye all of it; this cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you for the remission of sins. This do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.

What is the benefit of such eating and drinking?

Answer:

That is shown us by these words, “Given, and shed for you for the remission of sins”; namely, that in the Sacrament forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation are given us through these words. For where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.

How can bodily eating and drinking do such great things? Answer:

It is not the eating and drinking, indeed, that does them, but the words here written, “Given, and shed for you for the remission of sins”; which words, besides the bodily eating and drinking, are the chief thing in the Sacrament; and he that believes these words has what they say and express, namely, the forgiveness of sins.

Who, then, receives such Sacrament worthily? Answer:

Fasting and bodily preparation is, indeed, a fine outward training; but he is truly worthy and well prepared who has faith in these words, “Given, and shed for you for the remission of sins.” But he that does not believe these words, or doubts, is unworthy and unprepared; for the words, “For you,” require all hearts to believe.

How the Head of the Family Should Teach His Household to Pray Morning and Evening.

Morning Prayer.

In the morning, when you get up, make the sign of the holy cross and say:

In the name of God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.

Then, kneeling or standing, repeat the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer. If you choose, you may also say this little prayer:

I thank Thee, my Heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Thy dear Son, that Thou hast kept me this night from all harm and danger; and I pray Thee that Thou wouldst keep me this day also from sin and every evil, that all my doings and life may please Thee. For into Thy hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Thy holy angel be with me, that the wicked foe may have no power over me. Amen.

Then go joyfully to your work, singing a hymn, like that on the Ten Commandments, or whatever your devotion may suggest.

Evening Prayer.

In the evening, when you go to bed, make the sign of the holy cross and say:

In the name of God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.

Then, kneeling or standing, repeat the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer. If you choose, you may also say this little prayer:

I thank Thee, my Heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Thy dear Son, that Thou hast graciously kept me this day; and I pray Thee that Thou wouldst forgive me all my sins where I have done wrong, and graciously keep me this night. For into Thy hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Thy holy angel be with me, that the wicked foe may have no power over me. Amen.

Then go to sleep at once and in good cheer.

How the Head of the Family Should Teach His Household to Ask a Blessing and Return Thanks.

Asking a Blessing.

The children and servants shall go to the table reverently, fold their hands, and say:

The eyes of all wait upon Thee, O Lord, and Thou givest them their meat in due season; Thou openest Thy hands and satisfiest the desire of every living thing.

Then shall be said the Lord’s Prayer and the following:

Lord God, Heavenly Father, bless us and these Thy gifts which we receive from Thy bountiful goodness, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Returning Thanks.

Also, after eating, they shall, in like manner, reverently and with folded hands say:

O give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good; for His mercy endureth forever. He giveth food to all flesh: He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry. He delighteth not in the strength of the horse. He taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man. The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear Him, in those that hope in His mercy.

Then shall be said the Lord’s Prayer and the following:

We thank Thee, Lord God, Heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, for all Thy benefits, who livest and reignest for ever and ever. Amen.

Table of Duties;

OR, CERTAIN PASSAGES OF SCRIPTURE FOR VARIOUS HOLY ORDERS AND ESTATES WHEREBY THESE ARE SEVERALLY TO BE ADMONISHED OF THEIR OFFICE AND DUTY.

To Bishops, Pastors, and Preachers.

A bishop must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach; not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; not a novice; holding fast the faithful Word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. 1 Tim. 3, 2. 3. 4. 6. Tit. 1, 9.

What the Hearers Owe to Their Pastors.

Eat and drink such things as they give; for the laborer is worthy of his hire. Luke 10, 7.

Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the Gospel should live of the Gospel. 1 Cor. 9, 14.

Let him that is taught in the Word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things. Be not deceived; God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. Gal. 6, 6. 7.

Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in the Word and doctrine. For the Scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn; and the laborer is worthy of his reward. 1 Tim. 5, 17. 18.

And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you; and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves. 1 Thess. 5, 12. 13.

Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves; for they watch for your souls as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief; for that is unprofitable for you. Hebr. 13, 17.

Of Civil Government.

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou, then, not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same; for he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid, for he beareth not the sword in vain; for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Rom. 13, 1-4.

Of Subjects.

Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s. Matt. 22, 21.

Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. For, for this cause pay ye tribute also; for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom, to whom custom; fear, to whom fear; honor, to whom honor. Rom. 13, 5-7.

I exhort therefore that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings, and for all that are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God, our Savior. 1 Tim. 2, 1-3.

Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work. Tit. 3, 1.

Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evil-doers, and for the praise of them that do well. 1 Pet. 2,13.14.

To Husbands.

Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers be not hindered. And be not bitter against them. 1 Pet. 3, 7. Col. 3, 19.

To Wives.

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands as unto the Lord. Eph. 5, 22.

Even as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord; whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement. 1 Pet. 3, 5. 6.

To Parents.

And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath, but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Eph. 6, 4.

To Children.

Children, obey your parents in the Lord; for this is right. Honor thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. Eph. 6, 1-3.

To Servants, Hired Men, and Laborers.

Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; not with eye-service, as men-pleasers, but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good will doing service as to the Lord, and not to men: knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. Eph. 6, 5-8.

To Masters and Mistresses.

And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening, knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with Him. Eph. 6, 9.

To the Young in General.

Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility; for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time. 1 Pet. 5, 5. 6.

To Widows.

Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day. But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth. 1 Tim. 5, 5. 6.

To All in Common.

Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Here in are comprehended all the commandments. Rom. 13, 9. And persevere in prayer for all men. 1 Tim. 2, 1.

Let each his lesson learn with care, And all the household well shall fare.

CHRISTIAN QUESTIONS, WITH THEIR ANSWERS, DRAWN UP BY DR. MARTIN LUTHER FOR THOSE WHO INTEND TO GO TO THE SACRAMENT.

After confession and instruction in the Ten Commandments, Creed, Lord’s Prayer, and the sacraments of Baptism and the Holy Supper, the confessor may ask, or one may ask himself:

1. Do you believe that you are a sinner? Answer:

Yes, I believe it; I am a sinner.

2. How do you know this? Answer:

From the Ten Commandments; these I have not kept.

3. Are you also sorry for your sins? Answer:

Yes, I am sorry that I have sinned against God.

4. What have you deserved of God by your sins? Answer:

His wrath and displeasure, temporal death, and eternal damnation. Rom. 6, 21. 23.

5. Do you also hope to be saved? Answer:

Yes, such is my hope.

6. In whom, then, do you trust? Answer:

In my dear Lord Jesus Christ.

7. Who is Christ? Answer:

The Son of God, true God and man.

8. How many Gods are there? Answer:

Only one; but there are three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

9. What, then, has Christ done for you that you trust in Him? Answer:

He died for me, and shed His blood for me on the cross for the forgiveness of sins.

10. Did the Father also die for you? Answer:

He did not; for the Father is God only, the Holy Ghost likewise; but the Son is true God and true man; He died for me and shed His blood for me.

11. How do you know this? Answer:

From the holy Gospel and from the words of the Sacrament, and by His body and blood given me as a pledge in the Sacrament.

12. How do those words read? Answer:

Our Lord Jesus Christ, the same night in which He was betrayed, took bread; and when He had given thanks, He brake it, and gave it unto His disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body, which is given for you. This do in remembrance of me.

After the same manner also He took the cup, when He had supped, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Take, drink ye all of it; this cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you for the remission of sins. This do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.

13. You believe, then, that the true body and blood of Christ are in the Sacrament? Answer:

Yes, I believe it.

14. What induces you to believe this? Answer:

The word of Christ, Take, eat, this is my body; Drink ye all of it, this is my blood.

15. What ought we to do when we eat His body and drink His blood, and thus receive the pledge? Answer:

We ought to show and remember His death and the shedding of His blood, as He taught us: This do, as oft as ye do it, in remembrance of me.

16. Why ought we to remember and show His death? Answer:

That we may learn to believe that no creature could make satisfaction for our sins but Christ, true God and man; and that we may learn to look with terror at our sins, and to regard them as great indeed, and to find joy and comfort in Him alone, and thus be saved through such faith

17. What was it that moved Him to die and make satisfaction for your sins? Answer:

His great love to His Father, and to me and other sinners, as it is written in John 14; Rom. 5; Gal. 2; Eph. 5.

18. Finally, why do you wish to go to the Sacrament? Answer:

That I may learn to believe that Christ died for my sin out of great love, as before said; and that I may also learn of Him to love God and my neighbor.

19. What should admonish and incite a Christian to receive the Sacrament frequently? Answer:

In respect to God, both the command and the promise of Christ the Lord should move him, and in respect to himself, the trouble that lies heavy on him, on account of which such command, encouragement, and promise are given.

20. But what shall a person do if he be not sensible of such trouble, and feel no hunger and thirst for the Sacrament? Answer:

To such a person no better advice can be given than that, in the first place, he put his hand into his bosom, and feel whether he still have flesh and blood, and that he, by all means, believe what the Scriptures say of it, in Gal. 5 and Rom. 7.

Secondly, that he look around to see whether he is still in the world, and keep in mind that there will be no lack of sin and trouble, as the Scriptures say, in John 15 and 16; 1 John 2 and 5.

Thirdly, he will certainly have the devil also about him, who with his lying and murdering, day and night, will let him have no peace within or without, as the Scriptures picture him, in John 8 and 16; 1 Pet. 5; Eph. 6; 2 Tim. 2.

NOTE.

These questions and answers are no child’s play, but are drawn up with great earnestness of purpose by the venerable and pious Dr. Luther for both young and old. Let each one take heed and likewise consider it a serious matter; for St. Paul says, to the Galatians, chapter sixth: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked.”

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WORD OF GOD

We believe that each and every word, as well as the entirety and whole, of the Holy Scriptures was given by inspiration of God and is therefore the true and unerring Word of God (2 Peter 1:21; 2 Timothy 3:16; 1 Corinthians 2:13; John 10:35; 17:17; 2 Samuel 23:1-2). We also believe that the Word of God has not been lost or corrupted, but has been faithfully preserved by God down through the centuries as a witness to all the nations (Psalm 119:89; Isaiah 40:8; I Peter 1:25; Matthew 24:14,35). We believe that it is still accurately recorded in the Hebrew and Greek texts and manuscripts commonly used and accepted by the Church down through the centuries and that it can be read and studied in faithful Bible translations such as the King James Version and the New King James Version. We reject and discourage the use of texts and translations of the Bible which are unfaithful and corrupt the Word of God (Deuteronomy 4:2; Jeremiah 23:28; Matthew 5:18-19; Revelation 22:18-19).

Since all of Holy Scripture is God’s true and unerring Word, we teach that the Bible is to be the source and judge of all Christian doctrine. What is not in accord with God’s Word is not to be taught as Christian doctrine (Isaiah 8:20; Jeremiah 23:28-32; Psalm 119:128; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Acts 17:11).

The Bible is also its own interpreter; thus, passage interpretations which are not in agreement with other clear passages of Holy Scripture are to be rejected (2 Peter 1:20-21; Isaiah 8:20).

We teach that the Bible is to be diligently studied and heard; for it reveals to mankind the only way of salvation, which is through faith in Christ Jesus, and it guides the Christian in living according to God’s Holy will (John 5:39; 20:31; 2 Timothy 3:14-17; Psalm 119:105).

GOD

We believe that there is only one true God (Isaiah 44:6; 1 Corinthians 8:4). This God (called the LORD or JEHOVAH) is one divine Being or Essence, but three distinct Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (thus the name, Triune or Three/One God), each being eternal and equal in power and majesty, because each Person is the LORD God (Deuteronomy 6:4; Matthew 28:19; 1 John 5:7; Isaiah 48:16-17; John 1:1; Colossians 2:9; 1 Corinthians 3:16; Hebrews 9:14; 1 Peter 4:14).

We believe that no one can worship or serve the Triune God except he believes that Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God and the Savior of mankind from sin and its consequences (John 3:18,36; 5:23; 14:6; 1 John 2:23; 5:11-12). Hence, all who deny the Trinity of God (that God is three Persons) or the Unity of God (that God is one divine Being), or who do not trust in Jesus Christ, the Son, for salvation, do not worship and serve the true God.

CREATION

We believe that the LORD God created the heavens, the earth, and all things in six normal-length days; that this occurred only about six thousand years ago (ca. B.C. 4,000) rather than millions and billions of years ago; that all things were originally created good and without sin; and that God created and still preserves all things by His almighty Word (Genesis 1-2; Exodus 20:11; Nehemiah 9:6; Psalm 33:6; 139:13-16; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2-3; 11:3; Old Testament genealogical records). We, therefore, reject all teaching and theory which contradicts the Biblical record of creation, including atheistic and theistic evolution and other (falsely called “scientific”) theories which suggest that the earth and life came to exist by chance over millions or billions of years.

ANGELS

We believe that the LORD God, when He created the heavens and the earth, also created a great number of angels to carry out His commands and do His will (Nehemiah 9:6; Exodus 20:11; Colossians 1:16; Psalm 104:4; 103:20-21; Daniel 7:10). These angels are spirits of great power and strength (Psalm 103:20; 2 Kings 19:35). We believe that a large number of these angels sinned and fell away from the LORD God shortly after creation and that the devil and the other evil angels who fell away with him are reserved unto the judgment of eternal torment in hell (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6; Matthew 25:41). Until the last day, these evil spirits continue to oppose God and His will and seek the destruction of God’s works (Genesis 3:1ff.; Revelation 12; John 8:44; 1 Peter 5:8-9; Job 1-2; Matthew 4:1-11). The great number of angels who remained faithful to the LORD God are now confirmed in their holy estate and continue to carry out God’s commands and serve the needs of Christians (Hebrews 1:14; Matthew 18:10; 25:31; Psalm 91:11-12; 103:20-21).

MAN

We believe that the first man and woman were created by God (Adam’s body from the dust of the ground, and Eve’s from the rib of Adam); that they were given a rational and immortal soul (not being unintelligent or brutish) and were created for eternal life; and that they were created in the image of the LORD God, having a knowledge of God and His will and being righteous and holy in thoughts, desires, words and deeds (Genesis 1:26-28,31; 2:7,18-25; Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10).

We believe that Adam and Eve sinned as described in Genesis, chapter three; that, as a result of this sin, all men are conceived and born in sin and are inclined to evil (having lost the image of God); that, as sinners, all of mankind stands condemned by God’s holy Law to eternal suffering in hell; and that all people, as they are by nature, are unable to do God-pleasing works or reconcile themselves to God and thus escape His wrath and punishment (Psalm 51:5; Genesis 6:5; 8:21; Romans 3:10-20,23; 5:12,18-19; Galatians 3:10; James 2:10-11; Ezekiel 18:20; Romans 6:23; Isaiah 64:6; John 3:6; 15:5-6; Psalm 49:7-9).

JESUS CHRIST AND REDEMPTION

We believe that Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God from eternity, and also true man, being conceived by the miraculous working of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary, lived a sinless and holy life under God’s Law in the stead of all mankind and then suffered and died upon the cross, paying the just penalty for the sins of all people, and rose again from the dead on the third day (John 1:1,14; Luke 1:26-38; 2:1-7; Matthew 1:18-25; Galatians 4:4-5; Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 2:21-24; 3:18; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4). We believe that Jesus Christ, by His holy life and innocent sufferings and death in our stead, has redeemed and made atonement to God for the sins all people (Hebrews 2:14-17; 2 Corinthians 5:18-21; Colossians 1:19-22; Galatians 3:10,13; Romans 3:23-26; 4:25; 5:6-11,18-19; John 1:29; 1 John 2:1-2; Isaiah 53).

JUSTIFICATION

We believe that God, for the sake of Jesus Christ’s holy life and innocent sufferings and death upon the cross for the sins of the world, is propitiated – His wrath against sin is satisfied and appeased – and He offers His pardon and forgiveness to all by means of the Gospel (1 John 2:1-2; Ephesians 1:6-7; 2 Corinthians 5:19,21; Romans 3:23-26; 4:25; 5:18-19). God justifies people, forgives them, reconciles them and counts them righteous in His sight when they receive in faith the Gospel message offering forgiveness and life eternal in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:28; 4:5; Luke 24:46-47; Acts 10:43). We reject as false all teachings which would make a man’s justification dependent upon his own works and merits or his own will or decision rather than through God-wrought faith alone in the atoning sacrifice of Christ Jesus for the sins of all (Ephesians 2:8-10; Galatians 2:16; John 1:12-13).

FAITH IN CHRIST

We believe that it is through faith alone – and not of works – that a sinner receives the forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation which Christ Jesus won for all by His innocent sufferings and death upon the cross. Such faith, which is also a gracious gift of God worked by the Holy Spirit, is to believe and apply to one’s self the Gospel message, the good news that God is gracious to us and forgives our sins for the sake of Jesus Christ and His redemptive work (John 3:16; Galatians 2:16; Romans 1:16-17; 3:20-28; 4:3-8; 5:1-2; Ephesians 2:8-9,11-18; Philippians 1:6,29; Colossians 2:12). We also believe that no one can be saved without such faith in Christ, for all who do not believe the Gospel message and trust in Christ alone for their salvation remain guilty in their sins and will be condemned to eternal suffering in hell, having rejected the only salvation provided by God – that won by the atoning sacrifice of His Son for the sins of the world (John 3:18,36; 8:24; Mark 16:15-16; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).

CONVERSION

We believe that conversion is the turning of a lost and condemned sinner from unbelief to faith in Jesus Christ as Savior. This occurs when a man, condemned by the Law of God, is brought to faith in the Gospel and believes that God, for the sake of Christ’s redemption, is gracious to him and forgives all his sins (Acts 2:37ff.; 3:19; 11:21; 16:29-34; 26:18; Titus 3:3-7; Isaiah 55:7). We believe that conversion is entirely the result of God’s gracious working in us; for man, as he is by nature, is spiritually blind, dead and an enemy of God and, therefore, cannot by his own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ as Savior or come to Him (Ephesians 2:1-10; Romans 3:10-18; Genesis 6:5; 8:21; John 1:12-13; 3:3-6; 6:44,63,65; 1 Corinthians 2:14; 12:3; Colossians 2:11-15; Philippians 1:29; Jeremiah 31:18; 1 Peter 1:2-5, 23-25). We, therefore, reject as false all teaching which attributes a man’s conversion to his own will or decision rather than to God’s grace alone, and also any teaching which would limit God’s gracious desire and working for the salvation of all men.

REPENTANCE

We believe that true repentance consists of a troubled conscience (godly sorrow) over one’s sins and sinfulness and of faith in God’s mercy and forgiveness for the sake of Jesus Christ and His innocent sufferings and death upon the cross for our sins and the sins of the whole world. It is a coming to the knowledge and conviction of one’s utter sinfulness and of the punishment of God justly deserved; and it is a turning to God in faith, trusting that He will mercifully forgive our sins and accept us as His own dear children for the sake of Jesus’ atoning sacrifice on the cross (Psalm 51; Psalm 32; Romans 3:9-28; Mark 1:4, 15; Acts 2:36ff.; 3:19; 20:17-21; 26:20; Isaiah 55:6-7; Luke 24:45-47; 2 Corinthians 7:9-10; Ephesians 1:3ff.; 2 Peter 3:9). We also teach that a fruit of genuine repentance is a new and amended life lived for our God and Savior (Luke 3:3, 7-17; Acts 26:20; 2 Corinthians 5:14-15; Romans 6:1ff.; 1 John 1:5-10; 2:1-6; Isaiah 1:16-20; Ephesians 2:8-10).

We believe that a true Christian lives his life here in this world in continual and daily repentance; that is, acknowledging his sins and failures to the LORD God and receiving His mercy and forgiveness for Christ’s sake – as well as the needed help and strength to amend his life and live for the LORD God (1 John 1:8 – 2:2; Psalm 32; Psalm 51; Psalm 86:5; Ephesians 1:15-23; Philippians 4:13). We, therefore, reject the false teaching that true believers do not sin and thus do not need to continue in repentance, or that God cannot bring a fallen believer back to repentance or will not forgive the sins of those who have fallen and returned to repentance.

GOOD WORKS

We believe that, while good works cannot justify a man in the sight of God or merit God’s grace and favor, good works are commanded by God in the Holy Scripture (Romans 3:10-20,28,31; 10:4; 12:1-2; Galatians 2:16; Ephesians 2:8-10; Titus 2:11-14; Psalm 119:1-5,35). Good works are those things a child of God does, speaks or thinks as a fruit of saving faith in Christ Jesus which are in accord with God’s commandments, are for the glory of God and the benefit of his neighbor, and are motivated by love for God and neighbor (Psalm 119:9,133; Psalm 19:14; Proverbs 12:5; Deuteronomy 10:12-13; Matthew 15:9; 22:36-40; John 14:15; Romans 13:8-10; 1 Corinthians 10:31; 13:1-3; Luke 10:25-37). We believe and teach that no man can perform such works unless he first has faith in Christ as Savior and is regenerated by the Holy Spirit (John 15:1-5; Hebrews 11:6; Ephesians 2:8-10; Titus 2:11-14; 3:3-8). Good works of believers are acceptable in God’s sight only for Christ’s sake – because God, for the sake of Jesus Christ’s innocent sufferings and death, pardons the sins and impure motives of His children (Isaiah 64:6; 1 John 1:7ff.).

MEANS OF GRACE

We believe that God offers, gives and assures to men the forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation which Christ won for all by His innocent sufferings and death on the cross through certain means: namely, the Word of the Gospel, Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper. Through these means, God the Holy Spirit graciously tells us of Christ Jesus and the salvation He won for us and all people by His atoning sacrifice upon the cross; and He assures us that, for Christ’s sake and through faith in His name, we are forgiven of all sins and have everlasting life in heaven (Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:47; 2 Corinthians 5:18-21; Romans 1:16-17; 10:15; Acts 2:38-39; 22:16; Colossians 2:11-15; 1 Peter 3:21; Matthew 28:19; 26:26-28; 1 Corinthians 11:23-29; 10:16-17). We believe that it is through these means of grace that the Holy Spirit creates and sustains saving faith in men’s hearts (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14; Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 10:17; 1 Peter 1:2,23-25; 2:2; John 3:5-6; Titus 3:5; Colossians 2:12; 1 Corinthians 11:23ff.; Philippians 1:6).

GOSPEL

We believe that the Gospel is the good news of man’s redemption in Christ Jesus. It is the proclamation that Christ died for all sins and rose again and that God, for the sake of Christ’s innocent sufferings and death upon the cross, forgives sins and offers and gives everlasting life through faith in Christ Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; Romans 1:16-17; 10:15; 2 Corinthians 5:18-21; Luke 24:46-47; Colossians 1:19-23; 1 Peter 1:3-5; 1 Timothy 1:15; 2:3-7; John 3:14-16). We reject the teaching that the Gospel is a new law requiring love and good deeds for our fellow man.

BAPTISM

We believe that Baptism has been instituted by God to be a means whereby He offers, gives and assures to an individual the forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation which Christ won for all by His innocent sufferings and death upon the cross (Colossians 2:11-15; 1 Peter 3:21; Galatians 3:26-29). In Christian Baptism, water is applied (by sprinkling, pouring or immersing) in the name of the Triune God (Matthew 28:19); and through Baptism, the Holy Spirit works to create and preserve saving faith in Christ Jesus, thus washing away sins and giving eternal salvation to all who believe (John 3:5; Titus 3:5; Acts 22:16; Mark 16:16).

We believe that all people are to be baptized – including infants and children, for they too can be brought to believe – and that those who reject Baptism forfeit the forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation which God wills to give them through Baptism (Matthew 28:19; Acts 2:38-39; Luke 18:15-17; John 3:5-6; Matthew 18:6; Luke 7:30).

LORD’S SUPPER

We believe that, when the Lord’s Supper is observed according to Christ’s institution, Jesus offers and gives to those who partake of the bread and the cup (wine) in His Supper His body and blood which were given and shed upon the cross as the atoning sacrifice for the remission of all sins – indeed, the Scriptures say in 1 Corinthians 11:23ff.: “For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.” (Cf. Matthew 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-29; 10:16.)

Those who partake of Christ’s Supper with a penitent heart and faith in Christ’s words receive through this new covenant meal the forgiveness of sins and the eternal salvation won for them by Christ’s atoning sacrifice, but those who partake of Christ’s Supper in impenitence and without faith in Christ and His words partake of the Supper to their own condemnation, not discerning the Lord’s body and treating the blood of the covenant by which they were redeemed as an unholy thing (Matthew 26:26-28; Luke 22:19-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-32; Hebrews 10:29). Therefore, we receive at the Lord’s Table only those who profess the true Christian doctrine and are able to examine themselves; and we exclude others who have not yet been instructed in the true Christian Faith or who continue to live in open disobedience to God’s Word (1 Corinthians 10:16-17; 11:28; 2 Corinthians 13:5; Romans 16:17; Ephesians 5:11).

PRAYER

We believe that prayer is an act of worship in which Christians call upon the LORD God with their hearts and voices, offering up praise and thanksgiving to God and making request of Him (Psalm 5:1-3; 19:14; 103:1; 95:1-6; 96:1-13). Though prayer is not a means of grace, it is a great privilege which God gives to those who trust in Christ Jesus for their salvation (1 John 5:11-15; Romans 8:15; John 16:23). Since God commands His children to come to Him in prayer, and promises to answer the prayers of those who have saving faith in Christ Jesus, we believe that every true Christian should pray regularly and in all things (Matthew 7:7-8; Psalm 50:15; Philippians 4:6; Isaiah 65:24; Psalm 65:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18).

HOLY CHRISTIAN CHURCH

We believe that there is only one Holy Christian Church and that this Church is made up only of true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, of those who have despaired of their own righteousness before God and trust that God is gracious to them and forgives all their sins for the sake of Jesus Christ and His redemptive work (Matthew 16:16-18; Ephesians 2:8-22; 4:4-6; 5:23-32; 1:22-23; Romans 12:4-5; 8:9; Philippians 3:8-9). We believe that this Church is invisible, in that God only and not man, can see faith in the heart (1 Samuel 16:7; Luke 17:20-21; 2 Timothy 2:19). Nevertheless, the Holy Christian Church does and will continue to exist in this world wherever the saving Gospel is still in use and the Sacraments are rightly administered (Matthew 16:18; 1 Kings 19:8-18; Isaiah 55:10-11; Romans 1:16-17; 10:17). We reject as false the claim that Christ’s Church in this world is to be identified with any particular denomination or church body.

LOCAL CHURCHES

We believe that the Holy Scriptures speak, not only of the Holy Christian Church, which is made up of all believers in Christ; they also speak of local churches or congregations of believers and command Christians in every locality to gather together with other faithful Christians and form congregations where they may establish the public ministry and mutually care for and encourage their fellow believers in the true and saving faith (2 Corinthians 1:1; Galatians 1:2; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; Revelation 1-3; Acts 2:41-47; 14:23; 20:28; Titus 1:5; Jeremiah 23:3-4; Hebrews 10:23-25; Colossians 3:16; Ephesians 4:1-16; Matthew 18:15-20). Though the Bible speaks of one Church, made up of all true believers, and of local churches, there are not two kinds of churches; for even in the local churches, only the believers are truly members of Christ’s Church in that place (1 Corinthians 1:2; Romans 1:7). On the Last Day, the unbelieving and hypocrites who are outwardly connected with Christ’s Church in this world will be separated from the believing and cast into the fires of hell (Matthew 13:24-43, 47-50).

CHURCH FELLOWSHIP

We believe that God commands all Christians to discriminate between churches which are faithful to Christ and that which is taught in His Word (orthodox churches) and those which are not faithful to Christ and His Word (false and heterodox churches), and to practice church fellowship (joining together in those things which one would do with fellow believers, such as, worship, prayer, reception of the Lord’s Supper, evangelism, mission work, etc.) only with those who are faithful to Christ and His holy Word (Matthew 28:18-20; 7:15-23; John 8:31-32; 1 John 4:1-6; Acts 2:42; Romans 16:17-18; 2 Corinthians 6:14-18; Ephesians 5:11; 2 Thessalonians 3:6,14-15; 1 Timothy 6:3-5; 2 John 7-11). We, therefore, condemn as sin the synchronistic and unionistic practices of our day, in which church fellowship is practiced and church union is sought without regard for full adherence to the Scriptural Doctrine.

A church’s faithfulness to Christ and His Word is to be judged, not only by its acceptance of and subscription to an orthodox creed or confession but by what is actually taught and practiced in the church. Errors in both doctrine and practice will continue to trouble churches in this world (Acts 20:28-32; 1 Corinthians 11:19); but those which are faithful to Christ and His Word will, through Scriptural admonition and discipline, continue to combat and remove such error from among themselves (Matthew 18:15-18; 2 Timothy 3:13-17; 4:1-5; Titus 3:10-11).

PUBLIC MINISTRY

We believe that God has given to His Church, the congregation of all true believers, the right and duty to preach His Word, to forgive and retain sins, and to administer the Sacraments (Baptism and the Lord’s Supper), and He has commanded that faithful men be called and ordained to publicly preach and teach God’s Word and administer the Sacraments in His Church (1 Peter 2:9; Matthew 28:18-20; John 20:21-23; Jeremiah 23:3-4,28; Hebrews 10:19-25; Acts 14:23; 20:28; Ephesians 4:11-12; Titus 1:5-9; 2 Timothy 4:2). Only men meeting the qualifications in 1 Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9 are to be entrusted with this office.

Though the public ministry of Word and Sacrament exists by the will and command of God, those holding this office have no authority and power but the Word of God (1 Peter 4:11; Hebrews 4:12; Romans 1:16-17; 2 Timothy 3:16-17). Thus, obedience must be rendered to the public ministry only when the Word of God is faithfully proclaimed and applied (Hebrews 13:17; Luke 10:16).

We reject as contrary to God’s will, and as sinful, the current practice of placing women into the public ministry or other positions or offices where they must teach or exercise authority over men (1 Timothy 2:11-15; 1 Corinthians 14:34-35).

CHURCH AND STATE

We believe that both the Church and the State are ordained of God – the Church for the eternal salvation of men, and the State for the maintenance of external righteousness and order among men in this world (Matthew 16:16-19; Ephesians 2:8-9, 19-22; Colossians 1:18-24; Acts 2:41-47; Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14; 1 Timothy 2:2). In order that men might be saved, the Church has been commanded to preach the Gospel (Mark 16:15-16; Romans 1:16-17; 10:15,17). To maintain civil order and righteousness in this world, civil governments have been given power and responsibility to enact just laws, to punish evildoers (including the use of the death penalty), and to wage just wars (1 Peter 2:13-14; Psalm 82:1-4; Genesis 9:6; Romans 13:3-4).

We reject as contrary to the Holy Scriptures attempts to mix the powers of the Church and the State; such as, attempting to enforce the practice of any religion with the powers of civil government, or attempting to usurp the powers of civil government by any visible organization of the Church (John 18:11,36; 2 Corinthians 10:4; Ephesians 6:10-18).

GOD’S GRACIOUS ELECTION

We believe that God desires the salvation of all men and has already, in His divine foreknowledge and from eternity, chosen those who believe and persevere in the faith to obtain eternal salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, and that this election and choosing of God is entirely of God’s grace and mercy in Christ Jesus, without any merit or worthiness on the part of men (2 Timothy 1:9; Matthew 22:14; Ephesians 1:3-14). We take comfort in the Bible’s promise that all those whom God has graciously chosen before the creation of the world and brought to saving faith in Christ through the Gospel will be preserved in that faith unto life everlasting (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14; Acts 13:48; Romans 8:28-30; Ephesians 1:3-14; Matthew 24:22-24). This doctrine of Scripture gives to believers the assurance “that He who has begun a good work in [them] will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6).

We reject as contrary to the Holy Scripture the teachings that God does not desire the salvation of all men; that He is the cause of unbelief and damnation in those who do not come to faith; or that God’s election is based upon some merit or quality in men (1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9; Ezekiel 33:11; Matthew 23:37).

As to why some are saved and others are lost, we can only say with Scripture that God’s elect are saved entirely by God’s grace for Christ’s sake, and that the lost are so entirely of their own fault because they have “not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18; 12:48; Ephesians 2:8-9; Acts 7:51).

FINAL JUDGMENT

We believe that, at death, the souls of believers are taken to be with their Lord and Savior in heaven, and the souls of unbelievers begin suffering the eternal torments of hell (Luke 16:19-31; 23:43; Philippians 1:23; Revelation 14:13; 1 Peter 3:19; 2 Peter 2:4-9). On the Last Day, Jesus Christ will return to judge the living and the dead; and on that Day, all the dead will be raised up (John 5:28-29; Job 19:25-27; Revelation 20:11-15; Acts 10:42; 17:31; 2 Corinthians 5:10). The wicked and unbelieving will be cast, both body and soul, into the everlasting torments of hell; but those who have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation will, according to both body and soul, dwell with Christ forever, enjoying the blessings of heaven (John 5:29; Matthew 10:28; Luke 16:23-24; Isaiah 66:24; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10; Hebrews 9:27-28; Philippians 3:21; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 John 3:2; John 3:36; 17:24; 14:1-3; Psalm 16:11). We believe that the Day of Christ’s return is known only to God and not to man (Matthew 24:29-42; Mark 13:32; 2 Peter 3:10). Therefore, we also reject as false all contrary doctrines, such as purgatory or limbo, an earthly millennial kingdom, a secret rapture, and attempts to predict the time of Christ’s return.

ANTICHRIST

We believe that though there have been and are many antichrists who oppose Christ and the true Word of God with their lies and false teaching, there is also one Antichrist, the son of perdition, whose coming was foretold in the Scriptures (1 John 2:18; 2 Thessalonians 2:3). We also believe that this Antichrist is none other than the Roman Papacy, for all the marks of this Antichrist have been fulfilled in the papacy of Rome (2 Thessalonians 2:3-12; Revelation 13 & 17; cf. Galatians 1:6-9).

SABBATH DAY

We believe that the Old Testament observance of the Sabbath and other holy days has been abrogated by God and is not required of believers under the new covenant (Colossians 2:16-17; Romans 14:5-6). The Commandment regarding the Sabbath Day does still require us to regularly take time to hear and learn God’s Word and to worship Him (Exodus 20:8; Isaiah 58:13-14; Acts 2:42; Colossians 3:16; Psalm 119:15-16; 26:8; 111:1; 95:1-6; 96:1-2). For this reason, we have set aside Sundays and other feast days for the hearing of God’s Word and for our gathering together to worship the LORD our God (Hebrews 10:24-25; Acts 2:42). However, the observance of these certain days is a church ordinance made in Christian liberty rather than a divine command binding upon the conscience (Romans 14:5-6).

MARRIAGE AND BEARING CHILDREN

We believe that marriage is a lifelong union between one man and one woman, that marriage was instituted by God and is entered by mutual consent and promise (Matthew 19:3-6; Genesis 2:18-24; Romans 7:1-3; Luke 20:27-38; Matthew 1:18-25; Deuteronomy 22:23-24). Therefore, we teach that it is sin to violate the marriage union by unfaithfulness or desertion (Matthew 19:3-9; 5:31-32; Mark 10:6-12; 1 Corinthians 7:10-16; Hebrews 13:4; Exodus 20:14; Malachi 2:14-16). With Scripture, we also condemn as sin: fornication (sexual relationships outside the bonds of Biblical marriage), sodomy, homosexuality and bestiality (Leviticus 18:1-30; Romans 1:18-32; 1 Corinthians 6:18-20).

We believe that children are a blessing of the LORD and that the conception and formation of a child in the womb is the result of God’s creative working (Genesis 1:27-28; 25:21; 29:31; 30:22-23; Ruth 4:13; 1 Samuel 1:5,10-11,19-20; 2:21; Psalm 127:3-5; 128:1-6; 139:13-16; Ecclesiastes 11:5), and that it is God’s will and command that a husband and wife seek and desire to have children (Genesis 1:28; 9:1,7; 1 Timothy 2:15; 5:14).

We also believe that human life begins at conception and that it is murder to kill or destroy the life of an unborn child (Psalm 139:13-16; Ecclesiastes 11:5; Genesis 25:21-23; Genesis 9:5-6; Exodus 20:13). Therefore, we condemn as sin abortion – in all its forms – and reject as contrary to God’s will and intention the modern views and practices which would limit and discourage Christian parents from conceiving and bearing children.

SANCTITY OF LIFE

We believe that every human life is a creation of God and that every human life is precious to God, for God created man in His own image (Genesis 1:26-28; 2:7,21-22; 9:5-6; Psalm 139:13-16). We also believe that, except in the cases of punishing evildoers and waging just wars or taking just actions to protect life and property, God has reserved for Himself the right to end or destroy a human life (Genesis 9:5-6; Romans 13:1-4; 1 Peter 2:14; Exodus 20:13; Psalm 31:15; 39:4-5; 90:1-3; Job 14:1-12; Acts 17:24-28). Therefore, we must condemn as murder and sin the practice of abortion, euthanasia, self-inflicted death (suicide) and all other unjustified taking of human life.

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Dear members of Good Shepherd Evangelical Lutheran Church,

Since questions have been raised regarding the doctrine and practice of our congregation related to church fellowship, I thought it best to clarify the teaching of Scripture on this subject with a number of statements so that all may know and understand where we must stand on these issues and avoid the sinful practices of syncretism (joining together in worship, prayer or religious activities with those of other religions and lodges who do not worship and serve the Triune God of the Bible or proclaim salvation by God’s grace alone and through faith alone in Jesus Christ) and of unionism (joining together in worship, prayer or religious activities with other churches and denominations which err in doctrine and do not teach in full accord with the Bible).

1. The Bible teaches that it is every Christian’s duty to do the following: a) “Beware of false prophets” (Matthew 7:15ff.); b) Mark and avoid those who cause divisions and offenses in the church by preaching false doctrine, advocating a sinful lifestyle or teaching and insisting on points not commanded in Scripture (Romans 16:17f.); c) Admonish and rebuke sin and error (Matthew 18:15ff.; Titus 3:9ff.; Ephesians 5:8-14); d) Refrain from joining together in fellowship (through prayer, worship, Communion, mission work, etc.) with those who persistently hold to false doctrine or live in open sin (Ephesians 5:8-14; 2 John 8-11).

2. It is a sin to add to the teaching of Scripture or take anything away from it. Thus, it is wrong to reject what the Bible clearly teaches, as many teachers and churches do even though they bear the name Christian, or to add to God’s Word and insist upon human views, interpretations or applications of Scripture, such as did the Jews with their traditions received from the elders (Deuteronomy 4:1ff.; Isaiah 8:20; Matthew 15:1ff.; Mark 31ff.; 1 Timothy 6:3-5; Revelation 22:18-19).

3. The Lord’s Supper is to be observed according to Christ’s institution with neither the elements or words changed nor the meaning of Christ’s words altered or changed. All who partake of the true Lord’s Supper receive not only bread and wine but also partake of Christ’s sacrifice for the sins of the world; that is, His body and blood which were given and shed for all for the remission of sins (Matthew 26:26-28, Mark 14:22-24, Luke 22:19-20, 1 Corinthians 10:16ff. and 11:23ff.).

4. Since St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 11 admonishes believers to examine themselves before partaking of the Lord’s Supper and rebukes them for their abuses, Christians who wish to partake of the Sacrament are to be instructed in Biblical doctrine and in what is offered and given in the Lord’s Supper and are not to partake of the Lord’s Supper lightly but are to examine themselves before coming to the Lord’s Table, confess their sins to God and receive God’s absolution and forgiveness in Christ Jesus.

5. Since St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 10 plainly states that when we eat of the bread and drink of the cup we are one with the altar, partaking of the altar in the Lord’s Supper is a profession that we agree with what is being taught and offered and given from that altar. Christians are not to partake of the altar of the Lord and then also partake of the altar of devils by joining together in idolatry, false teaching or sinful worship (such as attending or partaking of the Lord’s Supper in churches which err in doctrine and often err also in the doctrine regarding the Lord’s Supper).

6. Based on 1 Corinthians 10 and 11, Christian churches and their pastors have a duty to practice close communion (as opposed to open communion in which everyone is invited to come forward), and only those who profess the true and Biblical doctrine and who have examined themselves in accord to God’s Word are to be invited and welcomed to the Lord’s Table. Those known to be living in open sin and impenitent or who are spreading false doctrine or supporting the spread of false doctrine (often by membership and contributions to churches which err in doctrine) must be denied the privilege of partaking of Christ’s Supper unless and until they repent.

SUMMARY

In summary, this means that God, for our own good, commands that we hold to the true and faithful teaching of His Word and reject what is false. That we join together with those who hold to and teach the truth of God’s Word and that we take note of and avoid those who persist in doctrinal errors or live in open and impenitent sin.

We go to church and join together in worship and prayer, the hearing of God’s Word, and in the reception of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper only in those churches which faithfully adhere to God’s Word and rightly administer the Sacraments. We take note of and avoid those teachers and churches which preach false doctrine or mix human errors and opinion with the truth because we realize that every error has its origins in the lies of the devil, who seeks to lead us away from Christ and the comfort and assurance of the Gospel (cf. John 8:44).

To help explain this teaching of Scripture, I will include below my signature the short and hopefully simple explanation of this article of faith from my book, A Simple Explanation of Christian Doctrine. I also ask any who have questions or concerns to contact me.

Pastor Moll

How should we practice church fellowship?

Since Jesus commanded us to disciple the nations by going, baptizing in the name of the Triune God and teaching them to observe all which Jesus taught and commanded (Matthew 28:18-20), and since Jesus warns against false prophets who come to us in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15-23), we, as Christians, are to discriminate between churches and teachers which are faithful to Christ and that which is taught in His Word (orthodox churches and teachers) and those which are not faithful to Christ and His Word (false and heterodox churches and teachers) and to practice church fellowship (joining together in those things which one would do with fellow believers, such as worship, prayer, reception of the Lord’s Supper, evangelism, mission work, etc.) only with those who are faithful to Christ and His holy Word.

Jesus said: “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32). For this reason, the early church “continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42).

That we not be led astray from the truth, the apostle Paul warned: “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself” (1 Timothy 6:3-5).

Thus, we see that we are commanded to continue in Jesus’ word and doctrine – the teaching of Holy Scripture – and to avoid and withdraw from those who teach otherwise and do not consent to the words of our Lord Jesus and the teaching of the Word of God.

So serious is the threat of false doctrine and the deception of the devil, God’s Word warns us: “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1); “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Ephesians 5:11); “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18); “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple” (Romans 16:17-18); “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: for he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds” (2 John 9-11); and “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us … And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed” (2 Thessalonians 3:6,14).

Christians, like the believers at Berea (Acts 17:11), compare what is taught with the Word of God and reject those churches and teachers who remain unfaithful to the Word. They condemn as sin the unionistic practices of our day in which church fellowship is practiced and church union is sought without regard for full adherence to the Scriptural Doctrine.

And, a church’s faithfulness to Christ and His Word is to be judged, not only by its acceptance of and subscription to an orthodox creed or confession but by what is actually taught and practiced in the church.

As the apostle Paul warned, errors in both doctrine and practice will continue to trouble churches in this world (Acts 20:28-32; 1 Corinthians 11:19). But those churches which are faithful to Christ and His Word will, through Scriptural admonition and discipline, continue to combat and remove such error from among themselves and be faithful to Christ (Matthew 18:15-18; 2 Timothy 3:13-17; 4:1-5; Titus 3:10-11).

Christians remember that every lie and false teaching is of the devil, the father of lies (John 8:44), and the devil’s intent is to mislead God’s elect and weaken or destroy their faith in Christ Jesus. Therefore, Christians cannot and do not view doctrinal errors and teaching which is not in full agreement with the Bible as a trivial thing which can be ignored or overlooked. They use God’s Word to expose it, reprove it and remove it. And, if a church or teacher rejects the sound teaching of God’s Word on a matter, Christians are commanded to reject and avoid the church or teacher until there is repentance and a return to the truth. And not to do so could even give the devil the opportunity he seeks to lead people away from faith in Christ and destroy their souls.

This is a most serious matter and yet many laugh and scoff and say it’s only a little thing, a minor point. But, how many of you would drink water from a well which was poisoned even if the amount was small? What might not immediately kill you could do damage over time. So also with false doctrine; it is never harmless and, over time, it will weaken or destroy faith.

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What does the Bible teach? Sad to say, most people have not read the Bible in its entirety and many have no idea what it really teaches. Though much more detail could be provided, what follows is a brief summary of the Bible’s teaching.

What does the Bible teach?

1) That the Triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – created all things good, including man, as described in Genesis 1-2, and that He still preserves all things. It is as the Bible says in Nehemiah 9:6: “You alone are the Lord; You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and everything on it, the seas and all that is in them, and You preserve them all. The host of heaven worships You.”

2) Though God created man to honor and respect God as his Maker, to love Him and to trust Him, the first man and woman fell into sin as described in Genesis 3 and, as a result, all of mankind is fallen and no longer loves, trusts and honors God above all things. Instead, people are born into this world turned in upon themselves and seeking their own will and ways which are selfish and sinful. People do not and cannot keep all of God’s commandments as God requires. It is as the Bible says in Genesis 8:21 and Jeremiah 17:9: “The imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth,” and “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” Ecclesiastes 7:20 says: “For there is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin.”

3) In order to redeem and save mankind from the just and eternal punishment we all deserve on account of our sinfulness and disobedience to God and to restore us to fellowship with Him, God sent His only-begotten Son into the world, a true man, that He might fulfill all that God’s holy law requires of us and bear our sin and suffer our punishment by dying on the cross to atone for the sins of the world. This God did through the incarnation, birth, life, sufferings, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is true God and true man. The animal sacrifices of the Old Testament pointed ahead to the promised Seed of the woman (Genesis 3:15) who would make atonement for the sins of all and undo the work of the devil when he tempted Adam and Eve and brought sin and God’s curse upon God’s creation.
John 3:16 says: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

1 Corinthians 15:3-4 says: “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures … He was buried … He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.”

Hebrews 2:14-17 says: “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham. Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”

4) The forgiveness of sins and reconciliation with God which Christ Jesus won for all when he suffered and died upon the cross and then rose again on the third day becomes ours through faith in Jesus Christ and not by our own works or merits. Ephesians 2:8-9 says: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Romans 3:21-26 says: “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” And, Romans 5:1-2 says: “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”

5) God desires all people to repent of their sinful and rebellious ways and trust in Christ Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins and life everlasting. “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). For that reason, He commands that His Word be preached to all people (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:46-47), and His Holy Spirit works through the Word and Baptism to create saving faith in the hearts of hearers and to regenerate them, giving them new life in fellowship with God through faith in Jesus Christ.

On the day of Pentecost, Peter told the people (Acts 2:38-39): “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”

Titus 3:3-7 says: “For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

6) As Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us, we are saved by God’s grace alone and through faith alone in Jesus Christ, and even that faith is the gracious working of God the Holy Spirit in us, but God also desires that we amend our ways and live for Him: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). 2 Corinthians 5:15 says: “And He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.” And, since the fruit of true faith in Christ is the desire to live for God and be pleasing to Him, those who refuse to amend their lives and willfully continue on in their sinful ways demonstrate their unbelief and lack of saving faith in Christ.

7) Christ Jesus will return to this world on the Last Day and carry out God’s just judgment upon all. Those who believe in Christ and are baptized into His name will be saved and those who do not believe will be damned (Mark 16:16). John 3:36 says: “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

Conclusion

Yes, much more can be said. And, indeed, it is said in the Bible. The Bible reveals the sad results of man’s sinfulness and how God judges sin even now, in this world. It tells how God carried out His plan to send His Son to be our Savior, and it reveals how God continually calls us to repent of our sinful and erring ways and look to Christ Jesus in faith. It points out the terrible judgment of God which will come upon all who remain impenitent, and it offers a glimpse of the glories of heaven which await all who believe. The Bible warns the impenitent and unbelieving and gives comfort to those who acknowledge their sins and look to Christ and His cross.

Some parts are difficult for our sin-darkened minds to understand, but other parts are so simple the smallest child can, by God’s grace, grasp its message. So, don’t be discouraged. Pick it up and read it. The Bible is a book of books (66 books and letters) and doesn’t have to be read in chronological order from Genesis to Revelation. I usually recommend reading the first chapters of Genesis and reading in the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) before studying the sections on Old Testament worship. It’s a book to study for a lifetime, and there is always more to learn and to understand, so keep reading.

Writing to Timothy, a young minister, the apostle Paul said (2 Timothy 3:14-17): “But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

The Bible was given us to teach us the way of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ and to guide us in living for Him. As such, reading and studying its message is the most important reading a person can ever do — indeed, your eternal destiny depends upon heeding the Bible’s message! I hope and pray you’ll read it.

— Pastor Randy Moll

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

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