Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions

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Acts 15:8–10

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

If any defend the rule of celibacy with the purpose of burdening consciences with these Levitical observances, we must strongly oppose them, just as the apostles did in Acts 15:10, resisting those who required circumcision and tried to impose the law of Moses upon Christians.

Pulling It Together

We neither require nor need any acts of purification. For it is God alone who cleanses hearts. King David knew this to be true. What work of cleansing did he do after his sin with Bathsheba? He did nothing but ask God to create a clean heart within him (Psa 51:10). The most heinous of sins are forgiven by God when one confesses those sins, believing with faith that God is both faithful and just to do forgive (1 John 1:9). God covers such persons with the righteousness of Christ (2 Cor 5:21). But if one expects to end up with a clean heart because he keeps certain fasts, gives alms, is celibate, or does any variety of good works, that person is deceived. We must resist sects who require these works, since all they do is weigh down the conscience with grief and guilt.

Prayer: Lord, create a clean heart heart within me. Amen.

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The Sola Online Worship Resource (SOWeR) includes liturgies and services for your use. There are ready-to-copy settings for Holy Communion, services, services of the Word, Vespers, occasional services, funerals, and seasonal services. SOWeR is a lectionary-based web resource for Scripture lessons, lectionary inserts, children's bulletins, devotionals, text studies, prayers, hymn-planning, and much more! Join the hundreds of congregations who have discovered how simple, flexible, and useful SOWeR is for worship planning and sermon preparation. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions

Original image   •   Index of Scripture Graphics and posts by Scripture reference

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1 Corinthians 1:30–31

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

In reference to their examples about the Levitical priests, we have already replied that these do not impose a perpetual celibacy upon the priests. Furthermore, the Levitical ceremonial statutes about uncleanness do not pertain to Christians. Intercourse contrary to these statutes was an impurity. Now it is not impurity, since Paul says, “To the pure all things are pure” (Titus 1:15). The Gospel frees us from these Levitical regulations about uncleanness.

Pulling It Together

The ceremonial code in the law of Moses, those things concerning what is clean or unclean, do not pertain to Christians. Christians are freed from all the ceremonies of Moses, not only from the laws concerning uncleanness. For it is Christ who makes us pure, not washings or other observances. He has become our holiness. Holiness is not found in hairstyles, clothing, lack of jewelry, the foods eaten or abstained from, nor celibacy or marriage—or anything other than Christ Jesus. He alone is our cleanness, holiness, righteousness, purity. If one wants to be a holy priest, there is only one necessary thing: believe in Jesus Christ. 

Prayer: Thank you, righteous Lord, for imputing your righteousness to me. Amen.

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The Sola Online Worship Resource (SOWeR) also includes bulletin templates. There are word processing templates for both communion and non-communion services. There are also templates for Sola, LBW, and Reclaim service settings. SOWeR is a lectionary-based web resource for Scripture lessons, lectionary inserts, children's bulletins, devotionals, text studies, prayers, hymn-planning, and much more! Join the hundreds of congregations who have discovered how simple, flexible, and useful SOWeR is for worship planning and sermon preparation. This brochure will answer more questions about SOWeR. Call 1-888-887-9840 to order a yearly subscription. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions

Index of Scripture Graphics and posts by Scripture reference

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Matthew 19:10–12

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

Neither Christ nor Paul praise virginity because it justifies, but because it is freer and less distracted by domestic occupations, allowing time for prayer, teaching, serving. For this reason Paul says, “He that is unmarried cares for the things that belong to the Lord” (1 Cor 7:32). Virginity is therefore commended for the sake of of meditation and study. Thus Christ does not simply praise those who make themselves eunuchs, but adds, for the kingdom of heaven’s sake, that is, that they may have leisure to learn or teach the Gospel. He does not say that virginity merits the forgiveness of sins or salvation.

Pulling It Together

I am distracted every day by domestic duties, when what I am anxious to do is write and study and pray and so forth. On Saturday about Noon, in the midst of running one more household errand, I complained (again) to my wife: “I’m not going to get anything done today!” Truth be told, I ended up getting a great deal of kingdom work accomplished, but see how anxious I was when domestic duties got in the way? Furthermore, domestic duties are kingdom duties. Being Susan’s husband is part of my calling. But for those who can receive it, celibacy probably affords more time to a stricter regimen.

Prayer: Lord God, help Christian families make time to do your will and the work of the kingdom. Amen.

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The Sola Online Worship Resource is a lectionary-based web resource for Scripture lessons, lectionary inserts, children's bulletins, devotionals, text studies, prayers, hymn-planning, and much more! Join the hundreds of congregations who have discovered how simple, flexible, and useful SOWeR is for worship planning and sermon preparation. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions

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2 Timothy 1:9

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

Here they might exclaim that we put marriage on par with celibacy, like Jovinian. But such clamoring will not cause us to reject the truth about the righteousness of faith that we have explained above. Still, we do not consider celibacy and marriage as equal. For just as one gift surpasses another—prophecy surpassing eloquence, military science surpassing agriculture, and eloquence surpassing architecture—celibacy is a more excellent gift than marriage. Yet, just as an orator is not more righteous before God because of his eloquence than an architect because of his skill in architecture, so a virgin does not merit justification through virginity more than a married person merits it by marital duties. Instead, each one ought to faithfully serve within his own gift, believing that he receives the forgiveness of sins for Christ’s sake, and through faith is accounted righteous before God.

Pulling It Together

Whether or not we concur with the rhetorical comparisons used by Melancthon, we may understand his point. That is, we cannot earn the favor of God. Rather, because of Christ’s work, those who believe are regarded as righteous by God. Whatever our gifts or vocation in life, we are to serve God faithfully with and within those gifts and vocations, never dreaming that our lot in life or the works we do justify us to God. That is always the work of Christ alone, as God graciously determined before all creation. So, how could justification possibly be the work of creatures like us?

Prayer: Thank you, O Father, for choosing before this world began, to save all who believe in your only Son our Lord. Amen.

Receive these daily Sola Devotions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

The Sola Online Worship Resource (SOWeR) also includes bulletin templates. There are word processing templates for both communion and non-communion services. There are also templates for Sola, LBW, and Reclaim service settings. SOWeR is a lectionary-based web resource for Scripture lessons, lectionary inserts, children's bulletins, devotionals, text studies, prayers, hymn-planning, and much more! Join the hundreds of congregations who have discovered how simple, flexible, and useful SOWeR is for worship planning and sermon preparation. This brochure will answer more questions about SOWeR. Call 1-888-887-9840 to order a yearly subscription. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions

Original image   •   Index of Scripture Graphics and posts by Scripture reference

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Romans 5:1

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

Finally, if they understand celibacy as purity in the sense that it merits justification more than does marriage, we most emphatically disagree. For we are not justified on account of virginity or on account of marriage, but freely for Christ’s sake, when we believe that God is gracious to us for his sake.

Pulling It Together

Whenever some religious notion enters our heads, making us imagine that we must do one thing or another in order to earn God’s grace, we may confidently declare that thing to be false. It is not that the thing should not be done; rather, it is that the thing does not save. For example, if you think that you should pray the hours, then by all means, pray! Yet, do not think for a second that your prayers make you right with God. Christ alone makes you right with God. If you want to fast on a certain day of the week, do so with God’s blessing. But do not imagine that your discipline merits justification with God. Christ alone justifies. If you feel led to be celibate, do so joyfully but do not hope that your celibacy gains you any righteousness beyond the righteousness that you freely receive from God because you believe in the righteousness of Christ.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, for giving me access to the hope of God’s grace through faith. Amen.

Receive these daily Sola Devotions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

The Sola Online Worship Resource (SOWeR) includes liturgies and services for your use. There are ready-to-copy settings for Holy Communion, services, services of the Word, Vespers, occasional services, funerals, and seasonal services. SOWeR is a lectionary-based web resource for Scripture lessons, lectionary inserts, children's bulletins, devotionals, text studies, prayers, hymn-planning, and much more! Join the hundreds of congregations who have discovered how simple, flexible, and useful SOWeR is for worship planning and sermon preparation. 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions

Original image   •   Index of Scripture Graphics and posts by Scripture reference

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Matthew 15:10–20

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests – part 28

Again, a proper comparison between purity and lust means that purity means a purity of the heart, a putting lust to death. Therefore, the law does not prohibit marriage, but rather lust, adultery, fornication. So, celibacy is not purity. For there may be greater purity of heart in a married man, as in Abraham or Jacob, than in most of those who are actually celibate.

Pulling It Together

It is the heart that must be changed, not necessarily one’s vocation or position in life. One may think that he must become a pastor in order to be on heaven’s path. Yet the worker on an assembly line is enabled to meditate on God’s Word in the minutes between each screw he must fasten on the next item coming by him. Others imagine they must dress in a certain manner, cut their hair just so, not cut their hair at all, go on pilgrimages, eat or not eat certain foods, be celibate, or maintain any number of other religious practices in order to be pure before God. But it is not the clothing that must change, or the hair, or the place, or the food, or the drink, or the marital state—or anything else than the heart—that must change.

Prayer: Make me pure, Lord, and I shall be pure. Amen.

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Getting to Know Martin Luther is a five-lesson Conformation workbook about Martin Luther's life that will help confirmands get a better glimpse into what faith means for their own lives by searching and understanding the Word of God, trusting in Christ alone for our salvation, standing up for what they believe in, and helping others to learn the truth about God.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions

Original image   •   Index of Scripture Graphics and posts by Scripture reference

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Titus 1:15

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

These readings teach that marriage is a lawful thing. If purity indicates the permission and approval of God, marriages are pure because they have been approved by the Word of God. Paul says of lawful things, “To the pure all things are pure” (Titus 1:15), that is, to those who believe in Christ and are righteous by faith. So, as virginity is impure in the godless, so marriage is pure in the godly on account of the Word of God and faith.

Pulling It Together

Nothing is pure, if it is done outside of faith and God’s Word. An unbeliever may practice the most ascetic spiritual disciplines. He may fast, study, meditate, remain celibate, and feed the poor, but none of this is pure if it is exercised without faith. But for the believer, the one who has faith in Christ, “all things are pure.” For it is God who makes things pure; the works themselves do not purify. Celibacy without faith in God is actually a defilement of the person. If even a believer imagines his efforts at purity, his supposed good works, purify him, then he is both deluded and impure. However, if a priest or anyone else marries, having faith in God’s Word, that he makes this estate pure, then it is not only pure but must also be permitted.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord God, for purifying even the most basic things of life. Amen.

Receive these daily Sola Devotions by email. Write mryman@solapublishing.com with "Subscribe" as your subject. To unsubscribe, send an email to the same address with "Unsubscribe" as your subject.

The ReClaim Hymnal for Church and Home contains three Communion Settings along with liturgies for Baptism, Confirmation, Marriage, Funerals, and other occasional services. It also includes the Small Catechism, as well as 275 beloved hymns from various hymn traditions. It is a resource that would be suitable for confirmation and graduation gifts as well as congregational use. 

 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions

Original image   •   Index of Scripture Graphics and posts by Scripture reference

  Click for a recording of today's lesson. 

1 Timothy 1:14

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning the Marriage of Priests 

Likewise, “Yet woman will be saved through bearing children, if she continues in faith and love and holiness, with modesty” (1 Tim 2:15). If our opponents could produce such a passage about celibacy, then they could celebrate a great triumph. Paul says that woman is saved through childbearing. What could be a more fitting statement against the hypocrisy of celibacy than the honor that woman is saved by the conjugal works themselves—by marital intercourse, by bearing children, and other duties of the home? But what does Paul mean? Let the reader observe that faith is added—that domestic duties without faith are not praised. “If she continues,” he says, “in faith.” He speaks of the whole class of mothers, so he particularly requires faith by which woman receives the forgiveness of sins and justification. Then he adds a particular work of the calling, just as a good work of a particular calling ought to follow faith in every person. This work pleases God because of faith. So, we see that the duties of the woman please God on account of faith, and a believing woman is saved who devoutly serves her calling in such duties.

Pulling It Together

If ever there were a single word that summed up the Lutheran Confessions, it is the word faith. Everything depends upon faith in God, and that depends upon God’s grace. So, even in being a mother or any other vocation, faith must be both the catalyst and the fuel. If women expect to be saved through motherhood alone, they will be disappointed. If someone expects justification with God because of being a pastor, they will be shocked when judgment comes. If someone expects to be saved because of any great work, well, this is not the word of the Scripture. Faith must be added. We are saved because we have faith in Christ; this faith then compels us to fulfill our vocations, our callings—whether parent or pastor or doctor or any other calling that is made holy through faith in God. That is why Paul says, “continues.” The faith was present first, then came the work, but faith must endure since we trust in Christ, not our callings or our works. 

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for your overflowing grace toward me that gives me faith in Christ alone. Amen.

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Journey Through the Bible is a twenty-session series written by Tony Stoutenburg, intended as a video study guide for watching the made-for-television miniseries, "The Bible" — a ten-part video available on DVD and Blueray. (Note: For those who do not have access to “The Bible” Miniseries, it is certainly possible to substitute other videos or clips to tell the same stories. The classroom portion of this book also can be used as a stand-alone, 10-session study.)

Alternating between classroom discussion and video viewing sessions, the goal is to visually expose students to the stories of the full Biblical narrative across the Old and New Testaments. The curriculum is aimed at the middle-school age level for use as an introductory pre-confirmation Bible overview or as a year-long Confirmation unit. (Click HERE to purchase the Leader's Guide.)

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