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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions

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1 Peter 2:9–10

From the Confessions: Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope 

IX. Jerome says, “If the question concerns authority, the world is greater than the city. Wherever there has been a bishop, whether at Rome, or Eugubium, or Constantinople, or Rhegium, or Alexandria, he is of equal dignity and priesthood.”

Pulling It Together

Kingdoms divide and fall under the squabbling of a king’s children. Their infighting and scrabbling for power ruins a nation. Let us look to our King, and be content with his primacy and power. For he cares for all his children, all those who are baptized and adopted into the royal family (Gal 3:26–29). We are a kingdom of equal priests by virtue of him who called us into his light. Nowhere does Scripture say that one priest is to be over another.

Prayer: You are my Father, Lord God, in whom I place all my hope and trust. Amen.

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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 Timothy 6:15b–16

From the Confessions: Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope – part 13

VIII. Many ancient synods were called and held, in which the bishop of Rome did not preside, such as Nicea and most others. This also demonstrates that the Church did not acknowledge the primacy or superiority of the bishop of Rome at that time.

Pulling It Together

Who ruled the Church in the time of the apostles? Peter? James? Paul? You would be hard-pressed to decide by reading the Scriptures. That is for good reason; none of them was superior to the other. That would have been a contradiction of the Lord’s teaching. Ministers of the gospel are called to serve. There must not be dominion of one over another in the Church (Matt 20:12). If it looks like someone is on a throne, matters have gone very wrong. Christ alone is our Sovereign; to him belongs all honor and dominion, all primacy and power.

Prayer: You are my only Sovereign, Lord. Amen.

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By What Authority is a book that confronts churches who no longer believe their own message. 

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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. 

Hebrews 10:19–25

From the Confessions: Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope 

Such superiority is impossible. For it is not possible for one bishop to be the overseer of all the churches of the world, or for churches situated in distant lands to seek ordination from one. For it is obvious that the kingdom of Christ is scattered throughout the whole world, and that today there are many churches in the East which do not seek ordination or confirmation through the Roman bishop. Since such superiority is impossible, and the churches in the greater part of the world have not acknowledged it, it is sufficiently apparent that it was not instituted.

Pulling It Together

There is the Church of Christ: those who make the good confession, who stir up love and good works in one another, and who meet together in Christ’s name until he returns. They have Jesus as their great priest; otherwise, they could not confidently draw near to God in faith. Without Christ at the heart and head of the Church, it is merely a human institution, looking for spiritual solutions through social, moral, and religious works. There is no sure hope in that place. The only hope that is both reasonable and sustainable is the hope of faith: faith in Christ, not faith in self or in someone else, but in Christ alone. There is the holy, catholic Church.

Prayer: Thank you for the full assurance you have given, God, through faith in Christ my Lord. Amen.

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The English Standard Version Pew Bible containing the Old and New Testament is an affordable durable Bible, designed for regular church use. Hardcover black with black print.

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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 Peter 5:1–3

From the Confessions: Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope 

Cyprian calls this custom a divine tradition and an apostolic observance, and affirms its observance in almost all the provinces. Therefore, since, neither ordination nor confirmation was sought from a bishop of Rome in the greater part of the world, whether by Latin or Greek churches, it is amply clear that the churches did not grant superiority and control to the bishop of Rome at that time.

Pulling It Together

Whether or not we can trust Cyprian’s knowledge of traditions and observances of such distant memory is one thing. After all, he lived in the first half of the third Century. Perhaps this is the way they chose bishops in apostolic times, but probably not (Acts 14:21–23; Titus 1:5). The Didache, what most scholars now believe to be a first century manual of Christian practice, declares, “Therefore, choose for yourselves bishops and deacons worthy of the Lord…” (Didache 15:1). At some time in first century, it appears churches were choosing their bishops.

In addition, we know what the Reformers wanted: bishops who were equals. Furthermore, we know what Scripture teaches: that they are to exercise no command or supremacy over the flock entrusted to their care.

Prayer: Give us humble leaders, Lord. Amen.

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We Still Believe is a Bible study resource reflecting on key themes in biblical Lutheran doctrine that are at risk in the Church today. It is offered in the hope that it will inspire individuals and congregations to examine the core beliefs of traditional Lutheranism and how these beliefs apply to our own present context. Written in a question and discussion style by Pastor Steven King, the participant’s book includes an introduction to and copy of the faith statement known as the Common Confession.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions

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

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Jeremiah 3:15

From the Confessions: Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope 

VII. Again, the Council of Nicaea decided that bishops should be elected by their own churches, in the presence of one or more neighboring bishops. This was the practice in the West also and in the Latin churches, as Cyprian and Augustine testify. Cyprian says in his fourth letter to Cornelius: “Accordingly, regarding the divine observance and apostolic practice, you must diligently keep and practice what is also observed among us and in almost all the provinces. For celebrating ordination properly, whatever bishops of the same province live nearest should come together with the people for whom a shepherd is being appointed. The bishop should be chosen in the presence of the people, who most fully know the life of each one, which we also have seen done among us at the ordination of our colleague Sabinus. By all the brethren having the right to vote, and by the judgment of the bishops who had assembled in their presence, the episcopate was conferred and hands laid on him.”

Pulling It Together

It has long been the practice that churches should be the ones who decide who their bishops will be. Appointments of bishops by a bishop or committee begins the slippery slope to the primacy of one. This is why the Reformation leaders desired the diligence Cyprian advised. The episcopate is a matter of God’s calling, and the peoples’ choice of a regional bishop who has been properly examined by the already established leadership.

Prayer: Give shepherds to your Church, Lord, who are faithful to you. Amen.

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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

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Matthew 16:15–18

From the Confessions: Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope 

VI. The Council of Nicaea resolved that the bishop of Alexandria should administer the churches in the East, and the bishop of Rome should administer the suburban churches, those that were in the Roman provinces in the West. The authority of the Roman bishop originally came from a resolution of the Council, by human directive. If the Roman bishop already had superiority by divine law, it would have been unlawful for the Council to take any right from him and transfer it to the bishop of Alexandria. Rather, all the bishops in the East should have perpetually sought ordination and confirmation from the bishop of Rome.

Pulling It Together

It cannot be historically demonstrated that the Roman bishop should rule over all the churches. A wider-spread authority was conferred in the fourth century. Yet, even then, the Western bishop’s administration was shared with the Eastern bishop. Nor can it be biblically established that there is to be one head over the whole Church—other than Christ (Eph 5:23; Col 1:18). The passage resorted to (Matt 16:15–18) is often misunderstood, or purposely twisted. Christ never intended to build his Church on the Apostle Peter. He has erected his Church on the bedrock confession of Peter: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt 16:16). So, let us always seek ordination, confirmation, and all else from the primacy of the Word and Spirit of Christ, the ever-living Head of the Church on earth.

Prayer: Word of God, speak so that your whole Church may clearly comprehend your preeminent rule. Amen.

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Why Did Jesus Have to Die? is a six-week Bible Study that examines the most profound event of salvation history — the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ — exploring from a biblical perspective what is known as the doctrine of the Atonement.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions

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

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December 5, 2018

1 Corinthians 3:4–9

From the Confessions: Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope 

V. Paul makes ministers equal (1 Cor 3:6), and teaches that the Church is above her ministers. Therefore, he does not ascribe to Peter superiority or lordship over the Church or the rest of the ministers. For he says, “all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas” (1 Cor 3:21–22). So, neither Peter nor other ministers should assume for themselves lordship or superiority over the Church. Let them not burden the Church with traditions. Do not allow the authority of any be greater than the Word, nor the authority of Cephas stronger than that of the other apostles. However, they reasoned at that time: “Cephas, who is an apostle of higher rank, observes this. Therefore, both Paul and the rest ought to observe this.” Paul removes this pretext from Peter, and denies that his authority is to be preferred to the rest or to the Church.

Pulling It Together

Peter himself, with a pastoral application, removed any justification for primacy of one pastor or bishop over another, when he teaches ministers of the church to be a godly example instead of a domineering master (1 Pet 5:3). Paul, with a theological method, does the same. He teaches that he and Apollos, and by extension other ministers of the Gospel, were a single unit. They were used by God: he who is the real authority.

Prayer: Make me a servant, Lord. Amen.

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The Smalcald Articles are often considered Luther’s theological Last Will and Testament. Written in easy-to-understand language, this study is presented in a discussion formation with assigned readings from the Scriptures and the Book of Concord. Included in the study is a shorter work by Philip Melanchton called “The Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope.” 

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions

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Galatians 1:15–24

From the Confessions: Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope 

IV. Paul distinctly emphasizes that he was neither ordained nor confirmed by Peter, nor does he acknowledge Peter as one from whom confirmation should be sought (Gal 2:7f). He specifically maintains that his call does not depend upon the authority of Peter, though he ought to have acknowledged Peter as a superior if Peter was superior by divine right. Accordingly, Paul says that he had immediately preached the Gospel without consulting Peter. He also declares: “And from those who were reputed to be something (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality) —those, I say, who were of repute added nothing to me” (Gal 2:6). Paul clearly testifies that he did not seek Peter’s permission to preach—even when he had come to meet him. Therefore, he teaches that the authority of the ministry depends upon the Word of God, that Peter was not superior to the other apostles, and that ordination or confirmation was not to be sought from this one person, Peter, alone.

Pulling It Together

The office of the ministry depends upon the Word of God, not those who would rule over those called to preach. Those who seek to watch over the church (1 Tim 3:1) should first be concerned with looking after themselves (1 Tim 3:2–7). In this way, they should have learned through humility to not lord their office over others—those whom God himself has called to ministry. A bishop did not call that pastor; the Spirit of God called her. A committee did not call that preacher to the ministry; Christ called him. This call therefore, must come through the Word, though afterwards, it may be endorsed by association, denomination, congregation, or council. No matter, if it does not. The Word of God will go forth without endorsement through those whom he calls. 

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for those you have called, who have spoken the Word to my life. Amen.

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The enigmatic Disciple Jesus Loved has long intrigued readers of the Gospel of John. Why did he withold his name? Did he leave clues in the Gospel to his identity? Does it matter? New Testament reasearchers have explored these questions with renewed energy. Unlike other books, “The Mystery of the Beloved Disciple” moves beyond their simple first names to find Lazarus, Martha and Mary in sources outside the Bible, and the Beloved Disciple in the Talmud! Discovering who these people actually were informs our reading of the Gospel of John in powerful ways. The truth presented in The Mystery of the Beloved Disciple; New Evidence, Compete Answer will prove irrefutable.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions

Index of Scripture Graphics and posts by Scripture reference

  Click for a recording of today’s lesson. 

Romans 1:16

From the Confessions: Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope 

John 20:21 records Christ sending out his disciples as equals, without any distinction. When he says, “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you,” he declares that he sends his disciples individually, in the same way he had been sent. Therefore, he grants no one primacy or lordship over the rest.

Pulling It Together

No Christian is to have power over others, let alone more or less power. As the Word was sent into the world, we are sent into the world with the Word. The Word is the power of ordination—not the office. A pastor or bishop is powerless without the Word, despite the office.

Prayer: Here I am, Lord; send me. 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.

Not everyone likes bread sticks. They are fine for appetizers, but it’s nice to have some selection. Add in some onion rings, BBQ wings, cheese curds, veggies…and then you’ve got something! Faith Appetizers is a sampler platter of Biblical Christianity. With an assortment of styles and topics, offering both a challenge and a chuckle, it intends to awaken your days with faith. These 286 devotions are arranged Biblically, from Genesis to Revelation. Like the good God behind our good book, they will work both the mind and heart, sometimes comforting the afflicted and sometimes afflicting the comfortable. Open up and taste one; then pass ’em around.

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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions

Index of Scripture Graphics and posts by Scripture reference

  Click for a recording of today’s lesson. 

Romans 1:16

From the Confessions: Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope 

John 20:21 records Christ sending out his disciples as equals, without any distinction. When he says, “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you,” he declares that he sends his disciples individually, in the same way he had been sent. Therefore, he grants no one primacy or lordship over the rest.

Pulling It Together

No Christian is to have power over others, let alone more or less power. As the Word was sent into the world, we are sent into the world with the Word. The Word is the power of ordination—not the office. A pastor or bishop is powerless without the Word, despite the office.

Prayer: Here I am, Lord; send me. 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.

Not everyone likes bread sticks. They are fine for appetizers, but it’s nice to have some selection. Add in some onion rings, BBQ wings, cheese curds, veggies…and then you’ve got something! Faith Appetizers is a sampler platter of Biblical Christianity. With an assortment of styles and topics, offering both a challenge and a chuckle, it intends to awaken your days with faith. These 286 devotions are arranged Biblically, from Genesis to Revelation. Like the good God behind our good book, they will work both the mind and heart, sometimes comforting the afflicted and sometimes afflicting the comfortable. Open up and taste one; then pass ’em around.

Continue reading

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