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Large Catechism on Confession, 1-7

Large Catechism

A Brief Exhortation to Confession (1-7)

1 Concerning confession, we have always taught that it should be voluntary and purged of the pope’s tyranny. We have been set free from his coercion and from the intolerable burden he imposed upon the Christian church. Up to now, as we all know from experience, there has been no law quite so oppressive as that which forced everyone to make confession on pain of the gravest mortal sin. 2 Moreover, it so greatly burdened and tortured consciences with the enumeration of all kinds of sin that no one was able to confess purely enough. 3 Worst of all, no one taught or understood what confession is and how useful and comforting it is. Instead, it was made sheer anguish and a hellish torture since people had to make confession even though nothing was more hateful to them. 4 These three things have now been removed and made voluntary so that we may confess without coercion or fear, and we are released from the torture of enumerating all sins in detail. Moreover, we have the advantage of knowing how to use confession beneficially for the comforting and strengthening of our conscience.

5 Everyone knows this now. Unfortunately, men have learned in only too well; they do whatever they please and take advantage of their freedom, acting as if they will never need or desire to go to confession any more. We quickly understand whatever benefits us, and we grasp with uncommon ease whatever in the Gospel is mild and gentle. But such pigs, as I have said, are unworthy to appear in the presence of the Gospel or to have any part of it. They ought to remain under the pope and submit to being driven and tormented to confess, fast, etc., more than ever before. For he who will not believe the Gospel, live according to it, and do what a Christian ought to do, should enjoy none of its benefits. 6 What would happen if you wished to enjoy the Gospel’s benefits but did nothing about it and paid nothing for it? For such people we shall provide no preaching, nor will they have our permission to share and enjoy any part of our liberty, but we shall let the pope or his like bring them back into subjection and coerce them like the tyrant he is. The rabble who will not obey the Gospel deserve just such a jailer as God’s devil and hangman. 7 To others who hear it gladly, however, we must preach, exhorting, encouraging, and persuading them not to lose this precious and comforting treasure which the Gospel offers. Therefore we must say something about confession to instruct and admonish the simple folk.

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What do we do with our sins?

Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted.  But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.  All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

Isaiah 53:4-6

Of whom does the prophet Isaiah write?  Certainly not you or me.  He speaks of the Lord’s Servant (Isaiah 52:13), the One who was to come to bear our griefs, carry our sorrows, who would be wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, on whom the chastisement of our peace would be upon, by whose stripes we would be healed, and  upon whom the Lord laid the iniquity of us all.  This “Lord’s Servant” is none other than Christ Jesus (see Hebrews 9:28-10).

Since the Lord has laid the iniquity of us all upon His Servant, His Son, Jesus Christ, only those who have their sin on Him have no sin of their own for which to give answer.  In other words, if your sin is on Jesus, it is truly gone and not on you.

On the other hand, if you would bear your own sin, or try to take care of it yourself, your sin is still on you, and you will be held accountable.  Many devise ways to appease God and to ease their burdened conscience, but to no avail.  Guilt and shame cannot be taken away by what man does, but only by Christ.  And in Christ, it is.

“He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities.  For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:10-12).

If Christ’s death on the cross is not alone sufficient for your sin, then there is yet still more for you to do to take care of it before God.  But placing all your sin on Christ means that there is nothing for you to do except to trust in Christ, resting in Him as your Savior, for so He is.  Thanks be to God!

Luther

“The question is: What are we to do with sins—not only other people’s but our own? Paul answers that the man who is called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has given Himself for them. These are wonderful words of consolation and promises of the old law: that our sins are not removed by any other means than by the Son of God given into death. Such bullets and such artillery must be used to destroy the papacy, all the religions of the heathen, all ceremonies, all works, all merits. For if our sins can be removed by our own satisfactions, why did the Son of God have to be given for them? But since He was given for them, it follows that we cannot remove them by works of our own.”(Luther’s Lectures on Galatians, LW 26, p32-33).

Prayer: Gracious God, look not at my sin, but upon Your Son Jesus, who died on the cross for Me.  Help me not to trust my own works at all, but only in the merits of Jesus, Your beloved Son and my Redeemer.  Amen.

The Lutheran Witness–New Look

The Lutheran Witness (LW), the “official periodical of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod,” has undergone a dramatic change in just a few months.  The “From the President” article, instead of at the back, is now in the front.  Articles are substantive and doctrinal in nature, yet also practical and contemporary.  They direct the readers to Christ and Him crucified.  More is being said about the Lutheran (Christian) doctrine of vocation, the place(s) in which God’s people serve God and neighbor, a much-needed corrective to our individualistic and narcissistic society.

Check it out: www.lcms.org/witness.

God Sent His Son that the World might be Saved through Him

For God so loved the world…What precious words these are! Precious indeed! They are our true hope and consolation, for by them, we are certain of God’s love towards us, because God the Father has indeed sent His Son. God the Father has indeed sent His Son, that by His blood your sin not be debted against you.

Take these words to heart. Let them sink down, for only in God sending His Son and the Son being sent and lifted up on the tree of death in crucifixion is your salvation. God did so love the world. And God’s love is unconditional. God’s love is not conditioned on the response, on the belief or unbelief, of that love with which God so loves the world. If it was, then all who do not love Him still would never know the God of love. Even we, before coming to know the love of God in Jesus Christ for ourselves, would never know, for if God loves only those who love Him, very few indeed would ever know of His love.

But God’s love is not only for the believer and they who will believe. For the worst of sinners and for ungodly people God sent His Son into the world. This doesn’t make sense. It seems utter nonsense. Who in our day would give something for nothing in return. Who would freely bestow a gift to someone only to have it rejected? This is ludicrous. Who would give their very life for someone when that life would not be wanted? Who would spend their all to help someone without even a thanks or without a nod of appreciation?…

Jn03.1-17, Lent 2, 2011A.pdf

In the Midst of Temptation

St. James, in his epistle, writes, Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him (James 1:12)

The life of the Christian is a life lived under the cross, under the cross in faith to Christ, and under the cross bearing what we are given to bear as Christians, as God’s people who are baptized into God’s Holy Name, and God’s people who look to Christ’s Second Coming and our eternal home, for we know that while here on earth, we’re on a pilgrimage, our final destination being heaven, the place which awaits all who endure to the end in the true faith of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The faith of which we speak is not a blind faith or a faith which simply says that things will get better. The Christian faith is not faith which looks for peace on earth or hopes to change the world. Neither is the Christian faith a faith which seeks to escape all kinds of sufferings in the world.

The Christian faith is that faith which places trust in the Lord Jesus alone for help and salvation. God does not promise that the world will get better. All that we see around us and even the Scriptures say that the world will not get better, but will grow worse as the day of our Lord’s return draws closer and closer, as St. Paul the apostle says, Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons (1 Timothy 4:1)…

Mt04.1-11, Lent 1, 2011A.pdf

Return to the Lord

The day of the LORD is great and very terrible; Who can endure it? (Joel 2:11)

The day of the Lord, the day of Judgment, is come. It is great and very terrible. Yes, indeed! Who can endure it? Who can persist and continue when the Lord meets out His judgment upon a wayward people, a wayward people even called by His Holy Name.

Joel prophesied to such a people. He spoke and proclaimed to the people of God. They had departed from the Lord, following their own ways, heeding their own opinions, holding fast to their own judgments, and not according to the will of the Lord. They were a way faring people, led by their own desires and hearkening to their own inclinations.

They took for granted all that the Lord had done for them, all that He had provided for them, and how He had kept and preserved them. And now, judgment was to come, judgment by way of that which would destroy their bounty, diminish their excess, and humble a prideful people…

Joel2.12-19, Ash Wednesday, 2011A.pdf

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