Reformation devotions, August 1517+500 (homologoumena, part 4 of 8)

Morning prayer

In the morning, when you rise, you shall bless yourself with 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, in addition, 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 to keep me this day also from sin and all 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.

As time allows, read a passage from the schedule found below or a reading from the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod.

Then go to your work with joy, singing a hymn, as the Ten Commandments, or what your devotion may suggest.

Evening prayer

In the evening, when you go to bed, you shall bless yourself with 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, in addition, 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 to 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.

Next, consider reading a passage from the schedule or a passage from the Evangelical Lutheran Synod.

Then go to sleep promptly and cheerfully.

Schedule of readings in August

Month Day Book Morning Evening

August

1

Romans 1:1-17 1:18-32

August

2

Romans 2:1-16 2:17-29

August

3

Romans 3:1-18 3:19-31

August

4

Romans 4:1-12 4:13-25

August

5

Romans 5:1-11 5:12-21

August

6

Romans 6:1-11 6:12-23

August

7

Romans 7:1-12 7:13-25

August

8

Romans 8:1-16 8:17-39

August

9

Romans 9:1-13 9:14-33

August

10

Romans 10:1-13 10:14-21

August

11

Romans 11:1-16 11:17-36

August

12

Romans 12:1-8 12:9-21

August

13

Romans 13:1-14 14:1-12

August

14

Romans 14:13-23 15:1-25

August

15

Romans 15:26-33 16:1-24

August

16

1 Corinthians 1:1-17 1:18-31

August

17

1 Corinthians 2:1-5 2:6-16

August

18

1 Corinthians 3:1-9 3:10-23

August

19

1 Corinthians 4:1-7 4:8-21

August

20

1 Corinthians 5:1-13 6:1-8

August

21

1 Corinthians 6:9-20 7:1-20

August

22

1 Corinthians 7:21-40 8:1-13

August

23

1 Corinthians 9:1-14 9:15-27

August

24

1 Corinthians 10:1-13 10:14-32

August

25

1 Corinthians 11:1-16 11:17-34

August

26

1 Corinthians 12:1-13 12:14-31

August

27

1 Corinthians 13:1-13 14:1-19

August

28

1 Corinthians 14:20-40 15:1-11

August

29

1 Corinthians 15:12-28 15:29-49

August

30

1 Corinthians 15:50-58 16:1-24

August

31

Psalm 19 127

About these devotions

1517-2017 grace alone, faith alone, Scripture alone

Reformation devotions, July 1517+500 (homologoumena, part 3 of 8)

Morning prayer

In the morning, when you rise, you shall bless yourself with 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, in addition, 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 to keep me this day also from sin and all 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.

As time allows, read a passage from the schedule found below or a reading from the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod.

Then go to your work with joy, singing a hymn, as the Ten Commandments, or what your devotion may suggest.

Evening prayer

In the evening, when you go to bed, you shall bless yourself with 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, in addition, 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 to 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.

Next, consider reading a passage from the schedule or a passage from the Evangelical Lutheran Synod.

Then go to sleep promptly and cheerfully.

Schedule of readings in July

Month Day Book Morning Evening

July

1

Matthew 1:1-16 1:17-25

July

2

Matthew 2:1-12 2:13-23

July

3

Matthew 3:1-12 3:13-17

July

4

Matthew 4:1-16 4:17-25

July

5

Matthew 5:1-20 5:21-48

July

6

Matthew 6:1-18 6:19-34

July

7

Matthew 7:1-14 7:15-29

July

8

Matthew 8:1-17 8:18-34

July

9

Matthew 9:1–17 9:18-38

July

10

Matthew 10:1-15 10:16-42

July

11

Matthew 11:1-19 11:20-30

July

12

Matthew 12:1-21 12:22-50

July

13

Matthew 13:1-23 13:24-58

July

14

Matthew 14:1-12 14:13-36

July

15

Matthew 15:1-20 15:21-39

July

16

Matthew 16:1-12 16:13-28

July

17

Matthew 17:1-13 17:14-27

July

18

Matthew 18:1-14 18:15-35

July

19

Matthew 19:1-12 19:13-30

July

20

Matthew 20:1-19 20:20-34

July

21

Matthew 21:1-22 21:23-46

July

22

Matthew 22:1-22 22:23-46

July

23

Matthew 23:1-22 23:23-39

July

24

Matthew 24:1-23 24:24-51

July

25

Matthew 25:1-13 25:14-46

July

26

Matthew 26:1-16 26:17-35

July

27

Matthew 26:36-56 26:57-75

July

28

Matthew 27:1-16 27:17-31

July

29

Matthew 27:32-44 27:45-66

July

30

Matthew 28:1-10 28:11-20

July

31

Psalm 7 104

About these devotions

1517-2017 grace alone, faith alone, Scripture alone

Reformation devotions, June 1517+500 (homologoumena, part 2 of 8)

Morning prayer

In the morning, when you rise, you shall bless yourself with 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, in addition, 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 to keep me this day also from sin and all 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.

As time allows, read a passage from the schedule found below or a reading from the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod.

Then go to your work with joy, singing a hymn, as the Ten Commandments, or what your devotion may suggest.

Evening prayer

In the evening, when you go to bed, you shall bless yourself with 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, in addition, 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 to 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.

Next, consider reading a passage from the schedule or one from WELS.

Then go to sleep promptly and cheerfully.

Schedule of readings in June

Month Day Book Morning Evening

June

1

Psalms 4 3

June

2

Psalms 63 4

June

3

Psalms 103 8

June

4

Psalms 130 91

June

5

Colossians 1:1-12 1:13-29

June

6

Colossians 2:1-7 2:8-23

June

7

Colossians 3:1-11 3:12-25

June

8

Colossians 4:1-9 4:10-18

June

9

1 Thessalonians 1:1 1:2-10

June

10

1 Thessalonians 2:1-12 2:13-20

June

11

1 Thessalonians 3:1-10 3:11-13

June

12

1 Thessalonians 4:1-12 4:13-18

June

13

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 5:12-28

June

14

2 Thessalonians 1:1-5 1:6-12

June

15

2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 2:13-17

June

16

2 Thessalonians 3:1-5 3:6-18

June

17

1 Timothy 1:1-11 1:12-20

June

18

1 Timothy 2:1-8 2:9-15

June

19

1 Timothy 3:1-13 3:14-4:5

June

20

1 Timothy 4:6-11 4:12-16

June

21

1 Timothy 5:1-16 5:17-25

June

22

1 Timothy 6:1-10 6:11—21

June

23

2 Timothy 1:1-14 1:15-2:13

June

24

2 Timothy 2:14-19 2:20-26

June

25

2 Timothy 3:1-9 3:10-17

June

26

2 Timothy 4:1-8 4:9-22

June

27

Titus 1:1-4 1:5-16

June

28

Titus 2:1-10 2:11-15

June

29

Titus 3:1-11 3:12-15

June

30

Philemon 1:1-9 1:10-25

About these devotions

1517-2017 grace alone, faith alone, Scripture alone

Reformation devotions, May 1517+500 (homologoumena, part 1 of 8)

Morning devotions

In the morning, when you rise, you shall bless yourself with 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, in addition, 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 to keep me this day also from sin and all 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.

As time allows, read a Psalm or a passage from the schedule found below.

Then go to your work with joy, singing a hymn, as the Ten Commandments, or what your devotion may suggest.

Evening devotions

In the evening, when you go to bed, you shall bless yourself with 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, in addition, 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 to 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.

Next, consider reading a Psalm or a passage from the schedule.

Then go to sleep promptly and cheerfully.

Schedule of readings in May

Month Day Book Morning Evening

May

6

John 1:1-34 1:35-51

May

7

John 2:1-12 2:13-23

May

8

John 3:1-21 3:22-36

May

9

John 4:1-38 4:39-54

May

10

John 5:1-24 5:25-47

May

11

John 6:1-25 6:26-71

May

12

John 7:1-24 7:25-52

May

13

John 8:12-30 8:31-59

May

14

John 9:1-12 9:13-41

May

15

John 10:1-19 10:20-42

May

16

John 11:1-29 11:30-57

May

17

John 12:1-26 12:27-50

May

18

John 13:1-20 13:21-38

May

19

John 14:1-15 14:16-30

May

20

John 15:1-11 15:12-27

May

21

John 16:1-15 16:16-33

May

22

John 17:1-12 17:13-26

May

23

John 18:1-24 18:25-40

May

24

John 19:1-15 19:16-42

May

25

John 20:1-18 20:19-31

May

26

John 21:1-14 21:15-25

May

27

1 John 1:1-4 1:5-10

May

28

1 John 2:1-14 2:15-29

May

29

1 John 3:1-12 3:13-24

May

30

1 John 4:1-6 4:7-21

May

31

1 John 5:1-12 5:13-21

About these devotions

1517-2017 grace alone, faith alone, Scripture alone

The Lord’s Supper and the perspicuity of Scripture: Why do Lutherans disagree with the symbolic view?

In spite of claims that the Scripture is so unclear that it needs an outside infallible interpreter, Martin Luther found some of its passages clear enough both to rely on them with complete confidence for eternal life and to shed light on many passages that are otherwise less clear. Although many individual texts lack clarity in themselves, simple trust in the straightforward texts makes the doctrine taught by Scripture, including every article of faith, completely clear. Such texts are so lucid that they need no exegesis in the sense of clarification. No more open to different interpretations than ordinary human language, the clear passages make possible the understanding of many less clear passages, the unity of faith, and the rejection of false teaching. This is what it means for Scripture to interpret Scripture: many unclear passages of Scripture are clarified by passages of Scripture that need no clarification, neither from human interpreters, nor even from other Scripture. For example, the Ethiopian eunuch could not understand an unclear messianic prophecy without Philip’s interpretation, now recorded as perfectly clear Scripture that interprets the less clear prophecy (Acts 8:30-35). Many of those who deny this doctrine of the perspicuity (clarity) of Scripture claim that divisions among Protestants result from different interpretations of Scripture passages, …

More: The Lord’s Supper and the perspicuity of Scripture: If the Bible is perfectly clear, why do Protestants still disagree?

Faith is clear, not defined in terms of good works

Many evangelical Christians tend to think they disagree with each other only on what they consider minor issues such as whether to baptize infants and whether the gift of tongues is for today, but that they agree on how the forgiveness of sins is received: by grace, through faith alone. This illusion is dispelled upon the realization that different evangelical churches mean very different things by the word faith. Here are some of the most common examples:

  • Faith really means deciding to accept Jesus as Savior by sincerely saying a sinner’s prayer.
  • Faith really means making the decision to accept Jesus not only as Savior, but also as Lord.
  • Faith really is not just belief in God’s promise that his Son died for our sins and rose from the dead, but includes a benevolent love for God, a pious hatred of sin, covenant faithfulness, an obedient heart, or some other commendable quality.

With all the differences of opinion, can anyone know with certainty what faith means? Does it matter?

More: Does faith really mean faith, or did James redefine it?

Justification by faith alone as the hallmark of Lutheranism

Ongoing controversy between even some of the most conservative followers of John Calvin surrounding what has become known as “the new perspective on Paul” dispels the illusion that professing evangelicals, though disagreeing on minor points of doctrine, at least agree on justification by faith alone. Among the more influential denominations involved, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church recently commended for study a report that explains many of the points of contention, some concerning seemingly harmless definitions of terms. Noting that words in the phrase “justification by faith alone” mean different things to different people, the report criticizes what it calls “the Federal Vision” for redefining faith to include faithfulness, obedience, or other good works. On the other hand, the same document condemns baptismal regeneration as contrary to the Scriptures and the Westminster Confession of Faith. That regeneration by baptism as God’s visible word as well as by his spoken word was integral to Martin Luther’s understanding of justification by faith suggests that those who formulated the confession’s underlying system of doctrine may have, ironically, redefined justification by faith centuries before the Federal Vision.

More: Calvinistic modification of justification by faith alone: Does God save all who believe the good news of Christ crucified?

Christ’s spoken and visible words give life

In 1531, the first Protestants clarified some fundamental similarities between the preached word of God and the sacraments, the rites instituted by Christ:

Through the Word and the rite God simultaneously moves the heart to believe and take hold of faith, as Paul says (Rom. 10:17), “Faith comes from what is heard.” As the Word enters through the ears to strike the heart, so the rite itself enters through the eyes to move the heart. The Word and the rite have the same effect, as Augustine said so well when he called the sacrament “the visible Word,” for the rite is received by the eyes and is a sort of picture of the Word, signifying the same thing as the Word. Therefore both have the same effect. (Tappert, 2000a)

The Lord’s Supper was called the visible word, used in contrast to audible word by Augustine in an age of general illiteracy, when words were only written to be read out loud. However, in today’s culture of silent reading, visible word may convey no more than written word, whereas the concept of nonverbal communication, conveying thought by means other than words heard or read, is quite familiar.

More: Ways the Son of Man calls forth life: Seeking the kingdom of God in word and sacrament

Scripture is clear enough to interpret itself

Lutherans confess the prophetic and apostolic faith as it has been handed down throughout the generations, but not because they see that earlier Christians did so. Interpreting Scripture in light of what earlier Christians say is a very dangerous procedure, for Arianism preceded the Nicene Creed, and first-century false teachers preceded both.

For Lutherans, Scripture interprets Scripture, that is, clear passages shed light on unclear passages. Otherwise, Scripture would be so unclear that it would require interpretation by human reasoning, whether that be one’s own reasoning or the reasoning handed down in one human tradition or another.

The word of God as the sole source of doctrine: Sola scriptura & the perspicuity of Scripture

Shall we be perpetually enslaved and never breathe in Christian liberty, nor sigh from out of this Babylon for our Scriptures and our home? Yet you say they were saints and illuminated the Scripture. Who has shown that they made the Scriptures clearer—what if they obscured them? . . . But doesn’t obscure Scripture require explanation? Set aside the obscure and cling to the clear. Further, who has proved that the fathers are not obscure?

—Martin Luther*

Scripture alone

As Franz Pieper explains in his Christian Dogmatics, Scripture interprets itself, being so clear that it needs no theologian or council to interpret it. Were Luther and countless believers before him deluded to take Christ as promising to give them his true body and true blood, the fault would not be with them but rather with Christ for breaking his promise to them. He could not break his promise to those who simply took him at his word, “This is my body . . . This is the blood of the New Testament” (Bickel, 2005, pp. 5-6).

Those who reject the Lutheran confessions thereby reveal that they submit to the authority of some “father” or “teacher” other than the Christ as heard in the simple word of Scripture (see Matthew 23:8-10). For confessional Lutherans, “All dogmatics must be exegesis; and all exegesis must be systematic and dogmatic. Our work, our confession, is exegesis. This is our confession of the clear Word of God” (Teigen, 1982, p. 164).

Creedal confusion

Indeed, it is Lutherans who have fixed their eyes on the bronze serpent lifted up, not on any strength of their own to heal them of their sins. Now, Lutherans are starting to bow down to the very serpent used to heal them. Given the history of the Israelites, it should not be completely baffling that some now turn to the Lutheran confessions to clarify the Scriptures, seen as lacking the clarity to be understood without some authoritative lense through which to view them.

That undermines the foundation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, for the confessions constitute a statement of what Lutherans believe, teach, and confess on the sole basis of clear passages of the prophetic and apostolic writings. That is why any article of faith that cannot be proven from Scripture alone cannot be proven from the Lutheran confessions or from any other true exposition of Scripture.

As a twofold solution to the problem of leaning on the confessions as if the Scriptures needed clarification, Naumann (2005, p. 25) suggested a greater study of both Scripture and the confessions:

There are two main steps involved in reaching and holding on to the right view of Scripture and the confessions. First and most important, is to study Scripture so that we recognize its unique authority, clarity, and sufficiency. If our confidence is solid there, we will not feel a need for another norm to prop up or supplement Scripture. The second step is to read the confessions regularly and in their entirety. Most of the problems with the interpretation of the Confessions today come from failing to hold on to the confessors’ view of the confessions as displayed especially in the beginning of the Formula of Concord. People cannot claim to be “confessionals” unless they agree with the confessors’ understanding of the confessions. To make the confessions a norm along side Scripture or to use them as a second source of doctrine is not confessional. The sad irony is that this is a Romanizing tendency, which feels the need to supplement Scripture and turn to the authority of the church to resolve doctrinal issues. There is, in fact, a high degree of correlation between this view of the confessions and Romanizing views of church and ministry and the sacraments. One rarely encounters one problem without the other.

A second source of trouble is reading the Confessions selectively without considering all pertinent statements in the whole context of the confessions. To cite but one example, pulling out the passages in the Confessions in which Predigtamt refers to the pastoral ministry and ignoring all those in which it refers to the means of grace. The solution to this is regular reading of the confessions in their entirety.

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