The Smalcald Articles – part 135

Scripture Text: 2 Thessalonians 2:13–15

The Word of God united with faith makes things holy. Human rituals, especially when devised to make money, have nothing to do with consecration. Baptism, for example, was instituted by God to join us to Christ’s death and resurrection, and is to be received by faith in God’s promises.

The Smalcald Articles – part 134

Scripture Text: 1 Timothy 1:18–19

Rely on the Word of God. Human traditions will compromise Scripture and cause you to stumble in your conscience. Worse, they will leave you with a sense of angst...

The Smalcald Articles – part 133

Scripture Text: Titus 1:13–16

If a ceremony or regulation denies the work of Christ, God’s grace, or his plan of redemption, then it is untrue, or to use a stronger term, heresy. If it is claimed that any religious tradition attains to the remission of sins—in whole or in part—it is heresy.

The Smalcald Articles – part 132

Scripture Text: Matthew 24:4–5

Imagining that one’s deeds earn heaven is bad enough. The notion that one’s good deeds are more than enough for self, and that the overflow may be shared with others so that they gain heaven is blasphemous.

The Smalcald Articles – part 130

Scripture Text: Acts 15:7–11

Faith is the passive receiver. It does not grab or make wild efforts that get in the way, as though flailing its limbs trying to grasp the unreachable. Faith does not seize; it simply receives what is given.

The Smalcald Articles – part 129

Scripture Text: Philippians 3:8–11

The Church is the communion of saints, that blessed fellowship of those who believe in and are faithful to Jesus Christ. Her holiness is not a sanctity or purity of her own...

The Smalcald Articles – part 128

Scripture Text: 1 Timothy 4:1–5

I vaguely recall a Christmas when I was 16 or 17 years old and refused to open presents. Realizing how foolish and hurtful I was acting, I conceded by joining in the festivities

The Smalcald Articles – part 127

Scripture Text: Jeremiah 23:1–4

If there are no bishops to ordain pastors, or if the bishops will not do so, it remains the Church’s responsibility to make sure new pastors are prepared, ordained, and called to serve congregations.

The Smalcald Articles – part 126

Scripture Text: Ephesians 4:11–13

Christ calls ministers of his Gospel. If an institution, tradition, or just plain poor management stands in the way of their placement, it is the Church’s responsibility to make a way for them.

The Smalcald Articles – part 125

Scripture Text: Romans 16:17–18

The greater excommunication or excommunicatio major was an ecclesiastical penalty that introduced civil and political restrictions as well as religious limitations.

The Smalcald Articles – part 124

Scripture Text: John 15:1–5

The Word of God sanctifies all whom it touches. This cleansing does not happen to people because they do holy things but instead, because the holy God has forgiven them of all their sin.

The Smalcald Articles – part 123

Scripture Text: 2 Timothy 4:1–4

You see how important, how central the Word must be to all doctrine. We dare not permit anyone to claim a special word from God. Let a person speak the external, revealed Word of God and be content.

The Smalcald Articles – part 122

Scripture Text: Galatians 3:5–6

For all his devotion and good deeds, Cornelius was not spared from the wrath of God against sin. Though he feared God, he did not know him. He believed in a coming Savior but was not saved.

The Smalcald Articles – part 121

Scripture Text: Romans 10:17

That someone could believe in someone or something that they have never heard of is an absurd notion. How can anyone believe in Christ without having heard of him?

The Smalcald Articles – part 120

Scripture Text: 2 Timothy 3:1–5

The Word of God is the foundation of doctrinal authority. It is God’s agency of grace. Human reason cheats people out of his grace and turns them into true fanatics who rely on their own so-called insights instead of the conviction of Scripture.

The Smalcald Articles – part 119

Scripture Text: Galatians 3:2

God gives us his Spirit, and an understanding of the things of the Spirit, through his Word. “God told me,” does not cut it. “It is written,” is the way of God’s people. Examples are in abundance.

The Smalcald Articles – part 118

Scripture Text: Romans 7:21–25

Within myself, I delight in God’s Word. But I cannot do it, much as I try. I am a sinner; that much I can confess. And more! For, though I cannot do what the Word tells me, I keep it and remain delighted by its promises.

The Smalcald Articles – part 116

Scripture Text: Matthew 16:19

How is this binding and loosing of sins accomplished? Does it occur because one has finally confessed the last sin? If so, how does one confess an unknown sin, a stray thought, a wayward and quickly forgotten glance or word, an unknown, undone deed?

The Smalcald Articles – part 115

Scripture Text: Mark 14:22

Take this bread; it is my body. That is straightforward talk that holds a mystery. You either believe what Jesus said, or you do not, or you add to his words so that they fit human reason.

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