A Reading from the Book of Concord 1 year series February 16, 2014 - Septuagesima
The following reading from the CONCORDIA edition of the Book of Concord is for the Gospel, Matthew 20:1-16 for the Septuagesima, February 16, 2014.
It is from The Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Articles VII & VIII.
The one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church--like the vineyard of today's parable--is certainly always joyfully hard at work. But, it is not this work that defines her. Rather, it is her fellowship in the forgiveness of sins.
7] … The Church is defined by the Third Article of the Creed, which teaches us to believe that there is a holy Catholic Church. 8] The wicked indeed are not a holy Church. The words that follow, namely, "the communion of saints," seems to be added in order to explain what the Church signifies: the congregation of saints, who have with each other the fellowship of the same Gospel or doctrine and the same Holy Spirit, who renews, sanctifies, and governs their hearts.
9] This article has been presented for a necessary reason. We see the infinite dangers that threaten the destruction of the Church. In the Church itself, the number of the wicked who oppress it is too high to count. Therefore, this article in the in the Creed shows us these in order that we may not despair, but may know that the Church will remain (until the end of the world). No matter how great the multitude of the wicked is, we may know that the Church still exists Christ provides those gifts He has promised to the Church--to forgive sins, to hear prayer, to give the Holy Spirit. 10] It says Church catholic, in order that we may not understand the Church to be an outward government of certain nations. Rather, the Church is people scattered throughout the whole world. They agree about the Gospel and have the same Christ, the same Holy Spirit, and the same Sacraments, whether they have the same or different human traditions. 11] The explanation appearing in the Decrees says, "The Church in its wide sense embraces good and evil." Likewise, it says that the wicked are in the Church only in name, not in fact. The good are in the Church both in fact and in name. To this effect there are many passages in the Fathers. For Jerome says, "The sinner, therefore, who has been soiled with any blotch cannot be called a member of Christ's Church, neither can he be said to be subject to Christ."
12] Hypocrites and wicked people are members of this true Church according to outward rites (titles and offices). Yet, when the Church is defined, it is necessary to define what is the living body of Christ and what is, in name and in fact, the Church…. 13] If we will define the Church only as an outward political order of the good and wicked, people will not understand that Christ's kingdom is righteousness of heart and the gift of the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17).
Condensed from CONCORDIA: THE LUTHERAN CONFESSIONS, copyright 2005,2006 by Concordia Publishing House. Used by permission. All rights reserved. To purchase a copy of CONCORDIA, call 800-325-3040.
Lord grant you faith in His grace alone for your salvation unto eternal life. Amen