A Reading from the Book of Concord 1 year series October 26, 2014 - Reformation [Transferred]
The following reading from the CONCORDIA edition of the Book of Concord is for the Gospel. John 8:31-36 for the Reformation [Transferred], October 26, 2014.
It is from Small Catechism, Luther's Preface.
Jesus, the Son, has set us free indeed—not free to worship and do as we please, whenever we please; but free from the slavery of sin, death, and hell to live in His house and feast on His grace now and forever.
Last, since the tyranny of the pope has been abolished, people are no longer willing to go to the Sacrament, and thus they despise it. Here again encouragement is necessary, yet with this understanding: We are to force no one to believe or to receive the Sacrament. Nor should we set up any law, time, or place for it. Instead, preach in such a way by their own will, without our law, they will urge themselves and, as it were, compel us pastors to administer the Sacrament. This is done by telling them, "When someone does not seek or desire the Sacrament at least four times a year, it is to be feared that he despises the Sacrament and is not a Christian, just as a person is not a Christian who does not believe or hear the Gospel." For Christ did not say, "Leave this out, or, despise this," but, "Do this, as often as you drink it" (1 Corinthians 11:25), … Truly, He wants it done, and not entirely neglected and despised….
Now, whoever does not highly value the Sacrament shows that he has no sin, no flesh, no devil, no world, no death, no danger, no hell. In other words, he does not believe any such things, although he is in them up over his head and his ears and is doubly the devil's own. On the other hand, he needs no grace, no life, no paradise, no heaven, no Christ, no God, nor anything good. For if he believed that he had so much evil around him, and needed so much that is good, he would not neglect the Sacrament, by which such evil is remedied and so much good is bestowed. Nor would it be necessary to force him to go to the Sacrament by any law. He would come running and racing of his own will, would force himself, and beg that you must give him the Sacrament.
Therefore, you must not make any law about this, as the Pope does. Only set forth clearly the benefit and harm, the need and use, the danger and the blessing, connected with this Sacrament. Then the people will come of themselves without you forcing them. But if they do not come, let them go their way and tell them that such people belong to the devil who do not regard nor feel their great need and God's gracious help. But if you do not urge this, or make a law or make it bitter, it is your fault if they despise the Sacrament. What else could they be than lazy if you sleep and are silent? Therefore, look to it, pastors and preachers. Our office has now become a different thing from what it was under the Pope. It has now become a serious and saving office. So it now involves much more trouble and labor, danger and trials. In addition, it gains little reward and thanks in the world. But Christ Himself will be our reward if we labor faithfully (See Genesis 15:1). To this end may the Father of all grace help us, to whom be praise and thanks forever through Christ, our Lord! Amen.
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