Saturday, September 17, 2011

Christ's kingdom exists only with the Word and Sacraments...

"Christ's kingdom exists only with the Word and Sacraments." [BOC, AP, X, 52]

Can it be any simpler than that?

Christ's kingdom exists only with the Word and Sacraments.   If so, though, if this is a statement from our Confessions, I really do wonder how it is that so many churches see the Lord's Supper, a Sacrament, as optional in services. I mean, it doesn't say "Word *or* Sacraments."

Our Confessions speak clearly as to the why of Word and Sacraments:

When we are baptized, when we eat the Lord's body, when we are absolved, our heart must be firmly assured that God truly forgives us for Christ's sake.  At the same time, by the Word and by the rite, God moves hearts to believe and conceive faith, just as Paul says, "Faith comes by hearing" (Rom. 10:17).  But just as the Word enters the ear in order to strike our heart, so the rite itself strikes the eye, in order to move the heart.  The effect of the Word and the rite are the same.  It has been well said by Agustine that a Sacrament is a visible Word, because the rite is received by the eyes and is, as it were, a picture of the Word, illustrating the same thing as the Word.  The result of both is the same.  [BOC, AP, XII (VII), 4-6]


...the Sacraments are not just marks of profession among people, as some imagine.  Rather, they are signs and testimonies of God's will toward us. Through them God moves hearts to believe. [BOC, AP, XIII (VII), 1]


For this reason, Christ causes the promise of the Gospel not only to be offered in general, but He also seals it through the Sacraments. He attaches them like seals of the promise, and by them He confirms the Gospel to every believer in particular. [BOC, FSD, XI, 37]

In the AC, XXIV, we read, Because the Mass is for the purpose of giving the Sacrament, we have Communion every holy day, and if any desires the Sacrament, we also offer it on other days, when it is given to all who ask for it. [(34) emphasis mine] Perhaps Sundays are not considered holy days??

Of course, LC, I, 92 says: Whenever God's Word is taught, preached, heard, read, or mediated upon, then the person, day, and work are sanctified. This is not because of the outward work, but because of the Word, which makes saints of us all. Isn't that pretty clear that a service with the Word would be holy? Therefore, wouldn't that mean it would be a time to offer the Lord's Supper?

If you consider what our Confessions state in the Large Catechism, the absence of the Lord's Supper on Sunday seems even stranger: 

With God's grace, you may feel your misery more and become hungrier for the Sacrament, especially since the devil doubles his force against you. He lies in wait for you without resting so that he can seize and destroy you, soul and body. You are not safe from him for one hour. How soon he can have you brought suddenly into misery and distress when you least expect it! [V, 84]

For Christ Himself says, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick." ...He means those who are weary and heavy-laden with their sins, with the fear of death, temptations of the flesh, and of the devil. If, therefore, you are heavy laden and feel your weakness, then go joyfully to this Sacrament [Lord's Supper] and receive refreshment, comfort, and strength. [71-73]

I truly wonder how a confessional Lutheran church could ever eschew the Lord's Supper, relegate its celebration to when it is convenient or something that is needed once or twice a if the Lord's Supper is not a means of God coming to us, forgiving us, strengthening us against our foe, and sustaining us. I understand the need for Lutherans to survive without it because of location, because there is no faithful, confessing congregation nearby. But to willingly forego the Sacrament, to say to God we are not in need of His gift, His forgiveness, His protection, His sustenance at the moment and will take Him up on the offer at a later time is simply beyond my comprehension.

Christ's kingdom exists only with the Word and Sacraments.

Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief!

1 comment:

ftwayne96 said...

Thank you for this, Myrtle. And pray for those congregations that have not yet understood the importance of making the Sacrament available every Sunday.