Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Three Outposts, Your Mission: Study 4

The Second Outpost: The Church (Ecclesiastical Governance)

Prayer: Lord God, heavenly Father, we most heartily thank You that You have caused us to come to the knowledge of Your Word. We pray: Graciously keep us steadfast in this knowledge unto death, that we may obtain eternal life; send us, now and ever, pious pastors who faithfully preach Your Word, without offense or false doctrine, and grant them long life. Defend us from all false teachings, and frustrate the counsels of all who pervert Your Word, who come to us in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves, that Your true Church may evermore be established among us, and be defended and preserved form such false teachers; through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one true God, now and forever. Amen.

Read the Third Article of the Creed and its Meaning, refer to Chapter 24 in the Catechism Explanation.

The Church is the second outpost or estate that God established here on earth.

Why did God establish the Church?
Read John 1:12-14: The Church consists of all those who through faith in Jesus Christ, His Son, God the Father reckons as His own children. This faith is a gift of God (Ephesians 2:9-11) which trusts in His Promise of forgiveness so that we might again be reconciled to the Father and live with Him eternally (Colossians 1:19-23).

This Promise was given to Adam and Eve and all their children just after Adam and Eve fell into sin (Genesis 3)

Through this gathering of believers the faith is nurtured and conveyed through the reading and teaching of God's Word, through repentance and the absolution, through Baptism and the Lord's Supper as established by Christ. (Romans 1:16-17)

How did God establish the Church?
Genesis 2 and 3 describe the loving relationship between God and our first parents, how they rejected that love, and how God stated He would conquer Satan and reunite humanity with God.

Give examples from Genesis 3 that show what the relationship had been before sin. How does the text show Adam and Eve's relationship with God after sin.

How does God promise that relationship will be restored?

This relationship between God and us, his fallen creatures, through this promise of restoration is the realm or estate of the Church.

Read the Table of Duties
Pastors and Preachers
What the Hearers Owe to Their Pastors

What are the responsibilities of the Church?
The Church is the body or group of those who have faith in Jesus Christ as God and Savior. In our outpost in the Church Scripture teaches the way love is shown for God, His Word, for our brothers and sisters in Christ, and to the world. Love is shown through the relations and distribution of responsibilities within the Church of God as it assembles around the Word of God and the distribution of that Word in its various forms (i.e., The Law and the Means of Grace).

Read Hebrews 10:19-25. As members of the congregation we encourage each other toward the faithful use of the Means of Grace, the regular and frequent assembly of worship and participation in the Sacrament of the Altar.

The only kind of authority given to the Church is the authority to forgive or retain sins.

In order that God's love may be shown to us and through us, God has given the Word and Sacraments, which we call the Means of Grace. In the Church the ministry is comparable to the father in the household estate. There is no Church without the Ministry and there is no Ministry without the Church.
The Church is the congregation of saints, in which the Gospel is rightly taught and the Sacraments are rightly administered. (AC VII)

The Lutheran Reformers stated clearly what Scripture teaches about how God calls and gathers the entire Christian Church on earth:
That we may obtain this faith, the ministry of Teaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments was instituted. (AC V)

Read I Tim. 3:3-7. Within the Church the congregation show love by calling qualified men into the Office of Preaching

Read Romans 10:14-15. It is God who has established that His Word be taught by means of sinful men who are called by God through the Church.

So the Augsburg Confession states:
Of Ecclesiastical Order they [our Churches] teach that no one should publicly teach in the Church or administer the Sacraments unless he be regularly called. (AC XIV)

The Church can use no other tools. It cannot use the same kinds of punishments or rewards given to the authority of the Home or the State.

How does the Church show Christ's love by limiting which men can be called to be pastors?
Read Titus 1:5-9. The terms “elder” and “bishop” refers to those responsible for preaching and administering the Means of Grace.

How does the Church show Christ's love to others in the congregation and toward the office of ministry in calling men and in the way they behave during worship?
1 Timothy chapter 2

1 Corinthians 14:26-40

How does the Church show Christ's love by keeping God's doctrine unchanged?
Galatians 1:6-12

2 Timothy chapter 3

How does the Church show Christ's love in the way that it ordinarily administers the Word and Sacraments?
Titus 1:5 Christian love follows God's Word in appointing men who's lives are not contrary to the Word of God.

1 Corinthians 4:1 These men are to act in Christ's love as stewards of God's Word and Sacraments and are to be shown love and respect for that duty and office.

1 Timothy 2:11-12 In complying with the way God has stated that we show His love toward each other the men are the representatives of Christ, the Bridegroom, so women are not to hold that office.

Luke 10:16, Hebrews 13:17 In Christian love we are to hear the pastors as if Christ himself were speaking to us.

Galatians 6:6-7, 1 Timothy 5:17-18 And in Christian love we are to provide for the minister's livelihood so that he is able to carry out the duties of his call without hindrance.

What must Christians do out of Love for another when it is clearly evident that a brother or sister in their congregation is impenitent?
Matthew 18:15-17, 1 Corinthians 5:13 When it is clearly evident that congregation member is impenitent, Christians must in love confront that brother or sister according to Christ's instructions, and if that person remains unrepentant then exclude him from their fellowship (Excommunication).

What is the purpose of excommunication?
1 Corinthians 5:5 The purpose of such excommunication is to show love to the unrepentant sinner in order to convince the excluded person of the greatness of his sin so that he will repent and be saved.

How do we show Christ's love to the excommunicated person when he repents?
 2 Corinthians 2:5-8 When the excommunicated person confesses his sin before God, whether to the pastor as the representative of Christ and the congregation or to to the the congregation, he is to be given Christ's forgiveness and the congregation is to receive him again as a brother.

Up to this point we have been looking at the regular and ordinary way the Church shows Christ's love through the proper administration of the Means of Grace. But it is not always possible to have the called servant of the Word.

In such situations the regular order is set aside for that particular need.

What is the situation of need?
A situation of need exists “when a pastor is not at hand and cannot be secured; or when, if there is a pastor, he either does not serve the people properly but teaches false doctrine, or cannot serve them adequately but only so rarely that the people cannot thereby be brought to faith or be kept in it and be defended against errors, so that the Christian must faint for lack of care.”

Our Lutheran Confessions give this example from St. Augustine:

“Just as in a case of necessity even a layman absolves, and becomes the minister and pastor of another; as Augustine narrates the story of two Christians in a ship, one of whom baptized the catechumen, who after Baptism then absolved the baptizer.”

Such situations of need could be called emergencies. And each Christian can absolve and baptize in those times of need. When a Christian does these things at these times that Christian is filling the office of minister or pastor for that specific time of need.

This is the reason we have the forms for Emergency Baptism in both the Explanation of Martin Luther's Small Catechism and in the back of the Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary.

Read the Large Catechism
The Fourth Commandment, paragraphs 158-166

How are pastors or ministers to be considered as Fathers in a correct way?

Issues of Church and Home will be covered in Study 6.

Issues of Church and State will be covered in Study 8.

Prayer: Lord God, heavenly father, we thank You that through Your Son Jesus Christ You have sown Your holy Word among us: We pray that You will prepare our hearts by Your Holy Spirit, that we may diligently and reverently hear Your Word, keep it in good hearts, and bring forth fruit with patience; and that we may not incline to sin, but subdue it by Your power, and in all persecutions comfort ourselves with your grace and continual help; through Your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one true God, now and forever. Amen.