Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Three Outposts, Your Mission: Study 6

Church and Home

Prayer: Almighty God, You have given us grace at this time with one accord to make our supplications to You, and have promised that wherever two or three are gathered together in Your name, you will grant their requests: Fulfill now, O Lord, the desires and petitions of Your servants, as may be most expedient for them; grant us in this world knowledge of Your truth, and in the world to come life everlasting. Amen.

How are these outposts confused?
These outposts are confused when the responsibilities and authority of one outpost are mixed with or usurped by another.
Review the kinds of authority God gave to each of these outposts.

Some questions for discussion:

Can a man, simply because he is a husband and a father and therefore God's representative, decide that he can preach to the congregation at their regular worship?

Does a dad have the divine authority to go to the houses of the members of the congregation of the Church to administer the Lord's Supper?

Can a pastor, simply because he is a pastor, and therefore God's representative choose to take children from one family and place them in another?

Does a pastor or a congregation have divine authority to separate a man and wife from each other?

Does a pastor or congregation have divine authority to require a certain amount of giving from families to the church?

Re defining Marriage and Family
Recently several denominations of Christian churches in the United States and a few others in the world have declared that same-sex relationships are acceptable and God pleasing. Some have gone so far as to bless such relationships and even perform weddings for same-sex couples.

Not long before that these denominations approved of men and women living together without marriage, often declaring such relationships as being “married in the eyes of God.”

These denominations had also approved of divorce as acceptable for Christians when they no longer felt love for each other or when they didn't feel they were compatible with each other any more.

None of these issues are new. The Church has had to stand against such abuses and false teaching in the past. Even when Jesus was preaching to the people of Israel there were religious teachers who sought to make divorce acceptable. (Matthew 5:31-32; 19:1-10)

In the past when a church began to teach that fornication, adultery, or any kind of sexual relationships that differed from the way God instituted marriage that church was condemned as heretical.

Read Matthew 18:15-20: According to these words what special authority does Christ give to His Church on earth?

From the Explanation of Martin Luther's Small Catechism, Chapter 24, The Office of the Keys and Confession.

Recite John 20:22-23.

Who are to be forgiven their sins?

Who are not to be forgiven?

What must Christians do when it is clearly evident that a sinner is impenitent?

What is the real purpose behind excommunication?

How is the excommunicated person to be dealt with when he repents?

Does the Commandment and this Absolution apply equally whether the particular sin is lust, fornication, adultery, divorce, homosexuality, or transgenderism?

Forced Celibacy
The Church had wrongly accepted celibacy as a requirement for men who wished to be considered for calls as ministers. The Church had also wrongly extolled celibacy as a higher and more God-pleasing way of life than that of marriage and raising a family.

This false teaching was foretold by God through the Apostle Paul.

Read 1 Timothy 4:1-5. How does God view such a limitation on His design for marriage?

Read 1 Timothy 3:1-5. Paul describes the qualifications of those men who desire to become ministers. How does God describe the lives of those men within their outpost in the Household estate?

The Peculiar Case of Teaching
Both the Household and the Ministerial Estates have the commission to teach the Word of God. For the Church this is carried out through the assembling of the congregation around the administration of the Word and Sacraments.

Household Estate has duties toward the rearing and education of their own children in all maters, especially faith in Christ for the forgiveness of their sins. We cited some of the main passages above. Parents may choose teachers to carry out these duties on their behalf.

Read The Large Catechism the Fourth Commandment paragraph 141

Read Ephesians 6:4
Who is responsible for educating children not just with civil education but especially with religious instruction?

What might the parents do if they are unable to teach their children?

Read The Large Catechism the Fourth Commandment paragraph 167-169
Consider the closing sentence of that section: “Therefore do not think that this is left to your pleasure and arbitrary will, but that it is a strict command and injunction of God, to whom also you must give account for it."

If the parents do not feel they are educated enough or have time enough to do the job of both civil and religious education then whose responsibility is it to ensure that it is done?

Read The Large Catechism the Fourth Commandment paragraph 171-174
What do we confess are the main purposes of this duty of the parents to educate their children?

Consider the warnings in the final sentence of this section:
 “Let everyone know, therefore, that it is his duty, on peril of losing the divine favor, to bring up his children above all things in the fear and knowledge of God, and if they are talented, have them learn and study something, that they may be employed for whatever need there is.”

The Overlap with the Church:
The Church also has the responsibility toward the teaching and education of the laity. They do not replace or execute the office of teaching the young, except as they are also called upon by the Family to administer the duties of their vocation as well. But then those members of the Church are working in two different outposts. This is not impossible. We see this when the pastor is called, in addition to his duties of administering the Word and Sacrament, to administer the Household Estate’s teaching of the basics of the Christian faith in catechism class. As a catechism teacher the Pastor, in part, does the duty on behalf of the parents. As the examiner of the catechumens he does his duty as the Minister of the Word on behalf of Christ and His Church.

Primarily, his duty as a Minister is to preach the Gospel, to remit and retain sins, and to administer Sacraments to the gathered assembly and to the individual members of the assembly. The congregation may ask the pastor do do other things. Some of these duties may overlap with the duties of the parents.

The Family and the Church are different outposts. A man may be asked to carry out both duties in Christian love, but this should not confuse or blur the difference between the two different estates.

In the Lutheran Confessions we proclaim what Scripture teaches about the limits of the minister's outpost in the Church:

"For Bishops, Pastors, and Preachers. ....holding fast the faithful Word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers."(I Tm 3, SC Ap2:2)

"That we may obtain this faith, the Ministry of Teaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments was instituted."(AC 5)

"The power of the Keys, or the power of the bishops, according to the Gospel, is a power or commandment of God, to preach the Gospel, to remit and retain sins, and to administer Sacraments. For with this commandment Christ sends forth his Apostles, John 20,21 sqq.: As My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you. Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained. Mark 16:15: Go, preach the Gospel to every creature.
This power is exercised only by teaching or preaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments, according to their calling, either to many or to individuals. ... These things cannot come but by the ministry of the Word and Sacraments, as Paul says, Rom. 1:16: The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth Therefore, since the power of the Church grants eternal things, and is exercised only by the ministry of the Word, it does not interfere with civil government." (AC 28:5-10)

In the middle of this is the Sunday School teacher and the Christian Day School teacher. Does the Church have the authority from Scripture to teach the children? Yes. Does the particular authority to teach mathematics, science, art, industry, economics, history, or any other subject which does not have to do with the forgiveness of sins? No, not as Church.

The families in a congregation may desire and establish a school for their children in the name of the congregation. But they do this out of Christian freedom, not because of Scriptural mandate.

Families do not sin by keeping their children from Sunday School or Christian Day School. A family sins by not bringing up their children in the fear and knowledge of God.

A congregation may provide these services to aid the parents in the raising of their children. But a congregation with either of these schools may not demand attendance. There is no Scriptural ground for such a demand. What the Church can rightfully demand is that the parents in their congregation teach their Children God's Word, that they bring them up as fit citizens of the Church, and especially that they bring their children to Baptism and the Divine Service. The parents have the duty to ensure that their children are nurtured in such a way as to be prepared for the Lord's Supper. The Church has the duty to hold the parents accountable to their duty as parents.

Prayer: Lord, help us ever to retain the Catechism's doctrine plain as Luther taught the Word of truth in simple style to tender youth. Help us Thy holy law to learn, to mourn our sin, and from it turn in faith to Thee and to Thy Son and Holy Spirit, Three in One. Hear us, dear Father, when we pray for needed help from day to day, that as Thy children we may live, whom Thou in Baptism dist receive. Lord, when we fall and sin doth stain, absolve and lift us up again; And through the Sacrament increase our faith till we depart in peace. Amen.