World Wide Wolfmueller

Law and Gospel in Joyful Clarity

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The Epitome of the Formula of Concord, Published

FREE DOWNLOAD | PRINT EDITION ($5)

A number of political and theological controversies followed after the death of Martin Luther (in 1546). These controversies included the topics of Original Sin, Righteousness, Law and Gospel, Good Works, the Lord’s Supper, Election, and more.

In an attempt to settle these controversies and bring about a theological unity among the theologians of the Augsburg Confession, a meeting was held in Torgau from April until June of 1576. Momentum from this meeting inspired the writing of a confession, The Formula of Concord, a year later.

The two leading theologians were Jakob Andrea and Martin Chemnitz.

The Epitome of the Formula of Concord was published first in 1577. It provides profound insight into the theology of the Scriptures, and also provides an outline for approaching theological controversies.

The Epitome is published in the Book of Concord (1580), and is considered a right articulation of doctrine and a correct exposition of the Holy Scriptures.

For us, the Epitome is a beautiful and surprisingly comforting unfolding of Biblical teaching. Each theological dispute is carefully and clearly outlined, and the appropriate Scriptures are brought together to witness to the truth. Only after the case has been made from the Scriptures, the testimony of the Augsburg Confession, Martin Luther, and other fathers of the church are brought in to support the teaching.

Errors are rejected with clarity. The truth is brought forth to comfort sinners with the hope of the Gospel. All the time the Formulators have their eyes and their pens pointing at Christ, preaching and teaching His person and work for us.

FREE DOWNLOAD | PRINT EDITION ($5)

Lutheran Reformation Tour Recommendations

As we arrived back from our June (2017) tour in Germany, I asked all my fellow adventurers for a review/recommendation of the trip.

I’m pleased to post them here:

(If you would like to join our trip in September, act fast! Click here for more info.)

“Simply stunning, a dream come true! Imagine following in Martin Luther’s footsteps, studying theology/worshipping with fellow Lutherans, and seeing the breath-taking sights of Germany all at the same time. It doesn’t get better than this! I haven’t even been home for 48 hours and I’m ready to pack my bags and go again!” -Krystle

“Pastor Wolfmueller puts on a great Reformation Tour! This trip is the perfect balance between theology, history, and an amazing amount of fun. Everything is Christ Centered and Bible Based. Not only will you learn things about Martin Luther that you never knew, you will be able to ask all those theological questions! Pastor Wolfmueller has a great way of explaining things so that everyone can understand. The schedule is rigorous so that you get all your money’s worth in this trip and it is so worth your time! I would highly recommend this trip!” -Allysha

“We have never been a more detailed and thoughtfully planned trip. Kudos to you, Keri, and Chuck. Thanks for a wonderful trip.” -Earl & Rita

“Understand our Christian heritage – why we are ‘Lutheran’ and what being ‘Lutheran’ means – Organized by some ‘Old Lutherans’ for Christians (Lutheran or not). Being with Pastor Wolfmueller is always interesting – and the topic at hand (Luther at the 500th anniversary of the Reformation) makes the opportunity even better. Solid christian fellowship and study during a coach tour of major Luther sites in Germany.” -Jay

“If you have the chance to go on a Reformation tour through Germany, I highly recommend Pastor Wolfmueller’s Luther/Bach Tour. You will be delighted by the sights, learn more of our Lutheran heritage, and make some of the greatest friends you’ve ever known. The tour is completely centered on Christ and it highlights the people He has used — and continues to use — to bring His Gospel to the world. You won’t be disappointed!” -Sarah

“Has American Christianity Failed?” Study Guide and Questions

Many thanks to Pr Mark Moreno for putting together this study guide of “Has American Christianity Failed?”

Has Christianity Failed_ Study Questions

Study Guide:

Has Christianity Failed?                                                               Discussion Questions

 

Chapter One – Examining the Characteristics of American Christianity

  1. Revivalism teaches that the Christian life begins with a personal decision to accept Christ (p.14). Why is this appealing? What is the danger?
  2. Pietism teaches that the Christian life is chiefly marked by growth in good works (p.15). Why is that appealing? What is the danger?
  3. Mysticism teaches that we can have direct, unmediated access to God (p.18). Why is that appealing? What is the danger?
  4. Enthusiasm teaches that the spiritual life happens inside of us (p.21). Why is that appealing? What is the danger?
  5. Legalism puts the Law above the Gospel by establishing requirements for salvation beyond repentance and faith in Jesus Christ (p.22). Why is that appealing? What is the danger?
  6. Moralism teaches that the Gospel can be reduced to improvements in behavior (p.28). Why is that appealing? What is the danger?
  7. The parable of the Prodigal Son has “three slaveries”: Slavery to passion and sin, slavery to despair of God’s mercy, and slavery obedience to God’s commandments (p.33). Why do we tend towards slavery instead of sonship?

 

Chapter Two – God Speaks

  1. The three attributes that American Christianity gives the Bible are inspiration, inerrancy and infallibility (p.42). Why isn’t this enough?
  2. The clarity of the Bible is something we believe in as Lutherans that many other Christians simply don’t believe. Is Scripture clear?
  3. The Bible is sufficient, it is enough for our life and our faith. Why do some argue that it isn’t? Does the Bible answer the question “what is God’s will for my life?”?
  4. We believe the Bible is efficacious, it has power and authority. If one loses sight of this truth, what happens?
  5. Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. The Bible as instruction manual is horrible. What are the shortcomings with this approach?
  6. Our doctrine IS our salvation (p.51). Reaction?
  7. Why are these two questions important when reading Scripture? 1) What is God teaching about Himself? 2) Where is the Comfort?
  8. The Bible is awesome? Why and how??

Chapter Three – How Bad a Boy Are You?

  1. American Christianity softens the Bible’s teaching on sin (p.58). How does revivalism, pietism and/or mysticism feed into that?
  2. Original sin is the sin we have through Adam. Why is that an important doctrine?
  3. Sin, death and the devil are always together. What does that mean?
  4. Our sinful nature comes first, then our sinful actions. What difference does that make?
  5. Which of the three functions of the law (curb, mirror, guide) is most compelling to you?
  6. The discussion of free will (p.66ff) if critical to our understanding of our relationship to God. Do we have free will or not?
  7. When we see Jesus on the cross, we see what we deserve (p.70). What does Jesus suffering and death say about our sin?

 

Chapter Four – The One who is Always and Only for You

  1. Much of American Christianity is focused in the Christian and not on Christ (p.73). Have you seen this? Fallen for it?
  2. The Old Testament is all about Jesus. Which of the three texts made the most profound impact on you?
  3. In Genesis 3:15, we hear a pronouncement against the devil, and his offspring sin and death. Had you heard it unpacked that way before?
  4. The OT sacrificial system points us to Jesus. What does American Christianity do with the OT in general and sacrifices in particular?
  5. The cross is our theology; our preaching and teaching centers on it. Is the cross absent in American Christianity? More than just the sanctuary?
  6. Jesus suffering and death on the cross centers on physical pain, shame and spiritual agony. Why does modern theology tend to not preach or teach on this or the wrath of God?

 

Chapter Five – Your Name: Righteous

  1. What is the Great Exchange?
  2. The Gospel is not the fact of the cross or the event of the cross. It is the word of the cross, the promise of the cross. What does this mean?
  3. Repentance is the requirement and the result of God’s Word coming to mankind. How do the parables of Luke 15 demonstrate this?
  4. The two parts of repentance include 1) contrition that affirms we are sinners deserving of God’s wrath and 2) faith. American Christianity thinks this happens once or a handful of times. Why is that so wrong?
  5. Conversion is God’s work. Why isn’t it our work, our decision?
  6. The righteousness of the Gospel belongs to Jesus but is graciously given to us. What is “passive” righteousness?
  7. What does the Office of the Keys have to do with absolution? Forgiveness?
  8. A good conscience is not a conscience without sin…A good conscience is a forgiven conscience (p.116). Did the court room analogy help this concept for you?

 

Chapter Six – Go Play Outside

  1. Why does American Christianity seem to keep the spiritual life on the “inside”? What is lost by this?
  2. The kingdom of God comes by promise and by faith, and Jesus connects this promise to water. How do you find the Spirit? Feel the Spirit?
  3. American Christianity distrusts anything that is “outside” of us. Why? What is being missed out on?
  4. Baptism is Gospel: the gift of God for the salvation of sinners. Why does American Christianity deny this truth?
  5. Infant baptism is so anathema to American Christianity. Why should infants be baptized?
  6. The Lord’s Supper IS the body and blood, it IS the bread and wine. It brings life and salvation! Why would American Christianity minimize it by saying it is just symbolic?

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Seven – The How of Good Works

  1. American Christianity is confused about the how, what and the why of good works. What is the proper view of these?
  2. How is baptism the battleground of the Christian life?
  3. The four states of man’s will (and charts on p.149) is a compelling topic. Did it clear anything up?
  4. The four parts of the Christian good work includes what (p.154)? Why does that matter?
  5. All good works are completely impossible without faith. True or false? Why?
  6. Of the three danger consciences (p.158ff) which is the one you battle most?
  7. How does suffering fit into the Christian life?

 

Chapter Eight – The Gift of a Neighbor and the Beginning of Love

  1. Christian love is sacrifice, it is selfless, it is death (p.169). What is wrong with loving yourself?
  2. Scriptures locate good works first in our homes and then with the folks we live and work with (p. 172). Why is vocation essential to understanding good works?
  3. Worship is being served by Jesus (p.176). It’s about God’s work and Word, His speaking and giving. How does that challenge us? American Christianity?
  4. What’s wrong with “Relationship theology”?
  5. Piety is the way our doctrine looks when lived (p.184). Piety flows from baptism, not a decision to follow Christ. How does baptism connect to daily life?
  6. Of the three theological truths on page 187, which one stands out to you? Why?

 

Chapter Nine – Wrestling with God: Why Prayer is Suffering

  1. The Command of Prayer is an invitation. How is this comforting?
  2. The Promise of Prayer includes that He hears and answers! Have you thought that all along?
  3. Jesus teaches us what we really need in this life. What is that?
  4. The words we pray from scripture have an advantage over our “heart felt” prayers. What?
  5. Prayer is taught! What have you learned about prayer from this chapter?
  6. Prayer is warfare. Have you heard the term prayer warrior? How is that accurate?
  7. Evangelism and mission are not to be motivated by worry or anxiety. Is Hope guilty of this?

 

Chapter Ten – The End of the World as We Know It

  1. Why is American Christianity obsessed with the End Times?
  2. American Christianity tends to premillennialism which teaches Jesus will come again to establish His Kingdom on Earth. How does that reflect in other parts of their theology?
  3. Why do dispensationalists make a distinction between Israel and the Church? What danger does that pose?
  4. What is the danger of the so-called “consistent, literal interpretation”?
  5. Is history about the glory of God or the salvation of mankind?
  6. The author gave five rules to reading the Book of Revelation (p.227ff). Which of those jumps out at you?

 

Chapter Eleven –  Surprised by the Gospel

  1. The Gospel is always a surprise. Is that true? Why?
  2. Sin forgiven for you, sin destroyed for you, death swallowed up for you; how is this Gospel surprising?
  3. Jesus undoes so much with a word; how does He have that power?
  4. How is the Lutheran Church an alternative to American Christianity? What can we do to proclaim the treasure that is the Gospel?

 

+ SDG +

Rev. Dr. Mark Moreno

St. Matthew Teaching Bible

Dear Friends,

I’m very pleased to announce the publication of the St. Matthew Teaching Bible.

We have formatted the text of St. Matthew with extra large margins for notes. We’ve included cross-references, timelines, and a map. You asked for a few blank pages for notes, you’ve got them here. (This document is 275 pages for the Greek and English version, and 147 pages with only the English.)

Eight different versions are available: Greek and English or English only, lines or no lines, and free to print or published by Lulu.

The links are here to get your own copy:

Lulu (print on demand): 
Greek and English
English Only
Lines
No Lines
Free Download
Greek and English
English Only
Lines
Free Download Free Download
No Lines
Free Download Free Download

 

We also have published Acts, 1 & 2 Peter, and the Revelation. Find them all here. Thanks for helping spread the word!

PrBW

Doctrines Bound Up to the Ascension of Jesus, a quick list

Doctrines Bound Up to the Ascension of Jesus, a quick list

  1. Throne
    1. Jesus sits at the Father’s right hand. This is not a place, but the Father’s authority. The entire person of Jesus, including His human nature, takes up the full use of His divine attributes.
      1. This is called “the majestic genus,” genus maistaticum.
    2. The Ascension marks the entering into the fullness of the state of exaltation.
      1. Jesus is omnipresent, everywhere. Thus He keeps His promise “I will never leave you or forsake you.”
      2. Jesus is also thusly able to place His body and blood wherever He wants, which includes on our altar and in your mouth tonight!
    3. Jesus rules all things.
      1. Psalm 110:1 is thus fulfilled.
      2. Jesus rule is for the sake of the Church. (Ephesians 1:21-23)
      3. Although Jesus via His divine nature already ruled all things, He now receives this rule and authority according to His person as a gift from the Father (Matthew 28:19f), which means that He rules as the one who was crucified. (Consider Revelation, the Lamb who sits on the throne.)
    4. Jesus brings to completion the work of redemption.
      1. He “leads captivity captive.”
      2. He “sits” at the Father’s right hand, finished with His appointed work (Hebrews 10:12)
    5. Jesus is worshiped by men and angels.
  1. Advocate
    1. We have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous one (1 John 2:1).
    2. Jesus’ work at the Father’s throne is judicial.
      1. He presents His blood as the price for our atonement. (Hebrews 9:14)
      2. He pleads our case before the Father. (Romans 8)
      3. He removes Satan and his accusations from the throne room of heaven (Revelation 12)
  1. Priest
    1. Jesus intercedes for us before the Father’s throne (Hebrews 7, Romans 8)
    2. Jesus hears our prayers. He answers them.
    3. Jesus sympathizes with us. His hands raised in blessing as He ascends indicate that His ascension is an act of grace.
  2. Sending
    1. Jesus sends the Holy Spirit, the Comforter. (John 14, 16, Acts 2, Pentecost)
    2. Jesus sends the prophets, apostles, evangelists, pastors and teachers. (Ephesians 4)
  3. Exaltation
    1. Jesus restores the way for humanity to return to the Father. “Lift up, your heads, you mighty gates.” Psalm 24:7
    2. So all the talk of a man on the throne of God.
    3. Just as Jesus resurrection assures our resurrection (He is the “firstfruits”, 1 Corinthians 15:23; 1 Thessalonians 4:14), so His ascension assures our ascension.

Holy Week Chronology Re-Boot

Thanks to Chip Thompson for this fantastic re-do of the Passion History:

HolyWeekChronology-New (1)

Has American Christianity Failed? presentation in Boulder, CO (Video)

Thanks to University Lutheran Chapel in Boulder for hosting me for a presentation about the book, Has American Christianity Failed?

 

Flamme on Aquinas on Augustine on the Incarnation

From Pr. Brian Flamme:

Augustine speaks about the incarnation at length in many sources, but he doesn’t have one treatise devoted to the subject. Thomas Aquinas gives us some good places to start looking… Check out all the Augustine references in the “I answer” section and following.

Image result for aquinas

Summa:

Article 2. Whether it was necessary for the restoration of the human race that the Word of God should become incarnate?

Objection 1. It would seem that it was not necessary for the reparation of the human race that the Word of God should become incarnate. For since the Word of God is perfect God, as has been said (I:4:1; I:4:2), no power was added to Him by the assumption of flesh. Therefore, if the incarnate Word of God restored human nature. He could also have restored it without assuming flesh.

Objection 2. Further, for the restoration of human nature, which had fallen through sin, nothing more is required than that man should satisfy for sin. Now man can satisfy, as it would seem, for sin; for God cannot require from man more than man can do, and since He is more inclined to be merciful than to punish, as He lays the act of sin to man’s charge, so He ought to credit him with the contrary act. Therefore it was not necessary for the restoration of human nature that the Word of God should become incarnate.

Objection 3. Further, to revere God pertains especially to man’s salvation; hence it is written (Malachi 1:6): “If, then, I be a father, where is my honor? and if I be a master, where is my fear?” But men revere God the more by considering Him as elevated above all, and far beyond man’s senses, hence (Psalm 112:4) it is written: “The Lord is high above all nations, and His glory above the heavens”; and farther on: “Who is as the Lord our God?” which pertains to reverence. Therefore it would seem unfitting to man’s salvation that God should be made like unto us by assuming flesh.

On the contrary, What frees the human race from perdition is necessary for the salvation of man. But the mystery of Incarnation is such; according to John 3:16: “God so loved the world as to give His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him may not perish, but may have life everlasting.” Therefore it was necessary for man’s salvation that God should become incarnate.

I answer that, A thing is said to be necessary for a certain end in two ways. First, when the end cannot be without it; as food is necessary for the preservation of human life. Secondly, when the end is attained better and more conveniently, as a horse is necessary for a journey. In the first way it was not necessary that God should become incarnate for the restoration of human nature. For God with His omnipotent power could have restored human nature in many other ways. But in the second way it was necessary that God should become incarnate for the restoration of human nature. Hence Augustine says (De Trin. xii, 10): “We shall also show that other ways were not wanting to God, to Whose power all things are equally subject; but that there was not a more fitting way of healing our misery.”

Now this may be viewed with respect to our “furtherance in good.” First, with regard to faith, which is made more certain by believing God Himself Who speaks; hence Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xi, 2): “In order that man might journey more trustfully toward the truth, the Truth itself, the Son of God, having assumed human nature, established and founded faith.” Secondly, with regard to hope, which is thereby greatly strengthened; hence Augustine says (De Trin. xiii): “Nothing was so necessary for raising our hope as to show us how deeply God loved us. And what could afford us a stronger proof of this than that the Son of God should become a partner with us of human nature?” Thirdly, with regard to charity, which is greatly enkindled by this; hence Augustine says (De Catech. Rudib. iv): “What greater cause is there of the Lord’s coming than to show God’s love for us?” And he afterwards adds: “If we have been slow to love, at least let us hasten to love in return.” Fourthly, with regard to well-doing, in which He set us an example; hence Augustine says in a sermon (xxii de Temp.): “Man who might be seen was not to be followed; but God was to be followed, Who could not be seen. And therefore God was made man, that He Who might be seen by man, and Whom man might follow, might be shown to man.” Fifthly, with regard to the full participation of the Divinity, which is the true bliss of man and end of human life; and this is bestowed upon us by Christ’s humanity; for Augustine says in a sermon (xiii de Temp.): “God was made man, that man might be made God.”

So also was this useful for our “withdrawal from evil.” First, because man is taught by it not to prefer the devil to himself, nor to honor him who is the author of sin; hence Augustine says (De Trin. xiii, 17): “Since human nature is so united to God as to become one person, let not these proud spirits dare to prefer themselves to man, because they have no bodies.” Secondly, because we are thereby taught how great is man’s dignity, lest we should sully it with sin; hence Augustine says (De Vera Relig. xvi): “God has proved to us how high a place human nature holds amongst creatures, inasmuch as He appeared to men as a true man.” And Pope Leo says in a sermon on the Nativity (xxi): “Learn, O Christian, thy worth; and being made a partner of the Divine nature, refuse to return by evil deeds to your former worthlessness.” Thirdly, because, “in order to do away with man’s presumption, the grace of God is commended in Jesus Christ, though no merits of ours went before,” as Augustine says (De Trin. xiii, 17). Fourthly, because “man’s pride, which is the greatest stumbling-block to our clinging to God, can be convinced and cured by humility so great,” as Augustine says in the same place. Fifthly, in order to free man from the thraldom of sin, which, as Augustine says (De Trin. xiii, 13), “ought to be done in such a way that the devil should be overcome by the justice of the man Jesus Christ,” and this was done by Christ satisfying for us. Now a mere man could not have satisfied for the whole human race, and God was not bound to satisfy; hence it behooved Jesus Christ to be both God and man. Hence Pope Leo says in the same sermon: “Weakness is assumed by strength, lowliness by majesty, mortality by eternity, in order that one and the same Mediator of God and men might die in one and rise in the other–for this was our fitting remedy. Unless He was God, He would not have brought a remedy; and unless He was man, He would not have set an example.”
And there are very many other advantages which accrued, above man’s apprehension.

Reply to Objection 1. This reason has to do with the first kind of necessity, without which we cannot attain to the end.

Reply to Objection 2. Satisfaction may be said to be sufficient in two ways–first, perfectly, inasmuch as it is condign, being adequate to make good the fault committed, and in this way the satisfaction of a mere man cannot be sufficient for sin, both because the whole of human nature has been corrupted by sin, whereas the goodness of any person or persons could not be made up adequately for the harm done to the whole of the nature; and also because a sin committed against God has a kind of infinity from the infinity of the Divine majesty, because the greater the person we offend, the more grievous the offense. Hence for condign satisfaction it was necessary that the act of the one satisfying should have an infinite efficiency, as being of God and man. Secondly, man’s satisfaction may be termed sufficient, imperfectly–i.e. in the acceptation of him who is content with it, even though it is not condign, and in this way the satisfaction of a mere man is sufficient. And forasmuch as every imperfect presupposes some perfect thing, by which it is sustained, hence it is that satisfaction of every mere man has its efficiency from the satisfaction of Christ.

Reply to Objection 3. By taking flesh, God did not lessen His majesty; and in consequence did not lessen the reason for reverencing Him, which is increased by the increase of knowledge of Him. But, on the contrary, inasmuch as He wished to draw nigh to us by taking flesh, He greatly drew us to know Him.

Everyman’s Luther: Martin Luther’s Smalcald Articles

everyonesluthersmalcaldcoverhalfHere is the second book in the Everyone’s Luther series: Smalcald Articles. Eat it up!

In 1537 Fredrick the Wise ask Martin Luther to prepare a a summary of the Lutheran teaching in preparation for a church council. The result is the Smalcald Articles. In three parts Luther discusses the Trinity and Two Natures of Jesus, the Gospel and its abuse in the church, and outlines the major articles of the faith. Together with the Small and Large Catechisms, the Smalcald Articles are included in the Book of Concord, making it one of the most important writings of the Reformer.

Click here to download the Smalcald Articles for free!

Click here to purchase the Smalcald Articles for $5 from Lulu.com. 

 

Thanksgiving Family Devotion

Pastor Flamme and I put together this little order of devotion for Thanksgiving. It should be simple enough for everyone in the family. Please print as many as you need, and start before the food is on the table, it will take a few minutes more than your normal meal-time prayers.

Click here to download the pdf: 

thanksgiving-family-devotion

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