Wednesday, August 10, 2005

"Thank God, today a seven-year-old child knows what the Church is, namely, the holy believers and lambs who hear the voice of their Shepherd" (Concordia Reader's Edition, 309).

If we today took our cue from the seven-year-old children of Luther's day, our ideas about what makes a church "healthy" or "successful" would be very different. It's not that we today would say that there is anything wrong with listening to Jesus or God's Word. We're very willing to admit that listening to Jesus is a very important part of what it means to be church.

But when you listen to Luther's seven-year-olds, there is nothing else. Listening to Jesus is all that they know. These seven-year-olds were not alone in thinking this way about the Church; with a little more sophistication, the much older confessors at Augsburg said exactly the same thing: "The Church is the congregation of saints in which the Gospel is purely taught and the Sacraments are correctly administered"(CRE, 60).

What makes for a healthy, successful church? Jesus! The Gospel! The Sacraments! There is nothing else. Nothing is said about packed pews or overflowing offering plates. Luther's children know nothing of fame, nothing of wealth, by which to measure the success or failure, the sickness or healthiness of a church. They only know Jesus and that Jesus knows them. They know that Jesus has given them an eternal treasure, even though it is a treasure which you can't deposit at your local bank. (You really wouldn't want it there, anyway, because moth and rust can destroy even that which is tucked away in the most secure safe-deposit boxes.) What is more, when Jesus purchased and won you from all sin, from death, and from the power of the devil, He didn't stand at the counter with His wallet full of green, asking: "How much?" It wasn't with gold or silver but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death that He made you His own. Once again, we're talking about Jesus, the Gospel, and the Sacraments.

What is the Church all about? How do we measure healthiness or success in a congregation? Maybe the thing to do would be to step back and ask: Are we listening to Jesus? Is His Gospel purely taught in our midst? Are His Sacraments correctly administered according to His institution? And do we pray that it would be this way? Luther's seven-year-olds certainly did. When they prayed that God's Name would be kept holy, they were praying that God's Word would be taught among them in its truth and purity and that they as the children of God would also lead holy lives in accordance with it. When they prayed that God's kingdom would come, they were praying that Our heavenly Father would give them His Holy Spirit, so that by His grace they would believe His holy Word and lead godly lives here in time and there in eternity.

I think that we today could learn a lot from Luther's seven-year-olds.

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From what I've read of it so far, the new Concordia Reader's Edition is the best thing to come along since sliced bread. Get your own copy today from CPH for the very low price of $20.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Welcome to ConcordiaReader! If you love reading and discussing the Lutheran Confessions, then I'm glad to make your acquaintance. I look forward to connecting with you and others across the globe who share a love for these Confessions.

Having been a Concordia reader for quite some time, I own several editions as well as several books about the Book of Concord. On ConcordiaReader, I am writing a book on-line. I invite you to join me as I read through and reflect upon the Lutheran Confessions and some of these other writings. I hope that my thoughts and reflections inspire you to keep a copy of the Concordia on your livingroom coffee table, right where some visitor will ask: What's that? Or if you're not so bold, I hope that I can at least talk you into putting a copy on your bedroom nightstand, where you can thumb through a few pages each evening before going to bed. The Concordia is a book that everyone should read. (It is even available on-line at

Confessions time. Even though it has been sitting on my desk at church since early July, I just opened Concordia The Lutheran Confessions: A Reader's Edition of the Book of Concord (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2005). This edition promises to be "reader friendly". If you don't already have a copy of the Book of Concord, order this edition through CPH today. At $20, it is the most affordable Concordia on the market.