biblical memoirs

The following NOTES (my posting as to part 3 of 3) are taken from the Large Catechism with Study Questions, Concordia 2010.

February 19: Note to the Second Petition – In this petition, we are praying to God that the kingdom of Christ will come and remain among us, both in this life and finally on the last day. We ask God that we will remain faithful and daily grow in His grace, so that many more will come to Christ’s kingdom. This petition shows that God wants us to ask not only for small cares and needs of life, but also for great things from Him. If God invites us to pray for such great and wonderful things as His kingdom of grace, surely He will provide also for our daily needs.

February 20Note to the Third Petition – By faith we cling to God’s holy name and His holy kingdom. But evil opposes us and tries to snatch God’s kingdom from us. Luther says we pray that God will work His will among us and protect and keep us safe from our old sinful flesh and from all the evil in the world. The devil will spare no effort to make us fall away from God’s kingdom. We Christians bear a holy cross: temptations, dangers, and intense struggle throughout our life. It is foolish for us to think that a Christian’s life is easy. Therefore, we ask God to work His gracious will for us and to provide us with the strength we need.

February 21Note to the Fourth Petition – “Daily Bread” encompasses everything we need for our life here on earth. Luther explains in this petition that our greatest need is good governing authorities. Through them God provides us with what we need for this body and life. Nothing in this life will be “good” unless we live in peace and security; history readily proves Luther’s point. The devil is intent on thwarting good government and causing unrest and turmoil. Yet God gives daily necessities even to the wicked. God wants us to pray for them too, so that we recognize that He gives us all good things as a gracious gift.

February 22Note to the Fifth Petition – God forgives our sins, even if we do not realize it. In this petition we pray for forgiveness so that we recognize and accept this gift from God. We need this petition so that our conscience will be strengthened in the struggle against sin. The phrase “as we forgive those who sin against us” is added so that we will extend God’s gracious forgiveness to others who sin against us. By doing so we exhibit God’s forgiveness to us.

February 23Note to the Sixth Petition – In this petition, Luther sets forth the threefold source of temptation: our sinful human flesh, the world around us, and the devil. Luther identifies our sinful human nature as the “old Adam,” a biblical metaphor for our sinful flesh, as opposed to the “new man,” which we have been given by the new Adam, Christ. Luther distinguishes between feeling temptation to sin and giving to sin. We all are tempted in various ways, according to our age and situation in life. We pray in this petition that the Lord will provide a way out of temptation and graciously help us so that we do not sin.

February 24Note to the Seventh and Last Petition – Luther rightly notes that the original Greek says, “Deliver us from the evil one.” The devil is the sum of all evil. In this petition, we pray that God will rescue us from any and all forms of the devil’s tricks and plots to make us sin and fall away from God. Luther had a very vivid and realistic view of the devil’s active presence and power in this world. The Bible speaks of the devil prowling around like a roaring lion, seeking people to devour. We should note that Luther does not offer an explanation for the common conclusion to the Lord’s Prayer familiar to most Protestant Christians: “For thine is the kingdom. . . .” (1 Chronicles 29:11-13). These words are not necessarily part of the original text of the Lord’s Prayer and may have been inserted into later copies of the Gospel (perhaps in the second century). Nevertheless, they are fine and appropriate words. But the Lord’s Prayer, as prayed in Luther’s time and still often among Roman Catholics today, concludes simply with this Seventh Petition.  Amen is a hearty “Yes! May it be so!” that we say in faith, believing that God will hear and answer our prayer in and through Christ.

February 25Note to Baptism – Baptism is not our work, but God’s work. It is a priceless treasure God gives and faith receives or grasps. Baptism gives us great comfort and strength when our sins accuse us, when we realize how we stand guilty before God. Then, says Luther, the Christian is to say, “But I am baptized!” Luther comments about infant Baptism since, in his time as today, some Christians deny infants this precious Sacrament. Luther’s defense of infant Baptism is interesting. He says simply that if God did nothing through Baptism, how do baptized children believe in Him? For Luther, the fact that the gift of the Holy Spirit is given even to very small children is proof enough that God works in and through Baptism. Luther also explains how Baptism encompasses what was known as “penance.” So for Luther, Confession and Absolution are subsumed under Baptism and the proclamation of the Gospel. True repentance is daily returning to Baptism. Baptism is our daily garment, by which we suppress the old Adam and grow up in the new Adam, being clothed with the righteousness of Christ. (See AC IX; SA III V.)

February 26Note to the Sacrament of the Altar – In this Sacrament, we cling to and trust God’s Word alone. Jesus does not lie to us or deceive us. Therefore, when He tells us the bread and wine are His body and blood, they are what He says. The key to understanding the benefit of the Sacrament is Christ’s words “for you.” What we receive in this Sacrament is a great “treasure”: the forgiveness of sins. The whole Gospel is comprehended in this Sacrament and is offered to us through the Word, which promises that in and under the bread and wine we receive the body and blood that was sacrificed on the cross for our salvation. Those who believe the Words of promise receive the forgiveness this Sacrament promises. Luther urges Christians to receive the Sacrament frequently. Those who realize the enormity of their sin, how many dangers abound, and how great Christ’s gifts are that are given in the Sacrament will receive the Lord’s Supper as often as possible. This is precisely why the early Lutheran congregations began to offer the Lord’s Supper every Lord’s Day and on other festival days to those wishing to receive it. (See AC X; SA III VI; FC Ep VII and SD VII.)