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What Luther Says

Yes, I Desperately Need The Lord's Supper Every Week

Here's a beautiful description of the Means of Grace we call the Lord's Supper (a.k.a. Holy Communion)...

"So far as we humans can judge, a church bereft of the Sacrament would be swallowed up by the world and cease to be church, just as has in fact transpired. Whenever the Lord’s Supper has been permitted to decay, the boundary lines between church and world have universally disappeared and the church has been absorbed into the world. The Supper is thus the Sacrament in which the church’s 'foreignness from the world,' and hence her essence as church of God, finds visible expression. ... Because the church possesses this Sacrament, she can wait [for Jesus' return] for centuries and millennia on end. The Supper bridges the space of time between Jesus’ days on earth and his return. ... It is eaten on the migration from the world to the kingdom of God, from time to eternity, from the here and now to the beyond. ... All attempts to build Christian congregations without placing at their center the congregation-forming Sacrament of the Altar are just as much condemned to failure as are efforts to renew the Divine Service without renewing the Sacrament. ... Where the custom of churchgoing has lapsed with the consequence that the Christian congregation is dead or dying, there is but one single means for getting people back to church. Hunger and thirst for the Lord’s Supper must be aroused in them. Whenever this hunger and thirst awake — and it obviously does not lie within our power to awaken them — people go to church again. ... The renewal of the Christian congregation and her Divine Service therefore begins, in a way that most theologians today still find incomprehensible, when we once again seriously learn and teach what the NT and the catechism say on Baptism and the Supper. ... A church that does not continually gather around the Supper must undergo secularization. It must irreversibly turn into a piece of the world, because the Supper establishes the boundary between church and world. ... Thus, the Gospel itself dies with the Supper." 
-- Hermann Sasse (Church And Lord’s Supper, The Lonely Way, 1:381, 393, 395, 420, 421)

"What does this mean?"

In short, it's a reminder to us about the importance of the "Means of Grace" (His Word and His Sacraments) and why God established them let alone how He will use them to build Christ's Church.

We Lutherans are unique in our understanding of the Means of Grace. No other branch of Christianity attributes to the Gospel the efficacy and power that we do.

It is said that Martin Luther gave too much importance to the Means of Grace (continuing in the example of the Church in Rome), but Luther simply taught the power of the Word not because of the influence of Romanism, but because Scripture itself teaches that the Means of Grace are all-important in our salvation.

Ok, so what is the connection between Justification and the Means of Grace then? The Gospel in Word and Sacrament is the means God has given through which we receive His grace (Means - of - Grace).

Without it, we would not be able to receive God’s justification.

The Apology makes the connection between the two saying: "One cannot deal with God or grasp Him except through the Word. Therefore, justification takes place through the Word as Paul says..."

Furthermore, the Lutheran confessors agreed with Luther on the doctrine of the Means of Grace. In Article V of The Augsburg Confession, they confessed that the Holy Spirit works ONLY through the means of the Gospel (ONLY through His Word and His Sacraments because these are the ONLY two things He ever promises to work through to accomplish justification/salvation), and condemned those who taught otherwise: "To obtain such faith God instituted the office of the ministry, that is, provided the Gospel and the sacraments. Through these, as through means, he gives the Holy Spirit, who works faith, when and where He pleases, in those who hear the Gospel. And the Gospel teaches that we have a gracious God, not by our own merits but by the merit of Christ, when we believe this. Condemned are the Anabaptists and others who teach that the Holy Spirit comes to us through our own preparations, thoughts, and works without the external word of the Gospel."

Nowhere does God promise to work faith in our hearts outside of the means of Grace -- the Gospel in Word and Sacrament. The Gospel is the instrument the Holy Spirit uses to create faith in the sinner’s heart and bring the saving work of Christ to mankind. Apart from the Gospel there can be no salvation. Paul makes this connection clear in Romans 10:13-15 too.

So, this quote from Sasse above is simply a response to those Lutheran churches who have forgotten that to the point where the Lord's Supper isn't offered regularly (if at all!) because it has become more symbolic or "an act that we do" rather than being something Jesus does for us, or the "Real Presence" of Christ's body and blood "in, with, and under" the bread and wine, granting us His blessing of the forgiveness of sins.

I hope that helps explain it a little better. In a Lutheran layman's terms, this is why I desperately need the Lord's Supper each-and-every week!

Check out Sasse's essay on the Lord's Supper in "The Lonely Way" which is absolutely outstanding and "Required" reading (if I remember correctly, it's in Volume 2).

NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just your average everyday Christian, Corporate Healthcare Recruiting Manager, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast in Buffalo, NY. As another Christian Blogger once wrote, "Please do not see this blog as me attempting to 'publicly teach' the faith, but view it as 'an informal Public Journal of sorts' about my own experiences and journey." So if any of my notes here help you in any way at all, then I say, "Praise the Lord! Thanks be to God!" but please do double check them against the Word of God and with your own Pastor at all times. Trust, but always verify. To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this lengthy disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm a relatively new convert to "Confessional Lutheranism" and one who recently escaped an American-Evangelical-Non-Denominational mindset a little more than 7 years ago now despite being a Christian my whole life. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you're a Lifelong Lutheran who believes that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way back into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with the Bible, our Confessions, and Lutheran doctrine in general (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and repeatedly point us back to over and over again) so that I can not only correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1), but so that I can also repent of my sin and learn the whole truth myself. With that in mind, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier/older pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category (and they don't have a disclaimer like this) since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). This knowledge of the Lutheran B-A-S-I-C-S was completely foreign to me even though I was baptized, confirmed, and married in an LCMS church! So, there are some entries that are a little more "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavily influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because they are not blasphemous/heretical demanding I correct them or take them down entirely, but because I now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing and sanctifying work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life from then until now (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the Holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse footnotes from my own Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I will defer to what other Lutheran Pastors both past and present have already preached and taught about such passages too since they are the called and ordained under-shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries (this disclaimer/note is a perfect example of what I mean by that! haha). I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a "Christian Dude's Diary" in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#Trending" at the time, but is about all the things that I'm studying or thinking about myself at the moment instead. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts where I've done all the research for you already to help save you valuable time). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Feel free to comment/email me at any time. Grace and peace to you and yours!

About JKR

Christian. Husband. Father. Friend.

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Thank you for visiting A Lutheran Layman! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question since we do not exercise censorship. We've seen a similar policy with other blogs and it's worth repeating: Please act as if you're a guest in my home, and we'll get along just fine. I think anyone would agree that the kind of back-and-forth that is characteristic of blogs/chat forums and social media is becoming tiresome for all of us. Still, we should confess, edify, and love (and contend and defend when needed). Bottom line? Search the Scriptures! Apply Acts 17:11 to anything and everything you find here and, if you do happen to disagree with something you find here (which is certainly ok), or think I'm "irresponsible" and "wrong" for writing it, then please refute my position by supporting yours with Scripture and/or the Confessions. I don't think that's an unreasonable request, especially for those who identify themselves as "Christians" here, right? Besides, Proverbs 27:17 tells us "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another" and 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." If you have an opinion that's great, I welcome it, but try to support it using God's Word. I mean, if the goal here is to help us all arrive at the truth of God's Word (myself included), then it should be easy to follow through on this one simple request (I'm talking to all you "Anonymous" visitors out there). Grace and peace to you and yours!

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