Short studies on the sections of the Smalcald Articles.
For this topic, there is really only one question to be considered: What is the importance of this sentence: “Baptism is nothing other than God’s Word in the water, commanded by His institution”?
The heart of the Scriptures, the heart of Luther’s preaching and teaching, and the heart of Lutheran theology, is the Gospel. This time we read Part III, Article 4 of the Smalcald Articles, which brings us back to this heart.
While we often think of repentance being poorly understood because of Papist emphasis on man’s efforts, the Reformers (and we still to this day) also recognized that many are burdened in conscience by the notion that Christians shouldn’t need to repent.
Luther, in the Smalcald Articles, isn't so much confronting an error directly (that comes in the next Article on Repentance), but is instead making a positive confession about what the Law is and what role it plays in the world.
A lot of people think they know what “sin” is, but usually see their remedy to sin as “try harder, do better.” This not only confuses the remedy, but also the ailment!
Luther states that the papacy demands obedience to itself (to the pope) and to whatever is said from that office of pope, even to the point of tying salvation to that obedience. What is the true Gospel?
In article III, Luther confesses how dangerous the monastic life was to him and to all ensnared by its promises of “grace through holy living;” Such reasoning robs Christ of His glory as the Savior.
Luther says that the invocation of saints "destroys the knowledge of Christ." How would you say the invocation of saints does this? What is the consequence of such destruction?
Luther understood the danger behind the Mass was not simply a smattering of errors in otherwise Christian worship, rather it was an entire system of a false theology of worship.
Ask yourself: If you were writing your final testimony about the Christian faith, what would you identify as the first and chief article? The answer to the question reveals what lies at the heart of anyone’s understanding of God and Christianity. Luther’s answer is...