It is the wish of the ministers of the congregation of Embden that the grace and peace of God our heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be with all the faithful pastors and preachers of the commonwealth of Ostfriesland. Most beloved brothers, having engaged in our ministry with diligence and faithfulness in all our assemblies, so that out of this utterly corrupt world we might gather unto our Lord Christ a church that shall endure forever, and that, in the Lord, we would preserve her in our youth and small children, being taught the full counsel of God—many of our fellow ministers among you are well aware of this, since we have often discussed this and have exhorted nearly all brethren regarding this—it was our desire to pursue this with the highest degree of diligence so that through the hallowing of the Sabbath day the catechism should be taught in our churches during the afternoon, in order that by such means the common people would be kept out of the bars and the young people off the streets, and thus be kept from all manner of vanity, immorality, and mischief. Since many of you have often petitioned us regarding this, we were inclined to write a small catechism for this purpose which would be suitable for our youth and which all the ministers of this region would universally teach. Having viewed this as a good thing, we have diligently made work of this, for experience has taught us that the Catechism which has been in use for several years is too long for the purpose of being able to teach it twice during one year— something that is necessary for the youth. Beloved, we therefore beseech you to approve of our diligent labors by accepting this catechism, now available in print, and to teach it diligently and persistently in your congregation on the Sabbath day to the benefit of the children and all who are of a simple mind, so that our children who have been dedicated to the Lord in baptism, may by way of pure and true doctrine be raised in the fear of the Lord—and that the common man would refrain from the desecration of the Sabbath (that is, from drunkenness, games, walking, shopping, laboring, and other servile activities), so that the Sabbath, according to God’s command, may be hallowed in your parts. Since, therefore, we observe daily that in the oldest and largest part of the world our labors are nearly spent in vain, and that there are so few people who steadfastly persevere in the pure doctrine, let us see to it that our children will not perish for lack of knowledge and will not be corrupted by the wickedness of the world, but rather, that through our diligence and faithful ministry they would be rightly taught the doctrines of good works, faith, the sacraments, and the calling upon God’s holy name, and would be led to the true acknowledgement of God and Christ. We ought not to let anyone hinder us in our care and labors, since the children constitute a large part of the congregation. They are so precious to God the Lord that He commands His angels and ministering spirits concerning them, pronouncing a woe upon anyone who offends one of these little ones. May the Lord, the almighty God, grant us His Holy Spirit, and make us diligent in this office, so that the cause of the Lord Christ may prosper, and that many men would be led to Him unto salvation, to the praise of His holy and divine name.
Embden, October 6, 1554 Catechism for the Benefit of the Youth of Ost Friesland
Question 1: To what end have you, a human being, been created?
Answer: That I should bear the image of God, and should acknowledge, worship, and serve my God and Creator.
Question 2: To what end have you become a Christian?
Answer: That I, having fallen into sin and death due to the transgression of our first parents, and having been delivered from sin and death by the satisfaction of Jesus Christ, may be an heir of eternal life.
Question 3: How are you assured that you are a true Christian and that, in Christ, you are a partaker of such a benefit?
Answer: First, by the witness of the Holy Spirit who, through the instrumentality of faith in Jesus Christ my High Priest, bears witness with my spirit that I am a child of God. Secondly, by virtue of the inclination and desire which I, according to the inner man and by the Spirit of God, perceive within myself to serve the Lord God.
Question 4: In what manner then shall you serve God?
Answer: Not according to the dictates of my own good opinion, insight, or wisdom, but rather, according to what God Himself has revealed in His holy Word, and what He demands of man by way of His holy precepts.
Question 5: What are these precepts?
Answer: These precepts are articulated in the Ten Commandments, which read as follows: First Commandment I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Second Commandment Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love Me, and keep My commandments. Third Commandment Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain. Fourth Commandment Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it. Fifth Commandment Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. Sixth Commandment Thou shalt not kill. Seventh Commandment Thou shalt not commit adultery. Eighth Commandment Thou shalt not steal. Ninth Commandment Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. Tenth Commandment Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house; thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor’s.
Question 6: How are these commandments divided?
Answer: Into two tables, the first of which pertains to the Lord God, and the second to our neighbor.
Question 7: How does God desire to be served according to these commandments?
Answer: Since the Lord God, our Lawgiver, has perfectly created both body and soul to serve His glory, it is His will that we, with body and soul, would serve and obey Him inwardly, outwardly, and perfectly in conformity to these commandments.
Question 8: What does the first commandment teach you?
Answer: That I would not put my trust in any idols or other creatures, but rather, that all the trust and confidence of my heart must only be in the one God—Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Question 9: What does the second commandment teach you?
Answer: That I may not serve the Lord God outwardly by any images or any other imaginary deities, but only according to His precepts and ordinances, and that in our service of God we shall worship Him in spirit and in truth.
Question 10: What does the third commandment teach you?
Answer: That I may not desecrate the Lord God and His holy name—including His word, ordinances, and works—either by making light of them or by slandering them, but rather that, with all due reverence, I shall acknowledge, confess, preach, call upon, praise, serve, and thank Him.
Question 11: What does the fourth commandment teach you?
Answer: That on the Sabbath, I and my entire family would rest in the Lord who has ordained that for the well-being of my body and soul I may engage neither in physical labor, useless frivolity, vain activity, nor works of the flesh, but rather, that I would sanctify this day by exercises of faith, holy ceremonies, and good works as commanded by God, doing so to the glory of His name and the well-being of my body and soul.
Question 12: What does the fifth commandment teach you?
Answer: That I shall honor, esteem, and respect my father, mother, guardian, and employer, as well as the office bearers of the church and those who are in authority over us —and that in all things not contrary to God’s will, I shall obey them, and, in a measure commensurate to their calling, prove myself grateful toward them in all things.
Question 13: What does the sixth commandment teach you?
Answer: That I may neither be wrathful, hate, nor kill my neighbor (whether he be my friend or enemy), but rather, shall bear and live with him in all meekness—and above all, seek to sustain and protect both his life and soul.
Question 14: What does the seventh commandment teach you?
Answer: That I must shun all immodesty, fornication, adultery, as well as all excesses and causes that would stir up immodesty in me, and that instead I shall seek to live a life in which in all things I seek to preserve moral purity, self-discipline, and sobriety both within and outside of the state of marriage.
Question 15: What does the eighth commandment teach you?
Answer: That I shall not steal the goods of my neighbor, and shall neither deprive him of them under the pretense of uprightness, nor by way of other devices, such as avarice, but rather, promote his advantage and business, and provide through my labors for the needs of all who are truly poor and destitute.
Question 16: What does the ninth commandment teach you?
Answer: That I must keep my tongue, hate all lies and backbiting, and live and promote the truth in all my actions —and that I must conceal the shame of my neighbor as much as I am able to (according to the rule of love).
Question 17: What does the tenth commandment teach you?
Answer: First of all, I may not covet that which is contrary to the will of God, but rather, all my desires should be directed toward God’s honor and the well-being of my neighbor. Secondly, I also learn from this commandment that both inwardly and outwardly I must be holy and pure, and that I must serve God the Lord in perfect obedience, which is also expressed in the summary of the law.
Question 18: What is the summary of the law of which you have spoken?
Answer: O Israel, you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. And you must love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Question 19: Are all men obligated to render perfect obedience to these commandments?
Answer: Most certainly, and thus there will not be one heathen who in the day of judgment will not be accused by his own conscience of his guilt.
Question 20: How will God reward the obedient and punish the disobedient?
Answer: He will give eternal life to those who have perfectly obeyed His commandments, and He will condemn the disobedient to eternal death and perdition.
Question 21: Are we capable of rendering perfect obedience to the Law as required?
Answer: Prior to the fall we were capable of this, but after the fall, due to our fallen nature, we cannot accomplish this in any wise. The law is spiritual, and we are weak and carnal, sold under sin.
Question 22: Are you saying of all men that no one is capable of rendering perfect obedience to the Law?
Answer: This is undoubtedly so. Even though, there is, by the power of the Holy Spirit, an inclination, zeal, and desire in the believer to obey the law, yet he comes short of the perfection required before the judgment seat of God and by which life is to be attained.
Question 23: Since we, due to our corrupt nature, are no longer able to satisfy the claims of the Law, nor are capable of meriting eternal life by our works, why did God give the Law to us poor and corrupt children of men?
Answer: First of all, that thereby we would have a clear view of what we ought to be, as well as what we must and must not do. Secondly, and most importantly, that this would witness to us that since we do not have the divine righteousness mandated by the Law, that we ourselves, due to our sins, are justly deprived of eternal life and are subject to the wrath of God, the curse of the law, death, and condemnation.
Question 24: Having also been terrified by the Law, where then shall such poor and condemned children of men seek comfort?
Answer: Neither in themselves, nor in any other creature in heaven or on earth, but rather, only by believing in the only Mediator and Savior Jesus Christ who has been revealed to us through the doctrine of the holy gospel—to whom God, using the Law as a taskmaster, leads, urges, and compels us to go.
Question 25: What distinction do you make between the Law and the gospel?
Answer: The Law teaches us what we ought to be, and what we ought to do and refrain from doing, requiring perfect obedience from us, condemning all those who do not yield perfect obedience. The Law does indeed promise grace and life—however, to no one else but those who are worthy. In contrast to this, the gospel teaches us that we are all unworthy, and promises the penitent, insofar as they believe, pardon for Jesus Christ’s sake—that is, forgiveness of sins, imputation of righteousness, the Holy Spirit, and eternal life.
Question 26: Must we then, in addition to the teaching of the law as has been expounded thus far, also believe in Jesus Christ?
Answer: Yes indeed, for it is impossible to please God without faith, and it is this faith which yields a new obedience, that is, the performance of good works in God’s children, which they diligently perform to the glory of God and the benefit of their neighbor.
Question 27: What is true faith?
Answer: A certain confidence or trust, derived from God’s Word and wrought in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, of the good and saving favor of our heavenly Father toward us by virtue of the merits obtained by our only Mediator, Jesus Christ.
Question 28: What must we believe?
Answer: Precisely that which by way of a short summary has been extracted from the Holy Scriptures and has been articulated most clearly in the twelve articles of our Christian faith.
Question 29: What are these articles?
Answer: Article 1: I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth: Article 2: And in Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, our Lord: Article 3: Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the virgin Mary: Article 4: Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead, and buried: He descended into hell: Article 5: The third day He arose again from the dead: Article 6: He ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty: Article 7: From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead: Article 8: I believe in the Holy Ghost: Article 9: I believe an holy catholic church: the communion of saints: Article 10: The forgiveness of sins: Article 11: The resurrection of the body: Article 12: And the life everlasting.
Question 30: What do you confess in the first main article regarding God the Father?
Answer: That the true, eternal, and living God has created and sustains us and all other creatures, and that He, in Christ, has adopted us as His children and is our gracious Father.
Question 31: What do you confess in the other main article regarding Jesus Christ?
Answer: That Jesus Christ is the true, eternal, and only begotten Son of the Father, being very God of very God, by whom all things have been created, and whom I, having been redeemed by Him, acknowledge as my Lord and Savior.
Question 32: How did He accomplish this work of our redemption?
Answer: This is recorded in the articles that follow.
Question 33: What do you confess in the words of the article “Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the virgin Mary”?
Answer: I believe that the Son of God at the appointed time, as the promised seed of Abraham, assumed and became a partaker of our flesh and blood through the virgin Mary and by the power of the Holy Spirit—and that this occurred in purity and without the defilement of sin. Being truly the promised seed of the loins of David, He was also born as a true man who is like unto us in all things, sin excepted. He is therefore very God and very man in one person, and is our only and eternal Mediator and High Priest.
Question 34: What has Jesus Christ, as our Mediator and High Priest, accomplished unto our redemption?
Answer: He suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead, and buried; and He descended into hell.
Question 35: What do you confess with this?
Answer: I believe that Jesus Christ my High Priest has sacrificed Himself on the cross for my redemption, and in His body has suffered the most gruesome death and punishment to which we, according to the Law, should have been subjected.
Question 36: What else?
Answer: That in addition to being assaulted as far as His external suffering was concerned, He inwardly, in His soul, tasted the wrath and the pains of hell, and has delivered me from the same—and was buried to certify His death and to sanctify my burial.
Question 37: Has our High Priest accomplished more for our redemption?
Answer: Yes, He arose from the dead on the third day.
Question 38: What do you confess with this?
Answer: I believe and acknowledge that since Christ Jesus has perfectly kept the Law, and, therefore, according to the promise of the Law, had a right to eternal life, His body saw no corruption in the grave. Instead, by His divine and active power, He reunited it again to His soul on the third day (which is both just and reasonable) and arose from the dead, thereby proving Himself to be Conqueror over sin, death, and hell, having fully restored unto us true righteousness and eternal life.
Question 39: What else do you believe Christ to have done to our benefit and salvation?
Answer: He has ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.
Question 40: What do you confess with this?
Answer: I believe that my Lord Jesus Christ, according to His human nature, is no longer physically here on earth. Rather, He ascended in the clouds from the earth, is with His Father in heaven in all glory and splendor, and governs over all creatures. From there, by His Spirit and divine power, He is always present and hears, governs, protects, and sustains His church unto the very ends of the earth.
Question 41: What else will Christ do and accomplish unto our salvation?
Answer: From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
Question 42: What do you confess with this?
Answer: I believe that on the last day He, in His Father’s glory and with His angels, will physically and visibly return on the clouds with the same physical body with which He ascended (just as He was taken away from His disciples before their very eyes), to judge all who at His return will still be alive, as well as all who from the beginning of the world have died physically.
Question 43: What do you confess in the third main article concerning the Holy Spirit?
Answer: That the Holy Ghost, together with God the Father and the Son, is one and eternal God, who will sanctify me together with all Christians, will produce faith in our hearts, and will bestow on me a new life and a lively hope unto salvation—and will in all my present needs comfort, strengthen, teach, and admonish me, as well as lead me into all the truth.
Question 44: Are these three persons—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—one only true God?
Answer: Certainly, for the entire Scriptures as well as our baptism teach us this, being baptized in the name of none other than this one God—and yet, according to the command of Christ, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Question 45: What do you confess in the following article concerning one, holy, catholic church or congregation?
Answer: I believe that my Lord Jesus Christ, by His Holy Spirit and the voice of the gospel, from the beginning of the world, gathers and preserves out of this corrupt and evil world an eternal, holy, and enduring church or congregation of the elect—a church of which I confess myself to be a member.
Question 46: What benefits are bestowed upon this church?
Answer: That which the subsequent articles declare, namely, communion of saints, forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life eternal.
Question 47: What do you understand the words “communion of saints” to mean?
Answer: I understand this to mean that since we are all true members of the church of Christ, we have in common that He is our Head and that we share in all His benefits—as well as that throughout our life we share our gifts for mutual edification.
Question 48: What do you confess in the article regarding the forgiveness of sins?
Answer: I believe that in the church of Christ there is true and eternal forgiveness of sins for those who repent and believe—all this solely and purely out of grace through the only Mediator, Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Question 49: What do you confess in the last two articles regarding the resurrection of the body and life eternal?
Answer: I believe that every member of the church of Christ, from the very beginning of the world, however despised he may have been in life and upon death, shall at the final judgment arise from physical death with inexpressible glory with the very body with which he has lived here, and will personally inherit and possess life eternal with body and soul.
Question 50: What shall happen to the unrepentant, ungodly, and unbelievers who in this life have despised Christ and His church?
Answer: They will also bodily arise from temporal death. It will, however, be to their eternal shame, and they, with body and soul, will personally and together with the devil be cast into the abyss of hell, and be eternally condemned.
Question 51: May the true and genuine church of Christ also become visibly manifest even though she is distributed throughout the entire world?
Answer: God the Lord has ordained a specific ministry in His churches, such as the pure preaching of God’s Holy Word, the proper administration of the holy sacraments, and the administration of church discipline. This ministry the true Christian church will always maintain in so far as she maintains its purity and perseveres, and by this will she be separate from all ungodly assemblies.
Question 52: Wherein does the pure preaching of the Holy Word of God consist?
Answer: In the sound exposition of the Law and the holy gospel, both of which have been referred to in this catechism.
Question 53: Which are the sacraments of the church of Christ?
Answer: They are holy transactions or external ceremonies which the Lord Jesus Christ, in addition to the doctrine of the holy gospel, has instituted in His church for the sake of our weakness.
Question 54: To what end?
Answer: First, they set before our eyes, signify, and seal in the clearest possible manner the promises of the holy gospel regarding the unmerited pardon of our sins, as well as our fellowship with the righteousness of Christ, in order to stir up and strengthen our faith in the good favor of God and the merits of Christ. Secondly, they admonish us regarding our duty toward God and our neighbor, and move us to live a life of gratitude by faithfulness toward and obedience of His will.
Question 55: How many of such sacraments are there?
Answer: Two, namely, baptism and the Lord’s Supper, the observance of which has been expressly commanded by the Lord Jesus Christ.
Question 56: What is the command regarding baptism?
Answer: “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” To this He adds His promise by saying, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”
Question 57: What is baptism?
Answer: A holy institution of God by which all members of the church of Christ—that is, both small children as well as adult believers—are properly baptized with water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
Question 58: To what end did God ultimately institute baptism?
Answer: Primarily to this end that He thereby signifies and seals by a powerful, visible confirmation to me and all members of the church of Christ that though we are by nature sinners, unclean, and children of wrath, that we, by grace and through Christ, are nevertheless as surely washed from our sins, clothed with His righteousness, and graciously adopted by God to be His children, as our bodies in baptism are immersed in, sprinkled upon, or washed with water.
Question 59: Does baptism signify to us only the forgiveness of our innate sins, as well as those we have committed prior to our baptism?
Answer: No, but it also signifies the certain and comprehensive pardon of all our sins which we throughout our entire lifetime may commit through weakness—and that we should, in the Spirit and by faith in God, ask the Lord for forgiveness through Jesus Christ.
Question 60: To what further end has baptism been instituted?
Answer: Given the fact that all the days of our life we must do battle with our sinful desires, we are thereby admonished to crucify our corrupt flesh with all its lusts, and to walk in newness of life.
Question 61: How can you prove that the children of the congregation must also be baptized?
Answer: Since they belong to both the covenant and the church of God, gracious fellowship with the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, together with eternal felicity, are also promised to them. Likewise, since baptism has been instituted to seal such and similar graces and they are thereby incorporated as children, God reckons them to be penitent, believing, and holy, as well as having received the kingdom of God. Furthermore, we all belong to the same body, without there being any distinction between members who have been baptized into one body. Christ has loved His church, and He also died for the children of the church. One may therefore not deprive them of baptism any more than adults.
Question 62: Is it not true that children do not understand the mysteries of baptism?
Answer: That is true indeed! One should know the following, however: First, their innate weakness and natural corruption (which Christ has taken upon Himself, and will not be imputed for the sake of Jesus Christ) cannot prevent God from sealing His grace, as occurred in circumcision, instead of which the Christian church has received baptism from the Lord. Secondly, the ignorance of children does not render baptism and all that is communicated thereby null and void. It would then have been of no benefit that Christ blessed ignorant children and laid His hands upon them.
Question 63: What is the institutional formula for the Lord’s Supper?
Answer: “For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus the same night in which He was betrayed took bread: and when He had given thanks, He brake it, and said, ‘Take, eat: this is My body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of Me.’ After the same manner also He took the cup, when He had supped, saying, ‘This cup is the new testament in My blood: which is shed for many for the remission of sins. This do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of Me.’ And they all drank from it.”
Question 64: What is the Supper of the Lord Jesus Christ?
Answer: It is a holy transaction, consisting of (according to its mystery) communion with the true body and blood of Christ, which has been instituted by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself unto His remembrance and which, according to His command, is to be observed in the assemblies until He comes.
Question 65: To what end has it primarily been instituted?
Answer: First that it declares to, assures, and seals to all believers the blessed communion with the flesh and blood of Christ, along with all the benefits and gifts that He has merited for us in His body and by His blood.
Question 66: How can you prove this?
Answer: From the institutional formula of the Lord’s Supper in which He has commanded us to eat His body and drink His blood—that is, that by faith we extract food and drink unto eternal life from His flesh and blood, adding to this that all this was done for you, and also that His blood was shed for you for the remission of sins.
Question 67: What do you understand by this?
Answer: Since we are partakers of His flesh and blood—flesh of His flesh and bone of His bones—and He is our Head and we are His members by faith, I understand this to mean that I am also a partaker of all that He has merited by the sacrifice of His body and the shedding of His blood, namely, reconciliation with God the Father, remission of sins, righteousness, and life eternal.
Question 68: For what additional reason has it been instituted?
Answer: That it would keep the death of Christ in steadfast remembrance, and we are admonished thereby that we should praise and thank the Lord Jesus Christ for such a great benefit, and that we should prove our gratitude by dying to sin (being the cause of Christ’s death) and a walking in newness of life.
Question 69: Does the Lord’s Supper also remind us of something else?
Answer: Yes, that after the example of Christ we should serve one another, faithfully observe Christ’s institutions, and be true to the confessions, thereby separating ourselves from all sects and false religions. Finally, that we should also be prepared to endure the cross and suffering in obedient patience and steadfastness.
Question 70: Where do we read of the institution of church discipline?
Answer: “If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglects to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. Verily I say unto you, ‘Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.’”
Question 71: What does external church discipline consist of?
Answer: It is an institution of Christ which obligates every member of the congregation to diligently admonish and/or punish his fallen brother in accordance with Scripture. Conversely, everyone that has fallen must very willingly and with a contrite heart submit himself to such admonition and/or punishment in order that he may thereby be restored.
Question 72: Should someone despise all admonitions with an impenitent heart, how shall one then proceed?
Answer: The minister, together with the elders and with the approbation of the congregation, must excommunicate those who are disobedient and recalcitrant. However, should he, upon having been admonished after his excommunication, be ready to return to the Lord and make restitution to the congregation, he should then be readmitted.
Question 73: Why did Christ institute ecclesiastical discipline?
Answer: That the poor sinner would thereby repent, that all offenses would be removed from the congregation, that the congregation would remain healthy in both life and doctrine, and that the name of God would not be blasphemed by those outside of her.
Question 74: Has God also ordained in the Christian church another method whereby the wicked are punished?
Answer: Yes, the execution of punishment by the government. “For he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.” “And those that do good shall have praise of the same.”
Question 75: Are all who join themselves to the visible church of Christ indeed children of God, and are they to be deemed as members of the same?
Answer: By no means, for there are indeed many hypocrites among her. Therefore only they are children of God and living members of the church of Christ who embrace the previously articulated truths with a believing heart, diligently adhere to them, and daily supplicate God the Lord that they may increase in godliness.
Question 76: Is something else needed in the Christian religion in addition to the pure doctrine as comprehended in law and gospel, the proper use of the holy sacraments, and the visible exercise of church discipline?
Answer: Yes, that prayer which the Lord Jesus Christ has left and commanded to His Christians, so that thereby they may receive all the good they may justly desire, and be kept from all evil and harm.
Question 77: What matters should prompt us to engage in prayer?
Answer: First, our misery, needs, and deficiencies; thereafter the goodness of God who promises to give us all that we truthfully ask of Him; and finally the command of God whereby He stirs us up to pray.
Question 78: What then is a true prayer that God will hear?
Answer: It is that which we ask of God our heavenly Father in the name of Christ and in spirit and truth.
Question 79: What are we to pray for?
Answer: All of this—one matter after another—has been articulated in an orderly fashion in the Lord’s Prayer by the Lord Jesus Christ. He gave this prayer to His disciples as a perfect example of all Christian prayers. Therefore, all prayers which do not harmonize with this example must rightfully be considered as unchristian prayers and are to be rejected as such.
Question 80: What is the prayer which Christ has taught and given us?
Answer: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
Question 81: What do you learn from the address, saying, “Our Father which art in heaven”?
Answer: That with childlike confidence I pray to the almighty God in heaven, who in Christ is my gracious Father, and that, therefore, I shall expect and desire from His paternal favor and omnipotent power all that I shall pray for according to and in the name of Christ.
Question 82: What are you asking for in the first petition when saying, “Hallowed be thy name”?
Answer: That through the pure preaching of God’s Word the name of God will be rightfully acknowledged throughout the world, and thereby would be held in great and holy esteem in the hearts of all men—and that it would be confessed before all men.
Question 83: What are you asking for in the next petition when saying, “Thy kingdom come”?
Answer: That the Holy Spirit would richly dwell in and among us with His gifts and ministry; and that He would govern us and preserve us here in His kingdom, so that with body and soul we may inherit His eternal kingdom.
Question 84: What are you asking for in the third petition when saying, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”?
Answer: That we, being victorious over our flesh, may willingly and cheerfully do the good will of God as revealed to us in law and gospel; and that we may engage in our calling—a calling approved of by God—with as perfect an obedience as the angels in heaven.
Question 85: In uttering these three petitions, are you at the same time praying for all that is subservient to God’s glory and our spiritual well-being?
Answer: Yes, for we cannot pray that God’s honor be promoted in and by us unless we pray at the same time for everything that is subservient to our salvation, such as faith, hope, and love, whereby we aim for God’s glory as well as our salvation.
Question 86: What are you asking for in the fourth petition when saying, “Give us this day our daily bread”?
Answer: That we may ask for all the necessary things that are subservient to sustaining and promoting the well-being of our temporal lives and that of our neighbor’s, such as daily provision, clothing, peace and health—provided it is to our spiritual benefit.
Question 87: How are we admonished by the words of this petition?
Answer: First that we must pray every day. Secondly, that we are not to expect all that is needed for the body to be yielded by our labor, strength, or wisdom, but rather, by the hand of God. Thirdly, that we should also not be anxious about provision for our temporal needs, but rather, that we should be content with that which God gives us daily, and give to the poor from our abundance.
Question 88: What are you asking for in the subsequent petitions?
Answer: Having prayed in the previous four petitions for all that we need in body and soul, I am praying in the subsequent petitions that God would prevent or minimize all that both now and in the future would be harmful to our body, soul, and temporal goods—or give us patience in these circumstances according to His will.
Question 89: What are you asking for in the fifth petition when saying, “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors”?
Answer: First, that God, our heavenly Father, would forgive us our sins and the punishment due upon them through Jesus Christ. Secondly, that God would continually give us a penitent heart so that we will hate and avoid sin and all the causes of sin. Thirdly, that by His goodness He would time and again incline our heart to bear with the weakness of our neighbor, and enable us from the heart to forgive His offenses toward us.
Question 90: What are you asking for in the sixth petition when saying, “Lead us not into temptation?”
Answer: That from here on in our gracious Father will protect us against all harmful temptations of body and soul, and that by His almighty power, both in prosperity and adversity He will bring us through all temptations so that we will not be ensnared in them, but by faith be victorious.
Question 91: What are you asking for in the seventh petition when asking, “Deliver us from evil”?
Answer: Since the devil is the cause and fountain of all evil temptations, yes, of all that is evil, we therefore pray that our mighty God and heavenly Father would graciously rescue and deliver us from the devil and all his murderous violence, as well as from sin, death, and all evil of both body and soul.
Question 92: What is the meaning of the words which Christ attaches at the end, saying, “For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory”?
Answer: Since God alone has a rightful claim to the kingdom, all power, and all glory, we, in our prayers, must only rely upon His power and goodness through Christ. By these words we are pleading with God that He would hear our prayers to the glory of His name, and that He would ultimately deliver us from the devil—His and our enemy— who ascribes all power and honor to Himself.
Question 93: What do you understand the word “Amen” to mean which must rightfully be attached to every prayer?
Answer: It means as much as to say that it shall either be true or happen—and it can also mean that it will certainly come to pass.
Question 94: What exhortation is there in this for us?
Answer: That we must direct all our prayers to God with vehement desires and believing hearts, and, comforted by God’s promises, should not doubt that God the Father has heard our prayer through Christ, His Son.