Monday, October 20, 2008


The below is taken from an article prepared for our congregation's monthly newsletter. You may access the entire newsletter (October 2008) at: . At the end of this article, I will print out the actual text of the Augsburg Confession Article V and the introduction to it.
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“Everyone a Minister!” announces the sign in front of So-and-So-on-the-Corner Church.

"Wow,” you think, as you gaze at that signboard, “that must be a really great church! All of their members are ministers!” 

But then you start to wonder who really IS in charge of what goes on in that congregation. Who decides what should be preached? What should be taught? Who leads worship services? The praise band? What happened to the minister? Is preaching no longer popular? Do they vote on doctrine? Do they vote on what should be preached? Do they vote on what they think will be good for their souls?

We who so often rebel against God’s wonderful gifts sometimes forget that the Reformers thought it important to say that the Office of the Pastoral Ministry was one of their core values! The Office of the Pastoral Ministry was/is one of our core values because through it God cares for our immortal souls! We value that office because, through it, God sees to it that His Word and the Sacraments are delivered to us in the right way!

Let’s still value that office today, ok? Read on . . . .

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Article V - The Ministry

Many people think that the clergy are the ones who made up the doctrine of the office of The Ministry. After all, from a human point of view, it would make sense for ministers to do just that. The congregation pays the minister. Maybe, when the pastor talks about The Ministry, he is just being sure that his own pocket is being properly padded.

Please go read Article V of the Augsburg  Confession in the box on this page — it’s really short. Then come back here. Please? Thanks! I’ll wait . . . 

It is admittedly true that there have been false prophets in the past as in the present, and that there will be false prophets in the future. It is also sadly true that some “preachers” have announced themselves as “preachers” just so that they could bilk people out of their money. That is truly sad. They abuse one of the gifts of God by trying to use it for their own purposes. The same is true of the pastor who becomes lazy and does not fulfill the work to which he has been called.

But the very first thing which must be established about “The Ministry” is that God is the One Who has established that office. It is not up to us to decide to do away with that Office. 

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Why God Gives Us Pastors! 

In Ephesians 4:10-16, we are taught that it is God who has established the offices of The Ministry: 
“And  He gave the  apostles, the prophets, the  evangelists, the  pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for  building up  the body of Christ, until we all attain to  the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God,  to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of  the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children,  tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in  deceitful schemes. Rather,  speaking the truth in love, we are to  grow up in every way into Him Who is  the head, into Christ, from Whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped,  when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” (Eph 4:11-16)

As you read and re-read that text, you will note, of course, why God has established The Ministry. He wants His body (the Church, aka the local congregation) to be built up, so that we are brought to a unity of the faith, and to Christian maturity as people who know and trust in Christ our Savior. He does not want us to be tossed back and forth by every wind of false teaching. He wants His pastors to be faithful with respect to His Word and to be faithful to the Gospel. He does not want His pastors chasing down whatever is the latest teaching which goes around Christendom. He wants His pastors to so teach God’s people about Christ that they will know that they are from Christ and sustained only by Christ. When we know this, then the body of Christ will grow up in love.

Of course, the means for the pastor to accomplish all of this is what the Reformers wrote in the 5th “core value” of the Augsburg Confession. The means which the pastor uses is God’s “means of grace,” namely, the Gospel in His Word properly taught, and His sacraments (Baptism and Holy Communion) administered in the same way as they were instituted by God.

It is terribly important that we understand that God wants His pastors to work through these means. Note carefully that the Reformers condemned the position of the Anabaptists of their day who said that God does not necessarily work through His means. There were some in those days, as there are many in our day, who say that God comes to people outside of His Word. Those are the folks (led by their “pastors”) who must go chasing around and around, trying to “find the Holy Spirit” in a kind of ecstatic sort of experience. These are the same folks who think that they can manipulate folks into “feeling the Spirit” by the right kinds of music, theatrics, or other means. Rather than comforting souls which are troubled by sin, these are forever asking troubled sinners if they “feel saved.”

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TV “Pastors” and the Divine Call . . .
Someone says to his pastor that “You are not ‘dynamic enough,’” or something to that effect. They rather like the theatrics of the TV preacher. They say that they will get their worship of God from the TV, and that the TV minister is “my minister.” To that kind of thinking, we are quick to reply that, when they get sick and are scared nearly to death because of a sickness and/or some sin(s) in their lives, they should call the TV preacher. He surely will not come to their aid! It is highly likely that he will not even be in the least bit aware of their need. Hence, in an hour of tremendous need, when an immortal soul needs the consolation of the Gospel perhaps the most, there will be no “minister” there for him.

In the Divine Call, you have the assurance that your pastor is called by God, through your congregation, to consistently and constantly bring Christ to you! Your pastor is pledged, by means of his Call from God (this call is no mere “feeling,” but is concrete and real), to stand with you “through thick and thin” and to ever bring you Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.

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“Minister” = “Servant”

A true Christian “minister” postures himself NOT so much as the CEO of some corporation; rather, he postures himself as a servant. He serves Christ by announcing His Word of Law and Gospel, calling sinners to repentance, and consoling sinners who are bothered by their sins.  He further serves Christ by administering His Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion in the way that Christ has instituted them.

A true Christian “minister” also willingly serves the people of God by being available to them, and by calling to them from God’s Word. Sometimes he must serve them by serving up God’s Word of the Law to call them to repentance. At other times He serves them by serving up the Word of the Gospel so that they will know and trust in the dear Savior Christ as their Savior.

The pastor as “minister” does NOT mean that he is to be responsible for all of the things that must happen in the congregation from the sweeping of the floors, to the lawn mowing, to the banking, etc. His “servanthood” is one which makes him a servant to God, God’s Word, and God’s people.

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Jesus “with skin on” . . .

When the little boy, awakening from a nightmare, was told by his mother that he should “just believe that Jesus is here with you,” he replied: “Well, I want Jesus with skin on.”

In the writing of the 5th Article of the Augsburg Confession on the subject of “the Ministry,” the reformers had in mind that the pastor IS one who comes to us with Jesus. He comes in the Lord’s name. He comes to us again and again. He brings forgiveness of sins as he brings the Gospel of God’s Word and of God’s Sacraments.

May it be that pastor and people will continue to rejoice also in this “core value” for our souls’ good!  +

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 The Augsburg Confession
“Chief Articles of Faith”
Article V
The Ministry
So that we may obtain this faith, the ministry of teaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments was instituted. Through the Word and Sacraments, as through instruments, the Holy Spirit is given (John 20:22). he works faith, when and where it pleases God (John 3:8), in those who hear the good news that God justifies those who believe that they are received into grace for Christ’s sake. This happens not through our own merits, but for Christ’s sake.

Our churches condemn the anabaptists and others who thinks that through their own preparations and works the Holy Spirit comes to them without the external Word.


In Concordia The Lutheran Confessions A Reader’s Edition of the Book of  Concord, there is this “forward” which is intended to help first time readers of the Augsburg Confession understand the context in which it was written:

“How can what Christ die for us two thousand years ago - through His life, death, and resurrection - become effective in our lives today? God has given us sure, certin, and objective means by which He distributes the blessings of Christ’s salvation. These means are the Gospel proclainmed and taught, and the Sacraments administered according to Christ’s institution. Through these means the Holy Spirit creates and sustain our trust in Jesus’ merits. And through these means of grace the objective reality of Christ’s work is applied to us personally.

“God established the Office of the Holy Ministry precisely to distribute Christ’s good gifts. He sends shepherds, whom the Holy spirit appoints as overseers, to care for His flock. The German version of the Augsburg Confession uses a very concrete expression to describe this office of pastoral ministry: ‘preaching office” (Predigtamt). During the Reformation, and even today, some imagine they can experience the Holy Spirit through their own reflections, by enjoying nature, or by ecstatic religious experiences. The Holy Spirit does not operate that way. Rather, He works through the powerful, external, objective Gospel in Word and Sacrament. (See also SA III VII and X; Treatise.) 

(Source: CONCORDIA The Lutheran Confessions A Reader’s Edition of the Book of Concord. p. 57. © 2005, CPH, St. Louis, MO.)