Martin Luther on Church Government – John Boruff

Extracts from the Augsburg Confession:

Martin LutherOf the Ministry – Article V.

1] That we may obtain this faith, the Ministry of Teaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments was instituted. For through the Word and Sacraments, as through instruments, 2] the Holy Ghost is given, who works faith; where and when it pleases God, in them that hear 3] the Gospel, to wit, that God, not for our own merits, but for Christ’s sake, justifies those who believe that they are received into grace for Christ’s sake.

[4] They condemn the Anabaptists and others who think that the Holy Ghost comes to men without the external Word, through their own preparations and works.

In the fifth article the statement that the Holy Ghost is given by the Word and sacraments, as by instruments, is approved. For thus it is written, Acts 10:44: “While Peter yet spoke these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.” And John 1:33: “The same is He which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.” The mention, however, that they here make of faith is approved so far as not Faith alone, which some incorrectly teach, but faith which worketh by love, is understood, as the apostle teaches aright in Gal 5:3. For in baptism there is an infusion, not of faith alone, but also, at the same time, of hope and love, as Pope Alexander declares in the canon Majores concerning baptism and its effect; which John the Baptist also taught long before, saying, Luke 3:16: “He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.”

Of Ecclesiastical Order – Article XIV.

[Notice how this could easily apply to godly non-denominational pastors, trying to remain faithful to the Gospel, in an age dominated by Seeker-Sensitive pastors…especially the third paragraph.]

Of Ecclesiastical Order they teach that no one should publicly teach in the Church or administer the Sacraments unless he be regularly called.

When, in the fourteenth article, they confess that no one ought to administer in the Church the Word of God and the sacraments unless he be rightly called, it ought to be understood that he is rightly called who is called in accordance with the form of law and the ecclesiastical ordinances and decrees hitherto observed everywhere in the Christian world, and not according to a Jeroboitic (cf. 1 Kings 12:20) call, or a tumult or any other irregular intrusion of the people. Aaron was not thus called. Therefore in this sense the Confession is received; nevertheless, they should be admonished to persevere therein, and to admit in their realms no one either as pastor or as preacher unless he be rightly called.

24] The Fourteenth Article, in which we say that in the Church the administration of the Sacraments and Word ought to be allowed no one unless he be rightly called, they receive, but with the proviso that we employ canonical ordination. Concerning this subject we have frequently testified in this assembly that it is our greatest wish to maintain church-polity and the grades in the Church [old church-regulations and the government of bishops], even though they have been made by human authority [provided the bishops allow our doctrine and receive our priests]. For we know that church discipline was instituted by the Fathers, in the manner laid down in the ancient canons, with a good and useful intention. 25] But the bishops either compel our priests to reject and condemn this kind of doctrine which we have confessed, or, by a new and unheard-of cruelty, they put to death the poor innocent men. These causes hinder our priests from acknowledging such bishops. Thus the cruelty of the bishops is the reason why the canonical government, which we greatly desired to maintain, is in some places dissolved. Let them see to it how they will give an account to God for dispersing 26] the Church. In this matter our consciences are not in danger, because since we know that our Confession is true, godly, and catholic, we ought not to approve the cruelty of those who persecute this doctrine. 27] And we know that the Church is among those who teach the Word of God aright, and administer the Sacraments aright, and not with those who not only by their edicts endeavor to efface God’s Word, but also put to death those who teach what is right and true; 28] towards whom, even though they do something contrary to the canons, yet the very canons are milder. Furthermore, we wish here again to testify that we will gladly maintain ecclesiastical and canonical government, provided the bishops only cease to rage against our Churches. This our desire will clear us both before God and among all nations to all posterity from the imputation against us that the authority of the bishops is being undermined, when men read and hear that, although protesting against the unrighteous cruelty of the bishops, we could not obtain justice.

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About John Boruff

John Boruff is the founder of WesleyGospel.com, a husband, father, and sometimes an open air preacher. He graduated from UNC Pembroke in 2008 with a B.A. in Philosophy and Religion and views himself as a Wesleyan Pentecostal. As a Christian, he feels connected with all members of the body of Christ, but can identify the most with churches like the Assemblies of God and the Vineyard. In 2015, he released "The Gospel of Jesus Christ," which is meant to be a Bible study for open air preaching. For his other writings, search articles on this site or see the E-Books section.
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