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Catechetical Refresher - Table Of Duties

Catechetical Refresher
Table Of Duties
Christ Lutheran Church
Cleveland, Ohio
August 28, 2018

 

It is my prayer that God has richly blessed you through your study of the six chief parts of Christian doctrine. It is a prayer that I know is answered in the affirmative because as often as we engage in the study of Sacred Scripture we are encountering God himself. As when we enjoy the rays, light and warmth of the sun we are enjoying the sun itself; even so the Divine Revelation that is Holy Scripture. This inspired Word emanates from God himself and is, therefore, Holy Holy Holy. It is “thy health and salvation.” (TLH #39) And so as the hymn encourages: “Come and worship, come and worship, worship Christ the newborn King.” (TLH #136)

With these things fresh on our minds let us now turn to two more items included in the Luther’s Small Catechism. The Table Of Duties, and the prayers the catechism teaches. Today we will deal with the Table Of Duties, and reserve the next review for the catechism’s prayers.

The Table of Duties comes to us as a list of Scripture verses with this brief explanation: “Certain passages of Scripture for various holy orders and positions, admonishing them about their duties and responsibilities.”

To Bishops, Pastors, and Preachers 

The overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. 1 Tim. 3:2–4

He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. 1 Tim. 3:6

He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. Titus 1:9

What the Hearers Owe Their Pastors

The Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel. 1 Cor. 9:14

Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor. Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Gal. 6:6–7

The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.” 1 Tim. 5:17–18

We ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. 1 Thess. 5:12–13

Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you. Heb. 13:17

Of Civil Government

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrong-doer. Rom. 13:1–4

Of Citizens

Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s. Matt. 22:21

It is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. Rom. 13:5–7

I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior. 1 Tim. 2:1–3

Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good. Titus 3:1

Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 1 Peter 2:13–14

To Husbands

Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers. 1 Peter 3:7

Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. Col. 3:19

To Wives

Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. Eph. 5:22

They were submissive to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear. 1 Peter 3:5–6

To Parents

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Eph. 6:4

To Children

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and your mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise—“that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” Eph. 6:1–3

To Workers of All Kinds

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free. Eph. 6:5–8

To Employers and Supervisors

Masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that He who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with Him. Eph. 6:9

To Youth

Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. 1 Peter 5:5–6

To Widows

The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives. 1 Tim. 5:5–6

To Everyone

The commandments … are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Rom. 13:9

I urge … that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone. 1 Tim. 2:1

“Let each his lesson learn with care, and all the household well shall fare.” Martin Luther (From Luther’s Small Catechism © 1986 Concordia Publishing House, cph.org)

If you learn the truths these verses teach and make them your guide you will live a good life in this world. This is not to imply that you will be immune to hardship and suffering, no one is. But you will live each day, come what may, with aplomb, true faith, Christian hope and godly love. Your cup will overflow. Your life will be rich with meaning, and you will be wiser than earth’s wisest men. “Not so the wicked. But they are like chaff that the wind blows away.” Psalm 1:4

To put things into perspective let us remember that these good works are the fruit of faith, the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22 ff). These are the things that faith does in this world. Because of our sinful flesh we need to be constantly reminded about these things.  

If there is anything more I would like to see in the Table it would be a brief explanation of each verse, as Luther does in the six chief parts. But God be praised because you have a pastor at your disposal who is able and willing to patiently teach you all you wish to know.

Finally, as we close, remember the grace of God that strengthens us to do these things, remits our sins as often as we fail, and with that pardon gives us new resolve. As Jeremiah writes in Lamentations 3:22-26 22

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. "The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in him." The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.

“Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18)

Peace be with you. Amen.

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