How Servants of the Church Are to Be Called and Installed
From the February 1954 issue of The Orthodox Lutheran (Concordia Lutheran)
From Luther’s treatise :
“How Servants of the Church Are to Be Called and Installed.”
“Truly, if in this way Two, or three, or ten houses, or an entire city or more in this matter should agree and should exercise among themselves in their homes faith and love through the Gospel. Christ would undoubtedly be in their midst and acknowledge them as His Church.
But these are practically all the priestly offices: to teach, to preach, and to proclaim the Word of God, to baptize, to bless or to distribute the Sacrament of the Altar, to bind and to loose from sins, to pray for others, and to pass judgment upon all other doctrine and spirit. Truly, these are mighty and regal matters.
In the first place, the first office, namely the office in the Word of God, is common to all Christians (I Peter 2.9).–In the second place, the second office is, to baptize. –In the third place, the third office is to bless and to distribute the consecrated bread and wine.-In the fourth place, the fourth office is to bind and to loose from sins. (With reference to Matt. 18:15-18). Christ here gives to every Christian the power and the use of the keys, when He says: “Let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican.” To whom does He speak thus? Is it not to all Christians? Is it not to the Christian congregation? . . . For the keys belong to the whole congregation of all Christians and to every member of that congregation.-The fifth office is to sacrifice, Rom. 12:1.–In the sixth place, the sixth office is praying for others. In the seventh place, the seventh office is to judge and to have understanding concerning all doctrine.
This we have said of the right and power common to all Christians. Because to all Christians all things are to be common. . . ., it would not be proper for any individual to assume the preeminence and to appropriate to himself what belongs to us all. . . . But that is what the right of fellowship demands that one or as many as it pleases the congregation be chosen and assigned, who in the place and in the name of all those who have the some rights, exercise these offices publicly, in order that no terrible disorder take place in the people of God and the Church become a Babylon, although all things should be done decently and in order, as the apostle has taught, I Cor. 14.40.
If the office of the Word is committed to a man, all other offices that are exercised through the Word in the Church are committed to him, that is, the authority to baptize, to bless, to bind and to loose, to pray, and to exercise judgment. for the office to preach is the highest of all; for it is the true, apostolic office, which lays the foundation of all other offices, whose business it is to build on the first: such as the offices of the teachers, of the prophets, or the rulers, of those who have the gift of languages and of healing, as Paul speaks of them in order, I Cor. 12:8 f.” (St. Louis Ed., 10, 1538 ff.; 1554 ff.)