I created a presentation for the latest Symposium at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis on the topic of Sacramental Typology. If you are interested, you can access it for free here: https://scholar.csl.edu/theo/2022/on-demand/2/
Back in the 4th and 5th centuries, early church theologian Prosper of Aquitaine declared, “Legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi.” This statement is often shorted to “Lex orandi, lex credendi,” which roughly means, “what is prayed is what is believed.” He was looking at worship, the primary place of prayer, and how it isn’t just a matter of who we pray to or what we worship, but how we worship. How we worship says a great deal about what we believe and can have a big impact on those beliefs.
We have to be careful in over-applying this idea, since it can lead to concepts like church traditions holding the same authority as Scripture. This is what happened in the Catholic Church and Luther came along to push things in the other direction. Much of his correction was essentially arguing that what we believe affects how we worship. Still, we acknowledge that Prosper is correct as well. How we worship can have a profound effect on what we believe.
It may not be immediately apparent, but everything you do in the worship service says something about what you believe. For instance, we pray in worship because we believe God hears and answers prayer. Not only do we pray for ourselves, but we pray for others because we know that is part of our priestly duty before God. We prioritize the reading of Scripture and the use of the sacraments because we believe God continues to be active in the life of the church and continues to grant us His grace. Every time we participate in worship we are making these statements and many more about what we believe. The service is trying to teach you about all of these different aspects of God and gives you the opportunity to publicly declare the grace and mercy of God before the world.
When you start tinkering with the liturgy you’re also changing what the church says about itself and God. If you start dropping sections of the service or swapping parts for others that aren’t usually there, really any change you might make affects the overall message the liturgy is trying to convey. If a pastor understands the function of the liturgy and what it is helping the church to do, those changes can be informed and beneficial. If not, then we remember that sometimes the influence needs to go the other direction, as it did under Luther’s reforms of the Catholic mass. Sometimes we need to bring out Scripture to correct where the liturgy has been allowed to go off track.
This back and forth between our following the liturgy and our study of Scripture is what constitutes the worship life of the church. Each side helps us understand the other. As you spend time in worship, make a point of examining every rite, every hymn, everything the pastor does, and everything the congregation does. What is the church saying by doing this particular thing? What would someone who heard or saw this say about what the congregation believes? Also, pay attention to when changes are made and consider how the church’s statement of faith also changes.
Going through the Small Catechism with my son has had me reflecting a bit on how we view Baptism and Communion. The common perception of Baptism and Communion as sources of forgiveness, grace, and salvation are helpful. They tell us what God does for us on an eternal scale. The whole history of God’s salvation is distilled into what God does for us in the sacraments. So much of what God does for His people is telling them about their future with Him. The Promised Land of Israel, the holy city of Jerusalem, the Temple built by Solomon all foreshadow our eternity in God’s kingdom. This is our future in the resurrection brought by Christ. This is what we look forward to because of the forgiveness won for us by Christ.
What’s interesting is when we start looking at what Luther says about the sacraments. Regarding Baptism, Luther says, “It works forgiveness of sins, rescues from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare.” Through Baptism, God makes a promise to me regarding what will happen to me when I do. Eternal life is mine for death will not hold me any more than it did Christ. A big part of Christian life is looking to the future and the fulfillment of God’s promises. We recognize we have no permanent home here and we await the arrival of God’s kingdom and everything that goes with it.
When we think about the sacraments, that’s usually the sort of thing we emphasize. The sacraments bring grace and forgiveness which grants us eternal life. It’s all good stuff and the fact that the Bible makes clear the sacraments offer these things also means they are integral to what the sacraments are here for. After all, without God’s grace we’re all lost.
At the same time, we shouldn’t over look the other things the sacraments do. Once Christ returns I won’t really have to worry about Satan at all. The Bible also makes pretty clear what’s going to happen to him. However, right now Satan is a rather big concern. There’s a reason Jesus teaches His disciples to pray, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” We wouldn’t pray for these things if we didn’t need them now. God is not just concerned about our eternal destination but also our present situation in the sinful world.
Modern baptisms in the Lutheran church have generally omitted the exorcism that used to be a part of the baptismal rite. Thinking about demons and the idea that I or my children might be under the sway of a demon makes us all rather uncomfortable. Yet, there’s a reason this was emphasized, because that’s part of what Baptism does. Through the sacraments, God is already at work healing us in body and soul in this mortal life. In a world full of division and strife, God creates unity and community as He brings brothers and sisters together around His table. All are equal and all are blessed at His table. Certainly these things have eternal significance, but their effects begin and are felt right here. This is why Luther also notes in his questions preparing one for Communion says, “But what should you do if you are not aware of this need [to take Communion] and have no hunger and thirst for the Sacrament? Answer: To such a person no better advice can be given than this: first, he should touch his body to see if he still has flesh and blood. Then he should believe what the Scriptures say of it in Galatians 5 and Romans 7. Second, he should look around to see whether he is still in the world, and remember that there will be no lack of sin and trouble, as the Scriptures say in John 15-16 and in 1 John 2 and 5. Third, he will certainly have the devil also around him, who with his lying and murdering day and night will let him have no peace, within or without, and the Scriptures picture him in John 8 and 16; 1 Peter 5; Ephesians 6; and 2 Timothy 2.”
All of these things are things I need and all are things that affect me now. The blessings of God are all encompassing. My life in eternity isn’t disconnected from my life now. I am already living my eternal life now. Death already has no hold over me. I am already baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection. My life begins here and God’s grace is already at work here. Communion is something I continue to need because the work God does in and through it is needed today.
If your pastor is liturgically minded, watch what he does during the Sunday morning service. Where he goes and what he does, even what direction he is facing, are all communicating something about our relationship to God. That’s one of the main points of the liturgy and a great deal of thought was put into the how’s and why’s of what happens during the divine service.
One of those ideas that the liturgy is trying to communicate is what it means to be a priest. The book of Hebrews tells us Jesus is our Great High Priest, the culmination of what the Old Testament priests were trying to be. Everything they did was pointing forward to what Jesus would later do. St. Peter reminds us that we, as the church, are part of the royal priesthood. We are baptized into Christ and through our baptism we take on a priestly role as well.
That’s nice and all, but what does that actually mean? Well, that’s part of what your pastor is trying to show you. The whole nation of Israel was meant to act as priests. The sons of Aaron were thus the “priests to the priests.” Looking at what they did and what Hebrews tells us about Jesus gives us an idea of what the role of the priest is. In this case, they were meant to be the go-betweens, the mediators. They stood between both parties and argued on behalf of either side. The Old Testament sons of Aaron could never do this job perfectly. Not only were they sinners and needing to deal with the fallout of their own sin, but they also couldn’t perfectly represent God’s side of things. Jesus fixes that problem. Not only is He sinless, but he also has a foot in both camps. He has a vested interest in finding an amicable resolution to any dispute that arises between God and man because He is both.
That’s why our prayers are typically offered in Jesus’ name. He’s the one that will bring our cares and concerns before His Heavenly Father. Still, even though we can’t do the job perfectly, we are still called to do the job. We are all part of the royal priesthood. We are all mediators between God and man, even all of creation. When people are suffering from some ailment, when people want to give thanks, when there is any message to be offered to God, you have the ability and authority to pass it along to Him. On the flip side, you also have the ability and responsibility to share what God has to say about those things to the people. That’s what it means to be a priest.
This is what your pastor is trying to communicate. As part of his call, the pastor acts on behalf of the congregation. That makes him a priest to the priests. Your pastor communicates that role based on what direction he is facing. When your pastor is acting on behalf of the congregation, during prayers for instance, he’ll face the altar. You as the congregation are sharing your concerns and words of praise to him and he, in turn, lifts them up to God. When the pastor is acting on God’s behalf, such as during the benediction or absolution, he’ll face you. Your pastor may even hold his hands out with the palms up during prayer. This is an ancient posture from the early church that shows the pastor lifting up the prayers to God.
If you think about it though, you end up doing the same thing. What you’ve seen from your pastor and from Christ Himself, you are doing as well. When you come to church, you spend the service facing God. When you speak, you are lifting up the prayers, the praise, and thanks of the community around you as well as your own. The rest of the world has quite a lot to say to God and you gather that up and share it with Him when you come to His house. The rest of the week, you are still acting as a priest, but now you face outward. You are acting as God’s representative, sharing what He has given you to pass along. The message you give may be Law or Gospel, depending on the person you’re talking to, but in either case, you are acting as God’s representative.
That makes the priesthood an important role and one that is unique to humanity. This is part of what we were always created to do. The liturgy is there to help you see what that looks like and how it works.
One of the debates the Lutheran reformers had with the Catholic church back in the days of the Reformation regarded how many sacraments there were. Since the word “sacrament” doesn’t appear in the Bible, the church could more or less define the word however they wanted. The sacraments were always seen as place where God blessed His people with His grace. The problem was that what the word “grace” actually meant began to change as the Catholic church veered further and further off course.
As the Lutheran reformers were going back to Scripture, they saw that the Catholic definition of the word was no longer adequate, because it did not see grace as the free gift of God. When the reformers went back through Scripture with an eye to where God promises forgiveness, then many of the things Catholics thought of as sacraments dropped away. Marriage, for instance, was discarded as a sacrament. The question was never whether God blessed marriage or not. Scripture makes clear marriage is God’s intention for His people and He blesses the marital relationship. Marriage even has a special role to play in outwardly demonstrating the love Christ has for His people. However, that doesn’t mean God forgave people in and through marriage. Since there was no such promise attached to marriage, it was disqualified as a sacrament in the eyes of the Lutheran reformers. The same was true for ordination into the priesthood or last rites for the dying.
When we look through to find the places where God clearly connects His grace to a physical element, the options narrow down to 2 (or arguably 3). In this regard, God works through Baptism, Communion, and Confession and Absolution function just the same as He worked in the Old Testament. Whenever the Israelites wondered where God would be present in mercy, they had only to look at where He promised to be. God’s Word made it happen. For as much as God might approve of all sorts of things, that doesn’t mean He promises to offer His grace through them. Without that promise of grace, there is no assurance. There is no solid foundation to stand on. On the other hand, with God’s promise, we are unshakeable.
The theology of the sacraments is ultimately a theology of God’s Word. This is why Luther rested so confidently on the plain and simple words of Christ, “This is my body.” The question, “How is this possible?” was completely secondary, even irrelevant. Christ promised, and so it was. This is also why Luther, in his baptismal booklet, says not to get overly hung up on all of the peripheral rites that often go along with Baptism. Candles, white gowns, and all of that sort of thing can be very helpful and can add to our understanding of what takes place in Baptism, but they are not, in themselves Baptism. Christ does not promise to work through a candle. He promises we are joined to His death and His resurrection through the water. There, and only there, is His grace found.
Luther’s sacramental theology draws on this over and over. What does God promise? Whatever God said, that’s what the sacrament is doing. There is no need to question or debate it. God is always truthful and reliable. If He said it, then it must be.
Look to God’s Word in all things. Look especially to where He promises to be. Anything extra, nice as it may be, is not what God promises. It is only there in His Word of promise that you find salvation.
One of the notable aspects of some of the major political issues today is how clearly their focus is on self-determination. Abortion, trans-genderism, and homosexuality are all driven by the desire for self-determination. One might even argue they are all, ultimately, just different expressions of the same problem. We all want control over our lives. We want the ability to determine our futures and chart our own courses. To some extent, this is natural. We are all unique human beings, each with unique personalities, unique skills and talents, unique dreams and aspirations, and so forth. For each of us to be try and do the same things brings out the kind of totalitarian imagery we see from Nazi Germany or Communist China. Everyone is forced into a prescribed set of standards and no deviation is allowed. This is just simply not how we are made. These God-given and God-created differences are a gift and they should be cherished.
This is all good thus far, but we take it much further. We look at those special gifts we’ve been given and what they allow us to do and then draw the conclusion that these gifts were given to benefit us. These skills and talents are how I gain a measure of control over my life and the world around me. This is how I achieve success and find happiness. This is how I reach out and take hold of my dreams. We draw the further conclusion that, as a self-determining individual, nothing can stand in the way of my quest for happiness/success/control/etc. Any rule that prevents me from having what I want is a barrier to be overcome and nothing more. This is the prevailing thought in Western society. Each individual is an authority unto himself and there is no higher authority.
When looking at how God orders and structures creation, certain things become evident. Marriage and parenthood are the two most basic and fundamental relationships in society. In both cases, God emphasizes a very important point: your relationship to your spouse or to your child isn’t about you. In fact, both relationships put a great deal of constraint on what you can do with your life. Both rob you of your power of self-determination and they are designed to precisely that. St. Paul’s description of the marriage relationship in Ephesians 5 tells us the job of the husband is to love his wife and the job of the wife is to love her husband. At no point in his discussion is either person given the power or authority to withhold that love for any reason. The husband is directed to even give up his life for his wife if need be, a command completely opposed to any notion of self-determination.
It isn’t about you. At the risk of being overly simplistic, one could sum up the Gospel message in this way. The gifts God gives you were never intended to be solely for your own benefit, but so that you would have the means to care for others. Whether that be your spouse, your kids, or anyone else, God has given you the skills, talents and resources to share His love in word and deed. God gives you the ability to determine aspects of your own life, but only to a point. You were created to serve others. The minute you walk away from that is when you turn from being a benefit to God’s creation to being a diseased and disordered element within it.
Looking at Christ, we see that the power of self-determination is not found in exercising it, but in giving it up. Christ has all the power in creation and could do anything He wished, but He gives up that power in order to serve others, to let their needs determine His life, and not His own wants and desires. Abortion, trans-genderism, homosexuality, and many other topics being debated in our society are wrong in and of themselves, but their more insidious damage is in how they turn us all into people who care only about ourselves.
The Lutheran theology of worship reorients us. It puts our clay back in the mold and gently heats it so that it may once again look like what it was made to be. The word “liturgy” comes from the Greek word leitourgia, which means “service,” and is where the name “divine service” comes from. Leitourgia typically meant civil service of some form or another, someone whose job was to care for others in some public way. This word was quickly brought into the church and associated with the Sunday morning gathering. The question that has plagued the church, especially since Reformation days, is, “Who is doing the serving? If it is called a ‘divine service’ is God the one serving or is He being served?” For many churches, the emphasis is on our praise and thanks as we offer God what He due for all He has done for us. It is true that He is due those things, but that’s not what is most important. God asks us to do things. Sometimes He even commands us to do things, but He doesn’t need us to do things. He has no need of our service. We, on the other hand, would perish and be lost for eternity without Him. We need Him and, as Christ did so long ago, He joyfully sets aside His power of self-determination to serve us. He serves us as He cares for our needs of body and soul through the hope and joy found in His grace and the message of the Gospel, through the cleansing of Baptism, and through His body and blood that bring us into His kingdom.
The divine service is counter-cultural because it reorients our thinking. It isn’t about us. It is about God. It is always about God. We were created to be in a relationship with Him. To fully exercise our power of self-determination is to cut ourselves off from the very one who brings us life. We come to worship Him and we look to what He has done for us, not because He has to acquiesce to our demands or respects any rights we think we have before Him, but simply because He chooses to. We focus on Him, and not ourselves, because that’s who we are and what we were meant to do. Anything we have is not something we have of ourselves, but something we have been given. We offer Him our thanks and praise, not because it gets us anything, but because that’s what you do when you give up your power of self-determination and focus your attention entirely on the other person in your relationship.
As with the sacraments and just about everything God has given the church, the divine service is God’s teaching tool. He helps us learn how to live the way we were created to live and to love the way He loves us. He gives us a place to practice and to see the relationship in action so that we can take what we have learned out into the world and love others as we have been loved.
Despite our many differences, we Missouri Synod Lutherans consider ourselves closer theologically to the Roman Catholic (and Eastern Orthodox) Church than we do to any of our other Protestant brothers and sisters. We disagree with the Catholic Church over matters such as the Office of the Papacy, the role of repentance, the function of God’s grace, the existence of Purgatory, the role of the saints, and many other issues. All of these issues are points we are generally in agreement with other Protestants, who will, almost across the board, reject everything the Catholic Church teaches on these topics, just like we do.
That makes the areas where we are in agreement that much more noteworthy. “Where are we in agreement?” you ask. The primary place is in the sacraments. We don’t even agree as to the purpose and function of the sacraments, but even that is secondary. We Lutherans, Catholics, and Orthodox, will all agree God is truly present and active in and through the sacraments and that He carries out this work in the life of the Church.
That’s how important this one point is and why our discussions with other Protestants is so fraught with difficulty. The sacraments speak to God’s gracious and merciful work. They tell us what it means to be both disciple and an apostle. They help us understand evangelism, both in why we do it and how to do it. They help us visualize the promises God makes to us. They define what it means to be God’s people.
As Moses says when speaking to God in Exodus 33, it is His presence among us that sets us apart from all other people in the world. This is the heart of Communion, God’s presence among His people. When the sacraments are discarded or turned into memorials and such that we do for our own benefit, the essence of God’s gift is lost. The very things that make the church separate, unique, and holy are lost.
There is the principle from the early church, “Lex orandi, lex credendi,” which roughly means “how you worship will define what you believe.” This can be taken too far sometimes and some of what Luther was doing in the Reformation was applying Scripture to correct false worship practices. Nevertheless, the statement does prove true. If my worship practices show that God is truly present with His people in grace and mercy, my theology will flow out of that. If God is not truly present, then my theology will reflect that as well.
The gracious presence of God in the sacraments was something Luther found he could not budge on in his debates with Zwingli, Calvin, and others. Losing the presence of God and His grace in the sacraments changes everything about who the church is and what we do. It changes the goal of our evangelism and what our service consists of. It changes our identity in this world and how we relate to the world around us. It changes what makes us different from everyone else. This is why Missouri Synod Lutherans take the sacraments so seriously and consider them non-negotiable. This is why our dialogue with Catholics and Orthodox is so different from that of Protestants. If someone asks whether God is truly here in this place, Lutherans, Catholics, and Orthodox need only point to the sacraments as proof that God is truly present and active.
I was reading a discussion recently about how many church bodies these days talk about love. Love is described as this desire we have to care for humanity and, in particular, the less fortunate. On its face this can be a helpful force driving works of compassion in communities everywhere. In practical application, this movement shows very little in the way of love. I don’t mean to say all of the food drives, homeless shelters, and other fundraisers and such are unhelpful. Many of these projects are life changing.
When we think about love in our daily lives, this sort of activity doesn’t mesh with how we think about love, because one of the most fundamental aspects of love is the relationship. Husbands and wives have a love built on their relationship. The same is true of parents and children, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, and any other relationship you might think of. Sending donations to a charity may be helpful and may make a big difference, but does little to build that relationship. They may be good things and helpful things, but there is no personal connection and no way to build a relationship on that alone.
When we look at the life of God’s people in the Old Testament, we find times when God calls to people as a group, instructing them to follow Him and trust Him. If that were all He did, there would be a danger of God having the same kind of love we are content to show. However, but even with those broad and generalized calls, God is doing things for His people on a personal and individual level. God calls to the Israelites in Egypt to follow Him out of Egypt, but everything God does for the Israelites on the covenant He made with Abraham. God makes a promise to each son of Abraham through circumcision, and through those me, to the whole nation. If ever any man wondered if God loved him as His treasured possession, he had only to remember the sign of the covenant He bore in his flesh.
This is one of the reasons Christ’s incarnation is so profound. It is God showing love to His people personally, forgiving them and healing them on an individual basis. He makes sure each person He interacts with knows He loves them specifically. Generalized love leads to specific love.
In the age of the church, we continue the precedent set by God. We do some acts of love and compassion that care for people in general ways. But this kind of love is not the goal, the end unto itself. The goal is to bring those people to where they can hear God speak to them specifically. This why the sacraments are so critical. Baptism and Communion are carried out at God’s specific and personal invitation. Luther remarks with some regularity how his baptism was his constant assurance of God’s forgiveness and love. It was a statement that, while God loves all humanity, God also specifically loved Martin Luther.
This is part of the joy and wonder if the sacraments. God comes to us personally, invites us personally, loves us personally. Christ dies for the sins of the whole world, and, at the same time, He dies for you.
I’ve talked quite a bit about typology in my posts. I gave an overview of how it works a couple weeks back and I’ve talked about many instances of how typology helps us understand the sacraments. In all of these cases, we’re looking at the Old Testament and using it to help us understand what is happening in the New Testament. In the church, we typically emphasize the Gospels and rightly so. The life of Christ is all important for our salvation. Everything God does is focused in and through the work of Christ. Without this, nothing else really matters.
While the Gospels are the center point of Christian life, they cannot really be understood outside of the Old Testament. All of the major salvation words you can think of, such as atonement, justification, propitiation and all of the rest, are all explained to us in the Old Testament. All of the time God is dealing with the patriarchs of old, the Israelites moving into the Promised Land, living in the Promised Land, or returning to the Promised Land, He is teaching them about salvation.
Every page of the Old Testament is a lesson God is giving His people. Every lesson there is meant to help us understand what God is doing through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus offers forgiveness for sins, but we only fully understand sin in light of the Old Testament. Jesus offers everlasting life, but we only understand the meaning of death in light of the Old Testament. Jesus purifies us and makes us clean, but we only understand uncleanness through the Old Testament. Jesus builds us together as one people, but we only understand division because of what happened in the Old Testament. Jesus sets us free from spiritual slavery/idolatry, but we only know what that means because we look through the Old Testament and see how that unfolds. The New Testament was never meant to be read without the Old Testament.
That’s why, when we get to some of the most basic ideas in the church, such as salvation, grace, forgiveness, life, the sacraments, worship, and so on, we can’t confine our reading to just the New Testament, as if these things just suddenly appeared when Christ was born. They’ve been there all along. Everything God does through Christ had its foundation laid in the Old Testament. It was all explained to the people so they would be ready for Christ’s work when He arrived. God wants us to see the full depth and richness of what He is doing on our behalf and the gifts He offers to us. In order to see that, we must truly understand our position and what is at stake. The work of Christ isn’t the beginning of God’s mercy, but the continuation and completion of it.
The more you read the Old Testament, the more you’ll appreciate the New Testament. The more you see what happens when you run away from God, the more you’ll appreciate when you hear God calling you back. The more you see what happens when you try and stand on your own, the more you’ll appreciate when God is there to defend you against your enemies. You more you see God fulfilling His wondrous promises for other people, the more you’ll appreciate when He does the same thing for you.
When you find all of those references and quotes from the Old Testament in your reading of the New Testament, go back and look them up. See what Jesus or the apostles are talking about. Where does that come from and why did they think it was important? Read through the daily lives of the Old Testament people and see what God did for them. Read the prophecies and acts of God’s mercy. Read what sin does to people and what God does about it. It will put everything Jesus does into a new perspective and give you a greater understanding of how wonderful the work of Christ is and why He did it for you.
There was a recent conversation where someone asked why a pastor elevates the host during the Words of Institution. There are a number of practical reasons for doing this, which are perfectly valid. A pastor may lift it up so that the congregation can see what he’s talking about. He might do it to make sure there’s no doubt it came from the altar. Practical reasons are worth exploring and understanding. Just because something has always been done a certain way doesn’t mean it still accomplishes the goal it was created to do originally.
Those practical reasons have been a part of our worship practices for some time, but practical reasons aren’t usually what drives the church to do what it does. This case is no different.
The elevation of the host is one of those points that demonstrates much of what the church does in worship isn’t really new. The people of God have have had a formal, organized worship life since God gave them a structure for worship back in Leviticus. Even in the era of the church, much of our liturgical theology is built up on what God gave the Israelites in Leviticus. The concepts of holiness and God’s presence, sacrifices and their purpose, the role of the priesthood and more all come from Leviticus.
Here in Communion, we are still offering sacrifices. Not that we are trying to pay for our sins, for that’s already been taken care of. Instead, we offer to the Father the one thing that can pay for our sins: Christ Himself. We also offer food to God in the form of bread and wine. In Leviticus, certain sacrifices would be given to God but not wholly burned on the altar. God delineated parts of the animals be given to the priests to provide for their needs. However, every part of that animal still belonged to God. The priest had no right to take it for himself. It didn’t belong to him. The sacrifice was God’s and God decided what to do with it. To reflect this, God directed the priest to make a “wave offering” of those pieces. He would take the piece of meat and hold it up before God to acknowledge that it was His now and belonged to Him. Whatever it was before, now it was God’s and had to be handled according to His rules. Now that it had been given to God, He chose to give it to His priest
Things haven’t really changed in this regard in New Testament times. We are still offering things to God. The bread and wine on the altar are an offering given by the church to God for Him to use for His purposes. The pastor holds up the bread and wine to show they are given to Him. They are His now. They are holy now and must be used according to His purposes. In this case, He chooses to give them back to His royal priesthood, the people of the church, in order to provide for our needs as well.