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Thursday, 14 December 2017 21:24

Confession (Office of the Keys) Lesson 2

Confession (The Office of the Keys)

This Week’s Focus

What is the Office of the Keys?

The Office of the Keys is the special authority, which Christ has given to His church on earth to forgive the sins of repentant sinners, but to withhold forgiveness from the unrepentant as long as they do not repent.

Where is this written?
This is what St. John the Evangelist writes in chapter twenty: the Lord Jesus breathed on His disciples and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.
  If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” [John 20:22-23]

What do you believe according to these words?
I believe that when called ministers of Christ deal with us by His divine command, in particular when they exclude openly unrepentant sinners from the Christian congregation and absolve those who repent of their sins and want to do better, this is just as valid and certain, even in heaven, as if Christ our dear Lord dealt with us Himself.

“Confession in the churches is not abolished among us. The body of the Lord is not usually given to those who have not been examined [1 Corinthians 11:27–28] and absolved. The people are very carefully taught about faith in the Absolution. Before, there was profound silence about faith. Our people are taught that they should highly prize the Absolution as being God’s voice and pronounced by God’s command. The Power of the Keys [Matthew 16:19] is set forth in its beauty. They are reminded what great consolation it brings to anxious consciences and that God requires faith to believe such Absolution as a voice sounding from heaven [e.g., John 12:28–30]. They are taught that such faith in Christ truly obtains and receives the forgiveness of sins.Before, satisfactions were praised without restraint, but little was said about faith, Christ’s merit, and the righteousness of faith. Therefore, on this point, our churches are by no means to be blamed.  Even our adversaries have to concede the point that our teachers have diligently taught the doctrine of repentance and laid it open.”  Augsburg Confession, Article 25, paragraph 1


Our Confession
·    We confess that the forgiveness of sins unlocks heaven, and withholding forgiveness locks heaven. 
·    We confess that lack of repentance should be dealt with in a serious, yet loving manner    
·    We confess that repentant sinners receive forgiveness.    We confess that repentant sinners receive forgiveness.
·    We confess that unrepentant sinners do not receive forgiveness.
·   We confess that all efforts should be made to call the openly unrepentant to repent, using Matthew 18:15-20 as our guide.
·    We acknowledge that in some cases it is necessary to pronounce excommunication (that the unrepentant has excluded himself/herself), but that this is always an attempt and desire to bring about repentance
·   We confess that Christ established the Office of the ministry to exercise this power as well as to administer the ministry of Word and Sacrament in Christian congregations.
·  We confess the biblical qualifications for the pastoral office and reject the bestowing of that office in contradiction of those qualifications.

Discussion Questions
1. Is the pastor free to forgive or retain sins according to his feelings or desires? Why or why not?

2. What is always the goal of various steps in confronting unrepentant sinners and why?

3. In what sense is forgiveness the most powerful force in creation?

Lord God, thank you for the gift of forgiveness.  May we always respond in thanks by forgiving. Amen 



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