Readings: 2:13-25; Romans 14:20-23
Hymn: LSB 519 - In His Temple, Now Behold Him
Psalm: Psalm 8
Verse: The Sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart, these, O God, you will not despise (Psalm 51:17)
Catechism: Confession & Office of the Keys
What is Confession? Confession has two parts. First, that we confess our sins, and second, that we receive absolution, that is forgiveness, from the pastor as from God Himself, not doubting, but firmly believing that by it our sins are forgiven before God in heaven.
What is the Office of the Keys? The Office of the Keys is that 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 concerning these words? I believe that when the 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 in heaven, as if Christ our dear Lord deals with us Himself.