Saturday, November 7, 2009

All the Promises of God 2

John 20:21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” ESV

Another way that one can hear the gospel proclaimed is to go to a worship service where there is a confession that we are by nature sinful and unclean. Therefore we can never keep God’s law and are justly deserving of his punishment here and in eternity. After this confessions the pastor will say that God in his mercy sent his son to die for our sin and in the stead and by the command of his Lord, Jesus Christ, he forgives us all our sins. In the name of the Father † Son and Holy Spirit. In addition when one meets with a pastor who adheres to the promise of Jesus the troubled sinner will again here the Gospel and the forgiveness of sin.

What takes the place of it in churches which do not believe a man is commanded to forgive sins in the name of the Triune God is some kind of you can do better speech. Or perhaps an understanding talk about all people have those temptations and sin. The main difficulty with that is the sinner retains his sin in his mind. Either no comfort of the removal of the guilt or a sin in thinking in pride the sin can be muscled up against and defeated by his or her effort. This falls short of the promise that Jesus has given and is in plain denial of it.

And what is more when one is approached by another who has wronged him or her as a baptized child of God we can forgive that person in the same Triune name. Being part of the priesthood of believers we have that wonderful privilege as well. And when the person who did the wrong we can pray that God grant them true repentance and full joy and assurance in Jesus. We may never hear a word of apology from that person but we have forgiven them as Jesus commands and as we pray in the Our Father.

Many will object to this promise. It has been said that because of his or her faith in Jesus he or she does not need nor desires sins forgiven by another. The biggest problem with that objection is that Jesus wants you to have it. He is your Saviour and knows what is best for your faith. This is a direct way for a minister to not only proclaim the Gospel but to directly assure the sinner his or her sins are indeed forgiven. This is a fallen and dying world and as time goes on it is not getting any better. These promises are given for our benefit and offers the peace that passes all our understanding.

In the name of Jesus, Amen. †


Steve Martin said...

I could not agree more!

The Christian life is lived in the absolution.

There is no greater love than that of forgiveness and reconcilliation.

This is what we need to hear and this is what we need to say to others.

Thanks, St. David!

Anonymous said...


The absolution was one of the first things upon visiting our now Lutheran church that struck me. It was literally like being washed, you could feel (and I’m not suggesting experience driven theology) it fall off of you, the guilt and sin.

Coming from a heterodox background it is first tough to even realize the pastor has that authority. My wife STILL struggles with she was so raised in the Baptist church and heard all her life “that’s Catholic” and “no man can forgive you your sins”. It’s hard to get into the blood that “true no man can but Christ not only gives men authority, when they are doing it rightly (not according Rome but Luther) it is actually Christ forgiving you!

That was the greatest part of my trial under SB and Calvinistic doctrine. I told my wife in tears so many times, “I wish I could just hear Jesus Himself say Larry I forgive YOU, just like he told the prostitute. How sweet those words were from the lips of Christ to her.”

But of course in the false doctrine of believers baptism and sacramental-less religions such as these Christ can never be given to you. Even when I spoke with pastors, and many I did, they could never actually give me Christ, the medicine I needed. There would always be some kind of thing to do, subtle and not rank works per se. It would be “you will know you are a Christian by your love”, man that’s telling a man tempting suicide to “go ahead you should”. Or a lot of times is was subtle works with “faith” language something like, “trust Christ”. Which is true but under Calvinistic or Arminian religions there’s always that, “Yea but God didn’t elect every one…how do I know and don’t tell me by my love that’s part of the problem.” Even “absolution” in the PCA when we made that move to formal reformed churches always has that caveat in some form “if you believe”, thus they never actually hand you Christ as it were or say “You are forgiven the deal is done…”. There’s always the “but” or caveat and the works are hidden in so called “faith”. They don’t understand Luther’s confession, “I cannot believe by my own power or will but am called by the Gospel by the Holy Spirit”. They might agree with that but only in the sense of “God gives you the power otherwise to believe it, so believe it (work-faith)”. Not as Luther intended it like, “Even if you don’t believe you are forgiven.” That’s why Calvinist don’t see their inherent synergism!

I know they meant well, many of my former pastors, I never doubted their intent. But if you needed heart surgery and Joe Blow who is not even remotely medically skilled “meant well” began to operate on you, he’s still going to kill you. Meaning well really doesn’t work does it? Nobody means to be a false teacher or heretic or preach another gospel, they mean well. I use to do a fair amount of “evangelism” with Mormons and none of them were ill meaning, and all extremely nice and polite and inviting…yet! I know good atheist that “mean well” to free you from your religious bondage as they perceive it.

Synergism ALWAYS covers up the Gospel whether its from the Arminian side of the house or the Calvinistic side of the house.


Anonymous said...

The heart of the Gospel IS Absolution, from heaven! One might even say that the Gospel IS Absolution. A more "pure" way of saying it might be instead of "Law and Gospel", because many have abused this concept, rather "Law and Absolution".


Dawn K said...

"That was the greatest part of my trial under SB and Calvinistic doctrine. I told my wife in tears so many times, 'I wish I could just hear Jesus Himself say Larry I forgive YOU, just like he told the prostitute. How sweet those words were from the lips of Christ to her.'"

Isn't Absolution so wonderful, Larry? :)

I still barely have words for the joy. Christ forgives ME. It's not about simply feeling forgiven, but about knowing the objective reality that my sins - mine personally - are forgiven.

Private confession and absolution drives this home even further. There's no way you can convince yourself, "Well, he doesn't really mean MY sins." There's no one else in the room except you and the pastor who speaks in the stead of Christ.

I too have gotten the "that's too Catholic" line, as well as "well, I don't need to confess before any other person, I can just confess to God." Yes, you can just confess to God, but in that case you can't hear Him say to you personally, "I forgive you all your sins." You don't have to HAVE to go to confession, you GET to go to confession.