Absolution - The Audible Words of Forgiveness

Picking up with our conversation from last week, I want to discuss with you the kind of sins one might want to confess in Private Confession.

As the Small Catechism states it: “Before God we should confess that we are guilty of all sins, even those which are not known to us, as we do in the Lord’s Prayer. But in private confession, as before the pastor, we should confess only those sins which trouble us in heart and mind.”

Already with this answer we catch a glimpse of the purpose of Private Confession. It is an instrument to bring comfort to a troubled conscience! One of the works of the Holy Spirit is to convict us of our sin (cf. John 16:8). And as our Lord Jesus did not come to condemn us (cf. John 3:17), the work of the Holy Spirit is to trouble us, so that brought to repentance, we might receive the salvation Christ intends for us. But alas, a troubled conscience, without the assurance of forgiveness, can leave a person with excessive sorrow and a sense of despair and condemnation.

The Pastor, as an ambassador, can speak audibly the words of forgiveness. This is called absolution. And the Pastor can continue to share promises from God’s Word that indeed Christ forgives the sins of repentant sinners.

It is important that we allow the Holy Spirit to work through God’s Word. When we listen attentively, our Lord will bring an awareness and conviction of our sin. This is why the Small Catechism suggests: “We can examine our everyday life according to the Ten Commandments – for example, how we act toward father or mother, son or daughter, husband or wife, or toward the people with whom we work, and so on. We may ask ourselves whether we have been disobedient or unfaithful, bad-tempered or dishonest, or whether we have hurt anyone by word or deed.”

When we listen attentively we will also hear his promise to forgive and free us!

Since You Asked…

What is the significance of The Ascension Day Commemoration?

Forty days following Easter the Resurrected Christ ascended to heaven, where as we confess in the Creed, he is seated at the right hand of the Father. The account of the ascension of our Lord occurs in both Luke 24:50-51 and Acts 1:9-11. As described in these passages Jesus led his disciples up Mount Olivet near Jerusalem where suddenly they witnessed his being elevated up into the sky until a cloud took him away from their sight. This signified his return to heaven where, as we confess in the Creed, he is seated at the right hand of the Father. This enthronement is a description of the all-inclusive authority he is given by the Father. Christ’s going away necessarily preceded his promised sending of the Holy Spirit. Other hints at the significance of his ascension have to do with his promise to go and prepare a place for his followers to be with him, and to serve as a High Priest interceding for his Church.