THE OFFICE OF THE KEYS AND CONFESSION
As the head of the family should teach it in a simple way to those in his household.
A. The Office of the Keys
l. What is the Office of the Keys?
The Office of the Keys is the special power Christ gave to His Church on earth to forgive the sins of penitent sinners and to retain the sins of the impenitent as long as they do not repent.
Where is this written?
The holy evangelist John writes in chapter 20: “[Jesus] breathed on [His disciples] and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained’” (John 20:22,23)
2. How does a Christian congregation use the Keys?
A Christian congregation, with its pastor, uses the keys according to Christ’s command, either by forgiving those who repent of their sins and are willing to change, or by excluding those who are obviously impenitent from the Christian congregation. These actions are as valid and certain in heaven also as if Christ our dear Lord were dealing with us Himself.
l. What is Confession?
There are two parts to confession. One is that we confess our sins. The other is that we receive absolution, or forgiveness, from a fellow Christian as from God Himself, not doubting, but firmly believing that our sins are forgiven in this way before our heavenly Father.
2. What sins should we confess?
Before God we should plead guilty of all sins, even those we don’t know we have done, as we do in the Lord’s Prayer. However, before one another we should confess only those sins which we know and feel in our hearts.
3. Which sins are these?
Examine your place in life according to the Ten Commandments. Have you been faithful as a father, mother, son, daughter, employer or employee? Have you been disobedient, unfaithful, or lazy? Have you injured anyone by what you have said or done? Have you stolen anything, neglected your duty, been careless, or damaged anything?
4. What will a fellow Christian say to someone who has confessed his or her sins?
He will say, “According to the command of our Lord Jesus Christ I forgive you your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”