Recently the church I attended included in the bulletin an explanation of parts of the service. Many of us can probably use a refresher on why we do what we do during worship, so I’ll be including some of these explanations this month. The first one is on the Office of the Keys, and Confession and is taken from Luther’s Small Catechism.
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 and Pastors 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 the called ministers of Christ deal with us by His diving 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.
(1965, Luther’s Small Catechism, pg. 18).
For more about the catechism see:
A Book of Questions — Luther’s Catechism