I am hoping to find out what "forgiveness" is like in the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran church. I'm coming from an Old Apostolic Lutheran church (Laestadian); always liked the way they did forgiveness, but am having problems with other areas of the religion (focus on what preachers say instead of Bible; rules that aren't biblical concerning dress/lifestyle...) Any insight would be greatly appreciated.
Forgiveness refers first of all to a judgment of God. Then it refers to a proclamation which the church makes to individuals in God’s name.
Forgiveness is first of all a verdict of God which is based on Christ’s completed work. Christ kept the law perfectly for us. He paid the full price of all of our sins on the cross. Because Christ has paid for all of the sins of all of the people God has declared the sins of the world to be forgiven (2 Cor 5:19). To benefit from this verdict of God a person needs to know about this verdict and to believe it. That is why the gospel is preached to the world (2 Cor 5:20). The person who trusts in Christ as his Savior has complete forgiveness of sins and peace with God (Romans 5:1-11).
So that we may be sure of this forgiveness, it is proclaimed in the church in a number of ways. It is proclaimed in the general preaching of the gospel. A person may be assured of forgiveness through reading the gospel or hearing it preached. A repentent sinner may be assured by any Christian that his or her sins are forgiven. The ministry of the keys is not the exclusive prerogative of the pastor. In the public service there is a general confession of sins in which we together confess our sins in a general way. The pastor as the called servant of the Word announces forgiveness to those who have confessed their sins. He does this in the name of Christ and in obedience to Christ’s command. Individuals also may confess sins that trouble them to the pastor privately. The proclamation and assurance of forgiveness which the pastor gives them individually is not inherently different from that which he proclaims to the whole congregation in the name of Christ. It differs in being addressed to specific sins of a specific individual. Forgiveness is also made very personal in the Lord’s Supper in which each communicant receives the body and blood of Christ which was given and shed for him.
If specific sins have caused public offense, it may be necessary to deal with them publicly to remove the offense, but the only thing that is necessary to receive forgiveness is sorrow over sin, and faith which trusts in Christ for forgiveness. A specific form of the proclamation of that forgiveness is not essential to the reception of forgiveness. The forgiveness received through reading the gospel, hearing the gospel, receiving the Lord’s Supper, being forgiven as part of a group or as an individual is not essentiality different. It is the same gospel which is being applied in various ways.
Sunday, April 10, 2005
I found this question by an OALC member online and thought you might find it interesting.
Posted by Free2bme at 4/10/2005 09:16:00 PM