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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
Concerning Repentance part 6

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John 20:21–23

From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession

Concerning Repentance 

Some suppose that the power of the keys does not remit guilt, but simply commutes eternal punishments to temporal ones. Then the most beneficial power of the keys would be the ministry of wrath and punishments, instead of life and the Spirit. Those more cautious imagine that by the power of the keys sins are remitted before the Church but not before God. This also is a pernicious error. For if the power of the keys does not console us before God, what then, will pacify the conscience?

Pulling It Together

The “power of the keys” is the clear charge of Christ to preach the gospel (Mark 16:15), to remit and retain sins, and administer the sacraments. By “remit,” we mean “to forgive,” and by “retain,” we mean “to withhold forgiveness.” So, in our more modern versions of the New Testament, we use the word “forgive,” instead of “remit,” which is used in the Vulgate, Tyndale, and King James versions. Yet, in the more archaic phrase, “the remission of sins,” is an understanding of forgiveness that will give us reassuring peace with God.

“Remission” and “remit” are English words we get from the Latin, which literally mean to “send back” “or send away.” Appropriate translations of the biblical Greek are of course, “forgiven,” but also “release” or even “hurl.” We have the sense of this in the English word “missile,” constructed from the same Latin word. In the power of the keys, we hear Christ hurling our sins away as if by a missile launch.

There is no better news than the news of remission. When cancer patients hear that the disease is in remission, they are finally at peace. The cancer has been sent back, hurled away, canceled. This is what happens when Christ remits our sins. Through the power of the keys, we hear Christ says to us that our sins have been hurled away and canceled. We are completely forgiven and in remission. We are at peace with God. 

Prayer: Thank you, God, for canceling my sin; through Christ the Lord. Amen.

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All God’s Critters (unit 2 of 3) is a Sunday School series designed for young students in Preschool and Kindergarten. Lessons are based on storytelling, rhyme, and pictures, and are suitable for participation by non-readers. The flexible lesson plans introduce the youngest believers to the importance and truth of God’s Word. Each lesson includes the story of the day written in a simplified manner so that young children may understand an important truth about God and what it means for us to be God’s children.

The All God’s Critters curriculum is fully reproducible and is designed with the particular needs of small churches, mission congregations, and house churches in mind. Check out some sample pages by clicking here.


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