“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens.
From the Confessions: The Defense of the Augsburg Confession
Concerning Confession and Satisfaction
For we also retain confession, especially because of absolution being the word of God which the power of the keys declares to individuals by divine authority. It would therefore be wicked to remove private absolution from the Church. If there are any who despise private absolution, they understand neither the forgiveness of sins nor the power of the keys.
Pulling It Together
The Greek word that we transliterate as “angel,” literally means “messenger.” This can either be a heavenly or a human delegate, sent by God to declare his message. Thus, it is proper to consider the angels of the seven churches in Revelation as the pastors of those churches. Pastors are the ones called and sent by God to proclaim his message. They are given the keys of the kingdom, that “whatever [they] bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever [they] loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matt 16:19). These messengers, these pastors (these angels, if you will permit me to say so) speak the very words of the holy and true one, who has the key of David. These are the words of forgiveness—or indeed, the refusal of forgiveness. These messengers open the gates of heaven, and shut them as well.
We therefore, keep both corporate and private confession in our churches, and encourage our people to make frequent use of the former, but also the latter, when necessary. By doing so, they not only confess their sins, but hear the words of absolution. We need to be regularly assured by God through his messengers that we are forgiven, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Prayer: Holy Spirit, help me to hear what you say to your Church. Amen.
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The biblical focus of The Adventures of Paul, a five-session VBS book, is the life of the Apostle Paul, using lessons from the Book of Acts. Here Scripture tells the story of serious man named Saul who worked to silence Christianity—until the risen Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus and changed his life. With his new name Paul, this one who had persecuted the Church went on to become one of the greatest apostles.
The price of the book includes permission to reproduce the worksheets and handouts for local use. For smaller churches in a "one-room schoolhouse" setting, only one book is necessary. For churches with multiple grade levels and individual classes, we suggest that each teacher have a copy of the curriculum book.