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Forgiveness; November 8, 1998


"If the question is put, 'Why did God ordain so many means of grace when one suffices to confer upon the sinner His grace and forgiveness?' we quote the reply of Luther who writes (Smalcald Articles, IV: 'The Gospel not merely in one way gives us counsel and aid against sin, for God is superabundantly rich in His grace. First through the spoken Word, by which the forgiveness of sins is preached in the whole world, which is the peculiar office of the Gospel. Secondly through Baptism. Thirdly through the holy Sacrament of the Altar. Fourthly through the power of the keys and also through the mutual conversation and consolation of brethren, Matthew 18:20.'"

John Theodore Mueller, Christian Dogmatics, A Handbook of Doctrinal Theology, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1934, p. 447.


"For now we are only half pure and holy, so that the Holy Ghost has ever [some reason why] to continue His work in us through the Word, and daily to dispense forgiveness, until we attain to that life where there will be no more forgiveness, but only perfectly pure and holy people, full of godliness and righteousness, removed and free from sin, death, and all evil, in a new, immortal, and glorified body."

The Large Catechism, The Creed, Article III, #58, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 693. Tappert, p. 418.        


Dr. Luther, Large Catechism: "Again: With this Word you can strengthen your conscience and say: If a hundred thousand devils, together with all fanatics, should rush forward, crying, How can bread and wine be the body and blood of Christ? I know that all spirits and scholars together are not as wise as is the Divine Majesty in His little finger. Now, here stands the Word of Christ: 'Take, eat; this is My body. Drink ye all of this'...Here we abide, and would like to see those who will constitute themselves His masters, and make it different from what He has spoken."

Formula of Concord, Epitome, Article VII, Lord's Supper, 22, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 979. Tappert, p. 573.      


"The objection that absolution is God's prerogative (Mark 2:7) is beside the mark, since the minister forgives sins not in his own name, but in God's name."

Th. Engelder, et. al., Popular Symbolics, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1934, p. 113.  


"Wherever the means of grace are present, there the Lord Himself is present, and where the Lord rules there is victory. The true doctrine of justification is intimately bound up with the true doctrine of the means of grace. In order to keep the doctrine of justification in all its purity, one must ever maintain that the forgiveness of sins which Christ earned for mankind can never be appropriated by man through any other means than the Word and the Sacrament. Therefore, Walther said, the correct doctrine on justification stands or falls with the correct doctrine concerning the means of grace."

Edwin E. Pieplow, "The Means of Grace," The Abiding Word, ed., Theodore Laetsch, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1946, II, p. 327.


V. Mueller Catechism:

"Although the work of redemption was accomplished on the cross and forgiveness of sin acquired, yet it cannot come to us in any other way than through the Word. For what would we otherwise know about it that such a thing was accomplished or was to be given to us if it were not presented by preaching, or the oral Word?"

Eduard Preuss, "The Means of Grace," The Justification of the Sinner before God, trans., Julius A. Friedrich, Chicago: F. Allerman, 1934, p. 59.         




"If we call Sacraments rites which have the command of God, and to which the promise of grace has been added, it is easy to decide what are properly Sacraments...Therefore Baptism, the Lord's Supper, and Absolution, which is the Sacrament of Repentance, are truly Sacraments. For these rites have God's command and the promise of grace, which is peculiar to the New Testament. For when we are baptized, when we eat the Lord's body, when we are absolved, our hearts must be firmly assured that God truly forgives us for Christ's sake. And God, at the same time, by the Word and by the rite, moves hearts to believe and conceive faith, just as Paul says, Romans 10:17: 'Faith cometh by hearing.' But just as the Word enters the ear in order to strike our heart, so the rite itself strikes the eye, in order to move the heart. The effect of the Word and of the rite is the same..."

[Luther, Bab Captivity, 3 sacraments] Article XIII, Number/Use Sacraments, Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Concordia Triglotta, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1921, p. 309. Tappert, p. 211.  


"These are the last and mad times of a world grown old."

Martin Chemnitz, Examination of the Council of Trent, trans., Fred Kramer, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1971, I, p. 50.   


"Contrition is altogether necessary in those who truly and earnestly repent. For there can be no true repentance in those who, persuaded of their own holiness, dream that they are without sin, or who disregard, minimize, excuse, cloak, and defend their sins, despise or ridicule the divine threats, do not care about the wrath of God, are not moved by His judgment and displeasure, and therefore persevere and continue in sins against their conscience, delight in sins, and seek and seize occasions for sinning and for whatever they intentionally heap up without the fear of God--in them, I say, there can be no true repentance...."

Martin Chemnitz, Examination of the Council of Trent, trans., Fred Kramer, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1986, II, p. 581.     


"We have now sowed a little of the Word, and this the devil cannot stand, for he never sleeps; the worms and the beetles will come and infect it. Yet so it must be, Christ will prove His Word, and examine who have received it and who not. Therefore let us remain on the right road to the kingdom of Christ, and not go about with works and urge and force the works of the law, but only with the words of the Gospel which comfort the conscience: Be happy, be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven."

 Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholaus Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, V, p. 201.      


"Regret, the little black dog of a belated repentance, does not stop barking and biting the conscience, even though you know your sins are forgiven."

 What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, III, p. 1214. Genesis 37:18-20. 


"But the sinners who confess their sins, and are repentant, who wish they had not so angered God, who find all their concern and sorrow in the fact that they have offended God and have not kept His Commandments and, therefore, pray for grace--these sinners shall find grace."

 What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, II, p. 694.          


"Also the objection that there is no need of offering and confirming to Christians one and the same forgiveness of sins in several ways betrays an astonishing ignorance. Both Scripture and experience teach that men who feel the weight of their sins find nothing harder to believe than the forgiveness of their sins. Hence repetition of the assurance of the forgiveness of sins in various ways through the means of grace meets a practical need of Christians."

Francis Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, 3 vols., trans., Walter W. F. Albrecht, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1953, III, p. 114.