Sermon Transcript – Confession & Absolution

Series B – Sixth Wednesday in Lent – Wednesday, March 25, 2015 | Pr. Chris Rosebrough

Welcome to the Teaching Ministry of Kongsvinger Lutheran Church. Kongsvinger is a beacon for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and is located on the plains of Northwestern Minnesota.
We proclaim Christ and Him crucified for our sins and salvation by grace through faith alone, and now, here’s a message from Pastor Chris Rosebrough:
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Time StampTranscript
0:27Our first reading tonight taken from the Old Testament text second
0:33Samuel chapter 11 verse 1 through chapter 12 verse 15.
0:40in the spring at the time when kings go off to war David sent joab with the King’s Men and
0:48the whole Israelite Army they destroyed the ammonites and besieged rabba but
0:53David remained in Jerusalem one evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the
0:59palace from the roof he saw a woman bathing the woman was very beautiful and
1:04David sent someone to find out about her the man said isn’t this Bathsheba the
1:10daughter of eliam and the wife of Uriah the hittite then David sent Messengers to get her
1:16she came to him and he slept with her she had purified herself from her uncleanness then she went back home the
1:24woman conceived and sent word to David saying I am pregnant
1:29so David sent this word to joab Send Me Uriah the hittite and joab sent
1:36him to David when Uriah came to him David asked him how joab was how the
1:42soldiers were how the war was going then David said to Uriah go down to your
1:47house and wash your feet so Uriah left the palace and a gift from the King was
1:53sent after him but Uriah slept at the entrance to the palace with all his master servants and
2:01did not go down to his house when David was told Uriah did not go home he asked him haven’t you come from
2:08a distance why didn’t you go home Uriah said to David The Ark in Israel and
2:13Judah are staying intense and my master joab and my Lord’s men are camped in the Open Fields how could I go to my house
2:21and eat and drink and lie with my wife as surely as you live I will not do such
2:26a thing then David said to him stay here one more day and tomorrow I
2:32will send you back so Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day in the next at
2:37David’s invitation he ate and drank with him and David made him drunk but in the
2:43evening Uriah went out to sleep on his mat among his master servants he did not
2:49go home in the morning David wrote a letter to joab and sent it with Uriah
2:55in it he wrote put Uriah in the front line for the fighting is fiercest then
3:01withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die so while joab had the city under siege
3:08he put Uriah at the pl at the place where he knew the strongest Defenders were when the men of the city came out
3:13and fought against joab some of the men in David’s Army fell moreover Uriah the hittite died
3:21joab sent David a full account of the battle he instructed the messenger when you have finished giving the king this
3:27account of the battle the king’s anger May flare up and he may ask you why did
3:32you get so close to the city to fight didn’t you know they would shoot arrows from the wall who killed abimelech the
3:39son of Gerald basheth didn’t a woman throw an Upper Millstone on him from the wall so that he died in febes
3:46why did you get so close to the wall if he asks you this then say to him also
3:53your servant Uriah the hittite is dead the messenger
3:59set out and when he arrived he told David everything joab had sent him to
4:04say the messenger said to David the men overpowered us and came out against us in the open but we drove them back to
4:11the entrance to the City Gate then the Archer shot arrows at your servants from the wall and some of the King’s Men died
4:17moreover your servant Uriah the hittite is dead David told the messenger say this to
4:23joab don’t let this upset you the sword devours one as well as another press the
4:28attack against the city and destroy it say this to encourage joab when uriah’s wife heard that her husband
4:35was dead she mourned for him after the time of mourning was over
4:40David had her brought to his house and she became his wife and bore him a son
4:46but the thing David had done displeased the Lord the Lord sent Nathan to David when he
4:52came to him he said there were two men in a certain Town one rich
4:58and the other poor the rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle but the poor man had
5:03nothing except one little U lamb that he had bought he raised it and grew and it
5:09grew up with him and his children it shared his food drank from his cup and even slept in his arm
5:15it was like a daughter to him now a traveler came to the rich man but the rich man refrained from taking one of
5:21his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come for him instead he took the U lamb that
5:28belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him David burned with anger against the man
5:35and said to Nathan as surely as the Lord lives the man who did this deserves to die he must pay for that lamb four times
5:42over because he did such a thing and had no pity then Nathan said to David
5:49you are the man this is what the Lord the god of Israel says
5:54I anointed you King over Israel I delivered you from the hand of Saul I
5:59gave you your Master’s house and your Master’s wives into your arms I gave you the house of Israel and Judah and all of
6:06this if this had been too little I would have given you even more why did you
6:11despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes you struck down Uriah the hittite with the sword and
6:18took his wife to be your own you killed him with the sword of the ammonites now
6:23therefore the sword will never depart from your house because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the hittite
6:29to be your own this is what the Lord says out of your own household I’m going to bring Calamity upon you before your
6:36very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you and he will lie with your wives in broad
6:42daylight you did it in secret but I will do this thing in broad daylight before
6:47all of Israel then David said to Nathan I have sinned against the Lord
6:55Nathan replied the Lord has taken away your sin you are not going to die
7:01but because by doing this you have made enemies of the Lord the enemies of the Lord shall utter
7:07contempt the son born to you will die after Nathan had gone home the Lord
7:12struck the child that uriah’s wife had borne to David and he became ill
7:19our second reading is taken from psalm 51. verses 1 through 17.
7:27have mercy on me o God according to your unfailing love
7:32according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions wash away all my
7:38iniquity and cleanse me from my sin for I know my transgressions and my sin
7:44is always before me against you and you only have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight
7:50so that you are proved right when you speak and Justified when you judged
7:55surely I was sinful at Birth sinful from the time my mother conceived me surely your desired truth in the inner parts
8:02you teach me wisdom in the inmost place cleanse me with hyssop and I will be
8:07clean wash me and I will be whiter than snow let me hear joy and gladness let the
8:13bones that you have crushed rejoice hide your face from my sins and blot out all
8:18of my iniquity created me a pure heart o God and renew a steadfast Spirit Within Me
8:25do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant
8:32me a willing Spirit to sustain me then I will teach transgressors your ways and sinners will turn back to you
8:40save me from blood guilt o God the God who saves me and my tongue will sing of
8:46your righteousness O Lord open my lips and my mouth will declare your praise
8:52and you do not take delight and sacrifice or I would bring it you do not take pleasure in burnt
8:59offerings the sacrifices of God are a broken Spirit a broken and contrite heart oh God you will not despise
9:09the holy Gospel According to Saint John chapter 20 verses 19 through 23.
9:16on the evening of that first day of the week when the disciples were together with the doors locked for fear of the
9:22Jews Jesus came and stood among them and said peace be with you after he said this he showed them his
9:28hands and his side the disciples were Overjoyed when they saw the Lord and again Jesus said peace be with you as
9:35the father has sent me I am sending you and with that he breathed on them and
9:41said receive the Holy Spirit if you forgive this forgive anyone his
9:47sins they are forgiven if you do not forgive them they are not
9:54forgiven in the name of Jesus
10:01Jesus came to die for our sins
10:07the gospel is the good news that Christ died for our sins and was raised again
10:12on the third day those are powerful words because the problem that Humanity faces
10:19is the fact that we have fallen into sin because of our first parents transgression and Rebellion against God
10:26every human being born naturally descendants of Adam and Eve
10:32have inherited their sin that’s you and I each of us were born and conceived in
10:37sin and therefore in bondage to sin death and the Devil Himself and Christ
10:43has come and bled and died for our sins and the devil rails against this very
10:51gospel and yet God so richly gives this gospel to us this gospel is delivered and the
10:58Waters of baptism it’s delivered into our mouths when we take the Lord’s supper and you hear the pastor and the
11:05Deacon or Deaconess say take eat this is the True Body of Christ broken for you
11:10take drink this is the True Blood of Christ shed for you for the Forgiveness of your sins
11:16and also this forgiveness is delivered in the voice of the pastor when the
11:21pastor says I by virtue of my office forgive you all of your sins in the name
11:27of the father and the Son and the Holy Spirit each of these gifts God has given us
11:32baptism the Lord’s supper and the Absolution he’s given these to us to
11:39assure us of his great love and mercy for Sinners as sinful as me and as
11:44sinful as you these are precious and powerful gifts given to us by God and we dare not
11:51despise them because our faith needs these to cling on to and these are the
11:56means by which God sustains us as he brings us through the valley of the shadow of death and finally into his
12:03glorious Kingdom these are important things and so this week we finally arrive at
12:11the part of the catechism that deals with the topic of confession now it’s
12:16titled confession it really should be titled Absolution because the important
12:21super important part is the words of forgiveness that our faith hangs on to and here’s what Luther writes what is
12:29confession what is it and he says confession has two parts
12:34first that we confess our sins second that we receive Absolution that
12:41is forgiveness from the pastor as from God himself not doubting but firmly
12:47believing that by it our sins are forgiven before God in heaven
12:53what sins should we confess now keep this in mind
12:59and at confession and Absolution kind of comes in two stripes or two varieties one is what we do here in church
13:06the other is when you feel like sin has gotten the upper hand on you and there’s
13:11something that’s vexing your spirit and your soul and you can’t shake it that’s when you come see me privately
13:18and you confess your sins to God through me I just get to listen in if you would
13:24and you receive forgiveness for that specific sin and that is the way in
13:30which God frees us and delivers us it’s a very powerful thing so Luther asks
13:36what sin should we confess well before God we should plead guilty of all sins even
13:43those that we are not aware of and that’s kind of a big deal I’m absolutely convinced if God were to
13:51allow us even for a moment to see the full scope and magnitude and depth of
13:58our sin just that thought would probably crush
14:04us and so God in his Mercy in in a lot of ways
14:09keeps us from even experiencing the full magnitude of our sin so we confess the ones that we are aware
14:16of but before a pastor we confess only those sins which we know and we feel in
14:22our hearts so which are these well consider your place in life according to
14:28the Ten Commandments are you a father a mother son daughter husband wife employee
14:36have you been disobedient Unfaithful have you been lazy
14:42have you been hot tempered rude or quarrelsome have you hurt someone by
14:47your words or deeds have you stolen have you been negligent have you wasted
14:54anything or have you done any harm those are the sins that you should
15:00confess and so then Luther in the catechism gives a short form of confession
15:06and here’s how it goes the penitent says Dear Confessor
15:12I ask you to please hear my confession and to pronounce forgiveness in order to
15:19fulfill God’s will and then he continues I a poor sinner
15:24plead guilty before God of all sins in particular I confess before you that as
15:29a servant made Etc I failed to serve my master I was
15:37unfaithful and in this that I have not done what I was told to do I have made
15:43him angry I have caused him to curse I’ve been negligent and allowed damage to be done I have been offensive in
15:50words and deeds I have quarreled with my peers I’ve grumbled about the lady of the house and cursed her I am sorry for
15:57all of this and I ask for Grace I want to do better a master or Lady of the house can say
16:04this in particular I confess before you that I have not Faithfully guided my children servants and wife to the glory
16:10of God I’ve cursed I’ve set a bad example by indecent words and deeds I’ve
16:15hurt my neighbor I’ve spoken evil of him I’ve overcharged people or sold inferior
16:20merchandise and given less than what was paid for so let the penitent confess whatever
16:27else he has done against God’s Commandments in his own position if however someone does not find himself
16:33burdened with these or greater sins he should not trouble himself or search for or invent other sins and thereby make
16:40confession a torture instead he should mention one or two that he knows in particular I confess that I’ve cursed
16:46I’ve used improper words I’ve neglected this or that let that be enough
16:51but if you know of none at all which hardly seems possible that’s Luther’s little note if you
16:57really you’re not aware of any sins that you’ve committed at all really then go back and reread the Ten
17:03Commandments for a little bit and talk to me in a few minutes so then mention that in particular but receive the Forgiveness upon the general confession
17:10which you make to God before the Confessor so then the Confessor shall say
17:15God be merciful to you strengthen your faith do you believe that my forgiveness is God’s forgiveness Yes dear Confessor
17:23so then let him say let it be done for you as you believe and I by command of
17:28our Lord Jesus Christ forgive you your sins in the name of the father and the son and the holy spirit amen go in peace
17:36a Confessor will know additional passages with which to comfort and to strengthen the faith of those who have
17:42great burdens of conscience or our sorrowful and distressed and see that’s
17:48the idea notice it says instructions here to the pastor make sure you got passages to comfort not to burden it’s
17:56not like the pat when you come in here to a pastor and you confess and you hear the Absolution the pastor says now about
18:02that eighth commandment we need to put an accountability group and and here’s some other passages that really talk
18:08about how evil that is like well that’s the wrong thing to do
18:14okay because the reason why we have confession is for the Absolution the
18:20Absolution is the proclamation of the gospel and what Christ has done to
18:25unburden you from a particular sin
18:30so this is all run through the gospel other churches that have confession and
18:36Absolution end up burdening the people upon their leaving because not only are they required to do Penance they get to
18:42hear the Absolution but now they’ve got to make restitution everything gets run through the law in
18:49that system
18:55now Luther asks a question what is the office of the keys you think in the office of the what I
19:01always lose my keys what are we talking about here okay and this is an important thing if you look on your bulletin it
19:09looks like Jesus is playing Pac-Man with the Holy Spirit according to my daughter but that’s please remember he breathed
19:15on them the Holy Spirit the holy spirit’s going that way but notice there’s two keys there right now if
19:22you’re familiar with church artwork those two keys should remind you of
19:27something that you may have seen in another church body anyone care to Hazard a guess two keys
19:33two keys two keys whenever you see the insignia for the bishop of Rome the Pope always has the
19:40two keys but here Jesus
19:46gives the two keys there’s a binding key and a loosing key one key undoes sins
19:53the other key locks them up and so what is the office of the keys
19:59that’s what they call the ability to forgive and bind sins Luther writes the
20:04office of the keys is that special Authority which Christ has given to his church on Earth to forgive the sins of
20:13repentant Sinners but to withhold forgiveness from the unrepentant as long
20:19as they do not repent now where is this written this is what
20:24Saint John the Evangelist writes in Chapter 20 The Lord Jesus breathed on his disciples and said receive the Holy
20:31Spirit if you forgive anyone his sins they are forgiven if you do not forgive them they
20:39are not forgiven now I said I would throw a little greek
20:45in here this is an important part of this when you read this in the Greek if
20:50you notice it says if you forgive you forgive anyone has sins the Greek verb now for
20:58they are forgiven it’s a special verb tense it’s in the
21:03perfect and you’re thinking I’ve never heard of a perfect and I’m never going to remember this why are you telling me
21:09this know this about this particular verb tense it’s it’s an interesting form of a PA of the past tense and it means
21:17that whatever is being referred to has already happened with the ongoing into the future never
21:24to stop ending kind of thing to it so it happened here and it’s not just happened
21:31it’s happened with implications that go stretch all the way into the future that’s what the perfect is about
21:37so the idea is this listen to what how this works then if you forgive anyone
21:43his sins and here’s how it will be translated they will have already been forgiven and
21:50continue to be forgiven on into the future and because it’s in that tense that says
21:57will have already been forgiven that means no joke if you were to put
22:03this on a timeline that the Forgiveness of those sins occurred prior to the
22:09person saying I forgive you all of your sins does that make sense because it’s in the
22:14past tense so when I say I forgive you all of your sins you should think back to this text
22:21and say when the pastor says I forgive you all of your sins that literally means they have already been forgiven
22:29and will continue to be forgiven on into eternity in other words that proves because they
22:36have already been forgiven I’m not the one doing it God is
22:42does that make sense so that’s why I say do you believe that my forgiveness is not mine but God’s
22:47because the text when you understand how to read the Greek and what’s going on to it I can’t say I’m the one doing it I
22:55just get to be the guy that sits there and says all right I got a message from Heaven the message from Heaven is this you’re forgiven do you feel better now
23:01no actually I won’t say it that way but you know what I’m saying you should feel better because it’s already been
23:08forgiven and continues on into the future to be forgiven now here’s the important part there’s
23:15two keys there’s two binding and losing
23:21but if you do not forgive them if you retain them
23:29they are not have not been forgiven
23:34it’s an important thing now I said that in the Bible
23:41there are three texts that deal with the office of the keys
23:46the one that we read tonight in Our Gospel lesson from John chapter 20.
23:51the second is from Matthew chapter 18 and I’m working backwards through the
23:57gospels Matthew chapter 18. see if this sounds familiar
24:03if your brother sins against you go and tell him his fault between you and him alone
24:09if he listens to you you have gained your brother is this not the very text that we all
24:15understand is the text by which church discipline is to be enacted this is a text that deals with the with
24:22the topic specifically of church discipline in fact if you were to go into the filing cabinet and pull out the
24:29church’s Constitution and it deal a topic of you know church discipline this
24:35Church’s Constitution specifically says church discipline is to be handled according to this passage of scripture
24:43so this is a big deal so if your brother sins against you go and tell him his fault between you and
24:50him alone notice pastors not involved if he listens to you’ve gained your brother but if he does not listen take one or
24:57two others along with you that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witness Witnesses notice Pastor is still not
25:05involved if one of you sins against another and the person sins against comes to me and
25:12says pastor and so sinned against me and
25:17and I they they need to repent I’m going to basically say why are you
25:22talking to me Matthew 18 makes it clear I’m not
25:28involved at this point go and talk to your brother or your sister
25:34tell them they’re sin call them to repentance and keep in mind the context immediately before this is the parable
25:40of the lost sheep this is the means by which Christ goes and hunts for his lost
25:47sheep so if he doesn’t listen to two or three Witnesses if he still refuses to listen
25:54to the to them tell it to the church if he refuses to listen to the church
26:00let him be to you as a gentile and a tax collector truly I say to you here it is
26:06whatever you bind on Earth shall be bound in heaven
26:12whatever you loose on Earth shall be loosed in heaven
26:17binding loosing forgiving not forgiving this is another way of talking about the
26:23office of the keys and again notice there’s two of them binding and loosing
26:30so I point this out by way of a couple of things I want to remind you of the
26:36vows that I took when I was installed here at Kong’s Winger I’d like to read you a portion of them
26:41Pastor Lyons asked me will you Faithfully instruct both The
26:48Young and the old and the chief articles of the Christian doctrine will you forgive the sins of those who
26:56repent and will you promise never to divulge the sins confessed to you
27:02remember that part of my vows to be your pastor I had
27:08to promise that I would forgive the sins of those who repent
27:14Now The Binding key requires me to retain the sins of those who persist
27:21in sin and refuse to repent as a severe thing
27:26because Jesus makes it clear that when the church exercises the
27:31office of the keys and somebody’s sins are bound if they go to their grave
27:39in impenitance they go to hell
27:47God has remembered their sins it’s a big deal not to be exercised lightly not to be
27:55exercised with due diligence does that make sense but that’s the seriousness that we’re
28:01talking about when we’re dealing with church discipline it’s a matter of
28:07eternal life or Eternal death and it should be handled as such
28:12and so you got the idea of just how serious our sin is and how much of a gift it is that God
28:21has opened our eyes to our own sinful condition so that we truly in penitent
28:28Faith confess that we are sinners and hear the Glorious words of the past
28:35are saying I forgive you all of your sins knowing that it’s not him that’s doing the
28:41forgiving because it will have already been forgiven on into the future as well right that’s
28:47God doing it and so these are comforting words for us and remember our story let
28:53me reference it back remember the Old Testament text that I read to you regarding the story of King David
29:00and King David we know about his murder we know about his adultery oh and he can
29:07even throw in another crime he got Uriah drunk no one ever talks about that but
29:12that was part part of the the whole package right but remember
29:17that when Nathan the prophet confronted David
29:26confessed his sins let me read it again I have sinned against the Lord David
29:32said Nathan replied listen to this the Lord has taken away your sin
29:39Nathan pronounced absolution now since the Old Testament is full of
29:45types and shadows see if you pick this one up you’re not going to die but because by doing this you have made
29:52the enemies of the Lord show utter contempt the son that is born to you will die
29:58and Nathan had gone home the Lord struck the child that uriah’s wife had borne to David and he became ill and he died
30:08the son of David died for the sins of David
30:14do you see the connection now and that points us to the son of David
30:20Jesus Christ who ultimately did die for the sins of David and the sins of me and the sins of
30:27you he died for all of our sins and what a glorious and compassionate
30:33God that we have and that Psalm that we read tonight Psalm 51 no sinner had Nathan the prophet left
30:41the palace that David went to his desk and took out his pen
30:46and took out his parchment and penned these amazing words have mercy on me oh
30:52God according to your unfailing love according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions wash away all my
30:59iniquity and cleanse me from my sin and God did
31:06he blotted out all of David’s transgressions and he did that on the cross by canceling the record of death
31:13that stood against him let me read to close tonight a little
31:21segment from just a wonderful devotional book by Johann Gerhart entitled
31:27meditations on Divine Mercy in this chapter he talks about how
31:34contrition Contrition which is sorrow for sin convinces us of the seriousness of sin
31:41Gerhard writes O Holy God just judge
31:47my heart is contrite and humble my spirit is sad and Afflicted because
31:53of my sins I’m overwhelmed with anxiety and weighed down I’ve lost all my courage and my
32:01eyes are dark with depression I’m overwhelmed and I begin to weep my spirit is full of anxiety and I forget
32:09to eat have you ever been that heart sick about your own sin
32:15I have my heart is wounded
32:20and a fountain of Tears pours pours forth the blood of a Wounded Heart
32:26great way to talk about tears tears of the blood of a Wounded Heart who can discern one’s errors who
32:33understands the pain of heart surrounded by failures and faults my parched and
32:39contrite soul thirsts for you the font of Life o Christ nourish me
32:45with the Dew the spirit of Grace my anguish heart groans for you o true Joy
32:52give to me peace and quiet of conscience so justified by faith I might have peace
32:58with God my heart condemns me but you God are stronger than my heart
33:05absolve me my conscience accuses me but you who
33:10affixed the handwriting of conscience to the Cross you acquitted me I offer to you my God my contrite and
33:17humble heart as a most grateful sacrifice I offer to you my groans
33:22messengers of true and real sorrow over sin I offer to you my tears abundant
33:28Witnesses of earnest sorrow I despair of myself in you hope is repaired of myself I fail
33:38in you I am restored in me there is only anguish in you I find Joy
33:46once again I am weary and heavy laden you restore me and give rest to my soul the Deep
33:54calls out of the deep and the depth of my misery calls out to the depth of your mercy from the depths I cry out to you
34:02cast my sins into the depths of the sea there is no soundness in my flesh
34:08because of your wrath there is no peace in my bones because of my sin my sins
34:14overwhelm me and they are like a great weight that becomes ever more burdensome
34:19as it is carried heal my soul o Heavenly physician or
34:25death will swallow me take the weight of sins away from me you Who Bore that
34:30weight on the cross or I will lose hope under this unbearable burden
34:37have mercy on me font of grace and mercy
34:43and the answer from God’s word is I forgive you all of your sins
34:50that is how a burden conscience is unburdened
34:56and these words do not come from me they come from God which means there isn’t an authority
35:02higher that can that anyone can appeal to in order to overturn that verdict
35:08the gavel has landed and the verdict has come back
35:16you are forgiven in the name of Jesus
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