Christ comes to you and me through the means of grace: the Holy Scriptures, Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper. These saving and forgiving means of grace may also be applied through Individual Confession and Absolution.
Luther’s Small Catechism explains, “The use of the Keys is that special power and right which Christ gave to his church on earth: to forgive the sins of penitent sinners but refuse forgiveness to the impenitent as long as they do not repent.” This forgiveness “is as valid and certain in heaven also, as if Christ our dear Lord, dealt with us himself.”
“[Jesus] breathed on [his disciples] and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven” (John 20:22–23).
WHAT HAPPENS IN INDIVIDUAL CONFESSION AND ABSOLUTION?
Very simply, you go to your pastor, confess your sins, and receive personal, individual announcement of forgiveness won for you on the cross. You need not mention any specific sin, although you are welcome to confess any sins that trouble your conscience. The pastor doesn’t probe into your life or try to make you feel guilty. You simply confess sin, using a formula from the catechism or hymnal, or just talk about it in a conversational setting. Then you receive full forgiveness (absolution) from Almighty God through one of His pastors, who says, “Your sins are forgiven. Go in peace.”
DO I REALLY NEED THIS?