From the Confessions: The Augsburg Confession
Lutherans have not abolished confession in their churches since it is not fitting to give the body of the Lord unless people have been examined and absolved. Our people are carefully taught about faith in the absolution, where formerly there was great silence. They are taught that they should highly value absolution, it being the voice of God, and pronounced by his command. The power and the beauty of the Keys is taught, reminding Christians of the great consolation it brings to anxious consciences. We also instruct that God requires faith to believe this absolution as the voice of heaven, and that only by faith in Christ does one truly obtain and receive the forgiveness of sins. Until now, penance was liberally applied, while faith and the merit of Christ and the righteousness of faith was never mentioned. On this point, our churches cannot be blamed. Even those who disagree with us concede that the doctrine concerning repentance has been made very clear by our teachers.
Pulling It Together: From the beginning, confession was considered necessary by the Lutherans. Both the Small and Large Catechisms of Luther provide instruction about how to make confession. We teach that people must confess their sins before receiving Holy Communion. And they must be forgiven. While the word of absolution or forgiveness is spoken by bishops and pastors, it is God who forgives. The pastor speaks for God as taught by Jesus (John 20:22-23), reminding poor sinners that God hears their confession and forgives them. They must trust that this word of absolution comes from God. No works of penance or satisfaction are required. Faith in the final work of Christ's sacrifice for sin is sufficient. In this way, Lutherans teach people to focus upon Christ, not upon themselves, their sins, or their efforts to satisfy God.
Prayer: Increase, O Lord, my faith in your forgiveness and love of sinners. Amen.
Learning About Confession teaches the meaning of Confession and Forgiveness according to Luther's guidance in the Small Catechism. It is recommended for the Sixth Grade Level. Each week focuses on a specific Bible story that illustrates the theme, with additional references from Scripture and Luther's Small Catechism - Children's Version. With a healthy balance of Law and Gospel, lessons emphasize the connection between repentance and forgiveness, and how the promise of God’s forgiveness changes our lives.