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Lessons in the Lutheran Confessions
The Small Catechism – part 142

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From the Word: I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven through his name. (1 John 2:12)

From the Confessions: The Small Catechism

The Third Article

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church,* the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen

What does this mean?

I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to him; but the Holy Spirit has called me through the Gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, and sanctified and preserved me in the true faith. In the same way, he calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and preserves it in unity with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. In this Christian church, he daily forgives abundantly all my sins and the sins of all believers; and at the last day, he will raise me and all the dead and will grant everlasting life to me and to all who believe in Christ. This is most certainly true!

*or “holy Christian Church” (“catholic” here refers to the fellowship of all believing Christians)

Pulling It Together: We believe in the forgiveness of sins. Pardon does not come by once being forgiven and then no longer sinning. The forgiveness of sins comes to us for his name’s sake, in other words, through the name of Christ. We depend upon Christ alone for the forgiveness of our sins—original sin, sins once committed, as well as the sins of today and tomorrow.

This does not mean that we do not try to live godly lives or that we sin with abandon. “God forbid!” (Rom 6:15 KJV). But as long as we live in this flesh, Luther taught, we will continue to battle with sin (On Christian Freedom). Therefore, the victory over sin comes through Christ alone. When we sin, we turn again with sorrowful repentance to the Forgiver, to Christ. And again and again, Christ Jesus forgives. This is what we confess when we say that we believe in the forgiveness of sins.

Prayer: Forgive me, Lord, for your name’s sake. Amen.

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A Discussion of Living Religions is a brief introduction to major world religions that takes a conversational approach as a group of friends talk together about what it is they believe. Each has a chance to speak for themselves about how they understand the fundamentals of reality and faith.

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