Confession & Absolution 

Issues, Etc. Transcript

Transcript of May 20, 2007 Broadcast
Guest -
Rev. Peter Bender,
Pastor of Peace Lutheran Church, Sussex, WI & Director of the Concordia Catechetical Academy
with host
Todd Wilken

WILKEN: Greetings, and welcome to Issues, Etc. I'm Todd Wilken. Thanks for tuning us in.

Tonight, a subject that Christians ought to know all about, but for some reason, especially today with the advent of pop American Christianity, it seems like a foreign language. It seems like a subject alien to the Christian life: confession and absolution. Or we can call it confession and the forgiveness of sins. Do Christians need to confess their sins? Or is that just when you first became a Christian? And what about that forgiveness of sins? Do Christians need to hear the forgiveness of sins that Christ won for us with His perfect life, death, and resurrection? Or, having been forgiven, do we simply absolve ourselves, pat ourselves on the back? Or is it that Christians need, not so much absolution but affirmation, to be told that they're doing a pretty good job and encourage them in the Christian life? Where and what is the role of confession and absolution in the life of the Christian? We'll talk about that tonight on Issues, Etc.

We are coming to you live this Sunday night. It's May the 20th. Everyone who calls in or sends us an email with a question or comment on confession and absolution will receive a free pamphlet called, "Confession and Absolution." Our call-in number: 1-800-730-2727, 1-800-730-2727, or you can email us here in the studio:

Before we introduce our guest, three weeks from tonight, the Issues, Etc. Reformation Tour is going to begin in Chicago. We'll be broadcasting live Sunday night, June the 10th from Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville. Joining us at Bethany Lutheran will be Issues, Etc. regular guest Dr. Andrew Steinman. Now, everyone's invited to attend the live broadcast from nine to eleven, and there's a question-and-answer session with refreshments at eight right before the show. For more information on the Issues, Etc. Reformation Tour coming to Chicago June the 10th, and Monday June 11th, visit our website,

Pastor Peter Bender is our guest tonight to talk about Confession and Absolution. He's pastor of Peace Lutheran Church in Sussex, Wisconsin and director of the Concordia Catechetical Academy. Peter, welcome back to Issues, Etc.

BENDER: Todd, it's great to be with you again.

WILKEN: There's somebody, many who are listening, probably, who heard that phrase, "confession and absolution," they've come to the conclusion already that this must be a Roman Catholic show, and they're ready to tune out. How is confession and absolution not merely the purview of medieval or modern Roman Catholicism?

BENDER: Well, because the apostles, throughout the New Testament, speak of Christians living from the forgiveness of sins and forgiving one another. Paul in Ephesians chapter 4, for example, says, "Let all bitterness and evil speak and be put away from you with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another just as God and Christ also forgave you." He says similar words in Colossians 3:13, "Forgive one another as God and Christ has forgiven you."

Forgiveness is something that we as Christians live from. Indeed, the Gospel is the word of forgiveness from Christ to us. It comes to us in so many ways, the mutual conversation and consolation that brothers and sisters in Christ share with one another, and it is the heart of what a pastor does when he preaches from the pulpit every Sunday. Martin Luther used to say if a pastor doesn't speak the forgiveness of sins, he shouldn't even open his mouth when he preaches. And so we live from that Gospel of the forgiveness of sins. Faith comes by hearing, and the word of absolution strengthens the faith.

WILKEN: So before we get to the treasure that is found in Scripture there, confession and the forgiveness of sins, let's clear away some of the wood and the hay and the stubble. How was it that the medieval Roman church and the Roman church, in some ways even to this day, got it wrong on this God-given practice of confession and absolution?

BENDER: Well, because they got the Gospel wrong. The Gospel became not that we have a gracious God in Christ Jesus who suffered and died for our sins upon the cross and that forgiveness of sins is a free gift of God's grace, but rather, the Gospel became a mixture of human efforts that through the purchasing of indulgences, through various good works, through acts of penance, one was able to merit the forgiveness of sins. So it was said in the medieval ages that Christ died on the cross for original sin and then after that, there are various other acts that need to be performed by the Christian in order to procure additional forgiveness and grace from God.

WILKEN: I guess, perhaps, one of the simplest questions regarding the Scriptural presentation of confession and absolution is as it's presented in Scripture, is it optional for the Christian?

BENDER: Well, when our Lord taught His disciples to pray, in the Fifth Petition, we have "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." In that Fifth Petition from our Lord Jesus, there is the confession of sins—forgive us our trespasses. So it has been at the heart of what it is to be a Christian since the time of Jesus. And indeed, it goes back into the Old Testament times. David is replete with the confessions of sins throughout the Psalms. In fact, he emphasizes the oral, audible confession is Psalm 32, for example, he says, "When I kept silent, my bones grew old through my groaning all the day. I acknowledged my sin to you, my iniquity I have not hidden, I said I will forgive my transgressions to the Lord, and you forgave the iniquity of my sin," and that's in Psalm 32, and we have examples of where the prophet Nathan, serving as minister of the Word, pastor to David, forgave him his sins and announced the Lord's forgiveness to him after David had confessed his sins.

And a lot of Christians think that once you become a Christian, perhaps you don't sin anymore, you don't have any need for confession, and certainly, the saints of both the old and the new testaments lived from confession and absolution in a variety of forms. That's seen in the New Testament, where Jesus forgives the paralytic, and of course, they're scandalized. Who could forgive sins but God alone? And to show that God had, indeed, given the power on earth to forgive sins, He said to that paralytic, rise up and walk, and the miracle of healing was the sign of the greater miracle that God had indeed given the authority to forgive sins to men. And that's what Jesus is talking about on Easter night, when He appears the very first time with His apostles, showing Himself alive to them, the first words out of His mouth are words of absolution: "Peace be with you." And then He goes on, after showing them His hands and His side, He repeats it: "Peace be with you as the Father has sent me. To do what? To forgive sins. So I send you. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven." And what a wonderful promise, to know that God has indeed placed His word into the mouths of our pastors, and we can be certain, on the basis of Jesus' own promise there, "As the Father has sent me, so I send you, " we can be certain that Christ Himself stands there, in those words, forgiving us our sins, strengthening our faith, comforting our consciences.

WILKEN: So then, with less than a minute before we go to our break, in a nutshell, what is it that Scripture is urging upon the Christian by way of confession and absolution?

BENDER: The Scriptures urge upon us to confess our sins. That's part of what it is to be a believer in Christ. The first thing a Christian believes is "I cannot save myself. Christ is my Savior." And as such, we confess our sins to God, claiming the mercy of God and Christ in that confession, and then secondly, the Christian believes that Christ alone is my Savior, and we live from that word of absolution. Faith lives from the forgiveness of sins, and that's why Jesus says, "Preach the Gospel to every creature," and says to the apostles, "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven." Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by that Word of Christ.

WILKEN: Pastor Peter Bender is our guest. He's pastor of Peace Lutheran Church in Sussex, Wisconsin, director of the Concordia Catechetical Academy. Tonight on the program, live this Sunday, May the 20th, we're talking about confession and absolution. I'm Todd Wilken. When we come back from this break, if you walk into a church where confession and absolution is still practiced, and they are becoming quite rare, sad to say, but if you walk into a church like that on a Sunday morning, you might even see at the very beginning of the service, not 20 minutes of praise music, not mood-setting instrumentals, but in fact, the congregation rising, or perhaps even kneeling together and confessing their sins, speaking together what's called a corporate confession of sins. And then, surprise, surprise, the pastor stands and says words like "In the stead and by the command of our Lord, Jesus Christ, I forgive you all your sins." Two questions when we come back: Why would Christians begin with the confession of sins, and how in the world can the pastor or anyone say those words? We'll be right back.

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We're talking about confession and absolution tonight on the program. Pastor Peter Bender is our guest. Our call-in number is 1-800-730-2727. You can also email us here in the studio:

Pastor Bender, in some churches, you'll walk in on Sunday morning, and one of the very first things that happens, perhaps after an opening hymn or opening words of invocation is the congregation stands or kneels and actually speaks together a confession of sins. Why begin a Sunday service this way?

BENDER: Well, because that's how the children of Israel began their worship, with corporate confession and an absolution. There was the blessing of the Lord's grace and forgiveness extended to them by the priest in the Old Testament, and it continued on into the New Testament. Jesus speaks in the great parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed, "God, I thank you I'm not like other men, extortionists, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector," and so forth, and then the tax collector simply said, "God, be merciful to me, a sinner." And Jesus said, "I tell you, this man went down to his house declared righteous, rather than the other." And confession of sins, as we read in the prophet Daniel, is something that has been central to the worshipping congregation of both Old and New Testament believers.

In our church on a Sunday morning, we begin that way. You'll hear the pastor say, "Beloved in the Lord, let us draw near with a true heart and confess our sins unto God our Father, beseeching Him in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to grant us forgiveness. Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth," from Psalm 124, and from Psalm 32, "I said I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord, and you forgave the iniquity of my sins." Psalm 32, verse 5. And then we join in a corporate confession, "O Almighty God, merciful Father, I, a poor, miserable sinner, confess unto you all my sins and iniquities, with which I have ever offended you, and justly deserve your temporal and eternal punishment, but I am heartily sorry for them, and sincerely repent of them, and I pray you of your boundless mercy for the sake of the holy, innocent, bitter sufferings and death of your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, to be gracious and merciful to me, a poor sinful being."

And in that confession, we confess clearly that not only are we confessing our sins, but we're confessing our faith, and the basis of forgiveness is from the holy, innocent, bitter sufferings and death of God's beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. That's the source of forgiveness. So when the pastor then speaks the absolution, in the stead of Christ and by Christ's command, as we heard in John 20, if you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven. It is a forgiveness that is not something different from what Jesus earned upon the cross, but is the very forgiveness He did earn through the shedding of His blood, and by the Word of the Gospel and that absolution, that forgiveness from Jesus is communicated to us.

WILKEN: So it's back to, you mentioned in the previous segment, and you just mentioned again now, John chapter 20, the post-Easter appearance of Jesus, first things first. The very first thing that Jesus speaks to them is a word of peace and absolution. The very first thing that He gives them is the commission, as He received His commission from the Father to bring the forgiveness of sins, their commission is to go and pronounce the forgiveness of sins in His name, on the basis of what He had done for all sinners at the cross. It's first things first, that's why Sunday morning begins that way.

BENDER: That's right, and the prayer for mercy, "God be merciful to me, a sinner," as they have in that parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, that's the posture of faith. Faith never looks inward to oneself; faith looks outward—true faith—to Christ. And faith looks outward to Christ as the humble sinner in need of His grace and forgiveness.

WILKEN: Okay, then, is that why it is so very important, not only because Christ has commanded him to do so, and again, John chapter 20, "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven," and elsewhere, the other parallel passages. But is that why the Christian needs to actually hear someone, in this case, the pastor, say with Christ's voice, "I forgive you all your sins"? It needs to be heard so they cling to something outside just their own subjective sense of whether or not God might have forgiven them?

BENDER: Absolutely. Faith lives from the external Word of God. And as an analogy, the Word of Christ's forgiveness is His love letter to us. And as an analogy, if a husband and wife never speak to each other, never speak words of "I love you, I forgive you," never speak words where they confess their failures and shortcomings to one another, and hear then in response, "Honey, I forgive you," that marriage won't last. Their love won't grow. Indeed, their faith and trust in each other lives from that kind of word that's communicated back and forth in the form of a confession and absolution within marriage. So just as it is important for us as husbands and wives to hear from our spouses, "I love you, I forgive you," and our relationship is strengthened by that, so also our faith continues to be nurtured and strengthened by the comforting word of forgiveness that's actually audibly spoken by Christ's called ministers to us, especially when we're troubled by our sins, when the devil is plaguing our conscience, with our "we daily sin much and deserve nothing but punishment" and he reminds us of our sins, and our conscience is scandalized, here Christ has given to the pastors to speak a word and with the promise of Christ, we can know that He Himself stands behind that word, and Christ Himself is speaking it.

WILKEN: Let's talk more about that on the other side of the break. Pastor Peter Bender is our guest.

Someone walks up to you. You have pointed out an error in teaching or in life, and they say, "Hey, didn't Jesus say ‘judge not, lest you be judged'?" Here's a question. Did Jesus intend those words to be used that way, to be used as a "get out of jail free card"? I'd like to send you the next Issues, Etc. Journal for free. I've written an article called "Get Out of Jail Free" about that passage and others that are misused. Just call 1-800-737-0172 during this break, and you'll receive a copy of the next Issues, Etc. Journal. 1-800-737-0172. You can also read an article in the next edition titled "The Jesus of Islam" by Dr. Adam Francisco. 1-800-737-0172. Call that number, ask for a free copy of the next Issues, Etc. Journal. 1-800-737-0172. We'll be right back.

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WILKEN: It seems simple, it seems like it would be second nature to Christians, reading and studying the Bible. It isn't. It's not that the Bible is unclear, or that difficult, it is that we are not naturally equipped to deal with God's Word. Only the Holy Spirit, through that very Word can equip us for that study of God's Word. It's part of what our Issues, Etc. book of the month for May, Word: God Speaks to Us attempts to deal with. It's a Bible study about Bible study, about how to study and read Holy Scripture. It's our Issues, Etc. book of the month for May: Word: God Speaks to Us. It's $8.99 plus shipping and handling. And you can browse before you buy at our website,, or you can order Word: God Speaks to Us by calling Concordia Publishing House. Their toll-free number: 1-800-325-3040, 1-800-325-3040. Word: God Speaks to Us. 1-800-325-3040.

Now, folks, I want to hear from you on confession and forgiveness. Our call-in number tonight: 1-800-730-2727, 1-800-730-2727. Our in-studio email address, live this Sunday night, May the 20th: Anyone who calls us or emails us live this night will receive a free pamphlet called "Confession and Absolution." 1-800-730-2727, or

Pastor Bender, one more question on something we were talking about before the break, and that is a pastor standing up and speaking words like "In the stead and by the command of our Lord Jesus Christ, I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." Someone in Jackson says, "There is mediator between God and man, the man Jesus Christ, and this pastor has no business standing up and saying that." How do you respond?

BENDER: Well, the Jews objected to the same thing, when Jesus forgave sins repeatedly. In Matthew chapter 9, for example, in the healing of the paralytic that I had mentioned, we read that Jesus said, "Son, be of good cheer, your sins are forgiven you," and at once the scribes said within themselves, "This man blasphemes." And Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, "Why do you think evil in your hearts? Which is easier to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven' or ‘Arise and walk'?" Well, they had not the power to do either one, but then Jesus says. that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins, He said, "Arise, take up your bed, go to your house." He arose, departed, and then Matthew records that the multitudes, when they saw it, they marveled and glorified God who had given such power, not to a man, but to men—in the plural. And then it is right after this that Jesus begins to call the disciples to Himself, to be His apostles and in Matthew chapter 10, the very next chapter, He says things like, "He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives Him who sent me." And that passage that I mentioned from John 20 and the resurrection account, where Jesus says, "As the Father has sent me, so I send you. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven." He ties all of these passages together and indicates that the multitudes correctly concluded, "Hey, the power to forgive sins God has extended to other men, to Jesus and to His called ministers who are called to preach the Gospel in His stead and by His command that sinners might have the certainty of salvation." And frankly, Jesus was needed most because He associated with sinners and because He dared to forgive sinners, and His disciples were hated for the same reasons.

WILKEN: So we're really talking here about a command from Christ that is part and parcel of what the Church is, that to go to church for something other than the forgiveness of sins is to seek from the Church, perhaps even something that Christ hasn't given the Church to do.

BENDER: That's exactly right. The Church is not a gymnasium where we, you know, exercise our spiritual muscles in the sense that we are able to make ourselves strong. It's more of a hospital where sinners are brought the healing medicine of Christ's word of absolution.

WILKEN: We're talking with Pastor Peter Bender tonight on Issues, Etc. If I can keep my phone from going off, the show will continue to go off well. [chuckles] Pastor Peter Bender is pastor of Peace Lutheran Church in Sussex, Wisconsin and director of the Concordia Catechetical Academy. We're talking about confession and absolution. 1-800-730-2727 or

Well, what about private confession and absolution? If you would look carefully into what Luther and the other reformers were talking about when they wrote about confession and absolution, they didn't seem to discount the fact that it might be done that it really might normally be done even privately. Talk about that, Pastor Bender.

BENDER: I think people really get nervous about any notion that it would be a good thing to confess your sins privately and then have a pastor forgive you. But if the Christians in the listening audience, if they ask themselves the question, how did I come to know of Christ? How did I come to believe in Him? And I would venture to say that every one of the listeners would say "Somebody told me this. Someone confessed their faith. A pastor preached a sermon. I went to a Bible class and heard this teaching." What this highlights is that faith in Christ, being converted to faith, and frankly, how we're brought to repentance again and again in our lives always happens from a word outside of ourselves. And we sometimes forget how much we need that word because of our sinful flesh.

You know, Paul said in Romans 7 that "the good that I would do, I do not do, and that which I would not do is the very thing that I do, o wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from this body of death?" And he indicated there in Romans that though the Christian is redeemed by the blood of Christ, trusts in Jesus' death and resurrection for his salvation, yet there remains the constant struggle with sin. And we see this in Old Testament saints; we see it in New Testament saints. We see it in Peter who denied his Lord after he swore that he would never do such a thing, and Peter needed his Lord to speak the words of forgiveness to him. And our pastors stand in the Lord's place to do that for us now with an audible word, just as Peter heard the audible word after Jesus' resurrection. It's why Jesus told Mary Magdalene, "Go tell my disciples and Peter that I am going before you into Galilee. There they will see me as I said to you," and then when He sees them, He forgives them their sins.

The Old Testament, one of my most favorite stories, is the story of David and his "pastor," Nathan the prophet. And that's a particularly important story, because David had become ensnared in sin, though he certainly was a believer, but he was ensnared in sin to such a degree that he began to rationalize and justify his own actions. Here he committed adultery with Bathsheba, he coveted her, saw her bathing from his rooftop, and she became pregnant when he went in to her, and then to cover up his sin, you can almost hear in the story as Samuel relates it, how he must have rationalized that it would not be good for the country if the king were found to have committed adultery, for the good of the country, for the good of Israel, this needs to be covered up. And he did his best to try to do that, but Uriah, Bathsheba's husband, would not go in to her, and so the pregnancy was going to become known, and he arranges for him to be put in the front lines, and well, it's a battle and he dies, I mean, people die in battle, and David was ensnared in sin to such a degree that while he may have been able to admit to himself, "Well, yes, the act initially was a sin, but all these other things, there was good reason for what I did." He needed a pastor. First, to confront him with the law, to show him his sin, and then to preach the Gospel to him. To confront him with the law that he might be brought to confession. And that's what David says after he hears this wonderful parable that Nathan tells, David's anger is aroused, the man who did this shall surely die! And he pronounces the judgment of the law. And then Nathan says, "You're the man. And God had done all of this for you, and you've sinned against the God who loved you." And then David says to Nathan, "I have sinned against the Lord." Finally, through the ministry of Nathan, David got it. He confessed his sin, and immediately Nathan says to David, "The Lord has put away your sin."

WILKEN: Let's talk about that on the other side of this break. Great stuff on confession and absolution tonight with Pastor Peter Bender. Next week on Issues, Etc., we're going to discuss Islam with Ron Rhodes of Reasoning from the Scriptures Ministries. Did you know that one out of every five people on earth is a Muslim? That the number of mosques in the US in the last 16 years has gone from 30 to 3,000? We'll talk about it next week with Dr. Ron Rhodes.

Now, if you'd like to know what we'll be discussing for the weeks ahead, click the "Upcoming Shows" section of our website, While you're there, be sure to find out more about the continuing education programs being offered throughout the country all through the summer by the faculty of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana. It's an opportunity for both lay people and pastors to meet many of our regular guests in person. For more information call 260-452-2241, 260-452-2241. Look for the logo of Concordia Theological Seminary on our homepage,

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We're talking about private confession and absolution tonight. Ten more minutes for your phone calls and your email on that subject. Would you privately confess your sins to your pastor? 1-800-730-2727, 1-800-730-2727. Email us:

Briefly, Pastor Bender, how does private confession and absolution go for those who would be wary of entering into this? How does it go, how does it begin…what happens?

BENDER: Well, I have been privileged to serve in a congregation where confession and absolution privately has been something offered for the last fifteen years. And there are many members of the congregation who come quite regularly, and I myself go to one of my colleagues that's in the Milwaukee area, who serves as my pastor. It's a time of conversation in which the struggles of my own life are brought before him, I confess my sin, he absolves me, he brings me counsel from God's Word. I do the same thing with my own members, and because it's private, it can be very conversational.

We have a particular kind of order of individual confession and absolution that we follow. But within that order, there's a wonderful opportunity for conversation on what I like to call "both sides" of confession and absolution. For example, sometimes people come, they're troubled, they're bothered, they're at their wits' end, they're not even certain what is sin and what isn't. And so when they come in that situation, it's a wonderful opportunity for the pastor to open up the scriptures and to help them see what is sin and what is not that they might confess clearly. And then, having confessed their sins, and asked forgiveness for the sake of Jesus Christ, then the pastor not only says, "I forgive you in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit," and then the person leaves, but the pastor speaks additional words from Scripture, applying them very specifically to the hurts and to the needs of that particular penitent.

WILKEN: This is an email, it comes from Earl in Fresno, California. He writes: "In the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod church I attend, we have a definite time of confession and absolution as part of the service at the very start of every service. The Catholic church my wife attends has their confession and absolution with the priest before the service or at some other time. During the service, the liturgy states something like, "Your sins might be forgiven." In churches I have also attended, Baptist and Presbyterian, there were no confessions or absolutions given at all." His question, the first one: "Do we alone as Lutherans do this practice during the service?" Pastor Bender?

BENDER: Well, the Lutherans have a very strong place in our historical practice of confession, corporately, and absolution, corporately. It began at the time of Luther, in fact, his pastor in Wittenberg, Bugenhagen, had the confession of sins right after the sermon. And that was quite fitting. Jesus says in Luke 24 that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in His names to all nations. And so one of the roles of preaching is to bring about a repentant heart that one might hear and receive the sweet and comforting word of the Gospel, so the response to the sermon was that repentance was born in the heart, and so they would kneel and confess their sins corporately and have the declaration of grace spoken corporately.

But it wasn't just in the Lutheran circles. I mean, this went back into the Old Testament. Part of tabernacle worship and temple worship after that included daily confessions at the altar of incense. In fact, that's what Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, was doing when Gabriel announced to him that he would be the father of the forerunner of the Christ. The Lord had heard the prayers, the prayers that Zechariah was praying were prayers in which he confessed his sin and the sins of the people and they were gathered outside the temple, reciting a corporate confession and in that confession of sins, the priest appealed to God's promise of mercy made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and appealed to God for the sending forth of a Messiah as He had promised. And so Gabriel announces to Zechariah, "The Lord has heard your prayer, and the Christ is to be born."

So a practice of confession and absolution corporately certainly is a long-standing tradition. And not that it was universally practiced across Christendom—to be sure, it wasn't. But it certainly has a long-standing practice that goes back into the Old Testament.

WILKEN: Let's talk with Eleanor, who's listening in Chicago on WYLL. Hi, Eleanor, thank you for waiting.

ELEANOR: Hi, I wanted to say that, well, I'm Protestant, I visit a Baptist church on occasion, and just this one particular church because others that I've visited have never done this, but they have corporate confession every Sunday during the service, and then a pastor stands and says that verse about if you confess your sins, He's faithful and just to forgive them, and that's kind of an absolution thing, I thought, and then I just wanted to also reference James 5:16, which says, "Confess your faults, one to another."

BENDER: That's right.

WILKEN: Eleanor, thank you very much. With about a minute and a half, your thoughts on Eleanor's experience there, and her comments, Pastor?

BENDER: Well, I appreciated Eleanor's phone call because she highlighted two very important Bible passages that speak of oral confession of sins. If you confess your sins, God is faithful and just to forgive and to cleanse you of all unrighteousness. That's 1 John chapter 1. And that's used in a lot of churches as a part of the liturgy at the beginning of the service of corporate confession and absolution. The James passage, confess your sins to one another, highlights some of the same thoughts that Paul had I mentioned at the very beginning of the hour from Colossians 3 and Ephesians 4. And so the oral confessing and hearing of forgiveness is something that is clearly throughout the Scriptures and central to the life of a Christian.

WILKEN: 1-800-737-0172 is the phone number for our resource line. You can use that number to request a free complimentary copy of the next Issues, Etc. Journal. You can also use that number to make a tax-deductible gift to Issues, Etc. 1-800-737-0172. As a way of saying thanks, we'll send you a two-hour CD of the passion and resurrection of Christ. You can also donate by check. Our address: Issues, Etc. Box 9360, St. Louis, MO 63117. No gift is too small. Box 9360, St. Louis Missouri, 63117.

This really is about being a Christian. Pastor Bender has said it so beautifully in this conversation. Being a Christian is believing two things. First, you cannot save yourself. Your predicament, your sin, is of such a magnitude that there is nothing you can do to undo it. There are no good works you can do to balance it out. There is no salvation if it depends upon you. You are doomed. That's the first thing.

The second thing is that there is a Savior, one and only Savior, Jesus Christ, who lived a sinless life in your place and sinlessly bore your sin in His body on the tree of the cross in suffering and in punishment and in death for you. Your sins have been paid for. And from His cross He goes dead into the tomb, and after three days He comes out alive, risen from the dead, and the first words He speaks to His disciples and to you and to me are words of forgiveness: "Peace be with you." Peace with God, because sins have been atoned for. Peace with Him. He comes to bring peace. Peace that is the forgiveness of sins, and He gives this forgiveness not only to us, but He gives this forgiveness to sinners through us. It is Christ's perfect life, death, and resurrection and everything that He won there at the cross for us sinners. Sinners all, from Jesus Himself.

I'm Todd Wilken. This is Issues, Etc.

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