| "Come out of her my people" - Jesus Christ
ROMAN CATHOLIC CONFESSION AND FORGIVENESS
| THE KEYS TO THE KINGDOM - THE REMITTANCE OF SIN.
To the Apostles Christ gave the power to remit sins. To them ALL he said, “Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained” – John 20:23.
The Apostles had this power because to them were given the keys of the kingdom. And what are the keys? They are the ‘Keys of knowledge concerning salvation’ [Luke 11:52]. Christ opened their understanding, that they may understand all the Scriptures. The Apostles were also given by Christ the Gospel of Salvation and the terms of that Gospel, by which men could be saved. Those who obeyed their preaching had their sins remitted, those who refused had their sins retained.
Peter first opened the Door of the Kingdom with his Pentecostal Sermon where he declared to those who inquired of the terms of Salvation, saying: “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Acts 2:36-38
Here is the preaching of the Apostles, here is the remittance of sin! If you believe the Gospel and repent toward God and place thy faith in Christ alone you will be saved! [Acts 20:21]. The Apostles never judiciously forgave sins, but showed men how to be saved.
THE ROMAN CATHOLIC VIEW
Now let’s consider the Roman Catholic view of this topic. The Roman Church teaches that the “Keys of the Kingdom” was the Judicial authority to forgive sins. That Christ gave the power to forgive sins to the Apostles and of course Rome teaches that this authority has been passed down to their Pope and their priesthood. Which can be seen by the following quotes:
“Absolution is the remission of sin, or of the punishment due to sin, granted by the Church... the power of forgiving and retaining sins was communicated to the Apostles and to their lawful successors for the reconciling of the faithful who have sinned after baptism... Leo the Great does not hesitate to assert that pardon is impossible without the prayer of the priest.” – New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia , Absolution
Pope Benedict XVI: “Christ has chosen us... to be the only ones able to forgive sins in his name. Therefore, it is a specific ecclesial service that we must make a priority" Catholic News Service Feb 17, 2007
Does the Church of Rome have a Scriptural example of an Apostle forgiving sins? Absolutely not. But rather we find the opposite example. For instance when Simon the Sorcerer who believed and who was baptized, sinned, Peter told Simon to “repent of thy wickedness and pray to God, that you may be forgiven” Acts 8:20-23. Simon didn’t ask Peter to forgive him and Peter didn’t attempt to forgive him; because they knew only God could forgive sins.
THE VIEW OF THE EARLY CHURCH
The Church of Rome likes to pretend that it is the historic church teaching the doctrines of the Apostles. Yet, in the following quotations we will show that the early Church believed that: the “Keys of the Kingdom” which Christ gave to Peter was the knowledge of the Gospel. Secondly, that the Keys were also given to all the Apostles, and to all those who by the Spirit faithfully preach the Gospel. Thirdly we shall show the early Church believed only God to forgive sins and public confessions were strictly voluntary.
THE KEYS OF THE KINGDOM.
As we have said the “Keys of the Kingdom”, is the knowledge of the plan of Salvation, by which men may be saved. Before the Advent of Christ, under the old dispensation of the Law, the Scribes and Pharisees had these Keys, but because of their hypocrisy and false traditions they not only failed to enter the Kingdom, but they kept other men from entering. This is of course the historic interpretation of the Church.
“In like manner, also, during the last period of His teaching, He wages war against the scribes and Pharisees, charging them with evil deeds and unsound doctrine, and with hiding the key of knowledge which they had handed down to them from Moses, by which the gate of the heavenly kingdom might be opened.” – Recognitions of Clement, Book 2.
“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye have shut the kingdom of God before men. Woe unto you that know the law! for ye concealed the keys of knowledge: ye enter not, and those that are entering ye suffer not to enter “– The Diatessaron of Tatian Section
“The Scribes then were they who professed the knowledge of the Law, and to them belonged both the keeping and the studying, as well as also the transcribing and the expounding, of the books of the Law. Such were they whom our Lord Jesus Christ rebukes, because they have the keys of the kingdom of heaven” – Augustine Sermon 24
THE KEYS OF THE KINGDOM IS THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE GOSPEL
Since the Advent of Christ the Keys of the Kingdom is the knowledge of the Gospel of Christ. Which was first given by Christ to Peter, and then to all the Apostles, who gave them to faithful men; and which is now stored in the Holy Writ, where it is plainly written. Again this is the historic view of the Church.
“He said, as entrusted with the key of the kingdom, which is knowledge, which alone can open the gate of life” Clementine Homilies 3
“The key of the kingdom of heaven, that is, the knowledge of the secrets” IBID.. 18
“For so withal the result teaches. In himself the Church was reared; that is, through himself; (Peter) himself essayed the key; you see what the key is: “Men of Israel, let what I say sink into your ears: Jesus the Nazarene, a man destined by God for you,” and so forth. (Peter) himself, therefore, was the first to unbar, in Christ’s baptism, the entrance to the heavenly kingdom, in which (kingdom) are “loosed” the sins that were beforetime “bound;” and those which have not been “loosed” are “bound,” in accordance with true salvation” –Tertullian part 4, on modesty
THE KEYS WERE GIVEN TO ALL THE APOSTLES
As we have said the ‘Keys of the Kingdom’ were given not only to Peter but to all of the Apostles. For to them it was given to know the mysteries of God.
“Yet it was these rebels [The twelve Apostles] who had the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven; the more they were forbidden, the more they preached, and the power of God was made manifest.” – St. Hilary of Poitiers Chapter 1.
“But you say, the Church was rounded upon Peter: although elsewhere the same is attributed to all the Apostles, and they all receive the keys of the kingdom of heaven” - St. Jerome against Joviniaus
THE KEYS WERE PASSED TO CHRIST’S CHURCH
“Peter, in receiving the keys, represented the holy Church. If, then, in the person of Peter were represented the good in the Church, and in Judas’ person were represented the bad in the Church” – Augustine Tractate 50.
“When it was said to him, “I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven,” he represented the Church,” Augustine Tractate 134
“What saith the gospel? “It behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise again from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name.” Where remission of sins, there the Church is. How the Church? Why, to her it was said, “To thee I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatsoever thou shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven, and whatsoever thou shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven.” Where is this remission of sins spread abroad? “Through all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” Lo, believe Christ!” – Augustine, Homily 10.
ONLY GOD CAN FORGIVE SINS.
The early Church was also very firm in teaching that only GOD could forgive sins.
“Therefore, by remitting sins, He [Jesus] did indeed heal man, while He also manifested Himself who He was. For if no one can forgive sins but God alone, while the Lord remitted them and healed men, it is plain that He was Himself the Word of God made the Son of man, receiving from the Father the power of remission of sins.” – Irenaeus against Heresies book 5 chap 17
So, then, no one is without sin except God alone, for no one is without sin except God. Also, no one forgives sins except God alone, for it is also written: “Who can forgive sins but God alone?”. – St. Ambrose, On the Holy Spirit book 3
“For the right and arbitrament [to forgive sins] is the Lord’s, not the servant’s; God’s Himself, not the priest’s.” – Tertullian part 4,
“Nevertheless, ye do well to know, and hold fast that truth; yea, hold it fast, that no man is able to forgive sins.” – Augustine, Sermon on the Mount.
“For to forgive sins with God only is possible.” – Chrysostom Homilies on Corinthians
“He might have said that they had never ceased being in bondage. But He desired not to show that they were slaves of men, but that they were slaves of sin, which is the most grievous slavery, from which God alone can deliver; for to forgive sins belongeth to none other.” – John, Homily 54.
CONFESSION AND THE PRAYING FOR FORGIVENESS.
The reader should not be confused with prayers made for the repentant and the judicial act of forgiveness. The Saints [anyone who is saved] are to pray for their erring brethren, that God will forgive them. Anti-christs on the other hand take the prerogative of God and attempt to actually forgive the sin judicially. Notice the Biblical teaching:
James 5:15-6 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
1 John 5:16 If ANY MAN see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he [God] shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.
The Apostles taught that public sins should be publicly confessed, and that prayer should be made by the Church for the repentant. The early church practiced voluntary public confessions [see Irenaeus, Book 1, Chap 13.] The following quotes will show what the early Church actually practiced.
CONFESSION IS TO BE VOLUNTARY AND TO GOD
“And prayer and confession with humility are voluntary acts. Wherefore it is enjoined, “First tell thy sins, that thou mayest be justified.”. – Bishop Nicetas, Catena on Luke.
“A Christian... makes voluntary confession” - Tertullian Apology 1.
“In this light confession is habitually regarded; it is a voluntary moral act” – St. Hilary chapter2.
“Having therefore, brethren, many examples of those who have sinned and repented and been saved, do ye also heartily make confession unto the Lord.” St. Cyril, Lecture 2.
“Let us then not be ashamed to confess our sins unto the Lord.” Cyril, Book 2, chap 1.
The confession to which Cyril attaches so high a value, whether made in the privacy of solitude, or openly before the Ministers of the Church and the congregation, is a confession to God, and not to man. Elsewhere he expressly disclaims the necessity of private confession to man:
“Not that thou shouldest shew thy conscience to me, for thou art not to be judged of man’s judgment; but that thou shew the sincerity of thy faith to God, who trieth the reins and hearts, and knoweth the thoughts of men.” Lecture 5
He also limits the season of confession and repentance to this present life:
“Therefore the just shall then offer praise; but they who have died in sins have no further season for confession.”[Lecture 18].
The early Church taught that confession to God alone was necessary for forgiveness. Yet in cases of Apostasy it was right for the repentant to make a public confession. Bede taught that the following sins were to be brought before the Church: “heresy, infidelity, Judaism and schism” the others would be cured by God in the conscience.
Those who fell into apostasy and later became "repentant" was examined to see if he had truly the fruits of repentance before he was re-admitted to the local Church. If he was thought to be genuine, the Church would forgive him and receive him again into the fold. By the Church ‘forgiving and accepting’ does not mean that the Church forgave him of his sin against GOD; but of his injury to the Church. For instance you may personally forgive someone who injured you, but you cannot forgive the person of his sin against God. Thus, the early Church understood that it was possible that the one who was ‘forgiven and accepted by the Church’, could very well be unforgiven by GOD who knows the hearts.
“Men make use of their ministry for the forgiveness of sins, they do not exercise the right of any power of their own. For they forgive sins not in their own name but in that of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. They ASK, the Godhead gives, the service is of man, the gift is of the Power on high. – St. Ambrose, On the Holy Spirit book 3
CONFESSION TO MINISTERS NOT NECESSARY
Even up to the Ninth Century the Latin Church believed that confession to a Minister was not necessary for forgiveness, but was strictly voluntary.
The Council of Chalons in 813 AD (canon xxxiij.), says: ‘Some assert that we should confess our sins to God alone, but some think that they should be confessed to the priest, each of which practices is followed not without great fruit in Holy Church.... Confession made to God purges sins, but that made to the priest teaches how they are to be purged.’
THE DOWNWARD SPIRAL OF CONFESSION
The penitential system of the Primitive days began to be changed when less public confessions were authorized, on account of the scandals which publicity generated. Over the centuries the changes have been drastic. The changes were as follows:
250 AD – A grave presbyter was appointed to receive and examine voluntary penitents as the Penitentiary of a diocese, and to suspend or reconcile them with due solemnities
400 AD – This plan also became encumbered with difficulties and was abolished in the East
400-700 AD – A discipline similar to that of the Anglican Church (which is but loosely maintained therein) succeeded, under St. Chrysostom; who frequently maintains the sufficiency of confession according to St. Matthew 6:6. Only the scandalous evil-liver alone was repelled from the Eucharistic Table.”
700-1200 AD – Particular, but voluntary confessions were now made in the East and West, but with widely various acceptance under local systems of discipline. Still sins were not Judiciously forgiven, but the absolutions were precatory: “may God absolve Thee.” This lasted, even in the West, till the compulsory system of the Lateran Council in A.D. 1215.
1200 - Present -- Since this date, so far as the Church of Rome is concerned, the whole system of corrupt casuistry and enforced confession adopted in the West has utterly destroyed the Primitive doctrine and discipline as to sin and its remedy wherever it prevails.
The confessions of the early Church [250AD-700AD] existed wholly different than the confessions of the Lateran System. It was voluntary; it was free from the corrupt system of the casuists; it distinguished between Ecclesiastical Absolution and that of Him who alone “seeth in secret;” it admitted no compromise with attrition, but exacted the contrite heart and the firm resolve to go and sin no more, and finally, it employed a most guarded and Evangelical formula of remission.
The following is an actual priestly prayer for the repentant that dates prior to the thirteenth century:
“My Spiritual child, who hast confessed to my humility, I, unworthy and a sinner, have not the power to forgive sins on Earth; God only can: and through that Divine voice which came to the Apostles, after the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, saying —’ Whosesoever sins, etc.,’ we, therein confiding, say — Whatsoever thou hast confessed to my extreme humility, and whatsoever thou hast omitted to say, either through ignorance or forgetfulness, God forgive thee in this present world and in that which is to come.” – Orthodox Church of the Orient
THE EXTREME OF EVIL OF THE LATERAN SYSTEM
The Lateran System [Current Roman Catholic system] of enforced Confession makes sin easy and restoration to a sinless state equally so, by simply urging sinners to perpetually resort to the confessor. This creates a chronic state of habitual sin, confession, and pardon.
When the Roman system is compared to the ancient system it is overwhelmingly condemned on the following considerations:
1. The Roman System makes penances into compensation or “satisfaction” to divine justice for sins. Which is in contradiction with the Christian doctrine of justification, which teaches from the Scriptures, one full and entire satisfaction for the sins of the whole human race, once for all presented by our Lord Jesus Christ.
2. Because of this false premise of ‘satisfying divine justice by penance’, the Roman Church, consequently introduced the false system of indulgences.
3. The Council of Trent also continues to affirm the sufficiency of attrition [fear of punishment], and permits the confessor to absolve the attrite. While the Bible and the primitive Church both taught that fear of punishment is not repentance. The Devil fears his punishment, the most wicked of men fear falling into hell; yet this is not repentance. Repentance is worked by godly sorrow over sin, and is a resolution to forsake the sin. Needless to say, the masses accept this wide gate and broad way to salvation rather than the strait gate and narrow way of hating sin and reforming the life, in obedience to the Gospel.
DO WE NEED AN INDULGENCE?
“An indulgence is a remission of the punishment due to sin, the guilt of which has been forgiven” -- New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia , indulgence
Because of Rome’s faulty system of absolution, she relies upon use of “indulgences”. The Catholic Church teaches that when a person is forgiven the guilt is gone, but the punishment due to that sin is not gone. The Catholics believe that they will have to suffer the penalty for that sin either in this life or in a place they call purgatory, which for years they have taught is filled with the flames of hell. To escape the punishment of their forgiven sins the Roman Catholic can obtain an indulgence from their Church. The Catholic Church has made a fortune in the distribution of indulgences. Peter’s Bascillia in Rome was actually built from the sell of indulgences! It was of course the sell of indulgences that so enraged Martin Luther.
I would just like for our readers to notice how irrational the Roman system is. First when men receive a judicial pardon from the Governor, not only is he forgiven, but he cannot be punished for the crime either. And so it is with God, when a person is forgiven by God they are pardoned and God does not ever punish saved people for their sin! The Penalty for sin is of course eternal death.
Jesus said it is: “everlasting punishment” – Matthew 25:46
Paul said it is: “everlasting destruction”. 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9
Jude said it is: “eternal fire” – Jude 7
Christ has promised that those who truly believe in him have everlasting life and they cannot be condemned. Paul said there were no condemnation against those who are in Christ Jesus [John 5:24, Romans 8:1]. The only penalty or punishment for sin is hell, and the believer has been delivered from such condemnation.
GOOD NEWS CATHOLIC! CHRIST HAS BEEN PUNISHED IN YOUR PLACE
Penance is...necessary because we must expiate and make reparation for the punishment which is due our sins...We make satisfaction for our sins by every good act we perform in the state of grace but especially by prayer, penance and the practice of charity (John Hardon, The Question and Answer Catholic Catechism (Garden City: Image, 1981), Question #1320).
Here is the heart of the Roman Catholic’s false system: They deny that Christ’s death on the cross in the place of believers was sufficient to fully satisfy the divine justice of God. Thus the poor Roman Catholic must resort to penance and indulgences in an attempt to ‘fill up’, what Christ lacked in his atoning sacrifice.
This doctrine is unbiblical and contrary to the historical church which teaches one full and entire satisfaction for the sins of the whole human race. Christ has effectually taken the punishment for all those who believe in him. And if Christ has been punished for the sins of the believer, then the believer cannot be punished. He cannot be charged with the crime that Christ has paid for and He cannot be taken into condemnation. That would be double jeopardy to the extreme! This is why the Apostle Paul wrote:
“Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ” – Romans 8:33-35
The Church of Rome teaches a works based Gospel, which leaves their members in a state of condemnation. They cannot know that they are saved.
The Apologists for the Romans will correct me and say [in an attempt to sound Evangelical] this is not so, that their faith simply produces good works. But what they mean by works and faith are completely contrary to the Biblical terminology. Biblically faith produces good works, or good deeds in the Christian. Deeds that are done in love to glorify the Father. They are never done in an attempt to satisfy divine justice or to escape punishment for the sin.
The Evangelical doctrine teaches that the believer is justified from all his sin by the imputed righteousness of Christ. He that is in Christ is freed from his record of sin and the punishment that was due that sin, and stands in the very righteousness of Christ himself. The law can find no fault with the one that is in Christ Jesus. This is well explained in the following paragraph.
“Some Romanists will say that they too teach justification by grace—by Christ’s righteousness, in fact. But the righteousness of Christ which they claim justifies is not Christ’s own personal righteousness reckoned or credited or given or imputed to believers. Romanists refer to the righteousness which Christ works into the life of the believer or infuses into him in his own living and behavior. It is not Christ’s personal righteousness but the believer’s personal righteousness, which he performs by the grace of God. It is Christ’s righteousness versus the believer’s own righteousness. It is Christ’s achievement versus the Christian’s achievement. It is an imputed righteousness not an infused righteousness. It is a gift of God versus an accomplishment of man. These two righteousnesses are as different as righteousnesses could conceivable be. It does come down to the way it has been popularly stated for the last four and a half centuries: Protestantism’s salvation by faith versus Rome’s salvation by works...The Protestant trusts Christ to save him and the Catholic trusts Christ to help him save himself. - Justification by Faith Alone, Don Kistler, Ed
The Catholic Would Ask: Shall You Then Freely Sin?
Romans 6:1-2 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
Do you realize that it is impossible for one who believes in Christ to live in sin? He simply cannot do it. This is why:
#1. God has imparted to the believer the divine nature. He desires to do what is right.
#2. Sin grieves the believer, it is contrary to his new nature. The Holy Ghost convicts him and strives with his heart until he confesses and repents.
#3. God chastens and disciplines those who he loves. He does not PUNISH them [Remember the penalty for sin is eternal death], but he disciplines them. He does this to conform them to the image of Christ. To make their Character more like his own.
#4. God uses his Church to discipline believers who attempt to live in sin. They are to reprove them and if they do not repent, then they are to set them out, in their shame, until they show forth fruits meet for repentance. If men do not repent, then they prove themselves false professors.