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“And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.” Matthew 9:2 (Read v. 1-8)

In private confession and absolution, and each Sunday in corporate worship, sinners confess their sins to the Lord God and look to Christ Jesus and His cross in faith for the forgiveness of sins; and, the pastor announces unto them the grace of God and, in the stead and by the command of our Lord Jesus Christ, forgives the sins of penitent sinners. “But who can forgive sins but God alone?” some may ask.

This is what the scribes asked within themselves when Jesus forgave the sins of a man, sick of the palsy. They thought Jesus was guilty of blasphemy because He, seeing the faith of this paralyzed man and his friends, said to the man, “Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.”

Of course, anyone can say the words, but if they lack the authority to forgive sins, those words are but a deception, a lie, a sham. But Jesus proved His authority to forgive sins. He said, “Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.”

And, what happened? The paralyzed man “arose, and departed to his house.” Jesus’ proved His authority to forgive sins, and He proved that His words to this man were indeed true. This man’s sins were forgiven! He could depart in peace.

And what about the words of your pastor when he hears your confession and points you to Christ Jesus and His innocent sufferings and death on the cross for the sins of the world and tells you to “go in peace; your sins are forgiven you”?

He may not be able to heal the sick or raise the dead, but Jesus did and it is Jesus who commands him to preach “repentance and remission of sins” in Christ’s name (Luke 24:47). It is Jesus who commands His disciples and His pastors to forgive the sins of penitent sinners and to retain the sins of the impenitent as long as they do not repent (John 20:22-23). It is Jesus who said, “Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matt. 18:18).

And notice that pastors do not forgive — or baptize, or administer the Lord’s Supper, or preach — in their own name and by their own authority. Rather, it is “in the stead and by the command” of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus healed the paralyzed man, proving His authority to forgive sins. Jesus even rose from the dead, proving the sufficiency of His sacrifice on the cross to satisfy God’s just wrath against all sins (cf. Rom. 4:23-25; 1 Cor. 15:1ff.; John 1:29). Certainly, He who paid for our sins with His blood and then rose again from the dead on the third day has the authority to forgive the sins of all who look to Him in faith.

So, when you confess your sins to God — whether in corporate worship or in private confession — and the pastor, based on your confession and your profession of faith in Christ Jesus, announces unto you the grace of God and proclaims to you that your sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake, you can depart in peace, in good cheer, for indeed your sins are forgiven by the Lord Jesus Himself — He has the authority to forgive sins! (Cf. Luther’s Small Catechism on Confession.)

O gracious and merciful God, forgive our sins for Jesus’ sake and grant us Your Holy Spirit that we may believe and rejoice in the pardon and forgiveness won for us by our Lord Jesus Christ and promised and assured to us in Your absolution spoken by the pastor. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

[Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible]

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“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.” Colossians 3:18-19

Saying that wives should submit to their own husbands is not popular in our day, but this is what God, in His Word, commands. The world (as well as a great number of churches and church bodies) does not accept what the Bible says of women’s role in the churches — not to teach or usurp authority over the man but to learn quietly and in all submission as the law says (cf. 1 Cor. 14:34-40; 1 Tim. 2:11-15). Yet, this is the role created by God for women.

It is, as the Bible says, “fit in the Lord,” to obey God’s Word in this matter. Wives are to submit unto their own husbands “as unto the Lord” (Eph. 5:22). And it is rebellion against the Almighty to disregard His perfect will. He does, after all, know best. His ways are always good and right.

Though the world may think differently, every true Christian humbly agrees with God’s perfect Word and says with the psalmist: “Therefore I esteem all Thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way” (Psalm 119:128).

Even tougher, because of man’s sinful and rebellious nature, is what God commands of husbands and of men. Men are to love their wives and not to be bitter against them or treat them harshly. Men, this means putting your wife’s needs above your own. It means living your life and exercising the authority given you by God for the good of the helpmeet God has given you.

The Apostle Paul explains this in more detail in his letter to the Ephesians (5:25-27): “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”

This means not only being willing to die for your wife but to live for her. It means sacrificing your own desires and ambitions for the good of your wife and the children God has given you. It means living and dying in such a way that your wife and family might be presented to the Lord Jesus holy and undefiled through faith in Jesus’ precious blood, shed upon the cross for the sins of the world.

Because of our fallen sinful nature, it is difficult for wives to be submissive to their husbands and to be careful not to usurp roles and authority that God has not given them. It is impossible, without the regenerating work of God’s Spirit, for men to so love their wives and families that they sacrifice themselves in living and dying for the good of their wives and children.

Rather than rebelling against God and rejecting His Word, we need humbly to agree with God and His Word that we have failed and come short. We need to acknowledge our own sinfulness before the Lord and trust in Him to forgive and cleanse us for the sake of Jesus Christ and His innocent sufferings and death upon the cross in our stead. Jesus, God’s Son and our Savior, has paid in full the punishment for the sins of all the world; His resurrection is proof. For His sake, God is merciful to you and to me and forgives our sins and gives us life eternal in fellowship with Him when we look to Jesus and His cross in faith.

Dearest Jesus, I have sinned and come short of living in accord with Your perfect design in creation. Forgive me for the sake of Your shed blood and give me the will and the strength to conform my life to Your perfect will. Amen.

[Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible.]

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“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” Deuteronomy 6:4-5

When tempted in the wilderness and urged to worship Satan rather than the true God, Jesus, making reference to Deuteronomy 6:13, said: “Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (Matt. 4:10).

But who is the LORD God whom we are to worship and serve? Who is each of us to love with all his heart, soul and might? Who are we to trust for our eternal salvation?

In Deuteronomy 6:4, God reveals the fact that the LORD God (Jehovah Elohim) is one Jehovah. But the very name of God, Jehovah (singular) and Elohim (plural) indicates that God is one God and yet more than one Person. Consider the plurality of persons and the oneness of God revealed in passages like Genesis 1:2; 1:26-27; 3:22-24; Psalm 2; Numbers 6:22-27; Isaiah 48:16-17.

And, in Matthew 28:19, Jesus commands baptism in the name of the true God with the words: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost….” We, therefore, learn that the three persons of the Godhead are the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Consider other passages speaking of the Trinity, such as 1 John 5:7; 1 Peter 1:2; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Isaiah 48:16-17.

Therefore, we believe and teach that the true God, who has revealed Himself to us in the Bible is one God and three Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. There are not three Gods but one God, and yet each Person is fully God and equal in divine attributes, such as being eternal, all-powerful, all-knowing.

The Father begets the Son from all eternity, the Son is begotten of the Father from all eternity, and the Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son from all eternity (cf. Psalm 2:7; John 1:18; 3:16; 14:15-26; John 16:7-16).

To worship and serve the true God, we must worship and serve the Triune (three/one) God who is one God and yet three Persons. Those who deny the Son, do not know or worship the Father (cf. John 14:6-7; 1 John 2:23; 2 John 9), and apart from the Spirit, we cannot know or trust in the Father or the Son (cf. 1 Cor. 12:3).

Jesus said, in John 5:23: “All men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.”

We worship the one true God — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — through faith in Jesus Christ, who is God the Son and true man, who went to the cross to redeem us.

We thank Thee, O gracious Holy Spirit, for revealing to us the Father and the Son and making known to us the salvation provided for us through the atoning sacrifice of God the Son for the sins of all people. Keep us in the one true faith that we might worship and glorify You, with the Father and the Son, ever one God for all eternity. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

[Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible.]

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“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him.” Colossians 3:17

The first man and woman were created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27) — they were reflections of God’s righteousness and glory (2 Cor. 3:18). Though it’s hard for us to grasp and understand, their lives and all their works were for the glory of God their Maker.

The fall into sin recorded in Genesis 3 changed all that. Instead of seeking to glorify God in all their words and deeds, people seek their own glory and praise. Words are spoken for our own ends. Deeds are done for our own honor and name.

Jesus, God’s own dear Son, came into this world, living humbly among us as a true man, that He might glorify His Father in heaven and redeem fallen mankind by paying the price for our sins. He fulfilled all righteousness for us by His holy thoughts, words and deeds; and He went to the cross for us, paid the just penalty for all our sins and rose again in victory on the third day. He has been glorified and is ascended into heaven to the right hand of God the Father and rules over all things.

Through Spirit-wrought faith in Christ Jesus, we receive the forgiveness and life Jesus won for us when He suffered and died upon the cross. We are raised from spiritual darkness and death and given new life in fellowship with God, our Maker. Thus, as children of God through faith in Christ Jesus, we seek to honor and glorify our Maker and Redeemer in all we say and do. Our words are spoken to bring glory to our Savior by reflecting His words and teaching. Our deeds are done to the praise of Christ Jesus, again, as reflections of His works and deeds.

Since we have been redeemed from eternal punishment and hell by the sacrifice of Jesus in our place, we seek to live our lives in this world to glorify Him and bring Him praise. We seek to learn more and more of Jesus by continuing in His Word that we might reflect His image and glory in this dark and dying world and that others, too, might come to know Him and trust in Him for the forgiveness of sins and for life everlasting!

And, yes, as we seek to glorify our Lord Jesus in all we say and do, we also remember and give thanks to God our Father for so loving the world that He gave His only-begotten Son to be the full payment for our sins — and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world (cf. 1 John 2:1-2). We thank God for continuing to forgive our shortcomings and failures for the sake of the shed blood of His dear Son. We thank God for His Spirit, who brought us to faith in Jesus, raised us up to life in Him, and continues to keep us in the true faith until we are finally taken to be with our Savior in the mansions of heaven.

We give thanks to God the Father for the sake of Messiah Jesus, our Lord and Savior; for it is through Him that we have access to the Father and are privileged to be called His children.

We thank You, dear Father in heaven, for so loving the world that You gave Your only-begotten Son to die for us. We thank You for bringing us to know and trust in Jesus that we might receive the forgiveness and life won for us by Him. By Your Spirit, grant that all we do and say be for the glory of Jesus our Savior and reflect Your image and glory. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

[Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible.]

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“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” Colossians 3:16

So important to spiritual growth — nourishing the new nature created in us by the Spirit of God when we were baptized into Christ — is the use of God’s Word! That is why the Apostle Paul wrote to the believers at Colosse: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”

We, as believers in the crucified and risen Lord Jesus Christ, are to let the Word of Christ dwell in us richly in all wisdom. Why? The Scripture tells us the answer in the words which Paul wrote to Timothy (2 Tim. 3:15-17): “From a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”

The Scriptures teach us of our salvation — of forgiveness and life — in Christ Jesus; and the Scriptures are the source of all true Christian doctrine, being useful for the study of the truth, for reproving, correcting and instructing in righteousness. Through the study of Scriptures, believers know and are assured of God’s salvation through faith in Christ Jesus and are given the knowledge they need to live for God in accord with His will.

Jesus said to those who believed on Him (John 8:31-32): “If ye continue in My word, then are ye My disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

It is through the continual study of God’s Word, the Bible, that we learn and are assured of the truth and are made free. The Scriptures teach and reveal to us God’s holy will and our utter sinfulness and shortcomings before the LORD God; but the Scriptures also reveal to us that in God’s own dear Son, Messiah Jesus, we have a Savior. He fulfilled all righteousness for us, and He paid in full for our sins and the sins of the whole world with His blood when He suffered and died upon the cross. Through faith in the crucified and risen Christ Jesus, we have forgiveness and life — we are made free and brought into fellowship with God our Maker.

We read and study God’s Word, letting it dwell in us richly and in all wisdom, that we may be strengthened and confirmed in our faith in Jesus and that we may teach and admonish and encourage others in their faith in Christ Jesus through psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. As we read and study God’s Word, are assured of forgiveness and life in Christ and are guided by its counsel, we can share that same assurance and guidance with others.

Certainly, the importance of using and basing our psalms and hymns and spiritual songs upon the very Word of God cannot be overemphasized. What good are songs and hymns with catchy tunes and phrases if they are not based on Scripture? How can they give comfort and teach us or give praise to God if they do not reflect God’s Word?

Indeed, when we let the Word of Christ dwell in our hearts richly and meditate in the Word and consider it in our hearts, we will be moved to sing with grace in our hearts to the Lord. Our hearts will be filled with thanksgiving and praise for the LORD God who so loved us that He gave His only-begotten Son to die for us to redeem us make us His own dear children.

O LORD God, thank You for Your Word and for making us wise unto salvation through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. By Your Spirit, move us to continue in Your Word, to study it and learn from it, that we might continue in the true and saving faith, encourage others in that faith and give You praise and glory forever and ever. Amen.

[Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible.]

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