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Oh come, let us worship and bow down;

Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.”

Psalm 95:6

Sixth in a Series–

The Confession of Sins (cont.) and

The Absolution

The congregation, now filled with repentant contrition, openly, verbally, heartily prays: “O most merciful God, who hast given Thine only-begotten Son to die for us, have mercy upon us and for His sake grant us remission of all our sins; . . . “

“Only begotten Son” is a special term which reminds us of the words of the angel to Mary: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God” (Lk. 1:35).

In Him alone God grants us mercy and for His sake assures us of the “remission of all our sins.” For when God says that He was in Christ “reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them,” He means all people and all sins. It is beyond a shadow of a doubt! “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 Jn. 1:7).

” . . . And by Thy Holy Spirit increase in us true knowledge of Thee and of Thy will and true obedience to Thy Word, to the end that by Thy grace we may come to everlasting life; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.”

The time has come in our liturgical service to give special attention to the work of God the Holy Spirit. Having prayed for that tremendous blessing of the “remission of all our sins” for the sake of Jesus Christ, now we are moved to call upon our Lord for added blessings through the Holy Spirit, namely: 1) that our knowledge of our Lord and His will be increased; and 2) that we may be moved to true, heartfelt obedience to His Word.

How highly we should treasure the working of the Holy Spirit in each of us. We know that “no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:3). He assures us: “But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:11). It is the Holy Spirit who not only calls us by the gospel but also sanctifies and keeps us in the one true faith.

So also the truly penitent child of God (who realizes how we have been blessed) deplores his sin and prays earnestly for the strength of the Holy Spirit to avoid anything that may reflect negatively upon the gracious name of God. It is the desire of the believer to grow stronger every day in the knowledge of the Lord and in dedicated obedience to His Word.

Our liturgy reminds us that by the power of the Holy Spirit working through God’s Means of Grace we will make our way through this sinful and adulterous world and finally “come to everlasting life” in all of its full glory “through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.”

The Absolution

“Almighty God our Heavenly Father, hath had mercy upon us and hath given His only Son to die for us and for His sake forgiveth us all our sins.”

It is a never-ending marvel in the mind and heart of the people of God that the “Almighty God,” Creator of all, mercifully reaches down to sinfully corrupt mankind and blesses them with His forgiving love in His Son. What a privilege it is for the minister to announce to those who have confessed their sin the grandest blessing that they will ever receive–God’s complete forgiveness. “The wages of sin is death.” God’s Son, true God from eternity, came to pay the wages for us. That is why the Apostle John is inspired to state so simply (in what Martin Luther referred to as his “little Bible”): “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3:16).

“To them that believe on His name He giveth power to become the sons of God and hath promised them His Holy Spirit. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.”

“Giveth power to become the sons of God” is an unfortunate translation of John 1:12. It should be translated: “To them He gave the right to become children of God.” Such a right or privilege is granted to those “that believe on His name.” God’s name is everything He has told us about Himself in His Word. In His name we live, move, have our being, and are blessed with the Holy Spirit. Thus God Himself dwells in us and “if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you” (Rom. 8:11). Indeed, “You are the temple of the living God, as God has said: ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be my people'” (2 Cor. 6:16).

And so we conclude the absolution with the confident affirmation of Mark 16:16 and a humble prayer: “‘He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.’ Grant this, Lord, unto us all.”

    Oh, how blest it is to know: 
    Were as scarlet my transgression,
    It shall be as white as snow
    By Thy blood and bitter Passion;
    For these words I now believe;
    Jesus sinners doth receive. (TLH 324:6)

–Pastor L. Dale Redlin