“Further we believe that in this Christian community we have the forgiveness of sins, which takes place through the holy sacraments and absolution as well as through the comforting words of the entire gospel. This encompasses everything that is to be preached about the sacraments and, in short, the entire gospel and all the official responsibilities of the Christian community. Forgiveness is constantly needed, for although God’s grace has been acquired by Christ, and holiness has been wrought by the Holy Spirit through God’s Word in the unity of the Christian church, yet we are never without sin because we carry our flesh around our neck.
“Therefore everything in this Christian community is so ordered that everyone may daily obtain full forgiveness of sins through Word and signs [i.e. sacraments] appointed to comfort and encourage our consciences as long sa we live on earth. Although we have sin, the Holy Spirit sees to it that it does not harm us because we are a part of the Christian community. Here there is full forgiveness of sins, both in that God forgives us and that we forgive, bear with, and aid one another.”
– Martin Luther, The Large Catechism, paragraph 54-55
Here in the Large Catechism, Luther suggests that we Christians never get beyond the point of sin in this life. Since we carry our flesh around our necks, forgiveness is constantly needed and the main emphasis of what is to be preached. What happens to the message of the church when this reality of this perpetual dependence on forgiveness is undermined and ignored? How does a diminishing of preaching forgiveness negatively impact faith and life? What drives one to think they can move on beyond the preaching of forgiveness for Christ’s sake?
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