The confessional and John 20

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by PrimePower7, Sep 1, 2005.

  1. PrimePower7

    PrimePower7
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    Does anyone think verse 23 of John 20 is a good proof text for confession to a clergyman?

    I know, for the most part we are Baptists, however, look at this objectively with me.

    I was at the door of a devout Catholic just this morning who brought this verse up.
     
  2. James_Newman

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    Catholics aren't supposed to read their bibles, they'll go crazy. I think that to someone who has been brought up in the catholic system, you could argue that point, especially in light of the fact that catholics aren't supposed to interpret scripture on their own anyway. But I think that would be a very weak argument.

    This is one of those verses that doesn't get a lot of attention from preachers, so I'm looking at this for the first time myself right now. I wouldn't like to think that I was responsible for remitting or retaining another man's sin, but lets see what we can make of this.

    First, it doesn't say anything about how the remitting is to be done. Confession is a wonderful thing for obtaining forgiveness from the Lord, but we do not have to go to a man for that.
    Psalms 32:5 I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.

    The scribes may have missed the mark with the identity of Christ, but they did have some knowledge of the things of God:

    Mark 2:7 Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?

    I don't think this is saying that the apostles had the power to grant or deny the forgiveness of sins in an absolute sense. So the question remains, just what is the Lord talking about? (seems to be a common question among His followers, too.)

    Mathew Henry seems to think that due to the special indwelling of the Spirit that Christ imparted to them, that they did have the authority to pronounce a mans sins to be forgiven or to bind their sins to them, by virtue of the discernment of the Holy Ghost. He cites the account of Annanias and Saphira (he says they were struck down by Peter) and Paul blinding Elymas. Basically being able to judge rightly the hearts of men, by the Holy Ghost. I would not take this to mean the Apostles decided who was saved or not, but rather this would deal with practical sanctification and how unconfessed, unrepentant sin in a believer's life will affect fellowship and reward.

    It could also be referring to forgiving the sins of others toward us, as the Lord commands us to do of our brothers, if they repent.

    Luke 17:3-4
    3 Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.
    4 And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.

    The Lord gives us the example of forgiving our enemies as well, which we should do if we would be like Him, our example:

    Luke 23:34
    34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.

    But I think possibly that if someone sins against us, and will not repent of it, we are not under obligation to forgive them. Take for instance Alexander the coppersmith:

    2 Timothy 4:14-15
    14 Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works:
    15 Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words.

    That doesn't sound like forgiveness, particularly, although I would think that prayer for such a man would be in order. We are also told to deal with brethren who walk disorderly, for instance the fornicator in Corinth, in similar fashion:
    1 Corinthians 5:5
    5 To deliver such a one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

    But for one who is repentant, I think this would apply:
    Galatians 6:1
    1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

    So delivering one to Satan could be retaining his sins, while restoring him could be to remit...

    Also, we could just be talking about going out, preaching the Gospel, and shaking the dust off for those who will not recieve us. What do you think?
     
  3. Soulman

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    The Catholics believe in apostolic succession. That is how we have the pope assuming Peter was the first.(not) The bible doesn't teach that the abilities the apostles were given such as healing the sick, remitting sins etc. was ever passed on to successive generations.

    James 5:16
    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.

    While we may confess one to another it is only to covet their prayers. We are to pray for each other that we may be healed by God. Men cannot EVER forgive sin.
     
  4. Brother Ian

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    I think this vese talks about forgiving the sins of another, not forgiving on behalf of God as the Catholics teach. In context, the Lord just breathed on the disciples the Holy Spirit. I think it was the Holy Spirit that gave the ability or power to forgive another person. With the Holy Spirit, we cannot forgive one another.

    1 John 1:9 is a clear example of how I must confess my sins to the Father and it is He that will forgive and cleanse me.
     
  5. webdog

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    [​IMG] You can "sin" against someone. If you do this, you must ask that person for forgiveness, and confess the sin to God. Example: I lie to my parents. I sinned against God, and also hurt my parents. I confess my sin to God, and ask my parents to forgive me.
     
  6. Brother Ian

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    [​IMG] You can "sin" against someone. If you do this, you must ask that person for forgiveness, and confess the sin to God. Example: I lie to my parents. I sinned against God, and also hurt my parents. I confess my sin to God, and ask my parents to forgive me. </font>[/QUOTE]Sorry everyone. I made a typo in my original post. WithOUT the Holy Spirit, we cannot forgive one another. Sure we can and should forgive one another because Jesus provided us with the example of forgiveness. This forgiveness should be done without anyone even asking us to forgive.

    Again, sorry for the confusion.
     
  7. Johnv

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    Clergyman or no, I think it's imperative that we confess our sins to someone in confidence. We can't simply "mentally" confess our sins and be done with it, because that's not real confession. This is something Baptist, and protestants in general, tend to tone down, because it appears "too catholic". But there is incredible freedom of a person's soul when you're able to confess your sins to another. I don't think we do it enough.

    A pastor is a good person to confess to. But just a thought for all us married folks. Do we have a relationship with our spouses where we feel comfortable confessing our sins to them? If we don't we should, don't ya think?
     
  8. webdog

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    Clergyman or no, I think it's imperative that we confess our sins to someone in confidence. We can't simply "mentally" confess our sins and be done with it, because that's not real confession. This is something Baptist, and protestants in general, tend to tone down, because it appears "too catholic". But there is incredible freedom of a person's soul when you're able to confess your sins to another. I don't think we do it enough.

    A pastor is a good person to confess to. But just a thought for all us married folks. Do we have a relationship with our spouses where we feel comfortable confessing our sins to them? If we don't we should, don't ya think?
    </font>[/QUOTE]Wouldn't this be more accountability than confession, concerning a sin that has no bearing on the person you would be confessing to?
     
  9. Johnv

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    What's the first rule in Alcololics Anonymous? Admit the drinking problem. There's great power and ownership in that. Likewise, confessing a sin/sins to a person gives the confessor back the power over that sin, taking it away from Satan.

    Yes, you still must make amends for that sin (part of repentence). But if you "simply" confess your sins to God, yes, God wil forgive you, but Satan still has power over it, because you haven't taken it back. It's easy to simply ask God for fogiveness. It's hard to admit your sins to another and equally hard to ask the one you sinned against for forgiveness.
     
  10. webdog

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    What's the first rule in Alcololics Anonymous? Admit the drinking problem. There's great power and ownership in that. Likewise, confessing a sin/sins to a person gives the confessor back the power over that sin, taking it away from Satan.

    Yes, you still must make amends for that sin (part of repentence). But if you "simply" confess your sins to God, yes, God wil forgive you, but Satan still has power over it, because you haven't taken it back. It's easy to simply ask God for fogiveness. It's hard to admit your sins to another and equally hard to ask the one you sinned against for forgiveness.
    </font>[/QUOTE]I see your point, but the problem I have is in admitting all of your sins to a fellow man can cause that person you are telling to stumble by thinking wrong about you, or being tempted to gossip about you. We all know we sin daily, that's fact. I don't think we need to know EXACTLY what those sins are being committed by our brother's. Satan can use a sin that you confess to someone else moreso, because now satan can play with two people's minds instead of just yours.
     
  11. Johnv

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    Or perhaps they're making thinking rightly about you. Isn't the idea of keeping something to ourselves for fear of what others might think of us a sin of vanity? In the Catholic example, how often does one hear of a priest breaking the rule of confidentiality.

    When someone comes to you in confidence, don't you have an obligation to keep that conversation confidential (excepting when it causes harm to another)? If you broke that confidence via gossip, does it not speak badly of you? Just because people don't seem to think of gossip as a sin, that doesn't mean that confessing your sins to a person is a bad idea.

    The point was not "needing to know", the point was "needing to confess". I think that it's equally as important for us to allow a brother to confess to us as it is for us to confess. The problem seems that too few are willing to be the confessee.
    True, I'm sure that can happen, but that shouldn't be a stumbling block to a person allowing Satan to keep his power over one's sin by refusing to confess that sin to a person in confidence.

    Personally, I think that the Catholics got it right, at least when it comes to the nature of confessing sins to a clergyperson.
     
  12. Mercury

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    I also think that we need to be more intentional about confessing our sins to others. In addition to what's already been stated, I think this is a way for us to take our confessions to God more seriously. Sometimes I find myself being open with God only because I know it won't lead to losing face with others -- I don't really expect to change or be held accountable. If I am willing to take something to God but unwilling to share it with even one other person, generally it is because I am not taking God seriously enough. If I truly approached God recognizing both his fathomless love for me and his terrible greatness, I would not see confessing to God as a much easier step than revealing the issue to a friend.
     
  13. Brother Ian

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    The problem is not necessarily confessing a sin to a clergy member, the problem lies in that the clergy member is the one who judges the sin and hands out the pennance.

    In light of the Catholic church, who would the Pope confess to?
     
  14. James_Newman

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    We know that the Lord is willing to forgive us, and wants us to confess our sins to him. If we are walking in fellowship with the Lord, and we sin, it should be easy to go to Him and ask His forgiveness. When we find it hard, it is likely because of continual sin hardening our heart. This is definitely the time to get down on our knees and confess to God.

    As for confessing to other people, I think that there is a need to confess to another when we have wronged them personally, in order to bring forth fruits meet for repentance. The bible also tells us to confess our faults one to another, for the purpose of having others pray for us.
     
  15. Artimaeus

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    Barnes has an interesting take on this.

    Albert Barnes' Notes on the Bible:

    John 20:23 It is worthy of remark here that Jesus confers the same power on all the apostles. He gives to no one of them any special authority. If Peter, as the Papists pretend, had been appointed to any special authority, it is wonderful that the Saviour did not here hint at any such pre-eminence. This passage conclusively proves that they were invested with equal power in organizing and governing the church. The authority which he had given Peter to preach the gospel first to the Jews and the Gentiles, does not militate against this. This authority given them was full proof that they were inspired. The meaning of the passage is not that man can forgive sins that belongs only to God but that they should be inspired; that in founding the church, and in declaring the will of God, they should be taught by the Holy Spirit to declare on what terms, to what characters, and to what temper of mind God would extend forgiveness of sins. It was not authority to forgive individuals, but to establish in all the churches the terms and conditions on which men might be pardoned, with a promise that God would confirm all that they taught; that all might have assurance of forgiveness who would comply with those terms; and that those who did not comply should not be forgiven, but that their sins should be retained. This commission is as far as possible from the authority which the Roman Catholic claims of remitting sin and of pronouncing pardon.
     
  16. Johnv

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    Agreed on that. I wasn't argeuing that. I was making a point on the confession method itself. Although scripture does refer to the desciples being given the power to forgive sins. Obviously that power comes from the Holy Spirit, but I'm admittedly undecided as to how this verse applies to you and me.
    I don't believe the practice of reconciliation in the RCC is heirarchical. A priest's confession can be heard by any other priest. So the pope's confession can be heard by any other priest. The one caveat is that a confessor many not go to an accomplice to hear his confession. This makes sense. If you and I robbed a bank, and I confessed to you that I robbed a bank, that would not really be a confession, would it?
     
  17. Mercury

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    I mainly agree, but I wouldn't use the word "easy". It is typically harder to ask forgiveness of a close friend than of a stranger. God is both our close friend and King of Kings. I think "easy" is the wrong word to describe confessing our disobedience to the one who provides our very breath.

    Perhaps we're just stressing different sides of the equation. We can approach God's throne with boldness, and we can be confident that he will accept our confessions. But, it's not something to be taken lightly, and if we practice confession to people as well, it can help us guard against making confession to God something that is rote and meaningless.
     
  18. JackRUS

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    And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God
    alone?
    But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, He answering said unto them, What reason ye in your hearts?
    Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk?
    But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, (He said unto the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee,
    Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house.' Luke 5:21-24

    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. James 5:16

    I acknowledge my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou
    forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah. Ps. 32:5

    The problem with the Catholic Church is that they believe that they have the authority to forgive sins, which they don't. We are to confess our faults one to another so that we can pray for each other to receive strength from the Lord to turn from our sins. And also we can confess direct transgressions towards another for their forgiveness. But that doesn't mean that God forgives us without confession and repentance toward Him.

    Look what David wrote after having killed Uriah and fathering a child to his wife:

    "Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest." Ps. 51:4

    Now what John was writing about in the 20th chapter of his Gospel is that a Christian can tell one that they are sure has received Christ that their sins are forgiven. And also we can tell one that rejects Christ that their sins are retained. That is all that the verse means. John 12:48.

    Of course the saved has their sins covered by the blood of Christ for all eternity. But confession brings us into right fellowship, meet for the Lord's use, and keeps us from His right chastening. Heb. 12:5-8
     

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