A believing person is like a traveler journeying toward the destination of the heavenly home. Faith is the only thing that makes it possible for us to reach our destination.
Every one of us has fallen into sin and would therefore deserve eternal death. If God did not love mankind, we would not be able to reach our heavenly home. Our own good works are not sufficient merit to atone for our sins. The only thing that can do this is the redemption accomplished by Jesus.
We should not give up faith, which is the most precious thing in our life. Rather we should nurture our faith. God’s word exhorts us: ”Hold on to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith.” (1 Tim. 1:19.)
Gift of confession
The travelers are cared for by the gospel, which promises us the forgiveness of sins: You can believe all your sins forgiven in Jesus’ name and blood. When we believe this joyful message, all our sins are wiped away – not only part of them but all.
Even after that, however, there may remain an action that bothers our conscience. We know and feel that we have acted contrary to God’s will. We know we have sinned, and that knowledge is like a burden on our conscience.
But even then we are in the good care of God’s kingdom. We need not carry such burdens, because we have received the gift of confession. We can share the things bothering our mind with a reliable escort on the way to heaven. This person is our confessor father or mother and proclaims the forgiveness of sins to us. This proclamation means that God also forgives us. When we believe that, the burden is lifted from our conscience.
If we have offended someone, we also feel a burden on our conscience. The Holy Spirit in our heart advises us to approach the offended person and to apologize for what we have said or done.
Confessor fathers and mothers are not allowed to share with anybody the things they have heard in confession. The confessor’s reliability means that he or she is able to keep the confessional secret.
If, however, a believer has done something to break the law of their society, the Holy Spirit exhorts them to confess their transgression even to a guardian of temporal laws.
Only by grace
When we speak about nurturing our faith, we mean that God takes care of His children in His Kingdom. We are asked whether we want to be obedient to God’s Word. We are asked whether we want to believe. We are made righteous solely by the redemption accomplished by Jesus, not by our confession.
The salvation prepared for mankind can only be possessed by grace. Travelers on the road to heaven need not carry burdens. Jesus’ blood washes away our sins. According to the Letter to the Romans, God’s Kingdom is ”righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17).
Text: Veikko Sivula
Translation: S.-L. L.
Julkaistu englanninkielisessä numerossa 15.11.2017
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