What is the Forgiveness of Sin?


What are Catechisms? (40 articles)

Where alone does God offer the forgiveness of sins?1

God offers the forgiveness of sins only in the Gospel, the good news that we are freed from the guilt, the punishment, and the power of sin, and are saved eternally because of Christ’s keeping the Law and His suffering and death for us (John 3:16; Romans 1:16; Romans 10:4; Galatians 3:13; Colossians 1:13-14).

Why do you say, “I believe in the forgiveness of sins”?2

I believe in the forgiveness of sins because through Christ God has declared pardon and forgiveness to all sinful humanity (Psalm 130:3-4; 2 Corinthians 5:19).

What moves God to forgive sins?3

God forgives sins because He is merciful and because of Christ’s atoning sacrifice for sinners (Psalm 86:15; John 3:16; Ephesians 1:7; 1 John 2:2).

How is it possible for a just and holy God to declare sinners righteous (justification)?4

God declares sinners righteous for Christ’s sake; that is, our sins have been imputed or charged to Christ, the Savior, and Christ’s righteousness has been imputed or credited to us (2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 3:22-24; Romans 4:25). Bible narrative: The king forgave the servant all his debts (Matthew 18:23-35).

Where does God offer the forgiveness of sins?5

God offers the forgiveness of sins in the Gospel (Luke 24:47; Romans 1:16; 2 Corinthians 5:19).

How do you receive this forgiveness of sins?6

I receive this forgiveness through faith, that is, by believing the Gospel (Genesis 15:6; Romans 3:28; Romans 4:5; Luke 18:9-14).

Why can and should I be sure of the forgiveness of my sins?7

I can and should be sure of the forgiveness of my sins because God keeps His promises in Christ (Romans 8:38-39; 2 Timothy 1:12).

Why must we firmly hold to this teaching of justification by grace, for Christ’s sake, through faith?8

We must firmly hold to this teaching because

  • it is the most important doctrine of the Christian religion (Acts 4:12; Acts 10:43);
  • it distinguishes the Christian religion from false religions, all of which teach salvation by works (Galatians 5:4-5)
  • it gives enduring comfort to the penitent sinner (Acts 16:30-31, 34; Matthew 9:2);
  • it gives all glory to God for His grace and mercy in Christ (Revelation 1:5-6).

Footnotes

  1. Luther’s Small Catechism (1529), Question 84.
  2. Luther’s Small Catechism (1529), Question 180.
  3. Luther’s Small Catechism (1529), Question 181.
  4. Luther’s Small Catechism (1529), Question 182.
  5. Luther’s Small Catechism (1529), Question 183.
  6. Luther’s Small Catechism (1529), Question 184.
  7. Luther’s Small Catechism (1529), Question 185.
  8. Luther’s Small Catechism (1529), Question 186.

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