“Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when he had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” (John 20: 21 – 23)


After the resurrection, Jesus appeared to His disciples in a room; bestowing upon them the gift of the Holy Spirit (the indwelling of God within their hearts.) Consequently, they were granted great power and authority; including the ability to forgive sins. This practice of confessing our sins and receiving forgiveness, (as well as forgiving the sins of others) is outlined further in James 5: 16; “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” Thus there is an established foundation for the doctrine of confession that exists within the Church; which also accompanies the exercise of evangelism.

As the story goes, A former Texas Governor named Pat Neff once visited his state penitentiary, where he spoke to the assembly of convicts. After finishing, he announced that he would remain behind, and that if any man wanted to speak with him, he would gladly listen. Additionally, he proclaimed that he would listen in confidence, and that nothing a man might say would be used against him. When the meeting was over, a large group of men remained; many were serving life sentences. One by one they passed by, pleading for their freedom; insisting that there had been a frame-up, an injustice, or some kind of judicial blunder. Finally one man came up and said, “Mr. Governor, I just wanted to say that I am guilty. I did what they sent me here for. But I believe I have paid for it, and if I were granted the right to go out, I would do everything I could to be a good citizen and prove myself worthy of your mercy.” This of course, was the man whom the Governor pardoned.

Like Governor Neff, those who follow Jesus Christ have the authority to forgive the sins of any genuinely repentant individuals. Through confession and divine mercy, many can be set free from the crushing weight of guilt and shame. Within the Church, most of these disclosures can be facilitated in small group fellowships, or by interacting with the pastors and ministers who preside over our local congregations. Also, as we reach out to others during evangelism, may we use the authority we’ve been given by God to forgive the transgressions of our weary fellows; that they too might experience the joy and purity of salvation.

“Lord Heavenly Father, You alone are the way, the truth, and the life. Help us to avoid any sinful temptations as we spread the gospel message throughout the entire world. May we exercise the authority You have given us to forgive sins and to receive those who are repentant into Your glorious Church. We love you Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name. Amen.” God bless all of you!

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