He was the Wisconsin Synod President and the Synodical Conference President.
3rd Article—The Forgiveness of Sins
256. Which is the most precious gift that the Holy Ghost bestows on the Church by the Gospel? The forgiveness of sins, or the righteousness of God. (Justification) Rom. 4:7,8 Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. Rom. 1:17 In the Gospel is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
257. Why is this a needful and precious gift? Because by our sins we are lost and condemned creatures. But where there is forgiveness of sins, there is life and salvation. (Comp. Q164, 165, 183 and 192)
258. Why do even the saints still need forgiveness of sins? Because we daily sin much and deserve nothing but punishment. Rom. 7:18-25; Ps. 143:2; Phil. 3:12; Rom. 7:18.
259. But what may we according to the Word of God confess with the Christian Church in the Third Article? I believe in the forgiveness of sins. Ps. 103; Exod. 34:5-7; Micah 7:18,19.
260. What do you confess with these words? I believe that the Holy Ghost in the Christian Church on earth daily and richly forgives all sins to me and all believers. Lament. 3:22,23; Rom. 5:20 Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. Is. 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. Ps. 103:2,3 Bless the Lord, O my soul; who forgiveth all thine iniquities. Micah 7:18,19 Who is a God like unto Thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He retaineth not His anger forever, because He delighteth in mercy. He will turn again, He will have compassion upon us, He will subdue our iniquities; and Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.
261. What does that mean that God forgives your sins? God does no more look upon my sins, but justifies me; that is, He acquits me from all guilt and punishment. (Comp. Q183 and 184) Luke 18:9-14; Rom. 5; Rom. 8:33 Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Rom. 8:1; Eph. 1:7; Rom. 3:24; Rom. 4:8; Col. 2:13,14 He hath forgiven you all trespasses, blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us. (Comp. Rom. 3:25; Rom. 5:18)
262. Why do we say that the HOLY GHOST forgives our sins, whereas we are justified before God through the redemption of Christ? The Holy Ghost by the Gospel awards the righteousness of Christ to us, and gives our faith assurance thereof. 1 Cor. 6:11; 2 Cor. 5:19; Acts 2:38; Is. 38:17 Behold, for peace I had great bitterness; but Thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption; for Thou hast cast all my sins behind Thy back. (Comp. Is. 40:1,2; Is. 61:1,2; Luke 24:47; John 20:21-23; Matt. 9:2,6; Matt. 26:28; Is. 61:10.)
263. To whom does God forgive sins? To me and all believers. “Our works are all rejected, all claims of merit pass for naught.” Luke 18:9-14; Matt. 18:23-27; Rom. 3:21-28; Rom. 4 and 5. Acts 10:43 To Jesus give all the prophets witness that through His name whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins. Rom. 3:28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the Law. Rom. 10:4; Rom. 4:5,6; Is. 53:11; John 3:18,36; Mark 16:16.
264. Where are sins forgiven? In the Christian Church on earth.
265. Why do we say, In the Christian Church on earth? Because Christ gave the Gospel to His Church on earth: in the Gospel we have the forgiveness of sins. (Ministry of the Keys) Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15; 1 Pet. 2:9; Luke 10:16; 2 Cor. 5:19; Luke 24:47; Matt. 16:19; Matt. 18:18; John 20:22,23; Eph. 4:10-12; Luke 5:18-26.
Gausewitz—1984 NIV edition
254. Which is the most precious gift of the Holy Spirit by the gospel to the church? The most precious gift is the forgiveness of sins of the righteousness of Christ by which we are justified before God. (Justification.) Romans 4:7,8; Romans 1:16,17.
255. Why is the forgiveness of sins the most precious gift? It is the most precious gift because without the forgiveness of sins we are lost and condemned creatures, but with it we have life and salvation. Romans 3:23,24; Romans 8:1.
256. Why do we, the saints, still need forgiveness of sins? We need forgiveness of sins because we daily sin much and deserve nothing but punishment. Romans 7:18-25; Psalm 143:2; Romans 7:18.
257. But what may we according to the Word of God confess with the Christian church regarding our sins? I believe in the forgiveness of sins.
258. What do you confess with these words? I believe that in the Christian church on earth the Holy Spirit daily and fully forgives all sins to me and all believers in Christ.
259. What do you mean by saying that God forgives your sins? God no longer looks upon my sins but justifies me; that is, he declares me free from all guilt and punishment. Luke 18:9-14; Romans 5.
260. Why do we say that the Holy Spirit forgives sins, whereas we are made righteous before God through the redemption of Christ? The Holy Spirit brings the righteousness of Christ to us by the gospel and gives us the faith to believe it. 1 Corinthians 12:3; 1 Corinthians 6:11; Acts 2:38.
261. To whom does God forgive sins? God forgives sins to me and all believers. Luke 18:9-14; Matthew 18:23-27; Romans 3:21-28; Romans 4 and 5; Acts 10:43; Romans 3:28; Romans 10:4.
262. Where are sins forgiven? Sins are forgiven in the Christian church on earth. (Use of the Keys.)
263. Why do we say, “In the Christian church on earth”? We say this because Christ has given the gospel to his church on earth; in the gospel we have the forgiveness of sins. Matthew 28:18-20; 1 Peter 2:9; 2 Corinthians 5:19; Luke 24:47.
CPH 1943/1965—KJV edition
187. Why do you say, I believe in the forgiveness of sins? The Bible assures me that God daily and richly forgives all sins to me and all believers. Ps. 103:1,2; Ps. 130:3,4.
188. How does God forgive your sins? God no longer charges, or imputes, my sins to me, but declares me righteous. (Justification.) 2 Cor. 5:19; 2 Cor. 5:21; Rom. 8:33; Rom. 4:5; Matt. 18:23-35.
189. What induces God to forgive your sins? God forgives my sins, not because of any merit or worthiness in me, but because of His grace, for Christ’s sake. Rom. 3:22-24; Eph. 1:7; Luke 18:9-14.
190. For whom has this forgiveness been obtained? Forgiveness of sins has been obtained for all, because Christ has fully atoned for the sins of all mankind. 1 John 2:2; 2 Cor. 5:19.
191. Where does God offer you the forgiveness of sins? God offers me the forgiveness in the Gospel. Luke 24:47; 2 Cor. 5:19.
192. How do you accept this forgiveness of sins? I accept this forgiveness by believing the Gospel. Rom. 3:28; Gen. 15:6; Rom. 4:5.
193. Why can and should every believer be certain of the forgiveness of his sins and of his salvation? Every believer can and should be certain of the forgiveness of his sins and of his salvation, because God’s promise is sure. 2 Tim. 1:12; Rom. 8:38,39.
194. Why must we ever firmly maintain the doctrine of justification by grace, for Christ’s sake, through faith? We must ever firmly maintain this doctrine—A. Because it is the chief doctrine of the Christian religion (Acts 10:43; Acts 4:12); B. Because it distinguishes the Christian religion from false religions, all of which teach salvation by works (Gal. 5:4,5; Micah 7:18-20); C. Because this doctrine gives enduring comfort to penitent sinners (Acts 16:30,31,34; Matt. 9:2); D. Because this doctrine gives all glory to God (Rev. 1:5,6).
Fehlauer—1981 NIV edition
Course One, Lesson 49:
Summary: Jesus earned forgiveness of sins for all people (Ephesians 1:7). God declares all people righteous for Jesus’ sake (2 Corinthians 5:21). Through the Gospel God offers forgiveness of sins. The Holy Spirit gives us faith to believe the Gospel (Ephesians 2:8).
How do we receive forgiveness of sins? We receive forgiveness through faith in the Gospel.
What This Means to Me: In the Bible God tells me that all my sins are forgiven for Jesus’ sake. He is my holy and righteous Savior. God looks upon Jesus’ righteousness as my righteousness, and therefore He declares me just and holy (justified).
Course Two, Lesson 28:
Summary: All people are born in sin and sin daily (Psalm 51:5; Romans 3:23). Sin separates people from God (Isaiah 59:2). All people need forgiveness of sins to be saved. Jesus earned forgiveness of sins for all people. God declared all people righteous for Jesus’ sake. This is the good news or Gospel. The Holy Spirit gives us faith to believe the Gospel.
How, then, do we receive forgiveness of sins? The Holy Spirit gives us forgiveness of sins through faith in the Gospel.
What This Means to Me: I was born in sin, and I daily sin in thought, word, and deed. I cannot save myself. God’s Son suffered and died to save me. God put all my sins on Jesus and declared me righteous in His sight. The Gospel tells me this good news, and the Holy Spirit gives me faith to believe that all my sins are forgiven. Forgiveness of sins is the greatest gift of God. I pray that the Holy Spirit will move many people to accept this wonderful gift.
Kuske—1982 NIV edition
251. How does God forgive sins? God forgives sins like a judge in a courtroom who tells a criminal that there is no longer any charge against him and so declares him innocent or not guilty. Romans 4:6-8; 2 Corinthians 5:19; Psalm 51:9; Psalm 85:2,3; Jeremiah 31:34; 1 John 1:9; Romans 8:33.
252. On what basis did God declare guilty sinners to be righteous? God declared guilty sinners to be righteous because Jesus served as their substitute and paid for their sins in full. Isaiah 53:5,6; 2 Corinthians 5:19,21; Romans 3:23-26.
253. How many people did God declare righteous? God declared all people righteous (Objective justification). 1 Timothy 2:3,4; Mark 16:15; John 3:17; Romans 5:18; 2 Corinthians 5:19; 1 John 2:2; John 1:29.
254. How do many people reject this perfect righteousness which Jesus obtained for them? Many people reject this perfect righteousness by trying to earn righteousness before God by their own works (Self-righteousness, work-righteousness). Luke 14:16-24; Romans 10:3; Romans 4:6; Galatians 5:4; Romans 11:6; Titus 3:5.
255. Why is it important, then, that the Holy Ghost work faith in me? It is important that the Holy Ghost work faith in me so that I do not trust in my own works but only in the righteousness God gives me by grace in Christ (Subjective justification). Philippians 3:7-11; Ephesians 2:8,9; Galatians 3:26,27; Romans 3:22,28; Romans 4:5; Romans 1:17.
256. Why can I as a believer be certain of God’s forgiveness? I can be certain of God’s forgiveness because it does not depend on anything I do but completely on what Christ has done for me. Romans 4:16; Philippians 3:8,9, Galatians 2:16; Ephesians 3:12.
257. Why is this certainty a great blessing to me? This certainty is a great blessing to me because I need the assurance of God’s forgiveness every day (Romans 7:14-25; Psalm 32:1-5; Matthew 11:28,29; Lamentations 3:22,23), and because I have the assurance that I am an heir of eternal life (Romans 5:20,21; Titus 3:7; Ephesians 1:13,14).
Book of Concord—1580
Large Catechism, The Creed, Article III:
54] We further believe that in this Christian Church we have forgiveness of sin, which is wrought through the holy Sacraments and Absolution, moreover, through all manner of consolatory promises of the entire Gospel. Therefore, whatever is to be preached concerning the Sacraments belongs here, and, in short, the whole Gospel and all the offices of Christianity, which also must be preached and taught without ceasing. For although the grace of God is secured through Christ, and sanctification is wrought by the Holy Ghost through the Word of God in the unity of the Christian Church, yet on account of our flesh which we bear about with us we are never without sin.
55] Everything, therefore, in the Christian Church is ordered to the end that we shall daily obtain there nothing but the forgiveness of sin through the Word and signs, to comfort and encourage our consciences as long as we live here. Thus, although we have sins, the [grace of the] Holy Ghost does not allow them to injure us, because we are in the Christian Church, where there is nothing but [continuous, uninterrupted] forgiveness of sin, both in that God forgives us, and in that we forgive, bear with, and help each other.
56] But outside of this Christian Church, where the Gospel is not, there is no forgiveness, as also there can be no holiness [sanctification]. Therefore all who seek and wish to merit holiness [sanctification], not through the Gospel and forgiveness of sin, but by their works, have expelled and severed themselves [from this Church].
57] Meanwhile, however, while sanctification has begun and is growing daily, we expect that our flesh will be destroyed and buried with all its uncleanness, and will come forth gloriously, and arise to entire and perfect holiness in a new eternal life. 58] For now we are only half pure and holy, so that the Holy Ghost has ever [some reason why] to continue His work in us through the Word, and daily to dispense forgiveness, until we attain to that life where there will be no more forgiveness, but only perfectly pure and holy people, full of godliness and righteousness, removed and free from sin, death, and all evil, in a new, immortal, and glorified body.
59] Behold, all this is to be the office and work of the Holy Ghost, that He begin and daily increase holiness upon earth by means of these two things, the Christian Church and the forgiveness of sin. But in our dissolution He will accomplish it altogether in an instant, and will forever preserve us therein by the last two parts.
Smalcald Articles, Part III, Article XIII:
1] What I have hitherto and constantly taught concerning this I know not how to change in the least, namely, that by faith, as St. Peter says, we acquire a new and clean heart, and God will and does account us entirely righteous and holy for the sake of Christ, our Mediator. And although sin in the flesh has not yet been altogether removed or become dead, yet He will not punish or remember it.
Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Part III:
9] Concerning the righteousness of faith before God we believe, teach, and confess unanimously, in accordance with the comprehensive summary of our faith and confession presented above, that poor sinful man is justified before God, that is, absolved and declared free and exempt from all his sins, and from the sentence of well-deserved condemnation, and adopted into sonship and heirship of eternal life, without any merit or worth of our own, also without any preceding, present, or any subsequent works, out of pure grace, because of the sole merit, complete obedience, bitter suffering, death, and resurrection of our Lord Christ alone, whose obedience is reckoned to us for righteousness.
10] These treasures are offered us by the Holy Ghost in the promise of the holy Gospel; and faith alone is the only means by which we lay hold upon, accept, and apply, and appropriate them to ourselves. 11] This faith is a gift of God, by which we truly learn to know Christ, our Redeemer, in the Word of the Gospel, and trust in Him, that for the sake of His obedience alone we have the forgiveness of sins by grace, are regarded as godly and righteous by God the father, and are eternally saved. 12] Therefore it is considered and understood to be the same thing when Paul says that we are justified by faith, Rom. 3:28, or that faith is counted to us for righteousness, Rom. 4:5, and when he says that we are made righteous by the obedience of One, Rom. 5:19, or that by the righteousness of One justification of faith came to all men, Rom. 5:18. 13] For faith justifies, not for this cause and reason that it is so good a work and so fair a virtue, but because it lays hold of and accepts the merit of Christ in the promise of the holy Gospel; for this must be applied and appropriated to us by faith, if we are to be justified thereby. 14] Therefore the righteousness which is imputed to faith or to the believer out of pure grace is the obedience, suffering, and resurrection of Christ, since He has made satisfaction for us to the Law, and paid for [expiated] our sins. 15] For since Christ is not man alone, but God and man in one undivided person, He was as little subject to the Law, because He is the Lord of the Law, as He had to suffer and die as far as His person is concerned. For this reason, then, His obedience, not only in suffering and dying, but also in this, that He in our stead was voluntarily made under the Law, and fulfilled it by this obedience, is imputed to us for righteousness, so that, on account of this complete obedience, which He rendered His heavenly Father for us, by doing and suffering, in living and dying, God forgives our sins, regards us as godly and righteous, and eternally saves us. 16] This righteousness is offered us by the Holy Ghost through the Gospel and in the Sacraments, and is applied, appropriated, and received through faith, whence believers have reconciliation with God, forgiveness of sins, the grace of God, sonship, and heirship of eternal life.