My Question: confessions

Hi everyone, my question relates to confession. So different denominations treat confession slightly different. Orthodox Christianity and Catholic say to confess with a priest vs with anyone who is member of the church in protestant if I am not mistaken. What are the basis for the difference and how did the early Christians do it.

Love to hear your thoughts.
God Bless.
Dan

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Interesting question, Daniel @Danageze. I’m interested to read responses to it. Just to clarify, are you asking about confession like repentance and seeking forgiveness or as in admitting one’s failures to others?

I believe we can pray directly to our Heavenly Father and ask His forgiveness as well as share our heart and thoughts with Him. Jesus is our mediator between us and God. The Lord’s Prayer comes to mind. In that example, Jesus teaches us to pray to our Father who is in heaven. I hope this is helpful for part of your question.

Oh!! A very blessed Resurrection Day to you!!!

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Love your question. Jesus said “I am the Way, the Truth, anf the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” When Jesus died, the veil from the holy of holies was torn which signified (at least in my mind) no need for the high priest to intercede for the people. Jesus is our high priest now! There is forgiveness of sins through Christ alone. With that being said, it is not a bad thing to confess our sins to people as the bible encourages us to confess our sins one to another so we can be healed! (James 5) Just a few thoughts rollling around in my head…

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Hey @Leah, thanks for your reply. Well I am mainly focusing on repentance and forgiveness of our sins. So orthodox and catholic don’t forbid or disagree that as Children of God we can go directly to God to pray and ask for forgiveness but from the traditions of the early church, from what I found out, confessions were done in front of the congregation with the priest and then the priest would do the prayer for sin absolvence in the name of Christ aka Jesus is the one forgiving the sin. Now if the confession was shameful, the person asked to speak to the priest alone instead of having the entire mass listen and that’s how they conducted it. I know James 5:16 says “confess to one another” and in OT only the high priest was the one that entered the tabernacles on day of atonement. So I am trying to understand how with time the different denominations changed the practice and what the explanations are.

Thanks in advance for everyone replying.

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Hey @Shari, thanks for your reply. I dont know if the veil tearing necessarily speaks to that :man_shrugging:t4:. Yes Jesus is our high priest but he is God too. The other thing is confession to a person brings the human element of Jesus as well. It is through the human form of Jesus that people were healed, for instance when Jesus first forgave the sin of the man who could not walk. The words were spoken and heard. Personally it also has much more weight to it. Being in front of a person that represents God (a priest) and saying your sins, you are going to definitely think about it, repent of it in much more effort than just saying forgive me Jesus in your own bedroom. Orthodox/catholic claim it has a sacrament mystery behind it. Obviously it is not the priest that is forgiving you your sin but Christ. Same way that the bread and wine is the Body of Christ and Blood. It will be nice to have historical reasoning as to when the change happen or why tho. Interesting :thinking:.

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The reason I ask this question is because I see difference within our Christian community. There are sooo many churches out there. Jesus never meant it that we be so divided in such ways. It is great that we are going out to share the main message of Christ to all that dont know Christ but I sometimes get the question that say “Which Christianity do I follow?!” For a non-believer looking in, it looks like bunch of Christians that claim to know about some God and they dont even agree with one another on things and whenever they disagree they just get up and start a new church. :man_facepalming:t4:

So the one good answer I had gotten is that we need to find the church of the 1st Century. That’s the closest we can get to knowing the original while still consulting with our bible. We need to understand why things were done the way they were done instead of just speculating and making our answers for it. Because even the Bible tells that many things were done by Christ and disciples that were not included in the Bible.

Just my two cents.

God Bless.

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Sorry if I confused you more. Its my first attempt at sharing my thoughts! I agree that confession to brothers or sisters in Christ is good but I believe it need not be a pastor or priest. It could be any other brother or sister in Christ that we can be transparent and accountable as well. Prayers that you will get the wisdom you are looking for as you search for Truth. Many blessings!

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Thank you @Shari. :hugs:. Yes let the Lord guide us all. I will come and update everyone if I get more answers from outside as well.

Love to hear from everyone.
God Bless.

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Daniel, have you tried “Ask RZIM?” Each week they have a different staff member answer questions. Not sure who ther person is for this week but maybe it will be announced tomorrow. Many blessings!

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@Shari Oh really, I didnt know. Awesome

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Good evening, @Danageze - I appreciate that you want to worship in a church that believes and behaves as closely as possible to the church of the 1st Century. I take that to mean that you want one that follows the Bible, especially the New Testament, without all of the traditions that have accreted over the centuries. Congratulations - I agree that this is a very worthy thing to seek for.

I think that I understand the explanations you have given for why confessing sins to a priest as a representative of Christ might be a good thing for a church to promote.

But if your goal is a purely New Testament church, then I have a question for you. Do you know of anywhere in the Bible that a Christian ever confessed a sin to a priest?

Does this seem like a common practice of Christians in the Bible?

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@Danageze this is a great question. From a biblical point of view and that of the early church, we do not confess our sins to a priest. We learn in 1 Timothy 2:5 that under the new covenant,

There is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.

When I got saved I was alone and I confessed my sin to Jesus, he completely forgave me without any priest. In fact he made me a priest at that moment! (1 Peter 2:9)

We do see, however, in the book of James (5:16) that we are encouraged to confess our sins to one another. After I got saved I immediately went to a church and in a men’s group told the people there what happened. You could have heard a pin drop, as I described my sin. But as I confessed to my brothers, one man stood up to disciple me and others encouraged me a lot. Oh how I love the church, when it is as it should be!

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.

So my understanding is that we do not need to go to any priest to confess our sins, however, if we bring them to the light and have other brothers and sisters to walk with us through our repentance it is very effective. I hope this helps brother.

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Hey @jlyons thank you for the reply. You are correct that I am looking for a church that keeps the bible central. But I have few questions. Is tradition necessarily a bad thing? If it was the tradition of the apostles themselves, or if it glorifies God even more, is it necessarily bad? I guess it’s always good to understand the reasoning behind a tradition before saying it is good or bad. Because as humans we make tradition even in this age that could be bad. For instance Liturgy, I dont know if you had a chance to be part of one but it is so rich with biblical passages after passages that makes worship so beautiful. Is that necessarily bad. :man_shrugging:t4: It may take longer and people may not like that but who are we worshiping? People’s time or God… I’m not trying to side one way or another but it’s interesting to know the why’s, I guess.

To your point what is not included in the Bible is not taken as inspired and thus we are not technically obliged to follow it, but I wonder how the apostles worship or held mass at the time. The other thing that is important too is that sometimes as authors we may not include things in our writing about things that are so widely known at the time. Could that play a role?

In terms of the NT, I dont recall any place where a priest is mentioned literally, but when James 5:16 says Confess to one another does that include a priest? :man_shrugging:t4:

Thank you for the dialogue and love to hear your thoughts on it.
God Bless.

Hey @brianlalor. Thank you for your reply. I love the passion in your response. Yes Jesus is the one who forgives the sins, but one question, why did Christ say to the disciples that whoever they forgive will be forgiven and whoever they bind on earth will be bound. I forgot the exact place in the bible. I’m not saying that means a human have to do it and that one cant go directly to Jesus but :thinking:, it’s interesting.

I have to ask orthodox/catholic priests too to see what their viewpoints or explanation is.

Blessings.

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Good evening @Danageze. I see you have a lot of questions about this. I’ll just answer in “broad strokes” by saying that how much tradition you’re willing to allow into your worship is entirely up to you. You said that you wanted a church as nearly as possible like the primitive church of the apostles. But you also seem to appreciate having some “wiggle room” with that.

If you want to confess to a priest who will represent Christ to you, you can certainly do that in a free country - but you yourself have acknowledged that it’s not found in the New Testamant.

You wonder how the apostles worshipped or if they included things they didn’t write about? Well, those are the kinds of gaps that you can fill with an indefinite number of traditions - depending on how serious you are about having a truly New Testament church.

Are all traditions bad? Not unless they violate or become more important than the Word of God. You mention that you don’t remember any priests in the New Testament, but then you ask if James 5:16 would include confessing to a priest. I think you just answered your own question.

You sound like you enjoy the idea of having a New Testament church, but you also like adding certain church traditions that you see nothing wrong with. So do a lot of other people - so where do you draw the line? I really don’t see how you can have it both ways. At some point, I think you’re going to have to decide how important folllowing the New Testament model really is to you.

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Good morning @jlyons. Thanks for the reply.

I had a clarification question, what does it mean to have a New Testament church. Are you saying the entire OT is irrelevant. I get that we are not bound by Moses laws except for the 10 commandments.

Another one is I was asking Brian about it, what are the verses in Matthew 16:19 and Matthew 18:18 mean when Christ says to the disciples that he will give them the keys to heaven and that whatever you bind on earth will be bound and whoever they forgive will be forgiven.

Thank you so much for your efforts. Really appreciate it.

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@Danageze you are spot on with these two scriptures! The first is near the end of the Gospel of John and the other Matthew 18:18-19 is one of my all time memory verses.

I believe that when we look at a question we need to look at the entire scope of sceipture. It is clear from the breath of scripture that God alone can forgive sins. There are many examples of scriptures that when taken alone can seem to go against the entire scope. To really dig into this question the best thing to do would be to use the biblical theology method to study forgiveness of sin from Genesis to Revelation.

I hope this helps to answer your question. I did a similar study with The Kingdom to get a good understanding of this topic.

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Hi Daniel,
First, I’d like to say I think it’s cool that you dig into these things so much; and that your goal is a first-century church (I think you said). I think comparing a church to the book of Acts can illuminate a lot of things…
Concerning your point about the division of the church, i.e. denominations; and taking into account questions of tradition, I wonder if it would be helpful to separate them (the church splits) into two categories:

A) those based on reasons of form
B) those based on reasons substance

I don’t know, just a thought. Isn’t that a big part of the questions in this thread?

Thanks again for your thoughts and posts.

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Hi Daniel @Danageze , I think you’ve asked a lot of interesting and valid questions that are taking a bit of a rabbit hole direction in that there are many aspects to what you are asking. Leah’s @Leah question was on point when she asked if you were speaking in terms of salvation confession or of forgiveness for failures as a Christian. Most of the responses have assured you that a confession for salvation is one of personal dialogue with God, whether in the presence of witnesses, a priest, or by yourself. Romans 10:9 only states that you confess Jesus as LORD and believe in your heart. There is no other requirement throughout the New Testament.
When it comes to confessing your faults or mistakes, that, too, can be a private matter between you and God, but we are encouraged to confess with a fellow believer so that we can exercise one of the purposes of the Church which is to love and forgive each other in their various forms.
There were definite laws and ritual cleansing that took place in the Old Testament that applied to the Hebrews because those laws and ceremonies were a foreshadowing of the redemption that was coming. Colossians 2:17, Hebrews 8:5, Hebrews 10:1 speak of the Law in this way. God formed the Jewish nation because it was through them the Redeemer would come. That is why the veil in the temple was torn when Christ was sacrificed. He was the Lamb without blemish. No longer was man separated from God with the altar accessible only by the High Priest on the Day of Atonement. Jesus was the fulfillment of the former Law requiring formal procedures for forgiveness. We now have direct access into the presence of God.

As to the New Testament church, keep in mind that the apostles had no model to go by. Their only knowledge was the life they lived with Jesus as His disciples those few years of training. The Church was instituted by Christ as He taught His disciples in John 14-17. He prayed for how He wanted the believers to be: having love for one another was utmost; that they be one as He and the Father were one; and that they should follow the leading and guiding of the Holy Spirit who would be given to them. Beyond that, He established no rules or traditions for how they were to function. So, after Christ’s Ascension, the apostles set out to officially establish the church, having no model to go by. They knew they were to observe Communion as the Lord demonstrated at the Last Supper, and they knew they were to baptize new believers. The fact that the first New Testament church functioned as one community, sharing what they had in common was not instructed by Jesus, but was quite possibly inspired by the Holy Spirit.
Everything seemed to start out just wonderfully, but man being man, the first church started having its share of problems. People lied about what they were donating to the body, factions developed between Greek converts and Hebrew. It got so difficult, the apostles instituted “deacons” to oversee the daily difficulties that were cropping up so that they could focus on preaching and teaching. As the church grew, some were coming to the communion table treating it as an orgy and getting drunk. Sexual immorality crept into the church, divisions over what was proper to eat or not eat divided believers. Even the church fathers couldn’t agree about what should be expected for new believers because many of the Jewish believers thought the Jewish laws were still required.

My point is that the New Testament church was not necessarily a model to be followed because they really didn’t know themselves what “church” looked like. As the different factions developed, the different denominations formed. I don’t think God ever intended all the different denominations. His desire was that the believers be one in spirit and faith. Paul did teach the churches the importance of order in the church.
So, I wouldn’t necessarily look to the New Testament church as a model, except that they did start out initially with generosity and apparent love for one another.

Personally, I was raised in a Pentecostal environment, but after being married, spent ~30 years in an evangelical liturgical church. There were some in that liturgical church that loved the beauty of the liturgy and couldn’t imagine meeting without it. The thought of spontaneous praise and worship was viewed as emotionalism by some. On the other end of the spectrum, the Pentecostals couldn’t imagine being constrained by formal liturgy that seemed devoid of any emotion of praise and worship. To them, liturgy was rote, formal, and lacking value.

Is God pleased that His Church is so divided? Probably not. Nor is He going to ask us what denomination we belonged to when we get to heaven. He’s going to ask us what we did with His Son. God gave us the gift of choice. Our first choice is to confess our need for His Son. How we do that is not the issue with Him. The second choice He leaves up to us in that we are free to chose how we are going to worship, as long as our worship follows the precepts set down by Christ and Scripture, as the Holy Spirit inspired its authorship.
You might want to examine church history to see how the different denominations developed and what their doctrines are. But, more than that, visit the different churches to see where you best fit in. Once deciding that, assuming their doctrine is sound, become an active participant. Then you’ll understand what parts of confession are important for you and how it should be done.
I hope this has been helpful in answering your questions.

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Good questions - many people wonder about statements similar to those found in these passages in Matthew.

If you’ll notice right before Matthew 16:19, Peter had just said in verse 16 that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus then congratulates him on that all-important confession of faith, and He tells Peter that this is the rock upon which He will build His church.

Now some people take him to mean that Peter himself is the rock that Jesus is talking about here - because He addresses Peter directly, saying, Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church.

But Peter himself later denies that he is the rock the church is built upon. In I Peter 2:3-8, he says that Jesus is actually the chief cornerstone upon which the church is built, and all of His followers are like living stones being built into the temple of God.

So why does Jesus address Peter so personally when He says upon this rock I will build my church? Because Peter’s name actually means “rock” - we get the word “petrified” from it. He’s calling attention to the irony that the man whose name means rock is the very one who first articulated that statement of faith that Jesus is the Son of the living God - the statement of faith that Christ uses to build His church, the statement that places everyone who confesses it as a living stone into this growing temple.

I John 5:1, Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God. That’s the rock that builds the church.

I John 4:15, Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. That’s the rock that builds the church.

John 6:69, we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God. The rock that builds the church.

Acts 8:37, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. The rock…well, you get the idea.

Now, back to your question. What did Jesus mean immediately after that scene when he tells Peter, I give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven - what you bind (or loose) on earth is bound (or loosed) in heaven?

The key to whether anyone’s sins are bound or loosed is whether they confess Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God or not. When Peter preached at Pentecost, he could say to all those thousands who believed Jesus was the Christ that their sins were forgiven based upon their confession of faith.

When he laid hands on the Samaritans in chapter 8, he could tell them based on the genuiness of their confession whether their sins were loosed or not.

When he preached to Cornelius and his crowd in Acts 10, he could tell those who confessed Jesus as the Christ that their sins were forgiven. Those were the three key times when Peter opened the gospel up to the Jews, the Samaritans and the Gentiles.

But @Danageze - that wasn’t just a power that was given to Peter alone. You can tell someone who confesses that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, that their sins are forgiven! Every Christian can tell a new believer that. Because every one of God’s Christians are priests. And I do not mean that figuratively at all - it is literally true. If your salvation rests upon Christ, the Son of God, then you are more a priest than anyone ordained as one who doesn’t rest his salvation upon that rock.

I hope these thoughts help you. Let me know if you have any questions.

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