The Office of the Keys
As the head of the family should teach it in all simplicity to his household
What is the Office of the Keys?
It is the peculiar church power which Christ has given to His Church on earth to forgive the sins of penitent sinners unto them, but to retain the sins of the impenitent as long as they do not repent.
Where is this written?
Thus writes the holy Evangelist John, chapter twentieth:
The Lord Jesus breathed on His disciples and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained.
What do you believe according to these words?
I believe that when the called ministers of Christ deal with us by His divine command, especially when they exclude manifest and impenitent sinners from the Christian congregation, and, again, when they absolve those who repent of their sins and are willing to amend, this is as valid and certain, in heaven also, as if Christ, our dear Lord, dealt with us Himself.