HC 84. How is the kingdom of heaven opened and shut by the preaching of the Holy Gospel?
In this way: that, according to the command of Christ, it is proclaimed and openly witnessed to believers, one and all, that as often as they accept with true faith the promise of the Gospel, all their sins are really forgiven them of God for the sake of Christ’s merits; and on the contrary, to all unbelievers and hypocrites, that the wrath of God and eternal condemnation abide on them so long as they are not converted. According to this testimony of the Gospel, God will judge men both in this life and in that which is to come.
The Kingdom of Heaven is opened through the authoritative public and private proclamation of God’s word.
I. HOW GOD SPEAKS IN THIS WORLD
A. Word (1 Peter 1:23–25; Romans 10:14-17)
B. Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:14; John 3:5–8)
C. Public and Private (Acts 20:18-27)
II. GRANTING AND WITHHOLDING FORGIVENESS (JOHN 20:23; 1 CORINTHIANS 11:19)
A. The Authoritative Pronouncement (John 20:23; 1 Corinthians 11:17-19)
B. The Pastoral Benefits