31. Lord’s Day
What are the keys of the kingdom of heaven?
The preaching of the holy gospel, and christian discipline, or
excommunication out of the christian church; by these two, the kingdom of
heaven is opened to believers, and shut against unbelievers.
How is the kingdom of heaven opened and shut by the preaching of the
Thus: when according to the command of Christ, it is declared and
publicly testified to all and every believer, that, whenever they receive the
promise of the gospel by a true faith, all their sins are really forgiven them
of God, for the sake of Christ’s merits; and on the contrary, when it is
declared and testified to all unbelievers, and such as do not sincerely repent,
that they stand exposed to the wrath of God, and eternal condemnation, so long
as they are unconverted: (a) according to which testimony of the gospel, God
will judge them, both in this, and in the life to come.
(a) Matt.16:18,19; Matt.18:15-19; John 20:21-23.
How is the kingdom of heaven shut and opened by christian discipline?
Thus: when according to the command of Christ, those, who under the name
of christians, maintain doctrines, or practices inconsistent therewith, and
will not, after having been often brotherly admonished, renounce their errors
and wicked course of life, are complained of to the church, or to those, who
are thereunto appointed by the church; and if they despise their admonition,
are by them forbidden the use of the sacraments; whereby they are excluded
from the christian church, and by God himself from the kingdom of Christ; and
when they promise and show real amendment, are again received as members of
Christ and his church. (a)
(a) Matt.18:15-18; 1 Cor.5:2-5,11; 2 Thess.3:14,15; 2 Cor.2:6-8.