F O U N D A T I O N S 56 That is why Christ gave the church the power to forgive all sins in his name. Forgiveness is at the heart of his gospel, for those who are forgiven much, love much. Christ teaches: “There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety- nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” 75 The New Testament instructs us to “confess your sins to one another.” Such confession is a fruit of repentance and must be entirely voluntary. It is necessary before baptism, and just as important afterward. If we do this with a contrite heart, in the determination not to sin again, the power of sin is broken.* 76 As the New Testament teaches, certain sinful actions are particularly serious. They affect not only the person responsible but also the whole church, harming its life and witness as the consecrated body of Christ. Those who commit such sins depart from the church’s peace and unity; in fact, Scripture warns that they place themselves outside the kingdom of God. To be restored to fellowship, such brothers and sisters need to give an account to the church for their actions and then reenter it through the same door by which they entered at baptism – that is, through repentance, confession, and forgiveness. This is possible through the gift of church discipline. * Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “Confession and the Lord’s Supper,” in Life Together (Gemeinsames Leben, 1939; published in English 1954). Luke 24:47; Acts 26:18 Luke 15; Mark 2:17 Luke 7:36–50; 1 Pet 4:8 Luke 15:7, 10 Mic 7:18–20 Jas 5:16 Ps 51; 2 Sam 12:13 Ps 34:18; Is 57:15 2 Cor 7:8–11 1 Cor 6:9–11; Gal 5:19–21 Rev 21:8; 1 Cor 5:6–8 Eph 5:8–17, 27 1 Pet 1:13–16; Lev 20:26 John 15:1–6 1 Cor 5:5; 2 Jn 1:7–11 Mark 9:42–50; Matt 25:1–13 Luke 13:22–30 2 Cor 2:5–11