Can a pastor forgive sins?

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What is Confession? Confession embraces two parts. One is that we confess our sins; the other, that we receive absolution, or forgiveness, from the pastor as from God Himself, and in no wise doubt, but firmly believe, that by it our sins are forgiven before God in heaven. What sins should we confess? Before God we should plead guilty of all sins, even of those which we do not know, as we do in the Lord’s Prayer; but before the pastor we should confess those sins only which we know and feel in our hearts? What are they? Here consider your station according to the Ten Commandments, whether you are a father, mother, son, daughter, master, mistress, servant; whether you have been disobedient, unfaithful, slothful; whether you have grieved any person by word or deed; whether you have stolen, neglected, or wasted aught, or done other injury.

Only God has the power and authority to forgive sins, but because a pastor serves as God’s instrument, God Himself acts through his office. A pastor, therefore, grants the absolution on the basis of Christ’s completed work of atonement, by God’s command.

2 Cor. 5:20: We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us.