Question 83: What are the keys of the kingdom?
The preaching of the holy gospel and Christian discipline toward repentance. Both of them open the kingdom of heaven to believers and close it to unbelievers (1).
1 – Matt. 16:19; John 20:22-23
Question 84: How does preaching the holy gospel open and close the kingdom of heaven?
According to the command of Christ, the kingdom of heaven is opened by proclaiming and publicly declaring to all believers, each and every one, that, as often as they accept the gospel promise in true faith, God, because of Christ’s merit, truly forgives all their sins.
The kingdom of heaven is closed, however, by proclaiming and publicly declaring to unbelievers and hypocrites that, as long as they do not repent, the wrath of God and eternal condemnation rest on them. God’s judgment, both in this life and in the life to come, is based on this gospel testimony (1).
1 – Matt. 16:19; John 3:31-36; 20:21-23
Question 85: How is the kingdom of heaven closed and opened by Christian discipline?
According to the command of Christ: Those who, though called Christians, profess unchristian teachings or live unchristian lives, and who after repeated personal and loving admonitions, refuse to abandon their errors and evil ways, and who after being reported to the church, that is, to those ordained by the church for that purpose, fail to respond also to the church’s admonitions—such persons the church excludes from the Christian community by withholding the sacraments from them, and God also excludes them from the kingdom of Christ (1). Such persons, when promising and demonstrating genuine reform, are received again as members of Christ and of His church (2).
1 – Matt. 18:15-20; 1 Cor. 5:3-5, 11-13; 2 Thess. 3:14-15
2 – Luke 15:20-24; 2 Cor. 2:6-11