2. What is Your understanding of the Office of the Public Ministry?
Jesus’ Answer: “Even as the Father has sent Me, so I am sending You. Anyone whose sins you forgive they are forgiven. Anyone whose sins you do not forgive they are not forgiven.” These words aptly describe the nature of the Office of the Ministry. It exists for the sake of the forgiveness of sins. These words would be misunderstood if they were applied to every believer, for it has not been given to every believer to forgive the sins of penitent sinners, and retain the sins of the unrepentant. How does Luther put it? “I believe that when the called ministers of Christ deal with us by His divine command, especially when they exclude manifest and unrepentant sinners from the Christian congregation, it is just as valid and certain, in heaven also, as if Christ our dear Lord dealt with us Himself.”
The Office of the Ministry is also a “Preaching Office,” or, as they used to say in the German language, “Predigtamt.” Through this Preaching Office, the Holy Spirit continues to “call, gather, enlighten, and sanctify the Holy Christian Church on earth” (Small Catechism). This Holy Office is abused when it is not used for the furthering of the Kingdom of God through the teaching and preaching of the Word of God. It is also abused when its functions are carried out by one who has not been placed by the Church into this office through a valid Call and the laying on of hands of the presbyters. Truly, truly I say to you, those who approve of such things are a brood of vipers. It will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on that Day than it will be for them, for they have forsaken My ways and My words.
Modified Answer for Call purposes:
The Office of the Ministry is an office distinct from the Priesthood of all Believers. The Royal Priesthood is the possessor of all ecclesiastical power and authority, who in turn “entrusts” the authority of the whole to one individual for the sake of order. Its functions include preaching, teaching, and administering the sacraments. However, under no circumstances is the Office holder to “lord it over” his flock!(TM) Instead, he must show his people how much he cares before they will care how much he knows.