I am trying to understand both the Lutheran and Anglican perspectives on Matt. 18:18, “Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
What in your theology is the Power of the Keys?
From the Smalcald Articles:
Since Absolution or the Power of the Keys is also an aid and consolation against sin and a bad conscience, ordained by Christ in the Gospel, Confession or Absolution ought by no means to be abolished in the Church, especially on account of timid consciences and on account of the untrained young people, in order that they may be examined, and instructed in the Christian doctrine.
But the enumeration of sins ought to be free to every one, as to what he wishes to enumerate or not to enumerate. For as long as we are in the flesh, we shall not lie when we say: “I am a poor man, full of sin.” Rom. 7:23: I see another law in my members, etc. For since private absolution originates in the Office of the Keys, it should not be despised, but greatly and highly esteemed, as all other offices of the Christian Church.
Is the Visible Church necessary for the Forgiveness of Sins?
Yes. Of course, there are exceptions (i.e., the person in a foreign land who reads the Scriptures and believes, or has the gospel preached to him by a layman, and has no visible church to attend).
What about the role of both Public and Private confession, as well as absolution?
They are one and the same. Private confession, IMHO, is more appropriate from a privacy and conscience stand point.
Is it essential to confess your sins, at least publicly, to obtain reconciliation?
Is the Visible Church the sole dispenser of salvation?
Since only the visible church preaches the word and administers the sacraments, yes.