Thursday, December 31, 2015

Only by grace

Phil, at Brandywine Books, writes about the importance of Confession as a part of corporate worship:
.... John Hendryx says he had to warm up to use of corporate confessions, but now he cherishes them. “For most it makes the time of worship more authentic and joyful for it strikes a blow against self-righteousness and humbles us before God as we say what we know to be true of ourselves and the only Lord who saves us. It reminds us that we are not better than others and that it is only grace (an alien righteousness) which makes us what we are.”

That mirrors my experience with corporate confession of sin. Reading with those around me how I have not done what I should have done and did what I should not have done opens me up to the wonderful announcement that Christ Jesus has given me his righteousness and set me free from the power of sin. ....
When I lead worship in our small church we sometimes use the General Confession from The Book of Common Prayer:
ALMIGHTY and most merciful Father; We have erred, and strayed from Thy ways like lost sheep. We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. We have offended against Thy holy laws. We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; And we have done those things which we ought not to have done; And there is no health in us. But Thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders. Spare Thou them, O God, who confess their faults. Restore Thou them that are penitent; According to Thy promises declared unto mankind in Christ Jesus Our Lord. And grant, O most merciful Father, for His sake; That we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life, To the glory of Thy holy Name. Amen.
Immediately followed by:
Listen to the words of Our Lord: “God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, to the end that all that believe in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.”

And these words from the Apostle John: “If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is the Propitiation for our sins.”