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Corporate Worship As Training Christians For Daily Life (via Ray Van Neste)

The Bible has led the Christian church to understand its corporate gatherings as directed by God, directed to God, with blessings for Christians, and a witness to unbelievers.
When the order is reversed that which God has directed for Christians to offer to him, along with the blessings they receive from obedience can be jettisoned when a reductionistic principle of communicating the Gospel to unbelievers.
When content deliver is king, elements like corporate confession lapse because unbelievers can’t relate.
But then unbelievers never witness the elements of that God directed his people to offer to him, they never witness the blessings and benefits that God conveys to his people.
In making the Gospel central, the fullness of the Gospel as Christians are meant to experience it is impoverished on the grounds of inconvenience.

From Ray Van Neste:

A guided time of corporate confession has been a staple for Christian worship through the ages though it has fallen out of use in many churches today. A basic idea behind the practice is that in order to draw near to God we must confess our sins (Psalm 66:18; Hebrews 10:22; 1 John 1:9). This reminds us again of the holiness of God, our sinfulness and the pardon available in the gospel. Without this, we too easily tend to drift into worship taking God lightly. In such confession together we experience the gospel afresh, facing our sins and receiving the cleansing forgiveness which Jesus provides. This gracious pardon is the central reason driving our worship. Even if we bring many other sorrows and burdens with us, being reminded that our greatest problem–the wrath of God because of our sins–has been dealt with will enable us to praise God.
In addition, our forebears thought of our corporate worship as training us for daily life. Thus, singing gospel truths was not a “Sunday thing” but gave us songs to sing throughout the week in order to shape our hearts and minds. The proclamation of the Word gave us truth to contemplate and apply throughout the week as well as training us to study the Bible ourselves. And the prayers modeled for us the way to pray. Thus, corporate confession of sin helped shape us into a people marked by regularly acknowledging our sins and seeking forgiveness. I am grateful that our church follows this practice for many reasons, including the fact that it is shaping me and my children. That comment from my son was an early indication that God was at work showing him his need for forgiveness. About a month after the dinner table conversation, I had the privilege of baptizing him as he had come to trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of his sins.

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If It Stops Stinking, It’s Too Late (via Michael Milton)

Michael Milton relates an episode from his past life experience of receiving a safety warning while working on an oil field and draws a parallel application to spiritual health:

[The warning from his foreman]
“When you smell rotten-eggs at the well site, boys, you are smelling a poisonous, corrosive, flammable gas that is hydrogen sulfide. This hydrogen sulfide will kill you in no time flat … If you get to the point where you do not smell hydrogen sulfide and its noxious rotten-egg aroma, it’s already too late. So, listen and live: You smell it. You get out of there. ‘Cuz if you stop smelling it, we will have to go in and haul your ugly carcass out of there feet-first. And that will just mess up my day. Don’t be that guy!”

[Milton’s spiritual application]
…sin is like the rotten-egg smell of hydrogen sulfide. Whenever you smell it, you have to get out—and I mean NOW. If you linger after you have detected the odor of the poisonous gas of sin, you will quickly get to the point where you don’t smell it. That is a point of no return. Let us say it like this,
If sin becomes tolerable, judgment becomes inevitable.
And by the time you stop sensing that rotten-egg smell, it will be too late. You will be trapped by sin. You’ll be snared by the devil. Somebody just may have to go into the scene of the incident and pull you out feet-first.

Read the whole post here.


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The Ocean Between Remorse And Redemption (via Sarah Condon)

There’s a world of difference between feeling bad and being sorry.
A marker of that difference is whether the response to your wrongdoing is about managing the situation or seeking mercy.
Sarah Condon mentions the example of Judas:

This is where we learn the full meaning of what Judas has to teach us, one that’s less about betrayal and more about where we go with that betrayal, or you might say, how we handle sin. After all, a betrayal from one of the disciples should signal to us that our own betrayal of Jesus Christ is inevitable.
It is in how Judas handles his sin where the lesson is found.
Judas is seized with remorse. So he returns the bribe. But here’s the thing. He doesn’t find forgiveness. The chief priests send him away.
Remorse and redemption are an ocean apart. Judas has done what we all so often do. We try to fix the smallest part of our fallen selves. Because naming our sin and asking for mercy can require a humility we are unwilling to offer.
And so our sins follow us and haunt us, just as sin followed and haunted our brother Judas all the way to the grave.

Read the whole post at Mockingbird.


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Repentance – Hearing The Call To Return Home (via Trevin Wax)

The call to repent is a call to acknowledge I’m going the wrong way.
It’s not a punishment, it’s a gracious invitation to stop, turn and come home.
It’s a bittersweet familiar companion.
There’s a grief of heart that comes from the conviction of wrong, a grief of heart that is amplified when offence to God and hurt caused to others (whether intentional or unintentional) is acknowledged.
But ultimately there’s also a sense of relief and anticipation.
Home is a wonderful place.
It will be good to be there again.
I’m on my way.

Trevin Wax writes how repentance can never set against grace, because it is intrinsic to experiencing grace.

The call to repentance is the call to return home. It’s the call to be refreshed by our tears. It’s the call to be cleansed from all our guilty stains. We need the scalpel of the Spirit to do surgery on our diseased hearts, so that we can be restored to spiritual health.

Full article here.


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Faith And Repentance (via Sinclair Ferguson)

Sinclair Ferguson considers faith and repentance.
Because they can be experienced differently and distinctly we might think they are separate.
But that is unhelpful.
From Ferguson:

In grammatical terms, then, the words repent and believe both function as a synecdoche — the figure of speech in which a part is used for the whole. Thus, repentance implies faith and faith implies repentance. One cannot exist without the other.
But which comes first, logically? Is it repentance? Is it faith? Or does neither have an absolute priority?
+++
We cannot separate turning from sin in repentance and coming to Christ in faith. They describe the same person in the same action, but from different perspectives. In one instance (repentance), the person is viewed in relation to sin; in the other (faith), the person is viewed in relation to the Lord Jesus. But the individual who trusts in Christ simultaneously turns away from sin. In believing he repents and in repenting believes.

Read the whole post at Ligonier.


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I Am Ashamed – Sunday Songs

I’ve featured I Am Ashamed before, but not as a Sunday Song.
‘I Am Ashamed’ Lyrics by Don Carson; music by Sandra McCracken

1.
I used to nurture bitterness,
To count up every slight.
The world’s a moral wilderness,
And I have felt its blight.
Self-pity ruled, resentment reigned;
No one understood my pain.
I spiraled down in murky night,
Insisting that I had the right
To hate and hate again.
Refrain.
I am ashamed;
O, my Lord, forgive.
2.
But then the gospel taught me how
To contemplate the cross.
For there Christ died for me—and now
I’ve glimpsed the bitter cost.
He bore abuse, and blows, and hate;
He did not retaliate.
Triumphant malice sneered and tossed
Blind rage at him—he never lost
The love that conquers hate.
Refrain.
I am ashamed;
O, my Lord, forgive.
3.
To make no threat, to smile, forgive,
To love—and not because I must,
For Jesus showed me how to live
And trust the One who’s just;
To suffer wrong and feel the pain,
Certain that the loss is gain—
O God, I want so much to trust,
To follow Jesus on the cross,
To love and love again.

Lyrics by Don Carson; music by Sandra McCracken
Copyright 2016 DRINK YOUR TEA MUSIC (ASCAP), Admin. by Music Services


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Westminster Confession Of Faith – Lord’s Day 24

Westminster Confession Of Faith – Lord’s Day 24

Chapter 15 – Of Repentance Unto Life (Cont.) (Paragraphs 4-6)

IV. As there is no sin so small but it deserves damnation; so there is no sin so great that it can bring damnation upon those who truly repent.
V. Men ought not to content themselves with a general repentance, but it is every man’s duty to endeavour to repent of his particular sins, particularly.
VI. As every man is bound to make private confession of his sins to God, praying for the pardon thereof, upon which, and the forsaking of them, he shall find mercy: so he that scandalises his brother, or the Church of Christ, ought to be willing, by a private or public confession and sorrow for his sin, to declare his repentance to those that are offended; who are thereupon to be reconciled to him, and in love to receive him.