Tag: <span>confession</span>

I’ve been thinking a lot about common grace the last couple months. Common grace includes undeserved good gifts from God to those who won’t worship Him. He makes the sun and rain fall on the unjust (Matthew 5:45), and gives them spouses and kids (Psalm 17:14) and paychecks and a glorious variety of imperial IPAs. He also gifts them with a level of restraint on their own sin, at least to some degree and for some time.

While looking around at what appears to be a decreasing amount of common grace in our culture, at least in terms of morals and values and reason/logic, I’ve wondered if we as Christians should pray that God would give more common grace? Or should we pray for redeeming grace, for saving grace, that deals with their greatest need, not just for what makes a stable society?

Why not both? Only a rocks-for-brains hyper-Calvinist wouldn’t pray for spiritual revival. Of course we pray for God to grant repentance and faith in His Son. But we are also instructed to pray “what we may lead a peaceful and quiet life” (1 Timothy 2:2). The prayers are actually for sake of “kings and all who are in high positions,” that they wouldn’t be stupid, capricious, little bossy-pants waiting to blow.

Our country’s common grace has been quite chunky in our short history, bringing blessing to many who weren’t believing in Jesus. And we can pray for more as it makes men more accountable to God. Asking for common grace for our neighbors isn’t asking for their comfortable ride to eternal hell, it’s remembering that “God’s kindness is meant to lead…to repentance” (Romans 2:4).

So Christians always have a word for unbelievers. Is your life heavy with judgment? See God’s holiness and repent from your transgressions. Is your life filled with good? See God’s generosity and repent from your ingratitude.

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Solomon once wrote that in much wisdom there is much vexation. The more you know, the more you know what could be better, what has been lost, and how difficult it is to hold on to what is good.

You are a flock that has much knowledge. You have been given much, taught much, grown much. I myself have said before that, for my part, I would love to make you the right sort of discontent with less. May your expectations for grace and blessing never diminish.

But, this does put us in a higher level test; we’re in corona graduate school. We are not, for the most part, wondering whether to confess or deny that Jesus is Lord. We’re at the point of seeing how that confession defines our science and politics and businesses and neighbor relations and submission to rulers who aren’t submitting to constitutional laws.

You are among people who read the Constitution, like, the actual words and stuff. You are among people who have their eyes open, who have maturity to make their own decisions rather than be told by the National Guard to stay home. You know that freedom involves risk, that petty rules increase the ineffectiveness of the rules, and that rulers rarely go back to Civics after driving the Lexus of power.

So, Christians, you must be ruthless in mortifying your own will. You must not tolerate the anger of man in yourself. You must resist the worldliness of anxious rage, of woke self-righteousness, of grievances par excellence.

We cannot be the fellowship of (better informed) grievances, the FoBIG, even though it is grace that enables us to care how bad it is. I am exhorting you to fellowship in grace. Expose lies and oppression because you know that Jesus died for your lies and hurtful motives.

It’s one thing to be criticized for being a bunch of complainers it’s another thing if we’re not confessing our sin to Christ.

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It’s really quite something to watch what is happening around us. Even though we are mostly a hard-working people who keep our heads down, it is more challenging to live quiet and peaceful lives when our rulers and neighbors flex their power. A governor can attempt to enforce his vision of what’s good for us and our neighbors can attempt to guilt us into sharing their fears.

This cultural divide is as old as the Garden of Eden, but there are seasons when we’re not forced to stare it in the Facebook. The divide in our nation and our state is polarizing, and whether or not this is more of a grace to us or more a removal of grace from us remains to be seen.

It could be both. I think that when God sends particular and redeeming grace, the grace which saves unrighteous men from slavery to sin and brings forgiveness and freedom, He often sends with it an increase in common grace. Common grace comes to us in good things given by God to all men, not just repentant or thankful men. Common grace increases among a people where there is much particular grace at work because practicing the Golden Rule becomes a benefit overall.

What is certainly visible among us is a decline in common grace at least in terms of men who determine not to know what is natural and what is perverse. The complexities of the coronavirus response has brought this into relief, and it is not pretty. Our appeals to shared humanity and morals and life is less appealing.

But, Christians, do not lose heart. “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). There is no liar that cannot have his lies exposed and be conquered by the truth of Christ. There is no oppressor that cannot be delivered from his sinful abuse of authority by the gospel. There is no rebel that cannot be redeemed and reconciled to his Maker. There is no blind man that cannot be made to see. There is no dead man too dead to be born again.

Let us proclaim the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. He dispels illogic and deceit and conspiracies and incompetence. Link wars will not take away hearts of stone, but we know the God who gives hearts of flesh. We need more than new political representatives raised up, we need God’s grace that delivers men from His wrath.

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Our governor has been very busy. There are a lot of unemployment claims to answer, and apparently a lot of hackers to track down who’ve worked the governor’s system. He’s also busy creating many rules and conditions for many phases of reopening and dealing with applications for variances that he has concocted. I don’t know how he does it, but somehow he still finds time to be interviewed regularly by major cable news media.

He found time to talk with a socialist group a while ago, and it was great to see how much they have in common. Our governor was especially excited about the coronavirus, not only because of it’s ability to be traced by science and data, but because of the opportunities that the coronavirus is giving us a wonderful opportunity to fix the economy so that we’ll also be able to fix climate change.

“we should not be intimidated when people say, ‘Oh, you can’t use this COVID crisis, you know, to peddle a solution to climate change.’ No. We have to recognize the necessity of this moment that this will allow us to rebuild our economy and jump-start it.”

I mean, wow, we really ought to be more thankful.

To be clear, I am being snide, mostly. But I’ve said before, and I still believe it, that this is a perfect opportunity, not just for socialists, but for the saints on earth. There is a climate that needs to be changed, it just happens to be a cultural climate. The climate that needs to be changed is deeper than the temperature on the surface, but things are heating up. In order to change the cultural climate, saints have to act like saints, not like ostriches, burying our heads, or like chickens, running around laying eggs.

Our message for the governor is not, “How dare you!” Our message is, “Repent, and be baptized in the name of Jesus.” If we want to see a climate of repentance, we must show the way.

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Here is a reminder that there is something called truth, that there is something called reality, and that truth is that which corresponds to reality.

That doesn’t mean that we always know the truth; men lie, because they are sons of the father of lies. Lies are often tasty, like smooth wine when the light dances on the surface, whether they are cultural lies or personal lies. Even more, our brains only have so much capacity, and there is a cosmic ton of truth, and your truck only carries so much.

But whether or not anyone knows it or says it, there is true truth.

As Christians we could be classified as believing in representational truth, that is, a statement is true when it represents the state of reality accurately. But there are many who cannot make such a direct statement. They believe that truth, if it exists, is instrumental, not representative. So for them a statement is true when it works. If it’s not useful then it is “false.” It’s not just that truth is relative or subjective; there are really right and wrong, but those categories can be decided, they can be redefined, they are not received as revelation.

People are messing with words, and calling opinions “news” because news exists for something, not as something.

“The real darkening of sin is found…in our having lost the gift to comprehend the true context, the proper coherence, the systematic unity of all things.” (Abraham Kuyper, “Common Grace in Science”)

God’s Word is living and abiding, but also imperishable. It remains forever. It is true. Scoffers are like chaff that the social media feeds blow away. They need to repent in order to come to the knowledge of truth. Delight yourself with deep roots in reality. Know, and stand in the truth.

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Do you know what is convenient? Always being right. It’s a heavy burden to always be right because there is always someone who is wrong. Christians are some of the best at being right unhelpfully.

In case you haven’t read the news recently, we may or may not be in a pandemic with a virus that may or may not have been man made, that may or may not have been intentionally mishandled or released, that may or may not have become a cover for governmental overreach, that may or may not lead to social upheaval, that may or may not cause unrecoverable economic catastrophe, that may or may not be in order to elect a man with dementia as the obvious choice for president.

Because we live in a country that allows, and promotes, idiocy, Americans are some of the best bull-heads in the world. Social media only amplifies noise, and it’s hard to find any signal.

In special seasons, like this one, there are more conspiracy theories in the air than pollen, and “thankfully” there are a bunch of Christians telling other Christians to stop slandering assumed conspirators. One argument I read for why Christians are so gullible to conspiracy theories is is that we are so proud, we like to feel that super smart and powerful people put a lot of energy into duping us. Aren’t we great?

But don’t be naive, or look at everything through tin-foil glasses. Where two or three are gathered together in this Genesis 3 world, watch your wallet. You’d think that Christians, who know the doctrine of the depravity of man, who know their own capacity for sin, would be better at seeing the systemic effects of sin where they really are…among all the liars in high places.

For that matter, our country’s Constitution was written in anticipation of government conspiracies against the citizens. The three branches of government exist to stand against the conspiracies of the other two. Checks and balances assume the high likelihood of conspirators across the table.

So remember to be wise. Proverbs 18 applies; don’t make decisions without evidence (verse 13), and don’t listen only to the first side, or the side you like (verse 18). And don’t be bullied by other people, even Christians, telling you not to ask questions. And above all, confess your sin. But for the grace of God, we would all be so stupid.

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Everywhere you look people are hungry. A big problem, though, is that the mob is not just looking for food in the wrong place, they are trying to get full by sticking their finger down their throat over the toilet (or, it’s not even that modest).

The mob, confessing the sins of their great-grandfathers and the sins of their corporate neighbors and the sins of stone statues, have hearts that are empty because they are full of hate and anger and envy. Their actual sins are devouring them, it is self-consumption, and as one of our cultural prophets said, they can’t get no satisfaction. Just look at the misery.

As Christians we see not only that their standards are wrong, but also that purging isn’t tasty. Our confession of sin isn’t the feast, it readies us for it.

Put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. (1 Peter 2:1-3)

Our repentance is not the food, our repentance turns us toward the food. Confession of sin is good, but it is good like washing the gunk off of day old dishes to receive the feast.

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Kneeling is back in the news. I talked about it during a confession exhortation a few years ago when a NFL quarterback was taking a knee during the playing of the National Anthem in order to protest his concern of targeted violence against black people by the police, and the narrative identifies white police as the particular offenders.

Kneeling is back in the news in a couple ways at least. Another quarterback, who is white, was asked what he thought about his black teammates kneeling during the Anthem, he said he didn’t think that showed proper respect for those who’ve fought to give us freedom in our country, and some of his teammates, along with players on other teams and many in the sports media, piled this quarterback into social shame. Within 24 hours the white quarterback confessed his ignorance and his sorrow that he had hurt his teammates feelings.

Many of the protests over the last couple weeks, and I’m thinking of the peaceful moments, have included kneeling of black and white people in a supposed show of solidarity.

But in some places, the kneeling has turned into a show of craven servility. I’ve seen numerous video clips of white men and women kneeling down, not just with, but before black people, in order to “confess” their white privilege and show their remorse.

“The fear of man takes a knee, but whoever trusts the LORD is safe” (modified Proverbs 29:25).

Beloved, you need to know who to and when to kneel. Kneeling (or not) can be a powerful statement. But there is no sin of being red, brown, yellow, black, or white. There is no sin that your parents or your grandparents are a particular color. But there is sin. And there is a reason to bow before our Creator, our God, our Lord.

Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!
(Psalm 95:6 ESV)

When we confess our sin as a church, we invite believers to kneel. Don’t fear men, fear the Lord.

“at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth” (Philippians 2:10 ESV).

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It is a sin to repent of the wrong sin.

There are many sins, God hates them all, Jesus died to save men from them all, and if we got serious, we’d probably find more that we could confess. But even though confession is mostly like trying to hit the broad side of a barn with a rock from three feet away, meaning that you’d think we could try out confession a lot of sins before we missed the mark, some repentance requires repentance.

If you confess as sin something you have not done, you have sinned by lying. If you confess as sin something God hasn’t called sin, you lie about Him and His standard. If you confess as sin something someone else has done, you have sinned by not only lying, but by being a judge.

Men sin. The only reason God hasn’t destroyed our world with another flood is because He promised He wouldn’t. We are drowning in sin as a nation, and of course there is a lot to confess.

Even those who aren’t Christians have some pang of guilt they wish to be rid of. In these days, there is a sin that is popular to confess, and many who are guilty of almost anything else are grabbing fistfuls of rocks to throw, just not at the barn.

Consider these observations from C.S. Lewis in his article, “The Dangers of National Repentance”:

men fail so often to repent their real sins that the occasional repentance of an imaginary sin might appear almost desirable.

And then the kicker:

The first and fatal charm of national repentance is, therefore, the encouragement it gives us to turn from the bitter task of repenting our own sins to the congenial one of bewailing–but, first, of denouncing–the conduct of others.

Because we are connected, as families, as a church body, and even as citizens of this nation, we can confess corporate sins. But we must not confess the ones that indulge our passions rather than kill them.

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The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead does not exempt us from confessing our sins, the resurrection of Christ keeps our confessing of sins from being futile.

Without the truths of Easter maybe the most pitiable part of our Lord’s Day liturgy would be the assurance of pardon. A call to worship could still come from any bigger-than-man god. Such a god could also demand our prayers and our obedience to whatever instructions given. Gods like sacrifices, and if they can be pleased they may give support to the worshippers. But only one God gives forgiveness, and there is no forgiveness without death, and there is no complete forgiveness without resurrection from death.

“If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:14). “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17). “If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Corinthians 15:19).

But by the resurrection of Jesus we know that He is God (Romans 1:4). Easter declared Him so. By the resurrection of Jesus we are born again into a living hope (1 Peter 1:3). It is of first importance, not only that Christ died for our sins and that He was buried, but also that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

The cross by itself does not prove forgiveness, the cross shows the offensiveness and cost of our sins. The empty tomb proves that God accepted Christ’s sacrifice and that He accepts us in Christ.

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