Lord's Day Liturgy

Raising a Flag

Paul told Timothy:

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (1 Timothy 6:12 ESV)

This “good confession” wasn’t when Timothy admitted his guilt, but it isn’t disconnected from owning up to his sin either. “Confession” is ὁμολογία, related to the verb in 1 John 1:9 about confessing sin. While it could be, and often is, broken down into parts, homo = same and logo = word/logic so something like “be of the same mind,” it is more positive. A confession is perhaps less an admission and more a profession, it’s a statement of allegiance. It’s less getting something off one’s chest and more raising a flag.

Both parts belong with worship. Both belong with the gospel. For twelve years (to the day tomorrow) we’ve been making this confession.

When John Newton (pastor in the late 18th century, who wrote “Amazing Grace”) was dying, a friend visited him, and some of Newton’s last words were:

“My memory is nearly gone; but I remember two things: that I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Saviour.” (quoted in Wise Counsel: John Newton’s Letters to John Ryland Jr., 401.)

When we confess our sins to Christ and believe that our sins are atoned for and forgiven by Christ, we are making both confessions. We are denying any allegiance to sin and declaring allegiance to Jesus. Turning our back toward sin we tune our hearts to sing of His salvation.

A Shot of Encouragement

Faint and Feeble

John Newton on how to be humble when handling the treasures of Scripture:

To be enabled to form a clear, consistent, and comprehensive judgment of the truths revealed in the Scripture, is a great privilege; but they who possess it are exposed to the temptation of thinking too highly of themselves, and too meanly of others, especially of those who not only refuse to adopt their sentiments, but venture to oppose them. We see few controversial writings, however excellent in other respects, but are tinctured with this spirit of self-superiority . . .

I know nothing, as a means, more likely to correct this evil, than a serious consideration of the amazing difference between our acquired judgment, and our actual experience; or, in other words, how little influence our knowledge and judgment have upon our own conduct. . . .

[I]f we estimate our knowledge by its effects, and value it no farther than it is experimental and operative (which is the proper standard whereby to try it), we shall find it so faint and feeble as hardly to deserve the name.

Works of John Newton, Vol 1, 245-246

A Shot of Encouragement

Not What I Once Was

I am not what I ought to be–ah, how imperfect and deficient! I am not what I wish to be–I abhor what is evil, and I would cleave to what is good! I am not what I hope to be–soon, soon shall I put off mortality, and with mortality all sin and imperfection. Yet, though I am not what I ought to be, nor what I wish to be, nor what I hope to be, I can truly say, I am not what I once was; a slave to sin and Satan; and I can heartily join with the apostle, and acknowledge, “By the grace of God I am what I am.”

—Newton as quoted in The Christian Pioneer (1856), edited by Joseph Foulkes Winks, 84

I appreciate Newton’s quote as I’ve taken to titling my journal entries as a “changelog.” “Journal” seemed unimaginative. I liked Edwards’ Miscellanies, but those entries are broad in type and besides, the name’s taken. A changelog is “a log or record of changes made to a project, such as a website or software project, usually including such records as bug fixes, new features, etc.” I’m a project of a different kind.

You might also say, He’s still working on me.

Disclosure: My mom had my sister and I sing this song in nursing homes when we were kids. Also, that’s not my mom in the video.