Having confessed our sins is there a way to know that we are forgiven? The assurance of forgiveness comes from the pronouncement of the minister: “Your sins are forgiven.” If the confession of sin makes low-church evangelicals uncomfortable, the assurance of pardon makes them downright concerned. Can the minister really pardon sins? That is the real question we need to take up. The answer is both yes and no. The minister inherently lacks the ability to pardon sin. That is a prerogative of God alone because of the work of Christ applied to the believer. Therefore, the answer is no. Viewed differently, however, the answer is yes. God has entrusted the keys of the kingdom to the church so that “whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and … Read More »
An element of traditional worship has curiously dropped out of much Protestant worship. I am speaking of the confession of sin. After my conversion I never attended a church service wherein the congregation confessed their sins during worship until coming to New Life. For many, the confession of sin smacks of sacerdotalism, at best, and Roman Catholicism, at worst. Therefore, to avoid all things sacerdotal the confession of sin has been deleted from many liturgies. What is so striking about this, however, is that Scripture is replete with examples of God’s people confessing their sin and seeking his mercy. One thinks of the Psalms and hears the Psalmist over and over again crying out for God’s mercy and confessing his sins (cf. Ps. 32; 51; 130). We are reminded of Daniel’s prayer (Dan. … Read More »
Recently I had an interesting and enlightening experience. One of our high school students was given the opportunity to receive extra credit for a class if she would attend an Ash Wednesday service. So I took Trinity along and we joined her family in attendance at a local Episcopal Church. You might be thinking my interesting experience related to the ashes placed on our foreheads. Nope. What was interesting was the amount of Scripture we were exposed to. As far as I can tell this was a liberal Episcopal Church (is there any other kind? There are a few ones still). And yet, in spite of that, we heard read and read responsively together almost five entire chapters of Scripture (Ps. 51; 103; Joel 2; Matt. 6; 2 Cor. 5).
At one level … Read More »
These are not good days for worship in evangelical and mainline churches. While the Roman Catholics, Lutherans, and high-church Episcopalians/Anglicans have for the most part stuck with their traditions, evangelical and mainline churches have opted for a “newer” and “fresher” approach. There seems to be no end to their “creativity.” I have been awestruck by what I have seen taking place in evangelical and mainline churches during worship. In one worship service I viewed online a man led the congregation in song while two women painted him!
In a church in our area the Forth of July service has actual fireworks in the sanctuary during worship!
IOur tradition has always insisted that we must worship in a way that is acceptable to God (Heb. 12:28)
There is of course the ubiquitous drama “teams.” I have seen syncopated dance “teams”, … Read More »