It was a little stunning. I had to allow time for the download to come. There is a place for a Christian to repent of known sins. The faithful and just God will then CLEANSE us from all unrighteousness. IF we confess our known sin.
Yet there are religious things we do. Confessing our sin.. that we don't know about. I was taught this as a young person and accepted that it was appropriate for me to sort of do a general sin of omission and unknown commission repentance. Then I had to receive some kind of absolution.
In churches next Sunday Christians of all stripes will confess their sins in a rote confession from a book, bulletin or screen. It's not evil.. but if repentance at it's core means to turn around, then why do we confess? If we are a Christian and being as obedient as we know to be, are we not on the track? Headed in the right direction? What is all this confession about?
If you are a saved follower of Jesus and you sin.. has it been paid for? Was it paid for at the cross, or do we confess it to get it paid for? You see the issue. Confession is a work.. I might even say a dead work.
Now to be fair there is a place for confession when we have something that needs to be dealt with. Confessing our sins to one another. I have done it.. so have you. It's cathartic. Its good. Yet.. your sins are no more nor less forgiven as a result of the act. UNLESS We decide to have them retained. You can be in open rebellion.
The same in communion. I'm a big communion fan, but it's not about the forgiveness of Sin.. it's ... COMMUNION. Joining together and communing with the Lord. When I commune with a friend we share a meal, we talk, we enjoy each other, we give and take, we find peace in fellowship. How much more does Jesus engage us thus over the communion table. We touch him, we are in His presence at the communion altar. It's a good place, but it's much less about sin and forgiveness than it's presented as.
Then there is what we do to usher those into the Kingdom who are afar off. The ALTAR CALL. Here's where repentance and renouncing our past rebellion comes in. There may be a fresh start, a new creation taking place when we truly repent. Yet, we ask people to raise their hand (I see that hand), come forward, recite a rote prayer, sign a card and assume they have just bought a ticket to heaven. Nope. They took a step. One that will be lifelong. I'm not critical, I have done it. Maybe it's time to rethink the whole works orientation we have in salvation. It's either a gift or it's earned. One is wrong.
Again it's a function of works. IF I do this, God does that. Like, there is no salvation without jumping thru the hoops.. doing the works. Dead Works.
Don't get me wrong there is a place for entering into our salvation.. in visible ways. Yet that too can become dead works. I remember a guy who's gone now who used to ask believers to say JESUS CHRIST IS LORD to assure them a place in heaven. He would do it en mass. And people did. His source code for this was
So I want you to know that no one speaking by the Spirit of God will curse Jesus, and no one can say Jesus is Lord, except by the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:3
I'm sure he meant well.. I'm sure he thought people would say it and find comfort. Yet.. Yup... WORKS.
Then there is prayer. Prayer of the saints.. Prayer that is efficacious. Prayer that we cause to happen by rote. The prayer we all learn is the Lord's Prayer. Teach us to pray. Instead of it being a road map for effective prayer, it has become pretty much the only prayer many people pray. It's not bad.. it's just not what Jesus had in mind. There is great theology in the prayer. Once again we ask God to forgive.. but there's a hook. AS I forgive. We are forgiven. That's our natural state as a Christian. What is unnatural is to ask again and again. In the rosary that may Catholics pray, they say the "Our Father" over and over again.
How many times do we have to ask for forgiveness?
It's works. For some it is dead works. We must make our Faith in the TRUE and LIVING GOD to be real, rich and ready to grow. There is a greater dimension.
One last religious sacred cow needing tipping is the whole idea of works based giving. IF I give ten buck's it will become a hundred, if I give a thousand it will become ten thousand. Seed giving. I know the verses, I understand that generosity opens window's of heaven. It's not the giving that's the issue, it's the heart of the giver that is in question. How do we do better at giving from our heart of generosity reflecting the righteousness of God alive in our spirit. Instead we have churches posting lists of people who don't tithe. If that isn't religious dead works, I don't know what it.
It should be illegal for a senior leader to have a clue as to what anyone in the congregation ever gives. Only one person should know and that should be at a privileged information level. When a senior leader begins to evaluate people based on giving... they are missing the point.
Let's be less religious about so many things and allow the Spirit of God to move us from whatever darkness we have in Repentance, Communion, Confession, Prayer, Ministry and Giving. It's his plan. Let's do it.