“For every one look you take at your sin, take ten looks at Jesus.”
Robert Murray M’Cheyne spoke these words to his congregation
in Scotland in the early 1800s.
We do well to heed M’Cheyne’s counsel
as we regularly confess our sins to the Lord
and experience anew the assurance of forgiveness.
The regular discipline of confession (1 John 1:9)
enables us to grasp more fully
the beauty and wonder of grace
as we are made continually aware of the depth
of our need of the Gospel.
We often include a written prayer of confession in our worship service
as a tool to facilitate an honest and thorough confession
of our personal sins to the Lord.
Our time of confession should never lead to despair,
but always to joy, since our God
is one who pardons iniquity, delights in mercy,
and casts our sins into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:18-19).
One of the high moments of a worship service
occurs when we hear the words of the assurance of our pardon:
“If your faith is in Jesus Christ,
then I can assure you, based on the sure promise of the Word,
that your sins are forgiven.”
Oh what a blessing it is to know
that we are completely forgiven, totally accepted,
and deeply loved by our Lord!
One of our main purposes of gathering corporately for worship is to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. We aspire to do this throughout our whole worship service by cultivating in all who gather three things:
- A dawning realization of the greatness of your God,
- A growing awareness of your own sinfulness
- But also a fresh and continual discovery of the pardoning grace of God revealed in the cross of Jesus Christ (This last phrase is adapted from Jack Miller and his book Outgrowing the Ingrown Church.)
This is why we regularly confess our sins corporately and personally to the Lord. After our time of personal confession, we hear one of our pastors speak to us God’s assurance of pardon from the Scriptures. How can we be so bold to assure people of God’s forgiveness? God’s Word contains countless promises where He assures His people of His forgiveness.
One of the high moments of our worship service occurs when we hear right after the assurance of pardon: “…if your faith is in Jesus Christ this morning, then I assure you, based on the sure promise of the Word, that your sins are forgiven….”
Oh what a blessing to know that you are completely forgiven, totally accepted and profoundly loved by our Lord! Why not reflect on the wonderful and assuring promise of the prophet Micah: “Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity… who delights in mercy… You will subdue our iniquities; and cast all our sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:18-19)?
Scripture suffuses every part of our worship services.
- We call one another to our awesome task of worshipping God with Scripture.
- We sing God’s praise with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs in order to make God’s Word memorable and vivid.
- The Spirit uses God’s Word to convict us of sin and to show us our fresh need of His forgiveness and grace.
- We use the precious promises of God’s Word to assure us of His pardon.
- We give attention to reading His sacred Scriptures because faith comes by hearing the Word of God.
- We preach His Word because, through it, God chooses to save and cause some to be spiritually reborn (1 Corinthians 1:21, 1 Peter 1:25).
- Also, His Word equips us to live for Christ and to make an impact His kingdom during the perilous times in which we live (2 Timothy 3).
- Lastly, God sends us out with His blessing to serve a needy world. This benediction comes from His Word!
Why do we make such a big deal about the Word saturating all of our worship? Because… “All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the Word of the Lord remains forever” (1 Peter 1:24).
Through the eternal, profitable, inerrant, and living Word of God, we hear and receive “the good news” by which we experience eternal salvation. Therefore, it is imperative that we carefully prepare our hearts to give our undivided attention to His Word when we gather with God’s people to worship Him!