Rejoicing Amidst Great Loss

habakuk

“17 Though the fig tree does not bud*
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.

19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights”.

(Habakkuk 3:17-19)

What brings people joy? Yesterday, I went fishing and I can tell you it brought me a great deal of joy to catch a fish.

If you were to go out on the streets and ask people ‘what makes you happy?’ I think most of them will say, their bank balance or freedom or good health or relationships gives them the most joy.

Now suppose if someone was to take these things from them, will they continue to be happy or joyful? Probably not. Take their money away, they will be sad, take their health away, they will be sad and so on. This is the way we human beings think.

But our passage shows us another way to think about happiness and joy. God’s word says that even when everything worldly is taken from us, we can still rejoice in God (v17-18) Even when our bank balances are in minus, our freedom is in captivity, our good health is sick, and our relationships are taken from us, still we can rejoice in God.

When this passage was written, God’s people were going through wars and famines, disease, and lack of food, it was a very down time. But the prophet still can say that ‘I will be joyful in God my Savior’

Why is that? How is that possible? How can we rejoice in the midst of loss of freedom, loss of good health and loss of relationships? Our passage tells us the reason, it says, ‘the Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights’. So why can we rejoice even if everything is pear shaped? Why can we rejoice even if everything is pear shaped in our lives. The answer is that the sovereign Lord is our strength. He never leaves or forsakes us. While people may leave us and abandon us, the Lord never leaves by our side. We may lose our health, wealth and freedom, yet the Lord is still with us. He is our strength  and on this unshakeable strength, we can be joyful.


We can be joyful in the fact that  if we trust in Jesus, we are held firmly in the hands of God and nothing can shake us. Later in the Bible we read that those who believe in Jesus have eternal life. Jesus died and rose again and he has gone before us to prepare a place for us. That place is full of joy. We can be joyful because we’ve this beautiful hope that this life is not the end, the Lord will raise us up. Because of this hope, we like the prophet can say ‘The sovereign Lord is our strength’.

How Do We Respond to the NY Late Term Abortion Legislation?

abortion

Yesterday was a very sad day as the NY State Senate festively applauded over the passing of the barbaric bill that protects and cuddles late-term abortions. Now a person can get an abortion within twenty-four weeks. Now, the state allows that a child can be brutally murdered even if he is twenty-four weeks old by medical practitioners in the safest place on earth–mother’s womb.

When I first heard about the news, I really felt crushed. I asked myself, why are they doing this? Can’t they see that a child inside the womb is a human being? Can’t they see that murdering any human being is a grave sin against God (Genesis 1:27)? How should we as Christians respond to this evil?

I think there are four things we must keep in mind as we respond to the legalisation of late-term abortions:

1) We Must Mourn Over Our Society

When Jesus beheld Jerusalem and its sin, he wept over it (Luke 19:41-44). Christ himself shed heartbreaking tears because Jerusalem had not recognised him and they turned away from God’s law. Also, prophet Jeremiah bitterly cries over the evil in land. You can feel his tears, ‘my anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain! Oh the walls of my heart! My heart is beating wildly’ (Jeremiah 4:19).

Like them, we must mourn over the sin of our society. With Jeremiah, we should wail ‘my anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain!’ We Christians have the Spirit of God who cries out against all sin. So we must join with the Spirit by mourning over the death warrant of little ones.

2) We Must Resist

In the ancient Roman society, It was a common practice to throw unwanted newborn babies in the streets. These children were often get torn apart by wild animals or die of starvation. When Christianity spread in the Roman world, Christians took these unwanted little ones into their homes and raised them as one of their own children. This is the way Christians have resisted. Resistance with love and mercy.

In our context, this means that doing everything we can (non-violently) to save the lives of little ones in the womb. We can lobby against these laws in public sphere whilst supporting young mums both spiritually and financially so that they won’t think it necessary to abort. We can speak about it from the pulpits, in the homes, in streets with gentleness of Christ. We must use our ever democratic right to persuade people against this great evil. We must be open to adopt some of the unwanted babies.

3) We Must Pray

Christians know that the world we live is not just material but also spiritual. The Bible says “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). In other words, we are fighting against demonic forces that are seeking to harm people who are created in God’s image.

If our battle is against spiritual forces, we can’t merely fight with material resistance. In war no one uses landmines to fight against fighter jets. No matter how many tanks you have, if you don’t have air-power to fight against fighter jets. Tanks and landmines are useless in air-battle. Similarly, we cannot fight spiritual fight without employing spiritual artillery. So it’s essential to pour our hearts to God in prayer.

We must pray for our governments that they will outlaw this evil practice, for parents who are thinking of abortion that they’d find enough support that they’d refrain from this, and for medical practitioners that they’d feel the pain of these little ones in their consciences. Prayer is a strong weapon against our enemies.

4) We Must Long For the Judgement To Come

Judgement day was the great hope of early Christians. They could endure everything because they knew that Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father and that nothing hides from his eyes. Paul says in one of his discourses, ‘For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed’ (Acts 17:31). That is to say that God will one day judge the whole world. Christians will not fall under judgement because of the blood of Christ but everyone else will see Christ as the just judge.

If there is no final judgement, there’s no punishment or reward for anything. Thus, we can do whatever we please in this life. But the Bible clearly says that there will be final day of judgement and therefore, these little children who are being slaughtered because of NY legislation will see justice. God shows no favouritism. Regardless of who you are, if you have supported this cruel regime, Christ will execute his judgement against you. Even now, the slain little ones cry out, ‘“How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge those who live on the earth and avenge our blood?” And we can join their lament and long for God’s judgement to come.

We can respond to this evil by mourning, resisting, praying and longing.

3 Christian Books Everyone Should Read At Least Once In Their Lives

Christain books

God speaks to us through his Word, the Bible. No book, no manuscript, no meditation technique can take the place of God’s word. Without it, we starve ourselves.

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). In other words, nothing can replace the ‘God-breathed’ book. All human wisdom will fall short!

That said, reading books written by Spirit-filled and Bible-saturated people can be invaluable in our walk with God.

Hear these encouraging words from Spurgeon, “The apostle says to Timothy, and so he says to every preacher, “Give attendance to reading.” The one who never reads will never be read. He who never quotes will never be quoted. He who will not use the thoughts of other men’s brains proves that he has no brains of his own.” That is to say, reading is essential for our mind and soul.

So having outlined the importance of reading. Here’s my top 3 books that I think every Christian ought to slowly read and digest:

1. Desiring God by John Piper

Are Christians meant to be happy? Are we meant to seek joy? Are we to live for pleasure? Why did God create us? This book answers these important questions. I’ve been blessed again and again by slowly reading this book. In it, Piper tells us the secret of Christian life: joy & pleasure in God.

I know of no other book that helps us plunge into the depths of Biblical wisdom with joy. God has used this book as means of Christian maturity in the lives of many Christians (including me).

2. The Cross of Christ by John Stott

We’ve heard again and again, ‘Jesus died for you!’. But what does it actually mean? How is Jesus death relevant to me? Why should I care? If you are wondering about these questions, pick up this book!

Stott opens God’s word for us and clearly explains what Christs’ sacrifice actually means. This will open your eyes to the beauty and the depths of Christ sacrifice.

3. The Valley of Vision by Arthur Bennett

Do you struggle with your prayer life? Do you feel that sometimes you don’t have any words to speak? If answer to any of these questions is yes, get hold of this book! The Valley of Vision is the collection of puritan prayers that can stir your affections and breathe warmth into your cold heart. In spiritually dry seasons, I use these prayers to awaken my heart.

These three books have been blessing in my life. So, I commend it to you. Have you benefited from these or other Christian books? Please comment on this post and let me know!

‘The Maker of Man Was Made Man’

Augustine

Christmas, What art thou?

Christmas is a festive season of celebration. Both Christians and non-Christians celebrate this feast with much joy. For some it’s the beginning of the holiday season that often brings family and friends together along with gifts. For others, it’s the season when we uncontrollably indulge in extravagant lunches and dinners (me…).

I think it’s true to say that in our theologically thin times, we find ourselves surrounded by ever-evolving meanings of Christmas. Some defensive Christians have made Christmas all about ‘keeping Christ in Christmas’ while others have ‘de-sacralized’ this feast by making it an annual pilgrimage to the temple of capitalism.

I often turn to the Church fathers in these hazy and confused times when having clarity has become a sin. They are my friends from whom I glean mature wisdom.

Augustine’s response

Here’s what one of my best friends, Augustine, wrote about Christmas and it’s beauty.

christ the incarnate word taking flesh

Firstly, Augustine introduces us to the baby in the manger. Unlike modern portraits, the helpless baby is never severed from his divinity.

Augustine writes, “The Word of the Father, through which time was made, became flesh and made his birthday in time, and willed a single day for his human birth, he without whose divine permission no day rolls round. With the Father he precedes all the spaces of ages; born this day of a mother, he inserted himself into the courses of the years. The maker of man was made man so that the ruler of the stars might suck at breasts, bread might hunger, the fountain might thirst, light might sleep, the way might be wearied by a journey, truth might be accused by false witnesses, the judge of the living and the dead might be judged by a mortal judge, justice might be condemned by the unjust, discipline might be beaten with whips, the cluster of grapes might be crowned with thorns, the foundation might be hung from a tree, strength might be weakened, health might be wounded, life might die”.

How beautiful is the paradox of Christmas! To think that the very Creator through whom all flesh was made would take on flesh. The child in the manger is no ordinary child. He is fully God and fully man.

christ as our crucified saviour

Secondly, Augustine never separates Christmas from Good Friday. The doctor of the church says, ‘He suffered these and like indignities for us so that he might free the unworthy. He who did no evil suffered such great evils for our sakes, while we who deserved nothing good through him have received such great goods. For the sake of all this, he who was the Son of God before all the ages, without a beginning of days, deigned to be a son of man in the last days, and the One who was born, not made, of the Father was made in the mother whom he had made, so that he might exist here and now, made from the mother, from the woman who except for him would never ever herself have been able to exist.”

The bread of life became hungry to feed us starving-hungry people with life. The second member of the Holy trinity became man to redeem and save people. He was not merely a helpless baby but a conquering Lord who came with a mission and he fearlessly accomplished it.

We are just scratching the surface of the Church Father’s rich theology.

Nonetheless, Augustine gives us the true meaning of Christmas. Unlike many modern carols that only ever see Christ as a baby in a manger, Augustine tells us that the very God left his throne in glory to become man so that he could save us in this time of Christmas.


All quotes are from Sermon 191, 1; PL 38, 1010

Salvation For the Humble

humble

The image of a diamond comes to mind when I think about the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55). There are so many angles, so many ways in which one can mine wisdom out of this passage. For the diggers of God’s word, this passage is indeed a diggers rest.

But today I am thinking about just three verses (51, 52, 53) because these verses paint a profound picture of gods kingdom. These verses address the deepest longings of Christians. They are packed with hope. The hope that God will lift up his downtrodden people. He will fill his hungry sheep. He will satisfy us with himself

“51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. 52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. 53 He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.”

The first thing to note about these verses is that Mary is so sure of these promises that she sings them in the past tense. Its as if they are already fulfilled.

The Magnificat promises that one day God will lift up the humble and fill the hungry. One day, he will scatter the proud, bring down rulers and make rich poor.

But one should ask, who are these ‘poor’? Who are these ‘humble? Who are these ‘rich’? To answer who these people are, Jesus tells a parable.

10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ 13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ 14 “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 18:10-14)

Jesus tells us that the humble are those who, like the tax collector, forsake all their self-righteousness and cling only to God through Jesus. They are those who consider themselves unworthy of God’s love and forgiveness. Who beat their chest and mourn and grieve over their sin. Who don’t think that by their good works they can somehow put God in debt. Who don’t think they deserve eternal life, but they flee to Jesus to be saved.

The proud on the other hand are like that Pharisee who boast in their own righteousness, who boast in their good deeds, charity, morality, manners, religiosity. The proud think that they deserve eternal life because of their good deeds. They say to themselves, didn’t I give thousands of dollars to charity, Didn’t I volunteer endlessly surely God will give me eternal life. I am a good person anyways. But we know from the parable: the Pharisee didn’t get justified, but instead, the humble man who beats his chest and clings only to God is justified.

So we who have put our hope in God through Christ and not in our own righteousness. We are the poor, the hungry that the Magnificat talks about.

If we are the poor that Mary sings about then what is promised for us? What hope do we have in God? What’s in store for us who cling to God and shun our self-righteousness. The text says that God will lift us up, satisfy our hunger and quench our thirst. Later in the Gospel Jesus expounds on this when he says, ‘Happy are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Happy are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Happy are you who weep now for you will laugh (Luke 6:20-21)

But what does it mean? How will we be filled and satisfied? The book of Revelation describes our future in these glorious words, “he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. 16 ‘Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat down on them, ‘nor any scorching heat. 17 For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; ‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’ ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 7: 16-17)

We will live under God’s presence, where there is fullness of joy. All the suffering will pass away. He will wipe away every tear of sadness from our eyes and put his joy in you. This is how we will be filled. This is the great hope that Mary sings about. This is the great hope that we long for in this time of advent. This hope is for the humble who forsake their own self-righteousness and cling only to Jesus. Who put their trust not in their charity, their good works, their religiosity, their tithes, their status or anything else. Instead they cling only to Jesus.

Come Lord Jesus.

Faithfulness, Not Success

success

There are times when almost every seminary student dreams about having a blazing ministry that could instantly produce results. I often find myself asking, what books should I read to be successful in ministry? What strategies should I employ so that thousands may come to know Christ? Should I speak to church growth ‘experts’ to get hot tips? How can I be successful?

But is this really the right paradigm? Do we actually need ‘success’? If God has called us, what is it that he requires of us? What does God’s Word say about these things?

Scripture emphasise Faithfulness over Success

The Scriptures repeatedly stress that ministers are called to be faithful servants. For example, Paul says, ” This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.  Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful “(1 Corinthians 4:1-2). God desires that we be found faithful. This virtue is ‘required of stewards’. Sometimes it is also significant to note what is absent from passages.  Any ‘success factor’ is clearly missing in these verses. Could this lead us to conclude that Paul actually isn’t interested in success? 

This point is further clarified in Luke 12. Here Jesus tells a parable about a faithful servant who is ever alert for his master’s return. In v.42, Jesus rhetorically asks ‘“Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time?”‘ Clearly, the point that Jesus is making is that the essence of a wise manager is his ‘faithfulness’. That is to say, God is not looking for success breeders but faithful, wise, and obedient managers who long to serve him.

In the end, faithfulness is all that matters. In Revelation 3:8b, Jesus commends his beloved church, ‘you have a little strength, and have kept my word, and did not deny my name’ It is noteworthy that Jesus praises them for keeping his word even though they are of little strength (that is, they are small in numbers). From this, one can deduce that keeping Jesus Word, not strength, is foremostly worthy of praise for Jesus.  

After searching scriptures, Kent and Barbara Hughes conclude that, ‘we found no place where it says that God’s servants are called to be successful. Rather, we discovered our call is to be faithful.” 

Words of Wisdom from Charles Colson

Charles Colson makes the same point. His wise counsel compels to abandon the broken cisterns of ‘success’ and return to the soul-satisfying fountain of faithfulness.  He wrote in Prison Fellowship‘s monthly newsletter, 

By the time you read this, we will have dedicated our new national offices near Washington, D.C. As a result of this and other recent expansions, many people have written me to the effect that “God is obviously blessing Prison Fellowship’s ministry.” 

As much as I am sincerely certain that God is, indeed, blessing us, I believe even more certainaly that it’s dangerous and misguided policy to measure God’s blessing by standards of visible, tangible, material “success.”

The inference is that when things are prospering “God is blessing us” and, conversely, that when things are going poorly, or publicised, God’s blessing is not upon the work or it is unimportant… we must continuously use the measure of our obedience to the  guidelines of his Word as the real–and only–standard of our “success,” not some more supposedly tangible or glamorous scale

In short, our faithfulness to God is the real standard of our ‘success’. 

Pastors, Read Poetry

poetry

Eugene Peterson, In his book The Contemplative Pastor makes a fascinating observation. He says, “Isn’t it interesting that all of the biblical prophets and psalmists were poets?” [1] Indeed, this is interesting. 

If all the biblical prophets and psalmists were in some sense poets, why is it that only a few handfuls of pastors today are interested in poetry? Have we lost this gift of the Spirit (Eph 5:19)? Why aren’t we interested in poetry?

We Have a Great Poetic Heritage

The God of the Bible is the source of all excellent poetry. An observant eye can see this just by glancing at His inspired book,  the Bible. Surprisingly, one-third of Scriptures is poetic in nature. This includes books like Job, Psalms, Lamentations, Proverbs, and Song of Solomon that strictly follow the genre of poetry. However, it also includes both the Old Testament prophetic books, as well as many New Testament narratives, that are filled with psalms, hymns, songs, and imaginative and evocative language. In other words, the Lord, who reveals himself in His inspired word, is a poet. 

Church history is full of pastors who were poets. We can see poetic craft in the early church liturgies. St John Chrysostom’s divine liturgy knows no competition in its beauty, theology and creativity. Or consider Dante and his Divine Comedy, Charles Wesley and his marvellous hymns, George Herbert and his heart-warming, Christ-centred poetry, or John Milton or C. S. Lewis. The list goes on and on. The point is this: we have a great heritage of God-exulting poetry. So why have we abandoned it?

Poetry Is Good For Your Ministry

We Reformed believers firmly hold that the essence of Christian ministry is preaching of the word of God. This is at the heart of our calling as ministers.  But what does poetry have to do with preaching? Much in every way! 

1. Poetry is an essential tool for language 

Firstly, as preachers we use language. Preaching without language is simply not possible. Since language is a prerequisite for preaching, language must be learnt well in order to preach well. Poetry is that schoolmaster which teaches us language. It teaches us the way to express and expound the deep truths from the wells of scriptures that mere propositional declarations aren’t able to.

2. Poetry is a key ingredient in evoking passions

Secondly, preaching to the heart requires us to use language which evokes the passions. For example, in 1 Peter 5:8, the apostle could have said, ‘Your enemy is after you, so be alert.’ But he says, ‘Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour’. Why does he use poetic language? Answer: To grip the hearts of his readers, to inflame their hearts.  Preachers of God’s word are called to preach to the heart (passions and affections), and not just the mind. Poetry can serve as a faithful handmaiden in achieving this purpose.

3. Poetry speaks to the imagination 

Thirdly, preachers are appointed by God to speak to the congregation from his word. This happens through exegesis and application, that is, opening God’s word with people, helping them to understand it, and applying it to their lives. This application takes a lot of imagination. It requires that we preachers enter into the lives of our hearers and survey the landscape to see where the flowers of righteousness have been planted and where thorns of evil still exist. Without imagination, the application of any sermon would be bland and tasteless.  

Given that we have a great poetic heritage in both Scripture and Church history, and that poetry is helpful for preaching, let’s grab hold of this ancient treasure. It is a gift from the Holy Spirit for the good of our people, and the joy of our hearts. Let’s use it!  


[1]Quote is taken from Eugene H. Peterson, The Contemplative Pastor (Grand Rapids: WM. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1993), 155.

Why It is Okay To Be A Tired Pastor

tired-pastor

Being Tired Is Normal

As I sit down with a cup of tea in my hand after ten hours of serious toil on this Sunday, I know one thing for sure: I am feeling tired. I am pondering on the question: is it right for a pastor to be tired?

The pastoral ministry can be very taxing for pastors. Both emotionally and physically. After all, we, pastors, are human too. Our energies can be sucked out by the heavy demands of the pastoral ministry. We can get weary.

But that is not to say that ministry is without joy. No, it’s a privilege and joy to be a pastor. It’s pleasurable to tend Christ’s flock and feed them with his precious word.

But does this mean that pastors never get tired? Of course not, we are humans and all humans are made to rest. Think about sleep, every human needs sleep which is a daily reminder of our dependency and weakness. From time to time, I am pleased to remind myself that God has appointed his Saviour and it’s not me. So It is okay to be exhausted.

But Being Tired Has Many Blessings

Nonetheless, being weary has great advantages for the pastoral ministry. For instance, when we are drained, we come face to face with the reality of our severe limitations. Our inabilities stare us in the face. They tell us that we are weak and insufficient.

These limitations and inabilities are helpful because they point us to the fountain of grace, Jesus Christ. They help us to depend on God’s grace. Salvation belongs to Christ and he is the bridegroom of the church. He is the one who is at work in his church. He is the main actor in the drama of salvation. Not us.

As for us, we get tired easily. But I thank God that the salvation of our people depends not on any human effort but on the mercy of the Triune God. And because ultimately the salvation is God’s work, not mine, it is okay to be human and be tired.

So also, being tired compels us to fall on our knees and plead for our people before God. To acknowledge our inability and give glory to God for his miracle of salvation. His miracle of working through weak vessels who get tired very easily.

Praise be to God!

Why do we Believe in Christ?

christianity-lazarus

The Human Condition In Other Religions

Everyone has a take on the ‘human condition’. For instance, all the religions around us exhort that we need to work hard to win favour with God. We have to earn our righteousness by doing good works. They say that when we do good works, God is obligated to bless us and make us enter heaven.

For instance, If you are a Muslim, you are encouraged to pray 5 times daily, give alms, remain clean throughout the day, and abide by a plethora of moral and ceremonial commands. In other words, you are earning your place before God. That is to say, If I am doing all that I am asked, I am putting God under the obligation to save me and help me. In order to be saved, I have to earn my righteousness. This is the basic premise of most of the worldly religions.

The Human Condition In Christianity

Christianity has a unique perspective on the human condition. While other religions emphasize obedience to laws as the means to win God’s favour. Christianity says, ‘no one is righteous before you’ (Psalm 143).

It says humanity is dead. We are dead in our sins so we cannot save ourselves. A corpse cannot make himself alive by doing good. Similarly, no matter how many good works you do, no matter how many alms you give, no matter how many poor you feed, you cannot save yourself.

Unlike other religions, in Christ, righteousness cannot be earned but only received freely. There is nothing that you can do which will make you righteous before God.  Even your ‘righteous acts are like filthy rags’ (Isaiah 64:6). We cannot save ourselves for no one is righteous before God.

The Great Solution To The Human Condition

If humanity is dead in their sins, how can they be in the presence of God? This is the question that the whole Bible seeks to answer.

Since we cannot make ourselves right with God by our human efforts, we are helpless. But God, out of his great mercy, came to our help. He sent his one and only Son into the world. His Son, Jesus Christ lived righteously, without sin. And he gave himself to killed on the cross. This is Christianity’s’ great cure of the human condition.

Why would he do that? Because on the cross the great exchange took place. Jesus gave us his righteousness and took our sinfulness. The punishment that we deserved for sin was given to Christ on the cross. And his righteousness was given to us. So now as people who have received the righteousness of Christ, we can dwell in God’s presence. This promise is for all who believe in the name of Jesus Christ. This is the good news.

Other religions answer to the human condition is to ‘do’ but Christ says to us, ‘it is done’. Just believe in me.

A Confession From 1662

confession

A General Confession

Confession is a form of prayer that highlights our dependency on God’s marvellous grace. Throughout Christian history, many beautiful confessions have been written.

However, I think the Book of Common Prayer is one of the most beautiful documents written in Christian history. It has many thoughtful and heartfelt Reformed prayers including many confessions that not only teach the right doctrine but also stir affections and provoke the imagination. Please allow me to share my favourite confession with you:

“ALMIGHTY and most merciful Father; We have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep. We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. We have offended against thy holy laws. We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; And we have done those things which we ought not to have done; And there is no health in us. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders. Spare thou them, O God, who confess their faults. Restore thou those who are penitent; According to thy promises declared unto mankind in Christ Jesu our Lord. And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake; That we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life, To the glory of thy holy Name. Amen.”