This is Ministry…This is What Being Missional Is All About.
Devotional Thoughts for our days:
19 My brothers and sisters, if one of you wanders away from the truth, and someone helps that person come back, 20 remember this: Anyone who brings a sinner back from the wrong way will save that sinner’s soul from death and will cause many sins to be forgiven. James 5:19-20 NCV
What were the practical benefits of attending and participating in an evangelical church?… What we were asking had to do with our spiritual walk, with sanctification, and with spiritual maturity. Were we being helped, encouraged, uplifted by the music? ( A few sentences later) Were we supported by the fellowship with other believers?
What fellowship? Social interaction based on convenience and conformity can hardly pass for the communion of God’s people. Or should we have focused on our desire for spiritual nourishment on the ordinances, in particular the Lord’s Supper? But here too, we were disappointed. The infrequently celebrated sacraments had long since been reduced to mere symbols, i.e., gutted of all divine power and mystery.
78 Heroism, sanctity, daring, require a constant spiritual preparation. You can only ever give to others what you already have. And, to give God to them, you yourself need to get to know him, to live his Life, to serve him.
On the other hand, he constantly stressed that absolution offers forgiveness from God himself. He violently denounced the view of the Roman church which made absolution conditional upon the proper attitude and penance of the penitent. According to Luther, the absolution that one Christian offers to another in the name of God is absolutely valid. God forgives through the word of the brother. If a man fails to believe this word, so much the worse for him. But the fact that God’s peace was offered to him remains unaffected whether he accepts the offer in faith or not. Thus Luther never thought of abolishing private confession. He knew and used its benefits in his own spiritual struggles, and he could not conceive of a Christian who could get along without it. He never designed an order of public confession, but in the Small Catechism he offered two forms of private confession.
The church has a job, one job, and we need to get back to it. Whether we call it “Making disciples of all nations” (Matt 28) or being “Ambassadors of Reconciliation” (2 Cor.5) Or simply “loving our neighbor” (Luke 10), or “seeking and saving the lost” as we imitate Christ, this is what Jesus has sent us, his people to do in this world, even as the Father sent Him.
I think, as Webber and others complain about modern worship, or what they see happening in some places, this is what they are missing. The incarnate Jesus welcoming sinners, cleansing them, healing them, breaking the power of Sin, and its partners, guilt and shame, and resentment. For these four do more to damage our heart, our psyche and our soul than anything else.
Luther, even as he struggled with Catholic Church in his day, could not see a reason to get rid of confession, in fact, he encouraged it greatly! The freedom that confession gives, the freedom that is salvation is incredible, it is wonderful, it is beyond words to describe the peace that comes from knowing that all that has been taken away.
Which is why Luther could not conceive of a person who would not benefit from it.
We sin, we need the power of God revealed in our lives, to realize that He will forgive us, so that we don’t hesitate, but run to Him, counting on His love and mercy.
The more we understand this, the more we will be equipped to share with others this incredible hope we have been given in these sacraments of baptism, confession and absolution and the Eucharist. Each reminds us of the presence and power of God in our lives. the same power every person in the world needs, and we need to share.
This is our mission – revealing to people the amazing love and peace with which God would fill their lives! This is the basis of why we want our churches to grow, why we want to have buildings and schools, why we spend money on chalices and sound systems and send men to seminary. Without the good news of the forgiveness of sin, and the restoration of the relationship God has desired…. we have done nothing.
It’s simple – as James tells us, our mission is to help people come back to being GOd’s people, and when they do, sin is covered!
Webber, Robert E. The Divine Embrace: Recovering the Passionate Spiritual Life. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2006. Print. Ancient-Future Series.
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 493-495). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Luther, Martin. Luther’s Works, Vol. 53: Liturgy and Hymns. Ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann. Vol. 53. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999. Print.