In response to God’s victory through Jesus:
- We love Jesus
- We trust Jesus
- We surrender everything to Jesus.
In response to God’s victory through Jesus:
Confession is an idea that brings with it a plethora of feelings and ideas that vary from person to person. When you hear the word confession, do the ideas of joy and freedom come to your mind? Consider the words of 1 John 1:5-10:
5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.
7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
John begins with the observation that God is holy and upright (he is light v. 5) and from this theological observation comes the application (v. 6): Those who have fellowship with God will become holy and upright. It would be a lie to claim fellowship with God without having a resulting holiness. John then gives us the two results of walking in the light (v. 7): Fellowship with other believers and the blood of Jesus cleansing us from all sin.
Then comes the glory of confession. But before confession comes, recognition of sin is a necessity. If we claim to be without sin, and therefore without need of repentance and confession, we cannot claim to be Christians or have fellowship with God, rather “the truth is not in us.” But if we, instead of denying our need for confession, actually confess our sins, we have the joy of forgiveness already addressed in v. 7. Confession leads to forgiveness from God and a complete cleansing from unrighteousness.
With this in mind, I would like to point out the two aspects of confession that should be near and dear to all Christians. The first aspect of confession is freedom. In a world without the gospel of forgiveness, there is no freedom in confession. Without the glorious grace of God in the gospel, confession of sin only leads to greater guilt and shame. But with the reality of the gospel in mind, we see that confession leads to cleansing, not guilt. All people are invited to find freedom in repentance when Paul says “Have no fellowship with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret” (Ephesians 5:11-12). We confess and turn, Jesus forgives.
This reality of forgiveness leads to joy, the second aspect of confession we ought to cherish. John told us in v. 9 that if we confess our sins, Jesus “is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Though we deserve condemnation for our shameful deeds, God sent forth His son, not to judge us, but to save us. Since Jesus bore the wrath, and shame of sin, He is “faithful and just to forgive us our sins.” In other words, Jesus’ forgiveness not only frees us from condemnation but also shows Jesus to still be faithful and just. What a joy it is to be cleansed and forgiven by a faithful and just savior. Praise God, “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).
When it comes to the freedom and joy of confession, few worship songs capture this reality better than this new song by Don Carson and Sandra McCracken. Listen below and click here to read more about this song.
Lyrics by Don Carson; music by Sandra McCracken
I used to nurture bitterness,
To count up every slight.
The world’s a moral wilderness,
And I have felt its blight.
Self-pity ruled, resentment reigned;
No one understood my pain.
I spiraled down in murky night,
Insisting that I had the right
To hate and hate again.
I am ashamed;
O, my Lord, forgive.
But then the gospel taught me how
To contemplate the cross.
For there Christ died for me—and now
I’ve glimpsed the bitter cost.
He bore abuse, and blows, and hate;
He did not retaliate.
Triumphant malice sneered and tossed
Blind rage at him—he never lost
The love that conquers hate.
I am ashamed;
O, my Lord, forgive.
To make no threat, to smile, forgive,
To love—and not because I must,
For Jesus showed me how to live
And trust the One who’s just;
To suffer wrong and feel the pain,
Certain that the loss is gain—
O God, I want so much to trust,
To follow Jesus on the cross,
To love and love again.
Our Goal: present everyone mature in Christ (v. 29)
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In this morning’s sermon (Nov. 8, 2015), I preached from John 20 where the resurrected Jesus appears three different times and with each of these appearances, there are extremely important similarities that are helpful for us. Here is what the text says:
John 20:11–29 (ESV)
11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.
19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”
24 Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”
26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
So that it is super easy for you to see the parallels between these three occasions, I have laid them out below:
|Result-||Profession of Faith||Faith (Assumed)||Profession of Faith|
|What Jesus did-||Sent
The resurrected Jesus changes people doesn’t he? He shows up and for Mary, sorrow becomes joy. For the disciples, fear becomes gladness. For Thomas, doubt turns into worship. This is what we should expect when it comes to the gospel converting sinners. What we are looking for in those we share the gospel with is radical conversion that changes entire lives.
One more thing that I want to point out in this text is the way the resurrected Jesus brings joy. Jesus is alive! This reality is not something that is accepted with a straight face and a monotone profession. Thomas cries out to Jesus, “My Lord and my God!” (v. 28). This is what we pray for people. That Jesus would take those who are dead in sin and make them alive with gladness in his salvation. As the psalmist said, “Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the people with equity and guide the nations upon the earth. Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.”
Since we live in a fallen world, death is a reality that even Christians have to come to grips with. Though Jesus has redeemed us, the enemy of death has still not yet been defeated but we can have confidence that the end of death is near (1 Cor. 15:26, 54-55). Even though our death is not a condemnation of our sin, it is true that death completes our sanctification and completes our union with Christ. Our death and the death of other Christians should give us both sorrow and joy. It is normal to be saddened by the loss of a brother in Christ (Acts 8:2, Phil. 2:27) but we can also find Joy that they are with Christ, a joy that we don’t experience with the loss of unbelieving friends and family see Rom. 9:1-3.
After death, the believer departs from his body and his spirit goes to be with the Lord in heaven (2 Cor. 5:8, Phil. 1:23) yet this is not the state that we are going to remain in as we were never meant to be spiritual beings but rather physical. Though much of the American Church has learned its theology from movies and Greek tradition and therefore believes that we will be spiritual beings for eternity, the Bible says that we will be physical beings in the age to come. When Christ returns, all the dead in Christ will be physically raised and will be given resurrection bodies that will be like Jesus’ physical body. Our Soul will be reunited with our renewed, resurrected bodies. The existence of soul sleep, purgatory, and annihilation all contradict what the Bible says about death and resurrection. Unbelievers after death go to a place of judgment until their body is also raised when Jesus returns and they will stand before God in judgment (See Matt. 25:41, 46).
Even though we know that believers are in heaven right now, and unbelievers are being punished, we should not pray to them (including Mary) thinking that we can change their situation or that they can change ours. Praying to those who are dead is condemned in the scriptures (Lev. 19:31) and those who consulted the dead were stoned to death in the Old Covenant (Lev. 20:27) and they should most definitely be corrected in the New Covenant Christian church. We seek the Lord and him alone because those who have perished have no power or ability to control what takes place on earth, only God does.