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Psalm

145:1-14

 

I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever. Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts. On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate. They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds, and I will declare your greatness. They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness and shall sing aloud of your righteousness. The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made. All your works shall give thanks to you, O LORD, and all your saints shall bless you! They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom and tell of your power, to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom. Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations. The LORD is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works. The LORD upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down. (ESV)

 

Confessing and Confessing

Thursday of Pentecost 3

3 July 2014

Confession can mean a couple of different things; especially to Lutherans. First, to confess is the act of admitting and expressing our sinfulness, as happens in personal confession and absolution before our pastor. Second, to confess can also refer to what we do when we state what we believe, as we do when we recite our creeds or the tenets of the catechism. So we can confess sin and confess the faith.

 

By saying what God has done for us and for our salvation (Nicene Creed), we are truly praising God. Our goal is primarily for the edification of those who are around us, that they would hear the work of salvation accomplished by our Lord Jesus Christ and come to faith, trusting God's work for them as we do. The purpose of praising God in this way is that God's will would be done on earth as it is in heaven. In other words, praise of God is not even primarily for God, but primarily for those who hear it. God wants His praise to lead to the benefit of His fallen creatures. Again, everything God does, even through us, has a "for us" character to it. In fact, I have a hard time thinking of God hankering after our praise like a self-centered teen ager: "Please, tell me more! Am I great? Am I big? Am I beautiful?" This is hardly God-like. It seems to me that cheesy praise choruses are of this significance; as though God wants to hear with monotonous repetition that He is big, great or good. The truest and best praise of God is to confess the story of our salvation in Christ; who was incarnate of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell, rose again on the third day, ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, and will return to judge the living and the dead. Singing the creed hymns would be a perfect example of this. In singing these hymns we would not be telling God anything new! He knows the content of the creed better than we do, so who is if for? It is for us sinners and those around us. It is true confession to say what God has done for us in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

By saying what we have done, said, and thought to merit God's wrath and judgment, we are also praising God, hard although that is to comprehend. Confession of sin is like creating an empty space that God would fill with His gifts in the means of grace. It is like emptying a drinking glass full of molding filth, so that it can be used to deliver life-sustaining water to someone who is thirsty. Getting the filth out prepares the empty glass to receive what is beneficial. If we hold our moral filth in there will be no room for the good things of God. This is why Paul can say, "For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret" (2Co 7:10). Repentance recognizes the grace of God in Christ. In it we become nothing, that in it Christ might become all our life and salvation. The recognition of our desperate need in confession makes room for the content of the church's confession of faith in our lives. So keep confessing and confessing.

 

Augustine of Hippo

 

"The Lord Jesus exulted in spirit, and said, 'I confess (Lat), Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children' (Mt 11:25). We should not always understand when we read of 'confession' in the Scriptures, the confession of a sinner. Now special need there was of saying this, and of reminding you of this, because as soon as this word was uttered by the reader's voice, there followed upon it the sound of the beating of your breasts, when you had heard what the Lord said, 'I confess, Father.' At the uttering of these words, 'I confess,' you beat your breasts. Now what is the meaning of this beating of the breast, but to show that which lies hid within the breast, and to chastise by the visible beating the secret sin? Why did you do this? Because you heard, 'I confess, Father.' You heard the words 'I confess,' but you did not consider who it is that confesses. But consider now. If Christ, from whom all sin is far removed, said, 'I confess:' confession does not belong to the sinner only, but sometimes to him also that praises God. We confess then, whether in praising God, or accusing ourselves. In either case it is a godly confession, either when you blame yourself, who are not without sin, or when thou praise Him who can have no sin.

 

"If we consider it well, your own blame is His praise. For why is it that you confess when you accuse yourself for your sin? In accusing yourself why do you confess...?

 

"Whether we accuse ourselves, or directly praise God, in both ways we praise God. If with a pious intention we accuse ourselves, by so doing we praise God. When we praise God directly, we do as it were celebrate the holiness of the sinless One; but when we accuse ourselves, we give Him glory, by whom we have risen again. If you accuse yourself then the enemy will find no occasion through which to overreach you before the Judge. For when you are your own accuser, and the Lord is your Deliverer, what shall the devil be but a mere false accuser? With good reason the Christian has provided protection for himself against his enemies, not those that may be seen, flesh and blood, which are to be pitied more than feared, but against those whom the Apostle exhorts us to arm ourselves: 'We do not wrestle against flesh and blood' (Eph 6:12); that is, against men whom you see raging against you. They are but vessels, which another uses. They are but instruments which another handles."

 

Augustine, 
Sermons on Matthew, 17.1, 2, 4
 
Prayer

Lord God, bring us to confess our sin that we might confess Your salvation in Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

For President Matthew Harrison of the LCMS, that the Lord Jesus would guard him in all his ways

 

For the Luther Academy, as it seeks to choose a new executive director, that wisdom would be granted to the board of directors

 

For Jordan and Taylor Listi, that they would be kept in the love of Christ all their days
Art: Dürer, Albrecht  The Adoration of the Trinity (1515) 

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