I’ve heard comments – mostly negative – about our Corporate Confession of Sin in our worship service. “It’s not from the heart.” “It’s ritualistic.” “It doesn’t bless me.” “It’s too Catholic.” To these, I refer to a short post at Monergism.com.
Corporate worship, as our local church understands it, is a time of joyful covenantal renewal which includes confession of sin, assurance of pardon, responsive prayers, corporate song, the preaching of the gospel and the covenantal climax of communion in the Lord’s Supper. To be frank, I previously never thought I would find liturgy to be a meaningful form of worship in a church, but after experiencing it, I have found it to be a much more meaningful form of worship because of its connection to Scripture, history, the corporate body and the depth of its ability to illumine the covenant.
Many churches have put aside the corporate confession in favor of only music but the church has historically made the corporate confession central to worship. For most it makes the time of worship more authentic and joyful for it strikes a blow against self-righteousness and humbles us before God as we say what we know to be true of ourselves and the only Lord who saves us. It reminds us that we are not better than others and that it is only grace (an alien righteousness) which makes us what we are. God remembers, in the covenant in Christ’s blood, not to treat us as our sins deserve. In it we pray for personal sin, for the sins of our local church, our local community, our nation and world.
But corporate confession of sin, by itself, would bring only despair were it not for our knowledge of God’s faithfulness to His covenant promise, His forgiveness and mercy. It is dangerous to dwell on ourselves and our sin if we do not also remember that God delights in forgiving us. So I personally deeply appreciate when the pastor declares the following after we have confessed: “…but 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….” Praise God for that for corporate confession is really simply only a reminder of the gospel as a way to begin each service.