Friday, May 29, 2009

A tongue prepared for confession

Institutes of the Christian Religion (1559) - John Calvin
Book 3 - How We Receive the Grace of Christ
Chapter 4 - Impurity of Sophists' doctrine of repentance;
discussion of confession and satisfaction

Sections 9-13 - Scriptural confession of sins, public and private
Section 9 - Confession before God
They mistakenly read "confession" (Ps 42:4) as required confession of sin to a priest, when the word means praise - Ps 7:18; 9:2; 95:2; 100:4; 118:1. To praise is to confess, in a sense, and the Vulgate says "confess."
Since we offend God with our sin, we should confess to Him directly.
Heb 4:12; Ps 32:5; 51:1; Dan 9:5; 1 John 1:9.

Section 10 - Confession of sins before men
The repentant in heart will be ready to confess "often, publicly, with all the world hearing, unfeignedly to recount both his own disgrace and God's magnificence and honor."
David confessed this way - 2 Sam 12:13.
Confession was encouraged in the temple, in this way - Lev 5:5; 16:21.
This takes away our pride and gives glory to God's mercy.

Section 11 - General confession of sin
God's people should confess all together at every worship service.
And at any other time they are found guilty of a common transgression.
"Every Lord's Day the minister frames the formula of confession in his own and the people's name, and by it he accuses all of wickedness and implores pardon from the Lord."

Section 12 - Private confession in the cure of souls
We may need to confess for our own sake (James 5:16) or for the other's sake (Matt 5:23-24).
We ought to make use of ministers, appointed partly for this purpose, to confess our sins - Matt 16:19; 18:18; John 20:23 - for our relief and solace.
"The Lord has appointed them by the very calling of the ministry to insturct us by word of mouth to overcome and correct our sins, and also to give us consolation through assurance of pardon."
To require this confession undoes the intended effect of solace:
"Where God prescribes nothing definite, consciences [may not be] bound with a definite yoke.... confession of this sort ought to be free so as not to be required of all."

Section 13 - Private confession for the removal of an offense
If you know your brother has something against you, be reconciled - Matt 5:23-24.
This also applies if you have offended the whole church: confess to the whole church!
Reconciliation and communion can then take place - 2 Cor 2:6.
Calvin "ardently wish[es]" that believers present themselves before their shepherds for confession and communion often.

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