Saturday, June 05, 2010

Assurance of Pardon?

Some churches have, as part of their liturgy, an “assurance of pardon.” After the law is read and prayer asking for forgiveness is offered, the minister assures the congregation that their sins are forgiven. I’m wondering whether that is necessary, or even right, for these reasons:

1. When I survey my congregation every Sunday morning, I do not see a group of people who yet need to have their sins forgiven; rather, I see a congregation of believers, children of God, who have gathered together in joy to celebrate the wonderful fact that they are the forgiven people of Christ. (This is not to say that each individual member, head for head, is in a right relationship with God, but the congregation is.)

2. I am not sure that we are required to go through a crisis every Sunday morning – of being held like a struggling spider over a flame, fearing we will be dropped in, but then, in the nick of time, having the minister assure us that our sins are forgiven.

3. The ultimate function of the law in our lives is not one of revealing to us our sins and misery (Lord's Day 2), but a rule for thankfulness (Lord's Day 32-44).