Monday, July 24, 2006

Resources for Revival: Prayer and Forgiveness

I've been preaching through the Lord's prayer these past few weeks. Yesterday, we spent time on "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors" -- a few key points (and again, I'm indebted to Thomas Watson's incredible work on the Lord's Prayer -- written in the 17th century and still thought provoking today):

* We're reminded that we have much to be forgiven. By commanding us to pray for forgiveness, Jesus also encourages us to examine ourselves to see where we need forgiveness. Such self examination in the light of Scripture (which is a trait not encouraged in our uber-carnival culture) will lead us to see how we continue to deny God's rule in our lives. Self reflection shines the spotlight of truth on the recesses of our soul and prompts us to cry out "Lord, have mercy on me" --

* We're reminded that we're called to forgive others. Ephesians 4:31-32 "Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."

* Our grounding of forgiveness is the same as the grounding of our capacity to forgie. Our forgiveness is secured by the person and work of Jesus Christ -- in His death, resurrection and ascension. In the same way, our capacity to forgive is secured by His work. Justification (our forgiveness) is instant and done from without, imputed to us. Sanctification (our holiness -- including the capacity to forgive) is progressive and done from within, worked out by the Holy Spirit. However both Justification and Sanctification are extended to us by the work of Jesus Christ.

In other words -- we don't earn our forgiveness through our capacity to forgive -- however, if we're truly forgiven, we should expect an increasing desire to learn what it means to forgive and to try to forgive. Let us keep these truths in mind as we continue forward in troubling times for the PCUSA and for the world.

I'll close with this prayer from Valley of Vision: A collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions:

"The Convicting Spirit"
Thou Blessed Spirit, Author of all grace and comfort,
Come, work repentance in my soul;
Represent sin to me in its odious colours that I may hate it;
Melt my heart by the majesty and glory of God;
Show me my ruined self and the help there is in him;
Teach me to behold my creator,
his ability to save,
his arms outstretched,
his heart big for me.
May I confide in his power and love,
commit my soul to him without reserve,
bear his image, observe his laws, pursue his service,
and be through time and eternity
a monument to the efficacy of his grace,
a trophy of his victory;
Make me willing to be saved in his way,
perceiving nothing in myself, but all in Jesus
Help me not only to receive him but
to walk in him
depend upon him
commune with him
be conformed to him
follow him
imperfect, but still pressing forward
not complaining of labour, but valuing rest
not murmuring under trials, but thankful for my state
Give me that faith which is the means of salvation,
and the principle and medium of all godliness;
May I be saved by grace through faith;
live by faith
feel the joy of faith
do the work of faith
Perceiving nothing in myself, may I find in Christ
wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, redemption


Soli Deo Gloria

Resources for Revival Index:
* Andrew Murray on corporate prayer
* Bill Bright on fasting and prayer
* Longing for revival: resources for revival

Other Revival oriented posts
* A Call for fasting and prayer
* Thomas Watson on prayer
* National Day of Prayer retrospective
* Longing for revival: a reminder from history
* Longing for Revival in the presbyterian church
* The foolishness of preaching
* Fasting and Prayer
* A running theme: revival
* Advice from Africa: Start with Prayer