Pastor Kyle McIver
The last time we had an exhortation like this in one of our services was March 8th, 2020. For many of us that feels like a lifetime ago given the way these last nine months have passed. So tonight for our first exhortation in such a long time, I want to remind us why - in our ideal order of worship for a Sunday service together - we do an exhortation.
The liturgy of our service is made up of five parts, five elements which all start with the letter “C”:
The exhortation, along with silent confession and the declaration of pardon, work together to form our second “C”, Confession.
I don’t want to oversimplify and say that an exhortation always only has only one purpose, but its primary purpose within our service is to help us confess our sins, which in turn prepares our hearts to hear the good news of the gospel in the declaration of pardon.
In Hebrews chapter 3, we see this idea very clearly. Hebrews 3:12-13 says: Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Sin is deceitful, dangerous, and damning. So we take it seriously.
And if you’re going to be serious about dealing with sin, then you need forgiveness. Not just a one-time lights-shining-down-from-heaven while angels sing kind of forgiveness. We need an every day, every hour, even every minute forgiveness. A rugged, sturdy, long-term, life-transforming forgiveness by which Jesus liberates us from our slavery to sin and restores to us the humanity that sin has shattered and stolen.
We ought to exhort one another every day. And we exhort you in our Sunday service so that we can then confess our sins together, and receive the sweet grace of God’s forgiveness as a church.
So let’s do that together now - we’re going to take a moment and be silent before the Lord. And church I exhort you, bring your sins to him. Not the cleaned-up version. There’s no need to try to fool Him, because you can’t. Bring your real sins, however ugly they are, because his forgiveness will be that much sweeter when you stop trying to minimize them or make them go away on your own… when you stop trying to be excused rather than seeking and then simply receiving his forgiveness.
Pray with me:
Father, your forgiveness is precious. The forgiveness of our sins was bought with the precious blood of Christ. We ask you now in our weakness that your Spirit would convict us of sin, and help us bring those sins to you in honest confession, that we might know the sweetness of your forgiveness. So help us now we ask, in this moment of silent confession…