マタイ 3:6 自分の罪を告白して、ヨルダン川で彼からバプテスマを受けた。

Frankly, this is something that has largely been lost, from the Protestant Church at any rate, and the Church is immensely poorer for it. People confess, “I am a sinner,” or “Jesus died for my sins,” but they don't confess specific, personal sins. That isn't always a problem, but all too often it leaves the person being baptized without a clear sense of being forgiven. It also tends to make the whole process formulaic, as though the words were all that mattered, rather than the attitude of the heart. This is not to say that public confession is to be the rule, but it has certainly been a hallmark of many great revivals over the centuries. When you've confessed sins before the congregation, it's not so likely you'll let pride puff you up after that! Most of us don't want to admit how bad our sins are, and so we seek excuse rather than forgiveness. That's not repentance at all. The formalization of “indulgences” by the Catholic Church was a major trigger for the Protestant Reformation, but we still seek them on an informal basis all the time. The problem is, we are guilty. There is no repentance without acknowledging that, and no forgiveness without repentance. Sometimes a general awareness of sinfulness and a desire to turn from it is sufficient, but as I've said, generalities can be risky.


This is a vital issue for me, both in my own walk and as a pastor. I must not whitewash my sins, but parading them before the congregation wouldn't be helpful. I've got to keep my repentance specific and current. As a pastor, I've got to encourage people to confess, in private at least, so that they can accept responsibility for their sins and thus receive the forgiveness God offers through Christ. The whole issue of guilt, repentance, and forgiveness isn't “politically correct” any more, and the devil is delighted with that fact. I need to help people grasp the reality of sin, repentance, and forgiveness, even though few today have any real background in their upbringing to prepare them to understand it. Saying that I need the anointing and guidance of the Holy Spirit is an understatement! My failures in this area have done major damage to this church over the years, and not just in baptizing people who then disappeared, though that has happened too many times. Japan being a “shame culture” rather than a “sin culture,” people are extremely loath to confess sin openly, because they have no emotional understanding that they can really be forgiven. It still boggles my mind that most Japanese, even Christians, are offended if someone says, “I forgive you,” because that means that in the eyes of the speaker at least, they have committed a sin. Hello! That's what people do! We commit sins against one another and against God all the time. I keep coming back to the conviction that this issue of sin, repentance, and forgiveness is what has held the Japanese back from Christ for so long. I must not give up, but allow God to speak and act through me so that His truth may penetrate and set people free, for their salvation and His glory.


Father, this is certainly not the first time You've spoken this to me. I hope I'm learning, a little bit at least. Keep me from relying on my own powers of logic and persuasion, because they are certainly ineffective, but keep me also from apathy and despair. I do see some who are walking in repentance and forgiveness (both receiving and giving), and I need to trust You and be encouraged. Help me release everyone – myself and those I work with – to You, expecting You to do great things, for our blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!


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