The Sinner's Prayer

I worshiped at Christ Reformed Church, Washington, DC on Sunday and this was our corporate confession of sin:

Our Father, we are sinful and you are holy. We recognize that we have heard in your Law difficult words, knowing how often we have offended you in thought, word and deed, not only by obvious violations, but by failing to conform to its perfect commands, by what we have done and by what we have left undone. There is nothing in us that gives us reason for hope, for where we thought we were well, we are sick in soul.

Where we thought we were holy, we are in truth unholy and ungrateful. Our hearts are filled with the love of the world; our minds are dark and are assailed by doubts; our wills are too often given to selfishness and our bodies to laziness and unrighteousness. By sinning against our neighbors, we have also sinned against you, in whose image they were created. In this time of silent confession we bring you our particular sins.

Depressing? Yes.

Accurate? Yes.

But if sanctification and obedience are as much a part of the Christian life as the Obedience Boys and the Anti-Antinomians say, then isn’t this more like the prayer of a convert than a believer?

On the other hand, if this is a legitimate ordinary prayer for a believer — and I think it is — what ever are the critics of a justification-centric understanding of salvation talking about? If sin persists in the believer’s life to such an extent that she needs to pray prayers like this routinely, maybe the calls for obedience come across as more oppressive than inspiring.


84 thoughts on “The Sinner's Prayer

  1. It’s been a while since I’ve posted.

    In an interesting providence, our congregation had the exact same corporate confession of sin this past Lord’s Day, and I’m fairly confident that we are considered “obedience boys” and “anti-antinomians.” It seems to me that this unity of confession ought to encourage us that maybe we aren’t as far apart as some imagine. Especially in regard to our view of the never-ending need for a full and free justification in Christ and the application of the truth of that justification to our consciences.

    Maybe there is a difference, though, or maybe not: after we confessed our utter sinfulness, we didn’t have the “silent confession” part, but ended the prayer with “Our Father, although you are a holy God who cannot look upon sin, look upon Christ our Savior and forgive us for his sake. Amen.” Also, we were assured of his pardon with a passage that beautifully ends with our now joyful service.

    “For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls
    and with the ashes of a heifer sanctifies for the purification of the flesh,
    how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit
    offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from
    dead works to serve the living God. Hebrews 9:13-14”

    So, do forgiven people actually now serve God, having their consciences purified from dead works? Do we get to talk about sanctification, or should we have stopped at pardon?


  2. That prayer is prayed every Sunday at the URC in Des Moines.

    Did you have a chance to hang out with the Rev. Brain Lee?


  3. Erik–if you start that “a” thing again, I’m going to find you and hurt you, or something. LOL– and yes, plenty to silently and openly confess. Nothing against silent confession.


  4. Shane, if not so far apart then why the haggling? But yes (yes, and no). Did you have the same Eucharistic Prayer:

    …strengthen us by these gifts so that, relying only on your promise to save sinners who call on your name, we may, by your Spirit, honor you with our souls and bodies, to the honor and glory of your holy name.


  5. Shane, it seems like we talk about sanctification all the time. I haven’t run into anyone who takes issue with the current manifestation of anti-antinomians who runs around proclaiming; thank God we are free to not obey and better yet the more we take advantage of our freedom to sin the more grace abounds. I just haven’t met this person. Maybe in the deep south you’re just run over with these types in your churches and I’m just not familiar. My understanding, and I’m brilliant, is that the law is innate and the gospel is foreign. So, it’s always necessary to speak grace and promise to each other because it’s an outside-in process. We don’t really believe it. Doubt assails. Faith is weak. Or as one of my few betters has put it(paraphrase), “we never grow up such that we are never in need of the Father’s care and feeding of us”. IOW, we don’t ever get to the point where we’re ready to move out of the house and fend for ourselves. The other aspect that keeps coming to mind is justice. Just exactly how much or how precise is the judgement/discipline of the church supposed to be? It’s a scary thing to fall into the hands of church courts and sessions. Lots of sinners being sinners there. Then when they start turning over rocks in the name of some puritan or another, more than a few us might get cranky about it and challenge the worth and accuracy of their divining by way of their navel.


  6. sean, “So, it’s always necessary to speak grace and promise to each other because it’s an outside-in process. We don’t really believe it.”

    We are the middle way. neonomians in Rome, neonomians in Atlanta.


  7. “If sin persists in the believer’s life to such an extent that she needs to pray prayers like this routinely, maybe the calls for obedience come across as more oppressive than inspiring.”


    Sin certainly does persist in our life (Romans 7) so that we always need to pray this or a like prayer of confession of sin. We never grow out of grace; we only grow in grace. I appreciate your strong and uncompromising stand on how sinful we remain, even as those justified and adopted. This is not the whole picture, however, is it?

    Is it not the case that the reason that a call for obedience–understood strictly as a response to the grace of our God and never as the reason that He shows grace (we don’t obey to get a right standing with God; we obey because we have a right standing with God)–is not oppressive is because it is our sin that is oppressive and not God’s law. God’s law, indeed, as part of its first use shows us our sin and that is a source of great anguish. But the law itself is good and is not the burden (I John 5:3).

    Rather, it is our sin and failure that is the burden, that contributes to our slavery. True freedom is found in the “perfect law, the law of liberty” (James 1:25), as the same Spirit who convicts us of our lawlessness enables us unto a measure of law-keeping. Granted, even the holiest make but a small beginning of such in this life (HC 114), so that it would appear as nothing before the divine tribunal and could never withstand the severity of God’s judgment (WCF 16.4-5). It is only Christ’s merits and mediation (WCF 8) that purchase a right-standing for us before God’s throne. Nothing that I am or have or do enters that equation. I am always, in and of myself, a sinner worthy of hell, hopeless, helpless, doomed, and damned.

    When it comes to justification, our works do not enter the equation. When it comes to our response to God’s gracious work of justification and adoption, however, our obedience does enter the equation and what a privilege is ours: we get to obey, in a measure, and not simply walk in the old way of death, in slavery. Again, we obey far too little. But we do begin below to obey, quite imperfectly and inconsistently, God’s law. And WCF 16:6 encourages us in a way that makes it clear that it is inspiring and not oppressive: “Notwithstanding, the persons of believers being accepted through Christ, their good works also are accepted in him; not as though they were in this life wholly unblamable and unreprovable in God’s sight; but that he, looking upon them in his Son, is pleased to accept and reward that which is sincere, although accompanied with many weaknesses and imperfections.”

    I know that you know all of this, of course, Darryl. We’ve both taken oaths to the Scriptures and the Standards and this is all part of standard Reformed teaching. I agree that we must always have a very strong accent on grace, given our ongoing need for it. But this does not mean that we don’t issue the call to obedience, a call which is inspiring–considering the alternative, which is but slavery.

    I always think, when I preach the first use of the law, what a favor I am doing for God’s people–to help them see their sin and their Savior, the only remedy for such. And I think the same when I preach on the third use of the law to believers–what a favor I am doing to call you away from the slavery of your sin to the perfect law of liberty in Christ.

    Our whole tradition, again as you know quite well, has refused to sacrifice sanctification to preserve justification or to sacrifice justification to have a serious view of sanctification. Yes, justification is vital: as Calvin said, “the main hinge upon which religion turns.” I couldn’t agree more. But I also believe, as do you, that we are subsequently, and progressively, sanctified. We need not talk as if we don’t believe that as well. We can, theologically speaking, walk and chew gum at the same time, i.e., properly affirm both justification and sanctification. All the Reformed believe this as this part and parcel of all our doctrinal standards, whether Reformed or Presbyterian. Thanks be to God for such!


  8. Sean – Then when they start turning over rocks in the name of some puritan or another

    Erik – LOL

    Likewise, when you see an officer reading Edwards, be very afraid.


  9. As always, thanks for your comments, Dr. Strange.

    It’s hard to talk about sanctification outside one’s own denomination and confessional views. One cannot be exhaustive on the topic and it seems most readers are just looking for the first statement they disagree with in order to shelve the matter.


  10. Most people who are truly sanctified spend little time talking about it, or the topic in general. It’s just the natural byproduct of knowing Christ and walking with him for a long time.


  11. “ the calls for obedience come across as more oppressive than inspiring. “

    you mean never make a call to obedience? you’re disagreeing with Jesus then?

    the preferred option for the flesh is always no call to obedience; the only thing ‘inspiring’ to the flesh is the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life (1 John 2:16) ; whose flesh ever wants a call to obedience; answer: no one’s; it’s the Spirit who gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. (John 6:63)

    What was prayed after your confession? Why do you think He told us -if you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good (the Holy Spirit, Luke 11:13) to those who ask Him! Matt 7:11 It’s His work and He asks us to pray. It’s His program – that the sinful nature remains, that we struggle -until glorification and we joyfully concur all of His ways are good.

    Wouldn’t it be very great to be unified in this – in the law of faith BELIEVING in God:, in all that He has done, all that He has said, and in all that He will do; and how can we not – for all who are His are united by His indwelling Spirit


  12. Has Sh(a.)ne taken up writing his own version of Scripture?

    What is that, “The Message” on crack?


  13. Erik, is he the one who bought AW Pink’s hermit castle with the intent of isolation from all those lesser mortals?


  14. Appreciate the post and Dr. Stange’s comment (very well said).

    Guys who harp mostly on LC Q 75, forget or have never read 78.

    Q. 75. What is sanctification?
    A. Sanctification is a work of God’s grace, whereby they whom God hath, before the foundation of the world, chosen to be holy, are in time, through the powerful operation of his Spirit applying the death and resurrection of Christ unto them, renewed in their whole man after the image of God; having the seeds of repentance unto life, and all other saving graces, put into their hearts, and those graces so stirred up, increased, and strengthened, as that they more and more die unto sin, and rise unto newness of life.

    Q. 78. Whence ariseth the imperfection of sanctification in believers?
    A. The imperfection of sanctification in believers ariseth from the remnants of sin abiding in every part of them, and the perpetual lustings of the flesh against the spirit; whereby they are often foiled with temptations, and fall into many sins, are hindered in all their spiritual services, and their best works are imperfect and defiled in the sight of God.

    When people emphasize one of those truths to the exclusion of the other – look out!

    Little A, you’ll make it some day.


  15. Chris – Yes and amen. We just finished those questions in our family worship/devotions and had a chance to discuss just this with my children.

    DGH – Post put me in mind of JGM’s final telegram: “I’m so thankful for the active obedience of Christ. No hope without it”


  16. Alan,

    I suspect the reaction is not against third use preaching of the law per se as much as it is against the particular brand of third use preachers that we tend to encounter here.

    Almost without fail these appear to be men who, if forced to spend 24 hours in their presence, would certainly challenge the patience of even the most sanctified of believers.

    In layman’s terms — they’re pieces of work.


  17. DH: “Shane, why do you think the talk stopped at pardon? Sermon and congregational prayers still to come.”

    Shane: I didn’t think that. I did notice that you stopped there in this post.


  18. CT: Little A, you’ll make it some day.
    Ha ha, pretty funny CT, but it’s ok, don’t need ‘nothin; this is the victory – our faith 1 John 5:4.

    “CT: Appreciate Dr. Stange’s comment (very well said).”
    ditto , the call of our faithful faith fathers and us all – more expeditious, more vocal, more public faith contention


  19. Eric, maybe if you were to pause to consider how the Lord feels about each and every one of His children, equally, no partiality, you might withhold some of your vitrol ; the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; btw, still waiting for an apology.


  20. Alan, I hear you.

    I’m not questioning the relationship between justification and sanctification. I am wondering about the tendency of those who emphasize sanctification to leave little room for admitting defeat (read triumphalism). It may be that those who stress justification in the Protestant understanding of salvation are too prone to defeatism. But it is hard when you stress triumph over sin to admit defeat. And it is especially hard in a culture where the Yankees and Roman Catholicism attract followers for all the victories and power.

    Not sure I’m suggesting anything more than that.


  21. It’s circular (the prayer of focus here). And just today I learned something from a very wise master….. that whereas the Westminster Confession of Faith deals with Mortification, the Heidelberg Confession deals with mortification but also vivification…..that’s what the Obedience Boys object to – any discussion of vivification, which is so very hopeful to the believer.


  22. Too bad more of the contemporary committee-produced prayers don’t have such a sense of the drama of man’s relation to the divine.

    Questions (pardon my lack of experience with the Reformed faith):

    1) Fair analysis of the first sentence?: ‘We have understood your Law; it seems to us difficult to obey; we recognize our difficulties in being obedient (and in making this prayer bring our recognition to your attention)’ -?

    Why is there no explicit ‘owning-up’ in the first sentence? – i.e., an acknowledgement of culpability, not just a statement that the commands given are “difficult words.” My boss would not be impressed if this were my response to making a mistake.

    2) The purpose of asking for forgiveness-
    If we are culpable (the blame is our own) and God is just, don’t we therefore have the ability to rectify our failure?

    If we could have done better (were lazy, selfish/unjust toward others, impure, etc.) and are to blame, then the chain of action is (no?) to apologize, cease to sin, and (with the help of God’s grace) amend our lives, changing sinful habits into virtuous ones, and becoming (in humility, through the great privilege afforded us, with fear and trembling) increasingly Christlike.

    3) “By sinning against our neighbors, we have also sinned against you” – isn’t this only the case if God has become a part of our nature (i.e., each of us individually) in a substantial sense?

    I’ve just discovered the blog a few weeks ago – you generate interesting discussions here.


  23. As one who is engaged in the leadership of worship, including the Prayer of Confession, I find this prayer to be most appropriate. It is an adaptation of a Prayer of Confession from the Book of Common Prayer. A few quibbles here and there but overall it is excellent. One problem however in the prayer.
    There is no reference to seeking forgiveness through Jesus Christ, no reference to asking for cleansing from sin, no statement of seeking deliverance from the power of sin. This could be prayed, though doubtful it would be, in a Unitarian Church.


  24. DG Hart “a. where did I say “never.” Do you “always” call to obedience?”

    then what are you saying. Here’s one thing I hear you saying “If sin persists in the believer’s life” …… maybe it’s someone else’s fault

    ..maybe if only God had been more ‘inspiring’ in the way He gave Adam the first command, or to Cain, etc…..

    It just seems that you might be promoting self-justification and even the self-works you condemn -. fleshly work – work apart from God’s resourcing. I thought it was God Himself who ensures His word does not return void. How kind of the Lord to give it all to us. Don’t you think if there were more exhortation to truly rely on Him , there would be more wholeness, even now, in our inner being – more freedom –who’s free if they think they are still be a slave to sin. Even if it is not yet realized, we don’t withhold that truth, because in that word, and in His every word, the Spirit works, day by day. If the Son has set us free, we are free indeed. The Lord is in the freeing business. It is not freeing to have a form of godliness but deny its power. Have you noticed what seems to be an intentional effort by some to skip the fact that we are new creations, that we have been raised to newness of life, to newness of the Spirit. Consider the multi-layered deceit of this statement made yesterday : “Too many of our sermons ignore the message that forgiveness was won on the cross of Jesus and disguise it by claiming it to be about a Christian’s “spiritual life.” The Lord says to avoid those who deny His power. Why? Because it’s a lie. There is only one who gains from lies. Though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ 2 Cor 10:3 -5

    Here’s another truth we don’t withhold just because we have to believe it by faith alone :Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Cor 3:17-18


  25. I can’t speak to Detroit (or what’s left of it following the ignominious reign of the apostate Coleman Young), but Newark has more positive cultural and economic life than you might expect, and many hard-working and well-intentioned residents.

    In any case, I take Christianity to be a fundamentally urban religion – and if we don’t show love to our cities, we aren’t looking out for those who are to follow us.


  26. Erik,

    Actually, I thought your joke was quite funny – just need to stay on good terms with the Newark Visitors’ Bureau.

    Thanks for looking out after one of our residents.


  27. Kevin,

    I was in New Jersey (Journal Square by the PATH train) and saw the MANA Art Gallery. Great place.
    Been through Newark before also. Welcome.


  28. Kevin,

    She finished 8th grade and got a scholarship to what sounds like a really good New England high school, so that’s exciting. World Impact is the organization we have helped support. Their founder came to my college in the early 90s. They seem to do good work in several American cities.


  29. A point that Frederick Dale Burner makes about the parable of the two men praying is that the person who bragged about his own righteousness was the religious person–the professional religious person. And perhaps nothing shows our sinfulness more than that point in the parable. We walk in Christ as we started as Paul said in one of his epistles. Or as he declared in Galatians 3, we don’t end up living by the law having begun by coming to Christ through faith. BTW, Bruner made the comment mentioned above in his book A Theology Of The Holy Spirit


  30. Even if 99 of the 100 praying the sinner’s prayer fall by the wayside tragically, it’s still a major factor in one’s path to becoming a Christian for most of us who weren’t born into presumption of covenant salvation.

    Also often forgotten is that practically everyone converting to Christ as an adult brings a ton of baggage which is forgiven.

    The more one is forgiven the more gratitude apparently.


  31. My (very likely wrong) opinion is that the O-Boys have a problem with a few key figures (TT, Keller, etc) and with what happens or that they hear that happens in a few large churches. I believe the problem is as much ecclesial as doctrinal — the targets of the O-Boys are often bad or insincere presbyterians. I don’t know why it is preferable to attack them on doctrinal grounds — which are often more about emphasis — than through the church courts on order grounds. They tend to be as antinomian when it comes to worship and order as anything else. I do see the danger of the TT-Keller crowd meeting with the younger generation in the PCA where there is a reticence to condemn error (even when they know it is such) for fear of seeming mean — this year’s narrow PCA vote not to cite a presbytery for allowing paedocommunion exceptions comes to mind.

    At any rate, I’m with Sean — I have not seen these ribald antinomian churches or heard that preaching out in the sticks. I think the main problems are in large churches or certain areas where the “hyper grace” emphasis or slippery language (“not best for human flourishing”} may be seen as more marketable and conducive to growth, reaching people, transforming cities, etc. Again, this is an ecclesial issue as much as doctrinal. I don’t want to lose justification priority just because I don’t approve of Tim and Tullian, which I don’t.

    But be sanctified, everybody.


  32. And Shane is definitely not a. He’s my Twitter pal and he is a good guy. But he’s not totally sanctified, which is evidenced by some of my questionable tweets which he favorites.


  33. DG Hart:a period, have you noticed that praying the sinner’s prayer may be an indication of new creation?

    exactly, good prayer . it’s just you ruin it (the taking ownership, acknowledging flesh depravity) at the end, by then saying… BUT….. I won’t be SO sinful, if SOMEONE ELSE would just …

    “If sin persists in the believer’s life to such an extent that she needs to pray prayers like this routinely, maybe the calls for obedience come across as more oppressive than inspiring.”


  34. Chortles,

    If you do see ribald antinomian churches could you let me know?

    For research purposes, of course…


  35. a, when I think of you I think of a Florida beach. The sun is shining, the waves are gently breaking, kids are laughing, and there’s sand irritating my nether regions.


  36. My apologies guys – I jumped the gun?shark? Looking at the liturgy, it’s fine. I still hold to my comments about the Obedience Boys, though.

    They go after any and all things ‘Luther’, unless it’s Ligionier material.


  37. even Jesus who is apart from sinners is sympathetic to sinners.

    amen, cw
    Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Heb 4:14-16

    …and …Jesus IS apart from sinners…., unlike some, even yesterday, claim saying…. “It is not less preposterous to say, the Son of God died, than to say, the Son of God was a sinner.”


  38. Publius – Awesome, about using the LC with family devotions. Do you use any commentary like the one by Vos?

    CW, Sean, I too wonder where these reformed antinomian congregations are. I haven’t come across them yet in my travels. I have come across a few reformed ministers who seem very legal though and quite literally make their gospel offer on condition: “If you believe, and if you repent, and if you really, really, really, feel sorry for your sin, then the grace of Christ is for you.” Yowza, who is qualified enough to come to Christ on those conditions? I thought the only thing we bring is our sin and He will work all of those fruits in us as a consequence of grace.

    The issues surrounding the Marrow controversy are alive and well in every generation and in every branch of Christ’s church. R. Scott Clark and Sinclair Ferguson both have some great lectures on the issues surrounding the Marrow. Amazingly, just like today, the Marrow men and the neonomians both claimed to adhere to the Westminster standards and would have defended every point yet one side (the majority in that case) was dead and offered Christ to sinners on (antecedent) condition.

    Little A, you have a way of stringing things together that makes you come off like the SNL Deep Thoughts By Jack Handy skit.

    Yikes (time), back to work for me.


  39. Worst straw man I have ever heard of, claimed to exist at least 1,000 times with me held hostage sitting there listening to this nonsense…

    That concept of a Christian church that tells believers they have no moral obligation to even bother trying to pretend to live as a believer.


  40. So a father asks his first son to mow the lawn, and he says “no way” and leaves.

    He asks the second son to mow the lawn, and he says “certainly, exactly, great idea” but doesn’t mow the lawn.

    The first feels guilty and goes back and mows the lawn as his father asked.

    Which is the better son?

    That Jesus of Nazareth sure comes up with some interesting thought joggers, eh?


  41. Don’t disagree with any of the above comments, but I do feel, as Doug Wilson once noted, that DeYoung is playing one note while Tullian plays another – put together it makes for a nice chorus but on their own, something may be missing.

    But if there is a criticism to make of the supposed antinomians, it is their reliance on the self-described radical Lutherans like Forde, Paulson and Mattes – all of whom are problematic, to say the least.


  42. When I have the leisure time I find that Wilson and TT and DeYoung and TKNY have some good things to say.

    I wouldn’t want to rely on them for primary Word and Sacrament fill-ups on a weekly basis though.


  43. CT: Little A, you have a way of stringing things together that makes you come off like the SNL Deep Thoughts By Jack Handy skit.

    that’s terrible CT, worse maybe, so busy us debating each other, we may never get around to even seeing or considering that guy in the video; invisible, so not even saying “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” James 2:16…………

    have a good day


  44. Darryl,

    So sorry to have missed you on Sunday.

    The prayer you quote is the URCNA’s “Prayer of Confession – 1” that will be in our forthcoming Trinity Psalter Hymnal, so it is standard fare in a number of URC’s. As you know, the prayer concludes with a pastoral prayer:

    “Our Father, although you are a holy God who cannot look upon sin, look upon Christ our Savior and forgive us for his sake.

    You have promised us that if we confess our sins, you are faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. For if we do sin, we have an Advocate before your throne, Jesus Christ the Righteous, and he is the propitiation for our sins. Give us your pardon by your mercies, dear Father, for you have clothed us in Christ’s righteousness.

    We ask also that you would give us an increase of the grace of your Holy Spirit, so that we may learn the wisdom of your ways and walk in your holy paths, for your glory and the good of our neighbor.


  45. And here is the second prayer of confession:

    Prayer of Confession—2

    “Brothers and sisters, the law causes us to acknowledge and confess our many sins and wickedness; not hiding them from the face of Almighty God our heavenly Father but confessing them with a humble, lowly, penitent, and obedient heart that we may obtain forgiveness, by his infinite goodness and mercy. Therefore I urge you to join me with a pure heart and humble voice, before the throne of grace, praying:

    ¶ Prayed in unison:

    Almighty and most merciful Father, we have erred and strayed from your ways like lost sheep, we have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts, we have offended against your holy laws,
    we have left undone those things which we ought to have done, and we have done those things which we ought not to have done; and so we are helpless without you.

    O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders, spare us, as we confess our faults, restore us, as we are penitent, according to your promises declared to us in Christ Jesus our Lord; and grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake, that we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and devout life, to the glory of your holy Name. Amen.”


  46. Because (news flash) people sin and always will, I’m most concerned about antinomian polity and worship. Not practicing proper church discipline as a Reformed congregation is a horrible sin. I may not be able to read someone’s heart, but I can read a session’s minutes and know if they’re trying to do the right thing. And DGH makes the point in “With Reverence and Awe” that proper worship is the most important factor in Christian growth. If that’s true, a session or denomination that allows bad, unbiblical worship forms and practices and/or neglects the essential elements of Reformed worship is also sinning big time, to use a technical term. These are the antinomians I’m most worried about.


  47. S.R. – thanks, if North Jersey engaged in consolidations (e.g., a la Jacksonville), we’d have 2 top 10 US cities. Newark would have the population of Houston at twice the density, I believe. Or like having San Diego and San Jose right next door to each other.

    E.C. – I haven’t had a chance to see the show, actually, but I expect I know the type well. If any ethnicity is dominant in these parts, it’s Italian-American. Less Italian and more “American” as time goes by, though.


  48. Thanks Kevin;

    I was there a month ago, and by the way, Ms. Singh’s Pizzaria in Jersey City was absolutely some of the best pizza I ever had! It was right on the way to the MANA Art Gallery, and there were all kinds of Indian/Eastern restaurants on that street. I know I could hang out there for a while!


  49. DG (as well as all who have shirked lawn-mowing at one time or another) –

    God’s command is enough for me to obey, when (as in a case like loving thy neighbor) it is quite clear; but if we are to always have a reason at hand for our faith, then surely to seek understanding is essential to the Christian life as well.

    “If we are culpable (the blame is our own) and God is just, don’t we therefore have the ability to rectify our failure?”

    Justice doesn’t permit culpability for what is beyond our God-given human nature to
    perform – how would this not bring into question God’s justice?

    Our culpability is a failure to keep commands perfectly tailored to human
    nature – meaning we are capable of fulfilling them. What is it to be created in God’s image if not to partake of the qualities necessary to achieve what He asks of us? I.e., we can really
    possess virtue.

    I have no idea in what respects this is consistent with the Reformed faith, and neither do I fancy I’m raising anything new, but I’d be interested to hear what commentors here think.


  50. CT – I don’t use any commentary directly in our family worship. As we go through the WLC we will read the Q&A. Look at one or more of the scripture proofs and discuss. That said, my own reading of commentaries – like Vos – comes into play in my explanation and in the discussion.

    Kent & MRS – Let’s not started on Wilson and the FV. I was having a nice summer.


  51. Kevin – E.C. – I haven’t had a chance to see the show, actually, but I expect I know the type well. If any ethnicity is dominant in these parts, it’s Italian-American. Less Italian and more “American” as time goes by, though.

    Erik – For as little as they actually feature New Jersey (or any place, really), it could have just as easily been set in Omaha. It’s “Breaking Bad” with gangsters.


  52. Kevin,

    Maybe; the owner is a very nice Italian lady. I believe you’ll enjoy it. Lots of cheese, sauce, unlike the cosmetically enhanced pizza crust we get from the chains.


  53. Save us the suspense, Jack, is the Romans 7 man:

    1) A believer and his struggle with sin.

    2) A believer who states he never should sin and obviously doesn’t.

    3) Some attempt to weasel out of those first two options like Reymond or Moo did.


  54. Kent,


    But it isn’t so much about pitting one interpretation against another. There’s comfort in this sojourn for the justified sinner/saint who still sins.


  55. thanks jack, that’s a relief.

    I’ll download and try to give it a spin this week.

    The only pitting of interpretation comes from those who insist Christians are to be (and are) sinless.

    Beyond red flag.


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