What are your highlights of worship? Every person has their favorite parts of the worship service. Some love the hymns, some are moved by the corporate confession of sin, some long to hear the word preached and there are those that love the benediction because that marks the end of the service. I’ll share with you one of my favorite parts of the worship service. It is one of the shortest parts, but I hope by the end of this article you will understand it is also one of the most important parts. I’m speaking of the Assurance of Pardon. It comes right after the corporate and silent confessions. During the confessions of course we are confessing our sinfulness before a holy God, both as a people and as individuals. After having focused on our sinfulness the Assurance of Pardon is a proclamation of the Gospel reminding us of God’s response to our sin.
What is God’s response to the sins of His people? Pay close attention to that question because I worded in a particular way. Notice I did not ask, what is God’s response to sin? God hates sin and will bring His wrath and curse against it. Exodus 34:7b says the Lord will not allow the guilty to go unpunished. Those who sin against God will be held accountable. However, for those who are God’s people, those who confess their sins and repent there is something else in store from the Lord. Look at what Psalm 130 says about those who belong to God.
1 Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD;
2 O Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
to my cry for mercy.
3 If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins,
O Lord, who could stand?
4 But with you there is forgiveness;
therefore you are feared.
5 I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
6 My soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.
7 O Israel, put your hope in the LORD,
for with the LORD is unfailing love
and with him is full redemption.
8 He himself will redeem Israel
from all their sins.
There are wonderful promises made in that psalm that tells us there is redemption for God’s people, the forgiveness of sins. Elsewhere in the Psalms we are told that God doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve. We are talking about grace here. The Assurance of Pardon is a reminder of that grace. This is all about the gospel. A holy God is reconciling to Himself a people to be His very own and redeeming them from the penalty of their sin.
Some of you very observant folks might have noticed that when we have communion the order of service is changed to move the corporate confession to be part of the introduction to the Lord’s Supper. The confession moved but where is the assurance of pardon? We don’t have a printed assurance of pardon during the Lord’s Supper because the sacrament itself serves as the assurance of pardon. That is what it is all about.
So what should be our response to the assurance of pardon? Having confessed our sin and having been assured of its forgiveness, in Christ, there should be a response on our part. Your response to the assurance of pardon will say a lot about who you are in Christ. If you are truly receiving the assurance as your own then you are free from sin and guilt. You are free from the things that would serve to hinder your worship of the living God. The assurance of pardon contains all that is necessary to drive our heart-felt thanks to the Lord for what He has done for us through the finished work of Jesus Christ. Our response should be one of deep joy and freedom. Are these things yours? Do you regularly experience these in worship? If not, ask yourself, why not? Next Sunday when you hear the assurance of pardon, soak it in and rejoice in the promise of right relationship with through Jesus Christ.