Why an Assurance of Pardon?
We serve a holy, perfect, righteous God. When we are confronted with these attributes it is only natural for us to confess our deficiency in all of these areas. We are not separated from our sin, we are not perfect, and we certainly aren’t righteous on our own. As we confess these things to God two important things occur, one on our end and the other on His.
From our perspective, all we can do is confess our sin to God. We can show repentance, turning away from sinful behavior and towards our gracious Father, trusting in the sacrificial and saving work of the Son, perfected in our hearts and in our lives by the Spirit. On our best day we can do nothing beyond this- hoping that God will hear our prayer and perhaps forgive our sin. If this was where the process of confession ended we would be in a sorry state. But this isn’t where it ends. Our hope lies on God’s side of things.
When God hears the prayer of a repentant sinner, forgiveness always happens (1 Jn. 1:9). Our confession, rooted in the Biblical promises of God’s grace, always ends with the assurance that our sins have been pardoned. We celebrate this reality each week in our service during the “assurance of pardon”.
After our corporate prayer of confession we typically receive an assurance of pardon, either from the pulpit or in the songs we sing following this prayer. It is so easy to lose faith and think our prayers go unheard and unanswered. This portion of our liturgy assures us that God does hear our confession, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin, and we can stand before Him as clean children of the Kingdom. Psalm 130 is just one example of this confession and pardon:
Confession- Psalm 130:1-6
“Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord! O Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy!
If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.”
Assurance of Pardon- Psalm 130:7-8
“O Israel, hope in the Lord!
For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption.
And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.”
The New Testament has many examples of this pardoning work as well (Acts 2:38, Eph. 1:7, Col. 1:14, 1 Jn. 1:9). An assurance of pardon frees us to worship before His throne, unstained by sin, clothed in Christ’s righteousness. In this condition we can worship unhindered and rejoice in our awesome God who pardons all our iniquities and cleanses all our sins (Ps. 103:3).