Wednesday, March 04, 2009

From John Calvin on James

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. -James 5:16
"[James] reminds them how useful it is to discover our sins to our brethren even that we may obtain the pardon of them by their intercession. This passage I know is explained by many as referring to the reconciling of offenses for they who wish to return to favor must necessarily know first their own faults and confess them. For hence it comes that hatreds take root yea and increase and become irreconcilable because every one pertinaciously defends his own cause. Many therefore think that James points out here the way of brotherly reconciliation that is by mutual acknowledgment of sins. But as it has been said his object was different for he connects mutual prayer with mutual confession by which he intimates that confession avails for this end that we may be helped as to God by the prayers of our brethren for they who know our necessities are stimulated to pray that they may assist us but they to whom our diseases are unknown are more tardy to bring us help."
Commentaries on the catholic epistles, tr. and ed. by J. Owen By Jean [comms. on the Bible] Calvin
Mark's question on accountability in ministry was a good good one: If I don't give full disclosure am I even receiving the benefits of the relationship? Calvin makes a good case to connect brotherly reconciliation to confession/accountability. I am beginning to see how those two should not be made distinct. The reason why we gather is to mutually encourage and offer the support to one another that's needed. Am I an individual who sucks up help like a leech or am I a member in the body supporting and gaining support from all the other parts as they work together? So Calvin is right to say that James' goal is to make us aware that the help we need in combating sin must come from our brothers who will be ready to bring us help if we confess. We who are called Christian no longer live for ourselves. Which we can easily say, but implied in that bold statement is that we live to God in Christ instead, and God in Christ has chosen to show himself through the local congregation.

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