Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"
A wise writer has said that God knows every thought, purpose, plan, and motive. "The books of heaven record the sins that would have been committed had there been opportunity."
So, do the books of heaven record sins that do not in fact exist deep down in our hearts? If so, God is terribly unfair, "imputing" to the world "trespasses" of which they are not guilty, the opposite of what Paul says He does. (2 Corinthians 5:19 states that God does not impute the world's trespasses to them. There is no need for Him to do so; they are already lodged in human hearts.) There is abundant forgiveness and heart-cleansing with Jesus the Savior, but He cannot "cleanse us from all unrighteousness" unless we "confess" it with understanding and repent of it (1 John 1:9).
Those sins "that would have been committed had there been opportunity" represent our unrealized guilt. Other people have committed them, and we have been thankful that we have not been pressured sufficiently by temptation to do them ourselves; but as Luther wisely says, we are all made of the same dough, "alike." It follows that corporate repentance is repenting of such sins that we would have committed had we had the opportunity, that is, been sufficiently tempted.
John Wesley said of a drunk lying in the gutter, "There but for the grace of Christ am I." Suppose we had been born on the "wrong side" of the railroad tracks, had a prostitute for a mother and an alcoholic for a father, and had never been inside a church or heard a sermon; what could we be today? How can we truly help another soul unless we sense this corporate relationship that we sustain with Him?
When the church learns to appreciate what this is, Christ's love will course through its veins and transform it into the most effective soul-winning "body" history has ever seen. This is because such repentance alone can enable one to love his neighbor as himself, not in the sense of excusing or diminishing his sin in that we know we could be as guilty as he, but because such repentance includes an effective cleansing from the defilement of the sin itself.
Such love for one's neighbor goes far beyond a sentimental sympathy; it becomes an effective cooperation with Christ in reaching the heart with redemptive power. The Head at last finds members of the body prepared to be His effective agents.
--Robert J. Wieland
From: A Thought Paper on Corporate Repentance.
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