Friends, as I commented last week our denomination (Anglican Church) grew out of the Church of England. The Reformation period of the 16th Century was a time of amazing change as Christians rediscovered their biblical roots. Hence our theological roots, what we believe as Anglicans, were shaped during this time. We are exploring those core beliefs via the catchcry slogans of: ‘Bible alone; Christ alone; faith alone; grace alone; and God’s glory alone’.
The 39 Articles are our Anglican statement of belief—ie. what we hold to as an Anglican Church. Essentially they are a refined version of the articles written during Archbishop Cranmer’s time in the 1550s. They reflect a reformed and protestant understanding of doctrine and church order. Though the articles were fashioned in consultation, they were principally authored by Cranmer, along with Bishop Ridley. These articles were reaffirmed by the bishops under Elizabeth 1; became law in 1571; and clergy were required to assent to them. Their purpose was to have a legal and authorised standard for Church of England doctrine. Accompanying the Articles is a royal declaration which states,
“That the Articles of the Church of England …do contain the true Doctrine of the Church of England agreeable to God’s Word: which We do therefore ratify and confirm, requiring all Our loving Subjects to continue in the uniform Profession thereof, and prohibiting the least difference from the said Articles”
Why not check out the articles found at the end of our Prayer Books.
Last week we considered the impact of Christ’s once and for all time sacrifice for sin—the death that turns away God’s wrath which we rightly deserve (propitiation, Roms 325). Because our salvation is God’s work from beginning to end then the appropriate response is faith—hence the reformation slogan, faith alone. Article XI titled ‘Of the Justification of Man’ states:
We are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by faith, and not for our own works or deservings. Wherefore that we are justified by faith only is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort; as more largely is expressed in the Homily of Justification.
John Calvin offered a helpful way of thinking about ‘faith’ – he wrote:
‘Now we shall possess a right definition of faith if we call it a firm and certain knowledge of God’s benevolence towards us, founded upon the truth of the freely given promise in Christ, both revealed to our minds and sealed upon our hearts through the Holy Spirit’ (Institutes, III.ii.7).
Friends, the key ingredient in faith is its object—the act of believing isn’t of value in and of itself. Thus it is only faith in Christ that saves (cf. Roms 326; Gals 220). It’s faith alone—why? since Christ has done all that is necessary to secure our salvation.
Yours in Christ, Gary