Friends, as Anglicans our roots are grounded in the Reformation period of the 16th Century. We are currently exploring our core beliefs via the catchcry slogans of: ‘Bible alone; Christ alone; faith alone; grace alone; and God’s glory alone’.
The 39 Articles is our Anglican doctrinal statement and reflects a protestant, reformed understanding of core Christian beliefs and church order. They were composed in England largely from the work of Archbishop Cranmer in the 1550s.
The Articles are our standard of doctrine and so shape our Anglican ministry—especially in its direction and priorities. For example, Cranmer was instrumental in returning the Bible to churches and insisting on sermons in church services. Hence article XIX on the nature of the church:
The visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful [people], in which the pure Word of God is preached and the Sacraments be duly administered …
God acts towards us in grace for there’s nothing we can do that will enable him to forgive us our sin. So the church will centre around God’s word which tells of his grace; along with the sacraments which remind us of his grace in Christ. This is seen in the words we hear at the Lord’s Supper: ‘take and eat this in remembrance that Christ died for you, and feed on him in your hearts by faith with thanksgiving.’
The articles make it clear that God’s grace doesn’t come via sacrificing priests, rituals or religious ceremonies (cf. need and act of grace in Articles IX, X, XI). Rather, God’s grace comes to us in Christ, in his death and resurrection.
‘Grace’ clearly expresses the free act of God’s love in Christ who came to save us. Grace is God’s unmerited favour towards us sinners who deserve the very opposite. In 2 Corinthians 8:9 we read:
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet
for your sake he became poor, so that you though his poverty might become rich.
Paul isn’t talking about material wealth/poverty, but spiritual blessing. For God has lavished his grace on us (Eph 16-8), especially in delivering us from judgement. The riches of God’s grace are the ultimate cause of our redemption and provide the reason for our rescue from judgement. In Ephesians 2:8 Paul writes that we have been saved by grace, through faith (human response to God’s salvation). And faith isn’t some good work that earns us merit with God—rather it is how we receive what God has already done in Christ. Hence we have no room to boast, because we’re saved by God’s gift in Jesus Christ (cf. Romans 327.
Since it’s God’s grace towards us that saves, then we are called to model grace in our lives—to be gracious in our words and behaviour; to be generous in our giving of ourselves, time and resources (2 Corinthians 85-9; 96-9; Titus 211-14; Colossians 312-14).
Yours in Christ,