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Martyred for the Gospel

Martyred for the Gospel
The burning of Tharchbishop of Cant. D. Tho. Cranmer in the town dich at Oxford, with his hand first thrust into the fyre, wherwith he subscribed before. [Click on the picture to see Cranmer's last words.]

Collect of the Day

The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany.
The Collect.

O LORD, we beseech thee to keep thy Church and household continually in thy true religion; that they who do lean only upon the hope of thy heavenly grace may evermore be defended by thy mighty power; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Daily Bible Verse

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Doctrines of Grace in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer

The collect for the second Sunday before Lent should be noted carefully.  (See Wikipedia:  Collect).  The emphasis is not on what we do but on God's mercy.  The Lordship salvation crowd, like the Arminians, love to focus on what we do and on our good works rather than on Christ and what He did for us on the cross.  The collect says:

O LORD God, who seest that we put not our trust in any thing that we do; Mercifully grant that by thy power we may be defended against all adversity; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Most people literally cannot appreciate anything that is absolutely free.  The principle applies to giving children a gift rather than having them earn the money to buy what they want.  For example, if a parent buys a new car for a teenage son, he will not take as much care of the car than if the son had worked a part time job to pay for the car himself.  Most people cannot understand that a free gift is not necessarily "cheap grace".  It may have cost the parent a significant amount of money to purchase the new car for the son.  The same principle applies to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross for the sins of all the elect in the whole world and since the foundation of the world to the end of the world.  He shed His precious blood to redeem the elect from all their sins of the past, the present and the future.  (1 Peter 1:18, 19, 20; Ephesians 1:3-11).  Therefore, the idea that salvation is a free gift apart from our obedience, merits, good works, or progression in sanctification or consecration to God is not cheap grace.  It cost our Savior everything.  (Galatians 6:14, 15, 16).

Unfortunately the idea that we must earn our own way is wrongly applied to salvation by most religions of the world.  (Romans 4:4).  Even in Christianity this idea has crept in.  The semi-pelagianism of Rome, Eastern Orthodoxy, and of the Arminians says that man must "do" his part and then God does His part in man's salvation.  Unfortunately this is impossible for two reasons:  1)  The debt we all owe God on an individual basis is greater than we could ever repay. (Matthew 18:23-27). 2)  All mankind is fallen in Adam and is totally unable do anything whatsoever to obey God or please God.  (Romans 5:12-14; Romans 3:10-20, 23; Romans 8:8).  The Gospel, however, naturally follows from the moral law of God.  The moral law is impossible for sinners to fulfill.  Why?  God requires absolute obedience from cradle to grave.  (Matthew 5:17-21; Romans 10:1-5;   The only man who was sinless is Jesus Christ. (Hebrews 4:15). The 39 Articles of Religion reflect this biblical teaching in Article XV:

CHRIST in the truth of our nature was made like unto us in all things, sin only except, from which He was clearly void, both in His flesh and in His spirit. He came to be the lamb without spot, Who by sacrifice of Himself once made, should take away the sins of the world: and sin, as S. John saith, was not in Him. But all we the rest, although baptized and born again in Christ, yet offend in many things: and if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  (Hebrews 2:14, 17;Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 2:22; 1 Peter 1:19; Hebrews 7:27; Hebrews 9:12, 26; John 1:29; 1 John 3:5; James 3:2; 1 John 1:8).


It is easy to see the hand of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer in this collect and in the 39 Articles of Religion, which Archbishop Matthew Parker edited from 42 Articles penned by Cranmer .  Cranmer sought to teach the doctrines of grace and justification by faith alone through the liturgy of the English church.  He reformed the Roman Catholic liturgy and made it completely Protestant.  Even more radically, the Bible and the English liturgy were now available in English translation.  In the fifteenth century the official language of the English government was French and Latin and the language of the English church was Latin.

The idea that there is a via media between Rome and the English Reformation is simply a propaganda device used by Anglo-Catholics and Tractarians to lead Protestants back to Rome.  The King James Bible in conjunction with the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and its earlier editions, beginning with the 1549 Book of Common Prayer, the least reformed edition, revolutionized English society in that it now made religion available to all the people from the plow boy to the king.  With the advent of a new respectability for the English language, the translation of the Bible into the vernacular, and the liturgy being both in English and revised in accordance with the English Bible there was a widespread literacy in both reading and religion.  With a new emphasis on a proper reading of the church fathers in line with the apostolic teaching of the New Testament the English reformers sought to correct centuries of superstition and man-made traditions that were not supported by the Bible.

The teaching of the collect from Sexagesima is a reflection of the teaching from Titus 3:5:

But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4-7 NKJ)


The other doctrine taught in this collect is that God is sovereign over every adversity we face in life.  This doctrine is as hard to accept as the doctrine of grace alone as the basis for our salvation.  The pride of men will not allow them to acknowledge that even their very life depends on God allowing them to live.  (Acts 17:28; Genesis 2:7; Job 12:10).  God controls all the adversities we face in life.  (Isaiah 45:7; Amos 3:6; Lamentations 3:38).  In fact, why would we pray if God cannot actually control nature and adversity in our lives?  (Philippians 4:6, 7).  Furthermore, why pray for the conversion of the lost if God cannot actually soften hardened hearts or open the eyes of rebellious sinners in bondage to sin?  (Romans 9:15, 16; Acts 16:14; Daniel 4:34; Ephesians 1:18).

Although it is hard to accept, God is sovereign in the salvation of His elect and in the damnation of the lost.  Romans 9:18, 19, 20, 21).  He will have mercy on whom He will have mercy.  The pelagian tendency to human self-righteousness (Romans 10:1, 2, 3) is inherent in the human nature.  But we must face the fact that God brought us into the world and He will take us out of it at His own good pleasure and in His time.  (Psalm 115:3; Hebrews 9:27; Ecclesiastes 3:1, 11; 1 Timothy 6:7).

May the peace of God be yours,

Charlie  (Romans 5:1, 2)



(See also:  The Story of the Book of Common Prayer and Celebrating 350 Years of the Book of Common Prayer.  Even the idea that we should read and mark our Bibles was advised by the Book of Common Prayer:  Second Sunday in Advent).

6 comments:

Jack Miller said...

Hey Charlie,

Good article, again underscoring the nature of salvation, that being a free gift through faith and not of any works of man.

Calvin emphasized this over and over again as here: "This calling of Abram is a signal instance of the gratuitous mercy of God. Had Abram been beforehand with God by any merit of works? Had Abram come to him, or conciliated his favour? Nay, we must ever recall to mind that he was plunged in the filth of idolatry; and God freely stretches forth his hand to bring back the wanderer. He deigns to open his sacred mouth, that he may show to one, deceived by Satan's wiles, the way of salvation.

But this is done designedly, in order that the manifestation of the grace of God might become the more conspicuous in his person. For he is an example of the vocation of us all; for in him we perceive, that, by the mere mercy of God, those things that are not are raised from nothing, in order that they may begin to be something."
(Gen. Commentary)

Jack

Reformation said...

Thanks Charlie.

A bit off topic. Has anyone noted a few things: (1) Virtue isn't writing as many articles at VOL? (2) The thinness, academically, of VOL articles theologically and historically? The old boy has his Global Institute advertised on VOL site, but one never gets articles posted. Why? Odd? There's a world of good stuff that could be published, e.g. from Australia or the Church Society, etc. But we never get anything. (3) Has anyone noticed a "media blackout" on AMiA's recent split-off from Rwanda? Having read the old boy since the late 1990s and hearing him puff AMiA in the early 2000s, repeatedly, there is total silence. The silence is deafening.

I'm finding the VOL site thinner by the day. While it's always been thin, it's become worse.

Are others seeing this?

Charlie J. Ray said...

Thank-you, Jack. I was not happy with the sound quality of Horton's response on the Reformed Forum. I am almost tempted to say that it was done on purpose since Camden Bucey surely could hear how bad the sound quality was. He should have stopped the show until the problem was either fixed or Horton agreed to speak over a regular phone line. Skype was obviously unstable that night.

Charlie J. Ray said...

Hi, Phil... I rarely go to the VirtueOnline site so I have not noticed. But I did find out that David Virtue has a grudge against George Conger since Conger has been critical of the open attempt by the ACNA to proselytize the AMiA congregations and pastors who wish to remain faithful to the alliance with the house of bishops in Rwanda.

I have no idea why Anglo-Catholics fight amongst themselves. I guess the reason is that Conger stayed with The Episcopal Church rather than leaving for the uncharted "province" of the Anglican Church of North America. The truth be known the ranks of the ACNA are not that large. Although TEC is losing members, the ACNA is very small over all.

Also, the ACNA is not that different from TEC except for the homosexuality issue and women's ordination. It won't be long before ACNA has women priests in addition to women "deacons".

Jack Miller said...

I hear ya, Charlie. That Tipton/Horton thing was not a fair conversation. They immediately put Horton in the dock to answer for his deviations. Have your read Horton's response to Frame's "The Escondido Theology?" He seems to be taking the gloves off after all these attacks. In the response he speaks to the larger issues that tie into the whole union/justification debate vi-a-vis WTS Philly.

A Response To John Frames's The Escondido Theology

carry on...

Charlie J. Ray said...

No, I have not seen this one, Jack. Thank-you for the link.

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