Anglican Morning Devotion 27 May 2021 Anno Domini
A ministry of the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
Article X of the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion of the Reformation Church of England:
The condition of man after the fall of Adam is such that he cannot turn and prepare himself, by his own natural strength and good works, to faith, and calling upon God. Wherefore we have no power to do good works pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of God by preventing us, that we may have a good will, and working with us, when we have that good will.
“For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13)
From the moment Adam sinned, the heart of man has been dead to righteousness. Adam died spiritually the moment he partook of the forbidden fruit, and so did all his progeny. We were all dead in trespasses and sin until the Holy Spirit moved in our hearts to call us by grace to life in Christ. “1And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; . . . . 5Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;). . . . 8For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:1, 5, 8-9) The dead can do no works worthy of salvation – not even ONE. It is the grace of the Lord that beckons us to life by faith imbued by the Holy Spirit.
This Article of Religion is difficult for many to accept. They believe that they one day made a righteous decision to follow God – that it was their own decision of which God had no part. But God is Sovereign and He calls whom He will. “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5) The heart is the seat of the will, and it is desperately wicked. We all deserve the punishment of Hell, but God rules the matter.
Martin Luther wrote a classic work concerning man’s falsely perceived free will – THE BONDAGE OF THE SOUL. The title is correct in all ways. The will of man is in bondage to sin until he is made alive in Christ. His will is not free – but in bondage. The soul that has taken upon itself the Mind (Will) that was in Christ is, indeed, free. It is the only ‘free will’ that man can profess to have. “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” (John 8:36) All the works and will of the believer are wrought by Christ. “LORD, thou wilt ordain peace for us: for thou also hast wrought all our works in us.” (Isaiah 26:12)
Holiness is a characteristic of the believer, and we can only be Holy through the workings of Christ in our hearts and minds. As a great minister of the past has written:
“As there is no strength in us, so there is no merit in us. As we cannot act without God’s grace, so we cannot claim it, nor pretend to deserve it. God’s good will to us is the cause of his good work in us; and he is under no engagements to his creatures, but those of his gracious promise.” Matthew Henry Commentary
It is God that makes us alive who were dead, and it is He who turns us to Himself: “. . . turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art the LORD my God.” (Jeremiah 31:18b)
Article Ten is included in the Thirty-Nine Articles to reject the Pelagian Heresy that the descendants of Adam were not tainted by original sin and, therefore, possessed free will to merit salvation. What do you think, friend?
“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” (Romans 8:29-30; all scripture quoted is form the king James Version)