A Devotion for 9 December 2020 Anno Domini, the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
5 ¶ 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
ARTICLES OF RELIGION:
X. Of Free Will.
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 Christ preventing us that we may have a good will, and working with us when we have that good will.
XVII. Of Predestination and Election.
PREDESTINATION to life is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby, before the foundations of the world were laid, He hath constantly decreed by His counsel secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation those whom He hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation as vessels made to honour. Wherefore they which be endued with so excellent a benefit of God be called according to God’s purpose by His Spirit working in due season; they through grace obey the calling; they be justified freely; they be made sons of God by adoption; they be made like the image of His only-begotten Son Jesus Christ; they walk religiously in good works; and at length by God’s mercy they attain to everlasting felicity.
As the godly consideration of Predestination and our Election in Christ is full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort to godly persons and such as feeling in themselves the working of the Spirit of Christ, mortifying the works of the flesh and their earthly members and drawing up their mind to high and heavenly things, as well because it doth greatly establish and confirm their faith of eternal salvation to be enjoyed through Christ, as because it doth fervently kindle their love towards God: so for curious and carnal persons, lacking the Spirit of Christ, to have continually before their eyes the sentence of God’s Predestination is a most dangerous downfall, whereby the devil doth thrust them either into desperation or into wretchlessness of most unclean living no less perilous than desperation.
Furthermore, we must receive God’s promises in such wise as they be generally set forth in Holy Scripture; and in our doings that will of God is to be followed which we have expressly declared unto us in the word of God.
I profess Christ as my Lord and Savior because I have been given the grace to believe His Word and Promises. I am a Reformation Anglican because I have believed the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion are a summary explanation of the doctrines of Holiness and Truth that are clearly exposed in God’s word. If I could find an argument against any doctrine expressed in those Articles, I would spare no effort to discover the truth of that argument. So far, I have found the Articles to completely support the claims of Holy Writ and will stand by each one of them with earnest faith. Those two Articles quoted above are included in that belief.
Man loves to think that he is the “master of his fate and the captain of his soul,” as Wm. E. Henley vainly proclaims in his poem, INVICTUS:
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.
Well, it certainly matters if the Gate is Strait and the Way is Narrow whether Mr. Henley – a suicide victim – believed those words. When Christ exclaims “I WILL,” it is attended by thunderous fulfillment – not so with man because man whose “I Will’s’ are sourced in mortality and failure. Tell me of your success in keeping your New Year’s resolutions!
Please observe the Seven “I Wills” of Jesus
1. I will make you fishers of men. (Matt 4:19)
2. I will give you rest (Matt 11:28)
3. I will keep you. (John 6:37)
4. I will love you (John 14:21).
5. I will do what you ask in my name. (John 14:14)
6. I will come again and see you again (John 14:3, 16:22)
7. I will send the [Holy Spirit] to you. (John 16:7)
Now observe the “I Will’s” of Satan: “13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. 15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.” Isaiah 14:13-14
1. I will ascend into heaven,
2. I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;
3. I will also sit on the mount of the congregation In the sides of the north;
4. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds
5. I will be like the Most High.
If you have studied God’s Word, you will realize that old scoundrel did not do any of those ‘I wills’ and neither can mortal man. God created man with a will, and it was a Free Will at Eden, until that will was placed in bondage to Satan at the ignominious Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Yes, man has a will, but that will is not free – it is self-will. Martin Luther made a fine study of that will in his work entitled, Bondage of the Will.
I will not give a description of the meaning of Articles X and XVII since they explain themselves with great clarity. Moreover, such a subject as this requires more than a devotion to fathom its depths. I only offer these thoughts for thought and study. The will of man cannot supersede the prerogatives of the Holy Ghost in the matter of salvation. “28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 29 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. 30 Moreover 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 8:28-30 We are called by God – God is not called by us to adopt our sorry souls.
Jesus raised Lazarus from the tomb by calling his name. Lazarus had nothing to do with being made alive, and neither does the sinner, by his merit or good works, have anything to do with being made alive in Christ: “1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:1-9
Now, you may disagree with that role of the Holy Ghost I have posited, but which particular verse of the two texts above do you disagree? Were you dead in trespasses and sin? Were you made alive? If so, how? What did you do ‘while you were dead’ to be made alive?