Righteousness for the Christian

Discussion in 'Theology and Doctrine' started by Rexlion, Jan 7, 2022.

  1. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    The liturgy highlights the sinfulness of us Christians, but it doesn't do anything to highlight the fact that God has imputed or accounted righteousness to us Christians. I've heard our rector speak on many occasions about our sinful nature, but I've never heard him give a homily about righteousness in relation to the believer. Why do you suppose this is the case? Seems to me, this makes for a lopsided view of things.... overly sin-heavy. What do you all think?
     
  2. bwallac2335

    bwallac2335 Well-Known Member

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    I have always thought that the Eucharist and the Prayer of Humble Access does a good job of giving the righteousness side of things.
     
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  3. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    There is some language in the 1662 rite of Communion that addresses this, but the bulk of what the BCP has to say about it - and where one would most likely expect to find it - is in the rite of Baptism, which teaches baptismal regeneration and imputed righteousness simultaneously. The 39 Articles teach imputed rather than imparted righteousness.
     
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  4. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    You're right about the 39 Articles, for sure!
    Article 11 - The Justification of Man
    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 deserving. 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.

    Article 12 - Good Works
    Albeit that good works, which are the fruits of faith and follow after justification, cannot put away our sins and endure the severity of God's judgement, yet are they pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ, and do spring out necessarily of a true and lively faith, insomuch that by them a lively faith may be as evidently known as a tree discerned by the fruit.
    Article 11 hits the nail on the head, and Article 12 touches tangentially on it. Indeed, if we had been granted an inner righteousness that we could 'own,' I don't see how we would be capable of sinning.

    Even so, I'd like to see my fellow Anglicans have a little more consciousness of the fact that God has imputed His impeccable righteousness to us, and that He now views us as 'legally' without guilt for our sins, thanks to Christ.
     
  5. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Well, I'm not confident that it's enough to raise real awareness of that, at least among the folks of our parish that I've talked to. Seems like, all I need to do is mention the word, "righteousness," and they immediately start to think, "heresy." :rolleyes:

    One thing I noticed about the Prayer of Humble Access is that it was a little bit different when I first started attending the local ACNA parish than it is now. We've deleted the part that says, "Apart from your grace":
    We do not presume to come to this your table, O merciful Lord,
    trusting in our own righteousness,
    but in your abundant and great mercies.
    (Apart from your grace,)
    We are not worthy so much as to gather up
    the crumbs under your table;
    but you are the same Lord
    whose character is always to have mercy.
    Grant us, therefore, gracious Lord,
    so to eat the flesh of your dear Son Jesus Christ,
    and to drink his blood,
    that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his body,
    and our souls washed through his most precious blood,
    and that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us. Amen.​

    I feel like this deletion further strengthens the emphasis on "we are not worthy..." When we included the additional qualifying phrase, "Apart from your grace," it served to call attention to the fact that by God's grace we have been adjudged worthy. Without the phrase, one may be left with the impression that (1) we simply are not worthy, period, and (2) we are begging for God to have mercy, but we have little more assurance of receiving mercy than did the Samaritan woman when she begged Jesus for a healing 'crumb' without really knowing whether He would grant it.

    When we focus mainly on our sins and unworthiness, we may be prone to feeling beaten down, dejected, and unsure of God's provision. We may feel like God is standoffish and prefers to distance Himself from unworthy worms like us. When the awareness of (and sorrow for) our sinful tendencies is properly balanced against a conscious awareness of having been set by God in right standing with Him through and alongside Christ, we will be more likely to rejoice and be glad for the incredible miracle God has wrought on our behalf. This awareness and joy lends itself to greater confidence that God hears us in prayer, that He cares intimately about us and our needs, and that we can wholeheartedly trust Him to do what's best for us: God's 'got our backs.' I think this is a more faith-filled, balanced, and spiritually healthy way of seeing our relationship with God; it's what helps Christians to "come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" (Heb. 4:16).
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2022
  6. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    Another important source from the earliest years is the Book of Homilies. They’re well worth reading today, despite bearing all the marks of their time. The original intention behind their composition was that they be read aloud in place of a priest’s own work.
     
  7. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    I suspect they were intended to keep the arrangement of clergy in England on-song, and not wandering off into some sort of bespoke Christinity. There is a strong suggestion that many of the country clergy of the day would not have had sufficient to compose and deliver their own sermons.
     
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  8. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    I have come across that as well. I don’t doubt it.
     
  9. JonahAF

    JonahAF Moderator Staff Member Typist Anglican

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    It may be found helpful to take a look at the sermon on justification by Lancelot Andrewes, from the text of the Old Testament:
    https://www.anglican.net/works/lanc...rists-name-sermon-preached-at-whitehall-1600/
     
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  10. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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  11. CRfromQld

    CRfromQld Member

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    We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under your table.

    We do tend to over do the sin a bit.
    While none of us is perfect most of us do our best most of the time. I haven't killed nearly as many people who deserved it.
     
  12. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Well, it's more precise to note that "our best" is not good enough to please God in any way, because "our best" gets into the area of self-righteousness, and our own righteousness is like a filthy rag to God. So we have to be careful there.

    Better to think: none of us is perfect, but thanks be to God, for Christ has borne entirely the penalty we rightly deserve for our imperfections.

    Our sins were imputed to righteous Jesus when He suffered death on the cross, and His righteousness was imputed to us sinners when we believed. (Not that this miraculous gift relieves us of our duties as Christians, among which are loving God & others and resisting temptation. God knows we won't entirely succeed, but He "helps us with our infirmities" and provides enablement, so we have no excuse for giving up.) :)

    But I agree with the part about 'overdoing it a bit' in keeping our focus on the sin, instead of focusing on what God has done for us despite our sin. "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
     
  13. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    I think it's important to note that we are never counseled in the Bible to "be strong in the knowledge of our sins." :no:

    Eph 6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
    Eph 6:11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
    Eph 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
    Eph 6:13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
    Eph 6:14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
    Eph 6:15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
    Eph 6:16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
    Eph 6:17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
    Eph 6:18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints
    ;

    What are we told? Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

    How do we stay strong in the Lord?

    1. This passage tells us to maintain an awareness that we are under attack from the deceiver and his fallen angels (v. 11-12).
    2. It tells us to learn well the truth, which we can find in the Bible (v. 14).
    3. It tells us to stay aware of our righteousness (v. 14).
    4. It tells us to be prepared to share the Gospel message that a man may be restored to peace between himself and God by grace through faith (v. 15).
    5. It tells us to have faith in God's divine hand of provision, protection, and help (v. 16).
    6. It says to wear the knowledge of our salvation like a helmet protecting our mind (v. 17).
    7. It says to wield the word of God (in our minds and in our mouths) as an offensive weapon against the falsehoods of the evil adversary (v. 17).
    8. It counsels us to stay in close, constant communication (prayer) with God, both for our own good and on behalf of all the believers (v. 18).

    If a person maintains a strong sense of his own sinfulness all the time, how can he "have on the breastplate of righteousness"? Such a person leaves himself more vulnerable.

    If a redeemed, justified Christian most often thinks of himself as a filthy sinner, when the enemy tempts him to give in or to give up, won't he be in greater danger of doing so? As humans, we tend to become what we think about. If a person thinks long about his inability to resist sin, he is more likely to give in to sin than if he'd instead meditated long on the pure righteousness of God which He deigned to extend to the Christian. The latter course encourages the believer to try to live up to God's expectation, while the former encourages him to sink to his own weak expectation for himself. The latter reminds the Christian to lean on God's strength, but the former discourages him and leaves him feeling helpless in his own lack of strength.

    When the believer thinks often about the awesome honor of having God look at him, not as an unworthy worm who can't do anything right, but as one whom God has by grace accounted innocent and righteous through the blood of Jesus, that believer is more likely to resist sin. He is more likely to remember, "Greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world." He is more likely to believe, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." He is more likely to "resist the devil, and he will flee." Such a Christian is more likely to rely on God in prayer when things get tough; he's more likely to believe that his prayers are heard and that God will respond with favor; he's more likely "to walk by faith, not by sight."

    Glory to God! I could shout about now. :preach:
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2022
  14. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    I tend to agree with Dix that the Reformation Solas make sense as rhetorical devices to counter unwarranted medieval excesses, but when one tries to make a positive system out of it - as the Lutherans and the (continental) Reformed attempted to do - the result was either incoherent, or bore little resemblance to historic Christianity. I think we can recognize them as having served their purpose at the time, without being rigidly locked into thinking solely (no pun intended) in those categories today.
     
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  15. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    You've lost me. I'm not understanding how this relates to my previous post, which you included as a quote, or to the topic of this thread. :confused:
     
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  16. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    I was responding more to the thread as a whole rather than to you specifically. Sorry for the confusion. :o