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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Justification by Faith and All Sorts of Declarations!

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Over at Pontifications, there is a great discussion taking place on justification. I recommend it for your own reading. There are numerous highlights to point out but too many to put here so I will just link it for your own reading pleasure. What I will provide is Andrewes's way of looking at Justification in light of the whole life lived.

On 23 November, 1600, Andrewes preached a sermon on Justification. Andrewes asserts that to be righteousness, or to be justice, is the name of Christ alone. This is the Name that God gave him. Therefore, his name has virtue to do what his name describes. One must understand Andrewes’ views of justification in light of what he wrote in his sermons on prayer where he clearly states that God gives us grace and we receive that grace, “by his Spirit that enables us, we are said to be able and meet to do these things which we are commanded.” Grace, precedes any of our abilities according to Andrewes and to not emphasise that all that we do is of grace, “is to rob God of His glory,” according to this Bishop. Works are not ascribed to the strength of our own nature, which is the proper work of grace, in Andrewes’ thought. He says that when we do anything other than this, “then do we blemish God’s glory.”

But, we are called to use this righteousness in Andrewes’ sermon on Justification. We are to be made righteousness, the very righteousness of God himself. This righteousness is accounted to us because of the grace of Christ. The call for Christians is to ACT on this Justification, legal declaration, throughout their lives. Our acceptance by God is NOT our works and Andrewes clearly makes this point in his Pentecost sermon of 1619. But that does not mean that we are NOT called to live out that Justification where the whole life lived is brought before the Great Judgment Seat of the covenant faithful One. In an Easter sermon Andrewes preaches concerning St. Paul’s call to the Church to be a people zealous after good works. Faith and works are not two things isolated from one another. He says in this sermon that by works our faith is made perfect, for without them faith is “stark dead.” But, notice what he says in this sermon,
“And by a fall things come out of joint, and indeed so they did; Adam’s fall we call it, and we call it right. Sin which before broke the peace, which made the going from or departure which needed the bringing back; the same sin, here now again, put all out of joint. And things out of joint are never quiet, never at peace and rest, till they be set right again. But when all is in frame, all is in peace; and so it [Heb. 13:20-21]. The God of peace…make you perfect in all good works to do His will…] refers well to ‘the God of peace’ Who is to do it.”
This is accomplished according to Andrewes by the inspiring grace of the breathing of the Holy Spirit. But interestingly and true to all of Scripture, in his answers to Cardinal Perron concerning the necessity of Good Works, he says, “We hold good works necessary to Salvation: and that faith without them saveth not.” Grace is an enabling virtue for Andrewes. But grace does not deny the necessity of Good Works. “Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, DECEIVING YOURSELVES.”

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    O God, most glorious, most bountiful, accept, we humbly beseech thee, our praises and thanksgivings for thy holy Catholic Church, the mother of us all who bear the name of Christ; for the faith which it hath conveyed in safety to our time, and the mercies by which it hath enlarged and comforted the souls of men; for the virtues which it hath established upon earth, and the holy lives by which it glorifieth both the world and thee; to whom, O blessed Trinity (+), be ascribed all honour, might, majesty and dominion, now and for ever. Amen.
    --Bishop Lancelot Andrewes

Societas Sanctae Crucis

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