The Vast and Solemn Subject of Sin

Holiness by J.C. Ryle

“Sin is the transgression of the law.” 1 John 3:4

He who wishes to attain right views about Christian holiness must begin by examining the vast and solemn subject of sin. He must dig down very low if he would build high. A mistake here is most mischievous. Wrong views about holiness are generally traceable to wrong views about human corruption. I make no apology for beginning this volume of messages about holiness by making some plain statements about sin.

The plain truth is that a right understanding of sin lies at the root of all saving Christianity. Without it such doctrines as justification, conversion, sanctification, are “words and names” which convey no meaning to the mind. The first thing, therefore, that God does when He makes anyone a new creature in Christ is to send light into his heart and show him that he is a guilty sinner. The material creation in Genesis began with “light,” and so also does the spiritual creation. God “shines into our hearts” by the work of the Holy Spirit and then spiritual life begins (2 Corinthians 4:6). Dim or indistinct views of sin are the origin of most of the errors, heresies and false doctrines of the present day. If a man does not realize the dangerous nature of his soul’s disease, you cannot wonder if he is content with false or imperfect remedies. I believe that one of the chief wants of the contemporary church has been, and is, clearer, fuller teaching about sin.

 

Excerpt from the book “Holiness” by J.C. Ryle

~ Chapter 1 ~

J.C. Ryle, Evangelical, Church of England

The Bible does not change. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Hebrews 13:8

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Church of England Ageing Congregations

Will ageing congregations be the death of the Anglican Church of England?

Some in its midst fear the answer to that question is yes.

Anglican Church of England Investment Fund

Andreas Whittam Smith, the overseer of the Church of England Investment Fund, told the General Synod yesterday that the Church of England was facing a “crisis” with its ageing demographic.

He likened the Church of England to large companies that “perfectly and impeccably manage themselves into failure.”

He suggested that not all Anglicans were fully aware of the scale of the crisis facing the Church of England.

“One of our problems is may be that decline is so slow and imperceptible that we don’t really see it coming clearly enough.”

Another Synod member, the Rev Dr Patrick Richmond, from Norwich, warned that a “perfect storm” was brewing, as the number of adults and children attending services continues to decline nationwide.

He expressed concern that there would be no Anglican Church of England left as ageing members start to die out in the next few decades.

“The perfect storm we can see arriving fast on the horizon is the ageing congregations,” he said.

“The average age is 61 now, with many congregations above that.

“These congregations will be led by fewer and fewer stipendiary clergy.”

He added: “2020 apparently is when our congregations start falling through the floor because of natural wastage – that is, people dying.”

He suggested that 20 years from now the Church of England would be “no longer functionally extant at all”.

Some bloggers have offered their thoughts on how serious declining attendance is for the Church of England.

EChurch Blog writer Stuart James said it would take more than a recruitment drive to turn Church of England attendance around.

“Normally headlines are alarmist, but sadly I think one’s spot on,” he said.

“Supervising decline”

I think this aptly sums up the situation many Anglican parishes find themselves in.

“I still find the decline of the CofE painful to contemplate. As to why this is happening, I have my theories and no doubt you do also.

“It’s easy to kick something when it’s down.”

The Vernacular Curate blogger, Fr David Cloake, was a little more optimistic, dismissing Dr Richmond’s comments as “grotesque pessimism”.

He said that the average age of Anglican Church of England attendance had always “erred towards the ancient” because people tended to return to the Church of England in their fifties “once families and their immediate needs abate.”

Source: Christianity Today | Wednesday, 13 July, 2011.

The Anglican Church of England dead in 20 years?

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C.H. Spurgeon: The Broken Fence

A religion which is all excitement, and has little instruction in it, may serve for transient use; but for permanent life-purposes there must be a knowledge of those great doctrines which are fundamental to the gospel system. I tremble when I hear of a man’s giving up, one by one, the vital principles of the gospel and boasting of his liberality.

The spirit of the Broad School robs us of everything like certainty. I should like to ask some great men of that order whether they believe that anything is taught in the Scriptures which it would be worth while for a person to die for, and whether the martyrs were not great fools for laying down their lives for mere opinions which might be right or might be wrong?

This broad-churchism is a breaking down of stone walls, and it will let in the devil and all his crew, and do infinite harm to the church of God, if it be not stopped. A loose state of belief does great damage to any man’s mind.

Lately we have seen few men with backbone; the most have been of the jelly-fish order. I have lived in times in which I should have said, “Be liberal, and shake off all narrowness ; but now I am obliged to alter my tone and cry, “Be steadfast in the truth.”

The faith once delivered to the saints is now all the more attractive to me, because it is called narrow, for I am weary of that breadth which comes of broken hedges. There are fixed points of truth, and definite certainties of creed, and woe to you if you allow these stone walls to crumble down.

C.H. Spurgeon (1834-1892)

Excerpt from sermon entitled “The Broken Fence”

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Frustrated Anglicans Seek Way Forward

As the Anglican Communion continues to deal with divisions and tension within the global body, the Archbishop of Canterbury reminded leaders on Tuesday that there are no quick solutions for the wounds.rowan-williams-druid

“It is the work of the Spirit that heals the Body of Christ, not the plans or the statements of any group, or any person, or any instrument of communion,” Dr. Rowan Williams said in a video address to the Fourth Global South to South Encounter.

Dozens of conservative Anglican leaders opened a five-day conference Monday in Singapore. Participants intend to build on the vision of the “One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ” as they confront the brokenness of the 77 million-member body.

They are there to discuss the Anglican Covenant – a document aimed at preventing a split in the Anglican Communion.

“Initially, it was felt that a comprehensive Anglican covenant would help heal the wounds and restore confidence in our relationships within the Anglican family, as it would provide for accountability,” said retired Archbishop of Nigeria the Most Rev. Peter Akinola in his opening address Monday.

“But as things stand today in the Communion, this Encounter gathered here in Singapore needs to assure itself if the proposed covenant offers any such hope.”

“More importantly,” he added, “has the real problem that tore the fabric of the Communion been addressed? Can the Covenant address the problem?”

Akinola, chairman of the Global South Primates Steering Committee, contended that signing the Anglican Covenant would not stop The Episcopal Church “from pursuing its own agenda.”

He also lamented the hesitancy to exercise discipline against The Episcopal Church.

“We are God’s Covenant to the world, yes, but we are divided,” he said. “We lack discipline. We lack the courage to call ‘a spade a spade.’ Our obedience to God is selective.”

“I am troubled, I am sad in fact I am confused.”

Nevertheless, his desire is for “a genuine healing” of the church, he said.

And Anglican churches cannot continue focusing on the internal crisis and neglect their mission of making Christ known, Akinola added.

Global South leaders are seeking to find a way forward during their meeting this week.

The Episcopal Church – the U.S. arm of Anglicanism – caused uproar in 2003 when it consecrated its first openly gay bishop. Last summer, Episcopal leaders further passed resolutions opening the ordination process to all baptized members, which would include practicing homosexuals, and calling for the development of theological and liturgical resources for the blessing of same gender relationships.

Despite calls by Anglican leaders worldwide to practice gracious restraint in regards to the ordination of partnered gays, The Episcopal Church most recently approved the ordination of an openly lesbian bishop in Los Angeles.

Williams, the spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion, acknowledged in his brief message that recent decisions by The Episcopal Church in the U.S. have made the brokenness and tension that are present even more acute.

“All of us share the concern that in this decision and action The Episcopal Church has deepened the divide between itself and the rest of the Anglican family,” said Williams, who is currently discussing what consequences should follow the controversial decision.

But amid the crises, Williams urged Global South Anglicans to “allow the Holy Spirit to lift your eyes to that broader horizon of God’s purpose for us as Anglicans, for us as Christians, and indeed for us as human beings.

“[W]e must all share in a sense of repentance and willingness to be renewed by the Spirit.”

Please click here to read full article

by Lillian Kwon

April 20, 2010

www.christianpost.com

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