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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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.”

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by Lillian Kwon

April 20, 2010

www.christianpost.com

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N.Y. Episcopal Priest to Marry Gay Partner

The priest heading an Episcopal parish in Bath, N.Y., has decided to marry his longtime gay partner, according to a recent announcement.

The Very Rev. J. Brad Benson, rector of St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church, plans to get married this summer in a state where same-sex marriage is legal.

“After twenty years of loving relationship, my partner Carl Johengen and I have decided that it is time that we were legally married,” he wrote in the church’s most recent newsletter.

The St. Thomas rector explained that he has begun to see the word “marriage” in purely legal terms and has come to realize that he and his partner “need” the legal rights and responsibilities afforded in a marriage.

“No one questions the rights and responsibilities of a married couple; simply saying, ‘I’m his wife’ or ‘I’m her husband’ opens many legal doors,” he stated.

Benson was one of hundreds of clergy and lay leaders from across New York State who signed a petition in 2008 urging the state legislature to legalize marriage for gays and lesbians. The same-sex marriage measure was defeated by a wide margin in December.

After seeking legal marriage in another state, the gay couple will then seek the church’s blessing through a liturgy which will be attended and presided by three bishops – Rochester Bishop Prince Singh, retired Bishop Jack McKelvey, and Maine Bishop Stephen Lane.

The announcement comes as more dioceses within The Episcopal Church have permitted clergy to wed homosexual couples despite the call by leaders in the worldwide Anglican Communion, of which The Episcopal Church is the U.S. arm, to practice gracious restraint in regards to the blessing of gay and lesbian couples.

Last summer, The Episcopal Church approved a resolution allowing “bishops, particularly those in dioceses within civil jurisdictions where same-gender marriage, civil unions or domestic partnerships are legal” to “provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this church.”

The resolution also noted the need to consider providing theological and liturgical resources for the blessing of same gender relationships. The Episcopal Church does not permit its “Order of Marriage” to be used in the marriage of same-sex couples.

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by Lillian Kwon

April 19, 2010

www.christianpost.com

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