NEW

St Helen’s Bishopsgate “Pauses Contributions to Common Fund”

St Helen’s Bishopsgate “Pauses Contributions to Common Fund” The Standing Committee of the PCC of St Helen’s Bishopsgate has written to the Bishop of London to make plain their theological opposition to the proposed same-sex blessings proffered by the House of...

Hull Parish Rejects Authority of Archbishop of York Over False Teaching

Hull Parish Rejects Authority of Archbishop of York Over False Teaching St Andrew’s Kirk Ella has written a very direct letter to the Archbishop of York about his support for the same-sex blessings proposals.  In the letter, they pull no punches and announce that with...

Barnabas Fund Report: African Hospitals Give Thanks for PPE as Ebola Breaks Out in Uganda

Barnabas Fund Report African Hospitals Give Thanks for PPE as Ebola Breaks Out in Uganda Christian hospitals in Africa have given heartfelt thanks for a huge consignment of personal protective equipment (PPE) shipped by Barnabas Aid’s medical.gives programme. “We want...

His Majesty’s Declaration Pertaining to the Use and Understanding the Articles of Religion

His Majesty’s Declaration Pertaining to the Use and Understanding the Articles of Religion Words do have meaning and particularly when they pertain to how we are to understand the doctrines of the Church.  In an earlier era, under a different monarch named Charles,...

Keene Review: Finding Your Best Identity

Finding Your Best Identity A short Christian introduction to identity, sexuality and gender Andrew Bunt IVP, 2022 (ISBN: 9781789744200, 90pp, £8.99)   The most casual glance at biblical passages such as Matthew 6 or 1 John 2 indicates that ‘the world’ is entirely...

CEEC Calls for Action

CEEC Calls for Action  Offers the Church of England a Better Way Forward After failing to provide a quick substantive answer to the Blessings Proposals  by the House of Bishops, the CEEC has responded in a very clear way in stating its opposition to what has been...

Thomas Cromwell: The Man Behind the Curtain

Thomas Cromwell The Man Behind the Curtain By the Revd Canon Chuck Collins So many “Thomases” in the 16th century, it’s hard to keep them straight! Thomas Cromwell was beheaded July 28, 1540 by order of King Henry VIII for the crime of treason and heresy, but his real...

New Bishop for Complementarian Churches Consecrated

New Bishop for Complementarian Churches Consecrated The Revd Rob Munro was consecrated as Bishop of Ebbsfleet on Thursday 2 February in a service at Canterbury Cathedral.   In keeping with the complementarian understanding of ministry, Bishop Munro was consecrated to...

Hypocrisy of Authoritarian Bishops

The Hypocrisy of Authoritarian Bishops  Part 2 By the Revd Dr Lee Gatiss Sophistry I wonder if the bishops who wrote this report did so with a straight face? They tell us that church blessings are not pronouncements, and approval cannot be inferred from them. They...

South Sudan Primate Welcomes Church Leaders but Remains Firm on Biblical Marriage

South Sudan Primate Welcomes Church Leaders but Remains Firm on Biblical Marriage The Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, the Revd Dr Iain Greenshields, visited South Sudan in the first weekend of February to participate in...

Collins: Who’s Your Righteousness?

Who’s Your Righteousness?

By the Revd Canon Chuck Collins

Who’s your righteousness? “The Lord our Righteousness” was the sermon preached March 20, 1757 at St. Mary’s Church in Oxford. It offended nearly everyone that day and William Romaine was invited to never preach there again. Preaching about a righteousness that is not our own doing, the undeserved free gift of God’s own righteousness, is the last thing someone wants to hear who is seeking God’s approval on the treadmill of good works and self improvement. Romaine calls this “the fundamental doctrine of the gospel” and “the most important truth of Christianity.”

There are two kinds of righteousness, according to St. Paul, the self-righteousness of good works, and God’s own righteousness imputed to unworthy sinners who believe him for it by faith (Rom 10:3-11). It should be clear to everyone that we are born with a default mode for works-righteousness; something in everyone wants to contribute to their own salvation. Legalism orders our lives, and the Pharisees viewed justification as a process of transformation. Whole systems of religion are devised to facilitate our understanding of salvation-by-increments: acquiring grace by participating in the sacraments or modern-day discipleship plans that are meant to lead us towards the goal of obtaining human worthiness to stand before God. Preachers thrive on this. They are paid good money to fuss at their congregations for not getting better, chiding them to do more and try harder. Self-righteousness inspires pride for a job well done and disdain for those who haven’t tried enough.

The righteousness that transforms lives begins with the recognition that no one is innately righteous enough (Rom 3:10), and that our personal righteousnesses are as filthy rags (Isa 64:6). Yet, to stand before a perfectly righteous God requires righteousness! Knowing this, God gave us a righteous branch to execute justice and righteousness (Jer 23:5) whose name is “The Lord is our righteousness” (23:6). Jesus is our righteousness – “Not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith” (Phil 3:9). Our hope is not for moral improvement, but Jesus Christ who clothes us with the garments of salvation and covers us with the robe of his righteousness (Isa 61:10) – God’s righteousness inputed (reckoned, counted) to the unrighteous (Rom 4:3-6) making us the righteousness of God in him (2 Cor 5:21). We are not made intrinsically righteous and meritorious of God’s love, but rather God’s love gifts us with an alien (outside of ourselves) righteousness – “We are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ by faith” (Thirty-nine Articles, Article 9). Righteousness that saves and sanctifies results in grateful hearts and changed wills to love God with our whole heart and our neighbour as ourselves.

William Romaine understood this:

“Consider your state. You are a pardoned sinner, not under the law but under grace, freely, fully saved from the guilt of all your sins. There is none to condemn, God having justified you. He sees you in His Son, washed you in His blood, clothed you in His righteousness, and He embraces Him and you, the head and the members, with the same affection.”

“The salvation which the gospel makes known to us, puts us in the position of mere receivers. It refuses to deal with us on any other footing but this.”

The English reformers preached this central message of the Bible, that our salvation depends on God’s mercy and not on our treadmill accomplishments:

“There is a glorifying righteousness of men in the world to come; and there is a justifying and a sanctifying righteousness here. The righteousness wherewith we shall be clothed in the world to come is both perfect and inherent. That whereby we are justified is perfect, but not inherent. That whereby we are sanctified, inherent, but not perfect. This openeth a way to the plain understanding of that grand question, which hangeth yet in controversy between us and the Church of Rome, about the matter of justifying righteousness.” (Richard Hooker, “A Learned Discourse on Justification”)

“This justification or righteousness, which we receive by God’s mercy and Christ’s merits embraced by faith, is taken, accepted, and counted by God as our perfect and full justification.” (Thomas Cranmer, Homily “Salvation by Christ Alone,” Gatiss edition)

“We do not presume to come to this thy table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies…” (Thomas Cranmer, Book of Common Prayer)

If all this sounds formulaic, propositional and cold, it wasn’t so for Romaine or the English reformers, and neither is it for Christians today. It is a life-changer! Dane Ortland reminds us that “the gospel offers us not only legal exoneration — inviolably precious truth! — it also sweeps us into Christ’s very heart.” Saving faith is much more than a legal agreement for adoption signed in some far-away heavenly courtroom; it is becoming his children! It’s not just about having our sins forgiven; it’s union with the one who created us and loves us for such a relationship. It doesn’t make us righteous, but such a love in the power of the Holy Spirit reorients our wills to love God and to love our neighbour. In justification, God moves into a Christian’s heart to take up residence in the power of the Holy Spirit — Christ is in you, the hope of glory! (Col 3:3).

Previous

Next