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HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen has announced the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. His Royal Highness passed away peacefully at Windsor Castle. Please join us in prayer: O MERCIFUL God, the Father...

He Will Burn Up the Chaff with Unquenchable Fire

Bishop JC RyleHe Will Burn Up the Chaff with Unquenchable Fire In 1878, two years before he was made the first Bishop of Liverpool, The Revd JC Ryle delivered a sermon on the biblical teaching regarding the doctrine of hell. His words are as pertinent today as they...

Pilgrim’s Process

By The Revd Dr Peter Sanlon In our journey to heaven we are to be thankful for the world we pass through. One of the great prayers of the Book of Common Prayer (there are many!) is the General Thanksgiving. In it we pray, 'We bless thee for our creation, preservation...

Original Sin is the fundamental systematic cause of abuse

Original Sin is the Fundamental Systematic Cause of Abuse The Christian world has recently been shaken by revelations that two high-profile Evangelical leaders—the late Ravi Zacharias, founder of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries; and, closer to home, the Revd...

Letters To The Editor – Graham

Dear Sir, The organisers of an evangelistic event in which Franklin Graham preached have won a legal dispute with Blackpool Council. The Lancashire Festival of Hope took place over three days at Blackpool's Winter Gardens in September 2018, which saw hundreds make...

Letter To the Editor – Government

Dear Editor, Readers may appreciate the relevance of the following comments by Bishop Ryle in his Expository Thoughts on John 18:36 (Volume 3 page 274): “No government can expect to prosper which refuses to recognise religion, which deals with its subjects as if they...

Lancashire Judge Rules in Favour of Franklin Graham

In a strong and clear rebuke of the cancel culture sweeping the UK, a court ruled that the 2018 Lancashire Festival of Hope with Franklin Graham was discriminated against by the Blackpool Borough Council and Blackpool Transport Services Limited by taking down bus ads...

Spectator Cover Shows Empty Tomb for Easter Edition

Many of the readers of the English Churchman are also readers of The Spectator but the 3 April edition was a rather nice surprise. If you missed it, the cover featured an artist’s rendering of Jesus’ empty tomb. Bright morning sunlight showed the inside of a tomb,...

BCP Worship

The Second Sunday after Easter 11 April 2021 Psalm 81:1-4Ezekiel 37:1-101 John 5:4-12John 20:19-23 BCP Collect “Almighty Father, who hast given thine only Son to die for our sins, and to rise again for our justification: Grant us so to put away the leaven of malice...

St George’s Church Crowhurst Promotes Wider Use of the BCP

A parish church in East Sussex – located next to the ruins of King Harold’s Saxon Manor, mentioned in the Domesday Book – has joined the Prayer Book Society in a bid to strengthen its campaign promoting wider use of the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) by young people as...

Discipleship

Written By Chuck Collins

“Discipleship” is a buzzword with heavy-duty baggage. It’s heavy lifting! It has come to mean those things that we do (disciplines) to exercise our way towards holiness. It’s the 21st century equivalent of the Medieval monastic routines that leads to a ladder-climbing view of Christianity — with the top always, ALWAYS two more steps away! When Jesus said, “If you love me you will keep my commandments” (Jn 14), we leap to the “obey” part – – I know I haven’t obeyed well — this must mean that I don’t love him — so I need to ramp up my obedience! So we jump on Amazon Prime to buy more celebration-of-disciplines books, choose a church and a preacher who harps on obedience, and just try harder to obey. And for all the effort to grow in obedience and holiness, it seems farther away than ever, along with any assurance of salvation.

But, isn’t this awfully bad news all the way around?

The 16th century reformers taught that what the heart loves, the will obeys — in that order! “It doesn’t start with us — not by reminding us of our obligation before God, not by trying to stir up the intensity of our desire to be better, not even by seeking to spur our will-power to make good choices,” writes Ashley Null (Tuesday in Easter Week). Biblical discipleship doesn’t focus first on what I do for God, but what God has done for me in his Son. We don’t obey for transformation; we obey in response to God’s prior one-way-love, and then by God’s grace “Christ is formed in us” (Gal 4).  We love because he first loved us (1 Jn 4). Jesus is saying: If you love me, this means you will automatically and inevitably want to obey the One who loves you with such extravagant and perfect love. That’s the force and power of God’s grace! Obedience is the fruit of experiencing God’s unconditional and unwavering love or it’s nothing at all. Obedience isn’t the goal of being a disciple of Jesus: love is.

The first and popular view of discipleship is selfishness disguised to look like Christianity. It focuses on a Christian’s performance. The second view is based completely on Christ’s accomplishments that leads to life and rest (“Come to me. . .and I will give you rest”).  The popular view of discipleship is driven by law: the other, by gospel.

So why do we gravitate towards the duty/obedience/performance view of discipleship over guilt/grace/gratitude? I am pretty sure it is because we don’t trust the power of God’s grace to motivate us to right behaviour. And if we don’t trust it for ourselves, we certainly don’t trust it for others! We secretly can’t stand the thought that someone somewhere is getting away with something — that someone is using their freedom in Christ as a licence to immoral behaviour. In theological terms: the third use of the law has become the only use, really. We don’t understand that by imputing our sin to God and God’s righteousness imputed to us, not only results in a new standing with God, but also a new right-willing (transformed human affections) that exposes the ugliness of sin, that is accompanied by the power of the Holy Spirit to indwell us to lead more and more into joyful obedience. 

The Revd Canon Chuck Collins is the Executive Director of the Center for Reformation Anglicanism.

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