The Articles of Religion – also known as The 39 Articles – are one of the foundational statements of what Anglican Christians believe (together with the 1662 Book of Common Prayer andThe Ordinal which regulates the pastoral offices).
The Articles were first published in 1562 (exactly 450 years ago) and agreed upon by the archbishops and bishops of the provinces of Canterbury and York.
The Articles were written “for the avoiding of diversities of opinions and for the establishing of consent touching true religion”.
The Articles remain a vital and binding statement of orthodox theology and practice in the Anglican Church of Australia and all ordained ministers take an oath to be faithful to the Articles.
So what do we find in the Articles? The answer is: a succinct statement of fundamental biblical teaching which is useful to us today!
The articles teach us about subjects such as: the Trinity, the resurrection of Christ, the sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for salvation, original or birthsin, free-will, obtaining eternal salvation only by the name of Christ, the sacraments, and even a Christian’s oath.
You can read them in A Prayer Book for Australia or on the resources page of the Anglican Communion website: www.anglicancommunion.org/resources/acis/docs/thirty_nine_articles.cfm
Under the old covenant the LORD’s people revealed their hard hearts by consistently turning away from him inviting God’s wrath and punishment.
But the LORD did not leave his people without hope in the face of his judgement.
Jeremiah prophesied six hundred years before Jesus:
“I [the LORD] will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me” (Jeremiah 32:40).
At the last meal Jesus ate with his disciples – before he gave his life as a sacrifice to appease God’s wrath and satisfy God’s justice – he spoke some enormously significant words:
“This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:20).
The new covenant goes a step further than the old covenant in part because, through the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, God has put the fear of God in
the hearts of his people so that we will no longer turn from him.
More than a memory aid, I think name tags are a great expression of Christian faith.
Name tags reflect that we care about the individual. That we are not just here for the people we are already close to but also for the people we bump into in the car park (leave your name tag on!). God loves the individual.
Name tags show that we want to build friendships in our church community. We are committed to sharing our lives together. We can worship God by loving his people.
Name tags indicate that we are a growing church. We are not a small insular church but a thriving and growing movement of disciples of Jesus.
Name tags demonstrate that we want to make it easier for the visitor and newcomer to integrate, which often takes time.
You can sign up for a name tag on the sheet in the entrance. You can even have two!
James chapter one contains one of the most surprising commands of the New Testament:
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,” (James 1:2)
In what sense can we consider trials and sufferings to be “pure joy”?! The answer is trusting in the transforming purposes of a loving heavenly Father in our trials:
“… because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:3-4)
Our lives are in the hand of a holy God, the good surgeon who uses all things to grow us to be more like Christ.
The greater preacher, Charles Spurgeon, who himself was a man who lived through a life of deep suffering, presents us with the treasure of being trained by our good God.
“Afflictions are often the dark settings God uses to mount the jewels of His children’s gifts, causing them to shine even brighter.… God trains His soldiers not in tents of ease and luxury but by causing them to endure lengthy marches and difficult service. He makes them wade across streams, swim through rivers, climb mountains, and walk many tiring miles with heavy backpacks.”
Fathers are not highly valued in our culture – they’re generally treated as an optional extra or secondary to mothers. Fathers are always the butt of jokes in popular culture and portrayed as bumbling fools.
God was, is and will be eternally Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Evidently God takes a different view of fatherhood.
God, as the Creator, is revealed in Scripture as the Father of the heavens and the earth and of all creatures.
In addition, one of the most astonishing realities of our salvation is that those who follow Jesus are instructed to address God as “our Father”.
As God’s people we are called to be a counter culture – to be salt and light. The fifth commandment begins: “Honour your father …” Let us exalt our heavenly Father by honouring our earthly fathers.