Sunday, May 04, 2008

Justification by Faith for Sixteen Year Olds!

Lady Jane Grey was briefly Queen of England as a teenager, living in troubled times as the reformation was ongoing around her (she lived during the lifetimes of Luther and Calvin). I don't know much about her beyond a few things I've found here and there online. A shameful lack of knowledge of British History! A little of my findings follow.

Prior to her death in 1554 she was questioned by John Feckenham . His aim was for her to deny her Protestant beliefs.

Feckenham: What is then required of a Christian?
Jane: That he should believe in God the Father, in God the Son, and in God the Holy Ghost, three persons one God.
Feckenham: Is there nothing else to be required or looked for in a Christian but to believe in him?
Jane: Yes; we must also love him with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our mind, and our neighbour as ourself.
Feckenham: Why, then faith only justifies not, or saves not.
Jane: Yes, truly, as Paul says, faith only justifies. Why, Paul says, if I have all faith, without love, it is nothing. True it is; for how can I love him whom I trust not? Or how can I trust him whom I love not? Faith and love go both together, and that love is comprehended in faith.
Feckenham: How shall we love our neighbour?
Jane: To love our neighbour is to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, and give drink to the thirsty, and to do to him as we would be done to.
Feckenham: Why, then it is necessary unto salvation to do good works also; it is not sufficient only to believe.
Jane: I deny that, and I affirm that faith only saves; but it is meet for a Christian to do good works, in token that he follows the steps of his Master, Christ, yet we may not say that they profit to our salvation; for when we have done all, we are unprofitable servants, and faith only in Christ’s blood saves us.
Over the coming months I'm preparing a series of talks on Galatians for the Team and hopefully for use with students beyond that. Justification by Faith is a doctrine of vital importance - oh that every 16 year old got it as clearly as Jane. Oh, that every 18 year old starting at University was so clear on this doctrine and it's life-changing, martyr-making, joy-giving implications!

Whether or not we believe in justification by faith (aka Grace) shows in our lives. Grace plays out in the freedom and joy of resurrection life in the Holy Spirit that magnify the cross. Anti-grace plays out in rules and division in sin that minimise the cross and depart from God. Let abundant grace reign! Let grace be taught always.

Jane's situation was a little different to most 16 year olds today. The average person today is not faced with the pressures of monarchy and the prospect of martyrdom. But, still why should we settle for lesser immersion in God's word? How many youth group members (or adults for that matter) could/would say:
"I ground my faith upon God’s word, and not upon the church, the faith of the church must be tried by God’s word, and not God’s word by the church, nor yet by my faith... I look to be saved by none other means, but only but the mercy of God, in the merit of the blood of His only Son Jesus Christ."


  1. Wow: I'd no idea she gave such clear testimony. I pray that my students would be able to, similarly! I know of this book by Mrs Cook: I'll now try to get hold of it!

  2. Yeah, was news to me. These are stories that need telling, and a really helpful challenge to our serving of students.

  3. One of my heroes (or should that be heroines?). There are some good books about her - including Faith Cook's Caught in the Web. Another great read is Alison Weir's Innocent Traitor which is not a Christian book, but a semi-fictional account in diary form of all the main characters. Read it and cried. Leant it to Mrs R who read it and cried. And then to my mum who read it and cried. One of my top books of 2007. Best of all, the National Portrait Gallery have just bought one of the only surviving portraits of her. Go and gawp.