I thought I’d take a slight tangent from the main purpose of this blog to provide some reflection on the GAFCON 2018 conference, which began today in Jerusalem. It is fitting that the conference is in Jerusalem, taking us back to the roots of the Christian faith.
I count it a great privilege to be part of this third GAFCON conference. The “Global Anglican Futures CONference” (GAFCON) has been developed by Anglicans around the world who desire to be faithful to Gospel of the Lord Jesus. This short series of blogs will follow each day of the conference, and the theme of faithfulness is foundational to the advancement of the Gospel.
The focus of the first day was the importance and cost of faithfulness. Alfred Olwa, bishop in Uganda, and Nicholas Okah, Primate of the Anglican church in Nigeria gave the two primary addresses of the day. We must proclaim Christ to the nations, and faithfulness is critical. We live in an age where there is a constant and increasing pressure to deviate, and cross that line from adapting to the culture becomes adapting the Gospel itself. Yet, the message of the Gospel is not subject to be determined by any human. Rather, it is given by God himself and revealed in the Scriptures.
But around the world there are different pressures that have often seen a shift to the God given emphasis of the Gospel. These include the replacing of the centrality of the death and resurrection of Jesus with morality; a desire for inclusivism; a love of sex, sport and success; the prosperity gospel that promises wealth; a devaluing of repentance to merely a feeling of sorrow. Each of these, and others, ultimately serve a different purpose to that of reconciliation with God through forgiveness of sins. But the Bible teaches us that the Gospel entails Christ as Saviour, and Lord. And any gospel that is not derived from the Bible is a false Gospel.
And in an inspiring session, we heard the cost of being faithful to the Gospel all around the world. People and churches desiring to be faithful to the Gospel have lost their properties through all kinds of legal action; their personal retirement savings; financial support; personal rejection and the list goes on. Our wake up call is that Christ be preached faithfully to the nations, no matter what the cost.
It was a wake up call not just to those at the conference, but to all Christians who desire to be faithful to the real gospel. If challenges have not yet come either to your church or as an individual, there is a very good chance that they will.
As Jesus said,
For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will save it (Luke 9:24).
Or, in the challenging words of Joshua:
… choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD. (Joshua 24:15)
The first day of GAFCON 2018 provides a challenge to all who claim to love and serve Jesus. Faithfulness is important, and to be faithful will entail a cost. How will you respond?