Yesterday was the first of a special series of posts to report on GAFCON 2018. The first was entitled The Importance and Cost of Faithfulness. It is fitting to summarise Day 2 under the title of “The Importance and Cost of Repentance”.
Speaking from Luke 23:26-47, Rev Richard Coekin from England spoke passionatelyabout the priority of rescuing people from the coming judgement. The cross of Christ must be central to everything. He spoke about the likely response of many to the Grenfell tower fire, noting that almost all would do all they could to warn and save people from impending danger, even if it wasn’t welcomed. And yet, demonstrable repentance is part of salvation, often setting apart those who know something of Jesus from those who are saved by Jesus. Furthermore, teaching people repentance is part of the way in which they can be loved. Repentance is important, for it is part of the Gospel.
Furthermore, repentance can be costly. Dr Michael Nazir-Ali developed the need for repentance: “when you can’t see the impact of the Gospel in the lives of people, that spells trouble.” And the same can apply to the church, when it wonders away from being grounded in the Gospel. While there is diversity, such as that represented at GAFCON, it is a diversity that is grounded in the unity of the foundational Gospel. And, at the individual and institutional level, sometimes discipline will be necessary for the sake of renewal. Repentance can be costly.
One of the highlights of GAFCON is hearing stories from around the world. Today was no excpetion, as we heard about the decision of the church in Uganda to cut relationships with The Episcopal Church in the USA, and also in Canada. It is a costly stand for the truth, and part of a move of many faithful Anglicans around the world to recognise that others have moved on from the teaching of the Bible. As Greg Venables said so articulately, it is about what God has revealed, not what humans think.
And the message of the day was powerfully reinforced with the afternoon tours to many Biblically significant sites around Jersualem. Jesus was real, and he came to change the world.
Repentance is important. And it can be costly, both for the one needing to repent, and also those calling for repentance. Yet, it is intrinsic to the Gospel. It was a special day.