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Bishop’s Note: June 28, 2018 – The "Jerusalem Declaration" and the Gospel

Three weeks ago, I began a series on the "Jerusalem Declaration" – the declaration developed at the first Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) in Jerusalem 2008. This week I have returned from GAFCON 2018, and I would like to continue the discussion of the "Jerusalem Declaration." It is now even more evident to me that the "Jerusalem Declaration" is a seminal document in the history of Anglicanism, as is GAFCON a seminal movement in Anglicanism. The "Jerusalem Declaration" can be read in its entirety here:

In an ever-changing world, where the basics of Christian faith and doctrine are tossed out with every new wind of the culture, we were reminded at GAFCON of the importance of being grounded in the Uniqueness of Jesus Christ, in the Word of God, and in the substance of the faith once delivered! 

In the last “Bishop’s Note,” we examined the Preamble to the "Jerusalem Declaration." This week I’d like to look at paragraph one: The Gospel. 

We rejoice in the gospel of God through which we have been saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. Because God first loved us, we love him and as believers bring forth fruits of love, ongoing repentance, lively hope and thanksgiving to God in all things.

St. Paul tells us in his epistle to the Ephesians that “[f]or by grace you have been saved through faith.” (Ephesians 2:8) Every person who hears the Good News – the Gospel – with an open heart and mind, hears of a love so deep that it defies all imagination: “God so loved the world that he gave his only son so that all who believe in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) In hearing and receiving the Good News of Jesus Christ we are “saved” from the wrath of God, which we deserve for our sins, and are welcomed into the open and loving arms of God: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:17) The very act of believing in Jesus is a gift of the Holy Spirit; where our hearts and minds are prompted to yield – though not forced to do so. 

Ultimately, the Good News of Jesus Christ is the story of God’s love for His creation and each and every person who was, is, and ever will be created in His image (Genesis 1:27). In a very real way, in the Gospel God looks us in the eye and with a gentle assurance states: “I love you!” The rest of our lives is our response. 

The appropriate response to God’s “I love you” is to follow the Great Commandment we recite in the beginning of each celebration of Holy Eucharist: 

Hear what our Lord Jesus Christ says: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.

Of course, a major aspect of Love is the recognition when we have “erred and strayed” from Christ, we then determine to make that 180 degree turn back to him. In other words – repent! If “I love you” is the most powerful phrase uttered, the second most powerful is, “Please forgive me.” In response to God’s love for us – and out of love – we repent of our sins against God and our neighbor. And all of that is done because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ! 

I pray you all a blessed week!

Bishop Menees



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