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Crosfigell

The Necessity of Repentance

We all need to practice it.

The Celtic Revival: Age of the Peregrini (19)

When they were come together, Gall cleared his throat and poured out into their ears and hearts, mellow words entreating them to turn to Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who would reveal to poor lukewarm human nature the approach of the kingdom of heaven. Then in the sight of all he raised the images of their gods and threw them into the lake.

  - The Anonymous Monk, Life of St. Gall, German, 8th century[1]

Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Then Peter said to them, “Repent…”

  - Acts 2.37, 38

This is one of my favorite stories in the annals of the Celtic Revival (ca. 430-800 AD), because it shows what is required in doing Kingdom business in a hostile age.

Columbanus and his group, departing Gaul and heading for Italy, had paused alongside a Swiss lake to rest and minister to the locals. Soon they found themselves among a gathering of pagans at one of their worship sites on the shores of the lake. Gall, one of Columbanus’ most trusted assistants, stepped forward to minister the Gospel with sweet words of grace, calling his hearers to faith in Jesus and repentance from dead works.

Then, as if to dramatize his message – and perhaps, help some of his hearers on their way to faith – he hoisted their idols over his head and threw them into the lake.

Here’s a template for our lives in the world. Live and proclaim the Gospel with kindness, clarity, sweetness, and patience. Declare Jesus to be the resurrected Son of God and Lord of the Kingdom, Who offers poor benighted sinners such as we the righteousness, peace, and joy only He can give. Hold out the promise of forgiveness and life and the hope of glory and invite whosoever will to come and believe.

But believing in Jesus comes at a cost. We must follow the examples of Peter and Gall and insist that people throw their idols in the lake if they sincerely intend to come to Jesus. We might think that Gall went too far in being so assertive, until we remember Jesus driving the moneychangers out of the temple with a whip. We may not be called on to do such dramatic works, but the principle remains: We must call people to repent of their sins and be done with their idols if they would truly come to Jesus (Acts 17.30).

And we must make sure we have done so ourselves.

When Gall and Columbanus, his mentor, and all the other peregrini urged their hearers to repent, they meant it, and they were prepared to aid them on the way by dramatic means – in-your-face confrontations, throwing idols into the lake, refusing any compromise with sin or any clinging to worldly ways, accepting persecution and exile, demanding the embrace of a disciplined life, and always insisting on spiritual earnestness and moral improvement now.

Such preachers would not be welcome in the pulpits of most of our churches today, much less the public squares of our secular towns and cities.

Peter and Gall were only doing what Jesus did by insisting that the first order of business in entering the Kingdom and receiving the Gospel is that we repent (cf. Matt. 4.17).

Repentance is the first order and the ongoing requirement of every day of our lives.

Repentance is both a general disposition – a willingness to be done with sin – and a particular practice – actually turning specific sins over to the Father, throwing our idols into the lake, and being clothed with the righteousness of Jesus.

We must repent to enter the Kingdom, and we must repent to make progress in it.

When repentance is called for, we should welcome it humbly and with rejoicing. For repentance is a work of God’s Spirit, Who graciously convicts us of sin, plainly advises us of the right path to travel, and kindly warns us that our Father disciplines those who refuse to heed His Word (Jn. 16.8-11).

What idols are you holding on to still? Complete comfort and convenience? Wealth and possessions? Your sense of needing to be the center of everyone’s attention? Fear of what others might think if you became more consistently outspoken about your faith?

Throw them into the lake of fire now, lest they drag you down into it on that coming Day!

For Reflection
1. Do you know the practice of repentance? When was the last time you remember repenting of anything?

2. What can you do to make repentance a more consistent part of your daily walk with the Lord?

Psalm 51.7-13 (Passion Chorale: O Sacred Head, Now Wounded)
In Jesus’ blood and mercy, Lord, cleanse my evil heart!
Let me washed, cleansed, renewed be and pure in whole and part.
Bring joy again and gladness; look not upon my sin.
Deliver me from sadness; renew me yet again!

Create in me a clean heart; renew me from within!
Take not Your Spirit from me because of all my sin.
Salvation’s joy restore, Lord, and keep me in Your hand;
Thus shall I tell Your strong Word to sinners in the land.

Teach me, Lord, to repent, and help me to do so as often as it is required. Let repentance from sin become for me…

When affliction comes

In our current Scriptorium series we have been unpacking the beautiful teaching of Psalm 119. This week’s study is particularly focused on afflictions that call us to repentance. You can read this week’s installments, beginning with Monday’s entitled “Good, Good, Good, Good Afflictions,” by clicking here, and you can upgrade your subscriptions to add Scriptorium to your daily list by using the Subscribe button (click here).

Thank you
Thanks so much to those of you who faithfully support the work of The Fellowship of Ailbe. God uses your gifts and prayers to reach thousands of people every day in over 160 countries. We praise the Lord for His having moved and enabled you to share with us in this ministry.

If you’re not a supporter of this ministry, won’t you please prayerfully consider making a gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe? Only God can move you to do this, and we believe He intends to support this ministry from within the ranks of those who are served by it. If this includes you, please seek the Lord in this matter. You can click here to donate online with your credit card or through Anedot or PayPal, or send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.

T. M. Moore, Principal
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All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

[1] Bispham, p. 15.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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