J.I. Packer Fired for Preaching Repentance?!
OK so maybe I'm a year or so behind on learning this. But J.I. Packer (and Mark Driscoll) is outrageously right on. Repentance saves lives. Repentance saves our relationships with Christ. A failure to preach repentance is a failure to preach the gospel and a failure to preach salvation. A complete denial of the need for repentance is indeed heresy. And I never use that word. Jesus' first message on this earth was "Repent." It is indeed the first word of the gospel. It leads to salvation.
The Blank Page Preaches
This reminded me one of the most dynamic sermon illustrations I've ever heard. In a message called Purity and Fire, Leonard Ravenhill told a congregation to turn to the blank page in between the gospels.
This blank page represents 400 years of silence from God. For 400 years there was no prophetic light. There were no answers from God. Legalism, hardheartedness and hypocrisy abounded. Generations came and went without ever hearing a voice empowered by the Holy Spirit.
God's first word that broke this 400 years of silence was a cry, "Repent" from the mouth of John the Baptist in Matthew 3:2. Repent is truly the first word of the gospel. A call to repentance was the first and foremost message God had for his people. He waited 400 years to initiate a relationship with his people with the word "Repent."
Jesus began his ministry in the same way. His first message was one of repentance. He was a repentance preacher from the beginning: Matthew 4:17. This was the beginning of God's message to the world after 400 years of silence and its still the beginning of God's message to the world today.