Thursday, December 30, 2010

Counseling Carnal Christians (Part 1: The Predicament)

By Dr. Fred Chay
 
Among the many "hats" the local pastor wears, the counselor’s hat is one that must be donned with confidence, compassion and capability. The "ministry of counseling" is one that the pastor can ill afford to neglect. Most of his counseling is not clinical in nature, nor does it require a deep knowledge of pharmacology. At times there are cases that require a clinical expert and he must refer these sporadic cases to competent Christian psychologists, psychiatrists, or counseling centers.  These more serious issues should be “outsourced” to experts more trained in the areas of clinical help for these people.
 
For the most part, though, the pastor is faced daily with the problems that plague the progressing Christian. However, much of his strength, stamina, and schedule are monopolized by dealing with what the apostle Paul has labeled the "carnal Christian". How is the pastor to deal with believers who have not only stopped growing and have become stagnant, but also have begun to indulge in seriously sinful behavior?  Dealing with carnal Christians in the local church is the subject of this series.
 

A Present Pastoral Predicament

 
The problem lies in the fact that Christians, born again by the Spirit of God, still struggle learning to "trust and obey", as sung about in that great hymn of the faith. The theology of this great hymn is biblical to the core, but there is the human factor called "the flesh” that we believers find a great hindrance to its implementation. It is the "Traitor in the Gate", the old self, flesh or sin nature which exists within us, that often stifles and sabotages us from growing to maturity in Christ.
 
The result often is carnal, sinful, behavior that not only astonishes the Christian community but many times the Christian who is committing the act as well. The church has been rocked in recent years by various scandals among the shepherds as well as among the sheep.  Financial sin of many types, sexual sin of all kinds, relational sin of various stripes and more harm believers, the church, and the reputation of the church to a lost and dying world which is reticent to turn to the church for help.
 
The solution that is often employed in the church when faced with carnality is two-fold depending on the severity of the sin. If it is sin that is seen as part of growing up, or maturing, one that has little community hindrance, the remedy is often a "Christian coddling" or mild "talking to." These kinds of sin might include gossip, or lying, or anger.  When a Christian is found to harbor grudges the pastor might normally take such a person aside and talk to them and that is all.
 
If, however, the sin is of a more serious nature such as adultery, immorality, homosexual activity, or idolatry, then often the questioning of the sinner's salvation comes into play. This process of dangling a person over hell by calling his salvation into question seems to be a reflex reaction that finds its roots in Puritan theology.  Several passages of Scripture (notably in Hebrews 6 and 1 Corinthians 6) seem to speak of a deep sense of loss experienced by those who perpetually and unapologetically commit these kinds of sin. 
 
However, it remains to be seen whether there is a more effective means of motivation for those who have made a profession of faith in Christ.  It must be granted that there are many people in the pew who believe they are Christians who are not. However, the problem of validation has to do with the content of their belief rather than the consistency of their behavior.
 
Any pastor or serious servant of Christ knows the heartache of dealing with the carnal Christian.  This person has professed personal faith in Christ, but in one or more areas their life contradicts their profession.  These people maintain that they trust Christ for their eternal life and yet their life does not exhibit a death to sin or any “upward trend” of personal holiness or “fruit” which might give secondary evidence to their conversion.
 
How do we deal with people like this?  How have you dealt with them in your pastoral or personal experience?  What are the biggest areas of concern that you face with people living in consistent sin in your midst as believers in Christ?
 
As evangelicals who affirm the inerrancy of the Scriptures and believe that the Bible governs us in all matters in regard to faith and practice in the church, we will look next at a case study recorded for us by the apostle Paul dealing with just such a pastoral predicament.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Lines in the sand?

Over at Relevant Magazine, Craig Groeschel writes about different “lines in the sand” that represent various “stages” of faith in Christ.  Go read his article and then come back here for a discussion of the issue from a Free Grace perspective.  (the comments can be a bit snarky, so take my advice and don’t feed the trolls!)

First of all, let’s thank God for opportunities like this to discuss the most important issue in the world: “What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30) Rather than bemoan the fact that the writer makes judgments that we disagree with, let’s rejoice that this gives us an opportunity to discuss a significant issue and once again trumpet the free gift of God through faith alone in Christ alone.

The “lines in the sand” analogy is an interesting one.  In the analogy, the “third line” represents someone who has crossed into the territory that is fully committed to following Christ whatever the cost.  No matter the sacrifice, service to Christ out of love for Christ is the only option for this person.  They are devoted followers of Christ, conformed to His image and desiring to live a life of eternal impact.  Naturally, the Free Grace Alliance believes that all Christians should live this kind of life!  No other attitude makes any sense in light of the amazing gift of eternal life that God has given us.

The second and first line are more problematic, though.  In the second line, a believer (his term) will give back to God and serve but only if it does not cause significant discomfort.  The believer believes enough for it to make an external difference in their behavior, but not if that difference is too extreme or uncomfortable.  Most, even many, Christians have spent some time here.  This is the “lukewarm” Christian that is distasteful to Christ (Revelation 3:15-16) and should be in our own lives as well.

It is Groeschel’s description of the first line, though, that causes the most concern:

“Is first-line faith real Christianity? Is believing in Jesus enough? Although God is the only true judge, I’m not sure simply believing in Christ makes a person a Christian. Honestly, I’m tempted to say, “No, I sincerely don’t think it is real Christianity.” Even demons believe in Christ. I worry how many people might be deceived. Instead of truly living as followers of Christ, many lull themselves into a sense of false comfort. What if they’re really “cultural Christians,” false believers? I don’t point my finger at others, only at myself. For way too long, I’ve claimed a belief in God, but my life didn’t reflect it.”

We of course would disagree with the ultimate application of this assessment.  The “even demons believe” (James 2:18) argument is a red herring, as we know nothing of the soteriology of angels. (This has been discussed in the free grace camp significantly before; as one instance, Dr. Fred Chay and I wrote a book that addresses this issue at some length)  Also, the difference between “line 2” and “line 1” is very subjective.  How much service qualifies for line 2?  Third, what do we make of those who believed in Christ in biblical texts like John 12:42, who “believed in Him” (which, especially in John’s gospel, is clearly a statement of the reception of eternal life) and yet were afraid of people so much that they would not confess Christ publicly?  Clearly there are some areas where the message is not as clear and simple as we would like.

Looking more into the article, though, we can see that perhaps Groeschel’s argument isn’t as far from a Free Grace position as we might have first thought.  In the paragraph quoted above, Groeschel gives himself some “wiggle room.”  He says, “God is the only true judge,” giving rise to the possibility that there may well be those who genuinely trust Christ but have not (yet!) come to the point of sanctification where Christ matters more than this world.  He is tempted to say no, and yet he can’t outright.  Is it enough?  Well, he doesn’t seem to want to say so because it’s a defective brand of discipleship.  However, in the end he isn’t sure.

Even better than this statement is an earlier one that he makes about his own experience going from somewhere between 1 and 2, to living past 3:

“I cried for all of God, and His presence became immediately real. Although I’d unquestionably been spiritually reborn a decade and a half ago, it was like I was being born again.”

This crisis of faith came 15 years after he says that he was unquestionably born again!  This experience was like being born again, though it emphatically was not.  He had been living at line #1 and identifies at times with other believers who live there.  This is an honest assessment and a wonderful bit of transparent authenticity.  We might dissect the experience he had (from many angles, no less; was this a “second blessing”? Was it a spiritual crisis?  Whatever it was, in his eyes it was not his conversion), but the description of it aligns well with the idea of the free gift of eternal life through faith alone in Christ alone. 

Also, from a pastoral perspective we would have to agree with Groeschel in some capacity.  Someone who seeks God only for the blessing He brings is an enigma.  Indeed if they honestly and truly place faith alone in Christ alone, we know that the testimony of Scripture is clear that they are a child of God and the recipient of eternal life. (John 1:12)  However, we can’t tell the content of someone’s heart any more than our Reformed brothers and sisters can.  External appearances can be deceiving; those who showcase a life of holiness and good deeds may not be Christians at all (Matthew 7:21-23), and those who do not show external fruits of regeneration may indeed be regenerate (1 Corinthians 3:15).  The opposite is also true, which means that if someone says that they have trusted Christ but shows no sensitivity to Him or desire to grow in Him we cannot be sure of their eternal status.

Finally, recognize that even while we have some disagreements in the path, the end result goal is the same for both us and men like Groeschel.  We all want to be “line #3 Christians” who pursue God passionately and love Him wholeheartedly.  No one whose theology is true to the roots of the Free Grace movement is content with believers who are “pew potatoes.”  We all want to see those in our ministries and our families fully devoted to following Christ.

So what are your thoughts on the article?  Where is he right, and where would you be uncomfortable with his message?  Do you think that we have to agree with his ambiguity with “line 1” Christians?  And without the crisis that Groeschel experienced, how can we progress to being devoted followers of Christ and help others do the same?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Being Right…While Being All Wrong

There is a right way to approach an issue, as well as a wrong way.  Particularly as theologians and those who espouse “Free Grace” theology, we must ever be mindful to keep the grace in the message of Free Grace.

Case in point:  I had lunch with a friend on Monday.  She is a very nice young lady whose background was from a liturgical, Protestant denomination.  She had a particular theological issue that she wanted to work through that, at least in my opinion, is not a pillar of evangelical Christian theology.  The issue was baptism, and very similar to the brouhaha caused by the disagreement between Al Mohler, Mark Dever, Wayne Grudem, John Piper, and Ligon Duncan in August 2007. (read all about it in posts here [great place to start] and here; click through their links for the details)

This came to the forefront because this young woman had a great angst about the issue.  This angst was not theological or doctrinal.  We talked our way through the theological issues pretty well, and discussed the finer points of credobaptism and why a person would be baptized after trusting Christ alone for eternal life.  We were on the same page there.  The issue, rather, was primarily personal.  This very kind young woman had run into a young man who very stridently told her that her view was wrong, and that she was in sin and being ignorant to think that her baptism as an infant was worth anything.  This had wounded her deeply and bound the issue of her acceptance of believer’s baptism up with a personal conflict with the young man who had scolded her so harshly.

How unlike the Apostle Paul that kind of interaction was!

Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way. ” (Romans 14:13, NAS)

This interaction clearly and unambiguously put a stumbling block in this young woman’s way, and caused her to hold back on following Christ in baptism. 

I post this interaction as a reminder to all of us in the Free Grace Alliance to be gracious to one another.  Debate and discuss issues of doctrine with fellow believers; be zealous and stand firm for the truth.  That said, in all of your interactions be careful that your attitude and your approach do not become a stumbling block to someone accepting the truth of the free offer of eternal life in Christ!

What about you?  Have you ever had someone argue with you in a way that turned you away from their cause, even though you might have admitted that there was merit to it?  Have you maybe been the ungracious one who needed to go back and ask for forgiveness?

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Letter from the President - September 2010

Dear FGA Members and Friends,


Some feel that “the grace issue” is only a phenomenon of the American church as a result of strong Dortian Calvinism. But the truth be known, it seems that even as far as Africa the church has been infected by what me might call, “pseudo grace theology,” or perhaps “neo legalism.” The African church might not be as sophisticated in their theological articulation, but the error that has plagued the church of Jesus Christ from it very inception continues to infect both the church in America and Africa alike.


One of our FGA members, Pastor John Correia, has just returned from Africa where he was teaching pastors about hermeneutics. While there, he had an interesting encounter regarding a works oriented salvation and the answer of grace theology. I would encourage you to read the article about his trip, Free Grace Theology in Africa.


Many of you have received a brochure for the 2010 FGA National Conference October 4-6 in Irving, TX. As I see it, this is going to be the best conference in free grace history. We have a spectacular line-up of speakers and workshop leaders, including Doctors Jody Dillow, Dave Anderson, Larry Moyer, and Charlie Bing. We also have as a special guest, Dr. Michel Eaton who wrote the seminal book “No Condemnation a New theology of Assurance.” Additionally fifteen workshops are being offered, focusing on our theme, “Getting the Gospel Out.” Best of all, we have the privilege of having Dr. Charles Ryrie as our banquet speaker. All of this plus some great time to network and fellowship with others involved in ministry from around the international community, and book shopping opportunities of course! You can register right now on the registration link on the home page.


Finally, if you are an FGA member, I hope you received your copy of the FGA Membership Directory. If you have not, simply email us and we will get it to you. Please make sure not to use it for solicitation purposes. It is meant to help you stay connected and encouraged with those who are involved with our alliance, and to help you network with free grace ministries.


Serving Him with you                       
Until He comes for us,


Fred Chay, Ph.D.
President, FGA
       

The President's Letter October 2010

Dear FGA friends,

For those of you who were able to join us in Dallas for the FGA National Conference you know it was a great time of fellowshipping, listening and learning from one another, as well as worshiping the Lord together. Many people told me and others on the executive council that this was the best conference we have ever had. I think this is because of the tremendous slate of speakers we had this year.

 Dr. Dave Anderson taught from the book of Hebrews and lifted our souls to heaven to worship the Cosmic Christ. Dr. Jody Dillow explored the problematic sections of the Sermon on the Mount and its impact on rewards. Our special guest, Dr. Michael Eaton, reminded us of the historical and theological realities of the doctrine of the assurance of salvation. Dr. Larry Moyer and Dr. Charlie Bing challenged us all to do the work of an evangelist and “get the gospel out” both in our “Jerusalem” and to the “uttermost parts of the earth”.  Additionally the fifteen workshops that included topics on Evangelism, Ecclesiology, and Grace Theology provided valuable teaching.

At the banquet a presentation of the FGA Trophy of Grace Award was made to author and theologian Dr. Renald Showers, for his service with the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry.

Finally, the biggest delight of the conference was hearing from Dr. Charles Ryrie as our banquet keynote speaker. What a delight to see grace personified both in word and deed in the life of one of the Lord’s choice servants.

If you were not able to attend don’t worry. The entire conference was recorded. The plenary sessions and the banquet are on DVD and the workshops are on CD. If you were not able to attend don’t worry. The entire conference was recorded. The plenary sessions and the banquet are on DVD and the workshops are on CD. If you would like to order some or all of these resources please use this form.   I hope you will plan to come to next year’s national conference.

Let me encourage you to visit our website each month as we will be adding new articles and new ministry spotlights. We are also improving our social media visibility with a new blog, which you can find at http://thefreegracealliance.blogspot.com/; The FGA now has a Facebook fan page too (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Free-Grace-Alliance/149110995130478?ref=ts ).  If you’re on Facebook “like” that page please and share it with others. We now have a twitter account as well.  http://twitter.com/freegraceall is the link to follow if you’re a twitterer. 

Our hope is that these resources will help encourage, equip, and connect you to help maximize your ministry.

Serving Him with you
Until He comes for us,

Fred Chay, Ph.D.
President, FGA


Proving Justification

I ran across a blog post from Lisa Robinson on Reclaiming the Mind today, and thought it was worth sharing.  This blog is “owned and operated” by Michael Patton of Credo House Ministries.  Dan Wallace of Dallas Theological Seminary occasionally posts there as well, and Michael was his intern.  All that to say, the Reclaiming the Mind blog tends to be fairly Reformed in its soteriology.

Go read the post and I think you will find some interesting and (mostly) agreeable thoughts from Lisa.  The question she asks is, how can I know if someone is a Christian"?  She had some significant time after her “conversion” (I use the italics meaningfully, as she is on the fence when it occurred) when she ignored Christ and lived the lifestyle of an unbeliever.

I think it is worth reading and interacting with because it represents not a hard-line Lordship position, but rather a moderate position that questions, perhaps doubts, but allows for the fact that she may well have been truly regenerate and yet living in significant sin without genuine repentance at the time.  Now certainly we in the Free Grace camp believe that assurance is the birthright of every believer, and we would encourage Lisa to look to Christ for her assurance and not to her works after salvation, because they can be a false indicator.

That said, consider her words carefully and see if you can find some common ground.  This, at least in my opinion, is a position that I would FAR rather someone hold than a heavy Lordship position.  Would I like to see her come more to an understanding of the free offer of eternal life?  Of course.  However, this kind of argument and analysis is one that I think those of us in the FGA can really dialog with.

What do you think?  Do you think that this is the kind of question that we should argue over, or the type of discussion that we should applaud and interact with?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

President's Letter November 2010


I am haunted by the words of a life management guru, Steven Covey, “Anything less than a conscious decision for the important is an unconscious decision for the unimportant.”

We who have dedicated our lives to the ministry of serving our Lord Jesus and leading the church must at times stop and ask the hard questions:  Am I living by the clock or the compass? Have I lost my bearings? Am I operating by the tyranny of the urgent and hence missing the important?

There are many important issues in life. One of the most important ones for FGA is that we need to make sure we are intentionally discipling or mentoring young men and women in the faith and in grace theology.

As I saw at the FGA national conference last month, there are many of us who - shall we say - are showing our age. Fortunately there were some who were of a new generation, of a younger ilk. We must make sure we are spending time and training up younger pastors and lay leaders to make sure they are well versed in grace theology. As I watched and listened to Charles Ryrie speak to us at the FGA banquet, it reminded me of the time he invested in me to guide me in grace theology. And so it is my turn to make sure I invest in others who will invest in others. This sounds similar to the words of the Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 2:2 does it not?  Let me challenge you to evaluate your plan, or if you have not made one let me exhort you to make it your goal under the leadership of the Holy Spirit to find and invest in the young men who will carry on for you and more importantly for HIM.  As the Greek proverb goes, "A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in."

Let me invite you to take a look through the rest of the new FGA web site and see some of the new articles and resource material. If you have some ministry news that others in the free grace movement need to know please email me so I can see how it can be best delivered to the FGA family.


Also, check out our new FGA blog and face book features. John Correia has brought FGA technological-communication into the 21st century. Bless you John.

Please pray with us:
  1. That the Lord will lead and bless the grace based Bible colleges and seminaries to remain loyal to the word and their commitment to Grace Theology.
  2. That the Lord will lead the pastoral training ministries overseas so as to raise up a new generation of pastors committed to Grace Theology.
  3. That the Lord would lead you to mentor younger men and women in the faith and to make it your intention to train them in Grace Theology.
  4. That the Lord will provide the resources we need to continue the ministry of FGA. I would ask you to consider a financial gift through our online option on our website or through the mail to our home office.

Finally, let us not forget --- “Things that matter least must never come about at the expense of things that matter most.” Goethe



Serving him with you
Until He comes for us,

Fred Chay, Ph.D.
President, FGA

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Halloween Reminder…Be Gracious!

Halloween can be a time of the year when evangelical Christians really disagree with one another, and passionately so.  Some believe that Christians sin by participating in and Halloween-themed activities, while others believe that not participating in Halloween would be unthinkable for Jesus and therefore should be unthinkable for Christians.
Let’s please remember the covenant that we all hold to as members of the Free Grace Alliance:
In agreement with these affirmations, we covenant to work together graciously and enthusiastically to advance this Gospel of Grace, and to communicate with a positive and gracious tone toward all others, both inside and outside the Free Grace Alliance.
Whichever position you espouse, remember that it is not a central position to the truly amazing offer of eternal life through faith alone in Christ alone that God has brought us.  Keep secondary issues secondary this Halloween, and whether you are discussing the issue with a fellow member of FGA or with a believer in Christ who is not part of our group make sure to communicate in a positive and gracious tone.

Monday, October 18, 2010

President's Letter October 2010

Dear FGA friends,

For those of you who were able to join us in Dallas for the FGA National Conference you know it was a great time of fellowshipping, listening and learning from one another, as well as worshiping the Lord together. Many people told me and others on the executive council that this was the best conference we have ever had. I think this is because of the tremendous slate of speakers we had this year.

 Dr. Dave Anderson taught from the book of Hebrews and lifted our souls to heaven to worship the Cosmic Christ. Dr. Jody Dillow explored the problematic sections of the Sermon on the Mount and its impact on rewards. Our special guest, Dr. Michael Eaton, reminded us of the historical and theological realities of the doctrine of the assurance of salvation. Dr. Larry Moyer and Dr. Charlie Bing challenged us all to do the work of an evangelist and “get the gospel out” both in our “Jerusalem” and to the “uttermost parts of the earth”.  Additionally the fifteen workshops that included topics on Evangelism, Ecclesiology, and Grace Theology provided valuable teaching.

At the banquet a presentation of the FGA Trophy of Grace Award was made to author and theologian Dr. Renald Showers, for his service with the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry.

Finally, the biggest delight of the conference was hearing from Dr. Charles Ryrie as our banquet keynote speaker. What a delight to see grace personified both in word and deed in the life of one of the Lord’s choice servants.

If you were not able to attend don’t worry. The entire conference was recorded. The plenary sessions and the banquet are on DVD and the workshops are on CD. If you were not able to attend don’t worry. The entire conference was recorded. The plenary sessions and the banquet are on DVD and the workshops are on CD. If you would like to order some or all of these resources please use this form.   I hope you will plan to come to next year’s national conference.

Let me encourage you to visit our website each month as we will be adding new articles and new ministry spotlights. We are also improving our social media visibility with a new blog, which you can find at http://thefreegracealliance.blogspot.com; The FGA now has a Facebook fan page too (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Free-Grace-Alliance/149110995130478?ref=ts ).  If you’re on Facebook “like” that page please and share it with others. We now have a twitter account as well.  http://twitter.com/freegraceall is the link to follow if you’re a twitterer. 

Our hope is that these resources will help encourage, equip, and connect you to help maximize your ministry.

Serving Him with you
Until He comes for us,

Fred Chay, Ph.D.
President, FGA

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Free Indeed

Over at A Biblical Framework, John Correia posted an everyday reminder of the truth of the free offer of eternal life in Christ. Check it out!

Grace Modeled...and Abused.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Social Media news...we're catching up technologically!

The FGA now has a Facebook fan page(http://www.facebook.com/pages/Free-Grace-Alliance/149110995130478?ref=ts ) so if you’re on Facebook “like” that page please!  Also, share it with those in your sphere of influence.  This is a great resource to encourage those in your Facebook circle with free grace theology.

Please subscribe to the FGA blog to receive notice whenever a new entry is posted.  Notice in the upper right hand corner of the site there are two ways to “subscribe” to the FGA blog.  One is using a “reader,” which is convenient for the technologically savvy.  The other way to subscribe is to enter your email address and click on “subscribe” in the upper right hand corner.  You will receive a confirmation email which requires you to click a link to confirm that you want to subscribe; just as with our email list, we will never misuse your trust with your email address.  I hope each of you subscribes in one way or another, and encourages your sphere of influence to do the same. If you’d like, you can also follow the blog via the NetworkedBlogs application on Facebook (http://apps.facebook.com/blognetworks/blog/the_free_grace_alliance is the link).


 We are also seeking out both regular contributors and individual contributions.  The FGA is a collection of people who share a passion for the simplicity of the message of faith ALONE in Christ ALONE for eternal life, and we would love to hear how God is at work to teach you more about His grace.  Submission guidelines for the blog are as follows:
  1. 1.       All submissions must adhere to the FGA covenant.  Especially important to our covenant for the blog is a desire to maintain a “positive and gracious tone toward all others.
  2. Blog submissions should be theologically or textually oriented and shed some light on the free message of eternal life in Christ.  That can be accomplished directly or indirectly, through exposition or through example.  However, submissions without theological content will not be accepted.
  3. Submissions should focus on main issues and not delve into side discussions unless they shed immediate and profitable insight into the subject at hand.  The FGA blog is not the place to debate miraculous gifts, ecclesiology, or the exact identity of the Angel of the Lord in the Old Testament, for example.  Those are fine topics, but are not germane to the purpose of the FGA and therefore will not be published on the FGA blog.
  4. We are especially interested in helping one another with resources and tips on ministry and theology.  Therefore book reviews, curriculum reviews, discussions of helpful resources for pastors, teachers, leaders and disciples of Christ are particularly sought.  If a book has been really helpful and has trumpeted the grace of God clearly, please tell the FGA about it.
  5. Please submit your entry to our blogmaster, John Correia, at pastorjohn@westgreenway.com.  Submissions must be in MS Word or compatible format.  We reserve the right to edit your entry for content and style to conform to the submission guidelines.
   Finally, we have a twitter account as well!  http://twitter.com/freegraceall is the link to follow if you’re a twitterer.

Put your grace-oriented blog on the FGA blogroll!

Hello everyone!

We have recently added a widget to the Free Grace Alliance blog that allows us to list other grace-oriented blogs; you can see them on the right toolbar of this post!  This allows us all to read what each other write and keep abreast of what is going on in the Free Grace Alliance in general.  So if you have a blog that you'd like to put on the blogroll, please comment on this post and we will consider your blog!  Please make sure your email is added in your comment, and also make sure to add a link to your blog.

Some guidelines for blogs that will be accepted:
  1. Naturally, the message of the blog must adhere to the FGA covenant.  We want blogs oriented to the grace message found in Scripture!
  2. While we know that grace-oriented bloggers may write on any number of topics (and who doesn't want to hear about Free Grace cooking, or Free Grace decor?), the blogroll will be populated with blogs of a theological and/or pastoral nature.
  3. Part of the FGA covenant is maintaining a "positive and gracious tone toward all others;" blogs on the blogroll must adhere to this standard.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Letter from the President September 2010

Dear FGA Members and Friends,

Some feel that “the grace issue” is only a phenomenon of the American church as a result of strong Dortian Calvinism. But the truth be known, it seems that even as far as Africa the church has been infected by what me might call, “pseudo grace theology,” or perhaps “neo legalism.” The African church might not be as sophisticated in their theological articulation, but the error that has plagued the church of Jesus Christ from it very inception continues to infect both the church in America and Africa alike.

One of our FGA members, Pastor John Correia, has just returned from Africa where he was teaching pastors about hermeneutics. While there, he had an interesting encounter regarding a works oriented salvation and the answer of grace theology. I would encourage you to read the article about his trip, Free Grace Theology in Africa.

Many of you have received a brochure for the 2010 FGA National Conference October 4-6 in Irving, TX. As I see it, this is going to be the best conference in free grace history. We have a spectacular line-up of speakers and workshop leaders, including Doctors Jody Dillow, Dave Anderson, Larry Moyer, and Charlie Bing. We also have as a special guest, Dr. Michael Eaton who wrote the seminal book “No Condemnation a New theology of Assurance.” Additionally fifteen workshops are being offered, focusing on our theme, “Getting the Gospel Out.” Best of all, we have the privilege of having Dr. Charles Ryrie as our banquet speaker. All of this plus some great time to network and fellowship with others involved in ministry from around the international community, and book shopping opportunities of course! You can register right now by using the registration link on http://www.freegracealliance.com/.

Finally, if you are an FGA member, I hope you received your copy of the FGA Membership Directory. If you have not, simply email us and we will get it to you. Please make sure not to use it for solicitation purposes. It is meant to help you stay connected and encouraged with those who are involved with our alliance, and to help you network with free grace ministries.

Serving Him with you until He comes for us,

Fred Chay, Ph.D.
President, FGA           


Monday, August 30, 2010

Letter from the President - August 2010

Dear Friends of FGA,


The great British statesman Benjamin Disraeli declared "The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example." We of the Free Grace Alliance have been privileged to know some of the heroes of grace and as such we have inherited a great example. But our culture, both secular and sacred, is experiencing a massive change of both chronos and kairos. Therefore, the seminal question that must be asked and answered is: “How are we transferring both the passion and knowledge of Free Grace theology to the next generation?”


Having been a pastor and a professor during the past 35 years, I know that truth is both caught and taught. I also know that time is tough to control in the ministry. The urgent often wins over the important. But we must never simply live by the clock at the expense of the compass. So the “compass question” for all of us is this:  How are we doing in our intentional discipling of the next generation of young leaders in our ministries regarding the theology of grace?  Who are you pouring your life into and influencing? You need to be close enough to infect so as to influence. I know this takes time and time is what you run out of all too quickly. “But anything less than a conscious decision for the important is an unconscious decision for the unimportant.”


I believe and have acted on what the great Harvard scholar William James said: "The greatest use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it."  I have spent the majority of my life and ministry building into young men whom I have hoped would one day return the favor to others. My philosophy has been as the old Greek proverb states: “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit under.”


The Free Grace Alliance- that is you- must provide to the next generation, mediated and manifested by your life and lips, a biblically accurate and culturally relevant understanding of the truth of the grace of God. We can accept no excuses.


One of the tools of exposure that can help is to invite the people on your staff or people you are discipling to the FGA National Conference in Dallas Texas. We expect this year’s conference to be one of the best yet! We have excellent speakers lined up including Dr. Charles Ryrie as our banquet speaker.  For more conference details  see the link on this page.  Friends, we are called by the Lord Jesus to invest our lives for that which is significant. And therefore we must remember the salient words of Goethe;“Things that matter least must never come about at the expense of things that matter most.”


Serving Him with you
Until He comes for us,


Fred Chay, Ph.D.