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