Thursday, June 13, 2013

Why Teach Grace?

By Dr. Roger Fankhauser

Why proclaim grace?

“I must not be saved if I can’t beat this sin.” The person then walked away from their faith.
Someone else said, “I've lived way too many years of my life in bondage, conforming to religious rules instead of only looking to Christ... Some days I feel as if my heart will burst knowing how much God loves me. Some time ago, I started meeting with a group that, unfortunately, was a shame based group that doesn't practice or walk in grace. I feel like I've been saved all over again finding freedom in Christ as he is showing me truth in his word.

The subtle – or not-so-subtle – problem with any kind of performance based “Christianity” is that it is counterproductive. Instead of producing joy or producing “abundant” life, it produces guilt or unreasonable introspection. Instead of producing power for living, it knocks us down. Instead of producing hope, it produces despair. It doesn’t produce freedom, it produces bondage.

I know not everyone under this type of teaching ends up in the dumps. But it is far too common.

The first person above could well be a believer, one who has eternal life, but one needs help in dealing with an overpowering sin. He needs to see God’s incredible love for him; he needs to see that our relationship with God is based on the objective reality of who Jesus is and what He has done, not on the subjective basis of how well we live. He needs to better understand God’s grace for living. (I say “could well be a believer” only because I have not spoken to this person about what they believe. Others who know him said he has trusted Jesus for eternal life. But he’s been under teaching that says “if you habitually sin, you’re not really saved”).

The second person tasted grace. She and her family are now out from under bondage and enjoying God’s grace.

Don’t misunderstand; grace does not take sin lightly. It realizes the consequences of sin might be severe, but that sin does not mean I have lost my salvation or that I never “really” had it. Grace doesn’t minimize sin, it maximizes God’s love. Grace realizes that God loves us, when we sin and when we don’t. It is not an “excuse” for sin, but it helps us deal with sin the right way.

When we live under the grace of God, we experience freedom and life unlike anything else. Live it, teach it, and help others understand it. I wish we had more of the second story – someone who basks in God’s grace – and fewer of the first.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The arrival of June means that it is officially Summer. For some of us that means summer school has started, for others it is vacation time or time with family. Hopefully it includes a change of pace for ministry and a chance to work on some special projects.

FGA has been busy this spring. We have had three very successful Regional Conferences. In March we had one in Phoenix. In April we held a conference in Salem, Oregon. In May we had our first Regional Conference in Tampa, Florida and we're looking forward to one more Regional Conference this month in Charlotte, North Carolina with Dr. Norm Geisler and Dr. Charlie Bing speaking. If you are close to the area I encourage you to attend. I invite you to look at some of the write ups and the photos of these conferences that we have posted on our website.

I also want to encourage you to save the date for the National FGA Conference in Irving, Texas October 14-16. Our theme this year is Grace for Saints and Sinners: 1 Corinthians and our speakers will include Dr. Ron Allen, Professor of Old Testament from Dallas Seminary, Dr. Charlie Bing, Dr Roger Fankhauser, Dr. Jody Dillow, Dr. Ken Wilson, Dr. Sukhwant Bhatia and me. We also will have a full slate of workshop speakers, including a special workshop for the women taught by Linda Dillow; along with ministry booths, and of course plenty of books to peruse and purchase.

One of the ministries of FGA is providing resources that help in theological education and ministry opportunities. I would like to point you toward a new research paper that will be helpful regarding the interpretation of James 2:14-26. Much has been written on this key text regarding Free Grace Theology; but not much has been done on James 2:1-13 and the context. I encourage you to read a paper on our website titled: JAMES 2:1-QUESTION or COMMAND? An Examination of the Grammatical Ambiguity in Translating James 2:1, the Exegetical Significance of Each Translation Option, and the Context of the Passage as the Determining Factor in Translation by J.L. Phillips. Now that is a mouthful, but it is a great description. And what is more important is the significance this has for a Free Grace interpretation to James 2:14-26. I encourage you to take a look at this new article. Jeff is a new member to FGA, a superb exegete, and will be able to contribute at many levels in the Free Grace movement.

The strength of FGA is you! As pastors, teachers, writers, speakers, evangelists and leaders, you influence our country and our world in a variety of ways with the message of the grace of God. FGA is simply all of us, as we use our gifts and opportunities to serve the Lord Jesus and tell a lost and dying world about His free gift of the glorious grace of God.

Serving Him with you
Until He comes for us,

Dr. Fred Chay
President, FGA