In case any of you wondered if the FGA is necessary let me assure you that it is. One only needs to read some of the latest Christian books to see that the fight the Apostle Paul had is one that we are still engaged with to this very hour. This is evidenced in two recent books. Both come from associate pastors under Dr. Mark Dever, Ph.D., Cambridge University, who is the Senior Pastor at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. Dr. Dever has created the “9 Marks of a Healthy Church Ministry” and a series of books written to help churches in a variety of ways regarding both theology and ministry.
The first book is by Greg Gilbert, B.A., Yale and M.Div. Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, called “What is the Gospel?” The foreword is by D.A. Carson and it is endorsed by many of the “who’s who” from the reformed theology arena. This is a small slender volume that is very attractive to look at and easy to read. It articulates the typical reformed view of faith, repentance and confession for justification. It also describes that assurance is necessarily evidenced by fruit in the life of the believer. The second book is focused more on assurance as is evidenced by its title; “Am I Really a Christian?” by Mike McKinley, M.Div., Westminster Theological Seminary. This book is also highly endorsed from the reformed wing. A few of the chapter titles will give you the feel for the direction of the book.
“You are not a Christian if you enjoy sin.”
“You are not a Christian if you do not endure to the end.”
“You are not a Christian if you love your stuff.”
“Can I ever really know if I am a Christian?”
I am sure that you can guess the answer to that last question contained in the book. Both of these books are smooth and easy, as well as passionate about their position and the desire to warn the church against cheap grace.
Speaking of “Cheap Grace” Dietrich Bonhoeffer is back in the news with the excellent biography by Eric Metaxas. The foreword of the book is by Pastor Tim Keller. As you might remember it was Bonhoeffer’s seminal work, “The Cost of Discipleship”, that caused some confusion concerning the clarity of the Gospel with his vocabulary of “Cheap Grace” and the need for a costly committed faith. Pastor Tim Keller in the foreword declares that the gospel is about costly grace not cheap grace and that true conversion will elicit a change on the inside that will be evidenced on the outside. The gospel of costly grace “will change what we do and how we live.”
I hope that you can see that we are still in need of a clear presentation of the gift of eternal life based on the person and work of Jesus Christ. To this end the FGA exists. If you are reading this letter I assume that you are part of the team that is committed to keeping the gospel free and clear. Many of our members are engaged in ministries to that end. Please pray for Dr. Charlie Bing (Grace Life) as he will be traveling this month to Finland to train pastors in grace theology. Pray for me (Grace Line) as we will hold our annual spiritual life conference this month. This year’s theme is: “The Cost of Discipleship Living Today in Light of Tomorrow.” Pray for Sam Sacco as he is planting a new grace church in Goodyear, AZ. These are just a few of the ministry activities this month from the many of you who are part of the FGA.
Let me encourage you to mark your calendar for the FGA National conference October 8-10 in Dallas, TX. We have many exciting plenary and workshop speakers and we are pleased to announce that Dr. Mark Bailey, President of Dallas Seminary, will be our banquet speaker and will also speak at one of the plenary sessions.
Finally, this month we will celebrate Easter. It is interesting that the saddest and the gladdest days are just three days apart. So much can happen in three days. It was during those three days that Jesus,”in order to test the limits of life needed to touch the borders of death.” As author Carl Henry said, “Jesus planted the only durable rumor of hope amid widespread despair and doubt of a hopeless world.”
Proclaim the hope—It’s Free! Make sure you proclaim it clearly!
“Tomb thou shalt not hold Him longer
Death is strong, but life is stronger
Stronger than the dark with the light
Stronger than wrong with the right
Faith and hope triumphant say
Christ will rise on Easter day.
~ Phillip Brooks ~
Serving Him with You
Until He comes for us,
Until He comes for us,
Fred Chay, Ph.D.