The Gospel and the Church
by Art Farstad
Editor's Note: The following is excerpted and edited from Dr. Farstad's article, "We Believe in the Church," which appeared in the Spring 1992 issue of the Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society.
We of the Grace Evangelical Society believe in the Church.
GES is what is popularly known as a "parachurch" organization, that is, we parallel the Church in interest and activity and work alongside her, trying to build her up.
Perhaps, if the Church was united, sound in doctrine on all fronts, and fervently active to promote both evangelism and local church life, there might be no need for parachurch organizations. But the truth is, Christianity today is not in very good shape. Even evangelicalism, the wing of professing Christendom that is supposed to be clear on the Gospel, contains large forces teaching, writing, and preaching "a different gospel which is not another" (Gal 1:6-7, emphasis supplied).
Probably the greatest value of GES as an organization is building up those church leaders and congregations that are already clear on the Gospel. We do this through a variety of means including our newsletter, journal, tapes, seminars, and placement service for pastors. We also provide general encouragement that there are others who believe in the freeness of the Gospel. We are not large, endowed with money or goods, or prestigious in the eyes of the world or the world church; but we do love the Lord, we love His church, and we the love the Gospel of grace.
Another important value of our ministry is to those churches and individuals that are not clear on the Gospel. If many are confused today, it is certainly understandable. These are difficult issues, and sincere and dedicated preachers, teachers, missionaries, and lay leaders line up on both sides of the grace issue. This makes it difficult to know what the truth is.
Our spiritual ancestors faced the same problem at the time of the Reformation. A main argument against the Grace Gospel then-as now-was that it was "new" teaching, that it had not been widely taught during long periods and in most places in Christendom. Sadly true, but truth is truth, no matter how few believe it. And error is error no matter how many believe it!
That's what GES is all about. Our goal is to see that more and more people come to understand and believe the simple Gospel of Grace: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved" (Acts 16:31).
The well-known Gospel verse just quoted goes on to add "and to your household." Indeed, the household, that is, the family, is the very germ of the Church. The early churches were house-churches, overgrown families—the household of faith. In the west we have freedom to have large, medium, or small public places of worship. These are not churches, but church buildings. We, the people, are the Church. And, if we love the Church we also love her Good News: the Gospel of God's saving Grace.