GES has been planning a pastors’ conference in Costa Rica for a couple of years. Lordship Salvation has a very strong presence in that country, and Protestant pastors are exposed to that teaching. Many of John MacArthur’s books, for example, are translated into Spanish and are used by these pastors in their sermon preparations. In many cases, these pastors are not aware that there is another way to interpret the NT.
The goal of the conference was to teach the basics of Free Grace theology and allow pastors to see there is another option. At the same time, they could see how Lordship Salvation takes many verses out of context. In context, these verses show that there is a difference between eternal salvation and discipleship. Lordship Salvation does not see these distinctions and thus seriously distorts the teaching of the NT.
Because of the COVID pandemic we were not able to conduct this conference until now. Costa Rica had some pretty restrictive laws concerning both travel and group meetings. When these laws were lifted earlier this year, we decided to conduct the conference. It was held the last week of October.
There were about 20 people in attendance. It was held in the church of a Free Grace pastor, Alonso, who has done some translating work for GES. Bernie Hunsucker, a GES board member, taught the conference, along with me. Bernie covered the basics of Free Grace theology. I expanded on those basics and then considered various passages used by Lordship Salvation proponents to teach that works are necessary for eternal salvation.
I showed, in each case, that in context these verses do not support what Lordship Salvation teaches. Instead, they show that works relate to rewards in the kingdom. One does not have “to make Jesus Lord of your life” in order to escape the lake of fire. Eternal life is given as a free gift by faith alone. Bernie’s sessions pointed out the same things.
A couple of passages that I dealt with included Jas 2:14-26 and Matt 7:15-23. I also pointed out that many pastors, in large part because of the influence of Lordship Salvation, have added unbiblical requirements to the gospel of eternal life. These include things such as repentance, a hatred of one’s sins, and surrendering one’s life to the Lord. Bernie and I pointed out that the only thing that justifies is believing that Christ gives us eternal life as a free gift that can never be lost.
Much of this was new for these pastors. It sounded strange to their ears because they had never been exposed to such teaching. There were times for questions, and they asked great ones. This indicated that they understood what was being said and the differences that Bernie and I were teaching them. It is clear that they will need time for Free Grace theology to sink in. Most of us can relate to how we felt when we were first exposed to it.
To help in this area, we were able to give them some Free Grace material. Each pastor received Spanish translations of Zane Hodges’s books Absolutely Free and The Gospel Under Siege. These, of course, clearly show the difference between Lordship Salvation and Free Grace theology. They show how the former distorts the gospel of eternal life.
The pastors also received Bob Wilkin’s book, The Ten Most Misunderstood Words of the Bible, which was also translated into Spanish. Hopefully, this will show them the need to not interpret the NT according to preconceived traditions, but instead to be open to allowing the Scriptures to interpret themselves.
Each pastor was also given ten blogs by GES that have been translated into Spanish. These blogs all deal with the offer of eternal life by faith alone. Hopefully, this will encourage these pastors to visit the GES website for more of these Spanish blogs.
Some of the pastors expressed interest in another conference to address more of these issues. We will see what the Lord has in store regarding such a possibility. I ask that the readers of this blog add that to your prayers.