By Arthur L. Farstad
The board of the Grace Evangelical Society, and the editorial board of the Society’s new periodical, welcome you to the readership of our Journal.
Since there is a proliferation of evangelical organizations and also a number of good evangelical periodicals, the reader deserves to know what is our raison d’être-why we exist at all.
I. The Grace Evangelical Society
It is a widely recognized yet nonetheless sad fact among evangelicals that much of Christendom teaches a “different Gospel” from that of the Apostle Paul and the rest of the NT. That is, salvation is seen as at least partly by works and sacraments, and there is rarely any real assurance of the present possession of eternal life. How could there be if salvation is partly of man?
What is less widely known is the still sadder fact that even among many who were accurately denominated “Bible Christians” by a Roman Catholic priest on network television, the old Gospel of grace has become blurred and even distorted. It is this deplorable situation that has created the need for the Grace Evangelical Society.
The Grace Evangelical Society (GES) was founded in 1986. During four years on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ and seven years at Dallas Theological Seminary, Robert Wilkin had felt a tremendous burden to promote a clear proclamation of the Gospel. Shortly after completing his doctorate in NT he began to contact friends who he knew shared his commitment. Dr. Wilkin asked them if they felt there was a need for a networking organization which would bring together Christian professionals and lay people who shared a concern for a clear Gospel proclamation. To a person they all heartily endorsed the idea.
In June of 1986 the first Grace Evangelical Society newsletter was sent out. By November of that year GES was incorporated as a non-profit organization.
The purpose of GES is “to promote the clear proclamation of God’s free salvation through faith alone in Christ alone, which is properly correlated with and distinguished from issues related to discipleship.” Various methods are used to achieve this objective. These include the monthly newsletters, the production of this Journal, regional and national conferences, a tape ministry, production of ministry tools such as tracts and follow-up materials, and having representatives of GES speak at churches, seminars, and retreats.
Grace Evangelical Society is neither a church nor a denomination. Rather, it is a parachurch organization designed to encourage and educate churches and individuals concerning the Gospel and the related yet distinct issues of discipleship. GES seeks not only to talk about the Gospel, but also to share it actively with those who do not yet know the grace of God.
The grace of God has the power to save the sinner in need of a Savior and to motivate the saved to live godly lives and share the good news.
II. The Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
Like our Society, the Journal is not one of general interest to evangelicals; it is specialized.
We seek to promote in the Journal the truths of the Gospel of grace that are embodied in the statement of faith of the Grace Evangelical Society (see below).
As regards scholarship, we plan to run the whole gamut from practical articles on a popular level, such as how to witness for Christ, all the way to more technical articles on difficult Bible passages and Christian theology, especially in soteriology, the doctrine of salvation. Where translation or manuscript variations touch on the doctrine of grace we can expect to have a few articles on translation or textual criticism.
The one thing, however, that we do not wish to do is to clone already existing sound Christian journals. There are a few that we believe are sound on salvation by grace, though not necessarily featuring this teaching very often. In this respect it will be a matter of emphasis. We believe there are enough ramifications of grace for a journal to maintain interest, variety, and helpfulness for the entire body of Christ.
For the present, at least, the Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society will appear,Deo volente, twice a year. It is possible that the Journal may one day become a quarterly.
Two areas often sadly lacking in conservative Christian circles are an appreciation of good writing (Christian literature), and an interest in our “roots” (Church history and biography).
We hope to help remedy this lack for our readership as to literature by having a department that features grace in poetry, hymnody, short stories, and literary criticism. We welcome fresh (or established) talent to submit articles in any of these genres. Many people enjoy reading or writing in these areas, yet the avenues are not wide or many in number. We welcome writing that is both Christian and creative. So much of evangelical poetry, for example, has not been much above the doggerel level, though there are marvelous exceptions.
It is unfortunate that many evangelicals seem unaware of their great heritage, even of their immediate denominational or doctrinal heritage. Many have never read a Spurgeon or an Ironside sermon, a Chafer article, or a John Donne or Frances Ridley Havergal poem. This is a shame.
To help remedy this situation, each issue of the Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society will include a department called “A Voice from the Past.” Great men and women of the Gospel will be allowed, like Abel, to “yet speak,” though departed from this scene.
Such writers as Griffith Thomas, Ironside, Chafer, Havergal, and Moody will appear in this section. Our first “voice” is from a man who has helped many to see the clear gracious message of salvation in the past, through preaching, writing, and teaching. The members of GES are especially indebted to Lewis Sperry Chafer for his emphasis on grace, and for this reason chose him as the first “Voice from the Past.”
Each issue of the Journal will conclude with short but hopefully helpful reviews of books and periodicals that are at least somewhat relevant to the Gospel of grace.
Publishers and authors are encouraged to send us books for possible review or at least for listing under “Books Received,” which will appear in our second issue.
Again, welcome to the Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society. We believe you will find the Journal both edifying and stimulating-and to some, no doubt, provoking!
We trust God the Holy Spirit will use this vehicle to produce better presentations of the Gospel, more believers with full assurance of salvation, and yes (in spite of misrepresentations by some to the contrary), more believers actively engaged in such good works as will be rewarded with the Master’s commendation:
“Well done, good and faithful servant!”
III. Statement of Faith
For the benefit of giving a permanent copy of the position of the Grace Evangelical Society to all our readers, we here publish the doctrinal statement in full:
The Grace Evangelical Society
Statement of Faith
Jesus Christ, God incarnate, paid the full penalty for man’s sin when He died on the cross of Calvary. Any person who, in simple faith, trusts in the risen Christ as their only hope of heaven, refusing to trust in anything else, receives the gift of eternal life which, once granted, can never be lost.
Affirmation of Belief1
The sole condition for receiving eternal salvation from hell is faith (trust) in the Lord Jesus Christ, Who died a substitutionary death on the cross for man’s sin and rose from the dead.2Repentance, rightly defined as a change of mind, is an integral part of this saving faith.3 No act of obedience, preceding or following faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, such as commitment to obey, sorrow for sin, turning from one’s sin, baptism, or submission to the Lordship of Christ, may be added to, or considered as a part of, faith as a condition for receiving eternal salvation.4 This saving transaction between God and the sinner is simply the giving and receiving of a free gift.5
The assurance of eternal salvation is based only on the promises God makes in His Word that everyone who trusts in Jesus Christ alone possesses eternal life.6 Good works, which can and should follow regeneration, are not necessary to a firm assurance of eternal life even though they may have a secondary, confirmatory value.7
Discipleship (Growing in Christ)
The ultimate goal of the Holy Spirit’s work in the believer’s life is to produce spiritual maturity reflected in consistent Christlike behavior and attitudes.8 Therefore, obedience to the Word of God, while not necessary for obtaining eternal salvation from hell, is the essential responsibility of each Christian.9 However, the Bible does not teach that this obedience will be manifested in all believers or to the same degree in all believers.10 If a believer does not yield to the ministry of the Holy Spirit in his experience, failure will result, evidenced by sinful acts or even prolonged disobedience.11
The believer is assured of salvation from hell, and is eternally secure, since that salvation is based solely upon the finished work of Jesus Christ.12 Therefore, the receiving or keeping of that salvation cannot be an impetus for godly living.13 The Scripture, however, does present several motivations for obedience in the Christian life:
- A powerful motivation for living the Christian life is gratitude to God for saving us by His grace.14
- Believers should also be motivated by the knowledge that their heavenly Father both blesses obedience and disciplines disobedience in His children.15
- Finally, every Christian must stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ, not to determine his destiny in heaven or hell, but to assess the quality of his Christian life on earth.16Anticipating either reward or loss of reward at the Judgment Seat should also motivate believers to perseverance and to faithfulness to God’s revealed will.17
1The Grace Evangelical Society is firmly committed to the fundamental doctrines of the historic Christian faith. Not all of those doctrines are delineated in this statement of faith. A more complete statement may be obtained by writing to Grace Evangelical Society, 6 Llano Drive, Roanoke, Texas 76262.
2″For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life, For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:16-18). Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life” (John 6:47). So they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household”‘ (Acts 16:31).
3Testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21). ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15).
4″But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness” (Rom 4:5). “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified” (Gal 2:16). “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5).
5″For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Eph 2:8, 9). “Jesus answered and said to her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, “Give Me a drink,” you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water”‘ (John 4:10). “And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely” (Rev 22:17).
6″Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life” (John 5:24). “If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which He has testified of His Son. He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son. And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God” (1 John 5:9-13).
7″For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Eph 2:10). “This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men” (Titus 3:8).
8″But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Gal 5:22-25).
9″And He turned and said to them, ‘If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple”‘ (Luke 14:26-27). See also Luke 14:28-35. “To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily” (Col 1:27-29). “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 6:12-23).
10″For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Heb 5:13-14).
11″Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it it written, ‘The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.’ Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Cor 10:6-13). “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal 5:16-21).
12″And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand” (John 10:28, 29). “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:38, 39).
13″I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rom 12:1,2).
14″For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again” (2 Cor 5:14, 15). “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal 2:20).
15″For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: ‘My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.’ If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Heb 12:3-11). See also Lev 26:1-45.
16″For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad (2 Cor 5:10). “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work (Rev 22:12).
17″According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is,’ (1 Cor 3:10-13). “If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are (1 Cor 3:14-17). “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified” (1 Cor 9:24-27). “And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming” (1 John 2:28).
Scripture references are from the New King James Version, 1985.