In the Evangelical Free Church of America, we focus on the essential truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ while allowing differing understandings of some doctrines within certain theological parameters.

For example, we do not require agreement regarding the age of the universe, time and mode of baptism and whether faith precedes regeneration or regeneration precedes faith (the Arminian and Calvinist discussion).

We refer to our openness regarding these theological differences as the “significance of silence.” As we explain in Evangelical Convictions, “This expression does not mean that we will not discuss and debate these issues but simply that we will not divide over them” (p. 24, footnote 18).

To read the rest of the article, please see here.

One of the things I appreciate about regularly reading the Bible and church history is to see how God has faithfully preserved his people through his Word. There is much I learn through this discipline/exercise – about God and his plan and purpose,  his grace and mercy, the ugliness of sin, the grandeur of grace, the transformative power of the gospel manifested in the lives of people, his faithfulness, and that he is, in the midst of trials, tribulations and tragedies of life,  working out his sovereign plan as he moves history toward his promised, glorious end.

On this day, we remember two interconnected events/experiences, in the lives of two sinners saved by grace, in the lives of a white man and a black woman, separated in time but connected by God, which reflects God’s good providence in creating one new humanity. This also reminds us of God’s call and command to be faithful to the Lord where we are in our own generation, both large and/or small, being assured God will, in some way and at some time, use it for our good and his glory.

On this date, March 10, 1747, John Newton (1725-1807), while a sailor on a slave ship, was converted. He eventually left his former life and became an Anglican pastor. Newton penned Amazing Grace, which was truly an autobiography, and reflective of God’s grace working to transform his life. He became a zealous abolitionist, referring to himself as the “old African blasphemer,” and was influential in the life of William Wilberforce (1759-1833), who worked to abolish the slave trade in England, which occurred in the Slavery Abolition Act three days before Wilberforce died.

On this date, March 10, 1913, at 93 years of age, Harriet Tubman died. Born Araminta “Minty” Ross, Tubman had been a slave and experienced the full brutality of slavery. With a believing mother, she also came to believe the gospel as a young girl. With the aid of the Underground Railroad, she fled to freedom on September 17, 1849. Not being content with her own freedom, and being aided again by the Underground Railroad, she led 13 missions to guide many slaves to freedom. She was referred to as Moses, since she, like Moses, led her people to freedom.

What is God calling and commanding you to be and to do? How will you be faithful to him as you faithfully live out that God-given role in the here and now, knowing God will use it both now and in the there and then?

“Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints” (Ps. 116:15).

“Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.” (Throughout I refer to Billy by his first name, and I do so out of loving respect for him, as he was a friend to all of us.)

These words were spoken by Billy when he lived. Today we read that Billy, at 99 years of age, is dead. Based on being grounded in the Word of God, which led to his famed expression, “the Bible says,” he could explicitly say not to believe it. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die” (Jn. 11:25-26).

Billy lived his life based on the truth stated by Paul, that “for to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). Billy lived by Christ and for Christ, who was his  “hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). Now, through his death, he experiences gain. Even though he is now dead physically, he is now more alive than he has ever been. He is now in the presence of the Lord.

Billy was one of those men used of God in so many ways and in so many places. The memories, the tributes, the influences, recollecting the ways God used Billy in one’s life personally will be shared over the next days and weeks. This influence includes many in the EFCA, including the EFCA as a denomination. In all of it, Billy always deflected back to Christ. Remember – as we remember – to do the same.

Christianity Today, a publication begun under Billy’s initiative and leadership in October 1956 has collected much about Billy, his life and ministry. I include a link announcing Billy’s change of address to being “with the Lord,” along with a number of additional articles. There will be many more of these posted today and in days to come. This is a good place to begin.

Billy Graham (1918-2018): “Billy Graham was perhaps the most significant religious figure of the 20th century, and the organizations and the movement he helped spawn continue to shape the 21st.” This link consists of numerous articles addressing the issues related to Billy’s life and his ministry as an evangelist: In Memory Of; Early Years; Evangelism; Family; Behind the Scenes.

A number of years ago I wrote about An Interview with Billy Graham. At the conclusion of that post I wrote, “I thank the Lord for Billy Graham. I am also grateful that the Lord, in His faithfulness, preserved Graham so that he remained faithful to Him in carrying out his call as an evangelist and as evidenced in his commitment to the gospel in proclamation and life.”

Today, at the news of Billy’s earthly death, I give thanks to the Lord for a life faithfully lived to the end. Paul’s words are a fitting tribute: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing” (2 Tim. 4:7-8).

And a fitting final exhortation to all Christian brothers and sisters in the EFCA are words spoken by Paul and lived by Billy: “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1).

EFCA Theology Conference: Prayer

Greg Strand – January 28, 2018 1 Comment

This week is our annual EFCA Theology Conference. This year’s theme is The Gospel, Compassion and Justice and the EFCA.

These are important and weighty issues we are discussing. We affirm and give thanks for the doctrinal truth of God’s compassion resulting in redemption and reconciliation with him “since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” (Rom. 5:1). This doctrinal truth is becoming an experiential reality, as we seek to live out this doctrinal truth horizontally with others. It is an affirmation and living out with others both orthodoxy (right belief) and orthopraxy (right practice). And as we do this, we confess we stumble toward maturity.

As we approach this topic of compassion and justice, especially as we focus on racial reconciliation, we acknowledge that apart from Christ we can do nothing (Jn. 15:5), and “unless the Lord builds the house, those who build labor in vain” (Ps. 127:1). And yet, we are also keenly aware that this Conference is one in which the enemy would love to “kill, steal and destroy” (Jn. 10:10), one in which the beast will make war on the saints those from “every tribe and people and language and nation” (Rev. 13:7). He will do any and everything to work against the “one new humanity” (Eph. 2:15) God has created through the work of his Son, and applied by the Holy Spirit.

This spiritual life, this new humanity is a work of God (3:3, 5; 1 Cor. 3:6; 2 Cor. 5:17; Eph. 2:15; Tit. 3:4-7). We do not create new birth or spiritual life, as this life is not on the basis of “of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (Jn. 1:13). God creates one new humanity. But the work God did, the one new humanity he created, as we keep in step with the Spirit (Gal. 5:16, 18, 25), we will be “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3). This is part of how we fulfill Paul’s exhortation to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:12-13).

And, this manifests the truth and power of the gospel not only to those in the world, but also to those principalities and powers, those demonic forces attempting to undo what God has done. God and his grace triumph, so we we live out the truth of the gospel “so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places” (Eph. 3:10).

With this in mind, please join us in prayer as we seek to work and live out what God has created, being eager to see the fruit of the gospel of Jesus Christ proclaimed and manifested. Here are five specific prayer requests.

  1. Pray for the theology conference theme The Gospel, Compassion and Justice, and the EFCA to come to life and result in justice, righteousness and compassion rolling down like a mighty river in and through the EFCA (Amos 5:24).
  1. Pray for God’s blessing and leading to be upon the speakers, leaders and our corporate worship (Zach. 4:6).
  1. Pray that God will prepare the hearts of pastors and leaders coming, and for the Lord to strengthen and guide all those serving at the conference (Jms. 1:5).
  1. Pray for rich and meaningful connections, conversations, and community as we learn, worship, pray and fellowship together (Eph. 4:29).
  1. Pray for God’s ongoing work of reconciliation, hope and healing in the EFCA, growing the oneness of our hearts, heads and hands as we live out the gospel with compassion and justice (2 Cor. 5:14-19).

We are grateful for your partnership in the ministry of the gospel, and for engaging in this vital ministry through prayer.



In conclusion, it is always true that “unless the Lord builds the house, those who build labor in vain” (Ps. 127:1), and yet we are especially aware that this Conference is one in which the enemy would love to “kill, steal and destroy” (Jn. 10:10), one in which the beast will make war on the saints, those from “every tribe and people and language and nation” (Rev. 13:7). He will do any and everything to work against the “one new humanity” (Eph. 2:15) God has created through the work of his Son, and applied by the Holy Spirit.

This “one new humanity” created by God we desire to understand and work toward. We are “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3). This is not an entity we create, but rather something God creates and we are eager and committed to work it out. There is a right understanding and living out God’s work in our lives, and discerning the vital difference between God’s creative work and our eagerness to maintain the unity he created. As we live out this new life in Christ, individually and corporately, this is a testimony to the enemy that God triumphs. One of the results of God creating one new humanity is “so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places” (Eph. 3:10).

We, the people of God, the church of Jesus Christ, reflect and manifest what and who we truly are in Christ. We manifest and live out the reality of those who have been ransomed by the blood of Christ “from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9; cf. 7:9; 14:6). We are an outpost of heaven, a manifestation in the present-time of the end-time eschatological people of God – what we will become, we have become, as the kingdom has come in the person and work of Christ (the now), his rule and reign are embraced and lived out by those who have received Christ by faith, and the kingdom will come (the not-yet) fully when he returns in glory.

Please plan to join us for our Theology Conference as we address this important issue. Please join us in prayer for the speakers, attendees, those who are considering attending, all the administrative details, and anything else the Lord leads you to pray. We are also praying not only to be encouraged and edified, we are also praying to be challenged and through all of this the Lord will produce lasting gospel fruit. We eagerly desire to be faithful, and as we are, we also recognize our dependency on the Lord to do the work. With Paul, we recognize these important truths: “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth” (1 Cor. 3:6-7).

You can find information on the Conference at the following link: EFCA Theology Conference: The Gospel, Compassion and Justice, and the EFCA. Registration is found here. Please do not come alone. Instead, plan to come as a ministry team to learn and grow together!