Archives For EFCA Theology Conference 2016

Viewing the Church Through the Gospel

Greg Strand – December 3, 2015 Leave a comment

Edmund P. Clowney, The Church (IVP, 1995), 72-73, encourages us to understand the church through the gospel. This is right, since the gospel creates the church, and the church, in turn, proclaims and manifests the gospel. Furthermore, Clowney concludes that it is only through the gospel that we understand how the various descriptions of the church fit together. (I have edited this one long paragraph to emphasize the various truths Clowney highlights.)

Viewing the church in terms of the gospel helps us to see how the various descriptions fit together.

The church is apostolic, because it is founded on the apostolic gospel and called to fulfill the apostolic mission.

The holiness of the church means that life, as well as truth, marks Christ’s church; the behavior of Christians in the world must be remarkable enough to cause grudging admiration, astonished curiosity or threatening hostility (1 Pet. 2:12; 3:16; Jn. 15:18).

The unity of the church requires a new community, joined in a common faith and life.

The catholic character of the church flows from the fact that the church is a colony of heaven; it cannot conform to the social castes and sectarian goals that divide a fallen world, for it is the beginning of the new humanity in Christ.

The heavenly definition of the church explains the contrasts of its existence in time (militant/triumphant) and space (local/universal), as well as the perspectives of earth and heaven (visible/invisible). 

The distinction between the church as organization and organism describes how the church is to live in both the ardour and the order of the Spirit.

In our upcoming Theology Conference on The Doctrine of the Church, we will look, learn and discuss this truth and a whole lot more. Please register and plan to join us!



EFCA Theology Conference
The Doctrine of the Church: The Embodiment of the Gospel
Jan 20, 2016 – Jan 22, 2016
Valley Church, West Des Moines, IA

The heart of the doctrine of the church is the gospel. It is the gospel that creates the church. It is the church that proclaims and propagates the gospel. It is the church that embodies the gospel. ​

1. What Is a Church? The Church as the Embodiment of the Gospel (A Biblical and Historical Overview) – Timothy George, Dean and Professor of Divinity History and Doctrine, Beeson Divinity School, Birmingham, AL (              

In this lecture, which frames the whole conference, the focus will be on the biblical nature of the church and how that has been lived out, embodied, throughout history. We think of the Nicene understanding of the church as being “one, holy, catholic and apostolic.” We will be reminded of the necessity of the Reformers setting forth the marks of a true church (faithful proclamation of the Word of God, regular celebration of the ordinances, including church discipline) in light of what was happening with the Roman Catholic Church. As the church is grounded in the gospel, history reveals that the embodiment has taken various expressions through the years, some more faithful than others..

 2. The Church: A Visible Community – Boundary Markers of the Community – Michael Lawrence, Sr. Pastor, Hinson Baptist Church, Portland, OR (

In this lecture, we will focus on the church as a visible community. Since the church is an embodiment of the gospel, it will be expressed. Here we will address some of the boundary markers of the church, the ordinances and membership, and how the gospel embodied in the church creates and manifests the gospel. This is God’s ordained means of revealing a compelling community. And it is these boundary markers that set apart the people of God from others as a new and visible community.

3. The Church: A New Kinship Community – Joseph Hellerman, Professor of New Testament Language and Literature, Talbot School of Theology, La Mirada, CA ( and Pastor-Elder, Oceanside Christian Fellowship (EFC), El Segundo, CA  (–staff)

The gospel creates a new family that has profound implications for how we view our life together as the people of God in/as the church. This new faith-family creates new relationships and new structures, and transforms the old, such that this family supersedes all other relationships. In this lecture we will learn that these truths have profound implications for how we understand the church: it is a family, not a business; it is relational, not institutional; it grows spiritually, not biologically.

4. The Church: A Community that Transforms – Peter Cha, Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, IL(                 

As a community that has been created by the gospel and is being progressively transformed by that gospel, the church embodies a transformative community, which means one of the key ministries of the church is that of transformation. As we live by and keep in step with the Holy Spirit, we are conformed into the likeness of Jesus Christ. This is the heart of discipleship. Although this happens individually, it also happens corporately. Since discipleship is communal, as we will learn in this lecture, it takes the church to carry out the mandate of Christ to make disciples.

5. The Church: A Missional Community – Greg Waybright, Sr. Pastor, Lake Avenue Church, Pasadena, CA (

Not only is the church a new family that is being transformed and proclaims and lives the truth of gospel transformation, the church is also a missional community. Since the church is an embodiment of the gospel, there are important reasons and purposes why God has each church in a specific place at this period of time. This new community is a witness to the world that consists of all people, yet it begins in one’s own neighborhood. Having been reconciled to God and to one another, we truly are ambassadors of reconciliation to others in our communities. In this way, the local and localized church is an eschatological people of God, reflecting here and now, albeit imperfectly, the kingdom of God. 

6. Shepherding God’s Church: The Privilege of Being a Pastor – Bill Kynes, Sr. Pastor, Cornerstone EFC, Annandale, VA (

After hearing these wonderful, amazing truths of the doctrine of the church, we are overcome with awe and wonder that we have the incredible privilege of being a part of this new community. The church is, indeed, the center of God’s work in the world. However, for many of us, there is also an added blessing – serving as shepherds in the church. In this final, culminating lecture, we will reflect on the great honor it is to serve God through pastoral ministry. We will be encouraged to cherish our calling and to press on in enduring faith to bring God glory through the shepherding of the flock God has entrusted to our care.

In addition to these plenary messages, there will also be breakout sessions addressing other important matters regarding the church, along with one or two panel discussions.