Greg Strand is EFCA executive director of theology and credentialing, and he serves on the Board of Ministerial Standing as well as the Spiritual Heritage Committee. He and his family are members of Northfield (Minnesota) EFC.
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.
We are grateful for your partnership in the ministry of the gospel, and for engaging in this vital ministry through prayer.
Fritz Dale: I cannot agree more with Greg regarding the importance of this conference theme as well as reality of spiritual battle in our living out God’s heart and calll for compassion, justice and reconciliation in our own lives, our churches and the EFCA. Please join us in prayer as we seek the supernatural presence of God and the power of the gospel in our midst during these criticcal days together in San Antonio.